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Archive for October, 2011
31 Oct

Scary Movie Time!

Happy Halloween!

This is, of course, the season for scary movies and we all have our favorites. Here are movies that have scared me silly or were just plain creepy.

1. “Halloween” (1978) – This always remains at the top of my list. I remember my parents went away for the night and I thought it would be a cool idea to watch this movies with the lights out all by myself. I didn’t sleep for a week. It doesn’t hold up quite as well these days, but it is still enough to give me the chills thinking about that original viewing.

2. “The Exorcist” – I don’t necessarily find this really frightening, but it is still disturbing and probably one of the best horror films ever produced.

3. “The Evil Dead” – First saw it at a drive-in back in high school. Loved it. I think being at a dilapidated semi-deserted drive-in helped create the mood. Great scare factor.

4. “The Descent” – Will make you think twice about a spelunking adventure. Everything about this terrified me. The darkness, the unknown, those…things.

5. “The Strangers” – This was surprisingly very good. The quiet moments in the film before chaos hits are very well done and it makes you think about what might be lurking right behind you in the “safety” of your home. Bonus for having an ending that leaves you asking “why?”

6. “[REC]” – Trapped in an apartment building with someone…or something. From the point of view of a hand-held camera and done extremely well. It was remade for the U.S. as “Quarantine,” but this is far superior.

7. “The Mothman Prophesies” – Again, not really scary, but unnerving and really well done – which surprised me. Sometimes I’ll mention this movie and every now and then someone’s eyes will light up and say…”ooohhh, that was a really bizarre movie!”

8. “The Shining” – The book scared the crap out of me so when I saw the movie for the first time, I was underwhelmed. But there was something about it that just stuck with me. The more I saw it, the more I appreciated it. Today it is one of my favorites and I’ll turn it on anytime it hit TNT or some other cable channel.

9. “28 Days Later” – I love a good zombie flick (and love it on TV – “The Walking Dead”) and this I count as one of the very best.

10. “Paranormal Activity” – Starts off slow, but the build-up is half the fun. Like in “The Strangers,” some of the most quiet and normal times provide the largest amount of goosebumps. Sometimes it doesn’t take blood n’ guts or something in-your-face to scare you. Reality with a simple dose of the unknown (but you know) can be plenty.

Sleep well!

Categories: Movies Tags:
25 Oct

The Listen List

If yo shoes don’t groove, then you don’t move…what’s got my shoes groovin’ this week.

Albums

1.  “Bad As Me” by Tom Waits – It’s been about 7 dry years without a new Wait’s disc. I’m savoring every bite because who knows when the next one will be.

2.  “Biophilia” by Bjork – All the pre-reviews were saying this was a return to form like around the “Post” days. I think not. Although more accessible than “Medulla,” I find it more along those lines. It is taking me a while to get into this disc, but the more I hear it, the more I appreciate and like it.

3.  “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson – I’m a sucker for the Clarkson pop. This one is a nice cross between her dark “My December” and the killer pop of “All I Ever Wanted.”

4.  “The Golden Age of Wireless” and “The Flat Earth” by Thomas Dolby – Just discovered extended, remastered editions of these two gems (faves of mine from the 80s) came out in Europe in 2009. Loving them all over again.

5.  “The Best Imitation of Myself” by Ben Folds – An odd “best of” that includes his days with Ben Folds Five. Lots of great extras in the deluxe edition, but the main disc leaves out a lot of his real best while putting in some selections. Still, one of my favorite artists.

Singles

1.  “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” by Alice Cooper – Nice rock tune from his latest, just in time for Halloween.

2.  “Smoke” by Ben Folds and the West Australian Symphony – Really nice live version of this song with an excellent orchestra arrangement.

3.  “Hell Broke Luce” by Tom Wait – Crunchy, devilish song spit by Tom. Brilliant.

4.  “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae – Heard this in a store and couldn’t get it out of my head, which in this case is a good thing.

