Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Boogens - Intro



While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing when eventually revealed), I do respond to its location and characters/actors. I noticed when reading about it how certain fans of My Bloody Valentine (1981) took to The Boogens as well, and I’m similar in that regard. The mine that had been shut down since 1912 appears to be a bit scary but miners in charge of seeing if it can be cleared as operational consider it okay to work inside (you wouldn’t catch me inside it, that’s for sure!). Two guys, Mark and Roger (Fred McCarren and Jeff Harlan), decide to help work in the mine (albeit reluctantly), as Trish (Rebecca Balding) and Jessica (Anne-Marie Martin) are introduced as their romantic love interests. Fans of 80s slasher/horror are familiar with Balding from The Silent Scream (1979) and Martin from Prom Night (1980). One of my favorite GIFs is of Martin taking a drag from a cigarette and I just always find myself smitten with her when she arrives at the prom in the red dress, although she’s a bit hard to like with that attitude and smarm. Balding I loved in The Silent Scream, and I just find her wonderful in The Boogens as well. She just lays a charm on me. Martin has a “blink and you’ll miss her” scene in Halloween II (1981) as well, requesting Shoop to carry her home before going to work at the hospital.

Don't go into the basement!!!

Tapping Out Okada - Nope

I had the absolute pleasure of watching IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, defending against Zach Sabre, Jr. at Sakura Genesis in Sumo Hall. ZSJ, with his moniker of Just Tap Out, representing villainous faction, Suzuji-gun. While I always wish New Japan would cease just moving from one opponent to the next, allowing the just-finished match to breathe, I do agree with Ross and Barnett of Axs TV that Sabre has indeed made a BIG statement in 2018. The New Japan Cup trophy tournament four-win victory over the likes of Tanahashi and Ishii was huge, but his wearying arsenal of submission holds, applied from any position and location, were on full display as Okada had to endure a fair share of suffering in order to survive with his championship intact. It was survival and a steady diet of dropkicks and evasion from the stretching-limb offense that kept Okada from tapping. His physical advantage and punishing lariats took their toll on slippery-limb Sabre, who uncannily bent and twisted Okada in uncomfortable placements/situations that left the champion reeling. Kudos to ZSJ for almost crippling Okada, as the arms, legs, shoulders, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles were put to the test. I've never seen a foot turned around like that without snapping. As Sabre was carried out with spaghetti legs, exhausted countenance, and wearied gate; Okada stood tall but sweaty, hurting, and spent. Too bad Gedo dismissed Sabre and went on to challenge someone else, as Tanahashi arrived to accept.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

99 Friends and Audrey Ain't One.


There has been some emphasis on what superheroes often do wrong when trying to save the human race. With rubble and machinery often toppling attacked cities as the superheroes unintentionally hurt when trying to help due to the adversaries unleashed upon the earth, there is collateral damage and unfortunate casualties. Jessica Jones learns this the hard way when a potential client arrives with a job for her to follow her husband. When JJ tells client, Audrey Eastman (Jessica Hecht), she has “99 of her friends” (those with “gifts” AKA “superpowers”) in just her general area alone, it is indeed a warning and revelation that there are more out there similar to her than she realizes. Jones demolishes Audrey’s home, following her and her husband throughout the city to verify if Kilgrave has anything to do with them at all (like if he is the initiator in Audrey’s hiring of her). JJ laying waste to their home is her way of making a statement: don’t fuck with her and her kind much less blame them for deaths that might involve them when accidents do happen when there are attacks by others on the area (or planet).

