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Kurt Amacker's Blog

This is the blog of Kurt Amacker, Comicscape columnist.

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To Houston I go

1/19/2007 11:06:34 AM permalink

Tonight, I, along with an unruly mob of New Orleans Goths and other miscreants, will see a late show of Pan's Labyrinth at our local Landmark Theatre (a national chain that shows indi fare).  I've only seen a couple of Guillermo del Toro's films (guess which ones), but I've enjoyed both of them.  I've yet to see Cronos, the Devil's Backbone, or Mimic.  Anyway, Pan's Labyrinth looks great.  The way some of my friends are talking about it, you'd think it was Star Wars Episode VII or something.  Still, I doubt it'll dissapoint me.

Tomorrow morning, a friend and I are driving to Houston to catch Wednesday 13 at the Meridien.  I was lucky enough to get both a ride and a guest room at a mutual friend's house.  I saw Wednesday almost a year ago in Dallas and received a speeding ticket for my trouble on my way back to New Orleans.  Needless to say, I hope to avoid any encounters with law enforcement on this trip. 

I'm almost finished reading Spook by Mary Roach, which is a fantastic first-person account of her search for proof of the afterlife and ghosts.  She explains the history of spiritualism, both when it was regarded as a legitimate scientific endeavour and its present-day status as crackpot, new age garbage.  I never grow tired of watching people try to explain and justify things that are patently ludicrous.  Yes, ghosts are responsible for draining your car battery.  I also have some money from Nigeria I'd like to deposit in your account.  Once the rebels leave, I'll take it back and leave you a small percentage for your trouble.  Just send me your bank account number.

The Jack the Ripper play I'm co-writing is coming along briskly.  Jim asked me to give it to him by Feb. 1st so that he could write his parts.  I really hope this sees production.  After I finish this, I have to finally write the last comic script for Immortals.  Ack!

My head hurts.  I need more sleep and less coffee.  There aren't enough hours in the day.

Tags: wednesday 13, spook, jack the ripper, pans labyrinth

The rest of the Horrorfest

11/22/2006 10:58:38 AM permalink

I don't have the energy to describe the After Dark Horrorfest in great detail.  Five of the films were worth seeing and the other three were laughable junk.  The worthy entries:

1. Unrest -- Evil spirit lingers around a cadaver.

2. Penny Dreadful -- Girl with phobia of cars ends up trapped inside one in the woods with a dead body while an escaped mental patient stalks her.

3. Rinne (Reincarnation) -- A horror director making a film about a real hotel massacre finds his cast haunted by the spirits of the victims.

4. The Hamiltons -- A family living in suburbia without parents and only an older brother to care for them harbors a very dark secret.  It starts out like a generic torture or cannibal flick -- Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the 'burbs -- but it ends up with a wholly unexpected twist. 

5. The Abandoned -- An American woman returns to her family's farm in Russia to find out how her mother died.  Needless to say, things don't go well.

You can safely skip everything else.  The Gravedancers felt like a rejected NBC pilot.  The Dark Ride showed potential, but it felt like a sophmoric tribute to the director's favorite films.  Wicked Little Things had a decent premise, but it just fell apart under the weight of its many ridiculous genre cliches.  I skipped Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror and the Tripper didn't play here. 

The crowd at the theater was mostly teenagers.  I'm not sure how some of them got in.  Some of the staff decided to mark me for film reviews and ran up to me after each one asking for my opinion.  I didn't realize that Goths were such a novelty in suburban Kenner, Louisiana, but the people at the concession stand kept asking us about which bands we liked.  We endured the usual barrage of strange looks from the locals, but I expected that.

Stay dark,

Tags: horrorfest, 8 films to die for, kurt amacker

After Dark Horrorfest - Day 1

11/18/2006 11:48:42 AM permalink

Even as I sit at the breakfast table with my empty coffee cup and cereal bowl nearby, I haven't the energy to post a point-by-point analysis of the first three films of the After Dark Horrorfest.  I will, however, give you my brief impressions.

1. Dark Ride - A slightly above-average slasher film, Dark Ride succeeds only by embracing its cliches with reckless, loving abandon as it revels in the mystique of urban legends, American horror films, and childhood fears.  Make no mistake, the film will not strike you as a brilliant reimagining of the slasher genre.  However, the director clearly loves and understands the genre and shows potential. C

2. Rinne (Reincarnation) - Though directed by the gentleman that did all four of the Japanese Ju-On films and its two American counterparts -- The Grudge -- Rinne manages to avoid stylistically rehashing those films.  Though it works in the same spirit -- the past attacking the present -- it avoids the out-and-out "Holy shit!" scares of those films in favor of a more subtle atmosphere.  Rinne uses the quickly-becoming-old premise of the horror-film-within-a-film, as a director recreates a hotel massacre from years before.  Unbeknownst to him, connections between his cast and the original victims will emerge in a most unnerving fashion.  While I recognize its merits as a film, it will hardly frighten anyone. B

