Friday, October 28, 2011

Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies: The Italian Horror Blog-a-thon Returns!

Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies: The Italian Horror Blog-a-thon Returns!

Zombies, Canibals and Mad Scientists; Oh My! Zombi Holocaust (1980)





As part of the wonderful Italian Horror Blogathon over at Hugo Stiglitz makes movies, I have sat down with a Zombie triple shot DVD set and am presenting for your reading pleasure a review of the 1980 Girolami flick "Zombi Holocaust" 

Zombi Holocaust, or as it is also called "Dr Butcher: MD" (amongst others) opens with a grimy still frame set over droning electronic music. The red title card "Zombi Holocaust" and the grim urban seeming image promises a Romeroeque Zombie film, and this expectation with the films opening hospital setting.
But Zombi Holocaust is defiantly not the film one expects it to be beyond the first few minutes. We are presented with a mysterious figure cutting off a cadaver's hand and making off with it, this theft being discovered the next day as a medical professor uncovers the body for his anatomy class. We find the story then following Lori Ridgeway, the professor's assistant holding Degrees in Medicine and Anthropology. The city we are in is New York and Lori is an academic with a keen interest in Anthropology, especially man's more savage cultures. She lives in what has to be an almost million dollar New york apartment stocked with savage masks and artifacts; most prominent of which is a sacrificial dagger with a mysterious symbol adorned on it...

We are quickly treated what becomes a "cannibals in the big apple" story, which sort of then becomes a flimsy reason to head to the Island of Kito in search of the Cannibal cult responsible for munching down on corpses in hospitals all over. This is where the movie proper really starts, as Lori and her fellow investigators (Including Ian McCulloch as Dr Chandler, an annoying female reporter and her brother) travel to the island of Kito with guidance from Dr Obero and his native servant Molotto. The group quickly find themselves under attack by Cannibal tribes men, who subdue and devour them one by one starting with their porters only to be rescued at the last minute by Zombies...

Zombi Holocaust does shift gears a bit in terms of pacing and story, going from investigating Big Apple Cannibals, to fighting to survive in a Cannibal infested jungle to Mad Scientist tale. As you can already tell, this film is a mish mash of ideas based on more successful films in the Zombie/Cannibal genre, it very directly borrows from Zombie Flesheaters and to a lesser extent the infamous Cannibal Holocaust. It also attempts to give us the Romero "party of bickering humans fighting to survive", but the character relationships are not developed enough for this to really gel. The only easily stereotyped character is the reporter Susan, who is just damn annoying. Her brother is almost a non character, Lori is at first strangely compelled by the culture of savage people but quickly looses that motivation when she arrives on the island, and Dr Chandler is a square jawed hero. The guide Molotto is of course trying to misdirect them away from Dr Obero's experiments, which are very Zombie and brain switching centric. On the reveal of Dr Obero's scheme, the film becomes a much more claustrophobic affair. Obero makes his secret lab in an incredibly run down old mission building, staffed by Molotto and some of the most incompetent Zombies around. This local as well as the Cannibal tribe's sacred cave is almost the entire setting of the third act.

The Film's effect shots are effective, lots of gut munching from tribesmen, a very effective dual eye gouge scene and a kinda funny Zombie having it's head mulched by an outboard motor. The film suffers from a terrific lack of tension that mainly results in how much of a damp squib the opening mystery ends up being. The New York scenes are really just a setup for the island adventure, and a pretty flimsy one at that. The change of pace and setting drains the film of some nice mystery and tension that was setup in the first act.

And back to the Zombies. Nice make up on the extras, but these have to be the crappiest Zombies in Zombidom. They are slow, stupid, shambling and seem vulnerable to pretty much everything humans are. After Dr Chandler easily overpowers on on the beach, they are pretty much drained of all menace to our heroes; especially when contrasted with the tribesmen who are terrifying in their ability to kill. They overpower people with numbers and tear them to pieces with knives and their bare hands. Much scarier than the shambling creations of Dr Obero.

