Tuesday, October 25, 2005


It begins at...
5:12 am
Oh. Fuck. No.
No fucking way.
I better be taking a nap today before the damn marathon because this is fucking stupid.
Why am I up at 5 am? I went to bed at midnight. God fucking dammit.
It's gonna be a looooooooooong day.

I have to work 3 hours today. And 3 hours tomorrow, after I get out of the marathon. Thankfully, my duties for the weekend just consist of stocking beer for the rabid Buckeye fans who'll be tailgating this morning, and the drunken Sunday afternoon football junkies tomorrow.

Why the fuck am I awake at 5 am? I gotta get my head examined. I mean, seriously, I'm notorious for being a foul-mouthed crank ANYWAY. Why add tired to the whole equation? Yes. I need to attempt to nap today. Maybe I should go see IN HER SHOES or something sappy like that and see if it puts me out.
I ran into jolly Joe Neff two days ago at the night job. Yammered at him for a few minutes, where he had to remind me that THREE: EXTREMES was my fault in case the audience was as receptive to it as GOZU last year (which ruled my unholy soul to see it in the theater). Considering that Fruit Chan's DUMPLINGS has possibly the biggest "EWWWWWWW" moment I've enjoyed in a movie in some time, I hope to hell people give it a chance. Besides, there's more Miike for the saps...and the delicously wicked CUT by Chan Wook Park, too.
I should shut up before I give away all the fun. Yes. I should.
I'm gonna read some comics or something.

8:15 am
My alarm went off, not that I was asleep to appreciate it. Man, I was just about to get to sleep again. Maybe. Ah, fuck it. I'm gonna get ready and go to work.

12:33 pm
On my way downtown to the Arena Grand Theatre to drop some stuff off and maybe finally get my ass in to see ELIZABETHTOWN. Maybe. I might just fall asleep at the bar. I'm sure that'd look good.
The morning at the night job was mercifully easy. However, the cold here is already merciless. Winter is teh suck. And it's not even winter yet. Bleh.

Since I've lived in CBus, I've tried to get to every marathon I could, though I was only recently able to get to the October horror marathons. So, while I was browsing through my collection of t--shirts to wear today, I only had a couple horror shirts available. I settled on last year's design for several reasons: 1) It showcases the fact that this marathon is a collaboration between hosts Bruce Bartoo and Joe Neff (who both rule) 2) It's a way cool design by a local guy who does shitloads of rock show posters. I can't remember his name, but trust me, he does a lot of them. and 3) It's glow in the dark. I'm a total sucker for glow in the dark shit. I'd paint my house glow in the dark if I owned one.
Yes, I'm that shallow. Deal, bitches.

7:03 pm
After hanging out with some friends downtown (and simultaneously hanging out with some friends in the AICN chatroom and sharing some exciting news -- congrats, SB!!!) and taking in ELIZABETHTOWN (which was fantastic, just as I imagined I imagined it would be), I'm sitting at the bar drinking a water. Yeah, I'm being responsible. Mostly because I don't intend on passing out.
Like I did at the midnight show of Return of the King.
Yes, I'm still embarassed about that. So, let's move on and not dwell on the fiascos of my wee life.
Or, rather, let's concentrate on the fiasco of being totally exhausted before a 14+ hour movie marathon. Yes, I'm a bright one.
I tried to go back to sleep this morning. Hell, my cat crawled up on me and went to sleep. But I couldn't get back to la-la land. I guess I should be tired and cranky, and I'm sure we'll get to that.

The big to-do at the theater today was the new Narnia trailer (which sadly is encoded in such a way that I can't mess with it or put it on a trailer DVD -- damn youse, Disney! Impressive. Yes, very impressive.

Soon, off to the Drexel Grandview and my date with insomnia.
Oh goody.

8:11 pm
I'm lucky 13th in line. It makes sense, doesn't it? It's gotta be an omen. It's cold. Fuck, it's cold. I'm gonna show trailers to some of the folks in line. Get people worked up.

10:53 pm
Oh, boy...we just got in. And yes, I'm fucking frozen. I've got a killer headache. And I'm gonna throw a Red Bull at it. Without vodka or Jagermeister. That's a change.
Saw Bruce and Joe as I got in, scored my t-shirt and I'm good to go.

10:58 pm
Red Bull #1 gone. I brought 2. I'm in trouble, aren't I?
Things'll get rolling around 11:15-11:30pm...

