I haven’t had time to read any reviews for the new Friday night TV show, Dracula, so I kept forgetting to look forward to its debut. I haven’t noticed much publicity for the show and Husband doesn’t think he’d have been aware of it at all if I hadn’t Tivo’d it.

In this respect, and so many more, this show has lived down to our every expectation.

There aren’t any spoilers here, because nothing happened in the pilot episode.

Nothing.

This show makes Dr. Who seem like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

(Husband just pointed out to me that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is actually known as the Wind in the Willows to people who were not raised by wolves and/or Disney. And also that I must be thinking of the ride, because the movie Wind in the Willows is rather slow moving).

Not the point.

There is no point – not to my story, not to this show.

As soon as you accept that, you will enjoy Dracula. It’ll be on for at least 5 more weeks while they burn off the investment, so go ahead, don’t be afraid to commit to at least a fling.

With its elaborate sets and drawn-out scenes of minimalistic yet overwrought dialogue, punctuated by lengthy, action-less sequences where the actors may actually just be reading a dictionary to one another, Dracula is like a 1960s House of Hammer summer-stock performance of Dark Shadows.

Sample scene:

“Insatiable. I-N-S-A-T-I-A-B-L-E.”

“Unquenchable. U-N-Q-U-E-N-C-H-A-B-L-E.”

Okay. They weren’t really spelling the words after they said them, but it would have livened things up just a scosche if they had.

The original Dark Shadows was a terrible high-camp show that ran from 1966-1971. Each revival since has been met with teeth-gnashing and displays of nostalgia and expressions of a woefully misguided belief that the show was even remotely “good.”

Who knows, perhaps Dracula will be able to leverage its flagrant disdain for quality into an equally long run!

The characters all look alike, which is a problem because we can’t figure out who anyone is or which side they’re on. Maybe there aren’t any sides.

I have no idea.

I’m pretty sure that Dracula, now calling himself Grayson, has been resurrected in 1896 and is pretending to be a rich American inventor.

And he’s out for revenge. Or he’s passionate about patent law. Or his pants are too tight.

I really have no idea.

Husband says Dracula/Grayson is definitely out for revenge. He hopes Dracula/Grayson will attend Revenge Academy, like Emily Thorne apparently did before taking revenge on characters named Grayson on the show Revenge.

Maybe there’ll be a cross-over story arc! Revenge has gotten incredibly tedious, so that would be pretty great.

Dracula and a major character who looks just like many of the other characters who may or may not be main characters are having a dramatic conversation. We can’t remember who this guy is or what his name is, so Husband is referring to him as “Beardy” because he has a beard. We missed most of the scene because we were debating whether he was the character who’d had his throat ripped out in an earlier scene or if he just looked like him.

In closing, this is a bland show. It’s like low-sodium saltines. But with the application of just a tiny bit of emoting and Acting, it could be like low-sodium saltines with Nutella on top.

Maybe. I don’t know. Much like the pilot of Dracula, this post has run out of steam and is just staring longingly into the camera, sighing at irregular intervals.

Hey, here’s a funny video Husband showed me. Pumpkin Spice: Official Movie Trailer.




I’ll have to add that to the round-up of links mocking the consumerist compulsion for everything to be pumpkin or pumpkin-adjacent from September to December.

Which reminds me that I still haven’t read Cindy Ott’s Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon.

“It’s a vegetable that represents this idyllic farm life, and the best sort of moral virtue. And Americans have become attached to that,” [Ott] says.

And though pumpkin beers and pumpkin breads have been produced since colonial times, Ott says that they weren’t always the specialty foods that they are today. “Pumpkin beer was used when there was no barley. [If] there was no wheat for bread, they used pumpkin [for] bread,” she says. “Pumpkin was considered food of desperate [times].”

The rehab of pumpkin’s popularity began when 19th century Americans began to move away from rural life and into the city, Ott says. “People became stressed about… moving into the office and off the farms, and [the pumpkin] starts to appear in poems and in paintings,” she says. “We’re celebrating the nostalgia for this old fashioned, rural way of life, that no one ever really wanted to stay on, but everyone’s always been romantic about.”

