Saturday, September 20, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
Trying to figure out what to change the name to. "The Cavalcade Of Schlock" was my old, geocities-age movie-review website, dating back to when there weren't a lot of them, at least not so many focused on genre movies. Time went on and I lost interest and geocities itself went the way of the wax cylinder.
Got an email. Some other group of people out there with similar schlocky interests had their own site called The Cavalcade Of Schlock. It may even still be up and running. Somebody there reached out to me and half-apologized, half-"well isn't that funny!"'d.
I wasn't sure how to respond. It felt like they were using my name, but not like how I'd feel if there was some other "Tyrannorabbit" out there. It's not like the name "Cavalcade Of Schlock" was something I was still using, and it's not like it was something that ever did (or ever would) make me money. Hell, when people mentioned it to me, not a goddamn one of them got the name right. That is not the mark of a good name.
So I figure, they're welcome to it, I'm happy to leave it behind. It's all cool.
But what am I going to call this now? Needs another name. I'll sleep on it. I've tentatively tried and failed to change it. I'm still re-figuring this out.
Oh, neat thing today. For the first time since Enemies Of Reality in 2003, I took my first listen to a new album by laying back in the dark and listening to it on headphones. Why this one? It's been long awaited.
Braindance's 2002 album Redemption may not be the best album of its day but it was the one that, more than any other, felt specifically tailored just for me, and in the years since more than any other album of the 21st century, it just feels like mine. I have never known anybody I would feel confident recommending this band to. And that's okay, I don't much evangelize on these things.
A couple of years later, they announce that they're working on a new album, Master Of Disguise. I'm excited. They work on this for a while, and I check their site about weekly for updates. In 2006, their site promises that it'll be ready by fall. Fall came and went. In early 2007, their site slightly amends that comment, saying it'll be ready by THAT fall. That fall came and went. I'm still checking that site about weekly. In early 2008, the statement on their site now says guaranteed to be in your hands by the end of the year.
I got in touch with them - not to nag, but to ask that when the album is ready, that I can get an interview for a piece in Unrestrained!, the magazine I was writing for at the time. Whichever member it was who wrote back was into it. All good.
End of the year came and went, and any promise of a release date is removed from the site. At this point they're basically just saying, "Working on it!"
So, that was early 2009. Every week I checked that site. Adrian died - Unrestrained! went with him. 2010, 2011, 2012...every week. No update.
It occurs to me that these non-materializing albums that actually get titles are way more heartbreaking than the ones that don't.
2013, 2014, every week, until HOLY SHIT.
Site's revamped, album's ready. I immediately drop a stupid amount of money on that CD, the kind of money I do not ever spend on CD's and haven't in at least ten years. CD finally gets here. As you might imagine, I'm pretty excited about it, but trying to keep my expectations down to earth.
Anyway...it made a very good first impression, on headphones in the dark, happy to say. Kudos to Braindance for not losing the magic. I still don't know who I would try to turn on to this. But maybe that's a good sign.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Oh, what the hell, here goes. Where VAP refers to the “Vs. movie Awesomeness Potential”, P1AP and P2AP (and so on) refer to the Awesomeness Potential of their parents, and P1AD and P2AD (and so on) refer to the Demonstrated Awesomeness of their parents, and N refers to the number of parent franchises :
VAP = ([P1AP + P2AP...] + [P1AD + P2AD...]) / N-squared
In other words, thank fuck there wasn't a Freddy vs. Jason vs. Pinhead vs. Ash.
Okay, look, I'm not gonna tell you this is a great movie. I don't even feel right saying it's a good movie. It doesn't stack up to any of the Alien solo movies, or the first Predator, and is unlikely to get the kind of sentimental fondness Predator 2 got (the kind where I know it's crap anyway). But while it pains my heart a little say this, my head knows that this is probably about as good as an Aliens vs. Predator movie is gonna get. Its VAD is about as close to its VAP as we can hope for.
