Summer Evening Storms: Ain’t What They Used To Be

Middle school is a tough time for many kids, especially boys. I say boys because the transition from elementary to middle requires something that we, as a male species hate, and that is results. It’s true, little boys go kicking and screaming when it comes to the period of growing up. I know I did.

The summer of 1991 was a pretty huge change for me. I left the comforts of a cush’ fifth grade life to that of an accelerated sixth grader who, in reality, probably shouldn’t have been. A standard sixth grader would have been just fine. And as if that wasn’t hard enough, my family got transferred to Phoenix, Arizona smack in the middle of the school year. It was a royal suck.

Being the new kid, I didn’t really have any friends besides this kid named Reed, who was the most popular kid in school and lived down the street from me. During school he would pretend not know me but after he would always show up at my house ready to talk me into some sort of mischief. And when I say mischief, I mean stuff that would end up on Fox News today because, lets face it, we live in a shaming society. Let me list a few activities for you because we were complete little assholes.

  • Throw oranges from the citrus trees over the highway barrier into traffic.
  • Get into ROCK WARS in the desert with other kids
  • Snipe small animals with BB guns
  • Roll smoke bombs into garages of those who kept them cracked open for their cats
  • T.P. teacher’s houses
  • Hit golfers with water balloons launched from a water balloon launcher
  • And much more

So, when peer pressure got old I would retreat to the house and build monster models while watching movies that I knew would haunt me as soon as dusk came. I believe that is sort of the way I have always run my life. Sure it feels good now but damn if I won’t pay for it later.

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My love of the macabre would rear its head especially during the Arizona evening storms that would light the sky and rumble the foundations of the house. The heat of the day with a mix of northern cool air would produce some of the most fantastic electrical storms I have ever seen and while most kids probably thought nothing of it, I was buried under my blankets, counting the distance of the storm by the Poltergeist method of seconds between lightning and thunder. And we all know what happens when the storm got closer.

I remember riding my bike home for dinner and staring off into the distance over the mountains and seeing the ominous clouds build in the distance like billowing army, marching closer and closer as the afternoon-evening transformed to night. The wind chimes would clang as the wind slowly increased force until it sounded like a spectral howl, wailing with creepy peaks and valleys. As the sun set, an orange hue set upon the whole house and the distraction of dinner in front of the TV was welcome but in the back of my head, night was coming and soon the storm would be here.

zzz the storm is coming Poltergeist 11099456_gal

My Mom hated these electrical storms and would demand the TV be unplugged at the first rumble of thunder for fear of a power surge. It supposedly happened to my parents back when I was an infant and ever since then, no matter what size surge protector we had, the TV was going off. That meant off to bed to dwell in my thoughts.

You see, I didn’t have any brothers or sisters growing up and with my Dad always gone on trips, it was just me and Ma at the house. With a Mom who was as nervous as a dog on the 4th of July, I was pretty much left to my own overactive imagination. And as a horror goon, that was pretty grim. Constantly I would see images of Regan’s horrid face from the movie The Exorcist as she would peer from the window when the lightning lit the sky. Why oh why did I watch that from the hallway when Dad had it on HBO earlier in the year? (That’s a rhetorical question because back then, that’s how every sixth grader saw The Exorcist.)

These nights were pretty tough because every ghoul and spook seemed to creep into my thoughts and cause me to hear and see things that just weren’t there. Even passages of books read for fun at the pool would come to haunt me these evenings. “We dare not look out the back window of the house for that’s where the dead wander and rap upon our door.”- Bell Witch

I really hated myself during those few agonizing nights but as soon as the sun came up, I would completely forget the terrors which plagued me just hours before. Nope, it was a new day with no cares in the world. That is until four o’clock came again.

Today, I am still the twisted little kid who loves to get spooked by movies and stories but I have come to love these evening summer storms. Like Eddie Rabbit says, it washes my cares away and even relaxes me into repose. My dog, however, doesn’t agree but I can be the comfort to whatever he is thinking. I am sure it’s not the Tar Man coming out of the closet but who knows? He watches all these silly movies with me now and I don’t know what damage that has done.

cosmo

I hope you get these summer storms and if so have grown to appreciate them as much as I have. Just remember, the little things in life are what makes everything worth it.

FYI, big stuff coming and as a hint, REVIEW THE WORLD is visiting again! Badda Bing! The What The Hell Show begins!

Dum-Dum Gummy Snacks and a Video Rental Store

Here I go again, eating snacks made for a five year old and review them for the discerning palate of a thirty-six year old. No matter what I say, this is never meant to be taken seriously and it’s a funny way to spend a Sunday but I am a single weirdo with nothing better to do, so back off! Sorry…I get a little touchy after drinking three cups of coffee and fourteen packs of sugar-logged fruit snacks. Actually, they are “gummy” snacks. What’s the difference, you ask? Read on.

