Friday, September 30, 2011 At Least She's Not Claiming to Be A Shadmock

More Florida vampires. You would think they would avoid such a sun-soaked state.  From WTSP TV, Tampa:
Teen murder suspect Stephanie Pistey claims to be part vampire, part werewolf
3:42 PM, Sep 27, 2011

Panama City, Florida -- Police in Panama City believed 16-year-old Jacob Hendershot was beaten to death because Stephanie Pistey, 18, accused him of raping her.

Investigators say back in July, a group of Pistey's friends lured Hendershot to a house, killed him, then dumped his body in a storm drain. Five people, including Pistey, are charged with either murder or accessory after the fact.

But it's the lifestyles of some of the suspects that has taken this case in an entirely new direction.

n a jailhouse interview, Pistey tells TV station WJHG, "Since I was like, 12, ... I know this is going to be crazy, but I believe that I'm a vampire. Part of a vampire and part of a werewolf."

Police had previously stated the murder suspects may have been involved in a vampire cult. Pistey's comments from jail appear to give credence to that claim.

Pistey admits she was at the home where Hendershot was murdered, but says she was watching co-defendant Tammy Morris' two children. Morris was also charged with accessory to murder.

"I was the babysitter," Pistey says.

She denies drinking Hendershot's blood after the murder, but claims she has drunken her fiance's blood before.

Although she has not yet been convicted, Pistey expects to be behind bars for a long time.

"Now that I'm here, I'm pretty much figuring out that I'm just going to stay here the rest of my life."
Some of you may think that "half-vampire, half-werewolf" stuff is is just the bizarre power fantasy of a highly disturbed young woman. And you'd be right. But it's not without precedent.

Here's Uncle Vinnie to break it down for us.

Turkish Morgue Ready for the Undead

A new morgue in Turkey appears to be catering to the all-important vampire market.  From MSNBC:
Morgue ready in case bodies come back to life

Sensors and refrigerator door handles that open from inside are among features
Updated 9/29/2011 1:43:41 PM ET

ISTANBUL — Officials in a city in rural eastern Turkey, responding to an ancient local fear of being buried alive, have equipped the local morgue with the latest gadgetry in case any of the bodies stored there have been declared dead by mistake.

Alarms and electronic motion detectors in the mortuary in Malatya, a town not otherwise known for its modernity, will detect the slightest movement by a living person emerging from a coma or long period of unconsciousness.

The 36 refrigerators will be fitted with interior door handles to allow their occupants to climb out of their coffins and open the doors, Akif Kayadurmus, head of the municipal funerals service, told the state news agency Anatolian.

"The device detects even the slightest movement and sends out an alarm," Kayadurmus said. "We also placed a system at the feet of the deceased that opens the refrigerator in case of contact. The resurrections may be rare, but we have taken every possibility into account."

The morgue, which is due to open this week, will also have a lounge, a cafe and digital information panels to allow mourners to follow the washing and wrapping of the dead in accordance with Islamic tradition.
The motion detectors and door handles are 21st Century versions of the coffin bell and similar devices intended to comfort those who worry about being buried alive.

Thursday, September 29, 2011 Worst Lolcat Ever

From the Malaysia Star Online:
Hubby claims wife raped by ‘invisible man’
Wednesday September 28, 2011

A man has claimed that his wife was raped by an “invisible man”, Sin Chew Daily reported.

The youth, in his 20s, said his wife would remove her clothing, touch her own body and moan while sleeping at night, since a month ago.

He sought help from a medium, who then told him that someone had used black magic to take away the wife's “soul” and rape her.

The couple, from Bintulu, Sarawak, lodged a police report but the cops could not do anything to arrest the “invisible man”.

Ummmm.... Evil Fozzie?

"Yeah, I'll pass on this one".

Monday, September 26, 2011 Tommy Wiseau, Mexican Ninjas, and Watermelon Zombies

Tommy Wiseau of The Room infamy has a new gig "reviewing" video games for a site called Hey, it makes a much sense as anything else the man does.

