Why I’m Never Going to a Nightclub Again

Despite my overriding passion for the pub and pint, I’ve spent my fair share of time in night clubs.

Emily and Linda in Berlin

Me with my party-girl pal, Linda, in Germany.

My time in Europe especially, as cliche as I now realize that is, was full of night club shennanigans. To the point that for a little under 5 months I spent my weekend nights working in one. No matter how many clubs I frequented, however, I was always aware of the potential for unrestrained mayhem that dark, packed rooms full of sweaty people posed. In fact, my first zombie short story was set in my place of employment.

There are numerous stories about shootings in nightclubs and fires in nightclubs both from arson and from accidents. In fact, there is literally a Wikipedia page for nightclub fires. Note the incident that left 194 dead in Buenos Aires in a club just ten years ago. 194 DEAD. IN REAL LIFE. Main takeaway: if you must go to clubs, do not light fireworks inside the damn building.

Line for the Berghain

   In line for the Berghain club before I ran away.

Berghain Bouncer

You have to look into this scary ass mofo’s eyes for ten seconds to get in. Really.

Aside from the practical fears associated with nightclubs, the assault on the senses and resulting disorientation can drive fears that can’t even truly be articulated. Case in point: the first time I went to the Berghain in Berlin, I got to the front of the line and then turned and ran away. And no— I wasn’t tripping balls, but I was in need of some damn coffee. A few months later, I braved it and we passed the asshole test and got in. It ended up being one of the weirder nights out I’ve had, but there was some damn tasty ice cream in a secret bar off one of the dance floors. So in the end, totally worth it.

The Collection – Marcus Dunstan (2012)

Only in poking around online did I discover the fact that this movie is a sequel, but it does make sense for several reasons: namely, the idea of having to come back to save someone. The fast moving, glossy shifts from one scene to the next, with few establishing shots or explanations. The fact that the main character pops out of a trunk fifteen minutes into the film. It’s made by the fellas who wrote and directed Saw IV thru VII. Ya know—the good ones? In that same vein (har har), the film is about the quest through “The Collector’s” repurposed warehouse that he’s turned into a booby-trapped labyrinth to save the one survivor of this well-supplied and prolific serial killer’s latest massacre. Actually, not serial killer, supernatural mass murderer is more accurate.

My questions: Where does he get the time and supplies to build his traps and house of horrors? Fish tanks, also, are often thousands of dollars and he has ROWS of them filled with the preserved bodies of surgical experiments. Also, how did he get an arsenal of weapons rivaling the stockpile of a small country? Or more narcotics than a talk radio host? Surely whatever work he does in his downtime does not make the bucks to finance an operation like this. And it seems as if he isn’t the type who can form subtle don’t-ask-don’t-tell business arrangements, so how did he find the time to build all this stuff?

Human Lawn Mower

Nobody is getting out of this one alive.

In case you haven’t figured it out, this isn’t a great movie. But I’ll never be able to unsee the carnage of a packed club full of people getting literally mowed down by rotating blades. Shit dude.

Aftershock Poster

Aftershock – Nicolas Lopez (2012) Because apparently 2012 was the year of killing night club patrons.

Aftershock (2012)

This one requires far fewer leaps of logic, and that’s part of what makes Aftershock so scary. If there’s one place you don’t want to be in the middle of an earthquake, it’s in an underground nightclub. Frankly, either of those last two words would be a bad place to be, but the combination really brings the oh-god-no-waaaattt home, doesn’t it?

This one takes place in the seaside Chilean city of Valparaiso where a “Gringo” played by Eli Roth is taking some time off to get over his ex-wife. He and his friends (including director Nicolas Lopez) meet up with three other girls for some fun touristy times and then partying hard at an underground nightclub. The earthquake is pretty impressive, and pretty much anything you would be afraid of getting smashed by in a club smashes someone to bits: enormous speakers, shattering disco balls, and the entire glass wall behind the bartender.

In addition to Aftershock delivering on the gore level, Aftershock is a throwback to those 90’s disaster movies that we all loved. Didn’t we? At least I did. Movies about volcanoes and tornadoes and even alien invasions. Pretty much the only difference between those movies and Aftershock is that those movies tended to focus on the well-equipped heroes, and this one focuses on some pretty well-screwed tourists dressed up in pretty much the worst thing you could wear in a crisis situation.

Other plusses: Eli Roth getting set on fire (whoops-spoiler), and watching a rapist get axed. Literally.

Also, a final shot that makes me cackle, and that I won’t spoil for you.

