Sunday, April 25, 2010 Zombies in Chicago

While out and about yesterday, I spotted a young couple in grey face paint who were obviously intended to be zombies. Luckily for them, their half-hearted attempt at make-up wasn't particularly effective and I was not compelled to pull the car over and club them with a tire iron.

I figured they had to be part of a local zombie walk or summtin, and sure enough a little poking around uncovered this bit from the Sun-Times:
Zombie Pub Crawl returns from the dead

April 13, 2010 11:49 AM

Get excited,'s pub crawl season!

Now that the weather's warming up, the progressive parties are coming out in full force, beginning with last weekend's second annual Snuggie Pub Crawl. If you're looking for something a little less, um, fuzzy, how 'bout the Zombie Pub Crawl, which returns from the dead on Saturday, April 24?

For $20, you'll enjoy drinks specials at bars throughout Andersonville, including Simon's, Mary's Attic, @mosphere, In Fine Spirits and more from 2:30-8 p.m., all while dressed as an extra from "Thriller." Folks got pretty into it last year, so don't skimp on the makeup.
Despite my love of Halloween, I am not one for dressing up in costume (outside of that holy season, of course). I particularly don't go for zombie walks or pub crawls or the like. I have a lingering suspicion that the day I hang out with a crowd of revelers in zombie get-up will be the exact moment when the dead actually rise. It would be the only time the bastards could possibly take me by surprise. Forest for the trees and all that.

However, you might be into that sort of thing, you fool, in which case you would be well served to check out Chicago Zombie. It's a blog covering zombie marches and similar events throughout the Windy City. Glancing at the front page, there's two different necrotic dance events being held the week of May 17th (you'll have to find something else to do with Mom on the 9th). And it looks like there's going to be a second attempt to premiere [REC] 2 at the Portage Theater that Friday (I downloaded a DVD rip after they canceled the first screening, so nertz to them).

Most interesting to those of us who are fond of both lounge aesthetic and carnivorous ghouls is the Retro Zombie Night being held at a tiki bar in Des Plaines on May 30th. A group called Zombie Pin-Ups are involved and they'll be running a beauty pageant later in the evening. Tiki drinks, hula girls, scantily-dressed hipster chicks - that's a combo that may actually convince me to mingle with sweaty horror fans covered in latex and stage blood.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 Things I Found Looking For Something Else #9

Han Solo in Carbonite Soap

Sadly backordered at the time of this posting.
You'll have to stay a scruffy nerfherder a while longer.

Monday, April 19, 2010 Bad Movie Report, Part 2

"When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer." - Hans Gruber
Luckily for us bad movie fans, there are always going to be new worlds to conquer. Especially as advances in technology make it easier and easier for budding auteurs to create and distribute their masterpieces. And thus we come to a little slice of cinemagic known as Birdemic: Shock and Terror! Let's watch the trailer!

That weird sensation you're feeling is your neurons misfiring.

Birdemic is the brainchild of James Nguyen, a computer software salesman who made this rip-off homage to The Birds on a budget of $10,000. When the film was turned down by the Sundance Film Festival (quelle surprise), Nguyen decided to promote his film by driving around the fest in a minivan decorated with stuffed birds, fake blood, and homemade signs. The stunt must have worked, for word of mouth on the film started to build. Eventually, Severin Films picked up the DVD and distribution rights to Nguyen's epic, and the usual arthouse screenings in LA and Austin followed.

The BirdemicMobile prowls Park City. The name of the movie is misspelled on at least one sign.

Birdemic's James Nguyen has a lot in common with The Room's Tommy Wiseau. Both men self-financed movies that they wrote, produced, and directed themselves (though Nguyen has opted to stay behind the camera). Each created a film that is surprisingly personal; the hero of Birdemic is a computer software salesman, and it's obvious that The Room is based on an incident in Tommy Wiseau's own life*. Both men remained completely oblivious to their films' faults until after they were embraced by the cult movie crowd. And finally, like Tommy Wiseau, Nguyen apparently doesn't care that his movie has become a laughing-stock as long as it brings him some degree of money and fame.

