Saturday, February 26, 2011

The True Confessions of a Film Freak: Second Edition

I've been back to work at Rose Park for the last couple weeks and that's seriously hindered my movie watching time.  Gotta pay the bills though, right?  

Here in Salt Lick we've got a pretty sweet movie theater called Brewvies that actually has a full liquor license.  They showcase films that are kind of in that limbo area in between their prime theater run and their appearances at the dollar theater.  So last Thursday we ventured down there and finally saw True Grit.  Also being reviewed this week after my brief TV watching week is a film a few years old called Pauly Shore Is Dead, a documentary titled The Two Escobars, a short called Nosebleed and my Basic Cable Standard for the week, Rocky IV.  We've got a little snow in the forecast and the Griffin Golf team is on Spring Break this week, so hopefully I'll get to see a few more movies before my next update.  On to it!

Starring:  Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Barry Pepper, Josh Brolin

My little old Great Aunts down home are big western movie fans and I remember watching the original 1969 version of this flick back with them when I was twelve years old.  I'll be honest with ya'll, I never quite got the reverence folks had for the John Wayne.  There's no denying The Duke had a great body of work, but for the most part, I always thought he was severely lacking range, and most of his performances seemed wooden as hell.  His rolling over for HUAC and selling out his fellow actors and writers to that McCarthy douchebag back in the early 50's doesn't exactly make me want to root for the guy either.  As far as westerns go, I preferred Clint Eastwood's stuff a lot more anyway.  

While I didn't like the original that much, it's a great story of frontier justice and revenge.  So when I heard that the Coen Brothers were remaking True Grit, all I could think was, "that's gonna be badass!"  Ever since Raising Arizona, those two guys will always get a lifetime pass from me.  And holy shit, they cast The Dude as Rooster Cogburn?  Sign my ass up!

Bridges was fantastic as U.S. Marshall Cogburn, as was Matt Damon as Texas Ranger LeBoeuf.  But the breakout role belongs to newcomer Hailee Steinfeld.  It's hard to think of a fourteen year old girl as a badass, but she absolutely was.  Of course, seeing as how most folks died at 45 in those days, she may as well have been an adult.  She took absolutely no bullshit from anyone in this flick and chewed up scenery in every act.  Give her the Oscar!  Of course though, it says a lot that Josh Brolin has his name in huge letters on the poster and she gets nary a mention.  Especially considering that he's in the movie for all of about ten minutes.

For as huge of a flick as this was, it didn't fall into the typical trap that most epics fall into these days in that it wasn't overly long.  In fact, I'd say this was the most well-paced Coen Brothers flick since The Big Lebowski.  Safe to say, this was my favorite movie of 2010.  

Starring:  Pauly Shore, about a million other stars

Back in September of 2004, I took a little vacation out to Los Angeles for a concert.  I stayed in the Sunset Hyatt Hotel, famous for being trashed by various rock stars back in the 70's.  Next door to the "Riot House" as it was called, is the world famous Comedy Store.  The greatest stand-up comedy club in the world.  On the marquee the weekend of my vacation was the message:  "MY SON ISN'T DEAD."  I had no idea what this meant, other than I did know that the Comedy Store was owned by Mitzi Shore, mother of 80's MTV personality and actor Pauly Shore.   

Three years later, I'm shopping at my favorite indie record and movie shop Graywhale, and I saw Pauly Shore Is Dead on the shelf.  I couldn't pass it up.  Bought that sucker and was not disappointed.  This film is a single-camera mockumentary of Pauly's life in the mid 2000's.  Pauly in the late 80's and early 90's was never really that funny, and his movies were pretty shitty (although Carla Gugino, Joey Lauren Adams and Tia Carerre were pretty nice to look at at the time).  Pauly in the 2000's however, was pretty much how you'd expect given the beating in popular culture just about everything from the late 80's and early 90's takes.  Jobless and semi-destitute (although still having a couple ducats in the bank), the film begins with Pauly being evicted by his home's new owner, Carrot Top.  Forced to move back home with his mother, he wanders LA, running into random celebrities and unsuccessfully begging for movie roles.  He eventually takes a job parking cars at the Comedy Store.

One night he's visited by his guardian angel, the ghost of legendary comic Sam Kinison, who advises him to kill himself so he could go down in history as a legend who died before his time.  So he fakes his own death and becomes a media sensation with every celebrity you can think of weighing in on how much of a genius Pauly was.  Pauly holes up in a motel room and cackles maniacally at the TV as for once, he's back on top.  But it's only a matter of time before he gets found out.        

This flick definitely doesn't take itself too seriously, with Pauly and the multitude of celebrities taking shot after shot at his act and career.  It's hilarious.  And what a lineup!  No less than Pamela Anderson, AJ Benza, B-Real, Todd Bridges, Tommy Chong, Vern Troyer, The Dahm Triplets, Carson Daly, Ellen DeGeneres, Screech, Andy Dick, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Fred Durst, Perry Farrell, Heidi Fleiss, Paris and Nicky Hilton, Clint Howard, Kato Kaelin, Craig Kilborn, Carl LaBove, Tommy Lee, Kurt Loder, Michael Madsen, Bill Maher, Mark McGrath, Jason Mewes, Pat O'Brien, Nancy O'Dell, Sean Penn, Matt Pinfield. Sally Jesse, Chris Rock, Ja Rule, Britney Spears, Jerry Springer, Vince Vaughn, Montel Williams, Sully Erna, Whoopi Goldberg, Wes Borland, Hanson, Dexter Holland and Ben Stiller all show up to weigh in.  It really becomes more of a game of spot the cameo as the story gets a little more ridiculous as time goes on.

It does have some really goddamn funny scenes though, such as Corey Feldman trying to score drugs, Tom Sizemore getting emotional and tearing up about Pauly's "death" even when he's completely surrounded by half-naked hookers and Pauly getting some helpful advice from Charlie Sheen!

Would you buy produce from this man?

Not to mention a totally awesome scene where Pauly comes across 80's Latin act Gerardo (AKA Rico Suave) who happens to be reduced to selling oranges on a freeway off-ramp.  Beyond ridiculous, but it might've been worth the purchase for that scene alone.  Netflix it for some mindless fun for a couple hours.

Directed By:  Jeff and Michael Zimbalist

I'm not a fan of soccer, but for some reason I'm fascinated by the drug culture of the 70's, 80's and early 90's.  This is kind of weird, because I'm not really a drug guy, but some of the stories are incredible.  The Two Escobars chronicles the rise of soccer in Colombia in the mid 80's, and its inevitable fall after a horrible mistake costs them the 1994 World Cup.  