What's awesome about this series is how it gives you the complete Wiseau Experience in a convenient pocket size. (Though they do miss the perfect opportunity to make a "tearing me apart" reference.)   It made me want to rush out an buy a copy of Mortal Kombat for the opportunity to punch Tommy in the face, even if only by proxy.


While we are on the subject, Rooster Teeth (the folks behind the immensely popular Red vs. Blue) produces a sporadic web series called Immersion in which various video game traditions are tried out in real life. Immersion falls closer to Deadliest Warrior than MythBusters on the scientific accuracy scale, but the premise of one episode caught my attention - during a zombie apocalypse, how well would the average person perform at making those critical headshots?

The results aren't exactly earth-shattering; folks with at least some firearms experience do far better than those without.  But what is surprising is how poorly the noob does, missing with a shotgun twice at point-blank range.  Factor in stress, panic, and environmental conditions... Man, I need to get to the range.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 DVD Shuffle: Recent Release Round-Up

I watch a lot of movies.  Sometimes I ramble on about them.


After a horrendously dire third installment and a muddle-headed spin-off, First Class puts the franchise back on track.  Of course, I might be a bit biased, as a mash-up of superpowers and swingin' Sixties spy action is right up my alley (located just off Carnaby Street). Magneto and Xavier split up the James Bond persona between them, with Erik doing the globe-trotting, multilingual action stuff while Charles gets his Hugh Hefner on.  Yes, the music, fashions, and slang are all a wee bit anachronistic, and yes, First Class plays merry heck with the previously established film continuity.  But those are minor complaints at best when the movie is this much fun.

At least until the traditional superhero elements kick in during the film's last act.  Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence, who are rather endearing earlier in the film, end up buried under some pretty silly make-up that detracts from any poignancy in their later scenes. I also had some problems with how the movie dealt with people mutants of color (aside from blue and red); the team includes two ethnic minority members, one of whom is a stripper who breezily betrays her friends (and has no problem with trying to kill them when she next appears) and the other is the team's only fatality - even though his super-power is survival!

Ultimately, though, the third act suffers simply because too much is crammed in, too many major events from X-history are perfunctorily dealt with as if the filmmakers were working from a checklist.  Look, we all know this was gonna be a trilogy, so why stuff so many important moments into the last act? I would have much rather seen the first film concentrate fully on the Cold War shenanigans of Xavier, Magneto, Beast and Mystique. (Mission: Impossible with mutants? Hell yes!) The recruitment and training of the expanded team should have been saved for the second film, where more time would have been available to develop the new characters more fully. The subplot of Beast's transformation should have been pushed back to the second film as well to let it play out with more heft. Finally, the split between Erik and Xavier would have been a natural ending point for the trilogy.

Still, First Class has a lot to offer.  The change in setting and the (almost) complete changeover in the cast provided the fresh start the series desperately needed. While I would love to see more 1960's era adventures, sequels set in subsequent decades could be a lot of fun.  We just might get to the Disco Dazzler yet.

A heads-up: word on the intertubes is that the blu-ray release of First Class has a lot of playback issues, especially on the PS3.  Apparently, the problem is related to the BD Live service.  My copy of the film froze up in my PS3 until I turned off the automatic internet connection and deleted out the BD Utility file for the disc.

PAUL (2011)

I had originally avoided this film due to the false impression that it was a Seth Rogen comedy that happened to feature Pegg & Frost rather than the other way around.  By the time I learned of my mistake, Paul had completed its limited theatrical release.  Which is a darn shame, because I really enjoyed the film once I caught up with it on blu-ray.

