I Have a Doctor’s Excuse

This has been a couple of weeks of medical problems, family and otherwise, and the attendant throttling upwards of demand on my time. Something had to give, and for once, it was my body in second place.  Plans had to be scuttled to accommodate doctor visits, testing, fighting with insurance companies, and filling in for other people on my day job (while still keeping my hours under 19 1/2 a week, because God forbid they should actually have to give me any benefits). (Please note I actually do like my job, and my status is not the fault of anyone I actually work with)


There’s a couple of reviews I have on the spike that I was saving. So I’ll pop one of those up later in the week so we can all pretend that life is normal. I’m only able to dash this off because it’s going to take 20 minutes to transfer this weekend’s footage from the memory cards to my computer for editing.

Last night I received the latest newsletter from one of my favorite writers, Warren Ellis, which was composed pretty much of one graphic:

unnamedThis provoked a rueful, knowing laugh from me (which was quite welcome, as we were in the second hour of trying to have a celebratory birthday dinner for my wife). Hopefully he does not mind my appropriating it, and will not harvest my organs in the night for black rituals or fringe science, or an unholy combination of both. If you have not yet heard the Word of Warren Ellis, click on either of those links. Your brain will thank you.

Perhaps we’ll talk about what’s been going on one day. Probably not – none of it is life-threatening, and is only of interest if you’re in the thick of it, like me.

Anyway, see you later, and be excellent to one another.

Light at the End

So it looks like I blew my 500th post last time by telling y’all I wasn’t going to be around much this month. So much for arbitrary milestones, que sera sera. I think – maybe – the worst is past now. Possibly.

6623950883_e01f3719c5_zAs I write this, rains from the remnants of Hurricane Odile are hammering Texas, and I keep expecting the lights or Internet to go out. We have it a bit easier in the Houston area than further into the interior, but it’s serious enough that a whole bunch of scheduled things are now questionable. It would probably be best if I stayed home tonight and got some work done, but I really need to go to the opening night of a show my wife has been working on for the past month.

By and large, though, it seems that my days of being triple-booked are over for the moment, which is good; yesterday put me back on the cane for a while (and the weather ain’t helpin’ my rheumatiz, by jingo!). I am behind in my writing – oh, when am I not? – and I look forward to Sunday, when, gloriously absolutely nothing is scheduled. Well, I’ll need to buy groceries, but that’s at my leisure.

I did do something novel last Sunday – I read for a small part in a indie movie being filmed here. I haven’t heard anything yet, but there are three days in October I am currently keeping open. More bulletins as they occur, but I’m pretty sanguine about this. Like my wife’s show – which I read for, but was not cast – if I get it, fine, it’s something new and different in my life. If not… well, it would have complicated things anyway, right? Of course, when you measure three days of shooting against a month of rehearsal and then another month (at least) of performances, you are talking vastly different levels of complexity.

I still have two more City meetings to run sound for in the next two weeks, then we’re into the new fiscal year and I’ll be back to my regular work load there. So I’m not saying I’m back here with any confidence, mind you, but things are looking a bit better in that respect.

Now I’m going to go see if I’m flooded in.

Signing In Late

Yeah, suck it, salaryman.

Yeah, suck it, salaryman.

Well, I had a pretty good run of Wednesday updates going there. Looking back over previous posts (and sometimes I could even be bothered to correct errors) I find this is the Status Quo. Every September, my life shifts gears, and I get much busier. I get back into the new-story-every-week mode at the Day Job, hopefully pick up another writing contract, and City Meetings that need audio support in the last month of their fiscal year (when they’ve run out of money) hire the cheapest guy. Which would be me.

My weekend gig is also reviving an old show, so rehearsals also cut into the time.

So my spare time is getting sparser than the hair atop my head (hint: there is damned little up there), so I’m afraid this is going to be the normal for a while. I don’t much care for that, but the alternative is a tad troublesome, ie., having no money.

That’s the big blockade to a cherished dream: just watching a movie a day. Lots of people do this. Lots of people watch more than one movie a day. I could do it if I gave up sleep. But I’m already a pretty grumpy bastard, no need to ratchet that up. I’d also need to stop writing about the damned things, at which some of you would likely breathe a sigh of relief.

