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Friday, February 26, 2016

Being Human: Chasers

After watching Being Human UK on Hulu I was so sad to see it end. I liked this show so much, even after the entire cast changed, although I definitely preferred the original cast. It was so exciting to find the book series based on the original cast, so I've been ordering them each one at a time to make the experience last as long as possible. I don't order the next book in the series until I'm finished with the previous book. Not only does it make the experience last longer, but it gives me something to look forward to as I await the arrival of the next book. 

Mark Michalowski does a great job in keeping the characters true to their TV images. Chasers centers mostly on George, but Annie and Mitchell's reactions and support figure largely in the story as well. Mitchell and Annie had some situations to work out in the story also and it was great to be reading about the paranormaly unique flatmates once again as they helped each other avoid making life decisions that they might have regretted.

It's bittersweet that I am now finished reading Chasers and am well into the third and final book in the series, Bad Blood.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fear the Walking Dead: Season One

This show started out slower than The Walking Dead because there wasn't that sense of urgency, confusion and terror that Rick's experience after waking up from his coma caused. When Fear the Walking Dead begins, we viewers are already seasoned pros and watch with confident knowledge of the what the future has in store for these people as the cast sits by cluelessly waiting for the government to solve this temporary inconvenience. By the season's end, the cast has been kicked in the face with the horrific reality that they're on their own in a cruel, bloodthirsty world.

At first, I didn't care for any of the characters in this show. They're either annoying and selfish or bossy know-it-alls. But a couple of them have grown on me in their ability to except and adapt to their drastically changed lives. As our marketing and advertising corporations are always drilling into us, the world is made for the young. Fear the Walking Dead also favors youth as the younger generation seems to be handling this upturned world much better and more logically than the adults. 

I'm thinking after all the adults are killed off Chris and Alicia repopulate the world in a new spin off of this spin off.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Last Witch Hunter (2015)

Within a dark gloomy atmosphere, there were some cool visual effects using light and color, such as the bright flames as the witch hunters stormed the witch queen's dark lair under the craggy, ominous tree. The street scene where Dolan 37 (Elijah Wood) was standing glowed with the reflection of lights from signs. Any place belonging to the church was warmly lit where the outside world and the mysterious places where witches or dark magic were present were dark and gloomy.

Vin Diesel isn't the greatest actor in the world, but I think even he was subdued and bland as Kaulder, the witch hunter who is unable to die. He's not immortal because of his destiny or his calling, but because he was cursed by the witch queen with eternal life. It's not like he's immortal in order to protect the world from witches throughout eternity. That would have been cool. He's immortal because of an affliction beyond his control. I think I was hoping for Riddick: The Last Witch Hunter.

The story itself held promise to me. I liked witch Chloe's (Rose Leslie) dream walking ability. That's a pretty cool talent which came in handy along with her other related skills and knowledge. It was cool that after centuries of living, Kaulder found a way to keep the dark witches from destroying humanity without having to kill them all by working in cooperation with the witches council to round up the trouble makers and lock them up instead of working against them.

Even though this partnership seems to have been in place for a long time, when he enters Chloe's night club for witches, the witches scatter and run in fear as though he were going to start randomly killing whoever he could catch. The portrayal of witches could have been a lot better, not only in that case but the fact that the witches were kind of ditzy and inept, except for Chloe. Why did the witch queen, the most powerful witch on earth, also have to be purely evil and ugly? When it seemed there are plenty of decent responsible witches such as the witches on the council, why is the most powerful witch an evil one?


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Boy (2016)

If you like horror movies that make you jump out of your skin at regular intervals, you won't like this movie. But if you like a creepy, strange movie with gothic settings in the present day with a surprise twist at the end, The Boy will fit the bill. 

I couldn't help but find a similarity to Dark Shadows as the movie opens with the newly hired nanny/governess (Lauren Cohan) traveling to a remote 19th century country estate to meet the family she is to work for. Once she arrives, she  meets the fussy lady of the house who addresses her as "Miss Evans." Miss Winters would have been even cooler, but Miss Evans is good too!

Miss Evans chuckles out loud to the dismay of her employers when she is introduced to her charge, who turns out to be a life-size doll of an 8 year old boy named Brahms. She's given a list of rules and a detailed schedule that she is sternly told to follow to the letter each day.

I won't spoil it, but it gets even weirder and creepier until the explosive twist at the end. Very different and very entertaining.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Poe's The Raven

Published today in 1845, The Raven is an immortal classic so beautifully lyric, full of darkness and mystery, profound loneliness, sadness, grief, longing and color. The effect of the poem on the reader depends on the reader's state of mind at the time of the reading, life experiences and what you happen to be paying attention to at the time. If you're enjoying each word, letting each word roll around in your brain before going on to the next, the enjoyment lasts that much longer. 

