Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Flavorwire Essential Horror Films

Flavorwire.com has been posting weekly installments of a 50-movie list of "essential horror films". Their top 20:
1. Halloween (1978)
2. Psycho (1960)
3. Jaws (1975)
4. The Exorcist (1973)
5. Nosferatu (1922)
6. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
7. Dracula (1931)
8. The Shining (1980)
9. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
10. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
11. Alien
12. Suspiria
13. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
14. Black Christmas (1974)
15. Friday the 13th (1980)
16. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
17. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
18. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
19. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
20. Freaks
with the ones I've seen (11 out of 20) in bold print. I have Halloween, Jaws, The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, Suspiria, Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and A Nightmare on Elm Street on the shelf waiting their turn. There are so many of these lists. I wonder if anybody has ever collated a lot of them to see where the major points of agreement are. Surely someone has. I mean, this is the internet!

I think I must've gotten this link from SFSignal.com but have lost track of it while I was waiting for the final installment to post.

Scariest Science Fiction Films

ScienceFiction.com has a list of 10 scariest science fiction movies:
The War of the Worlds (1953)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) (but I've seen the 1978 remake)
Village of the Damned (1960)
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Alien (1979)
Scanners (1981)
The Terminator (1984)
Pitch Black (2000)
The Forgotten (2004)
District 9 (2009)
Contagion (2011)
Ones I've seen are in bold print. I have District 9 on my shelf, and I'm waiting until the used copies come down in price a bit more to buy Contagion. It's nice to see Pitch Black get some attention.

HT: SF Signal

Jigoku

Jigoku (Hell) is a 1960 Japanese horror film about Hell, offering graphic images of what is to come. The soundtrack is heavy on the jazzy percussive drama. I could swear I hear a theremin during the last 35 minutes or so.

We are all evil, and we are all doomed. Dooooomed.

I found this free at Hulu with commercials and watched it there. I can't find a trailer with subtitles, but here's a clip from the movie from TCM:



DVD Talk says,
Jigoku never heard of atonement. Its wailing songs and poetry preach only one lesson: We're all sinners, we're all damned, and there'll be Hell to pay. All humanity is marked by an Original Sin that cannot be erased.
Criterion says,
Shocking, outrageous, and poetic, Jigoku (Hell, a.k.a. The Sinners of Hell) is the most innovative creation from Nobuo Nakagawa, the father of the Japanese horror film.

Psycho Killer

Psycho Killer:



by Talking Heads. It's been covered by many an artist, including Phish, Peter Doherty and The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. I think the ukelele suits it:



better run...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

House (1977)

House (Hausu) is a 1977 Japanese horror film. I found it on Hulu's free list last week and watched it then. It is sooo strange. It reminds me of a Saturday morning children's show, filled with bright colors and happy giggly schoolgirls with cutesy descriptors instead of real names, and pretty bright blue skies with fluffy clouds, and a furry white cat named Blanche, and cheerful plinky-sounding music, and slapstick pratfalls, and scarves blowing gently in the breeze, and watermelons and bananas. Also death, dismemberment and blood. There's no attempt to achieve any kind of realism.

It seems to be available via Internet Archive:



but I didn't watch it there.

Moria says that Director Nobuhiko Obayashi "seems to have set out to make a kaidan eiga (or Japanese ghost story film) that is wacky and way-out as he possibly can" and that he
experiments with every cinematic technique in his arsenal – random freeze-frames, spiral effects, colour tints, cuts to black-and-white stock, the screen forming into gauzed-out hearts and circles or irising down to a small dot.
Slant Magazine concludes with this:
House, despite the claims, isn't really a horror movie; it's a dark cartoon of unfettered play, an attempt to directly channel budding teens' stream of consciousness .... House is successful in that aim, which means it's about equal parts brilliant, baffling, ridiculous, and unwatchable.
Fangoria says, "HOUSE is something truly special, a film that’s unique and mind blowing—and one whose qualities have not been tarnished by time." It has a score of 90% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Chipmunks on the Patio


Try as I might I haven't been able to get a picture of this little creature, running back and forth across the patio. She comes from the townhouse next door. I'm not sure if she's just passing through our patio or making her winter nest here someplace. One of their old entry spots was under the concrete pad our central unit sits on, and I kept filling it up with rocks until she finally gave that up. No telling where the access is now. We're assuming ours is an Eastern Chipmunk, and so I've used a Wikipedia picture of one of those at the top of this post.

The Tennessee Plateau blog says,
The genus name Tamias means “storer” and the species name Striatus means “striped”. That is the perfect name because this squirrel is a striped storer. They carry seeds and nuts in their expandable cheek pouches to underground storerooms for eating later.
I think they like the seeds and cover my wild sunflowers provide.


We've been enjoying watching the chipmunk carry things across the patio, then come back across, then carry something else across the patio. Reportedly, they don't actually hibernate in the winter but enter a period of torpor for several days at a time. Then they wake up to eat some of that stored food and go back to sleep. I remember a picture book the kids had when they were little that had a picture of a chipmunk all curled up in its underground burrow safe and warm for winter. Sweet. I imagine that's what our chipmunk is doing -storing up treats for winter.

Usually, they sound like birds chirping. When they're being attacked by a cat, they scream. It's horrible. We've heard it more than once, and it hurts. But cats don't know, do they? It's part of their nature to attack small furry moving creatures, and one can't fault them for it. You can hear some of the sounds they make here or watch the chipmunk calling:


Werewolves of London

Werewolves of London:



sung here by Warren Zevon. I hadn't realized many had covered this, but it has been done by others. Video is hard for me to find of their efforts. I can't imagine any of them top Zevon's rendition.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Love Potion No. 9

Love Potion No. 9:



a classic -yes, I did say "classic". The one embedded above is by The Searchers. Originally sung by The Clovers, it's also been covered by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, The Ventures, The Coasters, The Nylons and many others.

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage is a 1970 Dario Argento film, his first as director. The score is by Ennio Moriccone (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Battle of Algiers, Once Upon a Time in the West, Two Mules for Sister Sara, Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Thing (1982), White Dog, Red Sonja, Hamlet (1990), The Mission, The Untouchables (1987) and many others).

