The Film 'Flesh, TX' does not merit discussion.

So instead, here is a list of movies you'll enjoy more, which all feature similar plot elements, if that's important to you:

Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Wrong Turn
Tourist Trap
House of Wax (remake)
Eaten Alive
The Vanishing
The Hills Have Eyes
Motel Hell

Really, any movie about kidnapped loved ones or cannibals will do, there's no need for it to feature both.


TheAvod Episode 110: I go a little nuts.

That's right, on this week's TheAvod, which is available by right-clicking here, my emotions get away from me a little when discussing the disappearance of mini-series from American television.

A lame thing to get upset about? Absolutely. At the same time, though, as an old codger, I've become nostalgic for the trappings of my youth. Also, it's just crazy to me that there have been movies of the week and mini-series for the entire history of American television, up until the last ten years. What's up with that?

Damn you, reality television, who I'm choosing to blame for this!

Oh, and we discuss the Red Riding Trilogy for a full hour before the rant. So there's that, if listening to me yell doesn't do it for you.



The Forty-Fourth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

That's scary and all, but the fact that you're invisible other than your sword still puts you at a bit of an advantage.


Tales From the Darkside 122: Grandma’s Last Wish

The episode opens with sad reminders of good times past. As old-timey music plays the camera pans across paraphernalia from the 30s, finally stopping on a photograph of a young woman-

While on the soundtrack we hear the obnoxious snoring of what can only be the older version of same:

Grandma is disturbed about the arrival of her cartwheeling granddaughter, Greta, who has no time for her. May and Greta capera about, answering phone calls and worrying about their own lives while Grandma rambles on about nothing in particular. It's all a fairly depressing vignette about a woman descending into irellevance, ignored by a family who doesn't see her value. Not entirely sure where this is going, but it's going to be bleak!

The next morning Grandma complains to anyone who'll listen about how awful being old is, and how when she was young she never took time to consider this time of her life. Her frustration drives her to try and move across the room without her walker, which leads to a near-fatal fall. Her son and May try to broach the subject of moving her into a home, but grandma's having none of it!


In Defense of My Theories about Big Tits Zombie

During a recent TheAvod we covered a certain movie whose title suggested it would feature well-endowed zombies. During that discussion I asserted that the movie was intended to be a parody of the Bikini Samurai Squad (or Oneechanbara) franchise. One of my co-hosts that week had no idea what I was talking about, and the other made a quick trip to the internet, and was thereby informed that the film was adapted from a comic book. Humbled, I sulked away and turned to vicious sniping to salve my wounded pride.

Now, weeks later, my ego has recovered sufficiently to allow me to plead my case that I was, if not correct, at least reasonable in my assumption about the film's pedigree. An inability to read Japanese, and the paucity of information about possible links in English on the internet has forced me to resort to largely visual evidence in order to prove my case. My rationale follows.


Suspect Behavior 106: Devotion

Another week, another instance of the obtuse opening crawl that doesn't really explain why the show exists. Here's the problem: Criminal Minds already presents a fictional version of an absurdly interventionist Behavioural Analysis Unit, one that rushes en masse to crime scenes around the country, dons bulletproof vests, and kicks open doors. How could a 'Red Cell' possibly be any more proactive?

I'm guessing that we're about to be presented with more proof that it's couldn't.

A family is gathered in the woods to take a photograph, but their camera's battery has died. Even though it's just a five minute walk back to the car, the wife and daughter allow the father to walk back on his one - which leads to him being knocked out and dragged off by the creepy man that the daughter saw following them. The parents didn't believe her about the man, of course, because what person would take their child's claim of being stalked seriously?

Oh, and he's abducted pretty easily despite the fact that he was parked in a long line of cars-

And the park is incredibly packed with people-

What is this guy, a ninja?

Anyhoo, the killer stands the guy on a stool, puts a noose around his neck, and then forces a woman to watch the whole murder-

Yikes! That guy is sadistic. Back in DC we see the team being called in - there was a similar murder two days earlier in Omaha, where a construction worker ducked out from a restaurant to use a bathroom, and wound up lynched in the parking lot. The FBI worried that there might be a racial component, because the guy was Hispanic, but now that there's been a white guy killed the same way, they've dismissed that possibility. Because it's impossible that anyone could have a problem with both Hispanic and White people.

