Saturday, March 3, 2007

Review: Chiller, New Horror Network

I wanted to make sure I really sampled this new satellite station before reviewing it, and I've come to the appropriate conclusion:

This is my new favorite channel on TV (until there's the ANTM TV, then all bets are off). Any station that airs Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Night Gallery, Friday the 13th: The Series, Twin Peaks, Monster (it has it's moments, but not the greatest), and starting next week Freddy's Nightmares, plus plenty of horror films (including Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy - the only of those films I have not seen before).

It's not perfect, but it's as close to perfect as any network launch I've ever seen. The commercials are either for Chiller itself or a few smaller ads that don't bug too much. There is editing to account for 30/60 minute formats of the modern age (most apparent in Hitchcock, but those were 27 + minute episodes aired when there was just the intro and closer commercials, so naturally there would be cuts).

All I'm waiting for is some original programming to hit the station. A reality show would be great (Brain Blast!: The Blair Witch Project meets The Amazing Race: Teams of three race around scary locations all over the world to complete challenges, one team killed off (not really, but that would be the gimick, like on Monster House with the gallows) each challenge; I should send a letter, that's brilliant).

This is run by the same company that made Sci-Fi, and so far it seems to have improved tenfold over the Sci-Fi launch. Hopefully they won't start making awful awful movies every week (actually, awful horror films are far more enjoyable than awful Sci-Fi, so write away, Chiller).

Varb For Me

Friday, March 2, 2007

Review: Gremlins (1984)

I was a little surprised to realize while rummaging through the $10 bins at a local CD store that I had never seen the film Gremlins. Yet I have had a lifelong obsession with Gizmo. So, I figured when I couldn't sleep today, I'd pop this into my laptop and have some fun. I mean, with a character that cute, it can't be that scary, right?

Wrong. This is one of the most warped, disturbing, twisted, subversive horror films I have ever seen. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this. And that's a good thing.

I turned the film off maybe five minutes ago now and I am still filled with a strong feeling of complete and utter dread. Those gremlins were horrifying, especially that nasty Stripe. But they were also hilarious. But scary. But funny. But cute. But ugly.

The acting isn't spectacular, but it is very realistic. I will say the only way I can describe lead actor Zach Galligan in this film is milk. He was so wholesome and filled with teeth, you couldn't help but just want to invite him in for some hot cocoa and fresh baked cookies.

One thing that actually shocks me about this film: How did it not get nominated for Best Effects, Visual Effects at the Oscars? Never in my life have I been more impressed with the effects in a film as with Gremlins. Never. Am I really supposed to believe that the Academy thought Ghost Busters and an Indiana Jones film had better effects? And what of the gloriously twisted, funny, and terrifying screenplay? I mean, Beverly Hills Cop and Splash were nominated that year, so it certainly wasn't for a lack of serious content.

But I'm just splitting hairs. This film is ridiculous and incredible in every way possible, chilling and hilarious like so many films fail at with even more effort put into achieving that effect, and that voice over ending is quite possibly the most disturbing thing I have ever heard in a film. Chris Columbus is one sick fuck.

Take a look for yourself:

Varb For Me

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Review: The Sarah Silverman Program

Sorry for such a late update today, I genuinely haven't been feeling well (I blame Sandra Lee, that was the one variable in my regular life) so I've been sleeping almost all day. I guess I'll have to wait till tomorrow to review the movie Gremlins (how I never saw this I'm not sure) and Chiller (both the network AND the film).

So, I have my new must-see viewing show, and it's not even a reality show or animated.

The Sarah Silverman Program isn't just for fans of Sarah Silverman. As much as I like her material, the closest I've come to actually seeing her material is the film Jesus is Magic, and I was more a fan of her delivery than anything else. The late night sitcom format is a perfect showcase for her material, music, and acting ability. The casting of the show is great, and the writing is strong enough to stand out but still stays true to the sitcoms that came before it.

This isn't a show for everyone. Sarah Silverman takes a push-button topic, like AIDS, and keeps twisting and twisting it for humor until you just can't stop yourself from laughing.

I will say that I know plenty of people who have fallen in love with the show who also enjoyed Strangers With Candy. It's that style of humor, but feels more like a traditional sitcom.

While this wasn't on the show, I leave you with my all time favorite moment of Sarah Silverman appearances: The Aristocrats. Not safe for work. Not safe by a long shot.

