Another white-out. A white-out out. I mean outside, its a white-out. An out and out white-out in fact.
It's completely white is what I'm trying to say (outside).
So lots of time to sit here and think... to reflect on my life before the igloo...
God, I loved women. Loved them so much that I wanted to hold them, squeeze them and never let go. This led to all sorts of lawsuits involving complicated legal jargon such as 'strangulation' and 'murder', and at one stage I was even accused of being sexist!
"What's wrong with being sexy, love?" I replied to the female lawyer, pretending to have misheard her.
But she didn't see the joke, and went on to cite the fact that most of my 12 marriages had ended acrimoniously. She even had the gall to suggest that the only reason some of the marriages hadn't ended acrimoniously was because the bodies were never recovered from the reservoir*.
In my defence, I tried reminding her of the time I judged a beauty competition. But in response, all that this efficient, well-prepared and sexy lawyer did was quote my beauty competition judging notes back at me - in particular the page where I'd scrawled "All whores must die!" across the page in a mixture of my blood and semen.
I said no more on the subject, but to this day I still regret judging that beauty competition. It caused me no end of bother, especially when the winner went missing after an evening stroll with me.
But all this happened long ago, and beauty competitions are probably a lot less controversial these days. So! Enough attempts at reminiscing - here comes a film!
THE BODY SNATCHER (1945)
Misleading Poster Alert...
The Body Snatcher is one of three horror films in which Boris Karloff starred for producer Val Lewton (the others being ISLE OF THE DEAD & BEDLAM). Tis based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story, set in his home-town of olde Edinburgh around the 1820s. The tale centres around an idealistic young medical student Fettes (played by Russell Wade who pronounces Edinburgh as Edin-bow-row in his first scene which, as a Scot myself, is pretty unforgivable so I won't be mentioning him again), who gets taken on as an apprentice by the renowned Dr. MacFarlane. Now all we need are specimens to examine so we can work out how to save a young girl's life...
Although this film reunites Lugosi and Karloff, the main action is between Henry Daniell as Dr. Macfarlane and Karloff as his nemesis, Cabman and part-time Graverobber and Murderer John Gray.
Both actors play their parts superbly, no doubt helped by the beautifully written dialogue. Daniell manages to elicit real sympathy for his character even though he's a humourless and highly-strung arse, and Karloff gives a wonderfully sinister yet intelligent performance as the mocking Gray, who seems to have an uncanny hold over the doctor. Maybe they share a secret past?
The relationship between these two characters is what makes The Body Snatcher so compelling, locked as they are in some sort of death-embrace just like a pair of... I can't remember exactly. But I do seem to recall watching a nature show with two insects fighting which resulted in a ghastly stale-mate, where the next move would mean instant death for both of them. Anyway, that's Gray and Macfarlane.
Has anyone compared this film to Cape Fear before? I'd certainly do an in-depth study of the themes shared between the two If I wasn't restricted to watching random films in this bloody igloo. For a start, there are some obvious similarities in the storyline of both films, with the not-so-innocent protagonist coming up against a less than welcome reminder from their past. In both films, its the 'good guys' who seem less comfortable in their own skin, whereas Gray and Cady seem to have no such problems with what they are. They have come to terms with the evil that men (usually themselves) do. Also, in a touch which I particularly enjoy, throughout both films our flawed heroes are saddled with something of a pet-name by their nemesises - Gray enjoys referring to Macfarlane as 'Toddy' with the same evident relish that Max Cady greets Sam Bowden as 'Counselor'.
As I alluded to earlier, the relationship between Macfarlane and Gray surely can't end well for either of them. And it doesn't. No one here gets out alive, yet even in death the two can't be separated it would seem...
The Body Snatcher is a true horror classic which has stood the test of time remarkably well. It explores ethical issues regarding our quest of knowledge that are still relevant today, and offers a stark warning of what happens when good men allow bad things to happen to achieve their own goals. And for many, it's Karloff's finest performance.
"I am a small man, a humble man. Being poor I have had to do much that I did not want to do. But so long as the great Dr McFarlane comes to my whistle, that long am I a man. If I have not that then I have nothing. Then I am only a cabman and a grave robber. You'll never get rid of me, Toddy."
William's first performance - as a monster - was at St. Magdalene's Church, probably in December 1896, playing the Demon King in a production of Cinderella. "When I was nine I played the Demon King in Cinderella and it launched me on a long and happy life of being a monster."
Here's a pic of Reverend George Turner (St. Magdalene's 1885-1910), who would have given William that first big break:
Unfortunately Reverend Turner passed away in 1929, a couple of years before Frankenstein and The Mummy were launched onto an unsuspecting public. I wonder what he'd have thought?
Quint’s Indianapolis speech in Jaws has rightly gone down in movie history.
Forget about Brando’s incomprehensible mumbling in the shadows at the end of Apocalypse Now, THIS is real Horror…
"Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte... just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes.
Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that when you're in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail.
What we didn't know, was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn't even list us overdue for a week.
Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin', so we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know, it was kinda like old squares in the battle like you see in the calendar named "The Battle of Waterloo" and the idea was: shark comes to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes the shark go away... but sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and they... rip you to pieces.
You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don't know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boatswain's mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up, down in the water just like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he'd been bitten in half below the waist.
Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us... he was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and starts to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened... waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb."
As great as it reads, Robert Shaw then manages to transform it into something unforgettable (in one take apparently, after a disastrous drunken attempt during the previous day's shoot).
Thank God then, that Spielberg ditched plans to have Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) interrupt Quint with a selection of wisecracks. These would have completely ruined the flow, and in my humble opinion would have made the speech less impactful:
1. “They never sent a distress message out? You can sue for them that you know.”
2. “Shut up and look over here, I forgot about this conger eel bite mark on my cock!”
3. “1000 sharks my arse! What, did someone actually count them?”
4. “Hang on, do shark’s eyes really roll over white when they eat something? Does that actually happen?”
5. “How come you won’t wear a life-jacket again, though? That’s just stupid.”
Back in the days before I became The Igloo Keeper, I was a bit of a hooligan - especially when I was with the lads and we had a few beers in us!
I remember one trip we took to the Munich Beer Festival, when we all ended up on stage, shouting “Enger-land! Enger-land!” while we were simulating sex with each other. While we were dressed as prominent members of the Third Reich. If memory serves me right I was Hitler, Fat Daz was dressed up as Goering and Joey the Limp was Goebbels.
It was a great night but we were lucky not to get arrested, in hindsight. Especially as the night in question was 4th September 1939, the day after Great Britain declared war on Germany! Luckily I had incriminating photographs of Karl Fiehler the Mayor of Munich (having group sex with Goering, Goebbels and Hitler at the Munich Beer Festival, coincidentally) and he was able to spirit us away from the enraged crowd so that were all safely back in blighty in time for a spot of breakfast at The Criterion.
But that was a long time ago, and that silly nazi party full of drug addicts, sexual deviants and unhinged twats, has surely long since vanished from our collective memory. Here's a film...
Don't believe anyone that tells you Shock Waves is an under-rated classic. It's not.
In fact, it's the worst type of bad film - one that ruins a promising idea. That decent idea is having Nazi Zombies attack a group of holidaymakers shipwrecked on a near-deserted island. But Shock Waves is so disjointed and barely coherent that by the end of the film I was no longer interested, and had drifted away into that land of make believe where Quentin and Eli regularly commission me to re-make under-rated horror classics (that aren't actually under-rated) based on 5 key points. And here they are:
1 More Blood Shock Waves is a zombie flick without any blood. There should be a law against this, surely? All zombie flicks should have gallons of blood, and a few kilos of entrails thrown in for good measure. Shock Waves has neither. When the zombies attack they grab their victim like they're asking for a dance and slip back underwater with them. How disappointingly unhorrific of them. I understand the film-makers were on a tight budget but come-on, how much does red food-colouring and some cheap sausages cost?
2 Less Daylight Again, for budgetary reasons I understand most of the filming was done in the day-time. A big mistake, as the zombie nazis lack of decent make-up soon become clear. Get them out of the daylight and make them lurk in the dark and creep around in the shadows like any zombie worth their salt, and we've got a scare factor of x5.5 or even more. It's not rocket science.
3 Less Hyperspace The piss-poor plotting of Shock Waves means that characters routinely split up from each other without warning and turned up in completely different locations in the next scene with no explanation. This is pretty elementary stuff. So let's just sit down, take a few deep breaths and try to make it clear where the characters are going and why they're going there, rather than flitting about like your last man on 'Asteroids' with a stuck 'Hyperspace' button.
4 Less Waste, More Class If you're lucky enough to get 2 of the finest ever Horror actors to appear in your film, namely John Carradine and Peter Cushing, write a scene for them! Carradine dies before Cushing even appears in Shock Waves, a great waste. Alternatively, if you're lucky enough to have Peter Cushing in your Horror film with one of the finest speaking voices in the English language, write some dialogue that fills his screen-time (believe me, he'll make your shit sound convincing) rather than have him aimlessly splosh about in knee length water for longer than is seemly for a man of his advancing years.
5 Military Precision Some genuine nazis, yesterday
At least make your Nazi Zombies act like they've had some semblance of military training. At no point in Shock Waves do we get a sense of impending doom, or even that the Nazi Zombies are working towards any plan. They just kind of shamble about, and appear to bump into their victims almost at random. Horror Screenwriting Template #12 = Put your victims in an enclosed space and surround it by zombies. Simple yet effective.
There you have it then, 5 points to make the remake of Shock Waves a Horror to reckon with. And this time round I'd have Sean Pertwee star in it, he loves getting disembowelled...
... and let's have Brian Blessed as the Boat Captain!
Tune in next week, Iglooists, for my remake of 'Paranormal Activities' with Danny De Vito and Arnold Schwarzenneger...
