Grady Hendrix: Horrorstör

Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör is clever in all the right ways, but it’s also quite creepy. You can’t ask for much more from a high-concept horror novel.

It’s a little too creepy and clever, honestly.

I used to love our IKEA clothes drying rack. It folds flat and stores neatly in a nook in the laundry room, but it’s quick and easy to set it up and it holds several loads of laundry at once.

“Love” might be over-stating my relationship to any of our household accoutrements, but it’s safe to say I liked this thing a lot. Liked. Past tense.

Horrorstör ruined my laundry rack for me.

IKEA Mulig drying rack

Ever since I finished the book I’ve been utterly and completely creeped out by the laundry rack. I’m not kidding. I have such a visceral reaction to the thing that I avoid doing laundry until Husband can set the rack up for me.

This is ridiculous, not least of which because there isn’t a drying rack in the book.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the TV series, particularly since it’s being developed by Gail Berman, who was responsible for developing both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel for television.

Berman did, however, Executive Produce a couple episodes of Dig, which was truly abysmal in ways that even the narcotics and other assorted drugs I was on while recovering from a long and serious illness couldn’t improve. Seriously, even for television, that was some seriously ridiculous pop culture archaeology. Let’s just hope she learned her lesson from that debacle, because damn. Just…damn.

Randy Cordova’s review in the Arizona Republic sums Archaeological horror flick As Above, So Below up nicely:

Alone in the Dark is a 1982 horror movie starring Jack Palance, Donald Pleasence and Martin Landau.
51HWw+Euc1L
Unfortunately, that’s not the movie we’re watching.

We’re watching Alone in the Dark, a 2005 supernatural/archaeological horror movie starring Tara Reid, Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff.

If that doesn’t give you a sufficient idea of how terrible this movie is, perhaps because you’re drunk or otherwise incapacitated, allow me up the ante: this movie was directed by Uwe Boll.

Uwe. Boll.

And it’s based on a video game. It’s one of Boll’s video game movies. The only movies on earth more awful than Boll’s “original” movies are Boll’s movies based on video games.

Allow Wired’s Chris Baker to sum up Boll’s abilities:

Like a modern-day Ed Wood, or a poor man’s Michael Bay, Boll appears competent in every aspect of filmmaking except the actual making of the film. His movies are haphazardly scripted, sloppily edited, badly acted and, most crucially, brutally received.

There are mild spoilers in this post, but with a movie like this, it’s better to be forewarned.

The movie begins with a crawl. Narrated by Slater, who sounds as though he’s drunk or otherwise incapacitated, this crawl is a prodigious display of word-vomit that provides a video-game-esque amount of backstory that leaves you fervently wishing that the poor man’s Nicholson would just shut up already.

Blahblahblah. 10,000 years ago a tribe known as the Abkani opened a gate between the worlds of Light and Dark. Blahblahblah. Something evil slipped through the gate, possibly Uwe Boll. Blahblahblah. In 1967, a bunch of miners found dangerous artifacts left behind when the Abkani disappeared.Blahblahblah. Something about the government’s Bureau 713, a paranormal research agency run by an archaeologist named Lionel Hudgens. Hudgens has a secret lab. Blahblahblah.

“There, he conducted savage experiments on orphaned children in an attempt to merge man with creature.”

Wait, what? What kind of archaeology is that? What creatures?

Me: Isn’t that also the plot of that Kevin Smith movie we just saw a trailer for? Tusk? The one where the guy tries to turn the other guy into a walrus?
Husband: No. This is different. That guy was a podcaster, not an archaeologist!

Thankfully, while we were bickering about Tusk, the crawl ended. Unfortunately, that meant the movie began.

Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), one of the 20 surviving experimental child-creature subjects, has grown up to be a paranormal investigator. He also knows kung fu. Or maybe the artifact he keeps in his leather jacket pocket gives him super-powers. Who can really say? Actually, Lowrent Nicholson will probably say eventually, because it appears he’s also going to be narrating this steaming pile of cinematic stupidity.

