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10 New Hobbies For The Self-Isolated

-Get a jar of pickles. Stand over your kitchen sink. Open Twitter and read what’s trending for a minimum of 3mins. See how many pickles you can eat during one prolonged crying jag. Repeat daily. Track your progress.

-If you’re being honest with yourself, you never REALLY gave Scientology a fair shake.

-Time to start that novel! What’s it about again? Jurassic Park, but this time the dinosaurs fuck…? I shouldn’t have encouraged you!

-The art of bread baking is as rewarding an activity as it is challenging. Too bad you’re a lazy sack of shit.

-Learn to juggle. After the power grids go down, New America will need jugglers to entertain the children… to keep them quiet… for when the marauders draw near.

-Nunchucks

-Wish you were better at sewing? NOW IS THE TIME. Master some basic stitches, then download a few patterns for burial shrouds.

-Google some witch spells, then try to make them work using the contents of your spice cabinet. Maybe nothing will happen. But MAYBE you’ll melt your neighbor.

-Spend some time quietly working on a jigsaw puzzle. Get one of those really hard ones that’s all one color. Once it’s finished, write your manifesto on it and scramble it all up! Leave it for the Feds to find once they’ve gained a search warrant for your property. It will be informative AND fun!

-Get off your ass and FINALLY figure out the identity of the Zodiac Killer.

No Budget? NO PROBLEM! – “Things” (1989)

NOTE: No Budget? NO PROBLEM! is a series dedicated to celebrating the best and boldest in DIY genre filmmaking. Come with an open mind. Leave covered in slime.

Everybody loves a blockbuster. When done right, cinema on a grand scale can unite us, at least for 120mins, in an exciting, joyous experience filled with cool-ass dinosaurs, futuristic robots trying to protect and/or kill Sarah Connor, and alien invasion after alien invasion after alien invasion. It’s not always art, but it’s usually pretty to look at while jamming Sour Patch Kids in your buttery maw.

This is not a series of articles about that kind of movie. Blockbusters are great, don’t get me wrong. They are NOT, however, the sum total of our cinematic universe. This is not, either, a series of articles about “indie filmmaking.” I mean, it IS, technically, but not in the way that phrase implies. The movies profiled in this series never went to Sundance.  No one involved with these movies has ever won a Critic’s Choice award. They contain zero lesser Afflecks.

The no-budget masterpieces profiled in NB?NP! were made without studio involvement; most weren’t even made in California. The picture quality is iffy. The sound quality is worse. But what they DO have is HEART, BABY! And usually copious amounts of hand-crafted, artisanal gore. Which is always fun. And as far as I’m concerned, these grimy lil’ cuties are preferable in every way to to a fourth Transformers sequel or a reboot of a noted horror property that long-ago sacrificed its ability to scare on the shit-smeared altar of Capitalism. Hell, Capitalism barely even plays a part in the world of NB?NP! Making some coin off your wares would be great, sure, but for these filmmakers… it’s all about the final product. No matter how stinky it might be.

Alright… MAYBE I’m overstating the intentions of these filmmakers just a tad. Undoubtedly SOME of them were trying to make a quick buck. Or at least get laid. But regardless, I find the DIY spirit of these bargain basement productions endlessly charming. And if I can see the ruby in the mountain of rocks, he said, Meat Loafly, maybe you can too.

SO… to get things started, let’s take a look at… THINGS:

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Things is the brainchild of a couple of Ontario hosers named Andrew Jordan and Barry J. Gillis, the later of which you can see in the poster there posing with a piece of rather intimidating construction equipment (that is not featured in the movie itself). Written by the duo, directed by Jordan, and starring Gillis, Things is a muddy knock-off of The Evil Dead, but with killer mutant ants instead of undead ghouls.

Here’s the trailer (NOTE: Trailer has boobies):

As you can see… it’s a WHOLE lot! But it’s also a ton of fun if you abandon all bourgeois notions of “quality.” Here now, the official NB?NP! breakdown:

THINGS (1989)

Plot: Two dirtbags venture into the Canadian wilderness to enjoy some beers and bootleg cable (featuring “The Bestiality Channel,” thankfully not shown on-screen) at the cabin of one of said dirtbag’s brother. What they instead find is the brother and his wife in the middle of a horrifying birthing ordeal… In vitro implantation gone wrong. Instead of a baby, they get… things. The creatures that come out of the soon very-dead wife inexplicably multiply, leading to a night of blood-soaked terror. There are also some demonic forces at work, but they are ill-defined and seem only to show up when necessary to move along the story.

Notable Performances:

-The aforementioned Barry J. Gillis as the lead dirtbag/international bootleg Bruce Campbell. He’s a serviceable hero, but is somewhat overshadowed by his own mullet.

-Amber Lynn, an 80’s porn star, who’s scenes as a newscaster were added post-production in an effort to boost sales (OK, sometimes Capitalism plays a part in NB?NP!). For her entire performance, which was clearly shot in an electronics store as opposed to a TV studio, Lynn is visibly reading her lines off of cue cards.

-The Nude Lady, credited on IMDB as “Jessica Stewarte,” who was a local prostitute hired by the production solely because she had no problem being naked on film. Attempts to find her for an anniversary-release DVD were for naught; The Nude Lady is lost to time and history.

Production Follies: Much of the audio was re-recorded in post; mouths don’t match the words being spoken and/or the facial expressions of the actors the majority of the time. Lighting, too, was clearly an issue. The lighting in certain scenes changes from shot to shot, even when the characters are just sitting around chatting in a living room. The usage of both Super 8 and 16mm film stocks probably has something to do with this. The overall set design is “Halloween store going out of business.”

Gore: An excellent eyeball removal; a disgusting “thing” birthing scene highlighted by lots of bright red blood; several severed heads, a skinned, though still quite meaty, talking skull; everyone is covered in blood and gore by the end, though the blood is unfortunately quite watery-looking on camera. Things earns itself a ZFS! Gore Score of 7.6 out of 10.0

Creature Design: The titular “things” are really just large, papier-mache ants with heads apparently modeled after the alien in Alien (most noticeably in the big silver teeth). They aren’t even remotely scary (they are rarely seen moving) but it’s clear that effort went into making them. They DO get nicely gooey when run through with a chainsaw.

Best Line: “Ugh, the blood is dripping like maple syrup!” (Canada!)

Overall Review and Rating: Things is a classic of the no-budget genre, which is why I chose it for the inaugural NB?NP! post. It looks cheap, it sounds cheap, but every frame is packed with Canuck pride and horror genre enthusiasm. Even the slower parts… the long scenes involving sandwich-making and insect-related pranks, for example… are just weird enough to bridge the gore scenes in an entertaining manner. Truly an experience, especially if you enjoy watching cheapo horror flicks with a group of rowdy loved ones. A few Molsons wouldn’t hurt your Things experience, either.

