Sunday, April 22, 2018

Infect Your Kids With Movies Day

One of the biggest pains of being a movie nut with kids is that you really want to show them these important movies you grew up with, and more times than not, they are completely resistant to sitting and watching some old dusty science fiction movie with fakey special effects. They would much rather watch a 3 hour YouTube video of someone playing a video game.

I have found that if one of their YouTubers talks about one of my 80s classics, all of a sudden they will run up to me rearing to see something that in the past they had refused to even watch five minutes. This weekend the tide finally turned for Raiders of the Lost Ark! I had tried numerous time to show this to the boy and the elder girl, to no luck. The DVD slowly and sadly going back in the box as they run back to their precious Roblox videos.

So with Cameron's interest peaked, I wasted no time and put on the disk and cranked up the sound. The whole family piled in and we got through the whole thing and all had a great time. Sarah the elder did keep her phone out, peeking up occasionally, but that is expected. She at least came out of her room to participate.

It's been a while since I had watched it, and man I still love this movie. It holds up. It may be perfect, and it also brings to mind the dozens of rip-offs that it inspired that could not capture that same energy and imagination. The kid's reactions were great.

Abbie my youngest is a lot of fun to watch movies with because she gets so into them and is very vocal about her feelings. When Indy and Marion kiss on the ship, she sighs like it is the most romantic thing she has ever seen, until it goes on too long and then she's like, "Yuck!" There were some gory scenes I tried to cover her eyes on, like Marion getting covered in rotting cadavers in the Well of Souls scene, but she pulled my hand away and said: "That's not scary, that's dumb."

The big finally with the fire columns and the melting Nazi's, also showed no signs of trauma. The kids all braced themselves with my warning that things were about to get gross, but when the faces came running down off the bones, they snickered and said it looked like a crayon man. Cam at least was impressed. 

Cam's big reaction was at the end when the Ark meets its final resting place. The room was split on if that was the right ending. I love it to death, it's perfect. Cam was outraged! They went through all that for nothing!?! It blew his mind a bit. I laughed. Later I asked him if the movie was as good as he thought it would be, and he said that it was 1000 times better.

So this was a big win for Dad. With the original trilogy, Jurassic Park, and now Raiders in their minds, I think we have hit at least the most basic of bases that I would feel I had failed them if I had not shown them these while they were still impressionable.

On a side note, I did have my first spontaneous Star Wars geek conversation with Cam last night, over the prequels versus the sequels. I was telling him about the other Indy movies and said there is a fourth one that he can skip, that it is fine, but doesn't measure up to the first three. Kind of like the prequels. And Cam was shocked, said come on, the Pod Race in episode one was awesome. I agreed but said that was all the movie had going for it, besides the Darth Maul fight. He asked me if I like Rogue One.  I said it was okay. He laughed, "Ha, see you do like a prequel!"  I liked the ending battle and the Vader rampage, basically, until the last 40 minutes, I was bored. He loved the horizon lifting up and becoming a solid tidel wave of destruction. It was a great two-sided conversation.

These are little victories I bookmark with Cam, where I think if he can learn to be as calm and communicative with other people as he is with me, maybe he'll be fine out there in the world. Usually, in groups he is completely oblivious to other people his age, even if they try to speak with him and befriend him, he'll ignore and wander away. I remember being similar at his age. He's not concerned about it, so I try to follow his lead. He's been saddled with the most anti-social dad on the planet, so I get it.

FIGHT EVIL
Sam Drog

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

5x5: No Small Parts


Note: 5x5 is a new thing, super short stories with a quick illustration, Five paragraphs with five sentences, written at 5 in the morning before work. Thanks! -SD





Opening night and my stomach cramping, my mind racing. Spinning. What is my line? When do I come in . 6 weeks of preparation, gone. Not that I had much to do. Act three. Last Line. “Who ordered the fish.” Or was it steak? Or was it shark?

Dress rehearsal, I did great! Well, didn’t forget my line at least. A sneezing fit did come over me, announcing my entrance a good three minutes before I stepped out. Finally, with my sinuses under control, I entered with my tray and prop entre. Who ordered the… and then, Ah Chew! Again. Rapid fire. Again and again. It took forever to get the fish out of my mouth.

Three hours, that’s how long the play runs, and I had nothing to do for those three hours but think. Stand in the back. Relax. Don’t think. And I didn’t,  but the more I didn’t, the more I did. My hands fidgeting, and when I fidget, I snap. My fingers. Just to dispel the energy. The play was rolling, the audience seated in the dark and Julie, who I loved, was on her fifth monologue, the second most sad one. Darryl, our stage manager, heard the clicky-clack coming from my dark corner and rushed over. “Knock it off!”, he whispered. So I poisoned him.

