Writing about Movies, TV, Comics & Toys. Critically and creatively.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sons of Anarchy season 3

 There are spoilers for season 3 of Sons of Anarchy below, don't read if you haven't watched/plan on watching it.

Sons of Anarchy is one of my favorite tv shows that is still running. I think everything about it is wonderfully produced, the acting, the writing, the direction. It's all beautifully constructed and assembled to present us with these insane acts that none of us deal with, but is just every day business in Charming.

This season started out slow in my opinion and I, and it seems I wasn't alone, had trouble understanding the Irish scenes sometimes (but I got used to it and was eventually able to comprehend them, especially when what they started saying was very important).

Sons of Anarchy has some of my favorite characters in television on it and the struggles they went through this season were painful to see them be put through (but pure entertainment and worth every minute of watching).

The only complaint I have is the 10 minutes "incest" scene that happened, that didn't further the plot any in my opinion and everything that has happened and did happen wouldn't have been affected by it's absence.

Bring on season 4 Mr. Sutter, I love these outlaws.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Scarefest experience

This past weekend I went to my first horror convention, and it was everything I expected it to be. Following are the chronicles of said convention, as well as photos.


We (myself, my brother, and our roommate) arrived in Lexington about an hour after the convention had started, though it was only going to last from 5-10 that day which seems silly in comparison to other conventions across the land.We got our arm bands which would grant us entry for that day and the next, as well as our beads to wear Saturday evening to the convention sponsored pub crawl.

We got in the con and first decided to walk around before buying anything, or so I told myself to do this (though it did not work). In addition to being a horror film convention it was a paranormal convention, so there were lots of booths dedicated to ghost hunting, tarot readings, etc etc.

The first thing I bought was:

I knew when I saw it that I had to have it, and thus couldn't leave the convention knowing that I passed up the opportunity to have a shirt of one of my favorite movies.

We continued to walk around and look at things, then we walked to the back of the convention known as "star row" where we looked at the celebrities from various horror opuses from the years with amazement (and surprise to some degree as some were much shorter than we had anticipated). The one that had me the most mezmerized was the godfather of the zombie film himself George A. Romero.

The Dawn of the Dead poster that I currently have on my wall is nearly ripped to shreds, so I managed to find a dealer selling horror bootlegs as well as Dawn of the Dead posters. I got in line and waited about twenty minutes but then I got to meet one of my idols.

George was a great guy, he made small talk and seemed really appreciative of the support that he's been given from the fans all these years. Needless to say the poster he autographed is going to be framed soon and put in my room.

From here we wandered around a little more, I bought another shirt:
It's a beauty, and somehow I managed to talk the vendor down three dollars on it. I told him I wanted the shirt but I didn't want to spend any more money that night (and was sincere about it too) then he offered me the same shirt for three dollars less, and I took it of course.

Though I don't believe in ghosts/psychics (the paranormal aspect of this horror/paranormal convention) we decided to go to a Q&A with this guy Chip Coffey, who apparently is a psychic medium on some ghost hunting shows. It was very entertaining to see an old psychic queen get up there and tell us stories about things, though I didn't really take much of it seriously.

We parted ways with the convention center and checked into our hotel and promptly left again to get food. We ate at this great place called Raferty's in Lexington, phenomenal food and service I highly recommend it (apparently they're all over the south except in Alabama). From here we went to a local grocery store and purchased some bottles of fun. We returned to our hotel and slept until the next morning.

Today was the "big day" of the convention. It was going to last from 11 to 8 at night and we would be present for most of it. The first thing we did was go meet Danielle Harris (Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4/5, and Annie Bracket in Rob Zombie's Halloween series).
Then we got in line for my brother to get Danny Trejo (Machete) to sign his first season DVD of King of the Hill. Apparently this tickled Danny Trejo to no end because he laughed when my brother handed it to him, and then began to do his character's voice from the show. When my brother asked for a picture he replied with "OH SHIT YEA MAN", he even held up the DVD in the photo.

After this we walked around some more and bought some more things. I got this stack of old Stephen King books for $6.

We then went to the "Hatchet 2" panel which consisted of Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder and R. A. Mihailoff (Leatherface from TCM part 3). It was an hour of them telling us stories about working on both Hatchet and the horror business in general. Kane told us about how Tommy Lee Jones and Steven Segal are assholes, Danielle Harris told us about how the first attempt someone had made at her with a "casting couch" experience was with Steven Segal.

After this I went and got in line to meet Kane Hodder (Jason from Friday the 13th 7,8,9,X). Yes he might have been in the worst Fthe13th movies but he was a great Jason, and I really admire him for his work.

