My 10 favorite horror movies
Yes, yes, it’s not the most original Halloween blog posting, but I’ve had a long week, and I like zombies. Disclaimers: I’m going by what I like, not what is scariest, because that’s a can of worms. Also, I’m a child of the 1980s – no “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” here.

10. 28 Days Later (2003)
A new addition to the pantheon, boosted by its see-sawing between light and dark, the creation of a new kind of monster (the plague, in human form), and a message that works.
“I promised them women.”

9. The Thing (1982)
Much better than “Alien” because the monster can take the appearance of anyone and anything. Kurt Russell’s finest hour as a hard-drinking control freak.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

8. The Fly (1985)
The creme de la creme of gross-out pictures, or “body horror.” Nothing could prepare viewers for what Brundlefly looks like when his skin rips off. The long build-up to his transformation and the pregnancy sub-plot (complete with nightmare) add a lot.
“Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

7. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
The best movie about paranoia and trusting no one. Absolutely one of the most traumatizing shock endings ever.

6. The Exorcist (1973)
A wonderful atmosphere of dread, and many great scenes that aren’t even gross – the spinal tap, Regan “spidering” down the stairwar, Regan pissing on the floor.
“Fuck me, mommy!”

5. Aliens (1986)
It takes the zombie movie to another level – these people aren’t just defending themselves from attack in a house, they’re ALONE IN SPACE! The walk-up to the Queen’s lair and the original scenes of dead bodies cocooned in the alien tunnel are the best.
“That’s it, man. Game over! It’s game over!”

4. The Shining (1980)
Has any movie created a more disturbing mood with as many fucked-up, nonsensical images? The woman in the bathroom. The man in the bear suit in the bedroom. Jack Nicholson’s frozen death mask. The little girls. The blood in the elevator. “Redrum.”
“I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just gonna BASH your BRAINS in!”

3. Poltergeist (1982)
The clown scene aside, this is resplendent with terrifying situations, builds terrifically (from the mysterious chairs on the table to … LIVING CORPSES IN THE RAIN!), and cleverly sets it up so the problem is almost – but never quite – solved.
“They’re here.”

2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Two psychopaths, one demure (Hannibal) and one just completely off the hinge (Buffallo Bill). The best acting of any of these movies, and a harrowing depiction of kidnapping.
“It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again!”

1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
A meditation on life, love, consumerism, and what really matters in the human experience. And a biker gets his stomach ripped open. Just the funniest, grossest of all zombie movies. The best touch is the creepy “expert” with the eyepatch who gets on all the TV broadcasts.
“Each one it KILLS gets up and KILLS!”


Movie Review: “28 Days Later”
It lives up to the hype. “28 Days Later” is a brilliant movie, visually exciting, conceptually fascinating, and by turns funny and warm-hearted.

Slate’s David Edelstein wrote the best review of the film, because he understood the context. It’s a combination of the latter two George Romero zombie movies, “Dawn of the Dead” (possibly the best horror film ever) and “Day of the Dead.” Both of those films begin with a tired, confused anti-zombie warror waking up from a dream. “28 Days Later” begins with a confused coma survivor waking up in an abandoned hospital. The scenes of him walking through an abandoned London, listening for noises, then finally being chased by zombies who’ve been set on fire by other survivors, are on par with Romero’s opening scenes (the panicked TV station and ghetto disaster; the scenes of undead Miami). And they reveal the major change director Danny Boyle has made to zombie movies – these things have all the power and fury of living bodies. They owe more to Dan O’Bannon’s creations in “Return of the Living Dead,” which memorably ate brains because “Being … dead … hurts!” than to Romero’s lazy flesheaters. And check out the way Boyle cuts up the footage during zombie attacks. That’s going to ripped off from now on – that’s the feeling I get from trailers for the “Dawn of the Dead” remake and “Resident Evil”: Apocalypse.”

Some people haven’t liked the movie’s military complex ending, or claimed that the conclusion depends on people doing dumb things and getting in trouble. I don’t think so – it gets to the guts of Boyle’s theme. People are horny and monstrous. When one hero says that “staying alive is the best you can hope for,” she’s wrong, because compassion is what separates humans from the unthinking zombies and horny soldiers.


