Friday, November 28, 2008

Music Friday? It's BLACK Friday!

I just posted my favorite ever Black Friday story here on the toy blog I maintain with JPX. Much like when Iron Man shows up in a Hulk comic and refers to an event from his own title, this post is the little box in the corner of the panel that tells you where you can go and read about those events. And if you think that's a nerdy way to put it, read the story and find out just what kind of nerds you have all allied yourselves with. Heh heh.

Music Friday

I recently outed myself to Johnny Sweatpants that I was listening to Radiohead for the very first time. His response forced me to confront the fact that despite my passion for music I am really a creature of habit. This is something I'm trying to challenge, at least a little, in myself. Anyhow, this effort has led me to wonder if our group might come up with a short list of essential recordings, eg "what album should everyone listen to at least once" or "if you could only have one album on your iPod/desert island, what would it be?" In this case I don't think we need to try to come up with something other people are unfamiliar with; I am more interested in hearing about people's favorite album(s) for listening and/or debating purposes. Anyone game?

War of the Worlds

2005 *****

I love this movie. I saw it three times when it came out, which is strictly a Matrix/Star Wars/LOTR-level number of times to see the same movie in the theater. I had a Netflix copy in my house already in September for another re-view, and when October crept closer I thought "I guess I'll have to return this without watching it, and get a horror movie..." and then I thought "wait a second..."

If you have no idea how the original H.G. Wells story ends, I suppose you shouldn't read beyond the next picture. But I'm disappointed in you, because everybody knows that.

Oh, I kid!

But seriously, really?

And to get the Tom Cruise thing out of the way, yes, he is the organ grinder monkey for a horrible, greedy, destructive cult. But the man can act. There are so many people whose work you can admire when you don't have to deal with them directly -- we hear Jackson Pollack was a hassle to be around, but it doesn't ruin his paintings for you. But actors are up in your face when they're working, and as time goes by more and more famous actors tend to just jolt you right out of the movie because, well, there they are. But because I don't pay enough attention to that weird midget-man's public life, he can still convince me he's who his character is supposed to be, (and I suppose also that he's taller). In this he's Ray Ferrier, Newark dockworker and neglectful divorced dad, and he's great at it.

And, in no particular order, you've got Steven Spielberg, H.G. Wells, director of photography Janusz Kaminski, and Dakota Fanning. Dakota Fanning! She is so my hero for making this movie convincing.

War of the Worlds was written before there was flight, and so the invaders don't fly above us, they walk above us. Huge, three-legged war machines lay waste to the works of humans, killing us and plucking us off the ground like vermin. These monsters are merciless, smart and horrible to look upon: a terrible conglomeration of insect, machine and predatory squid.

And the book was written in 1898, dude! One of the first alien invasion stories ever. Images of the novel's ideas have been created and recreated so many times they go past iconic to downright primal.

Perhaps not as primal as the flying saucer is, which is why the 1953 version opted for creepy floating vehicles instead. But in 2005 they brought back the tripods, and captured their evil magic with style. I've seen dozens of different pictures of those tripods and the image above could have easily looked at home on pulp covers as far back as the 1930's.

The emergence of the first tripod we see is nothing less than a classic scene of scary science fiction. The fact that more people don't run away until it's too late is a wonderful last hurrah for human arrogance -- it's just so unbelievable, they stay and watch.

In the original story, the Martians arrive in huge hollow projectiles fired from massive guns on Mars, (which isn't really flight), and the tripods emerge from the crater. The tripod that comes up in Bayonne, New Jersey here was placed underground before the dawn of man, and just had its pilots delivered via lightning blasts from a strange storm. The first time I saw this movie that premise nagged at me a bit -- how was it that not one of the things was uncovered in millions and millions of years?

But I like the following theory: that the unnamed invaders are actually from Mars, and when their planet started dying they buried the tripods and either time-traveled or suspended-animationed or hung-out-on-some-other-planet until now. (The problem with the last one is then maybe they'd know about biosystems having germs, so forget that one. We don't really know what they were up to. It's cool to have mystery.) Anyway, Earth didn't have what they needed when they buried the tripods but it does now. And the main thing is they're from Mars, because that is so cool.