Down to brass tacks. I don't know how the Butt-Numb-A-Thonners do it. The 24+ hours is no problem. The partying the night before is. I've heard stories about the drunken adventures down Austin way.
I've done a 24 hour horror marathon drunk off my ass. Watching Ichi the Killer at 5 am with a wicked buzz and a ton of caffeine in your system is close to a religious experience. And I've hit Vegas hard enough that Vegas has hit back and survived.
I still don't think I could do a movie marathon with a hangover. Nope, don't think I could...

11:15 pm
Almost ready to start. Already lobbed my first (loving) insult at host Bruce Bartoo, and he responded in kind (Actually, he owned my ass. But I have too much pride to tell you that, don't I?). Too bad he can't fire back when he's up front being all hosty.
I yell, though. I'm a bad, bad audience member.

11:26 pm
Joe and Bruce are rockin the startup. But I gotta get my za soon. Yessir. Must have ZA.

11:29 pm
"It is night. It is cold..." THE FOG trailer. Jooooooooooooooooy. Haven't seen the remake (yet) because it's at the dirt theater. Fuck the AMC.
11:30 pm
BEYOND THE FOG trailer. Hmmm. I've never seen this. Trippy. And hopefully delightfully crappy. Yes, definitely delightfully crappy. Why have I not seen this?
Gonna have to look that one up.
ANGEL HEART trailer. You know, I never bought into the controversy, but I loved this movie just for being a genuinely creepy lil' Southern Gothic horror. I'm glad as hell that Mickey Rourke is back on top. He's always been interesting, if nothing else.
Damn, I almost forgot that Robert DeNiro really WAS the Man, back in the day. Why he's making tons of just utter SHIT now, I don' t know.
Hmmmm. This is a Red Band trailer. Didn't notice that. Durn those boobies. They'll get the Super Bowl all cancelled and shit.
I said boobies.
11:37 pm
Alabama, King of the Cosmos!
Shit, I've never seen this, either, but I HAVE to.
Hippies and magic and weird horror freakouts.
11:39 pm
Stacy Keach rules. That is all.
"Her ass is just too good to cook."
Damn straight.
This trailer fucking rocks. Another one to add to my "MUST SEE THIS RIGHT FUCKING NOW" list.
And the Red Bull has kicked in nicely. I'll hit the other one in 5 or 6 hours.
11:42 pm
THE CONQUEROR WORM trailer. That's showing at the Wexner Center this week...with VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (the original). Coolness.
When I was a kid, Vincent Price was about as close as I had to a hero. And this was one of the most evil, depraved performances he had. Great stuff.
11:44 pm
CARNIVAL OF BLOOD trailer. Craptastic. Been there. Done that.
Is that Burt Young? I can never remember.
and another bloody chiller...
Hmmm...I've not seen this. CURSE OF THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN. Then again, do I really need to?
Fuck, it's PG. I probably DON'T need to.
11:47 pm
FUNHOUSE trailer. Haven't seen it in AGES. Nice print of the trailer, too.
11:49 pm
Red Band trailer for PROM NIGHT. I'd love to say I enjoy this movie...but I don't. It's the damn thick fucking filter they shot it through. It's like what I see without my glasses.
Wait, it's PROM NIGHT. It probably won't help all that much.
11:50 pm
Red Band trailer for HELL NIGHT. Damn, we're all about the nudity and gore already. Fuck that PG shit. Fuck family values. Fuck the MPAA. Fuck the FCC.
And Fuck Vincent Van Patten. That dude sucks. Hard.
Man, this damn trailer shows the whole fucking movie.
11:53 pm
Wacky pizza promo. Thank the gods we already ordered ours.
11:54 pm
BURGESS FUCKING MEREDITH! ("Rock, yer a killin' machine")
Ooh. Oliver Reed!!!
Yes, it s the BURNT OFFERINGS trailer. I had this on Laserdisc, back in the day. I got it cheap, too.
Bette Davis looks so goddamn scary in this damn movie.
Coolness. And a round of applause for Ollie Reed leaping out the winder. 'Cause Oliver Reed is a badass. Like Shaft or William Shatner.
11:56 pm
FRANCIS IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE trailer...Wow. I've never seen a Francis the Talking Mule movie. I saw the movie that was the basis for MR ED ages ago, but I can't remember the name of it.
"YOU'LL SHUDDER"...Hmmm. I guess I will. This looks painful.
11:58 pm
THE HOUSE OF THE DAMNED trailer. Sounds like my apartment.
Hmmm. Looks like my apartment, too. Except it's cleaner. And there's no toys or DVDs.
OK, it's not really like my apartment. Great old trailer
Ladies and gentlemen, we have Richard Kiel. All is good.
11:59 pm
HORROR HOUSE trailer. Another one I haven't seen in a dog's age.
"An orgy of horror makes maddening music on your nerve strings..." Great wording. A+ for the trailer just on that.
12:01 am
It's a new day already. And now...HORROR HOTEL trailer. I love this flick.
I first saw it when I was all of maybe 5, and it scared the fuck out of me. Then again, it's not so hard to scare the fuck out of a 5 year-old.
12:03 am
THE SHINING trailer. So different from the joke one online recently. But a great, effective teaser...that tells you NOTHING about the film. You'd think the movie was about purple aluminum foil if you saw nothing but the original teaser.
12:04 am
MOTEL HELL trailer. Didn't even need to see 10 seconds of it to know.
Man, I watch too many movies.
12:04 am
Yeah, that was a short one. Now, teh trailerage for MASTER OF HORROR. Gotta love bad dubbing.
12:06 am
Why am I putting the time to EVERY trailer? What's my fucking problem? I dunno, but I'm still awake. Lovin' the goofy refreshment stand promo.
Trailer for a horror triple feature
Booya. They should have booked that. It would have curled my toes up backwards, like when Nordling licks my nipples.
12:08 am
Feature time. Back in a few.
1:40 am
BLACK SABBATH is over. It was the international cut, a pretty good print, too. The color was gorgeous. There was some dirt on the print, but only towards the beginning.
Since it was subbed, people immediately turned against it. Because, of course, everything is better in English. Boy, when THREE EXTREMES comes on, they're gonna go nuts.
Thankfully, by the end, they realized that there WAS some humor to be had in the movie, since Bava himself was more of a clown than a deranged maniac. His three tales might have been morbid, but they weren't without a wink to the audience.
Bava was a master of color and mood, and BLACK SABBATH has that in spades. I'd never seen it in Italian, so it was a treat for me. And, judging by the thunderous applause at the end, it became one for the rest of the attendees.
The three short stories in it cover the gamut from crime/revenge stories to supernatural horror to Edgar Allen Poe-ish psychological terror. Bava grabs each genre and makes it his own, all in his own unique style.
Though occasionally it shows that Bava shot the vast majority of his stuff in the studio, it fits with his philosophy that he was aping dreams. Realism was never his aim. He was more into creating fantasy. And goody on him for that.
There's gonna be a toast before THE SHINING. Gotta get some kinda beverage for that. My guess is it's some form of ginger ale or some nonsense.
I'm bound and determined. I will make it through this night, dammit.

My friend Scott couldn't make it -- he came down with bronchitis at the last moment, and I'm sure he'll regret not seeing BLACK SABBATH. However, my buddy DDP and his son Gio (and Gio's buddies Nick, Bill and Justin -- who shall hereafter be named the Peanut Gallery) are keeping me company.
When you're a geek, you're never alone.
Oh, and a request from the peanut gallery...


Had to say it.
If you don't get it, fuck you.

1:53 am
ZA. And I've liberated it from Gio. I am teh asshole.
Mowing down on thin-crust pepperoni. Yum.
Costume Contest time. Bruce is up telling us there's Tartan Video samplers for all of us (whee, we're lucky and shit).
A little thank you to the folks who decorated and volunteered and whatnot...
And Joe warns everyone that LEGEND OF THE WOLF WOMAN is frickin' awesome and shite. Duh.
Heh. More prizes than entrants. Someone read my stinging criticism of the last contest at the Sci Fi Marathon...

And the prize is...FOGHAT. Oh, shit. They're just hats from THE FOG.
Um...the 3 entrants...kinda suck.
Well, that's not true. They totally suck.
Totally, totally suck. But, they DID dress up.
The wanna-be Corpse Bride whose costume looks nothing like the Corpse Bride's needs to shut the fuck up. You know who you are. Shut the fuck up already.

Had to say that, to.

Well, shit. It seems that Kevin S O'Brien (director of NIGHT OF THE LIVING BREAD, if'n you've got the Millenium Edition NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD dvd) is back in Australia. We miss you already, Kev.

