Saturday, November 29, 2008

Movie Night With The Beast- Let The Right One In

I went to the movies tonight and saw Let The Right One In, a Swedish vampire film. I caught it at a local theater called the Bijou, which specializes in foreign and art films. They also have a sizable menu, including everything from standard movie fare like popcorn and nachos to salads, burgers, wine, beer, and Starbucks coffee. I had read a lot about this film, and everything I read was positive, which is rare. I didn't think it would make it to my neck of the woods, because such films are hit-or-miss here, but I picked up a copy of the local independent newspaper(The Current) and saw an ad for it. I knew what I was doing this weekend after reading that...and I was not dissapointed.

The movie is about a young boy named Oskar ( Kare Hedebrant) who is bullied regularly at school. He dreams of violent retaliation, but doesn't follow through with it. One night, he sees a man with a young girl move in to his apartment building. The man puts cardboard over all the windows for some reason. On one cold Winter evening, Oskar is out in the courtyard, stabbing a tree with his knife, fantasizing of revenge on his tormentors, when he meets the new neighbor girl Eli ( Lina Leandersson). Eli is also twelve years "or so" old. At first she is standoffish with Oskar, but the two start to form a friendship. Eli also doesn't seem to feel the cold, sitting outside in the Swedish Winter night without a coat.

We soon learn that Eli is a vampire, who has been twelve years old "for a long time", and the man living with her is a servant of sorts, his job being to procure blood for her by killing townspeople. He proves to be inept at this, and Eli is forced to get her own meals. Eli and Oskar's relationship becomes closer, with Eli giving Oskar the courage to stand up to his tormentors, and Eli finding someone to care about in Oskar. Oskar eventually learns Eli's true nature. How will he react to this revelation? Will the townspeople find out what Eli really is? Will Oskar be able to escape the bullies' plan for revenge against him?

Let The Right One In, directed by Tomas Alfredson, is a very different vampire film. This is evident right from the opening credits, which play over a black background with complete silence, eventually turning into a serene snowfall. There are many shots of the snow and ice on the trees and buildings, and these are truly beautiful. The Swedish Winter is a unique backdrop for a vampire film, its quiet beauty and isolation adding emphasis to the characters' initial emotional isolation. The white Winter backdrop also makes anything with color pop out...there's a scene where Oskar gives Eli a Rubik's Cube to play with, and it's so colorful in comparison to the snowy backdrop that it fairly blasts out like a beacon.The same quiet beauty is also in sharp contrast to the sudden bursts of violence and horror that punctuate the film. There's blood shed in this film, and its fairly graphic and nasty. Throats are cut and bitten, blood is drank, and limbs are severed. Especially gruesome is the scene towards the end of the film at the pool...I won't say any more, as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Let's just say if you like graphic violence in your horror movies, this scene will put a smile on your demented little face.
I also want to mention the use of sound in the film. Overall it's a fairly quiet film, but there are moments when you can hear things, like Eli's growls or her making sounds of hunger. I think it's a good example of a filmmaker using all the elements of film at his disposal to make something unique and artistic.

There are so many noteworthy moments in this film...we see what happens when a vampire enters a home uninvited, for example. We also see how a vampire's helper, who is about to be caught due to carelessness, makes himself unrecognizable with a jar of acid. We learn that cats do not like vampires at all. And, on a more humanistic note, we see how these two young (at least one is young-looking) outsiders meet and go from lonely outcasts to two lost souls who care deeply for one another.

Let The Right One In is not only a good vampire film, but a good film period. I'm sure that Twilight will make tons of cash off of the teen crowd that eats that kind of stuff up, and it may even be a good flick for what it is...but if you want to see what a real filmmaker can do with the form , and with vampires, check out Let The Right One In. If it's not playing in your town, rent it as soon as it comes out on DVD. Apparently it's going to be re-made by some American studio, which means it'll lose any uniqueness the original possesses, and be just like every other film out there, and it'll have a 99.9% chance of sucking big time. If you can, go see it. The Beast gives it five out of five clawmarks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Krampus' Wife???

Check out to see a post about Santa Muerte, who may be married to that lovable European scamp, Krampus. It's a cool bit of info about a saint that isn't recognized by the Catholic church, but is pretty cool and interesting anyway. Take a look.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cool Art at Omnia ab Uno

Hey all, I don't think I mentioned it before, but if you're into art, check out the blog Omnia ab Uno. It's by D, a good friend of mine I've known since our college days. She's a fantastic artist. Her work is mystical and fascinating. She's down there in my list of followers. Her addy is Go take a look. Go on, you know you want to.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Krampus Krew

Here are some pics I found of various folks dressed up as Krampus for the holidays...I think they're pretty cool. Enjoy!

Krampus, St. Nick's Pal

I swear, Christmas stuff gets put out at stores earlier every year. There were Christmas candies on the top shelf above the Halloween candies at Walgreens. Thanksgiving isn't even here yet, and there's holiday music, commercials, and decorations up everywhere you turn. So, I thought I'd counter this with a bit of early holiday cheer myself, with a piece about the European pal of good ol' St. Nicholas, known as Krampus.

Krampus is basically a devil of sorts. His name is derived from old High German krampen, which means 'claw'. He is related to the Perchten, followers of Perchta, an old goddess.He is depicted as your basic devil with horns and fur, but his images range from a little imp to a big-ass demon. He is by turns mischevious and imposing. He is said to follow his buddy St. Nicholas around in December, usually on December 5th in the evening, and while Nick gives the good kids presents, Krampus may give them a bundle of sticks, or spank them with the sticks, or even carry them off to some other fate, depending on who you talk to. There are lots of old postcards showing Krampus doing acts that range from prankish to downright demonic.

In Austria,during December, groups of men dressed as Krampus/Perchten walk around town, giving spankings to people, especially pretty women. I don't know about you, but dressing up as a horned beast and spanking women sounds like a lot more fun than caroling and drinking egg nog...the Europeans definately have better holiday traditions than us, let me tell you.

I found the whole Krampus thing interesting and a bit funny. Here's a saint and a devil, running around during the holidays, like some weird buddy-cop movie or something. Anyway, enjoy the pictures, and I'll have more later.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Anna 1992-2008

I'll miss you, little girl.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Beast's Movie Cave- Poultrygeist, Night of the Chicken Dead

I enjoyed posting about movies during Halloween so much, I thought I'd continue to do so. I won't limit the films to horror, but it turns out this first non-seasonal film is a horror/comedy/musical titled Poultrygeist, Night of the Chicken Dead. This movie is brought to us by the fine folks at Troma Films, who produced such films as The Toxic Avenger, Tromeo and Juliet, and Terror Firmer. If you've seen any of these films, then you pretty much know what to expect. Troma, headed by Lloyd Kaufman, specializes in horror/comedies that are overflowing with gore, gross-out effects, gratuitous female nudity, and a very non-PC sense of humor. If you are easily offended, stay the Hell away from any of Troma's films...and this one is no exception.

Arbie (Jason Yachanin) and Wendy (Kate Graham) are young lovers who get separated when Wendy goes to college. Wendy comes back to Tromaville to protest the opening of an American Chicken Bunker retaraunt that is built on the site of an ancient burial ground sacred to the Tromahwak Indians. Arbie is overjoyed to see Wendy at first, until he discovers she is with her new girlfriend. Arbie is enraged, and decides to work at the restaraunt to spite Wendy. The fast-food chain is soon invaded by the angry spirits of both the Tromahawk tribespeople and those of the chickens killed for the restaraunt. Will Arbie get Wendy back? Will they be able to escape the undead chicken zombies?

Poultrygeist is funny as Hell, and gross as Hell,too. The musical numbers are pretty funny, with songs like "Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Fried" and "Slow Fast Food Love". As I stated earlier, the Troma brand of humor is very unpolitically correct. Just about every race, religion, and sexual orientation is made fun of, as well as the fast-food industry, big corporations, and trendy protesters. Also, veritable buckets of blood, vomit, shit, and slime are spilt, sprayed, hurled, and projectile-fired across the screen at any given time. Stand-out scenes include a hapless fast-food employee being pushed into a meat grinder by a possessed chicken body, "Jared "(Joe Fleishaker) having a disgusting trip to the restroom after eating spirit-tainted chicken, and the attack of the zombie chicken demons on the restaraunt, with heads being dipped into deep fryers and eyes plucked out by beaks to be put into egg cartons. The gore, while appropiriately gooey, is not overly realistic, and while definately gross, has a cartoony feel to it. Still, it may not be everyone's cup of tea( or bucket of chicken).

Poultrygeist is a fun, gross, messy, gloroiusly un-PC film that anyone with a sick sense of humor(and a strong stomach) should enjoy. I give it 4 out of 5 clawmarks. The Beast says see it soon!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Renfair Rogues

I just got back from the Texas Renaissance Festival. It's the biggest renfair in the state, and we've been attending every year for a long time. If you've never been to a renfair, it's a lot of fun. Besides all the people and performers in costume, there's shops,and booths that sell everything from swords and armor to candles and bath salts, games, jousting, and lots and lots of food and drink. In fact, even if I had absolutely no interest in medievil things, I'd still go for the food(and drink). Turkey legs, potatoes, fish and chips, kettle corn, empanadas, chocolate covered strawberries, and fried alligator on a stick are but a few of the treats available...then there's beer, wine, sangria, mead, and non-alcoholic beverages such as sodas and water available to wash it all down with.

We usually go in costume. Typically I wear chainmail and carry a broadsword( it's the barbarian in me), but this year we went on Pirate Weekend, so we dressed accordingly. Pictured above are the Black Pirates- my wife Kim, myself, and my friend Nicole. I think we make a dashing crew, if I do say so myself.

If you've never attended a renfair, I suggest you check one out if there's one in your's a lot of fun.