The story is told through the eyes of one family struggling to survive in the days after the invasion, but in a closer thematic way it's told through the eyes of Ray's daughter Rachel, played by Dakota Fanning. The camera lingers on her face a lot, there are no less than three times her father labors to prevent her from seeing something horrible around her, and best of all, I think we're invited to think this is her telling the story. One shot in particular (in which she looks up and the camera follows her gaze to a row of airborne helicopters) made me believe she would someday be one of the few living witnesses of the invasion, and she'd tell this story to her grandchildren -- how's that for being drawn in by a movie? That's why Dakota Fanning is awesome. She completely makes you believe this crazy crap is actually happening.

Two moments in this movie I love:

Our hero family sees a crowd of people in the distance beset by tripods. The noise made by the crowd is a brilliant piece of sound design. It's difficult to describe, but they're so far away it's one ominous noise, a sort of terrified roar.

This shot, from within a Martian cage. It's about the lady on the right, screaming and looking upward. The bar is blocking it, but she's wearing a modest brooch. She's just some lady who works in an office in the tri-state area somewhere. You know her, you probably worked with her once. Nice enough, but you don't know too much about her, she doesn't get your jokes, you didn't go to her barbecue, and you certainly never thought you'd see her in a paroxysm of raw emotional agony while still dressed in her work clothes. But that's what she was wearing when she got caught up in this nightmare a few days ago -- and this shit is actually happening and it's actually this bad.

Very effective movie.

There's a comic book in which a person with Superman-level powers goes on a colossal murderous rampage in a major city. Musing about the event years later, a character compares it to the the A-bomb attack on Hiroshima, in that it was obliteration coming from a direction nobody was thinking about. It's a wonderful observation on disaster: you worry and worry about what you already know, when the real angel of death has a completely new face. War of the Worlds is great because it is that story, and it happens twice. It happens to us, and then it happens to the Martains. That's why I love it.

I'd be lying if I said you might not find problems with this one. There's a scene in the basement that sags, maybe some deus ex machina stuff to get over, but for me those rough edges have all worn smooth. When I said at the top that I thought "wait a second..." my next thought was "that movie is freakin' scary!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Horrorthonners!

Hyperbass Much?

Finally a video with decent sound and video of the great Michael Manring playing his custom made hyperbass and performing the song The Enormous Room.

I have seen music posts on horrorthon and so I hope this isn't out of line as this one got me giddy. Michael is considered one of the most respected bass players we have today who plays anything from folk or classical all the way to thrash. This is melodically and technically one of the great solo bass songs from anytime and I was pretty excited to finally find a decent sounding performance.

Hope you all enjoy:

A Word or Twelve About My First Horrorthon Experience.

A few years ago I opened an email from JSP that contained a magical link to a place called Horrorthon. I spent many hours over time visiting this place, reading reviews, laughing & getting great tips on new movies. Every now & again JSP would give me a nudge saying, “you should join in.” but I just didn’t have the time. Back then I was working as a manager for Cingular and they owned my life, I was miserable. Then a miracle happened! Cingular decided to close the call center location, otherwise known as hell, that I was running. Oh I was offered a transfer, but the job had been slowly sucking the soul out of me so I took the lay off. I spent the better part of a year finding myself again. My artwork blossomed, I started writing again, I did numerous home improvements and spent a lot of time with my kids. I eventually fell into a wonderful part time job at the school I am working at now and it’s perfect. Summers off, school vacations and I only work weekdays from 9 to 1. Leaves me plenty of time for artwork and other mischief. Are those hours perfect for Horrorthon or what?

So, as my blood pressure came down and the smile came back into my eyes I started to think I needed something more. While having yet another conversation with JSP about horror, again he urged me to join in knowing my love for the genre. This time I said yes. I spent September loading up my Netflix queue preparing for the “Thon”. If I was gonna do it, I was gonna do it right. JSP said to watch as many movies as humanly possible and I took that literally. I mean, what fun would it be if I went into it half-assed. The way I saw it, I had to come up with a plan. I had 5 obstacles this October; My Mom’s birthday & my Dad’s birthday, both of which there were parties, dammit! That’s 2 Saturdays of Thonus interuptus. The haunted houses I do make up for, that would be 2 whole weekends gone, the bastards! Last and most crucial is Halloween. My neighborhood madness would not allow me the inevitable final night movie marathon. Didn’t they know they were inconveniencing my Horrorthon antics? Damn kids, they could have Trick or Treated on November 1st, right? I’ll have to have a talk with them next year, threaten to burn their houses down or something like that. Anywaaaaay…..
I set a goal of 75 movies for myself, I thought if nothing else I will try like hell to reach that number. Well, what happened is I kinda went a little nuts. I didn’t even think it was possible to watch 110 movies in a month, holy shit!

Here’s what I did, I got up at 5:30 am every day and after making coffee, feeding the cats and cleaning the litter boxes I would sit down in front of my puter and watch a movie before work. When I got home from work I would shower, do only the necessary chores for the day, then I’d watch a second movie. Finally, I’d throw together a meal for the family that took 30 minutes or less or order out if I was running late. Beyond that my night was free and I could watch another movie or 2 depending on the length of the films and the time I got started. So in other words I averaged 3 to 4 films a day. I was trying to squeeze in as many as I could early in the month before my life got tied up in Haunted Houses and such.

Just then sweet blessed fate came to my rescue by way of a call from the owner of the first haunted house. She decided to do a house of mirrors this year because she couldn’t get enough volunteers to man the place so she didn’t need me. The other haunted house was scheduled for the weekend of the 18th but again fate stepped in. They had a water pipe burst in the facility they used and had to cancel altogether. Now with the weekend of the 18th free and clear, I decided to have Mom’s birthday bash here. I lost most of that Saturday to party prep but I got up extra early to watch one in the morning and still managed to squeeze in a total of 5 movies that day. Dad’s birthday was at my brother’s house the following Saturday another partial day lost but I again fit in 5 movies because I didn’t have to cook.

By now I was way ahead of my game plan and I refused to allow myself to let up. It just became a personal challenge to see if I could maintain such a grueling pace right up to the end. Yes, I became slightly psychotic about the whole thing but it was my first Horrothon dammit! By the time Halloween night rolled around I was at 109 and watched the final flick after the festivities. Basically I had no life whatsoever for the entire month of October. I totally ignored my friends and family for the sake of the “Thon”. I missed 2 important appointments that I didn’t even reschedule I just oops, forgot about them. I did zero artwork all month long and you know what, I don’t regret a single bloody minute of it either.

Had I continued to watch a movie and immediately post a review I would probably have been about right with my goal of 75. But JPX’s silence and lack of reviews clued me in to the amount of time I was wasting writing reviews. So, I took a cue from the master and started watching more and writing less. The trouble came in November just as JSP had warned me. He said it would get harder and harder to write those reviews as the month droned on and the hoopla of October faded away. He was so right, but stubbornness prevailed. I refused to let all those hours of lost sleep and shitty meals go to waste. I trudged forward and finished my reviews. I’m not so sure that I will be quite as aggressive next year, the fatigue, the backed up emails and my hubby’s intestinal grief as a result of too much fast food (oh yes, I suffered the wraith of his stinky farts) are an awful lot of grief to bear. On the lighter side, I actually lost about 10 lbs over the month surviving on protein bars and breakfast cereal.

Hell yes! It’s been quite the experience of a lifetime. After a week or so of solid horror watching, mostly by myself too since Tony & Zeke were both at work, the world began to look a little more ominous. The night was definitely darker. Each snap of a twig was a possible psychopath lurking in the blackness. My dreams became more vivid and sinister. The cats began staring at me like the evil little demons they are. People looked strange, as if they were hiding terrible secrets behind their eyes. Well, maybe it wasn’t that weird but it was fun to think so anyway.

