Gentle Reader,

After much thought, I have decided that it's time to shut down Billy Loves Stu for a bit.  

It might be for a week, it might be forever, I can't say.

Lately, this all just seems like an exercise in futility ; there are a few bazillion other horror blogs out there, and I fear that BLS has just become an anonymous  face in the crowd. 

In any case, I am grateful  for  the friendships I have made due to this endeavor, and I especially want to thank those of you who read and commented on my blog over the past years - I really appreciated it. 

For now, I am going to walk away and take a break.  I might come back, I might not, who knows. 

Be Well, 

Pax Romano


Hear Her Roar: THE WOMAN

Director, Lucky Mckee's The Woman (much like Kevin Smith's Red State) is a black fairytale for these troubled times.  Saturated with social commentary, buried underneath a layer of dried blood and grime, The Woman is a film that tackles the myth of so called "Family Values" and knocks it on its ass. 

From the very start, it's clear that something is wrong with the Cleek Family - we meet them at a suburban barbecue and witness father, Chris (Sean Bridges) sweet-talking an older woman into letting him take over the sale of her land (he can't get her much, but it will be a fair price, he assures her)...then we witness his pre-teen son, Brian(Zach Rand) standing by watching a little girl being cruelly harassed by a group of older boys.  The youth turns his attention to a basketball and shoots hoops ignoring the little girl's cries for help...meanwhile, mom, Belle (Angela Bettis) appears an ineffectual creature afraid of her own shadow.  There are two daughters as well in this clan, the eldest, Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter) seems to be going through some type of internal melt down with only the youngest member of the family, Darlin' (Shyla Molhusen) seemingly well adjusted. 

Be that as it may, one morning, Papa Cleek goes hunting and spies a wild woman in the woods (Pollyanna McIntosh)  -who sort of resembles a grimy version of Bettie Page- and decides to bag the feral female, take her home and make her his  pet.  Oh sure, he claims, to his somewhat bewildered family, that he plans to "civilize" the woman...but soon it becomes clear that the patriarch of this dysfunctional clan is playing with a less than full deck.

That the captive is kept chained up in a cruciform manner should not be lost on the viewer, it's as if  Cleek worships this wild woman as much as he desires her - he even sacrifices his ring finger to her in a sort of twisted homage to a holy communion.
"when I get out of here, I am gonna eat Rush Limbaugh's fucking face"

But while keeping a bestial babe prisoner in a storm cellar would seem bad enough, it's also apparent that the Cleek clan have many other skeletons in their collective closet; the teen daughter may be pregnant with her father's child, mom is an abused enabler, and little Brian is a sociopath/chip off the old block...and exactly what the hell is going on in the barn with those damn yapping dogs?

Whatever the case, The Woman is an ambitious film that tackles the age old battle of the sexes theme and gives it the kick in the balls it needs...you can forget morons like that self-proclaimed Mama Grizily from Alaska, the titular character in this film would probably eat her alive just a soon as look at her.  In fact, the anti heroine of this film ends up gaining all of our respect and sympathy - sure, she may be a cannibalistic crazy, but does she torture others for pleasure (or vote Republican) - hardly.  Her modus operandi is to just survive...by any means possible.   In a way, she's the psychic, unbridled force of women everywhere - a force that, once unleashed, could topple nations.

A tight, intelligent  script, terrific acting (especially by Bridges, Rand and McIntosh) and a horrifically  optimistic ending make The Woman a must-see. 

PS, stay with the movie for a tiny treat after the final credits role.