It's hardly the worst Zombi knockoff I've seen, but the film's muddled pacing makes it a tough watch at the best of times and it really isn't enough of a gore fest to entertain in the way many of these films do. (Honestly the T&A content is possibly more severe than the gore)


Friday, October 14, 2011

Back to Buisness..

Well I have survived Wisdom tooth pain from heck, the lil bastards have been taken out and now dwell in a biowaste bin somewhere...

So Back to Business here and at the gaming blog. So that means more politics and movies, which is really what this blog has become... To further this, I am going to be posting in Hugo Stiglitz's Italian horror blogathon part deux! I have a dvd with three Italian zombie flicks on it and have the distinct intention to take it off the shelf and give them the watching/reviewing of a lifetime.
Check out the link over there in the sidebar----->

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Three songs about robots

I do need to post more proper stuff I must say... But work and the infected Wisdom tooth from hell seems to be sapping my motivation.
But I do seem to be obsessed by songs about Robots this week... strange...
So Take this Interwebs!!!!





Thursday, September 22, 2011

File under Water

It's always a bit sad when a band you like breaks up.

It's even sadder when that band happens to also be your favorite one. It was announced today that Athens GA band REM would no longer be together. Those of you who know me know that I've been a bit of an REM fan boy for about 20years. They were very much the first band I discovered on my own in high school, just after the buzz had died down from their 1989 Green tour.
REM has bowed out after a little bit of a decline, Age and the departure of Drummer Bill berry took some of the wind out of their sails after their huge success of the early 1990s. No matter how critical one is of their later work, it cannot be denied that they were one of the best bands of the 1980s and very much on top of the Alt-rock wave that hit in the 1990s.

So I've stuck up first my Fave REM video, Crush with Eyeliner from the Album Monster as a tribute to my hidden skill of being able to perform "The end of the world as we know it" at Karaoke. Second, So Central rain, one of their best singles period from 1984's Reckoning. That video was actually performed live to tape, so it's a live performance as well.
You guys will be missed

Thursday, August 25, 2011

All my Friends are getting Married...

Well yeah I'm kinda at that time of life... (I also use the word Kinda way too much when I write this stuff)
But reading much Facebook/twitter/blogs about people kids as turned me to a friend of mine who is not only a very talented photographer but also a snappy short writer.
So I summon thee my 6 readers and 2 twitter followers to follow Leni @AGrumpyMum !
Also check out her wonderful blog/photographic project http://www.threesixtysixdays.blogspot.com

But seriously... the grumpy mum could be big on teh intertubes, Men without hats big...

Also you can follow me @AaronWFenwick.. I even tweet occasionally...

Friday, August 12, 2011

The subtle art of delegitmising 1st world decent

"Which is not to say England doesn't have problems that need to be dealt with.

On the surface, fingers are pointed at recent government spending cuts.

Deeper down, there's the issue of police brutality and perceived injustice.

And the undercurrent running through it all is one of race and socio-economic divide which most capitalist democracies have failed to properly come to terms with.

But, for the most part, everyone can either afford, or get access to, a cup of rice a day.


Read more: http://www.news.com.au/world/riots-in-london-and-the-famine-in-africa-the-difference-between-a-first-and-a-third-world-problem/story-e6frfkyi-1226113472830#ixzz1UnFusxLV"

Now putting aside that this is a quote from a News Ltd article, and that the African Famine is far far more serious a problem than some smashed shops in London; the huge issue I have with this sort of talk is that it is a very subtle way of delegitimising what has happened in London over the past few days. It is a tactic of the Media Narrative to conflate two issues that deserve analysis and thought on their own. Why? Because people in the 3rd world are allowed to be unhappy with their lot but youth in the 1st world are not, after all they are living the Capitalist dream... aren't they?
It's a patronizing Straw man to dismiss London's riots with a simple wave of the "people are starving in Africa" wand. The African Famine is a horrible and ongoing event that is fueled dozens of factors that does need better coverage and aid in the news... But expanding this critique of the coverage of the Riots; shouldn't papers be ignoring the sports page as well? fashion? Films? There are a hundred things in this world less horrible than Famine in Africa, but it's stupid and intellectually dishonest not to talk about them because of a single event...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A loss for words...