Is it acceptable to tell someone to shut up if they’re chewing loudly in a library? There’s an asshole sitting opposite me right now, eating some sort of candy, and his vigor to masticate results in a constant noise – a *crunch**smack**crunch* kind of thing.

Would I object to someone telling me to shut up under similar circumstances? Good question. There’s nothing outwardly illicit about eating in a library.

Interesting moral dilemma. I just wish this guy would fuck off and die, and solve the problem for me. But I probably say that about every NU student.


So CJ and Dean have offered their nominations for the hottest cartoon femmes of all time. As Fritz Stunkard would say, they’re “pretty good.” But my list is definitive.

7.Mindy Simmons from “The Simpsons”

Homer’s hard-drinkin’, lard-eatin’ tempstress from season 4.
“Let’s order room service!”

6.Shampoo from “Ranma 1/2”

Another endearingly retarded Rumiko Takahashi character, this time with the cutest voice ever.
“I give you kiss of death! Now you die!”

5.Rogue from “X-Men”

Just a total bone thrown to the nerdy, hormonal kids who like comics. Needlessly sexed up by Jim Lee.

4.Belle from “Beauty and the Beast”

Naturally. She rules in several ways.
“Yes, different from the rest of us is Belle!”

3.Willow Rosenberg from the unaired “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” cartoon
(External link)
Oh, what are you gonna do? Call the ref on me? She’s animated, she’s hot.
“When I’m with a boy I like I can’t say anything cool, or witty–or at all. I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and then I have to go away.”

2.Faye Valentine from “Cowboy Bebop”

Remember that part in the movie when Vincent cuts her top off for no reason? Oh, yeah.
“You’re the one still tied to the past, Spike!”

1.Misato Katsuragi from “Neon Genesis Evangelion”

Hot, and died to save the world. And hot.
“Take advantage of everything here, except me.”


I’m having a cosmicly shitty time here at Northwestern, facing an array of crises of which broken internet access at my apartment is only one. If you read this blog because you know me, and you need to talk to me at some point, just call me.

I’ll update when the problems are solved.


R’ ‘n’ f’n r’
I still spend most of my disposable income on records, in case you were wondering. The last few weeks have been a fertile period, and albums that had been impossible to find for years suddenly cropped up in used bins and Virgin megastores. Here’s what I groove to at present.

Paul Westerberg – Come Feel Me Tremble
Why did it take so long for Westerberg to churn out songs like this? For years, he released new Replacements and solo records in between long periods of depression or hibernation, as if it was so damn hard to write songs like “Lay it Down Clown.” But now he’s going the Robert Pollard route and releasing platter after platter of fun, melodic ballads that should be played on acoustic guitar but are instead played on a scuzzed-out amp.

Gary Numan – The Pleasure Principle
The man with a voice “like David Bowie crying.” This is the album with “Cars,” his barely coherent paen to … driving in a car. But there plenty of one-word title masterpieces to go around, like the head-banging “Metal,” the Basement Jaxx-sampled “M.E.,” and the totally insane “Films” – “I don’t like the film! I don’t like the film! Play it all back! Play it all back!”


“Manufacturing Consent”
For a movie with such hifalutin’ intents, it sure does engage in some rank cliche. In one scene, Achbar and Wintonick quote the interminable Noam Chomsky talking about media coverage of the Gulf War, and sync it to footage of Patriot missiles firing off. They have overdubbed a video game noise – “Beeoo! Beeoo!” – because, you know, CNN was war porn and treated the war like a video game, &c, &c, ad infinitum.

What struck me while watching this highly-acclaimed exploration of Chomsky’s life and work was, indeed, how banal some of his ideas are, and how thoroughly some of his debate partners are able to punk him. I liked one 1969 interview with William F. Buckley, jr., on “Firing Line.”

BUCKLEY: You start your line of discussion at a moment that is historically useful for you.

CHOMSKY: … that’s what I’m saying, you can pick, you pick the beginning …

BUCKLEY: The fact of the post-war world is that the Communist imperialists, by the use of terrorism, by deprivation of freedom, have contributed to the continuing bloodshed, and the sad thing about it is not just the bloodshed, but the fact it seems to disposses you of the power of rational observation.

CHOMSKY: May I say something?


CHOMSKY: I think that’s about 5 percent true, or maybe 10 percent, it certainly …

BUCKLEY: Why do you give that?

