Friday, October 2, 2015

Twilight Tusk

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
The other night, Izzy & I watched the horror anthology of 1983’s “Twilight Zone: The Movie” which is… basically a movie where four of Hollywood’s best directors at the time rebooted four old episodes of the legendary 1950’s Rod Serling TV series. I hadn’t seen this movie in a long, long time… and the only thing that I really remember from it are that the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes have parodied them… and my dad used to give me the crazy Dan Aykroyd look every once in a while and say “Do you want to see something REALLY scary?” and I’d immediately respond, “No, I do not. Not interested at all. Thank you.” That’ll be explained in the Proglogue starring Dan Aykroyd& Albert Brooks in the first few minutes. However, because this is an anthology… I’m going to review this movie by its four sections… since they have different directors. You’re welcome.
Segment 1: “Time Out” – Directed by John Landis (“Blues Brothers”, “Animal House”, etc) – A bigoted man meets up with a few friends of his at the bar… and he just missed out on his promotion at work… and basically the reason he believes that it happened was that the guy who got the promotion was Jewish. From there, he basically goes into a rambling racist rant and even pisses off a few people at the bar… and then he leaves in a huff. Well, when he steps outside… he’s magically transported to Nazi-occupied Germany in the 1940’s. Now he will know what REAL prejudice is! Overall a good segment… good message of racial tolerance, keeping everything in perspective, judging people by their actions and not their race, creed, all that stuff… give it a watch. Not incredible, but fairly memorable.
Segment 2: “Kick the Can” – Directed by Steven Spielberg (“Jaws”, “A.I.”, “Munich”, etc) – If there’s a segment to completely skip because it’s pretty damn boring AND it doesn’t really fit into the whole Twilight Zone thriller theme, it’s this schmaltzy bit from Spielberg about a retirement community who has a mystical, magical stranger (played by Scatman Crothers) who is trying to cheer up the locals… but they’re a bit on the crotchety side. Well, what if they could be young again? Although the segment is well-shot (even if a little slow), acted well, and all that… it’s basically just a shortened version of “Cocoon” and there’s really no intrigue in my humble opinion. It seemed REALLY out of place.
Segment 3: “It’s a Good Life” – Directed by Joe Dante (“Gremlins”, etc) – A young woman (prime Kathleen Quinlan) is on the road going… somewhere… when she stumbles into a diner ran by character actor Dick Miller. While leaving, she accidentally back into a kid named Anthony on his bike… and offers to take him to his house. When she walks into the house, the family invites her to stay for dinner… but things seem a little off. The family is on edge… cartoons are playing on every TV… in fact, the whole house kind of seems like she’s in a cartoon… but why? Short of giving anything away, I’ll stop there. What I really like about this segment was the growing sense of suspense during the buildup portion… and then the (somewhat dated but still) great use of physical effects with the various creatures that pop up during this segment. Also, fun fact, this segment was redone in a Simpson Treehouse of Horror episode… and the voice of Bart Simpson (Nancy Cartwright) is Anthony’s sister in this show. You’ll be able to tell which one as soon as she opens her mouth.
Segment 4: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” – Directed by George Miller (“Mad Max” movies & “Babe”) – This was my favorite segment! The TV version stars the great William Shatner in the main role, but for the movie version it’s the great John Lithgow… and he stars as an airline passenger who is having a bit of a panic attack while mid-flight during a bit of turbulence in the heart of a lightning storm. The stewardesses offer him some sedatives to help him calm down… but he takes a few deeps breaths & says that he’ll be fine. Throw in a few creepy passengers (especially that little girl, WTF?) and suspension is being built beautifully… and then he glances out the window… and sees some one out on the wing of the plane! He calls for the stewardess… but she doesn’t see it… no one else does… neither does he… is he losing his mind? Long story short: It gets crazy from there! Also, Simpsons did that one too… but yeah, check out the big screen version. I love everything about this segment… even the creepy little girl with the doll. It totally makes sense that this part was from the director of the Mad Max movies. Overall, basically see this whole damn movie… but if you only have an hour to spare, skip the old folks home. Great stuff!
