Criminal Minds 217: Distress

Man, punks are just jerks, aren’t they? This week on Criminal Minds they open the episode trashing a construction yard! And then one of them snaps the neck of an innocent security guard! Or maybe it wasn’t a punk at all, since he silently dispatched the guy immediately, stripped him of his weapons, then disappeared silently into the night. In a fashion not unlike that of a ninja!

A team profiling session reveals that three separate people have had their necks snapped in identical ways – and the chase is going to be taking place in the highest-crime area of Huston! Will we never learn who this mystery man is?

Actually, I don’t know about the team, but we certainly will. He’s an ex-special forces guy with PTSD. How do we know this? It’s not just the broken necks (although that’s part of it) – just as the profiling session ends we see a couple of people walking down an alley, right past this guy, hiding among the garbage:

If that didn’t make it clear enough, when this image is onscreen some stereotypically ‘middle-eastern’ music plays. Just in case we could have avoided the entire mystery being spoiled.


Shuttle Hates Women

I don’t mean that in the normal way that torture porn movies hate women, either. You know, the whole ‘let’s show the brutal victimization of women in underwear because of the sick thrill it offers freaks’ kind of way. Although it does that as well.

No, Shuttle hates women in that it depicts them as being considerably dumber than coral.

Here is a brief illustrated list of the things the film Shuttle believes women are too stupid to do-

Run away from people who are trying to kill you.


Programme 6 (02-April-77)

Cover: I know that I was impressed by last week’s cover, but obviously I was underestimating the heights to which this comic would climb. The combination of nazi gold, a submarine discharging nazi zombies, and Mach Man referring to himself in the third person all combine to make this the the GREATEST COVER IN THE HISTORY OF COMIC BOOKS.


Criminal Minds 216: Fear and Loathing

It’s a dark night in suburbia as a female teen sneaks out of her house, dressed to meet someone special. But before she can reach the appointed meeting place of her mystery man a stalker-y ex-boyfriend drives up, demanding to know who she’s sneaking out to be with. The question is answered immediately when another car pulls up at the curb. Stalker goes to question his ex’s new beau, and winds up getting shot for his troubles. The killer then tries to force the teen into his car, then winds up having to chase her into some nearby woods.

What have we learned about the killer from this encounter? A: He’s black – the intended victim (teen girl) was black, and serial killers tend to kill within their own ethnicity, and B: He’s a moron – seriously, who, when having his plan to escort a victim to a secondary location interrupted before anything suspicious has happened elects to kill the interruptor, rather than just driving away? He had no way of knowing he wasn’t being watched from across the street, or that a cop car wouldn’t drive up in that moment. When you’ve gone to the trouble of getting a victim to voluntarily come to meet you in the middle of the night, why suddenly expose yourself?

The team identifies the teen as members of a pattern – three dead black teens, each of whom had a swastika painted on their face after their brutal murders. The assumption? That it’s a killer racist out to make a point about black people moving into suburban Connecticut! Also, and I hope this will become important later, Reid is having flashbacks to his time being tortured by Van Der Beek.

Will his newfound addiction to heroin ruin the case? Find out after the opening credits!


Smash Cut!

It would be unfair of me to spend a lengthy article criticizing Smash Cut – the film is clearly intended as both an homage to the (largely inept – but entertainingly so) films of Herschel Gordon Lewis, as well as a satire of the moviemaking process itself. So I’m not going to go blow-by-blow here, although the film makes enough poor choices that such a decision might well be warranted… All I want to talk about is the very opening of the film, which proves so profoundly wrong that I couldn’t help but scoff at it, and question everything the filmmakers did afterwards.

The film opens with a scene from the film-within-a-film that the main character, ‘Abel Whitman’ is premiering at Ottawa’s Bytowne theatre. It’s a standard killer toy parody, featuring a tiny clown doll that murders a psychiatrist in her office. The scene works comedically, especially considering the size of the prop-

What doesn’t work is the reaction of the audience. They absolutely hate the film. They talk derisively about its lame effects, hurl invective at the screen, followed by popcorn and empty paper cups. Why is this reaction so profoundly out-of-place, when the film is so terrible? Simple – because no one in the audience is laughing. The scene is built around the audience reacting with contempt when they really ought to be finding it hilarious.


The Fourteenth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

You know, there's two things I love. Racist caricatures and rhyming propaganda.

In a way, it's a tragedy I missed the '40s.


I’m unclear on what The Collector’s plan was.

