Don’t Make me Rap Those Knuckles (White Zombie + Einstok White Ale)

The Movie: White Zombie; 1932

Directed by: Victor Halperin

If you ever go to Haiti and meet a guy named “Murder Legendre”, don’t be around when he does this with his hands:

White Zombie Bela Lugosi Hands

But, chances are, you will already be trapped by his ability to arrest you with his gaze.

Scary Bela Lugosi

With myriad shitty horror movies on the docket, and some major gaps in my viewing history, I’m now instituting a periodic check-ins with the classics. “Classical Pairings” if you will, to be enjoyed without guilt or trepidation. And, in spite of the obvious issue of a movie called “White Zombie” being problematic in a lot of ways, let’s just turn on our thinking taps – I mean caps. I mean taps.

White Zombie is a quick movie: only 67 minutes, a lot of which is simply staring into Bela Lugosi’s eyebrows. I mean eyes. And man, he’s got some creepy peepers, which warrants some long and lingering shots. Thankfully, there is a narrative reason for this: somehow, Murder Legendre (Lugosi) is imbued with magical, hypnotic powers that make his eyes exert control over people (who, um, must be tricked into drinking some potion first, of course).

The film opens with Madeleine Short (Madge Bellamy) and her fiance Jonathan Harker — I MEAN Neil Parker (John Harron) headed to the plantation of Charles Beaumont. Because apparently Madeleine had met him on a boat and he’d invited the two to get married at his plantation in Haiti.

“Strange,” says their guide, missionary Dr. Bruner (Joseph Cawthorn), “Very strange.”

Yeah. No shit. Turns out that he’s lured them there to try to steal Madeleine away. Beaumont meets up with Murder Legendre, who commands a team of zombie servants, to consult with him on how to get Madeleine to leave Neill and marry him. It’s pretty obvious how Murder would solve that problem. He’d solve it in the same way he solves all of his problems. By um, turning her into a zombie.

Madge Bellamy White Zombie

Only seconds before one of the most epic swoons caught on black and white film.

But — a WHITE zombie, guys. They don’t really get into what the title means in the movie. It’s either because she’s literally white or because she has that whole “pure and innocent” thing, or because she’s wearing a creepy wedding dress the whole movie. In any case, fun twist of irony: turns out doe-eyed actress Madge Bellamy was a firecracker femme fatale extraordinaire. Ten years after White Zombie was made, Madge was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in San Francisco, where she had stalked former lover, Albert Murphy, and fired 3 shots at him with a .32 caliber revolver.

“I only winged him, which is what I meant to do,” she reportedly said. “Believe me, I am a crack shot.”

Damn, girl.

So, the highly sensible Dr. Bruner manages to corral drunk and depressed Neil after his bride “dies” in his arms, and helps him infiltrate Murder’s castle. Beaumont regrets turning Madeleine into a zombie and does some very dramatic things to atone for his sins, after nearly being turned into a zombie himself, of course. There is a lot of shuffling, shadow painting, hand grasping, and swooning. The acting is mostly terrible (a complaint that even the just-post-silent-era critics made), but there are some pretty sweet n’ spooky eyeballs going on, which I think makes it totally worthwhile.

White Zombie Drink Eyes

DAMMIT! Not in my drink, too!

 

THE BEER: Einstok Icelandic White Ale

5.2 % ABV

Oh the delight that is Einstok Beer Company. I have a hard time not completely flipping out over how much I love this stuff. Over the past month or so this brewery’s epic yet understated beauties have been popping up on my radar from Scotland to my beloved hometown bottle shop. The Icelandic White Ale, however, was the one that started it all for me. A white ale with a very VERY light touch of coriander, it is just so clean without any cloying attributes. A smooth ale with just enough of a touch of the obligatory white beer spice and orange peel to keep that lovin’ feeling. Skal!

Einstok Icelandic White Ale

Half-Vacuumed Filth and Fight Wine

The Beer: Elixir; Benedictine Groove Scotch Ale

5.3% ABV

Elixir Benedictine Groove

This brew requires a bit of explanation. I tried it when I was in Edinburgh, and it does, in fact, originate in Edinburgh as well. Not only is Benedictine Groove a Scotch Ale, but it has a lot of ingredients brewed into it that are definitively Scottish: namely Buckfast and tablet.