Varb For Me

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Review: Apple Raisin Betty, a "Recipe" from Sandra Lee (actual review forthcoming)

I cannot believe that I have yet to mention the absolute bane of my TV cooking show addicted existence on this blog yet. Sandra Lee, of the Semi-Homemade Cooking show on Food Network. Why this harpy has a career I will never know (well, I'm pretty sure it had something to do with big dinnert, desert, and something to do with pixie stix), but she has provided me and my fellow shrikes with countless hours of entertainment at her loony expense. I mean, how am I supposed to respect a cook who does this for Christmas? TrentSketch Safety Tip: please do not watch this while drinking. Your computer doesn't enjoy being sprayed with a refreshing beverage. Also, make sure that beverage is not a "Cucktail" from SLop. The sad thing is, THAT is an example of LUCID Snandra Lee. You should hear her talk about that time she was "literally vertical" on a carnival ride. It's a hoot and a half.

Anyway, this woman is an abomination, a lush, and a complete and total waste of oxygen.

Later today, I will be posting a video of me assembling (she doesn't give recipes, she gives construction guidelines) one of the most vile ideas she had this past week (it's too early to see how it will stack against the Kwanzaa Cake and plenty of other culturally and aesthetically insulting entries in this series).

Apple Raisin Betty:
Butter flavored cooking spray
2 (21-ounce) cans apple pie filling (recommended: Comstock)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 packets instant oatmeal with raisins and spice, divided (recommended: Quaker Oats)
6 tablespoons butter, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with butter flavored cooking spray.

Spread the apple pie filling in the bottom of the casserole dish. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and 1 1/2 packets of oatmeal. Dot with half the butter. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

MMmhhh....hopefully I can still stand after making this. I may need to hit up my own cocktail time and when I start drinking THIS early, it's never pretty.

Until later, I leave you with this:

Well, she certainly is a tramp...

Well, that sucks. My computer malfunctioned, I lost all the video footage, and I do NOT have enough money or a strong enough stomach to do it all again.

Here are some highlight photos that show how crazy this nitwit can make me act. And for the first time ever, SandyLooWho actually made me sick with her cuisine. It was bound to happen folks.

Varb For Me

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Review: American Idol

Ok, this isn't going to be a big review.

I've been a contestant on Idol not once but twice. And I'm not saying that just because I showed up to the open call. I'm saying it because I legitimately have made it past the open call and much farther into the competition twice, only to be removed twice not by the judges but the producers. No, I didn't break any rules. I can't disclose the reasoning (darn contracts), but I will say that it was a disagreement over proceedings.

Anyway, this season, so far, is awful. The pimping of contestants has never been more obvious. Why 19 Entertainment somehow thinks that one trick ponies like Sundance Head can be legitimate superstars I'll never figure out.

There is only one beacon of hope in the contest, and that is Leslie Hunt. Unfortunately, her style - a lovely hybrid of folk and soul - does not bode well for her in the contest.

I will say that as of tonight, Paula Abdul has shown herself to be the most entertaining aspect of this dredge of a show now. When she's lucid, her criticism is fitting, appropriate, and shows the full breadth of knowledge that she possesses from her years in the industry; when she's not, her "spirit" "dances" with all the "colors" of the "rainbow". Straight up, it's always a touch down.

I do want this show to be a huge success, so more artists like Leslie Hunt (or my girl April Walsh) can use this show as a high point on their resume. Fortunately for performers, many casting directors a) do not know how big a joke this show actually is, and b) don't watch the show closely enough so people can blatantly lie about how well they did on the show even if they never so much as auditioned.

I'll leave you with my girl April Walsh rockin' out on Bjork. The fact that a girl with this kind of voice, personality, and taste did NOT make the semi's validates this post.

Varb For Me

Monday, February 26, 2007

Not a Review: So I Guess I Can Take This As No Hard Feelings?

In the past week, I have managed to write completely vicious reviews of the new music videos from Justin Timberlake - which I still strongly dislike - and Avril Lavigne - which, so help me, I kind of love right now.

So, there are three possibilities in play for this screen capture from my Myspace:

1) Justin Timberlake and Avril Lavigne have personally acknowledged that I was correct and will give out public apologizes live on American Idol tomorrow night.

2) JtotheT and The Mother [expletive deleted] Princess have a great sense of humor and impeccable taste, meaning they love my blog.

3) Those interns working the Myspace page need to look a little closer into who they let join as the friends of JT and AV. Seriously, letting a no class kinda guy like me into their friend circle only brings them down farther than their own lack of musical credibility does already.

So, I guess what this boils down to is: be like the cool kids. Friend me on Myspace.

Varb For Me

Review: The Academy Awards - Brief and Will Be Updated (Updated)

Wow. Ellen was great. Pan's Labyrinth was robbed. And I don't see how The Departed can win so much, and yet Infernal Affairs was almost entirely ignored by America when it was released.

