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Friday, January 31, 2014

Boston Science Fiction Festival Feb.7th -17th

Here is more information through links to the Festival, make note that this is not official and I only made a best effort to hook to the correct items on IMDB.  ADDED Trailer links!

Ticket links for each night or a pass for the Festival 

5:00 pm • Feb 7   Shorts Program #1
Flesh Computer
                                                Behind the Scenes of Flesh Computer
Cell Phone of the Future
i Brain
Kevin’s Book
A Better World
                                      The Making of "A Better World"

7:00 pm • Feb 7
(US) World Premiere. In the near future, companionship is increasingly virtual, with a dark side. Don’t you need a Friendle? Doesn’t everyone?
Plus two great shorts
Amy Kid Zombie Speech Pathologist

3:00 pm • Feb 8 SHORTS PROGRAM 2
Strange Thing
The Forever People
Desolate Road
The Argonaut
Step Forward

5:00 pm • Feb 8
(US) NE Premiere. A taciturn cowboy in a post alien invasion apocalypse is the key to realizing a young woman’s, and maybe humanity’s destiny, a destiny to freedom. dir. by Andrew Kightlinger

7:00 pm • Feb 8
(Sweden) NE Premiere. With great power comes great responsibility. Nerdy neurotic discovers a harmonic controller and gets freaky. dir. by Antonio Tublen

9:00 pm • Feb 8
(US) World Premiere. Married couple buy a remotely located house. Things are not what they seem as she slowly unravels the mystery of the house and herself. dir. by Brendan Steere

3 pm • Feb 9
(UK/Can) World Premiere.Two losers wake up to find that the human race has disappeared. Party time, right? Well, maybe. dir. by Kent Sobey

5 pm • Feb 9 SHORTS PROGRAM #3
Slam Man
Ike Interviews God
North Bay
Game Companion
Bar Talk

7 pm • Feb 9 SOLD OUT
INVERSE(US) World Premiere. A man awakens to find what, and even where, things used to be, aren’t. Rules will be broken. D: Matt Duggan

9 pm • Feb 9
(US) World Premiere. A man awakens to find what, and even where, things used to be, aren’t. Rules will be broken. D: Matt Duggan

5 pm • Feb 10
(US) World Premiere. Man finds a sessile alien occupying his mother’s room. Oh yeah, he ate her, too. dir. by Drew Bolduc

7 PM • FEB 10
(Can) World Premiere. Survivors of the apocalypse struggle inside a bomb shelter while one of them is slowly killing. dir. by Greg Jackson

9 pm • FEB 10
(US) World Premiere. A “Red Dawn” clone. China calls in its IOUs and it’s a brave, bad world. dir. by Jeffrey Travis

5 pm • Feb 11
(US) World Premiere. A enisled man confronts his guilt when his solitary world is disrupted by people from his past. dir. by Matthew F Perry

7 pm • Feb 11
(US) NE Premiere. More than just strutting and fretting, this one whirs and clanks. The Bard with animated Bots.
Added short: Doug.Dat

9 pm • Feb 11
(US) World Premiere. A beautiful house, a beautiful wife. You may ask yourself, how did I get here? And what's with that security guard? dir. by Patrick Sims

5 pm • FEB 12 THE PARALLAX VIEW: Shorts Program
The Sound of Trains
Base 5
One Small Step for a Man
The Sons of Two Suns
Le Blue Stella

7 pm • FEB 12
(US) World Premiere. A student clean energy device has other unexpected uses, but there are those with dark purposes looking to cash not realizing what's at stake. dir. by Conor Long

9 pm • FEB 12
(Catalan) Premiere. A plague inducing intense agoraphobia has swept the globe bringing everything to a stand still Two men set out on a quest. One seeks to find his love. His companion is a ruthless HR axe man whose motives are vague. Oh, the catch, they can’t go outside..
“A well-made and very entertaining film. ~ Hispanic Film Blog

5 pm • Feb 13  SHORTS PROGRAM #4
Retire for the Evening
Five Points
Sad Monster
Time Travelers
Black Sugar

7pm • Feb 13
WHO’S CHANGING ~ An Adventure in Time with Fans
(UK) World Premiere. Think you know Dr Who? This doc journeys into the mind of fans & creators.
Added short: Painting the Way to the Moon

9 pm • Feb 13
(US) E Coast Premiere. “A tour de force of low-budget, self-contained, smart, stylish sci-fi/suspense “ Fangoria
As a comet flashes across the sky, a dinner party slips into a dimensional never land. dir. by James Ward Byrkit
Q&A with star Nicholas Brendon following film

5 pm • Feb 14  SHORTS FOR LOVERS
Match Perfect
Another Day
My Date w/Adam
Sorry About Tomorrow
A Better Life

7 pm • Feb 14
THE PERFECT 46 (106)
(US) Geneticist creates a website that pairs individuals with their ideal genetic partner for procreative purposes. dir. by Brett Bonowicz

(US) Premiere! In the future, a lowly worker encounters an enigmatic alien intelligence searching for the ideal. A new hope emerges. Senn may fulfill a mysterious purpose, a purpose that may change the very nature of civilization.
dir. by Josh Feldman

3 pm • Feb 15
(UK) Prisoner fights grotesque inhuman opponents each and every day starring Joseph Morgan (The Vampire Diaries). dir. by Luke Massey

5 pm • Feb 15
(UK) World Premiere Marie is super-high frequency, Zak is ultra-low. They‘re not supposed to cross paths. Oops. dir. by Darren Paul Fisher

7 pm • Feb 15
(UK) US Premiere. A charming quirky British comedy about a young man searching for his brother who was abducted by aliens. dir. by Martin Gooch
Meet director Gooch and London Sci-Fi Film Festival director Louis Savy after the screening.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Upcoming Events in February!