(hm. That would free up an hour or three every week…)

Anyway, I’m likely to be pretty scarce this month. If it’s any consolation, I’ve been working on something for October with some other movie bloggers, and you’re going to get absolutely sick of me next month.

See ya in the funny papers.

Some Filler

This will be quick (I hope), because I’m tired, tense and not a little angry. None of these are good by themselves, and in concert, they feed on each other relentlessly. I also have quite a bit to do.

These Three Horsemen of Negativity are headed up by their leader, also known as Freelance Work. Or to be precise, the freelancer’s plight – completing one’s work in a timely manner, whereas the payment for same is, shall we say, lackadaisical.

I'm either stressed out or getting scanned. Getting scanned would be preferable.

I’m either stressed out or getting scanned. Getting scanned would be preferable.

“Our Accounts Payable person takes July off.” Thankfully, that sentence was not followed with, “Is that a problem?” because I would have had to answer that. The bigger paycheck which is causing bigger stress… well, I can take the tack that every day I don’t find it in my mailbox, it is made more probable that it will be there the next day, right? It is one of the vagaries of the postal system that if I send a card to my mother (or vice versa) who lives 100 miles away, it gets there the next day, which is pretty remarkable, when you get right down to it. But if I am mailed a paycheck from downtown Houston, which is 15 miles away, it takes a week or more to get to me. That is a completely different form of remarkable.

I try to impress upon myself that the bills that were due are paid. We aren’t starving. We have a roof over our head. I have enough money to pick up my blood pressure medication tomorrow. It could be worse. It’s been worse.

Still. Tired. Tense. Angry.

I’m entering into one of those lop-sided hell weeks full of city meetings. Have a writing deadline, No shows this weekend, a financial hit that makes that missing paycheck from downtown even more important. That does, however, mean the freedom to have a Crapfest this weekend, which will soothe some hurts. Likely won’t get to write about it until next Wednesday, though.

Last Saturday, I hit critical mass. There was just too much hateful stupidity being thrust at me from all directions, and it was time to walk away from social media. @rstevens, the creator of Diesel Sweeties, one of the most consistently smart webcomics out there, put it best on Tuesday:

Go to that URL. Buy his stuff.

Go to that URL. Buy his stuff.

And let me tell you: going to Netflix and watching old episodes of Forensic Files is not going to help you get rid of that gloomy “What the fuck is wrong with people?” feeling. Quite the opposite. Protip, and all that.

And sweet Jesus, it’s an election year.It’s only going to get far, far worse. I’m either going to be a saint or a sot by the end of the year, and I know which one sounds more worthwhile.

guardians-galaxy-movie-trailer-humorOh, yeah, you probably want to hear about movies. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy. It was good. I only gave it four stars out of five, but it was fun, and left plenty of room for the sequel that was announced like the day before it freaking opened. The only real flaw, past an overly familiar storyline, was, once more, fight scenes where I could only assume what was going on. On the extras for The Raid 2, Gareth Huw Evans, who is one of the best action directors now living, refers to that as “hearing a good fight scene, not seeing it”.

Past that, it has fun. It has a hero who is “not 100% a dick” – and in fact, has a tremendous amount of heart. What I wasn’t expecting was the movie itself to have so much heart. Almost all our title characters are dealing with grief in one form or another, and they find out they don’t have to deal with it alone. That’s a good message. I will endorse it.

The fact that stuff goes boom a lot is a definite bonus.

So see you next week folks. I’ll try to be a lot snarkier, if not happier.



mavieI’m not sure exactly when it was that I decided I wanted a Pug. I had always been a big fan of the squashed-face breeds, ever since a childhood encounter with a terrifying-looking but incredibly friendly and good-natured English Bulldog. I decided I always wanted to keep something around that was uglier than me. Wait, I think it was actually during my first viewing of Dune, when I started noticing little details to distract me from my Frank Herbert-fan dismay. During a battle scene, noticing people not only carrying weapons but Pugs, because in a life-or-death fight, you must always save the Imperial Ugly Dogs.

But purebreeds are expensive, and I was warned away from them because of the health problems inherent due to excessive in-breeding over the centuries. I gave up on the idea. Then in 2002, my wife, Lisa, was in a conference with one of her students’ mother, and the lady had to take a phone call. She listened to the other end of the line a moment, and said, “No.” Then a bit later, “No. My kids already have enough animals. I don’t want a Pug.” And Lisa said, “Wait a minute.”

Lisa and MavisSo the Pug’s current parents brought her over to check out the house and us. They were moving to a place that did not allow animals, and they were hoping to get her into a nice house with a backyard where she could play, or else they would have to surrender her to a shelter. We’re nice people, and my son, Max, at that time age 4, thought she was greatest thing ever. So the transfer was made, hands were shaken, and we were given food, treats and toys. I am told her mother managed to hold it together and didn’t start crying until they got a block away.

At the time, she was called Clover, because she was born on St. Patrick’s Day. Lisa thought that was a horrible name, and re-christened her Mavis, which was later lengthened to Mavis Louise, because that is how my wife rolls (It was later shortened to “May-May”, because that is also how she rolls).

There was a period of adjustment, to be sure. Mavis kept running away, the first few weeks, looking for what she knew were her real parents, and I would have to chase her down, sometimes a block or two away. But as time passed, she realized this was where the food was, and where the love was, and we started the second phase of our relationship. This was aided immeasurably by Mavis meeting our then-neighbor’s dog, a little white furry foo-foo piece of fluff, and the two became pals immediately. They even dug a hole under the fence so they could visit each other. Fortunately the neighbor thought that was grand.

Halloween Mermaid; She liked it better when she found out how much attention it got her

Halloween Mermaid; She liked it better when she found out how much attention it got her

Pugs are very sweet-natured and incredibly energetic. They are known as being a lot of dog in a small package. Our house is two stories, and the first floor is arranged in a circle around the staircase, living room into kitchen into dining room into living room, and whenever anyone new came in – or heck, even anyone familiar – Mavis would get so excited she would run around the circle, sometimes twice, before she exploded with joy, or something.

I walked her every morning before work, and she would constantly strain at the end of the leash, practically choking herself with her collar, because we weren’t getting there fast enough. I bought a harness to fasten around her sturdy chest, and one of those extendable leashes. I used to laugh at how adept she got at stepping into that harness.

Mavis was the very essence of a lap dog. Whenever I settled down to watch a movie, she would leap into my lap, get settled, and soon be snoring contentedly. Pug snores also belie their relatively small size. Every living thing in the house at that time snored, so she fit right in. I didn’t mention to my wife that her snores sounded just like Mavis’, because I’m not an idiot. Max took Mavis into his bedroom every night. He didn’t seem to mind the snoring. Swear to God, kids can sleep through anything.

sleepy palsMy niece gave me one of those magnets you can put on the back of your car, that said “My Pug Is Smarter Than Your Honor Student”. I put it on my car to humor her, but that was far from the truth. Mavis was the sweetest, most loving creature on the face of the Earth, but she was dumber than a box of rocks. That huge head held a brain that was, I am certain, perfectly smooth. I didn’t care. I’m a fairly intelligent guy, and smarts just lead to unhappiness and woe. My Pug-dog was relentlessly happy, and we lived to see that Pug grin.

santa pugYears passed. We got older, and so did she. She wasn’t able to jump up into my lap anymore, so I gladly lifted her up. More and more often, she wanted to end her walk early, and sometimes I had to carry her home. Eventually she grew to prefer just going out into the backyard, doing her business, and barking at the local squirrels.

lap dogsMy sister-in-law lives in the woods of West Texas on the Dry Frio River, with a bunch of strays she has adopted. One week my wife brought home Brownie, a mutt who was the smallest of the pack, and was getting bullied and starved by the others. Brownie was a traumatized little dog, and didn’t trust Mavis; but Mavis only wanted to make friends and play. Eventually she won Brownie over. The dark side to that was that Max took over Brownie as his dog, and started taking her into his bedroom at night instead of Mavis, who could no longer jump into, or safely jump down from, his bed.

profileI felt for my poor little Pug but Lisa didn’t want her in the bedroom, and since I eject the cats from said bedroom every night (I have a thing about things walking on me at night, ie., I tend to scream and hurl them across the room), I couldn’t really complain. We set a bed in the upstairs hallway for her, and by God she would laboriously climb up that stairway every night to be close to us in her sleep.

The trip down the stairs was getting more and treacherous, too. I would try to be downstairs when she attempted it, because the final three steps always resulted in a blind scramble, and stumble, and crashing into the wall. Her eyesight had begun to fail, too; too often I felt the heartbreak of watching her run into a wall or door. She didn’t always make it to the pee pad we laid out for her upstairs, or perhaps she couldn’t find it, or perhaps she didn’t care that much any more. Lisa lobbied to keep her in the kitchen, with its more easily cleaned tile floor, and I was forced to admit she was right.

pug wrasslinWe set up baby gates at the two doors. Mavis adjusted to this quickly enough. One of the gates was next to the back door, so it was easy to let her and Brownie out to do their business and romp and do whatever it is dogs like to do. Mostly sun themselves until it gets too hot, which doesn’t take too long in Houston.  She usually found her way back and scratched at the door to be let in.

Then, one day, while I held the screen door open for Brownie and Mavis to go out, it happened: Mavis slipped, and lay on the concrete slab outside the door, convulsing. I scooped her up off the rough concrete and moved her over to the grass. She peed all over me in transit, but I hardly noticed. I laid her on the grass and stroked her head, thinking, God if this is it, please make it as painless as possible. After a few minutes she sat up, then stood up and waddled across the yard to smell the flowers.

old pugA couple of days later, Max was home because they were testing at his school, and it wasn’t his day to test. Mavis had another seizure, and Brownie started howling, and Max reasonably enough freaked out and called his mother, who called me. I was already leaving work. I got home and Max was sitting with her; she was in her bed, and seemed alright, but over the last few weeks her breathing had become more labored. As someone with no appreciable nose myself, I can tell you that breathing is a chore anyway, but this was something new, and more difficult. She had been spending more and more time in her bed, only lying down to sleep. The rest of the time she sat up, because breathing was easier.

I relieved Max and sat with her for an hour until she went to sleep. I went upstairs to get a little sleep, because I had a meeting to cover that night. That seemed to be it for the seizures – that we witnessed, anyway – but I cleaned up a couple of pools of urine that were streaked with blood. One night Lisa slept over at a friend’s house because she had just moved and her dogs were still in the kennel, so she needed company. I had a bit of surprise the next morning when I got up, and there, sleeping in the bedroom across from the master, was a certain grizzled old pug-dog.

I gently picked her up and carried her downstairs. One of the baby gates had fallen over – on top of her bed – and she had climbed up the long, impossibly long staircase, just like old times, to be near us. She started struggling to be put down, because she didn’t like to be held too long anymore – I think it made breathing even more difficult.

The next week work was ridiculous – I had my morning hours, then running support at City meetings in the evening. The Wednesday night City Council meeting was a real corker, moved to a larger venue so angry citizens could complain about – well, let’s just say it was Classic Not In My Back Yard and leave it at that. My call time was 5pm. The meeting adjourned at 3:06am the next morning, and equipment still needed to be broken down and transported back to home base. It was almost 5am before I got home.

Needless to say, I slept in. When I got up and went to work, Mavis was in the kitchen, not in her bed, but lying on the floor under the dishwasher. That wasn’t too uncommon; it was right under an air-conditioning vent, and Pugs are notoriously hot little dogs. I petted her and went to work for a truncated day.

When I came back, she was still, there, and I realized what this actually was.

I quickly changed out of my work clothes and ran back to her, sitting down on the floor next to her. I grabbed a handful of paper towels on my way, because the tears were already coming, and I knew there were going to be a lot more.  I didn’t try to move her, I didn’t want to make things worse. I just sat there, crying and stroking her, telling her how much I loved her, how beautiful she was, how she was Daddy’s Pretty Girl, and it was okay if she had to leave, she didn’t have to stay if it was too hard. Eventually, Lisa and Max came home from school, and found us there. Max tenderly touched her back, Lisa stroked her head and said, “May-May?” and she moved her head once, and stopped breathing.

She was just hanging on to say goodbye to everybody.

my chair nowI’m not sure how long I sat there, my hand on her cooling back, still stroking it as if she could feel it in the Beyond. Finally, I got up. Lisa borrowed a shovel from our neighbor and the three of us started digging a hole in the back yard.

It’s good to have physical labor to do at a time like this. I was able to think about something else as we cut through roots and dug out discarded brick and rebar from the previous owner’s failed attempt at a herb garden. Finally it was deep enough, and Lisa wrapped Mavis in a tea towel – “Blue, to match her eyes” – and brought her out, because I couldn’t. Seeing those poor, gray lifeless legs as she carried her across the yard really brought home the finality of all this. She laid Mavis in the grave. I tossed a handful of dirt into it, and my family followed suit. We took turns filling in the grave, then we held hands while Lisa said a few words, because, again… I couldn’t.

While Max cleaned off the shovel to return it to the neighbor, I went upstairs, closed my office door, and gave myself up to the wracking sobs I couldn’t before. When I finally came downstairs, Lisa was cleaning the kitchen. It looked so empty without a little sausage-shaped dog with a curly tail, sitting in her bed, or maybe sidling over while I was cooking to see if I could spare some chicken, or hamburger. I usually could. I put the baby gates in the garage. They weren’t needed anymore.

sunbathThey say that dogs were put on the Earth to teach us that unconditional love exists, and to show us what it looks like. Mavis was part of my life, a part of my family for 12 years. Max can’t really remember a time without her.  I miss her. I miss her reedy little bark, I miss her smile, I miss her stench when she went too long without a bath, I miss her snoring, I miss her sneezing, I miss that bizarre sound, between a bark and a howl, that she made when I came home too late at night. I miss her sitting at the top of the stairs, looking down into the living room, trying to look like the Hound of the Baskervilles but failing because she was a lovable little pug dog with a goofy face. I miss going into the kitchen and having her immediately start hoovering and snurfling around while I misquoted a line from the show that Lisa and I met during, saying “Pug dog, you are hideously in the way.”

I miss my May-May. I miss her so much.

It will get better. I know it will. Well, at least, it will get easier. This isn’t the first time I’ve lost a beloved animal, and probably not the last. But I should only live so long to know this love and sorrow again, and – what would be better – to love as much as a certain little squashed-face dog, who stole my heart and took a little piece, just the tiniest little piece, but such a painful piece – of my heart with her. That would be an accomplishment.
Rest well, Pugnacious. I’ll see you in heaven.

 Daddys Pretty GirlMavis Louise Williams
aka Daddy’s Pretty Girl


“I’m dainty. Daddy said so.”


Talk Among Yourselves

Last week was rough. This week is going to be rougher.

My third job (of four, because as we all know I am a taker) is audio support of the televised city meetings on the local Municipal channel – what I refer to as doing my part for the transparency of government. Two such meetings blew up last week, and the debris is landing this week. For the School Board, a literal turf war over whether or not to spend the remaining money from a bond on synthetic turf for the stadium. City Council is getting involved (this is one of the very few Municipal School Districts in the nation).

City Council is also going to receive part two of public acrimony from a Planning and Zoning meeting last week; citizens are outraged that a light industrial building is going up near their neighborhood. I’d often heard of the phenomenon of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), but this was my first opportunity to witness it. Two and a half hours of talking in circles, threats (I love people threatening to “vote out” a board manned by appointees), and shouting down people trying to defend themselves. It was the opposite of fun.

So the Mayor declared that the City Council meeting that would have the final say on this would be moved to a larger venue, meaning that our crew would have to set up cameras and all the other necessary equipment, and another day of my week vanished.

Spanish_Godzilla_2014_PosterI had another post prepared, which went into much more detail about my woebegone life, but you know what? Nobody wants to hear that crap. I didn’t get to watch any movies last week, and I won’t be able to watch any this week (miracles may happen. Who knows?). But I did get to watch Godzilla today, so I’m in a good mood. I’m dumping the longer, downer version of this post and moving on.

I hope you have a better week than me, unmarred by political infighting and mobs with torches and pitchforks. If you’re at all interested in giant monster movies or disaster movies, go see Godzilla – I really feel it is the best Godzilla movie since the very first one.

See you on the other side, amigos.

Before The Gold Rush

I’m going on yelp and giving this new flu a bad review.

The last couple of weeks have been a delirious fever dream, as I pretty much lived on Dayquil and sugar-free cough drops. I punked out of work when I could, but most of the time I couldn’t. The most amazing bit, to me, was when my church asked for my voice at two Easter services and if I felt too bad I didn’t have to do it but could I please also do a rehearsal on Saturday morning, too? After the rehearsal, one musician reportedly said, “Darth Vader just opened our service.” Yeah, I sounded profoundly sepulchral. No problem hitting those low notes. I radiated gravitas. And phlegm.

caught fluSo after Easter weekend – when I did the Show, and the services, and made homemade chicken soup because I was the mobile one in Plague Central – I took Monday off, and then a surprising thing happened. Exhaustion took its toll and I actually slept through Monday night, awakening only occasionally to cough up a piece of lung. I felt good enough to go into work, pound that week’s story into shape and submit it before the deadline, go home, nap, go do audio support for that evening’s Economic Development Corporation meeting (honestly, I have watched un-subtitled Mandarin movies that were more comprehensible to me), slept again, and felt almost human Wednesday. Which is good, because I had a traveling show at a refinery in Deer Park (and it’s always good before a show to receive that little lecture about what to do if there were some sort of catastrophic accident while we were there), then run home, change clothes, and do a remote broadcast that evening.

I felt good enough that I won’t even mention that the remote was for a Candidate Debate between folks running for School Board and City Council positions. No, what I’m actually not going to mention is that one of the Council candidates was sick, so we had a Candidate Debate with one participant. That was good TV.

death1Oh, yeah, I watched some movies while I was sick, too.

First up was Death Promise, an odd little homegrown kung fu revenge flick from 1977. This was nowhere near as bad as I was told, and I found it pretty entertaining. Okay, admittedly the boom mike should have gotten a credit. Indications are we’re going to devote a Daily Grindhouse Podcast to it, so I’ll leave my blithering to that, and leave you with this truly remarkable fight scene, including a bad guy whose ki-ya sounds like an asthmatic cat who’s smoked too many cigars:

And oh yeah, ignore them. Buy this fine movie at Amazon.com.

Speaking of the podcast, one of the best things it turned me onto was the delightfully insane, inept-in-all-the-right-ways movie Raw Force, aka Kung Fu Cannibals. This was the first of two movies directed by Edward D. Murphy. We were all curious about his second, and last directorial effort, Heated Vengeance, but I was apparently the only one who cared enough to do something about it.

In other words, I took a bullet for the team.

heated-vengeance-movie-poster-1985-1020693907In the three years between Raw Force and Heated Vengeance, Murphy learned a few things, and got a better budget together. This is obvious from the very first scene, which depicts a Viet Cong attack on an American firebase in Laos. Richard Hatch is there as our heroic commanding officer, Joe Hoffman, who gets wounded and choppered away from his native translator lady love Michelle (Jolina Mitchell-Collins). Hoffman gets sent back to the States and his wife, and years later he returns to Thailand, newly divorced and looking for Michelle, now a doctor, and what could be his son. Too bad he runs into Larry Bingo (Ron Max), a guy in his command who was getting sent up the river for raping a native girl, but escaped during that expensive Cong attack we keep flashing back to. Bingo kidnaps Hoffman, takes him to his drug production base (set up in Hoffman’s abandoned army camp), intending to wreak some heated vengeance. Hoffman escapes, and goddammit, we’re watching The Most Dangerous Game again.

There is surprisingly little action in this action movie; there’s a lot of talk, though. Murphy still likes his villains kind of colorful, and Bingo leaves no scenery unchewed. Among his henchmen are Michael J. Pollard, being very Michael J. Pollard-y, and Robert Walker Jr., an unfortunate actor who Hollywood just never figured out what to so with. Things don’t start getting really weird until about the last twenty minutes or so when the wounded Hoffman is taken in by some Laotian natives, and Michelle and his son track him down with the help of a friendly traveling toilet salesman (a pretty welcome Dennis Patrick). By this time, Bingo is down to a flamethrower and Michael J. Pollard, and there is an explosive finale which Murphy could not have possible been able to afford, but he goes ahead and tries to do it anyway, which was the Edward D. Murphy I had been looking for all along.


“Wha? Heated? Vengeance? That’s a thing?”

It is a very good vehicle for Richard Hatch, though: he does the everyman with his back against the wall bit pretty well. But honestly, I spent a lot of time in this flick checking how many minutes it had left, and that is never a good thing.

So how do I recover from the disappointment of not finding another Raw Force? I watch Boardinghouse, because I’m an idiot.

I was pretty much unaware that Boardinghouse  even existed before noted sociopath Joe Cosby forced me to watch Things for Daily Grindhouse Podcast Mark I, and evidence showed that Things was inspired by Boardinghouse, at the time the most successful made-for-video Canadian movie evar. The video was apparently even transferred to 35mm for a theatrical release.


boarding-house-movie-poster-1982-1020230391After an opening where we find out the titular house has a history of violent deaths (one involves an incredibly effective garbage disposal), most of which can seemingly be traced to a telekinetic sibling who’s committed to a mental hospital for life. The house eventually devolves to Jim Royce, who opens it as an all-female boardinghouse, with him as live-in landlord, figuring that this will be the ticket to a “bachelor’s paradise”. This means that he will soon be banging each and every one of his tenants, when he’s not meditating on his desk in his underpants, honing his telekinetic skills.

That’s right, there are two telekinetics in this movie, soon to be three when Jim teaches Debbie (Lyndsay Freeman) his methods. Good thing, too, because the original TK escapes from the hospital after forcing a woman to hang herself and a man’s intestines to jump outside his body.

vlcsnap-2012-07-07-23h03m57s59The women in the Boardinghouse are about as well written as your typical frat house movie, which is to say they are not written at all, and they appear to have little inclination or ability to be anything more than casually catty and evil to each other. There is an Asian girl who mysteriously vanishes after her sex scene – and it’s not like when another girl vanishes and it’s part of the plot, no, she just ceases to be. There is also a black girl, but we only see her when she’s going to work (and she’s the only one who appears to do so, so I guess that should be counted as a positive character trait). Well. she does show up at the big party scene at the end just in time to get killed, but – groundbreaker! – the black character isn’t the first one to get killed! Admittedly, it’s because she hasn’t been around for most of the movie, but still…

Maybe these two ladies have expanded roles in the Director’s Cut, which is  apparently a full hour longer, but I don’t care. I JUST DON’T CARE.

I will give it this: Boardinghouse tries to outdo Rock N’ Roll Nightmare in the bizarre, terminally-silly-ending-that-is-supposed-to-be-terrifying department, and it certainly gives Jon Mikl Thor a run for his money. This amazingly dark trailer should give you an idea of the visual splendor of the movie:

Folks, video equipment doesn’t do well in low light environments, unless you know what you’re doing, and even then... And oh, yes, “Horror Vision”. When you hear a sound and see a black glove, you’re supposed to close your eyes. It’s like Chamber of Horrors‘ Horror Horn and Fear Flasher, except the makers of Boardinghouse get tired of the gimmick about 45 minutes in and forget about it. Maybe it shows up in the last few minutes, but you know… care. Did not.

Folks, I watch a lot of crap like this. No dilettante I, I have seen shit that would turn you white. After a while, it gets to you, it really does. This is why I take off May and watch movies on my Wall of Shame, movies I should have watched years ago, almost all taken from Roger Ebert’s Great Movies List. At a low ebb, I kicked this off early and knocked one of those bricks off the wall: I watched Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush.

I hear many of you screeching about the whiplash injuries incurred by that sudden turnaround in quality. Fine. We’ll leave that for next time.