The first AVP was lousy pretty well across the board; stupid setup (modern earth, what?), stupid location (Antarctica, but...underground where nothing looks like Antarctica, and in a self-transforming giant temple no less), stupid PG-13, stupid mythology where the Predators were Aztec gods, stupid pro wrestling moves from the Predators. I can't remember an upside to that movie. Wait, I remember the Predator nailing the Alien queen in the head with a spear. That was pretty badass. Two seconds of upside.
In some regards, AVP:R is an overcorrection. The setting is anything but fantastical, and at least this time it's easy to accept as long as you swallow its first few minutes' conceit that the Predator-Alien hybrid (which the movie wastes no time in showing in its full form) somehow manages to crash its ship near a small Colorado town, and there's a regular Predator in pursuit of it. It doesn't keep hitting you with new bits of “Oh come on, I don't believe that this movie is set in this time and place” that the first one did. It's also a hell of a lot more gruesome, sometimes hilariously so (lots of guys lose large portions of their heads), sometimes...ugh, horrible.
I don't remember any human character in AVP having even a single dimension, but the lead characters here mostly have exactly one at most. Some of them even have to share. We've got directionless slacker who could only be made less miserable by the arrival bloodthirsty aliens, we've a prodigal son returns type guy, we've got a military mom who just got home from The Shit...you can see there's some overlap here. There's a hot blonde who really likes the slacker for undisclosed reasons, a sheriff that the townspeople talk to as if he were some sort of dirty foreigner for undisclosed reasons (other than that he appears to be slightly brown), a group of bullies – bullies! For real! Will they get raped in the face by horrible monsters? A script with some personality to it and a cast with some seasoned character actors could've gone a long way in this movie, but couldn't we say that about anything? This script is so lazy it brings in a couple of potheads and doesn't even try wringing any humour out of their presence. In fact, this whole movie is noticeably humourless, and not to its credit. It's easy to respect a stark horror movie that chooses to go this route, but this is a “vs.” movie – it should be fun above anything.
At least this movie treats is titular creatures with a little respect (and surprisingly little CGI). The Predator is followed through his entire presence in the movie without some human audience surrogate accompanying it (and saying things like “Oh, I see...you're tracking it!”) as it wordlessly goes on its investigation and hunt. The Aliens look great and after five movies of metal corridors it's refreshing and a little unsettling to see them wreak mayhem in such mundane, homey surroundings. And the Predator-Alien hybrid is a piece of work; it's a good gross monster, and after the stasis in AVP, the Aliens here return to being a little more bizarre with each movie. This one doesn't even bother with the eggs; it impregnates you, several chestbursters at a time, by puking them down your throat.
That leads into how this movie contains possibly the most horrible image I've ever seen in a dramatic movie. Audition? Irreversible? Inside? Whatever taboo-breaking Europanese thing is hip right now? None of that shit is as world-stoppingly awful as seeing what happens here in a maternity ward. That it was probably intended as just another eew, gross moment in a movie that has a few eew, gross moments only makes it worse. And goddammit, any horror movie that shows me something that awful has got to be doing something right.
We do get a short look, very early on, at what I assume is the Predator homeworld, and it inspires in me the kinds of questions I always ask whenever I see the the Klingon homeworld, or the homeworld of any fictitious alien civilization which has exactly three words and a hyphen to define them (“Honour-bound warriors!” “Trophy-seeking hunters!”): where are the Predator architects? The Predator construction workers, the Predator mechanics and refinery workers and artists and plumbers and pavers? I'm sure they have these things, because they HAVE TO, but it's to this series' detriment that the Predators are shown in such a singular, brain-dead light that I can't even imagine these things without giggling.
Back here on earth, the small-town setting gives this movie a tasty little something that its predecessors lack: it's the only Aliens movie where its human characters aren't generally aware that being killed, impregnated, or torn apart by an Alien is a near-future possibility. This movie has a lot of people whose last thoughts are some variant of WHAT THE FUCK.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Isaac Asimov didn't like sci-fi movies, dismissing them as showcases for scenes of destruction – and it's hard not to see what he meant, looking upon the sci-fi movies prior to his death and since. Oh, how he would roll in his grave if he knew Roland Emmerich was supposedly attached to film the Foundation story.
For all of its crimes, Bicentennial Man is perfectly innocent of this accusation. The only thing you'll see destroyed here is Asimov's delicate, necrotic sphincter as Chris Columbus and Robin Williams take turns plunging their dicks into it. What we're basically asked to accept in this movie is to watch Robin Williams make the journey from servile automaton to somebody who gets away with farting in bed with Embeth Davidtz.
Sam Neill, for a while anyway, brings the dignity of a father being patient with an intensely curious child to a role of the patriarch of a "not too distant future" (2005) family, which purchases a robot butler, Andrew. We learn that such robot butlers are not so uncommon among the moneyed, though I'm already feeling a little uncomfortable about this arrangement, not because of any possibility of household kill-bottery (I can trust the Three Laws at least that much) but because it seems like a gimme that at least one kid is gonna form a weird, unhealthy attachment to the 'bot that a human butler would at least recognize as weird and unhealthy. Dad attemptes to explain the finer points of the human experience in fireside chats, which allow Williams to do his...thing.
37 minutes in, things start looking like they might be getting interesting. It flash-forwards a number of years – I don't know how many, but Embeth Davidtz plays the younger sister and she was at least 33 at the time of filming - and this remarkably tolerant family has allowed Andrew to accumulate a vast collection of grandfather clocks that BONG BONG BONG every hour, driving mom to drink. That shit would drive me to dry up crack babies and smoke them.
Too bad this is kicked to the shit curb 38 minutes in when suddenly dad is all like, "He's only a machine!" Neill spends the remainder of his scenes bouncing between attitudes about Andrew's sentience, to say nothing of his own ("What floor are we on here?" What the fuck, what button did you press in the elevator?!?!?).
We hear how Andrew is an older model...and then it flash-forwards another dozen years, and Davidtz has her own bratty kids with her almost entirely unseen husband (Asimov certainly didn't shy away from the possibilities of human/robot sexual coupling) and I still have no idea how this world works with its robots. Neill is doing crosswords on an iphone the size of a VCR.
Andrew's apparently been making a fortune from his art. How does the art world receive him? How does the scientific community regard an attemptedly artful machine? Where are the new-generation robots? Where's the non-robot artificial intelligence?
In the movie's most agonizing scene yet, the screenwriters don't even appear to know what a "mutation" is. Later, Andrew sullenly takes the inability of Embeth's granddaughter (also played by Embeth) to emotionally attach herself to a machine as "a genetic trait" – what, has the rest of humanity been humping his leg all this time?
Andrew searches for more of his own kind for ten years. How far has android technology come in this like...fifty years since the beginning of the movie? Nowhere, androids have fallen out of fashion. Out of fashion, what the fuck?!? He finally finds other models like his own. They're either dead, or idiots. He finds a girl version. She has robo-tits, and nobody pays any mind when a forty-year-old robot chick dances around in public to a loudly blasted recording of Aretha Franklin. She's an idiot (the robot, not Aretha). What made Andrew so special? I'm sure the secret ingredient was love.
It's 82 minutes before we see anything that suggests to us that we've gone into the future. 91 minutes in and it occurs to me, this is the first brown person I've seen in this whole movie. She's singing for the entertainment of a bunch of white people. 104 minutes in Andrew excitedly claims he's always been fascinated by human sexual processes, despite showing no evidence of that previously in the movie.
When he is upgraded to be able to taste things, he immediately perceives certain foods as "wonderful" and "marvellous". There's nothing that tastes like shit to him. So what value has his sense of taste? The chief speaker of the One World Goverment or whatever is flanked by Canada and Portugal. Call me snooty if you will, but Canada, I can see; we're nothing if not so all-inclusive of others that we're still bickering about whether we even have our own identity. But Portugal? Bullshit man, the Portuguese are the gold medallists of the douchebag olympics. Just ask any Portuguese guy.
