Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ten Thoughts on “Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell” – 1968





So Hulu has all these Criterion releases, most of which I have zero interest in watching, but with a title like “Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell”, how could I resist!

1. This is my kind of movie. Low budget and schlocky, with a twisted black heart. What will shock you is how nihilistic it is, while at the same time being really corny. It’s like Guernica done in Crayola.

2. The location is brutal. The characters are in a downed passenger jet in the middle of a barren desert. It looks like a Mad Max wasteland, but with lots of Styrofoam rock slides. People are being baked in this metal tube and every time they step outside a rock falls on them or a space vampire tries to give them a hickey. Rough times.

3. The alien is parked in the desert in this plastic UFO, and that’s pretty great...


 ...but the way it turns people into vampires is marvelous and will make you want to throw up. A very convincing special effect goes down that wasn’t just good for the time period, but good for the ages. It’s so effective and cool and weird. It’s one of those great culty moments that give iffy movies big reputations. I'm not going to show it here, you're just going to have to watch the movie. Don't google it. Don't!

4. The aliens seem to base their technology on lava lamps and psychedelic light shows. The inside of the UFO looks like a 1980's Steak Restaurant. I kept wondering if my table was ready.

I should have called ahead.
When the aliens rob you of your humanity you do this tortured agony dance that had to be an inspiration for the Tetsuo Iron Man Boogie.

Same as it ever was.


5. The film stock adds to the retro shag carpet appeal. 1960s Fujicolor. Maybe a cinematographer could let me in on why movies of the period look so fantastic. Nowadays cheap schlock looks like garbage, but back then cheap schlock looked like real movies.

Ohhhh, the colors!

"Mind if I borrow that?" - Kill Bill

6. Similar to Night of the Living Dead where trapped characters spend the whole movie bickering with each other. Civility is gone the moment they are thrown into crisis. Both movies came out the same year, but this wasn’t released state side until ’77 to ‘79 depending where you look it up. I would say the biggest difference would be that instead of an army of zombies, you get one split faced creepy guy. He’s still pretty menacing.

7. My favorite character moment is the sadistic glee that the psychiatrist takes in watching people fall apart. People just don’t have these moments in American movies.

Very constructive, thank you.
8. The movie has a cool James Bond influence with the lead bad guy, who looks like he should work for Specter. He does have a split face most of the run time, but besides that… you know.

Sayonara, Mr. Bond.

9. Interesting that political and domestic terrorists figure into the plot so strongly. Da more things change… badda badda boom!

10. If you were going to watch this as a double feature, I would say match it with either Lifeforce or The Blob (‘58 version). Both big amoebas and space vampires show up in Goke, so take your pick. However, Goke vampires tend to be less naked than the Lifeforce variety. Just saying.

You can get with this...
Image result for lifeforce
... or you can get with that.
One final thing. You should compare the ending shots of this with the opening credits of Mars Attacks. It will give you that “Planet of the Vampires” feeling.

Same as it ever was.
Same as it ever was.



FIGHT EVIL
Sam Drog

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Ten Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens


I’ll try not to spoil anything, but you should run go see the movie before reading this. It’s great. That’s my short review. It’s great. Go see it. See it lots. Below is just some rambling. I don’t remember people’s names. Sorry in advance.

1.  Harrison Ford. Oh man Harrison Ford is so good in this, brings his chops, brings Han Solo awesomeness, brings it. It was everything that the return of  Indiana Jones wasn’t. In fact, maybe my favorite scene is him telling his stance on the Jedi and the force and all that mumbo jumbo. Loved that scene and it also serves as a fix for the Chrystal Skull where you needed to see how life changed and bent him over the years.

2.  Speaking of acting, no one sucks. Everyone is in the spirit, looking alive and having fun. It was joyful. Living breathing people that you wanted to hang around for 2 hours. No Space C-SPAN in this one.