So much for the great international Oscars, huh?

But at least all the winners go to walk on stage this year...

My favorite moment of the night was that everyone who spoke to Barbara Walters actually lied to her about what would happen on stage. No, Ellen DID dance, Jennifer DIDN'T thank Idol, Helen WASN'T surprised to win, and Eddie DID know that he would never win an Oscar. Heh.

Ellen was the best host they've had since Whoopi. Her style of family friendly humor took a little while for the audience to get used to - her jokes do take a few seconds to set in sometimes - but when they finally caught it, there were smiles all around. Bonus points for out shadow dancing the shadow dancers. Super bonus points for mocking the green initiative (aka self lovin' fest) of the Oscars with the recycled jokes bit.

I was so happy when Pan's Labyrinth was winning everything, and then it just stopped. Considering that, even with three Academy Awards in three very difficult to win categories, the film is sill under appreciated solely because it's a horror movie, it was a little hard to swallow that somehow it lost Best Score. I was expecting the Best Foreign Film loss, but not the one award I thought they had locked.

Speaking of locks - Hah! Eddie lost, like I knew he would. Thanks Norbit. Well, I actually do want to see Norbit. Eddie Murphy is the only actor who has consistently shown that full body make-up does not cover up for a lack of character. As ridiculous as, his movies can be, every part he plays is a fully developed character regardless of the pounds and pounds of make-up on his body. I've only seen one other performance do that in this style of film, and that was Adam Sandler in Click - he made me cry. But Eddie does it voluntarily in most of his films these days. He's a truly talented artist who will be validated one day in a significant artistic way. I knew because of the combination of character type and past losses that Alan Arkin was the true lock for Best Supporting Actor.

Also, best moment of the night is a tie. Animated Film was so damn cute, with the kids from Monster House being animated as pulling a Beyonce and not applauding for the winners. And Anika Noni Rose showed that she was the best thing to show up at the shoot for Dreamgirls by out singing every other person on stage that night. Grammys require good editing to win, Oscars require one good performance to win, Tonys require going out every night and killing it. Hmmm...I wonder which requires the most talent? See For Yourself.

Bonus Clip: Tonya Pinkins award winning performance in the show that got Anika her Tony, Caroline or Change.

Double bonus: Jennifer Holiday killing it as Effie. Jennifer Hudson was good, but Holiday made that show.
And she still looks good enough to have played the role in the film. Bonus points: her singing actually sounds like it belongs in a girl group of that time period.

And the worthless: the shadow dancers are replacing Tyra Banks in my nightmares; why shout out how international the awards are but undercut every single foreign nominee with either a shorter clip or a shortened speech; the montage of America as told by American films featuring numerous scenes filmed in other countries; it's a green night, we get it, now quit stroking yourselves for it, it's a responsibility, not an earth shattering achievement; montage for honorary Oscar winner was so ill-conceived it was funny - the excerpts of printed score didn't even match what was being played, Celine Dion singing was god awful (and I like Celine), and they mentioned that the man scored one of the most universally reviled films in history: The Exorcist II: The Heretic (which I also love); The Departed winning Best Picture when the far superior Infernal Affairs couldn't even win Foreign Language Film when it was nominated.

In conclusion, wasn't Helen Mirren's rack glorious last night?

Varb For Me

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Review: Robbie Williams Album Rudebox

It was a sad day when I found out that Robbie Williams was going into rehab, partly because people didn't quite take to his latest release. Robbie has been a huge influence on my development as a musician, and his album Rudebox shows just why that is.

Rudebox is not the easiest album to get into - not by a long shot. Everything seems to be based in electronic loops of unnatural sounding representations of real instruments. Robbie also seems to favor his almost-rap style evidenced in one of my favorite disturbing videos, Rock DJ. TrentSketch Safety Tip: This video is supposed to be funny. It's not smut, it's not vulgar, and it's certainly not an exploitation horror film. It is gory, so it's not for the faint of heart. Also, not safe for work.

But Robbie knows how to pull together super catchy songs that get stuck in your head for days. My favorite track on the album is easily the catchy, kind-of angry Viva Life on Mars. It's so kitschy and catchy and just plain enjoyable. It's also the most traditional sounding song on the entire album.

If there is a weak spot in the record, it is the longer, back-to-back decade songs (1980's and 1990's). They seem too similar and sort of mismatched to what comes before and after them.

Overall, it's a strong album, but not one that I would pay the suggested 18.95 price tag for. Save yourself the cash and download it on iTunes.

Get well soon Robbie.

Varb For Me