Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pervert Alert

IMPORTANT: Many of you know that swimming is my greatest joy. Last weekend a man took away a small piece of the comfort and freedom I feel in my own skin. 
On Sunday, August 24th, I fell asleep on a nude beach in Block Island with a friend. We awoke to find a man sitting 5 feet away staring at us, masturbating. We quickly dressed while he continued and finished himself. He got up and triumphantly walked away, arms stretched in the air, Victory. Anger swelled inside, we gathered our things and watched him frolic in the water, rinsing off. Again, celebrating victoriously.

We chased him down the beach, when we got close, he picked up a board to intimidate us. I took out my camera and let it roll while we confronted him. What you can't hear, is the moment I turned the camera off, he told us he had been masturbating watching us and talked about our tattoos, then he laughed.

I hope a few things come from me sharing this; This video and story must go Viral - in lieu of commenting, please Repost, blast this man all over the internet.
It reaches enough people that he can be identified
Lastly, I hope it gives others the courage to speak out, this is unacceptable.

Thanks in advance  S
 — at Block Island R.I.

And my personal footnote: You, sir, are a walking mound of shit. What the fuck is wrong with guys like you? You think you're funny? Clever? Are you proud of yourself? Wow, what a big man you are, grunting like a pig while you yank on that uncooked macaroni shell of yours, then run away like a cowardly little bitch when you're caught. Ooooooh. I'm impressed. I'm willing to bet you couldn't get laid in a kennel, you ambulatory glob of lard. Does your mommy know you do shit like this? I hope your friends - if you have any that aren't inflatable - see this. I hope your employer - if you even have one - sees this. You are everything that is wrong with this world, you animated case of ass cancer. You are as useless as that pathetic little cock of yours. 

Alien Abduction (2014)

You could do a lot worse when scrolling through the endless list of abysmally shitty free horror movies currently streaming on Netflix. The remake of The Fog comes to mind. The Haunting In Connecticut 2. Fucking Sharknado. But if you're really bored and desperate for something to watch that doesn't suck the proverbial cock all the way down to the hairy root, give Alien Abduction a shot.

It's pretty straightforward: whitebread suburban family decides to go camping in the Spooky mountain region of North Carolina from which a metric assload of people have mysteriously disappeared over the last kathousabillion years. Great idea, dad! Allow me to pack my too tight skirt and my dangerously high heeled shoes in order to ensure my stumbling and falling and therefore giving whatever hockey masked, machete wielding inbred cornpone yabbo ample time to catch up to me!

Except, it's not a madman stalking the woods.
It's... ALIENS!!!

We're talking by-the-book, anal probing, grey skinned, manhole-sized-eyeballed aliens in zoomy spaceships, stork-walking around just out of sight and making eerie dental drill noises. Their motives are never explained, but they're definitely the Bad Guys, making cameras go wonky and spit static, turning people's eyeballs into egg whites and snapping people's spines with their levitating laser beams...which seems counterproductive, but whatever.

Fans of The Blair Witch Project will see - and perhaps be outraged - by the myriad similarities, references, nods, homages and parallels, including a climactic moment when a crying child, lost in the woods, turns the camera on himself and gives us a quick synopsis. But fuck it, I've seen worse. At least the acting is decent. And although there is indeed a banjo-playin', plaid flannel wearing good ol' boy up in dem dere woods who don't 'preeshyate no city folk trespassing' on his territ'tree, at least he turns out to be a good guy.

He's also not bad looking for a white trash ginger redneck with a third grade education and a standard issue wardrobe of cast off Duck Dynasty camouflage prints. God knows if I were to fuck off into the North Carolina Yeehaw Mountain range of Southernmost Bumblefuck, I'd run into some walleyed moose fucker with lethal halitosis and hairy man-boobs. I'd like to believe I'd encounter a Sensitive Mountain Man like Sean (played by Jeff Bowser) but let's be real. Life doesn't work that way.

The Myth
The Reality


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Milk Carton Movies - River's Edge, 1986

River's Edge

Year released: 1986
Directed by: Tim Hunter, who has recently been directing episodes of such TV shows as Hannibal, Breaking Bad, Sons Of Anarchy, American Horror Story and Dexter.
Starring: Dennis Hopper, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Roebuck, Crispin Glover, Ione Skye and Joshua John Miller.
Plot: Based on the 1981 murder of a Milpitas girl at the hands of a teenage classmate with characters drawn from the memories of Neil Jimenez's Sacramento school years, River's Edge was..."arguably, was the first grimly honest portrait of what would soon come to be called "Generation X." 

Opening just minutes after the murder around which the entire movie revolves has been committed, River's Edge is not a courtroom drama or a whodunnit. We learn the victim's name - Jamie - but that's all we learn about her. She could be anyone. And she may be the first in a string of victims for a burgeoning serial killer.
Daniel Roebuck plays her killer, an overweight, dead eyed kid named Samson Tollet, called John by his friends. (Tollet...Toilet...John. Get it?) After murdering Jamie and leaving her naked body fully exposed on the river's edge, he drifts off to school and casually tells his friends what he's done. Nobody believes him, and don't seem particularly curious, even when Jamie fails to show up for school. 