Hi folks for you in the Boston area here are a few events coming in the next few weeks.

Happening on two weekends in Somerville and Cambridge from my friends at the Flat Earth Theatre Company.

From my friends at All Things Horror Online:
                                           February 8th: "Horroritca" With Pinup Dolls On Ice & More 

Saturday February 8th 7pm
The Somerville Theater Microcinema
"Horroritca" w/
Pinup Dolls On Ice & the short films 
Legitimate, Eroticide & More
$10 at the Door**

And of course the BIGGEST event of the Month.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Brood (1979) Horror Anger Therapy

The Brood (1979) - David Cronenberg's The Brood is a pretty remarkable film, the horror Cronenberg focuses on is a visceral physical horror not necessarily based in the supernatural. ( Could argue never based on the supernatural) Certainly it is fantastical but based in the body not the soul or ghost or the such. In this case the idea that anger can "give birth" in physical form. In normal therapy the idea is to work through past feelings and abuses through talking and exercises so that they can be accepted and negativity of the experiences can be dispelled. Create a situation that takes power away from those experiences so that they will not have subconscious affect on the patient's life. Or to recognized the effect and learn to control it. Understanding and accepting your past while expressing the feeling that stay with you allows you to work past the hurts and move on. Cronenberg takes a different approach, what if the expression of the feeling of anger and anguish were to take physical form? What if strong emotions manifested in the body? What if the therapy brought those hurts into the world as phyical entities? This film explores that idea in a very unique way.
Frank Carveth (Art Hindle) is estranged from his wife Nola (Samantha Eggar) while she undergoes a very unconventional therapy using a technique called psycho-plasmics.  An instance shows man breaking out in boils as he works through the role playing with head of the facility Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed).  He shows physical signs of the unresolved issues he had with his Father. This releasing of pent up emotions and feeling through physiological changes to her body makes Nola the prize patient. This new form of therapy for Nola was spurred because of abuse issues she had as a child and the fact that she can't express the anger so openly bother her husband. Frank does not approve of the therapy as it seems to unconventional but she has taken this path without him.  When he picks up his daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds) after a visit with her Mother he notices bruises and bite marks on her. Frank is enraged that the staff would allow Nola to harm his little girl and all the denials she expresses only creates tensions between the couple and between Frank and Raglan who is supervising her treatment. Not permitted to see his wife in the stage of therapy she is in he threatens to end all visits until she talks to him.
  What we learn as we go between scenes of people getting killed who just happen to connected to Nola, and scenes of Nola working through issues in session, is that some how her feeling about the people being killed are connected to their deaths. Cronenberg does a nice job slowly connecting the audience, to the killings and the therapy that the woman is going through. The murders, done by strange creatures that look like mutant kids. Are well executed horror scenes, with a similarity in size and how they dress to Candice. We know that she is not involved and more to the point is traumatized by the killings. While Noal works through not only the abuse issues she suffered as a child at the hands of her Mother, but also feelings of abandonment and anger at a Father who did not stop the abuse. Cronenberg does well to run a parallel with Frank being the father who can not stop the traumatic abuse suffered by his daughter Candice at her Mother's hand.
  There are subplots about Frank trying to find out what exactly the secret therapy is that Raglan practices. Unfortunately the only people he can talk to are somewhat crazy sounding former patients. If he was to try to get the courts involved on their words he would probably not get far. Another subplot is that of the Candices's school teacher Ruth Mayer (Susan Hogan) that takes such a wonderfully evil turn. She is the adult noticing the change in her student, and comes to talk to Frank about her at his house.  She baby sits for Frank one night when there is a personal crisis he has to deal with. Nola calls while she is there and becomes really angry when she hears a woman's voice answer the phone. She thinks Mayer is moving in on her husband while she is in treatment. She swears and threatens the innocent teacher before being hung up on. Since the theme of the film is that the mutant creatures seem to go after the people Nola is angry with it is no surprise that the little mutant devils target the teacher. It's the scene that is so shocking and has to be seen to be believed. It is a well set up kill scene.
  In the end even though through most of the movie Dr. Raglan seems adversarial with Frank he helps him deal with Nola in the climax. The mutant kids have taken Candice and Frank needs to get her back. We learn the secret of the therapy in one of the most sickly creepy scenes in film. The relish that Eggar has in the big reveal scene has got to be seen to be appreciated fully. Cronenberg with his wonderful sense of how to visually shock gives us a scene that is just awe inspiring. This film probably falls into the category of woman as monster and may be viewed as somewhat less than feminist in its ideas. Motherhood and birth are the most shocking horror in this film. Frank as the protagonist is somewhat helpless against the female expression of pent up anguish.
Like Nola's father who did not protect Nola from an abusive Mother Frank is not capable of protecting her from her pain thus leading to the therapy the film centers around. Beyond that he is not able to protect Candice from Nola's madness thus repeating the cycle. The visuals in the last third of the movie are worth the viewing. I want to tell you every detail but can't make myself  ruin it for you. Sure most horror fans have seen The Brood and are right with me on this one. Cronenberg is a master and if you haven't and want to see gore in a non-gory way while heightening the tension of the climatic scenes then this is the film for you. This classic is most definitely recommended to all readers of this blog.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Devil's Due (2014) Horror Pregnancy Satan

