Thursday, June 28, 2012

Health Care!

So President Obama's health care plan was upheld by the Supreme Court today.  I of course expected all manner of wailing and gnashing of teeth, but the most bizarre reaction were tweets from folks declaring they were done with the U.S. and moving to Canada to avoid this awful health care plan.

Uhh... I'm in Canada.  They HAVE national health-care here, guys.  Best tweet I saw in response to this proposed Northern flight was "I'm sick of this heat!  I'm moving to Ethiopia!"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Death Penalty

So over the weekend a former football coach named Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of molesting young boys.  I frankly haven't been following the case that closely, but from what I've read it was a terrible, harrowing crime against many innocent kids.  Nobody's going to be taking up a collection for a Sandusky defense fund.

At the same time, there were some disconcerting remarks made in the great desert known as the internet hoping that Sandusky is (there's no gentle way to put this) raped in prison so he can get a taste of his own medicine.

Sandusky in jail for life makes sense.  But a prison system where being raped is widely considered part of the punishment package, not so good.  Years ago I knew someone who was tossed in the clink as a teenager for stealing a car.  He spent a week in jail, where he was sexually assaulted by another inmate.  Needless to say, he shouldn't have stolen the car.  But the punishment in that case certainly didn't fit the crime, and the experience left life long mental scars on someone who has otherwise been on the straight and narrow ever since.. 

I don't believe in the death penalty (too many chances for mistakes) and I also don't believe two wrongs make a right.  Hoping for more crime -- raping a rapist (or anyone behind bars) -- is not the sort of American "justice" we should be cheering...  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

100 Best TV Episodes Of All Time

No, not my list, but blogger Stephen Bowie has compiled his top fifty (leaving room for another fifty as viewing permits) and it's impressive.  Of course all of this is wildly subjective, but what I really like about Steven's list is that it picks and chooses from the entire history of television, 50's to the 2000's.  So there are episodes of  '60's "The Defenders", Richard Boone's "Medic",  as well as (ahem) the 2000's version of "Battlestar Galactica" and "Sopranos."  And all years in between, including dramas and sitcoms.  Much to argue about and discuss, but also it's a cool roadmap to finding some interesting TV that's fallen off the grid.

The rest of Stephen's blog is equally fascinating, with profiles on character actors and lengthy investigative pieces on TV producers/writers/etc  from the past.  Thanks to Mark Evanier for pointing me at this site!

Abraham Lincoln, Axe Spinner


There is something gloriously insane in the idea of Abraham Lincoln taking a silver-coated axe to vampires, and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter pretty much mines that madness for two hours.  I have not read the book on which the film was based, so I was surprised that the story takes Abe all way to the White House, where he's forced to continue his vampire battles as the Civil War ensues.

As far as the movie goes, I enjoyed much of it, though things sag a bit in the middle when Abe pursues his political career.  The movie LOOKS amazing and I'm left hoping that someone someday mounts an actual Civil War film with the same technical virtuosity employed here. 

A couple of other points.  In this story being a vampire has approximately zero downside.  You get to be immortal, you can walk in daylight, disappear at will, enjoy super-strength -- frankly you can do all sorts of cool stuff.  The downside is you need to feed on humans to survive, but that's really only a downside to the hapless humans.  If these vampires could feed on cows, there would be no reason for "living" humans to attack them.  Cows might get angry, but as our hamburger devouring culture has proven, their resources for effecting revenge are limited.

If the vampires in ALVH have any weakness, it's hubris.  The vampire king in the story allows both Abe and a self-loathing vampire guy to live to fight another day, offering some token reasoning that sounds vaguely dubious even in the moment, and certainly proves to be wrong in the long run.  Perhaps this piece of advice should be page one of the evil vampire overlord's handbook: "When you capture your enemy after he's cut a dozen of your best vampires to pieces with an axe or knife or gun, KILL HIM.  Allowing him to live to potentially service one of your dubious plans is risky!"

Finally, I'm still trying to understand why learning to twirl an axe like a majorette's baton is somehow useful in the war against vampires.  Practicing such a thing seems so dangerous (one false move and this becomes one of those Hong Kong "One Armed Assassin" movies), and for such limited benefit,  I'm not sure I get the point.  The vampires certainly didn't seem dazzled by Abe's axe spinning prowess in this movie.  It does look cool, but we're killing vampires here, not trying to impress the prom queen.

Now excuse me, I'm polishing my draft of Benjamin Harrison: Werewolf Tamer... 

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I've been working away in lovely Toronto Canada on Hemlock Grove and failing to keep up with my blogging duties, so how about a little catch up?

So first, Hemlock Grove, which will be appearing via Netflix sometime early-ish next year.  Starring Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott and a dazzling array of other excellent cast members, we're going for something that is NOT your father's horror show with this project  Scary, sexy, dark and yet occasionally funny -- this one's definitely going to raise some eyebrows.  Eli Roth directs the first episode, then this train is officially on the tracks.