I haven't written anything here in a bit.. I think it's just because I am at a total loss for words with regards to world events. US Debt ceiling, News of the World, Oslo, Famine in Africa, a Third Transformers movie...
Glenn Greenwald breaks down the use and meaningless of the term "terrorism".
Also good ol' Sam Seder makes some wondrous observations about Glenn Beck's obscene Hitler Youth Godwin about the same events... (The Daily show was right, he does have Nazi Torrets)


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sarcastic post after not posting for a while...

http://www.theage.com.au/business/finally-a-reaction-to-our-inaction-20110704-1gz2j.html
Nice run down on how even Infrastructure Australia has lost it with our collective inability to manage the nation's Infrastructure.
I think the most salient quote is this, it not only says a hell of a lot about our Infrastructure issues but about Australian's attitude to national issues in general.

(from the Age article)

The report puts the problem squarely. ''As a country and a community'', it says, ''we:

■Are reluctant to increase government debt (although our national debt levels are among the lowest of any developed country).

■Baulk at raising taxes to pay for better infrastructure and services.

■Are uncomfortable with the 'user pays' concept (as seen in opposition to the use of tolls to fund some roads or increases in utility charges to pay for necessary capital investment and maintenance).

■Are against recycling capital, i.e. selling poorly performing infrastructure assets that could be better managed by the private sector and using the proceeds of those sales to fund other infrastructure.

''Yet we are concerned about congestion, we are concerned about the health and security of our water supplies, we are concerned about the prospect of electricity 'brownouts' and we recognise the need to modernise our telecommunications.

''There is a profound disconnect here.''


Well Duh...

I have long said that Infrastructure is probably the number one reason behind so many issues of Environment, productivity and population. It's how a Country with a ridiculous amount of unused space can have a housing affordability crisis. It's not supply and demand, it's that if you want to live outside the inner suburbs of most cities the price and quality of almost every service skyrockets. Why? Well it's Infrastructure stupid...

The points made by the panel also illustrate how ridiculous political debate has become over the last two decades. You can't raise taxes, you can't borrow money, you can't put in tollways because people don't want to pay to use a road, you can't set a market price for pollution... BUT why don't trains run on time? Why is X so expensive? Why don't I get Mobile coverage up North?
Sigh.

Monday, May 2, 2011

So...

Apparently, to quote a football headed cartoon infant, "Victory is ours".
So...
This means the war on terror is won?
So...
No more warrant-less surveillance?
No more detention without trial?
No more "enhanced-interrogation"?
No more rendition, Gitmo, drones or human pyramids?

Oh? Really? Even though... But they blew him up and everything...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ha!

Not a widely reported story, and one I feel a lil conflicted about for various reasons...
But boy it is funny.
Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist made a boo boo in his campaign for US Senate, he used the Talking Heads track "Road to Nowhere" in a campaign ad; without David Byrne's permission. So he got sued. The video below is part of the settlement...



Now I can't imagine his campaign committee was so naive to think they could just use whatever song they like and not have to ask for permission; not the first time this has happened in a high profile political race. So we have another member of the US political class basically thinking rules don't apply to him, and I'm sure Crist would be the first person to champion a Record Label's attempt to sue a teenager for a six figure sum for one or two downloaded songs...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

True Grit (2010)