Devil's Due (2014) - Going into this film I had all kinds of reservations, first I had just finished watching and writing about Rosemary's Baby and lets face it every Satan baby film will pale compared with that. Second I made the mistake of hearing about this film before going into it. I knew basically what it was about and I also heard it was a "alternative footage" film. This last thing ending up being the most problematic part of the experience. Normally avoiding seeing and "found (alternative) footage" film in the theater because lets face it, the quality of the filming is poor. This method leaves the audience looking at shaky poorly framed scenes, that are stunted and often poorly written. Instead of allowing the audience to relax and enjoy the well written characters in a flowing stream of scenes, we are subject to a collection of clips that with a bit of skill tell a story. The character development and story suffer because the audience unfortunately has to fight to understand the camera angles. Then there is the whole explanation of why the filming is happening at all. I am not saying that all alternative video films don't work. I am saying that it is very easy to fail if the footage does not make sense. While trying to save money pretending the film is taken from in life sources, you create the need to explain why the film has been put together and by who.
  A good example of this is The Bay(2012). No matter your opinion of the film itself, it does alternative footage right. Donna (Kether Donohue) has put the film together from a variety of sources as a way to get word out about an environmental incident that was being covered up by the Government. So there is a person who assembles the clips and is responsible for presenting them to us the audience.
 In the case of Devil's Due it was simply infuriating. Presented as a film but just with alternative sources but cut like a film some of the time, switching POV to suit directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett but without the edifice that this film was put together by someone within the film.
 The film starts with a biblical quote, 1 John 2:18 which leads the viewer to think this is a film not an alternative footage film, but that idea is immediately dispelled.
       "Little children, it is the last hour, and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour."
  The story of why the primary footage is being filmed is given right from the start. Zack McCall (Zach Gilford) says that his father used to film everything and he now that he is getting married to Samantha (Allison Miller) he finds the idea very nostalgic. Unfortunately for us in the audience Zach starts all of his videos with the camera pointing at peoples feet. He also videos everything, and obviously does not know the pain of editing video. So we get to see lots of doors as they open, people as they walk away and shoes. Of course it is needed to tell the story but it is not how people use video recording. An example that shows the good and bad of the process happens early in the film. Zach is recording them partying in Santa Domingo on their honeymoon and at some point they wander off the beaten track and get lost.
   Well Zach keeps video rolling as they try to figure out where the hell they are. I am sure this would never happen. One because batteries run out and two because when we get nervous or scared we stop doing extraneous thing and focus in on the problem at hand. Where it works is when they are rescued by a cabbie who then convinces them to go to an underground party. Because Zach is filming this part we get to see just how drunk they get and also when they pass out that they are carried to a chamber filled with candles. On the floor Samantha (Sam) is laid in a circle like image drawn on the floor alter. When the chanting and strange glowing come we know that we are in a world where magic actually exists. Captured by Zachs camera he will not see this footage for some months but we already know that when Sam takes her pregnancy test that she is carrying Satan's baby.
  What I have written so far is just the beginning of the annoying filming that would never happen. After the couple comes home Zach just happens to be filming when Sam comes downstairs to tell him she is pregnant. Why? What important life moment was he filming. None that's what, but the filmmakers wanted us to see a scene where she tells him she is pregnant so he just happens to be  filming. This is the kind of thing that makes me angry, the alternative footage was needed for the story so we are subject to it for no other reason. When people in the story film it has to be for a reason not because the director needs the scene. insulting the audience further, fucking Zach films in the doctor's office when they head in for the ultrasound. Now sane people would do a small video after the visit explaining to the unborn child the visit and maybe showing the image capture from the ultrasound but no since later there will be a surprise doctor switch we have to see the visit. Again the need for the scene outweighs common sense.
  It gets even worse, Zach apparently has unlimited battery life on his two cameras because he films fucking everything. The required night vision shots, one scary one where Sam opens her eyes and grabs his arm but you just can't by the amount of useless filming he does. He sees people watching the house and happens so we see that and later when chasing people watching the house he is filming. It makes no kind of sense that he would film while going out to chase someone. Again in stressful times we are not going to be thinking about getting it on tape. Then there are the added sources of video added to the film. Well who the fuck put this story together so that without explanation we see clips from security cameras in a supermarket. Again the story called for us to see how Sam is changing, a vegetarian suddenly craving meat so much that she eats it raw in the store. Why are we seeing it though it does not fit the premise established to this point.
  When the cult wants to check up on the development of the Antichrist we see them as they turn on the 16 or so cameras they have hidden in the McCall's home. Perfect for the directors of the film because it will make the telling of the rest of the story so much easier. We can see Sam as she suffers mood swings, bouts of anger and creepy trances. We see her worry more clearly and understand that she starts believing things are not going well. Of course the audience has to wonder how these clips get into the movie, FUCK! the whole alternative footage premise does not work in this film without an knowing how they got into the movie. Like later when the coolest part of the film takes place, we shift to video from some teens down by the river again how did it get into the film? They come across a dead deer and then notice a creepy Sam digging into another deer a little ways away. They die in a very cool supernatural way that would have been even more awesome if shot like a real film. Still the three death are pretty damn sweet.
  In the end the story written by Lindsay Devlin is okay, we are not breaking a lot of new ground but certainly the story arcs of our two main characters are well defined. Sam a new wife is impregnated with the Antichrist while on her honeymoon does not know it and nor does she particularly want to be in that condition while trying to finish graduate school.  Her story is a story of physical and emotional changes as her baby grows. Actress Allison Miller is competent in the role that calls for her to display a fairly wide range of emotion. Zach plays the male lead as an average loving guy. Not particularly macho but not afraid when the need is present to push forward into danger. He goes from enthusiastic father to be, to a man trying to save his family from an unbelievable evil. The story of the effects of the devil baby growing inside an unsuspecting women is interesting enough also so it is a shame that the film was framed in a way that really ruined it. This story made as a film and with a killer score could have been a very excellent film.
  The worst insult of all as a viewer is the bookend scenes that surround the McCall's story. The shame of the film is that the story could have been so much more creepy but the film design took so much of the mood away from it. I can't even remember if I heard a score. Interrogation footage from a police station with Zach as the main suspect in a couple of hideous murders. What they do is pretend that Zach is recounting all that went on for the police. Well then why the fuck was the whole film alternative footage then? Did Zach recall it from video clips. What the fuck?!
  This is all about money in the end which means that the seven million dollar budget was more important than good film making. Since they made 9 million in the first weekend the makers are probably going to make a profit if word of mouth does not kill attendance. Its a shame because I see what was done here as a really cynical approach to horror. It does not care about the audience and seems only to care about the bottom line without regard to what would tell the story best. So I am not recommending this film in fact I encourage you to only view pirated copies.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rosemary's Baby (1968) Horror Pregnancy Satan