The one thing they're sure of is that the killer is traveling east along a certain highway - will this give them the advantage they need to catch him? Let's find out after the opening credits!


Criminal Minds 416: Pleasure is my Business

The episode begins with a high-priced call girl tantalizing a rich businessman and offering him a glass of champagne, the drinking of which quickly proves to have been a mistake. As the man dies on the floor of a hotel suite she makes another date! Will she be going for a two-fer tonight? And what does all this have to do with Greg watching footage of his son learning how to ride a bike, which is the scene the show immediately cuts to from the murder!

Oh, nothing, it seems. It's just that Greg is called in personally to rush down to Texas, sans the team. Why? Both the men who've been murdered recently are super-rich businessmen who were known to use the services of prostitutes - and the upper class of Dallas are worried that their own indiscretions will come out if the FBI looks into the case! Can the team possibly solve the case without stepping on anyone's feet?

And at what point will Greg realize that he was in the elevator with the very murderer he's been hired to catch?

More importantly, though, how can there be no footage of the killer if she's not shy about taking the elevator when on her way to murder people? And is bringing a suitcase to the room something a prostitute normally does? Maybe we'll find out after the opening credits!

Although I doubt it.


There is no way 'The Last Horror Movie' would ever have worked.

There's plenty of ways to attack a review of 'The Last Horror Movie' - the preposterousness of much of the premise, the fact that the main character's shaky understanding of ethics leads to any number of dull diatribes on morality (seriously, this is the kind of blather you expect to hear coming from a slightly tipsy and wholly obnoxious first-year college taking an intro to philosophy course), most importantly, though, is that the film's very nature sabotages any chance it has of successfully creeping out an audience. Since that creeping out in the last five minutes is the film's only goal, this is a fairly key flaw.

That's the DVD cover. In moments, you'll understand both why the film reel that replaces the 'o' and the fact that this movie has a DVD cover at all are fundamental mistakes.


TheAvod Episode 109: Uncle Gunnysack

We've got another theAvod this week, technological limitations be damned! Seriously though, this week we've got a terribly weird-sounding episode, due largely to a certain participant's dysfunctional computer. I'm not naming names here, but let's just say it was the person who isn't able to type an update on recording day and leave it at that.

Wow, I'm a jerk sometimes.

Anyhoo, if you'd like to hear about my continuing problems with Robert Knepper (really, a single character he portrays), the Divemitsress' experiences with John Waters, and finally the two of us agreeing that Wes Craven has largely been underrated (by us, at least) as a filmmaker, just right click here and download the new episode of theAvod!

All that being said, Red Eye was still awful.


The Forty-Third-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

You know how eventually you're allowed to make light of tragedies? It seems that just three years after that whole Hindenburg mishegoss it was completely cool to exploit its imagery for the end of a superhero story.


Tales From the Darkside 121: Bigalow's Last Smoke

This isn't the episode I've been talking about - the one I'm searching for because it terrified me so thorougly as a teen. Nevertheless, I remember this episode of Tales From the Darkside almost perfectly. Which is a little weird, although it could be the subject matter struck a chord with me decades ago and I've just had it kicking around inside my head ever since. In fact given the clarity with which I remember James Woods' segment from Cat's Eye, that's almost certainly the case.

Yes, for anyone who hasn't seen that film, I'm saying that this is an episode about a man being forced to quit smoking. That's him waking up in a daze, searching in vain for the cigarettes he remembers stashing in his night table. Bigalow stumbles around the apartment, puzzled that his television isn't working - of course, in a quantum conundrum, the television only doesn't work when he's looking at it. When he turns away, the face of popular character actor Sam Anderson appears!

Finally Bigalow realizes something's amiss when he notices that his windows have been barred over, and the 'sunlight' from outside is actually being proejcted by a series of lights. This isn't his apartment at all, but rather a set designed to look like it! But why? Oh, right, to help him quit smoking, I already said that part.


There's Someone More Heartless than Grant Morrison? Really?