Double Feature Beer Pairing: Weirdos From Another Dimension Edition

WARNING: SOME SLIGHT SPOILERS FOR THE MIST

I’ve read an acceptable amount of H.P. Lovecraft, and am in the midst of reading more to support this blog and my horror street-cred in general. Usually not one to complain about antiquated writing styles, I find his writing (and his dialogue in particular, ESPECIALLY when he tries to write in dialect) to be excruciating. The man, does not get it done for me when it comes to prose.

The mythology he inspires, however, is really where it’s at. That’s why I’m always grateful to see other directors’ and writers’ interpretations and homages to that maddening netherworld of the Old Ones. Neither of the movies I’m going to discuss are interpretations of specific Lovecraft stories, but the heavy Lovecraftian influence couldn’t be more blatant. But first…

The Beer

HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THAT DARK, DARK HEAD??

Undead Party Crasher American Imperial Stout is THE most appropriate choice for a Lovecraft homage film. Not only is it distinctly American, but um…duh. “Undead Party Crasher” is a pretty ideal pairing with tales of invaders from another dimension. On the nose there is a heavenly baked-goods smell and on the palate it’s like whole wheat pancake batter. The aftertaste had some of the same mouthfeel as when you’re smoking a medium-quality cigar (but with not of the acridity). 10% alcohol is kind of a lot to handle, but so is the idea of monsters from another dimension completely destroying the world as you know it.

Film Numero Uno: In the Mouth of Madness (1994, John Carpenter)

<3 <3 <3 FACE

The first film was a hell of a fun ride, and I enjoyed every last minute of it. It may be Sam Neill’s best performance, at least of the ones that I’ve witnessed. He plays a “hard-boiled” skeptical investigator that gets hired to track down pop-horror writer Sutter Cane, who has dropped off the map while writing his latest manuscript. In the meantime, the world is going absolutely batshit over Cane’s most recent book. And despite the direct line drawn in the “news-flashes” about the violent, mass hysteria and his books, never is it even suggested the books be withdrawn from the market.

But then again, I’m never one to suggest banning books.

So Sam Neill almost immediately starts hallucinating when he begins to read Cane’s books about “Hobb’s End”, after being chided into it by Cane’s foxy-when-her-glasses-are-off editor for not being “sophisticated enough” for them (??). These hallucinations seem to be helpful though, because he manages to figure out where Cane is by randomly tearing the covers off the paperbacks and making a “Beautiful Mind”-map of New Hampshire on his wall. I missed how this brilliant idea occurred to him, but I’m probably not the only one. By that point, knowing little about the film, I realized that this was Lovecraft homage and not Stephen King homage. Why? Because the map was not of Maine.

Anyway, into the wilds of New Hampshire they go. And cross a FUCKING covered bridge, and they both experience a Rosemary’s Baby style acid trip of some kind. And see this weirdo on a bike.

Doc?? Did the DeLorean break down??
Doc?? Did the DeLorean break down??

It only gets weirder after the cross the covered bridge. Apparently Sutter Cane has opened up the portal for the cross-dimensional beasts to destroy humankind. Because…why not? Also, maybe in some kind of wink to Mr. Neill’s participation in The Omen franchise, we get a whole passel of hell-hounds. Dobermans (Dobermen?) this time, though, in lieu of rottweilers. In any case, there’s some meta-narrative in here wherein we are not sure if our hero is actually a real human being or a character written into existence by the species-traitor, Sutter Cane. Also there’s some creepy children. And when are creepy children not awesome?

Movie the Second: The Mist (2007, Frank Darabont)

The Mist Spider

You’re gonna need a bigger…rolled-up newspaper…

Kay SO, this one was much less of a rollicking good time, but it did provide some good “suspense-porn” as some like to call it. Because Frank Darabont and his cadre of Walking Dead actors like to make people feel alienated and sad. And sure, the CGI was aaaaawful, but if you’ve got a good imagination and you let the acting lead the way, this is worth watching.

So this time, it isn’t a fiction-writer’s tippity-tappity-typing that ushers in the apocalypse. It’s the military industrial complex, which I think is slightly more plausible (right?). They’ve been performing experiments with alternate dimensions which results in a RIP A HOLE IN THE TIME SPACE CONTINUUM OH GOD. So all manner of tentacled, spiky, winged and long-legged creature finds its way into the world and begins to prey on human flesh and give some pretty vicious stings. And lays their eggs in peoples’ chest cavities.

IN MAINE of course.

What would it be like the other way around I wonder? If the creatures ripped a hole in the wall between worlds and then we humans started pouring in. We’d probably give them lots of diseases and eat all of their spider baby children. Gross gross groooooooss.