I have seen few films by this director and have heard that his earlier ones are a better introduction than his later movies. I'm not finding this one or Deep Red at all difficult to watch, and I do not like modern slashers.

via Daily Motion:


The Bird With Crystal Plumage by crazedigitalmovies

Slant Magazine says, "the film is arguably Argento's most Hitchcockian venture" and suggests that it "is perhaps best enjoyed by those new to Argento." Classic-Horror.com says, "Argento is a creative force to be reckoned with. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage proves that he has always been so." DVD Talk closes with this:
Crystal Plumage has its plot holes and unfair red herrings, but nothing we can't live with. Argento also requires a couple of extra scenes to wrap up his story, but otherwise his murderous movie machine is a winner.
Roger Ebert says, "It works mostly by exploiting our fear of the dark." Rotten Tomatoes scores it at 91%.

The Crosstown Beacon

When I saw this Flyer article in my news reader a while back, I drove right over to N. Watkins and Cleveland to see the sculpture:


The Flyer reports the "large, spinning sculpture made from 51 repurposed bicycle wheels" is named Beacon, is "Intended to serve as the new "gateway" into Crosstown" and that it was installed by artists Eli Gold and Colin Kidder across the street from the long-abandoned Sears Crosstown building.

In another article, the Flyer quotes the artists: "In their artists' statement Colin Kidder and Eli Gold describe their whimsical, spherical contribution to the landscape as an "eye-catching kinetic sculpture that moves dramatically in the natural wind and shines brightly with reflected sunlight." Colin Kidder's web site has pictures of his other work. There is information on Eli Gold here.

I love it. It does shimmer in the sunlight.

The Flyer has a more recent article here.

This is #256 on the I Love Memphis blog list of 365 things to do in Memphis.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions is a book by Neil Gaiman. This was loaned to me by The Younger Son at the same time as a Stephen King collection of short works. I prefer the King, which surprised me. I didn't expect to have a real preference, as I like both Gaiman's and King's longer works. At this point I'd read more of King's short stories but give Gaiman's a pass.

This book has several pieces that are poems. Or like poems. I just don't care for works in poetic form, except, of course, for limericks and Little Willie types. There are also a couple of folk/fairy tale re-tellings, and I don't generally like those. "Write your own story" -that's my motto.

SF Site says, "if you're not a fan of Neil Gaiman, read this collection and you will be." The Guardian recommends it as a good entry into Gaiman's work. Kirkus Reviews concludes their review with this:
Gaiman miscalculates only in leading off With “Chivalry,” the unforgettable tale of a placid widow who discovers the Holy Grail in a secondhand shop. Nothing later on matches it in a volume that’s otherwise an exhilarating display of the work of one of our most entertaining storytellers.

The Oblong Box

The Oblong Box is a 1969 British horror film, the first to star both Vincent Price and Christopher Lee. It also has Rupert Davies (who was Maigret in the tv series). Wikipedia reports the film was considered "pro black" and that this caused it to be banned in Texas. That claim isn't referenced, and I can find no evidence of such a ban in my -admittedly limited- search. I wonder why it's still in the article. Ah, the joys of Wikipedia!

via Youtube:



Moria concludes their 2 star (out of 5) review with this:
Considering the torrid stew of elements, the film emerges with more of a staidness than it ever seems to promise. On the plus side, the colour contrasts are rich and full and Gordon Hessler directs the killings with reasonable style.
1000 Misspent Hours calls the script "bewilderingly stupid" and Price's performance "one of his most tasteful and understated," says Lee's "talents are almost totally wasted here" and concludes:
During its first half hour, I had high hopes for The Oblong Box. But as the film progressed, those hopes gave way to an escalating sense of dismay as it became increasingly clear that not enough remained of the film’s running time to answer any of the questions that would make sense of the story.
Stomp Tokyo says, "The Oblong Box manages to make voodoo curses, vengeful maniacs and premature burials paradoxically languid and diffuse." Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 57%.

To Whom This May Come


To Whom This May Come is an 1888 short story by Edward Bellamy. It can be read online. It explores communication and how isolating it can be.

I'm familiar with Bellamy through his science fiction novel Looking Backward, which I enjoyed when I read it back in high school. I don't think I had read any other of his work until coming across this.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Hunger (1983)

The Hunger is a 1983 horror film directed by Tony Scott, who killed himself this year. It stars Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon, Cliff DeYoung (who has a ST:DS9 connection), Bessie Love (whose 1st film was in 1915, in her last film), Willem Dafoe (in his 2nd credited film role) and Bauhaus (yes, the band).

This is a bizarre little piece, beautiful to watch. The score is integral to the scenes and to the film as a whole rather than being used as background music and to predict coming action. This is much more my "style" of movie, with violence being mostly off-screen and without the kind of extended scenes of pain shown in films like Audition. I find this style much easier to watch and more enjoyable than films that glory in the gory.

via youtube:



Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars, describes it as "such a relentlessly revisionist vampire film that we never see any fangs, crucifixes or even hear the word vampire mentioned anywhere throughout" and says,
More than anything, what the film embodies is a fear of death and aging. Rarely has the sense of the creeping obscenity of age eating away beauty and the sense of powerlessness it brings been conveyed than during the first half of the film
Classic-Horror.com says
The Hunger is much more than just a retread of the Hammer vampire lesbian story. It is a multi-layered visual and thematic onslaught with nuances often overlooked.
Slant Magazine calls it "ludicrous". Roger Ebert calls it "an agonizingly bad vampire movie, circling around an exquisitely effective sex scene." Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 42%.

Ghost of the Navigator

Ghost of the Navigator by Iron Maiden:



from the 2000 album Brave New World.

lyrics:
I have sailed to many lands, now I make my final journey
On the bow I stand, west is where I go
Through the night I plough, still my heart, calculate and pray
As the compass swings, my will is strong, I will not be led astray
Mysteries of time clouds that hide the sun
But I know, but I know, but I know

I see the ghosts of navigators but they are lost
As they sail into the sunset they'll count the cost
As their skeletons accusing emerge from the sea
The sirens of the rocks, they beckon me

Take my heart and set it free, carried forward by the waves
Nowhere left to run, navigator's son,
Chasing rainbows all my days

Where I go I do not know, I only know the place I've been
Dreams they come and go, ever shall be so,
Nothing's real until you feel

I steer between the crashing rocks, the sirens call my name
Lash my hands onto the helm, blood surging with the strain
I will not fail now as sunrise comes the darkness left behind
For eternity I follow on there is no other way
Mysteries of time clouds that hide the sun
But I know, I know

I see the ghosts of navigators but they are lost
As they sail into the sunset they'll count the cost
As their skeletons accusing emerge from the sea
The sirens of the rocks, they beckon me

Take my heart and set it free, carried forward by the waves
Nowhere left to run, navigator's son
Chasing rainbows all my days

Where I go I do not know, I only know the place I've been
Dreams they come and go, ever shall be so
Nothing's real until you feel

I see the ghosts of navigators but they are lost
As they sail into the sunset they'll count the cost
As their skeletons accusing emerge from the sea
The sirens of the rocks, they beckon me

Take my heart and set it free, carried forward by the waves
Nowhere left to run, navigator's son
Chasing rainbows all my days

Where I go I do not know, I only know the place I've been
Dreams they come and go, ever shall be so
Nothing's real until you feel

Deep Red

Deep Red is a 1975 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento. David Hemmings stars. The film as embedded below lacks English dubbing in some scenes and has English captions that make no sense at all. It can still be made some sense of, but it's no substitute (of course) for a DVD. The music actively detracts from the experience.

via Youtube:



Moria gives it 3 out of 5 stars and says, "Seen, Deep Red is an interesting film, although not quite the masterwork that many have called it." 1000 Misspent Hours gives it a 1-star review and says, "Against these glaring defects of both narrative cohesion and genre integrity, Deep Red has basically one thing to offer in its favor— it looks nice." Weird Wild Realm says, "I just don't find films that can mostly boast only about their good meat-cleaver scenes to be at all consequential." Slant Magazine calls it "a great horror film". DVD Talk says it "might the most beautifully shot horror film ever made" and concludes their review with this:
Not quite the fever dream that other Argento films are, Deep Red is still a totally arresting dive into the creative psyche of one of horror's true masters. In fact, it may be Argento's masterpiece. The movie's flawless visual scheme and concise editing make it a commanding experience regardless of genre considerations. Highly recommended.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Early Voting


There didn't seem to me to be as many candidate signs as usual when The Daughter and I went to vote the other day, but what was striking to me was the absence of any Obama signs. Nary a one did I see. What's with that?

There was a long line, which I hadn't expected, but at least it didn't stretch out of the building. The entire process took about half an hour, which wasn't bad.

The woman behind us told The Daughter she looked too young to vote. The Daughter said, "That's what they told me last time." I wish strangers could make casual conversation without critiquing your personal appearance. We tend to think of things we can't say in response. Because, really, how do you respond to that? It's ok for that woman to say how young The Daughter looks, but if The Daughter responds with a comment on how old that woman looks... well, I know how that would've turned out. She's about ready to start responding to comments on how thin she is with comments on how fat they are. Comments about how fat someone is are rude, though, right? But comments about how thin someone is are ok? How is that ok?

I surely did get sidetracked.

To get back to the signs (or lack of them) at Early Voting: I thought I'd pick up a couple of signs and place them myself. I couldn't find an Obama headquarters here. There's a Cohen headquarters. Maybe they would have Obama signs. I think since Tennessee is lost to Obama, and our votes don't matter, it's not worth it to them to bother with things like campaign signs. I think that's so sad.

Maybe I should've voted for Jill Stein.

Timeout London's Best Horror Film List

Timeout London has a list of their top 100 best horror films, and I've copied the top 50 below, starting with #1:
The Exorcist (1973)
The Shining (1980)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Psycho (1960)
Alien (1979)
The Thing (1982)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Halloween (1978)
Suspiria (1976)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Jaws (1975)
Don't Look Now (1973)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The Innocents (1961)
Carrie (1976)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The Haunting (1963)
Audition (1999)
Evil Dead II (1987)
The Omen (1976)
Freaks (1932)
Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)
The Fly (1986)
The Birds (1963)
The Changeling (1979)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Videodrome (1982)
Let the Right One In (2008)
Cat People (1942)
Frankenstein (1931)
Martyrs (2008)
Cannibal Holocaust (1979)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Eyes Without a Face (1959)
Dead of Night (1945)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Possession (1981)
The Descent (2005)
Carnival of Souls (1962)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Peeping Tom (1960)
The Tenant (1976)
Hour of the Wolf (1967)
Deep Red (1975)
The Devils (1971)
Les Diaboliques (1955)
Kwaidan (1964)
The Beyond (1981)
Vampyr (1932)
Ones I've seen, pitiful few that they are (just half), are in bold print.

Audition

Audition is a 1999 Japanese horror film. The first 45 minutes or so move slowly, concentrating on character development and setting, and even after that the build-up to the climax is slow. There is foreshadowing. The film is talky in some spots, while having long periods of silence and little action in others. Moody, maybe? There's a stillness about it that makes the sudden movements that are there more striking. I like the style; I just don't like what it builds up to in this movie.

It's known to be particularly gory, with graphic torture. I don't like torture. I don't like images of pain and the infliction of pain. I don't like films in the "torture-porn" category whose raison d'être seems to be exposing the audience to ever more graphic images of that very thing. Why, then, did I watch this? Well, you see, it shows up on various lists of "best" horror films.

I found the last 30 minutes impossible to watch. I did try. I kept having to look away. I found the last part of this film more disturbing than any other I can recall right now. The Younger Son is surprised I tried to watch it and advises me against anything by this director.

via youtube:



Moria gives it their top 5-star rating but warns:
It is during the last fifteen minutes or so that Audition enters into the genuinely disturbing with some of the most extreme and seat-squirmingly uncomfortable scenes of torture ever placed on screen
Stomp Tokyo says,
Audition is a film you'll tell your friends about, not so much by way of recommendation as much as to tell them how messed up it is.
1000 Misspent Hours calls it "exceptionally twisted" and warns, "“subjecting yourself” is the right phrase to describe the experience of watching Audition’s final 45 minutes."Slant Magazine calls it this directors "only truly essential" film. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 78%.

The Mad Magician

The Mad Magician is a 1954 Vincent Price film. Vincent Price goes insane and mahem and murder ensue.

via Youtube:



Moria concludes, "But the whole affair is too cheap, its melodramatic plot too dull and contrived for such occasional Grand Guignol moments to add up to a worthy film." 1000 misspent Hours describes it as "just your basic killer-maniac-on-the-loose flick, the sort of movie that would gradually evolve into the slasher film over the next 25 years." Fangoria says,
Price is magnificent as the (rightfully!) mad magician Gallico The Great who goes after the crooks and blowhards that wronged him, delivering wildly grand guignol comeuppance in spectacular 3D.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ghostboat

Ghostboat is a 2006 horror/thriller which originally aired on British television.  It stars David Jason, whom I recognized immediately and with fondness from his portrayal of Frost in the Touch of Frost mystery series. Also here is Tony Haygarth (who was Renfield in the Frank Langella Dracula) and Julian Wadham (whom we recently saw in Outpost, and who has been on tv in Poirot, Miss Marple, Foyle's War and Inspector Lewis).

A WW2 submarine disappears and is assumed lost only to reappear in perfect condition -but sans crew- in the 1980s. The sole survivor of the WW2 crew (played by Jason) is prevailed on to join a mission to take the sub back to its last known 1940s location to try to discover what happened.

I can't find a trailer online anywhere, but you can watch the film at youtube. It originally aired on tv in 2 parts. Part 1 is here:



Part 2:



Moria calls it "an interesting genre item" and gives it a solid 3 stars. Reviews are not plentiful.

Italian Horror Movie Blogathon


I had missed notice of this blogathon until I saw the post on Autopsy at the Coffee Coffee and More Coffee blog. The links to posts of blogs participating can be found at this link and so far, in addition to that post on Autopsy just linked, include posts on Mattei/Fragasso zombie classic Hell of the Living Dead, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, Torso, Blood and Black Lace and Eaten Alive! I've never seen any of these, so the event promises to be an educational one for me.

The Banshee, by Henry Cowell

The Banshee, by Henry Cowell:



This is a 1925 piece, using the piano in ways never foreseen by those who invented the instrument. Consequence of Sound describes how the piece is played:
everything is played inside the piano. No keys are pushed; the player moves hands and fingers both across the strings horizontally and along them vertically, generating eerie overtones as the strings resonate without a damper, and shifting timbres in disturbing ways. Along with plucking of strings, the overall effect is one that unsettles us not only because it recalls the supernatural, but because it’s so unreal and unorthodox, so outside our expectations of what a piano can do.
A banshee is said to wail as someone dies. It's creepy music suitable for Hallowe'en.

Vincent Price


Today is the anniversary of the death in 1993 of Vincent Price. FilmReference.com has an overview of his career and a list of resources. He has a Facebook fan page. He is a particular favorite of The Daughter.

I have blog posts on the following of his films, many of which can be viewed online:

Dragonwyck (1946)
Shock (1946)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
The Fly (1958)
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The Tingler (1959)
House of Usher (1960)
The Raven (1963)
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Witchfinder General (1968)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
Theatre of Blood (1973)
Madhouse (1974)
Edward Scissorhands (1990)

I've seen Laura, The Keys of the Kingdom, The Ten Commandments and The Song of Bernadette, but apparently not since I started this blog.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Burrowers

The Burrowers is a 2008 horror/Western film. The world needs more horror Westerns. This is more akin to a vampire movie than anything else, I think. It stars Clancy Brown (who has a ST: Enterprise connection).

The Husband doesn't like this at all, objecting to the gore. The Younger Son and I can't understand how we missed all the gore. We like it just fine and think it's worth re-watching. It's a matter of perspective. Some of us are more sensitive to gore than others.

trailer:



DVD Talk does not like it and concludes,
"The Burrowers" is determined to get somewhere profound with a strange brew of perspectives, but it rarely electrifies, making the promise of a sequel at the end of the film feel more like a threat.
DVD Verdict says, "if you can get through some of the slower, character-building moments in the beginning, you will be rewarded with a fun creature romp." Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 70%.

House of Usher (1960)

House of Usher is a 1960 Vincent Price horror film directed by Roger Corman, the first of their Poe story collaborations.

You can watch it online at Youtube, where embedding has been disabled.

trailer:



Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says, "This was the film that showed that Roger Corman was a serious filmmaker and had his work re-evaluated by critics in the 1960s". 1000 Misspent Hours says,
the film was a big success for the studio, and it is hardly a shock to see that AIP continued producing Poe movies long after Corman got sick of directing them.
Classic-Horror.com says, "Although Corman's skills as a director had not yet completely matured, the adaptation was solid, both in concept and execution" and agrees with other reviewers that this one is the best of the Poe series. It gets a score of 87% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Cancer... There's Hope


In the local Cancer Survivors Park there is a large sculpture installation. It's of multiple figures moving forward through a series of openings, and it's named "Cancer...There's Hope". This is the last completed work of Victor Salmones.

This website states that the foundation that funds the parks requires placement of this sculpture in a prominent location, and i guess -for a million bucks- they can put the sculpture where they want it. This one is placed so that the trail goes around it, and you can see the sculpture from all sides as you enjoy the flowers. The flowers were my reason for walking the trail.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This House is Haunted

This House is Haunted by Alice Cooper:

Madhouse

Madhouse is a 1974 Vincent Price/Peter Cushing film. Barry Dennen (Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar and the voice of the whimpering Chamberlain in The Dark Crystal) is one of the victims. Adrienne Corri (from The River, Doctor Zhivago, Quo Vadis, a Tom Baker Doctor Who episode, A Clockwork Orange, and with Alec Guinness and Ralph Richardon in David Lean's Twelfth Night -at 81 years old she has had a long and varied career) is also in this.

This is a delight. Price and Cushing have great scenes and great scenes together.

via Youtube:



The buffering at Youtube almost drove me to the Madhouse. I almost gave up on it entirely. This movie isn't available by itself on a DVD, but you can get it combined with 4 other Vincent Price films at various outlets.

Moria says,
The film’s greatest distinction is probably its featuring of horror icons Price and Cushing both of whom rise to audience expectations. Its one other distinction is its willingness to use the horror genre recursively – i.e. it being a horror film set around horror films.
Apocalypse Later Film says, "Don't watch this for quality, watch it for the people involved, especially Adrienne Corri". DVD Talk calls it "Underwritten and badly plotted".

The Night Wire


The Night Wire is a horror story by Henry Ferris Arnold. It was first published in the September, 1926, edition of Weird Tales, and you can see the cover above and the contents here. This story can be read online.

EFanzines.com says it has
subtle understones of menace that sound a distant tocsin of alarm in the reader's mind; and having once caught these notes, what glutton for punishment could ask for more? Their implications are more gruesome than a multitude of gory terrors.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Dead

The Dead is a 2010 zombie movie set in Africa where a plague of unknown origin causes the dead to come back and attack the living. There's not much on the Wikipedia entry, but there's an official website here. We were impressed with this film. It is a character-driven road film and has an unusual setting for a zombie movie. I can't remember the last zombie movie I saw where the dry heat of the African savannah played a major role.

trailer:



Moria says,
it is not a film that aims for hard-hitting, gore-drenched battles to the death with the zombies, rather it is one that is concentrated on its characters and location.
Fangoria says,
The authenticity of the settings and the background players is THE DEAD’s greatest asset, establishing an overwhelming sense of a place where danger might well be lurking everywhere even if the dead weren’t coming back to life, and where there are so many of them that there’s no place to run even in the midst of wide open spaces. No night of the living dead, this story takes place under the bright, oppressive sun—which makes it all the more noteworthy that the prosthetic and digital gore FX come off so well. For this budget—or any budget, actually—the physical and CG gags are outstanding
The Guardian concludes
The low-budget zombie movie market may have long since reached saturation point, but this one displays some talent, style, intelligence and imagination, proving that in the right hands there's still plenty of life in the genre yet.
Slant Magazine sees more "message" from the directors than I do, and they see too much to suit them. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 71%.

Iron Sky

Iron Sky is a 2012 science fiction film. I don't know quite where to begin with this. It's clever, funny and great fun to watch. Nazi's invade Earth from their secret base on the Moon.

the first 4 minutes:



Moria has a mixed 3-star review. AV Club gives it a C-, praising its first 5 minutes and finding much fault with almost everything else. DVD Talk says it's worth seeing but suggests renting instead of buying. The Guardian says the tagline -"In 1945, Nazis went to the moon; in 2018, they're coming back"- is the best part. It gets 37% at Rotten Tomatoes, but some people just don't appreciate a good Nazis-in-Space movie.

House of the Long Shadows

House of the Long Shadows is a 1983 film starring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine. All 4 of them in the same movie. Nice! Desi Arnaz, Jr. is an author who makes a bet that he can write a novel like Wuthering Heights in 24 hours if he's given a place with the right atmosphere in which to write. He goes off to Wales to an abandoned manor and begins his story.

Reviewers seem to dislike the ending, but I think it's fun. It does turn the movie on its head, but I think it's a fine way to wrap it all up.

via youtube:



Moria says, "What finally does House of the Long Shadows in is its escalating series of multiple twist endings that reduce it to absurdity." British Horror Films says,
Suffice to say that 90 minutes of Cushing, Lee, Price, some bloke called Carradine, some terrific gory deaths, tons of atmosphere and a gripping storyline are wiped from the memory by what can only be described as a sub-Murder She Wrote finale. You have been warned.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fangoria's Favorite Horror Films

Wired.com has Fangoria's top 25 horror films:
Freaks (1932)
The Wolf Man (1941)
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Eyes Without a Face (1960)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
The Exorcist (1973)
The Wicker Man (1973)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Jaws (1975)
Carrie (1976)
Suspiria (1977)
Halloween (1978)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Phantasm (1979)
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The Beyond (1981)
The Evil Dead (1983)
Videodrome (1983)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Angel Heart (1987)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Inside (2007)
Let the Right One In (2009)
As always, the ones I've seen are in bold print, and the number of classics I've still not watched is downright depressing.

The Legend of Wooley Swamp

The Legend of Wooley Swamp:



This song was released in 1980 on the Charlie Daniels Band Full Moon album.

Tower of London (1962)

Tower of London is a 1962 remake of the 1939 film by the same name. Both films have Vincent Price, but he gets the lead role in this one. Robert Brown (who was Lazarus in a ST: TOS episode) also stars. This 1962 version is directed by Roger Corman. It tells the story of King Richard III of England. The plot is inspired by Shakespeare rather than any real historical record.

It begins with a voice-over:
...He could never escape the ghosts of his conscience....
and there are actual ghosts.

You can watch it online via youtube:



Moria says it "proves modestly entertaining". 1000 Misspent Hours offers a lengthy description and then a closing defense:
Really, I suppose Tower of London’s main attraction is the sheer implausibility of a Roger Corman Richard III. What’s most surprising is that a director better known for movies like Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Little Shop of Horrors actually does a pretty good job with this lowbrow reinterpretation. It shouldn’t really be a surprise, though, when you think about it. Seriously, if you strip away the blank verse and the Elizabethan grammar, England’s most famous playwright has more in common with a B-movie shlockmeister than your high school English teacher would care to admit. Sex, suicide, Satanism, child murder, torture, toilet humor... am I talking about William Shakespeare, or am I talking about Joe D’Amato? And let’s face it, Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Brannagh have been known to ham it up every bit as outrageously as Vincent Price does here. So why not have Roger Corman’s Richard III?
From The Spinning Image: "An interesting take, but it needed better framing." TCM has an overview.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ghost Story

Ghost Story is a 1981 horror film based on a Peter Straub novel. It stars Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., John Houseman, Craig Wasson (who has a ST: DS9 connection), Patricia Neal, Jacqueline Brookes (who has a ST: TNG connection) and Alice Krige (Star Trek's Borg Queen). I hadn't realized I had seen this before, but once I got into it I realized I had. It's a tame and ordinary sort of horror movie -not gory, no big shocks, not particularly eerie... Not one I'd want to watch again, I don't think, so I'll pass my DVD on to someone else.

via youtube:



Moria says it's not very interesting and that "it constantly comes weighed under a sense of its own self-importance". 1000 Misspent Hours loves the book and calls this "the most thoroughly wrong-headed film adaptation of a novel that I can ever recall having seen." Classic-Horror.com calls it "charming but eerie" and "a must see for any genre fans or any serious fan of film". Roger Ebert says, "This is a good movie." Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 36% rating.

Castle of Blood

Castle of Blood is a 1964 Italian horror film starring Barbara Steele. Antonio Margheriti directs. I think I hear a theremin in the score by Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated Riz Ortolani. The use of the flashback to advance the story is well done.

The plot begins in a London tavern with Edgar Allan Poe telling a story and claiming his works are based on actual events. A persistent journalist insists that only the living are to be feared. Another man at the table offers a dare that the journalist won't be able to spend a night in his haunted castle. He says, "All those who accepted my wager died in the castle." The journalist accepts. The Lord of the castle, Poe and the journalist make the 2-hour carriage ride to the castle, where the journalist refuses a last chance to back out, and the carriage drives off. The journalist makes his solitary way through the creaking iron gate, through the dark eerie cemetery up the winding path and stairs until he is finally inside. All that was creepy enough, and the horror hasn't even begun.

trailer:



1000 Misspent Hours has a mixed review, praising a "stark, monochrome moodiness" and "a great set, a sound premise, some very solid acting by contemporary Italian standards, oodles of morbid atmosphere, and a resolution that defies happy-ending/sad-ending categorization in a manner years ahead of its time" and concluding "What keeps Castle of Blood from realizing its full potential is primarily a matter of pervasive structural awkwardness".

Images Journal calls it "the high point of Margheriti's career and one of the greatest films of the horror genre," says it is "one of the most surprising and unique films of all Italian horror" and notes:
With Castle of Blood [Italian title: Danza Macabra], Barbara Steele completed the great trifecta of Italian horror by starring in at least one movie by each of the genre's three great directors--Bava, Freda, and Margheriti. Her movies with these directors are arguably the high-point of Italian horror.

Spanish-American War Park


I can't tell you how many millions of times (that's probably not much of an exaggeration) I've passed by this park during my life, but I have never stopped. Why, you ask? Well, where the heck are you supposed to park? I mean, it looks like such a lovely spot, but it looks impossible to get to in a car.

I happened to be driving past there on a recent Sunday, so I parked in the animal hospital lot next door and walked over. The park is a lovely green space, much larger than it looks from the street.


The statue is a copy of The Hiker. The original was created by Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson, was erected in 1906 and is located at the University of Minnesota.

The inscription on the base of the Memphis statue reads:
The Hiker Typifying the American Volunteer who fought Spain in Cuba, the Philippines, and Boxer Rebellion. Erected in 1956 with funds raised by Spanish War Veterans of Memphis under the leadership of Fred Bauer, Commander
After I had spent a bit of time enjoying the park, I decided to circle the block to see if I could find easier access by car, and sure enough, it looks like you can pull off the street onto a grassy area on S. Cox and park. It looks like you can walk up a grassy way and end up in the park. It looks that way. I didn't get out to see, and there is no signage at all. The park is built on an old railroad right-of-way, and you can see from the google maps view that there's quite a long walk from S. Cox to the Central/East Parkway South intersection where the monument stands. If you come by car and come on a day when the animal hospital is open for business, I honestly don't know what people do. Does anybody even go to this park? Besides the dog-walkers at the animal hospital?

I think the park would be much improved and get more use with the addition of a sign or two directing traffic to a parking area and a sign indicating the way to walk into the park from S. Cox.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ghost Riders in the Sky

Ghost Riders in the Sky sung by Burl Ives:



The Burl Ives version embedded above is the original 1949 version of the much-covered song. The Vaughn Monroe cover released the next month is better known:



Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash all covered it. The most recent one I can find is Judy Collins' 2010 release:



There's one version I know of with particular local interest. Gene Davenport, retired professor of religion at Lambuth College (which became Lambuth University and then University of Memphis at Lambuth) does some singing, and his version can be heard on Spotify.

Riget (The Kingdom)

Riget is a 1994 Danish TV miniseries that has 4 episodes. It's known as The Kingdom in English. The 2nd season (another 4 episodes in 1997) came about as a result of positive response to the first and is called Riget 2 or The Kingdom 2.

I watched the first 4 episodes and thoroughly enjoyed them. It's truly bizarre and interesting. There's a thread of dark humor that weaves through them.

It begins with a voice-over narration, so no matter how much the horror and science fiction genres change, some things remain the same:
The Kingdom Hospital rests on ancient marshland where the bleaching ponds once lay. Here the bleachers moistened their great spans of cloth. The steam evaporating from the wet cloth shrouded the place in permanent fog. Centuries later the hospital was built here. The bleachers gave way to doctors and researchers, the best brains in the nation and the most perfect technology. To crown their work they called the hospital The Kingdom. Now, life was to be charted, and ignorance and superstition never to shake the bastions of science again. Perhaps their arrogance became too pronounced, and their persistent denial of the spiritual. For it is as if the cold and damp have returned. Tiny signs of fatigue are appearing in the solid, modern edifice. No living person knows it yet, but the gateway to the Kingdom is opening once again.
Each episode ends with Lars von Trier speaking to the audience on screen over the credits.

This is available as separate tv episodes via youtube in the original language with English subtitles. Episode 1 is embedded below:



The other episodes are linked from that one at youtube.

The book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die includes Riget and says, "The Kingdom's spare, but escalating, supernatural manisfestations are genuinely eerie, sometimes magical". Moria says,
The biggest downer about the film version is that after some five hours it ends with a frustrating ‘to be continued ...’ This was taken up with the lesser but nevertheless still enjoyable The Kingdom II (1997) where Lars von Trier, Morten Arnfred and the whole cast returned.
Series 1 gets a 91% score at Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

The Hills Have Eyes is a 1977 Wes Craven horror film. I think this one might be something The Husband could watch. It's tense and violent but doesn't have much graphic gore. He wouldn't like it, but he might be able to sit through it. I'd certainly be willing to watch it again.

Youtube has this online:



Moria says
Wes Craven certainly generates a reasonable tension, agoraphobically constricting the film to a single stretch of road. However, the film loses atmosphere when it gets to the scenes with the family fighting back and it changes its nature from a primal attack film into more of an action piece. It becomes repetitive...
1000 Misspent Hours calls it
the finest movie about cannibals ever made by an American director, the pinnacle of Craven’s career, and one of my five favorite horror flicks of all time
Senses of Cinema says it
warrants serious consideration as one of the richest and most perfectly realized films of Craven’s career to date, a career which spans 40 years and counting.
The author of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die wrote the Senses of Cinema review and includes this film in his book. DVD Talk says it "is no less effective today than when it was released in 1977." Slant Magazine gives it 2 1/2 out of 4 stars. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 64%.

The Bell in the Fog


The Bell in the Fog is a 1905 horror short story by Gertrude Atherton. It can be read online.

The Literary Gothic says,
Perhaps the best-known of Atherton's supernaturalist tales, "The Bell in the Fog" remains underappreciated and under-read, for it is in many ways a touchstone work in the supernaturalist tradition, embodying many of the important developments in that tradition which began to emerge in the early years of the twentieth century...
The Online Literature site says the house Atherton and her husband George Atherton, Sr. lived in is haunted by their ghosts:
George Sr., a somewhat lacklustre and impassive man, and Gertrude lived with his mother Dominga de Goñi Atherton at her vast estate called Valparaiso Park in San Francisco, which is said to now be haunted by their ghosts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Top 50 Horror Movies

Film.com has a list:
1. “The Shining” (1980)
2. “The Thing” (1982)
3. “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)
4. “Night of the Living Dead” (1968)
5. “The Exorcist” (1973)
6. “Halloween” (1978)
7. “Carrie” (1976)
8. “Alien” (1979)
9. “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
10. “Jaws” (1975)
11. “Blair Witch Project” (1999)
12. “Evil Dead 2″ (1987)
13. “Dawn of the Dead” (1978)
14. “Nosferatu” (1922)
15. “Psycho” (1960)
16. “An American Werewolf in London” (1981)
17. “The Sixth Sense” (1999)
18. “Friday the 13th” (1980)
19. “Scream” (1996)
20. “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935)
21. “The Fly” (1986)
22. “Jacob’s Ladder” (1990)
23. “28 Days Later” (2002)
24. “Carnival of Souls” (1962)
25. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
26. “Poltergeist” (1982)
27. “Dead Alive” (1992)
28. “Don’t Look Now” (1973)
29. “Let the Right One In” (2008)
30. “The Omen” (1976)
31. “Paranormal Activity” (2007)
32. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978)
33. “Freaks” (1932)
34. “The Descent” (2005)
35. “Scanners” (1981)
36. “The Ring” (2002)
37. “Day of the Dead” (1985)
38. “The Others” (2001)
39. “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977)
40. “The Orphanage” (2007)
41. “The Mummy” (1932)
42. “The Eye” (2002)
43. “The Birds” (1963)
44. “Suspiria” (1977)
45. “The Haunting” (1963)
46. “House of Wax” (1953)
47. “Child’s Play” (1988)
48. “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” (1987)
49. “Audition” (1999)
50. “Candyman” (1992)
Ones I've seen (fewer than half) are in bold print. Every time I feel like I'm making progress, I find another list filled with films I haven't seen. I'm watching a lot of older, less important movies I find on Youtube, I guess. I need to work straight from one of these lists. I'd see better movies that way. I do have some of these on DVD in my to-be-watched queue.

Swamp Witch

Swamp Witch:



1973 Jim Stafford hit

The Woman Who Came Back

The Woman Who Came Back is a 1945 horror film about a woman who comes back (surprise, surprise) to her home town after an absence of 2 years. An old woman who was burned at the stake in that town 300 years ago has also come back. Bad things happen. Boring. Talky. Over-wrought. Tedious. Slow. I skipped through a lot of this one. After all, there are so many horror films and so little time....

Don't believe me? Watch some of it via youtube, where embedding has been disabled.

It doesn't have a score from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, but the audience score is 33%.




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cemetery Man

Cemetery Man is a 1994 Italian horror/comedy film. The titular character is looking for love but occupied with the care of the town cemetery and defending the town against zombies. He's very matter-of-fact about it all. I just am not impressed with this one; neither funny nor scary nor even interesting, I'm not finishing it.

Youtube has it online dubbed in English, but embedding is disabled. Here's a trailer in Italian with English subtitles:



Stomp Tokyo says, "there are some wonderful visual images on display in Cemetery Man. Almost enough for us to recommend this film" but closes with this:
If you can appreciate a posturing, gun-toting good guy who fights flesh-eating zombies and you can tolerate the occasional surrealist plot-twist so long as people continue to get blown away, you're probably going to love this film. If you expect stories to make sense, then you're probably going to hate it.
Scary Film Review says, "Whether you see this film as a comedic horror movie or a more satire filled story, you'll enjoy it if you're a fan of the genre." DVD Journal says, "Martin Scorsese called it the best movie of the year". Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 63%.

Pretty Perch



Depending on which way you face, you can overlook a garden or a city street. I like both perspectives.

Monday, October 15, 2012

In My Time of Dying

In My Time of Dying by The Be Good Tanyas:



heard recently on the Memphis Mystery Train on WEVL. The lyrics:
Well, in my time of dying
I don't want nobody to moan
All I want my friends to do
Come and fold my dying arms

(Well, well, well)
So I can die easy
(Well, well, well)
So I can die easy
(Well, well, well)
So I can die easy
Jesus gonna make up my dying bed

Won't you meet me Jesus, meet me
Won't you meet me in the middle of the air
And if these wings should fail me Lord
Won't you meet me with another pair

(Well, well, well)
Won't you meet me Jesus
(Well, well, well)
Won't you meet me Jesus
(Well, well, well)
Won't you meet me Jesus
Jesus gonna make up my dying bed

Now I'm going on down to the river
Stick my sword up in the sand
Gonna shout my troubles over Lord
I done made it to the promised land

(Well, well, well)
I done crossed over
(Well, well, well)
I done crossed over
(Well, well, well)
I done crossed over
Jesus gonna make up my dying bed

Ever since I've been acquainted with Jesus
We haven't been a minute apart
He placed the receiver in my ear
Threw religion in my heart

(Well, well, well)
I can ring up my Jesus
(Well, well, well)
I can ring up my Jesus
(Well, well, well)
I can ring up my Jesus
Jesus gonna make up my dying bed

Now I'm going on down to the river
Stick my sword up in the sand
Gonna shout my troubles over Lord
I done made it to the promised land

(Well, well, well)
I done crossed over
(Well, well, well)
I done crossed over
(Well, well, well)
I done crossed over
Jesus gonna make up my dying bed

A Tale of Two Sisters

A Tale of Two Sisters is a 2003 South Korean horror film. Wikipedia says, "It is both the highest-grossing Korean horror film and the first to be screened in American theatres." The story is based on a Korean folk tale that has had numerous film adaptations.  This is the only version I've seen, but here the story is told primarily in flashback. It begins with one of the sisters sitting with a doctor who asks her to tell him about "that day". Identities are interesting in this one. It would make a fun psychological study.

trailer:



Moria says the director "attains a more than reasonable degree of haunted effect" but that the twist ending is a problem. Slant Magazine says it's "an exercise in internal horror". Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 86%.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Zombie Song

Poor zombie. Where are the brains? How It Should Have Ended offers their vision:



HT: SF Signal

Just After Sunset


Just After Sunset is a book of short stories by Stephen King, loaned to me by The Younger Son when he saw me reading horror short stories online. I can enthusiastically recommend this book. The stories are staying with me. It's odd, but sometimes I find myself more affected afterwards when the story keeps remembering itself to me than I was on first reading.