The rest of that NPR story from 2012 about pumpkin-nostalgia gone wild is here.

Last month’s SyFy Craptacular of the week, Sharknado, is being released for a (probably) one-day only theatrical engagement.

This means loads of fluffy press, such the Washington Post’s, “Sharknado’s next prey: Big-screen audience,” in which writer John Anderson and art-house owner Greg Laemmle seem to miss the point of craptaculars entirely (or can’t be bothered to take 3 minutes to read about The Asylum’s production process).

No one sets out to make a bad movie, Laemmle said. “But maybe in the case of ‘Sharknado’ they did.”

Vitale of Syfy disagrees. “These movies are made to be entertaining,” he said. “They are made on purpose to be fun; they’re not created to be a ‘Troll 2’ or an Ed Wood movie. ”

We’ll let that slide in order to get to an in-depth discussion of the critical questions raised by Sharknado in this post I wrote when Sharknado first aired and then forgot to post:

1) Sharknado: could it really happen?
2) Who the hell is Tara Reid and what is she famous for?
3) Did that dude just make a menstruation joke while I was slightly distracted by Tara Reid’s IMDB page?
4) Is Aubrey Peeples related to Nia Peeples?
5) Tara Reid? She’s no Ian Ziering.
6) Did you see Swamp Shark?
7) Did you know John Heard was in the Pelican Brief?
8) The Peach Pit? What the fuck? Why would anyone think that would be a good name for a diner?
9) Do you think it’s true Nia Peeples used to open for Liberace in Vegas?
10) This movie is halfway over, are we still sober?

Sharknado: could it really happen?
Sure, why not?

Who the hell is Tara Reid and what is she famous for?
All kinds of crap, it turns out, but she never seems to imprint on my brain. She’s no Ian Ziering. He was in Beverley Hills 90210. (Not the shitty reboot, either. He was in the shitty original show).

Did that dude just make a menstruation joke while I was slightly distracted by Tara Reid’s IMDB page?
Yes.

Is Aubrey Peeples related to Nia Peeples?
No.

Did you see Swamp Shark?
I did. I just pulled out my notes. Here they are, in their entirety: “Blah blah blah blah. Running. Screaming. Terror. Swamp. Shark. Blah.”

Did you know John Heard was in the Pelican Brief?
I worked on location on that movie for 2 days. I never met John Heard.

The Peach Pit? What the fuck? Why would anyone think that was a good name for a diner?
Whatever. If you want me to believe that you’re being pursued by sharks in a flooded L.A., at least hose off the pavement for the exterior shots so we can pretend along with you without needing to get up to get another drink.

Followup question:
Why don’t we have a monkey butler so we don’t have to get up to refill our adult beverages?
Monkeys make terrible butlers.

Do you think it’s true Nia Peeples used to open for Liberace in Vegas?
I have no idea, but Nia Peeples and SyFy/Asylum alum Tiffany were on an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap together.

This movie is halfway over, why are we still sober?
Mischief managed. Moving on…

Not enough people have seen Jaws, judging by the tweets I’m seeing. How could you people not catch that the scene where two characters compare scars and one of them tells the story of being in a shipwreck and everyone else being eaten by sharks is an homage to the scene in Jaws where two characters compare their scars and one tells the story of being in a shipwreck and everyone else being eaten by sharks?

And that character saying, “We’re going to need a bigger chopper!” was a reference to one of the most quoted lines in movie history.

You people on the twitter, you disappoint me.

Many articles about Sharknado were like the mutants that figure in many SyFy movies – plaintive struggles for hip pop culture credibility grafted on to the genetic lattice of massive sharknado-driven web traffic. See also: the Atlantic trying to explain how the Federal Reserve is just like Sharknado.

If you’re interested, Here’s an amusing interview The Asylum’s David Michael Latt did with the Examiner about the fast, cheap but totally in-control production process they’ve honed. (Also probably the only time you’ll ever see me link to the Examiner on purpose).