Despite everything else there are moments of tranquil beauty in this place. Like stepping out of the igloo into a sunlit morning and taking in the endless miles of virgin snow shimmering reluctantly like the veil of a teenage bride.
But even such small pleasures cannot be relied upon because as I exited the igloo today to take my morning constitutional, a terrible sight met my eyes. Churned earth. Mud everywhere (surprising, as there's no mud under the ice). Large tracks despoiling the landscape. What in God's name?
The tracks were 100's of metres long in parts. It took me a while to discover that they formed letters, and even longer to painstakingly follow the tracks and record what they were trying to say.
When eventually I came to the end of the last track I reviewed my scrap of paper to try and make sense of the message.
It simply said "Duck!".
As I stood there, trying to work out what this could possibly mean, something hit me on the back of the head and I passed out.
When I came to I was in the igloo, back on my bed, naked and shivering. There were several puncture marks on my right arm and a sharp pain in my ar...ha! Here comes a film!
Killdozer starts with a view of a strange rock hurtling towards earth. This is a great start to a film, any film. There hasn't yet been a film made that starts with a view from space of a strange rock hurtling towards earth that has been a let-down. Except perhaps, for An Inconvenient Truth. And even then, it would only have taken a little bit of imagination on the part of the film-makers to turn Al Gore into a mindless space zombie and have his Powerpoint presentation run amok, killing the world's leading environmental campaigners. The tagline could be 'Nothing is scarier than the truth - apart form Excelor, the mutant spreadsheet!'. Maybe an idea for the sequel, when global warming turns out to be a myth*.
Killdozer is a perfectly formed and skillfully directed 'made for TV' horror movie from the early 70's, with a solid, professional cast that has the balls to play it straight. See, this is what's lacking in a lot of modern horror movies. Balls.
And few have bigger balls than Clint Walker (Kelly) the gentle giant who we last saw in The Dirty Dozen complaining that he didn't like being pushed:
"I didn't mean ta kill him, Major. Honest!"
The rest of the guys have great construction worker type names like Clyde and Mack (but disappointingly, no Kowalski), and together form a standard horror template that has stood the test of time - isolate a group of bickering humans and make them share their living space with something that wants to kill them horribly (Alien, The Thing, Killer Shrews etc).
This small, isolated group of bickering construction workers discovers a strange looking rock on the island that they're working on. They try shifting it with their bulldozer. The rock glows blue, the bulldozer glows blue and Mack, the driver, screams! He's been mysteriously hurt and dies later, not before warning Kelly about the bulldozer.
Can there really be something strange going on with the bulldozer? A standard D-9 to my untrained eye, with its primary working tools being the blade, affixed to the front and controlled by six hydraulic arms, and the optional ripper, which can be attached to the back. The blade is mainly intended for earth-moving and bulk material handling - pushing up sand, dirt, and rubble. It also can be used to push other heavy equipment such as earth-moving scraper pans.
But yes, there is something strange going on with the D-9, and I don't just mean the fact that the drive sprocket has been elevated to give the belly pan more ground clearance. You see, it's turned into Killdozer - an evil killing machine, with ominous flashing headlights for eyes, and a cool wibbly wobbly synthesizer theme tune that sounds a bit like someone from the 70s would imagine a killer bulldozer's brain would sound like.
Soon the gang of workers are pitched into a battle of survival. It's man against machine. And machines don't die. To make matters worse, the gang do stupid things similar to this guy...
...like trying to hide in metal tubes right in front of the bulldozer (goodbye Al) or stalling a car and stubbornly trying to restart it right in front of the bulldozer rather than making a run for it (farewell Clyde, hope they let you go for that swim in heaven).
It's natural to watch Killdozer and think of ways to get the better of it. What would we do in a similar situation? Sitting on it's roof and having a nap until things blow over sounds like a fine idea to me, but of course, that wouldn't stop its murderous tendencies. Machines can't be killed, which presents us with a real problem so... why not make Killdozer fall in love?
If you don't believe it's possible check out this little cutie called Yuchai:
Yuchai - or YCT306S-5A to her friends - has a firm yet supple yellow rounded fiberglass body with a small LW-6 backhoe on its cute little rear hitch. Of particular interest to Killdozer would surely be the fact that she has a full width box scraper!
However, just as the final two members of the construction team, Kelly and Holvig, are discussing the possibility of a love match between the two dozers, Killdozer comes crashing into view and all thoughts of romance are gone!
Kelly and Holvig have been busting each other's chops all the way through the film but are slowly growing to respect one other...
... and after an unsuccessful but nicely choreographed robot-wars style scrap (no pun intended) between their crane and Killdozer (which this still photograph doesn't quite capture the excitement of)...
...they come up with a last ditch plan - and it's an old classic - electrocution!
Working in perfect harmony now, they lure Killdozer into their hastily constructed killing zone and flick the switch. Killdozer bursts into flame and his synth-soundtrack turns briefly into a free-form jazz wig-out before going silent. His headlights flicker for one final time and turn off. He's dead.
