Wednesday, December 25, 2013

real quick...5 minutes like

Just a quick post before I hit the hay (yes I am still alive, just been insanely busy as of late)

Go here:

Vote for me in #s 3, 11, 12, 15

Pretty can vote for whoever else you want in the other categories as long as you vote for me in the aforementioned.

Peace out!

(new blogs coming...PROMISE!!!)

Thursday, October 31, 2013 start

Thanks for taking that little trip with me through the cinephile part of me. I hope that my reviews of the films did two things, 1) Didn't give too much away and 2.) Interested you enough to seek them out.

If not, I'm sure that you can dig their full stories (including the secrets and plot twists) up in some place on the web, it's not that hard. But Jesus, exercise your brains people.

We live in a world where it's all bright and flashy and quick. We live in a world where people seek quick, instant gratification. Where the value of somethi-IURK! Letth go! Ughh you dirty bastard...

Shh, shh... go to sleep boy...shut your bleeding heart, ever-running
mouth. Yes, that's it...relax...let your eyes roll like sleepers, yeah? Shh, shh...
And there we go...he's out.
Whew, I thought that would NEVER end!

Now...who's ready to get back in the ring or even maybe...the mats?

Coming soon: The Kiss Part 4: A whole new world 

#1 장화, 홍련 / A Tale of Two Sisters

So, here is the moment that all of you have been waiting for...the big Halloween reveal of my #1 horror movie of the season...but before I continue...I'd like to point out a few things...

When I embarked on this little, experimental journey I thought no one would find it of interest, but oddly enough, two fans came forward (one through global and one through email) telling me that they, firstly, enjoyed my BGEast work, and secondly, were loving the work I was doing on my blog, especially the horror movie countdown. This was news to me as I thought that, if anything, these reviews were a cathartic exercise for me and were challenging me to get in the habit of writing more often.

I was even more surprised to find that my review of The Ghost is now the highest viewed entry of this blog, while I'm shocked at this since movie reviews are not the focus of the blog (do I even have a main focus? No you don't) I feel somewhat...vindicated...

But alas, this is the end of the series (for now), I plan on bringing it back every year with a different batch of obscure, underrated, forgotten, and older horror movies (this year's choices stretched all the way back to 1990!) I may drop a review here and there but this is purely a seasonal thing, so if it wasn't your bag, I get it. Start your own damn blog.

My picks for the order of the ranked movies was not based on personal preference, beyond grabbing them out of my DVD book, because one common theme in this series was, "I don't remember what I felt about these movies beyond remembering maybe liking them." Another common theme is a little more subtle (not to mention  purely coincidental) and you'll get big kudos if you email or comment here telling me the prevailing theme that these movies shared...I'm looking for one word here.

The order of these movies was dependent upon their respective RT ratings (my favorite website), if there was not an official score, I went with the audience rating. Judging by the long-windedness of their reviews, I liked these movies a lot more than most people.

I fell behind a few times and I admit that I'm racing the clock and trying not to sacrifice quality and giving tonight's movie its due (because it didn't earn my top spot for no reason) even now.

Then get on with it! Noone wants to hear about how clever you think you are, you pretentious twat...that's my job!

Sigh, fine then, Drake...

Most people view movies for purely escapist reasons, my reasons stretch a little further. I want a story that challenges me to think, that makes me question things. I also watch a movie for who directed it, who wrote it, who's starring in it. This often irritates my friends because, in the same way, I rarely watch trailers (trailers always play as a greatest hits reel). If I hear about a movie with a great premise, or I hear who's attached to the project, I ignore reviews, trailers, everything and just go see it. So when I invite friends out to a movie, their first question is, "What's that about?" And my answer goes something like, "I dunno, but I wanna see it."

Tonight's film comes by way of South Korea, again. I can't help it! These people are fucking beautiful and moody as hell!

 A Tale of Two Sisters / Janghwa, Hongryeon
Su-mi, a young girl, meets a doctor in a sterile room, alone with the one man who holds her fate in his hands...for now. He tries to coax her to remember why she's in this hospital, to remember what put her under his care. Her eyes are downcast and her lips unmoving, silent, near catatonic.

The timeline is a bit confusing, we don't know how long Su-mi has been in the hospital but she's finally getting to go home to move back in with her father and her sister, Su-yeon. A bit of a surprise is waiting for her as her widower father has moved his girlfriend, Eun-joo, in as well. It is clear from the chemistry between Su-mi and Eun-joo that they have history and haven't got along.

Discussions bounce back and forth between Su-mi and Su-yeon as we come to learn that their mother died a while back and that Eun-joo is apparently their stepmother. Eun-joo, when the girls' father is not around, tries to assert her new maternal authority, both girls balking; Su-mi more openly defiant, and Su-yeon a timid mouse that fears Eun-joo.

One night, Su-mi notices that Su-yeon is acting weird and soon makes the girl spill whats going on and gets a look at the bruises on her arms. Su-mi becomes convinced that, in her absence, Eun-joo began abusing Su-yeon and begins plotting ways to make the woman leave so that they can get back to some semblance of a happy family life.

As time goes on, Su-mi and Su-yeon, laboring under the scary power trip that Eun-joo has gone on, begin to see apparitions in the house. The house seemingly coming to life and frightening them... a woman crawling through their bedroom at night (the first time I watched this film, this scene in particular caused me to start shaking in fear, terrifying me so much that I was forced to shut off the film and come back to at a later time), visions of a skinless humanoid form screaming with the voice of an infant and reaching out from beneath the blankets for them.

This movie unfolds slowly, beautifully, with subtle clues leading to the climax when all (well, most) is explained. Why the haunting? What is Su-mi so pissed about? Why is their mother dead? How? Why won't their father step in?

Su-mi goes to her father complaining about the mysterious goings-on in their home and complaining about "that woman you brought home."  Her father brushes her off, suggesting that maybe Su-mi has not healed from the earlier trauma, that maybe she's having trouble adjusting, and needs a little more time away.

Su-mi feeling alone in her battle, as if she and her sister are the only ones seeing what's going on, withdraws into herself and spends more time with Su-yeon.

One morning Eun-joo comes into Su-yeon's room in a rage screaming at her asking her what she's done. We are left floundering, confused with Su-yeon and Eun-joo loses her shit, demanding Su-yeon get out of bed. Eun-joo eyes a weird abnormality in Su-yeon's bed. Yanking the covers back, she finds the bloody form of her best friend, a pet bird, in Su-yeon's mattress.

Flying into an even bigger rage she throws Su-yeon into her wardrobe, locking her in as she screams and struggles, trapped in the dark, fighting to get free. Eun-joo tortures her, forcing her to confess to the murder of the bird and apologize before she frees her. Su-yeon finally acquiesces and Eun-joo opens the door, demanding that she stop crying and apologize again. Before Su-yeon can catch her breath and comply, she is soon shut up in the tight, dark wardrobe again.

And that's probably all that happens in the first half and doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of just what this fabulous piece of cinema is really all about. It's an intricately-woven story that reveals just enough along the way to give you have the information you need to merely follow the story, not revealing the bigger picture until it's time. And Jesus it is unveiled in grand fashion.

This film is quiet, even in its dark, intensely scary moments, punctuated by very brief musical stingers. I've already mentioned the climbing-into-bed scene, but there's other moments, like the dinner party, where Eun-joo reminds her brother, Sun-kyu, of stories in hysterical fashion only for him to rebuff her by saying he doesn't remember anything of what she's relayed. Sun-kyu's wife soon has a massive freak out, nearly seizing on the floor for unknown reasons.

A few minutes later we're treated to just what caused her fit as Eun-joo bends down to pick up a hair pin. This scene one of the many stand outs in the film as the suspense builds and builds, the director teasing you because you know the jump-scare is coming, right about... here? Oh, I guess it's not going to... HOLY SHIT!!! I've seen this film countless times and the aforementioned experience was what I had on this viewing. It's the horror movie equivalent of edging, and Jesus Christ, the payoff is gratifying.

The setting of the isolated countryside of South Korea is breathtaking, looking as if the story is taking place in early-to-mid fall. The girls comfortable enough to wear breathable clothing and swirl their feet in the lake as they reunite on the dock, the tall grass blowing in the wind having turned to browns and yellows.

