A Pause for a Number of Things

Hopefully, you’ve been enjoying my time-misplaced Hubrisween entries. It’s been a nice guide for my writing, a sort of kick in the pants it often needs. My scarcity this week has several causes: work, Life’s Rich Pageant (also known as crap that’s boring if you’re not sitting in my skin), and what is probably the worst side effect of the many times I’ve done Hubrisween: I’m starting to get tired of horror.

That is not a state I wish to be in; look at my dang collection, or my Plex server, and you are either going to think “What the hell is wrong with you” or “How did it take you so long to get tired of this?” The responses range from “You knew I was fucked up when you came in the door” to “I’m not really tired of it, I’m just bored.”

Hang around for a few paragraphs, you might get better answers.

“Now then, tell me about your childhood.”

For reasons I’ve already gone into, it was a pretty light Christmas this year, but there were some nice presents; my brother replaced my old blu-ray player with a region-free one (I think that’s a good thing) and my Mom asked if I wanted this old flatscreen they had replaced with a larger model. There was an old TV in my bedroom, which, oddly enough, my parents had given me waaaaaaay back when my son was a baby so he could watch Teletubby videos over and over again. It was analog, and one of two VHS players left in the house.

My wife requires the TV playing to get to sleep. She is not alone in this, I know, it’s not like it’s a unique quirk. I always came to bed after she had gone to sleep. so turning off that TV was a nightly ritual. Then a few years back she moved from the master bedroom to the guest bedroom, because we are both snorapotamusses. We sleep much better now, and she got a TV with a sleep timer.

God damn it, I miss you.

Anyway, since Craig Ferguson went off the air, I have no need for late night TV.

So I would retire to my suddenly too-large bed and read or something until sleep came down. But this TV opened up something of a new paradigm for me. I mentioned my wife’s need of the TV to sleep because I’m the exact opposite; it’s like when I complained to my friend that I didn’t have time to watch all the movies I’d like and he responded “Just put it on in the background while you do other stuff.” I can’t do that. I’m not wired that way. When media talks to me, I listen. I give it my attention. Using it as a sleep aid is a non-starter.

But. I have a new tool! Surely I can do something with it!

Yes, I’ve seen movies that start like this, too.

What happened actually surprised me.

oh, one of these days you’re going to get yours, bitch

I set up the TV, attached my old blu-ray and an older Roku I had replaced on my main movie-watching screen, which is in my home office (and glowering behind me as I type this, fuming about that new little hussy in my bedroom, no doubt). Then I pulled some discs I had been meaning to watch but were low-priority, like Death Machines, which I had intended to watch since seeing the TV advertising blitz for it in the 70s. It’s low-priority because I also know how those movies played out once you were in the theater (Super Infra-Man notwithstanding). Or something episodic like Ultra-Q.

And I pulled out a box I had bought at a Vinegar Syndrome sale because Its allure was really too strong: All Night at the Bizarre Art Theater. With Vinegar Syndrome, you know it’s going to be something with strong cult vibes, or smut. This is smut.

Consider that your trigger warning.

It’s the second in a series apparently, and I’m going to let VS’ own PR department lay it out:

Throughout the early to mid 1970s, the most common way to see underground feature films was to visit a ‘storefront theatre.’ Sometimes referred to as ‘mini-theatres’ or ‘shoebox theatres,’ these small venues were often converted retail stores armed with nothing more than a couple projectors and nailed down folding chairs. And, unlike larger houses like the Pussycat chain, the films screened in these small and cozy spaces were low-budget 16mm efforts, affectionately known as one-day-wonders.

Hundreds of these theatres dotted the American landscape, and with them, the most truly independent and underground filmmakers found a place to exhibit their work.

“Truly independent and underground filmmakers” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there, but it speaks to me on a level that approximates my current interest in the no-budget genre movies of folks like the Polonia Brothers or whoever thought it would be a good idea to make a found footage movie this week. Not that any of those worthies produced skin flicks.

This second volume houses 12 features with a decidedly ghoulish flavor, which I admit is what attracted my attention. Hey, it’s horror-adjacent smut!

Witnesses a sex-crazed scientist unleash his pent up desires in DR. SEXUAL AND MR. HYDE! See Satan send his sons to earth to collect beautiful women for devilish orgies in HOTTER THAN HELL! Stare in terror as a masked killer murders nubile starlets in COME DEADLY! Explore the agony of the shocking sex rituals performed by the RITES OF URANUS! Shiver in fear as a group of unsuspecting friends enter the HOUSE OF DE SADE! Gasp in suspense as a knife-wielding killer preys on an all girls boarding school MANIA!