The syringe was between my teeth and it only took a second. No lights back here, and just as I  rehearsed, slid the needle in, right of the breastplate, and pushed down the plunger. The mixture of Drano of pet tranquilizer was more effective than I had imagined. Like magic. Now you see him breathing, now you don’t.

The night progressed as such. Actors stepping off stage, moving to the sides, where I would be, waiting with my needle. I had enough medicine for the entire theater, including the audience, but this was a modest production, I had modest ambitions. Even so, by act three it was Julie alone on stage, trying to finish the play with no one to answer her lines, finishing her own conversations. She never broke character and I never came out to deliver my line and signal the end of the play. Julie held her pose until the lights awkwardly dimmed to black.

FIGHT EVIL
Sam Drog

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Clown Versus Monkey - Part Five!

Yes! It is true! The experiment continues!







FIGHT EVIL

Sam Drog



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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Clown Versus Monkey Update!

Yep, CvM keeps on getting chipped away at on nights and weekends. It is my version of a train set that some dad's fill the back room with. A little here, a little there. Life comes in and makes you pay attention to your environment, but you always have this little voice in the back of your head telling you to get back to the train set.

So below is the chart for Episode 5. Four little blocs to fill in on the spreadsheet and then I will push this out to the nets. A digital bottle thrown into the big information ocean, were it can bob around a few decades and then one day, maybe someone will click on it and say, "Wha?"






FIGHT EVIL
Sam Drog

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Ten Rambling Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)





1. Destiny. I happened to have the day off and wasn't planning on seeing it today. The plan was to wait a week or two and then go on some random Tuesday when the kids were out of school on break. Just ease in, no pressure. I'm a grown up. I can wait. I've been through some lean years and some mean years. Just being off is great, I can sit and think and finish off the last 5000 pages of 'It'.

2. Got the kids on the bus and made some eggs for Stephanie and me. We were sitting and drinking coffee. She asked me what I planned on doing with the day. I shrugged, "Absolutely nothing. Why ruin a perfectly good day off by doing something?" She was going to record a hypnosis session, so needed the house quiet. "Why don't you go see the new Star Wars movie?"

3. All that sober maturity flew out of me. With shaking hands, I fumbled my phone and checked the showtimes.  Why am I sweating? There! There was an 8:30 AM show! 2D IMAX! Assigned seating, there would be no way I was going to get a good seat. But! I was going alone. Right in the middle of the theater, a single chair remained. You believe in fate, boy? Drove to the theater in a frenzy. A Star Wars soundtrack mix playing on the car speakers. What if the car breaks down? What if I get a call that a kid is sick and needs to be picked up from school? My head spun with all the possibilities that could go wrong that would keep me from making this screening.

4. But I made it. Sat right between two couples in my black hoody, the creepy Star Wars loner. The waves of geek radiating off me blistered their skin. I was in nuclear meltdown mode. It happens every Star Wars opening day. I think I'm going to be cool, but I never am. There is this hope that you are going to be transported, but even if it ends up being terrible, this movie will go on to generate hours upon hours of conversation. Complaining about The Phantom Menace has bridged generations and peoples from every continent. Whatever the outcome of The Last Jedi, it will merge into the shared consciousness that all fans are a part of. It's sick and sad, and I know I'm being pandered to by big business, but Star Wars movies are my Pavlov's bell. That first trilogy ruined me and I keep going in the hope of feeling a little awe again.

5. Did I like it? Gut reaction? I loved it. Loved it! Rogue One left me cold. It was better on rewatch, but I left that screening feeling gross and used. Force Awakens? I liked it a lot, and it was better than the prequels, but I've had no interest in watching it again after that first time. I don't own it. It was fine, but it told you everything you wanted to hear and didn't break any new ground. A beat for beat remake of  A New Hope wasn't what I was looking for. But it wasn't as bad as the prequels, so that seemed like a miracle. The Last Jedi is on par with Return of the Jedi, maybe better. Nah, nothing is the original trilogy. Those are burnt into my DNA. But for post-1983 Star Wars, this is the best.

6. The characters are so likable and charismatic. Just the type of people you would see in a Pepsi commercial. I like being around well adjusted charismatic people, even if they are make-believe. They seem so freakish to me. It's like I'm watching a freak show. How are these people so cute and lovable. What happened to them to make them so amiable? Yeesh. Darkness. They look like JC Penny back to school catalog models playing spaceman. My mind boggles that they grow people like this. Actors are like unicorns.