However, there are some very important differences between the two directors. Wiseau paid his cast and crew on time; there are allegations that Nguyen didn't pay most of his people at all. And as creepy as Wiseau may be, I haven't heard any rumors of pending sexual harassment suits coming his way.

Still, I'm all for separating the art from the artist in this case. Birdemic looks too good to spurn on moral grounds. I mean, just take a gander (ha!) at the second trailer floating around the intrawebs. It appears to have been put together by Severin Films and has a distinct "wacky" edge to it. Despite that it still manages to give us a bigger, better taste of Birdemic's awesomeness.

Birdemic: Shock and Awe is scheduled for June 18th and 19th at the Music Box Theater. I am so there. To see if Birdemic will be playing near you, my imaginary reader, consult the list of screenings found here.

If this were a Syfy movie, it would totally be called "Birdemic: Shock and Caw"

*The "they'll be sorry when I'm dead" ending is a giveaway. And you know those odd little plot points that are introduced and never referred to again? The breast cancer, the drug deals, the problems at the office? I'm convinced Wiseau included them because similar events occurred during the time that his "Lisa" was cheating on him. The Room is Wiseau's attempt to chronicle, and perhaps exorcise, a traumatic event from his own life. This would also explain why there's two fumbling altercations between Johnny and Mark at the party - the throwdown actually happened that way. Get back, Jojo.

Sunday, April 18, 2010 Beware the Aswang!

From the News Today (Iloilo City, Philippines)
‘Mentally-ill’ hubby beheads sleeping wife

April 14, 2010
By Jennifer Ponsaran-Rendon

A mentally-challenged husband hacked his dozing wife Monday evening inside their home at Sitio Tubudan, Brgy. Igcocolo, some 2-3 meters from Guimbal town proper, Iloilo.

A still perplexed 61-year old Rodolfo Rojo told police investigators that he saw his wife, 70-year old Adela, as an “aswang.”

He narrated that after seeing the “witch,” he got hold of his bolo and hit the “creature.”

According to Guimbal Police Station commander Insp. Jigger Gimeno, the first slash hit the victim’s head.

The second hack, on the other hand, severed the victim’s head from her body.

When responding policemen arrived, Adela’s head was found one meter from her blanketed body.

A few weeks prior to the incident, reports said that the suspect began manifesting signs of mental instability.

“He was allegedly talking no sense and had difficulty sleeping,” Gimeno added.

Before the incident, Rodolfo allegedly asked his wife to allow him to go out.

But Adela insisted against it.

It was surmised that the wife feared that Rodolfo might do something since the latter was showing violent tendencies.

When the victim slept, the suspect began hallucinating leading to the hacking incident, Gimeno added.

After killing his wife, the suspect fled but turned himself over, along with the bolo used, to Guimbal Police Station.

When asked by police investigators, Rodolfo reportedly talked with a lot of inconsistencies.

As this developed, Gimeno claimed that the victim’s family and suspect’s three children are still discussing whether to pursue criminal charges against their father.
I first came across the Filipino term "aswang" in reference to an old favorite fiend, the penanggalan , and the term is used in this way by an eponymous 1994 horror film. However, later research suggested that the name can be applied to just about any variety of nasty supernatural creature, as long as it's female. Using aswang as an appellation for witches, as in this case, seems to be its most common usage. Witchcraft panics involving lynchings and murder occur somewhat frequently in parts of Africa nd Southeast Asia. Let's hope this story doesn't spark another one.

I could swear that I wrote up a long post about the penanggalan, but I can't for the life of me locate it now. Oh well, something else to add to the to-do pile.

Friday, April 16, 2010 Iron Man 2 - New Taiwanese Trailer

The voiceover is in Mandarin. There's a fanboy joke to be made there, but I can't be arsed.


Thursday, April 15, 2010 Bad Movie Report, Part 1

Yeah, I miss Dr. Freex's musings, too.

