Movie Review- Devoured (2014)

This film follows Lourdes, a woman who moves to New York to make money to provide for her son to have a life -saving operation. She winds up working the night shift cleaning a bar/restaurant and setting up for the next day. Throughout the film Lourdes is aggressively harassed by her male boss, snubbed by her female boss, propositioned for sex by skeevy customers. She toils endlessly and is victimized for her hard work. She had next to no social life, she dresses poorly. It accurately portrays what a bind Lourdes is in, she is unable to quit her job because it’s her last chance to save her son. Aside from the horrors of wage-slavery and the class struggle, Lourdes begins seeing dead people. Dead men pop up from behind fish tanks, dead women emerge from trash bags in the alley, Lourdes pulls out a tooth and spits a geyser of blood, something tries to pull her through a locker or trap her in the bar. But still she returns every day.

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The pacing of this movie is excruciatingly slow. As Lourdes walks the restaurant there are bizarre scenes of elaborate meal preparation in a way that is reminiscent of the opening theme of “Dexter”. We watch as tables are set. Again. The audience is forced to see these repetitive scenes, fitting since this is all Lourdes’s life consists of except for her phone calls home to her mother and son. 

The majority of the film is more depressing drama than horror. But after the mood is set, there are some true shocks and creeps. It’s wonderfully directed by Greg Olliver (whose other works are rockstar documentaries) who sets the mood well, orchestrates jump out of your seat moments and leaves the audience guessing til the end. It’s a slow burn, but there is no denying it is well done. (However, this is not an ending that’s never been done in horror either.) Olliver gets us into Lourdes’s mind state and will leave you wondering if her bosses are evil, if the place is haunted or if she is just losing her freaking mind!

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Marta Milans from ABC’s “Killer Women” stars as Lourdes, she is fantastic. She completely pulled off every aspect of this role and made this film relatable. Even through the depressing slog that was the first half of the movie, Marta Milans brings life to Lourdes and never allows the audience to forget why she is there and what is at stake for her.

That being said, this title doesn’t fit at all. I hear “Devoured” and I think “vampires, ghouls, shit that will eat you” and there’s really none of that. I feel like that’s why there were all those shots of the food, because people eat food and the movie was named “Devoured” for absolutely no reason and they tried to make it work. Or it was to throw the audience off of the cause of the horror. I don’t know. But it doesn’t make sense.

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3.25 out of 5 

(Nerd) Newsday Tuesday

Freddie Prinze Jr says Kiefer Sutherland is unprofessional… and nearly everyone replies “Who is Freddie Prinze Jr?” Kiefer’s people address the situation the most obvious way: by pointing out that he has a lucrative career, and that Fox wouldn’t have brought “24” back after 5 years if he were.

While those stars are squabbling, “Walking Dead” actor Steven Yeun addresses racism in Hollywood. He discusses that he has trouble getting roles because there simply aren’t roles for Asian men -and worse, many roles meant for Asian men a whitewashed. You can read more on that here.

Geeks Of Doom gave fans the low down on blu-ray special features for “Agents of SHIELD” they link up a pretty rad blooper real, too.

Quentin Tarantino, now making his foray into comics with Dynamite’s Django Unchained/Zorro crossover series announces that he’ll be directing 2 flicks due out in 2015, one called “The Hateful Eight” and the other? A superlength version of Kill Bill with a 30 minute anime scene.

Also straight out of Comic-Con: Jensen Ackles talks about “Demon Dean” in the season 10 storyline. & Sam Raimi announces an Evil Dead TV series made for Groovy Bruce himself!

In the world of non-entertainment news from San Diego ComicCon: A man plowed into a “Zombie Walk” He started edging out trying to get through the crowd. People/zombies upset about his dangerous driving started banging on the car and sitting on the hood. The man freaked out and drove into the paraders and also injured an 84 year old woman who was not part of the walk.