Soccer in Columbia was pretty much in the doldrums in the early 80's.  They had some good players, but there was no money in it back then.  Along came Pablo Escobar, leader of the Medellin drug cartel and one of the most polarizing figures in Colombian history.  People either felt he was Satan incarnate or a modern day Robin Hood with no in-between.  He starts sinking thousands of dollars into the local club team, Atletico Nacional, which soon becomes class of Colombian and eventually South American soccer.  Back then though, nobody really talked about where the money was coming from (even though they knew), but they were enjoying the spoils.  "Narco-Soccer" ushered in a golden age for soccer in Colombia with drug lords all over the country competing with each other to have their team be the best.  And very few ended up being as good as Nacional.  The film examines this period as well as the violence that drove it with no qualms whatsoever.  They even managed to score an interview in a prison with Pablo Escobar's right hand man, a dude who claimed to be personally responsible for something like 80 deaths on his own.  Unreal.  

Along side the batshit-crazy stories of violence and revolution, the film also chronicles the rise of another Escobar, Andres and his rise to fame as the captain of first Atletico Nacional and then as the undisputed leader of Colombian National team.  By all accounts, he was a shy, spiritual, family man who did all that he could to rise above and shun the violence the drug cartels created.  Unfortunately, his career was tied to it whether he liked it or not.  And when he accidentally kicked the ball past his own goalie in a 1994 World Cup elimination game against the host United States, the cartels sought their bloody retribution.  

This film was incredibly dark and sad.  I'm still no soccer fan, but the way it was edited with old game films and newsreels from Colombia as well as some classic period music kept me enthralled throughout.  This one stands right up there with Billy Corben's Cocaine Cowboys as two fascinating portraits of that era.

NosebleedDavid Arquette's nose starts bleeding.  He tries to stop it.  Sticks a bullet up his nose.  Should've fired it out of a gun. 

Starring:  Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Brigitte Nielsen, Burt Young, Tony Burton

Rocky IV!  Between HBO in the late 80's, and TNT, USA and TBS since then, I'm pretty sure I've seen this movie 1327 times.  And before I shuffle off the mortal coil, I'm pretty sure I'll see it a thousand times more.  It's easily the most accessible Rocky flick to get into, I mean, who can't get into the old-school USA vs. USSR conflict?  Okay, anyone not born after 1985, but I digress.  Once again, this passes the "remote control test."  If I see it while flipping channels, I'll watch no mater how far in this movie is.  

Who didn't want one of these things to bring you beers as a kid?
The plot is beyond simple.  Rocky's back on top after knocking out Mike Tyserrrrrrr... Clubber Lang in III and is seemingly content with polishing his Lamborghini and hanging out in his mansion with his wife, kid, alcoholic brother-in-law and their creepy-ass robot servant.  He gets a call from his old adversary and unlikely trainer Apollo Creed who is looking to take on the first professional fighter out of the Soviet Union, Ivan Drago, in an exhibition match.  

Oddly enough, this turns out to be a horrible idea.  I mean c'mon, the Russian was half his age and may or may not have been a fucking cyborg!  Anyway, Rocky ruthlessly murders Apollo by not throwing in the towel as Drago rains titanic shot after titanic shot down on Creed's head.  This leads to the inevitable revenge match in Russia, on Christmas (OOOOOH SYMBOLISM!) with Rocky battling Drago in a fifteen round fight for the fate of the free world.  Or something like that.  

Along the way we're treated to no less than three badass sports-movie montages.  The hallmark of any good sports movie of the 80's.  First, after yet another one of his wife Adrian's wet-blanket "just give up" speeches, Rocky tears ass through the Philadelphia streets in his Lambo, going at least 150 miles an hour with a deeply contemplative look on his face as he flashes back through the series.  As a matter of public safety, it might've been nice though if Rocky just once WATCHED THE FUCKING ROAD!  Then there are two fantastic training montages in Russia that juxtaposed Rocky's grass roots, farmer-in-the-dell training methods (SEE HIM DIG A SLEIGH OUT OF THE SNOW!  WATCH AS SCRAPPY ROCKY DOES CHIN-UPS IN A BARN AND LIFTS A GIANT NET OF ROCKS!) with the high-tech, steroid laced methods of his Russian killing machine rival.  The funny thing is, that at the time in real life, Stallone was 'roided out of his mind.  The montage is capped by shots of Rocky ditching his KGB chaperones and running up a 25,000 foot mountain in a pair of boots and a leather jacket.  Utterly ridiculous, but fucking awesome all the same.


And how about that fight!  Forget about the ridiculous circumstances (Rocky vacating his title, no prize money, in the Soviet Union, on the Baby Jesus' Birthday) and just revel in the violence!  If this fight were real, I'm pretty sure it would've shattered every PunchStat record in history.  You could count the misses for each fighter on one hand!  Back in the day, title fights went fifteen rounds instead of the twelve from the current era, and you just knew this one was going at least that far; with the (SPOILER ALERT FOR IDIOTS) hamburger faced Rocky vanquishing his Soviet foe and single-handedly ending the Cold War all in a two minute span.
I'm pretty sure Rocky was summarily tossed into a gulag, never to be heard from again after that.  My cousin Pete swears he had a Poli-Sci teacher quote that speech in class once, cracking him up and getting him in trouble.  I'd have laughed to, because between the two of us, we've both seen each of the Rocky flicks enough times that we now just refer to them as "Rocky," "II," "III," and "IV."  We both agree that Rocky V never should've gotten out of a pitch meeting.  

Sure, at this point, they're cliched, predictable, and no doubt overexposed, but if I'm ever flipping channels and I see a Rocky flick on there, I can guarantee I'll be sucked in for a couple hours at least.  Hell, I'm pretty sure the TNT channel never would've gotten off the ground without showing this and Mad Max:  Beyond Thunderdome on an endless loop back in the day!       

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why don't you have a seat...

"What are you doing with that rope and a bag of Trojans?"
If there's one thing I love almost as much as bad movies, it's bad TV shows.  It's really the baser elements of popular culture.  The stuff with so little redeeming value that it almost has some in an ironic sense.  Author Chuck Klosterman refers to this stuff as "Low Culture," and I'm hooked on it like a coke fiend.  

When NBC News' Dateline program started filming their ...To Catch A Predator series, their goal was simple.  Expose the dangers to your teenager that creeps online pose.  And right out of the gate, they achieved that goal.  But like everything else in life, too much can sometimes be a bad thing.  As they did more and more of these specials, the reactions from the viewing audience changed from the anger and shock of the proliferation of pedophiles online, to reactions of joy from the entertainment contained within each episode.  I know I laugh at these shows a lot more than I probably should.  I don't think that's necessarily the reaction the producers of the show intended.