When I talk about Grant Morrisson's writing I tend to use harsh terminology. Heartless, monster, sociopath - just a sampling of the hyperbolic invective I`ve levied at the man in the past. Obviously I`ve never meant any of it, I just enjoy making broad rhetorical points when discussing a man that I perceive as representing the worst that comics have to offer. He writes emotionally disconnected, fundamentally nihilistic stories about awful people doing horrible things for no particular reason, other than Grant read something about particle physics or Kabbalah that week and thought he could write a story that weaves those ideas into the plot.

He`s never successful at doing this, however, and what we're left with are stories where people talk for a few pages about dark matter before shooting children in the face. Bleak, pointless, trash.

Except when he`s writing about Batman and Superman. Somehow the mythic power of those characters overcomes all of Grant`s instincts and he, more often than not, winds up writing solid-to-brilliant adventure stories in which the characters are pushed past the point of no return and well into `certain death` territory, only to have them think their way out at the last possible moment with a scheme that startles the reader every bit as much as it does the villain. He`s not in Alan Moore`s league of course - Morrisson has a penchant for lazy plotting and a reliance on his readers not giving characters` motivations too much thought. Still, his superhero stories are always worth a look.

It`s his love for Superman that led to something occurring that I never imagined I would see... an animated adaptation of a Grant Morrisson comic that`s actually darker than the source material!


Suspect Behavior 105: Here is the Fire

For the fifth week in a row Suspect Behavior opens with a restatement of its premise. Which makes five weeks in a row that a completely unnecessary title card has wasted ten seconds of our time. Couldn't that time be better spent better explaining why CBS airs the same show twice in a row? Hell, I don't remember NBC airing SVU right after Law and Order (and if they did, it doesn't matter, since the shows are so vastly different).

Anyhoo, the show proper opens with a hilarious CG map that I'm going to present here, because come on, Criminal Minds-

This cry for attention stuff is just getting sad. If you wanted people to notice you, you should have had that heroic sniper shoot the guy in the eye last week. At least that's not something we see on television much.

Seriously? You zoomed in on a map, and then gave us the location chyron anyways? What is wrong with you people?

So there's a high school, and a creepy guy carries an attache case into it. He stops in a bathroom to water his face because he's so nervous, then heads into the principal's office. Then he uses the PA system to tell everyone to go to the cafeteria so that he can make an announcement. Is he going to blow them all up with a bomb? Probably. But I'm not sure why the hallways are packed with people to hear his PA message since, according to the clock-

It's not even 8AM yet. What time does high school start these days?

Anyhow, looks like he never made it to the cafeteria, since only a single classroom window blows out. Thank heavens for small favors, right? Then the director of the FBI (Richard Schiff!) gets a note about the bombing, and immediately calls his best man (Forest Whitaker) in on the case!

Okay, based on that scene one of two things is going on here. A: Someone at the network was as confused as I was about what a 'Red Cell' is supposed to be. B: This episode was supposed to be the pilot, but it was so weak that it got pushed back to episode 5.
By the way, the fact that a bomb went off isn't 'Intel'. That line mind wind up being our Prentiss-award-winner of the night, which would be the first time a non-cast-member wins it!

Also, remember how much I mocked them for working out of an abandoned gym?

Turns out it's a functioning gym. With an FBI office in it. God, this show is stupid. Also, an obviously looped line in this scene suggests, again, that this is a pilot, and Janeane wasn't originally on the team.

Flat-out proving that this was originally the pilot Janeane gets her own introduction (befitting the second-most-famous person in the cast - in the pilot we saw she didn't even have a line - okay, that's an exaggeration. She had two lines.) where she drives up, announces she's an anti-terrorist specialist, and hands the cop on scene some stimulants to make sure he's up to the task of solving crimes.

Seriously, that happens.

More stupidity - the cop announces that they've got an 'evacuation going on now', which suggests that somehow there would be anyone left in the building. Quick timeline - bomb goes off - FBI gets called (~ten minutes), message gets to director (~five minutes), director calls Janeane out of a seminar and has her drive to Fredricksburg, VA (~30 minutes). It's a minimum of forty-five minutes after the bomb went off - maybe firefighters are still working, but how could the building not be empty?

They send a robot in to search for another bomb, and we learn that somewhere in the neighbourhood of a hundred people were injured in the bombing! And a note announces 'Here I am'! They may have a serial bomber on their hands!


Criminal Minds 415: Zoe’s Reprise

The episode begins with Joe Mantegna failing to believably read from a book.

