Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sometimes it's hard to lose your money

or The Mis-Adventures of someone who stupidly tried to buy a fucking comic book.

As everybody knows Scott Pilgrim is one of the best comics being produced right now. Sadly, it's being published by Oni Press, from now on known as Do-not-want-your-stinkin'-money Press. Seemingly, there are supply problems with the book, but, thought I, stupidly, Amazon Germany sells every comic TPB imaginable. Oops, but not this one.
But there are quite a few Amazon shops that do. Oops again, only theoretically, in practice, the thing is sold out everywhere. I mean hey, it came out last week, what did I expect?
Hm, what about (second only to Amazon in quantity of import books in Germany)? Nope, sold out, not known when a new edition will appear. Swell.
But hey, most small book publishers, like Subterranean Press or Small Beer Press are more than happy to sell their books directly. A Small comic publisher surely won't be any different. So I look for the Oni Press site. Which actually has a web shop. Which only ships to the US and Canada, because international shipping is "not viable". Obviously.

And thus (what a surprise) my wish to buy Scott Pilgrim or actually anything published by Oni Press evaporated.

A one free word of advice to everyone who publishes anything: If someone wants to pay money for the things you produce, make it as easy as possible to buy them. Oh, my economics teacher would be so proud!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Drifting Classroom Vol. 8

Alright, I think it's best to cite the calm and sane words of Kazuo Umezu's manga itself: "I'm your God now!" "And the explosion made an earthquake and that's why we traveled in time!" "Mother...!" "I can't bear the thought of finding my mom's body!" "He must have died of shock from seeing us!" "It's a volcano!...It's going to erupt!" "There may be a way to stop this volcano! I'll call on my mother!"

So, business as mad and exclamation-heavy as usual for our survivors, just a little bit more so. If Umezu keeps this up for the rest of the series, it can only end in the Earth exploding as a giant exclamation mark, only to be eaten by hero kid Sho's mum.

I said it once and I'll say it again

Happy Birthday !

*hugs* *cuddles* *loves*

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Signalman (1976)

Another of the great ghost story shorts of the BBC. Everybody should know the story, so I won't recap it. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, look here)
It has the same virtues as A Warning to the Curious: A tight script, a sense for the creepiness of landscapes, very good acting (especially by Denholm Elliott) and the always lovable tendency of not pulling its punches.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Santo vs the Martian Invasion (1967)

To keep my theme of watching only the most high brow of movies intact, I watched a Mexican wrestler movie, starring El Santo, idol of the masses, himself.
The Martians are finally fed up with us - war, the atomic bomb, bad music and whatnot. The only solution: to pacify our planet and unite mankind under a peaceful world government. The obvious way to do this: attack Mexico with a mighty army of eight. And if one is already here, one could do worse than collect a few especially high evolved specimens for ones intergalactic zoo the betterment of the human race.
There is only one (okay, personally, I can see probably one or ten more) problem with this plan: Mexican national hero El Santo is the most perfect specimen of them all, and knows how to use an auto-destruct-lever.

This is both one of the silliest and most entertaining adventures of everyone's favorite wrestler, charmingly naive and just very, very entertaining.

Darlings of the Day:
"We now return control of your television set to you."

"Why do we frighten them, when our bodies are more perfectly evolved than their own?"
"It is all in the mind..."

"Because of their extraordinary intelligence, they emit ultra high frequency vibrations in moments of great emotion or tension."

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Giant Claw (1957)

This ranks among the funniest comedies I have ever seen. What do you mean, it's not a comedy?
The Giant Claw actually is meant to be very, very serious, but the story about a flying chicken from an anti-matter universe attacking the world aka the USA is just gloriously silly and graced with the most exquisite ineptly written dialogue one could possibly wish for. To make it even more beautiful the acting is even more wooden and unnatural than is to be expected in this kind of movie.
And then there's the monster:

Giant Chickens All-Out Attack

Ah, it is a thing of beauty.

Darlings of the Day:
"An electronics engineer. A radar officer. A mathematician and systems analyst. A radar operator. A couple of plotters. People doing a job. Well. Efficiently. Serious. Having fun. Doing a job. Situation: normal. For the moment."

"That bird is extra-terrestrial. It comes from outer space, from some God-forsaken anti-matter galaxy millions and millions of light years from the Earth. No other explanation is possible."

"Panic, terror and horror! No corner of the Earth was spared the terror of looking up into god’s blue sky and seeing: not peace and security, but the feathered nightmare on wings!"

