Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Dog Sitting House (half-blind poem)

Sitting in the house
Eye on the dog 
Turning on wi-fi 
To turn me on 
Virtual strangers 
Interactions mounting 
Staying up chatting 
Through the witching hour 
Making me feel less alone
As fireworks explode 
Sending the dog undercover 
Leaving me sitting 
Staring at the screen 
In a darkened house 
Far away from home  


__________________
Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out,
JLH 

P.S. For more half-blind poems...
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

freakboy on film: LOST IN SPACE (1998)

"There's a lot of space out there to get lost in." - John Robinson 
                        1998 
          written by Akiva Goldsman 
          directed by Stephen Hopkins 
I watched reruns of the original series every Sunday morning as a kid and I loved it.  Here were relatable kids, Will and Penny Robinson, having adventures on other planets, along with a space chimp and a totally cool robot!  How could I not love this science fiction series? 


I still enjoy it, having given the original series a 2019 rewatch, but time has not been kind to certain aspects.  The 1960's attitude towards matriarch Maureen and daughters Judy and Penny is often cringe worthy.  Adding to this is a near complete lack of character development, other than maybe in Will and Robot.  Plus, I kept hoping someone would shove the often overly ridiculous Dr. Smith into one of the freezing tubes.  Oh, the pain...the pain, indeed. 

Despite these deficiencies, there is a lot to enjoy in the original series, with some really strong episodes scattered throughout.  I could go on and on about the series, giving you my list of favorites, but I'm here to blog about the Robinson family's 1998 big screen adventure. 

At the time of its release, I was surrounded by people who had never heard of the classic Lost  in Space.  Fortunately, most of these people were my age, so they couldn't spew the backhanded remark of "It was before my time," because I could have technically said the same.  Unfortunately, these people were either not interested in the film or hated it.


For me, the film was everything I wanted from Lost in Space!  Adventure!  Fun!  Humor!  Robot!  Sitting in the theater, I lost myself in the more fully realized characters and a plot that paid homage to the series, but did its own thing.


The world is overcrowded and resources are running low, so a risky move is required.  This move comes in the form of the Jupiter Mission.  The Robinsons, parents John and Maureen, accompanied by their brood Judy, Penny and Will, have been training for years to become the first family in space.  Their mission is to travel across the galaxy in suspended animation to Alpha Prime, where they will be the first of many colonists.  

Along for the ride are Major Don West, who is piloting the mission, an intimidating Robot, and Dr. Zachary Smith, who is a saboteur/accidental stowaway.  The latter had programmed the robot to destroy the Jupiter 2 sixteen hours after take-off, but was double-crossed by his terrorist employers, stranding him aboard the potentially doomed spacecraft.


A rampaging Robot causes the Jupiter 2 to veer wildly off course, aiming them right for the sun.  Major West suggests using the ship's hyperdrive engine to save them from incineration.  The maneuver works, jettisoning the intrepid space pioneers into uncharted territory.  Yes, they are lost in space, where they encounter a yellow monkey-alien, nasty space-spiders and a spectacular crash-landing on a planet being destroyed by time bubbles.  

Will Dr. Smith take over the ship?  Will the Robinsons and company survive?  If they do, will they make it to Alpha Prime?  I don't want to spoil the twists and turns of this film, so my lips are sealed.


The cast is an impressive mix of experienced and fresh faces.  William Hurt and Mimi Rogers are terrific as John and Maureen.  Heather Graham gives Judy a sarcastic side.  Lacey Chabert gives Penny a wild side.  Jack Johnson gives Will a sensitive side.  Matt LeBlanc captures a cocky side to Major West which was burning just underneath the original series character.  Gary Oldman, having the biggest challenge, manages to make Dr. Smith extremely dangerous but somehow endearingly entertaining.  Plus, be on the lookout for a few cameos by original cast members, especially Dick Tufeld, reprising his role as the voice of Robot.  