3. Unrest - By far the best of the bunch, Unrest shows a skeptical medical student fighting with the emergent supernatural events surrounding her group's cadaver in their Gross Anatomy class.  Though its low budget couldn't show more obviously, the film works well within those confines and presents a "plausible haunting," if there even is such a thing.  The vengeful spirit never manifests itself.  Like most purported hauntings, it moves objects, flickers the lights, and leaves evidence in its wake.  I don't believe in ghosts, but, other than the spirit-killing-people thing, the film scares the audience through more suble and familiar means than translucent apparitions jumping on camera. A

I'll post more tomorrow.

Stay dark,

Tags: horrorfest, 8 films to die for

Let the idiocy begin

11/16/2006 4:38:50 PM permalink

My wife and I went to Best Buy last night to buy a new dishwasher.  I walked across the parking lot with her at my side, my black leather trench coat open and flapping in the wind.  I knew I would see them, but nothing prepared me for the sad display of human desperation lined up and camped out in front of the store.

The Playstation 3 hits stores this Friday, and a small army of gamers waited in the wind and the cold outside of the West Bank Best Buy to own the system first.  A couple of them had tents.  A few more had lawn chairs.  All of them wore sweaters, jackets, and winter caps, huddling against the chilly winds blowing off of the Mississippi.  Now, I used to love video games.  I probably still would if I had the time.  I gave them up a few years ago to make time for all of life's other pleasures -- friends, reading, writing, and sex among others.  Still, even if I continued playing video games, it would take a lot for me to sleep outside a Best Buy on the West Bank Expressway to pay the initial asking price for the system -- $499 for the 20GB system, and $599 for the 60GB.  Given that the prices always decrease, the first generation games are usually pretty half-assed, and that subsequent runs will give the manufacturer time to work out bugs, I can't see the logic in waiting outside in the cold for the PS3. 

Some of us are fans, and others are just fanatics.  I like to think I'm the former, rather than the latter.

Stay dark,

Tags: ps3, best buy

First entry

11/16/2006 2:32:41 PM permalink

If anyone hasn't caught on yet, this is Kurt Amacker -- the Comicscape columnist.

I intend to use this space to rant about other media, besides comics.  I'll still talk about comics, but occasionally I want to talk about movies or books.  The column isn't the place for that, but now I have a blog.  Bow before my wisdom.

I'm going to Horrorfest this weekend -- the 8 Films to Die For thing all the sites keep advertising.  I bought tickets for the eight films, but not the ninth one they've added -- Snoop Dog's Hood of Horror.  I live in New Orleans.  I drive through such neighborhoods often enough.  Regardless, that means I'll be in the movies for about 12 hours this weekend, from Friday through Sunday.  I don't mind, except the theater is in a neighboring city and the drive is 30 minutes one way.  Looks like I won't drink much this weekend.

One of the films -- Unrest -- shows actual cadavers as part of the plot.  This is the kind of thing that would make my mother question my sanity.  And frankly, I find the act a touch indelicate.  Obviously, the dead aren't going to complain and this isn't the first film to use cadavers.  But, there's always the chance of the "Hey, isn't that Rufus?" effect.  Granted, these are likely people that donated their bodies to science and understood the attendent possibilities.  I don't mean that this should be illegal.  I'll still see the movie.  However, beyond whether or not one can or may film such a thing, the director and screenwriter ought to have wondered if they should.

Don't get me wrong -- I love horror.  I love a film that frightens me, or even grosses me out.  It's a rollercoaster ride for the mind.  Hell, I own the director's cut of Audition -- easily one of the most unnerving feature films ever made.  However, even I have lines I won't cross.  I won't see Cannibal Holocaust.  I don't want to watch a bunch of asshole gut a sea turtle to get a scare.   I won't watch death videos, either.  I have no desire to watch Al Queda decapitate someone over the web, nor do I want to see some Banana Republic death squad executing dissidents.  I realize some fans actually seek that stuff out as the next extreme, but you can count me out.  Granted, I don't think Unrest crosses that boundary.  It's not a snuff film or a death caught on tape and sold on late night television.  The dead aren't going to object very loudly.  And hell, if I had the choice, I'd probably let a filmmakers shoot my dead body for a horror film.  But, it comes uncomfortably close to blending art with reality in the same way that Borat does -- much more on that later.  Anyway, I'll watch the film and post my thoughts on the whole festival next week.

Stay dark,

Tags: horrorfest, unrest, kurt, comicscape



Date Joined: October 4, 2006