5.  “Mockingbird” by Rob Thomas – Fast making its way on my list of favorite songs of all-time.

Categories: Music, The Listen List Tags:
15 Oct

A Blip of a TV Review: “American Horror Story”

Alternative Title: “HGTV’s Scream House”

Short Plot: Psychologist Dylan McDermott is caught doin’ tha nasty with a chick and gets caught by his wife. Instead of divorce, he opts to uproot his wife and daughter and move across country to an eerie house. Tension is high between all three as they start to adjust to the move and try to heal their wounds. They find out the previous owners died in the house (murder/suicide) and they also encounter strange folks who become fixtures at the house – specifically the bat-ass crazy neighbor Jessica Lange and her Down’s daughter. A housekeeper who has worked there for years also shows up and basically forces her services on the family. Odd things occur, McDermott treats a disturbed kid who may have a connection to the house, and whatever you do…don’t go in the basement.

Pros: Really quite creepy, we get to see odd things as a viewer that the family is not, the cast it terrific, it is quite gruesome and the language is appropriately salty, and Dylan McDermott shirtless a lot of the time.

Cons: A side story about the guy’s young affair chick being pregnant doesn’t seem to fit in the time line (or maybe I missed something), not sure how long a series about a haunted house can sustain – seems like the family would bolt out of there (especially after the 2nd episode), it is pretty dire – the family isn’t loaded with laughs (although the side characters can be very humorous), and it could go the way of shows like “Twin Peaks,” where it is brilliant to begin with and then just totally fizzles.

Verdict: Hands down my favorite new show of the season. The creepiness reminds me of some of the scary “X-Files” episodes that I used to love. I like how the story is progressing and it has already opened up a lot of doors to be explored. But the best part of the show has to be Jessica Lange. Casting her was brilliant and she plays the part of the very strange neighbor to the hilt. She was stunning in the second episode in a scene where she punishes her daughter (who has Down’s Syndrome) in a very odd and cruel way. Also, did I mention that Dylan McDermott is pretty much unclothed for good chunks of these shows?  Just making sure…

Even the opening credits can give you the chills….excellent.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Blips ••••

Categories: Review, TV Tags:
08 Oct

The Listen List

Shakin’ up the eardrums this week:

Albums

1. “Beauty Queen Sister” by Indigo Girls – I find their consistency remarkable. I’ve been a fan since the beginning and have all their discs. There really isn’t a dog in the bunch. I like some better than others, but overall they just continue to make really good albums.

2. “Welcome 2 My Nightmare” by Alice Cooper – Huge fan of the original, so had to get the sequel. I think this is his best disc in mega years. It has all the elements that make the first one so great – a little creepiness, some big-ass arrangements, some vaudeville, and some good tunes.

3. “Mockingbird Time” by The Jayhawks – welcome back Olsen & Louris! Love those voices together.

4. “Modern Art” by Matthew Sweet – he always has moments of greatness and there are a couple here, but overall disappointing from the guy who made of my favorites discs, “Girlfriend.”

5. “The Best of” by DeBarge – say what you will about this sassy family and their 80’s Diane Warren hits, but their first two albums had tasty slices of smooth R&B.   “All This Love,” “Time Will Reveal?” C’mon!  Love ’em.

 

Songs

1. “Hide Your Colors” by The Jayhawks – for me, they haven’t lost their touch.

2. “In Real Life” by Demi Lovato – Bleu co-wrote and produced this great tune. The second half of her album has this song and others that move her toward a new maturity.

3. “Fall From Grace” by Meat Loaf – second track off of his forthcoming album that is already released down under. Another stunner from Bleu. Hope the US release of the album gets attention.

4. “Ready 2 Go” by Martin Solveig/Kele – this has been my summer jam! He has a series of video/webisodes for his new album and they are comical and interesting.

5. Any Beatles Song – I’ve got them all on my Nano and have been shufflin’ away this week.

Categories: Music, The Listen List Tags: