How I Learned I’m Not a Warrior Princess

One of the defining existential dilemmas of my life can be best summed-up by the koan* of “Do I Wish To BE Her or DO Her?” It’s really an unanswerable question, as chances are I’ll fail at A and never get a chance to experience B as a result of my innate shyness** to say nothing of unlikely physical proximity to the Lady In Question due either to geography or chronology (and usually a combination of both).
*According to Wikipedia, that’s pronounced /ˈkoʊ.ɑːn/, which is in itself kind of a puzzling question. How the fuck does one pronounce an upside-down Omega?
**Screw all’y’all–I *AM* SHY, goddammit.
After watching “Conquest” and realizing that courage and skill really have nothing to do with the pastime of heroic questing*** and allowing my mind to drift back to the “Machsima” photoshoot from “Viva,” I thought that perhaps it was time for me to set out on a journey of self-discovery. I wanted to find my inner Tough Chick.
***Alcohol may have been a factor.
What better place to study the ways of contemporary Tough Chicks than at a Gotham Girls Roller Derby match? I’m dubious-at-best about sports, but I’m extremely enthusiastic about aggressive women and watching people fall down, so roller derby is really the perfect sport for me. Let me amend that statement–for me to watch. Even though a brief tutorial on the rules of the game from Prof. Jack left me feeling like maybe I could think about auditioning for the upcoming season****, the first time I saw a player go down into a crumpled heap of limbs and still-spinning skates, I was entirely punched out of the idea. Heck, even the JeerLeaders have to do things that kind of look like stunts if you tilt your head at the right angle. Best to leave this sort of thing to the professionals.
****I sometimes wish my personal trainer did NOT imbue me with this concept of myself as being coordinated and athletic. No geek needs to feel that way about her- or himself; it’s just a hot trip to Ego-Town.
Realizing that I was in no wise ready for real-life badassery, I decided to take things back to the movie drawing board and watch that classic of tough-itude, David Fincher’s “Fight Club.” First off–why did none of you bastards tell me that movie was funny? Seriously, I’d avoided it for… ohhhh… A DECADE, assuming it was a hard-bitten dude flick, but no. It’s made entirely of coolness. Seriously–by the time Brad Pitt’s character had donned the giant Eurotrash sunglasses and monster-fur coat, I was smitten with the movie. Simultaneously, I realized that I was observing things like “Hey, isn’t that Meat Loaf?,” “wow, the cinematography is really nice in this,” and “Jared Leto looks icy-Teuton-gorgeous with the bleached-out ‘do and all-black duds” all of which are observations antithetical to the underlying roughnecking-up purpose of my watching the film.

Ultimately, I guess my quest for Tough-Chick-Dom was misguided. If we’re to put this into cinematic terms (the only terms that MATTER), Tough Chicks often wind up crushed under the wheels of their own Porsches or bursting into flaming oblivion when crashing a schoolbus into a prison watchtower. I’ll just stay over here and quietly admire those with bigger balls and cloudier judgement than mine.

Miscellany: Found Footage Festival, Why You Oughta Read Men’s Pulp Mags Blog, ULTRA VIOLENT Issue 10, and HARDWARE Update

Good morning and a special greeting of happy mid-week to my fellow cubicle dwellers! It’s time again to hit some miscellaneous high points in an attempt to brighten your collective lives.
The Found Footage Festival is back with brand-new weirdness. For those of you unfamiliar with the FFF, it’s the brainchild of comedians Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, a pair of long-time VHS collectors who found a way to package their impressive collection of training videos, public access teevee programs, low-budget kids fare and more into an absolutely riotous program that combines clips and live performance. Highlights of this year’s FFF include the Laura Gemser workout video, a video demonstration of the Venus II male masturbation device (“helping to unlock the mystery of male orgasm,” per our hosts), and the most cringe-worthy reel of vintage dating videos EVER. Here’s my review of last year’s Found Footage Festival.
Every once in a while, I find it necessary to give a point-out to one of the sites in my ever-expanding blogroll. There are a number of sites that highlight the incredible covers of vintage men’s adventure magazines, but if you’re anything like me, you’re probably curious to take a peek between the covers and get a taste of what the contents are like. Let’s cut to the chase–RUN, don’t walk, over to Men’s Pulp Mags, a treasure trove of golden-age titillation that curator Subtropic Bob shares with is audience. One of the great things about Bob’s site (other than the fact that Bob is one groovy dude) is that he gives us a glimpse of what’s inside the books. Also, he understands the cultural significance of stuff like sexy Nazi piranha torture.
And SPEAKING of exploitationtastic magazines, have you purchased your copy of ULTRA VIOLENT ISSUE 10 yet? Of course you have! So let’s discuss how awesome the Alejandro Jodorowsky interview is, or how much you dug the article on recently-produced WWII exploitation films, or the glee you got from that fucking AWESOME article on Turkish genre films that I wrote.