I do find it amusing to read tweets and posts from viewers who are trying to maintain a facade of ironic distance, despite the fact that their twitter feeds display evidence that they previously “discovered” B movies in 2009 when they watched (in an ironic way) the Debbie Gibson opus, Mega Shark ve Giant Octopus and again (ironically, obviously) in the 2011 follow-up, in which Gibson battled Tiffany in Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid.

In conclusion, Sharknado was good for the internet traffic of a lot of websites who wrote gratuitous articles about it.

Like this one.

The rumors are true. We also watch non-shitty movies. Last night we rewatched ParaNorman because it’s on Netflix streaming now.

It’s a clever, dark, weird, and wonderful movie. Plus, I’m easily amused by Donovan references.

I should have emailed the winners of the MeanLouise Blogiversary present drawing instead of writing this post. I’ll get to you, I promise!

dinocrocvssupergatorDinocroc vs. Supergator is predicated on the idea that “alligators and crocodiles are mortal enemies.”

I called bullshit since the 2 species co-exist in South Florida, but Husband reminded me we aren’t dealing with a regular gator and croc, we’re talking about Supergator and Dinocroc.

Sure. Whatever.

The movie opens with a scene wherein David Carradine‘s character shouts, “What the hell is going on?”

This is a question we will ask our television for the next 90 minutes.

I’m having trouble keeping track of the characters who are neither Dinocroc nor Supergator because these people are boring and unidimensional. Plus, they keep getting eaten before I can even try to feign interest in them. Plus, I’m texting with JunglePete, who is attending our 25th high school reunion on Siesta Key on behalf of Heather and myself.

JunglePete and I were on the reunion planning committee. I thought we came up with some excellent themes, including Family Everglades Camping Weekend Of Terror, in addition to the multi-page list of alternate themes we proposed which our committee chair confiscated and burned in front of us.

The final decision was to not have a theme.

If I was at the reunion, they probably wouldn’t let me watch Dinocroc vs Supergator. Silly geese.

I’m starting to doubt that Supergator is actually the friend of all children.

Dinocroc isn’t very bright, even for “A Primeval” with enhanced intelligence.

Frankly, I’m not sure which monster we’re supposed to root for.

Husband thinks we’re supposed to be rooting for the humans.

That’s unfortunate.

I actually didn’t go for complicated health reasons, but you’re welcome to believe I stayed home to watch Dinocroc vs Supergator.

Or that one member of our class always has to sit out the reunion in an undisclosed location. Just in case.

(The confiscating and burning of our list didn’t actually happen, but it probably would have if we’d all met in person).

SupergatorPosterSpoilers? Sure. Maybe. I doubt it.

Supergator. Produced in the land before time (2007, when SyFy still had “i”s). Like many Sci Fi/SyFy originals, Roger Corman is producer/executive producer (depending on which credits you check). I mention this because when B-movie nerds, usually male and of a certain age, speak dismissively of SyFy craptaculars, they usually point out that Corman was the master of the genre – he did it first and he did it better. It leaves them flapping their jaws a bit like carp when one points out that the Corman/SyFy dichotomy is a false one and thus their pronouncements are silly.

But I digress.

Supergator.

Kelly McGillis is de-extinticting a supergator. In Hawai’i. Like one does.

It’s a secret.

Since the project to bring Supergator back from extinction is a secret, no one except Kelly McGillis knows that Supergator has gotten loose on this very small, inhabited Hawai’ian resort island.

A plucky geology research team is there to study the impending volcanic eruption that isn’t a big concern to anyone else, even though it’s a very small, inhabited Hawai’ian resort island.

Even though at several points in the movies it’s emphasized that the volcano is dormant.

Except when it’s not.

Whatever.

The research team is lead by a pompous volcanology professor. Accompanied by his annoying grad assistant, a blond woman who is apparently a geologist, and a reporter/ex-geology student played by Bianca Lawson (whose resume is actually miles longer than anyone else in this movie and probably should have gotten top billing), he bravely investigates the dormant and/or active volcano by hiking 5 minutes into the deep and remote jungle on the uninhabited and/or densely populated island.

