31.1.11

Tales From the Darkside 114: Snip Snip


The opening credits of this week's episode immediately caught my attention - Carol Kane is guest-starring! Oh, those lovely childhood days of listening to her shrill voice scratch at my ears from the confines of some syndicated Taxi re-runs. The episode also features 'Bud Cort', who the internet tells me is a successful character actor, but who I know only from his hilarious cameo on Arrested Development, replacing the star of 'Mister Reinhold's Courtroom'. I wonder what Carol's going to be up to this week? Whatever it is, it certainly involves lighting a lot of candles!

Actually, it's Bud lighting the candles - he's using them as part of a spell to try and rig the lottery! He's so sure that he's going to win that he calls the headmaster of the university where he works to gloat about his coming success and quit! Which seems a little presumptuous, but he explains that his years of teaching Algebra have left him with the ability to 'hear' what numbers are saying to him - which is the kind of thing you'd expect someone who'd, Pi-style, unlocked the numerical master code of the universe to say, as opposed to a guy who's exploiting magic to his own ends:

Yeah, that's a flying lottery ticket. So it's definitely magic, and not math, that's responsible for his coming riches. Although I can't imagine that there's going to be much money in the Jackpot - while the MC of the drawing referred to it as the state's first mega-jackpot, he also mentioned that five million people have bought tickets. If there are only six numbers on the ticket, however, aren't there only a million possible combinations? Won't Bud be sharing his win with at least five other people? Or more likely hundreds, given that he's selected a combination sure to be favoured by would-be-witches and self-identified goths all across the state.

Turns out the whole thing is moot - it turns out he didn't pick the right number after all. The winner was 666667! Yup, he was one number off, and is, as a result, out some TEN MILLION DOLLARS!

Seriously? There were only a million possible tickets. How could the prize possibly be ten million dollars? How much did these tickets cost?

30.1.11

Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Jesse Eisenberg Edition

Another week of clean-yet-tedious entertainments here at SNL!

With Jesse Eisenberg hosting the lion's share of the sketches were given over to the depiction of nervous, self-conscious dorks humiliating themselves. Were I some kind of a cruel wag I might note that, of late, the guest hosts haven't been given much to do in the show, possibly because te writers can't relate to the Jeff Bridges and Robert DeNiros of the world, or imagine how they could possibly be involved in a comedic situation. Give them a gangly, pasty, awkward twenty-something however, and the floodgates open! Maybe the only sketch to not revolve around Eisenberg was a likeably silly take on 70s Blaxploitation cinema that featured the "Bride of Blackenstein". There wasn't really a joke beyond her having a large ass and being bossy, but the fact that the musical guest (who portrayed the titular bride) wore the wig in her second musical number raised the bar for the entire show.

Oh, and despite the appearance of John Waters, the digital music video was a damp squid - not catchy, not especially funny, not cameo-packed. Just a mess all around.

Now for the numbers!

Homophobia - 1 (A sketch about drugs for pre-op transsexuals had a single joke: Isn't it gross that men want to turn into women!?)

Rape - 0!

Good work, SNL! If I thought you'd respond to positive reinforcement, I'd send you a cookie bouquet to reward you for your lack of rape-themed humour!

29.1.11

How to Ruin Your Own Movie: Jennifer's Body Edition

I've established well and thoroughly just what a plague on the film industry this whole 'start the movie at the end' thing is, and in the process of covering these films I thought I'd seen nearly every way imaginable for a film to spoil its entire plot in the opening seconds. Even I, jaded though I am, was wholly unprepared for how bound and determined Jennifer's Body is to murder any attempts at suspense. If you're at all interested in learning how to ruin your own movie, look no further than Jennifer's Body - it is a master's class on the subject.

So, with no further ado, here's the first shot of the movie:

28.1.11

Criminal Minds 408: Masterpiece

The episode opens as most Criminal Minds Episodes do: piano music plays while we see shots of a woman and some children trapped in a small room, being photographed by a surveillance camera.