The savvy folks at Severin Films are giving us a gorgeous Blu-Ray transfer of “Hardware” (you remember–that awesome Aussie dystopian killer robot movie I dug so much?) next month. Slated for a street date of October 13th, here’s a sneak peek at the crispy gorgeousness of the print, as well as some of the excellent bonus features:

Guido Crepax’s Valentina Rediscovered: Far from Berlin–Part 4 [1988]

OK friends! We’ve reached the stirring conclusion of VALENTINA: REDISCOVERED by a gentleman who ranks as my favorite comix artist of all time, Guido Crepax*. One thing I noted in these final pages is that Valentina’s bum still looks incredible even though she’s wearing tennis shoes. Seriously–I could work out with my personal trainer for the next three YEARS and not have my bum look that high and awesome while wearing flat-soled shoes.

*Darius Whiteplume has pointed out that a small spelling change would create “Guido Creepaxe,” which is now going to be adopted as my yet-to-be-created Drag King persona. Hottness.
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Oh, and for those of you who have a spare grand or five lying around, you might want to consider purchasing this incredible Crepax cabinet, or perhaps this one, this one, or the bed from the same collection. Yow.
Thanks to the knowledge and sharing spirit of Pierre Fournier of Frankensteinia (a blog I’ll assume ALL of you are reading, and if you’re not, you oughta go do so NOW), I’ll share some wonderful clips that can serve as BONUS MATERIALS for my fellow Crepax enthusiasts!
An Italian-language interview with Crepax (including library pr0n *swooon*):
An Italian-language documentary piece with lovely panels from other VALENTINA stories:
Another Italian-language doc featuring a visit to a gallery showing original Crepax pieces:

I think his style and panache must be genetic, because here’s a clip of daughter Caterina Crepax’s boutique, in which her textured, avant garde fashions are on sale:

Guido Crepax’s Valentina Rediscovered: Far from Berlin–Part 2 [1988]

It’s bringing a crazy amount of joy to my heart to know that folks love Crepax’s art as much as I do! I’m so delighted, in fact, that I am typing through a silly injury to the middle finger of my right hand (that’s my bird-flipping hand, you oughta know) that’s making the working of the touchpad on my MacBook damn near unpossible.

I’ll have more to say tomorrow, but for now just observe that, in the marvelous world created by Crepax, even vintage-80s bathing suits and plaid pants look hott. That takes a downright *dangerous* degree of artistic skill!
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In tomorrow’s installment, the hallucinatory madness continues! Effi dons a double-breasted blazer and leggings and still looks sexy and Valentina sports Le Smoking. *frisson*

Guido Crepax’s Valentina Rediscovered: Far from Berlin–Part 1 [1988]

I’ve always thought I should be way more into HEAVY METAL magazine, but in spite of occasional forays into serious excellence and extraordinary relevance to my interests (please to see the Jodorowsky/Manara series about the Borgias), I never caught the fever to collect the magazine for its own merits. It’s only by grin-inducing happenstance that I found a 1988 issue containing a Valentina story by Guido Crepax, and I figured I might as well make my joy into OUR joy, interpals. I’m going to dice this 38-page story into four parts for your internet delectation. Let’s begin part one, shall we?

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For those unfamiliar with the character, Valentina is a photographer in the same kind of mold as the one-M Emanuelle character, surviving by her wit and instinct, usually With Sexy Results. The Valentina stories follow a loose narrative where the line between Valentina’s dreams and reality is blurry at best. And yes–for the cynics among us, that DOES mean that these tales don’t make a hell of a lot of sense, so relax and just enjoy the pretty pictures.
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NEXT TIME: Sexy swimsuits, gorgeous hats, and erotic intrigue! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment…

Remakes or: How Horror Bloggers Become a Marketing Army


Cupcakes, lieblings, muffins, loves-of-my-life–let’s have a tete-a-tete, shall we? I was thinking about the remake/reboot phenomenon, inspired by news that “Suspiria” is next on the chopping block ([snark]apparently the original was directed by Some Dude named Dario Argento–perhaps you might’ve seen it? [end snark]). You might think I was ghastly in my rage, like some sort of avenging goddess of gore… but you’d be wrong.

