Monthly Archives: November 2010

Your Morning Pick-Me-Up

Being a writer/journalist, every morning I look forward to my steaming hot mug of coffee and a browse through my local newspaper. Sure there’s the latest depressing news on natural disasters (I think if I lived in a country with 40 or more volcanoes in what is termed the “Ring of Fire,” I might consider living somewhere other than in a valley), political issues (Congress votes to ban pennies), economic crises (This just in: Dollar now worth 8 cents!) and lost pets (Lost: three-legged Husky/Collie/Bulldog mix, blind in left eye and hard of hearing, answers to the name “Lucky” and last seen in the valley near Mount Pinujab).

But there’s also my very favorite section to which I look forward every day: the Police Beat.

Of course, I browse the listings each day to be an informed citizen…it’s important to know what kind of crazies I’ll encounter as I triple-lock my front door and head out on my errands and adventures. I also like to know what kind of crime wave is occuring in my rural area (unexplainably, there seem to be a lot of missing jars of pennies these days), which neighbors have been arrested for theft or DWI (and yes, there have been a few…think I’ll re-check my dinner party list as I browse), and who has been passing bad checks for clearance meat at the local Wal-Mart store (ewww!).

But more importantly, I read for entertainment. To bring a bright spot to my morning. See, I have discovered even Dave Barry and Dave Letterman would have a hard time topping these true gems*:

  • 3600 Block of South Walnut Street, 2:10 a.m. Sunday, a man complained that his girlfriend’s  husband hit him in the face after finding them together in his house. Said he did nothing to provoke him, and couldn’t understand why he was assaulted. Suspect under investigation. [Maybe the police should be investigating the complaintant’s teachers as they clearly failed him in the smarts department!]
  • 400 Block East 20th Street, 12:02 a.m. Wednesday, a 20-year-old man reported he gave someone $60 for marijuana, and after taking the money the person sped away in a vehicle without giving him anything. [Officer, I have a medical condition…]
  • 1000 Block South Rogers Street, 12:56 p.m. Monday, a woman reported someone fraudently signed her up for approximately 100 magazine subscriptions, which she is now receiving. Police reported the suspect lives several states away. [Just use a change of address form, hon, and they’ll all suddenly be delivered “several states away.”]
  • 600 Block North College Avenue, 10:55 p.m. Saturday, a 30-year-old man was arrested after he reportedly hit himself in the head with a beer bottle. Police determined he was intoxicated and took him to the hospital for his injuries. [Well of course he was intoxicated…not many of us are hitting ourselves over the head after a venti half-caff mocha frapp!]
  • 2900 Block South Walnut Street Pike, 3:03 p.m. Wednesday, a woman reported someone knocked the lid off her beehive and the bees escaped. She found several bees were dead. No suspects. [Wanted: roly poly bear last seen in red shirt, answers to the name of Pooh]

Ah, the list is endless, and endlessly entertaining! So if you are needing a bit of a pick-me-up and can’t wait for your local barista to finish your half-caff, enjoy yourself as you peruse your local Police Beat section. Just be sure to have your dinner party list handy as you read and keep your penny jar tucked safely away.

*Source: The Herald-Times, Bloomington, IN

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Horror Movie: Parasomnia (R; 2008; 103 min.)

I can sum up this movie in just a few words: freaky, funky unbelievable noir-type gore-fest. There. Oh, you want to know more? Okay, read on…

Parasomnia is a medical condition where one sleeps most of the time, awaking only occasionally and for only short periods of time. Somehow, despite having this Sleeping Beauty-like syndrome and living in a psych ward (a psych ward that has few locks, is right down the hall from rehab, houses a hooded serial killer standing in chains and allows visitors to roam about freely no less), Laura has beautifully coiffed long hair and can talk and walk with no problem!

As you can tell, you must suspend a lot of belief to watch this fright-fest. Because you also meet Danny, who wanders down the hall from visiting his friend in rehab and discovers Laura, immediately falling in love with her and getting her doctor to tell him all about her in less than five minutes. He also discovers the crazed serial killer in the next room, Brian Volpe, who has managed to hypnotize Laura through the walls and has invaded her freaky, crazy dreams. This is different, mind you, from how he usually hypnotizes people…normally his eyes alone, backlit with spider webs, can do the job! Anyhow, Danny decides to free Laura from Volpe’s hold by kidnapping her from the grossly-understaffed  hospital and taking her back to his apartment. Bad move, Danny!

Danny awakes to Laura trying to slash him with a mighty long knife, even by slasher-movie standards. She eventually falls asleep again, and, unfazed, he heads out for a bite to eat, propping her in front of a TV. When he returns, he discovers she has brutally tortured and murdered his neighbor. So he starts to clean up while she sleeps again. When the cops arrive to investigate, she manages to eviscerate one of the investigators before once again falling asleep!

The story continues on in this manner, with Laura sleeping and waking, Danny being dumbly in love, bloody gory slasher fests, and a serial killer who escapes after hypnotizing a nurse, then comes for Laura. It is actually hard to watch this movie…hard to watch and hard to watch it go on and on and on while it goes quickly down the drain. There are a few cool special effects, but they are completely outweighed by the ridiculous storyline. My recommendation: if you’re dreaming of a good horror movie, just keep dreaming: this one will put you to sleep.

  • Top Scare: Serial Killer
  • Heartbeats: 2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 1/4 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 17 and up, due to crazed violence, gore, cussing and nudity

Horror Movie: Halloween (Director’s Cut) (R; 2007; 109 min.)