He's supposedly reading the foreward of his tome, but all he's done is opened the cover. The only thing he could possibly be looking at is the title page, which certainly doesn't have any information about about sexual psychopathy in it. Hey, wouldn't it be great if this was shot in the same bookstore that Geoff Pierson had been in back in season 1? I suppose it's way too late to bring up my preference for him taking over the Mandy Patinkin part, right? Not that I'm complaining about Joe - love the guy - it's just they'd already established a John Douglas figure in the world, so having another one turn up is just peculiar.

Anyhow, in the audience a red-haired woman is taking copious notes. Which is an odd thing to do, considering she could just grab a copy of the book for herself and read the actual text he's reading.

You know, this might actually be the same bookstore (which is being shot at a library, apparently) - I should dig out my DVDs of the first season to check...

The red-haired girl, the 'Zoe' of the title, approaches Joe after the reading and asks him if the team is looking into the 11% increase in murders they've had in Cleveland in the past month. She thinks a serial killer is working, but no one is listening to her! Joe doesn't believe her either, because the five murders she's pointed out were all featuring different M.O.s and victim types. Joe blows her off, leaving her with a card and a suggestion to keep investigating.

Which she does by wandering around the crime scene where the last murder was committed alone, in the middle of the night. Then a guy walks up to her, and she immediately tells him exactly why she's there and what she's doing.

Seriously? She pulled a Naomi Misora? I swear to god, this girl is supposed to be an expert on serial killers, yet when she runs into a creepy twenty-something guy hanging around one of the crime scenes in the middle of the night (why is she going alone in the middle of the night?) she immediately starts telling him that she's close to catching the killer? What is wrong with this woman?

Zoe, I'm sorry to have to say this, but you were too stupid to continue to live.

Now very dead, all Zoe can do is offer a motivation for Joe to get involved in the case, which is exactly what happens. See, they found his business card on her body, and immediately called him. Which is nice, but it raises an important question - why did the killer murder Zoe? Yes, she told him that she was investigating the recent spate of murders, but he, theoretically, anyhow, was going out of his way to commit those murders in random and disconnected ways to keep the cops from realizing he was out there. Yes, Zoe was on to him, and could have brought his crimes to light, but wouldn't killing someone at the site of the latest murder also go a long way towards attracting the attention of the police, and convince them something more serious than a few random crimes was occurring?

I guess we'll find out after the opening credits?


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Zach Galfinakis Edition

This week Zack Galfinakis returned to host for a second time, and while I'm not familiar with the man's comedy, I've always found him a distractingly unpleasant presence in the few film appearances that I've seen. He was similarly off-putting on SNL last week, but that's not my main point of contention with the episode. No, my distaste for last week's SNL revolves entirely around the fact that it offered the return of Scared Straight, the rape-themed sketch that inspired this series of articles in the first place.

In addition to that abomination the episode featured a spike in gay jokes over the year's average. In addition to the threats of gay rape that permeate Scared Straight, there was some cruel stereotyping in the opening monologue, as well as a sketch about the show 'The Talk', a third of the jokes revolved around the fact that co-host Sara Gilbert is gay. Well, I say 'jokes', but in reality there wasn't anything that could be called a joke in the sketch, just endless restatements of the fact that she is, in fact, gay, possibly hoping that some comedy could be gleaned from the repetition.

It wasn't.

The tally follows:

Rape - 1
Homophobia - 3

See you back here at the beginning of April, when Elton John hosts and is the musical guest! Man, I'm really going to have to rethink my definitions of homophobia-based humour for that episode...


TheAvod Episode 108: The Bruges Tourism Board

That's right, cats and kittens, it's time for another theAvod - this week there's surprisingly little disagreement between the Divemistress and myself. This possibly owes to the fact that we've selected such startlingly dire movies to review.

If you're interested in discovering what they might be, just right click here to download the episode. Either that, or you could just look at the next paragraph, where I'm going to offer a quick explanation for how they were decided on!

The Divemistress, you see, she mentioned a movie called 'Don't Look Up', and gave me a broad outline of the premise. I responded that I swore I'd heard of a movie with the exact same premise called 'Skeleton Crew' - we compared notes, and found that, beyond a superficial similarity in premise the films really didn't have much in common - other than serving as a great jumping-off point for fascinating discussion!