These films, plus 6 more tales of ghosts, goblins, fiendish killers, and even Bigfoot, are all here to scare your pants off, and plunge you into a cinematic bacchanale straight from hell!

Pornography is itself deadly dull, but I have to admit these filmmakers with a perverse desire to overlay incredibly risible plots between episodes of genitalia-bumping offers its own entertainment value. You’ve still got the flatly-lit clinical close-ups (some of which have been so clinical that I can see modern porn makers gasping “gaaaaaah WHY?!?!”), money shots and extremely regressive sexual politics, but there’s also an unspoken desire to do more than present bump-and-grind gymnastics. There’s at least one sex act I had thought only existed in hand-drawn illustrations for the Kama Sutra, but there it is, and man does it look uncomfortable.

“Oi! what are we doin’ on this page?”

But there’s also stuff like Dr. Sexual and Mr. Hyde that tries to look like a period piece, only to have it all undone by the female lead’s peace symbol earrings. I live for stuff like that. Also for details like the music for House of DeSade is ripped-off Pink Floyd, and it’s weird Floyd, like “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict” weird and “Be Careful With That Axe, Eugene” weird. And let’s not forget “Tubular Bells” in Sorceress. Which was probably going on during that uncomfortable sex scene I mentioned earlier.

This will also probably be my only chance ever to mention the “If-It’s-Good-Enough-For-Kubrick-It’s-Good-Enough-For-Me” use of “The Blue Danube” for Waltz of the Bat – which I will also say has the audacity to attempt art in its closing seconds with The 1812 Overture and goddammit succeeds.

I will say this – although I’m only through two-thirds of this masturbatory madness, I have to say that a) I don’t have to worry about losing the “plot” during my piecemeal viewing, and b) my sleep has been unusually peaceful, because the period between switching off the TV and actually nodding off has not been preoccupied with the antics of the multiple chucklefucks who currently feel they control our world.

That has been priceless.

Happy New Year to All Who Celebrate

For years, it was my practice to, every New Year’s Eve after midnight, to watch something beautiful to bring in the New Year. This would mean movies like Powaqqatsi, Baraka and Samsara.

I didn’t do that for 2022, and look what happened.

Primarily I think it was because I had sucked all the juice out of those fruits, and watching something overly familiar would deaden or demean the beautiful part of that.

Oh, but I had it all figured out this year. I had a copy of Terrence Malick and Godfrey Reggio’s Awaken. That should chase the demons right out of the house and into the cold and gunsmoke of the fireworks exploding all around me.

And it wouldn’t play. All my years of video experience availed naught. It just. Would not. Play.

Were I a less stable person, I would assume that this was another blow against me by the Forces of Evil. 2022 delivering its final blow from the grave. As it is, I just figured it was a byproduct of my usual practice of buying movies and putting them aside until I am ready for them, which wasn’t particularly helpful just after midnight on the first day of the year, with no way to score another copy.

So I remedied it with another instance of the same problem: Years ago, I bought a copy of Danny Boyle’s Sunshine from a now-defunct used video store, only to find when I tried to watch it months later it was from the run of defective blu-rays that played the Special Features pop-ups even if you hadn’t chosen that option. So I watched my non-defective copy of that instead. Finally.

I liked it. It was certainly beautiful. A little too long, and the third act doesn’t ideally sing, but well-made, with a hell of a cast. Eventually uplifting.

So I hope that will do.

I wish happiness to everyone in the coming year, and less bullshit overall. Me, I’m going to be waiting another year to watch Awaken.


X: X-Tra Nothing (2021)

Are you surprised? TRICK!!!!!!

There was an outside chance (way outside, like over in the next block) that I was going to be able to do an X movie, but as is its normal habit, Life got in the way. I am girding my loins for two days of shoots involving children, and I’d rather face zombies and werewolves. Still need to find a way to have dinner on the table, but I have a cunning plan.

Why yes, it does involve a crockpot. Good catch.

If I had knuckled under and doomed my family to starvation, I probably would have done Xiangxi Legend, a recent Chinese movie about the dangers of tomb raiding. There have been a number of these over the last year or thereabouts, so there was undoubtedly a robust tomb raiding industry in that country. The trailer for Xiangxi Legend informs us that there are different schools of tomb raiding, just like there are for kung fu, which only supports my supposition.

I mean, that doesn’t look terribly Halloween-y, but just look at that poster! I swear to you the posters for Chinese action, horror and fantasy flicks have had a marvelous renaissance of late, by which I mean posters that make me want to see these flicks urgently. Which is just what I need: more movies to watch (did the sarcasm font load?).

