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Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Horror Of...Universal Monsters and Shock Theater

From Screen Gem catalog.
Following my look at Universal Monsters in general, I wanted to consider how these characters emerged. Sure, they had their premieres, and found fans. But what happen in the decades to follow, to help keep them in the public's mind? I wanted to look at where those creatures went in the 1950's. And the answer is...

Shock Theater! (or Theatre, if you like)

In 1957 Universal made the decision to release 52 of it's horror movies in a package called SHOCK! It was part of a deal made with Screen Gems. (They also sold packages of other genres.) The idea was to syndicate these movies, and share them on television.

It was an important moment, as it allowed these movies to be more easily accessed by a new generation of potential fans. Like the young kids that never got to see these movies the first time around. Also those that remember seeing these movies in a different time. It was a chance to be taken back to their youths.

Among this package of movies was Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, and The Mummy. Most of what would be called the Universal Monsters. (Obviously Creature from the Black Lagoon was still a too recent movie for them to offer up.) Also many of the sequels were also offered up. And other interesting films, like The Black Cat.

And then in 1958 a second batch of 20 movies were released. SON OF SHOCK. It included more of the Universal Monster sequels, including Bride of Frankenstein.

It all created quite a stir with TV viewers, and inspired new merchandise and new media.

Bundy Ranch: The Takers Come Home To Roost

The most patriotic anti-American patriot ever.
...I probably should have made that a cattle reference. Still, Clive Bundy doesn't make much of any sense either.

A rancher in Nevada, Bundy has taken it upon himself to skip out on paying grazing fees for his cattle over the past 20 years. These fees were being paid by his neighbors as needed, and by any other rancher in the country.

It's a simple enough idea. You want additional grass and scrub for your cattle. So you can make a deal with a neighbor, to allow your cattle on their land for awhile to eat. As part of the deal you may agree about how long they can stay, or you can pay for the use of the land.

It seems very friendly and simple. It seems rather capitalistic.

But not to Bundy. He seems to have decided that since the land is owned by the government, he can use it at will for whatever reasons he decides. And when he's asked to pay his fees, he refuses. And when he goes to court looses, he still refuses. And when he looses again in court, he refuses...You see how this is going.

He's a cheat. He currently owes around one million dollars. (Imagine how nicely you'd be treated if you refused to pay that amount of money to the government.)

Now he's attempted to lay out an argument that he doesn't need to pay. He says he is descended from Mormon pioneers that have been in the Virginia Valley area since the 19th century. So he feels his people have certain rights to the land that are being infringed on.

So his claim is that he and his have been here longer than the Bureau of Land Management (the federal department he's picked a fight with). The trouble with that is that his parents moved to this area in 1948. And they weren't grazing cattle there until 1954.

Damn reality-based world. Keeps getting in the way.

But don't worry. Clive's got a plan B. He doesn't recognize the federal government...Yup. He's one of those guys. You know, the fanatic nut that does something and then starts screaming about how he doesn't aknowledge the power of the court, or the legitimacy of the government.

Sitting between these two flailing tent poles, you'd think Clive Bundy would be lonely, no one wanting to be connected to him. But this is 2014, and Right Wing America isn't interested in reality. As long as it's anti-gover...Is Obama still president? Okay...ment, they are eager to laud it up the wazoo.

So the militias came out for him. Nevada is full of militias. But they've also been coming from around the country. They are eager to defender the borders from what they deem as people attempting to violate United States law. For now, they are taking a break from that to help out a man who is violating United States law. Reality? What's that?

So yeah. They blocked up traffic on an interstate, to disrupt things and make a statement.

Some rode around on horses, playing at being cowboys.

And when the government arrived to enact the requirements under the repeated court decisions that Bundy lost, they put men around that trained automatic weapons of United States officials.

I'm sorry. Do they think they are heroes of some sort?

YES! They really think that.

As long as they refuse to allow the government to function. As long as they can force their opinions and wants on those around them. They seem themselves as heroes.
  • These are the people who rage about the thought of someone on welfare buying a food item they deem too good.
  • These are the people that like to think that black people are "lazy" because they "all" take government "handouts". (And we will be getting to that new news in the next post.)
  • These are the people that like waving the American flag around, and then threaten to secede. 
Now, I have no problem with civil disobedience. But when you want to fight, it isn't civil anymore. And when you bring out guns...

These are the people that many elected Republicans are clamoring to be seen supporting. They each take turns calling them patriots. (At least until this morning.)

Reality? Reality, I guess, is what FOX News and the Koch Brothers make of it. And, yes, FOX News has rallied to Bundy as well. The criminal becomes a patriot. The shows that attack anyone who has or could misuse a federal program see the man who runs out on his bill as the protagonist of their narrative spin.

I am sure someone on FOX must have lamented what the Founding Fathers would've thought. What would they have done about this?

Washington would have lead the army in, and taken the cattle, and arrested anyone that didn't go home and stop being an unpatriotic dick.

Whiskey Rebellion - 1794 - Washington is done with your
History and reality are such asses, right?