I was running through the grocery store last night trying to get the final ingredients for my top-secret dirty rice concoction and when I passed the candy aisle a giant red box caught my attention. Giant red boxes will always get my attention.

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Dum-Dums have finally broke free of the hard candy and can now be celebrated by people with periodontal disease. It’s a fine line when candy tries to redefine itself as a wholesome lunch addition made with real fruit. It’s either a home run or a strikeout. There are no base hits when it comes to this stuff, man.

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In a tiny 70 calorie pack, there are a potential for six different flavors which include apple, blue raspberry, grape, strawberry, orange and cherry. That is a lot of flavor variety in such a small package but when you consider Dum-Dum has almost a million different varieties in their suckers, it’s not so impressive.

So, how do these individually taste? Well, not fantastic. I always compare todays fruit snacks with the 1980 Sunkist Fun Fruits and that leads to a life of disappointment. There is no way any variation can be one tenth of what Sunkist and Betty Crocker did back before the fall of the Soviet Union. It was a great time to be a kid.

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I know this was a silly review but I really needed to revisit fruit snacks that kids are eating today. When they boast to have “real fruit juice” that means a touch of white grape juice. Other than that, you could find the same ingredients in a candle. The flavors do match their shapes but not anything to stand out and scream, “I’M EATING GRAPE!”. It’s more like, “I am eating grape-nope now it’s wax.”.

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In other news, I turned another year older on Friday and as a gift from the universe, I found one of the last remaining video rental stores. Holy shit, it was like jumping back twenty years. From the auto-looped movie previews blaring on four TVs to the disappointing realization that your favorites movie box has no DVD behind it, it was a welcomed sight for these sore eyes.

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For only a buck a movie, I came home with Halloween 2&3, Friday the 13t: Part 6, Carrie, The Last Starfighter, Pet Semetery and Pretty Dead. For less than eight bucks and five days to breeze through them, I say that’s a pretty great hull. Of course I have Hulu Plus, Vudu and Netflix, but when it comes to the magic feeling of picking out the titles and getting weird looks from the kid at the checkout counter, I say it is a fun change of pace.

The only draw back is when I got home I found out I rented Friday the 13th: Part 5 and Halloween 2 was actually Rob Zombie’s abomination remake rather than the original. Okay, that sucks. But still, where else can you roam around for an hour looking for an hour and a half of entertainment?

Tune back in later this evening. Brian from Review the World and I have done a joint review with a little twist. It’s about chili from Cincinnati and we compare fresh vs frozen. I love doing these projects with such a cool dude. See you soon!

Here is one of our earlier joint projects. I loved this one.

Blasts From the Past

It’s a glorious Saturday. The weather is cooler than usual, the coffee tastes better than usual and the internet is faster than usual. All-in-all, it’s an unusual day for the better. So I am going to enjoy it and head to the pool, then East to my buddy’s place so I can get mad love from his awesome 3-year-old and watch horrible VHS from the 1980’s until the wee hours of the morning.

But I am not going to abandon my freakish duty and not post. Oh no, I will share some older Halloween-ish posts from seasons gone by. Enjoy and I will be around the Twitter-sphere if you want to drop me a line. It’s an all day party here!

Click on the links below the photos. Beware!

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A Drop of Water recap. Or…pee pants.

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A movie rental that started it all.

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My pal, Kenny, and the real Michael Meyers house in NC!

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Frightfest at Six Flags and my permanent ban thanks to Moon Pies and a Looping Starship.

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Favorite Tales from the Darkside Episode. And I believe the very first, too!

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WTF is that?!?!?! Well, that’s embarrassing.

So that should keep you busy and remember, follow me on Twitter for stupid photos and possibly drunken haikus. Ok, probable drunken haikus. I’m to the left of this post.

Hey Punk’n! It’s Pumpkin Beer!

It’s approaching that season and whether we like it or not, it’s time to start talking about Fall beers and what to buy and what to laugh at in the grocery store. Who am I kidding though, “like it or not”? Of course we like it or other wise I wouldn’t be writing and you wouldn’t be reading. So let’s get on with the dance and let me introduce to you the first official “pumpkin” beer of the Fall season 2012, Punk’n by Uintas Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City, Utah.

There is a reason that this beer hits such high marks with me and I’m not going to tell you because it’s in my stupid video. Okay, I will. I love the orange, brown and yellow packaging. I also love the fact it’s a milder pumpkin ale that doesn’t destroy the palate with nutmeg and cinnamon just to shout “I’M SEASONAL! HEAR ME ROAR!” It’s light, not over bearing and when you swallow it, it’s gone. Everything that I deem holy in a craft beverage.

