"The Real Wolfman" on History Channel

Ohhh History Channel–you’ve really outdone yourself this time! I thought you’d reached the sublime heights of ludicrosity with your presentation on “Stalin’s Monkey Army,”* but I was wrong. Indeed, last night’s viewing of “The Real Wolfman,” a two hour documentary program teaming the attempts of an ex-cop and a cryptozoologist to track down the true story of the Beast of Gevaudan, reached new ranges of jaw-dropping non-science.

*Brief summary: 57 minutes spent on how records of dubious Soviet provenance might indicate that Stalin was funding experiments in UNSPEAKABLE UNIONS in the hopes of creating half-mans-half-monkeys super soldiers, followed by 3 minutes of scientists going “no way in hell, dude, cos of chromosomal mismatch FAIL and stuff.”

Between 1764 and 1767, a series of attacks and killings were perpetrated on the villagers of the rural French town of Gevuadan. Depending on which source you’re choosing to believe, anywhere from 100 to over 200 people were victims of gruesome violence that included wounds that appeared to be inflicted by biting, tearing, dismemberment, and partial devouring of the bodies of the dead. At this same time, a number of large, wolf-like animals were observed in the countryside surrounding Gevaudon, with eyewitness reports corresponding in their general details of a bad-smelling, red-furred, furry quadraped beastie. If this is sounding pretty familiar to you, it’s because you spent way too much time in the occult section of your local library as a kid (guilty!) or you saw the sumptuous screen presentation of this tale in “The Brotherhood of the Wolf” (also guilty!).
Now, with forensic science being what it was in the French countryside in the mid-Eighteenth Century (to wit: probably a lot like the witch-ducking scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”), one needs to be very careful with the eyewitness accounts and the “Correlation Equals Causation” impulse. It’s quite a bit easier to blame monstrous creatures for savage deaths than it is to blame monstrous men for these deeds. However, the Maneaters of Tsavo and their 135 victims give credence to the possibility of ravenous animals being responsible for the attacks. Add in a tantalizing trail of alleged physical evidence and there’s a really interesting investigation here. Sadly this documentary didn’t show it.
Enter our protagonists in this documentary–retired police investigator George Deuchar (veteran of such venerable programs as “Psychic Investigators”) and fan of pretty young goth girls and also cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard (check out his MySpace page–srsly). Both men, with their fluency in the French language and depth of knowledge in the late period of the French Monarchy are imminently qualified for the investigation! Oh wait–did I just say that? I meant the exact opposite.
Let’s re-start: this documentary is really all about the entire country of France making minor American reality teevee personalities look like idiots. Great moments include:
  • A distant relative of the man who allegedly shot the Beast recounting the folk tale to our investigators, and seeming kind of confused that they don’t quite get the idea that he didn’t KNOW his great-etc.-grand-uncle on a personal level.
  • A tour guide at a historical church trying incredible hard to restrain a smile while telling our investigators that it would be “impossible” for the Catholic Church to have conspired to create a mania surrounding the Beast for its own promotional good.
  • A zoologist (the kind that studies real, actual animals–not imaginary ones) spinning a tale about how a French peasant could have kept a stable of hyenas and trained them to do his murderous bidding.
If you’re thinking this is both the BEST and the WORST documentary you’ve ever seen–just hang in there to the final moments, when these haters of Occam’s Razor sum up their findings and rest easily at night, having solved the mystery once and for all. Let’s put it this way–if you’ve seen “Brotherhood of the Wolf,” imagine something even less plausible than that.
I really think The History Channel, now that it has abandoned its mission as The Hitlery Channel (that role mantle has been taken on by the expanded cable Military Channel), should be forced to change its name to the Disreputable Crackpot Channel. It’s entirely more honest, and I’d be sure to watch it more frequently to boot! Let’s hear it for truth in advertising, folks.

Hunchback of the Morgue [1973]

One of the things that fans of Spanish horror actor Paul Naschy respond to with great affection is the fact that Naschy approaches the genre from the standpoint of a superfan. Much as I get enthusiastic about filmmakers who use horror tropes to explore avante garde artistic concepts or greater cultural themes, there’s something to be said for the joys of movies that embrace Horror For Horror’s Sake. While Naschy’s films aren’t the slickest efforts with the most sophisticated content, there’s a passion that suffuses his work and the man has some moments that border on–dare I say it–very good acting, underneath all that crepe hair and grease paint.