In conclusion, while the women have much more to do than in the 1960's, this is very much a story centering on a boy & his robot friend and a boy & his father.  This 1998 film was everything the television series could've been, and may have continued improving if a sequel would've happened.  Alas, this was sadly not to be, but another, far less fun version of Lost in Space would return 20 years later to (streaming) television.  Perhaps a time bubble will open in the new series, spilling out the 1998 Robinsons to liven up the dreary, slow as molasses plot and also to give us some cinematic closure. 

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  The Daleks will EXTERMINATE you if you miss my Dr. Who post...

Saturday, June 22, 2019

freakboy on film: JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (2001)

Before I blogged...

Before I was sucked into social media...

I inflicted my friends and very specific family members with filmic emails detailing four reasons to watch a certain movie.  

So, in honor of those historic (in my mind) emails, and because I was struggling to write a typical freakboy on film, here are...

4 Reasons To See...
JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS 

                          2001 
Written & Directed by 
Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont 

1.  The Villains 
Parker Posey as Fiona, the head of MegaRecords, and Alan Cumming as Wyatt Frame, her music exec lackey, are deliciously evil and extremely entertaining as they brainwash the youth of America with subliminal messages in pop music. 


2.  DuJour 
This fierce satire of boy bands may not receive much screen time, but they are spot-on hilarious.  Can you ever go wrong with Seth Green? 


3.  Melody Valentine
Tara Reid will probably be forever known for the Sharknado flicks, but she really shines as the most innocent and sweetest Pussycat.  Melody is an unrelenting beam of positive sunshine who isn't as completely naive as she seems.


4.  The Music 
A pop-rock mix of new songs and covers, the soundtrack includes legitimately good music, along with some cheeky winks.  Listen to Backdoor Lover by DuJour for the latter. 






In conclusion, I love this wicked satire of the music industry, materialism and American consumerism.  I think it's either misunderstood or hated because it's not an exact replica of the classic Saturday morning cartoon, but there's a lot going on if you scratch beneath the seemingly slick, superficial surface.

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  A wickedly hilarious review of Madonna's Madame X album from My Gay Opinion...

Saturday, June 15, 2019

freakboy on film: DALEKS' INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D. (The 2nd Great Hammer & Amicus Blogathon Edition)

Thank you to... 
Barry of Cinematic Catharsis 
and 
Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews 
...for bending their rules of time & space and allowing me to participate in The Second Great Hammer And Amicus Blogathon! 



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Outside TARDIS makes me geek out.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF MY PERSONAL TIME & SPACE WITH DOCTOR WHO...
I am a longtime Whovian.  My first Doctor was the Fourth Doctor.  My favorite classic Doctor is the Second Doctor.  My favorite contemporary Doctor is the Ninth Doctor.  My favorite classic companion is Sarah Jane Smith.  My favorite contemporary companion is Donna Noble.  My favorite baddie is the vicious, violent race of mutants called the Daleks, which is why I'm blogging about...

DALEKS' INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D. 

                                    1966
                Screenplay by Milton Subotsky  
                   Directed by Gordon Flemyng 

My initial viewing of this big screen version of DOCTOR WHO was in the middle of the night on Turner Classic Movies.  I was entertained, but found the whole experience very bizarre.  That might be because I was watching in a hazy landscape of reality and sleep.  Subsequent, more awake viewings have acclimatized me to this non-canonical take on the classic British television series. 

Inside TARDIS is a bit cluttered.

The plot is a variation of a six-episode First Doctor story.  Dr. Who and his companions travel to Earth's bleak future and discover the humans, at least the ones who haven't been exterminated, have been enslaved by the Daleks.  Now it's up to our intrepid heroes, along with a band of resistance fighters, to figure out the Daleks' nefarious plan and stop them.  

Donna Noble's future grandfather and a non-canonical Doctor.

Peter Cushing makes for a decent Doctor and he seems to be having a jolly good time.  Maybe he was happy to take a break from Hammer horror.  Jill Curzon as Louise doesn't seem to have much to do other than going where the men go, but at least she isn't screaming at the sight of every Dalek.  I guess that's 1960's style progression for you.  Roberta Tovey plays Susan, Dr. Who's granddaughter, as a curious, precocious sweet kid.  Her biggest contribution to the plot is causing a pile of rubble to bury TARDIS, their space-time vessel, preventing their immediate escape from 2150 A.D. 

                            Nice going. Susan!

I must give special mention to Bernard Cribbins as policeman Tom Campbell.  His character, an accidental passenger aboard TARDIS, provides comic relief among the death the Daleks are raining down upon humanity, but it's what the actor would do in the future that I must note.  Over 40 years later, Bernard Cribbins returned to the WHO universe, this time very canonical, as Donna Noble's grandfather Wilfred Mott.  This filmic-television connection is why I enjoy DALEKS' INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D. so much.  

Bathtime for Dalek is always a struggle.

In my mind, Tom Campbell becomes susceptible to time and space anomalies after his adventure with Dr. Who and company.  He eventually slides into our dimension, changes his name, gets married and eventually has a granddaughter named Donna.  Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but it helps me overlook the differences between the series and this film, along with the preceding film, DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS, also starring Peter Cushing.  (Look for a post from a fellow participant in this blogathon for more on the first film and televised differences.) 

The Daleks EXTERMINATE my alternate dimension theory.

In conclusion, DALEKS' INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D. may not be the best example in the long, iconic history of DOCTOR WHO, but it's a fun, occasionally silly sci-fi romp for all ages.  Plus, one can never have enough Daleks, right? 

Dr. Who, Louise and Susan wave farewell to the Doctor Who film franchise.

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  I'm blogging about other films based on television series this month.
Here's a story...

Friday, June 7, 2019

freakboy on film: THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE (Formica Sunshine Days & Polyester Confusion Nights edition)

"You're all a part of me and I'm a part of you, and there's no escaping that...but it makes me feel really special." - Jan Brady 

1995 
written by... 
Laurice Elehwany 
Rick Copp 
Bonnie Turner 
Terry Turner 

directed by Betty Thomas 
Here's a story of a kid named freakboy, watching reruns of The Brady Bunch after school.  He enjoyed their familial antics and found the music cool.

Here's a story of a young adult freakboy, hearing about a big screen Brady Bunch remake.  He was nervous, and a little worried, that his TV memories would drown in a filmic lake.

'Til the one day he and his sister went to the theater, and they were concerned about what they might see, but this duo soon formed the opinion, that they loved The Brady Bunch Movie.

How much do my sis and I love this movie?  Well, we saw it three times in the theater.  Then, on the first weekend it was available to rent, we ran to the video store and then watched it at least five times over those 2 days.  We were experiencing a trippy Brady overdose!  Linear film viewing became an erratic, swirling time warp as we thought certain scenes had already happened while they were happening, but we were just flashing to the previous viewings.  It's best we had to return that VHS tape or we might still be stuck keep on keeping on in a Brady-hole of Formica sunshine days and polyester confusion nights.  


Why do my sister and I love THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE?  It's a fun emotional pick me up.  It's got an eclectic grungy-groovy soundtrack.  It celebrates these characters by lightly poking fun and fully embracing its source material instead of viciously mocking and/or obliterating it.  My narrowed half-blind eyes are on you, Starsky & Hutch and Land of the Lost, but those are freakboy on film posts for another day. 

The plot, in a  genius move, takes The Bradys, in all of their sweet, innocent, groovy late 1960's/early 1970's American television sitcom glory, and deposits them in the cynical, gritty cinematic 1990's.  The family deals with some of their best half hour problems...Jan's glasses, Peter's puberty, Marcia's swollen nose....while seemingly oblivious to the greedy, nihilistic world around them. 

Yet, not all is a sunshine day in The Brady household.  Next door neighbor Mr.  Dittmeyer has plans to buy up and demolish Clinton Avenue.  The Bradys aren't selling, but a mix-up in mail delivery, a bill for 20,000 dollars in back taxes, gives Mr. Dittmeyer the opportunity to seize the Brady house.  Now it's up to the Bunch to raise 20,000 dollars in one week so their iconic home won't be auctioned off to their sleazy neighbor.  Will Greg become a rock star?  Will Marcia become a teen model?  Will the new Jan Brady knock over a 7-11?   Will a singing competition ultimately save the day?  Well, it is The Brady Bunch, so it's a safe bet that everything ends happily.  It's the getting there that is a whole lot of fun! 


The cast seems to be having a ball.  Gary Cole plays Mike Brady with believable innocent optimism.  Shelley Long is perfect as Carol Brady, who is a sweet, understanding mother who also seems more aware of reality than the rest of her family.  Michael McKean as Mr. Dittmeyer, is obviously enjoying playing a slimeball. Jean Smart steals every scene as Mrs. Dittmeyer, who is typically hungover and sexually hungry for the Brady men.  

As for the Brady kids, all are very good in their roles, but two stand out for me.  Christine Taylor as perpetually perfect Marcia and Jennifer Elise Cox as perpetually put-upon Jan.  When these two women share a scene, it's comedy gold!  The modeling scene is a perfect example of their sibling rivalry chemistry.  Oh, and you should also be on the lookout for a few clever original cast cameos. 


The moral of this story is to follow the beat of your own drummer.  The Brady Bunch sure did and that's why we are still talking about them today. 

SIDE NOTE: While ROSEMARY'S BABY is my absolute favorite film, THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE may be my favorite film based on a television series, but this month of freakboy on film has only just begun! 

Freak Out, 
JLH

P.S.  Stay tuned for my post in The Second Great Hammer And Amicus Blogathon!
Hosted by...
Cinematic Catharsis 
and 
Realweegiemidget Reviews 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My books & blogs...

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Laundry Updating

I was doing laundry when I thought it was a good time for an update.  


My reverse engineering WIP is coming along nicely.  A STUDY IN ORANGE is taking me on a journey through a lurid cityscape of private dicks, hustlers, lounge singers and transgender nightclub owners.  I am loving these characters and I can't wait for the world to meet them!  

I will be participating later this month in The Second Great Hammer And Amicus Blogathon, hosted by Cinematic Catharsis & Realweegiemidget Reviews.  To add a personal overall theme to my part in this upcoming event, I plan to blog about 3 other films that share one specific aspect with my blogathon post!  

Also about this blog, I'm considering adding a couple of pages within The JLH Collective that will focus on specific posts.  Maybe a page with links to my short stories and one for freakboy on film!

Last, but not least, I am also working on a video or two for The FreakOptic Files, my sorely neglected video blog.  One video needs a brief music sting and the other needs a lot more work.  Plus, I may have written a potential fourth installment to my Laundry Day series! 

We shall half-see what I manage to accomplish and what is relegated to the vaults.  Either way, my mind is on a creative spin cycle and it feels good! 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S. June's Collective Eye is on art, blogs, books, films, music, poetry, short stories, tweets and videos...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

freakboy on film: PHANTASM (a 5 film freakathon)


If this one doesn't scare you...


...you're already dead. 


20 YEARS AGO...
I originally experienced PHANTASM on VHS, recorded from late night cable.  I watched it more than a few times over the years and I knew of at least one sequel, but the opportunity to watch the second one, or the others, never occurred until...

2019...
I was stumbling around Wal-Mart, my Mad Scientist Glasses in tow so I could browse the dwindling, but surprisingly eclectic DVD selection.  There was all 5 PHANTASM films in one collection.  I hesitated at first because sequels to classic horror films can really suck sometimes, but I ultimately couldn't resist the temptation of The Tall Man and his deadly balls. 