Unable to find a third film with the exact same premise, DM and myself elected to watch the Last Horror Movie. Which proved a poor decision for all involved.


The Forty-Second-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

Hear that ladies? If you're a little more subservient you might even convince a misogynist like Abdul to marry you!

And who wouldn't want that?


Tales From the Darkside 120: It All Comes Out in the Wash

A businessman wanders into a Chinese laundry managed by James Hong. The businessman asks Hong for the 'special service' the laundry offers which, despite what you may have heard, is not whores. No, Hong's cleaning is of a moral nature. For hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars, when Hong cleans your clothes, the sins come out as well, removing the client's guilt, leaving him with the ability to do whatever he wants without emotional consequence.

See, now that's a good premise - a businessman paying a fee to turn himself into a sociopath so that he'll be more effective at his job! I knew if I watched enough of these I'd find something original! (Although the Stainless Steel Rat did something similar once, but whatever.)

Agreeing not to tell anyone about their 'arrangement', the businessman leaves, eager to get started with all the evil he'll now be free to engage in!


The Final Mystery of Chain Letter

Last time around I established, by thoroughly watching a thoroughly unwatchable film, the identity and motive of the killer in 'Chain Letter'. But in researching that article I came across a mystery that even I couldn't solve. Take a look at this-

That shot appears at the end of the opening credits. A bald man has a chain wrapped around his neck and a gun pushed against head. Who is this man? Why is he being murdered? By whom?

It seems like a complete non-sequitor, except for one thing. This man appears in one other scene. In fact, the chronologically first murder scene in the film!


Suspect Behavior 104: One Shot Kill

The episode opens with one of those 'start at the end' things I hate, where we get flashes of the British One involved in some kind of a sniper duel with this week's killer. Of course, I'm always in favour of sniper duels, so I'm willing to give this one a pass. Less forgivable? That Forest, who is counseling the British Guy in a flashback within the flashforward (that's not convoluted at all, guys), looks even creepier than usual-

Then we move three days earlier, where we see the sniper kitting up to go out and murder someone. So, how are they going to catch this guy? When they grabbed Tim Omundsen back in season 1, it was because he wasn't really a sniper at all, just a completely different kind of killer who happened to use a sniper rifle. This guy, however, climbs high in a building and opens fire seemingly random people, so hopefully the team will really have to stretch themselves to figure it out.

Kidding. I'm sure it's going to be dumb luck and Garcia, as usual.

Quick note - we're supposed to think the guy's a real pro because he picks up his shell casing to make sure he's not traced (also to keep as a souvenir)-

But the guy's using a bolt-action rifle.

So why did he eject the round in public like that at all?

Anyways, back that the office, Forest is having stickfighting practice with one of his subordinates, which is what this team does instead of all the paperwork they'd have to do if they were actual FBI agents. We also learn that the British Guy is the womanizing cad, or 'Derek' of the group. Which is good to know, since until now he's had no personality other than his accent.

They get the call telling them that there's been yet another sniper death in Chicago (this was the forth) and they're finally being called in!

Wait, what? They have to wait to be called in? I thought they were a 'Red Cell' who went where ever and did whatever at the behest of Richard Schiff? Also, on what planet would the Chicago police wait an entire week in which three people were sniped before calling in the FBI? Don't the writers remember the DC sniper?

It turns out the British Guy “Mick” is an experienced sniper, and immediately knows they're dealing with a skilled marksman, who's likely watching them at the moment!

He's totally right, of course - but why is the sniper singling him out? Does he sense a kindred spirit in the way Mick hung around the crime scene, talking to people? Let's find out, after the opening credits!


Criminal Minds 414: Cold Comfort

Michael Biehn! Yaay!

This is the second image of the episode - one of my favorite actors going over a board of missing girls, and writing 'deceased' under one of their pictures! Hopefully we're in for a good one this week! It seems Biehn is a detective who's been working on this case for a while - the mother (Lolita Davidovitch!) of one of the missing girls comes to visit him, wanting to know if she can get a piece of evidence. Why? She's got a psychic working the case, and hopefully it could lead to the capture of the killer!

