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: