It's Halloween!

Why aren't you watching Ghostwatch?

Tales From the Darkside 306: Black Widows

Aren't these things supposed to have twists? At least that's how they've been constructed up until this point. Either it's just a creepy thing going on, in which case the show is a little open about it, or there's a twist at the end. You've got your 'Word Processors of the Gods' and you've got your 'Anniversary Dinners'. This episode, on the other hand, seems like it's trying to be subtle about its twist, except that the title and a bizarre effect give it away.

Here's the setup - a mother and daughter share a trailer in the local park. Much to the daughter's consternation, the mother refuses to ever go out and see the world, preferring instead to let the world 'come to her'. Much like a spider living in its web. The spider thing continues with the daughter carefully taking one out of the house rather than killing it, and then the mother telling an encyclopedia salesman who drops by later not to kill one, since spiders in the house are 'good luck'. A sentiment I can't disagree with, largely because I don't like flies.

Despite this admonishment, the salesman goes ahead and kills the spider anyhow, and when the mother finds out, this happens:

So yes, we can clearly bid subtlety a fond farewell.


Do you know what that word means, Dexter?

It occurs to me that despite the fact that Dexter is a largely terrible show I haven't extensively covered it here on the site. Yes, I'm already covering enough things at once, so I'm not going to add it to the cue. That being said, something so profoundly stupid was said in a recent episode that I couldn't let it slip by.

Same "signature"? Except the 'signature' on the first victim was the Alpha/Omega sign sewn into his chest and the snakes hidden within. The 'signature' this time is a disassembled corpse. They really couldn't be less similar.

Now if you'd told me that the exact same kind of thread was used in both cases, and (forensic nonsense) had perfectly matched the fibers to the same roll, then at least you'd have some basis for this. As it is, I'm just wondering what a blood spatter analyst/CSI is doing playing around with a corpse without an ME present.

Have you even heard of the chain of custody, Dexter?


Another Question About The Simpsons

In the episode '22 Short Films About Springfield', there's a short film about Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel, which features a theme song describing the fellow. Each of the verses establishes a fact about the titular character, seemingly one selected to highlight his status as a hillbilly. Which brings me to my question:

While I fully accept that eating a skunk (or 'polecat' as they're sometimes known) is a stereotypically hillbillyish action, it's the second one that concerns me.

On what planet is 'los(ing) a toe' yokelish? When offered a panoply of possibilities to reference, everything from moonshine to incest to poor hygiene to ignorance to racism, the writers went with losing a toe? A situation that Cletus may not even have had any responsibility for?

What the hell?


Criminal Minds 520: A Thousand Words

A 911 center receives a disturbing phone call - the man on the line wants people do find a dead body in a warehouse. The body? His own! That's right, he kills himself while on the phone. Solid. When the cops get there, they discover a shrine to the man's crimes. Yes, unsurprisingly, he was a serial killer. But why did he slot himself? It wasn't to conceal his crimes-

There's a little shrine to all his victims lying in one corner, and tattoos of their faces on his torso. So the only possible explanation is that h was about to be captured, and he wanted to cut to the chase. There's got to be more to it than that, though - the last victim in the shrine hasn't been discovered yet, and she's only been missing three weeks! So it's a race against time for the team to rescue her from a hole in the ground or possibly a partner. Which will it be?

There's a silly moment where JJ hands over a comprehensive file on the case to Greg so quickly that he's able to send back word that they should 'leave the body where it is', as if it hadn't been moved yet. How on earth could they get photographers to document the entire scene, decide to send it to the FBI, get clearance to do so, and have Greg choose to look at it all in the same night? When the cops found the body it was explicitly stated to be post-dinner, but hours later when the investigation is underway the team is all still at the FBI, even though they're not visible working on a case? Kind of a stretch, that one.

Anyhoo, let's see if keeping the body around was somehow important after the opening credits!


Still more questions about the Simpsons

So it turns out there's a lot of things that don't make sense to me about Season 7.

Take, for example, the episode 'Team Homer', in which Homer joins a bowling league and winds up saddled with Mr. Burns as a teammate. Hilarity ensues.

Their main competition in this league are a team called the 'Holy Rollers', who are really, really good at bowling.

So good that god himself intervenes to ensure that Ned gets a strike (and Homer is shocked by the ball return). Naturally the two teams square off against one another in the final match of the season (although I'm not sure how - Burns causes to them to lose at least one game in what should be the elimination rounds...) and it all comes down to Mr. Burns, who, with his last two balls must knock over at least two pins to win the game.