After a while, the show begins to get a little predictable.  They show a few online chat-logs between the predator and a decoy.  These start innocently enough (for as twisted as this shit is), but almost always devolve into said predator emailing pictures of his junk to the "kid."  The guy shows up at a sting-house and is let in by the decoy, who always manages to stay out of the direct eyesight of the predator.  As she steps into the back to take care of some last minute laundry, we are treated to a few uncomfortable seconds of the sicko mentally prepping himself for action.  

One beat later, the hand of god steps through the curtain.  Chris Hansen, surely representing all of our collective judgment, walks onto the scene, along with four cameras and a boom mic; commencing to give the shell-shocked pedophile an interrogative colonoscopy.  After two minutes of grilling, the whimpering pederast is allowed to leave the house, and makes his exit into the gentle arms of the local police department.  The show usually wraps up with text line of each featured subject and the amount of time he received from the court.  Simple and effective, it's public justice for the 21st century.


As predictable as it can be, it's the little details that had me hooked on the show.  Hansen's deadpan reading of the chat-logs are awesome:  MenudoFan69:  do you like the angle of my dangle?  I love the amused look on the decoys face as she describes whatever kind of regional snack she's prepared for the predator to nosh on while she throws her soiled shirt in the off-camera washing machine.  It's always sweet tea if they're down South, lemonade in California, and cookies or a bowl of candy anywhere else.  The guy almost always denies he was there to do anything sexual, but for some reason always has a bag full of rubbers and either a six-pack of Miller Genuine Draft or a bottle of Boone's Farm.  And it's always a kick to see the glimmer of hope that he is off the hook in the creep's eyes when Chris says the magic words, "You're free to leave."  Of course that always results in about ten angry cops pinning the guy to the driveway as they slap those weird plastic handcuffs on him.  Good times.

Sadly, they don't seem to be doing these shows anymore.  It came to an end when a District Attorney in Texas suspected of soliciting minors committed suicide rather than face THE LONG DICK OF THE LAW.  His family blamed the show, who was in the area filming at the time and a lawsuit was filed.  It was later settled and NBC moved on to other stories.  There's no doubt the show was effective, but it does bring up some legal questions.  Chief among them are the possible entrapment issues their stings brought up, as well as a possible tainting of the jury pools in the cities in which they were filmed.  

But when you think about it, they really don't have to film anymore, do they?  Because nobody recycles old shit better than current shallow Cable-TV, and that's where ...To Catch a Predator lives now.  Predator Raw:  The Unseen Tapes on MSNBC shows the original stings WITH BONUS COMMENTARY!  And even though I've seen it all before a hundred times, and I know what's going to happen, here I am on a Sunday night waiting for my fix.  And I highly doubt that I'm the only one.       

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The True Confessions of a Film Freak: First Edition

For anyone that knows me well, they know I'm a movie junkie.  I like them all, from great movies like Casablanca to films that are pretty much universally considered to be tripe.  Freddie Got Fingered comes to mind there.  I like long movies, short movies, documentaries, and everything in between.  As I was mentioning in my previous entry, I'm a regular listener to a weekly podcast called The Film Vault on ACE Broadcasting.  This ought to be required listening for anyone into the cinema.  On each show, the two hosts, Anderson Cowan and Brian Bishop spend a segment discussing the last few films each of them have watched in the previous week.  This often leads to some frank discussion of each others tastes, and frequently involves some bustin' balls.  Always good stuff.  So I figured I'd bare my movie loving soul for ya'll on a weekly basis.  I'll confess a few movies that I've watched in the last week.  This will typically include two or three features, a documentary, and a segment on a basic cable standard, and I'll sprinkle my opinions on each.  I'm not going to pretend to be highbrow.  But hopefully, I can point you in the direction of some decent movies, or some horrible movies if you need a laugh.  Oh yeah, there will be a spoiler or two, but only on the older flicks.  Here we go!

The Features:
Starring:  Michael Keaton, Joe Piscopo, Maureen Stapleton, Marilu Henner, Peter Boyle

What the hell happened to Michael Keaton?  That guy was all over the place between Night Shift in 1982 and Batman Returns in 1992.  It was an incredible body of re-watchable work in a ten-year span, many of which I'll be profiling in this space.  And then, really nothing of note save for the occasional cameo here or there.  Damn shame if you ask me.  Dude was every bit as comfortable playing an over-the-top role (Beetlejuice) as he was as a straight man (Hunt Stevenson in Gung Ho).  He could even play a stone-cold psychopath (Carter Hayes in Pacific Heights).  He had great range.  

Johnny Dangerously features Keaton as a mobbed up guy with a heart of gold in a sendup of 30's gangster flicks.  He takes up crime as a young boy as a means to pay for his mother's comically expensive surgeries.  Joe Piscopo (who made Keaton's post '92 workload look like Bruce Willis') plays his rival in the gang, Danny Vermin.  Great fucking name.  Maybe the best sounding internet handle after Jackie Treehorn.  This flick throws out sight-gag after sight-gag and wacky hijinks ensue.

This came up on the HBO comedy channel at around 1:30 AM the other night, and that might be the best time to see it, in a sleep-deprived haze.  I must have seen this movie a hundred times growing up.  It was one of my old man's faves.  His favorite character being that of evil nightclub owner Roman Maronie, played by another 80's character staple, Richard Dimitri.  Maronie unsuccessfully attempts to murder the leader of Johnny's gang and commits wholesale slaughter on the english language as shown here:

Fargin Iceholes!  Goddamn hilarious.  Bottom line, if you like stuff like Airplane!, give this a shot.

Starring:  Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt (The Greatest American Hero!), Nancy Allen, and an if-you-blink-you-miss-him John Travolta

Yeesh!  Carrie was goddamn creepy the first time I saw it when I was twelve, and it still gives me the chills to this day.  This story of a teenage misfit with telekinetic abilities taking out the frustrations of a shitty home-life on her tormentors by ruthlessly massacring them on prom night will freak you out.  Jesus, the first time I ever saw the very last scene I nearly pissed myself, and it still gives me the douchechills!  

Director Brian De Palma's set design did a great job of making ordinary, benevolent things look strangely menacing.  The creepy-assed St. Sebastian statue in Carrie's prayer closet is a good example.  LOOK AT IT'S FUCKING GLOWING EYES!  But he really gets his money's worth out of his sound designer who combined popular soft-rock songs of that era with creepy sounding organ music, and enough squeaks, screams, and bangs to create an almost Hitchcockian atmosphere. 