Frankly, assorted internet Scarletts, I don’t give a damn.
I was a little surprised not to feel the hideous taste of bile rising in my throat at the announcement, so I had to give it a little thought. Friends–I think I have this remake/reboot thing all figured out: it’s guerilla marketing at its purest, and I’ll outline how it works:
  1. Scour messageboards and identify a Beloved Genre Property (BGP)
  2. Snag rights to BGP
  3. Attach Controversial Director (CD) to BGP (extra points if CD has some sort of music video link)
  4. Issue press release announcing that CD is going to be involved in “an ambitious reimagining” of BGP (extra points if you include a quote from CD on how he will “completely blow people’s minds” with how incredibly, awesomely different his film will be from the original)
  5. Set stopwatch for thirty-seven seconds after the press release crosses the wire (SCIENCE has proven that this is the amount of time it will take for the first Outraged Tweet [OT] to appear)
  6. Sit back and allow horror bloggers to flood the intertubes with OTs and profanity-laden blog posts about the sacrilegious nature of the BGP remake
  7. Enjoy free marketing campaign; acquire salary increase
  8. A year later and one month prior to the scheduled release of BGP remake, issue “exclusive” clips to three or four horror news sites simultaneously, inspiring further outrage and ensuing free marketing
All this has nothing to do with the potential quality of the BGP remake–hell, a lot of the time remakes seem to just take key elements of their source material and go in whatever direction they want to go in. “Dawn of the Dead” was “a movie about zombies,” and I suspect “Suspiria” is going to be “a movie about witches”*
THIS particular fangirl is going to snark only as appropriate and stop fanning the flames of the remake/reboot phenomenon. The part of it that twists my panties is the cynicism of it all–instead of saying “CD is going to make a movie about zombies/witches/serial killers,” producers realize that by harnessing the OUTRAGE of horror bloggers, asses will be in seats just by getting people to *recognize* their film at the box office. Maybe if we stop caring so much then, like schoolyard bullies, the marketingvolk will just go away.
*NOT a giallo. Please stop calling it a giallo–you are wrong. Thank you.

Philadelphia: City of Terrifying Dolls

Just got back from a Tenebrous Getaway with Baron XIII. If you imagine such a thing involving a bikini, a pineapple drink and a beach towel, you’d be terribly wrong–I think I’d burst into flame from the mundanity of it all far before the sun ever wreaked its horrible havoc on the delicate Tenebrous Complexion. When the rest of the world is beach-bound, we like to take a trip to more urban climes, where we can go to dinner sans-reservations and ogle the weirdness of a different city for a couple of days. Thinking thusly, we took off for Philadelphia (where we’d both lived–erm–a significant number of years ago).
Turns out that, in the intervening time, Philadelphia has turned into the CITY OF TERRIFYING DOLLS, if their gallery shows are to be believed. Two notable examples of TERRIFYING DOLL ART that we took in were Burnell Yow!’s* The Dolls of the Apocalypse at Dumpster Divers on South Street:

…and Nathanial Gertner’s epic installation piece Big Trouble in Little Toy Town at Pure Gold Gallery at the Piazza at Schmidts**:

Fans of baby-doll destruction should make it a point to take a peek at these wildly creative, more-than-a-little-creepy showings while they last! OH, and in case you desire to bring any cursed objects into your home, the dolls are all for sale. Hurray!
*I automatically find myself in favor of anyone with an exclamation point in his/her name.
**Do yourselves a favor–if you find your way to Philadelphia, MAKE SURE you check out the Piazza. It’s home to some really awesome gallery spaces that share a quirky, sometimes low-brow, frequently graphic-design-heavy aesthetic. Bonus points for my fave premium denim shop, Maison du Very Bad Horse.