Layne is the self-proclaimed leader of the group of pot smoking metalhead teens. He's the only one with a car and he's easily able to procure free pot off of Feck (Dennis Hopper), a crazy ex-biker who never leaves the house and never answers the door without drawing a gun. 

"Do you think this car runs on God's own methane?"
Layne is played by Crispin Glover, who does an excellent job portraying the hyper skinny, drug addled, tweaker freak mental fur ball, probably because he washyper skinny, drug addled, tweaker freak mental fur ball at the time. Layne is all too eager to cover up John's crime because it makes him feel like he's in a movie, like Chuck Norris or something. He sloppily attempts to hide the body and shut everyone up, but hey - Keanu Reeves is in this movie too.

I've always said that the only decent acting job Keanu Reeves ever did was in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, because he played himself: a spazzy, irreverent surfer dude. River's Edge was made three years earlier, and yet Reeves looks much older in this film. Permanently stoned and totally detached, he's perfectly at home as Matt, the kid whose mom smokes more pot than he does, whose little brother Tim (Joshua John Miller) is a wannabe criminal and whose little sister he dotes upon fervently. Seeing something of his kid sister in Jamie, he is the one who finally calls the cops and gets the movie going.

We thought going in that Feck was the real psycho. He lives with his life sized sex doll, mumbles incoherently and makes no secret of the fact that he once killed a girl as well. Layne is sure that John will be safe with Feck, but Feck ends up becoming the moral compass of the film and sees John for what he really is: a full blown psychopath.

And then there's the girls, Maggie and Clarissa, each representing the two kinds of stoner girls that existed in the 1980s. Maggie (Roxana Zal) is the tomboyish, sexless stoner girl who is "okay" but not really seen as anything other than one of the guys. Clarissa (Ione Skye) is the sexy one, the loose one, the girl most likely to fuck the band members at the next thrash show, the girl that Layne pretends is his but whom he's never touched. All the boys want her but nobody dares to try and claim her. 

I was definitely the Maggie girl back in the 80s. 

Of all the movies about disassociated youth that came out in the late 80s, early 90s, this is the only one that came close to capturing the reality of the X generation. I used this film to clean out my brain after sitting through the treacly bullshit that was 1992's Singles. Ugh.

River's Edge also featured an awesomely bleak thrash and death metal soundtrack which I picked up on cassette the day after seeing it. Slayer, Fates Warning and my personal favorite by Hallow's Eve:

Versus - A Nightmare On Elm Street

Once upon a time, I was an eight year old girl. Painfully shy, in no hurry to grow up, still obsessed with horses and fairy tales. Boys were still icky and the subject of sex was as alien to me as quantum physics. All I cared about was memorizing the state capitals for an upcoming test and rushing home after school to watch my favorite TV show Three's Company. Oh, and working the lunch line in the school cafeteria. That was a huge deal. Kids chosen to work the lunch line got to leave class fifteen minutes early, don hair nets and aprons and take their places behind the steaming steel pots of slop soon to be spooned out onto plastic trays to the entire school to shove down their throats. I don't know why it was considered such an honor to work the lunch line, but when you're 8 years old, it seems like a Pretty Big Deal. Faux responsibility and pseudo authority and all that.


There I was one day in my pink dress shielded by a plastic apron, long hair in carefully braided pigtails, the poster child for Innocence Uncorrupted. Hard to believe, I know, but 1978 was a whole different world. I had taken my position at the end of the line serving cartons of milk and juice, a little away from everyone else because the refrigerator was in the back corner. I had already been given the Don't Talk To Strangers talk by my mom, and Officer Friendly, who still visited grammar school classes back then. Don't get into a car, don't accept candy, don't go with anyone even if he says he's a policeman, etc. But the guy who approached me that day wasn't a stranger, and he didn't ask me to go anywhere. He was just the school janitor, a skinny, slightly grubby looking guy always pushing a mop or a broom, saying Hi to all the kids in the hallway. But he didn't say Hi to me that day. He just stared at me, unsmiling, lips slightly parted, as if I were a painting in a museum. He had come slightly around the counter that separated me from the lunch line.

"You're so beautiful." he told me. "Really, you are such a beautiful girl. I've never seen a prettier girl than you."

I said Thank You as any polite little girl should, but I suddenly felt sick. I didn't know why at the time. I didn't like the way he kept staring at me. It made my stomach feel heavy. I'd been called pretty before, but this felt different. He wouldn't stop saying it. Wouldn't stop staring. Wouldn't smile. Then he reached out, fingers seeking to enclose my hand in his. I snatched my hand away instinctively before he could touch me. He stopped and went away and I breathed a sigh of relief, but as well as sick, I also felt guilty now. What had I done wrong to make him act that way? Had I hurt his feelings by not letting him hold my hand? Would he tell on me? Was I bad? I tried to forget about it, but obviously I never did. He hadn't touched me, hadn't hurt me and had never bothered me again, but still the memory of his creepiness haunted me.

