Sunday, October 30, 2011

Matt’s Week in Dork! (10/23/11-10/29/11)

    I had a good Week in Dork.  Oh, maybe not as glamorously dorky as comic-cons or celebrity photo-ops.  But, the kind of stuff that makes me love being a dork in the first place.  The inspirational, good feeling kind of thing you get from watching an especially interesting movie or reading something extra cool. 

The Shuttered Room:  What the snooze.  This awful, boring, cheesy horror flick is supposedly based on a Lovecraft story.  Nothing Lovecraft here.  Awful dubbing.  Bad acting.  Just lame.

It!:  Roddy McDowall is a cracked nut who lucks into controlling a golem.  But, controlling a golem is a dangerous proposition.  The movie is OK, but fairly goofy.  Worth a watch if you’re in the mood for one of those 60s/70s British horror films.

Carnival of Souls:  Haunting and strange, this movie is exceptionally creepy and really just genuinely interesting.  The low budget is used to powerful effect.  And star Candace Hilligoss holds the viewer’s attention as she wanders through the world, trying to find her place.  A must for horror fans.

The Lost Future:  I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this low budget, made for TV feeling science fiction yarn.  It reminded me some classic novels, like Andre Norton’s Daybreak 2250 AD.  A group of young people are just trying to survive in a world of mutants and plagues, where prehistoric monsters recreated by long dead scientists roam the forests.  Can they recover the cure to the mutations?  Can a brotherhood of heroes guide humanity back to civilization?  It feels like the pilot for a show I’d have loved to watch.  But, it works all right as a stand alone.

The Watcher in the Woods:  Man, Disney made some darned strange movies once upon a time.  It seems, in the dim and mythical past, there were studio execs with some creative and daring bones in their bodies.  Otherwise, films like this probably wouldn’t have been made.  It’s a well made, beautiful children’s horror film.  Not amazing, but certainly nice to look at.  Not as terrifying as Something Wicked This Way Comes, but still creepier than most kid-aimed works of today.  Sadly, neither of the alternate endings were used.  Both are very cool, and take the film to a whole new and really interesting level.  At least they’re on the DVD.

Them!:  One of the all time greats, Them! is the best of the atomic horror sub-genre.  A great cast, from the leads down to the bit players, it also features some crackerjack dialog, a driving story, and cool set pieces.  The nest clearing sequence is great (and everyone keeps their mask on, even when saying lines!) and the battle beneath L.A. is awesome.  So much fire.

The Phantom of the Opera:  One of the first silent films I ever saw, this stylish, creepy flick still holds up.  Having just been lucky enough to see it with a live band playing the music was a real treat.  Lon Chaney is beautifully hideous as the Phantom, and the story crazy and rushed, but kind of awesome.  Christine is a total evil monster, playing both her lover and the Phantom for fools.  I know she’s supposed to be the damsel in distress, but she basically sets every fire and then throws gas on the flames.  The film is full of great moments and moody set pieces.  A must for fans of silent films and for horror aficionados.

Dark Waters:  Stylish, but ultimately lacking, this Eastern European horror film features a lot of mean nuns, creepy townsfolk, and, well, water.  It looks nice, and I think a lot of good elements went into the film, which I can only imagine was done on the cheap.  Perhaps it needed to be shorter.  Perhaps it needed more story.  I’m not sure.  But the random murderous nun attacks became almost laughable, and nobody seemed especially interested in doing anything, be it evil or good.  OK, but not great.

Doctor Who: Snakedance:  The follow-up to Kinda, this episode sees the Doctor and companions revisiting the world of the Mara.  Again laced with Buddhist symbolism, this story also has a lot to say about past glory and the selling-out of wonder.  Scenes with the clairvoyant and with the carnival barker are especially poignant, as they admit to the sad truth of their hucksterism.  A good story, and typically weird Davison era.

    I also watched a few more episodes of Fringe, which remains fun.  I feel a little bad that I’m not moving through it a touch faster, but I haven’t really been spending as much time in front of the TV/computer lately.  I guess that’s not a bad thing.

    Got Tom Waits new album this week, Bad As Me, and I’ve been digging that crazy.

    And, finally, finally, I finished Bettany Hughes’ Helen of Troy.  The book is good.  It’s packed with fascinating information and extremely readable.  It simply took a long danged time to read it.  I actually started it not too long after it came out, took a many year break and then started making a more directed effort to finish it this past summer.  But, like a lot of non-fiction, I found it easy to put down and pick up, so it was put down many times.  None the less, I recommend it.  It’s very good.

    Also, I’ve been reading more Clark Ashton Smith, which has been amazing.  And I finally started reading an Andre Norton book I’ve been meaning to read since I was a small boy, The Time Traders.  So far, so good.  Between all the classic science fiction and horror films I’ve watched recently, and reading the Clark Ashton Smith, I’m really in that mode.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of that era when we were all so much more hopeful about the future, and willing to do what it takes to make it happen.  I long to see that spirit arise in humanity again.

    And finally, I wrote another brief list for cineAWESOME!  Check out my Halloween Playlist.


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