Monday, October 31, 2011

A repost, but hey, it's Halloween and Jack Kirby

The Master of Terror

What is the most terrifying piece of cinema ever created?

Was it Frankenstein? The Ring? Dawn of the Dead? The Blob? Godzilla? That episode of Trilogy of Terror with the doll? Some have voted Psycho or the Exorcist as two of the most frightening movies ever made. Alien is right up there near the top as its theme of infection and horrible death resonates with people.

But for my money most films are too transparent in their gore or attempts to shock to be truly frightening. Subtlety was often lost as film technology allowed creators to show in graphic detail what film-makers of the past could only hint at. While the immediate payoff and shock value rose the true fear, that of the unknown, waned. One over-looked "Master of Terror" who understood that horror usually requires some subtle direction is from Warner Bros. Studios and he worked exclusively in the animation department. That director is none other than Chuck Jones of Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes fame.

Along with a crew of talented creators Chuck Jones helped produce for the movie theater market one of the scariest 7 minutes of film ever made, the animated short Claws For Alarm, featuring Sylvester the Cat and Porky Pig. Originally presented en masse to unsuspecting children during movie matinees in 1954 the film probably caused untold thousands in steam-cleaning bills to theater seats after each subsequent showing.

See for yourself at this link for those who can't detect the embedded video: Claws for Alarm



Claws For Alarm is actually a remake of Scaredy Cat (1948) and absolutely nails it by keeping the horror elements less obvious. Viewers may find the plot of Claws For Alarm familiar as later films have presented similar themes most famously the 1973 and 2011 creep-fests Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How to induce a migraine

Watch the trailer for Columbiana.



Created, apparently, by a recent film school grad who watched too much reality tv and video game commercials as a kid. Try to count up to "2 Mississippi" before the scene vibrates and flashes to another, taking a piece of a retina with it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Meatier Crater, Arizona

"50,000 years ago during the Pleistocene era a T-Bone steak weighing an estimated 300,000 metric tons impacted the earth in Arizona at a speed of approximately 13 kilometers per second. Heated to an internal temperature of 180 degrees by passage through the atmosphere the steak's impact formed a 1,200 meter in diameter, 170 meter deep crater. The tasty impact crater, designated as Site A1 by the U.S. Geological survey has since become a popular tourist destination. It is claimed by Texas as a registered historical landmark even though it is situated in the Arizona region. While the high arid desert has preserved the crater from overgrowth several large deciduous trees have grown in the vicinity of the meateor, making it fancy."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Occupy the Temple

Apologetics try to forget the fable from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas 4:1 of a boy murdered by the Son of God for being innocently disrespectful of a King. A very valuable tool of control was creating out of whole cloth a culturally relevant history to teach people they better not dare to oppose their Earthly masters and remain slaves under the yoke of oppression. It is an old and continuing trick. Rebels will suffer God's Will and be destroyed by magic or through His proxies, people with knives, stones and clubs if they do not fall in line. Life was hard and cheap 2000 years ago. Everyone in a village working hard for most of a 24-hour period meant a person might get a full meal if they were lucky. Fear of punishment or death from righteous torture via the Church or for the more gullible, divine wrath, was a way that the parasites of any community, the religious leaders, got away with not contributing anything to society.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Maj. Joshua Sleestak (ret.) Continental Army, 1806

Took a bit of internet searching on and off during the last year but I finally found some real world provenance for the origin of the 'Sleestak' name for the fictional lizard creatures populating the pocket universe of the classic 1970s television show The Land of the Lost. According to the episode Follow That Dinosaur (Season 1, Episode 13) the native Altrusians were colloquially named 'Sleestak' by a time-lost soldier from the Revolutionary War because they reminded him of his commanding officer from his service in the Continental Army, Major Joshua Sleestak. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Executive Producer for the show David Gerrold must have been a history buff.

Friday, October 14, 2011

That's Some Ditko

A lot of the Deep Space 9 good/bad character design of the exiled Cardassian secret policeman Garak seems inspired by Steve Ditko. The clothing pattern and the alien facial structure (via Amazing Spider-Man #2) always impressed me as very Ditko-ish.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making a point

"And your total today is $6.66."

"Oh. Don't you think I should buy something else?"

"Uh...If you want."

"You know...666."

"What?"

"I don't like that number."

"Okay. Do you want me to void something off? Add something else?"

"Yes. That's..That's the bad number."

"I guess. If you are gullible and dim-witted."

"WHAT?"

"The total of your order is not six six six. It is six POINT six six. Even if the number you fear wasn't mistranslated from fictional text and actually held some sort of magical power it isn't exactly the same. The decimal makes all the difference. So...Still want to change the total?"

"..."

"I'm sorry?"

"No."

"Okay! And would you like to make a donation to fight prostate cancer today?"

"No, thank you."

"Would you like some carry out service?"

"No."

"Okay! Have a nice day. Thanks for shopping at HayleyMart."

It is bizarre that customers lose their crap, scream, throw things, phone-bombard the corporate office and twitter-rage when a cashier opens up an additional register and they were not first in line but not when they are put in a position to shift a personal paradigm. Maybe it is the thinking that makes all the difference.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Girl Power Rules!

While not on a par with the JC Penny Homework t-shirt argle-bargle, one company thinks that the best possible declaration of female empowerment is by wearing clothing that exclusively depicts super-powerful male characters.

As published in various Marvel comic books (Oct 2011).

Monday, October 03, 2011

World's Best-Known Teen-Ager

Remember when young celebrities were renown for their personality and accomplishments and not their drug and booze fueled public embarrassments?

Hayley Mills in an August 1963 snippet from National Geographic.

I'd never order Hayley off of my lawn.