What I'm Watching: Assimilate

Two interchangeable, incredibly dull, incredibly white teenage boys with hidden cameras try to Youtube star their way out of an incredibly dull, incredibly white small town, and then an Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) ripoff starts, but with rather stupid children instead of competent adults.

Slightly creepy stalker vibe, which could've been a good variation on the theme, then the pod people start being obvious. As usual, the cops are useless until it's too late. The girl who joins the party in the second act is more liability than help. Her little brother Joey needs rescuing, but mostly takes care of himself, like Newt in Aliens. A film about him would've been far more interesting.

The pod people are strong, fast, hard to kill, organize wordlessly, imitate people tolerably well up close, and yet so stupid they fall for obvious tricks and can't tell their kind apart from Humans who walk slow and show no emotions. There's no way they should be able to replace more than a couple people before being noticed and shot by angry townsfolk. They do the open-mouth scream from 1978 with an extra CGI mouth expansion. They don't get you when you're sleeping, they just have your naked clone chase you down and hold your head; probably the filmmakers were scared to promote amphetamines. The mass body burnings are grim but a little obvious, unlike the dump trucks collecting bodies in 1978.

There's very little originality to this, it's as blunt and linear a ripoff as it's possible to get, with a little Youtuber narcissism as the only spice. It's as toothless and non-scary of a "horror" movie as I've ever seen. But I'm not bored by it. Certainly it's better than the military base remake (how are pod people soldiers different from regular soldiers?!), or the incredibly awful Nicole Kidman/Daniel Craig remake with the happy ending. Fuck Hollywood.

This movie's "not rated", but at most, it has moments of nude clones with their nipples and genitalia taped over/CGI airbrushed out/blocked by convenient furniture. The most the lead couple manage is a hug and kiss. There's no real blood, some ketchup stains for bug bites; hitting someone with a rock or pipe, or strangling them, is presented as cartoony, no physical injury shown. The few fights have no choreography, but they're just mobs grabbing or pushing. Even the one gunfight just has victims fall down, or a little ketchup on the head. It's basically G-rated. The 1978 film was PG (it's barely not R, and PG-13 wasn't added until 1984), and still had more nudity, sex, drugs, and violence.

The ending scene is silly, who is broadcasting that? How are they getting satellite feeds from around the world? Also most Internet services won't stay up long without Human maintenance. Organizing survivors in Youtube comments is not sustainable.


What I'm Watching: Ad Vitam

A French 6-episode series on the 'flix.

Very brief warning at the start of the episode, that there's suicide themes and discretion etc., which vastly understates it: This is a meditation on death.

On the 137th birthday of the oldest person alive, long after emortality/regeneration is developed, a number of suicides/murders wash up on a beach, and a cop and a girl, a former suicidal cultist, investigate.

The show is French, and as I've previously noted they seem to be more casual about casting normal, even ugly people in their shows. The girl especially has the ugliest skull and bad hair I've ever seen in a character not meant to be a freak. The cop has a broken (or just naturally ugly?) nose and is a little worn down and sad looking for an emortal, but he has reasons to get less regeneration than he needs.

The blue jellyfish, which presumably (later in the show confirmed) provided the drug or gene which gave them regeneration, is all over as mascots, pets, color theming.

Oh, color theming. Like every damned thing from Hollywood, half the show is cyan/orange duochrome. They have other gels or color filters and use them in a few scenes, but don't use them for anything else. If you're not in Hollywood, you're free to use actual colors! You don't have to imitate their worst feature! But it does, often making it very hard to see people and details because it's all a muddy blue blur.

There's minimal effort made on sets and props. They filmed in industrial, brutalist, or Scandinavian spartan architecture, but the cars, shitty cell phones, and iPhones, iPads, & MacBooks are unmodified other than black tape on the Apple logo. Other than some people in tracksuits, who may just be Slavic, fashion is modern. Magazines are in print, instead of just being on their shitty phones. Dance scenes at parties with bad modern house music are spazzy fishstick wobbling, exactly like the present. You'd forget it's set in the future, until a wall-sized screen advertises at you, or some other visual prop like the "source gas" (stolen directly from Transmetropolitan) which is a nanotech camera/sound wire, or a "true mirror" which shows an actual-age image of everyone in the mirror, useful when surrounded by centuries-old people.