2:09 am
Back to trailerage.
THINNER. Bad trailer, halfway decent movie. Sorta. Kinda.
THE MANGLER. Baaaaaaaaaaaad movie. I tried watching the sequel once, but I don't remember it at all.
THE DARK HALF. Great book. So-so movie. Not that I didn't appreciate Timothy Hutton's take on George Stark (I did! Really, I did! Don't hurt me, Mr Hutton!). George Romero's just been better. No, I'm not talking about MONKEY SHINES, fuckstick.
THE LAWNMOWER MAN...A movie that did not hold up. At. All. And it begat LAWNMOWER MAN 2: JOBE'S WAR. Which sucketh like the wind.
MISERY. Greaaaaaaaaaaaat performances, both from Cathy Bates and James Caan.
GRAVEYARD SHIFT trailer. Damn, there were a ton of terrible movies based on King stories. Doesn't make me love him any less.
"Now I wanna play with yooooooooooou." That kid still creeps me the fuck out.
THE RUNNING MAN. Ahnuld. The Oak. One-liners a-poppin. Booya.
Red band trailer for CREEPSHOW 2. Awresome.
MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE trailer!!! "Honeybuns, the bank machine just called me an asshooooole." Shitty movie. Shitty, shitty movie. That I love so dearly. Speak ill of MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE and knuckle sammich is on the menu.
SILVER BULLET trailer. Corey Haim before the coke habit. Then again, he was like 10.
CAT'S EYE. Another fun one. Love the "Quitter's Inc." segment.
FIRESTARTER trailer. I know all you Drew Barrymore fans love the shit out of this. I don't. Nyah.
CHILDREN OF THE CORN trailer. I actually knew someone named Malachai, years ago. He was a fucking psychopath, too.
CHRISTINE trailer. A fun collaboration between the visions of King and Carpenter.
Trailer for CUJO. The book was sooooo much better.
What's Dee Wallace doing now?
How appropos.
CREEPSHOW trailer! Booyakasha. Meteor shit! Adrienne Barbeau!
Confession time. Cockroaches give me the willies. And the cockroach segment in CREEPSHOW gave me nightmares for MONTHS.
and now...THE SHINING trailer backwards and upside down. Fun time!!!
CARRIE trailer. Dirty pillows!
I just like that phrase. Shut up.
2:48 am
5:20 am
I just showed the faux SHINING trailer for the staff and a few of the folks here who haven't seen it. They loved the living daylights out of it.
I tried to sleep. REALLY. I did. Not that I don't adore THE SHINING, which I do. But, I've seen it a hundred hundred times.
Strangely, either I'm too gawdawful tired to sleep, or THE SHINING kept me awake. There's still jolts in the movie, and like I said -- I've seen it hundreds of times. It's just that damn good. The feeling of dread and isolation is so effective, and everything is so motherfucking creepy that I'll probably still have nightmares about little girls in hallways.
Damn you, Stanley Kubrick. You knew which buttons to push far too well.
Oh, Scream Contest. I'm glad to not be in there, heckling. Especially because I'm louder than all the entrants. That's so wrong. But, I'm loud.
Besides, they've had an ear piercer or two the last few years. Nothing like ringing in your ears whilst you're trying to watch a movie. Seriously, they hit frequencies that would make a dog's ears bleed.
I'm gonna take a break during THREE EXTREMES, methinks.
No sleep, but I'll let the laptop recharge. After that, I'll be good to make it through the rest of this mess. Just need to get to the outlet, which is currently blocked by the line for the lil' girls room.
I haven't been NEARLY as grumpy as usual. But, I haven't had someone crushing my knees. The people in front of me hit 'em once or twice, but only by accident. It's a kindler, gentler marathon for apparently a kinder, gentler, more absofuckinglutely exhausted me.

I can still watch out in the lobby, anyway. Annnnnd...I get the option of watching it BACKWARDS...which has its own appeal, especially this late at night/early in the morning. Which is what I'm gonna do.
6:03 am
THREE: EXTREMES starts with "Dumplings", which is, oddly, the second short on the HK disc. Well done subs.
I'm pleased. In spite of the fact that I've now discovered that I'm sitting in a puddle of popcorn butter. My butt is sticky. Yes, it' was popcorn butter and not jizz. Shut up.
"Dumplings" is the sickest of the three shorts that make up THREE: EXTREMES, and the one thing I've seen this year that just made me go "eeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwww." Other than that, I'm not gonna say any more. It's best left a surprise. Besides, you find out early enough in the short. And let me reiterate...DAMN.
Nervous laughter from the audience. They're enjoying it, methinks.
I'm far more awake than I was in THE SHINING, and I'm guessing a bit of stretching is to blame. Not to say that I'm not feeling right in the head at all...I'm not. I've been up for 25 hours already, and been from one end of town to the other.