Sometimes certain words or images seem to attract your attention more than others. A few years later when you read the poem again, your mind in a different state, as your life has moved along to a different place than the place you were at the time of the previous reading, you might get something more or different out of it. Perhaps the words that affected you so keenly during the previous reading don't have any affect at all, but others become more relevant to your present state.

As I read the poem today on its anniversary of publication, I found myself noting the colors. Purple curtains, raven ebony, velvet-violet. The colors combined with the darkness outside the chamber door, the darkness of the night, the shadow of the raven on the floor, the burning of the soul, the burning of the lamp, seem like a luxurious contrast of Victorian opulence with darkness and heat, yet the speaker's state of mind is that of fear, grief, loneliness and sadness. 

Did you have to read this as a kid in school? I remember it being assigned somewhere around seventh grade. What is a seventh grader going to have in common with this poem? I'm sure the school was trying to acquaint the students with classic literature. All I remember is how weird it was that a bird flew in the guy's window and perched in his room and only said one word!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Richard Chase: The Vampire of Sacramento

According to History.com, today is the anniversary of the 1978 murders of Evelyn Miroth, Miroth's 6-year-old son and Daniel Meredith by the serial killer nicknamed "The Vampire of Sacramento." The Wikipedia article on Richard Chase also claims Chase murdered Miroth's 22-month-old nephew during the killing spree. After learning about this guy, the medical society as well as the justice  people should have been using him as an example to keep the psychiatric hospitals open instead of closing them down. 

This guy was a prime example of total psychos not being able to follow doctor's orders regarding daily medication schedules. Not even a close relative should be given the responsibility of making sure the nut takes his meds. He was totally out of touch with any hint of reality making everyone within his immediate vicinity a potential victim and putting them in extreme danger. He never should have been let out of the psych hospital. Apparently, a doctor felt he was tamed enough to re-enter society. Maybe he just didn't have health insurance.

Chase was like the modern day Elizabeth Bathory covering himself in his victims' blood (mostly women's blood) and mutilating the women's corpses. Chase mutilated his victims after killing them, where legend has it Bathory mutilated her victims before killing them. At least when they were finally brought to justice, they were locked up permanently. 

This guy is one of the most creepiest of creepers. It gave me the creeps reading about him and it's surprising that I don't remember hearing about him before, even though he's been portrayed or at least mentioned on TV and in movies. Or maybe he was so freaky I mentally blocked him out of my memory!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Penny Dreadful: Season One

I like the mysterious darkness of this show, especially set in the Victorian era. I'm still three episodes shy of seeing all of Season One of Penny Dreadful. However, after seeing most of Season One, I can tell that eventually every main character on the show must have sex with every other main character on the show. The only downside of this show is all the time wasted on sex scenes that have little or nothing to do with the story. Sometimes it seems like whenever two characters are alone in a room, they are bound to have sex. 

Vanessa's poor mother dropped dead on the spot when she walked into Vanessa's room while she was having sex with an invisible (to her anyway) demon. Now, that sex scene actually contributed to the story. Obviously, Dorian has sex with most everyone he meets, but why is Ethan having sex with Dorian? Why is that even in the story? Must be because they were the only ones who happened to be in the room. 

Frankenstein, his monster and Sembene are the only ones who haven't had sex on screen yet. That must occur during the final three episodes of the season.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Penny Dreadful: The Seance

Taking advantage of the free Showtime weekend on Hulu, I watched the first two episodes of Penny Dreadful. In the second episode, Vanessa (Eva Green) does some channeling during a parlor seance at a party. The medium who was hired to conduct the seance is even shocked at the anger and malevolence that flows forth from the beautiful, reserved Vanessa and when Vanessa climbs up onto the table and the evil spirit contorts her body into unnatural positions, the party fun is over.

Eva Green is such a great performer, it was a thrill to behold the frightening scene. I've blogged about her in the past, but here's a nice excuse to talk about her some more! I'm going to have to buy the DVD's because I'm not adding Showtime to my Hulu account even though it is only $8.99 a month. It is a good deal considering all of the good movies and original series that Showtime has to offer. But there are already too many tempting movies and TV shows on Hulu that would take me three lifetimes to watch! Why add more?