For the specificities of this beer click here for more info. I don’t have the energy to write ABV percentages or the fact that it has cloves from space. All you care about is taste and all I care about is posting a video to make VeggieMacabre’s theme song worth the money I spent on it.

So go out and grab a six-pack of this and relax while watching Friday the 13th part VII. It’s a personal favorite of mine. You know I would never steer you wrong. Well, not intentionally.

Oh This Movie…

It’s not a little known fact that in the 1970’s the horror movie genre really focused on the Devil and all things Catholic, with a battle for the soul. Capstone by the academy award winning movie, The Exorcist, many films decided to ride the coattails of the success and a few New York Times best selling occult books became films. One of these films really slipped the spotlight but a revisit to it shows that just because you aren’t mainstream doesn’t mean you aren’t a winner. Even if if you are a taboo Satan-filled-lesbo-cake-eating-cat-from-Hell-Christopher Walken-minor-role-need-to-go-to-church-after-watching movie. Let us look at The Sentinel.

Now, I am not going to talk about every scene of the movie because you can just type “Netflix” in the browser and watch the movie if you are a member because it is on streaming. But what I will do is give you a brief synopsis, a highlight on some of the greatest actors in this loaded cast, some real “WTF” moments and above all, a look at the climax in a “you can’t do that on TV” scene. Seriously, you really can’t.

We begin with a quick shot at the Vatican as we meet what is, I guess, a select group of priests and we learn that there is a disturbance in the Force. The Force being all things Catholic and good. It’s not a strange beginning to this kind of film because most religious horror movies begin in another country just to show that what might happen in a familiar setting really has a global impact. Or at least traced from a really old place. Jumping to NY!

Think Fast Frisbee!

Here we are in New York as we meet the main characters of the film, Alison (Christina Raines) and Micheal (my favorite 1980’s horror icon, Chris Sarandon). Alison is a famous model as we can see because she is strikingly beautiful and her boyfriend, Micheal is a shrewd lawyer. Of course. They seem to have a happy relationship but only after a series of rocky starts since Micheal was married when they began their fling resulting is a separation from his wife. Via her death. Coincidence? Also, I should mention, Alison came from a not-so-normal childhood and attempted suicide a few times leaving her dependent on anti-depressants. Just throwing that out there.

So, we find out that Alison wants a place of her own for a while since she has been living with Micheal after his wife’s death. Seems like a plan. And that is where we find out that there are forces at work, drawing her to an apartment with a destiny of preconceived notions. (I don’t think that statement means anything.) She is drawn to a place that has both good and evil in it and there is about to be a battle for her. Better? But, that is temporarily postponed when she finds out her father is dying and she goes home to say goodbye and have a flashback or two.

Love that medicine has improved from the 70's!

We see that her father dies and we get a great glimpse of the father he used to be as she flashes back to her teenage years and brother, he was a fucked up unit. She walks in on him naked and in bed with two women and they are eating cake. And laughing. One is fat and the other is rather off her rocker and neither one minds old guy smell and old balls apparently.

Trust me, these boobs aren't worth seeing.

After her father sees her, in a frosting induced furry, he smacks her and really puts all 92lbs behind it. She takes off down the hall and after witnessing that mess, she cuts her wrists and then we flash-forward. Apparently she survived.

Well, after her father is dead and gone she comes back to occupy her residence and is met by none other than Charles Chazen (Burgess Meredith) playing a more devious but quite cavalier gentleman than Rocky’s coach. He invites himself in and introduces his bird, Mortimer, and his cat, Jezebel. This scene reminds me of when Yoda meets Luke for the first time inThe Empire Strikes Back. He’s a quirky guy but you know there is more to him than what he is representing.

Well, after excusing himself he exits, leaving behind a framed photograph of himself. (I find this classy and plan on doing that myself.) But if you think he is a strange neighbor then you gotta meet the two chicks that live below her. Gerde (Sylvia Miles) and Sandra (Beverly D’ Angelo) are two…odd lesbian ballerinas? I think? Anyway, after a brief introduction, Alison learns that Sandra is a mute and unable to talk. Gerde leaves the room to get tea and then this happens…

Claaark! Slow down!!!

This awkward  masturbation scene was both funny and a tad out there. Trying to regain composure, Alison makes an attempt to be conversational but when she asks what they do, Gerde says matter of factly, they fondle eachother. HEYOOO! Alison bolts.

Didn’t I say that I wasn’t going to do a play by play of this movie? Damn. Okay, I will be a little more brief.

Soon the apartment begins to take a toll on her as her fainting spells and headaches become increasingly worse. At night she has reoccurring nightmares and is awaken to her chandelier swinging by upstairs disturbances though it has been vacant for years. All spooky. Though her neighbors seem friendly, especially inviting her to a birthday party for Jezabel the cat, her dreams warn her that something isn’t quite right. “Black and white cake; Black and white cat.” I actually didn’t get that reference. Nevermind. Skip to a scary night.