And God Created Woman : THE SKIN I LIVE IN

Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In is like a great big beautiful blossom slowly revealing itself to be a bloody gorgeous flower - but beware the thorns, they are dripping with venom .
With nods to everyone from Hitchcock, to Ed Wood Jr, The Skin I Live In tells the tale of a scientist who recently lost his wife and daughter.  Played by Antonio Banderas, Robert Ledgard is a man obsessed (and quite possibly out of his fucking mind).  To the outside world he is a genius working on creating synthetic skin that would benefit burn victims,  in real life, he is the quintessential mad scientist, hell bent on a single task. The good doctor even has his "Igor" in the guise of his housekeeper (Marisa Paredes) a smart, seemingly obliging employee, the housekeeper has some personal luggage of her own and...well, you are going to have to watch the film to learn about that.
For those of you unfamiliar with Almodovar's work - prepare yourself.  His films are lush, manic, sexual, poetic, and often, darkly humorous.  The Skin I Live In is no exception.  The whole tone of this movie is somewhat absurdist, and yet, because of that, the sadistic horror that lies at the center of the story is such a terrifying revelation that it outdoes anything seen in American thrillers in ages.  
Family secrets, obsession, science gone awry, murder, mayhem and a nod to Frankenstein ; The Skin I Live In is a heady brew that leaves the viewer feeling like they were lead through a garden of unearthly delights only to discover that aforementioned blossom - just take heed of my earlier warning, this flower has some deadly thorns. 


I Lost it at the Movies: YELLOWBRICKROAD

It was the late, great film critic,  Pauline Kael who once said, "I Lost it at the Movies".  She could have also been talking about the plot of YellowBrickRoad.

Served up in a very David Lynch-like style, YellowBrickRoad defies all expectations and manages to deliver a strange and trippy cinematic experience that calls to mind everything from The Shining to Mulholland Drive.

Legitimate critics  and bloggers, much more talented than I, have reviewed this film, seek these out and read them for yourself - (I suggest you start here).  I am not giving this one much a of a review as I am pondering its meaning.  I may also drop a spoiler here and there.  You've been warned.
I saw YellowBrickRoad last weekend, and it has stayed with me, haunted me, and intrigued me.

What starts as a story about a group of  investigators and an author trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious mass vanishing of the residents of a small town in New Hampshire seventy years earlier, slowly evolves into a transcendental journey that leads the lone survivor back to the start of his journey where he discovers that hell may actually be the middle row of a cinema (or maybe it's up on the screen).  YellowBrickRoad begins and ends at a movie theater, and, yes, the specter of 1939's The Wizard of Oz is somehow the catalyst for the events both past and present.   Early on in the film we discover that just before everyone wandered off into the woods, they'd been watching The Wizard of Oz at the local movie house, and the remaining copy of the film was played so much, it is worn out.

Haunted woods figure also.  The pathway that our intrepid heroes follow through the forest  are filled with the eerie, ambient sounds of 30's and 40's era music - which at first is almost kind of beautiful, but eventually the sound gets so discordant and loud it drives some to murder and madness.  Obviously, we never really find out where the music is coming from, but it's there like some sort of Dolby-surround-sound torture chamber.
When of the secondary characters is murdered and her body is later discovered trussed up to a pole and posed like The Scarecrow from Oz, one can not help but wonder why.  Is her corpse a warning to the others, or possibly an enticement to wander even further, deeper into the gloomy woods?  I don't have the answer, but I sort of suspect that this is the point that the band of adventurers basically have passed the point of no return - no matter what they do, they are doomed; The Emerald City, or some hellish version of such, awaits and all they have to do is to survive to attain it.   Is this what the townspeople of Friar New Hampshire experienced several generations earlier?

Finally, when the film's protagonist and sole survivor makes it to the journey's end and finds himself back at the movie theater - what do we make of this?  Has he gone full circle, or is it indicative of what's really going on here?  Much like the townspeople of 70 years earlier, has Teddy (Michael Laurino) found himself in some sort of time loop?  Is the story merely repeating itself with some new players - or is what the woman on the screen saying true, "This is where we live now..."  Is Teddy in the same sort of twisted, cinematic dreamland that Diane/Betty (Naomi Watts) found herself in Mulholland Drive
And what do we make of that usher at the theater, (and that gramophone, was that the source of the music heard in the woods)?  Is this The Great and Powerful Oz of the piece?  The man behind the curtain, the one pulling the strings?
I can't say that I have any solid answers.  I can say, that I remain as intrigued and haunted by YellowBrickRoad as when I first saw it.  I appreciate any film that challenges me and leaves me questioning it.  Hell, I applaud it, and I am pretty sure I'll be re-watching this one over and over until I finally "get" it.
See you at the movies, gang!


Die, The Beloved Country: THE DEAD

Zombie films are a dime a dozen these days.  Any hack with a camera and some cheap stage make up seems to fancy him or her self  the modern day George A. Romero , and as such, the once terrifying, disease carrying, shambling metaphor for death has become as terrifying as a Smurf.

