Sunday, July 25, 2010

Final Girl Film Club: House of the Devil

This month's Final Girl Film Club choice is......

Here's my review from the Milwaukee Film Festival last year.

Make sure you go to Final Girl to read all the cool kids' reviews!

-Mother Firefly

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Party Like It's 1968

I made it!!

I managed to make it to the Night of the Living Dead Puppet Show DVD Release Party on Friday night. I work ALOT at home after work; and after THREE HOURS of work at my kitchen table, missing the 8 pm showing time, I was more than a little resentful by the time I finally got to get out of the house and have some fun:

Don't chart angry, people.

But I did finally make it out of my house to dinner (BTW, my Milwaukee friends - do yourself a favor and visit Rio West on Friday or Saturday night - you won't be disappointed) and a margarita and a half (I helped Papa Cash finish his second), we went to Landmark Lanes to see if my favorite people that put on a zombie puppet show based on NOLD were still there.

They were. Not only did I pick up a copy of the DVD, I got a t-shirt, a button, and the best part - I got to hang with some of the most talented, nicest people in this town. Not only are they my FAVORITE people that put on a zombie puppet show based on NOLD, they're also the nicest.

AND - they played the DVD again around 10, so I had a chance to see it there with a bunch of great people and an alcoholic beverage. (Thanks for the beer, Josh!)

The DVD is wonderful - it's a fun way to revisit the show if you've seen it live, and it's a great substitute if you're not fortunate enough to have been able to see it in person (yet), but to really appreciate the creativity and genius that goes into the show, you really need to see it live. So keep an eye on their website (and here with Mama Firefly) for news on future shows.

But in the meantime, go to the website. Support zombies AND puppets (seriously, who doesn't love both?) and order yourself a copy. Mama says DO IT.

The DVD is 15.00, plus S/H, and the quality is positively out of sight.

Email for details.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blu-Ray Fun

I always said that I wouldn't replace ALL my DVD's with Blu-Ray -and while I still stand by that - after all, is ANYONE really clamoring for Guru: The Mad Monk in Hi-Def?- I have ended up buying a few classics in Blu-Ray. That is, when they're good and cheap. Let it never be said that Mother's grad school 'cheap-ass' tendencies ever totally went away.

While I have a couple that I think I could have lived without - specifically Evil Dead II and Day of the Dead. I didn't think ED II was much of an improvement, and I didn't even LIKE the way DotD looked in Hi-Def. But there are a few Blu-Rays that I think were worth the investment.

1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Yes, the original, for God's sake. I would have thought a low budget move such as this would be a waste on Blu-Ray, but it actually looks and sounds pretty out of sight. In fact, it sounded so good that once I even whipped my head around and wondered who was banging around outside. Not cute at 2 am when the P.Cash is at work and Mother is alone with three cats. And Leatherface kind of scared me all over again. I even had to remind myself at one point that I've met Gunnar Hansen and he was a pretty nice guy.

2. Halloween. Again, the original. I've said before that Halloween was a movie that I discovered 'later' in my life - I saw it when I was younger and I liked it, but it never was one of my all-time favorites. Not that I would never argue against its genius, I just don't think I really got to pay it the attention it deserved. On Blu-Ray, it's simply gorgeous. The colors of the trees are so vibrant (and maybe a little too green) that I kept forgetting it was supposed to be fall. No matter, it's positively lovely on Hi-Def. Mama says GET ONE.

3. American Werewolf in London. LOVE this movie. Reviewed it once here during my first 31 Days of Halloween. Out of the three, this is probably the movie I've watched the most times over the years - and I still noticed all kinds of cool details I never picked up on before. That, to me, is the mark of a great Blu-Ray.

Oh yeah, and they were all under 12 bucks. Loves it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Won-ded

A few weeks ago I got an email from Film Fetish saying I'd won a contest but the prize hadn't been revealed yet. And then, bam, this showed up in my mailbox:

Of course I remember this film from when it came out - I know I watched it on VHS once and then never again. I don't recall having strong feelings about it either way - and I'm sure I've never seen it again since its original release.

But since I love winning things, I was all kinds of excited about my new prize and excited to watch it. I even tried to talk Papa Cash into watching it with me.

His response:
'Why would I want to watch a twenty year old horror movie?'

My response:

Anyway...cut to tonight when the P.Cash is at a Brewers game, my work is done, I'm off tomorrow, and the time is RIGHT for some straight up Terry O'Quinn INSANITY.
80's style.

What's really interesting to me about this movie is that it works. It works despite the filmmakers giving away all the secrets as soon as the movie starts. (For an example of where this technique does anything BUT work, see : Prom Night Remake).

In less than ten minutes, they've laid it all out on the table. Not only do we get the goriest scene in the movie, we're told that Terry O'Quinn is batshit nuts, he's dangerous, and oh yeah - those people in that house pissed him off REAL BAD. But he's still civil enough to tidy up a little and put the bloody phone back on the hook before he leaves.

Cut to the next family - Terry O'Quinn looks different, has a new family, acts like the perfect husband and father - but we all know the real deal here. Hell, even the new stepdaughter knows SOMETHING is not quite right with this dude. She even suspects that he just MIGHT be the same dude who slaughtered his family and disappeared.

But despite all the information we're given so early in the film, it still manages to work. Terry O'Quinn is so wonderfully imbalanced that the suspense lies in waiting to see what he's going to do next - there's no question that he'll lose it eventually, it's just a matter of when.

Which got Mother thinking about the good old days - and by the good old days, I mean the golden age of horror which was known as the 80's. (Not that I'm implying that the 80's were the only golden age of horror- certainly not - but back then it seemed like there was so much more to choose from. There were so many films that were GREAT - that a film like The Stepfather - probably low key in comparison to a lot of films from then - was, for me, not as exciting or intense as many of the other films I was watching then.

Cut to 25 years later and compare it to the myriad of sequels and remakes we're offered - and The Stepfather positively shines in comparison. Which is probably why I enjoyed it more now than I did all those years ago. We were SPOILED, my friends, completely and utterly SPOILED.

I want it NOW,
Mother 'Veruca' Firefly

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Okay, I'll admit it - Mama has been thinking about this movie for DAYS trying to decide what to say about it.

So I suppose - if I've ruminated on a film for this long - it must have something memorable about it.

I thought Pontypool was going to be a zombie film - and while it has elements of the genre, it's not a true zombie film. I also had to buy Pontypool to see it, since Netflix doesn't have it available to rent. (Bastards).

Pontypool only has a handful of characters - and one so irritating I wanted to slap right through the TV, the likes of which I haven't had the urge since the stupid guy who sings the free credit report dot com song.

Officially sealed in my hate box forever.

Pontypool's three main characters are Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), his producer Sidney (Lisa Houle) and technician Laurel Ann (Georgina Reilly). Mazzy is a disc jockey who's clearly used to shaking things up on the radio, but is constantly being reined in by his producer, who just wants Mazzy to stick to the routine of announcing school closings and other local news.

The movie takes place during one snowy dark morning that starts off in the usual way (if you ignore the strange encounter that Mazzy has on his way to work) but slowly turns completely bizarre as reports of riots and murders start filtering in to the station. For me, this is the part of the movie that really works.

The snow, the early morning darkness, the isolation of the basement production studio, and the way that the characters get small pieces of information at a time - and then it's only second hand information that's being described to them. It's frustrating and tense - and it also makes for great suspense.

I'm not going to tell you what's really behind all the violence in this small town - because, as I said, a huge part of the film is getting bits of information as it unfolds.

However, even though I thought I understood the movie - and also read a few articles after watching the movie to HELP me understand it - I'm still kind of like, huh?

But - the head scratching that has ensued would still not stop me from recommending this movie. Stephen McHattie was great - and even though I'm not sure if I was supposed to hate the character of Sydney or not - I'll still watch this movie and I'd still buy it if I had been able to rent it. Because in my book - if you're still rolling the plot around in your brains a week after watching it - that must be worth something.

As an end note - what's even more amazing to me is that when I went to the official movie website:


I found that the director, Bruce McDonald, also directed The Tracey Fragments. I couldn't recall one scene of that horrible mess if you paid me. But what I do know is that when I see the title of that movie I fight the urge to go hide in my closet, rock back and forth and suck my thumb. I love Papa Cash, but there are more than a few pieces of celluloid torture I'd never have been exposed to if it weren't for his questionable choices.

So, Dearhearts, watch Pontypool, and tell me what you think. If you're expecting a straight up zombie film full of action and gore, this probably isn't the film you need to rent. But if you'd like to be challenged to think a little bit - and I'm not saying that I understand all of it - and you like suspense and movies that unfold a little slower than average, this may be a film for you.

-Mother Firefly

Sunday, July 4, 2010

DVD Release Party !!!!

My favorite zombie puppet show is planning a DVD release party in a couple of weeks. Be there, Milwaukee. You know your life will be richer for it.

Night of the Living Dead Puppet Show DVD Release Party:
Friday, July 13th
7:30 pm
Landmark Lanes on Downer (next to the Oriental)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Still Around

Yes, I'm still here....and the fact that I only managed to post 3 times last month is a great disappointment to me. The dearth of postings from the Firefly Ranch is not due to lack of interest, believe me. I'll spare everyone the boring details, but it boils down to one thing: WORK. I find myself remembering the good old days back in graduate school when I fantasized about the time when school would end and I'd have time for Papa Cash, my cats, my art, my blog, and watching movies.


Hardee har freaking har.

But in light of the fact that there are many people who need a job badly and probably want to kick me for bitching about working too much, I'll keep my whining to a minimum. Suffice it to say, however, that there needs to be a balance between work and non-work, and right now my scales are tipped much too far in one direction. I do have plans in the making to correct this - but for now, it is what it is, and I just have to deal with it.

So today, like any other day off, all Mama wants is to sleep in, have a delicious alcoholic beverage, and watch herself some deliciously cheesy monster movie.

I almost got all three today.

Usually B&W + mutated insect/arachnid/sea creature + Richard Denning (from Creature from the Black Lagoon) + stop motion effects would be an instant winner for me. But I thought The Black Scorpion was just okay. The mutated scorpion was fun, and stop motion monsters make me giddy with joy no matter what. But everything inbetween was slightly boring and there wasn't even enough cheesiness to really poke a little fun at.

But, as always, Mother has picked out her favorite things about The Black Scorpion.

Ahh, Mexico. Where the children keep the booze flowin'.

Scorpions come back to life after being embedded in rock for thousands of years and then make cute lil squeaky noises.

Space age technology rules.

Making out, space suit style.

Giant worm vs Giant Scorpion!!

In the end, the tanks and the helicopters always come, don't they?

Perhaps more fun than the actual movie are the handful of short special features. The stop motion in the Black Scorpion was performed by Pete Peterson and supervised by Willis O'Brien. O'Brien was the special effects artist behind the original King Kong, and also helped give Ray Harryhausen his start with Mighty Joe Young. Harryhausen is featured in two very short interviews, along with 'lost' test footage by Peterson for two movies that were never made. My favorite is the Harryhausen/O'Brien produced dinosaur segment for a documentary called The Animal World. It's all kinds of neato, and reminds me of the trips to the Milwaukee zoo where I talk Papa Cash into taking pictures of me running away from the animatronic dinosaurs.

Which makes me giggle hysterically like a mental case. Then I send the pictures to my Mom. Who then, in turn, writes me saying how terrifying being chased by dinosaurs must be. I also made him do it at the Milwaukee Museum once with the life sized model of the Woolly Mammoth. Because that is how I roll.

One announcement before I sign off - Unfortunately I've had to turn on comment moderation. I'm finding that I'm getting a lot of stupid comments that I'm having to delete. Even more annoying is they're not even real comments - they're just characters that nobody can read. I very much appreciate the real comments that I do get, so I'm disappointed that I have to make this change, but I'm also tired of deleting these dumb ass things.

Here's hoping July will be more prolific....
Mother Firefly