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Episode List for Rotcast Series 3

EP: 21 Tenement EP: 22 House Nice EP: 23 Bucking Nuts EP: 24 Rara Avis EP: 25 Oh My Brothers EP: 26 They Shoot Horses in Technicolor EP: 27 Mortuary Hostess with no Visible Panty Line EP: 28 Snakes and Ladders EP: 29 The Modern Prometheus EP: 30 Rose Red and Snow White

Ep: They Shoot Horses in Technicolor

The second annual Cowboy themed Rotcast. We review two wines: Barbed Wire Meritage and Oakley Five Reds. Guest reviewers are Hank and Kalie Palmer. Enjoy the show!

Answer to #25

This audio is a little different. It isn’t a full episode of Rotcast, but mostly only the answer to the film quiz from the last episode, number 25. We are calling this new type of show a mini.

# 25 Oh! My Brothers

We reviewed Tic Tok Merlot 2009. It received a paltry 76pts. But the show is one of our best. Check it out. P.S.–I made a mistake and called the wine review #24. It’s #25.

Rotcast #24—Rara Avis

We drink a wine kept exclusive by its low yield, short supply and difficulty to purchase. But it was delicious. RDV–Friends and Family. We gave it 92 pts. Also you we learn the answer to the last Chapter and Verse movie quiz and hear the next mystery movie/book and director/author. We hi-jack another podcast to [...]

Tenement Living

Tenement Living

While I’ve been a perpetual tenant, I’ve been lucky enough to never have lived in a tenement. If I stretch the definition beyond living quarters to include the space I work in, then I’ve spent time in a few tenements.

The definition of a “tenement” today includes the ideas of overcrowding combined with an “unsafe” atmosphere. I’ve worked in jobs with unsafe atmospheres. You may recall my story about an over zealous blueprint machine that filled my office with ammonia. But there was a far more heinous job in my past that tried to kill me. This was way back in the days before personal computers. Call them the dark ages, or the darkroom ages. Back then if an image needed to be duplicated, enlarged, put through a filter or what have you, it was done photographically. I worked in three separate companies that had three different darkroom setups. The one I call a tenement had a darkroom so small it barely held the stat camera and the operator.

I should explain that a stat camera was a large copy-camera with a built in lighting system. Stat cameras were usually vertical camera with the lens pointing toward the floor and the film back flat like a tabletop. The film back usually hovered about chest high to an average person, and it raised and lowered to focus. A typical stat camera used a copy platform with a built-in vacuum system. The vacuum held the material to be photographed flat.

This tenement where I worked had a stat camera room, which was entered through a large black tube with a revolving door. It was such a small space the camera operator needed to stand in this tube and reach through the door to use the camera. This tenement like a real tenement had No ventilation.

The tenement was really an advertising agency on its last legs. It may never have been a great success, but it was definitely in free fall when I walked in the door. The company began operating in Chicago, an advertising super hub, but when I found it, it had moved to Rockville, Maryland. I never knew the complete history of the company. But later, as I was quitting, I found out that the owner had a problem with drugs and his business was suffering along with his personal life.

This tenement building was across the street from the Rockville government center. About two short blocks from the library. The tenement was on a shady tree-lined lane and had a very impressive open front area. A good four fifths of the total space was up front where the salesman’s desks were arranged. The back room art department was also impressive. One entered through a sunlit loft. The art department was on the other side of a partition that ran through the entire space. It occupied the remaining fifth, but was further divided into a large derelict photographic studio on the ground floor and a very hectic graphic art area with four workstations in the loft.

Eventually we artists found out that this tenement/ad agency had a practice of working on spec. That is, we created whole campaigns that were speculative ventures. The art department would create concepts for the sales people to take to clients. But the clients were only prospects. They never asked for the artwork and they rarely, if ever, wanted to buy our services. The salesmen would return and say that the client was not happy with the art. The sale team obviously also lied to us about deadlines. We worked overtime on presentations that were, just a prop for an exposed salesperson to bolster their courage behind. They played us for suckers, and ignored our complaints about the stat camera that was trying to kill us.

