What's The Frequency, Kenneth?: The Signal

Yet another excellent indie film found its way to my Netflix queue; David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry's brilliant sci/fi-horror film The Signal.

What starts as a seemingly early '70's grind house blood fest (OK ,it's a trick start to the film), is soon revealed to be an imaginative little movie about what happens when televisions, radios and telephones begin broadcasting odd noises that turn those who experience them into blood thirsty, hallucinating psychopaths. Yes, the plot is somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King's novel, Cell.

What makes this creative piece stand head and shoulders above the others, is the way that it is crafted; there are three separate directors, telling three different portions of the tale. Part one is the scary set-up, part two is a bloody black comedy, and the finale is a freaked out love story. And yes, as nuts as all of this may sound, it freakin' works! Boy howdy, does it work.

Another beautiful thing about The Signal, is that the acting is terrific. This may be a low-budget endeavor, but every one of the folks playing his or her part, strut and fret better than some of the so called "stars" I've seen in major releases lately.All in all, The Signal is a great find, give it a whirl and see if you don't think so. And remember, the last one out of Terminus on the 13 train this New Year's eve is a rotten egg.


Dead and Loving It: American Zombie

Frankly, I am getting a bit bored with the recent crush of independent zombie films, most of them are less than original, and, for me, they've sort of taken what was once one of the most frightening movie monster staples (the shambling, flesh eating ghoul) and turned them into a dull cliche.

Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this little gem; Director, Grace Lee's straight faced mocumentary, American Zombie, ...what a pleasant surprise!

Apparently Los Angeles has a rather large population of living dead citizens, and some of them have joined forces and are demanding equal rights, fair housing, the right to vote and everything else an oppressed populace might crave. They even have their own organization, ZAG (Zombie Advocacy Group) which is lead by a well spoken young male zombie. Indeed, most of the revenants, especially the "high functioning" portion hold down jobs, speak eloquently, and, for the most part, could pass for living.

During the course of the film we meet a slacker type-night clerk zombie; a wide eyed, red haired, somewhat loopy female zombie who works as a funeral floral arranger; and, my personal favorite, a sweet faced Asian American female zombie who loves cats, organic gardening and scrap booking. With the exception of some facial boils, bad teeth, patches of rotting skin and the occasional maggot infested wounds, our three main living dead subjects seem like perfectly pleasant folks.

Sure, some suspect the living dead of dark doings, but for the most part, that could just be based on people being suspect of others who are different from them...uh, then again, maybe not.

Are the zombies just like us? Is ZAG nothing more than a political group working for the common good? And what about the yearly Live Dead Festival? Is it nothing more than a Burning Man for zombies, or is something much darker afoot? I'll never tell!

By all means, check out American Zombie - its a terrific little film with just enough of a bite to keep horror fans happy.


Oh Johnny

So much Johnny Depp, so little time.

...as the belly-shirt-wearing-soon-to-be-pureed-object-of-lust, Glen Lantz in A Nightmare on Elm Street
...as the sad eyed creation of a gentle mad scientist who died before he could give him less than lethal mitts in Edward Scissorhands.
...as the "this is your brain on dope" spokesperson in Freddy's Dead, The Final Nightmare (credited as Oprah Noodlemantra!)
...as the angora-loving-cross-dressing-hack-director-with-a-heart-of-gold in Ed Wood.
...as the beleaguered and bewitched, Dean Corso in The Ninth Gate.
...as the prissy, scaredy-cat , Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hallow
...as Inspector Abberline investigating Jack the Ripper in the high brow, gore fest, From Hell.
...as author, Mort Rainey in the Stephen King adaption, Secret Window.
... and most recently, as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street who will sing you a song and then slash your throat, Sweeny Todd.


I Also Know Who Thrilled Me

My hero, Arbogast, recently posted a terrific piece on the fantastic creatures of film and television that scared him, and probably, ultimately, inspired him to become the sick twisted bastard we know and love today.

After reading Arby's post, I was inspired to think back to those images of the supernatural that kept me up at a night as a young'un. Care to have a peek?

Behold the alien that freaked me out to no end when I was a kid: This bubble headed creature was featured during the end credits of Star Trek. I used to watch this program with my parents when I was a kid, and I loved it. However, I usually left the room during the final credit roll, because of Mr. Big Head. Oh the nightmares I had of him showing up outside my bedroom window or of him lying in wait for me in the basement ... in fact, looking at his puss now, he still kind of freaks me out.Those fucking flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz: Next to the twister and the talking apple trees, these damn winged simians scared the bejesus out of me as a kid.
Beware of The Blob: Now who is afraid of rolling mound of Jello? Me. I must have been about ten years old when I watched this film on a sunny afternoon in the living room with my dad. That night I asked dad to move my bed away from the vent because I was convinced that The Blob was going to come pouring out of the heat duct on to my sleeping body . Always the prankster, Papa Romano left a big bowl of cherry Jello next to my bed that night. What a guy!
The Crawling Hand: Damn this beast with five fingers! Damn it to hell, I say. When I saw The Crawling Hand late one night on TV, it really got under my skin ... for the longest time I was sure that I'd eventually find the little creep waiting for me in a drawer, or maybe crawling up my shirt when I least expected it. The Exorcist: At the ripe old age of 14, I was pretty sure that I had gotten over my fear of aliens, disembodied hands, blobs and apes on the wing; and then I saw The Exorcist. I am pretty sure I saw this film on Christmas night of 1973. I went with several of my cousins. I was the youngest in the crowd. Having no idea what I was in for, but wanting to be cool like my older relatives, I sat in that theater in Downtown Philadelphia and tried to subdue the chills that were running through me. When I got home that night, I put rosary beads under my pillow, and made sure every light was on in my bedroom. In fact, The Exorcist so screwed with my psyche that I actually started going back to church for a bit (my mother was pleased over this). It actually took me several years to get over the fear that this movie instilled into me; that said, when ever I re-watch this film, it still knocks me for a loop.


Dr. Shock: Lessons Learned from Socket

  • Getting struck by lightning will turn you into an electricity freak.
  • Electricity freaks can find support groups.
  • Said support groups will join hands and share a jolt via a miniature generator.
  • Lightning strikes will turn a slob into a neat freak, a sex fiend, and eventually a killer.
  • Pray that the doctor who attends to you at an emergency room does not have a surgically implanted electrical plug in his arm.
  • Electricity freaks have great sex!
  • The main character in this film seems to have not paid his cable bill as all of his TV's just play static ... and yes, this is a nod to both Poltergeist and Videodrome.
  • A low budget does not necessarily mean a bad movie: Socket proves this. Even though the film makers could not go full throttle with this Cronenberg-like venture, it is still a fantastic and disturbing film.
  • Gay characters can be in a film, and their sexuality can be secondary to the plot ... who'd have thunk it?
  • Derek Long and Matthew Montgomery are not only decent actors (Long plays Dr. Matthews the film's lead - and Montgomery plays the intern/co-dependent love interest), but are hotter than Georgia asphalt once they start doing the nasty on screen!


Mother's Day is Coming

Sure! I love the dear silver
That shines in your hair

And the brow that's all furrowed
And wrinkled with care.

I kiss the dear fingers
So toil worn for me

Oh! God bless you
And keep you; Mother Macree.