I don't know whether to pray for forgiveness or run away screaming like a kid with a skinned knee and shit
 But the real standout star in my opinion was Carrie's psychotic, religious fundamentalist madre, played by Piper Laurie, who, sadly ended up doing mostly TV Movie of the week work after this.  She had several awesome monologues in this movie.  Just absolutely chewing scenery in an unreal performance.  Here's my personal favorite:  
I LIKED IT!  IIIIII LIKED IT!!!  What a whackaloon!  See this one if you haven't already.  IFC's been playing it at night every few days lately.

 My feature Doc of the week:

Directed by:  Josh Fox

GasLand popped up on HBO last summer the day I got back from a vacation to see the Yankees in Phoenix.  It begins with the filmmaker, Josh Fox receiving a letter from an energy company offering a few bucks to drill for natural gas on his land.  The most popular natural gas extraction method is known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" in which a highly pressured mixture of water and volatile chemicals is injected deep into the ground to break up shale rock formations and release the gas.  

Not sure what that would do to his land, he set off across the country to see how this method of natural gas extraction is affecting the people who made the decision to allow the drilling rigs on their land.  I know you guys want an example.  Here ya go:
Here's the thing.  These gas rigs are absolutely dotting the landscape all over the place these days.  Where Saudi Arabia and "The-Iraq" have the world's largest petroleum deposits, the United States is pretty much the exact same way with natural gas.  So there's tons of jobs at stake, and a glimmer of hope for energy independence.  But for fucks sake, people's water shouldn't be lighting on fire.  This flick was a real eye-opener, and it was recently nominated for an Academy Award.  It's damn good.  And it kinda freaked me out considering my hometown is virtually surrounded by huge natural gas fields.

And now, a short review of a short:

Moth:  Hot actress burns a J, hoovers three rails, and pops a handful of pills.  Trips out in a bathtub and sees wolves and shit.  Kinda sucked.

This Week's Basic Cable Standard:

Starring:  Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Thomas Ian Griffith, Martin Kove, Robyn Lively, Sean Kanan

Karate Kid 3!  While the first Karate Kid movie is an undeniable watershed moment of my formative years, the brand got a bit watered down as the years went by.  But this one might be one of the most re-watchable of any of the multitude of unnecessary sequels to early 80's flicks that were released in the latter part of that decade.  Simply because the plot is beyond ridiculous.  

Millionaire industrialist asshole takes time away from doing whatever it is that millionaire industrialist assholes do to assist his old buddy from Vietnam's attempt to ruin the life of a high-school karate champion and resurrect their evil dojo franchise.  After about twelve beers that actually seems to make sense.  Sober however, it fails miserably.

What makes this flick enjoyable are the little things you notice when you watch it for the 563rd time.  It also benefits from a small amount of research.  I'm fascinated by the fact that Ralph Macchio, the aforementioned Karate Kid, was actually a year older than Thomas Ian Griffith, playing Terry Silver, said billionaire industrialist asshole.  Daniel-San was supposedly a senior in high school in this movie.  This means Terry Silver was up to his asshole in the muck in in Southeast Asia, mowing down the North Vietnamese with John Kreese AS A ZYGOTE during the height of the Vietnam war.

Robyn Lively puts up with a lot as Jessica, replacing the iconically yummy Elisabeth Shue from the first film, as Daniel-San's apparent love interest.  I say apparent because he seems much more interested in hanging out with a 65-year-old maintenance man than with her,  Describing Mr. Miyagi as "my partner and best friend."  But hey, Miyagi has the ability to massage a body part back to life.  The jokes write themselves.  This movie might be joining Top Gun as two of the most sneakily homoerotic movies ever made.

It's a great testimony as to how much of an unlikeable douchebag Daniel-San was, that in three movies spanning the course of a year, three different groups of people on two different continents took time out of their busy lives to fuck with him.  Is it any wonder that people are making homemade cuts of these flicks, casting the Cobra Kai in a more sympathetic light?  They were obviously just misunderstood.  STRIKE FIRST!  STRIKE HARD!  NO MERCY!

This flick had a great run on basic cable throughout the 90's.  TNT, USA, and TBS were literally built on the backs of films like this, Road House, Rocky IV, and Beastmaster 2.  And now it's popping up again on Encore or HBO 8, The Ocho.  It still passes the remote control test.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The one where a random musing reminds me of an old Dorm Days Flashback...

Coming up later this week will be the debut of a weekly feature here on the ‘Monster. I’m calling it the “True Confessions of a Film Freak.” If you listen to the awesome weekly podcast on ACE Broadcasting called The Film Vault (and if you aren’t, you should, it’s a must-listen for any fan of the cinema), they have a segment on each of their shows where they confess to the movies they’ve watched in the previous week. Their tastes tend to run fairly high-brow. Mine, unfortunately, do not. It’s been established that I have very little in the way of shame, so weekly here on the blog, I’m going to confess the films I’ve seen that previous week and accept your mockery. 

Today I was spending some time filling out a little paperwork. But it wasn’t just any paperwork; it was a Resident Advisor Candidate Recommendation Form for one of my Griffins Women golfers. She wants to be an RA next year. Now, for anyone who has read my writing, especially the stories about my college life, The Dorm Days, know I was never a big fan of rules back in the day, and would expend a foolishly ridiculous amount of effort to circumvent them. I was a moron. So the irony wasn’t lost on me as I answered some questions as to why I think she would be an awesome college dorm authority figure. She’s going to be a great RA. And not by the “college-me’s” fucked up standards, but because she’s exactly who they are looking for. 

That leads to tonight’s entry. It was one of the last on the old site before it died, so a lot of you probably missed it.  It’s a tale of heartbreak, frustration, debauchery and redemption. This is the final classic piece of my writing from my old blog, and the last of the original “Dorm Days: The Penthouse Chronicles” stories. Don’t worry, there will be some new ones coming down the pike: 

“The Good, Bad Week” 
(August 2001) 
Originally posted to the old blog in January, 2008 

There was a light at the end of the tunnel and it was called my senior year of college. The old digs had been abandoned. The Penthouse of Room #302 in Residence Hall #3 had finally passed on to some new denizens as Big Nick, VodkaRob and I had just moved into the newest building on campus, Residence Hall #5. The standard 6-bedroom setup was no more, now we had a choice between 2, 3, 4, and 5 bedroom apartments. In the springtime of the previous year, the administration had an open sign-up date to request roommates. Big Nick and I thought we’d give the 2-bedroom apartment a shot, but there were only three available in the new building so we figured we’d have to be the first in line to sign up, like waiting in line for concert tickets or something. So I slipped a buddy of mine on the maintenance crew twenty bucks and he let us into the Dean’s office waiting room at 5:30 in the morning. Not even the cafeteria cooks would be coming in until 6:00! We had it for sure! The cafeteria opened at 6:30 and people started crowding in around the waiting room’s locked door. They were pissed when the Dean finally showed up to unlock the door, only to find Big Nick and me already in there! Especially considering we were already her favorite targets of scorn, (see: pretty much every story up to this point!), it made it especially satisfying at the time to get our requested room. 