The design of the art department loft was handled before I started work there. They installed a stat camera into an air-less closet. I was familiar with many types of stat cameras, by this time. But this one was different. Some how this camera’s lighting system burned oil. I don’t know how or why. It might have been that the vacuum used hydraulic oil that leaked onto the lights. We could see the smoke coming from the lights. The unhealthy air slowly filled the closet while we worked. The best you could do was focus the camera quickly and get out of the closet while the exposure was happening. Still you would need to return and process the film or paper. I remember feeling the droplets form on my lungs. I had a constant cough, but I needed the job. In fact when they could no longer pay us suckers, we walked away and the place was gone within a week.

Summer in a Tenement

Before the ad agency, before I started working in the world full-time, I toiled in another tenement. One summer, I worked as a laborer on a construction site. We were building a handball court in State College, Pennsylvania. The walls were made of 12-inch cement blocks. If you describe a cement block you might start by saying it’s very heavy or hard, but what isn’t commonly known is that they are also very sharp. The texture is quite course, with sharp little edges. I was tasked with moving the blocks to where the masons were building the walls. The blocks would tear through my gloves like industrial cheese graters. I went through about a pair and a half of gloves a day. Somewhere between glove changes, my hands would feel the sharp edge of a block. By the end of the summer my hands were a mess of calluses.

When the construction of the handball court tenement reached the second floor, I was shown how to use a new piece of equipment on the site. I fed a conveyor belt with the 12-inch blocks, which were then carried by the machine up to the second floor. The conveyor would be manned at each end. Another laborer at the top would unload.

The device had a few quirks. First it squeaked very loudly as if it were on a stage projecting its song to the back row. If you’ve ever heard the musical Westside Story, you might remember the song “I Feel Pretty.” That is what the block elevator sang. It squeaked in the exact same tone intervals and rhythm as the song. All day it squeaked: “I feel pretty.” “I feel pretty.” I feel pretty and witty and gay.” But it never continued on with the song passed that. I think this was because it was just a squeak. An accidental sound rising from a motorized gear turning a chain that propelled metal shelves upward. Gravity caused the shelves to drag against the metal frame as they moved. That was the squeak. If it had two more shelves, it would squeak a different tune.

It was not a pretty machine. It needed paint, the sharp blocks and indifferent treatment by laborers had scarred the machine’s surface. It was never designed to be stylish. It had ugly rubber tires sticking out. It had a big ugly motor strapped on one side. It was plugged in with an extension cord that snaked through the job site.

The squeaking was hard to deal with. It was loud enough to make me want to plug my ears and it was also continuous. This however, didn’t make the handball court a tenement. It was the final quirk of the conveyor belt.

Some dewy mornings or days after a rain, the block elevator gave out a shock when the block was in contact with both the elevator and the laborer, me. There must have been an electrical short somewhere and the device wasn’t grounded. The extra electricity in the frame traveled through the blocks straight into me. The only way to avoid a shock was to drop a block a few inches above the conveyor belt. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s natural to set something heavy down and push off as you straighten up. Also holding a block suspended above the target isn’t as easy as swinging it up and guiding its fall. This is something you learn after being shocked over and over. I could barely afford my gloves, food and rent. So it didn’t occur to me to show up for work with a grease gun to end the squeaks and a roll of electrical tap or a ground wire or a rubber mat, something for the shock treatment.

Movie Review: The Company of Wolves

The Company of Wolves (1984) Directed by Neil Jordan, based on the short story by Angela Carter.

At the beginning of the film The Company of Wolves we get the lay of the land. The starting point is at an abandoned well in the woods. A dolls head lays in the overgrowth next to the well. The camera follows a German shepherd dog as it runs across the landscape that will become a dream space we will soon occupy for the rest of the movie. The woods may not be recognizable, but the the dog disturbs many animals that we will see again later: A crow, A frog, and a pair of rats. The big rats are shown running off a country road as a Volvo station wagon drives passed. And while this is not the most memorable scene, I had to ask why. That is not where you would expect to see rats. The rats appear only briefly, but it must have been that behind the scenes a rat wrangler was brought in to stage that shot. Why waste the time? Could it be that people find rats revolting and that would kick-start the movie with an emotion of horror? This movie and the short story it is based on are known to be symbolic. There is a layer of Freudian symbolism, but there may be a personal symbolism added by the movie makers. Why two rats? Why not one or three? This movie is about sexual desire and sex, male and female. I think there are two rats because there are two sexes and that the writer and director, one male and one female are showing themselves. Maybe as a joke. As though they are declaring themselves as the two rats behind this story.