The music is sparse, instead letting the images and story lend gravity to this tale (which is based on a Korean folk-tale which is pretty fucked up in its own right) drawing you in with only tastes of what's to come.

I like how intentional the pacing of the film is, it's as if we're watching the spontaneous creation of something. Just for the sake of illustration, let's say we're sitting and watching Da Vinci paint the Last Supper, he just picking up a brush as inspiration hits him and going with it (despite Dan Brown's theories) the big picture being revealed to him at the same time it is being revealed to us. We're watching a masterpiece being brought to life, our reactions breathing into an inanimate object the breath of life.

We watch Su-mi and Eun-joo battle it out, psychologically (who do you trust? The daughter sent away for being sick or your new blushing bride?) and eventually physically, Eun-joo asking "How did we get ourselves to this point?" as she holds a statuette over Su-mi's head. It's a dazzlingly beautiful display of violence, the blood not so much shocking as it is necessary, to punctuate just how mortal and serious this is. One of the women is seen beating a bulging, bloodied bag with a fireplace poker (another iconic scene, for me anyways).

As the story draws to a close, an unexpected visitor's arrival pulls the thread out of this beautiful tapestry and pulls the curtain back on the story, revealing what we just witnessed, connecting the pieces we were given and the film's true story is exposed to the light.

While not as draining on the heart as Jacob's Ladder was, A Tale of Two Sisters is heartbreaking and bleak. It is a masterpiece of filmmaking from any country. Its power in the fact that it's one of the first SoKo movies to be screened in cinemas across the US.

It eventually influenced an English-language remake which tweaked the story in some big ways but still kept the tone and plot similar enough to satisfy me, but streamlining it so its horror elements were more up front for American audiences (as opposed to asian horror movies' dedication to letting the horror creep just out of frame or focus and closing in on you from the peripheral, subconscious before it's too late.)

Janghwa, Hongryeon is a triumph of sorts and is criminally underseen. Do yourself a favor and track down a copy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quite a mouthful...

Money has been spent, and studies have been conducted on sexual hangups and human sexuality in general. While I think that my sexuality is, for the most part, fixed (I've experienced nothing that has changed it as of yet) I'm not so sure if I subscribe to a certain theory.

Some people say men are homosexual because of spiritual torment, gender confusion, childhood rape, improper potty training...people are so obsessed with finding out why something happened but even if a cause can be traced, what's the point? And even then, maybe I just like guys.

I've jokingly said in the past that women and their parts terrify me. I've even gone so far as to say that, "vaginas are the devourer of worlds." I've said that they remind me of this:

and this:

But, all jokes aside, women just don't do it for me.

Had I seen tonight's film back when I was trying to explain my sexuality, I might have cited it.

Teeth is another slow-burn horror film, but it can also be considered a feminist manifesto, or maybe even a morality/cautionary tale.

A young girl named Dawn is somewhat awkward (not so much as our friend from yesterday, May) as she grows up. Her divorced and remarried family living in a town that is built around a nuclear plant (which may, or may not, hold the key to Dawn's mystery). One warm summer day, Dawn has an experience with her stepbrother when, in a kiddie pool not even 100 feet away from their parents, he says "Ok, now you show me yours."

He soon starts screaming, his finger bleeding profusely from a seemingly unknown cause.

Fast forward 16 years and Dawn's family is still plugging away, her mother very sick, her stepfather helpless, her stepbrother oddly still harboring lust for her, and Dawn is the member of a Christian evangelical group. She and her small group of friends traveling around and talking to young children about the "gift" of their virginity and the "virtue" of abstinence and waiting until marriage.

She encounters a young man who is new to her school and soon a member of their "The Ring Club" and begins to have feelings of the sexual nature towards him. He confides in her that he is only a virgin in God's eyes and though she is disappointed continues to be attracted to him, losing herself in a nighttime almost masturbatory fantasy. When she realizes the strength of her attraction she tells him she can't see him again.

But her desires prove to be too strong as she soon calls him out to the woods for a rendezvous in a waterfall cave. She tries her best to keep her vow as he attempts to seduce her, she tries to push him off, "I'm saying no!" and he continues to push, frustrated with her refusal he bashes her head against a rock dazing her and continues to try to force himself onto her. As he finally gets what he's after, he begins to convulse and scream, backing away from her in horror, and we're shown what's gone wrong...his penis is missing.

Dawn flees from the scene and spends the duration of the film trying to figure out exactly what's wrong with her and why.

After a biology class where she learns about evolution, she seeks out a gynecologist and asks him to check for any such "adaptations." He, also, begins to force himself on her, abusing his position of power, sliding his hand into her vagina, but just like her first sexual tryst, he soon falls back screaming "Its true! Vagina dentata!" his fingers disconnected and spread across the floor.She flees the scene as well.

And that's what this film is about people: a toothed vagina.

It has a lot of other philosophical issues going on concerning sexual/gender inequality, incest, rape, religious dogma run amok, and, among others, emasculation.

Dawn is completely alone, lost in a world where the only people who can help her understand what is happening to her and her body are men. So it makes a sociopolitical statement as well...a bunch of 50-something-year-old men making laws to control women's bodies.

I'll admit, this movie is extremely far-fetched and it's kind of amazing that they were able to flesh out a full-length feature with such a preposterous idea but hey, we live in a world where movies like Human Centipede still get made.

This film is terrifying and at the same time darkly hilarious and required viewing, if for no other reason than to say you saw it.

Genesis 28: Angels ascending and descending

We're going back pretty far for this one, to a film released when I was a child.

Coming in at #3
 In 1990 the surreal, psychological thriller known as Jacob's Ladder was released to very little immediate success, developing a cult-following years down the road.

We're introduced to the main character, Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) and his troop in Vietnam, awaiting orders. They're smoking some "good shit" according to their light-hearted banner when suddenly they're sprung into action when they see movement from the Vietcong. Before they can properly set up a defense, most of them begin losing their minds, shaking, convulsing on the ground. Jacob escapes the attack only to be attacked by a bayonet.

He awakens on a subway realizing he was having a nightmare about his experiences in Vietnam. And begins an eventful trek home, getting lost in the subway tunnels before making his way out of the darkness.

Jacob begins having visions of everything that happened to him in Vietnam as well as visions of what he describes as "demons".

As various traumatizing events happen to him, he alternates between three different realities, his flashbacks of Vietnam, a life with his wife and children (a VERY young Macauley Culkin), and a life with his girlfriend. Each time he wakes from one reality into the other he retains the memories, unable to distinguish just which one is real.

He reconnects with his friends that he served with, all of them suffering a block, none of them able to remember exactly what happened during the attack. Not only do they have this in common with Jacob, they're also experiencing visions of the "demons" as well.

His friends are beginning to be targeted and they believe that the government had done something to them in the jungle. As they consult a lawyer to take up their case (a skinnier George Costanza/Jason Alexander) his friends soon back out as they are convinced by the lawyer that they were never in Vietnam, instead believing they were discharged for mental issues in Thailand during war games.

Jacob refuses to let the government rewrite what he knows happened and makes a scene with the lawyer, arguing with him in the courthouse. After the confrontation he is kidnapped by men who are presumably government henchman, threatening him that he and his friends need to quit causing trouble and to keep quiet about what they saw and experienced in the jungle.

Jacob barely escapes and is rushed to a hospital where he encounters the demons again as they perform barbaric surgeries on him.

His world and sanity are all careening out of control, unable to distinguish between good and evil, life and death, reality and fantasy, Jacob is a broken man.

This film isn't so much scary (although there are multiple scenes that elicited a jump and a yelp from me) as it is deeply, and girl I mean d-e-e-p-l-y disturbing. In looking over reviews of this film from back in the day, a great deal of them described the movie as a "traumatizing experience" and being "beaten down" and "unwilling to watch again." I can only concur. This movie is a severe downer, an emotional drain.

So...much...shit...happens in this movie. You never know exactly what is real during this movie as each stream of reality has explanations that both support and discredit previous suspicions and realities.

I can't say much about this movie without giving it all away. Much like High Tension, the ending of this movie may not seem too original as the plot device has become overused since this film was made, but, for its time, it was extremely jarring and groundbreaking.

It's a film about mistakes, damnation, regrets, conspiracies, hopes, dreams, faith, love, fate, and ultimately redemption.
It is worth noting that, in my research, 20 minutes were cut from the final film because it was too overwhelming on test audiences, despite the drag this movie had on my emotions I find myself yearning to see the "disturbing footage" that was cut.

The version of this movie that I saw came equipped with a mini-documentary with the writer and director explaining the themes and symbolism in the film that, should you decide to stay in the world, you will be greatly rewarded as this masterpiece is examined rung by rung.

Jacob's Ladder is one that needs climbed, a journey that needs to be taken, even if you consider yourself a hardened veteran of the genre. But be will take an emotional toll on you as the only thing you can do is cling to Jacob's sanity and pray you both make it out alive.

RottenTomatoes Score: 70% critics/81% audience
Drake Marcos Rating: 5/5 horny nurses

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

April Showers bring May...that's it

Ok we're entering the homestretch for this horror movie blogseries that I've had a blast writing as I've been able to revisit some awesome gems that lay forgotten in my DVD collection. I've found myself entranced by these movies, experiencing them all over again as if it were the first time. I've caught things that I either missed or forgot from the first viewing. Viewing them with the intent of sharing them, I watched them from a more critical, personal standpoint as opposed to a nice 90-120 minute distraction.

So, we come to #4 tonight and it is a dark, gothic little piece that I've never quite been able to shake. Lucky McKee's May.
 The film opens shockingly enough with a woman clutching her bloodied eye and screaming her lungs out and then cuts to the opening credits which is a haphazard assembly of patchwork and stitching.

We are soon introduced to our film's protagonist, May Kennedy, as a little girl. Her mother is obsessed with her daughter not being viewed as different or less-than other children as she suffers from a severe lazy eye, covered by an eyepatch.

Her mother tries to hide the eyepatch by positioning a lock of hair over it before leaving her at school. When she's out of sight May, in her first brazen display of quirky individuality, tucks the hair behind her ear, proudly sporting what she calls her "pirate patch."

May doesn't fit all. And her mother, thinking she's doing her unfortunate daughter a favor says, "I always say...if you can't find MAKE them." She presents her daughter with a doll in a glass case, a creepy looking little humanoid creature known as "Suzie." When May tries to open the case to play with Suzie, her mother quickly chastises her. "Never take her out of the case...she's special."

Cut to modern day with May sowing one of her weird outfits and chatting with Suzie about guys she "met" during the day. Although she's proud of these meetings and tries to attach some kind of significance to them, we learn that of the two guys she met, she spoke to none of them.

One of them sat on a bench next to her and after seeing her insanely awkward smile, stands and moves away quickly, never to be seen again. The other, a man surveying a wrecked vehicle. The latter proves to play a huge role in the events that follow.

May soon becomes obsessed with the man she gazed on from afar, telling him, after multiple, extremely awkward run-ins, that he has beautiful hands. The two soon begin to date, May growing more confident in herself by being around him, but letting down her guard soon causes trouble.

May, being extremely socially awkward for most of her life, becomes guilty of oversharing and saying what's on her mind without a second thought, and acting on urges.

Adam shows her a short film he made in which a young couple is enjoying a picnic in the park that quickly turns into a cannibalism scene as the lovers  devour each other. May gets turned on by this and she and Adam begin to fool around with May getting rough and biting Adam's lip drawing blood.

Adam draws away from her quickly, confusing May as it was "just like in your movie..." Adam, disturbed, tells her that he needs to go and leaves May in a daze. Having noone else to blame, she turns on her "best friend" Suzie, screaming at her. "I told you to face the wall!"

Becoming frustrated with Adam's willful ignorance of her, she turns to her coworker, Polly (played by a just-starting-out Anna Faris) and soon begins a sexual relationship with her, only to find out days later that May is not the only girl that Polly is seeing.

Distraught and depressed, May soon begins to hear Suzie speaking to her.

May, desperate for friendship and connection, soon makes friends as she volunteers to help out at a blind school, one day bringing Suzie in for show and tell. The children challenge her to take her out of the case and to share her "special friend". They begin grabbing at the case, fighting May for control and  the glass case soon topples, shattering onto the floor. The children sense Suzie's liberation and begin scrambling over the floor, crawling over the shards of glass, turning the classroom into a blood bath as they clutch and claw at Suzie, still fighting with May and Suzie is soon torn apart, leaving May, for the first time, completely and utterly alone.

May's already fragile mental state suffers a break at this point as she begins to examine her relationships, questioning her friends'  love and loyalty for her.

The film, being a slow-burn character study up to this point, veers back into the horror territory as May begins to take control of her life and carve out her own identity, displaying complete confidence in herself. The last 30 minutes of the film escalates to a fever pitch with an ending that is completely shocking to behold and we realize just what led up to the opening scene with May screaming and clutching at her bloodied eye.

We see everything come together, masterfully. Our jaws drop as everything comes full circle. And everything comes to a head on Halloween night.

This film is a sad one to watch because you see May's awkwardness, her inability to relate to others around her. Her desperation to be seen, to connect. To not be the "weird girl". It's a heart wrenching ending, and is really fucking good.

 RottenTomatoes score: 69%
Drake Marcos rating: 5/5 pushy handicapped kids

Monday, October 28, 2013

Triple Shot (A/K/A Drake's been lazy)

So sue me, my mind has been elsewhere lately, like my training and work schedule (got a shoot coming up awfully soon). It's my goal to bring a whole new Drake look to the next shoot because I'm sure that's what you want. To do that, I have to really focus and dedicate my time and effort, so the blog and my plan fell by the wayside.

One of the things my mind was on also was a rare chance encounter with the one and only, my wrestling God (and future victim :) ) Aryx Motherfucking Quinn. A post exclusively dedicated to him (and my weird range of feelings about him) will be forthcoming. But know this, I spoke with him today and he is in the best shape or his life. Will be awesome to see him on the mats or in the ring again...whenever that may be.
Bard has Kid Karisma...I have Aryx Quinn

Coming up at #7 on this list today is the French splatterpunk flick that put director Alexandre Aja on the horror map: Haute Tension (translated High Tension).

Alexandre Aja is a genre director (sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes not so much) that has consistently delivered for his fans. He's known for taking properties (Piranha, The Hills Have Eyes) and injecting them with some modern twists and buckets upon buckets of blood and carving his own path with the original material.

That being said, the downside to his work is that none of it is entirely original. Even this film I'm reviewing has been said to be an "unauthorized adaptation of Dean Koontz' Intensity" (Wikipedia)

However, since I'm reviewing 3 films in this update, I'll keep these as short as humanly possible.

Two young girls (Marie and Alex) go on a holiday to visit Alex's family and to study. The girls are best friends and throughout the film's duration, you get the feeling that Marie's feelings for Alex run a little deeper than friendship.

As the family battens down the hatches for the night, a grizzly man shows up, rousing Alex's father and slitting his throat and then systematically works his way through the house, isolating each and every member of the family and offing them in terribly gruesome ways.

All except for Alex, whom he kidnaps, and Marie (who is able to hide from him, yet is being forced to watch each and every awful murder).

As the man attempts to make his getaway with Alex, Marie manages to stowaway on his truck and soon begins a battle with the man to save her best friend's life.

Marie's intensity as she chases down the man who has caused so much misery, the narrowed eyes as she pours all her hatred into taking down this man is completely unnerving.

The movie crescendos in a crazy bloodbath executed by a fucking concrete saw and a mind fuck of a reveal of the killer's identity and motive.

Looking back on it today it wasn't as big of a braingasm as it was the first time around. It's like Memento in that way, it doesn't hold up as well on subsequent viewings, but that first experience is always amazing. But each and every viewing is rewarding in itself as you start to piece the whole mystery together with Alexandre Aja's adept direction and his complete mastery of the plot.

RottenTomatoes score: 41%
First viewing: 4/5 final girls
Repeat viewings: 3/5 homages to Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Number 6: Fritt Vilt/Cold Prey

The second shot is the Norwegian slasher that made a huge impact on me when I first saw it years ago. It's one of the most derivative slashers I've come across. However, the thing about it is how completely self-aware it is in how it pays homage to the movies that inspired it (Room 237 anyone?). The pacing is tight, the action (and setting) is brisk.

A tight-knit group of friends head for the hills in this snowbound thriller: A snowboard trip goes horribly wrong when the fifth wheel of the bunch botches a jump and injures himself severely, breaking his leg.

A vicious storm threatens the group (because that's how it works) forcing them to bunk down in a nearby, abandoned ski resort (because...right?) to wait out the storm so they can take their friend safely to a hospital in the morning.

Among these friends one of them knows how to set a broken bone (Jannicke), another knows how to fix a 50-year old generator (Eirik), two just want to fuck (Mikal {sexy fucker who is shirtless for a bit} and Ingunn, and one gets drunk (Morten) for the whole shebang.

As they explore the seemingly deserted hotel, they realize that the last entry in the guestbook was in 1975 and referenced a missing child. Simultaneously, Jannicke and Mikal find newspaper clippings about the missing boy and the closing of the resort but soon begin to realize that there are things quite modern and newer in this hotel, meaning it's not abandoned.

Soon the blood begins flowing as a heavily bundled man starts cutting them down one-by-one with a pickaxe. As their numbers dwindle, the remaining friends have to rely on each other if they want to make it through the storm.

As I said, the film offers nothing new to the horror genre, but plays itself very bare bones, and hits all the bases that it needs to hit and thus, succeeds in being a great modern slasher with an old-school sensibility. In doing so, it tears all post-Scream slashers to shreds.

The real star of this movie is the setting as this movie was filmed almost completely in the Scandinavian mountains in the area known as Jotunheimen. It's absolutely beautiful and this film crew really put themselves on the line as the terrain is just plain treacherous. It took 2 years to film and 9 months of post production, and the quality of the work is impressive.

A surprisingly blunt and tragic ending to an overall great movie. Fritt Vilt (Cold Prey) was so successful that it spawned both a sequel AND a prequel (which I have yet to see...maybe next year?)
RT Rating : 56% Audience Approval rating
Drake Marcos Score: 4/5 Skiing Lessons

And the final film of tonight is coming from Romania, but technically France.

This French-language thriller takes the home invasion thriller and winds it tighter. This film had my heart racing, I was terrified and squirming the whole time I watched it the first time and much more so this time. The soundtrack is terrifying, the plot is ambiguous, you're never given answers (besides "What is that damn sound?!") and that's kind of how I like it.

Opening on a bickering mother and daughter, the fight so pointless but enough to distract the mother from her one job: getting herself and her daughter home safe. By the time she pays attention to the night road she's traveling she sees something and swerves to miss it, ramming the van into a tree.

After checking on her daughter, she leaves the van to assess the damages, lifting the hood she tells her daughter to turn the key and after doing so, the mother has gone silent. The daughter calls out a few times and still finds her mother unresponsive. Getting out, she realizes her mother has vanished. Weird noises send her scrambling back into the van which is soon assaulted by dirt clods from nowhere. The girl wishing herself into the safety of the vehicle is soon grabbed from behind, strangled to death as cars drive by the disabled vehicle on the side of the road.

The next day, we are introduced to our protagonists Clem (who passes by the vehicle from the beginning of the film) and Lucas (her boyfriend waiting for her at home).

The film enters the slow-burn territory (which I, again, love) as we get acquainted and settled into the young couple's nightly routine, finally going to bed. Not long after they are awakened by the sound of music and the glare of headlights. Upon investigation, the car takes off, sending Lucas and Clem back to the safety of their home.

But it turns out not to be safe as whoever was in the car is now inside the house with them, and the power and phones have been cut.

Lucas and Clem begin to battle for their lives, protecting themselves from unknown assailants, whose identities turn out to be even more terrifying. They flail their way through their own home, the forest surrounding, underground tunnels, and sewers, trying to find the strength to make it to civilization and, ultimately safety.

This movie is damn near perfect in the buildup, the suspense, the fear of what it doesn't show you.

It runs on a very lean 75 minutes and makes great use of every single minute, being almost as nerve wracking as big budget sleeper hit Gravity (an amazing, flawless film that you MUST see). The last 15 minutes are as tight and dangerous as a mouse trap with a heartbreaking finale that will leave you completely breathless and winded.

It is the first movie on this list to be considered fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, barely clinging to it's qualified 60% rating.

RT Score: 60%
Drake Marcos Score: 5 out of 5 huffers 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Yes, Dear! #8 LOVE OBJECT

The psycho-erotic, sexual thriller LOVE OBJECT is a very refreshing twist on the obsessive angle, and one that I had trouble adjusting to after years away from it.

As indie a thriller as it gets LOVE OBJECT uses the darkness and light and washed-out tones throughout to reflect mood changes in characters and plot points and is pretty uninspired in this regard.

The first half hour is a bit of a stumbling block as you try to get inside the main character's head, at times realizing that you don't really want to be in there when you realize his underlying pinnings.

It starts off with an extremely socially awkward copywriter for a tech company as he and his male coworkers are discussing the creation of the first ever, completely life-like sex doll. Possessing real human hair, rubber silicone skin, and for just $10,000, you can build and customize everything about her, from hair color, to eye color, to lip shape, etc.

The only thing it doesn't possess is a soul...or does it?

The main character, Kenneth, is given a massive project by his boss, with a near impossible deadline, and a promise of a huge bonus. To help along with the process, his boss appoints a girl, Lisa, from the typing pool to assist him.

The attraction of Lisa to Kenneth is very strong and evident, but Kenneth is shy and unaccustomed to attention from members of the opposite sex. Losing himself in a fantasy world when he takes a trip to the site that sells the dolls, he begins to build the girl of his dreams. He models it after his assistant, Lisa.

He settles into a routine with his new doll, Nikki, living with her, sleeping with her, and having date nights as if she were alive.

The misogyny of the lead character really prevented me from having any desire to cheer him on as a protagonist. He had a girl pretty much throwing herself at him and he had no desire, but builds a doll to look just like her (and, over time, BE  just like her). Yet, she doesn't have a mind/will of her own, she's just a doll. Something he can manipulate...control. So he thinks.

The trouble starts when Kenneth's abject fear of women begins to dissipate. His comfort and familiarity with Nikki enabling him to loosen up around Lisa, whom he's grown incredibly fond of. But not everyone is happy with his new found confidence.

The evidence for Nikki actually having a mind...being alive starts when she shows up on Kenneth's doorstep, the straps holding her into the box broken. It becomes stronger when his world begins to spiral out of control as Nikki begins speaking to Kenneth, threatening to ruin his life and hurt Lisa if he continues on with both women. He begins having nightmares, Nikki attacking him, strangling him, locking him in the box she came in.

She is soon done up in BDSM gear, we hear Kenneth crying behind closed doors as Nikki beats him. Punishing him as his attention and affection for her wanes.

He desires to break free of Nikki, yet she has become too real, too powerful. This becoming evident after a failed tryst with Lisa. Seeing her naked for the first time: her tongue ring and tattoo cause him to lose his erection as the real Lisa fails to live up to flawless Nikki. He realizes he has to forcefully separate himself from Nikki if he ever wants a life of happiness with Lisa.

But Nikki is not letting go without a fight.

The movie rapidly shifts: Is Kenneth crazy? Or is Nikki developing an awareness?

Will Kenneth learn to escape the clutches of Nikki and follow his heart with Lisa? Or is Nikki's allure and pull on Kenneth too strong?

So much happens in this little independent film and what I've written here only begins to scratch the surface of a pretty intricately woven, self-aware, smart horror film. The third act of this film peels back all of the thick layers and gives you a peek at what we're actually witnessing. And it's pretty damned amazing.

My only gripe was that the ending squashes any, and all, hopes I had that this would be an empowering film with a strong message. But the end is such a nasty, little twist that I found it to be smirkingly enjoyable.

So what are your thoughts? If you could build a doll: what would it look like...who would it look like? Are there any repercussions that having this would create in real life?

Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
Drake Marcos' Score: 3 out of 5 VCRs flashing 12:00 AM

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

#9 Ryeong/The Ghost 령

Coming in at #9 is the quiet Korean chiller Ryeong/The Ghost released around 2004 (but not seen by me until somewhere around May 2007, according to my Netflix account.)

Considering it's been six years since I last saw this film, I remember picking it up at a massive DVD sale at my local video store for about $1 or so, snatching it up and thinking... "I think I liked this when I first saw it" and then putting it in my DVD collection without a repeat viewing until tonight.

First, some background on this little Asiancentric mindset that I have.

Back in 2002, a little movie (with a $50M budget) known as The Ring was released to a smashing success, dominating the box office for a good while, spawning a sequel (around the same budget but doing about half the business of the first), and birthing a new evil entity legend to the pantheon of horror bad guys, Samara.

I may revisit this series in a future installment, when I have more time, but since I'm on a schedule of one movie a day, I need to make this side trip as short as possible.

I was so taken by this film and when I found out that it was a remake of a Japanese horror film, I of course had to seek that out. When I found out that it was based on a book, I of course had to seek that out. This led me into a wonderful, wonderful world of exploring Japanese literature (There are 6 books in the Japanese novel franchise, in case you were wondering: Ring, Loop, Spiral, Birthday, Promenade of the Gods, and S) and Japanese culture in general.

I began to listen to a lot of J-Pop (Japanese Pop Music) artists, such as Utada Hikaru
and Namie Amuro. And this also led to me getting confused and listening to a lot of K-Pop (South Korean Pop music) by mistake. So with my tastes overloaded with all of these Asian influences, my love of horror movies was soon besieged by an entire world of horror movies from way, way across the pond. There were horror movies from Japan, South Korea, Thailand, etc. And Netflix was there to feed my addiction.

I have spent the last few years burning through every Asian horror movie that I can find on Netflix. Sometimes it pays off and I'm handed something refreshing, exciting, and scary. A lot of times I'm left feeling hollow and just plain confused. I guess it's a cultural disconnect as evidenced by the fact that none of the US remakes (besides The Ring) have had any real degree of success (Shutter, One Missed Call).

One thing about Asian horror movies, South Korean in general, is the insane amount of melodramatic plotlines. The motivations and machinations of everything in these movies is just absolutely dripping with the themes of love, friendship, loyalty, etc. So coming from a country whose entertainment is all about "shoot 'em up!" and "don't do that!" the change is quite jarring and sometimes frustrating.

But this shit is (can be) absolutely fucking beautiful and terrifying all at the same time.

Coming back to Ryeong after 7 years of not seeing it was almost like seeing it again for the first time. And I was extremely frustrated for at least the first 20 minutes.

Not to be racist, but everybody looks the fucking same. It makes understanding everything so much of a chore at times, so after 20 minutes of cracking my knuckles and yanking up the Wikipedia entry to try to get some grasp of just what the hell I was watching, I was soon being drawn into the story. And Jesus, it's nasty.

It starts at a sleepover, three girls playing with a Korean version of a Ouija board. They calli forth a ghost, the girls get themselves insanely freaked out when the ghost that they've conjured starts telling them it's in their room and out for revenge, the older sister of one of the girls, named Eun-Seo, sneaks into the room to scare the girls and forces them to go to bed. The younger sibling sad and put off by her older sister mutters that she wishes the ghost would terrorize her sister.

We later see this older sister in the kitchen begin choking on water and drowning to death.

This is where I started to get frustrated, we switch story lines to a girl named MIN Ji-Won, who I thought was maybe one of the girls from the beginning but apparently not as the previous event isn't even referenced for awhile.

The movie switches gears from a horror film to a sappy melodrama film about a girl who is suffering a severe case of amnesia. A sort-of boyfriend who is trying to win the heart of the girl who's main goal is to remember what happened to cause her memory loss.

She has decided that, since she cannot remember, she'll build a whole new life for herself, causing her mother to become a raging depressive. The woman feels abandoned since her husband died and now her amnesiac daughter is leaving her to study abroad.

The story actually begins to move at a brisk pace, the performances by the mother and Ji-Won are heartfelt and authentic. They are two women, feeling lost and adrift in life, clinging desperately to each other but pushing each other away at the same time.

Just as we settle into this switch, the director starts throwing in a smattering of eerie scenes to remind us that this is a horror movie also. Visions of ghosts, vivid dreams as Ji-Won starts to have memories triggered, a little girl hiding in a locker. It all begins to take on a sharp edge as Ji-Won's search for her missing life becomes desperate.

She is confronted one day by a former friend (one of the girl's from the seance scene earlier) to inform her that her older sister Eun-Soo was found drowned, another of their friends is in a mental hospital, and she herself is suffering from seeing things that aren't there. Ji-Won begins to interact with these girls from her forgotten past, gleaning any information about herself that she can before they are brutally killed, found with water in their lungs.

As Ji-Won begins to remember everything, she is confronted with the fact that, before the accident that caused her amnesia, she was kind of an egomaniacal cunt. A rich girl who looked down on those that were of a lower social class than her, and bullied a girl she was childhood friends with, a girl named Su-in.

Does Su-in hold the key to unlocking Ji-Won's memory?

You're torn as this girl who you were rooting for this whole time turns out to have been such an awful person in the past.

Kim Ha-Neul, the actress who plays Ji-Won, had me completely riveted throughout this film. She is a baby bird with a broken wing, struggling to find out who she was while being forced to become a woman at the same time, but lacking the necessary tools. And when she is attacked by a former friend for showing up at a funeral for another friend she doesn't remember, her pain is palpable, I felt for her. This woman portrays her character flawlessly, most of the acting done with facial expressions and minute gestures that renders spoken word almost unneccessary.

As the film progresses, you feel lost with Ji-Won. When a woman can't remember what happened herself, how can she trust the accounts of others in her life from a forgotten time? Are they telling the truth? Do they have something to hide from her? Does Ji-Won have something to hide from herself? Can she even trust her own mother? Can she trust her own mind?

Everything culminates in a drawn-out, full blown explanation with quick cuts to previous scenes in the movie, the perfect foreshadowing that is just jaw-dropping as the director gives you the puzzle pieces and helps nudge them into place. He doesn't spoon feed you everything, nor does he put a pretty ribbon on it, but he gives you just enough to grasp the hang of it yourself. And even once you think you've gotten it, the shit really hits the fan as everything you thought you knew is torn to shreds and the real story is revealed. And the final scene that had me cackling with the irony of the situation

This film has it all, guys: pretty Asian schoolgirls, vengeful ghosts, a twisted plot, amazing performances, hidden motives, and eerie shots, the fear lingering moreso in your mind than on the screen.

I ended up liking this movie a lot more than I thought I would considering how hesitant I felt with the opening sequence.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 57% Audience approval
Drake Marcos Rating: 4 out of 5 swimming lessons


#10 on Drake's Halloween Film List is the 2009 is the almost (if its Rotten Tomatoes score of 11% is to be believed) universally hated David S. Goyer creepfest THE UNBORN.

David S. Goyer has enjoyed a recent resurgence in the entertainment industry with the wicked success of his treatments and screenplay work on Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, Man of Steel, and is also in talks to begin work on the long-rumored Justice League film.

His backlog of work is filled with hurdles, the man has worked on just as many failed projects (Blade tv series, Flashforward, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance) as he has successful projects (Da Vinci's Demons, Blade trilogy). Based on what imdb has listed as upcoming work, the man seems to have hit his stride with the superhero/videogame genre (Metal Gear Solid, Batman vs Superman, Justice League.)

While this end of the decade horror movie was dropped in January (for those of us that aren't  film nerds, January is the month that is considered a dumping ground for studios. The movies released are the ones the studios consider stinkers, non-blockbusters). The track record for these movies are not typically good, but despite the bad rap, the movie had a budget of $16M and made almost $77M worldwide, so it wasn't necessarily a bad investment.

The movie starts out with a girl describing her dream of a creepy little kid and a dog wearing a mask, while her friend is futilely trying to help decipher the dream, she hears a child's voice over the baby monitor. She moves upstairs to find one of the children she's babysitting shining a mirror in the face of his infant sister. He informs the Sitter that "Jamby wants to be born now" and immediately slices at her eye with the handheld mirror.

As the story progresses, the girl continues to see the boy from her dream, sometimes wavering in the distance, sometimes lunging at her from her bathroom mirror. After a visit with her father, she learns that she had a twin brother that died in utero and comes to believe that this spectre is the spirit of her dead brother haunting her.

A lot of other moody, creepy shit happens: gross insects crawling around in a freshly cracked egg, whispers through a gloryhole (in a women's restroom), a bathroom that fills with shit and rends itself apart (a dream sequence COMPLETELY lifted from Lost Souls, the Winona Ryder, spiritual horror flick). Also, the completely unsettling imagery that sold this for me was the people crawling on all fours with their heads twisted upside down

The girl begins to fear that she's headed down the same road as her late mother, who committed suicide in a mental hospital. But other fears begin to press in as the people who come alongside her to help investigate what's happening to her, and why, begin to drop dead the closer she moves to the truth.
The plot moves around at lightning speed from World War II, Nazi experiments, and twin superstitions. The most interesting of these being the inclusion of Jewish mysticism with the stories of a dybbuk (a topic handled much better in 2012's The Possession.) To my knowledge, this is the first movie to include a Jewish exorcism rite, and definitely the only one to have a dual exorcism performed by a rabbi and Episcopalian priest.

The climax is entertaining enough but soon the spirit starts jumping from body to body like some fucked up, supernatural game of musical chairs, begging the question: why didn't it just stay in that body if it wanted to live so badly? And a scene where a man is able to punch through cement walls but an inability to knock someone out.

A final scene revelation montage adds some clever twists explaining why it's taken, y'know 80 years to get to this point but it's a sad case of too little too late.

While this movie had a lot of very interesting elements to it, a sexy supporting role from Cam Gigandet (yes, there is a shirtless scene), and with David Goyer's penchant for dark, scary atmospheres, this movie ultimately fails to capitalize on its strengths.

If you want to see a horror film that abandons the Christian perspective of demonic possession in favor of some other explanation, this is a decent entry to check out. The atmopshere is dark and creepy, the jump-scares are visceral enough, and the actors capably carry this movie.

It feels like it wanted to be a more suspenseful, creepy melodrama flick that relied a little too heavily on the scares that work for South Korean horror movies (which we'll discuss shortly). It would have worked as a short film or maybe as an entry in the long-forgotten Masters of Horror series, but as a full-length feature it's left struggling to find its feet.

RottenTomatoes Score: 11%
DrakeMarcos score: 2 out of 5 contortionists

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The 11 Days of Halloween...The Night No One Came Home Volume 1

Another thing about the Halloween season that makes it my favorite is the onslaught of horror movies that are released and re-released theatrically along with the small stand-up section at Wal-Mart offering bad transfers of bad horror movies for prices south of $10.

So for a little break from the norm and to continue to commemorate my, Drake's, favorite holiday, I've decided to include a miniseries of blog entries that will revolve around lesser-known (and sometimes bad) horror movies that make this season stupid, great fun.

A lot of other blogs, when they do something similar, give the old standbys for "horror movies of the season" and include the classics (for good reason) and nearly everything that CAN be said HAS been said about them. While I will list a few of the great ones that I watch to get me in the mood, I will start this series off with one of the most maligned horror sequels in history (no, it's not Troll 2...that movie got its own documentary).

I will start this one off with a movie that has the most annoying, yet catchiest, theme song. It will burrow it's way into your brain like the mythical abilities of the earwig and forever cement its place as a song you'll think about whenever you see the toothy, grinning face of a jack-o-lantern.

Stop it! For the dear love of God! STOP IIIIIIIIIIIIIT!

Halloween III: The Season of the Witch has the unfortunate title of being the most hated and despised sequel in the entire Halloween franchise. This franchise, for the first two movies, covered the exploits of a man in a white mask who stalked and killed babysitters on Halloween night (more on this film franchise itself later.) In 1982, Moustapha Akkad and John Carpenter decided to announce their plans for the Halloween franchise. The plan was to make it a NIGHT GALLERY style series of films where each film would be set around Halloween and have some scary shit happening in our backyard. While a good idea (in my opinion) the third film was released roughly a week before Halloween of 1982, only to underperform at the box office due to bad word-of-mouth and fan's disappointment in the film not further expanding the Michael Myer's mythos. It did so badly that the producers didn't return to the series for at least 7 more years with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.

This film, as stated previously, had no involvement with Michael Myers. Aside from the passing shot of a Myers' mask hanging on the wall, scenes from the 1978 classic playing on a television at various spots in the film, the throwing of a mask over a security camera showing the view of eyeholes in a mask, the movie was its own entity. Had it been called something else, it might have performed to a better degree of success, or not. Bearing the tagline of "The Night No One Came Home" and the Halloween moniker, the absence of knife-wielding, homicidal, fratricidal Michael Myers doomed this film's success.

I hemmed and hawed over including this title in my initial line-up of Halloween movies, but the decision, I feel, was a good one. While HALLOWE3N is, undoubtedly, a 80's schlockfest with plotholes so wide that you can drive an aircraft carrier through (and still have room to spare!) It has some fun and refreshing horror elements that I think carried it quite well as a standalone film (even though I'm glad that they returned to their titular character for the rest of the series.) Stonehenge, druidic rituals, brainwashing, androids, mass murder, sex...when you break it all down to those terms, the movie sounds kind of original and exciting. However, a stilted plot, laughable dialogue, and over-the-top cheese elements made this movie an awesomely bad horror entry.

I recently got a chance to witness this movie on the big-screen for the first time (since I hadn't yet been born when the movie was initially released) at a beer-tasting.

It had probably been 10 years since I had seen the movie (it has never taken a spot in my HalloweeN night movie marathons due to the absence of Myers) so it was almost a brand new viewing experience for me.

Being older and wiser, and seeing it with an audience, I noticed the parts of the film that were so unintentionally funny and bad that it endeared it much more to my heart. The producers had balls and took risks and, despite the fact that they fell on their faces, created an interesting horror/scifi hybrid that worked on a few levels while failing on so many others. Those are balls that I respect when it comes to art.

To sum it up, the movie opens on a man running through a barren wasteland at night, clutching a pumpkin mask in his hand, being pursued by suited men in a car. They catch up to him and try to kill him only to let them slip through their grasp again, alerting a gas station owner and, after being transported to a hospital, a doctor. When he is killed in the hospital, his murderer being a suited man who lights himself on fire afterwards, the doctor senses something amiss and teams up with the victim's daughter when she shows up to identify his body.

They travel to the small town of Santa Mira, California, where a factory known as Silver Shamrock, is making a killing selling three different masks to the children of the nation. Everyone who has a mask is encouraged to watch "the big reveal" at 9 o' clock on Halloween night. Ellie, the daughter, and Tom, the doctor, begin to investigate the town and factory and uncover a nefarious plot that dates back thousands of years to the age of druids and try to dismantle the scheme before the children of the nation are victimized.

A blistering indictment of commercialism and a reminder of some of Halloween's ancient roots, Halloween III: Season of the Witch succeeds in what it set out to do (and to inadvertently play a <pun intended> trick on HalloweeN fans). It's a movie that will have you scratching your head (as a woman emerges from a hot shower to cover herself in a fitted sheet to fend herself from the cold <not a mistype>), chuckling at parts that aren't supposed to be funny, and leaning over to let the person next to you know that this movie is "awful."

Available on various platforms (DVD, independent theatres, Blu-Ray, and iTunes) this is a treat to watch. It's humble, frustrating, thought-provoking, and oddly creepy. And it has earned the #11 spot on Drake Marcos' Horror Movie List of 2013.

Enjoy...or don't. I don't care.

Monday, October 14, 2013

What was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply...evil

The weather has begun cooling, and the trees have begun turning gold and orange, dropping their masks to the ground to reveal their skeletal arms that will soon labor beneath the white blankets that will (for most of us anyway) fall across our land as the seasons change. But before we welcome the breath stealing clutches of winter, we have the pagan holiday to celebrate as the souls are released from the chains of death to walk the earth.

Halloween has long been my most favorite holiday. Something  about the idea of the spirits of people long dead being allowed to roam our earth once more, one night a year is just...entrancing. Now, Halloween has a long history and various origin stories but I won't bore you with a history lesson and will give you the Drake's notes.

Halloween was one of those old pagan/Celtic holidays that was originally designed to celebrate the changing of the seasons. Feasts were held where the souls of the dead were invited to their former homes with places at the table set for them. From my brief research, I've found that a similar tradition is held in the east, with food and money left outside of homes for the traveling souls of family members on Ghost Night. The Catholic Church soon stole this holiday and essentially raped it, like they did all other seasonal celebrations. It was declared, by the church, to be the night to remember the saints and pray for souls that were en route to Heaven.

For me, when I was young, it was a holiday where I was allowed to dress up and be someone completely different and run around my small neighborhood with a pillowcase, knocking on the doors of complete strangers and begging for candy. In other words, the safest night of the year.

One year I was a dragon, the next year a pumpkin. My mind gets kind of foggy in the early years so  I can only remember through pictures and memories seen through a glass darkly: Billy the Blue Power Ranger, Ghostface (from Scream), Freddy Kreuger, my high school mascot, Michael Myers, Christopher Robin, Michael Jackson (twice...soon to be three...maybe) and various others. The dualistic nature of good and evil prevalent throughout my life.

As I got older, I tried to act hard and took to wearing a t-shirt that reads: "This is my costume." acting like I don't give a shit about Halloween. But the truth is, it's STILL my favorite time of the year. My heart wells up, my eyes moisten, I am instantly taken back in time as I watch children run the streets in the waning daylight, giggling with bags of various sizes clutched in their tiny hands. Between the ages of 14-17, I used to take my nieces and nephews trick or treating to indulge and relive some of that innocence and youth.

My interest in Halloween also forks and follows a very different stream.

I have a very deep interest in the dark side of the holiday as well.

I have long been obsessed with the deranged, the macabre, the dark, the scary. It shows in the short stories I read (and still do) and wrote while growing up, it shows in my movie collection, in the long-gestating novel idea that I've been kicking around. There is something so alluring about the contrast between the dark and the light, man versus monster, the dead versus the living...the eternal struggle of good versus evil.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Restart: A short update and a taste of things to come... .

D2: I know! I know! I'm sorry! It's been over a month since we've posted anything but here I am begging forgiveness and offering nothing but promises to do better. And there's Drake, not giving a shit.

The truth of the matter is, we've been crazy as of late. The battle between Drake and I intensifies day-by-day, with each drop of sweat, with each muttered curse, we fight each other tooth-and-nail. But despite our mutual hatred for each other, we've had a common goal in mind this past month-ish.

A trip.

Yes...yes... we are taking a little vacation he comes...

*Deep breaths*

Drake: Did you miss me? Of course you did!

Now before I let D2 torture you with his lengthy, oh-so-boring ruminations on human nature, I had to pull the reigns and take control to tell you about a very fun and interesting development. I got the call, texts, emails, various different modes of contact from the big man upstairs.

No, not Jesus...he still prefers the old, yet effective, method of just barging into your life like a bull in a china shop and telling you how things are going to be. No, this is an altogether different big man. His name is one that resounds throughout the world of homoerotic wrestling royalty, and shit, he even scares ME! I'm talking about the incomparable Kid Leopard, Big Daddy of BGEast wrestling.

He got in touch with me and asked me if I was ready to bring myself back to action. A moment's hesitation as Drake had to check his prissy little date planner, me chomping at the bit, before the ticket was booked to the south Florida BGEast campus. And a return to male-on-male erotic combat.

Don't worry...this time away has not dulled my senses, has not worn the edges of my insuppressible Cheshire's grin, has not weakened me. Rather, this time away has offered me an opportunity to fine tune my skills as well as my body and has afforded me some experiences that make me eager to bring what I've learned to the mat to face some guys (stiff competition from what I've heard) that I think you'll be very excited for.

My impending return to action at BGEast has made me look and evaluate a lot of things in my life (D2: I had a hand in that for once) and while I'm just as sorry as D2 over the negligence of this blog, I know you'll come back because I'm in your head. Under your skin. I'm here to help all of you kinky little bastards to find your other side as well, to let him come out and play, indulge him a little. In the words of the legendary Norman Bates: "We all go a little mad sometimes."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Kiss Part 3: The Detour

D2: When people think of homoerotic wrestling the two companies that stand tall for pumping out some very good wrestling kink material over the years are the oft-mentioned (but not often in the same breath if you value your limbs) BGEast and Can-Am.

There are many, MANY others out also have Rock Hard Wrestling, UCW, Naked Kombat and the list continues on into the infinite. Somewhere on the lower regions of the unofficial homoerotic wrestling totem pole you'd find the little company from New England that flew under the radar (yet, still managed to find it's niche) for nearly 10 years.

Regardless of what ever your knowledge or experience with HBWL may have been over the course of its lifetime, it holds a very, VERY special place in my heart as it was the early home for Drake to finally come out of his cage,
(Drake: Bitch...)
find his feet, blink blearily at the sunlight, spread his wings, and take flight to discover just exactly who he was in this interesting world of homoerotic wrestling.  It was also a place for me to kind of begin to make peace with the body dysmorphia that had plagued me from an early age.

The site also had BG East wrestlers Jonah Richards and Timmy Cox in VERY different roles. The sister site (Beaten & Shamed) featured UCW wrestler Donovan as Austin. A few of the other wrestlers (Jesse) found their way into other small-market gay porn such as Broke Straight Boys.

The owner of the website and I had some ideas and plans for Drake and his storyline at HBWL. A good deal of them were fleshed-out and realized while others languished and were a victim of time and constraints. Sometimes the best-laid plans have some unexpected outcomes and consequences.

I always used to find it funny when reading authors' commentaries on their own work when they mention that their characters take on an uncertain type of sentience and refuse to be who they are being written to be. Or the story comes to life and takes an unexpected turn, even for the author. The only thing the writer can do is sit back and let the unknown invader take the helm and tell the story the way it wants to be told. The control is no longer in their hands...and so, it seems, that time is here once again where I have to release the reigns of this narrative to my co-host...Drake...

Drake: Co-host? Pfft! Please, I'm the star. That's who they're here to hear. You're merely the man who welcomes me to the stage. I let you have your little segments but it's ultimately about me, don't forget it...

(D2: You're a bit insufferable, you know that?)
Don't care! Go read your books and let me talk!
(D2: *indecipherable grumbling*)
You're fine...
Whew, he just NEVER quits!
Ok, so back to HBWL...Hometown Boys Wrestling League.

Let me break down for you what they were all about: fun, goofy, experimental, organic, slap and tickle fights. I don't think this site every really decided what it wanted to be. The storylines were always disjointed and seemed conflicted about what they wanted to do with their characters. Just barely fleshed out but played to the motherfucking hilt, almost to the point of self-parody. The punches that never even really tried to look like they connected framed by scripted, on-the-fly "fights" that usually ended up in the same place every time: guys knocked out, nude, and getting stroked off (sometimes to completion, but mostly as a humiliation factor) while the dominant one would count to 30. If they were unlucky enough to be unresponsive by the time that count was reached then they lost and tons of humiliation was still in store.

It was definitely a niche site, but dear God did it find it! Anybody who had any varying degree of a fetish could find it at HBWL: bondage, wrestling, KO scenarios, forced feminization, CMNM, shaving, feet, facials, watersports... They also had a wide variety of models that worked for the site: twinks (mostly), jocks, punks, nerds. Some times the downtrodden of the social classes would get the upperhand on the schoolyard bullies (the jocks) and delve out some well-deserved payback. Some times not.  Regardless of whether or not you funded the product (which you no longer can, however I am sure that some clips are floating around on various tube sites), they always found a way to twist things up, make it new and exciting. It lasted for a good 10 years, and I was there until the end.

The storyline that D2 and the webmaster had in mind for me went like this:
I show up, out of the blue, and want to buy out the company from the owner, Brad (who was kind of a maniacal CEO, a la Vince McMahon, who got mixed up in the fighting action himself from time to time). My first meeting with Brad doesn't go too well. The negotiations sour quickly and I let it slip that some of the wrestlers aren't happy with the way the company is moving and want a change of leadership. They find that in me.

Brad, incensed at this perceived mutiny, refuses to step down from his position and tells me to beat it. Being all pussylike in this scenario, I get nervous and apologize. Before I can beat a hasty retreat, Brad clocks me across the skull with a briefcase, knocking me down, and diving like a vulture on some roadside carrion.  I take a vicious and demoralizing beatdown from company head and end up unconscious, stripped, him leaving with my clothes as well as dropping me a challenge via voicemail: whoever wins the next fight gets control of the company.