Let’s get this out of the way right quick–“Hunchback of the Morgue” is one of the more insane Naschyflicks I’ve had the pleasure of viewing. “Vengeance of the Zombies” was nutty, but ultimately was propelled by its own flavor of occult logic; and while “Night of the Howling Beast” featured a yeti fighting a werewolf, it was at its heart an exotic monster mash. “Hunchback,” on the other hand, is a tragic romance that centers around a mentally retarded hunchback being exploited by an ambitious mad scientist.

No, interpals–there are no typos or transposed words in that plot summary.
"Hunchback of the Morgue" Film Still
Imagine every mad scientist movie you’ve ever seen: there’s an amoral man compelled to tamper in God’s domain, aided by a leering cripple who steals body parts for his hideous experiments. A good scientist and his lovely fiancee are initially intrigued by the Bad Doctor’s works but come to realize he’s gone off the deep end. There’s a lot of tubes and smoke and light-up buttons and maybe a fiery cataclysm, and at the end of the day everybody learns a lesson about not screwing with nature. So, take that, subtract the fiery cataclysm and substitute a love triangle with the hunchback, a dead girl, and a health professional of some sort who works at a women’s reformatory, and you’ve got “Hunchback of the Morgue.” It’s a gruesome, kinky, and sometimes genuinely eerie flick that’s really without peer from where I’m sitting! If “Flesh for Frankenstein” was a completely earnest film with no intent towards satire, it might–might–be a little like “Hunchback,” but it would still lack the hunchback POV that drives this flick.

"Hunchback of the Morgue" Film Still
In spite of a kinky flavor and emphasis on gruesomeness that are surprisingly strong for a Naschy monster mash, there’s no mistaking this as being ANYTHING BUT one of the Mighty Molina’s** efforts. Predictably, the actor is also a scriptwriter and story developer on this film! Shit gets Tyrolean as fuck in a hurry, beginning with a jaunty polka tune playing over scenes of what are presumably the Alps, and then BAM! We’re in a beer hall at the height of be-dirndl-ed happy hour. Oh Naschy, how I adore your sense of subtlety. Local asshole Udo is engaged in a drinking competition with local other asshole Hans. Udo’s drinking triump is dampened by his untimely death in the vague proximity of hunchback Gotho (the NASCHINATOR himself), who seizes the strapping lad’s body for use at the local medical school. Turns out Gotho has a crush on Udo’s ladyfriend Ilse, who is dying of consumption (as you do, amidst such overwhelming gothickry). It’s no spoiler to say that Ilse meets her end, sending Gotho off the rails and on a KILL CRAZY RAMPAGE.
**Props to Tenebrous Pal the Vicar of VHS for coining THAT particular phrase–and also for turning me on to this movie!

"Hunchback of the Morgue" Film Still
Now, make no mistake–this would be quite enough to make a raaawwther incredible film–hunchback loves girl, loses girl, goes bonkers in a violent manner, is eventually caught and killed. But “Hunchback of the Morgue” is like the Ginsu Knife Set of movies, because you better believe there’s more where that came from. After a five minute span, during which Gotho beheads one doc, disembowels another, steals Ilse’s body and provides us with an alarming up-skirt shot or a corpse, I was left thinking the movie had peaked. Boy was I wrong–shit was just getting rolling! Gotho enlists the aid of Dr. Orla, a scientist obsessed with creating life from dead cells, to bring his beloved Ilse back to life. No slouch, Dr. Orla immediately hatches a plan by which he co-opts Gotho’s cavernous lair (originally used by the Inquisition as a dungeon and handily stocked with such necessities as an iron maiden and a rack) as his secret lab.
"Hunchback of the Morgue" Film Still
Unclear on the concept of “secrecy,” Orla shares his facility’s existence with upstanding Dr. Tauchner (played by Vic Winner, the best nom de guerre since Homer Simpson adopted Max Power) and his fiancee Eva, as well as a group of local thugs. By the end of the movie, it seems like half of the town probably knows all about the lab and Orla’s blob-like Primordial that he’s grown out of a vat.
"Hunchback of the Morgue" Film Still
Meanwhile, Gotho’s still on the run from the authorities, who right-away realize he’s responsible for the KILL CRAZY RAMPAGE they’re investigating. He’d probably have been caught, too, were it not for Elke, an employee at the local women’s reformatory. No doubt as a result of her workplace environment, Elke is no stranger to oddball couplings and takes pity on Gotho. Sexy, sexy pity. Maybe she’s into hunchback foot worship, and Gotho’s repeated groveling and toe-kissing by way of thanks for her help (no really) works for her. It’s a big internet–I’ve heard of stranger things. Needless to say, Paul Naschy added in extra lines to his traditional boob-touching rider in order to pull of this particular cinematic coup. Better yet–Elke is so het up by our disfigured lead that she has to convince him that Ilse would be a-ok with their carnal activities. Seriously–they must have a real shallow dating pool in that burg.
"Hunchback of the Morgue" Film Still
It’d be unpossible for me to recommend this film enough. It’s got freaky aspects, silly aspects, eerie aspects, and gory aspects. If you don’t like where the movie is going, just wait a minute–it’ll come round to your particular brand of horror fandom. It’s really a perfect Halloween week watch, friends!