Seriously, what kind of science was Ludgens supposed to be doing? You understand that creating human-demonmonster hybrids is not archaeology, right? Right?

Ludgens is still a working archaeologist. Not a respectable archaeologist, obviously, because he works for the same museum that hired Aline (Tara Reid) as an assistant-curator. Let’s be clear here: I’m not mocking the idea of Reid as a scholar because she’s young and dewy and pretty. I’m mocking the idea of Reid as a scholar because she can’t deliver a convincing line to save her life. She can’t even walk convincingly.

Archaeology movie trope alert: Aline is under pressure to finish the blockbuster exhibit about the Abkani for the major museum at which she is the assistant curator.

A bunch of stuff happens.

Sample dialogue:

Edward: Every culture’s got a story about the end of the world, doesn’t it?
Aline: But not every story starts by coming true.

Oh, hey! Sex scene in an exotically appointed artifact-laden warehouse. I guess Edward and Aline live in this warehouse? Oh no! Now Edward and Aline are being attacked by a monster, who chases them around the warehouse.

Luckily, Bureau 713 arrives with an entire platoon of soldiers and they all open fire on the monster in the dark warehouse while heavy metal music throbs and lights strobe and everyone grunts a lot.

No, really:

Now there are zombies.

Where did the zombies come from? I have no idea. I wasn’t paying attention because I was reading about the 7th Alone in the Dark game (Illuminations), which is scheduled for release this year. Husband, who was paying attention, also has no idea.

We both agree that the games are way, way better that this movie.

We also agree that they should dub Reid’s dialogue. Even if it wasn’t dubbed well her performance would be more convincing. Maybe they could spare Reid the effort of memorizing all of those words. Her dialogue coach could just smear peanut butter on the roof of her mouth like they do when they want to film animals moving their mouth in a way that approximates human speech.

Sweet cheezits! I was just searching my archives for a post I wrote about Boll’s epic vampire hunter flick Bloodrayne (“not as bad as getting your eyelid caught on a nail”) and discovered that we’ve already watched this movie.

Husband: Well, I believe we should commend ourselves for doing such an excellent job of repressing it!

He makes a good point.

Hang on…the braintrust of Aline, Edward, and Bureau 713 Commander Burke (Dorff) seem to have lead Bureau 713’s special forces to the ancient Abkani temple those miners found in 1967.

No sign of zombies. Lots of monsters, though. And a big battle.

Damn, while I wasn’t paying attention the three stooges opened the door between the worlds of Light and Dark and went into whichever one they weren’t already in. Dark, I guess. Or Light. Who knows?

Some “dramatic” things happen and the movie ends.

I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, so I haven’t described the B story, in which we learn the consequences of the child-creature experiments. You should be grateful I decided not to describe it. Grateful on oh so many levels, the least of which is that you’re avoiding spoilers.

In summary: archaeology plus secret experiments involving human-creature hybrids never end well, not when you’re on deadline to open a blockbuster museum exhibit!

Someone edited Alone in the Dark down to 2 minutes, complete with director’s commentary and a guest appearance by Howard Dean!


I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to watch Alone in the Dark II!

Alone in the Dark 2 Trailer:


[another post that’s been hanging around in the drafts files for a few months]

It was nice of Santa to bring me a boxed set of all 4 Indiana Jones movies on BluRay, since I need them for thesis research.

When we watch movies in La Florida, we tend to turn the volume up very loud to compensate for the weird acoustics in mom’s house and the fact that mom tends to wander in and out of the room a lot and then ask a lot of questions because she has no idea what’s happening in the movie.

This results in all of us yelling, “WHAT???” at one another until someone pauses and/or runs back the movie.

We watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom on New Year’s Eve. Mom had a LOT of questions.

This didn’t lead to me questioning my commitment to archaeology but did result in me renewing my commitment to bourbon.

