Psycho II: Electric Boogaloo

There was a list linked from IMDB to “under-rated horror movies” but, as always, such things are dubious. It started, for example, with Suspiria, Dario Argento’s classic-for-horror-snobs. Suspiria has some great moments, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also an uneven mess of a film. And it’s far from under-rated. (The argument went something like “These kids today haven’t seen it, so it’s under-rated.” Meh.)

I give them credit for including Arachnophobia. I’ve always felt it was a comedy, but if they say people are scared by it, who am I to argue?

Psycho 2 is under-rated. It’s actually a fairly decent movie that mostly suffers because it doesn’t even touch the hem of the original. But it plays that way: It’s not Gus Van Sant trying to remake the original, it’s a very smart, knowing ripoff. It knows it’s a rip-off, and it knows you know, and invites you to have fun anyway.

A dark comedy with little twitches and quirks that make the Psycho fan smile, if he’s not too uptight.

Not to get maudlin again, but I’m drawn to certain tragedies among the cast. The beautiful Meg Tilly (whom I loved from her performance in One Dark Night) was sexually abused as a child. Perkins, of course, died of AIDS complications while his wife died on Flight 11. Cancer got director Richard Franklin, who did the underrated Road Games with Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis prior to this.

Writer Tom Holland’s career is dead. (Rim-shot.) Nah, he created Fright Night and the Child’s Play series (which ultimately would star Meg’s sister Jennifer). Last seen directing a tepid episode of “Masters of Horror” called “We All Scream for Ice Scream”.

As I say, if you’re not too uptight, it’s worth checking out.

It Took An Hour To Write…

I thought it would take an hour to read. (Apologies to Philip J. Fry.)

So, Saturday begins the NaNoWriMo. I’ve got cold feet, of course, but I’m going through with it.

My initial plan was to release whatever I wrote in a day, but I’m a little nervous about releasing unedited, unproofed copy to the world. (I’ve always taken Strunk & White to heart about having pity on the poor reader.)

So, I’ll leave it to the…what, four of you? Every day? By chapter? End of the month?

You make the call.

New Link To Horror Comix Site

S. Weasel (already in my sidebar, and quite possibly in my trousers–one never knows with weasels) used an graphic for her run-in with customs. Apparently, there are arcane rules about air guns in Pifferdous Albuyin (or whatever he calls England) and even though she hadn’t actually gone afoul of those rules, that was of no interest to the bureaucrat running the show.

That led me to a site where pre-code horror comics are uploaded daily. It’s called The Horrors Of It All, and looks pretty cool.

I’ve often noted how each adult generation is just sure the youth are going to hell, and what they latch on to as “proof”, and how different things were when they did more or less the same crap as kids. Horror comics–those innocuous, occasionally campy, crudely drawn, four color books were targeted in the ‘50s.

What the big publishers (like DC) managed to do, of course, was drive the smaller publisher (like EC) out of business by setting up a “code” and controlling it. The movie industry set up a similar barrier in the Hays Code and (to a lesser extent these days) the MPAA>

One of the things that cracks me up about the socialist/communist/radical left types is how they talk about big corporations not wanting to be regulated by the government. But of course, big corporations LOVE big government because it absolutely strangles any smaller competition: And the little guys with the ideas are the ones that kill.

And since they can influence the government, the more power it has, the more power they have.

I mean, if you want to join me on the radical fringe, you can just fight every expansion of government power you run across. I haven’t worked out how that fight should go, exactly. But it needs to be an idea out there with a real champion.

Any how, this all crosses over nicely The Boy’s brush with Johnny Law. Isn’t it interesting how all the anti-second amendment right folk talk all the time about how the Founding Fathers couldn’t possibly have imagined the devastating weapons available today? We know from history that private citizens owned the weapons that were used to fight America’s early wars, including cannons and even frigates.

But even allowing that argument, on what basis should the government be allowed to restrict ownership of what are basically primitive weapons, like knives? Or shurikens! Shurikens are expressly not allowed by law!

The excuse usually given relates to gang violence. And we all know how respectful gangs are of the law, and how effective these laws are at curbing gang violence.

See, this is the main problem with government: Just because something is stupid, and everybody knows it’s gone to hell, doesn’t mean you can stop doing the stupid thing.

Somebody Calls The Cops

The Boy got hassled by the cops today for carrying knives.

In fairness, the cops were cool enough about it. LAPD is pretty professional and they don’t generally want to stir up trouble. The Sheriff’s department would probably have hauled him in. (Apparently minors can’t carry knives. And one of his knives is illegal to take out of the house or somesuch.)

That said, they view an armed populace as a threat. The Boy has never so much as taken his knives out, but he feels more secure when he’s carrying them, and plus, he just likes weapons. Always has. When he was three, we got him this book. He knows more about weapons than most people. The state doesn’t find this an acceptable interest, second amendment notwithstanding. (The Founding Fathers surely couldn’t have envisioned a world with knives!)

He has, of course, never used a weapon in actual combat, never brandished a weapon in a threatening manner, in fact never taken his weapons out in public, as far as I know. (No, wait, just once, when an adult asked to see one of his knives.)