For Your Height Only [1981]

I’m about to pitch a movie that you’ve either heard of, or will be incredibly angry at yourself for not having heard of and living X number of years in profound ignorance, carrying around an unnameable sadness that could have been lifted from you like so much morning mist if you had heard of this movie. Some people are content to pill-pop themselves into a zombie-like state of pseudo-contentment, heedless to the Black Box warnings on Prozac, but Your Tenebrous Hostess prefers a chemical-free mood lifter. That mood lifter, darlings, is Filipino action-comedy “For Your Height Only,” a James Bond spoof starring the startlingly acrobatic little person known as Weng Weng.

I’ll offer a brief plot summary before we begin deconstructing the magic of this film: Mysterious supercriminal Mr. Giant is trying to get his hands on the N-Bomb (no really) that has been developed by Professor Kohler and it’s up to Agent 00 to save the Professor and bring down Mr. Giant’s sex-slaving, drug-dealing, loud-suit-wearing criminal organization. But let’s face it–that data is not particularly integral to the enjoyment of this cinematic marvel. In fact, it’s best to just sit back, pop open several frosty adult beverages, and just let the cacophony of polyester suits, creative dubbing, and testicular abuse rinse one’s eyeballs with excellence.

"For Your Height Only" Film Still
Let’s begin with our star, the man without whom “For Your Height Only” would simply be a story about a regular-sized dude pretending to be a secret agent–poorly. One of the things that struck me about Weng Weng is that he’s incredibly nimble. Like, to the point where it’s kinda disturbing. It’s one thing to watch a man who’s trained his entire life in a martial arts discipline kick some serious ass, but it’s uniquely humbling to watch a man who’s under four feet tall tussle with average-height baddies and look pretty damned competent. Chalk that up to one more reason why I’m pissed I didn’t grow up in the circus. Agent 00 runs, flips, and kicks his way through an army of thugs, pausing only to romance ladies and drink from oversized bottles of Pepsi. Now, about that kicking… Agent 00 has rightly determined that his fighting technique can’t rely on the kind of balletic leaps and lightning fist-work favored by average-sized martial artists. Nay indeed, friends–Agent 00 knows that a bad guy’s Off Switch is located below his navel and between his legs, and there is nary a nutsack that goes unharmed during his mission. If you’re the kind of person who finds midgets kicking people in the balls to be funny (and if you’re reading this blog, I’M ON TO YOU ALREADY), then “For Your Height Only” is your movie, friend.
Another of Weng Weng’s stunts that is repeated throughout this film is a dramatic and speedy across-the-floor slide, accomplished with the assistance of his doubtless-slippery polyester suits and an off-camera shove. I like to think about the production assistant crouching just off screen, holding onto Weng’s feet and ready to give him a mighty push while the diminutive star pulls the trigger on his equally-diminutive gun.
"For Your Height Only" Film Still
Finishing off the stunt-a-palooza, there’s a scene in which Weng Weng employs a jet pack to gain access to Mr. Giant’s hideout. Just look at that picture! That’s a magnificent cherry on the already-overwhelming sundae of this movie.

"For Your Height Only" Film Still
Agent 00 is a man of action in every possible sense of the cliche. He’s not too modest to employ his magical fascination in matters relating to the opposite sex. I am reminded of watching a midget wrestling video I’d rented to watch during a pumpkin-carving party* some number of years ago. In this film, Puppet the Psycho Dwarf proclaims that “every man wants to BE a midget, and every woman wants to FUCK a midget.” Perhaps Puppet was referring to the charms of Weng Weng, whose “petite, like a potato” appearance clearly works to his advantage.
*This course of action is NOT recommended for others, as it was only by the grace of some dark deity that none of us lopped off any digits due to lack of attentiveness to our gourd-and-knife-related activities.
"For Your Height Only" Film Still
I don’t want you to think that the success of “For Your Height Only” rests only on Weng Weng’s fragile-looking shoulders. The supporting cast is equally ham-tastic, aided by the AMAZING dubbing choices. In what can only be a misguided attempt to differentiate characters, imitations of Peter Lorre, Edward G. Robinson, and various other old-timey faves are brought into play. The costuming plays a crucial role in the overall glee-fest of this movie as well. Just check out the SUIT on the dude in the photo above! That look just commands respect, and to underscore his bad-itude, that character speaks with a pronounced 1930s mobster patois that would make Bugs Bunny arch an eyebrow (if Bug Bunny *had* eyebrows, of course).
I really just can’t recommend this movie enough–it’s cult status couldn’t be MORE merited. If all that hasn’t brought a smile to your face, maybe the Flickr gallery of stills from “For Your Height Only” will lift your dour mood.
Extra Special Bonus Awesome! Enjoy “The Weng Weng Rap” by The Chuds:

Boris Karloff Blogathon: November 23 – 29, 2009

There are few things that can make me look forward to the dwindling days of the year after the giddy rush of October. Let’s me be frank–the tinsel-strewn, consumerist mania of Christmas pales in comparison to the drunken, grease-painted debauch of Halloween.

It is therefore a beautiful thing that the internet is graced with the presence of Pierre Fournier, overlord of Frankensteinia, who is running the Boris Karloff Blogathon that’s running from November 23rd through November 29th of this year. I’m going to have to study up in order to match wits with the likes of Pals of the Tenebrous Empire at Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies, The Vault of Horror, Arbogast on Film, and The Groovy Age of Horror.
While I’m rambling about stuff happening down the horror series of ‘tubes, I’m going to take a moment to point up and to the right of my blogroll, which has a kinda-newly-created section for podcasts and multimedia. I’ve been mulling and pondering the notion of creating a podcast, but while I’m waffling, others are actually recording. I’d like to take a moment to say a hearty THANK YOU to the podcasters of the web for keeping me entertained during long commutes. Here’s what I’m listening to (and don’t hesitate to let me know about your fave shows, too!):
Horror Etc. — My first exposure to these gents was through their censorship show (Episode 99–I like to think of myself as arriving “Fashionably Late”), and I’ll be damned if it didn’t get me to ACTUALLY THINKING while listening. Bonus points for Ted and Tony for a) being hella-knowledgeable and b) playing nice with others. We won’t even get into the whole “they post a new show every week without fail” thing, because that would make me look really, REALLY bad in comparison…!
Mondo Movie — Horror, cult and exploitation cinema goodness from the UK. Dan and Ben cover a nice variety of new releases, old favorites, and obscure weirdness.
The Revolving Video Podcast — Chris and Jamie offer a potpourri of silliness that includes movie reviews, weird news, and genuinely funny banter. This podcast feels like happy hour with good pals–the episode that covers “Samurai Cop” had me in stitches.

Paranormal Activity [2009]

I remember when “The Blair Witch Project” came out to much internet hype and fanfare back in 1999. I was dating a huge asshole of a human being at the time who missed out on getting us tickets to the limited release twice. It wasn’t for this reason that I kicked his whiny ass to the curb, but it would’ve been a fine enough reason, because “The Blair Witch Project” was a really creepy little micro-budget, macro-marketing flick. The “waiting in the corner” final frames worked really well, and the acting was natural enough that one could buy into the premise that this was real found footage left behind by hapless young travelers. The Bell Witch-inspired backstory was eerie and mysterious, and it really felt like the storyline I was watching was but one of the many creepy things that had occurred in the Pennsylvania forest. It was worth suffering through the motion-sickness-inducing bits to get through the story to the chilling final frames.

If one were to create a film that boiled off the texture of “The Blair Witch Project” and discarded it, set the story in a three-bedroom house with a cathedral-ceilinged dining room (described somewhat puzzlingly as “a typical suburban ‘starter’ tract house” in the plot blurb) and center it around the most excruciatingly ordinary couple in recent movie history, one would have “Paranormal Activity.” Watching this movie was like spending ninety minutes watching grating yuppie assholes engage in a game of demonic ring-and-run, with the flaming bag of dog turds ultimately left on the viewer’s porch.
I love ghost stories, and some of the only genuine scares I’ve gotten from films have come from this flavor of horror flick. The delicious goosebumps elicited during “The Changeling” and the creeping dread of “The Haunting” are among my more treasured movie memories, so I was eagerly anticipating getting some similar thrills from “Paranormal Activity.” For those of you who’ve been away from the internet recently, “Paranormal Activity” tells the story of a couple haunted by demonic forces through video they’ve compiled during their investigation. This formula isn’t inherently disastrous, but once the ouija board came out and well before the sprinkling of baby powder on the threshold of the bedroom, I had clocked out, realizing that no new ground was being explored here.
Hi! We’re bland in a manner similar to that of other humans. Enjoy sharing our horrible lives for ninety minutes you will never, ever, ever get back.

Also, there are few things LESS fun for me than spending an hour and a half of my life with the kind of people I avoid at social gatherings. Male Asshole and Female Asshole embody almost everything I hate about average American human beings. Allow me to elaborate:
  • I hate their “careers.” He is a day trader, she is a student. Working as a “day trader” is like saying “I play scratch-off lottery tickets for a living and sponge off of my folks who keep me in the soft lifestyle to which I have become accustomed.” She is studying English in order to be a teacher. In a startling display of ingenuity, the filmmakers give her the hobby of jewelry-making, instead of taking the easy out of making her a top-notch scrapbooker.
  • Female Asshole spends a significant portion of the movie denying her boyfriend sex. Yes, she’s a real keeper, that one. I bet they do it with the lights on if it’s Male Asshole’s birthday.
  • Male Asshole says things like “NO ONE COMES IN HERE AND MESSES WITH MY GIRLFRIEND.” Your bravado–I am unconvinced by it.
  • They have a bevy of decorative pillows and comforters that are stripped off the bed before they can sleep in it. Do normal people do this? That seems like the dumbest thing ever. See also the six-hundred inch television set that dominates their living room that I just KNOW is used for watching THE BIG GAME. I bet they own jerseys representing their favorite athletes that they wear while stuffing their doughy selves with nachos on GAME DAY.
I can imagine getting trapped in conversation with them at someone else’s cocktail party. They’re colleagues of a friend of a friend and I have to spend precious minutes of my existence listening to prattle about stock portfolios and mid-terms and designer pillows at Bed Bath and Beyond while they criticize my lifestyle in the kind of passive-aggressive manner perfected by the Studiously Average.
Whatever horrors this film held in store for these folks, they simply weren’t hideous enough.
But back to the Movie Actual. I can dig a slow burn–hell, slowness in films doesn’t bother me one whit; I’m a Eurotrash fan. I was dismayed by the assholocity of the lead characters, but I held off on unleashing the full measure of my ire, eager to see the nighttime footage shot while the couple is sleeping. This footage is undoubtedly well-handled, but it’s a serious problem that EVERYTHING that happens when NOT shot on a tripod while the leads are ASLEEP (and therefore not talking) makes me want to reach through the screen and bounce somebody’s head off of the sidewalk.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you not to see this movie because–quite frankly–most people I know really dug it. I’m not an arbiter of good taste, nor do I wish to be one. But… I can’t help but feel like some other, different, nigh-upon-unwatchable movie that isn’t the “Paranormal Activity” other people are raving about was somehow slipped into the projector last night. Cos what *I* saw, lieblings and liebchens, was the worst movie I’ve seen in a significant amount of time.