The two buddies have survived, and all is well - but how will they explain things to the authorities? "Tell them the guys died in landslide." suggests Holvig. "Nope," replies Kelly "you gotta tell the truth..." Which is a noble sentiment for sure, but I do hope that Holvig eventually managed to change Kelly's mind... company investigators tend not to believe the truth. Ask Ripley.
Following on from the success of last week's Exorcist Pea Soup recipe, here's a classic American dish as featured in An American Werewolf in London:
Toast with Jam & Egg
Ingredients: 2 slices white bread Margarine Jam 1 egg
Method: Toast the bread and spread with margarine and jam. Fry an egg sunny side up.
To assemble, put the fried egg on one plate and the jam & toast on the other.
The dish is now complete and is ideal for sharing with friends. It is inspired, of course, by Jack's visit to David in hospital where he grabs a piece of toast and dips it straight into David's virgin yolk.
This seems like quite a strange act to us non-American viewers, because the toast was covered with jam, as we saw and heard the porter explain in the scene before.
We managed to track this porter down after all these years, and asked him about the breakfast that he served up to David on that particular day. Here's what he had to say - "How the bloody hell should I know I only push the bloody trolleys innit!"
Perhaps the recently undead have no sense of taste.
Time flies. Especially when you're having as much fun as I am in this GODFORSAKEN HELLHOLE!
But it's not all bad. Much excitement was to be had today as I discovered a small door in the igloo, previously hidden behind the TV set! I made my way through it and appeared in another igloo!! Very strange. What's more, when I left this igloo I noticed another lone igloo in the distance. I realise that I'm saying 'igloo' too much so I'll keep it brief...
... walking towards it, I started to feel that it was... familiar somehow (and I'm sure regular readers will have the same familiar feeling) and lo and behold it was! It was my own igloo! Igloo of the Uncanny!!
Seems like I've stumbled upon some sort of teleportation device. And a completely useless one if I'm not much mistaken, so I boarded up the door in my own igloo, and firebombed the other igloo until it melted completely. There's only room for one igloo in this force-field and it wasn't that one. There wasn't an uncanny thing about it. Except for the fact that I'd never noticed it before, come to think of it...
THE FLY (1986)
The 1986 remake of The Fly resonates with familiar Crononbergian themes of science run amok, loss of control, disease, technology and mutating bodies - themes that any horror blogger worth their salt would have a field day examining and exploring.
Right then, let's talk about Jeff Goldblum's stupid 80's mullet.
To be fair to him, it was the 80's. And if you happen to see a photograph of him now he looks perfectly presentable. But watching The Fly now, and seeing 80's Jeff with his mullet and jacket sleeves rolled up to the elbows is not an experience for the faint-hearted. Neither is this mis-judged teaser poster that focused on the common housefly's less appealing toilet habits:
It's not just Jeff's looks that grab your attention of course - it's his unique way of delivering lines. So unique that I can't understand a word he says in anything he does. Whenever I watch Jeff Goldblum in a film he looks like someone rehearsing his lines to himself before the actual take. Perhaps, as I write this, there are vaults full of film canisters containing the 'correct takes' that were filmed just after the ones we've been enduring all these years. 'correct takes' where he is speaking in a voice louder than Brian Blessed, enunciating every syllable as clearly as Rex Harrison.
Come to think of it that's pretty unlikely - if these legendary 'correct takes' ever existed surely Jeff himself would have said something by now? Although maybe he did, and nobody understood what he saying.
Anyway. Jeff Goldblum is Brundle, a brilliant scientist who lives in one of those semi-derelict loft/warehouse spaces that only people in 80's films ever live in. He invites Veronica (Geena Davis) back to his place one night and, as brilliant scientists do, gets his pod out. After doing a neat teleportation trick, he is alarmed to discover that Veronica is a reporter after a scoop! He throws her out / meets her again / falls in love / gets her pregnant / turns into a fly / gets his head blown off.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. There's another man in Veronica's life who has the best beard I've ever seen, and the best name I've ever heard.
Meet Stathis Borans.
Stathis is a great character who spends the entire film asking Veronica for a shag. The only time he doesn't ask her for a shag is when she's having an abortion. But then, this is a dream sequence so it doesn't really count. In fact, it was Stathis's lack of asking Veronica for a shag that clued me up to the fact that it was a dream sequence. Stathis is a complete tosser but interestingly, becomes a bit of a bloody hero by the end of the film.
Long before the hero bit though, we see him sneaking around Veronica's place and taking showers just for the hell of it. It's not a completely random piece of shower-taking because we discover they used to be in a relationship, and it would appear that Stathis has paid a visit to wind her up and show that he still very much has the hots for Veronica. Albeit in a creepy stalkerish way. He was probably waiting for hours in the shower before Veronica turns up. He may even have had a look through her underwear drawer. I know I would.
The next time we see Stathis he's gone off the rails even more, and is in a rage because of Veronica and Brundle's blossoming relationship. This leads to him confronting Veronica in a store with a great line, "I followed you - Psychology Today my ass!"
And he follows it up with another cracker. When Veronica explains that she's only spending time with Brundle because she's "finally onto something that's big. Huge!" he replies - quick as a flash, mind - "What, like his cock?" This is a genius response, but unfortunately it does have the effect of making Jeff Goldblum's cock spring up in your mind. A long and thin one, surely.
Ok, less cock more action - flushed with the success of teleporting a live baboon, Brundle gets pished and teleports himself.
Unfortunately it turns out he's left a fly undone, and it has disastrous consequences... as you'd expect, if you're watching a horror film called 'The Fly'.
It's not just his cock that Brundle has to start worrying about. All manner of disgusting and repulsive things start happening to his body and in a rather icky bathroom scene he finds that his teeth and fingernails are falling off. There is also some pus involved.
Soon, Jeff Goldblum has disappeared completely underneath some fantastically hideous make-up. I'm not having a sly dig at Jeff, but only when he is completely unrecognisable does the film become really enjoyable to watch, as it moves up a gear into a full-blown work of Cronenbergian terror.
"I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it.But the dream is over...and the insect is awake."
The final showdown is terrific, as Brundle returns with pregnant Veronica to his warehouse loft apartment to find it completely empty, burgled by local hoods who took advantage of him never locking the doors.
Not true, of course! Brundle returns with pregnant Veronica to his warehouse loft apartment full of his teleportation gear to fulfil his scheme of creating the perfect family by fusing them altogether. Okay, so not a great idea but he has been under a lot of pressure.
Luckily, Stathis is there and this time he's not in the mood for a shower - he's packing a shotgun! And despite getting a hand and foot melted by Brundle's stomach acid...
...(bet that hurt) he manages to shoot one of the teleporters and mess it up enough for Veronica to be freed unharmed, and for Brundle to emerge looking like a bag of shit - fused with the teleport and all sorts of other stuff that wasn't in his happy family plan. He's put out of his misery by a shotgun blast from Veronica. Stathis only has time to ask Veronica for a quick shag before the credits roll.
So there you have it. Turns out that man shouldn't play God, which is pretty obvious when you think about it. I'm surprised nobody's mentioned it before...
As a final treat, here's one of those mad Polish posters:
You're the proud father of a new son. Congratulations! What's more, things are going particularly well at work. So why are you feeling so uneasy?
Y'know, it's natural for every new father to suspect that his son is the Antichrist so don't despair. Simply take this quick quiz and all will be revealed...
N.B. A print-out of this post makes a thoughtful and useful christening present for other first-time dads!
1. What childcare provisions do you currently have in place for your son?
a) We look after him ourselves of course!
b) 2 days at a local nursery every week – usually Monday and Wednesday.
c) Not quite sure. A sinister woman turned up unannounced one day, so we’ve just let her look after him and take complete charge of running our household.
2. What is your child’s favourite toy or play-thing?
a) A red wind-up racing car called ‘Roary’.
b) A glove puppet in the shape of a cat that he insists on taking everywhere - even to bed!
c) A bloody great Rottweiler that growls constantly.
3. What relationship does your wife have with her son?
a) They are inseparable, laughing and hugging each other constantly.
b) They obviously love each other very much, but when he does something naughty he gets scolded in no uncertain terms.
c) She screams when his name is mentioned and refuses to let him anywhere near her hospital bed.
4. Does your child have any irrational fears?
a) He’s not took keen on the dark, so we’ve installed a night-light.
b) He cried for hours after his last visit to the dentist.
c) Any church. He’s not too keen on Longleat Safari Park either.
5. What are you planning on buying your child for Xmas?
a) A very small piano. Nothing too expensive, mind.
b) A fire-engine.One of those that he can sit on and ride around in. Perhaps a matching helmet too.
c) 7 knives pounded into his chest in the shape of a cross.
No need to worry, you have a perfectly normal boy! Although that doesn’t mean your wife should start balancing precariously on balconies when he’s riding his tricycle nearby. Mostly ‘B’s
He’s not the Antichrist. He’s just a very naughty boy.
Sorry, but yes – your son is the Antichrist. However, if it’s any consolation, it’s my problem too. I took a photograph of myself in the mirror and only went and cut my bloody head off! Shall we give him an early Christmas present?
Down a crevice, that's where. After a climb that must have taken me 2 months, I emerged from the darkness only to be set upon by some sort of madman... or a monster!
When I awoke from what felt like a 10-day coma, my wounds had been cleaned and I was lying safe and snug, back in the igloo. Weird. And then, right on queue, the TV crackles into life and a film appears...
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
This isn't the first time I've watched American Werewolf in London. It's my favourite horror film, so I've seen it a lot since my first viewing aged 11. Back then, armed with a clunky VHS recorder and a taped copy of the film, I learned to recite all the dialogue (this was before puberty kicked in). But don't worry, I'm not going to do that today...