Rosemary's Baby (1968) - I was trying to come up with a way of talking about this film and really struggling. What can any writer write about a film that over the last 40 years has become one of the most revered horror films in cinematic history? What has not been written? Now I have to admit it has been a good twenty years or so since I viewed this film and when I decided to include it in my set of films on pregnancy horror I wanted to make it special. It is after all a special movie. A horror thriller made by a great director with excellent acting, but how to honor it. I decided on a couple things to start the process. First I purchased the book by Ira Levin and read it in less than a week. It holds up for the most part. It is a novel that breaths the New York, chock full of references to the neighborhoods and famous building of the city that never sleeps. Equally it draws on the time period of which it was written, Levin references the Theater of the time since his characters are actors and lovers of culture. From the plays that husband actor played in Luther (1961) and Nobody Loves an Albatross (1963), to the plays they read about, Skyscraper, Drat! The Cat, The Impossible Years, and Hot September.  It may date the book so any years later but adds a depth to the place and time. Not really something to base a blogpost around. It was shocking to also see the word "negro" when referring to black characters even though it was appropriate to the time period. It is after all the sixties when the book was written and the nation had not long since passed the civil rights act. These things though are not at the heart of the attitude of this story. So this is not the solution either.
 Like I said in my introduction I don't think there is a lot I can say about this film that has not been said.  What I am going to try to talk about now has probably been written about before but I did not see much about it in my research so here goes. The film certainly reflects some of the attitudes of the old guard sixties when it looks at the relationship that Rosemary and Guy. The patriarchal approach that Guy and the neighbors in the apartment building display feature prominently. The see Rosemary as a housewife to be taken care of, they impose there male will on her often completely ignoring her autonomy. In fact it could be argued that early in the film Rosemary was happy to be taken care of. The polite wife of a struggling actor she is happy to decorate the house and lunch with her older wise man Hutch instead of seeking work or going to college.  Even though in the sixties 38% of women worked, mostly in teaching. nursing or secretarial jobs, woman were not yet welcomed in many professional fields. Still the women's movement was on the rise, with the book The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedman America was realizing that housewives across the country were unhappy being house wives. It was a stark wake up call about the roles of women in the 1950s and how those roles were not satisfying to many women, There is no such dissatisfaction in Rosemary she seems perfectly accepting as her role as an unemployed house wife.  In her relationship with Guy she is secondary, he makes all the decisions, she even has to beg him in order to move into the Bramford.
"Oh Guy, let's take it! Please! Please! Its such a wonderful apartment! She didn't do anything with it, old Mrs. Gardenia! That living room could be - it could be beautiful, and warm, and oh please, Guy, let's take it, alright?"
This is not a conversation between two equals discussing the finer points of why an apartment is good or bad. This is more of the child begging for the puppy in the window, hoping Daddy will say yes.She is the happy wife satisfied to spend her days buying furniture and picking curtains. She does not even do much of the physical labor, men delivery men place the newly arrived items, male painters change the colors of the apartment. Sure Rosemary directs but she does not do the manual labor.
  She does not make a pact with the devil she is the unsuspecting victim of her husband's deal. While he gets fame and success she becomes property to be used as a vessel. There is no consultation on his part, one evening after talking with Roman Castevet he sets things in motion never thinking that she is even valuable enough to give a choice to. Not only that she does not even get the chance to fight, drugged and raped by the devil she has no autonomy at all. The scene before the rape when her husband pressures her to eat the ill tasting desserts, using force of will to intimidate her, pushing her buttons knowing she is too polite and submissive to resist, at least outwardly to his will.  She would not have even remembered the events of that night had she not, finding a bit of strength, hidden the uneaten portions in a napkin. After that drugged night, when she wakes with scratches from the ordeal she can't really recall. She expresses dissatisfaction with Guy's ruse of being drunk and having sex with her while she was unconscious. Even that is a passive response to a serious act, she is not sure she likes the thought of it, not WTF! you raped me in my sleep.