Things (1989) Official ZFS! NB?NP! Rating: A+

Stuart Gordon 1947 – 2020

As if things weren’t depressing enough already out there, the great Stuart Gordon passed away last night. We are slowly running out of horror icons, and it fucking kills me. I know that legends die just like we regular dipshits do, but still… doesn’t seem like they should. Can SOMEBODY please lay eyes on John Carpenter? Pump some baby’s blood in his system or do a Satanic ritual around his nude body that protects him from the icy hand of death for AT LEAST a few more years. The dude smokes like a maniac, I can’t imagine his health is pristine. WE’VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING.

Anyway, Stuart Gordon… I’m not the man’s biographer or anything, but I what I do know is that, beyond his work in the horror genre, he was a big hairy deal in the Chicago theater scene. He produced a few of David Mamet’s plays, and ran a theater there that does, by all accounts, great work. Additionally, Gordon came up with the original idea upon which the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids franchise was based (he received a story credit on said film, and produced the sequels). Maybe it’s just because his genre work was fairly disgusting, but I find his involvement in a beloved children’s property truly wild and fascinating. The dude had layers.

Here now, a brief overview of some his best genre efforts. Today would be a good day to check out one or two of them as a way of paying tribute to a real one, and a legend. The world remains fucking weird and strange, but a little less so without Stuart Gordon in it.

– – – – –

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Re-Animator – Arguably the ONLY H.P. Lovecraft adaptation to be worth a damn (and that includes some of Gordon’s other films), Re-Animator is a gooey, oddly hilarious 80’s horror classic. Med students raising the dead, zombies run amok, horny severed heads… this movie gives and it gives.

SG2

Castle Freak – Though made in the 90’s, Castle Freak always felt to me like a forgotten 70’s Italian horror movie. It IS set in Italy, so that partly explains it, but also it has that chill, spooky vibe so germane to films from that era of European cinema. Those movies feel like they were shot through a ghost, and Castle Freak does too. If you dig haunted castles, creepy blind children, and unspeakable creatures skulking around dungeons, you could do a lot worse.

SG3

Space Truckers – Look, they weren’t all classics. I include Space Truckers on this list because, while it is literally a movie about long-haul truckers in outer space and, therefore, is very silly, it is also SUPER goddamn weird. There’s just enough going on in the margins of Space Truckers to make it worth a look, plus it’s a got a fun cast of B-and-C-List genre vets picking up a paycheck.

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From Beyond – This was Gordon’s follow-up to Re-Animator and… well, it doesn’t QUITE work, but that’s okay because it does succeed in being really fucking gross. Lots of slimy interdimensional creatures running around and people getting their eyeballs sucked out and what have you. A good time if you want to feel like you’re slick with gore afterwards (and who doesn’t).

SG4

The Dolls – A few days ago, while writing about Child’s Play for this very blog, I mentioned that it was not my favorite killer doll movie, and that said favorite killer doll movie would be revealed to all of you at a later date. Apparently, TODAY IS THAT DAY. I know, please, try to remain upright. The Dolls is, in my humble opinion, the creepy killer doll movie in its most perfect form. The special effects… mostly practical stop-motion… remain unnervingly effective, there’s a good amount of blood and guts for the ghouls such as myself, and the cast is clearly having a fucking ball. It will give you the willies, it’s genuinely a fun movie, and it would be my personal pick to introduce someone to the world of Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator would be the more traditional, obvious choice for a Gordon intro, but it’s also “a lot”) (Also, I just really like killer doll movies).

It Could Be Worse: 5 Isolation Experiences That Suck More Than Yours

Every single one of us has, at some point, thought to themselves, “Fuck it would be nice to snap a femur or something and get a few weeks off work. THEN I could finally watch Deadwood.” When you’re working all the time and your boss is standing on your nuts, lacquering your face with coffee breath, telling you how to do shit you KNOW HOW TO DO, GEOFF, THANK YOU… the thought of a little exile seems nice. And if the price of admission is one busted limb, say, or a lengthy illness, well, sometimes you have to take the bitter with the sweet.

IN THEORY, this is all great. Comfy jammies, lotsa snacks, and you somehow never smell bad even though you can’t really picture the interior of your shower in your mind’s eye anymore. As it turns out… in actual application… when it is a government-mandated isolation imposed to stop the spread of a quasi-mysterious virus (what if it’s from SPACE???), it kind of blows nards. I’m on day 8 of self-imposed isolation and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I’m getting a little crispy around the edges. As are we all, I’m sure. Cabin fever is no joke, and depending on the size of your cabin and the people with whom you are stuck, things can get real dicey, real quick.

So, in the interest of chilling everybody out and keeping the peace, I am now going to recommend to you five different cinematic examples of people having way worse isolation experiences than you and yours. Watch one of these (or ALL of these, you’ve got the time) and then… take stock of your situation. Yeah, your husband keeps farting up the couch. Yeah, your kids are rowdy and SO DUMB. And YEAH… your cat is a bitch. But at least no one is actively trying to murder you.  It could always be worse…

5 Isolation Experiences That Suck More Than Yours

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Copycat – A mid-90’s thriller about a serial killer stalking an expert on serial killers who has recently turned agoraphobic due to A DIFFERENT serial killer who tried to strangler her in a public bathroom. It’s a movie with a lot going on… the aforementioned too-many-serial-killers problem, some hilariously dated pre-millenium internet plot machinations, Harry Connick Jr. over-acting his tight Cajun buns off, etc… but it’s worth watching to see Sigourney Weaver as said agoraphobe; she really make you FEEL the terror of the outside world. Her huge, hi-tech condo and sassy-yet-loving assistant, too, would be real assets to any of us in our current predicament. Provided said assistant wouldn’t mind getting regularly doused in hand sanitizer.

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Bug – You might be bored and stinky, but at least you’re not CRAWLING WITH BUGS. And maybe THE BUGS ARE ALL IN YOUR MIND. But maybe not!!! Who’s to say, you’re so fucking mentally ill!!! But just because you’re mentally ill, doesn’t mean you’re not CRAWLING WITH BUGS. Anyway, that’s basically the plot of Bug… two people holed up in a hotel room, full of bugs, real or imagined. It’s very stressful. AND it’s helmed by William Friedken, who knows from stress; he directed The Exorcist, and therefore at least a solid third of our nation’s nightmares. And hey, look, Harry Connick Jr. is in this one too. What’s his deal? Is HE the key to all of this??? SOMEONE CITIZEN ARREST HARRY CONNICK JR. Let’s harvest his blood!!!

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The Children – This one is for all the parents out there, especially the ones stuck at home during this incredibly disquieting time with a bunch of miniature sociopaths who will do WHATEVER IT TAKES to watch 17 hours of toy unboxing YouTube videos a day and subsist solely on Cheetos while doing it. While that does indeed sound miserable, especially to me, a person who thinks all children should still be forced to work in coal mines and industrial laundries, IT COULD BE WORSE. Your children aren’t suddenly and inexplicably trying to kill you while you and your family are vacationing out in the middle of nowhere. Junior hasn’t yet started coming for your eyeballs with a pair of gardening shears, so hey… let them sit around for too much screen time and reek up the joint. At least they’re not literally homicidal.