7. Thanks to the internet, filmmakers are now directly bombarded by vicious nerds who fill their Twitter feeds with anger and bile and nitpicky criticism. And like an end of year performance review, the producers tabulate this data and form a plan to improve before the next evaluation. Some of the dialog in The Last Jedi sounds like transcripts of disgruntled fans bashing The Force Awakens. Characters mention Kylo Ren being an annoying angsty brat and his goofy helmet. They complain that Ray had never held a lightsaber but was able to defeat him in battle. All the internet jabs at The Force Awakens are given lip service here. It is odd. It's like getting an apology letter from a restaurant that you wrote a bad comment card on. "Sorry you had a bad experience, please come back for some free Jalapeno Poppers."

8. It doesn't sound like I liked it. But I did. I loved it. It is so well paced. Some Star Wars movies have this middle bulge where they plod along and it takes forever to get the story back into the groove before the final battle. None of that here. It has a great beat and rhythm and tells an interesting story filled with failure and hardship, and it was new enough where I wasn't sure how it was all going to work out at the end. And when it gets to the climax, I was terrified they were going to pull the rug out from under me and not give me an ending, to save it for the next one, but nope, they wrapped it up enough so you don't feel that end of Empire TO BE CONTINUED moment. I was in Star Wars heaven for 95 percent of the movie. It has the best opening of them all. One person against impossible odds. And Rose, a new character, is fantastic.

9. Seeing the story of what happened to Luke after Return and to have Mark Hamill own the screen again, it all felt so good. No longer the blond-haired pretty boy, to see Luke as a grizzled old has been, who has seen all that he fought for fall apart. To have that millstone of regret hanging on him, like Kenobi did in A New Hope, that is the best. It is Mark Hamill's movie. I wish he was in it more. Possible Spoiler!!!!.....

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DON'T READ...(Yoda is in this, and it's a puppet, and the scene with him and Luke is movie gold, best part of the movie)....  DON'T READ 


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End of spoilers.


10. The funniest thing that happened was after the movie I walked to the next door sandwich shop for lunch. I placed my order and scanned the store and saw two other members of the black t-shirt gang also waiting. One wore a Force Awakens shirt. These two other's were not together, but as we waited for our food, I asked if t-shirt guy had just seen the movie, and he had, and I asked if he was okay. The other guy jumped in and we all had lunch together and unpacked the movie. It was random and funny. We didn't give names or facebook pages, we just shared our geeky enthusiasm as we ate and then went our separate ways. A perfect thirty minute impromptu Star Wars fanclub meeting. That is what's so cool about Star Wars. It is a common language. If you and that perfect stranger are both down with the force, you can talk for hours. For fans, a person's politics or religion or what they do for a living is irrelevant. A common love for Yoda bridges all gaps.  Star Wars, bringing maladjusted introverts together since 1977.


Just because it's the internet, here are a few angry nerd nitpicks. Possible coded spoilers.

- How fast can a fleet of star destroyers go?

- They don't have scanners on the bottom of their ships?

- Carpenter did that in Escape from L.A.

- Did going to that rich planet advance the plot at all?

- How many AT-ATs does it take to blow up a half dozen land speeders?

- Hey, something just like this happened in the original trilogy! And this! And this!

But seriously folks, the movie is awesome. See dat movie!


FIGHT EVIL
Sam Drog

Clown Versus Monkey! Check It Out Here!

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Ten Things I Noticed Rewatching The Terminator (1984)


I went to Wallyworld tonight and saw The Terminator Blu-Ray for 5 bucks which is my kind of cheap. The first one is my favorite. It is scrappy and doesn't waste a second. The movie is perfection when it comes to pace and editing, and it spawned one million rip offs and sequels, none of which are this good. It's 80's animated lighting in a bottle, and everything that can be said, has been said, but here are a few things I noticed for the first time on this rewatch.

1. Brian Thompson is one of the street punks in the beginning that is killed by Arnold. Never noticed that. I knew Bill Paxton was the ""couple cans short of a six pack" guy, but Brian Thompson? Looking pretty normal before roiding out in Cobra two years later.

Known for his "less is more" performance style.
2. Never noticed that there are kids playing in the yard when Arnold kills the wrong Sarah Conner. Makes the scene that much more brutal.

Pretty sick, bro.

3. Michael Biehn is hysterical in this movie. He's terrible, but awesome. His interrogation by the shrink is his best moment, but his confession of love to Sarah Conner is creepy stalker cinema. I get it, John Conner was working over time in the future to get Kyle to fall in love with his mom, which is also creepy. "You think my mom is hot in this picture? I bet my mom would totally dig you." Using time travel to hook your mom up with your dad was its own sub-genre in the 80s.

4. Was Kyle shoving the pipe bombs into the duffel bag supposed to be subtle foreshadowing for the love scene coming up? That Cameron really knows how to set the mood.

Hinty McHint Hint
5. Was the Terminator's skin rotting and stinking up the already filthy hotel he was hiding in? Was Cameron justifying that the rubber Terminator head was looking pretty rubbery by turning it into a plot point? In the shot below, flies are crawling on his skin, and then the greasy janitor asks if he has a dead cat in there. If they are implying that the damaged flesh was diseased and putrid, what a cool little detail that was never developed in the sequels! Another reason I love the original the most.



6. When Sarah tells Paul Winfield that she is at the bar Tech Noir, the frumpy Lieutenant totally knows where she's talking about. Images of him decked out on a Saturday night, dancing roboticly to new wave hits will forever be in my head now.

7. The back and forth between Paul Winfield and Lance Henrickson is great. Lance keeps trying to tell a disturbing cop story and Paul keeps interrupting him. It's really funny. Never noticed it.

8. Who could have predicted that this guy would become such a linchpin of the series. He's in three of the five movies!?!?


9. The Terminator totally flinches when firing his weapon early in the movie. "Eek, that's so loud and flashy!"

10. When Kyle hot wires a car, he picks the absolute worst time to crank it up and tear out. After giving Sarah Conner his whole backstory and keeping cover for 20 minutes,  he doesn't make his move until the Terminator is 10 feet away! Unlucky bastard!

Wait for it... and NOW!

BONUS! I remember Dick Smith's murder being really graphic, but if you frame by frame it, this is all it is...

This and the meat hook scene in Texas Chainsaw. Best Editing Ever.


FIGHT EVIL
Sam Drog

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ten Rambling Reasons to See JIGSAW (2017)

Not in the movie.

Ten whole reasons?!? This may be tough, but here we go.

1. No better or worse then the rest of the Saw movies. If you liked the others, you'll like this one. If you are like me, and are baffled by the fact that you keep paying to go see them, even though you never walk out thinking that they are any good, this movie will give you that old Saw feeling.

2. Such a lost opportunity. The last Saw was seven years ago. Before that, the Saw machine cranked one out every year, year after year, from 2004 to 2010. It was a juggernaut, but by cranking them out so fast they never stopped to catch their breath to figure out what was working or not. They became the same four scenes played at random, for 90 minutes, repeated once a year. The four scenes are.

- Police Procedural (Look Scoob, I found a clue!)
- 10 Angry Men in a Factory (Let's stop fighting and start working together!)
- Jigsaw sulking in his lab (Uhhhh, metal shop rules)
- The Traps (why you bought the ticket)

This movie does nothing to change that formula.

3. Because it is so familiar, it felt like putting on some nice old shoes. Or getting hash browns at Waffle House. I got what I paid for. It had been a while, so it was nostalgic. Being let down by a Saw movie is part of the experience.

4. Lost opportunity, because by taking a break, they could have deconstructed these movies and figured out a way to give us something that hit the Saw notes, but subverted our expectations. We all know how these things work by now. By throwing us some curve balls, they could have given us, the constant viewers, something fun. But they made just another Saw movie.

5. I was happy to see Costas Mandylor gone, but they found the most Mandylorian(?) guy they could to fill the spot.

6. Evil morgue girl was great.

7. Unintentional Funny Moment One: Jigsaw, "A young man died because you sold him a motorcycle with no breaks. That young man was my nephew."

8.   Unintentional Funny Moment Two: In a room with cement walls, a character bumps into the wall and it visibly shakes. It's an Ed Wood moment.

9. Unintentional Funny Moment Three: The lady with postpartum depression is played in the most hamfisted after school special manner possible.

10. The acting in the "10 Angry Men in a Factory" scenes are "Unsolved Mysteries" reenactment level awesomeness. Some of the greatest reenacting I have seen all year. Worth watching, very powerful. Bulging Eyeballs, furrowed brows, yelling and spitting, acting like a rabid baboons. Fantastic.

Bottom Line. You waited 7 years. You hired the Spierig Brothers. You could have done something to freshen up before inviting us over. Cooked us something new instead of reheating last weeks leftovers. I don't blame the directors on this one. They consistently give us strong movies, but if you have seen any of the behind the feature docs on the other Saw movies, you know they crank these out in a way not conducive the creative thinking. The train is rolling, you have two weeks to get this thing shot. No time to think. Shoot as fast as you can and just survive it.

Bottom Line Two: All my complaints are the same that my parents said about Friday the 13th movies. So I fully accept that this is generational thing, and that it is now my time to be the angry guy. The only difference is that F13 movies are awesome, and Saw movies are stupid.

Bottom Line Three: Glad I went. It feels like Halloween when you go see a Saw movie. It's traditional. Never as good as it could be, but that's all part of it.

One more funny moment! These movies are known for their crazy kills. Drowning in corn may be the scariest thing ever put in a movie. Nothing ups the suspense like corn.

CORN! CORN! CORN!



FIGHT EVIL
Sam Drog

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