Gee.. That "The King's speech" must have been a heck of a film...
Just saying.
It is refreshing in these days of hyper-intertextulisation (my word, I made it up), 3D, CGI, poor script writing and general over all staleness; that we see a wonderful Character and script driven film like this one on our screens. But that is sort of what we expect from the Coens, actually nice old fashioned film craft. Now I'm actually a fan of the original 1969 film staring John Wayne, and I must say this new adaption is nowhere near as functionless as so many remakes have been over the past decade and a half. It's a fresh take on the 1968 serial by Charles Portis that follows the tale of Mattie Ross, a 14 year old girl of unusual drive and intelligence, as she seeks revenge on her father's killer. To achieve this end she hires a US Marshall, Rooster Cogburn, to assist her in tracking down and eventually killing the murderer; Tom Chaney.
The film on it's surface has the veneer of the "revisionist" western, the old west in a wild and dangerous place indeed filled with filth, Alcohol, poor healthcare and violence. Although once you go just below the surface you quickly find that the Coens are not giving us an Unforgiven or a The Quick or the Dead.
Instead they craft a very well rounded west, combining gritty realism with some old West cliches that have some basis in fact. LaBoeuf for example wears a tasseled jacket and spurs, something that could be terribly kitch if done poorly. It also does not do violence for violence's sake, and pretty much all the characters beyond Chaney have the quality indicated to in the title to some extent. Even the Villainous Lucky Ned Pepper is quite hospitable while he has Mattie captive, while he may be an outlaw, he and his gang are not Monsters by any extent. Ned sees no value in harming Maddie so he doesn't, but is happy to use her to get Cogburn off his back. Chaney on the other hand has just killed a man in cold blood, and is basically a coward so seems more scared of Maddie than she is of him.
That really is what goes to the heart of what makes a good film, fully realized characters who have a dimension beyond what is given in dialogue. Not only that but characters whose actions are internally consistent with what they do in the film, regardless of cliched scene play. That is where the Coen's habit of an ending that isn't really an ending pays dividends, it keeps the audience guessing and more importantly entertained. You don't know when the film is actually over till it is over, they shirk the usual Hollywood situation-complication-redemption formula.
Entertaining and thoughtful to the last.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fisson!

Kinda...
It has been suggested that I do spend a lot of time on silly nerdy gaming pursuits, and that I really should start writing more about such things...
So this blog is splitting! Watch this space for more info.
Tomorrow's sound will still be the place for my personal musings and film reviews but this new creature will be all about that gaming thing I do most Saturdays, and some Fridays...
Till then...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Inside Job (2010)



It seems that a topic for many Documentaries made in 2010 were man-made disasters, from Gasland to The Big Uneasy ; a common theme seemed to be the incompetence and greed of humans. (Particularly US humans)
The Oscar winning Inside Job is no exception, a chronicle of the global banking crisis of 2007-2008. Starting it's tale in Iceland and then moving to Wall St and Washington DC, "Inside Job" documents the events preceding, during and immediately after the crash of 2008. It includes a great many interviews with important players in the saga, as well as many non interviews by people who refuse to comment. (Represented by title cards advising that the person they are talking about declined to be interviewed by the documentary makers.)
Like many modern documentaries the film is an essay, beginning with it's premise and supporting that premise to a conclusion. To this end the film is very successful, it manages to break down the normally complex world of the financial and legislative regulation into bite sized chunks for the audience and tells a tale that really does need to be told. It is coupled with a great amount of archived footage, beautiful visuals of it's main locations and sharply edited interviews. (I am predicting a DVD set with loads of extra interview footage, as many seem cut very tightly for cinematic effect)
For me this film was largely preaching to the choir, I followed the events of 2008 and since quite closely and was actually amazed by my pre-knowledge of some of the film's territory. (I know roughly how a credit default swap worked for example, what leverage was etc) Even without this knowledge it is both an entertaining film, pacy and effective.
I did feel it wasted a bit of time on an Ad-Hominem against executives and their nocturnal habits; devoting a lengthy block to Wall street's love of strip clubs, cocaine and prostitutes. While the little factoid about one madam in particular working as a cog to write off these extravagances as buisness expenses was I feel relevant, the short exploration of the pathology of the Wall street mindset was shallow and a little easy for my taste. (I think you can show how bad this culture is without going for the "these people are basically sociopaths" angle, that imho absolves them of some responsibility for their actions due to mental illness, rather than as products of a twisted capitalist environment) Another criticism, actually leveled by the friend I watched the film with who is in Banking and Economics, is that the film conflates Economics and Commerce as Academic fields when in fact they are quite separate. Most Business schools focus on Commerce while Economics tends to be a more abstract field and not as tied in with the world of business.