Six years later, A Nightmare On Elm Street came out. I was 14, socially withdrawn and very much a horror fan already. I immediately identified with Elm Street, although I couldn't describe why at the time. I wasn't at my most articulate at age 14 and couldn't have said why exactly the premise of Elm Street found that one little shadow hidden in my soul and turned a light on it. I didn't have nightmares, but I had memories I couldn't escape, dark, disturbing memories that had metastasized over the years into something viscous and corrosive. Nothing had happened to me, but the idea that something could have had remained, and the threat grew as I matured and developed and met more aggressive predators. The Janitor had become the Spirit of Perverts to Come, looming over them all. That day in the cafeteria was the day I realized that I was not safe, that the world was not safe, and I would never feel safe again.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Year released: 1984
Directed by: Wes Craven
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, Johnny Depp and Ronee Blakley.

The Good:

Nothing like this had ever been done before. This was a serious evolutionary step in the horror genre in general and the slasher sub genre in particular. Freddy had a personality, not something that the masked and silent killers of slashers past had ever been allowed to possess before. Freddy's presence somehow made him much more threatening than if he had been totally silent, expressionless and emotionless. His humor made him more sadistic. This guy wasn't interested in simply killing you as quickly and efficiently as possible. He wanted foreplay. Fear, torture, head games, maybe even rape. He wanted to make it last as long as possible. And his preference for the girls was obvious. He toyed with them longer, saved his witticisms for them alone, flirted with them, then made sure they got every last inch of his knives, making them scream before finally exploding in a fury of blood. It's the ultimate death orgasm.

The nightmare sequences remain aces - the boiler rooms, the steam, the grinding, gasping machinery. The sound of the razors scraping along the rusty pipes. And the razor glove itself was pure genius. Any inbred moron can pick up an axe or a machete, but to actually sit down and take the time to carefully craft a homemade glove with jointed plates and razor blade fingers? The entire opening scene in which the glove is fashioned is plainly telling us: This guy is smart. This guy is a sadist. This guy is one step ahead of you.

The Bad:

Sadly, the film hasn't aged well. It looks very dated, very 80s - and not in the retro-cool glitzy sense either. The dialogue is cheesy, much of the acting is wooden and Nancy's sucky Good Girl wardrobe makes me wince. Gawd, those little sweaters with the pressed khakis...gag. That may be a petty, personal gripe but really, it stands out like a sore thumb looking at it now.

Also, it was disappointing to see Freddy reduced to a child killer when he had always been intended to be a child molester. Any reference to his perversions was cut from the finished film due to a recent case involving the alleged molestation of several children by their preschool teachers, but it's obvious what Freddy was. The all-consuming sense of shame involved in his murder is glaringly obvious in the faces of the parents who committed the deed. Killing the man could not erase what had been done to their children, hence the alcoholism, the denial, the overprotectiveness, etc. Had he been "just" a killer, the shame would not have spread like a cancer up through the years. And indeed, I believe shame was the catalyst that brought him back in the first place.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Year released: 2010
Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Starring: Rooney Mara, Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner and Connie Britton.

I must respectfully disagree, Robert. And I know I'll get shit for this, but I liked the remake. I did not consider it a sacrilege in the vein of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I was never really against remakes per se. And the Elm Street remake, in my humble opinion, was necessary in a way. It needed updating. It's early 80s setting was not going to seem accessible to the kids of the 21st century. Sad but true - they would have taken one look at the cast and their clothes and the ridiculous "slang" (up yours with a twirling lawnmower??) and laughed their asses off. Elm Street, like it or not, was going to be remade. Therefore, it had to be updated.

The Good:

Freddy's reinstatement as an unrepentant child molester. A dirty, creepy, sniveling little child molester who works maintenance at a preschool. Who lives in the dark and spooky basement. And keeps a cache of Polaroid pictures of naked children in a box under his bed. And probably whacks off a lot. Jackie Earle Haley had just made a huge comeback in Hollywood playing Rorschach in Watchmen and earning an Academy Award Nomination for his role in the film Little Children, in which he played a convicted child molester. No one wanted to see anyone but Robert Englund play the role of Freddy Krueger, a role he had made his own. But had anyone other than Haley been chosen to replace him, I never would have given this film a chance.

Same goes for Rooney Mara, who walked into the role of Nancy - Freddy's personal favorite girl - with a visible darkness and a palpable sorrow. Nancy doesn't remember having been molested by Freddy, but her entire aura carries the stain of it. She's dark, moody, artistic and antisocial. She's wholly unwilling to dress like a girl or attract boys. She muffles her sexuality beneath bulky clothes and hides behind her hair. Part of her remembers, and it's shaped her into what she has become. Rumor has it that Rooney Mara hated doing this movie, but she seems to have carried a part of Nancy with her into The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, another remake of another film where once again she plays another victim of horrific physical and sexual abuse. But hey, she got to fuck Daniel Craig in that one, so I guess anything else would pale in comparison.

I loved the parallels drawn between the character of Freddy and the legend of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. I could write a whole separate article about that, and probably will at some point, but this particular versus article is already too fucking long, so for the time being I'll just recommend that you click THIS.