VodkaRob and Crazy Pete were the next ones in. In retrospect though, it turned out to be a mistake. Crazy Pete ended up getting a spot in the Navy House, and left VodkaRob on his own. Big Nick and I should’ve gotten the 3-bedroom setup with VodkaRob. As it stood, the only thing that could split up the chemistry of #302 was our own stupid decisions. We shouldn’t have left him hanging like that, and that’s one of my big regrets from that period in time. We could’ve had some fucking fun. Luckily VodkaRob ended up only two doors down in room #304, so it wasn’t like he was clear across campus or anything. Not only that, but it turned out his bedroom seemed like it was as big as Big Nick and my whole apartment! But still, it was kind of a bummer. As luck would have it Big Nick and my top-floor 2-bedroom unit had a familiar number. Yup, we were in Apartment #302 Part II! 

Anyhow, that may be the very first example of somebody starting a story off with an aside. Kids, that’s guaranteed to get you a “D” on any paper you write in the future! But fuck it, it’s been awhile, so I figured I’d better bring you folks up to speed. This story is going to chronicle the third week of school, my senior year. It was easily one of the most eventful weeks in my college life, and certainly the biggest roller coaster. I went through damn near every emotion there was that week, and still somehow came out of it with a smile on my face. We’re just gonna take this one in chronological order. 

Tuesday, August 28th, 2001 
I was getting ready to head to work when Coach DP called me down to his office for a chat. I should’ve known something was wrong when he was sitting in there with the athletic department’s liaison to the registrar’s office. She was the one that certified us and made sure we were all academically eligible to play our chosen sports. “We’ve got a problem Nickas,” coach said with a concerned look on his face. 

“What’s up?” I replied, wondering what the hell was going on. 

“According to the NAIA rules of progress, we just discovered that you are 1 credit hour short over the course of the past 4 years of your eligibility. We just caught it, and we’ve filed an appeal on your behalf, because it was our mistake. But during the appeals process we’ve got to hold you out of the first two tournaments this season,” said the liaison. 

Evidently I’d been borderline eligible throughout my stay at Westminster, but I had taken a just-above-full-time schedule the previous semester that pulled me a single hour short of the limit. The one summer-session class that I’d signed up for getting cancelled due to my being the only registrant didn’t help either. They explained the steps I needed to take, and had me sign the appeals paperwork, and I just walked out of the coach’s office, pissed off. I went to work and lost myself in the driving range. 

What a shitty start to the school year! Golf Girl was gone, she’d transferred elsewhere two weeks before school started, never to be seen again. My buddy VodkaRob got ditched by his roommate, and now this! Things can only go up from here, right? Nope. 

Wednesday, August 29th, 2001 
After a mostly sleepless night, I awoke to a brand new day. After meeting up with VodkaRob and Crazy Pete for breakfast down in the cafeteria, I cruised to my first class, sociology of the elderly, and realized I’d forgotten my notebook and a pen. Not good, but luckily, the swingin’ gal sitting next to me, Jan, hooked me up. “You all right?” she asked. 

“Must be losing my mind or something,” I mumbled. Smooth man, real smooth. 

Sitting in class was like pulling teeth, but it just seemed like I was biding my time for the afternoon. I was scheduled to play in an 8-man team golf match with my co-workers at Rose Park Golf Course against those rotten bastards from Park City Municipal Golf Course. 12:30 hit and I jetted across campus like I had a rocket up my ass, grabbed my sticks and loaded up in my Blazer, affectionately known to my high school friends as the “Sweet Ride.” 

I popped a copy of Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell” into the CD player and turned the key in the ignition. Dead silence. Hit the key again and the indicator lights lit up my dashboard like a Christmas tree. Nothing. “No no no no no no no!” I yelled. “Fucking electrical shit!” That was one of the few things I didn’t know how to repair on my own. Things had been acting strangely with the truck and I was hoping to get my pops to look at it that Sunday when I went down to the old hometown to play in the “Beer League.” 

It looked like I was going to need a jump to get it started, so I figured I’d save it and take my chances on the trip home Sunday. I dialed one of my bosses at Rose Park, D, who thankfully was still in town to get a ride up to Park City for the match. “No problem bud, I’ll be right over,” he said. 

We arrived at the Park City Municipal Golf Course at 1:30. Just enough time to warm up for a half hour before my partner, a plastic surgeon named Doc Baldwin, and I led off the pairings against Park City’s #3 and #4 players Richtenburg and Veloso. I went through my pre competition routine of washing down 3 big and blue Advil with a can of Mountain Dew; sticking my wallet, keys, and cell phone in my bag; putting my divot tool and ball marker in my left pocket and two green tees in the right; and taking about five swings with each club up through the bag. It wasn’t my greatest warm-up session, but I felt like I was ready to go. 

The rain started to fall early on and just got worse as the round wore on. The four-ball match was a dead heat as Doc Baldwin, while overmatched was just playing out of his mind. I struggled to put Richtenburg away and as we hit the 18th tee, he had pulled to even. He absolutely smoked his drive right up the pipe on short par-5 hole. “Gotta pull out the big dog,” I said as I reached for my Titleist 975 D (yes, all you golf aficionados, I was still rocking this model in 2001. Best center weighted driver ever!). I cranked one down the right side of the fairway, leaving myself about 190 to the center of the island green. Unfortunately the ball managed to settle into an old divot. Richtenburg pulled out his 5 iron and gave it a run at reaching the green in two. His shot landed about 4 feet over the water and struck a sprinkler head, catapulting his shot straight into the air and finally landed about eight feet from the hole! 

Needing to reach the green in two myself, from a ridiculously shitty lie, I pulled out my six iron. Needless to say, that the way this week was going, disaster had to be looming. I smothered the ball out of that divot, pulling it about ten yards left of the green right into the middle of the pond. Game over. Our team as a whole got blitzed by the Park City guys on their home track that day, so my match didn’t mean much, but it still sucks to lose, you know. 

So D and I pulled up to the dorm, I took my gear out of the trunk of his car and reached into the pocket to grab my keys and wallet. Oh shit. Something was missing, and it wasn’t my keys. My wallet was gone. Jesus Christ! Can things get any worse?! After sticking my head out the window and unleashing a growl that probably could’ve been heard in Magna, I jogged through some scenarios and did what I could to recover it, including borrowing VodkaRob’s Explorer to drive to Park City to retrace my steps. 

It was long gone. After making some phone calls to cancel my ATM and charge cards, I took a double shot of NyQuil and passed out. Tomorrow, it was time to crawl out of the hole. 