There was one thing we could all agree on: Well of Souls and Snakes would make the worst restaurant concept ever.

Getting messages asking what this year’s Halloween theme is going to be and when I’m going to start posting. It’s October 5th already, isn’t it?

But wait! I’m not 5 days behind! I can make this year’s theme Archaeology & Anthropology in Horror and then I’m actually ahead of the game because I’ve already been obsessing over this for months.

Everybody wins.

I’ve been sick for a while, but posting will resume soon.

As long as I’m not mutating like the anthropologist in The Relic. If I turn into a South American lizard-god we may have to re-assess the project…

Until the running and the screaming starts, I’ll be working on a subject tag for these posts.

paleontologychicken Last month, Husband took a day off and we spent some quality time together.

(With our Tivo, Overlord II).

A series of Florida swamp adventures slowed down my posting schedule, but here at last is what I wrote about the rest of Pop Culture Paleontology Day (low rent edition).

I’m hoping the suspense didn’t kill you after I posted about our warmup flick, lake Placid 3, and then left you hanging when we moved on to 4 truly special dinosaur creature-features: Raptor Island, Pterodactyl, Rise of the Dinosaurs, and Triassic Attack.

(They were special because they were the 4 dinosaur-themed movies we had on our Tivo).

There are spoilers here, but if you’re reading this you probably don’t care.

Before we get to the movies, I wanted to comment on the real-life big news about the Smithsonian getting long-term lone of a super-swank T. rex.

“Tyrannosaurus rex gets long-term lease at Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum.”

That the [Army] Corps had a T. rex to lend was news to many of its senior leaders. “They didn’t know we had a dinosaur,” said Sonny Trimble, who oversees curation and management of archaeological collections for the Corps. People transfer, he said. Many retired. So “the chief engineer doesn’t wake up in the morning saying, ‘How’s our dinosaur doing?’”

I’ve been telling you for years that the dinosaur-human supersoldier project is a secret, so of course they didn’t want us to know they own dinosaurs.

I don’t think that counts as a digression because it’s about dinosaurs. And the military.

raptorisland

First up, Raptor Island (2004).

This movie is a classic, in that it was made in 2004 when SyFy was still SciFi.

The movie opens with a plane crash in the distant, grainy, faux-film effects past. Who was on the plane? What was on the plane? Why are you asking stupid questions like that?

The movie jumps ahead 40 years later, to Lorenzo Lamas and his CIA agent lady-friend and his team of Navy Seals hunting a terrorist in a jungle full of vicious dinosaurs.

Lorenzo Lamas, bitches!

As an aside, the raptors in all these movies were slappers, not clappers. See also: Brian Switek: Doing the T. rex Stretch at the Smithsonian’s Dinosaur Tracking Blog.

Wait! What the hell? While I was looking up that last link, Lorenzo Lamas – Navy Seal, hair gel aficionado, and now, apparently, a dinosaur expert – informed his CIA lady friend that a plane carrying radioactive waste (or maybe weapons-grade plutonium, it’s not clear) mutated the regular animals that lived on this otherwise benign island in the South China Sea. Into dinosaurs! In only 40 years!

Of course it did!

After that brilliant exposition there was some nonsense with some explosives, a volcano erupted, some other military shit happened, and then the movie ended.

On to Pterodactyl (2005), which stars dinosaurs, a volcano, and Coolio.

pterodactyl

Paleontology Professor/heartthrob Michael Lovecraft (Cameron Daddo) and his motley band of grad students pile into a jeep and head off into a forest in Turkey because an earthquake has opened a fissure in a dormant volcano and they plan to look inside! Little do they know, because they ignored the warning at the beginning of the movie, Coolio and his Special Forces team are hunting terrorists in this same forest.

The same forest! What are the odds!?!

Pterodactyl is nothing like Raptor Island.

In Raptor Island some terrorists and some terrorist-hunting military dudes all ran around in the forest (and occasionally in some caves), and they battled dinosaurs, and there was a huge nest of baby dinosaurs, and then a volcano erupted.