The oddest parts are when they try to be futuristic, with the grief counsellor and his glowing ball ("they used to use puppies"), or the half-wit intern who rides around on a beeping wheeled hoverboard, or the dumbest "weapon" in the history of dumb BDSM-inspired weapons.

"It must be comfortable. Having that attitude. Thinking everything is absurd and pointless." —Cop Darius
"So what we're doing has a point?" —Young punk Christa

Of course, everything is absurd and pointless. Darius is wrong but is so ingrained in his rut of life, 99 years as le flic, he can only see things as crimes or victims, not as transformations which may be necessary.

The scientist who invented regeneration says children are no longer necessary, and there's a breeding control bill supporting him. Christa isn't quite aware enough to be a nihilist yet, but she rides along passively thru most events, only taking initiative when her hallucinations push her forward.

The suicides turn out to be something more interesting. I'd been hoping for a Charles Sheffield's Proteus inspired plot, something really changing the way mortality and form shaped Humanity, but they half-assed the plot in the end, turns into a very pedestrian conspiracy, rich old people getting their kicks. All the hints of a new world, or of protecting youth to get new blood, totally dumped in E6.

★★★★☆ for initial premise and being actual Science Fiction, ★★☆☆☆ for execution and ending.

MST3K: Keep Circulating the Tapes

I've been watching since slightly before the Centralized Comedy run off VHS tapes of KTMA. My USENET headers listed my location as "The Satellite of Love". My ideal cast is Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy as Tom Servo, Trace Beaulieu as Crow T. Robot and Dr. Forrester, Frank Conniff as TV's Frank. I'd have loved for Joel to stay and keep writing, but he's too nice to the films to be the host. I wish Jim Mallon had done more as Gypsy, I don't like the later Gypsy roles much at all. I'm OK with Bill Corbett playing Crow or being a RiffTraxxer, but I'm a bit of a stick in the mud about it. One night in the '90s while watching shitty movies, Carnosaur to be precise because it's seared into my memory, I snapped and cut out a Joel & the bots outline in cardboard, sharpied it black, and taped it to the bottom of my TV screen, where it remained for a decade until I stopped watching live TV.

All of which is to establish that I'm a Mistie before I say: Cancelling this new show is a mercy killing. Jonah's maybe the least funny, blandest mayonnaise-on-white-bread person who has ever appeared in a comedy show in even a bit part, and he's supposed to be the host. I like Felicia Day & Patton Oswalt as much as the next nerd, but they're in like 5-10 minutes of an ep. Very Old Joel Hodgson appearing as not-himself or doing ad bumpers for it, propped up in a chair because like Cameron Mitchell, he drinks on set, is kind of sad. Big expensive sets and special effects that aren't simple squibs or something held in front of a single camera are anti-MST3K; money does nothing for this show.

RiffTrax, MST3K, and ShoutFactoryTV all have Twitch channels with old and new shows. While RedLetterMedia doesn't do entire shows on Best of the Worst, they do enough you can follow along at home. It is a golden age of riffing, with actual funny hosts, but it's just not in the official "MST3K" show.

(It's somewhere between antagonizing and funny—but not too funny—that RiffTrax's outro says unauthorized duplication is illegal, when MST3K's entire existence was due to "make copies, circulate the tapes, we only exist because fans tell each other about us").

What I'm Watching: The Devil Next Door

The '80s-'90s trial of John Demjanjuk, immigrant Cleveland auto worker, claimed by accusers to be Ivan the Terrible, a sadistic guard from Treblinka. There's a lot of footage of the death camps, and the survivors after the war, and mostly very bad flickering VHS transfers of the trial. The period testimonies are the strongest part.

Modern interviews with his defense lawyer Sheftel are charming, if that's a word for this situation. Most of the other modern interviews are so cut up to avoid spoilers of the next episode that they're uninformative, or openly… deceptive? Pushing a point of view, anyway.