This is so great - eighty or so episodes in and we're finally getting a profiler vs. psychic episode! And the psychic is played by beloved character actor Vondie Curtis Hall!

Will it be as good as the numb-three-ers episode with (I'm guessing) the same premise (missing girls, psychic tries to help, scientists scoff, but then it turns out he was kind of right, and we're left wondering)? Probably not, but that's only because the psychic in that episode was played by John Glover, who's on a whole other level as far as beloved character actors go.

Man, how great would it have been if they'd gotten Glover to play the same part here?

Anyhow, I'm just guessing that it's going to have the same plot, since that's the most obvious place the show could go, and Criminal Minds is, if nothing else, about always taking the path of least resistance. It's a lot like fire and water in that way.

Back to the show! Psychic feels the necklace and has a vision, but we don't find out what it was. Instead we cut to a thematically relevant scene of Garcia and Xander checking out horoscopes! Derek and Emily don't believe in them, so they read Emily's horoscope, which suggests that a cold demeanor will hamper romantic opportunities, and that she can improve her chances by offering an affectionate gesture. Will this, like the psychic's abilities, prove to have some validity later on in the episode? Only time will tell!

JJ's back! Another yaay!

And she's finally engaged to Jr.! Man, this has been an episode of nothing but good news, and we're only like three minutes in!

The team gets the rundown - four missing girls over nine months, and the first has just turned up. She was embalmed, and then buried in the side of a hill! He preserves the corpse, keeps it for three months, and then grabs another! Ick!


Adventures in Fake Journalism: Chain Letter (Part 2)

While researching two further articles on the subject of Chain Letter I happened to notice that when compiling my first article concerning its endeavors into the field of fake journalism I'd missed a number of examples of same featured in the stage-setting opening credits montage.

This article, while purporting to be about an elite special ops team being ambushed is, upon closer inspection, just a wikipedia article about POWs during the invasion of Iraq. There are a few puzzling notes, however - first off, the correct date of the invasion that appeared in the wikipedia piece (2003), has been replaced in the fake newspaper with the year 1998 - when there profoundly wasn't an invasion of Iraq. Also, what does 'North National' mean? Is that supposed to be a city? An area of the country?


TheAvod Is Taking A Week Off?

Can it possibly be true? Is theAvod going to be absent for a whole week? yes, that's sadly the case, it seems the theDivemistress' insistence on 'going out' and 'doing things' has caused a tiny problem. As did my one attempt at doing a solo Avod.

So what do I have to offer to you instead this week?

Why, a trip back through some Classic Avods you may have missed!

Why there's Episode 5: Blood and Sex Nightmare - Still our most popular episode, for reasons that make me sad for humanity!

Or Episode 44: Perlmanormal Activity - In which an attempt to discuss Ron Perlman transforms into an epic discussion of PA - which I hated!

You know what you might like? Episode 62: One and a Half Films to Die For - Where we discover, then discuss, our favorite movie in years!

Ever wonder why Alan Tudyk is always a tag on on the episodes? Check out Episode 52: I (Heart) Alan Tudyk!

Then, of course, there's Episode 35, where you can get a look at: The Definitive List - The greatest, final, and only list you'll ever need!

Then, once you're caught up on some 'classic' Avod, check back here next week for an entirely new episode! About clouds or something!


The Forty-First-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

I couldn't pick just one of these - every single appearance of Wizard Wells has one of these introductory panels, and each one is solid gold in every aspect!


Tales From the Darkside 119: Levitation

In a nice bookend with last week's episode, which ended with a man lost in a circus of the mind, this week we open on a pair of teens headed in to visit a very literal county fair! It seems that one of the teens is something of a magic buff, and he's excited to see the only man besides Houdini to have mastered 'Wireless Levitation'. Or, if you want to put it in its starkest terms, 'real magic'. Before we continue with the plot, however, let's just pause to consider that, shabby as the characters correctly identify it as being, this is by far the most impressive set ever built for an episode of TFTD!

Way to guy, production designer!

The magic fan desperately tries to convince his friend to join him in the magic tent, where the Great Kharma might well reveal the secrets of his greatest trick! Of course, he has no good reason to think that Kharma's going to teach him anything, except, we assume, a lesson about curiosity killing the cat.