Thursday, August 30th, 2001 
At 8:00 AM I awoke in a daze, my phone was ringing; it was the front desk of Residence Hall #5. My Godmother had arrived to bring me her spare junker car, a banana yellow and rust 1987 Pontiac Grand Prix. “I’ll be down in a second.” I said, groggily. God bless her, my νονά had taken on a motherly role to me in absence of my own (at the time). She wasn’t going to let me miss a day of work just because my truck was dead. I gave her a lift back home, kissed her on the forehead, and scrambled back to campus to get to class. 

After four hours of Abnormal Psychology and The Sociology of Marriage, I cruised on out to Rose Park to clean up the driving range. One of the two jobs I carried through college, (the on-campus job gets a chronicle of its own eventually), I was in the words of Bud Light’s Real American Heroes - Mr. Driving Range Picker Upper Guy: 

Yup, that about sums it up. It was a fun job, I got to blast some tuneage in my not so protective tractor and play human target for four hours. But what it did get me, besides some extra spending cash and an occasional welt when a ball would fly through the net, was free golf anywhere in town. Unfortunately, as fun as that job was, on Thursdays I needed to leave an hour and a half before closing time in order to make it to my night class at 7:30. So back across town to the campus I drove, stopping by Room #302 to pick up my books. Big Nick poked his head out of his bedroom door. “Where are you goin’?” He asked with a goofy grin on his face. 

“I’ve got to go to class man, Greek and Roman History,” I replied. 

“No, you’re not.” 

“Uhh, yes I am.” 

“No, you’re not.” He said laughing. “You’ve had one of the shittiest weeks known to man. You’re going out tonight. Rock, Pablo and the other guys are waiting for us. We’ve got the cure, a Death-Star.” 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” 

“Just get cleaned up, you’ll see.” 

“I guess I’m not going to class,” I said as I looked at the clock, now reading 7:35. I grabbed a can of Fosters out of the fridge and hit the shower, cranking Def Leppard’s Pyromania album. I threw on a pair of jeans and a Superman t-shirt. On our way out the door, Big Nick, shot a look my way. 

“You got any ID man?” 

“Fuck, I didn’t even think of that.” I said. “Waitaminute, I’ve got an idea.” I ran and grabbed a couple of items from my desk. 

We jumped into Big Nick’s Jeep and pulled into a little strip mall up in Highland in front of a Mexican restaurant called El Chihuahua. I’d be lying if I wasn’t thinking that Mexican food sounded pretty fucking good right about then. We walk into the cantina where Roc, Pablo, Trig, the Masshole and a few of our other buddies were sitting around a huge table munching on chips and salsa. 

“Something to drink?” the waitress said as she approached our table. One by one everybody had the same answer, “DEATH-STAR.” 

“I guess I’ll be having a Death-Star.” I said, wondering what the hell I was getting myself into. 

“I’m going to need to see some ID” she said, as everybody pulled out their drivers licenses. Seeing as how I was sans-wallet, I laid a copy of my birth certificate and my Salt Lake City employee card out on the table. The poor girl called out her manager, who also happened to be tending bar, who noticed that my Social Security Number was on both documents and hooked me up. 

After about ten minutes of cracking jokes and busting balls, the drinks arrived. The Death-Star came in a giant fish-bowl sized glass that looked like a purple version of that drink Garth ordered in the first Wayne’s World flick. The bartender/manager guy came over and explained to us that in order to get around some of Utah’s more archaic liquor laws, certain alcoholic parts of the drink had to be labeled “flavorings.” The Death-Star was comprised of ten shots of different “flavorings” and five shots of various juices. I took a drink, “Wow! This tastes just like antifreeze!” I thought. I took another drink, “sweet, sweet antifreeze.” And another, “hey this isn’t half bad.” And another, “this is actually pretty good.” And finally, “I think my face is numb, and I can’t even taste it anymore.” The Death-Star folks, it’s a keeper! 

After we all had a Death-Star (one was all it took) and a shitload of various Mexican delicacies, we cruised back to the dorms. That Death-Star plus a couple of beers pretty much made me forget the next hour or so, but the next thing I remember was rolling down the road in Big Nick’s Jeep, while Pablo and Trig shot fire extinguishers out the back. Not sure where those came from. Typical college, drunken behavior but it was still funny for some reason. Oddly enough, "Death-Star" night is a tradition among college kids in Salt Lake that continues to this day.  What can I say, we were trendsetters!

Friday, August 31st, 2001 
I awoke with such a headache, that it felt like somebody was stabbing me in the right eye with an ice-pick. “Christ, I can’t handle the hooch like I used to.” I thought. Thankfully, there were very few Friday classes at Westminster, which allowed for maximum “Margarita Thursday” recovery. I went down to the Dean’s office to fill out the paperwork to get a new school ID. Surprisingly the picture actually looked better than my previous ID. Maybe things were looking up. 

I got back to #302 just in time to meet Big Nick. He gave me a lift out to the hellhole known as the DMV. We blasted Anthrax’s The Sound of White Noise on our way out there. Nick had never heard them before, I think he was hooked, but that might’ve been because it was cranking out of his ridiculously awesome system. I forgot to mention, he had the top off of his Jeep and we had to take the freeway to the DMV, so I ended up with one of the most bizarre hairdos in the world for the next 5 years on my new driver’s license. I looked like a husky version of Wayne Static! 
Only fatter
We got back to campus around 1:00. On our way back up to our building, I ran into my friend Jess, (the girl I took to the AC/DC show, as well as several others, plus, her dad had owned a record store). “I’ve got some CD’s for you if you want ‘em,” she said. 

“What do I owe ya?” I asked. 

“Not a damn thing,” she said, “I’ve already got most of them. It’s all extra stuff my dad had lying around.” 

“Sounds good, just drop by a little later this afternoon, I’ll be around after golf practice.” 

“Good luck.” She smiled. 

Well, after that, how could I not shoot a 1-under par 71 in practice that afternoon? It was easily the best round I had shot on Wingpointe since I was in Junior College. And it just made me even more frustrated about my eligibility situation. But still, it felt good to be striking the ball purely and putting out of my mind. If only Golf Girl had been around to see that. 

I got back to #302 around 5 o’clock to find a stack of about ten CD’s on our counter. Pretty good shit there, some Danzig, Slayer, Tears for Fears and several other pretty decent bands of stuff that I didn’t have already. Goddamn that Jess is a sweetheart. It was time to get ready for the evening’s festivities. Nick and I were “bouncing” at a house party, and it promised to be one for the ages. 

