Don't even talk to me about this. It's New Year's Eve, my wife is at work, and since it's 2012 in two and a half hours, the world just might end, if the ancient Mayans have anything to say about it, not to mention the makers of a shitty apocalyptic John Cusack movie (which had its effects done by a firm based in Victoria, BC!)
Did I mention the kids are in bed, I'm alone, and I'm full of beer and prosecco? I shouldn't mention that. One should not drink and drive, nor should one drink and blog. But here I am, and I want to shout to the world that there is a movie coming out called Return To Bloodfart Lake. Not only that, the lead actress in this wonderful movie has big hooters and looks good in a red bikini.
Is this a scam? No idea. I've never seen the first movie, or this movie, which is its sequel. Horror movies and horror novels are full of boners, bloopers, and crapheaps that we're supposed to hail as brilliant even though most of them are an Elephant-in-the-Room awkward tour-de-force of bad writing and rape, but I've never heard of the Bloodfart Lake franchise. Is Bloodfart Lake near Camp Crystal Lake? I don't know. All I know is that it's the second installment, and the third instalment might be called Bloodfart Lake III: The Sharting.
But the Bloodfart Lake saga is just the tip of the iceberg. There's 'The Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror', which I haven't seen but you are welcome to try out. Even worse than that is the cinematic opus known as 'Gayniggers from Outer Space'. These are real movies, sort of. I guess they're movies, in that they were shot with cameras and real actors were hired and maybe paid with food or perhaps oxycontin.
It's happened. It used to be that taking pictures cost money - you had to really think about what you wanted to capture on film. That shit had to go to a developer, and he held your pics hostage until you paid him money. If you had a bad hair day, or if the boyfriend you included in your family photo turned out to be an philandering meth addict, you sucked it up and pasted those pictured in your album, because otherwise there was no picture. No memory. No nothing. Photos were made from the hooves of living creatures, and you had to think of that every time you pressed 'click' on your camera.
Then digital cameras arrived, and photo labs dropped out of existence. That was pretty cool, actually. You could take a picture and have it printed at Futureshop or Costco, or just with your printer.
But now you can make a movie on your phone. The next generation of smartphones will carry 8mp cameras (a lot of the droids already have 8mp but Apple had to wait for the 4s to get on the 8mp bandwagon), and these days everyone can make a movie. This is both good and bad. Good in that someone in Nigeria can make a cinematic masterpiece without whoring him/herself out; bad in that my kids might be making homemade porn while I'm reading the newspaper in the next room. Bad in that someone might make Return to Bloodfart Lake.
Edit: It turns our that Terror at Bloodfart Lake is available on youtube. You can see it here. I skimmed through it - it looks like a few goth boys and girls made it while they were drunk and high. I doubt anyone got paid. They just ran Dad's camcorder and called it a movie. Not only that: I looked at the poster that I posted at the beginning of this article. It's clearly a picture of some girl's head shopped onto the body of an innocent bikini model.
I've been writing stories for years. I think I'm a good writer and I'm willing to bet you'll feel the same way. So here they are. Enjoy them, comment on them, tell your friends about'em, reblog them, retweet them, reread them. I have four stories in my archive so far:
"One day on the Mountain", a story of Lycanthropy, a father, and a son.
"The Boy", a story of a very ambitious and sociopathic fifth grade boy.
"The Easy Girl, A story of infidelity and unpaid sexual debts. This story is very dark.
"Brick The Mighty", a story of an aging superhero.
Although this is primarily a blog of horror, I also write about things that are important to me. I have more stories tucked away; they just need editing. There's even a few novels. There will be more to come.
PS. Feel free to leave a comment. I love comments.
Saturday, 31 December 2011
Friday, 30 December 2011
Well, it had to happen. We had to go see The Adventured of Tintin.
It’s in 3-D. I don’t know about you, but 3-D in the theatres is terrible. The new 3-D flatscreens are miles better. To top it off, the theatre was full of people trying to fill the emotional void left by boxing day, so the theatre was crowded and we were late to begin with. We had trouble finding seats. When we finally did get settled in, we were three rows from the front, so I’m now worried that I’ve given myself and my kids brain cancer. Then, to top everything off, about a quarter of the way through the movie, a teenage girl barfed all over her seat. She and her father left, but a moment later we were engulfed by the odour of vomit. So we had to move and find new seats. Somewhere amidst all this, I saw the movie and I will do my damn best to tell you what it’s like.
