89 Minutes of Brain’Splosion and 750ml of Tongue’Splosion

The blend of nostalgia with what-should-be-nostalgia (and soon WILL be) is engrossing and a combination that I highly, HIGHLY recommend.

THE BEER

rueuzeUnexpectedly brought to me after a morning of gardening in the sun, this goes down like the way you want something to go down on a Sunday afternoon (phrasing…). Rueuze, from The Bruery in Orange County, CA, is a play on “gueuze”. That’s an old Belgian style where you blend barrel-aged lambics that have been aging up to 3 years with freshly fermented lambics. Same sour flavor as a good Berliner-weiss and very, very closely related to Kriek (sour cherry beer–that’s a thing too). This baby is a blend of a variety of aged blonde ales.

The palate: grapefruit tempered with a glorious yeasty nose–a sour blonde aged in oak barrels that infuses it with that creamy, malolactic acid flavor. Serve in a tulip glass. Buy it up and save it in your basement or garage for later. Give The Bruery a lot of your money, because it is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries.

WHY THE PAIRING? If you love your alcohol with high quantities of acid, this is for you. And the following film is DEFINITELY for people who are into acid. You know, like, legally (or not?).

THE FILM: Fulci’s The Beyond

This is a twisted classic (just like, IMO, gueuze). I probably should have seen City of the Living Dead first, which is the first in Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy–this is the second. The only other film I’d seen of Fulci’s is Zombi 2, but that was a much more linear and more action-oriented plot. This is far more surrealistic, and yet replete with eye-violence!

This character is named Emily. I think Connor and I have this year's Halloween costume figured out.

I think Connor and I have this year’s Halloween costume figured out (hopefully things don’t end for me the way they did for her).

Most of the film was mostly shot on location in Louisiana then partially in Italy and it was made on a very, very low budget (under $500,000–INCREDIBLE). Most of that budget went to blocking off the French Quarter in New Orleans as well as the Pontchartrain Causeway. In spite of low funds, The Beyond is full of sensory-overloading set-pieces. This includes a scene of tarantulas ripping apart a semi-conscious person’s face. They managed to keep the real spiders centered in frame while keeping the hokey-looking fake spiders slightly out of focus. If life gives you lemons make limoncello, right?

The film also features a creepy blind character named Emily, played by Cinzia Monreale with a pet German Shepherd. The actor-dog was named Max and he was trained to sniff out explosives and drugs but does a great job of mauling the zombies that the producers forced Fulci to write into the script. I have an uncomfortable suspicion that this dog has done more with his life than I ever will. Poking myself in the imaginary third eye for not having seen this sooner! If you’re a gore-hound or willing to give in to some brain’splosions, enjoy this ASAP.

Sybil Tartuffe Berlin

The Beer: Heretic Tartuffe Berliner Weissbier

The thing I love about sour beers is that so often they’re low alcohol and easy to drink without going completely over the edge of sloppy–which is why I’m happy to see that they’re coming back en vogue. Tartuffe is not the most Berliner Weiss-y sour I’ve ever had, but it is reminiscent enough to be enjoyable. As long as you’re not expecting full throttle sourness, this is a decent beverage–and Heretic makes some tasty brews so I’m willing to forgive them an only-kinda-good beer from time to time.

And on a related note: expect the rest of the month to be full of even more sour beers and lambics. That is not an April Fool’s joke.

Heretic sour beer.

Tartuffe, loosely explained, is a hypocrite and a fraud (and a character/title of a play by Moliere). And as such, it goes pretty well with a book that I recently finished.

The Book: Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan

Not sure if you ever had to watch “Sybil” starring Sally Field in high school, but I certainly did. It was all about a woman with 16 different personalities, and her therapist’s valiant struggle to “integrate” her into a whole person. Sybil was, of course, a real person–but Multiple Personality Disorder is definitely one of those things I was discussing last week: a culturally dependent disorder. In fact, the real Sybil–named Shirley Mason–only started manifesting new personalities under hypnosis and sodium-pentathol injections. Plus she was guided by sensational leading questions from her doctor–Dr. Connie Wilbur–sometimes in marathon “therapy” sessions that lasted 12 hours a day seven days in a row.

Without “Sybil”, there probably wouldn’t have been a Satanic Panic in the ’80s. After MPD was introduced to the world, the resulting false memories landed lots of child care providers in jail and put patients in expensive therapy for huge chunks of their lives. In fact, they removed multiple personality disorder from the DSM and renamed it Dissociative Identity Disorder and included multiple warnings and caveats.