This actually hurt quite a bit, but it made for one hell of a picture. After this we waited patiently for the Q&A everyone at the con was waiting for: The George Romero panel.

We waited for about 45 mintues before we finally got in, then another 15 before George & company finally got there. It was a decent enough Q&A, mostly because George Romero was present, but the sheer amount of dumb questions and people more complimenting the panel members instead of asking a question was astounding and made me enraged.

The first half of the Alabama game started while we were waiting, after the Q&A ended we went to a nearby sports bar to watch the second half. After it was over we were ready for the pub crawl to start.

I bought one more thing before we waited for the pub crawl:
This is probably my favorite of the shirts I bought this weekend.

After some driving around to get gas/resting at the hotel we returned to the convention center for the pub crawl. We waited about 20 minutes and when it began we were charged with the idea of just doing the "tour" part of the crawl first and being told what bars we were going to and to go off on our own. No one voted for that when we voted on what to do, but that's what the leader did anyway. So we stand and walk around in the cold for about 30 minutes before we finally go off to the bars (luckily they were doing trivia during the tour and I managed to win two DVDs).

The first bars special for us on the pub crawl was a Zombie, a mighty tasty drink. Nothing to special about this place except that we got in just before they started charging for the cover.

The second bar we stayed at for a while, their special we were told was a candy corn shot, so I ordered it and it wasn't candy corn but more of a lemon drop shot (also FYI this place was voted the #3 bourbon bar in the world by Whiskey Magazine).

The final bar we went to was your typical college student bar setting, we sat at the bar and had some beer before embarking on the last event of the weekend: A ghost hunt.

Just like on those shows I don't watch/believe in we were going to go on our own investigation.

There were about 20 of us in total and at first it seemed like me and my roommate were the only ones that didn't believe in all of this nonsense, but as the night went on I would find people by themselves and ask them if they really believed in it some said yes others no (they were just being more polite about it than me and my roommate were).

As I walked around I tried recording an EVP on my phone a few times, but nothing ever happened. I asked the ghosts to manifest themselves as orbs around me while someone took my picture:
(me and my roommate, both still quite inebriated, and still not believing in ghosts)

They didn't appear in pictures with me. at least not when I asked them.
These girls we were talking to took this picture, in which two "orbs" appear near me, it seems they're trying to run train on me if you look at right. Though this proves nothing to me about ghosts, from a believers stand point it is interesting that the only person that saw orbs in their pictures was taking a picture of the non believer.

It was obvious that some of the people on this investigation were REALLY into ghost hunting, they wanted something paranormal to happen SO BAD that it was laughable.

The tour ended with nothing to convince me of the existence of ghosts. A good joke came about though that the ghosts were perhaps shy about their alcohol purchases as we found this in the basement:
Yup, an old PBR.

After this tour we went back to the hotel, slept for some hours, got up and drove back to Alabama. It was a wonderful weekend and a great experience that I hope to repeat again next year.

This is where the story runs out of steam, so here are some billboards we saw on our way there.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Horror on Television

I'm a HUGE fan of television, and by television I mean TV serials (shows that you have to watch each episode to understand what's going on). I love shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire, Sons of Anarchy, I could literally go on for an entire post (or perhaps an entire blog in the future?) about shows I love. But this leads me to my point for today, Horror doesn't have a big enough impression on television today.

Sure we have shows like Dexter, True Blood, and the recent edition of The Walking Dead, but that's only 3 shows out of everything that is on television at the moment. There are limited series that were either planned to be one season (Dead Set) or that just ended up being one season because some network thought it would be a good idea to put it on during the summer when no one is watching TV (Happy Town, Harper's Island, Fear Itself).

Growing up we had the horror anthologies like Tales from the Crypt and Are you Afraid of the Dark, what happened to this format of horror television?

Horror television needs to make a comeback, anthology shows were a huge success, we need more things like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Goosebumps, Are you Afraid of the Dark in our life, just something to help us take our mind off of our lives and entertain us each week.

We also need more horror serials, more stuff about serial killers or ghosts or something else horrific, there's not enough on our television that can scare us.

Sure I've got ideas, but I'm still a few years away from being able to successfully pitch a show to a channel, but you have my guarantee one day I will and I'll bring the horror back into your living room.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Johnny the Homocidal Maniac

I recently finall finished reading the Director's cut of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, and I have to say it's one of my favorite comic collections that I own/have ever read.

Johnny is the first public forte of its creator Jhonen Vasquez, you might know him better as the man behind the short lived cartoon Invader Zim. Johnny is very much the same style as Zim in that the drawings are incredibly similar, however Johnny is the NC-17 version of Zim, and that's why I like it.