That during 99 Friends JJ inadvertently—with help from her client, the attorney powerhouse, Jeri Hogarth—brings together a “support group” of manipulated victims of Kilgrave (Trish’s “apology” over the radiowaves to Kilgrave, requested by Jones so that he would back off, brings out a lot of folks to Jeri’s office, so JJ must determine which are possible victims or not) brings a nice bit of realism to the superhero genre…well the show has done that within its series format where urban Hell’s Kitchen and surroundings convey a sense of authenticity while adopting noirish aesthetics in style and storytelling. People are unable to deny what Kilgrave wants despite fighting, and failing, not to obey, resulting in trauma and residual emotional effects. Much like JJ when she was forced to kill Luke’s wife, a police officer who was saved from a leap from a building by Jones is horrified in the possibility that he murdered Trish, wanting to make things right although nothing administered by Kilgrave was his fault. Kilgrave has limits like how he must be within a certain vicinity of victims in order to mind control them, but many are left in his wake combating the mental toll of being psychologically maneuvered by him (one such victim is even forced to give up kidneys and another was ordered to conduct surgery at Kilgrave’s urging!). Trish, with the marks on her neck left by the suffering police officer, Will Simpson (Wil Traval), has been humbled by her own near death experience, reluctant to even allow him at her door to see if she was alright. JJ understands how Will feels, being rattled and shaken by what Kilgrave did to him, so she tries to humor him as Trish must also address her own enduring fears. Eventually Trish realizes Will is legit, not under any spell by Kilgrave, letting her defenses fade, even allowing him inside her house and accepting a gun he provides her illegally as protection.

There is also a recurring subplot that I am not quite sure how it fits within Jessica Jones’ world except as the means to develop Jeri, in regards to her wife and a secretary who is now her new lover/partner. Susie Abromeit, as the secretary, Pam, I just watched Sunday on an episode of CSI: Miami (as a musician who is raped by a convicted killer she helped to set free), having a difficult time serving as a source behind Jeri’s breakup with physician, Wendy (Robin Weigert). Wendy confronts Jeri who had brought Pam to their regular eating establishment (quite in bad taste, as Jeri does very little to offer sympathy to the very one that deserves it due to being wronged in the relationship) about choosing somewhere else to dine, resulting in a pitiable exchange.

--AKA 99 Friends.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Kilgrave's Watching


Previous to It’s Called Whiskey, Jessica Jones has been emphasizing the sexual (and budding romantic) relationship between the “reluctant heroine” and Hell’s Kitchen bartender (who is “unbreakable”), Luke Cage. Cage, victim of an experiment he admits to JJ, seems impervious to “bodily damage” (he uses power saw to prove this as it doesn’t break the skin while the disgruntled husband of a recent lover can’t even cut him with a broken liquor bottle), having lost his wife seemingly to “a bus accident”. In episodes prior to It’s Called Whiskey, JJ opens the medicine cabinet in Cage’s bathroom, visually unsettled by the photograph of his dead wife. The death of Luke’s wife haunts JJ and why is answered in this episode as she recalls just the hold Kilgrave had over her…in a command she is unable to quell, Kilgrave ordered Jones to deliver a single, very shattering blow into the chest of Luke’s wife. The face of Luke’s wife, just this brief image where the blow whiplashed her back, replays occasionally, until the voice of Kilgrave and the muted expression of an obedient Jessica relays to us what happened. Unable to communicate responsibility in her death to Cage, Jones ends their relationship abruptly…Luke considers the “ghost” of his wife the reason for it. As Trish challenges (unwisely) Kilgrave by questioning his manhood and provoking him through name-calling on her news show as Hope is interviewed by Jeri Hogarth regarding his control over her which led to the death of her parents, JJ tries to talk sense into her…no manner of kickboxing/martial arts training can prepare her for able-bodied men overpowering her due to an advantage is size and strength. It isn’t for a sake of trying, though, as a police officer arrives, under orders to kill Trish as she equips herself well with a variety of holds and fisticuffs. It will take JJ arriving to even the odds. And as irony would have it, JJ will have to rescue this very police officer when Kilgrave orders him to jump from the balcony of an apartment complex! Hoping to subdue Kilgrave with an anesthesia (his weakness) so she can kill him, JJ finds this quite difficult when he sends a barrage of mind-controlled victims at her. JJ just hurling one body or head into a wall after another at the end does become rather hilarious to me, including average folks who aren’t exactly in her league, sort of serving as distractions so he can get away. Kilgrave “commandeering” the home of a family, as his every word seems to immobilize them into service for him…the children even ordered to the closet, with the daughter urinating as he orders! Kilgrave, as if his voice were a magic wand, speaks and his every whim is granted by those he comes in contract. Quite a villain! The ending is especially disturbing as JJ finds a surveillance room where Kilgrave kept obsessive tabs on her, as photographs (including a collage building towards a complete face of Jones) document the walls with her face and person. This will be a tall task!