They arrive at a waterfall where they spot a rock covered in blood:
bloodrocksupergator

The pompous volcanologist explains that it’s probably a birthing stone. You know, a big pointy boulder that women perch on to give birth. The implication being that the native women-folk of the swanky tropical resort have no need for hospitals or flat surfaces or logic.

I don’t know what this weird bit of dialogue was supposed to reveal about these characters, but it failed on every level except the one wherein we began to actively root for Supergator.

The waterfall is Supergator’s Supersecret feeding ground where he’s been chowing down on people since the movie began.

By “people” I mean “actors you can’t wait to get rid of.”

Soon, the running and the screaming begin.

Go, Supergator, go!

Through the whole movie, a wannabee model in a hot-pink thong bikini runs around looking for help because her photographer and another model were eaten by Supergator at the beginning of the movie at that waterfall on the very small, inhabited Hawai’ian resort island that is sometimes very close to the resort and other times very far away.

None of it matters. It’s Supergator. Stop thinking so much.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, when you were still paying attention, Supergator was made in 2007. It was followed 3 years later by Dinocroc vs. Supergator (2010). I’m sure I watched that one when it aired but I think I’ve repressed most of the details. Luckily (?) our Tivo, Overlord II, recently recorded it for me. The heatwave has been highly conducive to staying indoors and watching crappy movies while I catch up on all the other household chores I’ve been putting off, so I’m sure I’ll get to it soon.

I choose to believe that Supergator battles Dinocroc to save humanity, because Supergator is the friend of all children.

Husband tells me that Gamera is actually the friend of all children.

Whatever.

Go, Supergator, go!

Saturday night we returned to a simpler time, the time of Snakehead Terror. We enjoyed this gem when it debuted on SyFy (nee SciFi) in 2004. Would we enjoy it the second time around, nearly 10 years later?

Yes.

This classic made-for-TV craptacular featured Bruce Boxleitner’s carefree feathered mane as the sheriff and supermodel-turned-actress Carol Alt as the wildlife biologist determined to save us all from the Terror Of Snakeheads.

Bonus: it was set in our neck of the woods.

Downside: we really have snakehead terror. That’s why it’s set in our neck of the woods.

Snakehead fish“Snakehead Fish” photo of SFU biology grad student Michael Beakesis copyright (c) 2012 by Simon Fraser University Public Affairs and made available under a Creative Commons license.

Simon Fraser University, being in Canada, isn’t in our neck of the woods, but that photo is both awesome and available on flickr. Since this movie was clearly shot in Canada and not the Mid-Atlantic, and both it and this blog are low-budget enterprises, that seems appropriate. (Unlike syfy, this blog is not a profit-seeking entity and use of that photo doesn’t mean SFU condones anything in this post).

Trivia: 12 of the 15 actors credited on the Snakehead Terror IMDB page have appeared in an episode of Supernatural (even William B. Davis, the cigarette smoking man from the X-Files).

An interesting thing about this movie (no, really, this is interesting) is how much more strictly the old Saturday Night Craptaculars adhered to a (slightly) more sophisticated B movie aesthetic. The filmmakers could display a small bit of flare that suggested they do in fact possess a basic level of competence even if the budget doesn’t allow them the time or financing to truly display it. Decent editing. No extended day-for-night scenes. A few extra minutes clearly used to set the key and fill lights properly (and/or to actually use a 3 point lighting set up). Actors mostly hitting their marks. A modicum of wardrobe continuity.

B-movies have never been slick or glitzy (if they were they wouldn’t be B-movies), but Bruce Boxleitner’s hair doesn’t style itself and someone had to teach Carol Alt how to convincingly pronounce all those biologist words.

No, really, she’s convincing. As a biologist, maybe not as an action-movie actress.

Trivia: I’m fairly certain there is a jar of pickled snakehead in our refrigerator. I’m quite certain Husband should think carefully before he considers feeding it to me.