I'm horrified by the delusional belief in eyewitness testimony 40 years after the events, especially in a less technical legal system like Israel's (of the '80s; maybe they've modernized since). And the crowds of Jewish people chanting for death for someone, turning completely into their former persecutors. You'd have a more just trial by flipping a coin or studying bird entrails.

Up to episode 3 or so is at least informative and has an interesting narrative. After that the series falls apart badly.

I followed the first part of the case back in the '80s, but got distracted after his first conviction, waiting for the appeal, so was never really aware of the outcome.

The appeal and "happily ever after" are given short shrift, just a recounting of the events and brief glimpses of the exculpatory evidence. Then even shorter shrift, with only the barest video of the start, of the post-Millennial second extradition and German bullshit trial where all evidence was ignored, a 91-year-old man was convicted of maybe—probably, but without hard evidence—being a soldier at a different camp. Before dying of old age in prison, and rendering the whole thing moot.

Then there's some moralizing about war as a criminal act.

The attitude by Representative Holtzman seems to be—never clearly stated but strongly implied—that all soldiers on a losing side should just be charged with murder and executed. If that was wartime law, nobody would ever surrender and wars would rage until half the population was exterminated. There'd be peace on Earth, eventually, when the last two people killed each other.

When WWII ended, the US brought home Wernher Von Braun, one of the worst war criminals in history, who killed maybe a million people with his weapons, used Jewish slave labor hand-picked from the camps. He was made an American citizen, never tried for war crimes because he was useful, got our space program and ICBM global thermonuclear war systems running, constantly lied about his former devotion to the SS, slowly went crazy religious, died at peace. Is that justice? Certainly not. But it was practical and merciful.

We accepted many immigrants after WWII from Germany, Italy, Ukraine, France, and elsewhere who had been enemy soldiers, because war is not subject to peacetime law, and they could put their past behind them and work. If they worked and kept their heads down, they were of value to us. And we'll want the same mercy extended to us if we lose a war again. Demjanjuk's former line supervisor gets this, and the son-in-law gets it.

Holtzman especially doesn't seem to understand the difference between being drafted and fighting for your country, doing the job assigned to you, when they just happen to be Germany or Ukraine or Italy; or modern-day Illinois Nazis who do it because they're assholes and do not have the excuse of wartime service.

The whole series needed a hard editing cut of about half the footage, put the interviews back together to be coherent, rather than the chopped-up mess it is, and show more hard evidence. Maybe get a military lawyer to talk about wartime law, and immigration lawyer and the Open Borders comic author to talk about accepting immigrants of dubious backgrounds. No such effort was made.

★★★★☆ up to E3, declining to ★☆☆☆☆ by the end.

What I'm Watching: Green Eggs & Ham

"I'm not great with kids."
"Ha! Oh, you're not so great with adults, either. Or Chickeraffes. Or really anyone."
—Guy Am-I & Sam I-Am

Yes, the Netflix cartoon of the Dr Seuss book. And this time, it's properly animated, and not infested with Mike Myers.

The book was just a short journey into madness with Sam-I-Am inexplicably tormenting Guy-Am-I who gets run over or flees into cars, trains, darkness, rain, boats… until he gives in and eats the green eggs and ham.

The show turns them into characters and a plot. Sam I-Am is either a sad delusional lonely little man, or an elite ninja animal liberator who frees the Chickeraffe, which is a giant terror-bird that can be squished down to fit in a briefcase. Guy Am-I (Michael Douglas) is a pathetic inventor whose inventions all explode. Pursued by Bad Guys (they have a card) old-timer Snerz (Eddie Izzard) and rookie Glutz, they keep running into single mom Michellee (Diane Keaton playing very very dull and safe) and bored kid EB.

Each episode is more or less a page from the book. "Would you, could you, on a train?" So there's a long train journey and every sight gag they can extract from it. I'm especially impressed by the miniature train car. "With a fox?" And the Fox (Tracy Morgan) is insane, one of the better characters and subplots. "With a mouse?" And there's a mouse in their prison cell who sings Les Mouserables and then it turns into the Shawshank Redemption. Most of the references are pretty good; subtle but on point.

The one part where the show falls down is "Boss", who's ordered this caper, trying to impress his "Cronies". They're all boring and loathesome, and utterly disconnected from the main plot. Delete Boss, make the Bad Guys have some motivation of their own, and this would be a better show. If I'm annoyed by him, I bet kids watching this have a screaming tantrum every time Boss appears.

The green eggs and ham do look tasty, but full of cholesterol. Michellee's tofu version might be safer.


What I'm Watching: Age of the Living Dead

British show on Amazon Prime, and it often shows in their hilariously inept, incompetent, outright stupid misunderstandings of US distances, environments, politics, and military forces, and many of the actors can't manage an American accent. Best not to take this seriously.

Vampire plague spreads across the eastern US, Humans flee West, and somehow, explained in ham-fisted exposition, there's a no-man's-land established across the Midwest, borders with Canada & Mexico walled off, and mighty England and China embargo communications and shipping.

So, the vampires are the least fantastical element here. The orange cheeto criminal's border wall with Mexico is a fiasco, and somehow during an emergency plague they accomplish this and thousands of miles of Canada are also walled off? No. Anyone on Earth is capable of stopping US warships from leaving? No; and that it's China is incredibly funny, since they have one of the world's worst navies. If it was Russians at least it'd be competent if underpaid, underequipped sailors & ships. Anyone's capable of stopping US-owned satellites from sending and receiving? No, the ESA and Russia together might conceivably be able to take out US satellites, but it'd be WW3. And why block comms for 10 years? It makes no sense. Vampires can do business as well as corporate executives can (who can tell the difference?), and they can't suck your blood on a phone call.

At one point a vamp Predator drone shoots missiles at a Human base; except it's launched from New York, and the base is in New Mexico, 1800 miles away. Predators have an operational range of 777 miles (according to Wikipedia, I didn't go all Jane's Guide on this). The writers are uneducated children.

Why didn't they set this somewhere plausible, like Australia, or England? You could cut off AU with some effort and no border walls, their states are isolated enough making the outback no-man's-land is doable, and they have almost no ability to project their military outside their continent except to murder boat refugees.

Using England treads on 28 Days Later, and the vamps could just swim or walk underwater across the Channel or to Ireland, but mine a couple military harbors and it could be patrolled. England has minimal air & rocket capability, and their navy's fine for murdering Argentine farmers but not able to fight the US or Russia.

So back to this increasingly preposterous show. An arrangement has the Humans somehow get fed even though the best farmland is in the no-man's-land, and donate blood to the vampires every Sunday to keep peace.

The vampires of course call themselves names like Viktor and Viggo, and dress like dead Eastern European aristocrats, and play shitty baroque chamber music while torturing and draining Human victims because of course that's what vamps do. I love these shit-sucking vampires. Most of them are burned by sunlight, and their hunters use the Blade trick of full biker leathers and helmets to go out in the Sun. They even have a classical Renfield named Jared or Neal or something, at least for a while. Their leaders call themselves Elders, and claim to be immortal and ancient, but I think they're just LARPing, same shitty infected Humans as the wild ones. There's no way actual immortals would be this exposed, but someone who just got their shit together after being turned might be this dumb.

The vamps would benefit the most from being set in England. Aristocrats turned vampire eating the peasantry is no different from what they've done for 953 years since the Norman invasion (and the Danes, Saxons, and Romans did to the native Britons/Welsh before that). Walling off Scotland is possible, Emperor Hadrian did it with Roman technology. Having a delusional inbred English monarch (but I repeat myself) try to run the Crown in exile in Scotland or Wales, while the vamps rule London & the South, would make this story make sense and have some historical parallels. Some depth.

Instead we get the worst fake President I've ever seen in a movie. She's obviously cast to be a Hillary imitation, but the total opposite: meek, quiet, stupid, and wants to tend to her garden, passively takes all sorts of shit from the military goons (who are completely implausible as active service Generals), and leaks vital intelligence to the vamps, like a female Chauncey Gardiner.

The fight scenes are adequate but cartoony. The vamps are strong and fast, and vamp-on-vamp fights are over quick; the fight choreography is OK. They don't have any gore, though, this is strictly PG. Guns do nothing much, so it's bizarre that the Humans carry rifles; now, realistically I think they should tear the vamps to shreds and we'd maybe see them regenerate? Or they could have white phosphorus tracer rounds, or flamethrowers; or wooden bullets, if that's what works. But this is just like firing blanks. The soldiers also have no military discipline, they don't form fire teams, they don't find cover, they just stand around firing at random until a vamp leaps in and gives them a hickey, which is apparently enough to kill someone. Couldn't the filmmakers get even British Army consultants to help them?

I've put up with 2 eps so far, so I'll probably finish this just to watch the vamps chew scenery, but it's really really dumb.

More great vampire flicks of the past:

Lost Boys (1987): "One thing I never could stand about Santa Carla, all the damned vampires." Best soundtrack in any vampire movie, but a lot of it is just goths on bikes in California, not "vampires" as such. The Frog Brothers are big damn heroes. Some of the best vampire fights in any movie.

Blade (1998), and Blade Trinity (2004). Not brilliant, but always fun, Snipes does a fantastic run as Blade, and the vamps are powerful, crazy, and smart. And I love ♥ Parker Posey ♥, and for different reasons Kris Kristofferson, so hell yeah. Little baby Ryan Reynolds playing Hannibal King from the comics was fun, he was still in his pre-Deadpool b-movie days. Blade II is unbearably stupid, though Ron Perlman does redeem it a little bit.

Ultraviolet (1998) was right on the edge of being silly. They're one of the main drivers of "not saying the word vampire", with Code Five and such. Idris Elba's a dignified dude, but pretty much everyone else was whiny or comedic. The vamps had no personality or real motive, just coming out like cockroaches and trying to take over. But the hunters are smart, use plausible science and technology, and pay attention to what the vampires can and can't do.

What I'm Watching: Family Blood

A morning driving around in sunlight and dealing with the morning people made me wish for eternal darkness. Skipped over some bullshit soap operas and Buffy ripoffs with teenage vampires, found one adult vampire flick on Netflix.

Family Blood: Starts with the last moments of a vampire wrecking a family, so you know what kind of people this'll be about…

Then jumps to junkie mom Ellie in AA (which doesn't work) and new guy "Christopher" (from the last scene) who talks about "torn thru so many people". Then very long slow never-throw-out-b-roll shots of nothing interesting happening with her teenage kids.

Whatever city this is has "sketchy" neighborhoods of parks and great big houses with multiple floors and spartan concrete murder basements, ideal for serial killers/vampires; the black neighbor is right to be worried about gentrification, they'll just drain the lifeblood from your community.

Then Christopher turns Ellie by dripping some blood in her and snapping her neck; clearly the writer learned about vampires from Vampire the Masquerade, which this is the slowest fanfic of ever. Hours, days of footage later, Ellie starts to turn.

"I turned you into whatever it is that I am", says a guy who doesn't know he's a shit-sucking vampire? Everyone has known what a vampire is since Dracula in 1897 (earlier vampires just didn't get the reach of Stoker's novel). The boy who draws horror art all the time does recognize the symptoms, but doesn't say the V-word (Vampire, not vagina, tho he doesn't say the latter either). I hate this MacBeth-level actor bullshit of not naming the thing because it's "bad luck".

Also, apparently nobody uses their cellphone, because that would complicate a "plot" consisting largely of people slowly wandering around. "Dad" is seen a couple times but has no lines, probably to avoid paying scale. The speaking cast is very minimal.

It's very inconsistent about mythology. They don't have reflections, which is a strong supernatural power; it basically means they're just in your mind. They regenerate from any injury. They're superhumanly strong & fast. But sunlight & crosses do nothing, which usually work on any supernatural vamp.

The boy makes his first stake, and it's the best stake ever, stabbed with many times (but not left in the heart like you should do; I actually yelled at the screen), and then is still sharp as a razor multiple stabbings later. When I make a stake it doesn't last that long because wood's soft.

There's a few good vamp-on-human action scenes, but the only vamp-on-vamp is behind closed doors with just foley and shadows. Laaaamme. Builds up, but does not deliver.

★★☆☆☆ - I like the small personal stories, I could take the glacial pacing, if they'd shot just one good vamp-on-vamp fight scene.

There's a Turkish series "Immortals" which looks vaguely interesting, but Turkish shows tend to be pretty awful—badly written, badly acted, racist, sexist, and closeted gay/homophobic—the recent "Protectors" series as case in point—so I dunno if I'm up for 8 eps of that. If they made a 90-minute movie I might try it.

You know what was my favorite vampire movie? Dance of the Damned (1989). It has two speaking roles really, the sets & effects are minimalist, Roger Corman no-budget film. Just a sad stripper and a lonely vampire, for one last night. But it's perfect, never boring or filling dead screen time, and tense up to the last second. That's a ★★★★½ at least.

Near Dark (1987) is amazing, too, best vampires-as-hobo-junkies ever, but kind of sprawls out with the vampire pack, and the ending is absolute bullshit, shoulda been the girl bites the boy and they unlive unhappily ever after. That's also ★★★★½ but as utterly unlike DotD or FB as you can get.

I hated the Interview with the Vampire (1994) movie; the books are great fun, but cool badass mofo Brad Pitt as whiny useless Louis, and tiny neurotic anal-retentive $cientology cultist Tom Cruise as badass rock-star Lestat, was the dumbest casting fuckup in the history of bad casting. It's utterly unwatchable because of Tom Cruise squeaking out lines from his tightly-clenched sphincter-face that should be Lestat's. I know they beat Anne Rice with sacks of money to stop talking shit about it, but I think this film is why she went crazy and found Jesus. Also the sequel, completely skipping the book "The Vampire Lestat" and making Queen of the Damned (2002) which is sub-direct-to-video soap opera garbage.

I'd really like a new Castlevania season soon.

In 30 years, nobody else can make anything good about bloodsucking fiends?

What I'm Watching: Agatha Christie

The ABC Murders (2018, Amazon Prime): John Malkovitch is a fine actor. Sadly, he is 30cm too tall, very not Belgian, his accent fades in and out even in the same scene, and wouldn't shave down to a moustache, instead keeping a slightly scruffy Van Dyke which he ridiculously dyes in the first ep. Perhaps they should have done an animated Hercule Poirot show, and got him a Belgian voice coach.

Inspector Japp dies after a brief cameo (spoilers for plot-irrelevant elements, oh no), the new guy is awful and hostile, and there's no Arthur Hastings at all, so too many scenes are literally Malko-Poirot sitting alone silently waiting for the mail, instead of explaining his reasoning. No mention of his little grey cells, and even his background as gendarme is questioned with a ludicrously melodramatic new backstory which adds nothing to the plot. ABC is quite well played by Eamon Farren, the rest of the cast is forgettable.

I like the original story, and wish I'd just reread it instead of seeing this farcical reimagining.

Ordeal By Innocence (2018, Amazon): A non-detective murder mystery. First it has to get over a big hurdle with me: It's about a rich English family, and I loathe everything about that. The father's the epitome of what most disgusts me about Humans, but there's also the thug son, the asshole son-in-law, the simpering daughter, the utterly forgettable daughter, the meek black daughter (for they are all adopted, it turns out), the gold-digging secretary, and the maid (who is apparently also an orphan, but not adopted? Well, English need someone to do the dirty work; and what you expect in an English manor is what goes on in an English manor), and the mother who was a harpy, until someone killed her.

Jack, the son accused of murder, seems like the only half decent one, but he's not around. And then an alibi shows up to distress everyone. Casting's pretty generic, tho they had to reshoot every scene of the original thug son with a new actor after the first was accused of sexual assault; but that doesn't matter much since almost every scene is two assholes leaning in doors or sitting straight in uncomfortable chairs sniping at each other.

The dead mother is increasingly shown to be worse than a harpy. You know Harry Harlow's monkey experiments with the wire mother and terrycloth mother? This woman's a wire mother. Functional but unloveable. I know the feeling.