Seeking out movies like this with English subtitles remains the same challenge as it ever was, but we all need a little sport in our lives, no?

Please don’t answer that.

V: Very Likely Not (2021)

Back during one of these Hubrisween marathons, I recall Chad Plambeck, currently of Confirmed, Alan_01, decided in a moment of madness to do the reviews in practically real time, watching a movie, then writing the review for the next day. Given Chad’s passion for screencapping, this must have been like grinding in a video game for magic socks or something. I’m surprised he survived.

I see the Police budget passed.

So here I am, in practically the same boat. Managed it pretty well in R through U, but my work week is usually pretty front-loaded, with Wednesday being the Day of Deadlines. At least there are no City government meetings for me to mark time through this week. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to miss a solid chunk of the ass-end of the alphabet. Sorry.

Today was going to be Verotika, “Glenn Danzig’s directorial debut, is a horror anthology that compiles stories from Danzig’s line of comic books of the same name. Stories which focus on horror content that’s often sexual and violent in nature, usually featuring scantily-clad female protagonists.” I’m actually not sorry for passing that over, because hey, I already did Catacomba this month, and I’ve already double-dipped on boat horror and Internet horror.

I would, however, really like to watch my W choice. Hopefully I can find enough Vaseline to fit it in today.

Q: Quiet, You (2021)

Please see this post for an explanation of why we’re so spotty for this year’s Hubrisween.

If you don’t care to click over, rest assured the reason is work. My commitment to improving government transparency actually pays me money; in other words:

P: Probably Not (2021)

Oh thank the sweet lordy Jesus, I finally found the “Classic” WordPress Editor, aka “The Editor That Actually Does What You Want”.

Just in time for another skip day. Of course. (I will miss that big Drop Cap, though).

I was going to do the 2013 Malay film Penanggal: The Curse of the Malayan Vampire for today, but the accelerated Hubrisween viewing schedule I had chosen for myself worked against it. A third of the way through, I realized that the movie was too Malaysian; there were bits and pieces that a native would instantly recognize and know their significance. If I had employed my usual leisurely approach to these things, I could research and hopefully find the cultural touchstones. I don’t have the time to do that currently. Sorry.

I will say that the movie is well-shot, and frequently beautiful. I may circle back later and try again later, mainly because Islamic horror movies exert an exotic fascination for me. But alas, today is not that day.

Happy Semi-Hubrisween to You

Oh. Hello. Yes, I’m still alive. Caught COVID from a vaccine-hesitant co-worker, but that’s over and, yes, I still live. Thank you vaccines. (I was amused that one of the reactions to my positive test was “Think of all the movies you can watch while you’re down!” This from a person who didn’t realize how exactly down the virus puts you)

I’ve got at least four drafts still loitering around about my absence from this page and why. Suffice to say that anxiety and depression, the usual culprits, are to blame, and the continuous dumpster fire of Current Events did nothing to alleviate that. Days were spent working, evenings were spent playing the newly-resurrected City of Heroes with friends, which offered escapism, stress relief and companionship during lockdown.

Most of my friends are still actors, even though I counted myself out of that game long ago. My main CoH buddy opened a show a couple of weeks ago, and that, along with the rehearsal period, put me at liberty most evenings, so I eased back into the Old Ways, the watching of movies, that had narrowed down to once a week – my usual Friday night brain-cleaning binge.

You know, I thought, this would be a good time to get back into the blogging game. Hey, Hubrisween is next month! Never mind that this was in September, and when I did Hubrisween in previous years, I started banking the reviews in July. Hell, I reasoned, if I can get halfway through the alphabet – to the letter M – by the end of September, this was doable.

And right there is the Hubris part of Hubrisween.

The real world intruded, as it is wont to do. I’m facing the busiest two week span I’ve had in a long time, and am stealing time to rap out this apology/reintroduction piece (In fact, as this goes live, I’m working on a live remote). I got through the letter H and stalled out, because once more, in my usual lump-headed fashion, I had found a way to make watching movies a job, a chore. That shouldn’t be work, that should be a joy.

So I realized a full return to the event was not in the cards.

But those first eight reviews are already scheduled, so enjoy. Maybe more will come. Hope springs eternal, yes?

Love in the Time of Everything Sucking

Yeah, I woke up this morning thinking of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Who doesn’t?

It’s been pointed out that I’ve been gone a while. That’s happened before, of course. I have great admiration for bloggers who keep on pumping out the posts, week after week or day after day. Once upon a time, I tried blogging every day and the results weren’t so hot. There are just days when you don’t got nothing to say, and it’s better not to say it.