The Bad:

This scene...

Just, no.
Does not hold a candle, or even a fucking keychain flashlight, to the original scene...

And that was really the only thing I truly hated about the remake. Just that one, shitty CGI segment. It should have been left out and replaced with something original.

And the Winner Is...

Honestly, I feel the same way about these films as I felt about the original The Hills Have Eyes and its remake. Blended together, it would be a perfect film. There's things about the original that can never be improved upon and things about the remake that seem almost necessary to the story now, even thirty years later. Much as I love Jackie Earle Haley, Robert Englund will always be the only acceptable Freddy (despite the Fat Boys rap video and that godawful television series). And though Heather Langenkamp's Nancy is, was and remains an untouchable Final Girl icon, I find Mara's melancholic goth girl incarnation far more identifiable. But hey, that's just me. What the fuck do I know?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Gone Home

Alec Wildey
March 24th 1988 - August 25, 2014

My David don't you worry
This cold world is not for you
So rest your head upon me
I have strength to carry you

Please help Alec's wife and family cover the medical and funeral expenses.

"Alec was such a sweet kid, this is one of those occasions when life makes no sense at all."
-Steven Wilson

Hi Friends,
Cycy here...
My husband Alec Wildey died in my arms at 1:39am on August 25th, 2014.

He is not suffering anymore, and joined Heaven and the angels he belongs with.
The last albums we played for him was Ghosts, by The Devin Townsend Project, Verspertine by Björk, and Deadwing, by Porcupine Tree.
The very last song he heard was Red Star, his final poem beautifully turned into music by Peter Vincent. Thank you Peter, it is such a wonderful farewell gift. (
After he passed, a content expression appeared on his face, with a shadow of a smile on his lips.
His Mum and I washed his body, dressed him in his favorite red, black and gold outfit and put his beautiful jewelry on him.
He will be buried on Thursday at 11am at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Fairport. It will be a simple graveside service, and everyone is welcome provided that you dress casually, preferably with band shirts, he would love that.
There will be no reception, no viewings, no visiting.
We will organize a Celebration of Life party in his honor in a few weeks, we will give you more details about that when the time comes.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the love and support you've shown us, he touched so many people in so many ways, it's incredible. He was, is and forever will be loved beyond measure.
Keep him in your heart, and he'll never really be gone.
His wife Cycy, his brothers Austin and Trevor, his soon-to-be sister-in-law Esther, his parents Lori and Tom, his cat Lucy.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Red Star

Alec Wildey
I've been sitting here for two hours, wondering why people say "I'm sorry" when someone is close to death, or has recently made the final transition.

I googled the word sorry, researching its origin, trying in vain to understand what it was I was feeling - precisely - and why it seemed to be the only thing I could express to others who were experiencing the same feelings.

Old English sārig ‘pained, distressed,’ from the base of the noun sore
The shortening of the root vowel has given the word an apparent connection with the unrelated sorrow.

I still can't grasp what it is about the word sorry that makes one immediately reach for it and offer it in times of grief, as if it were holy bread, capable of somehow sustaining the receiver. It's a word that seems so hugely, clumsily inadequate, but yet so perfectly all-encompassing at the same time. 

I know when I offered it earlier, what I really wanted to convey was an apology for my selfishness and short-sightedness in forgetting how short our time on earth really is, and how suddenly it can end, without warning and without time to bridge any gaps. 

I'm sorry I didn't have more time to get to know you, Alec. I'm sorry I thought you'd somehow live forever, and that there would be plenty of time to develop a deeper and more meaningful friendship with you. I'm sorry I thought for one second that you had any control over your destiny, that you could somehow "tough it out" for a few months more, that you had any power to extend your stay when your soul was ever only on lease for the short amount of time that your beautiful vessel could carry it through this life. 

I'm sorry that your time with us was so cruelly short, but I'm not sorry for the way you chose to live your 26 years. I'm sorry that so many of us choose to live our lives without purpose or beauty, choosing only to merely exist and survive, allowing the ugliness and sorrow we encounter to shape us  into embittered, frightened collections of ashes when we should have been flaming white comets all along. You chose to be a comet: short-lived, but brightly burning, lighting up everyone's sky if only for a brief time. 

I'm sorry that I ever for one moment considered ending my life out of misery, when all you wanted was more time to live and experience. I'm sorry that I often forget to appreciate the things that really matter, and fill up so much of my time with worry, fear and regret. I'm sorry for everything I've ever taken for granted, all the sights and sounds I walk past everyday and never think to look at twice, always assuming they are constants and will be there when I finally find the time to appreciate them. 

I look at pictures of you and I see an angel carved out of alabaster glass and peace. I imagine your voice must sound like a thousand wind chimes on a summer night. When I picture you, it's difficult not to imagine you surrounded by the rainbow reflection of a sun-pierced crystal. And maybe I was a little afraid to get closer, knowing you would be taken away too soon. I was afraid of your purity and light, not wanting to corrode it with my cynicism and despair. I've lost so many friends this year, souls I thought were brothers and sisters. I lost the only man I ever loved. I had no desire to cloud your leaving with my pain. You were Whole and Accepting. I was bitter and lost. And my pain now seems so trivial in comparison with your Hope.