The Collector retells one of the oldest stories there is – the tale of a pair of guys who write Saw movies trying to recycle a bunch of torture/trap ideas that were vetoed by Saw producers and call it a film.

I’m not here to spoil the entire plot (as I often do), although ‘thief gets trapped in a house with a serial killer’ is basically all that happens, so it would be hard to ruin – the entry I’d like to make in the ‘criticizing (the) Collector canon’ is an examination of just what the hell the Collector’s plan was.

The Collector has a relatively simple MO that gets bogged down in the filmmakers’ insistence on making him a trap-themed killer. I’ll explain- He breaks into your house, presumably when you’re not there, although the film doesn’t make that part entirely clear, leaving a living person in a chest to act as ‘bait’.

Now, it’s at this point, the point where you find a creepy steamer trunk in your bedroom, at which a normal person would start calling the police. The Collector is counting on them not doing this, however, correctly predicting that they’ll just assume that the people renovating their home have left a mysterious steamer trunk with a creepy note on it. Because that is a thing that contractors often do. No, they wait until they’ve opened the box and discovered the mutilated man inside before seeking assistance. But by then it’s way too late.


Criminal Minds 215: Revelations

This episode picks up just after the last one ended, with Reid dragged off and JJ having shot a bunch of dogs to death. Oh, and some Rolling Stones are playing. I’m not going to tell you which song. Because if you can’t guess, based on the religious theme of the episode, then you don’t listen to enough music.

The rest of the team arrives, and finds that Reid and James Van Der Beek are both long gone. They’re loaded into a truck, driving for parts unknown!

Well, we know they’re in a hunting lodge somewhere, but we don’t know where it is, so that’s not really useful information. Beek wakes Reid up and wants to engage him in a conversation. After playing some Russian Roulette, of course.

Of course, the scene would be a little more tense if the cut-point before the opening credits came before the gun failed to go off when the trigger was pulled, not after.


Programme 5 (26-March-77)

What can I even say? Dredd’s about to battle robo-Kong. This is only the fourth appearance of Judge Dredd, and he’s already fighting fake King Kong. What the hell can you say to that? Apparently the writers felt it needed a little more, so they have some awkward text on the cover, announcing that in addition to the whole killer robot angle, the stakes are raised by the fact that they’re all three kilometers in the air!

There’s no way the story can be this good.


Sherlock Holmes is a profoundly dumb movie.

As someone who adores the mystery genre above nearly all else, I was at first very excited to hear that there was going to be a new Sherlock Holmes film, then profoundly disappointed to discover that it was going to be directed by Guy Ritchie. An entertaining filmmaker, Ritchie is known for making violent, energetic, mildly humourous films. Sadly, among all the adjectives one might employ to describe his films, I doubt the term ‘intellectually stimulating’ has ever come up.

If one were looking for proof of this theory, you’d need look no farther than the film ‘Revolver’, which is a prime example of what happens when a dullard attempts to write a con film.

So I was a little wary at the prospect of him directing a film about the world’s greatest detective. Other than Batman, of course. As I watched the film today I discovered that my fears were well-founded.


V continues to surprise me with its idiocy.

At this point, I think it’s fair to say that almost no thought is going into the production of V. I’ve already explained, at length, the ways in which the show is convinced that its audience are idiots, but this latest episode proved, in a single image, that the people producing the show are every bit the morons that they imagine their viewers to be.

When I first saw that image I dismissed it as run-of-the-mill condescension. “Really?” I thought, “There’s an English display on the alien ship? And you didn’t think the audience would get that access had been granted when he continued working at the computer? Hell, why didn’t you just have the box flash green and show a graphic of a padlock opening while you were at it?”

But then I looked a little closer and noticed the repeating characters in the alien version of “Access Granted”. They were exactly the same as in the English version.

The alien language is just English, but with a bizarre nonsense alphabet consistently superimposed over the roman characters. That’s a whole new level of laziness.


Criminal Minds 214: The Big Game

Um… okay, it turns out they’re not chasing down Frank this week. This episode opens with people watching the Superbowl while a mysterious figure waits outside to kill them.

One couple leaves, and the other starts to clean up. Meanwhile the killer enters through the completely unlocked back door and talks to himself about not wanting to ‘do this’. I’m actually not clear on whether I’m supposed to think it’s one guy or two. The voice is clearly one guy speaking, and then the same guy speaking in a scary voice, and we only see one set of boots walking into the bedroom to murder the people.