There’s very little in the film world of The Company of Wolves that doesn’t occur within the dreams of Rosaleen. Rosaleen is the Little Red Riding-hood heroine of the story. She is dreaming from the first time we see her till the very end of the film. If we take the movie at face value, then we must believe that the bedroom Rosaleen is sleeping in is a real place. The dog that has guided us through the landscape that will become the dream world leads us past the real gate where the Volvo has turned and driven up to the house where Rosaleen sleeps. We see Rosaleen’s sister Alice and her parents, the dog continues through the house up the stairs to the attic where Rosaleen sleeps. Alice is dressed as if for church. She is all in white, a crucifix necklace is visible at her throat. She is charged with waking up Rosaleen. The location of Rosaleen’s room is odd. She is locked away in the attic with boxes and portraits stored leaning against the hall that leads to her door.

The camera pans around inside her room. There are modern posters and art pinned to the walls. There are also ancient looking toys like you would find in the attic. These will reappear in her dream. A white toy Rolls Royce sits on her dresser. Later a large white Rolls Royce of the same design carries the Devil around Rosaleen’s dreamland. Rosaleen dressed all in white, acts as the devil’s chauffeur. In this guise she sees herself as blonde. The mirror or opposite of herself.

The contents of Rosaleen’s bedroom could be a Rosetta stone of symbols. But it would take too much time to track all of the items in the room and guess if they have meaning. For example a photo of the actor Cary Grant can be briefly seen in the very last shots of the film. Grant would hardly seem a figure of importance to a young girl, more likely he would have meaning for the director, or maybe the photo means nothing.

After the camera takes in Rosaleen’s bedroom, it centers upon Rosaleen the dreamer. Beside her head on her pillow are two items. One is a magazine called, My Weekly. The magazine cover shows a fearful woman and the cover story is titled The Shattered Dream. Beside this is a hand mirror. Rosaleen is wearing lipstick and make up. The implication is she was reading something racy, and stopped to put on makeup and then fell asleep.

We hear Rosaleen’s sister Alice complain through the locked bedroom door that Rosaleen has stolen her lipstick again. The sister seems very antagonistic to Rosaleen and taunts her through the door. Rosaleen remains asleep. She soon inserts Alice into her dream. It is a nightmare for Alice where she is attacked by Rosaleen’s antique toys.

Alice explores the nightmare to find a familiar dollhouse. One that was barely visible in the corner of Rosaleen’s room. She removes the side of a dollhouse and occupying the tiny bedroom, and poking out of the canopied doll bed is a rat. This must be a symbol for Rosaleen the betrayer who has place Alice into this scary dream.

As Alice tries to make sense of the nightmare, she curiously opens the base of a grandfather clock. Our pair of rats from the opening shot reappear. They jump out of the base of the clock. The clock hands are running forward very fast. If these rats are the writer and director of the movie in disguise, I would say their location in the dream is telling us linear time within the film is not to be trusted.

At the end of this dream segment Alice is consumed by wolves. In the waking world she is never seen again. Rosaleen smiles with eyes still closed. A good case could be made that Rosaleen has murdered her sister. We know very little about either girl—or what makes them individuals. They could be interchangeable except one is older. Pains are taken to make Alice a mirror image of Rosaleen. Alice represents a path Rosaleen does not take. A dead end. Alice is buried in the new dream. Her mother removes the crucifix from her dead older daughter’s corpse and hangs it around Rosaleen’s neck. The new dream is set back in time a horse and cart world. Where a folk village is built around the old wellhead we saw in the very opening of the movie. Rosaleen is now Red Riding Hood. [Keep to the path].