But now it's come, and it's time for you to go, and I can't demand that you stay or make you come back. You're leaving. Not by choice but by appointment. You will be all the colors of autumn, all of the winds of winter and your journey will be a supernova of beauty and poetry. And all I can think of to say is "I'm so terribly sorry." Not because you are leaving but because we are staying, and realizing our shortcomings in the silence you will leave behind. 

Last poem by Alec Wildey

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Nightmare on Elm Street - The True Story

Freddy Krueger
~The Facts Behind A Nightmare On Elm Street~
Article by Annie Riordan
originally published October 5th, 2009
“Wes Craven had come across a few articles about some teenagers who were absolutely terrified – terrified! – to go to sleep.”
~Adam Rockoff
“In the middle of the night they heard these horrendous screams and crashings and they ran in and he’s thrashing on the bed. They ran to him and by the time they got to him he was dead. They did an autopsy on him and there was nothing physically wrong with him. And I just thought: “My God.”
~Wes Craven
Back in October of 2009, I had writers block. I had an article due for the website I worked for at the time and was drawing a blank. I was so tired of writing about the Halloween franchise every single October. I was sick of reading about them too. All of the best ghost stories had been told, and the holiday itself had been dissected and exposed from every conceivable angle. I needed something new, something that no one had done to death yet.
The upcoming remake for A Nightmare On Elm Street was all over the news as people debated its necessity, as people always do. And I had just recently watched a countdown special on TV called The 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The original Elm Street had scored a mention, and Wes Craven had been interviewed, slipping in a brief story about his inspiration for the film: a series of unsolved deaths in Los Angeles. For the hell of it, I sat down and typed the words “true story nightmare elm street” into the Google search box and took my chances.
The results were disappointing, to say the least:
It (is) impossible that “Nightmare on Elm St” is based on true events. If someone told you that, they were either teasing you, they were talking about a different movie or if they really believe it, well… what I can I say, they must be gullible, too.
True story? I highly doubt it.
Alas, there is no wisecracking, burn-scarred pervert lurking around our subconscious in a tacky ass Christmas sweater and homemade razor glove. But venture into Asia and you’ll find a rich culture brimming with folklore about nocturnal demons and lethal nightmares responsible for over 230 documented deaths of young men.
In the early 1980s, newspapers in Chicago and Los Angeles ran a few brief, forgettable articles about a strange epidemic that had seized the Southeast Asian population. Perfectly sane and healthy young men were complaining about horrific nightmares and refusing to sleep for days on end. Convinced that their dreams were being invaded by a demon, the frightened men became addicted to black coffee and other stimulants in a desperate effort to stay awake. Eventually, their exhausted bodies would inevitably surrender to sleep and relieved family members would carry the young men to bed…only to be summoned hours later by blood curdling screams coming from the victim’s bedroom. The young men would be found thrashing on their beds in the grip of a powerful nightmare and, before they could be awakened, they would suddenly and violently expire. Autopsies turned up nothing. Fear within the Southeast Asian neighborhoods grew and whispers of bangungot began to circulate. It was these articles which caught the attention of a young Wes Craven, inspiring him to write the original Elm Street script and adding in a couple of childhood traumas: a schoolyard bully named Krueger who had terrorized him, and a badly dressed bum who had given him quite a scare one night.
“In the Philippines, it’s called bangungot, in Japan pokkuri, in Thailand, something else.” says Dr. Robert Kirschner. “But it all roughly translates as the same thing: nightmare death.”
Bangungot seems to be a bastard cousin of Old Hag Syndrome, or “sleep paralysis” as it is more commonly known. I once had a friend who suffered from severe sleep paralysis and he related to me the following tale: upon waking from a deep sleep late one night, he found himself unable to move. His arms and legs were frozen and useless. Taking a breath was impossible. When he opened his eyes, he saw a small, pale creature sitting on his chest. As he watched, the creature took out a dagger and began cutting him open, as if performing an autopsy on his still living body. My friend said he could feel the knife, could feel the pain of being cut open, could feel the weight of the “demon” sitting on his chest. Only when he screamed was he able to move at last.
If this scene has a familiar ring to it, it may be due to the fact that the famed Gothic artist Fuseli perfectly captured the experience in his 1781 oil painting appropriately entitled “The Nightmare.” The painting depicts an incubi sitting upon the chest of a sleeping woman while a demonic horse (a night mare, perhaps?) looks on. Interestingly, despite the subject of the painting, sleep paralysis rarely afflicts women. Reports of nocturnal attacks by incubi were common in mediaeval Europe and were always of a sexual nature, whereas the succubi (the female incubus) were more often described by their male victims as a suffocating presence weighing on their chests.
Some theorize that the alien abduction phenomena of the 80s and 90s could be partly blamed on sleep paralysis as well, so I guess you can throw an alien shoving an anal probe up your ass into the mix as well. Whatever the cast of characters, it’s a very real and very frightening experience for the afflicted. But for those of Asian descent, it could also be a death sentence.
Nearly every country and culture in the world recognizes this affliction. The people of Turkey call it “the dark presser.” In Africa, it is known as the “devil riding on your back.” The Hmong know it as “the crushing demon.” But Turkish, African and American men very rarely die from this sleep disorder. The Hmong, however – along with the Vietnamese, Laotion, Chinese, Japanese, Cambodian, etc – do. The Center for Disease Control christened the disorder Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome. It is also known as Asian Death Syndrome and Brugada Syndrome.
The Japanese have taken a different approach to the pokkuri, or “peaceful death” which can occur during sleep. Somewhere near Osaka there is a temple dedicated to pokkuri, where the elderly go to pray for just such an end. Long, lingering deaths are not dignified and bring unwanted burdens onto family members. Dying suddenly in one’s sleep is seen as a blessing, and thousands of people flock to the temple every year, hoping to receive the gift of a quick and sudden death without a long illness.
“In a sense, the Hmong were killed by their beliefs in the spirit world, even if the mechanism of their deaths was likely an obscure genetic cardiac arrhythmia that is prevalent in southeast Asia.”
No one knows for sure why exactly this disorder only seems to be fatal to the male Asian population. Some theorize it is due to a high carbohydrate intake shortly before sleep. Others attribute it to survivor guilt as many of the afflicted were refugees fleeing Pol Pot’s bloody Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s. Recent reports state that the hearts of the victims were slightly enlarged and showed defects in their conduction systems which caused their hearts to literally “short out.” It has been also been speculated that the disease is a hereditary one and may be linked to a sudden and unexplained inflammation of the pancreas, although neither of these explanations has been positively proven as of yet. To this day, no one knows for sure whether the physical defects caused the nightmare death, or if the nightmare death caused the physical defects. The exact causes of sleep paralysis and the Asian Death Syndrome remain as much a mystery to this day as dreams and nightmares themselves. Despite all of our advances in the medical field, the world of dreams and night terrors continue to defy scientific explanation. Perhaps, maybe – just maybe, mind you – the principle of Occam’s Razor applies. Maybe the simplest explanation is the correct one, and the creatures that haunt our dreams are real.
Pretty terrifying thought, isn’t it?
Marge Thompson: What the hell are dreams, anyway?
Dr. King: Mysteries, incredible body hocus-pocus. Truth is, we still don’t know what they are
or where they come from.
~A Nightmare On Elm Street, 1984
Author's Note, 2014:
A few short months after penning this article, a couple of copycat websites picked it up and ran it as their own. The folks over on Cracked gave me a mention as well as a credit (for which I am eternally grateful), but since then the story has become every bit as tiresome as the Halloween franchise reheatings that everyone drags out in October. Nobody remembers that I wrote about this before anyone else did, but oh well - it's not like I was ever getting paid for my stunning expose into the world of obscure medical conditions of the Southeast Asian communities. Who gives a shit? The boogeyman is public domain. 
But I'm petty, and just felt like reliving That One Time in my life that I actually went viral.