Friday Night, August 31st, 2001 The Party Big Nick, Rock, and I piled into his Jeep and drove up to Pablo’s condo up on Wasatch. The first thing we noticed was two giant tubs full of red liquid that would’ve made the Reverend Jim Jones proud. “Jungle Juice man!” Pablo jumped into the room. Good god! There had to be $200 worth of liquor in those tubs. I wonder how many people they expected to show up for this shindig. 

Big Nick and I took our positions at the door. In order to keep the “ratio” good, and to pay for the provisions, Pablo had erected a sign. “Chicks - $1.00 Dicks - $5.00 Cups - $1.00 We reserve the right to deny entry” I guess we were taking money at the door too. People started to arrive, in droves. The music was thumping, the booze was flowing and everybody was having a good time. Nick and I busted up a couple of fights, and had just finished tossing a couple of punks out on their asses when I noticed I yellow object sticking out of Nick’s back pocket. “What is that?” I asked. 

“My taser,” he replied, matter of factly. 

“What in the blue hell do have that for?” 

“Just in case, man.” 

“What, a rampaging gorilla decides he really needs a drink, or wants to fight?” 

“You’re paranoid,” he said, grinning. 

The party raged on, and I must’ve had $400 in my pocket. Hate to admit it, but damn, I was having fun. It was like every shitty thing that had happened that week didn’t matter anymore. Everybody seemed to be having fun, and this was easily the biggest party I’d ever been to. There had to be at least 100 people crammed into this condo with another 30 or so in the back yard and hot tub. 

Suddenly, an obviously wasted party-goer crashed into me. “Duuuude, I think the cops are here man.” 

“I haven’t seen any, none have come in the door, and we haven’t let any in.” 

“Man, I got to get out of here maaaan…” as he ran out the door. I walked outside to get some fresh air and looked down the road to see a massive caravan of police lights rolling up the street. I heard some thumping and looked up to see a helicopter with one of those giant spotlights trained down on the house. Oh shit! It’s the cops! 

I ran back into the house, just in time to see the “one guy that nobody knows at the party” pull a Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office badge on a chain out of his shirt. As more of his buddies popped in the door, and people started scrambling around I couldn’t help but kind of snicker at the scene. The house looked like a giant circle pit. The biggest deputy bellowed, “All right! Everybody over twenty-one, whip out your ID’s, show them to the deputy at the door and leave! Everybody under twenty-one, go to the backyard. You’re in for a long night!” 

Big Nick and I were two of the first few back through the door. God knows, I was happy to have an ID again. As we made our way out, I overheard some of the cops talking about possible charges they could ring our friends on. Things you wouldn’t even think of, beyond shit like contributing and things like that. They were talking about things like the size of the party and the amount of people constituting an “event” which would require an “event permit” and an actual liquor license. On our way out, they asked if we owned the house or knew who did. We denied everything. Hell, they’re the government, if they want to know bad enough, they have the resources, they can find out. 

We got half a block away, when Big Nick decided to turn back, explaining that he had left the faceplate of to his Jeep’s stereo in the house. I didn’t think that was a very good idea, I mean, we just got away from a virtual hornets’ nest with a shitload of cash in our pockets, but there was no stopping that dude. He handed me his roll of the door money and took off on a dead sprint back to the house. Bad idea. 

About a block away, I ran into one of the guys who owned the house who was just coming home to join the party and had missed the chaos. I handed him the stack of cash. “You might need this to bail out your roommates, bro.” He asked what all had occurred, so I laid the details out to him and suggested that he make himself scarce. He agreed and made a hasty retreat back to his car. I made it back to the Jeep and waited for what seemed like an eternity, before starting back down the sidewalk toward the house. I paused at the corner which overlooked the back yard and quietly observed the carnage. There were at least four lines, twenty people deep waiting in line to blow into a tube. Cops were literally EVERYWHERE! I wondered just how much the local taxpayers paid to have their sheriff’s department bust up this gathering. It must have been a slow night on the crime front. There were perfect little Mormon college princesses with tears streaming down their faces, knowing that their reputations were now tarnished. It was a surreal atmosphere. 

Suddenly, Pat, another one of our buddies ran up. “Nickas! They’ve got Big Nick down on the floor, spread eagle! I think they’re gonna cuff him!” 

“Oh shit!” I thought, “Maybe I should have hung on to that money to bail Nick out!” I started to mosey back towards the house, trying to think of what to do, when I saw Big Nick shuffling my direction. “Christ almighty man! What happened?” 

“They found the taser dude.” 

“And they just let you go?” I asked with a quizzical look on my face. 

“Yeah, but they confiscated it.” He replied, dejectedly. 

“Well shit man, let’s cut our losses, get the hell out of here and regroup back at the apartment.” I said, “Looks like we’re lucky to get out of here on our own terms!” 

We met up with Pablo and those guys at a local diner the next day. The statistics were staggering. Over 90 consumption tickets were handed out. I can’t remember for sure, but I think those guys incurred a small fine, which in this state is getting off light. Rock had to call his dad to tell him about his consumption ticket, but carried around his breathalyzer tube for a week, kind of like a merit badge. Big Nick, after his close call in nearly avoiding a weapons charge, mellowed out quite a bit after that episode. And that party went down in history. 

As for myself, well, I never did recover my wallet, but my dad figured out the electrical problem in my Blazer and managed to fix the problem in about ten minutes. I won my eligibility appeal and was reinstated for the last half of the last season of my collegiate career. That week put a lot of things in perspective for me. I felt like if I could weather that particular shitstorm and still come out smelling like a rose, then I’ve got to be pretty much bulletproof. It certainly helped later in life when I have come across a rough patch here and there. Things settled down and I had a pretty good senior year. I figured out that no matter how low I got, at least it has never gotten bad enough for the police to have to call my folks! And for some reason, I took a lot of comfort in that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sundance Yourself To Death!

I've always been a fan of the Sundance Film Festival and independent film in general.  There's this retarded thing in hollywood where a director has a vision and wants to see it fleshed out.  But by the time he brings guys on to finance it, a studio to back it, and a distributor to get it out there, suddenly there are hundreds of people all with a stake in the final product.  Unfortunately, that means all these people have a say in the final product, and what might have once been a good, original idea gets watered down.  So there's something to be said about guys that max out ten credit cards and deal with having to cut back on bloated effects and production values in order to distill their idea down to what matters.  Characterization and story arc.  The Sundance Festival is often times your only chance to see some of these films because more often than not, they're not going to see the inside of your local cineplex.  Sometimes, there's a really good reason for that, but on the flip side, once in awhile, there's some truly great ideas that never get the chance to reach a wide audience.  There's not a whole lot that I like about living in Salt Lake, but I do consider myself lucky to have access to something as great as the Festival every year.  