Freaky Horror Tropes: Necrophilia

We’ve all got a list–mental if not committed to paper or intertube–of the elements of horror entertainment that freak us out the most. Whether your displeasure derives from eyeball trauma, rape, disembowelment, or any of the other entries in the catalog of terrifying images, you’ve likely encountered something utterly appalling at some point during your film-watching career.
One of my own Horror Bad Touches is necrophilia. I know what you’re thinking–that’s not terribly logical, as it’s something that would happen to me *after* death, and you’ve got a really good point. Perhaps I ought to clarify–I am really squicked out by necrophiliacs as they’re portrayed in the horror genre. There’s something about the profound loneliness and misanthropy of the cinematic necrophile that’s tragic and dangerous at the same time. The cinematic necrophile is the kind of person who is completely alienated from his fellow man, and is therefore capable of committing terrible acts of violence without a flicker of remorse.
And–not for nothin’–but you guys have seen “Nekromantik,” right? German director Jörg Buttgereit’s 1987 micro-budget “boy-girl-corpse love triangle” tour de force? I didn’t want to talk to any human beings for a full 24 hours after watching that movie, out of fear that one of them had a spark in his eye because he was thinking about ripening up my cadaver for a vigorous buggering. Needless to say, I developed an only-semi-rational fear of Mr. Buttgereit after watching this movie, and I developed a rather florid image of him as being a crippled old troll of a person with asymmetrical, hooded eyes and a string of yellow drool coming from the corner of his mouth.
Oh no no, interpals–it’s TOTALLY WORSE than that. Because Jörg Buttgereit is an icy Teuton of the sort that makes me weak in the knees. I was so completely dismayed by his gorgeousity that (in spite of the promise of Many Crisp American Dollars scrabbled together by SO-CALLED FRIENDS) I found myself unable to do a meet-and-greet with him at a convention a few years back. That’s right–my mostly-irrational ick-factor extends even to artists who *discuss* necrophilia.
In an effort to engage in self-led exposure therapy, I’ve sought out non-fiction information on this ghoulish taboo behavior. One of my favorite non-fiction presentations on necrophilia is this three-page entry into “The Big Book of Death” (published in 1995 by Paradox Press), in which artist Craig Hamilton adapts the romance comic book style to profoundly macabre subject matter. Enjoy, friends!
"Dead Love" by Craig Hamilton - 1 of 3
"Dead Love" by Craig Hamilton - 2 of 3
"Dead Love" by Craig Hamilton - 3 of 3

Socially Conscious Sexy Halloween Costumes

Halloween poses some serious challenges in the Tenebrous Empire. Having two or three costume parties to attend means needing two or three costumes, and being Year-Round Spooky means that such holiday chestnuts as vampire, witch and punk-rocker are out of the running.*
*Even if it does amuse me to almost-no-end to see legions of revelers costumed as Saturday Night Tenebrous Kate on October 31st.
As a woman, so I like to keep things a little saucy, and I won’t lie and say I don’t get just a little inspiration from the Sexy Fill-In-The-Blank costumes sold at Halloween superstores. But I think these costumes are getting a little ridiculous. I mean–come the fuck ON–sexy Ghostbuster? Really…? I mean, if you’re into en-hot-pants-ed Dan Ackroyds, I’m not going to piss in your already-hella-bizarre Cheerios, but that’s just cinematically inaccurate (at best).
But my sexy costumes are always kinda evil–from demoniacal nun to voodoo cemetery spirit to fascist zombie to lab-created monster, I tend to draw from the darker sides of infotainment. ** Maybe it’s time to get creative and bring sexy back to the positive figures from history.
**Holy crap–my spell checker knows the word “infotainment.” Ew. At least “staycation” still gets a red underline.
In that spirit, I think that SEXY ABE LINCOLN is an idea whose time has come. Much like the sexy stage magician or the sexy ringmaster, SEXY ABE LINCOLN wears a jaunty top-hat. Unlike the sexy stage magician or the sexy ringmaster, SEXY ABE LINCOLN was responsible for the unification of the United States in the aftermath of the Civil War. Pull THAT outta your hat, sexy stage magician.
If you’d prefer a more exotic sexy costume, perhaps SEXY GANDHI is your speed. Historical accuracy be damned–diapers aren’t sexy.*** Togas, on the other hand, are flirty as all hell, and also easy to find at your local costume shop. Add in a bald cap and some wire-rimmed glasses–hunger strike optional–and you’re well on your way to a costume that’s both sexy and socially conscious.
***Unless you’re part of a certain Special Needs contingent, kinda like the one that’s into the en-hot-pants-ed Dan Ackroyds.
I know you folks have some good ideas for sexy-yet-non-evil costumes! I dare you to do better than the actually-f’reals Sexy Environmentalist costume.
Edit to Add: I almost forgot another sexy costume I’d developed–the PANTSLESS GRIMACE. It’s not particularly socially conscious, but it’s not really evil either:
Pantsless Grimace Diagram
Little did I know, upon creating this concept sketch, that the Pantsless Grimace costume ACTUALLY EXISTS! Check it out here, and note that it comes with a costume top and boot covers. NO PANTS, people.