A while back, I posted about my desire to check out The Room, a legendarily bad movie that has developed a fanatical following. Well, I finally caught up with it in February, and it definitely lived up to its reputation. I had to stop watching the movie about halfway in, because I felt the compelling need to inflict it on share it with someone else. The lucky victim was my friend Nicole, who almost asphyxiated with laughter after only ten minutes or so of viewing. Later she did a spit take that would've wiped out my laptop if I hadn't had the foresight to move it out of any potential spew path earlier.

Nicole has become obsessed with the film. Two days after we first watched the movie, she called to breathlessly inform me that The Room was playing at the Music Box Theater that very weekend - and that the director, Tommy Wiseau, would be attending. She insisted that we attend. Insisted. She was very insistent.

It was a weird night. The film is bad enough, and seeing it twice in such a short time did me some serious psychic damage. But what sent things over the edge was the presence of the man himself. Tommy Wiseau was a wizened little thing, oddly dressed and even more oddly behaved. If you told me he was really a thousand-year-old gnome I would have believed it. Adding to Wiseau's personal strangeness was the sense of unreality that always accompanies meeting someone you've only ever seen on the screen before, cranked up to eleven by the bizarre nature of The Room itself. It was mind-blowing to have the person responsible for that cinematic plane crash standing in front of you mangling the English language and copping surreptitious feels off of hipster chicks.

Wiseau worked the line waiting to get in the theater, flirting with the women and high-fiving the men. He was more than happy to pose for pictures with anyone who asked. (I made an unsuccessful to snap a photo of Nicole with Wiseau using her phone's camera. She blames user error, but the phone itself was blatantly at fault.) He signed tons of autographs, as it seems that half the audience brought in DVD's and/or posters to be graced with his signature. Wiseau seemed genuinely appreciative of his fans, no matter what they might really think of his life work.

There was a brief Q&A session before the film. Most of the audience were in on the joke. They praised Wiseau and his film and asked the sort of mildly fawning questions you hear at any personal appearance screening. However, a couple of peeps (both women, for whatever it's worth) weren't having it. They tried to engage with Wiseau on a more serious level, bringing up The Room's various flaws and its negative reputation and generally just being big buzzkills. Wiseau was clearly put off by their attempts. Even with folks who were more attuned to the playful vibe of the audience, he was pretty curt when asked specific questions about the film and its production. "Watch the movie," was his stock response.

It was clear that Wiseau really loves the attention The Room has brought him. It was equally clear that he is really uncomfortable dealing with the reasons why his film has become so popular. The Room is obviously an autobiographical work and a heartfelt attempt at making a great motion picture. So it has to suck for Wiseau to realize that the fame and adulation he craves has come at the cost of his magnum opus being a laughing stock. Or maybe not. Let's face it - anyone who could go through the entire process of writing, rehearsing, filming, editing, and distributing this particular piece of cinematic history has to have some skill at self-delusion. As long as he can keep that going, he can bask in the (in)fam(y) and sell movie tickets and DVD's and posters and freaking bobbleheads and God knows what else.

For those interested in experiencing The Room for themselves, the DVD is available from NetFlix and another midnight screening is scheduled at the Music Box for Saturday, April 24th. As an added bonus, below is the trailer for Tommy Wiseau's latest project, a workplace comedy inexplicably called The Neighbors. Why yes, that's is a cat sleeping on Tommy's head.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 Evil Clown Stalks Kids For Cash

It's getting to the point where I can't honestly tell what's real, what's tabloid bullshit, and what's a living nightmare that has somehow crossed over into our reality. From today's Metro (think a UK version of the RedEye):

Evil Clown hired for stalking, threats and a pie in the face

An 'evil' clown who stalks and threatens kids is being
hired by parents as a birthday treat.

14th April, 2010

Dominic Deville stalks young victims for a week, sending chilling texts, making prank phone calls and setting traps in letterboxes.

He posts notes warning children they are being watched, telling them they will be attacked.

But Deville is not an escaped lunatic or some demonic monster.

He is a birthday treat, hired by mum and dad, and the ‘attack’ involves being splatted in the face with a cake.