So, how did the cops decide to roust him? Well, somebody in the homeschooling group must’ve seen one of his knives on his pants and called the police. Nice.

As I’ve pointed out, homeschoolers tend to be polarized between right- and left-wing.

But (as I’ve also pointed out), when dealing with leftists, it’s easier just to shut up and pretend to agree. So, with apologies to Robert Conquest, any group not explicitly right-wing is going to end up seeming left-wing.

So, the mailing list ends up being peppered with (I’m not making this up) a compassionate communication workshop, a drum circle, “soul-centered” classes and of course all the (apparently mandatory) environmental and recycling crap.

This is all fine. My kids don’t have to do anything I don’t want. But I can imagine what side of the political spectrum this person came from.

But I find this incident ironic for two reasons:

1. Someone who has rejected the state in a pretty fundamental way went to the cops rather than talking face-to-face.

2. The Boy was upset enough that he didn’t feel like taking his fencing class which is part of the same group. (Because foils and rapiers are not dangerous weapons, apparently.)

UPDATE: That may have been a hasty conclusion. It’s possible, even probable perhaps, that it wasn’t a homeschooler but a rec center employee. That would fit. Still sucks, but makes more sense.

John Wayne Halloween Sayings

Just one of the wacky phrases the maelstrom is apparently known for.

Barbarian sex and cowboy sex are big, too.

And the What Not To Wear Review. (Thanks, again, Troop.)

The Knott’s Halloween Haunt actually has been very popular, making me think I should probably blog about more local stuff.

The treadmill stuff has slacked off, maybe because I’m not writing a daily post on it. But, as I said, I’m not a “lifestyle” person and seriously, one could become a serious bore talking about it all the time. The idea, after all, is that it should vanish. It sort of becomes like your chair, and who wants to read a blog about a chair?

Oh. And what’s up with “Tony Curtis Plastic Surgery”? People looking for information on what plastic surgery Tony Curtis has had? That comes from a post where I mentioned Tony Curtis and knox added that he looked weird now. People, I have no inside information on this. Just say no, that’s my motto.

OK, Saw V on Thursday. Changeling, Rock ‘n’ Rolla, Zack and Miri Make A Porno and probably Madagascar 2 are up in the next week or so.

Saturday starts the nanowrimo, too.

My cup runneth over.

Free Lunch

Via Simply Skimming, CodeWeavers is giving away it’s CrossOver software free to celebrate sub-$3/gallon gas. CrossOver allows you to run Windows software from Linux and Mac.

This is a savvy move: We use WINE here but it’s been difficult to get going. I’ve looked at the CodeWeavers software seriously before, but I try to avoid anything that requires administration. (For me, it’s not the cost of the software that deters me so much as it is keeping track of licenses.)

That doesn’t mean I couldn’t get hooked, however. Check it out!

Why Psycho Is Great and Death Proof Sucks, A Simple Explanation

This is going to be a bit spoily, as well as a bit pissy, so, you know, caveat emptor, cave canem and all that. But it comes from a place of love.

Grindhouse was a disappointment to me, for two reasons: Primarily, I wanted these to be great movies. Sleazy, but great. And they were the former, but not the latter. Secondarily, because they weren’t great, we’re unlikely to get any more, and there’s no reason that the Grindhouse concept should itself suffer because QT & RR got a little full of themselves.

The primary sin of both films is overlongness. But Death Proof has another sin: We spend extensive time with the first set of characters, who are abruptly killed off.

Ah, but wait, some have compared Death Proof to Psycho, which does the same thing with Janet Leigh. Alfred Hitchcock gives us some 30 minutes of Marion only to abruptly end her existence. So, why is it okay for Hitch to do and not QT? Heh.

Ultimately, it’s because the viewer cares about Marion and not one of Death Proof’s five female characters is sympathetic. Hell, they’re not particularly believable as characters, but you’re almost rooting for Stuntman Mike by the time he kills the first set. Finally, you think, something’s going to happen.

Then it’s all over and, O! God, the movie laps itself! Like Manos: The Hands of Fate, we start over again with four new, tiresome girls, and Kurt Russell’s only presence is his back in the background during that soporific Vanishing Point dialogue. (And, as it turns out, revolving the camera around people with boring dialogue does not, in fact, make the dialogue more interesting. Actually, that scene is appreciately less annoying muted.)

Stuntman Mike is a little different from Norman Bates’ pathetic self. Hitch deftly switches our loyalty from the flawed but likable Leigh to the highly flawed yet still somehow sympathetic Perkins. At some level you wish he could just be left alone –well, some place where there’s no victims for him to stir-fry.

In contrast, by the second half of Death Proof, you’re eagerly rooting for Stuntman Mike to kill his second batch–not because he’s a sympathetic character, but because these women are insufferable and they just won’t shut up.

Kurt Russell is great in this film, but he’s more a Freddy Krueger than a Norman Bates. He’s likable in the sense that he removes the great annoyances that are the film’s characters.