Goodbye, Little Betty

“Little Betty’s sleeping in the graveyard, living there in burgundy and white.
Dead babies can’t take care of themselves, dead babies can’t take things off the shelf.
Well, we didn’t love you anyway.
Goodbye, Little Betty…”
 ~ Alice Cooper

Wow, what a pretentious piece of shit this film is. Overlong, tedious, derivative… jeez, this makes A Serbian Film look like a masterpiece of sublime subtlety. Oh if only this movie could have been drowned in the tub like an unwanted kitten. Please, for the love of God, somebody nuke Sweden before it can produce another flaming bag of runny feces like this one.
I’m totally kidding,of course. This is the fourth film by Ronny Carlsson that I’ve had the honor of watching/reviewing, and – given his masochistic penchant for demanding truth, even if it means an abysmally negative review – I thought I’d finally give him what he’s been half-expecting and sort of asking for all these years.
Goodbye, Little Betty is – in Carlsson’s own words – an attempt to return to a more “spontaneous, experimental side of filmmaking that isn’t as present in a more planned and budgeted film likeDust Box,” Carlsson’s previous full-length dramatic feature due to be released on DVD later this year. Filmed entirely on a camera phone, Betty is the woefully bleak tale of a girl, as silent and beautiful as the frozen Swedish landscape she wanders through. Seemingly oblivious to the beauty of winter around her, “Betty” (poetess and collaborator Daniela Melin – a gorgeous, raven-haired waif) is drawn to electrical wire, able to find it embedded in the floorboards of abandoned houses or hidden in the thick forest undergrowth. Every length of cord she finds goes into her backpack and then she’s off again, crossing icy creeks and crunching through the snow like a carefree child. Like a crow, Betty’s eye is drawn to anything and everything that is shiny and metallic, all of which is added to her scavenger’s collection. But as her journey continues and no clear destination makes itself known, Betty’s utter aloneness becomes increasingly more apparent and the silence grows deafening. Is she wandering through a post-apocalyptic world? Or is she trapped in her own world, isolated by her addiction to technology and inability to “connect” with the real world?
Several years ago, I came across a photo on some image sharing site or another. It depicted a group of teenagers walking together on a bright, Spring day. But rather than conversing amongst themselves, every single one of them held a cell phone in their hand and stared silently down as they walked, lost in their own little worlds and seemingly oblivious of everything, and everyone, around them. It perfectly captured the reality of the mass disconnect that our society is drowning in, and reinforcing the truth of the matter: that we have willingly jumped into the deep end without a life preserver. Goodbye, Little Betty is the moving version of that photograph: stark, hopeless and unforgivingly honest. In its own way, it’s a new take on the Eco-Horror genre: what happens when we step out from behind our avatars and back into the real world? We’ve literally lost our connection. There’s nothing left to discuss that can’t be found on Google, nothing left to see that hasn’t been uploaded to Pinterest. We’re cyber-cattle, grazing in a field of instant gratification, and when the plug is suddenly pulled, we’re lost and alone.
Whoa, that was heavy. Lookit me, bein’ all profound and shit.
Anyway… clocking in just under an hour and featuring no dialogue until the final moments – when Melin finally demonstrates her poetic skill – GLB sneaks up on you gradually, slowly squirming into your subconscious and quietly whispering “horror” all the while. I said once before that Ronny makes disturbing movies as opposed to scary ones, and GLB is no different. It’s visceral quicksand, sucking you down so slowly and gracefully, you won’t even notice the danger until it’s filling your lungs and flooding your mouth with darkness. Only in the final moments will you feel the full impact of the horror. And then it’s too late.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Invincible Force, 2011