My Need for a Vampire Intervention

My name is Kate–Kay Ay Tee Ee–and I’m addicted to crappy vampires. Sure, you might think that, much the rageahol addicted dude in season one of “Intervention,” I’m just making junk up and I need to pull myself together. It’s just not that easy, friends. NOTHING IN THE WORLD can compare to the feeling of getting all hopped up on pumpkin spice lattes and watching THIS VIDEO:

There’s just something so thrilling about a crookedly-applied prosthetic fang or an ill-conceived CG-Eyeball or an awkward egomaniac in a ruffled blouse that just sets my pulse a-pounding. Watching a shitty vampire movie is like engaging in an endurance test. The endorphin rush of having survived “Queen of the Damned” is probably a bit like making it all the way through a Sun Dance–sure you’re bleeding from every pore and you kind of want to die, but ultimately your nipples are probably intact and you’ve become a man. Or… something like that.
I wonder if there’s some kind of medal (hopefully with a creepy looking black cross on it–fingers crossed!) for cinematic survival. If so, I’ve surely earned it with my many forays into trashy vampires.
A Brief Selection of Self-Inflicted Vampire Film Injuries
  • “Dracula 3000,” which combines two questionable tastes that always bring me running: Udo Kier and vampires (the whole “in space” thing should’ve tipped me off to this being a bad, dangerous idea, though). As a pal observerd, Mr. Kier could’ve played his entire role pantsless, as he just appeared as a talking head on a screen. In fact, if you think about Udo Kier acting pantslessly, the film is almost watchable. At least for a couple of minutes.
  • “Vegas Vampires” has Fred Williamson and vampires. Also a cast of people known only by single names like “Rio” and “Kurupt,” probably for Plausible Deniability purposes. I seriously think Fred Williamson included Richard Roundtree in the cast just to take him down a peg for making Shaft a cooler character than Tommy Gibbs.
  • I sometimes watch “Van Helsing” the way people engage in the Two Minute Hate in Orwell’s “1984.” Check it out–I even made a cartoon dedicated to my loathing of this film:
Monsters watch "Van Helsing" 1
Monsters watch "Van Helsing" 2
  • My most recent horrible vampire film watch was “Gothic Vampires from Hell.” Yeah, fuckers–roll THAT one around on your tongue for a while. THEN get ready to learn that the plot concerns a battle of the bands between rival gothic rock groups. AND that the soundtrack contains songs by *actual* gothic rock bands, which are meant to be the songs of the *fictional* bands. It’s pretty much an orgy of lip-synching and poorly-applied eyemakeup. In fact, I think I probably have a lot more to say about this movie.
Yes, folks–vampires can do far worse than sparkle. Take me at my word. I’ve fallen into a K-Hole of vampire krazee and I just can’t escape!

Joshua Michael–the Tommy Wiseau of Goth

Every once in a while, I stumble upon something truly magical in the So Bad It’s Good format of entertainment. Last time this occurred, I was enchanted by the vision of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.” Well folks, it’s happened again. Nothing you’ve seen in your life–OK, with the possible exception of “The Room”–has prepared you for the genius of singer/songwriter/musician Joshua Michael.
I am in no way bagging on Joshua Michael when I say his music is some of the most bombastic, cheesily-rhymed, supernatural-themed stuff you will ever–EVER–hear. THAT, cupcakes, is an accomplishment that impresses me. Keep in mind that I’ve attended real vampyyyyre events and have listened to their music. This is at least as incredible in its scope, sincerity, and… erm… misguided aesthetic sense. In case you didn’t click on that link above, visit Joshua Michael’s MySpace page (in which he talks about his love of Bonnie Tyler, which is a-oh-fucking-kay in my book, baby) and listen to his music. I’ll be here when you click back.
Oh yeah–that’s right. You just heard a song titled “Vampyre,” and his album “Guardian of Secret Dreams” includes a track titled “Dragon.” Holy gelatinous cube, friends–I am completely cockslapped with glee right now.
Maybe you’re harder to impress than I am, or maybe you’ve heard a lot more Jim-Steinman-loving, goth-fueled ballads about mythical creatures than I have. Or perhaps you’re just a visual sort of person who needs something to look at. Fair enough.
Witness the lonely green-screen…

…and the MAGIC of computer-generated effects!
Good thing, then, that I’ve saved the best for last, then! I am willing to guarantee that this video of “The Hunger” by Joshua Michael will make you a fan for LIFE. Here’s a description of what you’re about to see, taken from the video’s website (which includes a summary of the video’s concept that takes longer to read than the video does to watch):

Many music videos are a collection of rapid fire images. THE HUNGER is a music video with a story. You’ll find this story tightly woven into the fabric of the music video… underlying the theme and concept… at the very core of the dream images, the ancient Egyptian scenery, the underworld, and into the afterlife…

Add in some CG effects, an actress with a very fine booty, and a general air of WTF, and you’ve got a recipe for the best three minutes and forty-seven seconds of your day. Are you ready for… “THE HUNGER…?