3. Funny! Remember when Star Wars movies had a sense of humor? Well they do again!

4. Very nostalgic. This movie is a big sloppy kiss to the first movie. The plot hits the same notes with little spins. JJ is the first Star Wars director to have grown up watching Star Wars, probably wanted to make movies because of Star Wars, and his twiterpation locks this movie in to the exuberant fanboy geekery zone. That keeps it from breaking new ground or going places the movies haven’t gone before, but it is a solid iteration of all that we love about those first three movies.

5. I loved the struggles of conscience the evil characters have. The Darth Vader 2.0 Guy has a great quiet scene in his chamber, kind of a “to be or not to be” moment, that I really dug. Same with the shell shocked storm trooper. It’s a very optimistic view of the world that the antagonists are just as unsure of themselves as the heros. The dark side here is played as some sort of creepy cult that will steel your babies away. I liked that angle.

6.  The female lead in this is great. Liked the mummy costume. A good guy in a Star Wars movie with a British accent? That’s not right! I’m going to let it slide. 

7. Deathstar 3.0 is a gas guzzler.

8. Big planet blows up, my kid cries and asks “Is Jar Jar okay?”  Look, you raise your kids the best you can, but you have to let them be their own people at some point. Generation gap is a go.

9. So the scene on the bridge. I was a Teenage Darth Vader. Sure, I got verklempt. Held it together but not going to lie. I have wanted to see Harrison Ford be in scenes like this for a long time. After Cowboys and Aliens and The Chrystal Skull, I thought he’d lost it. He is back and the bridge scene, man that gave me the feels pretty hardcore. Wow. See number 1.

10. But the last scene, I couldn’t even talk afterwards. I would have liked one more little thing, a moment, but that is nitpicking. I won’t nitpick, because the moment we’re given is wonderful, we see so much pathos and regret and uncertainty in the eyes…  it’s a great moment. I rambled about it in the car trip home and my throat kept catching. Phew.

Bonus: Loved the Space Nazi Rally scene with the crazy Hitler speech. Who hasn’t wanted to see that in a Star Wars movie?


Nutshell: Fury Road, Jurassic World, and this prove that your awesome childhood wasn’t a complete hallucination.

FIGHT EVIL
Sam Drog

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Don't Mention the Toupee



Scooping grave dirt with hands the size of platters, Raymond the Ghoul dug for his dinner. The full moon lit this nightly ritual, and the ground gave easily as a fresh corpse had been planted earlier that day.

Under the moon’s silver light, Raymond could now see his skullish features reflected off the uncovered polished wooden casket. He wasn’t a bad looking monster, in fact his mom used to call him cute, but Raymond had never been happy with himself.

Opening the casket was a cinch with hands and strength such as Raymond’s. His body nothing but exposed bone, vein, and sinew. All protein diet. His stomach rumbling now. You learn to appreciate the tang of formaldehyde. Eventually you crave it.

The tender body lay before him. Rumble. An old grey man in a well-tailored suit. What strength his flesh would give him. How his bones would crunch under his teeth, how his… what is this? Such a magnificent thatch of brown upon his waxen wrinkled head!

Raymond returned to the underworld with a full belly and a polyester mane perched on his bony brow. The gremlins and goblins would snicker, but Raymond walked too high to hear.

SDROG

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Random Review: It Follows (2014)




Do I have anything to add to the conversation going on about this movie? The synth score, the beautiful cinematography, naturalistic performances. The horror community is falling all over themselves for this movie. Me fangushing all over the internet will only add to the numbing collective shriek that surrounds this movie. Screw it. Here it comes.

I was not expecting to like this. There has been so much hype around it I was growing suspect. I heard the soundtrack was interesting, but some horror fans I trust saw it and were underwhelmed. I stayed away in the theater. Hype machine isn’t going to get me this time! I should have gone to see it in the theater. Those wide shots would have been nice on the big screen.