For those of you who are not familiar, Buckfast is a “tonic wine” (not to suggest any health properties by a LONG shot) made by Benedictine monks in the south of England. Because it is cheap as hell and high in both alcohol AND caffeine, it has become the beverage of choice for juvenile troublemakers who hang out on park benches after dark, or so is my understanding. The only proof I saw of that last point was the carpet of broken green glass present on some of the city streets Sunday morning.

And tablet is basically just sugar blocks. I’m not complaining.

My darling husband was hell-bent on trying Buckfast, and I was…not. I picked Benedictine Groove up at the neighborhood Craft Bottle Shop, and the friendly fellow behind the counter warned that I’d get a caffeine buzz from this due to its being brewed with loads of Buckfast. I made the mistake of saying, “Well that’s about as close to drinking Buckfast as I want to get.”

He gave a furtive look around the shop and put a full sized bottle and a smaller can on his counter.

“Don’t tell anyone I have this. I don’t want to lose any customers,” he said. My husband’s eyes lit up and I knew that we weren’t leaving without it. And that I’d have to try it too. And if you want to know what it tasted like, you can watch his reaction video here (that’s me laughing in the background). I had a sip, but he finished the whole can, and spent the next hour pacing around the rented apartment, checking his racing pulse. I enjoyed a minor caffeine buzz and enjoyed my beer.

As syruppy and unpleasant as Buckfast is, Benedictine Groove was awesome, and was good fuel for when we went back out late that night for an Edinburgh “Terror Tour”.

The Movie: Filth; 2013

Directed by Jon S. Baird

Filth

 

When I saw Filth offered on Netflix streaming, I remembered a class that I took as a Freshman Lit student where we each chose an author and read as many books by that author before the semester was over, presenting on a new book in class every week. I chose Chuck Palahniuk and at the time I supposed my “double” in the class was the girl who chose Irvine Welsh. When she came out to do her presentation on Filth (the novel), however, I realized that this book may even be outside the endurance of my stomach. She seemed to be repressing her gag reflex throughout the entire presentation.

So I braced myself for the film, but was a bit excited to see whether or not I could endure what it threw at me. James McAvoy plays Edinburgh cop Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson with misanthropic zeal, though let’s face it, he’s probably just too attractive to really make that part as gross as it was meant to be. The DS is gunning for a promotion and orchestrating truly vile ways to sabotage his co-workers in order to get there (setting them up for “indiscretions”, making obscene phone calls to their wives, paying strangers to embarrass them in front of their superiors, etc.). In the end though, he’s far too unhinged, too addicted to drugs, and too outwardly misogynistic and erratic to accomplish his goals and ends up failing all together.

That’s a very broad summary, of course. This is a bit of a rambling film, I assume in order to sort of emulate the stream-of-consciousness style of the 1997  novel. A brief comparison of the book’s plot summary and my viewing of the film, however, shows that as fucked up as this film is, it cannot even begin to rival the book (which is even harder on the main character and involves indecent acts with a pig). And now the question is, if I now really want to read it, what does that say about me?

It’s hard to stay quiet when you are on fire

The Film: The Quiet Ones, 2014

Directed by John Pogue

Usually what happens with a mediocre horror film is the following: I am intrigued by a frightening happening near the beginning of the film, and as the counter runs on, things become less and less interesting until I’m pressing fast-forward while characters scurry through dark hallways.

With The Quiet Ones, things occurred in the opposite order, where the film began slowly and ramped up to engaging ridiculousness toward the end. The film opens at Oxford University, where Dr. Joseph Coupland (played by Jared Harris) is arguing about case studies of supposedly “possessed” people and his theories as to what is REALLY going on with them. Coupland is convinced that what REALLY happens when someone is “possessed” isn’t a bunch of gobbledy-goobldedy-hocus-pocusery, but instead the subject is manifesting their own negative energy into telekinetic powers that simulate a haunting.

Yeah…I’ve heard that one before in a few movies, but none of them have been much good. And in the end it’s almost always proven wrong. Whoooops…spoiler alert. Except if you didn’t guess it yourself, then maybe you’ve never seen a horror movie before, in which case I assume you are here for the booze. That’s fine.

