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Abominable Howling Alligators

This year, due to all the horror movies that we wanted to cram into our annual horror-a-thon, we decided to start our viewing on September 1st. Yes, we need an entire additional month. And there are still movies we’ll have to skip.

We have many, many movies.

We (actually, Chris) have decided to help ourselves sort all of them out by having theme nights:

  • Monster Mondays
  • Terrible Tuesdays (I’m going to kill him for this one)
  • When Animals Attack Wednesdays
  • Stuart Gordon Thursdays
  • Universal Fridays
  • Stalk & Slay Saturdays
  • Supernatural Sundays

I’m most looking forward to Supernatural Sundays as I have recently been able to watch truly scary stuff again – and it’s the supernatural stuff that’s always scared me.

This week we have watched the following: Abominable (2006), The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985) and Alligator (1980).

Abominable Movie Poster

Abominable Movie Poster

Abominable is a little known Bigfoot movie that has some amazing suit effects, tension-building direction and even some Hitchcockian vibes due to the lead (Matt McCoy) being wheelchair-bound and having a passing resemblance to Anthony Perkins. It starts off a little slow but pays off in the end. It also contains excellent extended cameos by Jeffrey Combs and Lance Henriksen – a couple of household favorites here at the Mills homestead.

The plot isn’t too complicated. Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy) returns to his wooded cabin in hopes to come to terms with the accidental death of his wife six months previous but things don’t go as planned when a huge Sasquatch tears through the woods, taking out horses, dogs and finally, several pretty co-eds. Preston does his best to prevent more deaths but no one believes him until it’s too late.

The monster suit in this movie is pretty amazing, especially those freakin’ teeth. So big and so realistic. This bigfoot has some googly eyes but I can forgive that since it resembles Ron Swanson on a really bad hair day.

If for nothing else, watch this movie for the last shot. It’s creepy as hell.

Tuesday night was truly terrible. Not even Christopher Lee could save The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf. A direct sequel to the excellent The Howling (1981), this movie picks up at the funeral of Karen White, portrayed by Dee Wallace in the first movie and by a very forgettable Hana Ludvikova in this movie. The plot is pretty much nonsensical, there are images inserted into sequences that have nothing to do with what’s going on in the story, the actors portraying the protagonists (Jenny Templeton and Reb Brown) are just awful and even Christopher Lee seemed rather bored in many of his scenes. Vampire lore is substituted for Werewolf lore and the gratuitous nudity and sex scenes were eye roll-inducing.

Good thing I had some beading to do while we watched it. Yeesh.

I do not recommend watching this movie, unless you’re a fan of Sybil Danning’s admittedly impressive boobage. If you like those, you won’t be disappointed. Hell, just watch the end credits – it includes about 16 repeated shots of her removing her outfit over and over again.

Alligator Poster

Say Hello to Ramon…then say goodbye forever!

Wednesday night we returned to decent fare with Alligator starring the always enjoyable Robert Forster and female lead Robin Riker – known by me for playing Amy’s witch mother in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer“. And I’m not name-calling. She played an actual witch.

This movie follows the life of police officer David Madison, a man scarred by the death of his former partner, who stumbles upon an Alligator in the sewers who has been feasting on the discarded remains of illegal test-subject dogs. These animals have been pumped full of a growth hormone causing the Alligator to have a few growth spurts himself. Unfortunately, moments after discovering the Alligator, his new partner (of about 10 minutes) is snatched away and eaten by the car-sized reptile.

No one believes Madison, blaming his delusion on the stress caused by losing a second partner. But after a reporter is eaten by Ramon (yes, he has a name, but you’ll have to watch to find out how we know it), taking pictures as it happens and the pictures are found and developed, the city is put on full alert.

In the end, Ramon goes on a city-wide rampage, ending up at the estate of the owner of the lab that pumped those poor pooches full of growth hormones and you can probably guess that sleazbag’s fate.

Alligator is an enjoyable Animal-on-a-rampage movie with good writing, better-than-average character development and impressive special effects, especially for it’s time.

So, in all, I recommend both Abominable and Alligator, but wouldn’t wish The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf on any discerning horror fan. It’s just not worth the pain.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

shaun-of-the-dead-poster A movie that is both a spoof and a gushing love letter to zombie films (in particular the George Romero series), Shaun of the Dead is a genius mixture of comedy and horror with witty writing, interesting characters and several moments of true heart.

Every time I watch this movie I catch more references and more echoes. A lengthy guidebook could be written to point out all of the references this movie makes to past horror films and Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright/Nick Frost projects. But amazingly enough, you don’t have to have any familiarity with those past films and projects to truly enjoy this movie.