So, you guys really came up with a great fun idea when you started this blog. After my years of lurking in silence, I now know first hand that monitoring & reading the reviews you wrote in no way prepared me for the exhaustion and mental burnout of actual participation in the “Thon”. I have a new respect for your dedication here. I now know what it takes to devote an entire month (2 actually if you count the review writing in November) of my life for the sake of the “Thon”. I really had fun and look forward to next year’s competition. I hope my family & friends can forgive me for neglecting them. Thanks again for inviting me into your twisted little world.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Arrested Development Movie?

This is probably not news to many of you, but this is the first I've heard of it...

The "Arrested Development" feature has moved closer to reality, with Mitch Hurwitz and Ron Howard reportedly closing deals for the long-gestating project from Imagine and Fox Searchlight.

The possible migration of the critically acclaimed but short-lived Fox series to the big screen has been a hot topic among fans for the past year. Speculation has been fueled by cast members of the show, including Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Jeffrey Tambor, who have been frequently quoted in interviews that a feature adaptation is in the works.

Hurwitz, who created and exec produced the Emmy-winning series, is on board to write the film as well as direct with help from Howard. The series, from Imagine TV and 20th TV, was a pet project of Howard, who had a lot to do with its distinct visual style. In the final episode, Howard, playing himself, heard the Bluth TV family's pitch of their story and liked it for a movie.

? of the Dead

What you're looking at here is the first official still from Romero's forthcoming, yet untitled Zombie pic. It certainly looks zomberrific!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

V: The Mini-Series

(1984) ***


This miniseries scared the holy living fuck out of me. I was in 3rd grade, and it was long before the time that I could even conceptualize the phrase “holy living fuck,” but nevertheless, I had it scared out of me. I was freaked the fuck out. This was also my first introduction to the overall concept of “3:00 AM.” I was certainly aware and comfortable with the concept of a 3 in the afternoon, but as a 9 year old, the idea of something called “3 in the MORNING” was absolutely inconceivable. Alas, V let me discover it.

I’ve always been all about aliens, and sci-fi, and this is probably why my parents let me watch it. In retrospect, I have to say, what in the goddamned hell were they thinking? Close Encounters was great, but that’s another movie that has always (to this day) freaked me out. (Ditto 2001 & 2010: benevolent aliens presented in freaky cinematic ways with killer music – I just lose my shit). V looked cool, but nothing was mentioned in the previews about fucking lizard people that take their eyes out and eat gophers.

It all starts out very Independence Day, which is to say that Independence Day totally ripped off V. People going about their lives, blah blah blah, and then a giant, Frisbee-shaped alien spacecraft appears over the horizon, over all the cities of the world.


Obligatory shots of everyone (i.e. every cross-section of extras you could imagine – the construction guy next to the doctor next to the Eskimo next to the pregnant mother next to the Native American in full headdress, who all happen to be on the same street at the same time) stopping what they’re doing, staring in wonderment up at the sky. The effects are admirable for the time, and actually still hold up to this day, in the way that Stonehenge holds up (from another time, and clearly old, but great nonetheless).


The particular bit of the chick eating the gopher was the one image that sent my 9 year old mind reeling, but today, the effects are obviously absolutely ridiculous. What amazes me is how believable it WAS, and how I was completely mesmerized and convinced that this girl just ate a gopher. Cut to 3:00 am. “That lizard-woman ate a gopher!” (gather blanket around chin)


(I couldn’t get a screen cap of the money moment when her chin extends an absurd length and consumes the gopher. But you can imagine it.)

The Visitors are, of course, peaceful. They wish to utilize various physical resources of our planet in exchange for their advanced technological knowledge, in order to solve a climate crisis on their home world.

What they really want is to enslave and eat everyone, and take over the planet. Because they are all evil lizard fuckheads.

The director does a great job of introducing the Visitors’ occupation, allegorically, to Nazi occupation of Poland, and the overall Nazi plan for world domination. As a viewer, you aren’t hammered over the head with the comparison, but through the elder Jewish grandfather character, the overall concepts of oppression and occupation and subjugation are dealt with in a very smart, indirect fashion, never going into preachy territory, or making a point of “saying something” about Nazis. And the grandfather is the one that introduces the concept of “V”, stopping some teenagers defacing Visitor posters with red spray paint. He grabs the can, and sprays the dripping red “V” over the poster, saying “You are doing eet wrong…V…for Veeek tory!”