  Later when in early pregnancy Rosemary is drawn and losing weight, she has a pain in her pelvis that won't go away. She goes to the older male doctor forced on her,  Dr. Sapirstein. He is from the start very pushy not wanting her to read about pregnancy, to talk to other Mothers, or to draw any conclusion about her pregnancy without consulting him first. Think about it, even the sole act that is completely in the realm of femininity is co-opted by a man. He is suddenly the expert and she is expected to strictly depend on him for direction. It is only after being cornered by her "pre-Bramford" friend at a party that she realizes that his advice could be detrimental. She knows on a deeper level that something is wrong but without the advice of other women she trusts she can not decide to act. Even then a sudden alleviation of the pain she is suffering quickly sways her back to the control of those around her. This turn in the story is necessary to move to the final act but reenforces her character as a woman looking to not be in charge of her own life. She immediately forgets all the bad that has happens and falls into line. So much so that we cut from early pregnancy to almost her due date.
This is completely necessary for the story to play out. In fact her character as a pre-women's lib wife is the character the story needs. The final act where those seeds of dissatisfaction start to grow to paranoia are essential to the third act.
  When Rosemary starts reading the book left to her by Hutch she finds such disturbing information about Satanic rituals, how they use baby blood and flesh in their spells. She thinks that her baby is at risk to Minnie, Roman and those in the house. Her suspicions when relayed to Guy are dismissed and not only that he insists on taking the book from her, treating her more like a child than an equal. Its about what he will allow and she folds and allows him to put the book high on a shelf out of reach. Talk about parent child imagery. Making it worse he later throws the book out without her permission. Her property rights are not even equal in his eyes, even though it was a gift from a friend.
  Although not reflective of the growing women's movement the role of Rosemary is fitting for the story. I am not saying that this story could not be told with a more empowered woman character in the role, its just that so much of the story relies on her doubt. So much depends on her dependence on those around her that I think it would lose something if she was more proactive in her life. She is a player in a patriarchy and never questions that structure. Even when she finally acts she does not do so out of a need to protect herself, or to empower her desires, instead it is as a Mother thinking to protect her baby. Where does she turn in this time of need? Not her female friends but to Dr. Hill the first doctor she saw. Another male authority figure who she suddenly feels safe with because he listens to her seemingly crazy story. Adding to the  stereotypes of the patriarchy Dr Hill sees her as a hysterical woman and instead of validating her in any way calls her husband and doctor to come deal with her. She is left a not women delivered into a new world of empowerment but a captive, then a source of milk, and finally a Mother with limited influence in the life of her child.
  The film closely follows the book, almost exactly. The dialog is pulled from the pages almost verbatim. There are some sections that are shortened in the film for pacing reasons. Also unlike the book Director Roman Polanski left the idea of the supernatural being part of the story as a paranoid thought. The only time you think something can be supernatural is the devil rape scene but that is filmed as a dreamy sequence and where Rosemary is drugged and might not be reality. She dreams her husband undressing her but it is mixed in with dream elements. Never really knows if she is actually having sex with the devil or if she is dreaming it as her husband fucks her in her unconscious state. So in the film even though she sees the nude neighbors chanting around she might be dreaming, we never actually see the devil just her dream interpretation of his eyes. Even though her famous line states "This is no dream, this is really happening." is followed by dream images.
Already in the book is the idea that people can believe that they are praying to Satan, but is clear that they just believe they have power never really confirming they do have power from Satan. At the end of the film when Rosemary has the initiative to stand up to the cult and claim her child as its Mother she only imagines the eyes from her dream, Polanski never shows the baby just implies that something is wrong. She says the line about his eyes but we never actually see the baby.
I love this film and recommend it mightily it is such a wonderful story full of suspense. Well directed and acted, Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet were nominated and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The screenplay was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, both Gordon and Mia Farrow won Golden Globes for Supporting actress and Best actress respectively. So if you have not seen this film take the time to get to know it.
Odds and Ends