Alison is again having a tough time sleeping in her new apartment and finally, she gets up and armed with a kitchen knife and a torch she ventures off to see what is going on. And she finds out!

While she is investigating, wouldn’t you know it, her light burns out. That always happens! Especially when a zombie in a diaper robotic-ly  walks past you and stops, facing the wall. This is horror to me! It’s a real “what the fuck just happened” scene. There is no jump scare or some creature attacking Alison. It’s as if she isn’t there and this thing has no real destination. It just mechanically walks from one side of the room to the next! UGH!

Well, curiosity gets the best of Alison and she approaches the remote control Gobot-that-hit-a-wall slowly asking who or what this thing is. You know who?

BAH! It’s her dead father! Alison laughs and gives him a huge hug. It’s very touching.

I’m just kidding. She screams and goes stabby on him, cutting off his nose and all. Bolting, she runs out of the apartment and collapses as people gather around her and call 911.

Jump scene! We are at the hospital.

Oh yeah, remember her boyfriend, Micheal? He is there and being interrogated by police since his new girlfriend is stating she stabbed her dead father and he is still under suspicion for wife’s death. But being the cunning lawyer he is, he gives no details to the investigators even though they coincidentally have a body that fit the description to the havoc Alison said she caused with a knife. This has two great things in that scene; a very young Christopher Walken and the lead investigator’s tie is as wide as it is long.

Micheal starts a little investigation of his own because he believes that there is something more sinister at work after he and Alison visit her apartment to retrace the moments when she stabbed her dead father. But nothing really makes sense to Micheal and after she writes in Latin from a book he reads to be in English, he is convinced the old recluse priest that is on the top floor of the Apartment may know something.

Oh yeah, there is a blind priest that is on the top floor that stares out the window all day. Well, he is seen at the window. That’s an important part. (God, I’m not very good at these)

With no luck getting into the apartment to talk with the recluse priest and even less luck from the Archdioceses, he decides to take matters into his own hands and calls up an old buddy to break in and steal the file on this priest.

THE BLESSING!

Well, in a hurried fashion and better conclusive skills than Velma from Scooby Do, Micheal figured out that all the people who live there have tried to commit suicide at one time in their life and each converted to the Catholic church and reside as a sentinel. And Alison is targeted to be next! No shit!

Armed with a gun, Micheal leaves Alison at a party, though she feels awful, and heads off to stop this rite of…sentinel-passing. When he arrives he sees a split in the wood on the wall and decides to bust it open. Not really sure why. But underneath is a sign straight out of Dante’s Divine Comedy. And sneaking up on him is…

Thank God we haven't invented smell-a-screen yet

…Father Freaky! Yes, the priest tells Micheal this is the gateway to Hell and as random as he came in, he leaves which pisses Micheal off. In a murderous rage, Micheal chokes the priest after he fails to answer his questions. But, little did Micheal count on there being two priests in the room. The other armed with a cement statue. Never expect murder from a priest. Hmmm.

Enter Alison. Of course she returns. She comes back to the apartment only to find Micheal…acting a bit strange. Almost instantaneously Alison knows Micheal isn’t himself. No, he begins to explain how he is damned to Hell because he killed his wife and that she is required to commit suicide and release the gates of Hell. It’s a stretch but that’s what is required.

No, there aren't strings attached to his makeup! What are you talking about?

Now this is the part that separates this movie from all other horror movies. You will never see this again in cinema for a few different reasons. 1: Special effects are much more realistic 2: Plastic surgery is quite advanced since the 1970’s and 3: this would never ever never ever fly with the FCC or any other super PC group. This is as fucked up as cinema gets.

So, Alison runs from decaying Micheal and meets the debonair Charels Chazen who is far less warm and goofy and a tad more…the Devil. He explains that she needs to finish her suicide and become apart of them. Not hearing the noise, Alison turns to run but is met by this…

and this…

and this…

Yes folks, they used real deformed people in the casting for The Sentinel. It is pretty crazy to think that there was an add for extras needing physical deformities to play the role of demons from Hell. This creeps me out to now end. It’s the kind of creep out that makes me want to shower or watch Nickelodeon to counterbalance my “ick” factor.

Well, long story short she is saved by the priests and she takes up the cross as the dominions from Hell shirk back to the abyss from which they came.

This movie is an old favorite of mine. I’m not really sure why? The plot is scattered, the setting seems to be hollow and the lead actress never really makes you care for her outcome. But there is this  1970’s high production feel that I love in horror movies from that time. That fast-paced city life that every-so-often rubs elbows with midevil beliefs and tears at the fabric to what is more important; sanity or soul. Like Matt said. I give it a B+ out of 17.

The End

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