--AKA It's Called Whiskey


Ghost of Jessica's Past

I was on the second episode of Jessica Jones during work breaks today, seriously digging the psychology of the supernatural figure seemingly dead yet still quite present named Kilgrave (so far only voiced by Doctor Who's David Tennant), tormenting the show's titular troubled PI superheroine (Krysten Ritter). Kilgrave is a master at mind control and manipulation, able to request his victims to do his bidding. Thus far Kilgrave's voice and memory haunts and intimidates her. Hope (Erin Moriarty) murdering her parents in the pilot episode (Ladies Night) at the urging (against her will) of Kilgrave, the subsequent arrest, Jessica's inability to rescue her from him, Jessica's request for power attorney, Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) to represent Hope if she can prove Kilgrave is alive and responsible for the parents' murders, her concern that news star buddy, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), will get hurt if she continues to insert herself in Jessica's business, and Jessica's worry that Kilgrave will come for her at any moment...the second episode established how Kilgrave was seen very little and yet he's a significant figurehead, the topic on the lips and very present in conversation. Ritter is particularly impressive when revealing the fear and anxiety in Jessica Jones... Kilgrave really got inside her and her psyche is his playground. So I'm definitely invested in her journey through all this.

---AKA Crush Syndrome



Sunday, May 20, 2018

Expedition Hits a Snag



On Saturday I binged the first four episodes (Go for Broke, Gore, The Ladder, & Punished, as a Boy) of the AMC Arctic horror limited series, The Terror (one of two English Naval ships produced by “The Empire”, the other being Erebus), about an expedition “into the North” in the hopes of developing an economic route through the Northwest Passage to China and India which is interrupted and doomed thanks to “pack ice” that freezes them into stoppage.


Not only the ice and freezing conditions (food shortage, cabin fever, alcoholism, and developing tensions between those among the crew resulting) are cause for concern but, during a search for a route to escape the Arctic, a small group comes across an Inuit father and daughter. The father is accidentally shot in the dark of night when Gore, leader of the search party, mistakes him for a bear they believe is following them. Soon after a creature begins to hunt them down and eviscerate them one by one. I laughed aloud when trailers for the show has a critical praise calling The Terror a “sophisticated” horror show followed by severed heads and body parts of the Naval crewmembers strewn across icy white.


 CiarĂ¡n Hinds is the leading officer of the expedition, Sir John Franklin, his ship the Erebus while Jared Harris (an actor I have always liked, just recently started watching him when featured on Mad Men) commands the second ship, the Terror. Harris’ Captain Francis Crozier just signed on to the expedition to secure the hand in marriage of Franklin’s niece, although Franklin didn’t approve of him as a proper suitor for her. While Franklin embraces the pomp and circumstance of being a celebrated explorer (as is his second-in-command, Commander Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies), also basking in the limelight such lofty applause that being recognized in a crowded theater of your peers brings), Crozier hates it. Crozier doesn’t have the poetic prose of a Captain Franklin, notable for putting effort into grand speeches to men under his command. Crozier, when Franklin is mutilated by the creature in the third episode (while visiting men in a tent camp awaiting the creature, including taking a photograph with them in a pose) and tossed into a watering hole, must assume total command, sinking into his booze as men continue to die and the inability to move (Crozier warned Franklin they needed to change course, altering the time line which would have slowed them down) gradually deteriorates conditions.


 Not helping is rogue Cornelius Hickey (Adam Nagaitis), a secretive homosexual (this sexual orientation is emphasized when a liaison with a superior is frowned upon, as Hickey is determined to be a sinner in need of discipline)  crewman looking to advance in rank and profile anyway he can. In the fourth episode, Hickey takes it upon himself to recruit two other officers and go after the Inuit daughter who lost her father to the bullet that ultimately killed him. This Inuit young woman, dubbed Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen) when she no longer speaks after her father’s death (she wanted him moved out of the ship and onto the ice before he were to pass), seems connected to the creature. In her igloo, the creature breathes hard on the other side of a hanging cloth serving as a curtain of sorts and leaves a dead seal for food…and the creature doesn’t go on the attack until after the death of Lady Silence’s father.