This movie follows the exploits of every-man Shaun. We find that he has little to no ambition at work, he takes his relationship with his girlfriend Liz for granted, and he enables his best friend Ed to the detriment of himself and those around them.

When his girlfriend Liz finally dumps him after breaking a promise (although it’s not entirely his fault) Shaun has a drunken night out with Ed but afterwards decides that it’s time to get his life together, including paying more attention to his mother and fixing his relationship with Liz.

However, circumstances get in the way and after an oblivious walk through a zombie-infested Crouch End, Shaun, along with Ed finally realize that life has had a bit of an odd turn.

Although his plans rarely pan out, Shaun is able to gather his mother, Ed, Liz and a few of her friends and get them to the relative safety of their favorite pub – where all hell breaks loose.

This movie is funny, scary, contains some impressive character growth considering just how much is going on and is one of the best out there of any genre.

Highly recommended. If you haven’t seen this one or it’s been a while, get it now!

Struggling with Superstition

As anyone who has read my blog knows, I was raised by a christian mother and considered myself a christian until about 5 years ago. I’m now an atheist (I can even spell it correctly) and I’ve done my best to rid myself of all the baggage that comes along with being a christian.

Fred Astaire and Tommy Steele in Finnian's Rainbow

"Don't be superstitious, man. It's bad luck!"

One thing I’ve had trouble getting rid of, however, is my superstitious nature and my belief in the supernatural. One of my biggest problems in this area is ghosts. I still believe in them. I know it’s  irrational and illogical to believe in them and that all those ghost stories can most likely be explained in a scientific way, but I still believe.

And It’s not just that I believe in them – they scare me to death. I get so superstitious about them that I think I can attract them to me by just thinking too much about them – and I think way too much about ghosts for someone who’s never had any kind of ‘supernatural’ occurrence happen to them personally.

I used to actually be able to enjoy ghost story fiction. But now, they scare me so badly that no matter how bad the movie is, I’ll be jumpy for days after seeing a haunted house movie.

On the other hand, if the supernatural force is NOT a ghost, they can creep me out but they don’t keep me scared for long periods of time. For example, you know those horrid Paranormal Activity movies? They would probably scare me if they were about ghosts. The second it was revealed it was about a demon, I wasn’t scared in the least. (Side note: My husband and I actually like those movies, but only because they’re so ridiculous that we can laugh at them and make fun of them. It’s rather cathartic, actually.)

When I saw the American The Grudge remake it scared me so badly that for days I could barely move when it was dark if I thought about it too much. And have you ever tried to NOT think of something? Yeah, it doesn’t work.

One of my favorite horror movies is The Blair Witch Project. I can’t watch it anymore. Too many ghosts. I haven’t even tried to watch one of the best horror movies ever – The Haunting – in a very long time. (The original, not that laughable remake.)

Julie Harris in The Haunting

"Whose hand was I holding?"

So, how do I get over this? I was able to logically come to the conclusion that there is most likely not a god so why can’t I do the same for ghosts? Is it because people I trust have told me true ghost stories? Yes, I’m sure that all of those occurrences can probably be explained but the stories still scare me when I hear them or think about them.

Anyone out there have any good advice for overcoming an irrational superstition? I want to be able to watch “The Changeling” again someday.

 

Bully

I never feared for my life or even physical violence, but I was subjected to some cruel mental torture during my middle school and high school years. The 8th grade was probably the worst year of my life.

I’ve never understood why people just can’t let others live in peace.

Monkees Minus One

The best bit from the movie Head. We’ll miss you, Davy.

 

The Mystery of Hermione Granger

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)I’ve been following along as Mark Re-Reads the Harry Potter series and in his post today he discussed Hermione and what motivates her to be the insufferable know-it-all she was in the beginning.

This, along with the questions my husband has posed, has made me curious about Hermione.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books (as if I really need to say who she is, ha!), gives us a pretty good background for both Harry and Ron but there’s very, very little about Hermione’s pre-Hogwarts childhood. We know she’s from an all-muggle family and that she is most likely an only child. But that’s all we really know. There’s never any mention of extended family, how she fared in her pre-magical education (although we can assume she excelled in probably everything) and if she ever had any friends before Hogwarts.

I was quite surprised when I saw the last movie that we actually got to see Hermione in the muggle world (and in one of the most heart-wrenching scenes offered by any of the films.) Hermione is never ‘seen’ in the muggle world in the books, ever. She writes from her holiday trips with her parents, but that’s the only clue we have about her non-magical life.