So how about that Falling Skies premiere?  Since Canada doesn't get the show on a regular (non-Super) channel, I haven't seen the show(s) yet but I saw many cuts and hopefully they looked even better all scrubbed and polished.  I also wrote the penultimate episode of F.S. season two, introducing a whole new host of problems for the beleaguered 2nd Mass, and will appear in the "2nd Watch" segment following that episode.  Keep yer eyes peeled.

So how about that Prometheus?  As writer of the first ALIENS comics way back when, I have more than a mild interest in that world, and Prometheus is an interesting prequel... though evidently there has been a lot of argument in fan circles over whether it actually IS a prequel.  Your requisite science majors have been picking apart so-called logic holes, but as a compelling story with some great sequences (I'm looking at you, Noomi Rapace) I got my $17.00 (Canadian) worth.  And what a look they created here... forget the planetscapes and space-ships, the delicate 3-D graphics aboard the ship are dazzling.  

That's all I know today... more soon!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Strange Messages...

So one of the joys of not-so-modern technology is the Caller I.D. feature, which has saved me an inordinate amount of time over the last few weeks avoiding political calls, sales calls (despite being on the no-call list) and who knows what else.  But recently I've been getting calls (that go unanswered) from Pay Day Loans, which have prompted quite a bit of head scratching.  Really?  I'm no gazillionaire but I *am* working at the moment, and given I am currently sans heroin habit and/or the need for pricey home renovations involving car elevators, how the heck did I land on THAT call list?

On the exact opposite side of the scale, I've also been getting direct mail from an outfit that wants me to buy a 1/16th share (or more) of a private jet.  I have about as much need for that service I do for a pay day loan, but it makes me wonder.  If these two outfits are sharing the same calling/mailing list, I'd love to see the schizophrenic algorithm that created one plus one = huh?   

Monday, June 04, 2012

Hatfields And McCoys - Bad Neighbors

I watched the History Channel "Hatfields and McCoys" mini-series along with 14M plus other viewers and mostly enjoyed it.  But then I love Westerns and actors Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton, so I was partial to begin with.  But the dramatic drive of the story was ultimately less interesting than the impressive production.  I feel for the writer(s) on this series, because they were faced with making drama out of what was essentially a running series of tit-for-tat murders between two strikingly unsympathetic families.  Both the Hatfields and the McCoys were, if you believe this telling, a gaggle of dull-witted, gun/knife/hatchet toting inebriates who repeatedly got liquored up in proximity of one another and then did stupid, murderous things.  Again and again and again.  Clearly these folks has never heard the classic definition of insanity, as in, doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.   

Oddly enough, what I kind of liked is how the story demonstrates that history is often messy, without good guys or bad guys.  Ultimately I think the mini-series suggests that Randall McCoy's (Paxton's character) unbending, self-righteous religious fanatic-turned-drunk helped fan the flames of the feud more than Costner's Hatfield, but there was clearly plenty of blame to go around.  These guys decided not to get along (the decision fueled by multiple murders), and that, as they say, was that. 

Ultimately, I hope this show's massive success leads to more frontier based adventures.  But maybe something that's a little more uplifting...  


Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Loved Ones - Review

Don 't make the mistake of renting "The Loved One" thinking you're getting this Aussie horror pic.  "The Loved One" (sans "s") is a not particularly funny 60's black comedy.  Only available on U.K. blu-ray, "The Loved Ones" (plural) is a harrowing psychos-doing-awful-things-to-victims from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre school of filmmaking.


Poor High School student Brent is having a tough go of it.  His dad died in a car accident when driver Brent swerved to avoid a bloodied dude standing in the middle of the road.  Six months later, Brent's getting on with life and preparing for a school dance.  Strange girl Lola asks Brent to take her to the dance, but he's already got a date.  Unfortunately, Lola and her equally deranged father don't take "no" for an answer, and pretty soon poor Brent finds himself in a desperate situation.  Actually, desperate situations (plural like the title!  Ha ha ha)...

Reverse the usual sadistic situation (woman tormented by crazy men) and that's basically "The Loved Ones", but done with a bit more style and panache than usual.  Brent struggles through a diabolically bizarre situation involving hammers, power drills and table cutlery while his friends (more loved ones) gradually catch on that something very bad has happened.  The film admirably raises the bar during Brent's travails, while offering winks and nods toward movies like "Evil Dead" and "Chainsaw."

For reasons I don't quite understand, Brent's terrible situation is intercut with a semi-comedic story of his friend taking a messed-up goth chick to the school dance, where subdued, inappropriate hijinks ensue.  There are also moments that suggest older (non-psycho) fathers find it difficult to deal with extremely sexual teenage daughters, which, again, doesn't exactly feel like "the point", but what do I know?

And I was pleased that the movie provides a genuine ending.  No spoilers here, just a grateful acknowledgement, since movies that end with a fade-to-black at some terrible moment are just cheating. 

Another interesting thing, judging by the credits, is that this film appears to have been partially funded by whatever passes for the Australian film board.  I'm trying to imagine the kerfuffle if a similarly gruesome project were partially funded by a U.S. arts organization.   I believe this is going to have a theatrical release in the U.S. this Summer, it's a pretty harrowing experience and I suspect seeing it big screen would augment that...