Okay, so maybe this is a bit of a departure, and it seems like a clever enough one that it’s worth getting excited about, except for one thing: when we get a look at the killer’s lair (which is directly adjacent to the murder room), we see that it’s full of famous paintings with geometric lines drawn over them. If that doesn’t tip you off to how annoying this is about to get, the show drops in a lingering shot of this:

Yup, it’s the spiral of a shell. So we’re in for an hour of nonsense blathering about the golden mean and Fibbonacci. Fantastic. You know what the crazy part is? I bet most of the characters act like they’ve never heard of it, even though it was prominently featured in the Da Vinci Code (that’s how I learned about it, after all) – and don’t tell me they all haven’t read the Da Vinci code. These people spend a thousand hours a year on planes. Of course they’ve read the Da Vinci Code.

Okay, it might actually be time to move on to the story now, in which Joe and Reid are talking to a group of college students about life in the FBI. As the speech continues Jason Alexander slips into the back of the room, wearing what can only be described as a preposterous getup:

What’s he up to, other than being this week’s guest killer? We’ll find out after a quick trip to Quantico, where Todd, the temp-JJ sucks at her job. The show lets us see her completely botch an interview with a detective who’s looking for help on a case, and then gets incredibly defensive when Derek swoops in to help out. Will she get good at her job before being transferred, or simply get fired for incompetence when it’s time for JJ to get back?

At the college Jason walks up to Reid and Joe and introduces himself as ‘Professor Rothschild’, then shows them a few pictures of his murder victims:

Which are very effectively creepy, and do a good job of organically hiding the faces of the victims. It seems the art department has really stepped up its game since that collage disaster back in season 1!

Jason boasts that he dissolved them all in acid, and that there are five more victims, who will all be dead in the next nine hours unless they can beat his game. Can they? Let’s find out after the opening credits!

27.1.11

Adventures in Fake Journalism: Thankskilling

It seems almost like kicking a dead horse to complain about a lack of verisimilitude in the movie Thankskilling, which featured a long sequence in which a killer turkey wore a dead man's face, and a number of people were convinced they were talking to that man. Despite the fact that he was three feet shorter, and a turkey.

Still, I want to point out the film's one attempt at building a prop book because, within the annals of weird/awful prop production, it stands out from the crowd, both because it was entirely unnecessary, and because the filmmakers solution was so utterly bizarre.

Mid-way through the film, the nerd character pauses to flip through a book about the history of thanksgiving, in the hopes that it might offer some clues as to how to defeat the evil turkey that's chasing them. It does, but the 'prop department' was unable (or unwilling) to write a few paragraphs about an evil magic turkey so that the book would look good during the quick insert shot when he's reading. So the product was this:

Overlook the fact that it's clearly a computer printout and focus on the text with me. The left side is largely illegible, but I was able to spot the name 'Bill O'Neal' and reference to his book 'The First Thanksgiving: It was in Texas!' (it wasn't, BTW). The right side is where the real action goes down, however - the bulk of the text comes straight from the most reliable source possible: the Thanksgiving Wikipedia page, but then the text following it is supposed to be in code. But rather than actually write a code, the 'prop department' did this:

A series of algebraic equations cut and pasted in sequence. I'll give the producers this: what they lacked in authenticity they certainly made up for in sheer 'never-seen-that-beforitude'.

26.1.11

Time for an Avod Bitchfest!

That's right, in struggling to come up with another themed episode, DM and myself wound up scraping the bottom of the barrel this week. In our defense, it didn't seem like such a bad idea when we found out that there was a movie called "Run! Bitch Run!' - How could you turn that down?

The answer, of course, is that you could turn it down if you had the sense in you that god gave a gnat. Still, though, watching it, BitchSlap, and Jennifer's Body did lead to a spectacularly bitchy episode of TheAvod, so, in the end, all was profoundly not lost!

If you'd like to hear more about the films, just right-click here to download the episode, or head on over to TheAvod's own website and stream it for yourself!

25.1.11

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

So thoughtful of that guy to stop the fight just long enough to explain the plot. And then immediately start it back up again.

24.1.11

Tales From the Darkside 113: Anniversary Dinner


This week's episode opens on an elderly couple out in the woods, sharing a nice dinner... not the anniversary dinner of the title, however - is this because... they ARE the anniversary dinner?! Okay Count, calm down, you're half a minute into the episode, too early to be calling twists. Just enjoy for now.