Minor quibbles aside, this is a worth while watch. By the looks this year's Academy batch of documentaries are all very high quality (as is the Big Uneasy which was not nominated) and I have slipped Gasland, The Big Uneasy, Exit through the gift shop and Wasteland on my must watch list..

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lay people's guides to unfolding badness

Words really cannot express what is happening in Japan at the moment, I think I will leave it to others better suited and more capable of expressing what is happening there. I have been to Japan once, for two days, and even in that short time it struck me as a more beautiful and welcoming place than modern pop culture gives it credit for. My hopes go out to everyone there and everyone who has loved ones there.

Two great sources of info on the unfolding Nuclear issue in Japan are Brain Dunning's twitter feed (oh an Skeptoid.com of course!) and Racheal Maddow's great easy to follow updates on her show.

Etc...

Busy fortnight, not much time to spill my brains on teh intertubes but a quick post and video to encapsulate my thoughts on the world at the moment...



I do wonder if the government of the US is the equivalent to the band playing while the Titanic sinks... (An Analogy, please no emails about the band of the Titanic, or Nero and his fiddle for that matter...) Climate Change, Economic Crisis, Nuclear plants in Japan exploding, biggest oil spill on record= no substantive policy change.

Bradley Manning. I can't express the absolute disgust I feel for the Obama administration over this issue. It's the old "charge him with something or release him" issue, what is being done at the moment is so close to torture it isn't funny...

Carbon price/tax/levy. While I don't agree with it I see the need, and am puzzled by the Government's inability to defend it's position. Just like the Mining Tax and Flood Levy arguments the Government just hasn't come to bat on this one...

Sigh

Saturday, March 5, 2011

More Tax Fun kiddies...

Yeah it's been on my mind, the debate in the US is so insane that I feel that I have to keep an eye on it so I can be ready for the likely event of the same ideas being rolled out here. The NSW Liberals under Howard did often take their lead from the Conservative movements in the US and it showed in many of their policies. Basically, give tax cuts and credits to their base and meanwhile cry about being revenue short so that the commons can go under funded. Roads, Hospitals, schools, Universities etc. run down and then we are told that it's too expensive and that we really should be using the private option... Fortunately the Australian system is a little more resilient than that in the US, but that did not stop them chipping at the edges and even moving the debate enough to make Labour State Governments enact virtually the same policies. The idea that the public health system is buckling under pressure and that private insurance and care is the answer is basically an idea that has totally infiltrated the psyche of most Australian voters. (Just like the justifications for massive federal funding for private schools , privatisation of roads and our inability to de construct our coal based economy)
Anyway, no answers just complaints tonight. That's what happens when I write after several bouts of the o-so delicious pear cider...
This interview between Sam Seder and David Kay Johnston pretty much covers the US's much more severe version of this with a wonderful outline of the dreaded supply side economics... Enjoy : )

Friday, February 25, 2011

What are we doing about that whole torture thing?

Well nothing apparently...
But in a sparkle of hope (this clip is about a week old) David Frum, the former Bush speech writer, gets OWNED on radio by Teresa Strasser. (The commentary from the TYT gang is great as well)

Enjoy

The best thing on the Internet...eva?

Your argument is invalid. :P

3-Monkey-Teers Gif - 3-Monkey-Teers
see more Gifs

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dances with Sandworms...



Disclaimer: I did see it late, and yes before you bitch at me I did not see it in 3D, or in Imax, or directly stencilled into my optic nerve as James Cameron intended. I did see it on Blu Ray but that is because it cost the same to hire the Blu Ray as the regular one. So first I will concede, yes the effects and world created are awesome and cool and full of flying coolness and blue cat people. Yes. No argument there.

Now disclaimer is out of the way; on with the show...

Is it just me, or is this a remake of Dune? Not Frank Herbert’s Dune but David Lynch’s Dune. Seriously look at it. Are you looking? I’ve had many people look at me oddly for saying this but it’s totally true. The plot elements are rearranged and the setting is different but that did not make the Magnificent Seven not a remake of the Seven Samurai. Cameron never acknowledges it either except that on paper they are too similar for words...