The actor casted as Rosaleen is amazing. I looked Sarah Peterson up and she stopped acting shortly after this movie. Pity. Angela Lansbury is perfect as granny. There is a homage to the twisted kiss Lansbury gave (Lawrence Harvey) her son in the Manchurian Candidate in The Company of Wolves. We see a sinister close up of Lansbury, her eyeglasses glared out by the firelight as she announces “bedtime” like it is a death sentence. There’s an awkward pause after she asks for a kiss from her granddaughter. Maybe granny is a witch or a predator. Rosaleen leans into Lansbury who is seated. She cranes her neck for the kiss. Lansbury raises her hand to Rosaleen’s face, but instead of the lip lock Lansbury forced onto Harvey, she merely guides Sarah Paterson to her cheek. Ahh… Granny’s a good old gal after all.

The music score is mysterious. The use of synthesizer in places seems appropriately gothic as music and sound effect. I have a problem with the werewolf transformations. It isn’t that they don’t look real. They should look strange and unreal. However, they mix old-school makeup transformations together with a clever animatronic wolf emerging whole out of a man’s mouth. Side by side the two types of transformation takes my suspension of disbelief out of the film and I start to think about how the trick of simulating the rapid growth of body hair is stop-frame animation.

I’m not a fan of blood, but blood as a visual in this movie is completely necessary. Its application, however is only sometimes successful. When the Huntsman dabs blood into his month from a dripping animal pelt, it’s beastly and nasty. Red blood dripping on the snowy white ground is poetic. Steven Rae ripping his own bloody face off, belongs in a different movie entirely.

Rotcast Ep. 7: The Clowns

Before any of you write in to tell me that Studio 360 is copying my work, let me say, that: “No.” I feel that it’s only coincidence. I’ve checked the posting dates for my Episode 7: The Clowns, and Studio 360 American Icons: “I Love Lucy” and my show was first! NPR originally aired their Lucy show on October 8, 2010 and I posted my show on May 17, 2010.

Now that I have started a radio show, I realize the work that goes into research and preparation. Although Studio 360 has way more resources that I, they do have some disadvantage. They have to secure rights and releases. They have to arrange interviews. They may have actually started organizing their show much earlier than mine. I’m just posting here to explain that I did not copy them. Great minds think alike I guess.

I am obviously an NPR listener. I had a segment for a time called Dead Air, which is like a parity of the Fresh Air program on NPR. My Dead Air show in Episode 7 is a contrived interview with the ghost of Lucille Ball. For that show I used interviews taken from Youtub-ed interviews of Lucy’s, appearance on the Merv Griffin Show. But, I also used a biography of Lucille Ball to frame many of my interview questions and to retell her some of her remarkable life.

To be honest, I have (in rotcast:Show Bee) re-used audio from a Studio 360 episode where the host interviewed Bobby McFerrin. So if by chance the NPR shows are listening to Rotcast and copying me…well, that has to be turn-about as fair play.


I Never Met Dizzy

for Rotcast Ep. 15/New York at Night

I never met, or even wandered into close proximity of Dizzy Gillespie. But it might have happened. I think I was just a day late and a dollar short as they say. Let me explain. I once worked at a music store that only sold jazz. And because of this specialization, I was exposed to more jazz and jazz musicians than the general public. This was a good thing. I like jazz. Anyway, my job at the music store, gave me access to several steel cabinets filled with photographs of jazz artists. Most of these photos were publicity photos sent out with press kits to promote a record release. But in the ”G” folder, inside the cabinets were a series of snapshots of Dizzy. Dizzy Gillespie hanging out at my store! You could see from the photos this happened more than once. There were shots from the ’60s and the ’70s and later. And you could also see, he wasn’t at the store in any official capacity. The shots showed Diz totally relaxed. Dressed real casual. No horn in sight. Dizzy and the owner of this store were tight. The owner had taken these snaps. The owner was a Jewish cat who fancied himself a jazz musician. I think he did do some playing, some drumming at one time, but when I knew the old man, he was a semi-retired music store owner. He wasn’t really involved with the day to day operation of the store. That he left to his two sons.