Side Note: The Children contains a prolonged visual that is one of the most upsetting things I personally have EVER seen in a movie. And I’ve watched movies thought to be actual snuff films by national governments. So… just FYI, there.

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Housebound – There are definitely some raw feelings out there in the collective consciousness about being “forced” to stay at home during this pandemic. No one LIKES being told what to do, and some folks feel DOUBLY irked by it when it’s an order handed down by a governing body that we may or may not feel has our best interests at heart. I read what people are tweeting at CNN, I get it. It’s a real quagmire. But at the very least, be grateful that your self-isolation isn’t being monitored by a lo-jack secured to your ankle. And be even more grateful still that the house in which you are isolated isn’t thumping with poltergeist activity. Housebound covers all that ground for you, plus more; bruised family relationships, neighbors that are creepy and awful, the consequences of  your own actions and how they relate to you being menaced by a possibly malevolent ghost… it’s a real buffet of existential dread. Plus it’s also kind of funny!

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Misery – Let’s cap this off with a classic. One of the best Stephen King adaptations to date (second only to Carrie in my mind), Misery is a crystal clear depiction of everyone’s isolation nightmare… being stuck in the middle of nowhere with the exact wrong person. That person being, of course, the terrifyingly psychotic super-fan Annie Wilkes, brought to Academy Award-winning life by the greatness of Kathy Bates. So good is Bates in Misery, she has claimed in interviews over the years that the role fucked up her dating life because dudes actually thought she was a maniac. That’s talent!

If you are currently ill and are being tended to by a loved one, and you’re starting to feel like said loved one is getting a little tired of your bullshit… REJOICE. Your husband or wife or parent or hoodwinked neighbor or WHATEVER is most likely actually trying to nurse you back to health if for no other reason than that they won’t have to deal with you anymore. They aren’t loving this interpersonal exchange and the power it imparts them over you. They aren’t breaking your ankles to make it last longer.

Remember. In these trying times… it could always be worse.

Cdog’s Guide to Streaming Horror: Netflix, PT. 2

I immediately regret starting this project.

Even for a man quarantined to his house in the middle of a pandemic for an undetermined amount of time, writing about all the horror movies available to watch on-demand is A WHOLE GODDAMN LOT. I never think these kind of things through. I do the Last Crusade leap of faith bit, believing that there will be an optical illusion rock bridge to catch me, but also, in this metaphor, I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE ROCK BRIDGE IS SUPPOSED TO SIGNIFY. My commitment? My stamina for shoving horror movie opinions up people’s internet butts? The love of Indiana Jones’ father???

Aaaanyway, I’m going to walk back my initial statement about doing a “definitive guide to streaming horror.” That was foolhardy, at best, and, at worst, dangerous to the very fabric of our lives. Instead, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to finish the Netflix one, as I’ve already done most of the work on that anyway. Then, over the coming weeks, I will be giving you streaming recommendations for Amazon, Hulu, and Shudder. NOTHING COMPLETEST. Just general observations, thoughts, advisements, endorsements, etc.

I am sorry that I am a serial over-committer. I will make it up you by never steering you wrong on a horror movie, and also I will send you cock pics if you want. Not of MY cock, obviously, but I do have a flash drive full of really primo hogs should… you… huh, I’ve gotten far afield of horror movies. BACK TO IT.
NETFLIX (PART 2)

Read NETFLIX (PART 1) here, plus all the stuff I just walked back!

Nostalgic Nightmares

These are movies that mean something to me, specifically, your sweet Cdog. If you do not have specific nostalgia for these movies, you are living life backwards and also probably smelly.

The Craft – 90’s teenage goth witches! An excellent time capsule of the era (an excellent era-specific soundtrack, too) plus it really nails the inner-workings of a dynamic girl gang. Or at least as far as this 39 year old man can tell. Fairuza Balk should have become a huge star off of this one, despite having what’s known as “terminal crazy eyes.” The mid-90’s CGI is a little suspect in spots, but frankly I feel like that’s part of its charm.

Final Destination – Ah, the movie that taught me to fear everything. Plus, the idea for it was born from an unused X Files script, which as you know from our collective cyber-mind meld, is one of the greatest shows of all time. Rube Goldberg’s violent ghost hangs over this one and all its sequels.

Tremors – I can still remember seeing the giant cardboard stand-up for this is in the Bowen 8 movie theater in Arlington, TX. It promised me underground monsters, AND IT FUCKING DELIVERED ON THAT PROMISE. Kevin Bacon brings the hunky redneck heat, he’s backed up by a stable of genre bench players… Fred Ward, Victor Wong, Charlotte Stewart… and of course, because sometimes we DO deserve nice things, Reba Fucking McEntire is there too. I will never understand why Reba is in this; 80’s and 90’s country treated her QUITE well and she most definitely didn’t need to co-star in what had to have seemed like a give-up, quick-buck horror project. That it ended up being one of the finest creature features of the modern era is only a testament to Reba’s unending good taste.

Assorted Sequals and Reboots

The Ring – A very solid remake. The original is better, of course (much less CGI, for one thing), but Gore Verbinski knows his way around a creepy atmosphere, and Naomi Watts is there to lend some much needed gravitas. America’s love affair with J-Horror started here (and probably should have ended here as well, although the Grudge remake was ok too).

Scream 2/3 – The original Scream is an undisputed classic. You hopefully don’t need me to tell you this. However, Wes Craven was still operating at the top of his powers for parts 2 and 3. Scream 2, in particular, remains a favorite for me… seeing it opening night at a late show screening in 1997 with a bunch of friends and a packed house that was THERE FOR THE SCARE remains one of the best in-theater movie watching experiences I’ve ever had.

Final Destination 2-4 – FD 3 and 4 are definitely victims of a franchise’s diminishing returns… they have their moments, but mostly they are flat retreads of the original concept without adding too much other than the occasional flash of interesting gore. Final Destination 2, however, is an EXCELLENT sequel… it builds on the mythology of the first one, and is also much nastier and more brutal in its kills. I don’t know if, at this time, I am emotionally ready to lay down such a definitive hot take, but… there is a case to be made that Final Destination 2 is better than the first one. Decide for yourself.

Amityville Horror – Another very solid remake. I prefer the James Brolin/Margot Kidder original, but Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George have a good chemistry here as well. The real stand-out is a young Chloe Grace Moretz… before she was kicking ass in Kick Ass or being the teenage foil to Jack Donaghy, she was earning her genre stripes as Amityville’s resident creepy kid.