Drake accepts...of course!

Despite my amazing foresight
(D2: Hey! I'm the thinker!)
to show up with that great equalizer chloroform, the more-experienced Brad is able to fight off an attack from behind. I put up a valiant effort, getting control a few times, and have Brad at the mercy of my lecherous hands. However, it's all for naught as Brad regains consciousness and makes a strong comeback. Putting me...*gulp*... down and out for the count and the win. Leaving me with a "souvenir": a load of cum on my face and a warning to those I came to represent.

Pretty bad, right? They wanted me to be a near-defenseless jobber who would get humiliated left and right! Fuck that noise...

The story fleshed out that I had been brought in by a rogue faction of wrestlers, spear-headed by Colin (who had his own axe to grind with Brad), and when Colin finds me laid out and humiliated decides to punish me for letting them down.

I take a pretty good beating in that one, but, guess what bitches. I came out on top!

From there I moved on to pull an upset win over the legendary HBWL stud, Godzilla-dick Patrick, my roommate Asa for not having his half of the rent, my assistant Christopher for threatening to blackmail me with the videos of my abject humiliation. I also sucker HBWL-hopeful Leon into a fake interview in Brad's absence, crush my friend Austin (Donovan of UCW) for wrecking my car, and decimate the twinky couple of Christopher and DJ (a hilarious bitch-off). And finally, face off against reigning HBWL champion, Jay. Looking at that, where do you think I began to dominate this whole game?

They wanted me as a babyface jobber who would always lose...and I not only asserted but proved myself with a string of victories and when HBWL closed shop?

Drake Fucking Marcos... standing tall as HBWL champion.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In Memoriam (Part 2-end)

The other hero who left this world I didn't find out until a full day after it had happened.

Around the same time as Michael's death, I enrolled myself into a mailing club that scored me five books for the price of one. (They were basically mass market paperback novels that were ballooned into hardcover versions.) The only catch was that, once enrolled, you had to buy another book at full price within 12 months or you would be charged for the "free" books.

While the selections in this mailer were pretty thin, I sighed and absent-mindedly checked the box next to I Am Legend | Hell House by Richard Matheson. The only thing I knew about I Am Legend was it was a movie that Will Smith was in, having never seen it. I might as well read the book right?
When I received the box in the mail, I kind of turned-up my nose as I pulled each book out of the box: Where was my mind at when I ordered these?

I skimmed the back cover of the Matheson novel and there was a blurb from Stephen King: "I think the author who influenced me the most as a writer was Richard Matheson."


What high praise! The king of horror fiction lists this guy as his number one inspiration?
I couldn't wait to tear into it. And the opening lines struck me hard: "On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back."

Who are they? Why is sunset an important time? Why do I feel this creeping sense of dread with this opening paragraph? The story continues...creeping like an undetected intruder in your mind...sneaking up on you and launching itself into you when you least expect it. It drags you down through the harrowing account of Robert Neville's life as the last man on earth since a disease has turned the rest of the world into bloodthirsty monsters. He slowly loses his mind as he realizes he is truly alone in the world, alone against the vampire hordes that roam the earth when the sun goes down.

This book is the uncle of all vampire novels, partly inspired by Dracula by Bram Stoker, this book is the finest vampire novel I've ever read...Hell, it's THE finest novel I've ever read. It's not a vampire novel that deals with a whacked out teenaged girl falling in love with a handsome sparkling young man who is 10x her age and all that teenage-focused fluff that came with it.

It's a brutal, unapologetic novel, carrying a bleak message but also contains glimmers of hope. Humanity...A vampire novel with, no pun intended, a bleeding heart. The line is never drawn...who is the real monster? The man who is the only one left of his kind, surviving by hunting the members of a new race? Or the new race that thirsts for the last man's blood? Do we fear what we don't understand? Should we? ("Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend.")

There is SO much to this novel and Robert Neville is a painful man to follow because you feel his utter isolation, you are stuck in his home, his painfully empty home, eating dinner with him as the vampires cry from outside his house, scratching at the walls night after night. ("Inside the record played. Outside the vampires waited.")

It's so tragic, his desire to connect with something from the world that existed before, he even reduces himself to begging a wild dog for companionship ("He had such a terrible yearning to love something again, and the dog was such a beautiful ugly dog.” )

He spends most of his time reading, learning anything that he can through what the thinkers had the foresight to leave behind before the world fell apart. Devouring science and philosophy with equal relish, he wonders about what his fate and the fate of the rest of the world would be/was like  ("To die... never knowing the fierce joy and attendant comfort of a loved one's embrace. To sink into that hideous coma, to sink then into death and, perhaps, return to sterile, awful wanderings. All without knowing what it was to love and be loved. That was a tragedy more terrible than becoming a vampire.")

The open ended scene of the novel is as equally frustrating as it is uplifting, and sneeringly cocky as we are forced to confront the Boogeyman in all his terrifying glory.

You can't really go anywhere without encountering something he has touched...from early episodes of Star Trek to Will Smith movies (I Am Legend) to Kevin Bacon films (Stir of Echoes) to Christopher Reeve (Somewhere in Time). As well as NUMEROUS episodes of Twilight Zone ("There's Something on the Wing!" ) The midnight scares of the Trilogy of Terror films which included his insane Zuni fetish doll from his story "Prey" whose antagonist has much more sinister plans in mind for whoever wakes his spirit.

His stories serve to shock and scare as "The Dress of White Silk" which I don't quite understand despite numerous readings, but Anne Rice has said it was this story that made her want to become a writer.

They also serve as nasty little morality tales. "Button Button" (filmed by Richard Kelly as THE BOX and also a classic Twilight Zone episode) deals with a family who receives a box with a button and are told that if they push a button, they will receive $10,000 and someone they don't know will die.

"A Fluorish of Strumpets" displays what can happen to a good marriage when you allow fantasies of other partners to grow in your mind.

Though I have not read everything he's written just yet, so far his crowning achievement for me has been his novel WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (Ignore the awful Robin Williams movie.) This novel was so strong and deeply written and felt that it managed to make me question everything I once believed about life after death, heaven and hell.

It's about a man and his wife that die in an accident and while the man discovers the joys of Heaven and the afterlife in general, the wife ends up in hell. Yet there love is strong, and the man braves hell to find his wife so that they can be reunited and prove whether or not, true love conquers all.

Once I finished reading WHAT DREAMS MAY COME. My entire body was shivering uncontrollably, everything was so beautifully written. The idea that Heaven being a place where all of your desires and dreams were fulfilled and satisfied. And hell being the place where you were forced to witness the negative affects that your decisions in life had on others, a place where you experienced no pleasure, only a sense of complete failure and depression. (“What condemnation could possibly be more harsh than one’s own, when self-pretense is no longer possible?”)

Mr. Matheson offers one of the greatest love stories ever written while tying it up in a frame through which he explains his personal beliefs about life after death in a way that doesn't hammer you over the head, that explains the world, the characters, the story, but at the same time makes you question everything you've ever heard about the afterlife.

I, like the great Stephen King, consider Richard Matheson to be  my biggest inspiration in terms of writing. The legacy he leaves behind on the literary world is indelible. And while I know that I will never be of the same caliber as him, I'm not going to give up my own mission. ("We've forgotten much. How to struggle, how to rise to dizzy heights and sink to unparalleled depths. We no longer aspire to anything. Even the finer shades of despair are lost to us. We've ceased to be runners. We plod from structure to conveyance to employment and back again. We live within the boundaries that science has determined for us. The measuring stick is short and sweet. The full gamut of life is a brief, shadowy continuum that runs from gray to more gray. The rainbow is bleached. We hardly know how to doubt anymore.")

I close this by saying, there are many people in this world. Having heroes is an important thing for it gives you something to strive for, fight for. For some of us it's our parents, politicians, teachers, celebrities...for me it was a much-beleaguered pop star and an 87-year-old writer.

I am thankful for the time they graced this earth to offer me the inspiration I needed to take steps toward becoming who I am. I will continue to strive to bring respect and honor to their legacies and spirits.

Rest in Peace, gentleman.


“Thank you...for gracing my life with your lovely presence, for adding the sweet measure of your soul to my existence.”
― Richard Matheson, What Dreams May Come