It’s live action/animated, using a technique called motion capture, but you already knew that. It’s directed by Stephen Spielberg; Jamie Bell, the kid from Billy Elliot, plays Tintin, and Andy Serkis (Gollum, Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes) plays Captain Haddock; Daniel Craig plays the bad guy who was unfairly engendered from a completely harmless character from the comics. But you already knew everything I’ve just told you. Is it a good movie? Does Spielberg et al do a reasonably good job tackling the mighty mythology that is Tintin?
Yes. Mostly. There are hiccups and misteps throughout, and there are a few too many horrendously intricate and incomprehensible action scenes, but on the whole the vehicle drives.
The racism, animal cruelty, and colonial patronizing of the original comics are largely gone, but that had to be done. The Thompsons are still there, and still inexplicable as ever (twins? Lovers? Colleagues? Members of a local make-work collective for the mentally handicapped? It’s never been explained). Captain Haddock is as gloriously dangerous and drunk as he has ever been.
The movie is a amalgam of The Secret of the Unicorn, Red Rackham’s Treasure, and The Crab with the Golden Claws, with an entirely new villain thrown in. The action has been upped, so that Tintin and the Captain have to discuss the complex plot (for the audience’s sake) while fighting bad guys and running for their lives.
But here it is in a nutshell: Tintin discovers a model ship called The Unicorn, which hides a secret, or part of a secret, that leads to buried treasure. He teams up with Captain Haddock, whose ancestor hid the treasure under the sea, and together they traverse the globe in a race with the bad guys to find the last piece of the puzzle.
As I mentioned before, the actions scenes are overdone, but there is one massive and exciting exception.
The best scene in the movie is when Red Rackham’s crew descends upon the Unicorn and a massive pitched battle breaks out. It’s three-dimensional in both imagery and concept as the brigands come at Sir Francis Haddock from all corners, as the pirate ship itself gets tangled in the Unicorn’s mast and swings back and forth like Calculus’s pendulum and everything, including Red Rackham’s cape, dances with flame. This battle sequence alone is worth the price of admission.
The movie ends with the possibility of a sequel, with Peter Jackson at the helm.
Steven Spielberg was a great admirer of Hergé, and Hergé was a great admirer of his. Both men are/were exponents of adventure storytelling and fantasy, and both men will be remembered and admired for generations. Hergé’s simple, shadowless drawings seem to become richer and more complex as time marches on, and Spielberg’s older works (ET, Duel, Jaws) shine more readily than anything done by James Cameron, because they were done with the same ephemeral and linear magic he shares with Hergé.
Now I’m going to wait, very patiently, for Spielberg and Jackson to tackle Asterix.
Saturday, 24 December 2011
|Click to Embiggen. Really, you should see this bigger.|
Let's see. There's the original Alien (Ridley Scott), Alien 2 (James Cameron), and the very elegiac Alien 3, directed my David Fincher. Alien Resurrection followed (Jean-Pierre Jeanet), but they had to clone Ripley in order to continue the mythology.
Then Alien vs. Predator came along, with not Ripley connection whatsoever, and then Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, again with no Ripley, who is essentially the glue that holds the mythology together. These movies don't count - why? Because Prometheus, that's why. Ridley friggen Scott has come along to make Prometheus, which is an extreme prequel to the whole mess.
This movie looks so damn beautiful and honest I just want to curl up and revert to my childhood. Apparently it's gory and claustrophobic, but whatever. The youngsters on the internet aren't bothered by gore, trust me; they watch the real thing while they eat their noodles and keep porn on another tab.
I'm not the sort of guy who has contacts in the film biz (not even here in Vancouver), but I can look at the title, the hints the director is dropping, and the general feel of the trailer, to give you an inkling of what this movie might be about.
Prometheus was a greek Titan, and there are many myths about him. He tricked Zeus, and stole fire from Him to give to humanity. He is also credited for creating the human race out of clay (and misapplying the genitals and giving cause to homosexuality, according to one Roman comedy writer), and in some instances he gave empirical knowledge to humanity as well. In some ways, he is similar to the biblical snake in the Garden of Eden, because he gave self-awareness, in other way Zeus is a tyrant and Prometheus saved us all by giving us life and sentience. Either way, Prometheus was a brash, tricky figure who liked to mess with great powers.
So how does with figure into Ridley Scott's Prometheus? Well, we're probably Prometheus, and the Aliens are the deadly knowledge we attempt to steal. Or, we're the knowledge, the infection, and somehow we were set free to wreak havoc, and the Aliens are the Eagle who as punishment eats out Prometheus's liver.