Friday the 13th/Nightmare on Elm Street – These are the reboots of two horror classics. They are both very bad. Do not watch them. If you feel like you want to watch them, stop… take a few deep breaths… down AT LEAST three tablespoons of whatever liquid in your house has the highest alcohol content, even if it’s mouthwash… then disconnect your internet and curl up in a closet until the urge to watch these shitty, shitty movies passes.

Enjoyable Trash

Not GOOD movies, but FUN movies

Scary Movie – Objectively stupid, but in a good way. Hey, sometimes it feels good to laugh. This one and its sequel, however, are the ONLY post-millennium genre parody films you are allowed to watch. No Epic Movies, Disaster Movies, or whatever. Those movies deaden your soul and make your land unable to grow crops.

Terrifier – I’m going to say up top that this movie is INSANELY gory. Like… even more so than you’re currently imagining. Also, the acting is porno bad. However… Terrifier’s main man, Art the Clown, has becoming something of a rising force in the world of cult horror. People seem to love him, and… credit where it’s due… the character design is extremely creepy. So if you’re interested in what the kids of today are digging as far as an up-and-coming horror icon is concerned, this would be the place to look. My opinion… it’s fine. I like the gore, but otherwise…. “fine” is all you’ll get out of me.

As Above, So Below – A found-footage exploration of the Paris catacombs that turns into like a Dante’s Inferno thing. It doesn’t 100% work, but it’s a fucking fun ride. Personally I’m a sucker for found-footage movies anyway, and when you set them in claustrophobic environments… well, fucking sold. Great imagery and solid creeps throughout.

Cloverfield – Speaking of found-footage movies, this is kind of the opposite of As Above, So Below. Big and open, as opposed to small and cramped. It’s a Blair Witch take on the Godzilla movie and… look, I fucking love it. I LOVE this movie, a whole dumb lot. It actually ate up a good chunk of my 2008, as there was a whole internet game/conspiracy marketing component to unravel pre-release, and I got REAL hooked by its machinations. I was literally losing sleep over it. Not my finest hour. Anyway, the movie holds up, but is seriously bad news for anyone with motion sickness issues or easily triggered migraines.

Girl on the Third Floor – Home-renovation horror! It’s basically like if HGTV tried to set a show in the Amityville House. Super gooey… the house drips cum, blood, slime, bile, etc., and does so frequently… and it also features the acting debut of WWE’s CM Punk. You’d think that would be a detractor but, gotta say, Mr. Wrestler Man rises to the goddamn occasion. He’s excellent, especially for a first-time talent, and even more especially for one that is on-screen 90% of the time and is asked to carry a very high-concept movie. Not going to revolutionize the genre or anything, but for sure one of the more pleasant surprises I’ve encountered in the horror world as of late.

The Last Exorcism – A fake exorcist stumbles into a very real demonic possession. Again… a found-footage movie. Sorry, but those really get my motor running. Regardless, this one is a lot of fun, and provides some good low-bandwidth spooks for a lazy afternoon.

The Green Inferno – Eli Roth’s ode to 70’s Italian cannibal movies, with all the problematic stereotypes of an indigenous people that that implies. I am, as I’ve mentioned before, kind of a bad person. When it comes to cinematic sins… I tend to turn a blind eye. I know depicting jungle tribes as a bunch of savage cannibals is wrong. I KNOW THIS. But I am a fan of the aforementioned 1970’s sub-genre all the same, and I am also a fan of The Green Inferno for CELEBRATING said sub-genre, even though it is kind of a shitty movie. I do not know what it says about me that I enjoy watching groups of white people get slaughtered and eaten by culinarily-adventurous natives. Frankly, I’d rather not unpack it. I WILL say, however, if you’re curious about The Green Inferno, do know that it is pretty fucking gross when you get right down to it, in terms of both gore AND political correctness.

Cdog’s Guide to Streaming Horror: Netflix, Pt. 1

I’m not what you or anyone else would call a “smart man.”  I didn’t “go to college,” and I’ve mostly “wasted my life.” Some would even call me a “pathetic failure who’s greatest accomplishment was NOT having Starburst jelly beans for breakfast (I’m saving them for lunch).” And all of that would be fair. I’ve done a WHOLE LOT of dicking around in my life, and it has left me with a skill-set that is, to say the least, a mixed bag. Sure, I make a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich. SURE, I have an alcohol tolerance that has been known to upset loved ones. And suuuure… I can perfom Macy Gray’s “I Try” at a karaoke bar without even a WHIFF of shame or humility. None of these, we’ll call them, talents are good in a pandemic. I am no good to ANYBODY, large-scale. I have zero medical training outside of being a regular ER watcher in the 90’s, I no longer work in a grocery store, and if anything, my homemade hand sanitizer is only making the virus STRONGER.

So… what can I, Cdog, do to help those in need. Well, those that know me, know that I do have one area of expertise: Horror movies. Yes… thanks to countless hours logged behind the counters and in the aisles of video stores during my misspent youth, I have a working knowledge of the horror genre that many people in my life have said makes talking to me quite difficult! And now, I can pass that knowledge onto YOU.

Maybe you’re interested in horror movies? Maybe you want to get MORE INTO horror movies, now that you’re isolated in your home for the foreseeable future? Nothing improves a quarantine like stuff that gives you anxiety, nightmares, and an unreasonable fear of others, amiright?

My plan is this: Over the course of the next week or so, I am going to write up a personalized, HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE, guide to all the horror fit to watch on all the major streaming services. It won’t be comprehensive AT ALL, it won’t be in any way based on anything other than my own opinions, and it will most likely, end of the day, do nothing more than occupy MY time while the world burns to the fucking ground. But hey… might as well do something until we all turn feral and start marauding for scraps.

Couple of caveats:

-Though I do know a lot about the horror genre, I am by no means an expert. There’s always someone smarter and more educated out there. If I miss something or am wrong about something… shit happens. Also, there will be no “gatekeeping” here. I firmly believe horror is for everybody. EVERYBODY. There’s something in the horror world for YOU, no matter your tastes and/or interests.

-Stuff comes and goes with regularity when it comes to streaming services. If you’re reading this three months from now, and something I’ve mentioned below isn’t available… take it up with whatever satanic cabal of lawyers control film rights and exclusivity contracts and what have you.

First up…

NETFLIX (PART 1)

Netflix is notoriously kind of shitty when it comes to its horror selection, but I figure… it’s the service most people have. Why not start there?

Genre Giants

The movies everyone should see as the foundation for a horror-filled life

The Evil Dead – The original “cabin in the woods” masterpiece. Many prefer the sequel, Evil Dead 2 (it’s technically more fun and, you know, BETTER), but I like the original for its gritty, DIY aesthetic and over-the-top slimy gore. Do note, however, there’s a raped-by-the-forest scene therein that has NOT aged well and can be quite triggering.