Monday night, I watched another horror flick that had been recommended to me called “Tusk” starring Justin Long, Michael Parks & Haley Joel Osment and directed by Kevin Smith (“Clerks”, “Mallrats”, “Jersey Girl”, “Dogma”, etc). This is apparently the first in a horror trilogy that Kevin Smith is doing (not unlike “Devil” was for M. Night Shyamalan a few years back) which peaked my interest… mostly as a “can he really pull it off?” interest. Now, I’m a big fan of most Kevin Smith movies… but what seems to work best in his movies (dialogue, humor, occasional touching moments, cameos by big stars like Ben Affleck, Matt Damon or Will Smith) doesn’t typically translate well to the horror genre… unless it’s a kind of tongue-in-cheek horror parody or something… and even then, it’s tricky. So yeah, interested! The movie is about a podcaster named Wallace (Long) who travels the world in search of stories to share with his co-host (Osment) on their show, the Not-See Party (always make sure to spell it out over the phone). Well, his travels take him to the Great White North (Canada) where he wanders into a bar after a failed interview… and finds an interesting invite on the bulletin board from an elderly gentleman (Parks) who wants to share his stories. PERFECT! He calls the man up… and they arrange an interview. The evening starts off at his palatial estate about an hour from anywhere… and then things take a sickening turn when it seems that his beverage has been drugged.
Now, I don’t want to give too much away… but let’s just say that what follows is very “Human Centipede” inspired. For the rest of this paragraph, there are going to be spoilers… so if you’re interested in seeing this movie, then by all means, please skip to the next paragraph about Softball. Seriously, I’m going to reveal some things that might ruin the experience if you’re looking at it with fresh eyes. Okay, now that they’re gone… this movie was a little odd-fitting to me. The performances were pretty great. Michael Parks was amazing as the protagonist! Genesis Rodrigues as his girlfriend had some VERY impressive moments… and she’s obviously easy on the eyes. Even the addition of Johnny Depp as Canadian detective Guy LaPointe was convincing… even if it’s Depp in a LOT of makeup with a crazy accent as what seems to be his MO the past few years. However, I couldn’t really tell if this movie was supposed to be horror… or a parody of horror. If it was supposed to be a parody, then it wasn’t really funny… barely a few chuckles… even though there were a LOT of jabs at Canadian stereotypes & Justin Long rattling off the typical Kevin Smith dialogue in the first act or so. The whole premise is a crazy old man who’s trying to surgically turn abducted people into a walrus, and then live with them as his loving companion for the rest of their lives. If that premise doesn’t SCREAM parody of horror… then I don’t know what does. It’s pretty f**king ridiculous. That being said… the movie is pretty well shot for the eerie atmosphere of a horror flick… well-acted… and as long as you can get past the whole ridiculousness about the walrus (which the final transformation costume looks like Frankenstein Fat Bastard with two parking cones shoved in his mouth) then it can be a pretty harrowing tale. I don’t know… it’s just a weird mid-genre movie… and in doing so, it doesn’t really pull off either. Definitely an interesting movie… and I kind of enjoyed it… but yeah, just a little off to me. Apparently he’s following up this movie with “Yoga Hosers” later this year (involves two teenagers from this movie teaming up with Guy LaPointe to battle an ancient evil) and “Moose Jaws” next year (actual tagline is “Like Jaws, but with a moose”) so it might be interesting to see how they all interconnect… but only mildly curious based on this movie. Again, I enjoy Kevin Smith movies… but I understand that sometimes they’re a little weird with his dialogue, inside gags & stuff like that when he’s trying to do a serious genre flick. There are definitely great elements of this movie (again, Parks, f**king boss!!!) but may have missed some points in the delivery overall. Okay, back to non-movie stuff…
Tuesday night, we had a surprise doubleheader in softball (apparently a makeup game that nobody knew about until the umpire asked us as everybody was leaving) but as per usual… we f**king crushed it. Final scores were something like 13-1 & 14-3. Our defense is solid as always and our bats were finally catching fire too… well, by our bats I mean the team’s… my perfect batting average came to a crushing halt with a 1-of-4 performance over the two games… but yeah, the team is 7-0 still and we’re just catching stride.
This weekend, in spite of pretty obvious mishandling / incompetence by the powers that be over the event, we will still have a booth at the Alternative Press Expo in San Jose on Saturday & Sunday. Though because of the mishandling / incompetence / prejudicial behavior, we will be that awesome booth in the far-back corner away from everything… even though we booked the booth several months ago. Yeah, obviously I’m a little pissed at the piss-poor performance of the event coordinators... and I’m not even going to get into how they’ve “promoted” the event to absolutely no one… but f**k ‘em, we’ll be there, we’ll sell a bunch of art in spite of them… and then they may or may not get a flaming bag of human excrement on the way out. Come take part in the fun! On the real though, there’ll be a LOT of great independent artists & comic book people (billed as the Indie Comic-Con but you’ve never heard of it due to lack of promotion) and it’s definitely worth a stop… or at least it was. Worst-case scenario, I’ll be there… so you know that’s f**king awesome 24-7. See y’all there!
Aside from that, more to come after this busy busy weekend… have a great weekend yourselves!!!

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