Here's a list of the stories included in this book:
Willa
The Gingerbread Girl
Harvey's Dream
Rest Stop
Stationary Bike
The Things They Left Behind
Graduation Afternoon
N.
The Cat from Hell
Mute
Ayana
A Very Tight Place
The Guardian has a review describing the stories as having "Images of entrapment" at their center and closes by warning that "They're trapped in King's monologue, and you're trapped with them. At first you don't intend to be disturbed; then you are." AV Club has a mixed review and closes by saying,
Sunset's best selections favor pacing over mood, working off structures whose familiarity still leaves room for a few surprises. King hasn't forgotten how to set the hook; it's just that these days, he doesn't always take the time to reel it in.

Dead of Night

Dead of Night is a 1945 anthology horror film made in Britain by Ealing studios. It has an story about a ventriloquist's dummy, and I skipped that one. I'm just not going there. They are much worse than clowns on the horror scale, if you ask me. There are 5 scenes in all, with an over-arching narrative to tie them together. This is the ultimate recurring nightmare.

You can watch it via youtube:



Moria says it "is regarded as one of the great classics of the genre, while the ventriloquist’s doll segment is regarded as the authoritative treatment of the theme." (I'm still not going to watch it.) British Horror Films says, "To me, Dead Of Night is simply the most terrifying film ever made". Classic-Horror.com says,
Its overall high quality, mind-bending wraparound story, and one legendary sequence solidify Dead of Night's reputation as one of the greatest examples of the horror anthology.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 96%.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

R.I.P. Prince Roy Bates


Roy Bates, founder of the Principality of Sealand, has died at the age of 91. I have been a faithful follower of news about Sealand for many years and am saddened at this passing of an era.

The Telegraph has a history of the Sealand events and says, "With Michael having appointed his own son, James, as Prince Royal, Sealand remains one of the few micro-nations to have established a viable dynasty." NPR concludes with a quote from an earlier interview: ""I like a bit of adventure," Prince Roy told us. "It's the old British tradition."" The Daily Mail reports: "Major Bates passed away on Tuesday at a care home in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, after a long battle with Alzheimer's." BBC has an obiturary that includes some funeral details. Ars Technica closes with this: "The British Embassy in Washington, DC did not respond to our request for comment." The Financial Times closes with a description of how Sealand stays afloat financially:
Today, Roy Bates’ principality – which bears the motto E mare libertas (from the sea, freedom) turns an income from selling mugs, T-shirts and titles: anyone can become a lord or lady of Sealand for the sum of £30.

It hosts web servers, and after an aborted effort in 2007 to invite outsiders to bid for a share of the principality, now sells its land by the square foot through sealandgov.org.
The Guardian has an obituary that includes this:
The fort retains a seedy glamour, however, along with its motto, E Mare Libertas – From the Sea, Freedom (even if rare visitors in the pirate-radio era were more likely to get Bates's greeting: "What the **** do you want?").
The picture at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.

The Sandman

The Sandman is a 1991 Oscar-nominated stop-motion animated short (9 minutes) film directed by Paul Berry. It seems the Sandman of cozy fable isn't what we were led to believe.

youtube has it:



Do make sure you watch through the credits.

I found it at FilmsShort.com.

The Elixir Of Life


The Elixir Of Life (1830) is a horror story by Honoré de Balzac. It can be read online. Read it to find out if the son will use the elixir to keep his dying father alive, and what he will do with his own life afterwards.

Balzac isn't best known for his supernatural/horror short stories, and there are precious few of them. Well worth reading.

Friday, October 12, 2012

42 and Gasoline

The Husband and I were out in the car recently, and when he stopped to get gas he saw this 42:


It was at the foot of the gas pump. I wish the answer to everything could be used instead of gasoline to make the car go, but alas, it isn't to be.

Still Life

Still Life is a 2005 live action short film (7 minutes) directed by Jon Knautz. It's about a drowsy young driver, who is taking pills to stay awake. When he hits something on the road and stops, the "body" looks like a mannequin. He goes for help; but the town's residents all look like lifeless mannequins, only moving while his back is turned. He reacts badly. Very, very badly.

Me? I'm not leaving the scene. For any reason. This is one horror I can avoid.

It's online at youtube:



I ran across this while I was looking through the horror section of FilmsShort.com.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bike, Day 3

Ok, so I'm a wimp and am not going to re-learn to ride a bike in the rain.

But I did come to the realization that my shoe wardrobe is sorely lacking for biking purposes. I've never been much of a shoe person, and I don't have many pairs. Of the shoes I do have most are slip-ons, clogs, flip-flops and the like -totally unsuitable for bike riding. I have one venerable pair of New Balance running shoes and a pair of black leather ballet flats that would work. Hmmm...

Now I have these:


thanks to a trip to Plato's Closet with The Daughter.

Angst

Angst is a 6 1/2 minute film by Emiel Penders. It's the story of a little boy who was been bullied by the wind since he was a baby in his crib. And then the wind goes after his dog. A tale of fear overcome.

Youtube has it:



HT: MakeUseOf.com

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bike, Day 2

Hooray! Progress! I'm pleased to see that I can improve. Today I went further in less time and had less trouble. I had an easier time making corners, I crossed a couple of side streets using driveway cuts, I talked to 2 people without losing my balance, the kids at the school I passed didn't point and laugh, and I'm not the least bit sore.

I have learned why bikes are usually stored outside. I'd never given any thought to bike storage before, but I can see I need to. Mud is not a carpet-friendly material. Not that my carpet is anything to write home about, but still... It'll be so much easier for me if I can come and go through the front door and store the bike beside the door. I'm seeing a lot of options online. Who knew there were so many ways to store bicycles?

Maybe this one from Amazon.com:


It gets decent reviews.