The husband cuts his finger on a knife, and while the wife, while sucking it clean, refers to the contradiction of an 'old sourpuss tasting so sweet' which I know is meant to be comforting, but she's tasting blood and calling it sweet. Ick. Also, who's playing the wife?



Her face isn't especially familiar, but I swear I know the voice... which I now realize isn't in the picture, so let's move on. The anniversary of the title is mentioned fairly quickly - it seems they've been married for twenty-five years, and the wife is feeling empty-nesty. Holidays feel empty without their children around, you see. And who should come sneaking up outside the house just as she comments on that?

Probably not their children.

The next day Wife sees two backpackers headed up the drive to her house, and reacts with an understandable level of wariness. They claim to be looking for the 'old Anderson place', and admit to having spent the night in the orchard. Wife offers to let the couple stick around and do some chores in exchange from room, board, and perhaps a little spending money. When the male backpacker laughs at the idea and starts to leave, husband comes rushing out of the house with a shotgun-

Which seems like a bit of an overreaction, if you ask me. The backpackers leave - which they'd been planning on doing anyhow, mind you, but the wife tells the female backpacker, 'Sybil', that she's welcome back if the male backpacker seems like trouble. Sybil doesn't find this offer as ominous as she ought to, but then again, she doesn't know that her exit is framed by the handle of an ax:

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we've just met our 'Anniversary Dinner'.

In the very next scene the wife is chopping up meat and complaining that it's too tough. This naturally leads to an expressed hope that Sybil will return, and the creepy suggestion that she reminds wife of their children. Sybil does, in fact, return that bery night, and is welcomed into the house with open arms. Proving that she's basically the ideal victim of cannibals, she doesn't run screaming from the house when wife explains that their children still live with them 'In a way' and that they 'become a part of you'. So yikes, these old people ate their children.

That night at dinner wife tells husband that Sybil's run away from home, and hasn't talked to any of her family members in two years. Which, again, if there were a checklist for the perfect victim of a serial killer... Sybil swiffs another chance to run screaming from the house when they offer to show her... 'the play room', which is actually hidden behind a creepy false wall in the kitchen!

The wall is covered with hunting implements and trophies (in the pieces of dead animals sense of the term), but the real centerpiece of the place is, incongruously enough, a large wooden jacuzzi!

Husband starts up the jacuzzi as Sybil runs off to grab her bathing suit. Then, as if the situation weren't creepy enough, wife all but freaks out when the pool doesn't start up immediately. Then they proceed to watch Sybil, um, hungrily, as she enjoys her bath.

As if it wasn't clear enough what was coming next, they even whisper conspiratorially about how great their 'anniversary' is going to be with a kid in the house. Then, naturally, the subject of dinner comes up, and husband starts opining loudly about how their dinner may have been ruined because the butcher they get their meat from doesn't know how to kill animals! It's husband's theory, you see, that killing a frightened, abused animal poisons the meat, and ruins it. That you must care for the animals that you're going to kill and devour. He says this, remember, to the runaway girl who he and his wife have taken in, bathed, fed, and generally cared for. Yet she doesn't flee.

Although, to offer an explanation for this disturbing inaction, I will point out that Sybil isn't aware that, once again, she's been framed next to that ax and stump:

Poor sap.

One scene later and it's the couple's anniversary - Sybil wakes up alone in the house, so naturally she goes to explore the play room. Which is naturally killed with animals who were totally content before being shot in the neck from hundreds of feet away. Finally she gets a little creeped out when she gets a gander at the couple's knife collection:

But, again, not so creeped out that she does the sensible thing. Instead she just starts up the jacuzzi once more and prepares to hop in. Is she going to figure it out? There's just five minutes left! Poking around a little more she uncovers the stereo, and turns on some brassy classical music, then finds a mysterious button hidden among the knives. Before she can press it husband and wife arrive home, and freak out more than a little. What's behind the wall of knives? Sybil is too busy apologizing for poking around in their stuff to bother wondering.

Husband comes out of the play room and apologizes for snapping, then gives Sybil some wine and tells her to hop back in the tub at her leisure. Things then take a turn for the bizarre when wife walks in, carrying a ladle and a plate of vegetables. Sybil's too drunk to be concerned when wife starts tossing the vegetables into the water with her, and I can't believe I didn't realize that the jacuzzi was actually a giant stew pot! The drugs in the wine finally kick in and Sybil slips below the surface to begin cooking.