I listened to this book after getting it with my monthly Audible credit (LOVING that right now), and there were a few commutes where I was actually put into a pretty dark mood listening to details about the history of mental asylums and psychiatric medicine. In a lot of ways constituted a pseudo-science for a lot longer of a time than I originally thought. For instance–I had NO idea that before electro-shock therapy, psychiatrists would induce shock by giving patients overdoses of insulin. And yes, lots and lots of people died from it. Jeez.

Talk about true-life horror.

 

 

Like a Blood-sucking Dexter Before Showtime Decided he Needed to be Sexier

The Beer–Vampire Pale Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V., Belgium

This one comes in a 750ml and weighs in at 7% ABV. I shouldn’t have to explain why it’s paired with this movie. And I really can’t, because I don’t get what vampirism has to do with the flavor of this beer at all. It’s got a lot less hop to it than an American pale ale, and instead that familiar Belgian coriander on the nose. Full palate-covering malt, and a flavor that’s kind of…pissy? Not the best beer ever but it was drinkable. And I did.

Belgian Pale Ale--I don't know what exactly is going into that mouth but it isn't blood.

Belgian Pale Ale–I don’t know what exactly is going into that mouth but it isn’t blood.

The Film–George Romero’s Martin

Much like in the last film I talked about, had Martin not begun with the title character brutally raping and murdering a woman in the sleeper car of a train, you wouldn’t know that he was anything more than a socially awkward fellow with a seriously backward family. And unlike Canibal this film hits on a subject that has recently had me fascinated: cultural specific diseases. The central question of Martin is whether or not he’s actually a vampire or just a sexually-deranged murder. Potayto-potahto I say (as do others), and really I think the central issue here is culture.

Having been dumped onto his Tateh Cuda, the character of Martin is unable to shake his connection with an old-world “family curse”. There are black and white scenes throughout that allude to Martin actually being several hundred years old, carrying out vampiric activity in other countries. Tateh Cuda (and his precognition of Richard Harris’s Jurassic Park garb) seems to support this memory, throwing another level of #dafuq into the plot. So what’s the connection between Martin’s propensity for jabbing syringes into women’s necks, raping their unconscious bodies and lapping up their blood like a schnauzer?

There’s a lot to be said for the power of suggestion in culturally specific diseases. There may be a simple cause for bizarre behavior, yet it’s so definite in its symptoms and so dependent on a cultural belief, that it creates its own category. In Malaysia there’s a disorder called “Pengamok” that only occurs in males between 20 and 45. Like a tsunami, these dudes will retract and socially isolate themselves, then suddenly unleash a murderous rampage on whoever gets in their way. In several Asian countries “Koro” outbreaks happen in social clusters–it’s a spate of fear and panic brought on by the illusion or idea that one’s genitals are retracting into one’s body and completely disappearing (read more about that kind of fun stuff, here, among other places). I’ve also recently picked up a book about early 20th century psychiatric cases…and…wow…first I’ll say “hysteria”, and then I’ll say T.G. I didn’t live back then because I would’ve probably have gotten an ice pick lobotomy.

But more on that later.

I guess my point is that with the suggestion of a “family curse” and the constant harassment from his uncle, it’s small wonder that Martin believes he’s been alive for hundreds of years and feels the need to call into the radio station to reveal “the truth” about vampires.

Anyway, I’m glad I finally got to check out this classic, because by most accounts apparently I’m not a real horror fan if I haven’t seen it. PHEW I’M LEGIT, YOU GUYS!!!!

I’ll Eat You Up, I Love You So

The end of January/beginning of February brings on the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which is one of my all-time favorite times of the year. This is the first time I haven’t been tied up on the weekends or out of the country in a few years, so I pulled the hubs along with me to spend Sunday seeing a couple of films. The first was a French comedy about a chef (starring Jean Reno–yes! Leon the Professional!). Then Mr. Hubs agreed to go with me to a Spanish film called Canibal which is a pretty big deal for him, as he is not a horror fan.

This card is awesome because it means you get your spot saved in line and don't have to stand there waiting for an hour.

This card is awesome because it means you get your spot saved in line and don’t have to stand there waiting for an hour. I heart film festivals!