The story focuses on a large group of people trapped in a supermarket and how quickly they descend into head-on-stick batshittery. Marcia Gay Harden had a marvelous performance as a religious zealot that gets everyone frothed up for human sacrifice. She did a marvelous job of making me want to punch her in the face. Also, Toby Jones (who I recently watched in the bizarre Berberian Sound Studio) forwent his usual meek role and became a total frickin badass and amazing shot with a pistol.

The ending of course was shocking and it really REALLY pissed off my husband. It also gave Connor nightmares. Without giving too much away, it was kind of a cross between a Twilight Zone ending and the ending to Night of the Living Dead. In fact I’d be very surprised if that heavy influence didn’t just force its way into Darabont’s mind along with the theme of a besieged and isolated group of assholes.

If you want a long day with a lot of conflicting emotions, run these back-to-back. The first one on its own is a fun ride, but both are worth enjoying with a drink and a wink-and-nod to Mr. This-is-so-horrific-I-could-never-explain-it-to-you-but-I’m-going-to-go-on-for-50-pages-anyway Lovecraft.

Let Me In…and then hand me one of them bloody brews

Yo YO yo. Happy to be participating in Gore-a-thon 2014, and I submit some blood-red beer paired with one of the better vampire movies of the last several years.

THE BEER: Liefman’s Cuvee Brut — a Belgian fruit beer, aka a “Kriek”, brewed with fermented black cherries. (6% ABV)

This stuff brought on the sort of emotional catharsis that you don’t get all that often and that, for me, usually only happens with Belgians (I know, I’m a terrible American). BTW, if you think that lambics are just for wussies, then you’re missing out on a whole amazing slice of beery life. Because da-yum!!! Light, carbonated, slightly sweet and just plain glorious.

Having a holy moment here at Barrelhouse 101.

Having a holy moment here at Barrelhouse 101.

THE MOVIE: Let Me In (American/English remake of Let the Right One In — Sweden)

Yes. Both of these movies are great, which is a pretty fun surprise since remakes are infamously shitty. And while you might be saying, “Come on, those aren’t gory movies,” I’m going to tell you now why you’re wrong.

There’s something SO satisfying about the kind of elastic-band horror of something like “Let Me In / Let the Right One In”. While it has all the slow-burn, make-you-wait-for-it elements of a not-so-gory horror movie, the payoffs are fabulous. AND YOU PAY WITH BLOOD.

And I think if you’re not dying for those gory payoffs, then you’re not going to have fun with this movie (or you’re lying to make yourself seem more cerebral–stop that). Because all the emotional high points of this film feature a LOT of blood.

For the old salts, even if we are watching “smart horror” we want those money-shots, dammit. And for those who fear gore, meet your gateway drug. We’ll have you rolling in disemboweled corpses in no time.

I would argue that almost every emotional high-point in this film has a gory payoff. SPOILERY examples:

-The old-familiar’s chemically burned face (particularly slimy and vulgar in the remake).

-Any shot of Abby/Eli’s mouth looking like the aftermath of a cherry-pie eating contest.

-Any shot where Abby/Eli is soaked in blood period (because creepy children soaked in blood!)

-(REMAKE ONLY) THAT LADY CHOWING DOWN ON HER OWN ARM RIGHT BEFORE SHE BURSTS INTO FLAME WHOOOAAAA!!!

-And naturally, the final poolside coup de grace complete with severed heads and limbs.

Yeeeeeeeeah!

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with restraint, of course. But I am not going to pretend I’m not watching a vampire film for the blood.

Goreathon 2014 banner1000

 

Yeah, that about sums up Disneyland for me.

So picture this: David Lynch meets Rod Serling and they go to Disneyworld and they hook up with a 55-year-old chick with fake boobs dressed up as Maleficent in the back car of It’s a Small World. Oh and the chick dressed up as Maleficent? Doesn’t even work there. Add some projectile vomiting, eerily counterfeit Disney songs, and throw a black-and-white, guerrilla filmmaking pall over it.

Then you’ll have Escape from Tomorrow.

Is a caption really necessary here?

Is a caption really necessary here?

You may have heard about it, but it’s that film that a few people managed to shoot at Disneyworld without getting kicked out of the park. Miraculously. Some of the acting is kind of bad (but so is a lot of the acting in David Lynch’s stuff, let’s be honest). The content, however, is striking in that it’s saying something that I think a lot of people are unable or unwilling to articulate.

Basic premise: Jim, Emily and their two kids are on their last day of a Disney trip. Film opens with Jim getting fired over the phone, but he wants to have one more day of fun before reality sets in. By then, though, Emily is emotionally-frayed, cranky and fed-up with everyone, the kids are burnt out, and Jim is starting to hallucinate. He’s also developing a pervy obsession with a couple of teenage girls he sees all over the park.

