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MARTYRS

Martyrs

 

October marches on and with it, an increased desire for horror. This time around, I’ve forgone the usual creature feature fare for something truly scary on a much deeper level. Martyrs is a French film from 2008 by Pascal Laugier. It never really got a big release here in ‘merica, which is a shame, because this is a deeply upsetting movie, but also really makes you think. What’s an even bigger shame is that there’s a ‘merican remake in the works. Bigger still on the shameometer is that it’s reported that the ‘merican ending will be happier and more hopeful. You’d kind of have to see the movie to understand why that’s such a bad thing.

The story seems a simple enough affar about a girl who escapes imprisonment and abuse and is put in an orphanage. She befriends another orphan, and years later finds the people responsible for her childhood abuse and seeks revenge. This sounds like pretty standard fare. Not too thrilling, but servicable. What follows however is a deep look into the one thing that every person, believer and skeptic alike has pondered: is there an afterlife? The long and veiny of it is that there’s a secret organization looking to find a martyr; someeone who, in the face of unbearable agony at the brink of death, sees what lies beyond. They hope to uncover the ultimate secret. Do we ascend to the realm of a just and loving God, or are we wrapped in the pretentious and snarky tendrils of the Spaghetti Monster?

Tasty be thy name

Tasty be thy name

What follows is an amazing display of brutality that’s genuinely difficult to watch at times, culminating in one of the most gut-wrenching tortures seen in a horror movie. All of this is wrapped in a story too deep and thoughtful to simply classify as “torture porn”.

There’s not a lot more that can be said about this without giving away things best left experienced firsthand. If you’re looking for a horror movie, there’s not much more horrific on a visceral or spiritual level than Martyrs.

...just because.

…just because.

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Unpopular Opinions…

Oh yeah, I gots ’em. I think tonight would be a good time to discuss some opinions that many people (possibly even YOU) just plain won’t agree with. Then I’m going to explain why I’m right, so you too can join the path of rightness and agree with me. I’ll spare you all the explanation of why every girl I went to high school with was a lesbian,, and you get +2 smart people points if you get that joke without having to ask.

P.S., we can”t stop here, this is SPOILER country.

DON’T BRING BACK FIREFLY

All our friends are dead, but please, let's entertain you.

All our friends are dead, but please, let’s entertain you.

That’s right, don’t! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Firefly,, it was a great show that should have run at least ten seasons, but did you see Serenity? I did. It wrapped the story up nicely. Sure, there are plenty more stories you could tell about those characters..but I kinda don’t want to see them. Part of what makes Joss Whedon such a great storyteller is his ability to balance an ensemble. He did the impossible with The Avengers, applying his trademark “everyone gets a piece of cake, even Milton” style to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

That being said, why would you want to watch a show about a spaceship full of sad people flying around missing their newly dead friends? That’s just messed up, bro.

ENOUGH WITH THE DAMN ZOMBIES

Braaaaaiiiiiins....grow some...

Braaaaaiiiiiins….grow some…

I used to love zombie movies. They were great! You also had to burn a few calories to find them. There just weren’t that many zombie movies back in the day, at least not like today, but when you found one, even if it was awful, it was pretty great.

Nowadays, zombies vare just plain fucking everywhere. When the Xbox 360 launched, Dead Rising was a must-play curiosity, just because of concept (the game itself was maddening, but that’s not the point). Now you can’t swing a dead, well, a reanimated dead human without hitting another zombie game. Not only that, but woe be unto any game that ships without a zombie bonus mode or a zombie-themed DLC.

It’s done. It’s over. Seriously. Let’s move on to something else for a while…how about mummies? Besides, you know you’ve beaten a dead (zombie) horse enough when even Star Wars is getting in on your trend.

Surely you can handle just ONE more...

Surely you can handle just ONE more…

Which leads me to…

THE STAR WARS PREQUELS WEREN’T THAT BAD

Joy? No, we apparently hate that here.