And then along comes The Ford Brothers', The Dead.

Set in West Africa, The Dead is a throw back to the kind of zombie film, Romero was making back in his heyday. Bleak, stark, serious and layered with political and social undertones, The Dead is a far cry from the mindless, CGI enhanced zombie movies being served up lately.  Told in a slow, deliberate manner, shot in 35 mm; The Dead has a sort of sweeping epic feel to it - frankly it's the sort of thing movie goers (especially horror film fans), don't get a lot of these days.

What starts like a  Lawrence of Arabia meets Night of the Living Dead hybrid ( a lone figure in desert garb traversing the Saharan landscape whilst dodging or shooting a few really, really, really, slow zombies) eventually  reveals itself to be the story of two men looking for hope in a hopeless world.  One of the men, Brian (Rob Freeman) is trying to  find a plane so he can leave zombie-riddled Africa and get back home to his wife and daughter in the United States) - the other man, Daniel (Prince David Oseia) is trying to find his way to a refugee camp to locate his missing son.  Both men are military, and while one is mourning the living death of his beloved country, and the other trying to find his way out, both men bond and form a kinship that is both touching and heartfelt.  Despite the hardships and the misunderstandings, they come to depend on the other and a realistic relationship is formed...again, not the kind of thing one gets in modern film very often.
If this film has a heart, it beats in the chest of  Prince David Oseia who brings such realism to the goings on.  His character is a decent man who may have been called on to do unspeakable things in the past as his nation was bled dry from civil wars, famine and disease.  However, now, when a new enemy has materialized he understands that all men and women must work together to defeat the common foe or else what's the point of living( gosh, that's a lesson for these times).   Honestly, I have never heard of this actor before, but he pretty much owns The Dead, and I am expecting big things from him in the future.
But wait a second, you kids came here for the zombies, didn't you?  Well, fear not, because they are everywhere.  As ubiquitous as flies, the pale-eyed-living-dead shamble through the forests, jungles and deserts of The Mother Land.  These flesh eaters are slow, deliberate and stealthy. No running, no screaming, just the ever constant threat of them at every turn.  Truly, some of the most eerie scenes of The Dead occur as our heroes drive through the African wilderness at night, the headlights of their car picking up views of the ever present, ever shambling zombies that litter the landscape (these scenes bring to mind Val Lewton's I walked with a Zombie) .
Another aspect of The Dead that is spectacular, is the photography.   The African landscapes are at times breathtaking, while at other times they appear stark and barren - much like the continent itself.   I for one, found myself gasping at some of the scenery it was that impressive - make of that what you will.
In the end, The Dead will probably alienate most modern audiences who have come to expect hackneyed plots, running zombies, jump cuts and gags - and that's a pity, because this is the kind of film that does not come along very often.    I can't help but wonder what Romero thinks of this one (or if he's even seen it), but I suspect that he would approve of the film, and more importantly of its message; lying deep in the soul of this dark, disturbing, (and at times) gory movie is a message about the undying spirit of human kindness and, yes, hope.


Bad Apples

Had to remove the "Top Fans / Followers" section as I had more than one ass-hat trying to promote his sex blog(s) that featured photos of underage models.  Sorry kids, but it had to be done.


Lessons Learned from CONTAGION

  • If a pretty blond offers to blow on your dice for good luck at a casino in Hong Kong, kindly defer her offer. 
  • Never eat pork in Hong Kong! 
  • Stop touching your face!
  • Typhoid Mary may look a lot like Gwyneth Paltrow.

  • Don't touch anything!
  • Don't talk to people.
  • Avoid public transportation.
  • Stay out of restaurants!
  • The beefier Matt Damon gets, the better he looks!

  • Bloggers may be the only people who will get the truth out concerning a world wide health crisis. 
  • If you work for the CDC and tell someone something in the  strictest confidence,chances are they will blab what you said to someone else in a matter of minutes. 
  • Lab monkeys will suffer if a world wide epidemic happens. 
  • Stop worrying about zombies, the living are a hell of a lot more destructive and dangerous than imaginary creatures. 

  • And finally, society may crumble, but a beefy Matt Damon will survive.