In Pterodactyl, some dinosaurs fly around and some terrorists and some terrorist-hunting military dudes run around in the forest (and, occasionally in some cave-like locations), and they battle dinosaurs, and there’s a huge nest of baby pterodactyles. It’s totally different than Raptor Island because in Pterodactyl the volcano erupts before any of the other stuff.

We thought that maybe if we were lucky, some raptors might show up and eat all of the characters.

(We weren’t that lucky).

(During parts of Rise of the Dinosaurs, and definitely through the whole middle section of Triassic Attack, we hoped that some raptors might show up and eat us).

At this point in the festivities we took a break so Husband could make chicken curry for dinner because pop culture paleontology day demands consumption of birds.

(It was hilarious at the time).

After dinner, it was on to…

Rise of the Dinosaurs (aka Jurassic Attack 2010), in which a plane crashed in the jungle and then some military dudes hunt terrorists and battle dinosaurs.

Only kidding!

They’re hunting rebels.

Hey! The military dudes just came upon a nest of dino eggs!

Hey! That was Corin Nemec, co-star of House of Bones

Now they’re battling dinosaurs!

After some “dramatic” action and they escape in a helicopter. Like you do.

As they fly back to civilization, having forgotten that in the beginning of the movie the central conflict was that they were all infected with a bio-weapon that meant they would have to be killed or something and could never go back to civilization, two of the characters have this exchange:


“How do we explain all this?”
“We don’t!”

Fine. Whatever. The movie is over? I’ll take it.

triassicattackLast, but not least: Triassic Attack, which stars Kristy Mitchell, star of Lake Placid 3. When I saw that I was sure that this was meant to be!

(Or, at that point, I’d reached the optimum blood-alcohol to achieve some sort of b-movie equanimity. Who can say, really?)

Triassic Attack has the annoying elements of Movie Archaeology combined with the annoying elements of Pop Culture Paleontology.

When we watched Lake Placid 3 this morning, I was confused because I remembered it as a bit of spoof of Eureka, starring Colin Ferguson.

It wasn’t.

That’s because I was confusing it with Triassic Attack, which is a bit of a spoof of Eureka, directed by Colin Ferguson.

This movie is aggravating on many levels. It confuses archaeology (humans and artifacts) with paleontology (dinosaurs).

In brief: the Chief leading the American Indian repatriation protest at the paleontology museum does a ceremony to re-animate the dinosaur skeletons and your brain rolls over and fakes a coma for 90 minutes and it’s best to just go with it.

Oh, here, let’s just make this super-easy:


[embedded video: Triassic Attack trailer]

If you’re a super-nerd, you might enjoy this Pterodactyl trivia. It’s the kind of thing we cared about before we watched 5 of these movies in one day and broke something in our insides.

I’ll just quote wikipedia because it’s all I can muster at this point:

Many of the characters are named after famous science-fiction and fantasy writers – Burroughs (Edgar Rice Burroughs), Clarke (Sir Arthur C. Clarke), Donaldson (Steven Donaldson), Heinlein (Robert A. Heinlein), Herbert (Frank Herbert), Lem (Stanislaw Lem), Lovecraft (H.P. Lovecraft), Serling (Rod Serling), Yolen (Jane Yolen) and Zelazny (Roger Zelazny).

As I finish editing this draft (6 weeks later), we’re watching Swamp Shark, which includes dramatic dialogue like, “If it breathes, it can be killed!”

Now that’s some quality writing. The acting is even better.

Clearly we don’t ever seem to learn our lesson.

Recently, I ended a post by stating that we were watching Prometheus and it looked cool. I only remember that because I just searched my blog to see whether I ever wrote a post about Prometheus because I’d like to know what I thought. It was that memorable.

It had only been a few weeks since we watched it and JunglePete just asked me why I didn’t warn him about what a goddamned boring and annoying movie it was. Those probably weren’t his exact words, but they could have been. You know why?