And I'm not going to review the film either - we've all seen it, and if you haven't then go and watch it now....back? Good. What I'm going to do now is ask - and attempt to answer - 5 long-lost legendary American Werewolf questions. These questions fill my waking hours and sleepless nights here in Igloo-Land. These questions may not have been asked before. Some of them may not even have an answer. But these questions are important...
1. Boy, could they play darts?
"You, made me mis-s-s-s... I've never missed that board before."
So just how good is this guy? He's never missed a dartboard in his life? Does that sound likely? Well, no it doesn't. But let's listen to what he says again, "I've never missed that board before...". So who's to say that he's not referring to a new dartboard that The Slaughtered Lamb had installed a couple of days ago? We'll have to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Okay, let's have a look at how well he plays the game...
We see him hit the bullseye in the first shot of the board, having already hit 14 and 18. That makes 50 (bull) + 14 + 18 = 82, and every good darts player knows that for an 82 finish, you’d go for the bull first of all. Which he may have done, judging from the fact that the 14 is so close to the bullseye. But that would have left him 68 in which case he’d probably have gone 18, bullseye… ah - which actually he did. So I'm going to have to say yes - he could play darts.
My only minor gripe would be that Jack's question - about the 5-pointed star - that apparently made him mis-s-s that board, was asked as the entire pub was laughing hysterically at the Alamo joke. So the darts player must have been lining up his shot as the whole pub was erupting with laughter. Surely he should have waited for a bit of quiet until he played his shot? And as Jack's question did actually quieten the pub down almost instantly, he wouldn't have had to wait long. With a little bit more common sense, and a little bit more patience, his run of 'never having missed that board before' could have continued much longer. Something to think about for all potential darts players out there...
2. How are you supposed to 'beware the moon'?
"Beware the moon, lads!"
Come on, just what is anyone supposed to with that piece of advice? Beware the moon - okay thanks Brian, I’ll keep away from it if I see it, shall I?
It’s useless advice almost on a par with "Beware the Ides of March” given to Julius Caesar. How do you beware a date, in the name of (the unvanquished) god?
I’d also argue that the "Stay off the moors, stick to the road!" comments given to the lads would have been equally useless in the event of a werewolf attack. We see the road later, and there are no fences, no nothing between it and the moors. Unless there's an ancient part of werewolf mythology that says werewolves can't go on roads, then it would seem that David and Jack are in deep shit the minute they leave the Slaughtered Lamb, no matter how many pieces of local wisdom they remembered.
I tell you what would have been useful though – letting Jack and David STAY IN THE PUB. Just what was their unforgivable faux pas? So they asked what an unusual feature on the wall was. Big deal. It was a fair enough question, and one that everyone in the pub should have been half expecting and have an answer prepared - why not go with the barmaid’s fairly plausible excuse later in the film – that it was a 200 year old feature and nobody know what it means? But no! Better to go into a state of shock and condemn a couple of nice young men to their deaths.
3. How hard is a madman?
The first time Dr. Hirsch sees David he explains how lucky he was to survive the attack because 'they say a madman has the strength of ten'.
So why don't either Dr.Hirsch or David mention this a short time later when they hear Sergeant McManus comment to Inspector Villiers that "Two strong boys would be able to defend themselves against one man..."?
Could it be that Dr. Hirsch didn't actually have any idea what he was talking about? Just how much strength does a madman actually have?
Well, my extensive research into this subject (10 minutes on Google and Wikipedia) has failed to come up with a satisfactory answer. Based on those wasted minutes, I'm going concur that Dr. Hirsch is talking out of his over-qualified arse, and that Sergeant McManus was correct. But then, we knew that all along didn't we?
4. Was nurse Alex Price mentally disturbed?
Time has been kind to nurse Alex Price, and we all remember her as the innocent heroine, fighting against the forces of darkness for the soul of her lover. But is she really whiter-than-white? Could she even be mentally disturbed herself? Let's examine her behaviour in detail:
She takes a disturbed patient back to her flat and has sex with him because she finds him a 'little bit sad'. She threatens a child patient by asking if he's ever been severely beaten about the face and neck. She rents a large flat in a prime location in London that must cost more than she gets paid. She cracks up laughing when her disturbed lover tells her he's seen a vision of his dead friend, and to cap it all she ends up committing bestiality by telling a werewolf that's about to bite her head off that she loves it...
Not such an angel now, is she?
5. Why didn't Jack go to pieces sooner?
We see Jack decompose throughout the film, from being a 'fresh kill' in the hospital to a skeleton in the porn theatre. The idea being that he's decomposing as he would have in real life. But hang on just a minute...
David's been in a coma for 10 days. So when Jack first appears shouldn't he look like a 10 day old corpse? And not, as he does, freshly slaughtered with that little dangly flap of skin on his neck. Furthermore, the time from his appearance in the hospital to the porn theatre is only a day or two, which is way too short to turn into a skeleton.
Of course, all the above could be explained by Jack being a figment of David's imagination. But then, that's another question - perhaps one that I'll ask in a future post dealing with question numbers 6 to 10... like, was The Slaughtered Lamb a real ale pub? Was Debbie Klein really mediocre? Did Dr. Hirsch's receptionist really tell Roger Mathison that he'd died from an old war wound??
Until then... stay on the moors, lads... stay on the moors.
I sit here crushed (don't worry, not literally) and despondent. So much hope and excitement cruelly snatched from my grasp!
It all started this morning when I aspied - remarkably - a creature with a human form in the distance! I beckoned to him and he waved back!! I set forth on foot towards him and judged him to be doing the same.
My suspicions were first aroused when he sneezed at exactly the same time as I. And, not long afterwards, I noticed that he discovered his fly was undone at exactly the same time as mine...
There is no mystery here. For you see, my new companion was nothing more than a reflection. Some trick of the light bouncing off a glacier, some prism refracting... or something, what am I, a F*&&%$g scientist???!!!
I apologise. There's no need for me to take it out on you. A film will surely calm me down...
My thoughts after watching Mirrors were uncannily similar to my thoughts after I had sex for the first time. I enjoyed it, but deep down I knew it didn't go as well as it could have. And the more I think about it now, the more ridiculous it seems.
Also, I wish the only attractive woman involved didn't get killed half way through.
I digress. Your experience watching Mirrors will depend on a) how much you like Kiefer Sutherland...
and b) how freaked out you are by... mirrors!
Personally, I have a lot of time for Kiefer Sutherland. And as far as mirrors go, well, from a very early age, long before my visage had been ravaged by sub-zero arctic temperatures and malevolent bumble bees, I've been more than a little wary of contemplating my reflection in detail. I can sense something lurking just beyond my peripheral vision you see...
Which reminds me - I got some valuable advice from an old fortune-teller once, shortly before she died. Never look into a mirror in a dark room at midnight she said (or croaked 'neath an increasingly crushed windpipe, rather). For those phantasms beyond your vision are real. And when you stare at your own reflection for too long, there comes a moment when it becomes aware that it is being watched. This is the point when YOU become the reflection...
And so to Mirrors the movie. The plot is all too familiar - an obvious and unimaginative cross between The Shining and The Ring. Basically, an ex-ish alcoholic gets the job of watchman in a spooky old building. Shit happens, and we go on a meandering investigation that revolves a crazed little girl in a mental institution.
An awful lot of Kiefer's screen-time is thus spent in 'research' mode. Which involves him sitting at a desk, looking through endless scraps of paper and making occasional notes. You can tell when he finds out an important piece of information because he shouts 'goddamn!' and punches the nearest wall. It's gripping stuff.
A rare foray away from Kiefer's scrap-book strewn home-office is Amy Smart's death-scene. It's the highlight of the movie, not just because we get to see her fanny (don't worry UK readers - 'fanny' means 'arse' in the U.S (note to my U.S fans - 'arse' is the English for 'ass')) but that she meets a memorably grisly end, murdered by her own reflection as it rips its jaw off, knowing that the same thing would happen to her.
My main problem with Mirrors was that I just didn't buy into the premise. I couldn't find the will to spend time trying to fill in the various plot holes, like figuring out why the demon had to threaten the security guards to get their help? Would a simple 'please get me out of this mirror' have gone amiss?
And so the film ends with our hero desperately trying to escape a burning/collapsing building. Like an awful lot of other horror films.
Ah - I almost forgot about the 'twist' ending. Without giving too much away, it falls into one of the two standard horror film twists (Standard Horror Film Twist #1 - He's actually dead. Standard Horror Film Twist #2 - His 'friend' doesn't exist. He did the murders himself). You can probably guess...
Here's some rare footage of Kiefer Sutherland being asked to do the sequel which will be set on board a pirate ship:
Dreams of escape, keep me awake, I'm never gonna get out and make it away.
The force-field is getting smaller day by day. It's now 85% of its original size according to my latest calculations. This has added to my feeling of being trapped. Of having no free will. Of being endlessly miserable with no hope of change... reminds me of the last time I was married, come to think of it.
Her name was Molly, a flighty young filly from good aristocratic stock in Weybridge. Loved the outdoors and rambling endlessly in the countryside, did Molly, and soon made an acquaintance with Giles our gamekeeper. I would often see them out riding together across the moors, Molly's face lit up with a radiant smile that I didn't recognise.
Anyway, there was a fire in the gamekeeper's cottage one fateful night. Two charred bodies were discovered, and to my sheer horror they turned out to be Giles and my faithless Molly!
A rogue candle was held to be the likely cause of the fire, and old Doc Jensen's observation that both of their necks had been broken prior to death was taken as being none other than the ramblings of a decrepit alcoholic that had no business to be still employed in the medical profession. He fell into the canal and drowned not long afterwards, drunk as a lord on the way home from the local tavern no doubt... except that Julian Fielding III, our local coroner, found no trace of alcohol in Doc Jensen's system - mind you, it was common knowledge that that the coroner was a raging opium addict, and in fact only a few days after his verdict on Doc Jensen he was found with a needle stuck in his - HALLO! I've been rambling on forever, you must forgive me. For here comes a film!