The big influence that people throw at this is John Carpenter. Sure, it has some of his play book going on, and I appreciate that. Carpenter is my main guy and when I see people send love his way I’m happy, but what I saw while watching was Brian DePalma by way of Dario Argento. The shots were so well choreographed ala DePalma, with the long pans slowly building tension and telling the story through the visuals. The vivid colors and stylistic lighting choices reminded me of European horror. The dream logic of this world reminded me of Argento on a good day.

What grounded this wild premise was the authenticity of the protagonists. The young adults dealing with this problem are so normal, so comfortable with each other, I never doubted they’d been friends since childhood. They had a calm ease that comes from being friends for a long time. They seemed to really care and love one another, their personalities blending, and they liked hanging back and playing dumb card games or watching dumb movies just because they liked being in each other’s presence. So many movies have the most unlikely friends. The jock, nerd, basket case, princess, and criminal usually don’t run in the same circles. In most horror movies they have one stereotype of each group represented, and I always wonder what they have in common and how they suffer each other. In some movies, all friends do is argue and needle one other. I watch some movies and think, “Are these people really friends? They seem to hate each other!”

Is the synth soundtrack awesome? Yes. Did it take me out of the movie? Sometimes. Why? Because it was so aggressively weird that you had to stop and pay attention to it. During the movies big moments, it was perfect, driving the scenes with a perfect accompaniment, but during the quiet scenes, I was listening to the sound track more than watching the movie.

Just to desecrate this temple a little more. The invisible man final confrontation was more funny than scary. If you are going to make this monster have a physical presence, then why hasn’t anyone locked it up in a box by now? I’m no fun. Never mind.

I am predisposed to like this movie as I’ve had this same anxiety in my life. In my case it was a floating metallic sphere, like a robotic eyeball, that was slowly tracking me and always coming closer. Eventually it would catch up to me and do me in. I also believe that everyone has “The Giant Dump Truck of Suck” that is always backing up to eventually dump on them “The Big Sucky Thing” that they will have to deal with in their lives. Some people get the truck as infants, some live charmed lives until they’re old and feeble, but we all get our own personal "Sucky Thing" eventually doled out.

This brings me to what I think the movie is about and why I think it has become so popular. This movie is about our silly lives and all the futile stuff we do to stave off death or keep from thinking about it. By having sex, you are embracing life but at the same time you are biologically acknowledging your own mortality. At the base level, we want to survive death; we want to live on in some way past our allotted years. Death will wipe us out, but maybe having an offspring will keep some part of us on this earth a little longer. Or maybe creating something, a scratch on the wall, will keep us around after we’re gone. We also need to keep our minds off the slowly approaching oblivion. Watching movies, playing cards, going to the beach, falling in love, living busy lives filled with noise, all an attempt to drown out the endless, infinite silence that is on a steady and certain interception with us. I feel that the movie hits some primal part of our lizard brains that knows all this fighting to get another day of sun is ultimately pointless. In the end, like in the movie, we bond with someone, we find a mate, we blur our identities (the two main characters have on matching outfits in the end), we cling to one another and throw parties and wait out the rest of our days together. Doesn’t change anything. Death is always coming. It always wins. This movie is about the trivial little things we do while we wait for it to show up. It’s a downer, depending how you look at it, but it is an honest meditation on the subject, and like The Babadook before, it is a great metaphor for how real horror is never defeated, but eventually accepted as a natural part of existence.


Note to the reader, I am turning forty in a few weeks so I may be enjoying a midlife morbidity phase. Sorry about that.

FIGHT EVIL
Sam Drog

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Monday, July 06, 2015

SKETCH GUTTER: Squat





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Sam Drog

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sketch Gutter: Teenagers



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Sam Drog

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Friday, May 22, 2015

SKETCH GUTTER: Cup o Joe.




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Sam Drog

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pig's Good Day


We should eat animals, but, show them a good time first. We have broken a sacred trust with these animals. The cow, the chicken, sheep, and duck. Factory farms are an abomination. A $.99 cheeseburger is not worth the cruelty.100 chicken nuggets for five dollars is a joke. No respect for life there. Yes, eat an animal, just don't be such a jerk about it.

