Movie Review: Burke and Hare (2010)

This is a horror-comedy directed by John Landis (no one does this genre better) and starring Simon Pegg (who has found his forte in horror comedy, as well). It’s set in Victorian London, a setting that has found recent popularity again in the genre with NBC’s “Dracula”, Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” …but this is more reminiscent of Sweeney Todd than any classic monster mash.

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Burke (Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Fantastic Fear of Everything) and Hare (Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) are two Irish immigrants living in London who can not find suitable work. They stumble on a profitable venture after trying to dispose of the corpse of another resident at their rooming house and they find that selling cadavers to a medical school could be quite profitable. Only, a good corpse is hard to find, and they become increasingly more desperate and ridiculous in their venture. Burke, for his part, isn’t that gung-ho about their scheme until he meets Ginny Hawkins (Isla Fisher) -a former sex worker looking for financial backing for an all women production of Macbeth.

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Burke becomes taken with her and their increasingly bizarre killing spree ramps up.

The find themselves in danger when the corpses become recognizable and the medical professor is confronted.

Some of this is based on a 16 victim killing spree in West Port in the 19th century, that much is true. The real story is much more macabre, Burke and Hare were found out and turned in by Burke’s lover, the duo found lure people in, get them drunk and suffocate them.

Slapstick murder, increasingly wild schemes and cover ups, naive lovers and neighbors, and a soundtrack and costuming that doesn’t try too hard at realism and atmosphere. It’s nearly perfect and I’m not sure why this film isn’t more popular.

That being said: all the women are side characters or motivation for the men. Not that they are quite 2-D… but they are not much more and there are virtually no PoC characters even in the background.

4/5

Extant- Episode 6

This is super abridged because I couldn’t/didn’t want to concentrate on the live tweet with the injustice that is Ferguson, MO right now. It took over my twitter, which is good, since Boston news ain’t covering shit.

Man (“top scientist”) gets circles in his head and gets all crazy over Molly’s baby/fetus that’s incubating in a fish tank and murders someone and destroys thousands of dollars worth of equipment..

Ethan is having dreams even though John didn’t invent that yet.

Julie flirts with a babe at the gym (who checks out her stellar bionic legs). She was part of the team that designed her new friend’s bionic joints. And this is the kind of thing that I like, that she’s a woman of science but can use it to flirt -not with her married coworker. 

Molly goes off to the office to nose around. She asks Sam for another session, there’s a security breach. The male astronaut (the other one affected by the spores) is the one who caused it. Molly listens in and hears the dirt that Alan has on Sam. 

Odin, Julie’s crush sees Ethan at the lab. Odin comes in to get his joints checked. Ethan creeped out Molly by breaking all of the pencils to draws those circles. Julie brags about the work she did designing Ethan, and Odin agrees.

Meanwhile, John, Krieger and Molly have a meeting of the minds about “the circles” Krieger thinks it’s a distress signal. Krieger then separates and gets flogged by ISEA’s head of security.

Sparks’s daughter was impregnated by aliens and died on another ship. She ejected herself into space. Molly somehow concludes from this that the baby is still alive. That makes no sense.  

And there will be 2 hours of this next week. ohhh boy.

There are things I enjoy about this show, but the pacing is weirdly slow especially in the past couple episodes. And I wish we would get to the part where things start to make sense… like whose fucking baby is this? And what does it have to do with Sparks’s daughter.

Also I hope that Ethan stopped killing birds. 

31 Horrifying Days- Day 13: Godzilla (2014)

Lazy as hell. Make due with Radio Of Horror‘s official video review.

The only thing I’d like to add -Aaron Taylor-JOHNSON (told you he had 2 last names)who plays Ford finds a little buddy at one point and saves him from monsters on a train. When the monster’s are around Elizabeth Olsen’s Elle, the shots are all her running for her life. I’m just saying, she could have had a side adventure. The bus driver on the bus that her son was on got in on some heroics and he was in the picture for 5 minutes. 

4.25/5

Don’t be cheap, go see it on the big screen.

31 Horrifying Days- Day 8: Devil’s Pass (2013)

This film follows a group of American students who set out to Russia’s Ural mountains as they film a documentary trying to uncover what happened to 9 skiers who died under mysterious circumstances on a trip to Siberia in 1959. The project is lead by psychology student Holly who has always had nightmares that she later recognized to be Dyatlov’s Pass.