Because Prometheus is a goddamned boring and annoying movie.

There was some kind of Movie Archaeology going on that was probably offensive to both cultural resource managers and real space archaeologists (there is such a thing) but I’ve repressed it all and can’t really remember many of the specifics about what my issues were.

Oh yeah, it’s coming back to me: it was a crappy movie.

And it was boring.

While I try to remember if there was anything else, here’s a link to the disappointed Prometheus review from Space Archaeology, a website that seems to have lost the will to live not long after posting it’s review of this movie.

Boring, boring movie. Of boringness.

The plot of Prometheus (spoilers if you’re stupid): long scenes showing a badly designed archaeological expedition (dig everywhere, maybe we’ll find some shit!) and then a whole lot of running and screaming and probably some exploding goo aliens because, duh, it’s the prequel to Alien.

Husband just tried to defend it, insisting it “wasn’t that bad.”

I informed Husband that he thought it wasn’t so bad because he snored through parts of the movie.

His response: “I did?”

I rest my case.

Are bike messengers still a thing in the United States? Not as in, do they still exist – of course they still exist! (How else would people get weed delivered to their office in the middle of the day?)

Let me start over: I’m sure there are still courier services – I wonder if their numbers have decreased.

With the exception of Premium Rush, they’ve almost vanished from pop culture. When was the last time the “hip friend” character on a show was a bike courier?

I was just wondering about bike messengers because I was wondering if someone made a Dark Angel reboot, would the main characters still be messengers? I don’t know why I was thinking about this. I’m not now, nor have I ever, watched Dark Angel.

Maybe I started thinking about Dark Angel because it’s indirectly connected to Stonehenge Apocalypse because Supernatural‘s Jensen Ackles was in the 2nd season of Dark Angel and then a few years later landed a lead role on Supernatural, which, in the 4th season, added Misha Collins to the cast as one of the best characters ever and Misha Collins is, of course, the star of Stonehenge Apocalypse, which we’ve just started watching.

Probably not, but it would be cool if that was why.

I can’t believe I’ve never mentioned Stonehenge Apocalypse. Not only have we seen it before, we’re re-watching it. On purpose. For pretty much no reason at all.

It’s got Misha Collins AND disaster movie physics AND adventure movie archaeology AND Stonehenge AND an apocalypse, all wrapped up in one big tortilla of terrible.

Goddamned movie archaeologists. Always doing their archaeology stuff with ancient powerful relics, trying to facilitate the apocalypse or raise an ancient god or get even more super-rich.

Luckily, movie physicists and movie astrophysicists are always standing by to save the day by preventing the power-mad, well-funded movie archaeologists from destroying the world.

For realism, these movies really ought to have a scene in realtime where the movie archaeologists spend 30 minutes arguing over which is the the cheapest happy hour in town and then spend the next 7 hours of storytime drinking beer and arguing about stable isotope analysis and critical theory and heritage management politics and how whoever takes the job managing Stonehenge is out of their ever-loving mind. After they slept off their hangovers, they’d spend the next 6 months of the story grant-writing and and then they’d take a series of moderately paying Cultural Resource Management temp jobs to make some cash during the field season.

Then they’d resume apocalypse facilitation in earnest in the Fall because it’s way more fun than cleaning, labeling, cataloging, and analyzing artifacts in the lab.

Plus, that’s the kind of work you leave for the grad students.

That would be significantly less dramatic and exciting than the “quest to find an ancient Egyptian temple in Maine and turn Stonehenge into an apocalyptic death ray” storyline we just saw in Stonehenge Apocalypse, which was also profoundly lacking in musical numbers, so I’ll leave you with this:


[embedded clip: This Is Spinal Tap]

Incidentally, FWIW, the Cycle Messenger World Championships continue to happen. Plus, everyone carries messenger bags now and wears skinny jeans, so although it seems like bike messengers are maybe less visible, bike messenger culture has it’s tentacles deep in fashion and is here to stay. For a while, anyway. At least until smaller portable devices reduce the amount of crap people carry around and messenger bags get smaller or become irrelevant. That seems unlikely to happen any time soon.