He once took me fishing. I’m not sure why. Maybe no one else would go with him that day. I think it was a bonding thing. I don’t bond well. We anchored the boat in the Potomac rapids downstream from some rocks. I was nervous maneuvering the boat in and out of the wild water. But I had the feeling that the old man had this spot, and he’d been out to it many times. We didn’t catch any fish to speak of, but more importantly I didn’t drowned! So… it was a great time. He may have told me stories about Dizzy. I wouldn’t remember. One thing I learned during my time at the jazz store was that stories about jazz musicians by jazz musicians rarely had any resolution. They tended to end suddenly without a point. In the old man’s case, age might have something to do with his anticlimactic narratives. Consider his age a life in jazz and the smoking that would entail—is it any wonder he didn’t care to sustain any kind of dramatic arc? Still the stories started well and they sounded good. This store-owner cat had a way of speaking. He spoke in a rhythmic mumble. He punctuated phrases with “man” and occasional obscenities. It was funny.

I don’t know how close the old man and Dizzy really were, I would bet they smoked together, but none of the photos of Dizzy in the file cabinet showed the two together. The pictures were more like bird watching photos: Dizzy asleep sitting near the sunny window of the record store…Dizzy pausing mid-sandwich to wonder why his picture was being taken.

Now you can see how I might have some expectation that I might meet Dizzy Gillespie. Or at least find myself hovering several yards away from him. At the very least, I might be comp-ed into a show where Dizzy was playing live. But, as I said, this never happened. Instead…One day, the old man came into my office and set before me a CD anthology of Dizzy’s music. Dizzy had died. I was surprised the store-owner was giving me such a large collection of music. It didn’t cost him anything, but he might have sold it. In fact I wasn’t sure it was a gift at first. But it was. A nice one.

Rotcast Ep. 02 Show Bee



This show starts with Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin’s take on Rimsky Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebees. We snatched quite a lot of the Isabella Rossellini, Green Porno audio where she talks about being a queen bee and acts out how bees behave.

I liked the idea that this was show number two and that we were making a pun on the letter B. This is the only show where the teaser from the previous show actually announces real content appearing in the following show. Most of the time the teaser sets up the theme, but does not announce real future content.

Next we turn activist and present some discussion of colony collapse. Colony collapse is the shorthand for the problem of dying bees. Bees are key pollinators of the world’s food crops. This environmental problem stayed with us because it was a mystery and it could be just the tip of a frightening iceberg. There are new revelations surrounding the problem of colony collapse. The Daily Mail of London (David Derbyshire, January 21, 2011) reports that a study by the US Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory, (…didn’t know we had one of those) lays blame for colony collapse with a type of pesticide called a neo-nicotinoid.

Two reasons why the bees dying might have remained a mystery until now: first, traces of the pesticides in the bodies of bees are nearly undetectable. And second, the Agriculture Department’s study took so long to get out to the public. It hasn’t been published. Possibly the US Agriculture Department is prevented by law from releasing information that might affect the profits of chemical corporation. I wouldn’t be surprised. If you read this and you buy or sell these pesticides, Please don’t!  Boycott the German company Bayer until they cease the manufacture of the pesticides. They may not be the only company who makes them, but they seem to have a large foothold in Europe. I don’t believe we can overreact in this case. The Rotcast podcast does not usually care to make political statements, but we did in this show.

This is followed by our first interview with a dead person in a feature we titled, with little inspiration, Dead Air. We intended the feature to be a passing parity of the NPR show Fresh AirFresh Air often reruns a show when someone they once interviewed dies. And we thought our Dead Air might be an interesting way to talk about the afterlife in an entertaining manner. We intended to focus on dead artists or creative people exclusively. To work with the “bee” theme, we choose Sylvia Plath, as our initial interviewee.  Plath wrote a series of very intriguing poems using bee imagery.