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This incident with the 9 skiers? That really happened. For reasons unknown (but heavily theorized) the group went mad all of a sudden, some fleeing camp without shoes or outerwear in temperatures ranging from -17 to -24 degrees, when they were found many had inexplicable internal injuries, and one was missing her tongue and eyes. Most had no sign of defensive wounds, not even abrasions or scratches on the skin but suffering cracked skulls or broken ribs. A current theory is that a repetitive wind even caused infrasound that caused unease and panic in the travellers and drove them mad. You can read more about that here.

When a viable possibility of the real events is that the wind itself caused the skiers to become paranoid and suicidal/homicidal the movie pretty much writes itself. The current bunch of students become increasingly afraid that they are being followed, then they become suspicious that Holly is planting foot prints to make her film more interesting, Holly and film crew travel mate Jensen find a door, locked from the outside to a snow covered bunker but before they can explore they are hit by an avalanche that claims one party member and seriously wounds another. They agree to set off a flare, but help arrives what Andy deems to be “too soon” and he fires at them with the flare gun while the others make a run, the other men fire back and the audience is left wondering whether they only began firing because Andy aimed the flare gun.

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Are the frigid temperatures, isolation, dwindling resources, unreliable technology and possibly infrasound getting to them all?

It seems reasonable. And the film is suitably tense and gripping.

Which is why it’s so bizarre that the last 30 minutes is a completely different film.

Instead of a psychological thriller set far off from civilization where a Scooby Gang of artists and academics rile each other up and freak themselves out: we end up with weird creatures, teleportation and the Philadelphia Project. 

Devil’s Pass was written by Vikram Weet, who’s been a coordinator on many popular reality shows, his experiences really enhance the realism of the interactions between characters and the developing malaise and hysteria. Finnish director Renny Harlin, known for Die Hard 2, Exorcist: the Beginning and several episodes of “Burn Notice” lends his eye on this one. I’m just baffled at the final twist.

Was it scary? Yeah… It was a bit scary. The thought of temperatures between -17 and -24 degrees is actually terrifying enough for me on it’s own.

3/5

Comic-book Catch up #4

Featuring Ms Marvel #3, Tomb Raider #3, Lazarus #8

Ms Marvel #3

Kamala Khan is experiencing the backlash from sneaking out. Her parents are upset, she’s still upset with Bruno. Bruno has his own mayhem happening, his brother asks him to steal from his register at the convenience store. Zoe is getting all the attention for getting saved while Kamala tries to get a grip on her powers and ends up in hiding even though she’s the hero in this story. She’s worrying she’s outgrowing her life “like a pair of pants that no longer fit” and in the next moment she’s confronting both teenage drama and an armed robber head on. G Willow Wilson writes teenage well, and she provides insight to the way that Kamala’s culture separates her from others in Jersey City, but also how it bonds her with her friends. She questions authority but is realistically insecure and charming. 

Tomb Raider #3

We’re treated to a bit more backstory on the hard hitting Reyes. In Dublin, her daughter is in imminent danger from the Solarii cult. They want the artifact Lara stole. Only, she still doesn’t remember it. She tries to lie, but the cult members don’t buy it. Suddenly, someone takes aim and shoots the gangsters and Lara breaks a glass over someone’s head. Meanwhile, Sam is in trouble. Lara and Reyes make a break for it, with the men in hot pursuit, Reyes and her daughter split from Lara (I love when characters don’t all orbit the main protagonist, btw. So Reyes calling Lara out on being the cause of this, on being bad luck. Worthwhile). Lara clubs a goon with the a busker’s guitar and grabs his gun. Reyes’ daughter says she was too mean to Lara. Lara finds out that Sam has been taken and throws down, but one goon sneaks up on her- she averts disaster but causing a soccer riot. But the goons just keep coming. Luckily, Reyes shows her daughter what it means to be loyal and double backs for Lara, with a “Don’t thank me, it was Miss Manners here.” And Lara declares they’ll go back to Yamatai to stop this and save Sam.

Sam Nishimura has the best answering machine message of all time. “I’m either off shooting an award winning documentary or passed out drunk. You know what to do.”