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For the record, I like Wonder Woman’s get up, it’s serious + powerful. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and it’s just one Amazon emulating another after all. I’ll count it as a nod to Xena and hope that Gal Gadot can hurl and insult or deliver a battle cry half as fiercely as Lucy Lawless.

Fantastic Female Friday- Abigail Sciuto (NCIS)

There are many things that are supercool about Abby Sciuto. It’s easy to harp on about her aesthetic, her taste in music, her ability to use unconventional methods to make sure that justice is served! She might not have the action chick flair of Ziva David or Kate Todd…

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..but Abby fights crime. As a lab geek, it would be easy to have her sidelined, cast aside and there to drop cookies for the agents and portray her as nothing more than a quirky Caf-Pow addict.

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But Abby gets storylines all her own. Memorably, in the episode “Cover Story,” back when McGee was secretly an author and based a character after Abby which made her the target of a Thom E Gemcity superfan’s wrath. She and McGee had a brief fling around that time as well, but it didn’t ruin their friendship. In season 2, Abby goes undercover to catch a Black Widow and a serial rapist. Or when gets herself in a tight spot, abducted on her way to testify and defend her evidence, a task for which she vainly attempts to turn down her eye catching style, the men are about to run to her rescue but when they find reach her, she tasers the hell out of her would be attacker and saves her own self.

In the season 3 episode “Bloodbath,” she has a stalker ex-boyfriend, things turn deadly when she has fake evidence left in her lab that triggered a dangerous chemical reaction: She told McGee to drop to the floor and explained what had happened while they crawled across the lab, McGee flips her onto her back and risks his health to drag her out. She does some soul searching in Gibbs’s basement, wondering if it’s all her fault, if she brought this on herself. He lets her find her own answers and a drunken Abby says that it’s not her fault and that he’s a creep. The character is very vulnerable and this terrifying situation is shown without victim blaming and turned out to be a touching and remarkable episode. Abby is embarrassed to tell everyone what she has going on, she questions herself… but in the end, with support, she overcomes the situation. It was wonderfully written and acted, conveying perfectly that partner abuse can affect anyone and how those relationships can influence the victim’s mentality.

Back in season 1, Abby’s fear of autopsy alerts everyone to an emergency after a terrorist infiltrates Ducky’s lab and demands all evidence returned… but this also gets Kate into a dangerous situation when she pretends to be Abby and Gerald shot for playing along with the scheme. (In the end, Abby conquers her fear and sleeps in the morgue.)

In season 5, she saves a military dog who is accused of murder. The dog also took a bite out of McGee -who shot him. Abby defies McGee and Director Shepherd to clear the canine’s name.

And you could be thinking that these plots make Abby seem like a kid sister, and to an extent that isn’t inaccurate. Abby is a very relatable character, what makes that so is that she isn’t perfect, she has struggles. She has family issues (like when she finds out she has a brother she hadn’t known) and abusive exes, she takes loss (of both Kate and Jenny) hard. She hides out at Gibbs’s house on occasion and one time at McGee’s. She let’s personal problems (like when she had body image issues after a little person she was dating said he liked smaller girls) interfere with work persona.

Basically she’s an actual human being.

And if you take a look around at the people you know, you will probably find that some of your favorites are a little much. A little immature, quirky… but cool, compassionate and always waiting with a comforting hug… mine are anyway.

And besides, it’s not always Abby that needs saving.

In season 7 she’s called to Mexico to teach a seminar on forensics in cold cases. Day one she deals with catty co-eds, but soon she’s got more trouble as a cartel leader, Paloma Reynosa, gives her a bullet. The one that killed her father. The case that she’s set to work is that of Gibbs’s deceased wife and daughter. Their killer was Paloma;s father, Pedro. And the bullet that that killed Pedro? Abby finds out that the bullet striations matched Gibbs’s SIG Sauer.