Well, it turns out Canibal isn’t really a horror movie, but a romantic tragedy directed by Manuel Martín Cuenca. The romance angle sounds like it could have been super hokey, but ended up being heartbreaking and sometimes spellbinding. I know–spellbinding even! The movie is very much geared toward the visual elements rather than weaving an elaborate story, this translates to long shots that drink in the scenery (you know, that art film thing). It looks great though, so I can’t really complain.

Example, the first shot opens on a gas station from some distance away. The station provides the only light in what is otherwise total blackness, and it almost has an Edward Hopper-like effect. You watch these two people filling up the car, having a cigarette, checking to see if anyone is inside and all the while you are waiting for another car to drive up or someone to ambush them. Instead, after those few minutes in silence, they get in the car and drive past your P.O.V. At which point, you hear the sound of an engine starting and you take off after them, realizing you’ve been in the killer’s P.O.V. the whole time. Shazam.

But don’t worry, it isn’t at all like the Maniac remake. That was really the only scene displayed from first person. The movie is third person, following the killer aka Carlos, played by Antonio de la Torre (who I recognized from Volver where he played a rapist. Let’s hope this isn’t type-casting.).

He looks so unassuming here, but get him behind a wheel of a car and he's going to do some pretty effed up things to some people.

He looks so unassuming here, but get him behind a wheel of a car and he’s going to do some pretty effed up things to some people.

Carlos is a killer, but also a tailor in Granada, Spain. He is of the Hannibal Lecter school of cannibalism, where he appreciates  precision, craftsmanship, and other fine things. The local Catholic church relies on him to restore a holy cloth that is going to be used during Easter. He listens to nothing but classical music while he crafts elegant mens’ suits. And unlike Hannibal, he doesn’t really seem to create culinary masterpieces with his selected human meats, or even really eat any fruits or vegetables at all. Just cutlets from his icebox full of human flesh and a glass of red wine.

Without the first sequence (where he ultimately traps the couple then kills and butchers the woman in his secluded mountain cabin), he would just be some lonely dude worthy of an Ace of Base song layover. In fact, he brought to mind a more collected version of Barry Egan in Punch Drunk Love. Then this Romanian girl with no obvious ties to anyone in town moves into his building, and then tries to put the moves on him. To the point that she shows up at his house in the middle of the night and tries to help herself to a beer from his refrigerator (“Why is there only meat in here?”).

It’s just too easy.

The major plot twist is when said Romanian girl’s sister comes looking for her. Confusing, uncomfortable, and ultimately tragic romance ensues.

If you are into quiet movies with slow, creeping horror and suggested gore, this is a great pic. Also if you love visual feasts featuring mountains and gorgeous, old architecture and textiles. And lots of indecipherable, yet piercing looks. This is film festival fodder, after all.

Film Fest Success + Hollister Brewing Company = A Pretty Radtacular Sunday

Film Fest Success + Hollister Brewing Company = A Pretty Radtacular Sunday

And–HA! My husband DUG it. Even if I can’t make him a horror fan, I might make an overall film fan of him yet.

Jack the Ripper should have just had one of these and chilled the f*** out

The Beer is Fuller’s Black Cab Stout accompanied me in my film-watching, which comes from a brewery established in 1845. That means when the Jack the Ripper killings took place, Fuller had already been brewing for 43 years. Maybe they weren’t brewing that style in that summer of 1888, but who knows? Maybe they were? It’s smooth, creamy and low alcohol (4.5%), with chocolate malts and a head the color of antique lace.

Also, though there is a car on the cover of this bottle, there are quite a number of spooky carriage appearances in this film that are harbingers of scary shit.

Photo from: drink-brands.com

Photo from: drink-brands.com

The movie is Murder by Decree directed by Bob Clark, director of A Christmas Story and (a personal favorite) Black Christmas. I love Bob Clark’s cinematography and in certain moments how he uses a fish-eye lens to plunge the viewer briefly into insanity.

The movie, is the story of Sherlock Holmes hunting down Jack the Ripper, and unfortunately, it kind of gives away its hand in the title. Then again, anyone who knows anything about the Jack the Ripper case/has seen “From Hell” knows about the “royal theory”. That’s pretty much what’s going down here.

One of the cool things that Bob Clark does is do POV shots where you are not exactly sure whose eyes you are looking through. He incorporated these sort of dreamy slow motion scenes where Donald Sutherland, a psychic, is seeing through the eyes of the killer. Donnie has the most fabulous fu manchu, but he gets threatened to stay out of the royal family’s business and is super intimidated after that. Mostly he drops out of the story. Then again, he was a psychic so it’s not like he could testify in court.