  • In researching this film for background I ran across this sort of cool article at Cinefantastique Magazine. talking about a movie cheat in one of the more climatic scenes. Whats amazing is this same scene is described in the book almost as it appears in the film.
  • Here are a couple more reviews of this wonderful movie, one by Roger Ebert and one at the Cinefantastique site.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Podcast Time!

  Each year I make an attempt to try a bunch of new podcasts always looking for new and delightful things to listen to at work. I have to admit I discard them somewhat callously for any number of irrational reasons. Still each January I start with a large group and keep the ones that hold my interest through the year. Last year the following podcasts made it through to 2014. Now if you want to make suggestions to me about podcasts to add this coming year write to me at [eddie][at][edhovey][dot][com]

Alternative Cinema Podcast - It seemed to have died in November or so but I did enjoy it while it lasted. Hopefully those folks will resurrect it.

Best of the Left - Progressive leaning media clips organized into subjects. One of the Best podcast out there.

Black Astronauts Podcast - Guys and girls hanging out shooting the shit and in general having some good positive fun. I think I am white guy #2 listening to the show.

Bloody Good Horror -  Like all horror podcasts its about the personalities, this is a fine group of guys and although I don't always agree with their opinions who really expects that. Still interesting horror themed banter.

Common Sense with Dan Carlin - Sometimes a bit libertarian for my tastes but always well thought out positions on a wide range of topics.

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History -  A great in depth history podcast. If you like history or even if you don't want to continue to be a dumb as a rock.

Feakonomics Radio - Sometime the narrowness of looking at things from an economic viewpoint can be annoying but mostly it is an interesting show.

The Left Show -  I have to admit I have come close to dropping this one several times. It gets a little local politics for my liking and since those politics are Dems in Utah they really don't always connect with my Massachusetts thinking.

Bill Burr's Monday Morning Podcast - Comedian Bill Burr puts aside and hour a week to talk to you about what he is up to, plugging his gigs and giving advice to people who write in. Always amusing and sometime hilarious it's a pleasure to listen to a fellow Boston guy about my age riff.

The Moth podcast - Although they have yet to feature the best storyteller I know, My wife Elisa Pearmain, they do have some really great tellers.

Point Of Inquiry - Again a podcast that barely made it through to this year. Originally the Center for Inquiry did a much better job at this but recently the shorter less personal approach has been bothering me.

ScreamQueenz Horror Podcast - Often funny and entertaining definitely unique it is one Queenz take on horror. "Take your host Patrick (aka. “The Angriest Redhead in New York City”). Mix in his nearly rabid love for (and encyclopedic knowledge of) horror movies. Add his notoriously wicked sense of offbeat humor. Sprinkle on some sparkling gay repartee. Serve with a heaping portion of jaw-dropping potty mouth, and what have you got? A deliciously unpredictable horror podcast with a decidedly BENT point of view with a host who always knows which fork to use to stick in your eye."

Now the couple that I had dropped but recently brought back are:

Dead Lantern's Splattercast - Infused with new life with the addition of the Original Zombiegrrlz Rachel they seem to be hitting a nice stride. I like the Explodey Files from this group also but unforunately those poccasts have been few and far between.

Totally Laime - Getting a bit annoyed when I started listening to the Totally Married spin off of this often very funny interview podcast I dropped both. Well somewhere in November though I started missing the original and am glad to be back.  Elizabeth and Andy are very funny and I missed their easy humor with each other.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hell Baby (2013) Horror Pregnancy Comedy

Hell Baby (2013) - Taking a break from the horrific baby horror of the last couple of weeks I went for a new horror comedy called Hell Baby. Leslie Bibb plays a soon to be Mom, Venessa expecting twins and moving into a dilapidated house in post Katrina New Orleans. With her husband Jack ( Rob Corddry) they want to rehab and sell it but have to deal with more than just a bad neighborhood. Quickly learning that the house is haunted but wanting to hold onto their deal the couple stays on. They have a neighbor living in the crawl space, the hilarious  F'resnel (Keegan-Michael Key) who shows up for  jump scares at the most inconvenient times. He is used for  Corddry is the sounding board for a lot the comedy while Key play the comedian. Exposition is the main reason Key keep showing up and he is such a funny guy you don't even mind the silly plot.
  Bibb is a good actress, is the more and more possessed Mother-to-be and plays the growing evil seriously which makes the reactions Corddry displays in reaction all the more enjoyable. I believe she is an underrated actress who does a great job moving into this comedy role. Corddry I think of more of a natural comedian is steadfast in his role as the husband and expectant father. Also filling out the cast is actress Riki Lindhome as Venessa's hippie sister Marjorie, two priest sent from the Vatican,  Fathers Sebastion (Robert Ben Garant) and Padrigo (Thomas Lennon) and two New Orleans cops Micky (Rob Huebel) and Ron (Paul Scheer).
  Marjorie the sister and the naked conversation and oiling with Jack is wonderfully uncomfortable. The scene is long which is a comedy trick in making the uncomfortable scenes longer to bring the audience to a point where they may want to have it over with but then pushing through that barrier. Still the scene works because by the end of the conversation you know who Majorie as a character is. "I didn't know you were circumcised Jack. It's genital mutilation you know, slicing off the tops of boys dicks because a couple thousand year old book about some medicine man named Moses says to do it." This is pretty funny and again Corddry gets to do what he does well and react to the situation.
 One of a couple of sexual situation the other of note is a ninety year old Mrs. Nussbaum (Alex Berg in a weird naked suit) gives Jack a blow job under the covers only to be clocked in the head and buried alive.
Sister tries to cleanse the house of evil spirits but instead the group more just gets really high with the cable guy. The bit are not hilarious but there is some reasonably funny stuff in here. Now anyone who reads this blog knows that I have a problem with comedy. The problem is a simple on, I don't find most of it funny. Now here I am undercutting my opinions on this film but hey you good reader deserve the truth.
  The thing I did not find funny at all in this film has to do with a recurring bit around eating poor boy sandwiches, slow motion and grunts and groans of satisfaction for way too long of a time just was not funny to me. Remember that hamburger ad where Paris Hilton sexual interaction eating a burger, well that is what they were going for in these scenes. They make the scenes too long stretching the patience of the audience hoping that this will be uncomfortably funny, instead it is just uncomfortable.
It seemed the crew had fun making this film, shot on location in New Orleans the cast got to have a great time when not on the set. I watched an interview with Rob Huebel who relayed how much fun it was and how laid back and fun the town is. Written and directed by the team of Tom Lennon and Robert Ben Garant the film was seen as  part of the Sundance Film festival. Playing in the midnight movie part of the festival from what I read it was not very well received. Lennon in interviews is pretty clear that his history in film making is spotty at best. He sees this film as a funny but very stupid movie.
 The final scene where the priests and cops come to do the exorcism is silly fun with first the birth of a perfectly normal baby and then a little devil baby. The slapstick antics of the climax are not totally original but they are funny enough. I enjoyed parts of this film but in the end I will not make it a recommendation for this blog.