"Will it work, Mitch?"
"I don’t know. I honestly haven’t the faintest, foggiest idea. It’s one of those cockeyed concepts that you pull down out of Cloud Eight somewhere in sheer desperation!"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lake of Dracula aka The Bloodthirsty Eyes (1971)

By the same director and very much in the same style as The Bloodthirsty Roses, but a lot more plodding and a little less moody. Still, it's interesting and at times very beautifully composed.
And I may have said it before, but I really love when something familiar (in this case the European, especially Italian gothic, horror movie style) is both reflected and defamiliarized by a different perspective.
(See also the take on Christian mythology in something like Angel Sanctuary),

Well, well, well

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Demons (1985)

Gloriously stupid Eighties gore orgy produced by Dario Argento, directed by Lamberto Bava and scripted by Argento, Bava and Dardano Sacchetti, triplicating the nonsensicality.
People in West Berlin are invited to the sneak preview of a horror movie. Soon the events in the movie are mirrored in the cinema and people start to turn into demons. Green, yellow and red fluids gush, squirt and drip in a very Italian style. After much screaming, running around and dying follows one of the absolute high points of my movie watching career/one of the silliest things you'll ever see:

This late in the movie most of the cast has been ripped to pieces or demonized, but Hero Guy and Hero Gal prevail. To be more exact, they jump on a motorcycle (as found in most cinema foyers) and kill demons left and right with a samurai sword (guess where they found it?), defying gravity and common sense by riding over the cinema's seats while the soundtrack lets the appropriate Bad Heavy Metal blare. It's really glorious in its own brain-damaged way.
Obviously the only way to top this would be a helicopter crashing right through the ceiling. Guess what happens?
And the movie still isn't over...But I won't spoil the precious moments that made me cry with laughter.

A masterpiece of idiotic fun. Plus: Putrescence.

Darling of the Day:
"Welcome aboard! There are more weapons on the floor."

The Hazing (2004)

So, what's worse than a Direct to DVD horror movie? A Direct to DVD horror "comedy". Especially this one.
Stupid sorority pledges have to go into spoooooky house, get killed, film over, viewer bored out of his mind. Bad jokes killed too many brain cells. Own jokes not better anymore. Grammar damaged even more than usual. Gah.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why I love Okkervil River

The President's Dead

The president's dead, the radio said,
Dear friends, is it not so horrible?
A shot through my heart, like a knife right through bread,
The newspaper said the president's dead.

The sea doesn't dry and the sky doesn't split,
But friends it just seems so wrong, don't it?
A shot from the crowd, and a shot in the head,
The president's lying on the tarmac dead.

He's lying face down with his black-dressed agents
Guns drawn running around and the early Obit's
Say he was a good man, you can't argue with that
Not today you can't, not now you can't.

In the media tent where they spin and they slant,
They just foam the mouth and they chant at the bit,
Those bloodsuckers can wait until those vulture's cool in,
The newscaster said, "The President's dead."

Let's imagine the way, let's say 30 years in,
How somebody will say, "What you were doing when...?"
On a beautiful day, I was waking up and
I was lying in bed with my girlfriend
And the eggs on the plate, and the bacon hissin'
And the coffee was great, there was spring on the wind.

If you don't live through a day for the littlest things,
And the littlest ways made you feel you were blessed
If you died right then, well you know you'd be missed,
But there's no better state to cease to exist
And you wouldn't feel sad, and you wouldn't resist
Cause you knew what you had, and were thankful for it

In your own little way, I'm a small quiet man
I've got no wars to win, I don't have a big plan
But I love my new place, and I love my old friends
And I scrimp and save, and one day I'll have kids.

I can truthfully say that my day was like that,
'Til the radio playing on the stand by the bed
Fired out this report and in 3 words they said,
Like 3 shots to my head,
The President's Dead.

Monday, November 12, 2007

IF Comp 2007: Ferrous Ring

Well implemented, original, some nice interface experiments, but I didn't care for it at all. I'm always ranting about things not being ambiguous enough - it seems sometimes a game can be too ambiguous for me to enjoy it.
The longer I played the game, the more obscure puzzles and worldbuilding got, until it reached a point where I had a hard time imagining how someone could play through it without the walkthrough mode.

Zodiac (2007)

How exactly did David Fincher get a major studio to produce this film?
It has no action, no dramatic arc in the usual sense, no oscar-baiting melodrama, but oozes a completely unusual dry weirdness. The whole movie stays absolutely clear, open, matter-of-fact, but feels cryptic, puzzling and slightly disorienting and, at the moment, I haven't got a clue why this is so.
So, for the time being, I'll have to call it an unexplainably great film and shut up.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

La Noche De Los Mil Gatos (1972)

Mexican pseudo-giallo schlock that has to be seen to be believed. It absolutely defies human powers of description.
But at least, I will spoil the moral of the story: If you are a serial killer/mad scientist, do not feed your victims to a cage full of sweet purring kittens, lest they one day will eat you.

A Warning to the Curious (1972)

After reading Sarah Monette's wonderful collection The Bone Key (about which I will hopefully write something more or less coherent in the future), that does some great things to/with the M.R. James model of ghost story, I had to find an adequate follow-up. Should I read James' stories again? Already did it this year. So I settled on a BBC "Ghost Story for Christmas" adaptation of one of his stories.
I'm always surprised and delighted how minimalist and concentrated these (short) TV dramas look to the modern eye: There's no slack, no useless secondary plots, no shocks just to keep the story interesting. Instead, one finds a knowledge of the usage of landscape, of short, but sharp moments of characterization, of horror that increases from feelings of uneasiness to dread. Of course some of these virtues can be explained by the low budget of TV movies - there just wasn't enough money for effects or action, but they are virtues all the same.