In this great interview over here, writer/director Randy Moore gets into the way that adults who were “indoctrinated” as children are wrapped up in an almost cultish, religious fervor when it comes to Disney. And he manages to juxtapose that with the reality of miserable hours waiting in line, barfing children, creepy park-goers and (not to reveal too much) the park’s potentially dangerous public-health vector. The film palpitates with that desperation we get when we only have a few hours to “have fun” with a lot of other sweaty people.

Are we having fun yet?

Are we having fun yet?

There’s a scene in the film that really brought it home for me. The main character gives his wife, Emily, a delicate bell with a glass elephant on top. She takes the present and instead of thanking him she flips out because it’s the wrong character. “Dumbo?? Dumbo?? Minnie Mouse, Jim!! You know what. Forget it.”

The frightening thing is that even in a 30-something year old woman, this isn’t an abnormal reaction. A lot of us have taken so many Buzzfeed quizzes and watched so many movies and cartoons that Disney is wrapped up in our identities. If that identity is challenged, we feel attacked.

OK – I’m being nice when I say “we”. As obsessed as I was with Disneyland as a child and as much as I loved The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast (and yes, I have even had a few drunken Disney sing-alongs with girlfriends in college), I probably feel the same way about grown-up Disney fans that many people feel about me as a horror fan.

AKA, I have to restrain a little bit of disgust. To the point that when Fitocracy released this, I unsubscribed from their e-mails. It’s not that I think Disney is evil (well…not ALWAYS), and I have no problem watching Disney movies when I’m with my little cousins and nieces and nephews. All the same, the obsession that stretches into people – particularly women – in their 30s, 40s and beyond really skeeves me out.

I usually feel pretty alone in this and I don’t like to say it too much because a lot of people I like love Disney movies even as adults. Escape from Tomorrow made me feel less alone in my trepidation and that sort of Twilight Zone feeling that I get from seeing overly-personal Disney references and comments made by people my age or older.

AND WATCH OUT FOR THAT CAT FLU!

1 – 2 – 3

“No Daddy, Princess Mariah doesn’t like that shade of pink!!”

Samson wasn’t sure where his daughter had picked up the royal “we” but he was sure he didn’t much care for it. But he sure as hell didn’t have the energy to fight with her about it and stand up on this ladder painting her bedroom.

“Well, she sure liked it a lot when we were in Home Depot this afternoon. Maybe give her a few minutes and she’ll like it again,” he didn’t look down at her, but continued the percussive roll of the paint onto drywall.

“No!” Sharp as a rimshot, another new thing she’d picked up–probably at that preschool. God he was letting his own child succumb to the entitled Disney Princess culture. And enabling it by painting her walls pink.

Danielle would have gotten her into something like dragonflies or done up the place with the solar system or a jungle theme. She had been great at that kind of thing.

“Well, Princess Mariah, I’m the one up here painting the walls of your castle,” he waved the roller in front of his face.

“Palace,” she crossed her arms, drawing out the “s” with an extra saliva spurt.

“Aw Christ,” he muttered, putting a paint-flecked hand to his forehead.

“Daddy! You cussed!!” She started jumping up and down at the base of the ladder and a cold burst of adrenaline washed from his shoulders to finger tips as he gripped the top of it. The roller bounced in his sweaty grip and landed on the floor, splashing pink paint onto the cuffs of his daughter’s jeans.

“HAHAHA!” With the too-big roar of a victorious cavalry officer, she snatched the paint-soaked roller from the ground, scurried out of the room and pounded down the stairs.

Lord, in a neighborhood like this if she made it half a block with that thing some soccer mom would be calling child services in no time. He tried not to imagine the ladder toppling as he hurried to the tarp-covered floor.

“MARIAH, GET YOUR BUTT BACK HERE WITH THAT THING OR YOU WILL NEVER EAT ICE CREAM AGAIN SO HELP ME GOD!!!” He was only met with another roar of her laughter.

Behind him he heard the door down to the basement slam, and he followed the trail of pink paint. Well, at least she hadn’t taken her shit-show on the road.

“Mariah–get up here NOW!!”

As he opened the door, he heard her roar turn to a snicker. He imagined her crouched down, holding a roller full of wet paint that she was more than likely going to smudge all over herself and into his beard once he caught up with her.

“Mariah–don’t make me come down there!!”

No voice this time, but only the rustle of cloth. So. She thought that she’d tricked him.

Well, at least maybe she wasn’t such a girly girl after all.