I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE (1958)
One of the many great things about watching American Sci-Fi from the 50s is that it gives you a rare glimpse of a bygone era, where things were very much different. IMAMFOS (short for 'I Married A Monster From Outer Space'. Very handy. Saves me writing out 'I Married A Monster From Outer Space' for no good reason) has a wonderful example of this...
... at her wits end for MAMFOS, Marge Farrell naturally reaches for a relaxing cigarette. But then to her horror, she discovers she can't find the lighter! Her husband Bill (the MFOS) appears and tries to reassure her by explaining that "the lighter wasn't working so I sent it to get it fixed" - but Marge quickly spots something else is wrong - "Where's your drink?" she demands.
I don't know what I love most about this scene, the thought of sending out your lighter to get it renovated, or the fact that Marge panics when she spots that her husband isn't cradling a Scotch at half past 2 in the afternoon. Sounds like my kind of time, the 50s...
... and did the place where Bill took the lighter to get fixed do anything else apart from fix lighters? Or was it solely the local 'Lighter Fixing Emporium'? This kind of stuff keeps me awake at night.
But I'm getting ahead myself and forgetting something - the title. It's become such a cliche for every review of this film to mention that the title is misleadingly flippant that now, even mentioning the fact that this is a cliche has become a cliche in itself. So I've decided it's best not to mention it all. Except of course, I already have. So I'll just add that it's a perfect title. I love titles that tell you important plot details so that there's no confusion. That's why 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' is a perfect film title, unlike 'Twelve Monkeys', a film that I wasted good money going to see only to discover that it actually starred humans.
And so to IMAMFOS - one of the classiest 50s sci-fi movies (despite the misleadingly flippant title etc. etc.). IMAMFOS is beautifully shot and directed by Gene Fowler Jnr (who also did IWATW of course). We open with an impressive tracking shot that spans the shoreline of a lake before settling upon an approaching car that parks close enough to the camera to allow us to follow its occupants as they exit and head up the path to the local bar, stopping en-route to playfully knock on the car of a courting couple. This one shot lasts just over 59 seconds. Good start.
There's an even more memorable shot later, when we're in a busy restaurant with newlyweds Bill and Marge. The camera pans to the window for a second, and then back into the room to reveal that we're now in the young couple's bedroom, much later!!! But we don't witness any conjugal shenanigans because Bill is acting a bit strange. A bit nervous. Maybe it's something to do with the fact that a flash of lightning reveals his features to be that of a hideous alien.
Marge is a rather perceptive young lady, and it's not long until she comes to the conclusion that her husband is AMFOS. This all starts when she buys him a dog for a present - Bill loves dogs you see - but alien Bill doesn't. And the dog doesn't like alien Bill. And alien Bill knows that the dog doesn't like alien Bill. And the dog... anyway, matters come to a head one night when Bill... when he... there's no easy way of breaking this to you, he kills the dog. HE KILLS THE DOG! And this was the 50s! Even now, canicide is thankfully very rare in films, so this is a truly shocking scene.
There are other memorable moments throughout IMAMFOS. Like when a rather flighty lady leaves a bar and tries propositioning a hooded gentleman outside a shop. Rather unwisely, as it turns out as the hooded gentleman turns out to be AMFOS and zaps the hapless harlot in the back.
Despite all this outrageous behaviour from the MsFOS, Bill's character actually manages to elicit a fair degree of sympathy. Tom Tryon plays the part of Bill, and he's a fine looking actor - tall, imposing, marvellously athletic. He gives a very finely judged and subtle performance, one that Keanu Reeves would mess up royally if he starred in the remake.
Having MAMFOS, Marge wants out. She hates the idea of Bill being AMFOS, and her mind is made up. Very harsh, in my opinion. I wish that she'd have fallen for alien Bill just a little bit, instead of spending the entire film running around hysterically, harping on about the fact that she MAMFOS.
I was firmly rooting for Bill throughout, and hoped in vain that there could have been just a small spark of electricity between the star-crossed couple. Even though alien Bill was a pooch-whacker, I think he would have made a more than capable husband. Deep down, he obviously felt something for Marge, despite not being able to feel anything, which is no mean feat.
Soon Marge manages to find someone who isn't an alien, who in turn manages to raise a posse from all the men in the maternity waiting room (the aliens are impotent, you see. So it wouldn't be them waiting in there). Who wants to be hanging around waiting for your wife to have a baby when you're offered a chance to go alien hunting, eh? So off the posse goes...
It's not long until the expectant alien hunters home in on the spaceship, whereby the alien occupants make an appearance and it all kicks off big time. The humans are getting a right zapping until dog meets alien. Don't worry, the score is evened up this time. Dog wins.
There's only enough time left for alien Bill to rather sadly die in front of Marge. But there's a happy ending when she's promptly reunited with human Bill! They're going to live happily ever after surely! Let's just hope he can hold his liquor. And that he buys her a lighter for her next birthday.