First both are set on a dangerous planet that houses some rare vital resource. On Arrakis it was melange, on Pandora it’s unobtainium. On Arrakis the lack of water and dangerous life forms is what makes it nasty, on Pandora it’s the hostile atmosphere and dangerous life forms. Both worlds have tribes of noble savages who when gathered kick much ass under the leadership of an outsider, both deal with the hero extending his senses into the mystic though help from the natives and both end in a knife fight. Heck even one of the main catch phrases of Lynch’s Dune is “the sleeper must awaken”, and avatar takes this metaphor literally.

Cameron’s grand vision is on show here, the world is wonderfully detailed but I did find it more than a little laboured in its modern environmentalism metaphors. I mean you have to be a pretty god damn cynical capitalist not to be somewhat captivated by a world of flying dragons, glowing fungus and floating mountains. I would have found it a more compelling discussion if the planet was less beautiful, if it was as hard to love for the audience as it is supposed to be for the humans; Cameron would then have had the chance to show beauty and wonder in a less garish more authentic fashion. It’s easy to empathise with a nine foot nubile blue humanoid, less so with a more exotic or less appealing creature. I think my issue is that the conflict that Cameron represents lacks any difficulty for the audience; we don’t have to do any work at all as it is visually spelled out for us on screen in a very transparent fashion. (ie: Blue tree people and their feathered dragons = good, Human Corporate humans and their pollution belching machines =bad) This also makes the only character direction change in the movie (and no I don’t count the main character in that as he is never really “Lets kill all the Na’vi” at any point in the film), that of Parker, a little forced as his position as the head of the expedition is never explored deeply enough that his sudden bout of conscience at the film’s end makes any real sense.

It’s eyecandy, it has explosions and robots and dragons. But beyond that...?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On Wikileaks and lawlessness...

The Tech Herald and Empty wheel broke and have been following up the amazing story of HBGary Federal vs Wikileaks over the last week. For those who don't know the tech security company along with two others were retained by a legal firm working on behalf of Bank of America and also; it was revealed, the US chamber of commerce...
This all came to light due to the company's CEO Aaron Bar bragging about how he was going to reveal who Anonymous was. Well naturally they got hacked...
The revelations from the 70,000+ emails that were then leaked showed quite the systemic pattern of basically illegal activities that this firm and others were being employed to perform in the name of "security". The interview below between Sam Seder and Glenn Greenwald highlights the significant can of worms that has been opened...



Update: Greenwald unpeels more of this story

2011 resolution - a little late but what the hell

Ok ok my cheerful half dozen readers, it's a late New years resolution but it's never to late to start yes? (Don't answer that)
After having topped Google when you search for this blogs long winded name (I feel like i;m on a Radar now, not THE Radar but a Radar none the less) , I now intended to actually post stuff. Like regularly!
So my resolution is a new post every week, probably not on a fixed day or on Saturdays...
Stay tuned..

Friday, January 28, 2011

Time for a Tax Winge

Well not by me, New Ltd mostly...
Honestly this is a pretty good move, I'd even be pro moving it down the scale a little if need be to reduce the rate. The Queensland floods are an incredibly destructive natural disaster, and this is exactly the sort of thing Govenment should be paying for with our Tax dollars. If the Floods in Northern Victoria had have been threatening Melbourne like the ones up north did Brisbane; I'm sure Herald Sun readers would be the first demanding the Fed spend any and all money to save them and repair their homes.
This is an example of the increasingly American (US American) attitude to Taxation that crept into our country during the Howard years. Taxation is supposed to finance government so that they can care for the Commons, and disaster relief falls under the concept of the "Commons". But no, any one off Tax increase is a "Slog to working Families", they will be two, TWO slabs of VB short over the next twelve months as a result. Of course what the good Murdoch boys don't mention is that any increase to Farmer's reconstruction costs will get passed to working families via increased price of goods; so a small subsidy by tax payers is not a bad thing in that light...
The second point being made by wingers is that it punishes those who have already given. This is not just silly, but dishonest as charitable donations are Tax deductible in this country so that will all balance out so long as you gave more than $2.

Sigh...