Blood & Guts Rundown | 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2' — More Texas, More Chainsaw

Blood & Guts Rundown | 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2' — More Texas, More Chainsaw

In the decade that passed between the original and this sequel, the horror movie genre morphed into an entirely different animal.  I knew going in that the tone of this movie was much more off-the-wall, so I was surprised that while that was true, it still retains much of the spirit of the first.

Blood & Guts Rundown | 'Swamp Thing' Is A Goofy Masterpiece

For the fourth year, I am watching at least 31 horror movies in October.  Two years ago I tried writing reviews for each movie I watched, and quickly realized I don't enjoy writing reviews.  So this year, I thought I'd bring back the concept, but adjust it.  I will be making a post with various tidbits I find amusing for each movie, heavily inspired by the style of The Real Gentlemen Of Leisure's X-amining X-Men series.

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Release Date: Feb. 19, 1982

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Wes Craven

Premise: A scientist is accidentally turned into the Swamp Thing when mercenaries try to steal a formula his team has created.  He uses his new powers to fight the mercs and protect a woman.

Trailer

Pick My Brain

This movie made me realize how much Wes Craven loves mixing humor and horror.  I guess I should have realized that sooner considering A Nightmare On Elm Street and Scream are probably his two most famous movies, but even The Last House On The Left had that out of place theme song, and The Hills Have Eyes definitely had some bizarre elements that were probably just thrown in for fun.  Here, Craven goes headlong into a '50s monster movie tribute complete with some laughably bad creature costumes and enough screen wipes to convince you this movie was edited in Windows Movie Maker.  The movie's never really scary, but I thought it was fun the whole way through.

Sometimes They Come Back... Again

This was Wes Craven's fifth time directing a horror movie after The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes, Deadly Blessing, and the TV movie Stranger In Our House.  It came out two years before he really hit it big with A Nightmare On Elm Street.  David Hess, who played Krug in Last House, appears as the mercenary leader Ferret here.

Star Adrienne Barbeau is a bona fide scream queen, appearing in 20 or so horror movies including The Fog, Creepshow, and Two Evil Eyes.

Ray Wise, who plays Swamp Thing's human form before his transformation, has also had a sizeable horror career that includes Cat People, Jeepers Creepers II, and the horror-adjacent TV show Twin Peaks.

Additionally, the score to Swamp Thing was provided by Harry Manfredini, well known for his work on the Friday The 13th franchise.

The Book Was Better

This movie is based on the DC Comics character created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.  While Swamp Thing's rubber suit charmingly fits the aesthetic of the film, Wrightson is considered the end-all be-all of horror comics artists.

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Freddy's™ Coming!

The original comic book run of Swamp Thing had been cancelled in 1976.  To coincide with this movie, DC brought back the series in 1982.  While the first two years of the revival aren't that notable, Alan Moore took over as writer beginning with issue #20 in 1984.  Moore would prove himself to essentially be the Stanley Kubrick of comics, completely mastering and revolutionizing the artform with works such as Watchmen, V For Vendetta, and Batman: The Killing Joke.  His run on Swamp Thing in particular also heavily influenced Neil Gaiman's Sandman, another landmark comic book.

It Came From The IMDb Trivia Section!

  • Ray Wise was originally going to play Swamp Thing too, but he looked too different in the make up from his stunt double, Dick Durock, so Durock was used for the role.  Durock went on to reprise the role in both the sequel and live action TV show.
  • With the 1989 sequel, Durock was the first actor to reprise a DC hero role since Christopher Reeve.
  • Even though DC Comics has been owned by the same company as Warner Bros. since the late '60s, this movie was released by MGM.
  • The names of the water vessels which glide across the swamps are known as airboats or fanboats.

What The Hell Is That Supposed To Be?!! 

(screenshots without context)

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Podcast | Why 'The Walking Dead' Is So Frustrating

Quite the kerfuffle arose earlier this week when Rolling Stone published an interview with Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman where he said he was disappointed George R.R. Martin told his Game Of Thrones TV producers the ending to those books.  He has since heavily apologized for his comment stating it was just a joke about how he would handle the Walking Dead TV show catching up to the current storyline in his comic book.

Kirkman probably made this same face when he checked his Twitter feed this week.

Kirkman probably made this same face when he checked his Twitter feed this week.

The scenario isn't all that hypothetical though.  Kirkman and Martin have both had involvement with their respective shows since their first seasons.  Martin told his producers the ending to the story long Game Of Thrones passed the ending of the most recent book.  Game Of Thrones started off trying to make as faithful of an adaptation as they could of their source material, while The Walking Dead wanted to be something that could surprise people who already read the comics.  Even as both shows have become more different from their books, Game Of Thrones continues to be fairly tight about telling stories that set up events for later plots.  The Walking Dead has pulled off some really amazing episodes, but it's not nearly as focused.  Too often it starts a new storyline and then a few episodes later drops it and kills off any interesting characters it had introduced, and then switches to the next plot from the comics chronology with little connection to what was happening before.