 The atmospheric conditions of the location, the way the creature moves about often undetected and ghosts them (ripping them asunder and remaining free of harm), and the psychological deterioration/warfare that often pits those stuck in the Arctic against each other really have captivated me. I also appreciate the attention to detail (to the period, how the ships are under operation, and the officer protocol), and little trips back to England to see how Franklin and Crozier ended up in the Arctic. The ships themselves are detailed as are the costumes to fit the era, with special mention to the way the officers speak and handle themselves while stranded on the ice, often either waiting for some hope of rescue or their own demise. The show, after the first four episodes, does seem to indicate the creature and Lady Silence are linked somehow. Considering Lady Silence and her Eskimo people are home to the Arctic North, the creature’s existence among them would seem to recognize a kinship between them. The Aurora Borealis is highlighted (I was expecting this, and don’t blame the creative team for using it for aesthetic reasons) to further enhance the idyllic beauty within the environs of a location that promises anything but…horror (and the potential for it…) appears to be all that those stuck in the Arctic recognize. Franklin and Crozier’s little talks are often of the “say enough to get the point across while remaining diplomatic and aristocratic in nature” but the tension and angst is almost always there…because they are so significantly different, they remain at odds. I wish this could have lasted a bit longer than three episodes but the dramatic results of Franklin’s demise served to establish just how scary a threat the expedition’s crew is up against.



Incredible scenic canvas, with good use of bloody ice, wintry climate forboding, the chill of the Arctic always relevant and seemingly uncompromising; The Terror never fails to reiterate the situation as unpleasant and daunting. Memorable moments include a dive underwater to free stuck ice locking up the Erebus with the diver seeing something coming towards him, actual communication in the Inuit language between Crozier and Lady Silence, and a visceral autopsy to determine a scurvy potential threat.

CSI - Check In and Check Out


I was binging CSI: Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon (into the evening) when I came across an episode just perfect for horror fans (and fans of the film for which it echoes, Vacancy), Check In and Check Out, about a specific room (114) at a sleazebag hotel featuring three separate murders where savagery and brutality (absolute overkill) are quite distinctive, with those responsible seemingly unaware of committing them, soon to be determined as themselves victims of an “LSD spray” which, once absorbed into the body, induces a severe psychosis. While the one behind it all (the proprietor of the hotel, encouraged by his increasing sick desire to see bad behavior in all of his rooms, recorded secretly for his own entertainment and jollies within his own “peep room”, monitoring the activities of those staying there) will undoubtedly bring about familiarity, the rage killings are so horrific the episode leaves a lasting impact. A head smash into a bathroom sink, a victim’s legs mutilated, crime scene photos of a hammer-bash victim, corpses of a sweet humanitarian couple stabbed repeatedly with scissors, and a vicious broken-bottle butchery all explicitly, vividly, and viscerally receive attention, testing the viewers’ stomachs and endurance. I was taken aback by this episode, and when you watch a “human hamster ball” riding down a suburban street loaded with a bloody, battered corpse and aren’t as shocked as you were with Check In and Check Out, that is saying something. Nick Stokes drawn to a suspicious religious kook living next door to the room (who was willing to tolerate a monitor in his closet and a drug bag in the wall just so he could continue to remain in the room without being thrown out) while DB is becoming disgruntled with the ongoing returns of his CSIs to Room 114, as well as, Hodges being sprayed in the face with the drug resulting in his going berserk, the episode certainly has its share of startling developments. The CSIs are tested for sure with four homicides including suspects as diverse as a kindly schoolteacher (trying to comfort a student who hoped to seduce her), a homeless man with bloody feet and the scissors nearby him (given away by scabies, seen after by the visiting couple notably charitable towards the rejects of society), husband just trying to sneak a smoke (unknowingly behind the murder of his wife, although he believes someone else did it), and just some guy staying in the room who tied himself to the bed and sliced apart his own legs from his body! What the drug spray does to innocent people and the results are quite tragic. This might have the inexplicable series of crimes tied to one specific room, because of the bloody red meat featured throughout this doesn’t shy away from provoking the squeamish to flee the screen for a vomit bag. The proprietor of the hotel, being interviewed by a repulsed Brass, is your typical CSI creep, totally devoid of the enormity of his misdeeds, totally involved and invested in the reactions of what the drug spray produces, all the violence right in his wheelhouse…his giddy embrace of all that has transpired in that room appropriately gets under the skin.


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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...