We stopped the Dead Air feature in episode 9 but, we reprised it once more in episode 13. These segments took enormous time and energy and they never seemed finished enough.–Rotwang

Show Breakdown:

Intro music: Flight of the Bumblebees

Audio clips from Bobby McFerrin Interview with Kurt Andersen, Studio 360

Music by Ralph Buckely “Honey Bees are Dying”

Audio Clip: “There was a bee…” from EverAfter (1998 starring Drew Barrymore)

Commercial: Kellogg’s Honeycomb Cereal

The JuicyTruth Wine Review: Bug Juice, a Muscato di Asti by Rinaldi our rating 89 out of 100 points.

Music for the JuicyTruth is: “Then She Stopped” by Dizzy Gillespie

Teaser: Richard Widmark defines Film Noir

Music out: “Honeybee” by Much Love

www.rotcast.com, Skype: callrotcast, e-mail: mail@rotcast.com


Rotcast Ep. 01: Cherry

Ep. 01: Cherry

The first episode starts strong with love for rock-goddess Joan Jett. Her powerful crunching version of “Cherry Bomb” opens the show. This show predated the bio-pic of the Runaways by a few months. I guess besides the song being on topic, its underlying message, which is about a sexy new bad girl (or podcast) ready to explode into your awareness, seemed like a grabber. This also foreshadows the embarrassing nature of this first show, which is as much about sex as anything else. Mix that with the interspersed stories about my dating and race relations and you have a perfect storm of mortifying digital evidence recorded and archived. Ouch.

I also decided at the beginning of Rotcast that we would not use x-rated words or language. So there is all this implied, or creepy, talk around sexually charged situations. Is there a clamoring from the Internet for this type of restraint? I doubt it. I didn’t mean for the trappings of the show to bait-and-switch listeners. It is just my nature: I enjoy adult ideas, but I dislike “shock” language.

We used way too much found audio in this first set of ten shows. But we were learning to edit. Not just to fix flubs, but to simulate believable dialog and timing where there was none before. I’d like to say we have achieved mastery over this but we are trending away from pieced together interviews. I like doing them, but they take along time to prepare, often they don’t work, and we started to realize, they might not add to the reputation of the celebrities. We tended to only pick people who made a positive impression on us, so we weren’t going out of the way to belittle them. –Rotwang

Show Breakdown:

Intro music: Joan Jett’s “Cherry Bomb”
Joan Jett: Interviews with Rosanne; Interview with Japanese TV
Audio Clip “Joey was Cherry…” from Deadwood TV series
Voices talk about their first idols (Jenny McCarthy, Donny Osmond, Angelina Jolie, Diana Ross)
Commercial: “Cherry Mash” written and song by Jim Salestrom
Audio Clip: “You haven’t had and licks yet…” from the movie Dazed and Confused.
Commercial: Trailer for the movie Cherry 2000
Music: Kid Creole and the Coconuts: “Part of my Design”
The JuicyTruth Wine Review: La Crema, Pinot Noir 2006 our rating 72 out of 100 points.
Music for the JuicyTruth is: “Then She Stopped” by Dizzy Gillespie
Audio Clip teaser: Isabella Rossellini: Green Porno
Music out: “Sweet Cherry Wine” by Tommy James and the Shondells

www.rotcast.com, Skype: callrotcast, e-mail: mail@rotcast.com


Rebel By Default

This will be part of the “Rebel Rebel episode 12″ of the Rotcast podcast.

I was a rebel only once…by default. It was Richmond, Kentucky…Model High School. I Google-ed the school website out of curiosity and the students now call themselves the “Patriots”. I’m happy to say mine was a less politically correct time. When I went to Model, the older students enjoyed rekindling the spirit of the losing South, possibly because there was no danger of bullets or bayonets reaching them from across time and making them regret that choice. Kentucky was a border state during the Civil War. But when I went to Model High School we were definitely “Rebels”.

The year was 1971.

The real Model High School rebels were the juniors and seniors. They were wild, and free. We were younger, impressionable, and hardly rebellious. We merely watched in awe.

I was settling into life in Kentucky. I had been through several traumatic events when my eye was caught by an older women. She was in 8th and I was in 7th grade. Thankfully, I don’t remember the awkwardness, but I can remember one very scary date I made with the beautiful Mary Sue. I’m going to remember it backwards.