Halloween 2 [2009]


OK, so I WAS just going to leave my thoughts on Rob Zombie’s “Halloween 2” to a pithy, under-140-character Twitter post* referenced in Monday’s review of “I Sell the Dead,” but the outpouring of upsetment over this particular cinematic offering has given me pause to think. Simply expressed–Baron XIII and I enjoyed “Halloween 2”** for what it was. Namely, it’s an aggressive, gruesome re-telling of a stalk-and-slash film that prominently features its director’s trash-punk aesthetic. There’s no subtlety going on here, and Mr. Zombie*** isn’t trying to convey any larger cultural message than “what if Michael Meyers was a really murderey dude instead of a monster?” I have no emotional horse in the stalk-and-slash genre. The movies are entertaining toss-aways at best and as such, “Halloween 2” met and–yeah–in some ways exceeded its potential as such.

*I cannot bring myself to use “tweet” as an intertubes verb–sorry, folks
**In spite of the subliterate armchair critic seated in back of us. There’s a REASON why we go to a particular movie theatre–it’s to AVOID tardgaloids like that. But such is life–the Best And Brightest were probably watching a more refined film.
***I still love typing that.
My own feelings about “Halloween 2” are in line with the write-up pal of the Empire Unkle Lancifer posted at Kindertrauma. I’ll wait while you go read that. Just make sure you bookmark the rest of the blog for later re-visiting, cos I expect you back here in a few minutes. In the spirit of Unk’s post, I’d way, WAY rather re-watch either of Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” flicks than re-watch “H20,” which had Jamie Lee Curtis on tap (positive) as well as a glossy, antiseptic feeling that felt cynical and dull to me.
Other folks found stuff to enjoy, but positive reactions seem to be in the minority. Fellow Fear Femme BJ-C at Day of the Woman dug the ‘sploitationey groove of this movie as well, and I agree with her assessment of the cinematography–the atmosphere of the movie was enhanced by the piercing light and shadow that occurred throughout. She had some major misgivings about much of the rest of the movie, however.
Also-pal of the Empire B-Sol at The Vault of Horror, on the other hand, hated “Halloween 2” as if it had violated him in the bunk at summer camp. You can click that link, too–I’m a patient girl. B-Sol’s thoughts are interesting because his observations mirror mine very closely. It’s just that we brought away very different conclusions from those observations! Let’s discuss…


Homeless-looking heroines. Holy cow, I thought the ladies of “Halloween 2” were totally drool-worthily sexy. You know why? Cos they look like actual alt-chicks**** that I’ve mooned over, and their saucy curse-word patois made me all sorts of inappropriately tingly. They weren’t the kind of shiny, air-brushed, doe-eyed girl-bots that tend to populate “teen kill” horror films, thank the Dark Deity. Also, I may have developed a huge crush on Scout Taylor-Compton after she talked tattoos with me in an elevator a few years back. Don’t judge me, fuckers.
****Mea culpa–I’ve co-opted porn parlance here. Do we say goth or punk anymore? I can’t say emo because I am too old and am still unsure as to what it actually means.
Logic! We don’t need no stinking logic. I agree! If I wanted logic, I’d go to work. The high Kooky Factor of “Halloween 2” was responsible for a large part of its charm. Pumpkin tea party–that is all.
Paging Dr. Frank-N-Furter. I am no Rocky Horror fan, but I thought the inclusion of the Halloween costumes was cute and in 2009, I’m pretty sure we don’t need to explain RHPS to the uninitiated. And–dudes–peel it back from red alert: Harley was referring to herself as a “chick dressed as a dude dressed as a chick” while wearing the costume.

Sheri Moon Zombie, Will You Please Go Now? YES! Go–go and come to my apartment. She’s totally hott in a harsh-bird sort of way. And her dress and wig were divine, even if Baron XIII destroyed my dream of making “spectral Sheri” and “boy clown Michael Meyers”***** our Halloween costumes this year.
*****The stilts don’t exist that would allow him to play-act “The Shape” Michael Meyers convincingly, or I would’ve recommended that instead.
The Dr. Loomis Character Assassination. See, I thought this was a really neat feature of the movie. I really dig the Donald Pleasance heroic version of the character, but the ice-cold exploiter played by Malcolm McDowell was surprising and refreshing. It was in line with the grimy, vicious world that Zombie was creating here.
So there you have it. I was successfully entertained by Rob Zombie’s “Halloween 2.” It hit many of the notes I enjoy in a horror film. That having been addressed–I really, REALLY hope Mr. Zombie’s next effort is more “Zombie” and less “franchise.” Even though rumor has it it’s going to be “The Blob.” *sigh*