My ideal would be this. All animals are allowed to live on that perfect farm we all have in our heads, implanted there from watching cartoons. Red barn. White fence. Hills of green sun-kissed pastures and shady trees. All farmers should have straw hats, blue overalls, and should at all times have a stalk of wheat tucked in the side of their mouths. In this environment, animals are allowed to roam and play. Meet someone special. Fall in love. Have some babies.

Only after that, as say the pig grows to middle-age and is content to rest under a tree in a cool puddle of mud, do we send in the counselor. The counselor is expected, the pig knew this day would come, but it is okay. The counselor sits with the pig and through some sort of technology that has yet to be invented, talks with the pig about its life, are there any regrets he has, anything left undone?

With this information, the counselor takes the pig out for the time of its life! No dream left unfulfilled! A festival of dancing and song and clandestine rendezvous. Pure magic. A lifetime of joy crammed into 12 hours.

Then, as the sun sets on the farm, pig and counselor sit on the high hill and watch the sky turn a golden vibrant pink and orange, like fire painted across the heavens. The counselor holds the pig's hoof, asks if the pig had a good day. The pig watches the sunset. A tear forms and its eye, making it sparkle, and the pig takes a breath, and says, "This was the most perfect day of…" He never finishes. A man in a long black coat, wearing black leather gloves has been standing behind him the whole time, waiting for this moment. A pistol with silencer pointed to the back of the pig's skull. "This was the most perfect day of… " The trigger pulled. It's all over. The pig sleeps. That is how bacon should be made.


SD

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stay Stupid


Stay stupid. That's my advice. Go not into those hallowed halls of knowledge. Do not wander into the enlightenment. Dumb is better. Wonder is better. Making your own answers is better. Connect the dots with any uninformed magic line you can draw. The more ungrounded in reality the better. Don't end up like me.


Sure, I was like you. I wanted answers. I wanted facts. I needed measurements, and charts, and graphs. Show me a picture, write me a book. It didn't matter how big or small the subject. I had to look, know, feel it. The world owed me an explanation, and I got it. Oh boy. Now look at me!


The body changes. You are not the you from yesterday. No. The same name, the same shoes, the same clothes. But all that you learn takes you further from yourself, and deeper into the mad dangerous visions of strangers. Strangers with strange minds get in and blanket your brain with all those measurements, and facts, and biographical histories. Whatever your brain had tried to grow is now smothered. The light cannot reach you anymore. The wind is blocked by the rabble of expert opinions. A neat and tidy facade covering the great unknowable.


In such a poisonous environment, the body will change. Each little fact working and distorting. The cells will change. Every seven years the cells have replaced themselves. Who are you? Whose ideas have nurtured your new growth?


Sure, this brand of mine is a tower. This skull of mine fortress. The cells multiplied to accommodate all the new strangers who moved in. A tenement. I'm never lonely. But to look at the night and know terror again. To eat hard candy with the same relish as I do steak. To look and not know. What I wouldn't do to have that back.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Underbite



Moved to Hollywood. Got dreams, Baby. Going to be seeing lots of me. Get ready. I am the cypher that gives you hope, happiness, belief in self. Doing what I do on that big screen, gives you strength to do what you do. You inspire me, old salt, so I inspire you.

Agent said "Great, great, great, but fix that underbite. Nobody wants to dream through a snaggle toothed werewolf." It hurt, but I'm thick skinned. Gotta be in this biz. I took his reference, made an appointment, sat in the waiting room, and read Wired Magazine until the nurse called me back.

Oh and ah is what the nurse said feeling around my gumline. Oh and me is what the orthodontist said running gloves over my jaw. Not going to be cheap. Not going to be easy. Lot of pain involved. A lot of tears. No Insurance? A lot of bills. 

I never went to college. This would be my education. Pass through the membrane. Blast the hole with credit. Doing what you love takes sacrifice. What would Daniel Boone do it faced with reconstructive dental surgery?

