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Sunday, September 30, 2018

31 SAYS OF HORROR 2018-Introduction

Hey there, dear and loyal Cine-Miscreants!

October, the month that culminates in the most excellent day that is Halloween, is about to kick off, so you regulars know that means it's time once again for my annual month-long journey through the dark annals of horror cinema (and occasionally television).

Scary stories have been around as long as there have been storytellers, and a sizable segment of this planet's sentients eat up spine-chilling tales like a rapacious werewolf devours the tender flesh of an unlucky woodland wanderer, so it comes as no surprise that the horror genre has been a staple of global entertainment and has grown and thrived as the means to enthrall audiences with narratives that evolved along with us. Horror as a motion picture genre goes back to the dawn of the movies and it's been over a century since the first moving images silently flickered across the screen in the darkness as the public absorbed the wondrous diversions that unspooled. While comedies, dramas, romances, and adventure narratives held moviegoers riveted, darker, more sinister material also lurked in the indoor twilight and filmmakers were quick to realize that such chillers were a rich lode to be mined. From there the genre grew like Topsy and filled the silver screen with hordes of shambling revenants, thirsting nosferatu, eldritch demoniacal entities conjured through the wielding of forbidden rites, unrestful spectres, blasphemous man-made creatures, other-worldly wigglies that the mere sight of which drives the most stalwart of men to states of gibbering madness, medical nightmares in which our own bodies become our enemies or the healers who are supposed to grant us their aid turn their skills to dire pursuits, seemingly indestructible wielders of kitchen implements and power tools who stalk remote back-woods to prey upon randy youths, primordial throwbacks that defied extinction to terrorize swimwear-clad nubile young maidens, and even that most seemingly-mundane of threats, the unhinged murderer who walks among us and blends in while committing atrocities that would make veteran homicide detectives blanch and fall to their hands and knees while voiding the contents of their stomachs. All of those and more can be found in a richly-fetid cornucopia that often slyly reflects the needs and climate of the given era of production and examines areas of the human condition that may otherwise be un-broachable if not cloaked in shadow.

But enough of all that flowery film school yakkety-blah-blah-blah. If you've bothered to read this far, it's plain that you care about scary movies and are here to see what baleful chronicles of fright Yer Bunche will dredge up from the celluloid depths for the year of two-thousand and seventeen. As in previous years, there is no real rhyme or reason behind my choices, though there will be the occasional thematic overlap and comparison/contrast of certain sub-groups within the genre. I will also take pains to point out that stories that are ostensibly viewed as examples of other flavors — comedy, science-fiction, "thrillers," and non-supernatural drama — can quite easily be revealed as horror to the very core, and that horror can function equally well as art or junk food for the imagination. And this time around, I plan on detailing a good number of flicks that very much fall into the "monster movie" sub-category.

So sharpen your axe, dust off the Necronomicon, apply fresh lipstick to grandma's mummified corpse, and make sure your homemade shroud of supple human skin is properly secured to your febrile pate. 'Tis once again the month of All Hallows' Eve and we are nothing if not prepared...

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

TO ROBERT COUSLAND (and other loyal readers)

I swear to the gods I'm not dead! Honest!!!

(to be read while listening to "Waffle Stomp" by Joe Walsh)

Hey there, dear Vaulties!

Just dropping a quick note to state that those of you who have left comments on various posts of mine were not intentionally ignored. I have my comments section set up so that I can weed out the ads and other unwanted detritus from robots and other from whom I do not wish to hear. If you are one of the people who are kind enough to still bother reading my drivel after the unconscionably long stretches of time that sometimes occur between posts, your continued readership is greatly appreciated, as I do this simply for fun and/or to keep track of all the stuff rattling around in the vortex that my brain floats in.

In recent years there have been a number of major life setbacks that have derailed much of what I do, both personally and professionally, including ongoing health issues, my mother nearly being killed in a car accident and her subsequent struggle back to functionality with a months-long stay in a physical rehab facility while I shuttled back and forth to her home to handle her affairs while she was away, and a whole bunch of other crap, so you can see how I have been both distracted and mired in deep depression. That said, over the past year my health has finally been on the upswing and I'm once again getting out and properly tackling life as I should be, so my output here will likewise see an upswing. 

But the reason I'm bringing all of this up is that due to yet another kick in the head from life, specifically the unexpected demise of a dear friend and mentor, I remembered to check this blog's comments moderation section for the first time in a couple of years. In doing so I realized there were a lot of comments from several regular readers I did not even realize I had, as well as longstanding friends. One Robert Cousland stands out as a regular leaver of comments and I swear to god that I am sorry for not having either posted your comments or responded to them in any way, so, Robert, please accept my most humble of apologies for that unintentional lapse in courtesy. Same goes for the rest of you.

Anyway, stay tuned and I promise that more stuff is on the way. I'm currently working on this year's 31 DAYS OF HORROR essays, and there will also be looks at the 2018 NY Comic Con in a couple of weeks, followed by a photo safari of the Chiller Theatre convention at the end of the month.

So, once again, thank you for your support and apparently endless patience!


Yer Bunche


Steve Swatt, circa 1986 in his office at Fine Arts 1 & 2.

It is with a heavy heart and mind that I eulogize Steve Swatt, a dear friend, former boss,  superb mentor, snd  utterly kind and selfless soul whose presence as my only positive elder male role model was immeasurably appreciated during my turbulent and troubled teen years. 

Even though I  would report to work at the Fine Arts 1 & 2 movie showcase to work nearly seven days per week in order to avoid the dysfunction of my own home life during high school and later during college breaks, I was always relieved to show up because Steve fostered a work team and environment that was in every way a family, with himself as the kindest and most loving of big brother/father figures, which was exactly what this deeply unhappy youth needed at the time. He was always gracious, dryly hilarious, loved the movies, and instilled a sense of pride and professionalism in all of us who worked with him. You'll note that I say we worked "with" him, not "for him," as he was the rarest of the rare: a boss who never once lorded it over his employees, acting without a shred of power-tripping bullshit, rude histrionics, or a sense of entitlement. He led by example and in doing so he taught all of us how to be better human beings going forward. And though I loathed my hometown and avoided it like unshielded radium upon finally getting out of there, I always stopped by Fine Arts 1 & 2 to see Swatt and absorb some of his positivity while briefly in town. If I'd stayed in the area, he would have been a fixture at my home as often as possible.

Steve Swatt treated all of his employees as if we were his doted-upon children, spoiling us rotten when the opportunity arose, and in many cases becoming a beloved friend to us and to our families. My mother, not exactly a woman known for her general love of humanity, held him in the highest of regard, and during my years of working with him on the holidays, she insisted upon making him massive plates of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners as a sign of appreciation for his treatment of me (she was very much aware of my affection and respect for the man and how important that was to me), for his treatment of her in our hostile town whenever she attended  a movie (which he always let her into for free), and as an acknowledgement of him simply being a rare person of genuine goodness and humble worth in a community rife with people  she would not have pissed on if they were on fire.

I could go on for days with hilarious and/or touching reminiscences about Steve Swatt but no amount of retelling can bring him back from his seat at the table in cinematic Valhalla to give us one of his quiet, squinty-eyed smiles just one more time, so I bid him the well-earned eternal rest that he so richly deserves. He was a much-beloved friend and humble hero to me, and I will never, ever forget him. This sorry world is that much poorer without him. 

Requiescat en pace, Steve Swatt. You were rarer than tits on a trout.

Circa 2001: The last time I saw Steve, with fellow Swatt friend/family/disciple Kevin Slater.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018


I just went around the corner to the Associated supermarket for some paper towels, and I noticed a black guy speaking with a white girl, both seated in front of the garden's gate. About three feet from them was a very pretty Latina who approached and said "You have beautiful aura. You should get a palm reading," at which she gestured to indicate the guy speaking with the girl. I thanked her for the compliment to my aura but I proceeded on to the supermarket. 
As I made my way back here with my paper towels, she approached me again and said "You really should try a reading..." Seeing that she clearly was not taking a polite "no" for an answer, I thought fast, stopped, and addressed her directly with "Sorry, but my girlfriend is a bruja, so she would not be cool about me getting a reading anywhere else, and that's an ass-kicking I can do without!" The woman's eyes widened and she nodded fervently while backing away as if she had been hit full in the face with a Pyrex cup full of fluorosulfuric acid.