Wednesday, July 15, 2009


The Greenskeepers

First Five Minutes of the Horror Movie

Robotic Technology Inc.'s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot -- that's right, "EATR" -- "can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable," reads the company's Web site.

That "biomass" and "other organically-based energy sources" wouldn't necessarily be limited to plant material -- animal and human corpses contain plenty of energy, and they'd be plentiful in a war zone.
Yeah, nothing could possibly go wrong with that...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let the REAL Right One In

I have to second the Aint it Cool team: Remaking the recent Swedish horror classic 'Let the Right One In' is unnecessary, fraught with disaster and just a Really Bad Idea.

Yeah the posters AICN turned up are vaguely promising, but considering the original only came out last year, such indecent haste to re-film it in English, seems outright disrespectful

Do yourself a favor and let yourself be hypnotized by this icy tale of innocence and blood in its original version - the DVD even has a dubbed version if you just can't hack subtitles. Let the Right One In is easily the best Vampire movie I've seen in years. If you haven't seen it yet you're missing out.

Set in the snowy closed in world of a Swedish housing estate in the mid 80's, we are introduced to Oskar, a slight, shy 12 year old bullied by his peers and ignored by his parents, who have less presence in this film than the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon. They're there to provide the minimum basics of parenting while withholding any real involvement. Oskar frankly acts like a budding serial killer as he fantasises about stabbing his enemies and making them 'squeal like a pig!' But mostly he just seems intensely isolated.

And then there's Eli, who only comes out at night, wandering through the Swedish winter in bare feet. Eli is 12 too. But Eli has been 12 for very long time.

The two meet and form a careful but quickly all-encompassing bond in the silent emptiness of winter darkness in abandoned public spaces, playgrounds under street lights and barren apartments.

Oskar needs human connection desperately, but Eli's needs are more pragmatic, and Eli isn't human. Both are innocent, in the way that children or sharks are innocent:

They do only what they have to.

Another amazing thing about this movie: It's about real kids. Not little adults spouting dialogue, not kids as adults mythologize them, but real affectless kids, free of ironic detachment or hip cynical humor, free of all but the clumsiest most revealing attempts at childish artifice.

Real human child behavior in movies is rare enough to be a jolt when you see it.

It's also a rare thing when a movie comes along and pulls you into its world, against your will even. Let the Right One In is a masterful example of sparse but immersive film making that treats its characters and its audience with respect.

Monday, July 13, 2009

'A Prayer to the Predator Gods'

"...and in the darkness something hissed and green, cat's eyes flashed.."

"Black and empty sockets in torn leather
stared at us with terrible knowledge..."

"Teeth like thin black nails, eyes
like the glow of rotting fungus.."

Trapped in the suffocating darkness.
Trapped with the Dead.
'A Prayer to the Predator Gods'

Sunday, July 12, 2009

No More

The Brains

Festival of Fear

It's almost enough to get me to Toronto.


The Rue Morgue Festival Of Fear National Horror Expo 2009.

Featuring Roger Corman, Bruce Campbell, Udo Kier, Barbara Steele, Tom Savini, Linda Hamilton, Max Brooks, Lloyd Kaufman and the Suicide Girls and music by Psychocharger.

This Convention sounds like the inside of my own head.

If you're going to be in Toronto this summer, first, my sympathies. Second, You really should go to this. It'll probably be air-conditioned for one thing.

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 222 Bremner Blvd South Building.

August 28 - 30.

Thought for the Day

I think the various Ed Hardy tattoo graphics t-shirts are actually pretty cool looking and I'd actually get one if every teenage boy on Earth wasn't wearing them right now.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lie To Me

Tom Waits

Weekly Comics - July 12

This series will happen most weeks, between Wednesday and Sunday. This week Wednesday Comics, Batman and Robin 2 and North 40.

Wednesday Comics #1
DC hits one out of the park with this evocative artistic recreation of the old fashioned broadsheet newspaper comic section. Some of the most exciting artists in the industry paired with some of the best writers do tightly plotted one page strips. This first issue has to bear the burden of story set up which different features handle with varying degrees of success.

Highlights are the Raymondesque Kamandi by Gibbons and Sook, Paul Pope's deco arabesques in Adam Strange and the sunny subversion of Gaiman and Allred's Metamorpho. The Superman page by Arcudi and Bermejo is a beautiful artifact and will be reprinted in USA Today every week, potentially bringing some new readers into comic shops.

This project is an exciting mix of nostalgia hit and modern reinterpretive appropriation. Recommended.

North 40
Lovecraftian horror meets small town angst in this horror ongoing about a town touched by demonic forces and cut off from the world. Now Entering Conover County written by Aaron Williams with art by Fiona Staples sets up the situation and characters without sacrificing suspense or horror. Bored goth kids get the library to send them the wrong book from the restricted stacks (If it looks like the Necronomicon and acts like the Necronomicon...) and unleash ancient magic on their town.

All over the county people fall asleep and wake up trapped and changed. Forces begin to emerge, sides begin to be dimly seen. You could be forgiven for thinking the creators might be angling for Adaptation attention. This book sometimes reads like a big budget HBO horror series.

Worth it for the writing and art. Lovecraft fans in particular should be picking this up.