The myth of Pandora's Box in in the Promethean myth as well. She came from Zeus in retaliation for the theft of fire, and her opened box released disease and death. But that's too simple.
I hope there's more. I hope it isn't the Aliens-are-the-great-secret-that-we-try-to-exploit-for-profit-and-we-will-pay-for-our-folly-by-being-eviscerated-and-turned-into-egg-incubators schtick that has been so prevalent in all the other movies. I hope there's some great origin story a la Battlestar Galactica that Ridley Scott thinks up.
I think there might be. In the brief glimpses in the trailer that I can see, I can see ancient and impossible structures on the planet the protagonists are exploring. I can see origin and intelligence there, and maybe something that hints at our own origins as well. But the structures in the trailer, the alien design so famously conceptualized by HR Geiger, look so very Lovecraftian.
We call it Lovecraftian, because Lovecraft himself was the first writer to dedicate his life to the prospect of impossibly ancient things that dwell in the far cosmos and spell our doom. But if you read Jules Verne, HG Wells, or basic greek mythology, you can see the places where Lovecraft went before he began to write.
We're afraid of the unknown, that there just might be God out there, or perhaps even more than one god. We're afraid of horrors that we might discover, and our greatest fear is that we cannot help but continue to look for them. Horror is what killed the curious cat.
Friday, 16 December 2011
During my third year of university, I had to find a roommate. I couldn’t afford a place of my own. So I did what most people do: I looked at the walls of the Student Union Building (which, at McGill University, was called the William Shatner Centre, and no I am not making this up) where there were housing ads taped alongside the fliers for protests marches and student social clubs.
I was embryonically stupid then. I wouldn’t say I was a genius now, but I’m surprised that back then I didn’t need an artificial lung to take over when I forgot to breath. I met a fellow I’ll call Murray, and despite the filth of his apartment (where we would live), I agreed to live with him.
I arrived to begin school in September and the horror started.
I might have been stupid, but he was barely human. He went through terrible marijuana binges where he would shut himself into an the airtight front room (the door would be closed and the door to the balcony was sealed off with insulating plastic), smoke himself into a stupor, and watch TV all night. In the morning before I went to school, I would sometimes look through the window on the door to the front room to see what lay beyond: Murray sprawled on the floor in an insensate heap amidst his twisted sleeping bag, his rear end more often then not poking out from his partly pulled-down shorts. Grapefruit halves with dead cigarettes stubbed out inside them and upside down pizza boxes littered the floor around him. It was almost exactly akin to the scene in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre when a young women enters a murderer’s house and sees a living room so terribly, insanely messy that it seems to ooze evil and menace.
I often got ready for class as quietly as possible so I didn’t wake him up. If he did wake up, he would emerge from the fetid depths of the front room, the sleeping bag wrapped around his upper body but his bare legs and sagging underwear exposed, to shuffle into the bathroom and pee, farting like an old man. Then he would shuffle back to go asleep. I never understood why he slept in the front room like he was a stoned and hibernating bear; his own bedroom was four feet away.
When I got ready for class, I often put the phone off the hook. Otherwise his mother would call, wake him up, and I would have to look at him. His mother was rightly worried about him : Murray’s little brother was in his first year of Engineering; his older sister was doing her MBA at Yale. She was worried about her disappointing middle child. So she called every morning if I let her. When Murray would answer the phone, the conversation went like this (I heard this almost every morning so it’s burned into my head. You have to imagine his Montreal urban anglophone accent, which sounds a little like a New York accent. You also have to imagine that she owned the building and he was sort of this half-assed disaster landlord who did absolutely nothing, for himself or anyone.)
“Hi mom. Yeah, I was up. No, I’m going to head out and look for a job. Yeah. I have to go. I have to go. Good-bye. Good-bye. Good-bye. I have to… Good-bye. Okay, I’m hanging up the phone. Good-bye. Good-bye.” This went on for many minutes, and sometimes happened several times in a morning. Sometimes, on snowy days, she’d arrange for him to clear the walk in front of his uncle’s Jewish tombstone store. That was all he ever did when I lived with him. He was a perversely fascinating creature, and like Gollum, he didn’t know how hideous he had become.
But somehow, somehow, through those twists of fate that happen to stoners and the unfortunate idiots who live with them, our female roommate left (understandably - she probably would have killed him if she hadn’t left), and Murray rented a room to someone even worse that he was.
Joey was in his early thirties and psychotic. By psychotic, I mean he talked and screamed to himself, and kept a long line of pill bottles on the mantle of his room. Thank God he was smaller than me, or else I would have been terrified of him. Murray hated him, and for a while we sort of bonded over our fear and loathing of this chaotic and doomed man.
Then the inevitable violence happened.
Joey liked to smoke when he wasn’t coasting on his many suppressants. The deal he had struck with Murray was that he would smoke with his door closed, since I hated the smell. But Joey began to smoke with the door open, and the cigarette smoke reached me. It was the end of the year, it was getting hot in that Montreal way, and the apartment was on the third floor.
One day I charged into the living room, hot, angry, and infuriated that the smell of cigarettes had come into my room. I yelled that he had to close his door. He came out.
“I need the fresh air, fuck!” he yelled (the use of the word ‘fuck’ is at the end of a sentence is a Montreal thing, and it comes from Quebec french)
I charged and he met me in the middle of the living room. For a few seconds I had him in a headlock, him grunting in rage, and then I was saying: “Joey. Stop. We have to stop. Jesus Christ, we have to stop.” I let him go.
After he rose, I held out my hand, he held out his, and we shook. He went back into his room. I looked at my arm, where there was a gash that had somehow opened during that encounter. When Joey came out to the kitchen to fix himself a snack and smiling as if nothing had happened, he had a flap of skin two inches long hanging from his arm.
Beyond my initial and heat-driven rage at Joey, I wasn’t angry had him. He was ill and couldn’t be anything else. I was angry at Murray for renting a room to this man.
I moved two days later, Murray screaming at me as I carried my stuff to a rented van. He said I owed him money, and I insisted that he’d made my life hell and that I owed him nothing. I probably should have payed him something, but hate is a powerful motivator when you realize you can effect revenge through money. I wanted his parents to be angry at their 26 year-old son who couldn’t run their investments and rented to psychotic welfare cases. But more than anything I just wanted to be finished, to not contribute a single cent more of my worth to sustaining what I realized was a rotating door system of college kids and crazy people who lived with this useless man-child.
This happened a long time ago, but I still think of it from time to time, and wonder if Murray (who would now be in his mid-forties) is still offering himself as a roommate to bewildered college kids, or if the great wave of money and gentrification that swept through downtown Montreal swept him up as well, along with his parents’ apartment buildings and the tombstone store up the street. I almost hope not. He added some clownish colour to that great city and I learned a lot when I lived with him.
Thursday, 15 December 2011
I’m never going to buy a limited edition. There, I said it.
I prefer just plain old bookstore books, or second-hand books. Some of my best books have been second-hand. I’ve bought A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Ulysses, all my Doris Lessing books, Blood Meridian, and TED Klein’s Dark Gods and The Ceremonies - all at the second hand store. I spent less than thirty bucks for all those books and I treasure them.
I should give you a little background here - for nearly a decade I was taking care of two children. When my first son was six months I was with him full-time, and when the second was three months old I was full time with him as well. I was up to my elbows in clothe diapers and baby shit, and I didn’t have much time for anything. I’d been a devoted reader of horror fiction but I’d fallen away from it. I no longer went to horror movies and I didn’t read very much at all. When the oldest started going to school, I slowly began to emerge from my self-imposed cultural exile and dared to read again. Since publishing in general has become so web-centred, I got on the internet and looked for horror. Every horror writer on earth has a website; there are discussion boards everywhere. There are a whole lot of horror authors I never would have known existed if I hadn’t ventured out and looked at the online world of dark fiction.
I learned a lot about limited editions - beautiful, signed, numbered and lettered (whatever that means), new or re-released, and on sale for fifty or eighty bucks a pop with the near certainty it will sell for mega-cheddah on the secondary markets. Every few days a little notice will pop up : Hey kids, there are only ten copies left of Satan’s Zombie Ate My Gramma so you’d better set eighty bucks aside!
I can’t bring myself to ever buy a limited edition. I can’t understand why anyone else would want to buy one either.
Whenever I’m out in public I see people reading books. Like anyone, I read the covers. I’ve only ever seen two horror authors read by the general public - King and Koontz. No one else, save for the one time I saw a young woman with World War Z. King and Koontz are the biggest names in the biz, and take up entire shelves. Incidentally, the other two space-takers in the shelves of bookstores (at least in Canada) are women: Kelly Armstrong and Laurell K. Hamilton. All four sell a tonne of books, and their books are easy to find.