"Ghost don't kill people, people kill people, and sometimes ghost make people kill people."

Friday, January 17, 2014

Progeny (1998) Horror Pregnancy Alien

Progeny (1998) - I watched the extra features of this film before viewing the movie itself. So I knew going in that this was probably not going to be my kind of movie. Included in those features was two different interviews of people recounting their alien abduction stories. First Pamela Stonebrooke and American actress, jazz singer and radio talk show host. A woman who was featured in a show called "The World's Strangest UFO Stories" on the Discovery Channel where she claimed to have a three year on going sexual relationship with a 6 foot reptilian alien. She also has an Album called "Intergalacticdiva". The second by a school teacher in LA who did not identify herself but talks about her abduction through the prism of being a regression therapy client of the last interview on the disc Barbara Lamb. She is a long time ET believer and experience recorder who uses the dis-proven regression therapy as a means to get the stories from supposed abductees. Now the first two women I could argue are actresses brought in on the DVD project for supplemental features to sell this film. Lamb though is a true believer and so when I saw her piece it made me wonder about how sincere the film was going to be. Since we all know there are no aliens visiting earth and no humans being taken and experimented on I felt uneasy that the film might take the subject seriously.
 Director Brian Yuzna he with Producers Jack Murphy and Henry Seggerman even talk about abduction stories as "true". I think the characters throughout the movie could be viewed as a bit off. The film starts with a voice over and an alien abduction taking the form as lost time. A couple is making love and when the light changes and the couple seem frozen, then the light changes color and they start moving again but its two hours later. This incident which bothers our lead character Dr. Craig Burton (Arnold Vosloo) so much that he goes to a therapist to talk about it. The Therapist (Lindsay Crouse) even though gives the film bonus points since she played Professor Maggie Walsh on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Although probably the worst season of that show.)
 Luckily I think there was a nice balance in the film between treating regression therapy and alien abduction as real things and the recognition that the people taking part in these things are just a wee bit crazy. Even though the makers of the film,
  Craig bothered by dreams about the events of that night starts getting hypnosis and remembers his abduction. It works and before you know it he is torn with the idea that is just too unbelievable. His therapist is clear she thinks he is stressed but won't make the leap that he was really taken by aliens. So as more and more memories come back and as he researches alien abduction he is pulled more and more in to believing that is what happened to he and his wife.
  Sherry  (Jillian McWhirter) is pregnant and really not into her husbands new interest in thinking he was taken by aliens. Because of his low sperm count he also starts wondering if he is the father of her child. Could it be the aliens. In the Trivia quiz on the DVD one of the answers was that most people start remembering more about their abduction by talking to others with the same claims. So when Craig start talking to Sherry about his ideas it plants the seeds of her own false memories.  When Sherry has her own scary dream she really freaks out. This is the part of the film I don't really like. It is taken straight up seriously but even still Director Brian Yuzna leaves it open enough so viewers could believe that they are feeding off each other.
  Still in the end the the film does a good job at creating the feeling that the two people may not really have been taken by aliens at all and the problems they are having are psychological. Only after that do they ruin it for the rational viewer with a ridiculous question mark ending that left me frustrated. Overall though this is a quality film, a bit slow to start but building to what seem a real break for the couple. The consequences of their diluted fears are real and the script by Stuart Gordon and Aubrey Solomon is tight enough to make this film quite viewable.
 Wilford Brimley as Sherry Burton's gynecologist, William E. Pugh as the hospital administrator, David Wells as the insensitive and annoying E.R. chief  and Brad Dourif as a UFO expert are all wonderful competent character actors fill out the cast.
  So another pregnancy movie this one with the chance to see a half alien baby in a nightmare delivery seen. Written after The Fly (1986) it steals a bit from that now famous seen and adds some special effects to raise the ante. So even though this is not really my favorite kind of film I am reluctantly recommending it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Clinic (2010) Horror Pregnancy Adoption