This remake of my all-time scariest movie is a darker, deeper and more brutal version than the original. The first 26 minutes are devoted to Michael Myers as a long-haired 10-year-old child living in a heinous home filled with cussing, booze, sexual overtures and abuse. It is Halloween. Michael snaps when, sitting outside the principal’s office at school, he overhears a psychologist talking to his mother (a pole-dancer by trade) about photos of tortured animals the principal found in Michael’s backpack. That night, while Mommy is dancing and Big Sis is getting it on with her boyfriend upstairs instead of taking him trick-or-treating, Michael dons a clown mask and brutally murders his injured step-father (good riddance to that sicko!), his sister’s boyfriend, and then his older sister (as she is listening to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” on headphones). Finally, he picks up his baby sister and says, “Happy Halloween Belle.”

Flash forward 11 months to the local sanitorium, where Michael is being held and treated by Dr. Samuel Loomis. Dr. Loomis is not making much progress with Michael, who would rather design, create and wear strange masks and ask him why he “talks funny.” When his mother visits, he says, “Hey, Mommy, is everyone at home okay?” as if he has forgotten the havok he wreaked less than a year earlier. Little by little, Michael draws in upon himself and stops talking. When he is left alone briefly with a nurse who insults him, he forks her neck. His mom just can’t take being the mother of Satan any longer and shoots herself, leaving behind his baby sister to be adopted out as “Laurie.”

Flash forward again, 15 years down the road. Michael still has not spoken during all these years. He is enormously tall, with disgusting feet, and he wears an orange mask he has made. When two night guards taunt him in his room (beware the brutal rape of a fellow inmate in this scene…not for the squeamish!), he kills them and escapes, heading back to his hometown . On Halloween, he finds Laurie’s new family and one by one picks them off in various bloody ways, now wearing his trademark emotionless-face mask which he had hidden in his boyhood home (boarded up and abandoned) all these years. Dr. Loomis heads there to help find him and “talk him down” apparently. Fool.

The next hour is spent in bloodbath after bloodbath. However, we are spared much of the scares involved in the original movie, those of anticipation, since the scenes are so darkly lit we can’t really make out what is happening and how close he is to reaching someone and killing them. He does find Laurie during this time, and many, many, many, many minutes later the doctor also finds them and tries to help Laurie. The ending is very unsatisfying and is drawn out much longer than necessary. Ugh! I’ll stick with the original version of Halloween every time and recommend that you do too!

  • Top Scare: Family Michael grows up in
  • Heartbeats: 3 3/4 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 18 and up for cussing, abuse, nudity and sex scenes, gore and brutality

Next up: Parasomnia

Horror Movie: The Haunting (PG-13; 1999; 113 min.)

With a superstar lineup like Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson, Catherine Zeta Jones and Lili Taylor, and a super creepy gothic style isolated castle as the setting, this could have/should have been a great movie. However, it was really just a great laugh.

When three sleep study subjects arrive at the deserted Hill House castle, one soon begins to hear strange noises and see ghostly images of children floating around. Turns out they’re really there for a study on fear, but when it is obvious the castle is truly haunted, the whole group must help the one of them (Lily Taylor as Eleanor) who seems to be going bonkers there (see, they can’t actually leave because the caretaker has locked them in for the night and no one from the nearby town will either hear them scream or come to help if they do hear them). So over an hour later, they are still being chased by the ghost of the castle’s owner (who killed many children there and won’t free their spirits), and they are pretending to be scared of the terrible special effects.

Ugh…this is torture to watch and try to follow. There are no scares here, just cheesy plotlines and silly graphics. You’ll want to watch this one only if you’re wanting to waste a couple hours and get a good laugh!

  • Top Scare: Eleanor’s creepy siblings
  • Heartbeats: 1 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 1 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 1 out of 5
  • Recommended for: No one, but if you must, 13 and up

Next up: Halloween Director’s Cut

Horror Movie: Frozen (R; 2010; 93 min.)

I had been looking forward to watching this movie since it had gotten rave reviews. Must say, I was a bit disappointed. The story is basically three college students (Dan and Parker are dating; Joe is Dan’s long-time buddy) who spend a Sunday afternoon and evening skiing and snowboarding at a weekend-only mountain ski lodge. The three convince the lift operator to let them go up the mountain for one last run, even though everything else is starting to shut down (until the following Friday, no less) for the night/week. While they are traveling up the mountain, the lift operator is called away and a sub steps in. Thinking the lift is empty, he shuts it down and leaves.

At first the three kids think the lift is just stopped for a few minutes, but as the lights on the mountain go off one by one, it dawns on them they are stuck up there until Friday. Of course, a terrible snowstorm is setting in, and they forgot to use the bathroom one last time before this last run (easier to remedy for the guys than for Parker). Dan decides to be the hero and jump the 50 feet or so to the ground so he can get help. When his leg bones break through and he effectively becomes a rag doll from the knees down, wolves start circling round and decide the Sunday evening buffet is now open. And then there were two.

So the next morning, Parker and Joe wake up and Parker must rip her hand from the bar it is frozen to. Her face is frostbitten and chunks of skin come off when she wipes at it. Joe meanwhile decides to try to hand-over-hand crawl down the wire to a nearby pole with a ladder. The rope is razor-sharp though, and his hands are soon fleshy gobs of bloody meat.

This is basically all I can tell you without giving too much away since there really is very little plot left after this. The movie is an interesting concept which I felt could have been much more scary with some different “elements” thrown in besides just the “elements” and the wolves. If you’re looking for a good scare, keep looking…

  • Top Scare: None
  • Heartbeats: 1 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 13 and up

Next up: The Haunting