They broke my jaw. Off. Accident they said. Accidents happen. More surgeries. More money. Couldn't audition. Face wrapped in drool soaked gauze. Couldn't read lines. They hammered and sawed on my face. Months and months. I worked stock jobs, mail rooms. Out of the spotlight. Painful to be in the shadows. 

Doc got me straight, though he could never completely erase the underbite. Threw in a free whitening. Agent didn't recognize me at first, but now, I have auditions lined up for weeks. The head shots don't lie.  The underbite gives me character, humanity, approachability. Perfection doesn't sell Pepsi.

Friday, May 08, 2015

I-Snail


I don't splurge on myself. Like to keep my money. Post consumer, that's me. Give me silence. That's all I need. Sleep and silence. However, when I heard that Apple had released the first wearable quantum computer, how could I resist?

I owed myself a luxury. This is why I work all these long hours, right? To indulge once in a while is fine. Is healthy. Is human. So off to the I-Store I went.

The line stretched out through the mall's double doors into the parking lot. The time was 5 AM. Everyone had been anticipating this latest advancement in personal bionic enhancement for years. Now, the day was here.

By noon, I had passed through the wide mouth of the I-Store. A genius took my measurements and asked how I would like my unit configured. I told him that I wanted to know what everyone's opinion of me was at all times of the day. If someone thought about me, I wanted to know. But only the positive. Please block all constructive criticism. Also, if I could listen to music, that would be great.

The genius smiled at me and then took a shiny white crate down from its high shelf. "Now once this goes on", he said, "there's no turning back." I thanked him, and kept thanking him, all the while he wrapped me in heavy black plastic. I am now a proud owner, if you couldn't tell, of an I-Snail. It even has a calendar.


Fight Evil
SD

Thursday, May 07, 2015

JABBER: Office Drone




I wake up. Drink coffee. Comb my hair. Make polite conversation with the mirror. Practice smiling. Think about a word for the day. One word can start me on a new train. Nothing pops up. The books are empty upstairs.

First one in the office. Janitors just leaving. The air-conditioning is so loud when no one is here. It's like being in the sinuses of a whale practicing yoga. Exhale. I still don't have a word for the day. Exasperate? Nope.

Boss arrives. High fives the team and then calls me to her desk. She asks if I slept in the office again. No I say. Just got here early. Very early. She wants to know what I do all morning. I don't tell her about my word of the day. The mirror conversation. The deafening air conditioner. This and that is what I tell her. Still no word. Interrogation? No. That won't help me.

Lunch shows up, but I can't eat. My coworkers run out for sandwiches. I stay in. Too many choices on the menus. I stick to the vending machine. 803. Cheetos. I have Cheetos at 2 PM. Not doing that is as bad as not having a word.

Blowtorch. Is that two words? It will have to do. The train starts. I hop on. Faster and faster it barrels down the tracks. Blowtorch. All aboard. I feel the wind in my hair as I stick my head out the window. I can't hear the air conditioner over the whipping mountain wind around me. Blowtorch sets me free. The day ignites with color.

FIGHT EVIL
Sam Drog


Monday, May 04, 2015

Sketch Gutter: Baby On Bot





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Sam Drog

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

SKETCH GUTTER: Zombie



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Sam Drog

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sketch Gutter: Crawler




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Sam Drog

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sketch Gutter: Cyclops On File




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Sam Drog

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

SKETCH GUTTER: I, Snail

Sir Anthony Hopkins, in the role that made him famous.


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Sam Drog

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

SKETCH GUTTER: Bag Head



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Sam Drog

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SKETCH GUTTER: Alien Tribe Warrior



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Sam Drog

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Monday, April 20, 2015

SKETCH GUTTER: Slump





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Sam Drog

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

SKETCH GUTTER: Beak Face



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Sam Drog

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

SKETCH GUTTER: PICK IT!





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Sam Drog

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Friday, April 17, 2015

SKETCH GUTTER: No Surprises Please




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Sam Drog

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