This leaves just a single thing left unexplained - what's behind the wall of knives? Wife says that they really ought to 'share' their meal with the children, which they do by heading over to the knife panel and opening it to reveal...

The skulls of their dead children! Or just the children they kidnapped and murdered, the origin of these kids isn't exactly made explicit. Still, though, them old cannibals don't mess around. Except for the fact that there's a guy out there who knows where they live and whose girlfriend ran off to go back to their house before mysteriously disappearing.

That could easily come back to bite them, come to think of it.

23.1.11

Frightmare's War With the English Language - Part 2!

As promised (threatened?) by the title of the last post on this subject, here's the other notable scene from genre classic 'Frightmare':


The fascinating thing about this film is that the writer/director 'Ash Smith' demonstrates a level of competence in the film's other dialogue scenes. When characters gather together to discuss their charity haunted house or their attempts to solve a murder the use of English is, while perfunctory, still appropriate. It's only when Ash Smith attempts to write people on television that dealing with a second level of unreality causes him to become crushed by an avalanche of self-consciousness, leaving him unable to produce anything other than bizarre-sounding gibberish. Albeit bizarre-sounding gibberish that he was able to convince actors to read off of cue cards.

Now, for the record, and setting aside the fact that it was a scene about two characters debating the deeper meaning of a malapropism, here is a partial list of the words that Ash Smith doesn't know the meaning of, yet feels comfortable using:

Common
Processing
Intuitive

22.1.11

Platoon of the Dead isn't a comedy

Despite what's going to appear below:

That's the crawl which opens the film. Seeing that, one might well expect the content of the film to be relatively serious; to, for lack of a better term, 'mean' what happens.

And then the actual film starts. We're presented with a soldier wandering through the woods, having survived an ambush. He comes across an injured man, and immediately checks the man's pulse:

Despite the fact that the man's injuries consist of having been impaled on a branch:

The soldier then attempts to call for help, while his body language suggests that he's, you know, just hangin'-

And his radio proves to be a slightly outdated cell phone, held upside down.

That's nothing compared to his gun, however-

Which proves to have incredibly visible holes where the screws connect the two pieces of plastic.

It's strange, because were the rest of the film to be a broad comedy, all of this would work as a perfect setup. It's not, however.

More's the pity.

21.1.11

Criminal Minds 407: Memoriam

Part 2 of the cliffhanger,folks – we’re going to find out what was going on with Reid’s nightmares! Was his dad a murderer? Of course not, but I’m sure there’ll be an interesting story to explain the dreams.

Speaking of his dreams, Reid announces to the team that he won’t be heading back to Quantico with them, but doesn’t explain why he’ll be remaining in Las Vegas. Every but Derek accepts his alibi of wanting to spend some more time with his mother, but Derek doesn’t say anything, so Reid is free to head over to a local police station and ask after the case file. It’s delivered to him by Xander Berkeley, of 24 (and a million other things) fame! Xander was one of the cops on the case – he compares this murder to the Jonbenet Ramsay case, which may be the most open they’ve ever been with their talking about the real case an episode was based on. This episode, like that true-life tragedy, revlovles around a child found dead in the basement of their own home, with no sign of forced entry suggesting that an intruder had committed the act. Will the similarities to the Ramsay case continue, or will this week’s case actually be solved?

The latter, I’m guessing.

Helping the latter occur is… the rest of the team! Yeah, Derek and Joe didn’t get on the plane either. Knowing full well about Reid’s stress, they’ve decided to hang out and help Reid solve the crime, for which he’s already got a prime suspect… his own father!

20.1.11

Chocolate Cannibalism Exposed!

The world of children's candy can oft be a disturbing one. Giant balls of resin designed to literally break jaws. Incitements to eat worms and miniature bears, each constructed from some manner of gelatin. The terrifying image of a rabbit laying chocolate eggs...

All of these have, in one way or another, scarred children for life. This year, however, Cadbury has thrown off all pretense of marketing chocolate treats, and instead released a product that seems to exist for no other purpose than to disturb anyone foolish enough to look upon its packaging. That product? The Choc-Men.