Sugar Hill [1974]

By the end of 1974, the vast majority of the best Blaxploitation films that would be filmed had been filmed. The controversial subgenre; loved by many for its depictions of sexy African-American characters triumphing over poverty and racism and hated by more for depicting negative underworld archetypes like pimps, drug dealers and scam artists; had spawned everything from spy films, detective films, period pieces, horror films, musicals and stories that sometimes bordered on Greek Tragedy. The cultural impact of these films has been far greater than their frequently fluffy plotlines and focus on fashion and slang might suggest–filmmakers from Spike Lee to Quentin Tarantino have drawn inspiration from Blaxploitation features, and the controversy that surrounds their work is testament to the power of the subgenre.
“Sugar Hill” is a relatively late offering in the Blaxploitation cycle and in spite of its grindhouse elements of organized crime, zombies and revenge, the movie shares more with 1932’s “White Zombie” than with 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead.” Fashion photographer (but not lesbian) Diana “Sugar” Hill (played by Marki Bey, whose resemblance to Vanessa Williams is downright startling) vows revenge on the mobsters who murdered her nightclub owner lover and with the help of voodoo priestess Mama Maitresse, Sugar enlists the aid of Baron Samedi and his army of glassy-eyed zombies. Right from the opening shots, depicting a voodoo ritual set to the tunes of the INCREDIBLE THEME SONG “Supernatural Voodoo Woman” by the Originals, I knew what I felt for this movie was something similar to love, and by the time Baron Samedi (played with nigh-Shakespearian gusto by Don Pedro Colley) appeared, the deal was sealed. Something would have to go hella-wrong in order to make me dislike the movie and–catch this–nothing did. “Sugar Hill” even has the graciousness to wrap up with the most YAY ending I’ve seen since “Faceless.”

"Sugar Hill" Film Still
The emphasis of the film is on creating a fun atmosphere–everything that happens is motivated by comic-book logic. The mobsters’ plan to off Sugar’s boyfriend and take his nightclub is built on what can best be described as Underpants Gnomes logic: step 1: kill nightclub owner; step 2: ???; step 3: BIG PROFIT! Apparently, boss Morgan (played by Count Yorga himself, Robert Quarry) believes that he can persuade Sugar–who KNOWS his men killed her boyfriend–to sell the nightclub to him at a tremendous discount. Then again, he does run a crime family composed of half a dozen people so his belief in the power of the unpossible isn’t ENTIRELY unfounded.
"Sugar Hill" Film Still
The zombies aren’t gore-soaked ghouls–instead they have a ghostly, low-tech appearance that I actually quite dug. The glassed-over eyes effect is particularly creepy in a monster-movie manner. And–can I say how AWESOME Baron Samedi is again? Because he is totally amazing. His stentorian delivery and dramatic facial expressions tread the line between parody and demonic glee. I love a good CRAZYFACE, and the Baron’s eye-popping countenance approaches the league of such classic CRAZYFACES as Lugosi and Naschy.
The movie isn’t a perfect example of escapist supernatural entertainment, and one of the primary flaws for me lay in Marki Bey’s portrayal of the lead role. Bey is gorgeous and invests her dialogue with life, but she’s missing the X-Factor of great exploitation film actresses. In a supporting role, she might shine, but she’s just not as charismatic and larger-than-life as the role of a vengeful voodooeinne demands. Sugar is frequently described as “classy,” and the moniker surely fits her–alas, she’s SO elegant and ladylike that her revenge scenes just don’t pack the punch of similar ones enacted by actresses like Pam Grier or Tamara Dobson. In Bey’s defense, though–she LOOKS stunning in the voluminous Afro and Evel Kneivel jumpsuit she dons while exacting voodoo vengeance.
"Sugar Hill" Film Still
For a fun bit of occult entertainment with a funky-as-heck soundtrack, you could do a LOT worse than “Sugar Hill.” Fans of monster mysteries and archaic fashion will find plenty to love here.
Bonus feature–check out “Supernatural Voodoo Woman” by the Originals right here: