In the Mouth of Madness

Dir: John Carpenter
1995
The second of my Lovecraftian viewings was John Carpenter’s “In the Mouth of Madness”.
Though HPL is not mentioned, it’s clear that Sutter Cane is supposed to be some sexier, rock’n’roll version of Lovecraft, updated to modern times. (Reviewers who see Sutter Cane as Stephen King probably haven’t read much). The film has a lot of promise, but it doesn’t exactly pull through, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps Sam Neill is not likable enough as the main character, John Trent, an insurance fraud investigator sent out to determine why famous horror writer Cane has disappeared and why his novels are inspiring acts of violence. This leads to Neil and Cane’s editor to go searching for and find the fictional town that Cane has always written about.
Perhaps its Carpenter and his scriptwriter Michael De Luca’s inability to decide whether this is a high-concept Borges-like piece (where its best stuff lies) or a monster movie (where its rubberiest stuff flops). The creature effects here are done by Industrial Light and Magic, but they look really poor. The innkeeper who becomes a demon is particularly poor, and often there are shots of fleshy, drippy creatures just for the sake of it. One is seen growing out of Cane’s back, but it never turns up again.
Julie Carmen, who plays Trent’s assistant Linda, isn’t much of a presence, and seems to have different motivation in each scene. Is she part of Cane’s plot, or a victim–is she surprised or horrified by any of it? She also looks like she has on an inch of foundation, a grey-brown pallor in some shots.
My favorite parts are the subtle ones. The hotel painting that changes, the bulging door in Cane’s lair (very Lovecraft), the apocalyptic scenario. The idea that the book causes insanity and allows the Chthulu-like beings to enter this dimension is a good one–with similarities to “The Thing.”
I feel that if the story had been worked with a bit more, and the monster business had been taken out, then it might have been one of Carpenter’s best. But instead, this is middle-period Carpenter, all over the place, loose, disappointing.

Re-Animator

Dir: Stuart Gordon
1985
Can you believe I’d never seen Re-Animator until now?
I lived outside of the States for the middle part of the ’80s, and where I lived was far from the cinema, and we couldn’t afford those newfangled VCR thingies. So a lot of “classic” ’80s films have passed me by.
It was my friend Chris S_____ who recommended I see the film in a “you mean you’ve never?” situation. That on top of my Lovecraft reading this week made the screening a must. All spruced up for a 2-DVD set, the film now looks great instead of a “video nasty,” which was always its reputation in the U.K.
So, the film was a jolly lot of fun. I like my horror less hilarious, but I did admire its silliness. But I don’t feel there’s much to say about the film a few days after watching it. Some points:
• Fake cats always amuse–fake, psychotic, undead cats are even better.
• Complete nudity from the lead actress dates this film to that most liberal of eras…the Reagan Administration.
• Dr. Hill (David Gale) looks strangely like John Kerry.
• It’s perfectly fitting that the magic potion in an ’80s film is neon green.
• A great, Hermann-inspired soundtrack by Richard Band–the soundtrack lends a touch of seriousness to the film which a rock band wouldn’t.

BushJunta Continues to Make Friends Around the World

This Aristide issue won’t go away. But where will it end up?

Yahoo! News – Caribbean Leaders Don’t Accept Haiti Gov’t
By BERT WILKINSON, Associated Press Writer
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The 15-nation Caribbean Community withheld recognition from Haiti’s U.S.-backed interim government Saturday as leaders closed a summit renewing calls for a U.N. investigation into the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Leaders said they would take up the issue of whether to recognize the government again at a summit in July in Grenada.
“We can’t determine this issue at this meeting,” Trinidad Prime Minister Patrick Manning said. He added that discussions were “quite tense.”

Celine Dion Smells Like Monkey Ass

Or rather, her perfume does. Jessica and I were out doing some late night shopping and stopped in Longs Drugs to get some contact lens cleaner. We had spent the day in and out of a few department stores and Body Shop-type places, so I was no stranger to sampling aromas. Jessica had a short spritz of this new perfume from the Screeching Queen of Chest Pounding herself, Celine Dion, and it took one second to realize that this is ONE OF THE WORST PERFUMES I’VE EVER CLAPPED NOSTRILS ON. Seriously. It’s up there with patchouli, a monkey house, and a truck-stop bathroom, as my least favorite pongs. Cloying, sweet, more like an air-freshener from a 99 Cent store than perfume. We couldn’t believe it. Worse,we couldn’t get it off Jessica’s wrist and we drove home in pure suffering. When we got to San Andreas Street, there was the unmistakable smell of a skunk, and you know what? It was better than the smell in the car. When we got home Jessica scrubbed her arm like she was going in to operate on someone, and, because she had wiped some of her arm off on me in the initial panic, I had to throw my shirt in the wash and jump in the shower. Brutal.
However, I did come up with a slogan for the perfume. Celine Dion: “My Fart Will Go On.”
If you think I’m exaggerating, go to your local drugstore and try it.

The Invasion of Iraq, One Year Later…from the Iraqi POV

Another great, yet harrowing, post from riverbend.

Baghdad Burning
We’re watching with disbelief as American troops roam the streets of our towns and cities and break violently into our homes… we’re watching with anger as the completely useless Puppet Council sits giving out fat contracts to foreigners and getting richer by the day- the same people who cared so little for their country, that they begged Bush and his cronies to wage a war that cost thousands of lives and is certain to cost thousands more.
We’re watching sardonically as an Iranian cleric in the south turns a once secular country into America’s worst nightmare- a carbon copy of Iran. We’re watching as the lies unravel slowly in front of the world- the WMD farce and the Al-Qaeda mockery.
And where are we now? Well, our governmental facilities have been burned to the ground by a combination of ‘liberators’ and ‘Free Iraqi Fighters’; 50% of the working population is jobless and hungry; summer is looming close and our electrical situation is a joke; the streets are dirty and overflowing with sewage; our jails are fuller than ever with thousands of innocent people; we’ve seen more explosions, tanks, fighter planes and troops in the last year than almost a decade of war with Iran brought; our homes are being raided and our cars are stopped in the streets for inspections… journalists are being killed ‘accidentally’ and the seeds of a civil war are being sown by those who find it most useful; the hospitals overflow with patients but are short on just about everything else- medical supplies, medicine and doctors; and all the while, the oil is flowing.

Towers in the Park

I’m a big fan of righteous rants about bad architecture, and this one over at 2blowhards.com does me fine. It takes on the awful submissions for the New York City Olympic village, then goes into a general dissing of awful modernism. “Modernism is still with us,” they claim.

Those plazas, so spankingly ‘open’ and ‘clean’ in drawings and models, in practice quickly cracked and stained. Trash, litter and gusts of wind have always liked them better than workers and inhabitants have; real-live people bundle up, shield their eyes against the swirls of grit, and hurry across these immense stretches of abstract nothingness feeling like ants. The rows of towers often turned out to feel crushingly heavy; and glass towers are often temperamental creatures, far more trouble and costly than advertised to maintain.

By way of City Comforts Blog