Performances are satisfactory plus, with Christopher Plummer as Holmes and James Mason the crankiest Watson that I have ever seen (and every time he opened his mouth all I could think of was Eddie Izzard). Interestingly, Plummer takes Holmes completely in the opposite direction that normally seen: glassy-eyed and empathetic toward the poor prostitutes out in Whitechapel getting hacked up. And Captain Janeway plays the discarded-imprisoned lover/baby mama gone cray-cray.

She was nominated for a "Genie" award for this one scene.

She was nominated for a “Genie” award for this one scene.

Anyway. I’m not sure I like the worked-up, morally outraged Holmes but I don’t exactly hate it either. So–great violin playing, lots of evil Masons and made-up Masonic secret handshakes, a fairly accurate reproduction of the Mary Kelly crime scene (but never from the straight-on angle in the photograph), and some great sound-mixing.  Not a terrible choice, especially enjoyed with a creamy London stout.

Pup-Posts Part 1: Connor Reviews “Insidious Chapter 2″

Today’s guest post is by this guy:

The illustrious star of my Instagram account, Connor.

The illustrious star of my Instagram account, Connor.

Due to the fact that my husband has no desire to watch horror movies, my most frequent movie-buddy is this lovely Greyhound/German Shepherd (we call it a “shyhound”) mix, Connor. He is enthralled by television and movies, and usually will accompany me to watch any film. I asked him his thoughts about our most recent watch, Insidious Chapter 2, and here’s what he had to say (I had to type…because of paws).

“Well, Mama, I don’t know if I liked it. The first one I know I like because there were a lot of baby sounds and squeaky doors. Also I liked that song because it made my head go back and forth and you like to sing it a lot to me when we’re walking in the house and I follow you around because you might give me snacks or throw my squeaky beer bottle.

Grandma gave me my Dog Drool beer squeaky so I could be like mama.

Grandma gave me my Dog Drool beer squeaky so I could be like mama.

It wasn’t really hard to say what happened in it. First the mama goes to the police station and is talking about how the dada couldn’t have killed the old lady from the first movie (I like her too). That was kind of boring, but then they move into that old house with the dada’s mama and it’s really old and squeaky too so I liked it. Also the baby had a toy that went around and sang and made flashes, and I liked that too. Maybe you can get one of those for me?

There was some other lady with a white face, and I didn’t like her because she yelled a lot. When people yell a lot I get kinda uncomfortable. That’s why I grumble and hide my head under the blanket. Because I don’t like it.

Even though I hide my face sometimes I still like watching the movie.

Even though I hide my face sometimes I still like watching the movie.

So the lady was the mama of the lady from the first movie who killed the lady who talks to ghosts. The one with the black clothes and the white face and the candle. You were walking in the other room or something and then there was a part where we find out that the lady with the candle is actually a man with a candle and he killed people–I remember because you said, “Oooooohhhh….”and you were in the kitchen so I thought maybe it was because you found snacks, so I came in except you didn’t give me any snacks.

Then they walked around in the dark a lot so I took a nap.

At the end they were ok but then they went to some other people who had little kids (the kids didn’t make any noises, but I would have definitely accepted bellies rubs from them). And then the talks-to-ghosts lady said, “Oh My God,” and I don’t know why. Maybe you know why, Mama, because you yelled, “OH COME ON!” and it made me kinda uncomfortable but I wasn’t in trouble so it was ok.

I’d give it maybe 1 paw up because the ending was kinda dumb and also I don’t know how the kid could fall asleep in the basement with that guy hitting the door over and over. I mean, I’d be barking a lot if I were that kid. Anyway…can we go for a walk now?

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Review with MASSIVE spoilers)

<<<[SPOILERS AHEAD, KIDS]>>>

An unfair reason that I didn’t hate this movie is because of its setting’s proximity to where I live. I don’t live in Ventura county, but I did live there as an infant and I currently live about two hours away (in the same area code). The dialect that the kids in the movie use is almost identical to the one that I’ve grown up with (I live in heavily Latino town as well). I’m not going to go so far as to say that the 805 neck tattoos made me feel at home, but I’m not going to say they didn’t feel familiar. There’s a scene about halfway through the movie when I recognized the basketball courts where the two main characters were playing as the elementary school two blocks away from the office of the doctor who performed my husband’s surgery.

I mean, whoooooaaaa, man.

Not sure how I would rate the film on an objective scale, but it’s a lot stronger than P.A. 4–because honestly, what the hell was that? The CGI was a little meh (demon-dilated pupils and some unconvincing animal abuse) but you know. At least it wasn’t boring and the two central characters were halfway interesting.

The Story:

Jesse and Hector are a couple of besties who have just graduated from high school. Hector gets a go pro camera which they use to do things like ride down the stone staircase in a plastic laundry basket. They live in an apartment building in Oxnard, CA, and Jesse’s bedroom connects via ventilation system to Anna, the witch who lives downstairs. Anyway…Hector decides to use the Go-Pro to examine some of the weird-ass noises going on down there. What’s going on? Naked lady letting scary naked-old-witch lady paint a witchy symbol on her belly.

After that happens, they start kind of poking at her a little bit (hilarious part: they convince a little kid to knock on her door, and when they coax him into calling her to draw her out, he yells “BRUJA!!!” which is the Spanish word for witch). She gets cranky and says something like, “You don’t even KNOW what’s going to happen to you.” Ooooooo….Soon afterward, Anna is murdered by their classmate, Oscar, who was valedictorian but has been acting kinda weird lately, right?

After she’s killed, Hector and Jesse sneak into her apartment to look for clues and steal her creepy notebook stuffed with spells and demonic diagram-thingies. Inside they find a picture of a portal that can cross dimensions, but can only take you to “unholy places” (FORESHADOWING!!!). Jesse also finds out that he has a bunch of new abilities, like throwing gangsters across parking lots and more or less flying from the second story window to the courtyard of his apartment building. In the midst of his romping and viral youtube-video making, however, Oscar shows up again (he’s been hiding in the witched-out basement all along). Oscar has gone possessed-pupils nuts, shows Jesse a bite on his arm that matches one that Jesse has too, and then improbably jumps off the steeple of a church to kill himself.

Party pooper much?

It becomes pretty obvious where this is all going with Jesse at this point. It’s not quite as fun to watch a flesh-and-blood dude act demon possessed as it is to watch the gradual build of things moving around the room by themselves like in the earlier films, but we do get those payoffs occasionally. There’s one scene where Hector, Jesse, and their friend Marisol are playing with one of those “Simon” toys from the 90s and it starts answering questions that they ask by either flashing the green “yes” or the red “no”. Jesse’s Grandma comes in while they’re playing with it and basically says, “Oh hell no, fuck this.” Basically. Or the religious abuela version of that.

You know--those things!

You know–those things!

<<<<[SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER!!!!--THIS IS THE THING THAT MAKES THE MOVIE COOL IF NOTHING ELSE.]>>>>

So apparently the coven is marking all these boys for their coven demon-army to do…I don’t know? Take over the world I guess? Hector just feels bad that his friend is going bonkers. Once Jesse’s gone full-rampage, the witches kidnap him and take him to perform  what I can only assume is a demon-sealing ritual on him. Hector, Oscar’s gangster brother, his gangster friend, and his friend Marisol go to the house (in Calabasas?) where the coven is to rescue Jesse.

And yes. You do get to see witches shot in the chest with shotguns. But not enough, I think. 

Hector is the last one standing as he’s pursued by the roaring, knife-wielding coven and demon-possessed Jesse. He goes through one of the Freddy-foreshadowed portals and ends up in the end of the first Paranormal Activity movie. So we get to see possessed Katie murder Micah  before Jesse follows Hector through the door and kills him as well.

Yeah, I just ruined the ending, but it is the most fun part of the movie, IMO. You know, save watching Jesse’s grandma sing Spanish songs after shooting tequila with the boys. It’s kind of nice to see the story from a Latino perspective because a lot of the characters actually take what is happening at face value instead of all that, “There’s gotta be a logical explanation durrdurr,” horse-shit.

I guess these movies, and this take in particular, kind of also kind of reel me in (PUNS!) because I come from a background of people who truly believe in the spirit realm. Ironically, that made demons and the like less terrifying, because as a Christian teenager you go–HA! I’m on the WINNING team! Naive, yes, but it really helped me at 3am…and the time I woke up to the bed shaking when I was halfway through reading The Exorcist before realizing that we were having an earthquake. But that’s another story.