The Wicker Man – Folk horror at its finest! If you enjoyed last year’s Midsommar, or like freaky cult stuff, generally speaking, this is one of the finest examples out there. Edward Woodward, The Equalizer from 80’s TV plays the hero! Horror legend Christopher Lee hams it up! Brit Eckland does nude ritualistic dances!

Candyman – Tony Todd’s Candyman deserves a spot in the pantheon of horror icons right alongside Freddy and Jason. If you’ve ever been scared by the slumber party staple Bloody Mary, this one will make you piss your jeans. There’s also lots of bees!!!

Child’s Play – The most famous of the “killer doll” flicks (not my personal favorite, but that’s for another time). Chucky is at this point his own brand, and Brad Dourif’s voice acting of said lil’ stinker remains chillingly effective.

Carrie – Arguably one of the saddest horror movie’s ever made, and still to this day the high water mark for Stephen King adaptations (in my opinion). Sissy Spacek was nominated for an Oscar for her role of tormented telekinetic teen Carrie White, and rightfully so; it is one of my all-time favorite performances in ANY movie, horror or otherwise.

Rosemary’s Baby – It’s very hard to support Roman Polanski’s work in the Me Too era, I totally get that. But fuck me if Rosemary’s Baby a isn’t a humdinger worthy of a temporarily blind eye. Mia Farrow is stunningly fragile AND strong as the satanically impregnated Rosemary, and Ruth Gordan’s Oscar-winning turn as the best, most evil neighbor ever is truly a hoot.

Modern Classics

The new guard of Genre Giants; trailblazers and whatnot

The Witch – One of the best horror movies of the last decade, The Witch is what The Crucible would look like as a documentary. And, as a point of fact, all of the events and dialogue are taken from actual records of very real witch trials from the 1600’s.  Bit of a slow burn, but it will get under your skin in the way only truly dark, sinister movies can.

Train to Busan – Zombies on a train! And also a moving exploration of the class struggles of South Korea, as well as of paternal love and duty. Kinda like Parasite, but with more blood and guts and, as I mentioned, a train.

Green Room – Punks vs. Nazis in what’s TECHNICALLY a thriller, but that doesn’t matter when you’re trying to remind yourself to breath AND convince yourself not to barf all at the same time. Brutally gory and intense; easily my favorite movie of 2015.

Paranormal Activity – I watched this movie high as balls in an apartment under which ran the NYC subway system. The combo of the low-rumbling trains below me and the lo-fi production value masking MAXIMUM tension and scares mixed with weed-paranoia in juuuust the right way to permanently scar my psyche. Granted that’s a real specific scenario, so if you can’t appreciate it for that, appreciate it for the fact that it grossed billions and spawned a franchise on a $50 budget (aprox.). Blair Witch walked so Paranormal Activity could run.

Independent

Small films that still manage to kick you in the nuts

The Invitation – Ever go to a really bad dinner party? The one in The Invitation is worse. MUCH worse.  Not super action packed, and a bit of a thinker, but worth the effort.

Autopsy of Jane Doe – It’s a movie about a haunted autopsy. That is literally all you need to know. Either you’re all in on that concept, or you’re all out. An easy, scary watch, though… no brain power required.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil – A hilarious riff on the city teens vs. psychotic hillbillies horror trope. More of a gory comedy than an actual horror movie, but extremely entertaining and even a little heart-gladening.

XX – A horror anthology of shorts all written and directed by women (including, for some reason, indie musician St. Vincent). XX is also the rare anthology without a weak segment. Solid from end-to-end.

Tusk – The only entry in the micro-genre “Walrus Horror” (so far). Writer/director Kevin Smith’s weirdo body horror opus seems like a goof at first, but is actually pretty effective in really making you UNDERSTAND the horror of having your body horrifically changed into something foreign and awful. Genre legend Michael Parks is outstanding as the mad sailor-turned-Dr. Frankenstein.

In an effort to not make this the longest blog post you’ve ever read (SURPRISE, I didn’t think this all the way through), I’m going to stop it here. Netflix Part 2 coming tomorrow!

Not Coming Soon: A Look at Movies Delayed by COVID-19

You do not need an incredibly magnetic blogger with great gams (hello) to tell you how bad everything is right now. COVID-19… or as I like to call it, The Dread Virus, because it makes all of this feel more cinematic, if not less terrifying… is impacting our world in a ridiculous number of ways. Small ways (harder to get a Bloomin’ Onion), medium ways (Mom’s using the word “Oriental” again), and ways that are so huge, we haven’t even begun to grasp the impact they will have upon our lives. Yes, I am talking about our Blockbuster Movies… a carnival of crap, DELAYED!!!

Sure, our nation’s movie theaters will eventually be turned into temporary shelters for a vast swath of laid-off bartenders and hair stylists (I don’t even know if that’s A JOKE), but until then… what of our sweet, sweet sequels, reboots, and franchises…? Will we never again see another rainbow? And by “rainbow,” I mean, “unasked-for Men In Black spin-off.”

Here now, a look at a few movies already affected by The Dread Virus:

No Time to Die

Original release date: April 2020
New release date: Nov. 12, 2020 (UK) / Nov. 25, 2020 (US)

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The James Bond movies are too cool now, and I for one, do not care for them [shakes early-bird menu at Denny’s waitress; adjusts suspendered slacks until they rest juuust below nips]. Give me Roger Moore dressing up like a clown in Octopussy! Or Pierce Brosnan getting chased by a chainsaw helicopter with Denise Richards (playing a nuclear physicist named CHRISTMAS JONES)! Hell, even Timothy Dalton’s VERY DOUR James Bond sledded down a mountain in a cello case for some reason (80’s cocaine, most likely).

What I’m saying is that Bond movies used to be fun, and now they’re just really expensive ads for watches with a few karate kicks thrown in to keep everyone’s Uncles happy. Which, I KNOW HOW THE MACHINE WORKS, but come on. Snooze. One man’s opinion, let’s shove the entire franchise overboard and start only making movies about witches, demons, and/or axe-murdering psychopaths. THEY CAN BE SECRET AGENTS, that’s fine, whatever. Make them James Bondses for all I care. Just do something different with the franchise because the whole thing smells like a dusty crumpet.

Unrelated, I will be making my acting debut as Dusty Crumpet, sultry assassin, in the upcoming James Bond film No Time to Die, out in November! My tits are lasers!!!

A Quiet Place: Part 2

Original release date: March 2020
New release date: Unspecified date in 2020

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First off, “A Quite Place 2: Quiet Harder.” THE PERFECT TITLE WAS RIGHT THERE, and they ignored it. What are they even DOING in Hollywood? John Krasinski, I’m fucking GUNNING for your career. Well, I’m criticizing your career on the internet. And also giving you money to see your movies. Goddamn you, John Krasinski.