Anyway, viewing it now, from my jaded adult mind, I was struck by few things. When Marc Singer, the reporter guy, (whose sister Lori Singer, who you might remember from Footloose and Fame The TV series, is totally hot), sneaks aboard the spaceship, all the aliens look like humans. No real humans are supposed to be aboard the spaceship at this point, so you would think you’d see a few lizards just casually walking around, drinking lizard coffee and whatnot. But no, they ALL look like human beings. In subsequent scenes, when Singer gets into a fight with a guy and starts to claw off his prosthetic “human” makeup, you realize that every single alien walking around on the ship has had this “disguise” done for them. In my movie-business mind, to me this means that almost the ENTIRE ship must be made up of Hair and Make-Up people, devoted to getting all the aliens “human-ready” in case they are spotted. Makes the opening scenes feel different, when the giant ships float in over major cities - all I can picture is hundreds of hair and make-up lizards putting human faces on a bunch of other lizards, sitting in chairs in front of lighted mirrors. Hair And Makeup Motherships. The 2nd Assistant Directors of the alien invasion are going CRAZY. “We’re fucking invading NOW, people! And you’re telling me we don’t have more than 50 lizards ready?!? What the fuck is going on in Hair and Makeup?” And so on.



I’m sure I am destroying everyone’s suspension of disbelief with this observation, and I suppose those ships are pretty damn big. You can probably fit a bunch of the other technical Fly-The-Lizard-Frisbee people in there. Plus I'm sure there's a cafeteria somewhere.

As far as the actors in the series, Honorable Mention goes to Freddy Krueger, who plays a slightly dim, sympathetic alien who saves a surly black man from horrible nitrogen freezing or something at a plant. But excuse me, aren’t you a goddamn lizard? In prosthetic hair and makeup? Don’t you want to eat this man? And why hasn’t your fake human mask melted off, instead of just bubbling up on your cheeks?

It’s as if the crocodile that jumps out of the lake at Linda Kozlowski in Crocodile Dundee (sidebar: nice black bikini) decided to suddenly invite her out for a cup of tea, and then push her out of the way of an oncoming bus. Realistically, it just would NEVER happen. The crocodile wouldn’t give a SHIT.

Anyway, V’s great.

Friday, November 21, 2008


(1986) ***


I just had to get that out of my system, a deep breath, a sigh of relief and on to the review.

The story is supposedly derived from actual events, which took place at Lord Byron’s Swiss villa on the night of June 16, 1816. Byron's guests include poet Percy Shelley and his future wife Mary, Mary's half-sister Claire and physician Dr. John Polidori. This was allegedly the evening that inspired Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” and Polidori’s “The Vampyre”.

Byron has invited them to a unique night of horror and mayhem induced by laudanum and other hallucinogens. After telling ghost stories they trot off into the mysterious corridors of his mansion. The guests wind up face to face with live interpretations of their own fears and anxieties. They spend the rest of the night confronting these personal manifestations.

Director Ken Russell first drew me into his trippy little world in 1980 with Altered States. This movie fascinated me, not in a ‘I wanna take magic mushrooms and lay in an isolation tank til I regress to my birth’ sorta way. It was more like the effectiveness of actually reproducing that surreal perspective that the world takes on when viewed through a mind clouded with hallucinogenic. I found this feeling again in Gothic.

This film is not for everyone, and I find that anyone I’ve spoke to that has seen it has either got it or didn’t follow it at all. Admittedly, it’s confusing as all hell and very hard to follow. It’s like he threw in random weirdness to keep your head in that swimmy surreal state. This isn’t a bad thing if you just roll with the flow and stop trying to make sense of it all. Eventually it all comes together and leaves you with an unsatisfied feeling of bleak resolve.

If you had asked me about this film 20 years ago I would have given it a 5 star rating and highly recommended it. Now, I have to say that for me it’s somehow lost quite a bit of its attraction and actually was rather boring for the most part. Is that a sign that I’m getting old?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Worst sounding episode ever

When Separatist forces mistake Jar Jar Binks for a Jedi Knight, humor and action come together in a new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS. “Bombad Jedi” premieres at 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Nov. 21, on Cartoon Network.