Batman And Robin #2
Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly continue their stylized high energy take on the new Batman and Robin. The original Batman Bruce Wayne is currently presumed dead fallowing Grant Morrison's apocalyptic Final Crisis and this is original Robin Dick Grayson donning the cowl while Damien Wayne, Bruce Wayne's long lost secret son with the daughter of a super villain has taken on the role of Robin.

In this issue a conflicted Dick Grayson has second thoughts about taking on his mentor's role and Damien who's been raised by assassins and terrorists continues having trouble adapting to life as a hero, much less a sidekick. He puts himself in danger heedlessly following the villain of the piece.

Doctor Pyg, a horror movie monster of a Batman villain may be one of the most disturbing menaces yet and brings a disturbing frisson to an otherwise shiny and knowing superhero comic dancing right up to the edge of deliberate camp.

This is about as subversively smart and fun as mainstream superhero comics get.

Other worthwhile books this week: No Hero #6 and Gravel #12 by Warren Ellis each up the ante in their stories and Peter Bagge's collection of his satirical Reason Strips steals my planned autobiography title with Everybody Is Stupid except for Me, and Other Astute Observations. Funny and smart.

Find your nearest Comic Shop Here

The Children of Earth

Torchwood: The Children of Earth is as good as TV Science Fiction and Horror get. I want to talk about it with some mild spoilers.

Fans of the dark, sexually ambiguous adult spin-off from Doctor Who were disappointed to hear this season Torchwood would be one five part special. Along with the hugely popular Doctor Who reduced to a series of specials this year the BBC signals their intention to strangle the geese that lay the golden eggs and subsist on reality TV, talent searches and game shows. A future Doctor Who actually warned of in the episode Bad Wolf.

But the complete five part story is a triumph. A suspenseful, horrific masterpiece throbbing with paranoia, guilt and hideous brooding menace.

This is Russell Davies at the peak of his game. Its a structural master piece as he ratchets up the tension in a steady rising curve for more than four hours concluding without an easy cheat as he occasionally does. The character writing is some of the sharpest I've seen from a writer famous for his dialogue. Captain Jack regains some much needed moral ambiguity and depth. Ianto goes through a splendidly delineated arc in his scenes and Gwen is finally shown as the brilliant badass she always should have been married to Reese who may be stocky and ordinary and out of his depth - but he's no idiot and gets a couple lovely scenes.

And while the villains may overtly seem to be the menacing and mysterious Species 456, the elite figures of government are the ones who will truly make your blood run cold as they coolly plan the ultimate betrayal of the same people they always betray. There are thoughtful reflections here to the modern British culture of totalitarian surrveilance, class based discrimination and demonization of youth.

Doctor Who once did a withering take down of Margaret Thatcher in the classic 80's episode The Happiness Patrol. In Children of Earth Davies does his most unforgiving portrayal of a political class that could be ASBO promoting authoritarian Labourites or war on working class Tory social engineers. That sequence alone, that cabinet room full of panicked elites holding their very own modern day Wannsee Conference is a sly commentary on a political class aggressively disengaged from their populace. People often incorrectly reverse the two, Children of Earth reminds us of the truth through a tale of dark socio-symbolic fantasy.

It's hard to conceive how Torchwood comes back from this.
Between the last episode of last season and this five parter they've lost more than half of their core cast and left the show's infrastructure and status quo literally in ruins.

Arguably worth it for five of the best hours of TV SF in my memory.

Children of Men, Grant Morrison's The Invisibles and The City of Lost Children

What to Expect

This is a blog about the things that entertain me. The pop culture ephemera given depth and reverence above its station.

So there will be Music. A lot of fuzzy guitar, blues, punk, surf, weird percussive world music, indie and anything ending with '-abilly'. Jazz, Hip Hop, mostly West Coast backpacker stuff and some old school, Trip Hop and Acid Jazz. I love Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, DJ Shadow, Miles Davis, Dan the Automator, The Reverend Horton Heat, The Clash, Lyric's Born, Nick Cave, Flogging Molly, The Brains, Seasick Steve, Charles Mingus, The Distellers, UNKLE, Huevos Rancheros.

That kind of thing.

There will be Art. The Symbolists and the Surrealists. Panic, The Grand Guignol and the Theater of Cruelty. Lots of pop culture retrofits like Coop, Phil Noto, Darwyn Cooke. Zombie movies, old 70's American and British TV SF, Akira Kurasawa movies, Steam Punk, Dada, Hammer Horror, hard boiled detective novels and the cinematic work of Mister Vincent Price.

There will be Reading. Reviews of the stuff I like and why. In fiction, my tastes include authors like William S. Burroughs, Robert Anton Wilson, Lawrence Block, Dan Simmons, Alan Moore, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick, Andrew Vachs, Roger Zelazny, George C. Chesbro, Warren Ellis, plus lots of random SF, Horror, Mystery and non genre stuff. I love comic books and will be reviewing them regularly here. For non-fiction I read a lot of histories, lot of political stuff, anthropology, sociology, cutting edge physics news (Not the math.), Astronomy and environmental engineering. Plus a lot of stuff about self engineering, Shamanism, Zen Buddhism, Chaos Magik, intelligence enhacing pharmacology, Neuro-linguistic programming and ritual working.

But this blog will skew heavily to the Sex, Drugs and Zombie movies parts of my brain.

Garbage Man

The Cramps

And a terrible beauty is born

They said it couldn't be done. They said it shouldn't be done.

I did it anyway.

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