It's the only way the story could have wound up, naturally, but it raises an important question - what kind of a game were the Holy Rollers playing? Everything we hear about them suggests that they're the best players imaginable. In one key shot-

We see them bowl four strikes in the time it takes Burns to throw a single gutterball. In this kind of a game the combined scores of both teams (the maximum is 1200) are compared to decide the winner. But with Burns being completely useless, the de facto maximum score that the 'Pin Pals' could have had at the end of the game was 902 - and that would require the rest of the team to have bowled three perfect games, which is a statistical impossibility - and surely would have been mentioned had it happened. Even if that was the case, the Holy Rollers would have had to bowled an average score of 233 - a great score by most standards, but not what we're told to expect from them.

According to the show's logic, had Otto been on the team instead of Burns, the Pin Pals would have won the championship by a margin of at least 200 points - if the Holy Rollers could be thumped that badly, what threat were they supposed to have posed in the first place?

Also, where is this lane's ball return?


TheAvod's not doing a Halloween show!

That's right, since every single day in the horror blogger's world is Halloween, we figured why bother doing a special Halloween episode? Especially when we've already covered nearly every movie with Halloween in the title. Instead, we did the standard thing - Batman, nostalgia, and terrible DTV fare!

Download it by right-clicking here!

Also, if you're psyched for some Halloween fun, just click the following link and screen the ultimate Halloween movie: Ghostwatch!


The Seventy-Fifth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

There's just something so charming about a comic cover that so massively exaggerates the size of the main character, isn't there? Also, it's great to see the suit a guy wears getting far larger billing than the guy inside.

This Month: 'Iron Man! (With Tony Stark)


Terrible Moments in Taglining: Pandorum

“Fear what happens next.”

Next? I can't even tell what's happening now. And I've seen the movie.


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Anna Faris Edition

Another largely clean night of SNL, and a funnier one than usual at that - did having Anna Faris as the host somehow loosen them up? Is she less worried about her image than most celebrities?

Anyhoo, let's talk about the sketches. In addition to the standard political sketches, including both a jab at a largely unattacked (in network comedy, anyhow) target - western kids who mistake Anime for the sum totality of Japanese culture, and a fresh take on a a well-covered subject, hyper-melodramatic Lifetime movies. Both sketches got huge laughs from the audience and actual chuckles from me, which has become something of a rarity. So great work, SNL!

The only bits of objectionable content were in a Mexican talk show sketch that went homophobic to no great effect right at the end, and the Lifetime sketch, which brought up child molestation, and then, in order to make it more shocking, they made both the victim and abuser male, to add that hilarious frisson of taboo to the joke.

So, the totals:

Homophobia: 2
Rape: 1

I don't like to see any positive totals, but at least they're shrinking!


Criminal Minds 519: Rite of Passage

 It's the wilderness, and a guy on an ATV is chasing a man across it. But why? Oh, the man speaks Spanish and is Hispanic, so this has to be a border thing. A crazy minuteman is cutting people up with a machete for sneaking into America? Timely! He would have gotten away with it, too, if he hadn't made one fatal flaw: leaving three severed heads in a box outside of the police station!

The team is stunned by the news - could it be drug-related, or the minutemen (hey, they mentioned the thing I mentioned! Thanks, Criminal Minds!)? They doubt it, because this show doesn't really do political. More likely it's a local who loves murder, and found the perfect victims in the illegals crossing the border. Which is great and all, but why draw all this attention to yourself? I suppose we'll find out... after the opening credits!


Okay, a couple of brief things about Predators.

1 - Why is Topher Grace here?

The premise of the film is that the Predators have collected some of Earth's most dangerous humans to hunt on a gaming preserve that they've set up, possible on one of Saturn's moons (it's never entirely clear). The prey includes a mercenary, a mob hitman, a yakuza hitman, a vicious rapist/murderer sprung from death row, and Topher Grace. Who turns out, unsurprisingly, to be a serial killer.

This raises two important questions. 1: How did the Predators know that Topher Grace was a serial killer? It's not like they got him out of prison like the other guy - the predators seem to have been the ones to capture Topher Grace. Everything we know about the Predator culture suggests a total lack of interest on their part in human life. If they find a human who looks strong and has a gun, they'll shoot him. If he's got a knife, they'll fight him. That's about the end of their interest, it seems.

2: Even if they somehow knew that Topher Grace was a serial killer, why would they bring him to the hunting planet? While he's certainly threatening to the other members of the team, he's of no threat to the Predators, and as such, wouldn't make much of a trophy.

Let's say you wanted to hunt nature's most dangerous killer, the King Cobra. You gather a bunch of them together and place them in a concrete maze where you plan to track them down. Then, before starting the chase, you toss a mongoose into the maze as well. The mongoose isn't a threat to you, he's just a threat to the snakes. So why did you toss him into the mix?

Why did the Predators add Topher?


TheAvod Steps Back a Little...

After a themed show that went more than a little overboard (in both time and enthusiasm), DM and myself elected to dial things down this week and take a chill gander at three utterly unrelated films. One was awful, one was great, and one was just kind of there. Want to find out which was which? The only way to discover that is by right-clicking here to download!


