Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Magic in the World

Instead of writing my movie review, I’ve been sitting here watching episode after episode of Fool Us, a British show where various British magicians try and fool Penn and Teller with their magic tricks. It’s just forty-five minutes of magicians trying their hardest and I can’t stop watching it.

I have a fascination with magic shows that can best be explained by why I also love found film horror movies: I love the idea of trying to convince your audience that the world they live in is not all that it appears to be.

It’s one of those things that constantly gets ahold of me. The idea of being able to forgot for a second that there is no magic and accept what your eyes are showing you, that’s a powerful thing to me.

I keep having ideas of how to accomplish it, but it’s a little harder than just writing a story. You have to dress the stage and make sure that there are no seams where the flats don’t mesh together perfectly.

I doubt I’ll ever do it, but I do have some ideas.

One or two.

-D-

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Filed under Thinking and Pondering: Science, History, Analysis and Over-Think

Saturday Night Movie Review: Nazis at the Center of the Earth

As I mentioned last week, I’m going to start reviewing movies that I believe are perfect to watch while drinking beer and hanging out with friends. Or, if you’re me, drinking a warm bloody mary while you’re by yourself. They’re the movies that are so bad they’re funny, over-the-top violence and acting so wooden you could build a table out of it.

All the movies I review will be readily available online, either through Netflix Instant or Amazon Prime or one of the many other (legal) streaming sites.

This week: Nazis at the Center of the Earth

Now, I have a couple of criteria when it comes to movies of this caliber. They must be delightfully, whimsically stupid. There must be plenty of opportunities where everyone can jump in and throw out a random one liner.

For example, right off the bat, the title of this movie is ripe with stupid and then the plot just keeps delivering.

We follow the tale of a group of intrepid arctic scientists who stumble across a secret, underground Nazi base: by accidentally drilling into it.They start to drill into the ice, the drill screeches to a halt and they brush an inch of snow off of a giant swastika. Because when you’re trying to get a core sample using extremely expensive equipment, you don’t test the ground in any way, shape or form to make sure you’re not drilling into solid rock or a Nazi bunker.

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As the movie progresses it turns out that the Nazis have a sinister plan (which is not surprising, given the whole “being Nazis thing”) and they kidnap the entire team, dragging them into their subterranean layer where it is revealed that they are also zombies.

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To recap: The villains in this movies are Nazi zombies that live in a underground military base under the Antarctic led by an immortal Doctor Mengele. Oh, and Jake Busey is a scientist, which is humorous in and of itself since the only other thing I’ve ever seen him play is a psychopath who eats a baseball bat in Identity. All in all, you have the perfect recipe for one of the stupidest movies to slither onto the screen since Troll 2.

But here comes the problem. About halfway through the movie, things get nasty. It gets mean spirited and unpleasant and vicious in a way that stops being funny and more makes you feel like you participated in something that you did not want to participate in. It stops being fun to watch and turns into something you’d turn off and walk away from.

Which is a shame, because this is the same movie with a terrible CGI UFO…

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…and that’s not even the stupidest thing you will come across in this movie. That would be terrible CGI robot Hitler.

But I can’t 100% recommend this movie unless you’re the kind of person that found Human Centipede funny. Otherwise, you’ll get to that middle bit and completely shut-down.

If you’re looking for something fun all the way through, avoid this. I can see too many people getting to the shower scene and reaching for the remote in a hurry.

I give this Five “Are you really trying to sell Jake Busey as a scientist?”s and Two Squinchy Gut Roilers.

I’m also a little disappointed that I misrolled two times in a row and I’ve only done this segment twice. Next week, I guarantee that I’ll find you something awesome to watch.

Guaranteed.

-D-

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Filed under Horror: Movies, Books, Stories and More

Saturday Night Movie Review: Stake Land

I believe, fervently, that Saturday nights are made for watching bad movies, mainly because I’m a shut-in with the personal skills of a wounded bear who was already not too fond of people. But finding the right bad movie is difficult. You need to hit all the right notes of hilarious dialogue, wooden acting and over-the-top special effects. Sometimes you spend ten minutes flipping through the Netflix Instant selection of horror movies, think you’ve hit a winner (The Stuff) and then realize that you’ve made a terrible mistake (aside from the uncomfortable under and overtones and the wonderful casting of Michael Moriarty as a master of corporate espionage, The Stuff was dull. Insane, but dull). You have an option: turn back and spend another ten minutes browsing before clicking on Strippers versus Werewolves or just sticking it out with The Stuff.

So, in order to spare you and your loved ones the pain of watching the wrong bad movie, I offer to you my semi-weekly, most likely going to only do this twice, feature of Saturday Night Movie Review. I will scour Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant looking for the best, bad horror movie for you to enjoy. This is a service I graciously provide for free. Buy my book.

This week: Stake Land

I chose Stake Land because the poster reminded me of Zombieland and Zombieland still fills me with warm cheer whenever I think about it. There are also a few plot point similarities (post Apocalyptic America, surly vampire/zombie hunter teams up with teen to travel the countryside). The difference is that while Zombieland was an entertaining romp and hilarious, Stake Land is a giant downer. It’s Zombieland meets The Road. Vampires have overrun the country and it’s no longer safe to go out at night. Unlike in, say, Daybreakers, the vampires are not suave sophisticates, but drooling, brutal beasts that operate more on Old World Europe Vampyr rules than 19th Century Victorian Vampire rules.