To divert a bit from the movie, let me say I'm sad to see the Studio 35 crew decided against a competing horror marathon this year. Especially since BOTH of them sold out last year. Not that I'd show up there, since this is the place to be, but I'm an elitist prick.

Evil random thought. It would have been cool as hell if they had a bunch of Chinese dumplings catered to the marathon. And then showed THREE: EXTREMES.

Random evil thought redux. Barnes and Barnes should do a song about dumplings. Yessir.

Big round of applause for Dumplings. We have a winner.
Hmmmm. "Cut" is next on the US print. Which is odd, because it made such a good finisher on the HK DVD.
Chan Wook Park has shown an affinity for the nastiness that man commits on his fellow man, what with the VENGEANCE (SYMPATHY FOR MR VENGEANCE, OLDBOY and SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE) series and JOINT SECURITY AREA. This is one of the most mean-spirited things in his catalog.
A man kidnaps a film director's pianist wife and threatens to cut her fingers off if the director doesn't kill a little girl. Why?
Well, you sorta find out it's because the director has a reputation for being a nice guy, and the kidnapper hates him anyway. But there's twists, turns and more evil lurking behind his maniacal grin. By the end of it, you fall into the trap too.
When I first saw THREE: EXTREMES, I really wanted to hate this one. It seemed so pointless until the end. And when all the pieces fell together, I had to admit it -- the man totally fucked with my head. Chan Wook Park pretty much amazed me with each of his films, and this short is no exception.
I'm very pleased with how people are receiving these. After the beginnings of the reaction to BLACK SABBATH...and how poorly GOZU did...I was worried.
Have I mentioned that this print is just so damn pristine I curse myself for wearing glasses? It looks way better than my DVD. Crisp, crisp, crisp.

6:58 am
My ass is sore. That is all.
Did some strecthing in the lobby, which I'm sure looked hella ridiculous. But, fuck it. I look hella ridiculous already. I'm willing to sacrifice a little bit of my immense ego for comfort.
The one problem with the Drexel Grandview is the comfort level. There's a reason why I loooooove the Arena Grand. Big, comfy seats. That aren't falling apart.
Maybe my ass has become fragile in my old age. Maybe I'm just a crotchety, nitpicking fuck. I. Don't. Care. I wanna be comfy.
The fun thing about me taking a break and hanging out in the lobby is I get to see the camaraderie between the poor souls who've sacrificed their day to keep the marathon running. It's SEVEN IN THE FUCKING MORNING, and some of these folks have been going since around noon yesterday. Now, I might have been awake since then, but I haven't been "working" the whole time.
I really have to give it up to the staff here. They go the extra mile, hell, they go the extra seven miles. And, with one exception, there hasn't been a single solitary projection problem so far. Marathons are normally not this smooth (in spite of the extra wait to get in, since they couldn't cancel a showing of SEPARATE LIES due to contractual obligations [and probably also because Tom Wilkinson rules]).

Token fanboy bitch, since I'm watching a Chan Wook Park short...
Had to be done. Had to be said.
Oh, and in case this gets published on AICN, just for old times' sake...FUCK FIRST POSTERS. FUCK THEM UP THEIR STUPID ASSES.

I haven't watched THREE: EXTREMES in a while, and I forgot just how evil and devious "Cut" is. Evil. Evil. Evil. Evil. EVIL. God DAMN, what a mindfuck.
Manomanoman, I'm jazzed about the rest of this marathon. Even DEMONS, which isn't technically all that good, but it's hella fun. If my body and brain holds out...

The segment "Box" is the finale of the US cut, most likely because Miike is the best-known of the three directors. It makes a better opener, in my opinion, because the surreality and open-endedness of the story don't leave you with any closure (which "Cut" does in spades). But, it's not my fucking choice, is it???
"Box" seems partially very mainstream and accessible. But it's also Takashi Miike, which means that the words mainstream and accessible mean jack and shit. Just when you think you have a normal, haunting tale, it ventures to Weirdo Land and you get dragged along.
Contortionists weird me out, man. Other than that, I got no problems at all with this almost serene take on a ghost story. Fucking brilliant.

I haven't had a lot to bitch about tonight. That's great. But, without that anger to sustain me, I don't know how long I am going to remain awake.
I am supposed to be a primal kettle of rage. That's part of my wholesome American charm.