I am looking forward to catching up with the rest of Penny Dreadful. It's a hauntingly creepy show with beautiful costumes, great scenery and Eva Green.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Highlander III: The Final Dimension (1994)

Thankfully, Highlander III (also titled The Sorcerer as well as The Final Dimension) is a much better sequel to the original Highlander movie than Highlander II: The Quickening. In fact, I'm pretty sure in the 90s I mentally deleted Highlander II from the series once Highlander III was released. However, my memory didn't retain the details of the third movie any better than it did the second, no matter how much better the third movie was. It was more than twenty years ago, so I consider that's an acceptable memory lapse. 

On the other hand, Highlander III was almost too much like Highlander with the wild chase scene where in the original movie The Kurgan (Clancy Brown) terrorizes his kidnapped victim with his game of traffic chicken. In the third movie Kane (Mario Van Peebles) also terrorizes his kidnapped victim with the same exact tactics. Both victims are MacLeod's most cherished loved ones, which logically makes them the number one victims of choice for the villains. 

Also, both movies end with Connor MacLeod (Christoper Lambert) returning to his native Scotland with his newly acquired lover who happily sacrifices her life and career to live out the rest of her days with MacLeod who has won The Prize and can now age and die naturally. The only difference in the third movie is he has an adopted son who makes the family a threesome. 

While the second movie was nothing like the first and was a mixed up mess of a movie, the third, although much better in regard to plot and logical composition, was almost too representative of the original movie. However, I'm thankful that the third movie was created to raise my Highlander appreciation back up to the level it was after seeing the original movie.

Highlander II: The Quickening (1991)

Other than the fact that Christopher Lambert (Connor MacLeod) and Sean Connery (Ramirez) returned in their roles as immortals and the story continued the prophecy that "there can be only one," Highlander II really had nothing to do with the original Highlander movie. 

Instead of a sword and sorcery legend of a reluctant hero like the original movie, Highlander II was more science fiction with way more fiction than science. In fact, the story seemed like it was devised by someone who never paid attention in science class and written by someone who never learned the fundamentals of composition. I know I watched this movie once in the early 90s when it was released on VHS, but I barely remember any of it except the first two immortals sent to Earth to do away with MacLeod and General Katana (Michael Ironside) as the villain.

The story didn't make much sense and the plot kept going off in weird directions that kept making me wonder if I'd dozed off and missed something important that tied one scene to another. 

One good thing about this movie is that it was still, in my opinion, an 80s movie with 80s costumes, hair and make-up and clicking computer keyboards. It had the atmosphere and qualities of an 80s B movie where the aliens fell to Earth speaking in English pop cultural quips and everyone was Christian, even the aliens. Katana tells MacLeod that he'd fight him, but they are in a place of worship and a rule of the immortals is no fighting on sacred ground.  Virginia Madsen (Louise Marcus) was the head of a scientific corporation but every scene she was in portrayed her as a sex object who used her good looks, not her intellect, to get her way. 

I don't think I'd bother watching this movie again since there are much better Highlander movies to see instead.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Highlander (1986)

The concept of the immortals in the movie Highlander is a unique one. The ideas of The Gathering, that there can be only one and the Prize are pretty cool. Having an immortal subculture mysteriously among us for hundreds, if not thousands, of years is a cool fantasy as well. Of course, the swordsmanship and the flashbacks to medieval Scotland add to the romance and mystical fantasy that sets a tone of wonder accompanying the competitive male physical power and fearlessness that inevitably leads to the grand finale when there truly remains only one. 

In addition to being a great swordsman and an honest and moral man, Connor Macleod (Christoper Lambert) suffers inwardly as he sacrifices his desire for love, family and companionship while he keeps his secret of being immortal and patiently waits for The Gathering where he'll be forced to fight the other immortals. 

There's some pretty cool animation, not to mention costumes, during the fight scene between Connor's 2,000 year old mentor, Ramirez (Sean Connery) and his arch enemy The Kurgan (Clancy Brown) . Sections of rock wall fall away with blows from Kurgan's sword until the two are left atop a high steep stairway of stone. There are also some drawn graphic images flashing in succession as Connor endures The Quickening and all ancient knowledge of mankind is funneled into his head. 

Apparently, wisdom, love, honor and being able to die a natural death surrounded by family is the ultimate prize. My question is whether the remake is ever going to be made?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Behind Green Lights (1946)

Silence, the dark of night and a corpse delivered to the police station in a mysteriously gliding car. The only sound on the street is the tires rolling on the wet pavement until the curb brings the car to a stop; then silence. The car is as dead as its occupant. That's where the mystery begins for the police led by Lieutenant Carson (William Gargan) in Behind Green Lights.