The surrealist absurdist stories and dialogue in the comic are genuinely funny and the violence is wonderfully over the top. It's also filled to the brim with social commentary that was relevant when published (95-97) and some of which is still relevant today.

The titular character is probably one of my favorite psychos because of the internal epidemic that he goes through throughout the series as well as his reasoning for killing all of the people in the series that he does.

Great series, pick it up and check it out. It gets the Pumpkin Cave seal of Excellence and Approval.

Monday, November 1, 2010

On how to end a series poorly, or a few words on Saw 7

It doesn't matter if you like it or not, the Saw film series is the most succesful horror franchise in history, and I love the series to death. Since I was in high school its been a tradition for me every October to go see the new Saw movie, to see the evolution of Jigsaw's plans, the stories of his victims, and the well thought out death traps. I love it now, loved it then, and will love it for the rest of my life. I consider myself a self proclaimed Saw scholar, I know A LOT about the series.

So when I heard that Saw 7 was the last in the series I was sad and excited at the same time. Sad because something that I loved was coming to an end, and excited because I love the flicks and knew there had to be something that they had been saving for the last entry in the series.

Be warned, spoilers for Saw 7 will be below, read no further if you don't want to know what happens.

I liked the first ten minutes of Saw 7, it answered a question that fans have been wondering about for six movies (what happened to Dr. Gordon after he sawed off his foot and left the bathroom in the first movie), and the first trap in Saw 7 was pretty good.

What followed sounds like a great story, Jigsaw survivor support group, a fake survivor is kidnapped and placed in a game, Hoffman runs around like a badass killing everyone, and only one of them is interesting.

The story about the cops looking for Hoffman is boring, and I don't care about them or if they die because I don't know who they are and because they're terrible actors.

I don't care if the fake survivor lives or dies because he was an atrociously terrible person.

The jigsaw survivors didn't do much of anything, of all the familiar faces in the group only two speak and one speaks that hasn't been in the other movies and her trap is summarized in 5 seconds. I would have loved to have seen more elaboration on this.

The best part of the flick was Costas Mandylor running around killing everyone, he's great in my opinion and an even better villain than jigsaw in the series as a whole.

Here are my two major complaints for the movie though.

Number 1
All of the traps/games in the film are under the precedent like most of the traps in the later entries in the series in that most of the people in traps/games can't save themselves, they're at the mercy of someone else and their life depends on them. This is a fundamental flaw in Jigsaw's plans from the first film in that the traps should be focused on one or a group of people that can all get out of the trap by them self and don't need someone else to save them.

As I think about this as I write it it makes sense that this would happen since Jigsaw has ceased to design and execute the traps, it's all Hoffman or Amanda, so I guess this complaint isn't well suited since it makes quite a bit of sense.

Number 2
It is shown at the end of Saw 7 that after Dr. Gordon cauterized his self amputated wound that Jigsaw exited the bathroom, saw him, and saved him. As in the scene he wakes up the passed out Doctor and congratulates him, calling him his best work to date or something like that.

This doesn't make sense. In the original film, Dr. Gordon is charged with killing his cellmate Adam before 6 on the clock, or his wife and daughter would die and Jigsaw would leave him in the bathroom to rot. Dr. Gordon didn't kill adam, and he certainly didn't do it before 6 on the clock.

Why would Jigsaw be proud of the man that didn't follow the rules in his game? Is it because Gordon had the cojones to cut off his own foot in an effort to reach his family? This is a likely explanation but Jigsaw strikes me as an all or nothing kind of guy who in my opinion probably would have left Dr. Gordon in that hallway to die, not save him and get his help and advice on traps and future victims (which is what they say happened, as Dr. Gordon's help is tied back to victims in Saw 2, 3 and 4).

Though the explanation the writers offered us doesn't make sense the grand scheme of the Saw mythos, I still liked the ending. That was a very chilling set of shots showing Dr. Gordon looking at his own rotten foot in the bathroom, the expression on his face was PERFECT for the circumstance. When Gordon left Hoffman locked in the bathroom with no saw and no flashlight, that was a fitting ending to bring the whole series full circle to start in that bathroom and end in it too. But like some people have said if Eric Matthew could get out of the bathroom at the beginning of Saw 3 with no saw, so can Hoffman; though Hoffman has no flashlight, I still think he is smart enough and bad ass enough to do it somehow.

It's a fitting ending, the bad guy can't get away in a story, and with this series the bad guy is definitely not going anywhere now.

I should write a book about the Saw series, would you read it?