Coupland has enlisted the help of Brian (played by Sam Clafin) in order to film his current experiment. He’s trying to scientifically exorcise a demon from a young woman and victim of the 1970s British foster care system, Jane Harper (played by Olivia Cooke). Also…is Jane Harper not the most British name you’ve ever heard? Anyway, Jane is convinced that she’s in touch with the spirit of a little girl named Evie (no wait–THAT’s the most British name I’ve ever heard), who Jane claims is possessing a baby doll.

the quiet ones olivia cooke

Hands off my possessed dolly, bitches.

After Coupland loses his funding (because he is TERRIBLE at science, I mean daaaaamn), they move Jane out into the country to continue experimenting (or fixing her but I’m not sure anyone in this film knows what they’re doing). Because moving a young woman out to the middle of nowhere, locking her in a room all day and strapping her with electrodes every evening is not only NOT sketchy in the slightest, it seems the sure way to release her from her psychological shackles. Obviously.

The other two experimenters are students Harry and Krissi (Rory Fleck-Byrne and Erin Richards), who spend most of the movie having sex with each other. Also Krissi might be having sex with Dr. Coupland too, which I guess makes sense if you are into megalomaniacal dicks who are bad at science and don’t even have any money? Maybe we can just chalk it up to Stockholm Syndrome, which Jane also seems to have, based on her willingness to put up with being an experimental subject even when it doesn’t seem to be helping in any way. Regardless, this is one of the first horror movies I’ve seen in awhile that played so soap-operatically.

Brian the cameraman is determined to get to the bottom of who Evey is so that he can somehow help free Jane from this very unhealthy scenario. Because he’s SNOGGING her of course. And from this point everything just gets even more bizarre and fucked up. Oh. And FUUUH-UHN!

I might sound like I didn’t like it. What I really didn’t like is Jared Harris’ character (HE’S SO GROSS, YOU GUYS) and how un-scientific “the experiment” is. What I did like, however, was the small cast of characters and how they were developed, the variance the story showed from the normal exorcism/haunted house narrative, and the ending. You can’t overstate how satisfying a well-executed horror film ending can be since so many films fail at them so hard.

Pair with:

O’Dell’s 90 Shilling Ale
ABV: 5.3%

A British-style ale made in Colorado, medium-bodied and lightly malted to get you in the mood for a quick Hammer horror film. Also because even though California is WAY closer to Colorado than the UK, for some reason you can get O’Dell’s in the UK but NOT in California. No. I’m not bitter. Not bitter at all.

Oculus + Cherry Sour

THE MOVIE: Oculus ; 2013

Directed by Mike Flanagan

The plot centers around Tim Russell, played by Brenton Thwaites, who is just being released from a mental facility after being confined for killing his father. His sister Kaylie, played by Karen Gillan, has been waiting impatiently for his release so they can get revenge upon the real culprit in their parents’ murder.

This big-ass, terrifying mirror.

Oculus Mirror

Oh yeah. Who wouldn’t want this in their house?

Kaylie, in foster care since both of her parents died grisly deaths, has dedicated her life to tracking down this mirror in order to “kill it”. As soon as her brother emerges from the mental facility at the age of 21, she lets him know that she has procured it through her job at an auction house, and they only have a couple of days to dispose of it. Just what you want to hear when you’re one day out of the loony bin. But you know. First they have to get video evidence to prove to the world that the mirror is evil, in order to exonerate the rest of her family from the supposed crimes they’d committed while under its spell.

As someone who has feared mirrors ever since a classmate terrified me with the “Bloody Mary” story at age six, I was excited about Oculus when I first saw the previews. I also had previously enjoyed his previous movie, Absentia, if for no other reason that it explored some rarely tackled areas of the genre.  He’s got a particular affinity for the Lovecraftian trope of untraceable, ancient evils, which I think always deserves more attention. For that reason alone, he’s a director I’d like to see a lot more of.

The film generated from a 2005 30-minute short, which follows the same plot, but focuses on one actor in one room during one timeline. Oculus, on the other hand, jumps back and forth in time between when Tim and Kaylie were kids and the present. Also, as opposed to the short film, the movie seems like there is a much more straightforward assault taking place against Tim and Kaylie, whereas in the micro-budgeted short, the onus to portray psychological attack was all on actor Scott Graham. These attacks were also spread throughout this house of Kaylie and Tim’s childhood rather than confined to the one room holding the mirror. Despite this slightly increased space, the drama is still pretty claustrophobic, and I bet with some good lighting it could make a decent stage play.

Things that worked for me: the idea that you can’t run away once you are within the mirror’s sphere of influence. Any movie where someone seems to escape the horror of their situation (cough**The Descent **cough) and then finds that they are right back where they started makes my skin crawl, and that happens a couple of times in this movie. There were also some pretty decent performances. Karen Gillan has a respectable American accent and delivers her lines with a cross between auction-house patter and Hercule Poirot delivering his j’accuse at the end of a Sunday-night mystery show. Katee Sackhoff, who plays their mom and is also recognizable as Starbuck from BSG, repeatedly sacrifices her body for this film.

You have got to love a woman who isn’t afraid to be ugly.

The kids, also, particularly Annalise Basso as little Kaylie, do not fall into that annoying-child-actor trap at all. All in all it played really nicely.

The negatives for this film are more indicative of the larger horror genre currently. Something that has happened with the improvement of technology is that horror films are now populated by fully-manifested ghouls (and I blame James Wan). That can be fun, admittedly, but Oculus starts out as a pretty heavily psychological film. The parents seem tortured and warped enough that it is almost redundant to show a bunch of glowy-eyed ghosts filling the house, and I think they were unnecessary. Well, maybe the immense volume of them was unnecessary.

But I don’t know. Are we so desensitized that illogical jumps in time, withering plants, questionable sounds and images, and personality shifts aren’t enough to fill us with fear and dread?

Bad Seed Brewery Cherry Sour

The Beer: Cherry Sour from Bad Seed Brewery

Why did I select this beer to pair with Oculus? Miss red-headed Karen Gillan, naturally. Gillan is from Inverness, Scotland, which I recently visited. I also drank this beer in Scotland, and though it is made in North Yorkshire in England, this lassie has often been transplanted into foreign productions, including the very English Dr. Who (of course). Also…cherry sour…do I seriously have to explain this?

At 5.8% ABV, this is a little bit higher alcohol, but not so high that it’s an evening-ender. It also turns out that it is quite light on the cherries and quite heavy on the sour. The label claims the brewery uses a “24-hour mashing technique” and it shows. This is not a beer one can slug down, but rather must sip daintily. That said, it’s pretty delightful.

Pup Posts Volume 2: Dog Soldiers

So Mama left me alone to go to someplace last week where they like to eat sheep guts and oatmeal, and I was kinda mad because I wouldn’t mind eating some sheep livers. Just not chicken livers because they make me go puuuuuhhhh….But anyway. She left me at grandpa’s house so I decided that I’d make another blog about this movie I saw with Mama before she left. She translated and edited it plus filled in some of the facts that I couldn’t really remember because I’m just Connor.

Sad dog picture

Mama left me alone and I don’t like it.

The Movie: Dog Soldiers; 2002

Directed by Neil Marshall

(Connor spoils this movie pretty hard…be warned)

So at the start of this movie there was a guy who was running away from a lot of other guys, and it turned out they were just playing some kind of game, but a game where you wear special clothes and have to fight each other. He was trying to get into some sort of special army, and the mean man in charge told him that if he wanted to get in the special army he’d have to shoot another bubbas. And I really didn’t like that and put my face on the blanket and looked at Mama like, WHYYYY MAMA??? Anyway, the main guy was nice and didn’t want to do it and wouldn’t do it no matter what the mean man said. SO then the mean man took his gun and…well. Let’s just say I don’t like him.

Anyway, so later the main nice guy (played by Kevin McKidd) is in another army…just not as special of one, and he’s in charge of them. So he and the other guys are doing some stuff in the forest. Mama says the forest is in the same place where she and Dada were going to drink giggle water and eat a bunch of meat (the Scottish highlands), but then I got kind of worried that they weren’t taking me with them because of what happened next in the movie. The main nice guy and his friends found the mean man (played by Liam Cunningham) hurt in the forest and it looked like something had ripped up all his friends or something. And it turns out that they were GIANT bubbas that didn’t even really look like bubbas at all and could walk on their hind legs NOT just when Mama tricks them into jumping up after a treat and then grabs their front paws. Cuz she does that to me a lot.