There's a theme of fear of nuclear war, but until quite late it's never discussed, only mentioned in passing. This would've greatly enhanced the show if it was. And John Wyndham's book The Chrysalids, which is of course about nuclear war, family secrets and betrayal, rejection of the outsider and mutant.

This presentation has the awful habit of showing spoilers for the next episode over the credits, so skip forward as soon as one ends.

I don't recall this book at all, so it's somewhat of a mystery to me, but I also don't feel sympathy for any living character so don't care if they all did it.

The final scene's a little ridiculous, out of character, and unnecessary after the actual finale a minute before. Some producer had to piss in the soup to say he contributed, I expect.
★★★½☆ — I complain a lot, but I watched it in one sitting. Still hate everyone except dead Jack.

What I'm Watching: Goliath S3

S1 and S2 were great scrappy lawyers vs giant foe shows, with some treachery and Billy's shitty personal life (and incidentally, he should very obviously have been named "David" instead, the writers really dropped the sling stone there). Fantastic work. Billy Bob Thornton and Nina Arianda are fantastic in these seasons.

S3 has Billy, inexplicably scruffy despite the millions he must've made in S1-S2, wandering in a daze through a shitty Indian casino, drinking and talking to a barfly, occasional hookups with "Applebees" from last season, vague yet menacing subplots that go nowhere. See, the California drought is being taken advantage of by a nefarious almond farmer Wade Blackwood (so the writers are on point with that naming; played by Dennis Quaid), borderline incestuous sister Diane, her two adopted black sons who are cuckoo, Littlecrow (Graham Greene, aka Malachi from Longmire) the casino operator, Stephanie Littlecrow (Julia Jones) as a stuntwoman who is one of the few competent, interesting characters, and "Roy" (Beau Bridges) as the sorta sympathetic conspirator.

And why not, they bring back Cooperman (William Hurt) and Marisol Silva (Ana de la Reguera) from past seasons even though they have nothing to do with the plot. The daughter and the hooker are in college, and at least they have some hope of escaping from this clusterfuck of a show. Patty just gets dicked around and keeps forgetting to bring comfortable shoes for wilderness treks.

Sherilyn Fenn shows up in flashbacks as the cause of this case, and… she does not look good. Like, she's a couple years older than me, and she looks 20 years older. Props for showing adult women on TV, but jeers for letting her on camera looking like this.

Nothing happens for hours, days of basically b-roll pickup shooting pushed onto the screen. Once in a while you catch a glimpse of a plot. Finally they do a flashback which explains most of the start of the story, and the actors/writers/director all sober up enough to film some court scenes, get through some depositions—WOO! Most exciting thing in this very very slow season. And then in the last 1.5 eps they finally have everyone do crimes to cover up their previous crimes, and happy or sad endings are distributed like drunk, diarrhetic Bad Santa showed up on the set.

To say this was a pointless waste of time is an insult to pointless wastes of time. I would've been more rewarded by watching Real Horny Housewives of East LA or whatever the fuck is on broadcast TV.

★☆☆☆☆ pretty much solely for Julia Jones' couple of fight and chase scenes, which are literally from a movie within the show.

Halloween Countdown Sunday Music

Odd film, but I love it. Halloween I & II completed the Michael Myers story. Then III was a totally new thing. The intent was to make an anthology series, but no, dumb people just wanted more of Michael; I think all subsequent "Halloween" films are irrelevant and stupid (OK, I do like the Rob Zombie movies). I was a spooky monster kid, but still wasn't allowed to watch the first two at the time of their release, but somehow H3 at 12 was OK. The soundtrack is one of Carpenter's better mood pieces, not as iconic or repetitive as the first two; people sometimes forget Carpenter's as much a musician as a filmmaker.

Plot & characters of the film remind me strongly of The Stuff, Phantasm (especially II-III), and Killer Klowns From Outer Space; losers struggling to expose some terrible danger to Humanity, mostly failing and running. That's what Lovecraft was on about, and how every Call of Cthulhu game should be, not gangsters throwing dynamite at Shoggoths, but truck drivers and kids running for their lives and coming across as crazy people to the useless pigs.

"And don't forget to wear your masks. The clock is ticking, it's almost time! Happy happy Halloween, Silver Shamrock!"