It ends with one of those scenes that extols Robin Williams's heartwarming awesomeness to the strains of James Horner's heartstring-tugging strings. It even follows that up with some sorta Celine Dion-sounding song. WAIT, it actually is Celine Dion, fuck you world, obviously you hate the two-legged plague that walks your surface.
The bottom line with this movie, aside from the expected hand-wringing about Williams's mugging and Columbus's...being all Columbus (there's a scene where idiot-bot sings "If I Only Had A Heart"), is that this was all done in Star Trek: The Next Generation already and it was bullshit then too. An android that doesn't explore the limits of being as awesome an android as it can be before wanting to be a Real Boy is an android I'd ask for a refund over.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Some history for the uninitiated:
The Cavalcade Of Schlock started in 1998-ish when I didn't even really know I was writing movie reviews. At the start, I was just writing posts on the alt.horror newsgroup detailing why I wasn't enjoying the movies that the newsgroup's regular posters were regularly hailing as classics. Basically, it was me bitching.
Soon this had happened often enough that it seemed like a good idea to compile all these posts in one place, and thus the COS was born.
This was quite the snazzy novelty at the time - remember, this was back when the internet consisted of six guys with tin cans and string - and it was helped by my being cheerfully prolific, watching and writing about four movies a day for months on end (probably had something to do with my best friend at the time being some guy named Captain Morgan...and where the fuck is he now?!?). Over the next whole buncha years I drifted away from the newsgroup, as my pop-culture interests looked to a more all-genre inclusive appreciation of movies, but also music, comics, strippers, neighbour-killing, whatever - but I kept posting, if increasingly infrequently (for which my sanity is grateful), to the COS. This went on until October 2009 when apparently geocities called it quits, and I found myself having to rescue about a thousand movie reviews from cyber-oblivion. I am of mixed feelings about this; about 80% of these, I can't even read without cringing a little. But, they're an honest representation of my thoughts at the time, and I'd rather be honest than try to retroactively correct my thoughts about anything.
Another aspect of the Calvalcade was the "horrormetal" section, where I compiled a fairly vast trove of samples used in metal music, linking them to their original sources - which was, to my knowledge, the only resource of its kind for a while. How many of us can say that? Fucking me and no one else, that's who. But I didn't really have a lasting interest in it; the problem was, I got a ton of emails from people listing the samples they'd heard in songs by bands I'd never heard of and had no interest in. This is the kind of thing that would work best in a wiki-style user-edited database. I haven't rescued all that information from the archives yet, but that endeavour is in hand.
Now that the Cavalcade Of Schlock has found its new home, this is what you can expect:
-Smaller, but more regular updates. I won't wait until I have a dozen reviews up to post - if I have one, I'll throw that up there once it's done.
-More interaction between me and you, the reader. I've been pretty much shit when it comes to answering my emails - and that's honestly not going to change, because my hotmail account has always largely been used as a spam sink and not something I attach to the really important shit. My reviews were originally intended as a starting point for discussion about the movie I was writing about, and that's what I want them to be. You want to comment, please comment! Just leave a consistent name, even a made-up one, I don't want everything to come from one "anonymous" after another.
-The occasional bit of non-review bullshit. Once in a while I'm probably going to want to ramble on about some sort of thing that's tickling/bothering/arousing/stabbing me that day.
-The horrormetal thing is done, for me anyway. If somebody wants to take it over, get in touch with me.
-"Classic" reviews - the ones from the geocities days - will be reproduced verbatim, over time. If I can scarcely live with myself for having written them, I'll mention that in a comment.
That's all I've got for now. New reviews will be coming, and I've gotta alter tyrannorabbit.com to redirect to here instead of the now-dead geocities, but this is the Cavalcade Of Schlock's new home. Hope you enjoy it. And thank you for reading all this time.