The Clinic (2010) - A different take on pregnancy horror comes from this small Australian film written and directed by James Rabbitts. His first feature it is a expecting Mother's nightmare in the outback of Australia. A young couple Beth (Tabrett Bethell) and Cameron (Andy Whitfield) are driving the outback to visit distant relatives. Beth is near term in her pregnancy so why she would drive long distance shows questionable decision making. They after a long day stop a a dusty rundown roadside motel and get a room. When Cam goes out late at night for some Chinese food he leave his sleeping wife in the room. When he returns back though the room is empty. Where did his wife vanish to? His journey is about trying to find her.
  At this point in the film there is really a thriller aspect to it. Is this some kind of Saw film where the woman must perform some gruesome task to get her baby back? It is a meat processing plant could the baby be a calf for some high paying customer with a unique palette? Questions abound concerning both Beth and Cameron things we are somewhat quickly brought into focus. Cameron for his part goes from worried husband to fugitive in just a couple short scenes. After calling the police to report his wife missing he gets arrested for assaulting the motel owner Hank (Boris Brkic). The creepy guy had made inappropriate remarks about Beth when they were checking in. So Cameron suspected him but was just frustrated with the cop, Marvin (Marshall Napier) being nice to the guy, his friend or at least neighbor. The police in this small town did the predictable thing running Cameron around and questioning him as a suspect. When Cam snaps at the motel owner it is a good reason for the cop to arrest him. This seemed the most predictable part of the film. It is obvious that something is not right with Hank or Marvin, they are being played to be suspicious, so is this a Red Herring? Problem really is that it does not matter in this film. The entire story line for Cameron is all for not. His story does not matter in the least for the outcome of the movie?
  The main story involves Beth who wakes in a tub of ice water with the scar of a cesarean section in her abdomen. She has had her baby stolen and finds herself in some strange compound that looks like a large cattle processing ranch. There are no locked doors to leave the building she is in so after painfully exiting Beth takes a very long walk until she find the outer fence, which is chained and too tall to climb over for someone in her condition. We had learned earlier that she had lost one baby so the anguish of this situation is poignant. She collapses in a heap crying for her loss and her helplessness. She is found by three other women all bearing the same tell tale blood stain from a c-section. Veronica (Freya Stafford), Ivy (Clare Bowen) and Allison (Sophie Lowe) have already looked for a way out and are now at a point where they want instead to look for their babies. Wait though something is not right, someone is killing off women in this complex and cutting their stomachs open. It is a Saw type story but without a bit of clever thinking or cool contraption.
  Since this is not a film I want to recommend I am about to spoil the fuck out of it. Strange when I really like films I also want to spoil them, what does that say about me? In this case the women find a room with six caged babies that they can in no way free. Each baby has a colored tag, or should I say one half of a colored tag. Because we are the audience we have seen the person killing the women dug a tag from in the c-section scar of a victim so we understand the premise. Each woman has the second half of her baby's tag implanted in her so there are a few ways she can find out which child is hers. One would be to work together and escape then bring the authorities to sort out the babies. Where they are so isolated though it does not seem like a possible solution at the time. Next they could try to get there own tags out of themselves and match the color to that of the baby. It would be painful and possibly kill them but they could survive it if they got treatment soon enough. Third they could do what the killer is doing, killing all the other women and digging the tags out of them so by process of elimination finding out what color tag must be inside her. Now you are probably thinking that this is pretty far fetched and you are right. The "ah-ha" moment when the women figure it out is very unbelievable which is part of the reason I won't be recommending this film. It is just too much of a stretch. It is not even the biggest stretch this film takes. We learn later when one of the characters explains the plot to us like we would not get it otherwise, that one of the six women was told about the tags but not the other five. You have to love when a writer needs a part just to explain the plot. On top of that is a leap just way to ridiculous to believe, so much so that I cringe even in wanting to relay it to you fine readers.
When she wakes Ms. Shepard ( Elizabeth Alexander) is there the head honcho at the clinic to explain everything that has happened the last hour and a half. Fucking hate this kind of character.    You see the clinic steals babies from women so that wealthy foreigners can adopt them, in this case a Russian couple. Its not quite that simple though, she explains that they only want the strongest genes to be put up for adoption so they have the Mothers fight to the death and the baby of the surviving Mother is the one that is adopted. Except the plot hole that only one Mother (Adrienne Pickering) was told about this fight to the death means that the strongest could be any of the killed Moms since they did not have the advantage of knowing about the contest. It is irrelevant though since the sole survivor was our Beth and now she knows with a broken heart that these Russians are going to take her child. Not only that but they get to kill Beth too, that way there are not loose ends. Well unless you include the fact that for 25 years women have been disappearing in late pregnancy. Also that there are still 5 other babies to be disposed of, and the previously mentioned not necessarily having the best genes because of the plot hole.
 Back to the story for a bit. So the film becomes a survival movie with the victims being murdered by one of the other victims one by one in the hope that this last survivor can identify the baby that is hers. Of course since Beth is our main character you can guess that she is the final survivor and learns what color tag her baby has. Rushing back to the baby room only to find it empty. She at this point is knocked out and chained to the floor of an office.
  There is only one thing to do when faced with this much bad script writing, make it even worse. So we get a big reveal that is so far fetched that it can not be mentioned in this blog. When in the end everyone is dead and Beth has won we still are left scratching our heads to why the fuck the final reveal was written. Then to kick us in the groin one final time we see that the writer needed to confirm uselessness of Cameron's independent story line. After her abduction the couples story lines never merged again and his was so futile and unhelpful that he could have been killed in the first five minutes and it would not have mattered in the story. On top of this shit pile we get a hopeful epilogue scene that made me want to spit at the television. So this film is a giant fail for me. Not that a survival story about a Mother trying to retrieve her baby is a bad idea it is that "The Clinic" was just so poorly written that it was not scary or worth the time I wasted watching it.