First I arrived home shaken. I believe my mom remembers this as well. I must have presented quite a picture. Before I made it home, I had sprinted through a graveyard whistling. Quite a cliché that, but there was in fact a graveyard between the Eastern Kentucky University campus auditorium and my direct path home. It wouldn’t have made any sense to walk around.

On some other night it wouldn’t have been so eerie. I was on foot and alone after my date was picked up. The college students headed towards their campus dorms in the opposite direction. No one was heading in my direction. I was too young to drive so I waited with my date Mary outside the auditorium. Her family eventually came and picked her up. I felt a little better emerging from the theater alive. I had been expending half my energies trying to hide any signs of fear, while sitting with Mary. It was Halloween and I was afraid of the film.

The movie we had just seen was The House that Screamed. A poorly dubbed Spanish horror AKA: La residencia. I never enjoyed horror films but what was most unnerving about the experience was that the audience was made mostly of screaming college girls. They were having a terrific time screaming at every opportunity. I now realize they were trying to be funny due to the title of the film. Well it was too much audience participation for me and it had the effect of an extra cinematic sensation, like a William Castle picture. He was the impresario who installed buzzers under patron’s theater seats to provoke an additional adrenalin rush at key moments.

It this film the big reveal at the end is a mother has an insane son who builds a “perfect woman” out of body parts taken from various boarding school girls, whom he has murdered and butchered, and assembled into a horrific mess. Yuck! No one suspects the boy, because he is young and small. The movie lays some ground work for the boys psychotic behavior. Earlier in the film you see the mother repeatedly telling her son that the girls in her care (and that he finds attractive) are NO good. And the mother is a little too clingy. So in the end, the lunatic basically implicates his mother in his crimes. She drove him to it.

I found the film disturbing for its themes and dramatic presentation. My mission was a romantic one, The slaughter happening on screen was a distraction. But we were very young rebels. There was not much more to be expected from that date besides hanging out with college kids.–Rotcast

I have just ordered the DVD of La Residencia. I think enough time has passed now.


Empty Dollhouse

I have just listened to Alyssa host of The Big Red Podcast’s review of the new TV pilot for the Dollhouse (Fox). I agree with Alyssa’s comments wholeheartedly.

I watched with an intensity born from a love of Whedon’s other series Firefly. I was on board if it was going to have a certain amount of eye candy, but the pilot was morally reprehensible.

I didn’t understand that Echo’s first “mission” was actually as a call girl until well into the second half, when one of her dumb memories made it clearer. This isn’t the first televised play dealing with sex and currency, but the thing that twists this too far is the way the Stepford wives horror is presented. There is no loss of humanity, there is no consequence. There is no conscience depicted in the hero or elsewhere.

It’s a bad, bad, premise. But it is also stupid. If the Dollhouse business works so well, and their scruples are conditional, why don’t they become kidnappers and skip the pretense of any do-gooding? My wife asked me if at the end, the Dollhouse organization returned the ransom. And after considering it, I not only think they did not return the money, I don’t remember seeing them return the little girl. Maybe they flew her away in a helicopter and later made her into meat pies.

It had one decent (Whedon-esque) line at the beginning. “Ever try to clean a slate?” That is hardly enough to base a show upon.

Firefly fans would compare the character arc of River Tam and Echo. Their stories are inverse. River’s brain is clumsily cut up by an evil organization. She struggles with the scars. Echo signs over her soul and joins an evil organization. She lives happily ever after.

Black Yet Happy

I have always been interested in gangster films. Maybe my favorite film is the Maltese Falcon. It is arguably the first film noir. Hollywood still occasionally tries to do a film reminiscent of a Maltese Falcon, but nothing I’ve seen really gets the chemistry. The closest maybe The Usual Suspects. So wanting more, I have started exploring earlier films noir. Most of my information about the genre has come from a podcast called Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir. I highly recommend this podcast to anyone interested in film. I’ve listened to their shows over and over, again. Their analysis holds something like the joy of seeing the films, because they are obviously passionate and knowledgeable.