8:41 am
Spoke too soon about the lack of problems. The film broke. Damnation.
Fixed in a minute. We're back and moving...
9:48 am
THE BROOD is the over. A bit over the top for this crowd after "Dumplings", but...FUCK IT.
Cronenberg's been a favorite of mine since I first saw VIDEODROME as a stupid and impressionable kid.
It's one of the more overt psychosexual drama's he's done, but that doesn't lessen it. Oliver Reed is excellent (as always). Someone needs to clone Oliver Reed. Now. Samantha Egger overacts like Shatner. Don't clone her. (But Shatner's OK to clone) And evil children always fuck me up. I hate evil kids. Except that Macauley Culkin. He's just so durn adorable (but uncloneworthy).

10:02 am
Bruce and Joe are plugging all the upcoming fun, like a special edition to LOST SKELETON OF CADAVERA (which I can't really recommend), the Wexner showing of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED and WITCHFINDER GENERAL (again) etc.
We're almost into LEGEND OF THE WOLF WOMAN. Almost.
GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW trailer...without sound (oops)...
We're gonna be out of here around 1 or 2 or so...
Which means, I'll have been up for this for 31 hours. Yes, I'm truly an idiot. And proud of it.
We have SOUND. And "She prefers hot rods to hot romances". The bitch.
"Anyone wanna kiss a duck?"
Perhaps I'm not up on my 50s lingo. WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN? Kiss a duck? Huh? I mean, what the fuck?
Is it quite as filthy as I think it is? I certainly hope so.
THE BEAT MUST DIE trailer. A movie I was pretty much obsessed with as a child, because of the "Werewolf Break". I was easily impressed with gimmicks, I guess.
Aaaaaaaaaand, the film breaks again. Apparently, the fatigue is setting in. Shit, I could have told you that last fucking night. Me? I'm bushed.
Every time the lights go down, I feel it. God dammit.
Maybe that's why I'm not pissed at everyone else this year...because I'm so pissed at myself. But, like the Sci Fi Marathon earlier this year, this marathon has, programming-wise, been excellent.

I COULD have handled a 24 hour marathon (I still haven't slept yet), but I guess the 14 hour length makes it easier to fit it in amidst the regular schedule of an operating movie theater. It's too bad, though. The 24 hour ones bring out more insanity.
A trailer for WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS, which I've still yet to see...and...
Now, to drink Red Bull #2.
11:31 am
Dude, that was fucking hilarious. Allegedly, of course, a true story. And just whacked out. So crazy and exploitative, it couldn't make up its mind what it was. Was it soft porn? A revenge pic? A horror movie? Who cares???
It starts off with a nekkid chick doing some modern dance, except it's the 1700s or something. Then she turns into this weresheep with like nine inch long spiked nipples (but I think she's supposed to be a werewolf) and kills some dude) then she wakes up and it's the 70s and she's at some Itallian villa with her father (the Italian Ernest Borgnine) and her sister comes to visit and...ah, fuck it. The story doesn't matter.
There's lots of nudity. And bad dubbing.
I'm in heaven. Now, if I can make it through ONE MORE MOVIE, I'm done. Yes!!! Done... Blessed sleep, here I come.
11:41 am
GOD TOLD ME TO trailer. Larry Cohen is your god. And GOD TELLS YOU TO UM...ah, fuck it, I got nothing.
TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS: DEMON KNIGHT trailer. Which I adore. What a cast. Billy Zane, William Sadler, Jada Pinkett, CCH Pounder, Dick Miller, etc etc... Lurve that movie...
Trailer for DEMONOID. Shitty movie. Great trailer.
DEMONS 2 trailer. Could it be that our final film is upon us??? Nope.
Trailer for NOSTRADAMUS. Which I've not seen. Not that I'm in a hurry. Hell, it's the same guy who directed BATTLEFIELD: EARTH.
POPCORN trailer. It tried to be a classic. Didn't necessarily succeed, but it's watchable. Jill Schloen had a good, though short, run as a scream queen. Whatever happened to her, anyway? Probably selling real estate or doing dinner theater.
DEMONS finally rolls, and for the first time all damn night, I'm not struggling to stay awake.
If DEMONS is a classic, it's only in the most minor of senses.
People get tix to a screening at some arty Euro-theater and start turning into demons (hence the title). It doesn't take a brain cell to watch. In fact it's better without them.
It would have been a great print if the soundtrack weren't all fubar. It sounds like someone's frying an egg all the way through it.
1:20 pm
We shuffle out quickly just as the last movie is ending. Dave has to get the Peanut Gallery home before 12:30 pm...which is already past. Oopsie.
On the way out, we stop for some swag -- posters for THE FOG, ZATHURA, DOOM, SKELETON KEY and LAND OF THE DEAD, Pokemon cards (that go wholly untouched...go figure) and those Tartan Asia Extreme sampler DVDs.
Tired. Have to work. Going the hell home afterwards, dammit.
Been a good ride. Now I just need to get some damn shuteye.
5:35 pm
Home. FINALLY. Tired, but I don't wanna sleep yet. Gonna try and return to a normal sleep cycle in a day. Yeah, right. Like that's gonna happen...