Joy? No, we apparently hate that here.

Sit down junior, and let daddy explain! I know defending the prequels is like saying that Hitler was “kind of cute”, but let’s take a moment to consider this one.

I was watching Attack of the Clones not long ago because the remote was all the way on the coffee table, and I was pretty damn comfy (yes, Episode 2 comfy), when it dawned on me. There were a hundred Jedi running into battle with lightsabers to fight a hundred robots with laser guns…what part of that is bad? If you answered anything but “not a damn thing”, then you need to put your pinky down and drag your pretentious ass to the nearest grain thresher for reprogramming.

No, the prequels were not as good as the OT, but that just makes them bad Star Wars movies, not bad movies, and people seem to love those, just see any zombie movie made after 2003. (see, callbacks can be fun!)

BACON AND BEARDS ARE NOT MEMEWORTHY

No memes for back hair though, and THAT takes talent

No memes for back hair though, and THAT takes talent

In other news, salt is salty

In other news, salt is salty

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but if you can’t find anything better to obsess over than bacon annd beards in the year 2013, then you’re obviously a time traveller from a future so fantastical that you have a right to be jaded by such duldrum like smartphones and porn with clowns in it. (98% of men on Earth can grow a beard, as well as some women). Also, we’ve known bacon was delicious since World War I. Grow up.

Yes, you.

Yes, you.

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An Evening with Uncle Lloyd

I know it’s been a while since I’ve put out a new entry, but I have a valid excuse; college is hard. Still, this reminds me of the best homework I’ve ever had. Story time kids…but first, Katherine Heigl in a bra…

Now that I’ve secured a few more hits, it’s on to the topic at hand. So in my first semester of film school, I was given the assignment of choosing someone in the film industry and writing (but not necessarily sending) what they called a “mentor letter”. Basically a letter asking for guidance and bladdy blah, whatever. I chose the lovely and talented Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma Entertainment, and creator of the Toxic Avenger.

Why him? Mostly because I had always been a fan of his movies back when I was way too young to be watching them, and he always seemed to come across as a down-to-earth kind of guy, plus I respected his ability to make such classics in a truly independent way.  Fast forward a couple of years, and Lloyd is a guest at Gencon. After taking his “Make your own damn movie” seminar, I go back to the Troma booth in the exhibit hall, and there he is, jawing away with fans, posing for pictures, and confirming my suspicions of down-to-earthitude. I mentioned to him my assignment, and he said that I should have sent the letter, as he would like to read it. He handed me his business card, and I walked away starstruck.

Fast forward to next semester, and I am assigned to find someone in my chosen field and interview them. Great, I thought, this assignment obviously wasn’t made with the film majors in mind, then it hit me. I pulled out Lloyd’s business card and hoped for the best. Graciously, he agreed to be interviewed, and we set up a time for me to call him. With my pre-assigned questions in hand, and butterflies in my stomach, I called. The following is a transcript of the interview…

 

1. What products and/or services do you provide?

“I make movies, and write books.”

 

2. How long have you been in business?

“Troma entertainmennt has been in business since 1974.” It’s the longet running independant film company.
3. What is the ownership structure of your business? (sole proprietorship,

partnership, corporation)

“Closely held corporation.”
4. How did you choose the name for your business?

“Troma is from ancient Latin. Book 2 of the Anied, meaning excellence in celluloid.”
5. Who are your direct competitors?

“The major conglomorates.” Sony, newscorp, viacom, Disney
6. What was the most difficult aspect of opening your business?

“Being taken advantage of by crooks, liars, and lunatics in the movie business, of which about 2% are reliable.”
7. What is the biggest day-to-day challenge in operating your business?

“The biggest challenge for Troma is we are independant and the rules protecting against monopoly have been done away with.”

(He actually started by answering “Trying not to shit my pants”, but I thought maybe I’d leave that part out…in hindsight, I kind of regret it.)
8. What is your biggest reward in operating your own business?