I understand that the industry is suffering, that it’s hard to get on those shelves in the first place, and hence the mail-order, small-press route many authors are taking. But… why not ebooks? Why not cheap physical books that are made cheaply and ship fast? Why the necessity to guarantee that your reader’s have received a book that no one else will be able to read? I think books should be made available for anyone who wants to buy them, but that’s just me. I like to think there’s a place for the reader that no one talks about - the guy who wants a quick and easy horror book for the weekend. When done, it will be either given away or lost under that bed amid the dust-bunnies and old plates.
I can see the logic: if a books comes out in limited numbers, and there is no way to read it in any other form save by that limited, numbered edition bound in pixie-hide, then your primitive brain tells you that it must be something special. Yet whenever I’ve read a borrowed copy, or read the previous incarnation of a book that has become a collector’s-item re-release of a classic horror novel, I’ve been unimpressed. I get the feeling that if you dusted the mystery off this book that has rarified itself to near archeological status, it wouldn’t stand a chance next to King or Koontz.
So what are we buying when we buy a book that is designed to become a collectible, much like those plates or coins you see on the infomercials? I have no idea. I’d rather just read a good book.
Saturday, 10 December 2011
I can’t wait to see Shame. I’ve heard opposing reviews - it’s slow, arty, it’s about subject that we’ve become far too prudish about; it’s brilliant, brave, about a subject we’ve become too unhealthily obsessed about.
It’s about sex addiction, and thank God someone has made a movie about it. I’ve seen movies about alcoholism, drug addiction, and even gambling addiction, but never legitimate sex addiction. It’s high time someone’s tackled it, brought it out into the open. I’d love for people to see this movie and maybe ask if they see parts of themselves staring back.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about addiction - how to solve it, what causes it. What I keep hearing is this - you become more addicted when the supply is readily accessible and cheap.
Let’s talk about porn. When I was a teenager, my friends and I had to walk across town and find the one East Indian corner store that rented VHS porn. You had to pay real money to see porn. You brought it home; it was a big, square piece of hollow black plastic, and we had to keep it safe. You had to hide it someplace away from your parents. When you and your friends nervously watched the stuff, you had to keep your hand on the remote in case your mother wandered downstairs in her nightgown to see just what the hell you all were doing. And then, when you were done and it was the next day, you had to bring that tape back to the store. You had to rent, carry, hide, and then return pornography by a certain date. Porn was like a library book. Think on that for a moment.
I can’t quite explain the pre-internet, corporeal nature of porn. You had to rent the stuff, or search around in your dad’s closet where he kept it in an old suitcase. Your dad’s porn was the strangest porn: glossy European magazines where skinny men with moustaches and black socks fucked dishwater blonde girls who never stopped smiling as though they were smelling strudel straight from the oven. My own dad had all those magazines locked away alongside something called The Anarchist’s Cookbook (19171), which taught you how to make bombs, grow marijauna, pick locks, and hack old payphones. Porn took trouble to acquire and keep, caused trouble when it was found, and was hard to find if you were underage.
Then the internet arrived. ASCII code could be converted into pictures. Porn was free, and for the first time, we found that freedom had nothing to do with cost. Porn was released, free to meet other porns and have pornlets. Porn had had it pretty rough before; it was once trapped in steaming, sticky theatres, forced into hardcore labor rooms where the doors were hung with seedy beads, kidnapped and held for ransom in the sun-baked California warehouses.
Now it’s confusing. No one pays for porn, but yet the stuff is still being made. I can order it on my cable pay-per-view, but what would be the point of that? Porn is everywhere. It’s easy to find, to acquire, effortless to store in the limitless and Stygian depths of our computers. Yes, we all leave massive, day-glo, virtual computer porn trails like we were massive and horny slugs, and we would be fucked if a computer tech were to go over our hard drives. But what are the odds of a cyber CSI team confiscating our machines? There are billions of us!
Which leads me back to Shame, and what it might mean for us. One of our most potent drugs is free of both cost and risk; our kids are consuming it at twelve and younger. Porn is part and parcel of sex addiction.This movie could start a conversation.
I’m not anti-sex; I’m not going to be like Ted Bundy on the eve of his execution and conveniently blame everything on porn; I won’t suggest we start banning desires. But this movie could at least, much like the pro hockey discussion still in its infancy about concussion, start us talking about this massive and interconnected beehive of masturbation stations, and what it means for the brains of our future generations.