Paul is extremely geek-centric, filled with references and homages to SF flicks, comic books, and nerd pop culture.  It feels a lot like a direct follow-up to Spaced; Simon Pegg once again plays a comic artist ala Tim Bisely, and the film even recycles a Star Wars riff from the tv show.  However, Edgar Wright's participation is sorely missed, as Greg Mottola's s workmanlike direction lacks Wright's wit and invention (though that may be a limitation imposed to accommodate the CGI-rendered title character).  But the fact that Paul looks and feels like an American movie ultimately works in its favor - it is about the boys' adventure in Yankeeland, after all.

While Paul may not be quite up to the standards of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, it's still a worthy successor that will keep fans happy until the last of the "Cornetto Trilogy" is released.


Although Amazon plopped this set on my doorstep the day of release, I am still working my way through Shout Factory's latest batch of bad movie goodness. Volume XXI includes all five episodes featuring Gamera films along with a wealth of extras.

Until now, MST3K fans had little hope of seeing these shows released. The rights issues for episodes riffing on Japanese movies were especially complex as they involved not only the holders of the original copyrights but the US distributors as well.  And distributor Sandy Frank, who produced the syndicated versions of many of the films used by the program, reportedly held a grudge against MST3K for the drubbing he and his work took on the show.  All this led to problems even when deals for certain movies had been made; Rhino issued a box set featuring Godzilla vs Megalon only to see it soon recalled. 

But Shout Factory recently acquired the US DVD rights for the original Gamera series, and that somehow opened doors for the Mystery Science Theater versions to get released.  It also appears that the rift with Sandy Frank has been patched, as not only do we get this box set but Mighty Jack and Time of the Apes in the next volume as well!

In the meantime, Volume XXI has plenty to enjoy.  The standard Shout Factory extras are all here, including "mini-posters" of Steve Vance's sleeve art and animated menus featuring CGI versions of the 'bots in little skits incorporating riffs from the episode (these are especially fun this time out). There are three documentaries spread out over the discs; a retrospective featuring reminiscences from the cast and crew (though Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy are conspicuous by their absence), an overview of the Gamera phenomenon by kaiju eiga expert August Ragone, and an interview with the Chiodo Brothers that is rather baffling for its inclusion. Mystery Science Theater Hour wraps and the movies' original trailers round out the collection.

As is mentioned in one of the documentaries, the Gamera movies brought out the best of the MST3K crew, and this set is well-worth picking up for that reason alone. Add in all the bonuses and the possibility that these episodes may soon go the way of Godzilla vs. Megalon, and it's a no-brainer purchase for even casual fans.


Fans of Mystery Science Theater are probably better acquainted with Mike Nelson's RiffTrax than Cinematic Titanic, the follow-up project of original MST3K creator, Joel Hodgson. Rifftrax has been the more prolific of the two, with a couple dozen DVD releases and regular internet downloads offered. CT does not have a major distribution deal and their handful of productions have only available been through their website.  It's a shame, as Cinematic Titanic deserves a wider audience.

I prefer the more playful antics of CT over RiffTrax, as I find Mike Nelson's acerbic humor ventures into the outright cranky at times, especially on his solo outings.  I'll also cop to a preference for the CT crew's left-leaning sensibilities over Nelson's conservative bent, which can stray a bit too close to outright bigotry (particularly homophobia) on occasion.

However, I kinda think there's a "too many cooks" problem with Cinematic Titanic.  It sometimes feels like everyone is waiting patiently for their turn and are more concerned with not stepping on each other's lines than delivering the quip. Possibly exasperating this effect is the fact that two of the CT crew, Mary Jo Pehl and Frank Conniff, had little experiencing performing riffs when the series began. The result is that the riffs don't seem to flow organically and the general patter seems more than a little stiff.

At least with their studio-bound releases. Cinematic Titanic is much better live in concert. I caught CT perform at the Lakeshore Theater back in 2008 and had a great time.  (I might check them out when they come through the area again this fall, though I am kinda bummed that the shows scheduled feature movies that they have already done on DVD).  The live audience adds a much-needed spontaneity to the proceedings, with the team ad-libbing and playing off the crowd's reactions and even cracking themselves up from time to time.  The CT crew must have picked up on this, because all of their latest offerings have been recordings of live shows.