An e-text of the story can be found here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Frailty (2001)

Yes, I know, many genre-savvy people love this film, and if the final act would be as atmospheric and clever as those that come before, I would most certainly be one of them. But, this being an American movie of the early 21st century, we obviously need a plot twist, or even better, two, never mind that the first ruins the film and the second is just taking the piss.
And if  this wasn't enough Frailty is another victim of the terrible compulsion of too many western movies of the last fifteen years to overexplain everything, to treat the viewer as too moronic to interpret what's happening for herself, the absolute refusal to leave anything ambiguous.
But I'm ranting.

I can haz LOLcatz

Try this It's idiotic, but fun.
You could do worse than trying it with your own site.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Theatre of Blood (1973)

I think I have already mentioned my love for Vincent Price? In this violently entertaining film by Douglas Hickox Price plays the improbable named Shakespearean over-actor Edward Lionheart, performing a murder spree among the London theater critics community. And he has perfectly sound reasons for doing so, as he had been denied the previous year's Critics' award. Things like this can not be tolerated, so one after the other the critics are killed off in ways inspired by old Will, "protected" by the most inefficient police force in the world of film, Scotland Yard.
All this is as silly as it sounds, until you are starting to understand that Price uses a highly unlikely kind of theatrical subtlety by hamming it up, while playing someone who can't understand that he actually is hamming it up, this way creating something I like to call "method hamming".

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


the Bats were/are pretty great.

Shallow Ground (2004)

Another positive surprise. This time around my aversion to plot synopses is fully justified by a nearly nonsensical, but surprising and sometimes even original plot.
The direction is a little schizophrenic. On one hand director Sheldon Wilson seems to know all tricks of the horror and suspense trade, on the other he doesn't always know how to use them subtly. Still there are enough memorable moments to satisfy and as for the plot not making any fucking sense: My watching of bad movies for nearly two decades now has made me impervious to silly little things like logic. (Thanks a bunch, Lucio!)
I could have done without the last fifteen seconds, though.

Darling of the Day:
"This doesn't make sense."
"These are not sensible times, Jack."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Uninvited (2003)

This South Korean film has some of the trappings of my beloved Asian ghost stories, but uses the supernatural mainly as metaphor and amplifier of its themes.Something I normally abhor, mostly because only very few directors are able to do this without losing all emotional effect. In The Uninvited it works perfectly. To heartbreaking effect.
So if you are in the mood to be depressed by a film about loneliness and the boundless ability of us humans to lie to ourselves, as well as our equally boundless inability to face the truth without breaking, I can highly recommend it.
And yes, it is a recommendation. 

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Woman in Black (1989)

A very traditional, very effective, very British ghost story. If you are inclined to like things like that, this could become one of your favorite films.
I was pleasantly surprised how creepy a film can be even when it is filmed in a conservative made for UK TV style, if the script is good enough. And the script is by Nigel Kneale.

IF Comp 2007: Varkana

An interesting effort in mood and worldbuilding heavy IF, only marred by small bugs and a very weak end game: The info dump finale that explains the story seems to belong to a different game and only works by throwing the worst concepts of the whole game (oh, sure, the book of poetry is the cure for an astral traveler...) at the player. It seems rushed.
The slow, exploration heavy earlier parts of the game make it very much worth your time though.

Mulberry Street (2006)

After wading through tripe like Hatchet and Frostbiten this ultra low budget apocalyptic horror film nearly restores my faith in American horror.
This time the end of the world is caused by a zombierattifying/wererattifying (yes, I know these words don't exist. So what?) plague.
We are watching the struggle of the tenants of a run down apartment building to survive the apocalypse. The film is surprisingly effective and every horror movie that does not feature white middle class teenage protagonists is very much appreciated in the House in R'lyeh.
Of course there are problems: Director Jim Mickle's efforts to hide his small budget behind color filters and a non-stop moving camera are not always successful; the monster make up looks not like much etc, but the film has an old fashioned b-movie sort of drive and grit where too many of its contemporaries only have a misguided sense of humor and gore.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

This is so unfair

free dating sites

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

    * dead (3x)
    * sex (2x)
    * kill (1x)

Shit, I really have to try harder.

IF Comp 2007: Orevore Courier

You are playing as the security officer of a special cargo transport having a very bad day with the arrival of zombies and pirates on his ship. The nature of your cargo and your inability to leave your security console don't make your work any easier, either.
Usually I dislike the kind of game that only consists of a handful of interconnected puzzles, but Orevore Courier is much too tightly designed and much too charming to dislike any part of it - except for the difficulty of the puzzle(s) perhaps. In this case though less difficult would also mean less fun.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Black Candles (1980)

How it was possible for someone just seven years after making Vampyres - one of the most interesting European horror movies of the Seventies - to already have sunk as low as this satanists softcore epic is nearly inexplicable.
Of course, there were rapidly shrinking possibilities for the films of people like director Jose Ramon Larraz to actually find an audience, but this neither explains the absence of visual inventiveness nor the presence of goat sex.