RSS Feed

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cthulhu (2007): Something Happened on the Way to Portland

[originally published 12Oct2012]

Cthulhu (Dan Gildark, 2007)


Welcome to the end of the world. Image source: wikipedia

Cthulhu, Dan Gildark’s expressive, delicious supernatural drama, suffers from the same mismarketing that most supernatural dramas do. This is not entirely unexpected, considering the supernatural drama is, these days, almost exclusively a Southeast Asian genre, and when similarly exceptional Asian films find their way over here, they are usually mismarketed as horror as well. (Case in point: Soo-youn Lee’s The Uninvited, one of the greatest Korean films ever made, widely panned for “not being scary enough”.) I admit, Gildark probably brought some of it on himself by tapping into the Lovecraftian mythos, but really, kiddies, if you pick up anything even remotely Lovecraft-related and expect a Roger Corman (or, worse, a Brian Yuzna) movie, you’re going to be disappointed by, well, every good attempt at Lovecraft that’s ever been committed to screen–“and this one is very good indeed.

Read the rest of this entry

Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator (1990): Toss in the Celluloid As Well

Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator (Don Nardo, 1990)


Yet more box art that has nothing to do with the film. photo credit:

As I was reading up on this dog in preparation to write a review, I saw a line that made everything clear. “This is a Troma film…” Indeed it is, and it suffers the hallmarks of every Troma film I’ve ever seen—the acting is horrifying, the script is terrible, the special effects are worse than those in most no-budget student films, the humor is funny as long as you’re under the age of twelve, etc. (Spoiler alert: Stephanie never gets stuffed in the incinerator. I don’t actually recall seeing an incinerator during the entire film.) What makes this one different from its Troma contemporaries is that there’s actually a fantastic hook to this movie, one that, done right, could provide the basis for a brilliant thriller: Stephanie and Jared (Catherine Dee and William Dame) are a fabulously wealthy married couple who enjoy setting up elaborate scenes and acting them out with their friend Robert (M. R. Murphy). Everything is going along okay, but Stephanie is tired of the games and wants to get out; Robert, who’s carrying a torch for her, is willing to help out. But the only way out may be to kill Jared. It’s begging to be remade as a straight noir with a talented cast and a director who knows what the hell he’s doing, two things that did not plague Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator in the least. And that may well be a film worth watching. This, on the other hand, is not. *


Four in a Bed (2012): Roll Over, Roll Over

photo credit: Oregon State University

Yanusa Devon, Four in a Bed (No publisher listed, 2012)


Problem number one with this book: that only looks like one, and I don’t see a bed. photo credit: my copy

This was part of a series of cheap Kindle porn that got released under the wrong names, the cover is for Ceci Patricks’ Musings of a Sex Addict, but the text is for Four in a Bed. (Since I had the other book, I used the cover it should have had above instead of the cover it got.) This incredibly short “story” starts off sounding like a particularly bad Hustler letter written by a horny twelve-year-old who has no sexual experience whatsoever. And that’s the good part. By the third paragraph, the author has gone from at least rudimentary attempts at show-don’t-tell to sounding as if this is a school assignment and he wants to get it over with as fast as possible. He also pads things out by adding ridiculous, offensive stereotypes. “My wife Jade and Henry’s wife Bianca did a little lesbian act when we were completely naked and settled on our bed. Although Jade was bi-curious, I was strictly heterosexual. We only had sex with couples where the man was strictly heterosexual as well.” Seriously, do women exist who put up with the sort of idiotic double standard found in that passage? And who wouldn’t smack their husbands over the head for not including even a single detail in the first sentence, which in well-written erotica could easily be stretched out to two or three thousand words of tantalizing description? This is absolutely awful. ½ star because it’s not overtly morally objectionable, just stupid, naive, and terribly written.

Suicide Squad (2016): Desire Becomes Submission. Submission Becomes Power.

Suicide Squad (David Ayer, 2016)


Time to play. photo credit:

After I saw the trailer for Suicide Squad the week before it came out, all the sudden I wanted to see the first superhero movie I’d wanted to see since Iron Man 2. It looked like ridiculous amounts of fun, starred Margot Robbie, who was so good in Z for Zachariah, and while I haven’t been a huge fan of the David Ayer directorial efforts I’ve seen, as a writer, man, he’s out of this world sometimes (two words: Training Day). And then the reviews started coming in, and they were terrible. But a friend wanted to see it and couldn’t find anyone to go with, and it was five bucks a ticket (and the theater in which we saw it, where I’d never been before, was loads of fun), so I figured why not? My ex-wife’s assessment of the film, which she’d seen the week before I did: “you get to see a lot of Harley Quinn’s ass.” What’s not to like? So we went, and while Suicide Squad is, on the David Ayer scale, far more End of Watch than Training Day, I thought it did its job, and even though I understand, and agree with, most of those critical reviews, I thought it did that job pretty well regardless.

Read the rest of this entry

Finding Dory (2016): Sigourney Weaver, Savior of the Universe

Finding Dory (2016): Sigourney Weaver, Savior of the Universe

Finding Dory (Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, 2016)


It’s a big ocean. photo credit:

To me, and I know I am in the minority on this, Finding Nemo (2003) has always been one of Pixar’s minor successes; it’s nowhere near as awful as their worst output, like Cars 2 or Wall-E, but it’s nowhere near as good as their classics (Toy Story, Monsters Inc.). And since Pixar’s track record with post-TS2 sequels has been, to put it kindly, abysmal, I wouldn’t have even gone to see Finding Dory if my four-year-old hadn’t begged. And I wasn’t exactly predisposed to liking it today; the mall had a Pokémon Go event going on, so it took half an hour to find a parking spot, and of course at a Saturday matinee, the theater was full of loud toddlers. (I’m not going to say mine is a model, but his mother and I have taught him that quiet is necessary in a cinema, and he mostly gets it.) And yet, I walked out of that theater amazed. Finding Dory is a far, far superior film to its predecessor, and continues the jaw-dropping revitalization of Pixar that started with Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur last year.

Read the rest of this entry

Book of Poetry: Romantic Poems (XXXX): Least Accurate Title of the Year

James K. Moore, Book of Poetry: Romantic Poems (MooreSuccess, no date listed)


The cover is the most romantic thing about it. photo credit: pinterest

I have to admit that I’m impressed, in a grudging sort of way, by the poem “You and I” in this collection. It is possible to advance the hypothesis that every major error it is possible to make in the crafting of poetry exists in this single piece.

Read the rest of this entry

1000 Best/100 Worst list changes, September/October 2014

1000 Best

Park Avenue (Alan Gibney, 2012) 152
If I Stay (R. J. Cutler, 2014) 606
Very Bad Things (Peter Berg, 1998)
The Chair (Brett Sullivan, 2007)


100 Worst
Left Behind II: Tribulation Force (Bill Corcoran, 2002) 19
Bong of the Dead (Thomas Newman, 2011) 75
Hell of the Living Dead (Bruno Mattei, 1980)
Parasite (Charles Band, 1982)

Hubby Licks It Up (2013): White Spume Flew Its Ghost Against the Glass

A. Cuckold, Hubby Licks It Up (No publisher listed, 2013)

Points off: incomplete information on Amazon page.


Title on solid colored background. Most boring book cover in ages.

“I paid your design firm a hundred grand and they came up with THIS?”
photo credit: me

Well will you look at that—a piece of quickie Kindle porn, written by someone with the ridiculous pseudonym of A. Cuckold no less, that’s actually well-written enough to make me wonder if the guy actually knows his pseudonym is patterned after the protagonist of Edwin Abbott’s Flatland. Hell, you could even argue that Brandon, the protagonist of Hubby Licks It Up, is, in fact, A. Square, at least in the sixties slang use of the word. Brandon is, the description tells us, rather wealthy—enough so to have landed Steffi, a former model, for a wife—but doesn’t have much going on in most other departments. (A milquetoast, in other words.) Steffi is decidedly unsatisfied with the marriage bed, accidentally discovers that the reason is her square may in fact be gay, and decides to put that hypothesis to the test. I’m pretty sure the title means it’s not much of a spoiler to say they both end up having a great deal of fun. This is obviously vertical-market Kindle porn, and I’m pretty sure you should be able to tell from the title whether it’s your thing or not (if you can’t puzzle out the story’s kink from the book’s title, it’s not your thing—trust me on this). If it is, with all the caveats that come with cheap, short Kindle porn as regards non-existent character development, scene-setting, blah blah blah, it’s well-written enough that if “A. Cuckold” were to ever to turn this into a novel-length offering that incorporated all that good stuff, I would not hesitate one second in giving it a chance. ***


1000 Best and 100 Worst list changes, Jan. 2014

Only one on the thousand-best list:
ON:Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade (George Hickenlooper, 1993) 255
Dead and Breakfast (Matthew Leutwyler, 2004)

Lots of movement on the 100-Worst list, though, judging by some of the “on”s I haven’t adjusted it since September of last year…
Zombie Hunter (K. King, 2013) 5The Age of Stupid (Franny Armstrong, 2008) 10
The Last Broadcast Chapter Two: Pandora’s Dawn (George Petersen, 2013) 12
Rise of the Zombies (Nick Lyon, 2012) 14
After the Storm (Guy Ferland, 2001) 23
Hollow (Michael Axelgaard, 2011) 41
Infected (Glenn Ciano, 2013) 58
The Turning (L.A. Puopolo, 1992) 60
Mystery Men (Kinka Usher, 1999)
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (Brett Halvorson, 1999) 71
Beowulf (Graham Baker, 1999)
Near Death (Joe Castro, 2004)
Sweet Evil (René Eram, 1996)
Grave Encounters (Vicious and Vicious, 2011)
Fear House (Michael R. Morris, 2008)
Boogeyman II (Nick Starr, 1983)
Warriors of Terra (Robert Wilson, 2006)
The Rockville Slayer (Marc Selz, 2004)
Grizzly Park (Tom Skull, 2008)
Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke, 2008)
The Color Purple (Steven Spielberg, 1985)

Desert Island Disc Day 4 Introduction: The Redraw

Day 4 Introduction: The Redraw

So…you’re headed for a desert island. The airline whose plane is about to crash has just informed you that you overpacked, and in fact you only have room in your bag for a Discman and a single 80-minute CD-R. (I discovered last week that 80-minute CD-Rs do not, in fact, hold 80 minutes of music, but this is fantasy, right?) There’s equipment over by the check-in gate that will allow you to rip tracks from all the CDs you brought so you can burn that one Desert Island Disc…what songs do you put on it? Since May (from your perspective) and sometime in March (from mine), I have been attempting to answer that question myself, and it turned out to be a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would; after making two passes through my music collection and, upon reflection, STILL leaving a startling amount of excellent stuff out, I started off with six hundred eighty-eight pieces of music, and I’ve been eliminating via head-to-head matchups ever since.

Read the rest of this entry