The first of the live releases was East Meets Watts, aka Dynamite Brothers, and the team couldn't have picked a better subject.  It's an unruly mash-up of Hong Kong kung fu flick and blaxploitation film, one of many attempts to cash in on the massive success of Enter the Dragon.  It's also a terrible, terrible movie helmed by notorious schlockmeister Al Adamson.  Ridiculous fashions, interminable Defiant Ones rip-offs, and cringe-inducing dialogue abounds.   East Meets Watts also features the worst song ever used to seduce a mute woman.

Holding up the East end is Alan Tang, who was far better known for romantic dramas (often opposite Bridgette Lin) than action movies.  Representing Watts is Timothy Brown, former NFL star and cast member of the tv version of M*A*S*H*. The legendary James Hong turns up as a baddie.  Hong Kong action fans should keep an eye out for Lam Ching Ying (who also choreographed) and JC Stunt Team perennial Mars!

East Meets Watts is a great introduction to Cinematic Titanic and worth hunting down.  The film is ripe for riffing, and the jokes fly fast and furious.  And if you get the chance to catch a Cinematic Titanic live show, I highly recommend it.

Monday, September 19, 2011 Random Image: Dandelion Mind

Bill Bailey's Dandelion Mind Tour
Live at the House of Blues Chicago, 09/18/2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 Highlanders vs. Mondays!

From the Star-Gazette of Elmira, NY:
Prattsburgh man accused of threatening deputies with sword

10:55 AM, Sep. 13, 2011

PRATTSBURGH -- The Steuben County Sheriff's Office arrested a Town of Prattsburgh resident Monday, accusing him of threatening deputies with a 30-inch sword during a check the welfare complaint.

Daniel J. Hoaglin, 33, of Butts Road, in the Town of Prattsburgh, was charged with one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a class D felony and one count of menacing a police officer or peace officer, also a class D felony, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

Hoaglin is accused of possessing a dangerous or deadly instrument and had previously been convicted of a crime, according to the release. The charges allege that Hoaglin's actions intentionally placed a police officer in fear of serious physical injury or death.

Hoaglin is accused of threatening deputies with a sword at a Butts Road address, according to the release. Deputies took Hoaglin into custody and he was arraigned in front of Judge William Hewson.

Hoaglin was released in his own recognizance for future appearance in Urbana Justice Court.

From the website of the St. Petersburg Times:
Moon Lake man accused of attacking ex-wife with sword

By Erin Sullivan, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Wednesday, September 14, 2011

MOON LAKE — Kevin Melady was arrested Monday after spending two months on the lam for attacking his ex-wife with a sword, authorities said.

Melady, 44, is accused of breaking into his ex-wife's mobile home on Laurel Street on July 3 after she allegedly had a man over at her place, a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report states.

Melady, who lives across the street from his ex, threatened to kill her, stabbed her in the ear with a sword and held the blade to her neck, causing a two-inch cut, the report states. The woman escaped and Melady avoided investigators.

Melady was arrested at his home on a warrant for aggravated battery and was released Monday on $15,000 bail.

And now, Evil Fozzie Bear comes out of a forced retirement:

"Wow. two Highlander stories in one day! Must be a double-header! Aahh! Get it? FUN-nee!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 "I'm a Vampire. I Am Going to Eat You"

Everybody's covering this one. The post title comes from an alleged quote by the attacker as reported by some sources. This story below was taken from the website of the St. Petersburg Times (of Florida, not Russia).  There's a mugshot of the would-be wurdalak at the link for this interested.
St. Petersburg police accuse woman, 22, of 'vampire' attack on man

By Danny Valentine, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, September 9, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG — The vampire attacked just before midnight on the porch of a vacant Hooters.

Milton Ellis, 69, was sleeping in his motorized wheelchair when he awoke to find Josephine Rebecca Smith, 22, of Pensacola on top of him, said police spokesman Mike Puetz.

She told Ellis she was a vampire and bit his face and neck. She bit off chunks of his face and part of his lip, Puetz said.

Ellis managed to escape and called for help at a nearby Shell gas station, where he had just met Smith. Face bloodied, he directed police to the Hooters at 10400 Roosevelt Blvd. N.

Police found Smith there, half naked and covered in blood, but uninjured. They said she had no idea what happened or why her clothes were off. Ellis said she was dressed when he last saw her, police said.

Ellis first encountered Smith after a relative dropped her off the Shell station, at Roosevelt Boulevard N and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N, police said. Smith tried calling a relative in Pensacola to pick her up. Ellis invited her to hang out with him at the vacant Hooters until someone picked her up. He eventually fell asleep.

Smith was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery on an elderly person. Bail was set at $50,000.

Ellis, who needed stitches after the attack, has been arrested numerous times in Pinellas County for offenses including panhandling, disorderly intoxication, trespassing and possession of an open container.

Oh, Quincy Harker!  How the mighty have fallen! And I love the idea of a cursed and abandoned Hooters, the ultimate downmarket version of the spooky old haunted house.

I guess I'm just a huge cynic, but I'm thinking there's more to the story than either party wants to relate. Something along the lines of, "john stiffs working girl, working girl teaches john a lesson".

On the other hand, the same newspaper reported on a vampire sub-culture in the area a few years earlier. They weren't White Wolf LARPers, but self-professed "psychic vampires" who claim to feed off the life energy of others without having to draw blood. From the article:
Anyone who wants to get into a Vampire Gathering needs to see the gargoyles first. They're the protectors, the first line of defense against heckling street preachers and tourists.

The women move along, but I remain, the first reporter ever allowed past the gargoyles, the first permitted to give you — my fellow "mundanes'' — a glimpse into their vampire world.

The monthly Gathering at the Castle nightclub isn't a role-playing game or a convention of Twilight fans. These people don't sleep in coffins, fear garlic or live forever.

But they do feel a need to feed on others, whether that means absorbing energy or blood. They call themselves vampires and consider their yearnings a physical affliction. They say they can't absorb energy like "mundanes," who often start every morning revved up for the day. They wake drained, needing to be charged.
Belief in psychic vampirism is nothing new, though until very recently it was more closely associated with black magicians and other occult practitioners. The ability to drain life energy was supposedly gained through the use of spells or by developing certain mental powers.  But the current generation of "psy-vamps" don't have time for that sort of effort.  Like their kindred spirits the therianthropes and the otherkin, similar groups that have also created supernatural self-identities based on popular culture, they consider themselves to have been born special..  Thus, they don't have to put any effort into mastering complicated rituals in order to be better and more powerful than the "mundanes" around them, they simply have to be.  Kids today, huh?

All that said, I'm still sticking with the "pissed-of hooker" angle.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 Real Life Supervillians Suck #3

Soooo disappointed that Pokey wasn't driving the getaway car. From Reuters:
Man dressed as Gumby tries to rob store

By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES | Thu Sep 8, 2011 11:14am EDT

(Reuters) - In the world of animated TV, it's no stretch to say that good-natured Gumby is far down the list of characters that would commit armed robbery.

But a man clad in a full-figured Gumby costume has made a botched attempt to rob a 7-Eleven store in California, and authorities are looking for the suspect, police said on Wednesday.

It happened early on Monday when the man came into the San Diego store dressed as the green claymation figure, accompanied by an ordinarily dressed accomplice, San Diego Police spokesman Detective Gary Hassen said.

The costumed man announced he was robbing the store, but the clerk thought it was a joke, police said.

"Gumby said, 'You don't think it's a robbery? Let me show you my gun,'" Hassen said.

The suspect then tried to reach into his Gumby outfit but experienced a "costume malfunction" and could not fit his hand in a pocket, he said.

Instead of a gun, the costumed suspect pulled out 26 cents in change which he dropped on the floor, police said.

The accomplice, who had left the store and gotten into a minivan, honked at the man dressed as Gumby. He, too, walked out of the store without managing to take any money, police said. Both men left in the minivan.

After their getaway, the store clerk was still not certain an attempted robbery had occurred and did not call police. The store manager, who arrived later that morning, reported the incident.

Police were treating the episode, which was captured on surveillance video, as an attempted robbery and not a prank, Hassen said.

Gumby, a green humanoid figure who looks like an elastic stick of gum with limbs, was created in the 1950s by the late Art Clokey and his wife, Ruth. Gumby had a sidekick, the talking orange horse Pokey.

YouTube has video. Of course.

Props for the entrance. He got everyone's attention focused on him in classic supervillain style. But it all went down in flames from there. Not only did Gumby not get away with any money, not only did he completely fail to even get the robbery started, but he left money of his own at the scene! That's the exact opposite of what a heist should be! It's beyond pathetic!

Any costumed criminals operating in San Diego - and I know you're out there - owe it to themselves to track down this loser and deal with him in the name of community pride.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 Highlander vs. Hoosiers!

Highlanders love Labor Day, too! But maybe a little too much. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Indiana police nab shirtless ‘samurai’ marching down I-65

Sun-Times Media Wire September 4, 2011 10:18PM
Updated: September 7, 2011 11:14AM

A not-so-stealthy “samurai” who told police he was “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” is in jail after allegedly abandoning a vehicle on the middle of a busy Indiana interstate to march shirtless with a 35-inch sword.

Indiana State Police Trooper Ricky Rayner found a white, older-model Toyota abandoned in the middle lane of Interstate 65 and a shirtless man marching on the inner shoulder with a 35-inch samurai sword about 2:30 p.m. just south of U.S. Highway 30, according to a release from Indiana State Police.

“The man was marching like a drum major, holding the sword, moving it up and down in rhythm with his marching cadence,” State Police said.

When Rayner approached, the man swung the sword in a defensive manner but then dropped the sword in compliance with the trooper’s order, the release said.

The man -- dressed only in plaid shorts and slip on shoes -- then tried to force his way into a 2010 Chevrolet sport-utility vehicle that swerved and stopped on the inner shoulder to avoid a responding Merrillville police vehicle responding to the incident, State Police said.

A Merrillville police officer finally ordered him to the ground at gunpoint and handcuffed him, the release said. He was taken to the Lake County (Ind.) jail, where he told police he was “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”

The man, who appeared to be in his 40s but refused to give police his name, was charged with attempted car jacking, resisting law enforcement and possession of marijuana, State Police said.

Silly reporter! It's ninja who are supposed to be masters of stealth, not samurai!

And the Gathering is getting really close to home. I've got family living in that area.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011 Voodoo Car Crash

From (UAE):
Magic blamed for road mishap

Published Friday, September 02, 2011

A Saudi man and his family suffered from medium injuries when their car overturned in the Gulf Kingdom and police believe the accident could have been caused by magic, press reports said on Friday.

Police checking the damaged car found pieces of human nails and hair tied to each other and wrapped in a handkerchief, which was concealed under one seat, Ajel Daily said in a report from the northwestern town of Hail.

“Security officials believe the accident was caused by magic after finding those items in the car…the maid was with the family when the accident occurred but it was not immediately known if she was involved in the magic work.”

While obviously magic didn't really cause the accident, it's interesting that the car does appear to have been cursed by someone. I wonder how long the talisman had been in the car and who placed it there. While I hear lots of witchcraft stories coming out of Sub-Saharan Africa, I don't often come across any from Arab countries. Maybe these types of stories get underreported as they don't really fit into our narrative about the Islamic world. On the other hand, the UAE hosts a lot of foreign "guest workers" who are treated rather infamously by their employers; it's not unlikely that the sorcerous time-bomb came from one of them.