ANYWAY, I liked A Quiet Place. It’s fun, and the silence gimmick is employed in a number of exciting ways. Granted, it REALLY doesn’t hold up to multiple viewings. Lotta plot holes in that bad boy. Instead of film stock, it’s like they used a niiiice Emmental Swiss. Folks, I worked in a deli for the last 9 years, you have no IDEA how much cheese-centric humor I’ve got in the chamber. Not the point. A Quiet Place does indeed work as a thrill delivery system, if not totally as an airtight narrative, and sometimes that’s all we need in this stupid, shit-sucking world.

Remember that part where the lady steps on a nail? Holy balls. That’s one of the most upsetting things I’ve EVER experienced in a movie, and I’ve seen Italian productions where they butcher live animals just for production value. Not saying THAT was great either, but there’s something about a nail in the foot that’s so fucking visceral and REAL that it turns my guts into gravy.

If they’ve manged to replicate that feeling in the sequel… just that one moment of true gut-liquidation… then I am truly bummed the movie has been delayed. I am always up for seeing some shit that stops me in my fucking tracks.

Mulan

Original release date: March 2020
New release date: Unspecified

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The whole live-action version of Disney properties… it’s just such a capitalist back-alley mugging. Pay for the same movie, but the animals look not-quite-right, and the songs don’t sound how you remembered them, and also we’ve gotten the entertainers whose work you’ve enjoyed for its passionate integrity to PROVE they can be bought and sold just like everyone else. This is America, I get it. It is objectively a drag, but I GET IT.

Having said that, Mulan is actually not a bad candidate for the “what happens when cartoons stop getting animated, and start getting real” treatment. It mostly concerns actual humans, for one thing, and it’s not… how can I say this without getting strangled through my own Wi-Fi… the MOST beloved of Disney movies? I know it has its fans; but also, it’s not the one people really go to the fucking mattresses for; a Lion King or a Beauty & the Beast. And since those have ALREADY been desecrated, it’s time to move on to the junior varsity lineup.

It sounds like I’m being shitty to Mulan. I don’t mean to be. To tell you the absolute gospel, I’ve never actually seen it. It came out in 1998, which was well beyond my animation appreciation years; 18 year old Cdog was much more about Faces of Death bootlegs and anything showing on USA’s Up All Night. I’ve heard generally good things about Mulan, and… gotta say… the trailer for the new iteration looks pretty rad. Epic in a way most kid’s movies are not, and seemingly walking right up to the line of being too-adult for some (the main bad guys look actually pretty scary).

SO… I’m going to tentatively say it’s a loss for our collective populous that Mulan 2020 has been delayed. It would do the world some good right now to have positive Asian representations in the mainstream, and girls can always use new role models that teach the positive aspects of being a genuine ass-kicker.

Avatar 2-5

Original release date: December 2021, 2023, 2025, 2027
New release date: May not change

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Ok, so maybe these won’t get affected that much. Production on said films HAS shut down, though, and I feel that’s allowance enough for me to talk shit about them in a public forum. Because… and I cannot stress this enough, and I hope I’m speaking loud enough so everyone can hear me… FUCK THE AVATAR SEQUELS. With a goddamn unauthorized blue Na’vi dildo (which is a thing you CAN buy, but SHOULD NOT Google).

James Cameron was such an excellent filmmaker. The original Terminator remains a cinematic bridge between the grindhouse-y, drive-in movie world and the land of blockbuster entertainment. Gory and weird and incredibly violent, but SO propulsive in its entertainment-giving; it holds up, ridiculously so. Terminator 2 was the PINNACLE  in Big Movie Events (at least until Jurassic Park came along), Aliens was a blueprint for how-to-make-a-sequel, The Abyss was a funky little (but also very big) underwater adventure, and True Lies made us fall in love with Tom Arnold all over again. Cameron truly went into the stratosphere with Titanic, of course; snobby, Criterion-humping film aficionados like to diarrhea on Titanic mostly because it made ALL the money… ALL OF IT… but I’m here to tell you: Titanic is a good movie. Cameron’s eye for spectacle and seemingly supernatural ability to entertain the masses were fully on display in Titanic, and even at 3+ hours, it feels like journey worth taking every couple of years, just to see a top craftsman at the top of his craft, crafting topply (I haven’t had my full allotment of coffee yet).

And so… WITH ALL THOSE WONDERFUL MOVIES TUCKED INTO HIS JEANS… Cameron was, in my estimation, allowed a stupid vanity project. And if it has to be about dumbass aqua rain forest critters and the mean military men that want to steal their (checks IMDB)… UNOBTANIUM, sweet nude christ, he actually called it that… then, whatever, so be it. Plus Cameron got to jerk himself off with fancy new 3D cameras and… lenses… and… a dope microphone… Look, I don’t understand the technology. I think few people do. Point is, Cameron got to drape a shiny, sloppy CGI mess over the wooden skeleton of Dances with Wolves, and he called it Avatar, and FINE. It was FINE. Neat to see in the theaters, YES, the 3D experience was cool beans, but that’s IT. We’re DONE. Nothing needs to be said about Avatar ever again.

But… fuck… like so many men before him… Cameron got greedy. Cameron wanted MORE. More, to the tune of FOUR MORE AVATAR MOVIES. I understand that he has made a lot of money for Hollywood over the years, but my god. My actual fucking unholy stinky thickly armored god. How far up one’s own butthole must a man travel before FOUR MORE AVATAR MOVIES sounds like a worthy investment of millions and millions and millions of dollars??? The depths of said butthole must TRULY be The Abyss, amiright… James Cameron career joke, nailed it.

No one is excited for these movies. No one wants this. Sure… people will go see them out of morbid curiosity or boredom or because of very specific sexual predilections… but not enough people are THAT curious, bored, and/or horny. These movies are going to be a financial DISASTER. An artistic NADIR for a man who’s basically had no valleys. It’s the worst idea! IT’S THE WORST IDEA!!! James Cameron, buddy, turn back!!! Take the delay as a sign!!! Pivot to a True Lies sequel, stat!!! TOM ARNOLD NEEDS YOU.

The Isolation Content You Crave

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Right now, the world as we know it is absolutely eating shit. Remember in “Bloodsport,” where Chong Li throws salt in Jean Claude Van Damme’s eyes and he’s all, “AAAUUUUGGHH,” and you’re like, “this is it… he’s fucking finished… he can’t even SEE!!!”

“HOW CAN HE WIN THE BLOODSPORT???”

In this moment, we as a people, are a blinded Jean Claude Van Damme. We’re screaming, rubbing our eyes, we are blinded by a virus that has done us dirty in the Kumite competition of life.

Of course, JCVD does end up defeating the evil Chong Li (JCVD is still good at kicking and punching, blinded though he may be), and… hey… maybe that’s what will happen in America vs. COVID-19…? I certainly don’t know. I am not a scientist, though I DID win my 6th grade science fair  (What Makes Apples Moldy; my mother did most of the work). Point is, I am now stuck in my home with not a lot going on. So what the fuck, let’s start blogging again.

The healing starts HERE, with tortured 80’s action film metaphors, and grows only outward and upward. 90’s action film metaphors, ahoy!!!

Anyway, I am going to try to get myself up and in front of the computer every morning. I want to write again! I want to make you all laugh with my dancing clown antics! I want to put useless thoughts into your brain until you call the cops on my mind! I WANT TO GIVE YOU THE CONTENT YOU CRAVE. Unless I’m too sad. Or my wife has murdered me (I can’t imagine being locked up with me is easy). Or the neighborhood discovers I’m sitting on a bunker full of my Etsy-ready homemade toilet paper (it’s mostly just tortillas).

But hey, I bet I can get it to together most days! We’ll talk movies! Snacks! What symbols the isolation-induced hallucinations are telling us to carve into our bodies!

But mostly we’ll just pass the time. A new community, formed around the carcass of a blog that no one has cared about for a decade. Apocalypse rules, baby!!!

And if the internet gives out… I’m taking this baby old-school. Nautical. Semaphore flags!!!

More to come, and I am like 80% sure I mean it this time.

 

Everything I Ate At The State Fair of Texas, or, “Save My Soul, Deep Fried Jesus”

My State Fair is better than your state fair.

I mean, sure, they might be KIND OF similar: Wonderful/horrible foodstuffs that are worse for you than rubbing raw uranium on your face, crowds of people that represent everything that’s awful about interacting with humans, parking lots, etc. However, MY Sate Fair has something that YOUR State Fair definitely does not:

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Yep. A giant robot cowboy who sometimes bursts into flames. We call him Big Tex, and he is the best. What DOES your State Fair have? JACK and also SQUAT, that’s what. Tex-as, Tex-as, TEX-AS, TEX-AS [adjusts comically over-sized belt-buckle; tosses ten-gallon Stetson into the air; eats a fistful of Bluebonnets while defending the Alamo]!!! SUCK A BUTT, OHIO AND ALSO EVERY OTHER STATE.

Ahem… sorry. See, I just got back from a day at the State Fair of Texas, which is held every year in the city I call home, and… well… this native Texan is a little jacked up on sugar, grease, and Lone Star Pride. DID I MENTION THE SUGAR??? Wow, sorry again… I’m just… everything is all shimmery and I feel like someone just shot me in the back of the head with a t-shirt cannon full of deep-fried meats.

ANYWAY, I’m not here to get all United States of Texas on your asses. What I AM here to do is talk about every single thing that I consumed at the State Fair of Texas, in order of consumption, because the State Fair is DEFINITELY the most important thing that is happening in Dallas right now. Hahahaha ha haha ha [gargles with Purell].

First up, three notes:

-All of the foodstuffs in the following pictures were split between me and my wife. Two reasons: If I had eaten everything that you see in this post by myself, my stomach would have fallen out of my butt, and also, sharing is caring. Also thrifty, as State Fair dining is EXPENSIVE. I remember when a hamburger sandwich cost a quarter! And so forth.

-The pictures you see below were taken quickly, and in crappy, overcast natural light, in an effort to get their images recorded before they cooled off and congealed into horrifying wads of sorrow. I assume you’re not coming to low-traffic internet way-stations such as Zombie Fights Shark for Diane Arbus-level photographic glory, but still… forgive the cruddy quality on some of these. Dammit, the boy is TRYING!

-We also consumed two or three bottles of water during this adventure to prevent us from turning into Biblical-style salt statues, but water is boring, so we won’t be discussing it any further.

ONWARD!!!

Everything I Ate at the State Fair of Texas, or, “Save My Soul, Deep Fried Jesus”

Funnel Cake Beer

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Community Beer Company, who are big, smelly deals here in the Dallas craft beer octagon, made this beer specifically for the State Fair, aiming to create a drinking experience that was both reminiscent of eating a funnel cake, but was also… you know… a beer that doesn’t suck.  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The State Fair Brew was pretty goddamn tasty… sweet, pastry-like notes on the front end gave way to a sharp, hoppy finish which was mellowed out by the genius move to rim the glass in powdered fucking sugar. Actually, the cup I got could have used a little MORE powdered sugar… it REALLY sold the whole funnel cake angle…  but that’s neither here nor there.

If you’re going to start your day off, like we did, drinking beers in a room full of 2015’s hottest cars, you could do a whole hell of a lot worse than Community’s State Fair Brew.

Deep Fried Shrimp Boil

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This thing won, essentially, the Best In Show ribbon out of all the eligible foods served at this year’s State Fair. While it wasn’t my number one favorite thing that I ate, it WAS kind of a blow-your-hair-back experience. SO MUCH FLAVOR. Look at the guts of this sumbitch…

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Various sizes of shrimp, potatoes, some corn, a little lemon, and an assload of spices, all coated in… I don’t know… magical Cajun swamp batter or whatever… and deep fried until it becomes the best hushpuppy ever crapped out of a gator-wrassler’s filthy dream. And there’s a spicy/tangy/sexy dipping sauce! Goddamn. Plop a regulation-sized football helmet full of these in front me during a Cowboys game, and I could WITHOUT HYPERBOLE eat them until my stomach exploded like that one guy in Se7en.

Chicken-Fried Meatloaf

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Pretty straightforward, really… it’s two slabs of dense, well-seasoned meatloaf that have been deep-fried in that sort of crumbly, almost corn-flakey batter that is so specifically tied to chicken fried steak. They were tasty… because they’re deep-fried meatloaf, and not, say, deep-fried your-high-school-janitor’s-underwear… but they were also a tad on the dry side, screaming out for the accompanying dipping sauces. One was like a spicy ketchup kind of thing (meant to mimic the glaze one finds on a well-conjured meatloaf), and the other was cream gravy (meant to be poured directly down your throat, because cream gravy is as essential to human life as oxygen, water, and sunlight).

My wife preferred the ketchup. I preferred the cream gravy. We side-eyed each other suspiciously for the remainder of the day. I feel that this disagreement has started us down a path that will one day end with us battling each other for some sort of dipping sauce-based supremacy in an American Gladiators-style arena. Only time will tell.

FOOD BREAK

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Look at all the pleasing rows of canned veggies, fruits, jams, jellies, and butters. They’ve all been tasted and ranked and awarded ribbons. The display seemed to go on for miles, and I could have gazed upon it for a fortnight. If this picture doesn’t satisfy the part of your brain where the OCD Demon lives, then you are a sentient wooden puppet who has somehow gained access to the internet, and I hope you cry yourself to sleep tonight wishing you were a real boy. OR GIRL, whatever. Pinocchio-looking motherfucker.

Kona Iced Coffee

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The wife wanted an iced coffee, so we got an iced coffee. Nothing particularly memorable about this beverage… it wasn’t dunked in hot oil and transformed into some kind of spongy, whipped cream-covered mass that will forever haunt my arteries… but you know, it was a nice example of the iced coffee form. Plus, they put a little cocktail umbrella on it, which is pretty fucking cute. Everything at the State Fair is just better, you guys.

