Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Books and TV and Movies, Oh My!

by Robison Wells

It's 10:45pm, and I'm hepped up on Lortab in an effort to kill a migraine. However, I feel like I ought to blog. If I don't, then that would mean four of the last five weeks have been blogless, and frankly, that's disgusting. If I don't blog despite being strung out on narcotics then the terrorists win.

Long time readers of this blog will know what happens when I have nothing to talk about: I talk about media that I have recently consumed. Here it is.

Night of the Living Dead
I'm not a fan of horror movies--I'm not a fan of Halloween generally--but I am a fan of film, and Night of the Living Dead was one of those movies that I was always embarrassed to say I'd never seen. While it's no Citizen Kane, it is surprisingly good cinema, despite the fact that it's "just a zombie movie".

My wife and I tried to watch it, but she gets nightmares just by hearing the word "zombie", let alone watching a movie about them. So, we turned it off after thirty minutes. However, my fat croupy baby went through a long phase of staying awake all night, and he and I finished the rest of it in the middle of the night.

I have to say: it has one of the most awesome movie twists ever which I won't mention because you should rent the movie and see it for yourself. Unless you're the type of person who doesn't like seeing the undead feasting on the living. (If you're that type: boo on you.)

But the best part of the Night of the Living Dead experience is that a few days after we watched it, I was out of town and my wife was home alone with the kids. At three in the morning she was watching TV with the aforementioned croupy baby, when the power transformer in the backyard exploded! She searched the dark house for a flashlight, but there was none to be found (because my four-year-old son likes to play with them and waste the batteries) (and because I'm not big into all that preparedness nonsense). So, at 3am she was wandering the pitch-black house looking for a light, and she suddenly remembered: ZOMBIES! So, she and croupy baby barricaded themselves into the kids' room, her back against the closed door, and they all sang Primary songs until dawn.

(It's a good thing she hadn't watched the entire movie, particularly the part where the little girl zombie eats her mom. That probably wouldn't have helped things.) (Also, I just spoiled the neat twist that I mentioned a moment ago. Spoiler Alert! Retroactively!)

I discovered that my dad has a collection of old, public domain monster movies, including the 1922 vampire silent film, Nosferatu. It was quite awesome, with terrible effects and crazy acting and awesome makeup and stop-motion filming that probably filled 1922 audiences with horror (but looked like a third grade art project now).

Ladies, please note: Nosferatu neither sparkled nor played baseball. Instead, he looked like this. My favorite scene:
Bella: I love you more than everything else in the world combined. Isn't that enough?
Nosferatu: Blaaarg! [Eats Bella]

The Last Starfighter
This movie scared the pants off me as a kid, but also filled me with complete delight. The premise: a kid plays a video game (the stand-up, arcade variety) so well that aliens come down to earth and ask him to be a starfighter! That's every little boy's dream! It's still my dream. I swear, one day the Joint Chiefs of Staff are going to knock on my door and say "Son, America's hopes rest on your shoulders. We can't get through that mine field without your ace sweeping abilities!" And then I'd sweep too fast, trying to beat the record, and I'd die.

Anyway, did you know that The Last Starfighter stars The Music Man!? What the heck? And he takes his face off!

Here's a possible flaw in the aliens' plan. They have a huge Star League, consisting on hundreds of planets, and they're trying to defend it with ONLY NINE STARFIGHTERS! What a dumb strategy. Fortunately, the enemy's "armada" consists of one crappy ship and twenty crappy fighters, and it only takes one starfighter to destroy them all. So, I guess nine starfighters is kind of overkill.

The Prisoner
I had high hopes for this. I loved the old series (though it was often campy and always weird). And the remake stars Ian McKellen (Magneto in X-Men), Jim Caviezel (Christ in The Mel Gibson Movie That I Can't Recall the Title Of), and What's Her Name, The Homely Girl Who Played Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre).

Well, I'm sorry to report that The Prisoner has a serious case of The Borings. Here's the problem: The Prisoner is supposed to be a very sinister paranoia show where we don't know what's real and what's not. However, this re-imagined version has come up with an interesting twist (the people in The Village seem to believe that it is the only place on earth), but they've tried so hard to hammer that home that they've take all the sinisterness out of the story. When he escapes, he is stopped by...heat exhaustion? The big bubble shows up once, but it manages to be unexciting.

There's no apparent double agents and no elaborate schemes. It's just: everyone lives in The Village; Magneto seems a little shady; people have dreams that maybe they lived somewhere else at some point, but--meh.

I have stopped watching it.

I also had high hopes for this, because apparently I like remakes of paranoia shows.

While it definitely has some problems, it still manages to be entertaining. The problems are: sometimes-bland characters, sometimes-unrealistic decision making, and a tendency to make the plotline override common sense. (For example: sometimes the Visitors have amazingly awesome surveillance that sees everything, and sometimes they miss obvious, stupid things. Whatever the plot needs at the moment.)

But, it's good popcorn fun. I'm not sure if this is a new series or a mini-series. I kind of hope it's the latter. I'd like there to be a solid conclusion.


A Lot of Whitney Stuff
I have boxes and boxes of Whitney nominees littering my living room, and I've been reading through them all. Some are quite good. Some, not so much. I don't like to review Whitney books (and thus, most LDS fiction) since I am a judge. But, suffice it to say: there's a book that you probably haven't heard of that is marvelous. And there's a book that you hear about all the time that is: meh. And there are others.

The Once and Future King
The only non-Whitney book that I've read recently is The Once and Future King. It's about King Arthur. I've read a lot of King Arthur books, and I've seen a lot of King Arthur movies, and this is about the most bland of them all. Granted, this is the one that most of them spring from--this isn't trying to be King Arthur With A Twist--and so I shouldn't fault it. But, man. I was disappointed. Captain Picard has led me astray for the last time.

If the previous post has amazed with its brilliance, then you have really low standards. You'd be a perfect follower of mine! Join me on Twitter.


At 11/25/2009 3:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, you're seriously too funny. And this late at night, you're even funnier!
I'd totally see Night of the Living Dead if someone hadn't spoiled this awesome twist... =P

At 11/25/2009 8:04 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I love Nosferatu! And I think I have all those movies your dad has. (No comments from the peanut gallery, please.) My all-time favorite for camp is King of the Zombies. It's so excruciatingly bad -- and culturally insensitive -- that it's marvelous. Plus, it contains a little-known life-saving measure that no other zombie movie has ever mentioned: Zombies will return to their graves* if you put enough salt in their porridge. Yes, really. Be sure to tell Erin to keep instant oatmeal around and everything will be fine.

Love the post. Thanks!

Still gonna have to pass on that Twitter thing. I can't follow my own life, let alone anybody else's!

*My son always wants to know "what about the zombies that never had graves?" Alas, all the zombies in this movies had been interred at one time or another, so I don't know about rogues. Perhaps they'll dig their own graves. It's worth a shot, IMHO.

At 11/25/2009 8:11 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

One should never read (and then comment on) Rob's posts before 6 AM.

May I please change the first word in the fifth line from "and" to "albeit"? The way it is written...stinks...and isn't what I meant at all. When I first watched that movie, I wondered how the people who wrote/made it could stand themselves. That said, the zombie part was way awesome. :)

At 11/25/2009 9:27 AM, Blogger Heather Moore said...

Thanks for the retroactive spoiler alert!

Your wife reminds me of my nine-year-old :-) I was hoping she'd grow out of it, maybe not.

At 11/25/2009 10:19 AM, Blogger Jennie said...

Rob, I hope you soon find a job and your kid starts sleeping through the night. My sympathies are all with your wife.

At 11/25/2009 10:26 AM, Blogger Sariah Wilson said...

Loved The Last Starfighter as a kid. Thought it was one of the coolest movies ever. Now, not so much. But back then - awesome. I'd go see a remake.

And I watched all six freaking hours of The Prisoner remake. Because I am a person who must know how things end, and as such must now bear witness that this show had one of the worst plots/storylines/endings I have ever endured in my life. How they got actors of Ian McKellan and Jim Caviezel caliber I will never know.

I've only seen one episode of V so far, so I'm not really sure what I think yet. Still holding out hope for a lizard baby.

At 11/25/2009 3:22 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

I just got done watching all 3 Scream movies. I had been under the impression that it was going to have more humor, but it turns out that it's simply self-referential. Like, tips about what to avoid in scary movies, and then the characters go ahead and do those very things. In the end, the movies are very entertaining and fairly well-written. Two surprises: how David Arquette's character manages to survive the movies, and seeing a minor character in the last one turn out to be The Middleman!!! (If you haven't seen The Middleman, go rent it! There's only one season, and it's got to be better than The Prisoner!)

BTW, Rob, are you at all concerned about how you're affecting the baby by watching zombie movies with him at his age?

* Love, I mean, Luv, my word verify: luvelly

At 11/27/2009 12:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for making me laugh so hard! Zombies scare me to death! I would have been right there next to your wife yelling primary songs at the top of my lungs!

At 12/01/2009 11:23 AM, Blogger Don said...

I was so excited to see The Last Starfighter - loved the premise. But even at 16 I knew that was the lamest cop-out ending ever. So, so so disappointed.

Someday I'll get the chance to "re-imagine" that whole idea.

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At 4/06/2012 4:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there,
In regard to Vampire movies,
the movie 'Nosferatu' with Klaus Kinski is by far the best.


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