And Abby’s faith is shattered and she’s mad. She’s mad that she’s in a situation where she has to compromise her ethics. Gibbs never confesses. He never says one way or another whether he planned and executed the execution of his family’s killer. But Abby, true to herself, true to her sense of right and wrong, good and evil, decides that Gibbs doesn’t get a pass. Not because he’s saved people. Not because he’s her friend. She submits the report, which Vance then “loses”. And it was there that Abby’s character was proven.

MURRAY PERRETTE WEATHERLY

She’s also a total babe. Not just when she’s playing dress up. Her *unconventional* style gets her plenty of attention as well, aside from the hookup with McGee, she uses her swagger to make connections that gain her access to NASA equipment.

And the babely actress, Pauley Perrette:

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Brings some of herself into the character as well. On the season 1 DVD, talking about her childhood, it’s said that she grew up near a junkyard and would see all the wrecked cars come in. She would analyze where the damage was and what might have happened to the cars. Young Abby appears in flashbacks in the season 10 episode “Hit and Run” where she is shown investigating “her first case.”

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Pauley Perrette also makes music as the front woman of “Stop Making Friends”and her vocals have appeared on NCIS soundtracks.

Perrette has also been well known for her involvement with the NO H8 campaign. NO H8 was started in response to the ban of same sex marriage in California in 2008, it’s a silent protest that uses social media, education and outreach to give a public voice to those struggling with bullying, discrimination and inequality.

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Pauley helped design this dress and wore it to the People’s Choice awards in 2011. She likened this to wearing her heart on her sleeve.

All of this leaves me to wonder if it’s life imitating art or art imitating life that Perrette is as caring and cool as Abby.

Recently the actress suffered a serious allergic reaction to hair dye which inspired me to go back to henna over chemical dyes. The future of Abby’s raven locks may be in jeopardy and the star is weighing her options.

Abby’s character development has taken her from “kid sister” to “best man”, from quirky goth lab tech to indispensible team member, she’s panicked and gotten it together to help her friends, she’s questioned the morality of those in her life and she is cautious about who to trust but once you are in her heart, that’s where you stay. Abby deals with things very humanly, she’s a very well written character. Remember how she famously disliked Ziva at first? This wasn’t because of the “women hate each other” trope, this was because she was still grieving and she could only think of Ziva as Kate’s replacement and she wasn’t ready. And everyone loves Gibbs (and the ass-kicking Ziva David) but it’s Abby who saves the team from mediocrity.

Hemlock Grove: Season 2 *SPOILERS*

I did a video review for this

it’s posted on the youtube page for the radio show I co-host, Radio Of Horror. Watch it, subscribe (there’s clips from our show, video reviews for films and interviews that won’t usually be cross posted here) and you can give us a “like” on the facebook.

But there was a few thing I wanted to elaborate on a little more. That’s why you’re here right.
one major gripe I had was that the didn’t show the threesome

And as discussed in the video, this is NOT family entertainment. In general, there’s several murders, gore, plenty of sex. Hell, there is rape. Roman rapes someone and then erases her memory in season one. Through out the series they really play up this “bromance’ between Roman and Peter (I don’t like to read it that way, it makes sense that they get along since really no one would understand them) but when Miranda falls for the both of them and initiates a threeway… …there’s a blank space between when Roman follows Miranda and Peter upstairs that lasts until they are fully clothed the next day having coffee.
Oh fuck you, Netflix.

You think it’s okay to show a teenager being raped but not consensual polyamorous sex?
Fuck you. Fucking rape culture at it’s finest.
And a prime example of sexism. On two counts.
ONE) that we were shown a young woman being victimized, but an adult woman taking charge and insisting on what she want sexually (two hot men that she has romantic affection for as well as physical attraction to) results in something that is considered too taboo for it’s audience.
TWO) the friendship between the two creeps, the alternated jealousy and tenderness they have for eachother falls into the bromance trope. but sweet jesus forbid that we see that their male parts go anywhere near each other. Why play around like that then? We saw Clementine getting out of bed with a woman in season one, so homosexual relationships have been (vaguely) shown. But two men? better not. It would destroy the “manliness” or someshit. fuck that.

On the GIRL POWER
Destiny Rumancek plays a much larger role this season. She immediately gets involved with helping Peter get Lynda out of jail and is no longer hanging around just to weave some mystical shit and lead the MCs in the right direction. She has her own agenda, goals and relationships even if they are not central to the plot. Without her to use her psychic powers and kick some ass they’d have been screwed. Destiny is played by Mohawk actress Kaniehtiio Horn. She gets to shove a dagger in someone’s balls. She looks out for Peter. She hooked up with a (probably) hitman. It’s good.

Shelley also gets a more central role. Before she was sort of an accessory. She caused Olivia discomfort. She made Roman seem more likeable and human, he treated her with kindness and she brought out that goodness and light in an otherwise creepy and psychopathic character. This season she was really out on her own, she made friends on her own, she made decisions for herself (although she was somewhat betrayed by those around her while making them). She has a sweetness and understanding that remains uncorrupted despite the horrible conniving people around her, but it’s not (all) out of naivete, she understands why her mother is the way she is and accepts that.

Olivia gets some depth. Instead of the bored icequeen she becomes more empathetic. Famke Janssen delivers Olivia’s lines impeccably. While she is being treated after her near death she begins to become more human. And she fucking hates it. But then it becomes who she is. She decides to cause less suffering. She decides to do the maternal thing and save Shelley instead of herself. She wants to be good, but when Norman and Roman don’t forgive her previous misdeeds she quickly reverts to a baby snatching crazy lady. But hey, that’s self preservation. You don’t live centuries without that drive.

Why is “gypsy” a slur?
Ok, because I have heard “I don’t understand how ‘gypsy’ is racist” a few times. Usually followed by “how come no one is mad about it then?”

“Gypsy” is an ethnic slur towards the Romani people. They have been discriminated against since the 1500s. They were banned from England because Romani were seen as godless/devilish accused of witchcraft and they were evicted. 1700s saw the Romani hung without trial, mutilated by branding or having their ears cut off to identify Romani in Austria and the surrounding areas. They were murdered en masse, including children. They were slaves in Romania until 1856. In WWII, the Nazi regime saw them on par as enemies to the Aryan race along with Jewish people and blacks. The number of Romani wiped out is unclear because of different branches and lack of record keeping but is somewhere about half a million and below a million and a half Romani. In 1997, some Romani immigrated to Canada (legally, as refugees) and there was protest from neo-nazis. As recently as 2007 Romani children were forcibly segregated in Slovakian schools.
We’re talking about people who have been mistreated, profiled, discriminated against, victimized, denied education, maimed and killed because of their heritage.
And the word “Gypsy” is connected to the word “gypped” -meaning robbed, ripped off, screwed, fucked over. But really it’s the Romani who have been fucked over. so remember that next time you’re packing for vacation and hashtag your photo #gypsylife.
really? that’s not “Gypsy life” in the least.
So now you know.

X-Men #14

Part 2/6 of Bloodline. 

Rachel and Monet are chasing down the shooter that seriously injured two students at the Jean Grey school. Monet shows no mercy after the culprit tries to take out bystanders in a trainstation and then suicide, Monet and Rachel go full force at him with disregard to who is watching. 

Back at the school Storm tries to get answers from her future daughter Kymera while Jubilee does what ever she can to teach her infant son to protect himself. “Come on Shogo, push the beep beep.” And Psylocke locks the school down. “Anyone breaches this school. I’ll hear it in my brains.” 

Storm officially made them a team and chooses that they will take a silent vote for leader, no judgements (half of them can read minds… that’s not really going to work). Suddenly there is an explosion in the east wing. The shooter is escaping (because it was a really bad time for a team meeting) the room is burning and the fire suppression has been disabled. Monet and Rachel decide that they’re going to take the guy apart. He’s about to say “You can’t stop the Future” when Kymera comes out of nowhere with her panther and lays the smack down. But she sees a timer on his head counting down. She retreats, a hawk delivers Shogo to her, she calls for her mom then the man explodes and Kymera is sent tumbling (Shogo pushes the beep-beep). 