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Stake Land is not a bad movie. It’s well shot and has a great, grungy, country feel that I really dig. At times it felt a little like a western, especially in regard to the costume design and musical score: lots of fiddles and denim. There’s less of a coherent plot and more a journey of the two main characters, Martin and Mister. Mister is the bad-ass vampire slayer out of the two, if you couldn’t figure it out. They’re traveling north through the wasteland that is Vamp infested America to reach a place called New Eden which could be the best hope for our heroes to have a life that approaches normal. Or it could be a hellhole that’s out of food where the inhabitants have turned to cannibalism. It’s up in the air on that front.

They have adventures, they meet new people and one depressing episode after the other happens until we reach the end of the movie and it ends exactly like you thought it would. My only major complaint with the movie is The Brotherhood. They’re an ultra-religious movement that believes the vampires are God’s way of cleansing the Earth and, as such, anyone killing the vampires must be bad. They even go out of their way to helicopter drop vampires into surviving settlements to help purge the Earth of the unfaithful.

They’re almost cartoonishly evil and their leader is too over-the-top for a movie that’s, for the most part, relentlessly grim and surly. Stake Land does not pull punches and does not let up in its quest to make sure you’re as bummed out as you possibly can be.

By the end of Stake Land, I was feeling down, a little sad and I want to watch something with a rainbow in it.

And, in this regard, as a Saturday Night Movie, it fails. You won’t be laughing with your friends over the hilariousness of it. You will all look into yourselves and wonder at the bleakness of that world and wonder, truly wonder, at the costs you would pay if the world were to end and you were asked to make some truly difficult decisions. And then you’d grab another beer and turn on Strippers versus Werewolves.

I give it Two Cormac McCarthy Novels and The Executioner’s Song. Avoid for Saturday Night. Watch it Sunday Morning instead.

-D-

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Filed under Horror: Movies, Books, Stories and More

A Tour of GrandTen Distilled

EDIT: Lonnie from GrandTen sent an email my way and let me know that he enjoyed my review. Also, I am now aware that his name is not Robbie. Correction made!

For whatever reason, most of my experiences around Boston have been centered around brewery tours. Or trying to find a decently priced  sushi restaurant with an atmosphere that we enjoy. But mostly brewery tours. If ever we’re at a loss for something to do on the weekend, there’s a pretty good chance will head on down  to the Harpoon Brewery and see how many free samples we can consume in fifteen minutes.

Yesterday, we decided to continue the trend, but in a slightly different direction. A couple of friends and I went to take a tour of the GrandTen Distillery, which just opened in South Boston last April. It’s about midway between Andrew Station and Broadway Station on the Red Line, although, if you have your druthers, get off at Broadway and walk down. There are a lot less…bones on the sidewalk in that direction.

We’re used to the strictly regimented and tightly coordinated tours of Sam Adams or Harpoon, come in twenty minutes ahead of time, get a ticket for next available tour, muddle around the conveniently located gift shop and then get herded through the brewery by excited youths. At GrandTen, we walked through the door and were immediately greeted by Lonnie.

He asked us if we wanted to go on a tour and then away we went. It was very relaxed, very informal and one of the most easy-going tours I’ve been on. He showed us around the stills and the fermentation tanks and the barrels where their Medford rum and gin were currently aging and I learned there’s more to aging liquors than just throwing it into a barrel and walking away.

Afterward, we went back to the tasting room. GrandTen currently has five different products available and all of which we were able to taste: Wire Works Gin, Fire Puncher Vodka, Amandine, Angelica and Craneberry. Most of the names and references in their products draw from local industries or legends and really help to cement GrandTen as a Boston institution in spite of its youth. For example, Fire Puncher is named for a local man who, in an act of incredible bravery, attempted to put out a fire in the building using only his fists.

All five spirits and liqueurs offer an incredible range of flavors and complexity. Fire Puncher is a vodka that was distilled with chipotle peppers and then aged, giving it a smokey flavor with a deep, slow burn. Wire Works gin is the gin you offer to your friend who does not like gin. It lacks the usual sharp, piney flavor of most gins, and goes for a more rounded, citrus flavor. The juniper berries act as a bind for all of the other flavors, giving the gin a mellow and more delicate taste, instead of being the one, overriding flavor.

And while normally I’m not a big fan of liqueurs because they’re usually saccharine sweet and a little too thick, GrandTen’s selection all hits the right notes without dumping a metric ton of sugar on your palate. While I’m not normally a big fan of amaretto, Amandine just hits in the right ways, while Angelica is a flowery fruity concoction. Craneberry is astonishing in its drinkability, but I don’t really want to talk about it so much, because they’re almost out.

The most exciting thing about all of their products, but their liqueurs in particular, is their potential in cocktails. As Lonnie pointed out, their strengths are their ability to enhance and brighten other drinks. They would all be powerful and useful tools for people who love to experiment with new cocktail creations.

All in all, if you’re in the Boston area, I recommend checking out the GrandTen Distillery tour. And, if you can’t take the tour, you can always track down their products here.

I would give them five out of five Hours of My Saturday Morning.

BONUS FACT: The tour is free!

-D-

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Filed under Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It