The act proceeds apace with some simple pieces of prestidigitation, and the fan grows impatient. Where is the levitation trick that Kharma is so famous for? Finally he has enough, and becomes disillusioned with his supposed idol. Which is odd, because he demonstrated a trick that involved beheading his assistant live on stage with a guillotine, and then having her walk out, alive and well from the back room. This is the kind of trick that shows up all the time on televised depictions of a magic act, because it's easy enough to do with editing, but a real-life version of it that looked that good from five feet away would certainly be worth applauding.

The fan decides to confront Kharma, and demand an explanation. He finds the magician a washed-up and defeated old man, who claims never to have performed the 'Wireless Levitation'. Although twenty-five years ago he told the London Times that he learned the trick of Wireless Levitation, but now he says that it was just a press agent's fancy, and he's never been anything more than a simple trickster and showman. The fan refuses to believe that magic isn't real, despite Kharma's insistence. Finally the old man breaks down and admits that he did perform the trick in question, but not the four times that the London Times reported - he did it three, and then the fourth time something went... horribly wrong!

In what could be considered a jarring about-face, Kharma quickly goes from claiming there's no such thing as magic to admitting that it's real, but saying that it's far too dangerous. Proving an inability to take yes for an answer, the fan starts calling Kharma a fraud, then storms off, leaving the old man alone to consider a faded black and white portrait-

-of his former assistant, who was killed when the Levitation trick went wrong. That assistant? His daughter!

The fan's arrogance is all-consuming however, and he isn't willing to let tragedy alone. So he returns for the last show of the evening, and berates Kharma into performing the Levitation trick by revealing all the secrets of how he performs his slight of hand tricks. The provocation has its desired effect, and Kharma finally agrees to perform the ultimate trick - even though he's stated clearly that he's not strong enough for the task.

The fan allows himself to be hypnotized and lain across two chairs as Kharma tells him to 'let the threads of gravity drop away'. The trick works, and the fan floats up into the air with support of any kind:

But the trick proves too stressful for Kharma, who's unable to gather enough energy to perform the key second half of the trick: 'bringing him back down'. While Kharma suffers some sort of an episode, collapsing to the floor, the fan drifts through the torn ceiling of the tent, and off into the sky, presumably never to be seen again!

So we've learned a valuable lesson: No matter what Larry David may tell you, it's important to never ask a magician how to reveal how he performs his tricks.


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Miley Cyrus Edition!

Is Saturday Night Live the cleanest show on television these days?

Quite possibly. I mean, I'm regularly reviewing episodes of Criminal Minds that involve gouged-out eyes and beheadings, Family Guy can't go a week without joking about paedophilia or incestuous rape - now that Saturday Night Live has largely dropped the rape and murder-themed humour, it's back down to a level appropriate for the 11-year-olds-up-past-their-bedtime that make up its core audience demographic.

And I say good for it - because if there's one thing Bill Cosby has proved over the years, it's that you don't have to be dirty to be funny. Not that SNL is Cosby-level funny. Not even the same league, but it's nice to see them try.

So anyhow, on to Miley Cyrus' episode!

Only a few recurring characters this week (none of them Wiig's!), so that was nice - Miley's monologue was a sarcastic apology for all of her public misdeeds that came across as far more bitter than it should have. Add that to her sullen, begrudging appearance as Justin Bieber on 'The Miley Cyrus Show' and her weirdly snippy closing Thank Yous, and she may well go down as the most reluctant host in recent SNL history. Who knows if it was personal stuff or a genuine distaste for the program, but Miley really seemed like she didn't want to be there. And you know what? More power to her. At least it shook things up a little!

Also, sullen disengagement is key to a decent Bieber impression.

Otherwise the show was a Sheentensive as one would expect it to be, with Hader premiering a serviceable impression of the man, and Smuggy letting a segment on him dominate the news. The modern world is hard on SNL, what with every other nightly comedy show getting to every conceivable joke before they do - but their jokes largely scored, and all in all it was a fair night of Sheen-mocking.

So now, the numbers!

Rape: 0! (Congrats again, SNL!)
Homophobia: 1 (the 'French Kids Dance' sketch involved a man feeling up another man, which was included only to make the audience laugh uncomfortably... which they did!)