When the government attempted to gather up the cattle last week, the situation grew to become so dangerous that they decided to stop and release the hundreds of cattle they had corralled. The agitated crowds and gunmen made it a situation that was racing towards possible deaths.

Gunmen eagerly waiting to shoot down lawmen that cross them? Aren't these guys usually the villains in a Lone Ranger story?

These are the people who like to have the power, hence the need for those guns. It feels good to them. (Why does a visit to the library require a sidearm?) If you cross them, they can terrorize you.

And they do work themselves into a lather. Get excited about the idea of killing or dying for...what again?

They try and make it sound all noble. But what they hate and fear is the rest of the country. And by the rest of the country I mean people different from them. Blacks. Hispanics. Gays. Liberals. Jews. Whatever.

And they demand the right to takeover an interstate. Or get in the face of police, wave their gun at the police, and have the police apologize to them.

They get away with this, when just over in Arizona being Hispanic is an offense? That is the power they fight for.

And imagine, just imagine, if all these guys weren't white.

Imagine black people getting in the face of police like this. It'd be called a riot. FOX News would give round the clock coverage to the horror of the black culture was unleashing. And the police would have been less considerate.

Back in 1985, a black group called MOVE took over a building and rebuffed the police. The police ended up dropping a bomb on the building, killing 11. On most streets, black kids avoid contact with police, so they won't get hassled.

Imagine if they were Hispanic. It'd be declared a secret invasion force by Lou Dobbs and others.

But they are white. And it's their right.

Yet, they play up the idea that they are some perenniel victim of America. White people?

I think Chris Hayes did a good job of explaining. The Grievance Industry.

Poor white folk. They just never get a shot. Never get a break. Not even rich ranchers who ignore and fight the law for decades, with seeming impunity.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trailers in Short - Superheroes Are the New Black Edition

Here come the heroes! ...Well, it's a summer time thing now, isn't it? But as a fan of myth and comic books, it's a good thing. ...Well, it can be a good thing, when you get decent movies.

So let's see where Hercules, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Turtles, Spider-Man, and Batman take us.

Sadly, it took so long to get to this that I missed the opening of the new Captain America movie. So I offer this in recompense.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Trailers in Short - Animals Want To Eat Your Face Edition

Welcome to the world of animals. As a rule, animals are awesome. Tiny bugs building a megalopolis. Whales or Sharks herding prey. Birds navigating vast distances. Dogs giving up their derp face.

And then there are the movies. Forget all that stuff above. Animals. Want. To. Eat. Your. Face.

Big Ass Spiders! Zombeavers! Squirrels!

...And more, of course.

Trailers in Short - Horror Rises On the TeeVee

Isn't it time for some horror? It feels like that. So let's look at some upcoming shows to that mysterious medium of television. Some Victorian Penny Dreadful, angsty Salem, and...something a but lighter.

...Okay, it's Gravity Falls.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

National Library Week 2014

Through the 19th, we are celebrating National Library Day.

It's a chance to celebrate, acknowledge, and become aware of what libraries and library workers do for communities.

And I'm glad that we have this celebration of our libraries.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Horror Of...Universal Monsters


Those words conjure potent images.

Going back a century the horror films coming out of Universal have set benchmarks. And up through the 1950's the creatures and figures at the center of these movies became cemented in the minds of movie goers and kids.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Saturday, April 05, 2014

First Contact Day is here again.

April 5th is First Contact Day. 

I know, Deanna Troi has called it Federation Day, and that may be an official name...

But Deanna was once a cake.

So that point is invalid...

On this day (in the fictional post nuclear war future), Zefram Cochrane launches the test ship, Phoenix, from Bozeman, Montana.

It was the first Earth ship capable of warp speed.

The test flight caught the attention of alien life that was passing the solar system, interested to see that humans had developed interstellar travel.

So they landed.

And as Star Trek lore remembers, were the Vulcans.

And Earth had it's first (official) contact with alien life.

And everything changed.

And The Adventure Continued, and Continues.

...Granted that leads to Insurrection. We don't talk about Insurrection.


Competitive Rivalry - Game of Development

It's another day with Buster and Jamie. Things have gotten competitive.


This weekend sees the return of the families that make the Bluths look like saints.


The Horror Of...Terror Train

Really?  Really?! You know, yesterday afternoon it was 70 degrees. 70! And how does that turn to...this...

Ha ha. Funny, Nature. Quite a prank!

But as I've already discussed, I am not much of a fan of pranking.

But, no, this is the time of japes and jokes. And of people who don't know when to stop or pull back. So let's take a trip back to the start of the 80's, to the dawn of a renaissance of a glut of slasher movies. Let's look at one of the early attempts to enter the fray of murderous mayhem, with a twist (we always need a twist). So let's take it on a train. Hey, every concept from Snakes On A Thing to Under Siege ends up there. And the slasher movies got this twist out of the way nice and early.

So let's see how it fares...Get it?

So grab your bag, take your motion sickness medicine, and let's see where the Terror Train arrives.

And be sure to check out it's sequel, Terror Replacement Bus Service.