PHANTASM (1979)
The first is the best. The sinister Tall Man has gruesome plans for the recently deceased and it's up to brothers Mike and Jody, along with Reggie, an ice cream vendor, to stop him.  This film is atmospheric with its dream within a dream reality.  It's unsettling in a gets under your mind-skin way.  It's downright scary, especially Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man.  He exudes pure evil with just a glance.  The bug scene also totally freaks me out!  Putting all of that aside, the main reason PHANTASM drew me in was the relationship between brothers Jody and Mike.  It's the heart of this horror-fantasy film. 

Jody, Reggie & Mike 

PHANTASM II (1988)
My gut reaction to this first sequel was it was good but not great.  The first PHANTASM, in my opinion, must have inspired Wes Craven a few years later with A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Both films deal with similar themes of reality versus dreams, but each in their individual ways.  PHANTASM II feels like it takes more than a little detour through Elm Street in certain plot elements and especially in visual style.  The reason may partially fall on Universal Studios wanting a horror-fantasy franchise to compete with New Line Cinema's Nightmare juggernaut.  Also, it's a shame A. Michael Baldwin didn't reprise the role of Mike.  James Le Gros is acceptable but not the same.  All of that aside, the scene of Reggie and Mike walking through the emptied cemetery is disturbing and haunting. 

PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD (1994)
I typically dread it when a horror film franchise attempts to answer questions and add new characters, especially a kid.  I know -I know, Mike was a kid in the first one, but I was terrified that newbie Tim would be the Cousin Oliver to Mike's all grown up Peter Brady.  Thankfully, I was wrong.  Tim is great and brings out Reggie's good qualities.  Plus, Rocky, the baddest bad-ass woman in any horror franchise, is a welcome addition to the predominately white, male cast.  As for a particularly revealing answer about the killer, silver spheres, it made complete sense and elevated the stakes.  
SPOILER: I was bummed Rocky left at the end, but I was thrilled she survived!  

Rocky and Reg

PHANTASM: OBLIVION (1998)
As much as I enjoyed III, this one may be my favorite PHANTASM sequel.  The fourth film is an utter mind...um...screw in the best way possible, which makes it close to capturing the eerie dream within a dream quality of the first film.  The plot takes what we think we know, flips and turns it around in our minds, and transforms it into a personal journey for the characters and the viewers. Plus, that quiet ending, so unlike the first three films, left me meditative, contemplative and forgetting to breathe for a moment.  I think I would be strangely fine if IV had been the final PHANTASM.

PHANTASM: RAVAGER (2016)
Here's the truth.  I was disappointed, but not completely.  Perhaps some of my disappointment is because writer/director Don Coscarelli stepped down from the director's chair and collaborated on the script with new director David Hartman.  Can V truly be called pure PHANTASM?  I don't know, but I did enjoy Reggie's mind-trip through different realities, especially the reality where it seems like Reg is in a rest home/psychiatric hospital.  It's the future (real?) reality that kind of disappoints me. It doesn't feel like PHANTASM to me.  It's bigger, even the killer, silver spheres come in extra-large, and it's computer special effects heavy.  Plus, and this is probably my biggest complaint, it's neither Reg nor Mike who once again defeats The Tall Man.  Chunk, an admittedly great new character, gets to do the honor, which was a let down because this appears to be the final PHANTASM since Angus Scrimm has now passed away.  I guess I was hoping for a more personal conclusion.  All my grievances aside, the very final scene made me geek out with unbridled glee because (SPOILER) Rocky turns up, still a bad-ass, and rides off with our heroes to fight another day.

Extra Large 

IN CONCLUSION...
The PHANTASM series may have some ups, downs and all arounds, but the sequels were worth watching, albeit 20 years later.  One overall aspect that is also worth experiencing is the evolution of Reggie from an ice cream vendor to a middle-aged action hero.  It's a revolutionary transformation for any film franchise, horror or otherwise.

Now it's time to watch all 5 films again, this time with commentaries on! 

"You play a good game, Boy, but the game is finished.  
Now you die."  
- The Tall Man 

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  Coming next month...
The Second Great Hammer And Amicus Blogathon!
Hosted by...
Cinematic Catharsis 
and 
Realweegiemidget Reviews 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My books & blogs...