CHOMSKY: May I complete a sentence?


CHOMSKY: It’s perfectly true that there were areas of the world, particularly Eastern Europe, where Stalinist imperialism very brutally took control and still maintains control. But there are also very vast areas of the world where we were doing the same thing. And there’s quite an interplay in the cold war. What you described is, I believe, a mythology about the cold war, which might have been tenable 10 years ago, but is quite inconsistent with contemporary scholarship.

BUCKLEY: Ask a Czech.

But that’s the beauty of this documentary – unlike a Michael Moore movie, it grants time to very smart people who disagree with Chomsky, who dismiss him, and leaves their testimony for us to digest.

It’s a little trite at times, as I said, but it beautifully cuts Chomsky’s ponderous speeches (he really must be the most boring man in politics) and gives the viewer much, much to think about.


“Kill Bill Vol.1”
I grew up in the 1990s, and I liked Quentin Tarantino movies. We all did. Don’t fucking lie about it. When we were 13 years old, “the gimp” and “Royale with cheese” sounded cool, and the movie that had them was available in our video stores while most cool movies were in Greenwich Village lofts, out of our reach.

Tarantino faded fast after 1994 for two reasons. One was entirely personal; I don’t need to go into it, because Vanity Fair has. The other was dynamistic and commercial. Video became cheaper and cheaper, and Tarantino had, in 10,000,000 interviews, revealed the sources of his inspiration – the Shaw Bros., “Switchblade Sisters,” lots of lousy 70s movies. The companies that owned or bought the rights to these movies were able to mass produce old kung fu and blaxploitation flicks and foist them upon the Tarantino fans, increasingly more-ironic-than-thou. This is why we have the Dolemite box set, the Sonny Chiba Street Fighter movies, and everything that could possibly be associated with Wu Tang.

Tarantino has very few tricks that we haven’t now seen. This is why “Kill Bill” is very fun, and often beautiful to look at, and why it’s a travesty that Miramax refused to see the 25 minutes or so of bland “cool” footage that could have so easily been cut. They told reporters earlier this year that “Kill Bill” couldn’t be cut into one movie. It was a smart business decision – just like Spike Lee’s asinine complaints about the n-word in “Jack Brown” had sold tickets to that movie, the bisection will sell “Kill Bill.” But Jesus Christ was it unnecessary.

Every other scene is a “mount-up.” Dialogue runs on very, very long. No man can tell me that the scene where The Bride (Uma Thurman) enters the sushi bar owned by Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba) needed to exist. Maybe it says something about how thoroughly he’s renounced swordmaking. Who gives a shit?

It’s stupid that the movie was not pared down a little and strung together for one viewing, but that’s not reason enough to write off the good things. There are hilarious touches, like the El Paso sheriff who keeps all his pairs of badass sunglasses lined up on his dashboard, or “Air-O,” the samurai airline where everyone keeps a sword next to his seat. The fight at the “House of Blue Leaves” and the extended anime origin of O-Ren Ishii are both completely fantastic, and should inspire suicide in the people who tried to copy Tarantino from 1994-2003 (Film majors, I’m looking at you!).

It’s a very fun movie, with awesome fight scenes. But thanks to Tarantino, we’ve seen those before. When he adds soupy hip dialogue and his patented foot fetish scenes, it seems like he’s padding between the stuff that would land this movie in the pantheon – the incredible, nauseating fight scenes.


Why do Democrats hate democracy?

Remember how reporters warned us that Gov. Arnold would win less votes than Davis in this recall, leading to “another” stolen election?


Shall GRAY DAVIS be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?
99.4 % ( 15138 of 15235 ) precincts reporting as of Oct 8, 2003 at 10:37 am

Yes 4,291,073 55.0
No 3,514,348 45.0%

Leading Candidates to succeed GRAY DAVIS as Governor if he is recalled:
99.4 % ( 15138 of 15235 ) precincts reporting as of Oct 8, 2003 at 10:37 am

Arnold Schwarzenegger Rep 3,639,302 48.4%

According to The Almanac of American Politics, Davis won the 2002 election with 3,533,490 votes. Arnold has exceeded that.

You’ve gotta admit, getting more votes than the other guy is a sneaky-ass way to steal an election.