We still haven’t visited the Calvert Marine Museum’s invasive species exhibit, Eco Invaders.

I was going to post more about the movie, but I’ve gotten distracted by the fact that Bad Company is back together and touring and they’re playing at the Calvert Marine Museum, which just seems weird on all kinds of levels. Maybe it’s a really nice venue. I understand the museum is nice, but it’s a small museum far outside any metropolitan area, so the announcement immediately brought this to mind:

But hey, since Bad Company has figured prominently on Supernatural a few times, it seems only appropriate to mention it here. I’m on my first cup of coffee so it makes perfect sense to me.

BattleDogs trailer:

We’re watching BattleDogs, because it seems like a patriotic thing to watch over the 4th of July weekend.

It’s about supersoldiers. It stars that guy who was the President in the 1st season of 24. And we already watched Jaws on Thursday. The choice is obvious.

So. Battledogs.

Might be spoilers ahead, but only if you didn’t watch the trailer.

Pro-tip: Intermittently, portentously intoning the words, “Battle! Dogs!” to add drama to the movie…doesn’t.

But we’ll keep doing it. Otherwise I suspect we’re just going to be sitting here, hoping with increasing futility that this movie will improve.

“Battle. Dogs!”

Here’s a synopsis for your convenience: Craig Sheffer (who could pass as David Boreanaz’s older brother, Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh from BSG, playing a character named Ellen, which is convenient if you’re only half paying attention), and Ariana Richards (one of the kids from Jurassic Park, 20 years later), run around a lot and the military behaves badly although they never actually create the supersoldiers in the description of the movie and there are a lot of CGI werewolves running around and then some shit gets blown up and then the movie ends and you say, “Thank the gods! now I don’t have to keep intoning the word BattleDogs” and then you go to bed.

Battle.Dogs.

It’s not a horror movie, it’s a lame attempt at a military action thriller, but with werewolves. I recommend checking out the scene where the first werewolf escapes the “secure” facility – which it does by running out the open front door and down the street and out into Manhattan. A chase ensues. Toward the end of the scene, the ridiculously conceived CGI werewolf leaps over an SUV. Be sure you have the sound up, because the werewolf howl they use over and over in the movie is especially funny when combined with this “action.” Good stuff. If by good, you mean, not good.

Or, spend your time watching the gorier but more competent 2002 werewolves vs. soldiers film, Dog Soldiers.

Want your movie to seem amazing? Before you screen your flick, make your audience sit through the Shannon Doherty SyFy cheapie, Witchslayer Gretl.

How cheap? They apparently couldn’t even afford the second “e” in Gretel.

Witchslayer Gretl:

This movie, which obviously capitalizes on the spate of Hansel and Gretel movies that have been released recently, is so terrible it doesn’t deserve the label “craptacular.” It doesn’t even deserve the label “crap.” It doesn’t even deserve mocking.

Seriously.

If you watch that whole movie, you’ll need to watch Cats Puking to Techno to purge your soul:

Then you’ll feel terrible for laughing at cats puking up hairballs, but you’ll have forgotten about Witchslayer Gretl’s bad writing, directing, acting, makeup, sound mixing, art design, set design, sound design, costumes, and special effects.

The upside to Witchslayer Gretl is that anything you watch immediately afterwards will seem significantly better than it actually is.

We should have watched BloodRayne again to see just how much of a boost a movie can get from the pairing.

But we didn’t because, well, BloodRayne.

Instead, we watched Wyvern:

Wyvern is a fairly competent movie. Stupid, but competent. It stars That Guy Who Played Scully’s Dad on the X-Files and That Woman Who is on All Those Other Shows and That Guy Who is on All Those Other Shows and That Other Guy Who is on All Those Other Shows and That Guy Who Is in a Lot of Other Shows and Movies and Looks a Little Bit Like the Love Child of Harrison Ford and the Guy Who Plays Nathan on Eureka.

We recently re-watched Silent Hill. I didn’t remember it as great, but it was much worse than I remembered. Now that I’m reminded that we watched it as a double-feature with BloodRayne, that makes sense.