Since they’d moved in, he hadn’t spent much time in the basement. He’d kept most of the boxes upstairs, not wanting to deal with the hassle of changing his mind and having to carry things back up again, but there had been a few old pieces of furniture camped out there when they moved in and they blocked the stream of light coming from the kitchen. He went to switch on the light but his hand didn’t come into contact with a switch as he groped at the wall.

He waved his hand above his head, looking for some kind of pull-string to work with. Nothing there either.

Another giggle from the far end of the basement.

“Mariah–it’s not funny!” He was halfway down the steps. “Now I’m going to count to three, and if you don’t come out by the time I’m done, you’re not going to be allowed to play with the Wii all weekend–got it?”

He took another step down the croaking wooden steps. “One…”

Complete silence.

“Two…” He was almost to the bottom of the stairs now. He was going to have to follow through on his threat and he was NOT looking forward to what came next.

“Daddy?” A voice said from behind him. Samson whirled around, to see his daughter standing at the top of the stairs, holding the dripping paint-roller.

Just before the door slammed shut and he heard a voice next to his ear whisper, “three.”

She went onto the front porch against the sign’s wishes

Because it was Saturday, bitches. halloween house 1A couple of weeks ago I got a bit stir crazy and visited my friends in LA for a weekend. In the midst of hotter-than-usual temps and no planned activities, I conned them into helping me hunt down the Meyers House from Halloween at 1000 Mission Street in Pasadena. We only ended up driving for about 25 minutes, which isn’t too bad of a trip considering the city. They ended up getting pretty invested in the search even though none of them had seen Halloween (I know–some friend I am!). Regardless, I bought them iced coffee and lemonade afterward. halloweenhouse-2 It’s now right next to the light-rail tracks and is a chiropractor’s office. There’s no way to take a straight on photo to get the whole thing in frame without getting the light rail in on the party too, alas. At least they saved the house though–it was moved to the other side of the street because a block of commercial suites were built at the old address. halloweenhouse-3 I incorporated the house into a photo project I was doing…mostly for the sole purpose of being as creepy as possible (duh). My friend Ember is quite good at that.

(case and point)

(case in point)

Next time I go, we’re going to find Nancy’s house from A Nightmare on Elm Street. The directions I got had us go to the wrong end of Genesee, and by then it was about 3:30 and we didn’t feel like driving into Hollywood in the heat on a Saturday.

Beer that will make your Tongue Woolly…no wait that’s gross.

Lager does NOT have to be boring. It does not have to be yellow piss that you wouldn’t even use in a crock-pot recipe.

Case in point: Black Lager aka Schwarzbier. Made with lager yeast (aka “under-yeast”) brewing and takes place at much lower temperatures than I can’t make with my low-fi kit in the garage. That’s why buying different types of lager is great, especially for days (like today) when you’re roasting in your AC-free house. I’d posit that any good lager is better than an IPA for a heat wave, and if you’re burnt out on Saisons and farmhouse ales this is your clear road to refreshment.

This one is Baba Black Lager from Uinta Brewing Co. out of Salt Lake City, UT. It’s got low alcohol and low IBU, but a full enough flavor that you don’t feel like you’re wasting your taste-buds and carbs by drinking a bottle or two. And the green-geek in me likes that it’s certified organic (though that is rarely, if ever, a deciding factor in whether I buy a beer or not).

Baba Black Lager

This is the only movie that could possibly go with this beer. That’s a fact that I knew as soon as I saw the bottle.

blacksheep

THE MOVIE

I would put Black Sheep on the same softball team as Shaun of the Dead. The dialogue and editing aren’t quite as fast-paced and magnetic, but it’s no slouch by a long-shot, and the comedy : gore ratio is highly appealing. And in terms of re-watch value, they’re definitely comparable. The difference in stickiness, I’d wager, is that in America we connect way more with British pub culture (and directors who want to meet us halfway with eleventy-billion reference jokes) than with the sheep farms of New Zealand. Unfortunately, it looks like writer/director is still pretty under-the-radar. He’s definitely got some creative zest, though, and hopefully that’s working out for him with his projects in NZ.

One word summary: were-sheep. Longer thematic summary: a satire on the evil-soulless-livestock-companies showing the most ridiculous thing that could possibly happen as a result of genetic engineering. With a good brother and an evil brother, a dumb hippie and a hot hippie, and unnatural amounts of bodily fluid spewed all over the place (delivered in a way that is unique to New Zealand horror film). AND as any good horror-comedy should, they do a great job balancing the suspense, gore and zany-madcap humor.

 

Enjoy together at a 2-3:1 ratio. Just beware spit-takes.