Some nice lady…well nice AT FIRST…picks them all up in her car and drives them back to this big house where her friends are supposed to be. But there aren’t any people there, but they find Sam in a closet. I like Sam…I don’t think I would have been as good as he was though with all the werewolves, I would have barked way more. But they never could have caught me either because I can run really really fast because I’m part greyhound and they’re part peoples. So they spend a lot of time in this house trying to keep the werewolves out and then they find out that the lady is a big liar and brought them there to trap them so the werewolves could eat them all. I was just really worried about was Sam because I didn’t think I could watch another bubbas get hurt. It was ok though because the werewolves didn’t want to hurt him because it turned out he was their dog because it was their house. Whoooooaaaaa….

Anyway, Sam was ok, that’s all I cared about. And the main nice guy was ok too. The rest of them weren’t though, which is kinda sad I guess, but mostly I was just worried about why Mama and Dada were going to a place like that. But Mama said the werewolves weren’t real and it was ok. And now they’re both back and I’m happy, even though grandpa gives me way more treats.

And now over to Mama because she’s going to talk about a beer that I couldn’t try because I wasn’t there. And I’m a dog.

The Beer: Kiwheat from Cromarty Brewing Co.

Kiwi_Hefeweizen

Aaaaaah note how fresh and unspoiled that label is. The dude at the bottle shop in Inverness said he had just gotten the bottles the previous day. So baller.

Cromarty Brewing Co. in the Scottish highlands is apparently a damn good little brewery, according to the people we talked to. This was the only brew of there’s that I had time to sample in between my many wee drams of Scotch, but it was tart and even a little bit hairy (and I mean that in the best way possible). The location of the brewery and the flavor profile make it a perfect pairing for Dog Soldiers. I’m not sure how wide distribution is in the UK, but we saw it both in Inverness (in the Highlands) and when we stopped by The Beerhive in Edinburgh (love that place–if you’re there you should definitely check it out).

Frankenstein just needs some s’mores, guys

SO this Saturday I did something that I should have done a loooooong time ago.

I got my friends (and the hubs) in on the beer-horror pairing fun. Turns out our dear friend and camping buddy, Aaron, is a Bigfoot-enthusiast. We decided that Bigfoot movie night was in order.

Usually I don’t expect people to get as excited about such things as I do, so I was pleased when Aaron and his wife, Markie, walked in with salmon dip (because Bigfoot eats fish of course) and decked out in Squatchy-Hunting camo. They even brought us hats and headbands so we could all match!

Squatchie Hunters

SASQUAAAAATCH!!!!

The Movie: The Frankenstein Theory ; 2013

Directed by: Andrew Weiner

The Frankenstein Theory

Raaaaaaawr

I selected this one because I had heard that the main premise of this film was that Frankentstein is still alive and living in Canada. Meaning he IS ACTUALLY Bigfoot and therefore is responsible for all sasquatch-related mysterious disappearances. This ended up being a lot more Frankenstein-y than Bigfoot-y, but there were enough elements to keep my squatchy-hunter friends happy. For instance, it contained some “tree-knocking”,ie., knocking a branch against a tree, which I learned is a way that sasquatches communicate.

The main character, Jonathan Verkenheim (played by Kris Lemche) has a bit of the Captain Ahab meets Victor Frankenstein vibe going on. He’s willing to sacrifice everything, including his academic career, for the sake of proving his theory that Frankenstein roams the Northwest Territories. He hires a camera crew, including an old college friend, Vicky (played by Heather Stevens) and some wise-cracking sound guys / cameramen ala the ghost-hunters in Insidious. Except unlike the Insidious movies, this is a found footage film. Naturally.

Even though the appearance of the monster and the first death doesn’t happen until WAY after the 45-minute mark, they attempt to make up for it with some human bugaboos and tensions, including a gun-waving meth head. The barren landscape and the obvious cold serves as a powerful backdrop, though. It definitely sets up that feeling of isolation and hopelessness that you would want from an outdoorsy horror film.

Complaints:

  • They literally call the monster “Frankenstein”, which I think disqualifies you from being a real horror fan. I don’t have a lot of deal breakers, but that’s kiiiinda one of them.
  • A little bit of weird racism in the beginning, meaning the only person of color in the film is an angry black dude who starts beating on the hood of Vicky’s car and screaming at her when she almost hits him. And then you never see him again. Huh?
  • Blatant…BLATANT rip-off of Quint from Jaws in the form of the groups guide, Karl (played by Timothy V. Murphy), who spends at least half of his on-screen time proving how tough he is by not wearing a coat. SUCH a blatant rip off, this guy is, that he even has a MONOLOGUE about a bunch of guys getting attacked one-by-one by a polar bear delivered in the same cadence and almost with the same accent as Quint’s USS Indianapolis monologue. Seriously. Come on.

And for dessert: THE BEER – Campfire Stout from High Water Brewing

campfire stout

6.5% ABV, 38 IBUs (sorry hop-heads)

This beer is definitely indulgent, in that it is brewed with chocolate malt, actual graham crackers and toasted marshmallow flavoring. I know, it’s flavoring, but it’s better than eating leftover birthday cake. I’d say it’s even better than actual s’mores (because duh, it’s beer). After I bought this, it occurred to me that I may have accidentally bought a smoked beer. This would have been a disaster…I just can’t handle it. There was enough of the “smokiness” required from a good stout though, particularly a stout that is supposed to taste like s’mores. And by “supposed to”, I mean “succeeds in”. Would drink again.

We overshot the evening by watching a Lance Henriksen movie we found on Netflix streaming called “Sasquatch” but my friends fell asleep halfway through. And I wish I fell asleep. Gawd.

We decided to reconvene for more Bigfoot movie nights in the future though. Know of any good ones that we shouldn’t miss?

Don’t drop the brown rye bread, man

Rye. A cover crop and a crop in itself. It’s great in sandwiches and even better brewed or distilled (can I get a holla from all my Bulleit fans?).

It’s also a major cause of werewolf attacks.

 

THE BEER: Bryeian (The Bruery)

ABV: 7% IBU: 155

Bryeian Beer The Bruery

 

Yeah. I know. This is my third post about a beer from The Bruery. But you know what? That’s ok. I’d recommend this one for people who are hop-heads but want to branch out a little bit. At 155 IBU it’s pretty nutso on the hops, but the nose has a little bit of a whiff of a Belgian quadrupel, which makes me pretty happy. This quadrupel is my favorite, if for no other reason than it makes me feel painfully sentimental. There’s just enough malt to balance the IBU to a palatable level. Since The Bruery is able to make so many delicate sours and, I won’t begrudge them a hoppy departure, particularly since the beer seems to be a bit sentimental itself: a celebration of their 1000th batch.

But now. Back to werewolves.

The funny thing about werewolves is there seem to be werewolf epidemics throughout history; similar to witch trials, werewolf trials swept medieval Europe. Extracting confessions never seems to be a problem for these medieval cases either. There’s always an element of bewilderment, and a little bit of that good ol’ “stop-me-before-I-kill-again” mentality. Oh…and in France between 1530 and 1620 there were 30,000 werewolf trials. I’ll say that again. In 90 years, in one continental country there were 30,000 WEREWOLF trials. That’s not counting the proliferation across Germany, Austria, and as far away as Estonia.

People – mostly the poor – would be found covered in blood, having committed multiple murders or having attacked a neighbor’s flock of sheep. They would often report meeting a man cloaked in black who would do things like tell them to renounce God, etc., and then would be possessed by some sort of beast.

What the hell was going on?

This is where rye comes in. Rye is a staple of lower classes, and has been for centuries, both in the US and “across the pond.” When rye isn’t well-preserved however, it tends to develop a fungal growth called “ergot.” Ergot is highly toxic to humans and can cause hallucinations. In fact, it’s super-similar to a little compound called Lysergic acid diethylamide, aka., “LSD”.

This explains many accounts given by the “werewolves” themselves, where they would describe their exploits and hallucinations that only someone having a really bad, really unexpected trip would have. And why I never knew about this before last week is a mystery, but it calls for some deep investigation. No sampling though. Ergot poisoning is no joke.

SO to sum up, pair this beer with your favorite werewolf movie.

Mine is Ginger Snaps (mostly because I love Katharine Isabelle…sue me). What’s yours?

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

clown shoes undead party crasher

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)

Sam Neill Freaking Out

<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.

Liefman Cuvee at Barrelhouse 101

Having a holy moment 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.

Let Me In

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.

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