A low score again, proving, possibly, that unlike Michael Haneke, head writer Smuggy Smuggerson is mellowing out in his advancing years.


Suspect Behavior 103: See No Evil

It's a rainy day in (*), you know, one of those rainy days where the sun is shining super-brigh, but everything is still wet? Almost as if there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and someone was just spraying a hose straight up from slightly off-camera?

That's a woman running to her car in the rain, carrying her shopping bags. Who's watching her? It's a creepy limping guy with a hat! When she can't start her car, he offers to take a look at the engine - at this moment we realize from the way that this is being filmed that he's the victim and she's the killer. Why?

They're not hesitant to show his face-

But hers remains tantalizingly just out of frame. Anyhow, she drugs him with a syringe Dexter-style, then walks him over to his car and sits him in the front seat. Then, just before he dies, she gouges out his eyes with a scalpel.

Why doesn't she wait until he's dead to do this? Because she's a sadistic monster!

Who's also terrible at planning how to catch a victim. That was seriously her plan? Loosen a battery connection so that her car wouldn't start, then walk out to it over and over again until a single man parked nearby came to help her? She couldn't manage more than one person, of course, and if he'd been parked more than one space away, it's not like she'd have been capable of carrying him to his car (he almost fell over just going that far). How the hell many times did she have to walk in and out of that mall before this worked?

Anyhoo, it's over to the Cell's preposterous office, where Janeane discovers that Forest is already at work, beating everyone there. He explains that it's because he's the one that 'gets the call', and she suggests that he waits to call everyone else in until he can be sure he'll get there first.

Hold on a second... is this not their full-time job? Do they just hang out whereever, doing their own thing until they get a case? That doesn't seem like the best use of their time. At any given moment isn't there some psychological profiling that they could be doing?

Anyhoo, even though there's just been a single murder, the eye-gouging was vicious enough that the FBI is being called in to deal with it. We also learn that there are now apparently no standards for what is too disgustingly violent to air on prime-time television:

Hey, I had to look at it too, damn it.


Criminal Minds 413: Bloodline

It's night, deep in the woods, and Andrew Divoff(!) is driving his wife and child to a house off in the middle of nowhere! The son is hesitant about meeting his future bride, who they need to kidnap while she's young enough to forget her family! What the hell is going on here? Divoff and son sneak into the house, slash the throats of the parents, and are off with no one the wiser! The only evidence of their crime (other than, you know, all the dead bodies) is some broken glass they spread by the door they entered through.

The team finds out about the case and immediately gets ready to move - although fake-JJ is wary about going along - she's feeling overwhelmed, and it's clear that she's about to go through with her plans for quitting announced two episodes back. With an abducted child in play, the team figures the death clock is set at less than a day - of course, we know better, because the show immediately cuts to the trailer where Divoff and company live. The kidnapped girl is locked in a closet, where they intend to keep her until the Stockholm Syndrome sets in. Step one to brainwashing? Renaming the little girl 'Elena'!

Will the team rescue her before she's driven mad? Let's find out after the credits!


Who Was the Killer in Chain Letter?

Today, in my first-ever 'inspired by a google search' post, I've decided to answer the question that went unaddressed in my three other posts on the subject of Chain Letter, or in theAvod that the Divemistress and myself recently recorded about it: Who, exactly, was the killer in the movie Chain Letter?

When the Divemistress and myself discussed the film privately she made the (rather persuasive) argument that it doesn't matter who the killer was, since the film's plot wasn't a mystery, and it wasn't written well enough to to have 'meaning'. She's not wrong, but still, as a public service, I've assembled all the evidence below, and laid out a case for what was going on in the film, should you have been confused by the proceedings. And really, given the film's woeful incoherence, how could you not have been?


TheAvod Time Again!

It's TheAvod episode 107 this week, in which the DiveMistress and myself discuss a few classic films (and one modern non-classic) including my sixth-favorite Michael Mann movie, 'The Keep'. Download the show by right-clicking here, and thrill to my attempts to justify my fondness for 'The Prowler'!

I have my reasons, you see. They're just profoundly not good ones!


The Fortieth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

Yes, there's so much blood that it's leaked out of the panel at the bottom left. I read horror comics, yet somehow this is the most disturbing depiction of a battered face I've ever seen in a comic.