***Note: I was asleep less than ten minutes after I typed that last line. For sixteen hours.***

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Monday, October 03, 2005

Adam's Serenity Review!
Joss Whedon was long one of TV's most effective and talented writers. And no, I'm not talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel or Firefly. I'm talking about his days as a writer for hire in sitcom hell on shows like Roseanne or Grace Under Fire.
Whedon showed his skill even past the colossal egos and substance abuse problems of those shows' stars. He further refined his craft working on movie scripts in Hollywood. And yes, before you mention it, I liked Alien: Resurrection. The hybrid monster may have been hokey, but the movie showed a deft hand at characterization and cleverly handled the link between Ripley and the alien in a way that expanded the franchise's mythology rather than destroyed it like the subsequent mindless crossover. He also wrote Toy Story, which is beloved enough to perhaps reach that elusive status of classic in time.
His TV work after his struggles in the movie industry established a worldwide fanbase that literally will go to the ends of the earth for him. Witness the campaigns to save both Buffy and Angel from cancellation's axe. The brisk sales of his shows' DVDs might also hint that people seem to connect with his material.
Whedon also wows me monthly in the pages of Astonishing X-Men. But, I'm a comic geek and love that the man's writing the best X-book since Claremont in the early 80s. Yes, it's even better than Grant Morrison's take on the team in New X-Men, though the plot's not nearly as intricate.
Which brings me to his current opus, the film Serenity (based on his late, lamented FOX series Firefly). It's perhaps his most "writerly" work. And perhaps also his best.
Firefly was easily his best TV show. Things just clicked perfectly. Not that FOX noticed. Instead of giving the best quality show they had a chance, they gave it an unceremonious heave-ho (much like other quality shows like The Family Guy, Wonderfalls, etc.). Time and time again, FOX cancels quality fare in favor of crap. Makes you wonder how in the world they survive, doesn't it? (HINT: the competition is even worse...)
The premise of Firefly was deceptively simple. It's a Western in space (much like Star Trek, Battle Beyond the Stars, Space Rangers, etc.). There were layers to each characters relationships with each other...and with their ship, Serenity. Each had a reason for being there, and those reason were what kept the stories meaningful. In the short span of the series, EVERYTHING that happened mattered. There were no random episodes. No freak fo the week monsters to fight. The whole thing interlocked on the basis of the relationships between the characters and the history of the galaxy in which they found themselves.
Serenity encapsulates the history very quickly in the simplest way possible...a history lesson. The Alliance, the civilized core worlds of the human territories (Sorry folks, no space aliens...mankind hasn't reached out into the blackness far enough to find them yet.), set to enforcing their will on the outlying Independent worlds. The Independents lost. Badly.
Shades of the Civil War? Well, yes...and no. The structure of both wars is similar, however the Alliance has more in common with the government of Today than any of history. The Alliance is fascistic and secretive, controlled by a shadowy Parliment who maintain control though military might and covert programs like the one which spawned River Tam (Summer Glau), the mystery girl from the series.
River was experimented on and turned into a psychic assassin by the Alliance. She was the program's greatest success. And greatest failure. She was their most powerful psychic and most talented killer. However, she was also rendered insane by their programming techniques, causing her to lapse into catatonia or psychosis more often than she could remain lucid.
Rescued by her brother Simon (Sean Maher), a brilliant doctor who squandered his family's entire fortune to find and liberate her, the two ended up on Serenity with no aim except to escape the clutches of the Alliance.
The Serenity's captain, Malcom "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) kept them aboard for personal reasons more than anything else. The doc, much as he was skilled at patching up the crew's frequent injuries, never integrated into the familial unit that the rest of the crew comprised. And River served no function except as an occasional threat to their well-being when an Alliance bounty hunter or Operative caught up with them.
She's much more of a threat to them in the feature film. And the Operative who finds them this time is far and above the worst that the Alliance has to throw at them. He's a believer, to use the parlance of the crew. He believes that no matter how heinous the actions he perpetrates in the name of the Alliance, it's all worth it to make a better world. Oddly, he knows it's a world he could never live in, since he is himself an aberration and a monster.
He's sent after River Tam because the lab where she was created trotted VIPs through to show off their successes and to justify their covert funding. VIPs whose secrets might have been gleaned by the unstable psychic they were shown. The Operative doesn't know she actually knows any secrets. But the possibility that she might marks her for death as surely as the certainty.
Chiwetel Ejiofor portrays the operative as every bit of the complex individual that he could be. He's lucid, rational and intelligent. He never seems to anger or act out of violent rage. He's not the picture of the monstrous that Hollywood normally trots out. In fact, in a different movie, a man of his questionable methods and ethics could easily be painted as heroic (like James Bond or any of the myriad characters portrayed by Arnold Scharzenegger).
Meanwhile, our heroes are a much more motley band. The aformentioned Mal (a man scarred by the horrors of war, loyal to his friends but lost in a sea of his own beliefs), the Doc and River; but also Zoe ([Gina Torres] the first mate and the only other survivor of the massacre that named Mal's ship in Serenity Valley), Wash ([Alan Tudyk] Zoe's husband and the Serenity's amazing pilot), Jayne ([Adam Baldwin] the tough, dumb and mutinous cuss who lends muscle when needed) and Kaylee ([Jewel Staite] the cute, spunky and desperately horny mechanic).
Two members of the Serenity's crew are missing: Inara (Morena Baccarin), a "companion" (think of her as a prostitute/counsellor/diplomat) who had a private berth in one of Serenity's shuttles, and Book (Ron Glass), a "Shepherd" (mostly like a roaming priest) who had booked passage on Serenity and grown into one of the more valued members of their family. Before you think they're forgotten and cast aside, Whedon doesn't forget things like that. He's a continuity whore. The great thing about his television shows was that things could pay off from a random episode YEARS down the road. Both characters show up in short order. And both have very important things to do.
The previously mentioned robbery is the first job that Mal has thought to bring River along on (against Simon's objections). And it's a good thing that he did, because while they're in the vault, the settlement is attacked by Reavers. River's psychic senses warn them of the attack, so the crew is able to escape -- and warn the hapless employees of the place they're robbing to lock themselves in the vault (and thus ensuring their survival). Reavers are men reduced to worse than savagery. They're raiders who rape and eat their conquests (sometimes concurrently), lash corpses to the exterior of their spacecraft as trophies and generally aren't pleasant folk to be around. Legend has it that Reavers are men who travelled to the edge of known space and, when confronted with the infinite blackness before them, went mad. Legend is wrong.