Look at his wild eyes! The abandon with which he tears his chocolate brother apart with his teeth! Only one question can be asked of this situation - has resorting to cannibalism driven him mad, or did madness cause him to resort to cannibalism?

Not satisfied with this relatively tame depiction of snowman cannibalism, Cadbury released a second edition of the Choc-Men, this one branded under its popular 'Caramilk' line.

No, you're not seeing things, that chocolate snowman is bleeding profusely as his head is being torn apart. The Caramilk secret, it would seem, is devouring the living as they scream for mercy.

This, ladies and gentleman of the jury, is a face that has gazed into the abyss. How can he be found legally responsible for his actions, abominable though they may have been, when he'll never again understand what they were?

19.1.11

On the Subject of Impaired Avods...

Tried something very strange today - recorded an Avod despite still being quite ill. I think it went over fairly well, although, and this is the unusual part, I've already forgotten almost everything I said in the show, despite wrapping it just under two hours ago.

I suppose there's an upside to finally having an Avod that I can listen to 'fresh', but I'm more troubled than anything else by what horrible things I may have said in my state of diminished faculty. Well, it's not like the Divemistress stopped the show due to offensiveness or anything...

Tell you what, right-click to download here, and judge for yourself! I apologize in advance for my 'sick guy' voice. That literally could not be helped.

Fun Fact about this Week's Episode: The Zatoichi series that was mentioned this week featured both 26 films and a television series that ran more than one hundred episodes!

18.1.11

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

This isn't a superhero torturing a criminal for information - which is a pretty common sight in the golden age, truth be told - it's a superhero taking a criminal to the police, then offering them advice on the best way to torture him for information.

Join us next time for more adventures of The Clock - Enhanced Interrogation Consultant!

17.1.11

Tales From the Darkside 112 : In the Cards

The episode opens with a saucy woman tempting fate - how, you ask? She's flirting with, and dismissing, a man on the phone, while placing an ad for her new fortune-telling business. Which she clearly doesn't believe in! Man, is uppance coming fast.

In the form of an old lady, it would seem!

16.1.11

Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Gwenyth Paltrow Edition!

This week got off to a rocky start, with an opening sketch about Fox News' attempts to tone it down following the Tucson shootings, then quickly spiralling until the hosts were talking about how Health Care was raping America's freedom. Yes, the sketch was about satirizing Fox News' hyperbole, but the SNL writers could have toned it down slightly and still had the same effect.

The rest of the show was far less offensive, with the only other example of rape-themed humour being a joke about Will Smith's inability to express the correct emotions while filming a hypothetical episode of 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' in which Carleton was assaulted by a male teacher.

The only sign of homophobia-based humour was in a sketch that featured a questionable impression of Cher by Bill Hader. The only joke in that sketch? That Cher's daughter recently had a sex-change operation and became Cher's son. Which is apparently icky, and therefore funny.

The lack of truly offensive content gave me a chance to focus on the skteches themselves, which turned out to be something of a mistake, as they were by and large terrible. There were the truly mis-begotten, like a Bar Mitzvah sketch in which the characters sang Jew-themed versions of popular songs. A sketch about Spanish-language SportsCenter only featured half a joke - that the anchors speak flawless Spanish and then sound odd and discordant when using English names and terms. I say 'half a joke' because while the cast member playing the male anchor really sold the premise, Paltrow's accent was so weak that there was no measurable difference in her speaking voice when moving between languages.

Yet another visit to the set of 'Fake Password' reminded us why that sketch needs so badly to be retired. At least with celebrity Jeopardy there were new categories each week, the fun of seeing real celebrities try to be other real celebrities, and the escalating war of wills between Trebek and Burt Reynolds, then later Sean Connery. All Fake Password has to offer is Kristen Wiig saying she's not going to say the password, and then saying it. Mildly diverting once - majorly infuriating the sixth time. What Up with That (which was mercifully absent this week) understands the need to up the ante with each show - Fake Password is the exact same sketch every time.

When not even a cameo appearance by Pee-Wee Herman can save your show, it's time to rethink your priorities, SNL. Now, on to the numbers!

Rape-Themed Humour: 2
Homophobia-Themed Humour: 2

A fairly inoffensive week, as I mentioned above - while I'm not shocked to see them backing off of rape-themed humour (hopefully this isn't just a statistical aberration, and someone actually thought better of it), the downturn in homophobia-themed humour is heartening. With any luck the less awful SNL will become the new norm!

Oh, and if you're making a sketch about Will Smith's inability to act during the first couple of seasons of Fresh Prince, maybe you could drop in the most famous aspect of it: His habit of mouthing all of the other actors' lines while he was waiting for his turn to speak.

That stuff is gold every time I see it!

Also, what kind of world are we living in when Smuggy Smuggerson has the best line of the night? It's anarchy, people!

15.1.11

Frightmare's War With the English Language - Part 1!

You probably haven't heard of the movie 'Frightmare', or if you have, you're thinking about this British movie from the 70s:

The Frightmare to which I'm referring concerns a group of teens who attempt to build a charity haunted house, only to have murder ensue. It's a standard enough plot for a slasher film, and the film as a whole may well warrant coverage down the line, but right now I want to simply present something that happens at the film's outset - with less commentary than I'm generally known for.


What is going on in that speech? I understand that this is a low budget film, but were they unable to find anyone who spoke English, requiring phonetic pronunciation? Had the writers never seen a news broadcast? I assure you the rest of the film doesn't evince a complete lack of understanding of how the English language works.

With one exception, although that can wait until next time...

14.1.11

Criminal Minds 406: The Instincts

The episode opens with the team rushing through a series of dark, unfurnished rooms while swinging around flashlight-enabled handguns. The whole thing suggests a training exercise - at least it until Spencer goes off alone and the angles go all impressionistic - which looks more dream-sequence-y. Spencer wakes up from his nightmare on the plane, then shows off his perfect dream recall - they found a six-year-old boy stabbed to death. Why is he having the dream? Could it have something to do with the case they're on, which involves a killer who abducts children, keep them alive for a week, calls the parents to taunt them, and then leaves the suffocated child in a field.

The ticking clock is established right away - a new child went missing yesterday, so just six days to save his life! Not that he's in a lot of danger - they've already got one dead body, and while the structure would have this kid dying before they finally saved the third victim, Criminal Minds is really, really nervous about killing off children. I don't think there was even a second onscreen victim in that 'red-headed child loves murder' episode. Although I'd obviously have to go back to check that. Maybe I should do it during the opening credits!

13.1.11

The Mystery of Grape Nuts Solved - At Last!

As someone raised in North America in the 1980s, I was around for the resurgence of Grape Nuts cereal marketing, and the attendant increase in stand-up comedians' jokes about same. “It's not made of grapes, it's not made of nuts... what is it!?” As a child I'm sure I just accepted these jokes at face value, understood the nature of Grape Nuts as being one of life's little mysteries, and then moved on to watching another episode of Gummi Bears.

It wasn't until this year that I, quite accidentally, discovered the explanation for this enduring puzzle. Handily enough, it was in one of the comics I was reading to look for stories about Captain Marvel doing something spectacularly crazy or racist!

That's Volto, the man from Mars whose powers include promoting Post's new Grape Nuts Flakes - seeing this ad made me realize for the first time that Grape Nuts had been around long enough that my grandparents might have eaten them growing up - so I swung by Wikipedia to discover just how old they actually were. The answer - that they began production in the 1890s - was something of a shock, but immediately I was presented with the obvious answer to my query!

Seedless grapes, while extant, were not as common in America during the 19th century, so a worker in a cereal factory could well be expected to observe the visual similarity between this crushed grain:

and the seed (or nut) of a grape:

The stand-up comedians of the 80s, by comparison, grew up in an America completely devoid of both seeded grapes and simple electronic means of finding out why things are called things - so of course they were confused!

So there you have it, stand-up comedians of fifteen years ago - they're called that due to a physical resemblance between the cereal and the seeds of grapes.

You're welcome.

Next up? Finding out what, exactly, is up with airline peanuts, and why the bags are so hard to open.

12.1.11

TheAvod Episode 100: Episode 100!

That's right, two years (and a bit) later, theAvod (the internet's sole audio-only Vodcast) has finally reached its hundredth episode! To celebrate this fact, I've decided to resume posting about the show I co-host.

Really, there's no excuse for me not having been doing this for the past two years other than sloth and uselessness, but whatever, right?


Topics discussed this week include 'The Cape', 'And Soon the Darkness', and 'Platoon of the Dead', which is neither a George Romero movie, nor a zombie parody of the film Platoon. If you'd rather download it, just right-click here and save the .mp3!

11.1.11

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

Dwarf vs Old Lady... who am I supposed to be rooting for here? Either one makes an effectively surprising Golden Age hero or villain...

10.1.11

Tales From the Darkside 111: All a Clone by the Telephone


It seems like we've finally reached that Harry Anderson episode that I mistook for 'Word Processor of the Gods'. Let's see what this one is about!

Harry plays a frustrated writer who, in the parlance of the industry, 'can't get arrested in this town'. Insult is added to injury when it turns out that his agent (genre stalwart Dick Miller!) is more impressed with the funny message on his new answering machine than anything Harry's written in the past six months.

The problem? Harry doesn't remember leaving any funny message... uh-oh, this could be trouble...

9.1.11

Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Jim Carrey Edition!

If you're wondering where the RapeWatch has been this season, its absence has owed to a combination of my own lack of attentiveness and SNL's complete lack of rape themed humour!

That's right, in what I like to call a victory for the Castle (and human decency), after three long years of rape-themed humour soiling SNL, we've now gone half a season without so much as a visit to 'Scared Straight' territory!

Now that I'm ensconced in the challenging arms of the one a day project, however, I thought this might be the perfect time to resurrect one of my most beloved recurring features. With that in mind, let's take a look at this week's SNL!

Jim Carrey was in poor form tonight, although the level of the material was doubtless responsible for at least part of his lackluster performance. After all, this is a man who used to Ride the Snake - it must be awfully dispiriting to be be in a sketch whose only joke is that people say they don't break down crying in public, right before video evidence proves that they do.

When the high point of the night is Jim Carrey breaking out a (legitimately wonderful) Alan Thicke impression, SNL's certainly scraping the bottom of the barrel.

So now, let's move on to the numbers!

Homophobia-themed humour: 1 - A Black Swan-inspired sketch ended with the lame tag of Carrey being outed as a female impersonator, rather than just an extremely mannish ballerina. Also, Hader's Vincent Cassel leaves something to be desired.

Rape-themed humour: 0 - Wish I could take credit for this, but far more likely S&P finally hired a censor who was able to stay up past 9:30.

Good work, SNL! Hopefully you'll keep this record up in the coming weeks!

8.1.11

Can we talk about Christ?

Jason Christ, that is. I bring him up because, while attempting to remember the name of a movie I was trying to buy so that I could review it here at the Castle (Harvest of Fear! Look for it soon!), I stumbled onto the similarly-titled 'Savage Harvest 2'. To begin approaching the point, I'll just suggest you tab open that link and glance around the page a little - it's one of those small-budget pages on IMDB where the writer/director/producer submits a synopsis as well as an array of trivia factoids.

How can I be so certain that Jason wrote all this himself? Well, first off, the fact that low-budget horror filmmaker Jason Christ wrote and directed a movie about 'Tyge Murdock, a successful director of low-budget horror films' suggests a certain level of narcissism that would easily lead one to fill out their own imdb page while hiding behind anonymity. Not that I feel comfortable diagnosing someone's mental problems based on a single webpage (despite all appearances to the contrary).

The reason I bring this up is to ask why people feel the need to hide behind anonymity when filling these things out? Do they worry that we'll take a synopsis less seriously if we knew the filmmakers were responsible for it? If anything, I feel like that would make it more helpful and authoritative - it's not like anyone considers the synopsis to be a review. Why try to hide it when the trivia section makes it abundantly clear that the imdb page was written by "someone" with intimate knowledge of the production, along with an fixation on minutiae that no one but the director and editor cares about - such as scene numbers.

Really, I guess I'd just like Jason Christ to come forward and take credit for Savage Harvest 2's imdb page. You made a movie, you're proud of it, you're promoting it - there's nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you're not responsible for the sole (super-positive) user review at the bottom of the page. Which, of course, he isn't.