Of all the crude, chauvinistic, immature gestures that little men with undersized penises make, my least favorite is the “suck it” gesture. The gesturer in question will flatten both palms, fingers together, as though about to execute a double karate chop. Instead, with pinkies in and thumbs out, the hands will be slammed against the upper thighs, fingers pointing down, forming a crude triangular framing of the genital area, indicating that the recipient of said gesture “suck it.” Why any man who has graduated from grade school thinks this is a cool thing to do is beyond me. It looks silly, implies ignorance and is about as attractive as watching a baboon fling its excrement. But the gesture itself perfectly sums up what Dan Schneidkraut’s “Invincible Force” is all about: insecurity, testosterone, the fragile male ego and the awesomeness of Finnish death metal.

Drew is nothing special, granted. He’s an average Joe living a nondescript life in Minneapolis, but he has a

decent job (office janitor), a good friend in fellow pudge-pal Chris, and a sweet girlfriend named Amber, who doesn’t care that he’s overweight, balding and not rich. She loves him for who he is. Unfortunately, Drew himself doesn’t know who he is and doesn’t particularly love himself. The semi-recent death of his mother and a strained relationship with his father seems to have knocked him for more of a loop than even he cares to admit. Perhaps it was his inability to prevent his mom’s death that has forced him to realize that he has no control over any aspect of his life, and if there’s one thing that insecure males crave more than sex, it’s control.

Drew decides to get with The Program, a rigorous 90 day diet and workout regiment which promises to transform him from flabby manboy to ripped and shredded badass. It’s not an easy transition: it’s tiring, nauseating and just plain hard, but Drew sticks with it. Eventually, when the fat begins to recede and the muscle starts to timidly rise to the surface, Drew’s confidence grows. But with the confidence comes the plague of entitlement. He’s worked hard and is seeing results, therefore he deserves rewards. Confidence becomes arrogance.

He dumps Amber for being too fat. He makes fun of Chris for being chunky. He browses the OKCupid dating profiles like a third generation cattle farmer at a heifer judging contest. He constantly talks about erasing the negative influences from his life, not realizing that he is the biggest and most negative obstacle in his own way. Soon, Drew is speaking in a language as foreign to me as Central Siberian Ket. Muscle mass, protein intake, blahblahblah steroidal juicing stuff, etc. With his friends long gone and his job lost, Drew devotes himself entirely to The Program, descending into a dark, lonely world of madness, sports shakes and fiber bars.

My friend and fellow reviewer Chris Hallock referred – respectfully – to Invincible Force as a “damn ugly” movie. He’s right, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. It IS a damn ugly movie, but it’s also subtly brilliant and weirdly, sickeningly funny. It’s not a movie to be enjoyed by any means. Much like Schneidkraut’s previous film“Seeking Wellness” it is a film to be experienced. It’s a cinematic orbitoclast, slamming into your cerebral cortex and knocking loose the dark matter you never really wanted to acknowledge was there. We’ve all known guys like Drew, have wondered what the hell makes them tick and why they’re such oblivious douchebags. “Invincible Force” strives to answer those questions and does a damn awesome – and ugly – job of it. The truth is never pretty, and if there’s one thing that Schneidkraut does well, it’s the Truth, stripped naked and shoved right in your face. I can honestly say that I will never again take a shit without thinking of this film, and if you’re wondering what the hell that means, I implore you to find out for yourselves.