As I listen through the Out of the Past series hosted by Clute and Edwards, I have come to realize what I like from a film noir. And it is a little surprising. I do not really enjoy the films that end badly for the subjects of the film. This is funny because you could almost say that a downer ending is part of the definition of a film noir. I like the ones where the lovers come together and it seems they might have a relationship as a couple. This realization has me wondering about the depths of my shallowness.

Let me give some examples. Gun Crazy is a film full of interesting moments. The courtship at the circus with guns. The lead actress and femme fatal Peggy Cummins is a totally hot babe (see jpeg above). She is also “crazier than a pair of waltzing mice”. Clute and Edwards describe the very point in Gun Crazy where the filmmakers were obliged by the Hollywood standards board to include a scene moralizing against criminal behavior. But that does not ruin the film as much as the ending. To me it becomes waiting for the inevitable.

Now compare that to the film Gilda. It is described as a Rita Hayworth vehicle full of Hollywood glitz. But also a film noir based on abnormal psychology. Glenn Ford in this case, seems to be the crazy member in a love triangle. He is shown to be punishing, and vengeful to an extreme far beyond any forgiving. Mind you, we as viewers of Gilda are never let in on the secret from his past that fills Ford with so much hate. Clute and Edwards keenly point out where the film veers away from film noir. Where the film should end in hopelessness for Rita. But Gilda ends with the couple deciding out of the blue to start over. Totally unrealistic considering what has gone before. Still I enjoy the false happy ending way more than Gun Crazy’s foggy finish. Here are some other films noir that might not have the big happy ending, but at least don’t depress.

The Glass Key
Miller’s Crossing
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
I Wake Up Screaming
His Kind of Women
Pick Up on Southstreet
Touch of Evil
Lady From Shanghai
Murder My Sweet

I highly recommend His Kind of Women starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell. It was my favorite find from the Out of the Past podcast. It is just a whole lot of fun and weird. Surprise it was created by Howard Hughes. Rent it.

Open Letter to Outside The Cinema Podcast

Please explain Episode #42 Underrated Zombie Pieces with a Touch of Evil.

No. Let me Explain. Explanation number 1. You thought the title “Touch of Evil” had something to do with Zombies.

Explanation number 2. You are really praying for some hate mail. Here’s that hate mail you ordered. Touch of Evil gets a grade of B? “If you’re into crime or noir films, it might be for you.”?

On one hand it was refreshing to listen to a review of Touch of Evil that ignores the opening crane/tracking shot, which is de rigor for any mention of the film. Unfortunately, that deficit is only the brightest highlight revealing your ignorance.

The more intelligent of the pair of you at least uttered the word “layers”. You should maybe crack a book and learn something about a film before you open your yaps. Or better yet, stick to what you do best: making lists. You shallow youngsters.

When I was a youngster, this film always hypnotized me. I would usually catch the end of it on TV. Charlton Heston wading in the dark, with a tape recorder, in the water and under a bridge. It would end and I would be left curious about the rest of the film. You mentioned the very different kind of role this was for Heston. This might have been the initial source of my curiosity. I disagree that the movie is unclear about the nationality of Heston’s character. It is made very clear. You weren’t paying attention.

The movie is so meta and a code book for Orson’s career and the movie-making process, if we didn’t know that Orson did not choose Heston (it was the reverse) then it might seem like an intentional casting stunt to make Heston’s Vargas a key unlocking the legacy of this masterpiece. Remember that there is also Marlene Dietrich established as a chili-slinging gypsy fortuneteller in a Mexican border town. That casting was all Welles and to a lesser degree should similarly create a need to understand there be subtext here. And the cane left behind? Did you see that you goobs?

I can’t believe you tools actually suggest that any would-be-viewer of Touch of Evil might want to refrain from simultaneously playing a damn video game because the film demands a bit more from a youngster. To me it sounded like you put this idea to the test. You tried to do both, found the film too powerful a distraction from Gears of Stupidity and decided to just speed-read the DVD packaging.

You should look forward to growing up and really enjoying Touch of Evil.

P.S. More Veruca Salt please.