Still, The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on TV right now, and it's not without reason.  In our new podcast episode, we sat down with author Jordan Dooms to discuss what keeps us sticking with the show through its highs and lows and delved into her obsessive love of a certain character in particular.

Podcast | Enjoying 'Steven Universe' As Adults

On May 12, Cartoon Network will air the season 3 premiere of its hit show Steven Universe, the story of a half-alien boy being raised by the allies of his mother who he never knew.  The show has gained a considerable following among adults, which in itself is hardly amazing anymore.  Children's entertainment like Who Framed Roger RabbitRocko's Modern Life, Animaniacs and Shrek were all famous for gleefully throwing in jokes intended to go over kids' heads.  Steven Universe's creator, Rebecca Sugar, is herself an alumnus of Adventure Time, another Cartoon Network show famous for inserting philosophical thought exercises and experimental art pieces into the coming-of-age story of a boy adventurer and his stretchy talking dog brother.

Steven, Pearl, Amethyst and Garnet

Steven, Pearl, Amethyst and Garnet

Where Steven Universe most differentiates itself from its predecessors is a sense of maturity.  Not to belittle any of those properties, but all the ones I mentioned take place in much less grounded realities.  Even though Steven Universe is about alien super heroes protecting the Earth, it draws just as heavily from the type of slice-of-life comedy seen in King Of The Hill, Peanuts or Azumanga Daioh.    And while it does use its fantastical elements as stand-ins to talk about heavier social issues, it does not obscure its underlying moral message: everybody has the right to be themself, and anyone who tries to take that away is wrong.  Most notably it has pushed to portray both the struggles and the normalcy of LGBT+ people harder than any American kids' cartoon has before. 

In our newest podcast episode, we travelled to Lawrence, Kansas to talk to comedian Amber Lehman (host of the Good Time comedy showcase) about her love for this amazing show.

Preparing For The Pod | Bob Dylan

In Preparing for the Pod we give you a rundown of how to best prepare for our next podcast episode. If we're discussing a television show or film we'll tell you how you can watch, and what exactly to watch if you're looking for ideas.

When considering Bob Dylan it's hard not to focus on his work in the '60s. He was a folk king whose political ballads fed the growing counter culture of the era. He was a Macklemore of his time -- alerting white people to the plight of black people in America.

In the critically beloved Mad Men everyone's favorite OG feminist Peggy Olson actually goes to a very early Bob Dylan show with a co-worker she didn't realize was gay who insists she cut her hair and join the '60s. Bob's trajectory wasn't dissimilar from Peggy's: the two were discovered when they were but babes -- both were 19 when they started their respective careers of prolific singer/songwriter and ad copy writer. They were both fostered by greats (Bob, Woodie Guthrie and Joan Baez and Peggy, Don Draper and Joan Hollaway) They both went through a lot in the '60s and came out of the tumultuous decade having honed their skills for the better.

Bob Dylan is probably most remembered for early work. After all, "Like a Rolling Stone" was one of his first big hits. But the man has been working pretty consistently since he was 19 years old -- having just released an album of Frank Sinatra covers, Shadows in the Night, only a year ago.

Unpacking this man's strange career is certainly interesting. While it's easy to gravitate to his hits he's had quite a few misses over the years. His need to always be evolving and experimenting and challenging himself has made his career a curious ride. While we focus pretty hard on his early years in the podcast there are many fun points in time when Bob was doing fun stuff. Even rap!

And Bob Dylan has also inspired many other musicians. We briefly discuss Bob Dylan's Turn to The Lord™ when he was going through his mid-life crisis. When he came out as born again Christian by releasing the song "You Gotta Serve Somebody" John Lennon recorded several home versions of a song directly responding to that song called "Serve Yourself" where he mocks Bob for going Ned Flanders all of the sudden.

THE BASICS

With John Lennon it's almost impossible to get basic. He has quite a few frequently quoted and beloved songs. It's probably best to start with his first big hit "Like a Rolling Stone" just to be safe. "Like a Rolling Stone" changed music forever with its paradoxical mood (it was both upbeat and sad), interesting narrative (about a young rich woman losing it all and having to piece her life back together on her own), and a catchy rhythm that easily makes it an American classic. It's been covered over and over by bands like Green Day and yeah, The Rolling Stones. It's not entirely surprising either that Rolling Stone has chosen it as the best song of all time more than once.

It probably wouldn't also be a bad idea to check out any of the other huge songs Bob penned and performed like "The Times They Are A-Changin'", "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall", and "Blowin' In The Wind". Navigate his discography freely. The political songs are cleverly painted and will make you nod in approval and agreement; the romantic songs are beautiful ballads that will make you long for great love; the humorous songs are a lot of fun. The last decade Bob has covered a lot of what he calls "traditional" songs -- he even has a Christmas album! Dive on in and the river will sweep you down an interesting path either way you go.