Silence and the dark are so creepy! Almost as creepy as the darkness that can be found in some sleazy people who are low-life snakes, victimizing others for their own gain. The mysteries in the darkness, the immoral or even criminal people creating the mysteries and the decent people looking for justice and truth can be found in the film noir movies of the 1940s and 1950s. 

Behind Green Lights is a free movie from the Internet Archive and is definitely worth seeing. The story was good with plot twists and an unpredictable ending, and also just for the darkness and creepiness as scenes take place in the dank depths of the city morgue, a corpse is stuffed into a closet and. of course, the driver-less car rolling down the street with a corpse on the front seat.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dark Shadows: Interrupted Voyage, Continued

That Barnabus Collins is so clever! I was afraid he was doomed to burn at the stake, mistaken for a demon from hell by the blood thirsty residents of Salem, but he not only saved himself, but the soul of an innocent man trapped under an evil witch's spell.

 As I mentioned in a previous post,  I received Interrupted Voyage for Christmas which is a 2012 reprint of the original Dark Shadows Digest book published by Hermes Press, written by D. J. Arneson and illustrated by Joe Certa. The original was published in 1970 by Gold Key Comics.

Calandra ,a witch who is extremely expert in the practice of black magic has taken the fiance of Anabella, a distant cousin of Barnabus' as her slave in Salem, Massachusetts, while poor Annabella's ghost haunts Collinwood waiting for her fiance to die and join her. Her sad story lures Barnabus into volunteering to help her find her fiance, Michael, and free his soul from the evil witch.

The display of powers Calandra uses during the story are pretty cool, yet evil. She casts spells that enslaves Michael, that show her Barnabus' past as a vampire and even brings Angelique back to Salem as a weapon to kill Barnabus. Of course, Barnabus outwits Calandra and barely escapes Angelique to bring the story to a happy ending.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Dark Shadows: Interrupted Voyage

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Shadows-Original-Series-Digest/dp/1613450192
For Christmas I received this book which is a 2012 reprint of the original Dark Shadows Digest book published by Hermes Press, written by D. J. Arneson and illustrated by Joe Certa. The original was published in 1970 by Gold Key Comics. I've just finished Chapter Eighteen of the twenty four chapter book and it's a really good story starring Barnabus Collins. He's not a vampire at the time of the story, but he's in constant fear of Angelique popping back into his life and reimposing the dreaded curse.

I'm hoping she eventually turns up in the story which takes place in Salem, Massachusetts. Being Salem, there is an evil witch in the story who already has plans to destroy Barnabus in self-defense as he tries to help his distant ghost of a cousin, Annabella free her fiance's soul from the witch's possession so they can be together in the afterlife.

Although it's not looking very promising for Barnabus as the suspicious and superstitious townspeople don't like his looks and are planning to burn him at the stake as an unwelcome stranger who they assume must be Satan! Talk about jumping to conclusions. Apparently, the people of Salem weren't as welcoming to tourists and strangers as they are now!


Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Life At Stake (1954)

A Life At Stake is the first movie on a list of free Film Noir movies on Open Culture's list of free Film Noir Movies  starring a young beautiful Angela Lansbury as the femme fatale, Doris Hillman, Keith Andes as Edward Shaw the hunky down-on-his-luck builder and Douglass Dumbrille as Doris' much older but very wealthy husband, Gus Hillman. Doris Hillman, with the aid of her husband's money, partners herself with Shaw in a real estate development plan, but only if Shaw takes out a hefty life insurance policy.  There's some pretty intense face sucking and body clutching as the affair between Doris and Edward begins almost at first sight. Of course, that's how she suckers him into the shady business deal that he's suspicious of from the start.

When the Hillmans' cold greedy plot to knock off Shaw for his life insurance policy becomes known to Doris' "kid sister" Madge (Claudie Barrett) who is crushing big time on Edward Shaw, Madge becomes his savior when she foils her sister and brother-in-law's plot and brings in the law, but not until Shaw saves himself with his life-learned sense of paranoia. It's not the first time he's been screwed by a business associate!

One of the things I love about film noir besides the dark seedy grittiness of it all is how love affairs are portrayed. Obviously, sex scenes were not allowed in mainstream movies until more recent decades, so a lot was left to the viewers' imagination. There's a lot of desperately passionate kissing, clutching and innuendo that is severely lacking in modern day movies where pretty much everything but actual penetration is shown up front and personal where sex isn't just casual, it's just part of an average day. Ho-hum. Physical mechanics are no substitute for the artful portrayals of deep longing, passionate glances and the sad downward looks of unrequited lust amidst a cloud of cigarette smoke that occur in film noir movies.