With an awesome soundtrack featuring Finnish band Maveth (oh goody, a new metal band for me to salivate over! and regardless of what Drew says, girls DO listen to metal!) and a cast of real people, Invincible Force is like walking in on your parents while they’re having BDSM sex. It’s icky and uncomfortable and totally unforgivable and – yeah – damn ugly. It needed to be made, and few people would have dared told it the way Schneidkraut does. It’s ugly for a good reason, which just makes the aftermath all the more beautiful.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Howard Phillips Lovecraft's 124th Birthday

Swan Point Cemetery, August 20th 2014
Swan Point Cemetery was quiet this afternoon, but already a handful of birthday offerings had been laid out upon the memorial headstone just behind the Phillips family plot. Smooth stones, seashells, a plastic guitar pick, a handful of writing pens, a wilted bouquet of daisies already browning beneath the August sun. There was a blue box which I did not open, a weird wire sculpture no bigger than a quarter, and my own offering of a silver key, a cross, a Nordic talisman, a rose and a tiny glass heart on a green satin ribbon which I draped over the left corner of his memorial stone. My friend left a huge black feather, my mother a bluejay's cast off wingtip found in the grass nearby. We stood for a few minutes, silently sweating. We took note of the other names on the monument: Susie, Whipple, Annie and Lily.

We wandered the grounds for another hour or so, stopping beneath the shade of the Northern Red Oaks, Gingko and Magnolia trees, sitting for a bit in the shade of a brass angel's wings and admiring a mausoleum built into the hillside, facing the Seekonk river where swans and blue herons were buoying. Hawks circled overhead, chipmunks stared at us suspiciously from the stone walls. We saw only one other person wandering the grounds. The cemetery - aside from the sound of the gardeners tending the lawns and hillocks - was hugely silent. Only a mile away, Providence was bustling with traffic and Pawtucket's old mills were receiving shipments, but the cemetery was so peaceful it was unearthly. We may as well have been inside of a snow globe, minus the snow.

Angell and Prospect
I love Providence. I moved here on November 1st of 2011, with nothing but the clothes on my back and the freaked out cats in their carriers. I moved here because I'd lost my job in September when Borders Books liquidated. I was sick of the ceaseless summers in Northern California's Sacramento valley. I'd been born in the San Francisco Bay Area, but California was not home. It had never felt like home, and felt less and less like home as the years dragged by and the economy faltered and the former bohemian cow country of Sacramento transformed into a soulless, streamlined yuppie pseudo-metropolis, overrun with dotcommers fleeing the overpriced suburbs of the Bay Area and driving the cost of living up for those of us who wanted nothing to do with the pretentiousness of the coast, where one could not hope to live unless one had a six figure salary. California had become one giant strip mall in a sea of petrol fumes and shimmering heat. I wanted to live by the ocean, but could not afford to do so on the west coast.

Wrong ocean, something inside my head whispered. So I looked east. A friend had just returned to her home in Rhode Island. "You're too dark for the west coast" she told me.

Wickenden Street
So here I am, uprooted and transplanted. I suffered mightily those first few months, sideswiped by culture shock, buffeted by the changing seasons, confronted with poverty, joblessness and despair. But I never regretted the decision to move here. I put myself through school, got a job, survived. And it's so beautiful here. Hope Street is a stationary gypsy caravan. Thayer Street is the 1990s forever. Wayland Square is ancient and homey and Minerva's Pizza is a beacon of comfort. North Providence is old world charming with its bakeries and shoe repair shops. Wickenden Street with its sea shanties, antique stores and gelato shops tastes like salt air and smells like art. There are so many houses here that look like Victorian party dresses, so many ghosts haunting the campus of Brown University. The Athenaeum is a church for the dark and the lost, Butler Hospital a looming specter tucked away safely in the hills behind Providence where it glowers and broods. This is where I will stay, and grow old and die.

The Shunned House of Benefit Street
Lovecraft left his mark on this city: a lonely, haunted mark. He loved Providence, and in the years since his death, the shadow over this city has grown. It's a comforting shadow, reaching out for the alienated and the lost. Providence, capital of Rhode Island, is a small, honeycombed city, easy to hide in, filled with dark corners and secret hiding places, stuffed full of books and dust and weird things. It's a city that encourages hermitage and introspection. There's no need to be ostentatious here, no push to be flamboyantly wealthy. It's enough to be a Rhode Islander, complaining about the road work in the summer and the sand shortages in the winter, bragging about Awful Awful's and Waterfire and Del's Lemonade. It's the little things here: coffee milk, Dunkin Donuts, crab cakes. And Lovecraft, whose posthumous fame is stupendous everywhere but here. Nobody much fusses over him here. He was allowed to live in the anonymity he chose, and sleeps now within it as well. Hollywood can churn out big budget blockbuster movies inspired by his squamous monsters and eldritch nightmares, but Providence lets him rest. Swan Point Cemetery is blissfully quiet. Conventions come and go, tourists visit and leave, and Providence sits gracefully like the grand dame of a tea party, letting them all come to her and leave when they wish, never encouraging or discouraging, always politely obliging.

 Howard Lovecraft loved this city. And now, so do I. Thank you for leading me here, sir. And happy 124th birthday to you.