Crapfest has been postponed due to a family emergency so we’re just considering these random acts of viewing to be part of the warmup to The Real Crapfest. Just so you know.

No, actually, there shouldn’t.

There absolutely should not exist such a thing.

But if such a thing did exist, it would be fantastic to be able to raise pledges to do things like watch the double=feature I saw on HBO’s schedule on May 3rd: Glitter and Wrath of the Titans.

Glitter.

And Wrath of the Titans.

They aren’t exactly a double feature, they’re just on back to back.

Technically, there’s something on between them so they aren’t exactly back to back. But that’s still close proximity.

Too close.

Have you seen those movies? Sweet Cheezits.

But now, I must return to my final exam week study-break viewing: Prometheus, which seems to require a minor amount of paying attention, if only because it looks cool.

BloodMonkey

Speaking of apes, which we weren’t, it’s Friday night, which means it’s finally time to watch BloodMonkey. I know we promised to watch it as a double feature with Flying Monkeys, but we lied.

This movie is so Not Good we hadn’t even gotten through the title sequence before a cocktail party broke out here in the living room.

So, BloodMonkey. A bunch of sociocultural anthropology graduate students go into the jungles of Thailand. Little do they know, BloodMonkeys live in the jungles of Southeast Asia. The students traipse into the jungle to work with megalomaniacal anthropologist Conrad Hamilton, played by Fidel Castro as played by F. Murray Abraham.

Sociocultural anthropologists who cavort about in the jungle collecting new species of wildlife?

Hint: this is not what sociocultural anthropologists do.

Technically, primatologists do something sort of vaguely not really kind of like what these people might possibly be doing, if gigantic bloodsucking gorillas actually existed and biological anthropologists or primatologists or biologists or zoologists were still chasing the idea of a missing link and those researchers got enough funding to randomly fly dozens of inexperienced grad students halfway across the world just so…well, it’s not really clear why they were chosen to fly to Southeast Asia.

Wait…I know…

This large group of inexperienced grad students were flown half-way around the world to die, bloody.

Yes, it all makes more sense to me now.

Clearly, I’m sober and it’s impairing my SyFy craptacular film judgment.

Hey! While I wasn’t paying attention the grad students developed some knowledge of anatomy and physiology, sort ot, but I think that’s just so when BloodMonkey shows up they’ll know what’s killing them.

Real primatologists would be able to tell that this thing that’s killing them all isn’t a BloodMonkey at all. It’s a BloodApe. BloodApe doesn’t have the same zing, does it?

What I really want to do here is move the “tags” from the footer of each post up into the byline, just below the “categories” list, but I can’t do that while BloodMonkey leeches away my IQ, so instead I’m just cleaning up the header and some of the navigation elements over there in the far-right column. This place is a mess. I’m a terrible blogger.

We’re also eating frozen custard. Banana pudding, in honor of BloodMonkey. Not really. We’re eating banana pudding frozen custard because that was the flavor of the day at the Dairy Godmother so I got some this afternoon and stashed it in the freezer for later because it’s awesome.

BloodyMonkey? Not awesome.

Wait, what just happened? Um, I guess that’s the end of the movie. I think it’s best to just let it rest in peace. BloodMonkey was bad, but it’s wasn’t Bad. And that’s too bad, because that means it was just boring when it wasn’t annoying us with it’s representations of anthropology, primatology, and with the way it besmirched the good name of BloodApes.

We should have made this a double feature with Congo but I think Husband is smart enough not to let that happen. Watching Congo late on a Friday night runs the risk we’ll be running around the house chanting, “Amy Good Gorilla” all weekend.

That’s a terrible quality clip, but it’s midnight and my brain has just been broken by BloodMonkey and the custard is wearing off and it’s the best I could do after almost 20 seconds of youtube searching.