Twilight apparently sucks

From EW, A quick summary of the reviews

Verdict: Positive
“[Director Catherine Hardwicke] has reconjured Meyer's novel as a cloudburst mood piece filled with stormy skies, rippling hormones, and understated visual effects. What Hardwicke can't quite triumph over is the book's lackluster plot. On screen, Twilight is repetitive and a tad sodden, too prosaic to really soar. But Hardwicke stirs this teen pulp to a pleasing simmer.” –- Owen Gleiberman

Verdict: Negative
"But much of what made the relationship between Edward and the smitten Bella Swan work in Meyer's breezy book has been stripped away on screen. The funny, lively banter -- the way in which Edward and Bella teased and toyed with one another about their respective immortality and humanity -- is pretty much completely gone, and all that's left is a slog of adolescent angst." -- Christy Lemire

Verdict: Neutral
"Twilight is a film of intelligent strengths and easily avoidable weaknesses, a modest film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's publishing phenomenon. It is faithful to its source material, which will likely please the fan base....So where does the movie fall down? On a simple but crucial matter of visual magic. Whenever something fantastic requires straightforward on-screen depiction, Twilight looks like a weaker episode from Season 6 of Charmed." -- Michael Phillips

Verdict: Negative
"Like other movies that are more significant as sociological and demographic than artistic phenomenon, Twilight will be embraced by very young female viewers, say ages 10-17, and less so by the female college crowd. If young femmes manage to take their boyfriends to see it as a date movie (and on one level it is a date movie), Twilight should score big, really big at the box office."

Verdict: Neutral
"The situations, in high school and among the vampires, are over-familiar. But the dialogue is mostly flip and hip. Some of the laughs are intentional, some not. A vampire using the word 'vegetarian?' Funny." -- Roger Moore

Verdict: Neutral
"If there were no vampires in Twilight, it would be a thin-blooded teenage romance, about two good-looking kids who want each other so much because they want each other so much. Sometimes that's all it's about, isn't it?"

Verdict: Negative
"A disappointingly anemic tale of forbidden love that should satiate the pre-converted but will bewilder and underwhelm viewers who haven't devoured Stephenie Meyer's bestselling juvie chick-lit franchise." -- Justin Chang

Amy Winehouse wants to remind you to keep posting reviews!

I like drugs

Sad but true, October has come to pass once again but I know that a lot of you have unwritten reviews (including myself) and I want to encourage you to get them out. It's always difficult post-Horrorthon to find the enthusiasm, but remember, every review will be included on the Monster List for future reference.

Horrible idea for next X-Men film

From darkhorizons, "Gossip Girl" and "The O.C." creator Josh Schwartz is in negotiations to write an X-Men spin-off for the younger set - "X-Men: First Class" says the trades.

"First Class" will focus on a younger set of super-powered mutants than the first trilogy, likely focusing on some of the students attending the mutant school introduced in the "X-Men" movies.

There's also the possibility, though less likely, that it could serve as a prequel - focusing on teen versions of the current film characters such as Cyclops and Storm.

Marvel Comics ran a short-lived comics series with the same name several years ago.

Producer Lauren Shuler Donner and "X-Men: The Last Stand" scribe Simon Kinberg are also involved. Schwartz apparently has the option to direct but so far hasn't signed up for the possibility.

Don’t Go In The Woods Alone

(1981) *½

Four hikers go camping in the woods after being warned that there is something in their killing people. Strangely enough, they aren’t the only one’s stupid enough to venture into the deadly woods. There are bird watchers, a young couple and a pair of wheezing overweight tourists roaming around to name a few.

I will kill you with my pointy stick. Ooops, wait here, I forgot to make it pointy.

Most of these people meet with a grizzly demise at the hands of a burly crazed woodsman dressed in animal skins. The local sheriff chooses to ignore the problem until the body count gets so high that he actually has to get off his lazy ass and do something. That something includes bringing 2 survivors whom had finally made it out of the woods, back into the woods to help him.