I find this rather odd. Rowling is so good about making the world of Harry Potter seem so real. There is so much detail in all aspects of her story-telling that I have to wonder if Hermione’s lack of a past was on purpose. Certainly it’s not really important overall, but it would have been nice to have some clue as to why Hermione was such a nosy, stickler-for-rules busybody. It’s almost as if Hermione was fully formed, on the spot the second she stepped onto the Hogwarts train.

On Rowling’s website she states that Hermione is a bit like her when she was younger. Perhaps Rowling didn’t give us a past for Hermione because it was too close to home. A world-famous author needs a little privacy I suppose.

Just the beginning…

I just found out that my ‘Does it All Come Down to Peter?’ post is a reference on the Doctor Who Wiki, ‘Tardis Index File.’

I know, it doesn’t really mean anything, but I feel all way famous now. 🙂

Things That Make Me Smile

Things have been getting me down lately but there are a few things that will always make me feel at least slightly better, no matter what. (These are in no particular order).

  • Hugs from my husband
  • Watching Fred Astaire dance
  • Seeing growth in my gardens
  • The fact that my dog is excited to see me every single day when I get home
  • Messages from friends and family
  • Listening to popular standards (songs) from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s
  • Watching escapist science-fiction and fantasy films/television

 

Things I Have Learned

No resolutions this year. I know what needs to be done, I know what I want to do and making a list won’t help me accomplish anything other than making yet another list to add to the plethora of lists I’ve made every year for decades.

Plethora. I’ve always liked that word, although I have never personally had a plethora of piñatas.

Anyway, so instead of a resolution list, I’m going to make a list of things I’ve learned over the past year. Yes, I will still be adding to my abundance of lists but at least this one is different. Some items will make sense only to me, some will be depressing and I have no doubt that most of them will be pop-culture related.

So, let’s get on with it.

  1. I have learned that the following are cool: Bow-ties, Fezzes and Stetson hats
  2. I have learned that people will believe any lie put before them if it affirms their fears
  3. I have learned that the only Tea Party worth paying attention to occurs in Wonderland
  4. I have learned that gold is not a good skin tone for Peter Cushing
  5. I have learned that Star Trek: Enterprise got a lot better after it’s first season
  6. I have learned that Pecan Pie is good for the soul
  7. I have learned that the Harry Potter books stay good, no matter how many times I read them
  8. I have learned that putting your faith in others’ intelligence and reasoning will only lead to great disappointment
  9. I have learned that Wil Wheaton is a very funny individual and that his pets are freakin’ hilarious
  10. I have learned that none of my family reads my blog
  11. I have learned that the first Doctor was awesome and that Ian and Barbara are now in my top five favorite companions, third to Donna Noble and Ace
  12. I have learned that Amy Pond is my least favorite companion and I sincerely hope she’s gone before Matt Smith finishes his run as the Doctor
  13. I have learned that despite it’s rather weak last episode, Lost was still one of the best shows ever produced
  14. I have learned that Danny Kaye was a pain in the ass to work with but that I still love watching and listening to him
  15. I have learned that when it comes to growing flowers, my gardening skills are sorely lacking
  16. I have learned that I like Hydrangeas quite a bit
  17. I have learned that putting a bird bath in the middle of your garden will cut down on the number of nasty bugs on your plants
  18. I have learned that Craig Ferguson is the coolest late night talk show host ever
  19. I have learned that Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants equals true genius
  20. I have learned that Spider and Scorpion does not update often enough
  21. I have learned that watching a meteor shower with my husband is now one of my favorite things to do
  22. I have learned that I still do not like Jonah Hill and don’t understand why Apatow (or anyone else, for that matter) continues to cast him in movies
  23. I have learned that I can lose hours of a day playing Roller Coaster Tycoon
  24. I have learned that J.J. Abrams relies on lens flares WAY too much
  25. I have learned that you apparently never stop missing your favorite Kitty
  26. I have learned that no one but my husband gets my Eurotrip references
  27. I have learned that no one but my husband gets me, which is why I love him so much
  28. I have learned that my tolerance for people is at an all-time low
  29. I have learned that I find physics difficult to learn
  30. I have learned that my grasp of World Geography is shaky at best
  31. I have learned that some movies/mini-series are MUCH better than the books upon which they’re based (North and South trilogy)

I’m sure there are things missing from this list – I certainly hope so, anyway – but that’s all I could think of for now. My memory isn’t what it used to be…which is another thing I learned this year.