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

Two weeks in a row of these! But seriously, how could I not when presented with this awful caricature?


Terrible Moments in Taglining: The Mist

“Fear changes everything”

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that it's the dimensional rift that changes everything.


I Couldn't Finish Watching Amusement

Or even start watching it, really. I'm wondering if this is something that happens to a lot of people, or if it's just me. Ever get ten minutes into the movie, realize exactly where it's going, and become so dispirited by the prospect of watching it take another eighty minutes to get there that you're compelled to call it quits?

It occurs to me that this is something I could have learned about other people simply by checking other film blogs, but it seems my pathological narcissism and self-obsession keeps me from caring about other people's life experiences, except when I Idly wondering about them here in blog posts.

Okay, so, where was I? Oh, right - Amusement.


Criminal Minds 518: The Fight

There's a body in a park in San Francisco. How does one dead homeless man let the police know that they've got to call in the FBI? Got me, but I'm sure it'll be explained! I'm also certain it will have something to do with the overprotective father and his 14-year-old daughter who are mysteriously abducted by a psychopath that same night.

No, not him. But hey, is everyone ready for a pointless downer? Yup, that's right - it's time to cover the backdoor pilot for Suspect Behaviour! Oh, Forest, this was never going to go well for you, was it?

Greg goes to meet Forest at the FUNCTIONING GYM THAT HE RUNS AN FBI OFFICE OUT OF (really, Count, you were surprised this show was canceled?) to hear Forest's theory about his latest case: the San Francisco case! Forest lays it out - men were found badly beaten and then left in a park, shot in the back of the head:

Now, it's possible that you've noticed that those men was clearly shot in the forehead. The show sincerely wishes you hadn't, so can we move on?

Forest gives Greg a little background on the case, which you'd think Greg would already have, since his team is the one that's been assigned it, but then Forest also offers some new information - after a few days of homeless people turning up badly beaten and shot in the head, a kidnapped father/daughter team shows up, also shot in the head, with the father having been badly beaten. Only Forrest has noticed the connection - and he wants his team to look for the kidnappees while Greg works the park victims. They've only got two days before the 'cycle' ends, so how can Greg say no?

Okay, normally I save this kind of thing for the end of the review, but I'm going to mention it here, because what the hell, Criminal Minds: how could SFPD not have made this connection already? A father and daughter missing during the exact times that homeless people being killed may not ring any alarm bells, but if they're all being shot with the same gun, how could it possibly go unnoticed? And don't think that I'm seeing connections where there aren't any-

That's the badly-beaten face of the dead father with a bullet in his forehead, exactly like the homeless guys. You'd have to be blind to miss this connection.

So that's the rule - unless they somehow explain why the killer would use a different gun for the family executions than he would for the homeless ones, this is a terribly written episode. Which would be entirely appropriate for the Suspect Behaviour backdoor pilot, come to think of it.

Oh, and we learn the villain's scheme. He wants the father to turn the daughter over to him. If he does, they both live, if he doesn't - they both die! Will he make the deal? Let's find out after the opening credits!


Yet another question about the Simpsons

In the episode 'King Sized Homer' there's a series of events I don't quite understand. After Homer has spent a few days as a fat guy on disability, doing his job by hitting a Y key over and over again on a remote terminal, everyone has become fed up with his girth.

Bart and Lisa come home from school to find Homer skipping work to catch a movie. After his negligence seems as if it's going to lead to a catastrophe, he has to rush back to work - hijacking an ice cream truck along the way. While driving the truck, he passes this school bus-

Which for some reason contains Lisa and Ralph-

Despite a scene set more than an hour previous taking place after school that day.


TheAvod Enters the Squared Circle!

Or at least talks about it, as The Divemistress and myself discuss Real Steel, as well as a couple of other bizarre fantasy boxing movies! Check it out by right-clicking here to download the episode!



Terrible Moments in Taglining: Orca

“The Killer whale, is one of the most intelligent creatures in the universe.”

Universe? You're going with universe? Setting aside the comma, explain to me how you could  make that kind of a claim. And then go on for another paragraph!

“across seas, across time, across all obstacles”

Oddly, I completely would have watched a movie about a superintelligent Orca traveling through time to battle aliens.


Just Another Reason Why Breaking Bad is the Best Show on Television

Normally when you're watching a movie and a character looks through a pair of binoculars, you see this:

Because the filmmakers don't trust you to understand why the camera is suddenly zoomed in and part of the screen masked. On Breaking Bad, when characters look through binoculars, it looks like this:

Because (other than cropping for 16:9) that's what it actually looks like when you put binoculars up to your eyes.