Early 80’s garbage. Some of the deaths are creative but other than that, uugh! That quirky, comic relief tuba music is playing when the fat couple is huffing up the trail, really annoying. The acting is so bad it’s like the director just went around his neighborhood asking random people if they wanted to be in a movie.

Some of the deaths are sort of creative, although the director dragged the film out with long unnecessary nature shots, which only succeed in making the film boring. My advice, don’t watch this film.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to Make a Shitty Movie

via Slog

Apparently Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light(TM), did not just lend his name to the movie coming out this week, Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage. He also issued a memo on how to make a movie Kinkade-style, which Vanity Fair has now gotten hold of.

These are my favorite of his 16 helpful tips to the director, writers, and cinematographers:

6) Hidden details whenever possible, References to my children (from youngest to oldest as follows): Evie, Winsor, Chandler and Merritt. References to my anniversary date, the number 52, the number 82, and the number 5282 (for fun, notice how many times this appears in my major published works). Hidden N's throughout — preferably thirty N's, commemorating one N for each year since the events happened.

15) Nostalgia. My paintings routinely blend timeframes. This is not only okay, but tends to create a more timeless look. Vintage cars (30's, 40's, 50's, 60's etc) can be featured along with 70's era cars. Older buildings are favorable. Avoid anything that looks contemporary — shopping centers, contemporary storefronts, etc. Also, I prefer to avoid anything that is shiny. Our vintage vehicles, though often times are cherished by their owners and kept spic-n-span should be "dirtied up" a bit for the shoot. Placerville was and is a somewhat shabby place, and most vehicles, people, etc bear traces of dust, sawdust, and the remnants of country living. There are many dirt roads, muddy lanes, etc., and in general the place has a tumbled down, well-worn look.

16) Most important concept of all — THE CONCEPT OF LOVE. Perhaps we could make large posters that simply say "Love this movie" and post them about. I pour a lot of love into each painting, and sense that our crew has a genuine affection for this project. This starts with Michael Campus as a Director who feels great love towards this project, and should filter down through the ranks. Remember: "Every scene is the best scene."

Kimyo na sakasu (The Maid)

(2005) ***

Rosa, an eighteen-year-old girl moves from the Philippines to Singapore to work as a maid for the Teo family. The couple has a son, Ah Soon who is mentally challenged. Rosa arrives during the Seventh Month in the Chinese calendar, a time every year when they believe the Gates of Hell are open and that they must offer gifts and perform rituals to please the Spirits so they will leave peacefully when the gate recloses. Rosa, being ignorant to these rituals unintentionally offends a spirit. She begins seeing spirits everywhere she turns, it’s like being on a bad trip that never seems to end.

The Teo’s tell her to just ignore the spirits and when the Seventh Month is over they will disappear. She tries but she feels someone is beckoning to her. After finding out the Teo’s previously had another Filipino girl named Esther Santos living with them, she proceeds to uncover what turns out to be a big and scary ‘can o’ worms’ involving a dark secret that her employers have been hiding for quite some time. Now she must get away or end up paying the ultimate price.

First of all I need to tell you that the sound track of the dvd is just slightly off. It must have gotten screwed up with the transfer from region 2 to region 1 or something. In other words, the scary ghost pops up then the scary ghost sound happens. The girl silently screams, the scene changes and we then hear the scream. Why did I continue to watch this? Well, the story sounded really cool and I’ve been waiting to watch this movie for a long time. It wasn’t so off that you didn’t know what was going on but it definitely took away from the scare factor and it was actually pretty comical at times. Someone takes a nosedive off of a building, lands and a few seconds later we hear the splat, hysterical.

The ghosts are pretty run of the mill, most don’t have any make-up they just look kinda blue. The thing is, they pop up just about everywhere. Poor Rosa just arrives in Singapore all excited about finally getting to see more of the world and she winds up in a living hell, literally. One living person gets possessed and goes insane and that is pretty freaky.

The Esther ghost is eerie and seems to show up randomly throughout the house. All told I thought the movie was pretty cool even with the sound messed up. It wasn’t the best as far as J-horror goes but it was worth the watch nevertheless.