Of course, the problem this time around hasn’t been a lack of things to talk about, it has purely and simply been a lack of motivation. You’ve probably noticed that there’s a bit of a pandemic going on and the country’s gradual slide into fascism has picked up significant speed. This has given rise to a new term for a new neurosis, doomscrolling. Relentlessly scrolling through Facebook and Twitter to find the most recent horrible news, the newest outrage, until you reach the end of your cache, then refreshing and starting all over again from the top.

I’ve been doing this. I’m trying to break myself of this pernicious habit. Maybe coming here and bugging you will help.

I’m in a halfway decent spot – so far, my main job allows me to work from home. My two side hustles dried up, but at least I can still manage to get bills paid. Mostly. Even that’s in a bit of a perilous state now, for reasons a bit too complex to go into here, so add that into the Doom Pile.

Stress has done its expected damage to my mental health. I’m still medicated, which helps, but my ability to focus was thrown into a wood chipper. My reaction to a Stay Home order should have been “Great! More time to watch movies!” but for several weeks I was unable to watch anything longer than 30 minutes. So thank God for Castlevania and the new Harley Quinn cartoon. And, more recently, the return of Doom Patrol.

Oh, Charlize, I have failed you.

This has abated somewhat but still crops up. For instance, I tried to watch The Old Guard a couple of weeks ago, and still had to tap out after a half hour. That movie had Charlize Theron wielding a battleaxe. That is two big red check marks on the Dr. Freex list and it still couldn’t engage me.

Then the next day I watched the new blu-rays for Horror of Dracula and Mystery of the Wax Museum back to back. Go figure.

Then again, Old Guard was showing me a bunch of familiar tropes. I was already familiar with the other two movies, but I went into them mainly for the restoration and gorgeous transfers. There’s no secret that the best way I found to survive the last four years with my fragile sanity intact was re-watching Marvel movies (I needed to see good triumph over bad as violently as possible), so The Old Guard‘s setup was all too familiar, even though it’s not strictly a superhero movie. The familiarity of gothic horror was quite welcoming, in retrospect.

My New Precioussssssss

I have quite the backlog of things to view and pontificate upon, if the world would just stop ending for a few minutes. I went into hock to buy that Al Adamson box set because of course I did. I would expect no less of myself. That’s a lot to get through. You know, if.

I should go get some work done now. I’m hoping to produce some capsule reviews in the next day or so. If certain dumbasses would refrain from saying something stupid.

I should probably just close those two tabs, shouldn’t I?


Cabin Feverish

Friday Mornin’ Comin’ Down Freex: Yep, this is the post I started a week ago. Let’s see if the wait was worth it. It may seem quaint at this point. Back to a week ago, when we were all so young, and had such hopes:

That’s kind of an all-purpose title, isn’t it? Lots of people have it these days. I’m one of the lucky ones. As a practicing introvert from waaaaaaaaay back, not much has changed for me. This is how I normally live, folks.


The previous week was the scheduled Spring Break for the college where I work (what I often bitterly refer to as “unpaid vacation”), but I still put in some hours by going to the college, packing up my editing rig and camera equipment, then transferring it to my home so I can work this week. It’s now taking up the entirety of the dining room table and the only problem I foresee is the fact that dining room chairs are made to be comfortable for exactly how long a meal might last, no longer. My ponderous ass is already protesting.

The Boy’s college and my wife’s private school – for students with learning disabilities – have both gone online learning. Turns out the stuff my son has been studying at college has proven essential for converting wifey’s school for online. So yay us.

This is The Grinch. Its monthly payments WILL stop Christmas from coming.

I find it mordantly funny that the week before everything went to shit I got tired of only having one functioning automobile in the family and bought a used 2018 Kia Soul. I had long wanted a Soul. I just bought it at the most absolutely wrong time in all of recorded history, which also renders that moment quintessentially me.

I do like the car, though. Let’s see if I get to keep it.

But that’s not why we’re here (cathartic as that was for me). Artists have been putting stuff online for folks stuck at home, which is a Good Thing. After all this is over, I’m sure we will all have a deeper appreciation for them and their work. Who am I kidding, they will go back to being despised, spat upon, and told to get a real job.

Oooh, bitter twist there. Sorry. Back to being upbeat and entertaining.

Anyway – I have no art to give away except my words. Everything else I have is somebody else’s, and not mine to give away, except the stuff that’s already public. So.

Slight digression, but there is a reason for it:

One of my oldest friends, Scott, a good guy with religious convictions (unlike your humble narrator), once offered the following metaphor to explain different religions espousing different interpretations of God/Messiah: to him, God was a sort of Celestial Mirror Ball, constantly catching light and throwing it back out. You caught the light flash that mattered most to you, while other people caught different flashes, but they’re all from the same source.

I liked that metaphor. It was inclusive without the whole my-way-or-the-highway bent that turns me off so much religion.

For my part, I believe in God, just not necessarily the God I’m told I should believe in. Too many of those versions are small, entirely absorbed in earthly matters to the point of being judgmental of personal relationships or really wanting His (always his, never Her) mouthpieces to be wealthy. I instantly distrust anyone who claims to know exactly what God wants, because God is vast and unknowable; casting him/her as entirely absorbed in what we advanced monkeys are doing limits him/her.

I also think God is beyond gender.

(Man, I did not expect this to get all religious. It’s my habit not to discuss such things, as I think a person’s relationship – or non-relationship – to God is ultimately a personal thing, or at least should be. Man, all this to get to a really stupid point, and here it is:)

As a recovering hippie, I love kaleidoscopes. There is often a point while looking at one that the image gets so complex, the details so intricate, that you wish to stop them in time, to drink in all that elegance and detail. But you can’t. It moves on, and you cannot possibly comprehend all that is before you. It seems to extend beyond and behind you. And for all you know, the center point of the design is actually miles away.

And that, even more than the Mirror Ball, is what I think God is like. Mind-boggling, beautiful, and finally, incomprehensible. God isn’t limited; my mind is.

So for me, God is a kaleidoscope. At least, I dearly hope God is a kaleidoscope. That would be cool.

Cripes, all that to get to this, the aforementioned art I can give away:

Any of the videos on hdcolor‘s YouTube channel are worth watching. They help me achieve a nice, relaxed alpha state. The music is good, too. But I do prefer to supply my own.

What’s that you say? Am I still doing those psychedelic playlists? Funny you should ask.

There’s more, but why overwhelm you? That’s six hours of music right there. Also, I’m not saying you might want to cue one of those up and then open a kaleidoscope video in another browser tab, but I do rather wish I’d had that technology back in 1979.

Hey, we’re back to writing in the present day again. There are movie posts I want to get to, but I don’t have to tell any of you working from home that this shit is exhausting. Stress and anxiety are doing their usual jobs on me – they may have actually doubled their productivity – and watching movies is actually kind of depressing right now. Oh, look at how we used to move around so freely, get so close to each other without a second thought.

The Real World is messing with my escapism, yo.

Speaking of which, my Kindle just bricked itself. I want to speak to the manager.

On the other hand, I am also about to have the first true weekend I’ve had in some time. I can’t do any of the things that normally steal away those off-hours, except fill my pill organizers. My liquor supply is about to take such a hit.

Maybe I’ll sober up enough to do some writing. Who knows?

We’re all improvising like Second City here. Stay inside, stay safe. Watch a movie for me.


Well. Hi there.

I have a veritable mountain of excuses. But let’s climb that mountain, stand on its summit with arms held high in exultation, and give you the most pertinent one: I finally bought a new keyboard.

I like things dim in my office, so I’ve been using backlit keyboards for the past several years. The latest was made by Redimp, and I bought it because it promised I wouldn’t be replacing it for the reason I was five deep into the specie: I couldn’t rub the letters off. I can touch type if I want, but it’s a slow process for me, so I usually do not want.

Nice keyboard. Clicky. I like clicky. But there was a flaw that I only truly discovered when I answered one of those consumer product questions from Amazon.

It was the space bar. It would either not put in a space, or it would provide two, per press. I’m one of those folks who if they see a problem with a line they just wrote, I have to fix it immediately. This had the effect of making me write each sentence twice, as it were. Very slow, very frustrating. No fix was forthcoming from the manufacturer, so I finally replaced it with one from Pictek, which was on sale.


Quick review: It sucks.

The left shift key and the Enter key (for God’s sake) didn’t work on that one. One exchange later, and here I am, making only one space per press and pressing Enter joyfully. Not a clicky keyboard, but the action on the keys is smooth as all get out. And just in time for Christmas! (In summary, and in keeping with the season: Redimp naughty, Pictek nice)

Now I should get back to work on the Crapfest recap I gave up on when I found myself in UnintentionalLongWordLand. Of course, there’s all sort of holly to be decked and fa’s to be la’ed, so it will take a while. I hope to do better in the future, and justify the hosting costs for this site.

That wasn’t an easy decision, either. Chad Plambeck recently shuttered his blog, after 20 years, and is shifting to podcasts. I considered that, but I edit video and audio for a living, so naaaaaahhhhh. But heaven only knows what 2020 will bring, eh?


Have the Happy Holiday of your choice, be safe, hug your loved ones for me. Seeya.