Lazarus #8

The first 5 were amazing, a new series with so much promise. One with a female lead (and still more females with their own agendas) that creates a world that is bleak, violent and corporate. One of all out class warfare. How could I not be in love? But the momentum has slowed, flashbacks to Forever’s childhood bog down the series instead of advance it. Currently, Forever is looking for and IED while the Barretts are looking to go get jobs with the Carlyles, they’re headed for Denver. Them and everyone else. Like pioneers travelling to a new frontier, to their last ditch effort: the road is hard. Worse when Forever finds that Denver is the target of this attack. But her father refuses to cancel the lift. Forever is in a race to stop the plot in the final pages. but it won’t be resolved til next month. 

V Wars #1

This is written by Jonathan Maberry. I have also read (some) of the book by the same name, in truth, it didn’t really capture my attention. I think partially this was due to the fact that the book switches between characters/settings in a way that actually works in comics but kind of sucks in long books. By the time you figure out what’s up with the actor, you’re back with some bikers and no one has ever met. But I chose to try this out because I enjoyed a couple of Maberry’s short stories (one from Apple for the Creature which I read in June of last year, when I used to read books all the time). 

Starts off with a different line up than the book. We begin with a man, a college professor who’s written academic books on vampirism, restraining a young girl vampire (who is his daughter) who has recently turned into a vampire -everyone carries the Ice virus and has potential to be a vampire. Conrad’s ex-wife and son are killed, his daughter is a vampire. He throws himself into his work, but as the President addresses the US, saying that vampires and humans can work together. That speciesism is just another form of discrimination. Only, it’s not. Because unlike real oppressed groups, vampires are actually dangerous. And they prove it by taking out the Speaker of the House. Not with fangs, but with a bullet.

Vampires and Vampire sympathizers quickly become an enemy. Vampires are ferocious, and have declared themselves the top of the food chain, but there are less of them. But if anyone can change at any time…

Human vs Vampire, a murder investigation, science and politics. Off to a well enough start.

Art by Alan Robinson is pretty gruesome, eyeballs fall out, broken teeth, buckets of blood. Colors (Jay Fotos) are muted and dark, back grounds stark, the sun might still shine there; by it does nothing to lighten the mood. It suits it well.

I had a chance to read over #0 that was given out on Free Comic Book Day, that one referenced the wannabe actor/barista from the novel, it was a great tie in for the source material and new series. 

I don’t know how to feel about the Ice virus causing vampirism. With the seeming political slant in the comics it reminds me of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy where all humans are carriers for a zombie virus that can amplify at anytime. They are very different in how this relates to political entities. 

Almost Human- Episode 12

Episode recap + review! + bonus Science and Tech side notes and links!

In the first scenes we see a wealthy chrome in his natural habitat: Virtual Reality golfing in his large house, when a badly disfigured man jumps up behind him. He administers a syringe that gives the man a seizure and then he sucks fluid out of the man’s body with another syringe.

At the station, Kennex receives a call from a woman he’s seeing, Samantha. He had a bad date, she kept taking phone calls and ignoring him. Dorian answers the phone and says, “Kennex can’t talk right now. He’s waving his arms and mouthing ‘no’.” Then Dorian tells Kennex that he’s boring. Stahl comes up and says that she’s been tipped about a possible homicide. EMTs said it was a heart attack, but he was a Chrome and Chrome’s don’t have congenital defects. Curiously, the body is still at the scene even though there are no crime scene techs and Stahl was tipped off by another Chrome, which means someone should have been there or the body should have been removed from the scene before it started to decay and stink up the place. Anyway, Dorian finds the injection point. The wound was contaminated by DNA of 7 different people. Who all died of the same “natural causes.”

Stahl runs down leads and pays a visit to a Chrome Club looking to obtain surveillance footage. She faces off with a snarky blonde and a handsome man asks her about her decision to be a cop. Which apparently is a long story. Anyway, he gives her the footage. She brings it back to the station and she and Maldonado look it over while talking about Stahl’s recent experience with Chromes. Stahl, usually resentful of her upbringing tries to avoid Chromes and she says that she forgot that they’re people, too. Maldonado says it’s important to be around people who are like you and understand you. To which point, Stahl says, “Is that why you keep John around.” Maldonado: “Nah, lost a bet.”