Criminal Minds 517: Solitary Man

This week opens with a creepy man watching a house where a little girl is being put to bed - in Voice Over he tells a fake fairy-tale about a lonely King looking for a Queen. It's a misdirect, though - the little girl is the creepy guy's daughter, and she's in foster care. The Queen he's looking for? A new mother for the little girl! Sadly for the Truck Stop Waitresses of America, his method of finding that mother is to abduct and murder them. Although it sounds better in the stories he tells, of course.

So last week was an allegorical story about an evil which who burned children in an over, and this week is about a killer who frames his murders as fairy tales. I don't mind them going back to the well, of course, but it's weird doing it two weeks in a row, isn't it?

The team is on top of the case, to the point where Reid has already used Geographical Profiling to decide on a city where the killer lives. Except his basis for this is almost complete nonsense, and the Prentiss Award-Winning line of the night:

So he's only committing crimes along these two interstates, and that's the town the interstates meet at, but why would he necessarily live there? If there are no other interstates around, couldn't he simply live in a town off an exit anywhere within fifty miles of that intersection? Or is it inconceivable to the team that a serial killer would be able to drive an extra hour to find a victim?

Here's a little map I've made up - those are the five sites of the murders. All you can say for sure is that he likely lives somewhere between all of those dots. Obviously you'd want to guess that he most likely lives relatively close to where his first victim was found - but that wasn't one of the criteria offered by Reid when describing his calculations, so I don't know what they're basing this idea on. The highways he kills on converge at Albequerqe, NM - so why would they assume he was based not there, but in an exurb some 20 miles away?

So let's guess that they're completely right, and that's where the killer lives - will they get there in time to save his latest victim, who he's just picked up in a diner? Probably not, but let's find out together after the opening credits!


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Melissa McCarthy Edition!

Man, SNL has really cleaned up its act, hasn't it?

While this week's SNL wasn't high-quality by any means - basically every sketch revolved around Melissa McCarthy, as a consequence of being overweight, being physically repulsive. Kind of bleak and unpleasant, but avoiding the rape and homophobia-themed humour I find so profoundly unpleasant.

With no scores this week, let's just call it a day before I start talking about sexism!

Next week? Ben Stiller!


TheAvod's brave story of survival!

In a frustrating experience, DM and the myself accidentally deleted this week's Avod - that'll teach us to record in person. Also, there's the echo factor.

Luckily we had no planes (or lives), so it was a simple matter to re-record a second, better version just moments later! And that's the one you can enjoy downloading by using a simple right-click method just here.



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

This is the power of the perfect quip - the man knows exactly what to say even though his setup line was spoken while he was plummeting through the air fifty feet away. Also outside the closed building it was said within.


Terrible Moments in Taglining: An American Werewolf in London: The Monster Movie

“From the director of Animal House... A different kind of animal.”

I can't even make a joke here. This is just depressing. You might has wall have taglined it: “We have no idea how to market a movie.”


How to Ruin Your Own Movie: Dead Space: Aftermath Edition

I don't know why I'm surprised that two films in the same series would use the same terrible device, but here we are, ruining things again. At first, I thought the film was going to be clever, and show the actual 'Aftermath' of a Dead Space incident, seeing as things open with characters gathered in the heart of a spaceship, having recently resolved whatever it is their problem was.

At fist it seems like the movie is going to be about what happens next to all of these people - but that quickly gets tossed aside in favor of a structure where an interrogator asks them what happened in the plot of the film, and each one tells their own part of the story (each rendered in a different art style).

Which wouldn't be terrible except for two things:

1: We already know what happened in the story - everyone on the ship except for the four of them were killed, but they managed to destroy a thing that saved the day. This means that everything they do feels a little pointless, and every death a fait accomplit.

2: The 'everyone has a part of the story' thing is completely misused, and has no real value. The main action of the film features all four characters running around as a group, trying to accomplish goals. As a result, all four of them know everything that happened on the ship. They don't have their own 'parts' of the story, and there's no reason each one can't tell the whole thing, yet the movie is parceled out into four sections in chronological order for no good reason. Well, other than to have the framing device eat up running time.

That's the real kicker which makes the whole film so frustrating. The 'after the end' framing device removes all drama and surprise from the film, and replaces it with absolutely nothing. It's not like we need to be told that a 'rescue' from a situation like this isn't going to turn out well - all you have to do is watch Alien 3 - the guys from the corporation are never there to help. What makes the whole thing worse is that at the end of the very first flashback the villains lay it all out on the line - all they need are people who have touched the marker, everyone else is expendable. Since either fate is essentially death, just twenty minutes into the movie the last surprise has been sprung, and we can commence ignoring the thing.

Look, I know Palmiotti and Grey are overly fond of this device. To a fault. To like, seven faults. That doesn't mean that people working on the sequel to something they wrote have to use that same device. It didn't work there, why did you think it was going to work here?