Wikipedia is always your friend when looking into a cultural phenomenon like this. Don't be ashamed to start there.

 

MEGHAN'S PICKS

Meghan Welch is the 2015 runner-up for Wichita's Funniest Person, a hilarious comedian, and podcast co-host of U Breast Believe. She has also been a Bob Dylan fan since she was in middle school.

Meghan has heard lots of Dylan. So, it was hard for her to pinpoint her very favorite songs by the prolific songwriter which isn't surprising. Meghan did indicate that his folk stuff -- particularly his more political songs were her favorites. As a young person furious at the illnesses that infect our culture it's hard not to love these songs which are still extremely relevant to our times. "With God On Our Side" was the first song Meghan chose to play when we got together before the podcast. It's a straightforward tongue-in-cheek war anthem -- about how America will do well in any war as long as we have God on our side.

One of Meghan's favorite songs after Bob Dylan "went electric" is "Subterranean Homesick Blues". This is one of the blended songs from Bringing It All Back Home where his folk sensibilities were amplified by his new electrical sound.

But it's not all politics and sound. Bob was also a master of love songs. Meghan enjoys "Boots of Spanish Leather" when she wants to settle in with the sweeter side of Bob Dylan. It's the kind of song you'd imagine backing the world's sweetest jewelry commercial -- that is if Bob Dylan would sell out to anyone other than Pepsi.

Meghan showed us tons of great songs including "Chimes of Freedom", "I Shall Be Free No. 10", "Shelter from the Storm", "Corrina, Corrina", "Song to Woody", and the depressing ballad about a black woman senselessly murdered by a rich white guy who got off "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol".

Go ahead. Start with "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol". Get sad. Get angry. It's what Bob would want.

 

 

X-Files Episodes You Could Watch If You Wanted To

Tomorrow night, The X-Files will air its first new episode since 2002.  This fact may give you the desire to revisit the original run of the landmark sci-fi show, but it has 202 episodes and you can't watch all of them before tomorrow.  Therefore I've picked one episode from each of the first 7 seasons that I think is worth consideration.  Season 8 and 9 are when Doggett replaced Mulder, and I have not watched them since I was 13, so I won't be weighing in on those episodes.

Season 1: Beyond The Sea

A real downer of an episode to begin a marathon with, but it is simply one of the best of the entire series, and it is easily the best episode of season 1.  The usual skeptic-believer relationship of the show is reversed when Scully meets a death row inmate who claims he can communicate with her dead father.

Season 2: Duane Barry

Another intense episode.  Mulder attempts to negotiate a hostage situation with a man who claims he was abducted by aliens.  The episode ends with a cliffhanger, setting up an arc for Scully that runs throughout the series, but the second part, "Ascension", isn't needed to enjoy this episode and is nowhere as good.

Season 3: Jose Chung's From Outer Space

After the strong emotions of those last two episodes, you need to watch a comedy episode, and writer Darin Morgan is the whole reason this show ever had comedy episodes.  While "Clive Bruckman's Final Repose" and "War Of The Copraphages" are highlights, "Jose Chung's"  is one of the most outlandish, wild rides the show ever took us on.

Season 4: Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man

While "Home", the episode about the inbred family of murderers, is definitely the most famous episode of season 4, what are you really getting from it?  Shocks?  Scares?  I personally would rather watch this one.  "Musings" featured the show's primary antagonist recounting stories from his younger years, placing him at historic events in almost unbelievable ways.  While showing a more human side to the typically menacing and untouchable Smoking Man is used largely for comedic effect in this episode, it also gives us a deeper understanding of the man's pain, making him one of the most interesting villains in TV history.

Season 5: Bad Blood 

Another great playful episode, "Bad Blood" features Mulder and Scully giving their own accounts of the same investigation, one that might have involved vampires.  Much like "Musings", "Bad Blood" uses jokes to veil the fact that it's actually a character study.  We get a presentation of the ways Mulder and Scully view themselves and one another.

Season 6: The Unnatural

I would guess "The Unnatural" is probably the episode that gets studied the most in academia. Written and directed by David Duchovny, the episode featured very little Mulder and Scully, or any other recurring characters from the show.  Instead, it focuses on the story of an alien in 1947 who disguised himself as a black man and played on a baseball team.  The show's signature extra-terrestrials were used as a metaphor for being an outsider even in the places where you most fit in.

Season 7: Hollywood A.D.

Comedy episodes just work best for this list.  Go ahead and watch all of those 2- and 3-part mytharch episodes if that's what you're after, but if you waited for the night before the premiere to start your marathon, I think you just want some quick fun.  "Hollywood A.D." was the second episode written and directed by Duchovny, but one that is much different from "The Unnatural".  This episode features Mulder and Scully being shadowed by Garry Shandling and Téa Leoni (playing themselves) in preparation for an upcoming movie.  In addition to the show poking fun at itself, "Hollywood A.D." features some great interactions between Mulder, Scully and Skinner.