You know, I could tell you the entire plot to the movie at this point (In fact, I had about another eight pages of stuff detailing plot points and not even getting to the real meat of things). But I'm not gonna. Because you really should see it. Really. You don't have to have seen an episode of the show to appreciate the movie -- in fact, some of the fans of the show might be plum pissed off by certain events in the movie.
The writing isn't the only thing showcased by Serenity. Nathan Fillion shows he has the chops to be an honest-to-goodness movie star, should Hollywood so choose to deem him one. Ron Glass is a touch of class, and he's the spiritual heart of not just the crew, but the movie. Morena Baccarin is just unbelievably gorgeous and apparently can do much, much more than just look stunning in costume (Did Joss give her action scenes to set her up for Wonder Woman? If so, can't wait to see her in the red, white and blue...yum!). Jewel Staite is wonderful. Alan Tuydyk is great -- as usual. Gina Torres (who'd make an even BETTER Wonder Woman if only the character were black -- do you think Hollywood could just this once turn a colorblind eye to casting?) is the picture of strength and humanity that Zoe needs to be. And damn...Summer Glau gets some of the best scenes imaginable. Hell, she gets damn near all the hero moments...and the best Wolverine moment outside of an X-Men comic book that may ever be (and that includes in the X-Men movies). And finally, Sean Maher gets a bit of room to stretch his acting muscles. But only a little bit. He's always been the most underused of the actors in the ensemble, but maybe that looks to change.
The ensemble might have been put together for TV, but they're more than up to the challenges of a motion picture. As was the writer/director. Joss Whedon's been itching to get back into the movie biz for some time now (the travails of his shows at the hands of the various networks have soured him to the medium...and he's always wanted to be more of a film director anyway). And he does it with a vengeance. The movie is confident, smart and expertly constructed. All hallmarks of a Joss Whedon TV show. Now, hopefully, we can look forward to more of his work on the big screen. Me personally? I can't wait for another chapter of the adventures of the crew of Serenity. The Little Show That Could became the movie that kicked my ass nine ways to Sunday.