“I think the biggest reward in my business is the satisfaction of creating art. I’m an artist first and a businessman second.”

 

I thanked him for his time, and he actually stayed on the line and chit-chatted for a little while. Needless to say, I got an A on that assignment. A few months later, Lloyd returned to Gencon, and I took his seminar again. He was nice enough to pose for a picture with me and my homework.

I guess the moral of the story here is that sometimes you just have to go for it, I never thought I’d get to interview one of my industry idols, but lo and behold it happened, but enough of this uplifting horsepucky, go buy some Troma DVD’s!

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11 Questions…

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but it’s due to learning an important lesson…college is hard.

I’ve been tasked with answering the list of hypothetical questions my wife has posted on her blog (cheesecakesummer.workdpress.com), but first, to get some hits going again; Katherine Heigl in a bra:

This really does get me hits.

1. What is the one thing you would do if there were no physical or monetary limitations, be it with someone dead or alive?

Hmm…bulldoze the town I grew up in and put a throne in what used to be downtown…and just sit in it like I was hot shit. (Not a big fan of that place, it really serves no purpose)

2. If there was no space-time continuum to worry about, what would you go into the past to change?

Tell my past self about EVERYTHING. If you’re gonna stack the deck, you might as well give yourself the winning hand, right?

3. Who would you cast in the movie of your own life?

Georges Perez as myself. Jillian Bell as my wife Laura. Joan Kusack and Gary Busey as my in-laws. As for my friends; Paul Scheer as Billy, James Franco as Jason, Walton Goggins as Roland, and Timmy Williams as Aaron. I could go on and on with this one.
4. If you could force one famous person into retirement, who would it be?

Fred Durst
5. Just what is the secret to the universe?

42. I know how cliche’ that is, but it’s just the right answer.

6. If you could be one other person for a day, who would it be?

Hmm, maybe Dan Didio, just so I could undo the “New 52” I hates me some New 52.
7. You are forced to move into one literary setting (like Narnia.. or uh, the house on Paper St. that Fight Club took place in) – you have to leave your friends, family, home, etc. but you have your choice of literary setting to move into … what would it be?

White Wolf’s “World of Darkness”. The Classic version.


8. If there was no danger in it, what one planet in our solar system would you travel to?

Mars.


9. You can have any one celebrity fight any one animal, which would it be?

I’d have Wesley Snipes fight a giant squid.


10. Just what book would you take with you on a stranded island.

The Dark Tower, so I can finally finish it…or the Bible.
11. Which horror movie villain would you most like to share a banana split with?

Pumpkinhead…just picture it.

 

Ok, that was fun, so let’s ask a few of my own. Post a comment to this post so I know to read your answers, and then answer these questions on your own blog.

1. If you could kill any one famous person, who would it be, keep in mind that you have to eat them?

2. If you could alter any one work of fiction, what would it be, and how?

3. If you could marry or at least hook up with one fictionaal character, who would it be?

4. If you could have any mythical creature as a pet, what would it be?

5. If you could fight any one celebrity, who would it be? (not to the death)

6. If you coud produce a duet album from two musicians, living or dead, who would it be?

7. If you could have the powers of any one supeerhero (or villain), who would it be?

8. If you could own any weapon from fiction, what would you choose? (lightsaber, Excaliber, Green Lantern ring, etc)

9. You have one question to ask the universe and have answered, what do you ask?

10.What’s in the cave? (hint…only what you take with you)

11.”Why, Mr. [READER]? Why, why, why? Why do you do it? Why, why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you’re fighting for something, for more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is, do you even know? Is it freedom, or truth, perhaps peace, could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. [READER], vagaries of perception. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without any meaning or purpose! And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself. Although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it Mr. Anderson, you must know it by now. You can’t win, it’s pointless to keep fighting! Why, Mr. [READER], why? Why do you persist?”

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