In an interesting note, the killer phones 911 to tell them why he’s going to kill those people. Also interesting? Now that I heard the two voices clearly, I recognize that the killer this week is totally played by James Van Der Beek, of TV’s Dawson’s Creek! So that’s what happened to him!

Back in Virginia the team is also out at a Superbowl party – this is all character stuff, so largely unimportant, except for the fact that Derek’s in the background, dancing with three women. You know, after episode 12 revealed more about his backstory, I guess I kind of figured that they’d look a little more into the character. Him being molested fits perfectly with what we already knew about Derek – his inability to maintain a relationship, the fact that he’ll chase after anything in a skirt: these are fairly common symptoms of the molested child.

But no, he’s just back to being a dawg two weeks later, and his womanizing is once again nothing more than an opportunity for comic relief. Classy.

Anyhow, the night of partying is interrupted by a call to help out on the whole Van Der Beek affair. Which is my favorite Ludlum novel, by the way.

The only person not at the party was Mandy, who, rather than spending all his time tracking down Frank, as he suggested he’d do last time, has instead swung by the Smithsonian to check out pictures of birds.

This, for example, is a Mockingbird, a bird that can reproduce the calls of other birds. Gee, I wonder if that’s going to come up in an episode where Van Der Beek is doing hilarious voices?

I’m guessing we’ll find out after the opening credits.


A note on the subject of Castle Vardulon.

When I originally started the site it was for one purpose only: to cover my attempt to review every issue of 2000AD leading up to where I started reading them comic, through the issues I own, and then find out how the stories that had been left hanging when the comics became unavailable to me were resolved.

I got four issues in.

Now that I've spent a couple of years primarily reviewing things I hate I thought it might be a good time to look back into covering something I actually care about. So starting next week, right here at Castle Vardulon, I'll be back reviewing issues of 2000AD. I'm not entirely sure of the pace that these reviews will be published yet - for right now I'll likely be using them as fill whenever I don't have anything else scheduled, but hopefully I'll eventually find a regular place for them in the lineup along with all my other features.

So, starting next week, look forward to issue 5! Of 1600!


The Thirteenth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

I know this is the least action-packed panel ever, but bear with me-

Yeah, Billy? No matter how many times you say that, it doesn't become clever.


Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations!

Did anyone out there see the movie 12:01? The premise was that The Single Guy (Jonathan Silverman) kept living the same day over and over again. And if that sounds law-suit-similar to the premise of Groundhog Day, the producers of 12:01 thought so, and so they sued.

Ah, the 90s. Back when people still gave a damn about protecting intellectual property.

Where was I?


How To Ruin Your Own Movie: 909 Experiment Edition

It’s quite possible that you haven’t heard of ‘909 Experiment’ – I hadn’t heard of it until a few days ago when I was looking for information about ‘Das Experiment’ online. It was made in 1999 as an attempted Blair Witch cash-in, and the plot concerns two young people who head into the woods in order to take part in an ongoing university project about creepy goings-on inside a mountain chalet.

The creepy goings on are that the guy dies and the girl doesn’t. I wish what I’d just done there can be called spoiling the movie, but like all the films I cover here for the ‘How to Ruin Your Own Movie’ feature, 909 Experiment is hell-bent on spoiling itself from the earliest scenes.

That’s Jamie. Just one minute into the movie we see her being interviewed after the main events of the film. So she gets out just fine. And she only refers to the other character “Alex” in the past tense. So obviously he’s not long for the world.


Criminal Minds 213: No Way Out Part 1

Here’s the problem with watching these episodes on DVD. I don’t look at what’s coming next, but I can always see the title when I’m starting the episode. So I know that there’s going to be no resolution this time around. Which makes it kind of hard to get into the episode’s mystery, because he structure ensures that I the know exactly how things are going to end.

How can I be so sure? Because it’s one of those ‘starts at the end’ deals.

After a gratuitous gore shot:

Mandy and Derek walk into and sit down at Keith Carradine’s table. They have a genial conversation about milkshakes and people’s names. Keith’s name is ‘Frank’, and he’s kidnapped someone. Mandy and Derek want to know where the woman is – she’s in trouble, because Frank’s a twisted serial killer!

But he’s a twisted serial killer with a plan – despite the fact that there are twenty cops outside, itching for a chance to blow him away, Frank assures Mandy that they’re going to let him go once he finishes his milkshake.

And he’ll succeed – how do we know this? For two reasons: A – this is the end of the story, and the rest is told in flashbacks, and B – the ‘part 1’ in the title. If Frank doesn’t get away, how could there be a part 2?

But let’s take a ride anyway, huh?