Stahl sends footage to John

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Facial recognition is reading him as 2 of the 8 victims. They also look up his Bitcoin exchange- Almost Human loves Bitcoin, however, virtual currency hit snags this week as Mt. Gox, an exchange site for Bitcoin, got hacked and lost possibly 6% of the total money invested in Bitcoin. This was due to the malleability of transaction numbers and history. Back to the plot; Rudy figures out that he’s stealing parts of people’s faces, he’s using nanobot plastic surgery. Face lifts at an atomic level. A doctor involved in the trials is questioned. The trials didn’t go well. Donors experienced arrhythmia and died, recipients were horribly disfigured. There seemed to be a lot of them. Why did they keep doing this? Kennex and Dorian find out that the person performing the surgery will need “an actuator.”

Back with the killer, he’s blackmailing his doctor into continuing the procedures. Turns out he volunteered for the original trials. He gets some new eyes at the expense of a barista.

Dorian is antagonizing John again, “They more flaws you have the more human you are. You’re very human, John.”  They’re on their way to meet an informant, “Di Carlo” (who turns out to be a little person- Bad Santa actor Tony Cox, in an exo-suit of an overweight woman). They’re at some kind of trash burning, Mad Max, punk rock Fight Club. Anyway, Di Carlo gives up the location of the actuator. They find out the man wants 10 procedures and there have been only 9 victims. They extrapolate who the next victim will be. Stahl and some others keep an eye on him, the murderer knows he’s been discovered and heads out to search for another victim.

After some leaps in logic, Kennex figures out that the killer is a DMV employee, Eric Latham. Stahl surmises that he has Body Dysmorphic Disorder and that’s why he is consumed by this need for perfection. She says he’s inundated with images of perfection and unable to cope. Which for this world means not just media but being designed from birth to look beautiful. He’s trying to speed up the procedures so that he can meet a woman, Judy, who he met online and is scheduled to meet face to face. With irony that hits like a brick, she’s blind. He meets her briefly,before the police arrive. Eric kills himself in front of John.

Kennex is thinking about Eric Latham and he decides to take a chance and ask Stahl to go have a drink. But she’s already heading out with the man from the Chrome Club, and we’re treated to a “brooding and staring off at happy people in the night while 80s music plays in the background” closing sequence. I don’t mind 30 seconds of angst.

I was really happy with this episode, there was a good balance between all the characters. Stahl, Kennex and Dorian all got to show their particular talents. Stahl got to show her investigative skills instead of somehow landing on tips and watching TV. And it addressed privilege and class. Stahl is a Chrome and having this privilege doesn’t make her a bad person, it also doesn’t make her a better person, either. Right now there is debate about using DNA of 3 people (male female and an extra donor woman) to replace mutated mitochondrial DNA and prevent birth defects. But there’s a question of “where does it stop?” and opening the floodgates for “designer babies”.  And on the surface you might say, “who wouldn’t want this? I don’t want my children to have degenerating vision/predisposition to kidney disease/go bald when they’re 17.” But what we end up with is what you saw in this episode, technology used to further divide a class line as well as race lines (all white people, dark haired males, mostly light haired females. Episode before last followed the same pattern, with the exception of one family), engineered to look perfect, have no physical failings and be geniuses. They look down on Stahl for being too blue collar, they’re meant for industry. They are meant for preserving a superior way of life for themselves. Well, that’s terrifying.

But on a smaller scale, aren’t we doing that already? People partner with someone “like them” in some capacity, if they choose to breed the child will be a product of the coupling with whatever benefits and negatives that comes with. And what’s seen by negative to some is not always the case, such as the instance of Deaf couples selecting embryos that are more likely to be Deaf. Sitcoms joke about superior cells used to make babies, such as Caroline Channing donating her “Ivy League eggs” on CBS’s Two Broke Girls while Max’s low rent genes are a dime a dozen. How far is the next step, really? The Chinese are already trying to crack the genetic code for genius by analyzing samples from individuals with IQs over 160. And if you can get it, will you be considered a bad parent if you don’t?

Anyway, a 45 minute sci-fi drama just made me think about the implications of designer genetics. I wish they would officially renew it, because it’s really good. Well, most of the time. And Kennex and Stahl are still dancing around each other, we still don’t know what’s going on “over the wall” and we don’t know where Anna is. Next week is the finale and I can’t imagine this will all be wrapped up neatly. I would miss Rudy and Dorian the most.