Four feature films and three shorts this year was by far the most I've ever seen in one Sundance Festival. Sadly, I didn't make the trip to Park City for any of these, instead opting for the screenings within walking distance of my apartment here in Salt Lick. I kinda missed the mountain ambiance (and the $10 beers) of a night in Park City, but on the other hand I discovered a new independent theater, The Broadway Center, that I'm planning on frequenting in the future. I'm even thinking of joining the Salt Lake Film Society as well to support it. Here are my brief reviews of the seven films that I screened at the Festival this year.

First up was a film titled I Saw The Devil. It was directed by Ji-woon Kim, who was also one of the writers for The Uninvited. This movie was in Korean and thankfully had subtitles. Which was nice, because even though at least half of my lesson clients early on in my career were Korean, I still didn't understand a damn thing.  But even if there weren't subtitles, you could still pretty easily figure it out. This movie stars Byung-Hun Lee (who played Storm Shadow in that GI Joe flick last year) as a Korean Secret Service agent whose fiancee falls victim to a serial killer. He then sets off to find the killer and put him through hell, possibly at the cost of his own humanity. 
He could have just nunchucked you right there and you would even have known it!
This movie was fucking violent, as most Korean revenge flicks tend to be, and at times hard to watch. But as gory as it was, psychologically it was even more brutal. Beautifully shot, but might've been a little too long. Good movie though. Afterward, I stopped into the coffee shop next door to the theater to take a piss, and ran into the Byun-hun Lee waiting outside the door to the john. Talked to him about the movie for a few minutes, seemed like a pretty cool guy. My buddy VodkaRob told me I should've tried to fight him for raping our childhoods with GI Joe though.  Good thing I didn't.  Dude would have beaten me about the head and neck with my own severed limbs.
A day later, we tied one on at The Tavernacle and walked down the street to the Broadway for the one we'd been looking forward to the most, Hobo With a Shotgun.  It was preceded by a short film titled The Legend of Beaver Dam.  It was the story of a group of wilderness scouts singing songs around the campfire that according to legend, summons a crazy killer. Chaos ensues in a bloody, vulgar, and musical fashion. As a fan of movies like The Goonies and The Monster Squad, I've got to say that I love kids that curse. It was a fun twelve minutes.
Where you probably won't get I Saw The Devil at your local cineplex, there was actually a legit buzz around the festival circles for Hobo With A Shotgun. What can I say? People seem to like the truth in advertising. This flick stars Rutger Hauer (who seems to have entered the Mickey Rourke zone of guys who you aren't sure they are even acting anymore) as said transient. 
Got any spare change?
He jumps off a train during a stopover in Hopetown, a run-down metropolis that makes Detroit look like Dubai, that is ruled by an evil gangster named The Drake.  Seeing injustice at every turn and meeting the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold (usually they just take your wallet), he forgoes his dream of starting his own lawn mowing business and instead takes his last fifty bucks and turns it into a pawn-shop 12-gauge and a seemingly unlimited amount of ammo.  From there he sets about taking back the streets of this urban hellhole, one shell at a time. This one was a bizarre, bloody and overall batshit crazy exploitation-type flick. If you like those types of movies from the mid-70's you'll enjoy this one. From what I hear, they've sold this movie to a distributor, so come April it'll be in theaters nationwide.

Arguably, the best part of Sundance is the documentaries.  So a few days later, I took my little sister to a screening of Resurrect Dead:  The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.  Before the feature, was a five-minute documentary short titled The High Level Bridge. The film profiled the High-Level Bridge that spans the Saskatchewan River in Edmonton, Alberta, its man-made waterfall and its reputation as a local suicide hotspot. The filmmaker sounded clinically depressed himself. One of the ladies on the golf team that I coach is from Edmonton, and when I asked her about all the suicides off the bridge and if it's an accurate representation of her hometown, she said "That's not what we're aboot back home." Touche'.  Here's the film in its entirety:

A very interesting real life mystery is featured in Resurrect Dead...The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. Dating back to the early 80's, somebody has been gluing peculiar signs to the streets of Philadelphia with a strange four-line message: 
These tiles fascinated a local layabout named Justin Duerr who began a quest to document all known locations of these tiles (which are found in eight states and three South American capitals) and find the mysterious artist who put them there. He teams up with the filmmaker, John Foy, and two other like-minded individuals to attempt to finally solve the mysteries of who, why and how. It was a fantastic documentary and it was interesting to see how these four guys were able to tie together seemingly unrelated clues into solid leads. I can't quite call Resurrect Dead... the best movie that I saw at the festival, but I can say that it was probably the most enjoyable of the bunch.  

Finally, VodkaRob and I wrapped up our Festival experience last Friday night with a midnight showing of The Oregonian.  Attached to this movie was a short titled The Pact. It features a pair of siblings in the home of their recently deceased mother discussing a secret that they share, something that happened in the basement. This one was genuinely scary, as opposed to the feature it was paired with, which I'll get to in a second. And it brought on those feelings of dread without any typical "payoff."

I went into The Oregonian expecting a grindhouse-y type of horror flick. What I ended up getting was a throwback to those late 60's early 70's psychedelic movies or something reminiscent of those "Coffin Joe" Brazilian horror flicks from the mid 70's. It featured a heaping helping of washed out colors and a horrifyingly brutal sound design that was light on dialogue, but heavy on shrieks, grunts, squeals and insane laughter. It was by far the loudest movie I've ever seen. My ears are still ringing. It lacked any semblance of a plot, or overall narrative other than a bloodied girl (True Blood's Lindsay Pulsipher) wandering in the woods encountering strange scenarios. It did, however, have plenty of horrifying visuals including a creepy old lady breathing hard while grinning from ear to ear, a redneck dude pissing all the colors of the rainbow during a pit-stop, a guy in a furry frog costume jerking off against a window, random hicks drinking pina coladas made with gasoline and some suspect-looking milky liquid, and plenty of people drooling bile while laughing. Read that sentence again. 
Thank god this is a still photo!
Most of it was gross, and none of it was scary. It was marketed as a horror flick and ended up being an arthouse flick. The Oregonian was basically an hour and twenty minute acid trip and I was sorely disappointed. But at least I made it all the way through it, which can't be said about the twenty or so people that walked out in the middle of the screening. It came into the festival with a considerable buzz and left the festival getting absolutely crushed by critics and viewers alike. 
So in a week's span, we saw some pretty good films, and a real stinker.  Like I said, sometimes there's a reason these aren't studio pictures.  But overall it was an awesome experience for any film geek for sure.  You ought to make it out here for the festival at least once in your life.  I guarantee, if you spread it around a little bit, you'll come away seeing something you like.  It literally has it all.