Outside: Menacing characters plan to attack them again at dawn.

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with art by Phil Briones. Hellion and co are stuck in Psylocke’s danger room program. This side story isn’t really grabbing me. But Briones’s version of Psylocke is perfect.

31 Horrifying Days- Day 17: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Stephen King will write anything. He’ll write about an off the rails writer who kills his cheating wife, a haunted hotel, alternate dimensions that little a little boy can travel to via some old whiskey that a blues musician gave him. He’ll write about a travelling side show of Romani who curse a glutton or a town that gets an indestructible dome dropped on it. He’ll write about a clown in a sewer or a teenage telekinetic. Werewolves, creepy kids and zombie pets. He’ll write about a killer dog, a killer car… and if that’s not enough: a slew of killer Mack trucks and other machines run amok.

Specifically, the plot of Maximum Overdrive is that a meteor passes close to Earth and all the machinery takes on a mind of it’s own. Gas pumps, electric knives and tractor trailer trucks… Who recruit construction and military vehicles to try to destroy a groups of people taking refuge at the truck stop. 

It sounds like a 5th grade writing prompt, but it’s based on the Stephen King short-story “Trucks”.

Stephen King usually won’t launch into a scientific explanation for his work, he just throws his characters into these crazy situations and lets them fight their way out. So “a meteor did it” is about as logical response as… 

Well… no.

But! The characters!

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Laura Harrington (Devil’s Advocate) and Emilio Estevez (Repo Man) play the lead. a couple of sweaty badasses who band the rest of the stragglers together. Harrington’s Brett is hitchhiking through while Estevez’s Bill is working as a short order cook at the Dixie Boy diner. He’s a recently paroled and his boss forces the ex-cons to work longer hours for no pay. Brett and Bill try to keep everyone calm (while outside little league coaches are being bludgeoned by projectile soda cans from soda machines, people are hypnotized by arcade games and hacked up by electric knives) while devising a way to make the trucks leave or get themselves out of there.

What’s weird and NEVER happens in media?

Nope, has nothing to do with the cars taking on lives of their own. That has happened. (Herbie: The Lovebug, Cars, Cars 2, Christine)

When Brett breaks down and starts crying he says to her “If I put my arm around you, would you stick me with that thing?” -“that thing” by the way, is a straight razor. And she quickly corrects him that you don’t stick someone with it, you kind of slash. And then she says it would be alright and they hug.

And I know some of you might be like “What the french toast are you saying, SkeletonGrrl?” here it is. They were flirting. But he didn’t just assume that she would want him all up on her. So he fucking asked her. Unlike so many films/books where crying women are treated as hysterical children and scooped up into some big man’s arms, Bill recognized that this is weird and terrifying and instead of assuming that she needed him to comfort her he respected her and asked if that would be appropriate. Holy shit.

Holy fucking shit.

Anyway, they appease the trucks with fuel, but then when the stop runs out they have to go on the run (with the now refueled trucks… not a good plan) they destroy a few and escape on a boat someone attempts to explain this away …something about UFOs and Russian weather balloons… whatever.

Among other cast mates, Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa Simpson) plays a nagging newlywed, the young boy scout Deke is played by Holter Graham (who voices video games recently “Red Dead Redemption” and “Star Wars Old Republic”)

Is it scary? No. It makes no sense. It’s more action than anything and it’s a really fun 80’s flick with badass characters and evil Transformers that don’t transform. 

4.75/5

 

Red Sonja #9

This was an interesting issue. Sonja is collecting the third artisan for the dying pharoah’s last party. This time, the person that she is seeking is a high priced prostitute. Sonja’s been all work and no play and the beautiful specimens in the brothel are a sight for the travel worn, cold and horny Sonja. But the madam tosses out Sonja’s muddy, saddle-rashed arse. Sonja has recently been robbed and can’t afford to pay.

Sonja scales the wall and breaks into Aneva’s room. She momentarily reflects that Aneva is the “Princess of Passion” that she sells her body. “I suppose it’s not much different than what I do, what any soldier does.” And the truth of that really struck me. The complaints about sex work are usually: “but that’s selling your body” (as if at any job you are not selling a piece of yourself), “You’re opening yourself up to violence/injury or disease”. The comparison is also made often between sex work and modelling or athletics, but in the case of expected violence: soldier would be a closer match. 

Obviously, I have thought about this before, but for those who haven’t it is intriguing.

Aneva is hesitant to leave, she’s trying to unionize the escorts so that they can protect themselves from exploitation, theft and assault. 

Sonja tells Aneva about the pharaoh and his slaves. She needs Aneva’s help to see that the slaves are freed. Aneva agrees and they set out. 

Sonja’s been feeling the negative effects of herown life style and agrees to let Aneva give her a makeover. Sonja is distraught, she could have been this beautiful if her tribe wasn’t killed, if she wasn’t enslaved, if she wasn’t driven to the life she leads. The pair get caught up and when the greedy and vengeful Ferox arrives. Ferox is the man who claims to protect the prostitutes but abuses them himself and takes a cut of their income. He sees Sonja dolled up and assumes she is another “plaything.”

“My name, you lackwit doughy-faced ape. Is Red Sonja.”

A melee ensues and Sonja strikes down Ferox’s men, but it is Aneva who takes out Ferox himself. 

Turns out Aneva was named Toa, she grew up on a farm and her brothers taught her how to fight. She was born poor, a skinny kid who worked herself to the bone. Sex work was a way out, but she always dreamed of a life like Sonja’s, of prestige, of rescuing damsels.

So the two had more in common than they thought.

Issue #9 touched on a few interesting sociological concepts. Legitimizing sex work, appearance/beauty norms and sexism, the myth of free will.

If sex workers were able to unionize it would be viewed differently. If sex work was viewed as work instead of criminal behavior, victims of abuse, robbery or harrassment would be able to report without fear of repercussion from law enforcement or reporting from health care workers. Sex work is just that: work. Many people in entry level jobs find their employment exclusionary, exploitative and leaving them with low chance for social mobility.  So how different is it

And in regards to my statement “the myth of free will” how much of a choice do people have in their own destiny? Now this isn’t dire, and this isn’t 100% BUT, as referenced by Sonja and Toa. Aneva is at risk of abuse and exploitation in the brothel, correctly; she places the fault on the abuser and not the victims and seeks to improve working conditions. Her alternative, the way she was raised, saw her already as hungry, struggling and at risk for victimhood by theft. Sonja never got to be feminine, nurturing or excessive because of the tragedies that befell her family. In flashback in earlier issues, we saw that she was not born to be lethal, in fact she wouldn’t kill a rabbit for supper. She would have been soft, but her life circumstances wouldn’t allow it. Both women became who they are because it necessary for their own survival. So there’s a little musing on agency vs destiny. Free will is a myth because everything we go through influences the way our brains make decisions, we don’t have as many options as some would want us to believe. That’s why after Sonja’s family was killed she didn’t decide “Oh hey, I’m going to be a high priced escort”

And on to sexism and conventionally beauty norms, this is actually coming full circle: this discussion came up recently in regards to Lara Croft’s “breast reduction” -what girl’s with big boobs can’t have adventures and PhDs? or in the case of the Big Bang Theory’s bubbly dreamer airhead and pretty girl Penny versus the genius and frumpy Farrah Fowler, or actual Farrah Fowler actress Mayim Bailik versus pretty redhead science mascot Kari Byron (both here). Or: in the actual world, Iowa Supreme Court ruled it was legal for a dentist to fire his assistant because she was too beautiful. So from both men or women, as a society conventionally attractive women are view as being less smart, less capable and beauty becomes a liability in professional careers. Sonja can still sling a sword even after her Cinderella makeover (if Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother were a sex worker).

Think about it.