‘The child feels more and more that it is being pursued,’ said Deville.

‘The clown’s one and only aim is to smash a cake into the face of his victim, when they least expect it, during the course of seven days.’

If the boy or girl manages to avoid the ‘hit’, they are given the cake as a birthday present. Well, that’s alright then.

The frightening fun can be stopped at any time, which is handy for parents who have second thoughts and don’t fancy the cost of child therapy.

Deville said: ‘The clown will never break into a residence or show up at work. It’s all in fun and if, at any point, the kids get scared or their parents are concerned, we stop right there.

‘But most kids absolutely love being scared senseless.’

Deville set up his Evil Clown service in Lucerne, Switzerland, after being inspired by some of his favourite horror films – possibly including Stephen King’s It and Killer Klowns From Outer Space.

The idea is unlikely to be popular with sufferers of coulrophobia – the irrational (irrational?) fear of clowns.

But Stephen Vaughan of Clowns International, said scary clowns could be as funny as their red-nosed counterparts. ‘I think what Dominic is doing is a great idea,’ he added.

‘Bringing a little bit of life and laughter into kids’ lives is what we are all about.’

From the article, here's a photo of the delightful children's entertainer:


And what the hell kind of parent thinks it's a great idea to have this monstrosity stalk your kids? "Hey son, great news! Instead of getting you that Xbox you wanted for your birthday, we spent the money on a present that will guarantee you'll be wetting the bed well into your forties!" Yeah, that's going to inspire some Menendez Brothers moments down the line.

Friday, April 9, 2010 If Only I Knew How to Use Power Tools

Speaking of Bender, I came across an awesome sight while meandering through the intertubes. A guy in New Zealand has built a life-size bending unit that brews beer in its tummy.

The amount of detail that went into the build is insane. This Bender speaks, using the same processor as the "real" Bender and activated by a duplicate of a remote once used on Futurama. "Little Bender" lights up, and the maker created a mock cigar that's held in place magnetically. Even the bottle labels for the finished beer are show accurate!

And if that wasn't enough, the same guy built a full scale TARDIS that houses an arcade game emulator. And is autographed by Sylvester McCoy.

I need to row to New Zealand and steal his stuff.

Thursday, April 8, 2010 Beware the Small Cuddly Mammal!

From the BBC:
Police warning after monkey escapes from Cumbrian zoo

Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 18:22 UK

A search is under way after a South American monkey escaped from a wild animal park in Cumbria.

The small beige Capuchin went missing from his enclosure at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Dalton.

Staff from the centre, which is home to dozens of exotic animals, called in police to help in the search operation.

Capuchins are native to the Amazon basin, about 20ins (51cm) high and recognisable by a distinctive black or dark brown head with dark sideburns.

Karen Brewer from the zoo said it was unclear how the monkey had got out of its enclosure.

She added: "It's only a small monkey so it is not going to hurt anybody or anything like that.

"It will be really scared and just wanting to get back home."

Really? Then why call in the police? And why should the police thereafter issue a warning to the public? Why the big hunt for such a "harmless" creature? What aren't they telling us about this monkey?

The Preterite Returns

To quote Bender Bending Rodríguez, "I'm back, baby."

And I've got a job again. Working for the same people who laid me off last year.

Stockholm syndrome aside, it's a great relief to be back among the ranks of the employed. Fourteen months is a long time to be without a source of income. I read somewhere that the Japanese believe that a man's 42nd year is the worst of his life; all I know is that I never want to go through that again. I was hanging on by my fingernails towards the end.

Hopefully that is all behind me now. And with the promise of a regular paycheck and full benefits, I can once again muster the enthusiasm to post silly stories about zombie strippers and kung fu monkeys.

But mostly, I came back just to share this:

Great Thing, or Greatest Thing Ever? I love the utterly disinterested Joker and the use of the original Batman music.

Parts 1 & 3 of this opus can be found here and here. The kid's bedroom in part 1 is exactly how I picture my cousin Mikey's room. Only with boobies instead of Batstuff.