Oh, and for the record, Jason Christ looks EXACTLY like you think he does:

And a quick trip to his own imdb page reveals that in addition to writing/directing Savage Harvest 2, Christ also produced Deadwood Park, one of the most confusingly-structured movies I've ever seen! (note that in the review linked there, I misremembered the title - just in case you'd mistaken me for an authority or anything...)

7.1.11

Criminal Minds 405: Catching Out

A train runs through a dark city, making this the second week in a row to open with a vehicle headed somewhere. No traffic fatalities this week, however, just a crazed homeless man who sees everything in psychosis-vision:

Or, based on that screenshot, maybe Van Gogh-vision. Has he come to this random town to kill someone? Of course he has - and then he takes a show afterward, and sniffs some glue! Okay, this guy is clearly barely functional - how is he going to get away with this? Not that he'll get away with it in the long run, of course - obviously they're going to catch him by the end of the episode, but how is not going to get caught the next morning, when neighbours see a disheveled black guy walking out of an old white couple's suburban house?

Meanwhile, Derek indulges in his favorite passtime: hitting on every attractive woman he comes across. Which, I'll take a moment to remind everyone, the rest of his team sees as a harmless, even borderline-comedic personality trait, rather than a symptom of underlying trauma caused by all the times he was raped as a child.

The twist in this little flirtation is that the woman already knows who Derek is! Is this because she's a serial killer stalking him? Well, she looks like this:

So no. Let's move on to the briefing, where the team discovers that the hobo already has six victims in addition to the two he just murdered the night before (remember, all serial killers are spree killers!) and the team must rush out to California to stop him! Interestingly, the biggest problem they have so far is that he's been dubbed the 'Highway 99 Killer' - why does Greg object to this? I'm guessing we'll find out after the opening credits!

6.1.11

Jeopardy is Suprisingly Fair! Or Badly-Designed!

I don't know if Jeopardy's writers have been getting sloppier with their research lately, but I've noticed a couple of questions in the past few months where more than one answer would have been acceptable - which seems like kind of a no-no for a quiz show. Like if the Jumble letters were 'CDOLU' - it just doesn't work.

The first one I noticed was under the category 'change one letter', where the contestant is asked to come up with two words that are one letter apart and conform to the dictates of the 'answer'. This 'answer' was "Elmer's and Morose". I immediately hit the imaginary buzzer and exclaimed 'Glue and Blue!' I was already halfway through the self-congratulatory high-five when I realized that the correctly-answering contestant had given a different 'question': 'Glue and Glum'.

Chided, I wondered whether I would have been given the cash anyways, had I been on the show that day. I'm fairly certain that another episode, some weeks later, provided an affirmative answer to the problem.

The category: "Starts with A". The Answer: ~"5 Letters - a commonly-held wise saying". Again I jumped, this time with 'Axiom' - and I was proven right, but not before a contestant was told that their guess 'Adage' was incorrect. A post-commercial ruling by the judges overturned Trebek, which was all well and good, but this is the kind of sloppiness you don't expect to see from the good people at Jeopardy.

Which raises the question - are these imprecise 'answers' the result of a culture of inattention fostered by the dumbing-down of the show's questions? This is my suspicion, but unless I'm somehow contacted by a Whistleblower inside the Jeopardy organization, I fear I'll never learn the truth.

Still, there's always that genius robot to look forwards to, right?

(If this seems like a more digressive post than usual from me - and I'm aware that's saying something - it's because I've decided to attempt the One a Day Project, and as I sat down to write something about something, I found myself totally and utterly blocked - which is exact opposite of the point of this thing. So hopefully it looks up from here.)

4.1.11

Unsurprisingly, Mark Millar's Nemesis doesn't hold up well in the final analysis.

Nemesis, Mark Millar`s latest successful attempt to have Hollywood studios pay him for the rights to unfilmable projects, recently published its fourth and final issue, and now that the story has been resolved, it`s a good a time as any to look back at the deficiencies within that identify it so clearly as a Millar product.

First, the good: Unlike his last anti-hero themed project (Wanted), Nemesis wasn't about the adventures of a group of super-criminals who primarily concerned themselves with raping women and children.

That was pretty much it.

Although that alone makes Nemesis less completely worthless than Wanted, which is certainly a plus. Now for the bad stuff...