Deep-Fried Potato Guts

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These are supposedly twice-baked potato guts, formed into a shape that TOTALLY ISN’T TURD-ESQUE, then deep-fried in the standard fashion. They weren’t bad at all… good even… but they also weren’t terribly exciting. Basically, they were mashed potatoes with a crust. My wife described them as “deep-fried clouds,” texturally-speaking, and I can’t really do any better than that in the description department.

Any forward-thinking sports bar owner would be delighted to have these taking up valuable real estate on their appetizer menu.

Sausage on a Stick

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It’s a spicy, foot-long smoked sausage on a stick. Simple, elegant, and very much like eating the BBQ version of a command performance by the Joffery Ballet. Or at the very least, Riverdance.

Demerits are given, however, due to a structurally unsound foil wrapping job that lead to barbeque sauce being dripped on my nicest Hawaiian, big-fat-party-guy shirt. Fat guys HATE shirt stains. They’re our “scarlet letters.”

FOOD BREAK

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While at the State Fair, we attended some pig races. Like ya do. Those little pink blurs in the center of the photograph? Pigs. Racing pigs. The prize for winning the race was an Oreo cookie. It was all very adorable, though the experience was brought down a little bit by an unrelenting typhoon of pig puns, all spoken by an MC/fake farm girl who had the worst case of “children’s theater superstar voice” I’ve ever heard. Also, there was a Forrest Gump reference in the script, which I’m sure killed in the late-90’s, but c’mon pig race banter writers! It’s 2014! We need that modern jazz, man.

Deep-Fried Brisket

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I’m going to try to get through this one without crying, but no promises. You guys… this is a hunk of moist, fatty brisket that is deep fried, then covered in a thick BBQ sauce and sprinkled with some spicy dry rub. Look at it! LOOK AT IT, GODDAMNIT:

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This was so fucking good, I thought about shutting down the whole “touring the State Fair” thing and just bellying up to their operation, ordering round after round of deep-fried brisket, until my grunts of pleasure got so pornographic that the State Fair security had to come remove me by force. I WOULD NOT GO PEACEFULLY.

Seriously, the deep-fried brisket was THE number one best thing I ate at the State Fair, and it is also quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten ever. Caviar, foie gras, lobster butts… all of that expensive junk can go straight to hell. Pure, undiluted happiness can be bought for a measly 15 tickets at a booth next to a guy selling airbrushed face tattoos. THIS is luxury. THIS is living. CHRIST, I’m hungry for these again. As will I ever be, forever.

Funnel Cake

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I mean… it’s a funnel cake. It’s going to be good, because it is hot dough and powdered sugar. Oh, and by the way, if you’re one of those people that globs on a bunch of strawberries or blueberries or whatever-the-fuckberries on top of your funnel cake, then you are so unbelievably basic that you’re practically yoga pants. Why dilute greatness with unnecessary toppings? Sometimes, the simplest path is where it’s at. Not everything has to be OMG 3D HD all the time, you dummies. JUST EAT IT LIKE JESUS WOULD HAVE.

Anyway, it was good, but it also came after the deep-fried brisket, so it definitely lacked a little in the impressiveness department. It’s kind of like how Shaq looks like a goofy younger sibling when standing next to Yao Ming. Same thing, but with fried foods.

Fletcher’s Corn Dog

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Sorry that this isn’t a pretty, pre-chomp picture of a beautiful, unbroken corn dog. Actually, NOT SORRY. I want you to see where my gross mouth just was. I want you to be able to see each individual tooth-print. The above crime scene is a CELEBRATION of delicious glory. It is a testament to the corn dog… the FLETCHER’S Corn Dog, mind you… accept no substitutions.

Fletcher’s Corn Dogs… often imitated, never replicated… were invented at the State Fair of Texas, like, several million years ago (Fletcher was a Stegosaurus). THAT’S RIGHT… my State Fair invented a thing that has become a CLASSIC FOOD. What did YOUR State Fair invent? Some kind of weird fish horseshit, Minnesota? GO SIT AT THE KIDS TABLE; THE ADULTS ARE TALKING ABOUT SEX.

Gah… sorry, sorry… I just get so worked up about Fletcher’s Corn Dogs (and corn dogs in general, because who are we kidding, brand loyalty doesn’t mean a whole lot when you’re hammered at 4am with a fridge full of knock-off slop cornys chilling in your freezer, wanting only for the gentle kiss of your microwave so that they can take your hangover and crumple it into a ball and point at it, saying, “leave this place”).

Corn dogs are just the best, and Fletcher’s Corn Dogs, in particular, should win every award ever created at least once. Even the Heisman.

FOOD BREAK

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This is a painting of Con Air-era Nicholas Cage that was slapped on the side of some sort of Tilt-A-Whirl contraption on the midway. I do not know what it has to do with carney rides, but I DO know that it looks goddamn majestic when framed by a stormy sky and a flapping Texas flag.

Deep-Fried Snickers

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When you deep-fry a Snickers bar, what you’re left with is a somewhat dense enclosure of quickly-soggifying dough that is holding back a flood of molten-hot Snickers components that have been lava-fied because heat and melting and so on. It is a tricky proposition, eating one of these, because the chances of it burning your skin and muscle and attractively-trimmed, fashionable beard clean off down to the exposed skull that lies beneath are very, very real. However, it is also a whole lot of chocolate, nougat, peanuts and fried dough, and who can resist that? Some things are just worth the years of painful skin grafts and accompanying hospital bills.

Deep-Fried PB&J w/Banana and Bacon

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This was the last thing we ate at the State Fair, and by the time it rolled around, we were both kind of settling into the walking coma phase of our evening. It’s a shame, because this was kind of the secret star of the day. I mean, it’s no deep-fried brisket, but what is? NOTHING, EVER AGAIN, WILL BE DEEP FRIED BRISKET.

But still, this was damn tasty. The fattiness of the peanut butter and the general fried-ness was spectacularly cut by the glorps of grape jelly, and the banana added a nice fruitiness as well. I didn’t really taste the bacon, though. Like… at all. I think we may have actually been given a baconless fried sandwich, which, yes, IS a felony offense in the State of Texas. I’m a benevolent, kind C-dog, however, and am not pressing charges. Frankly, that would require effort, and after eating all of this, it’s all I can do to keep breathing normally sans gasping.

IN CONCLUSION

The State Fair of Texas is wonderful, and you should go there and eat a bunch of stuff. If you’re NOT in the great state of Texas, I guess you could go to your own State Fair, but… you know… keep in mind that you’re living a goddamn lie.

Now, I’m going to go eat small, dry salads for a week, but before I go, I want to leave you with one more picture:

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This is from the State Fair of Texas’ butter sculpture exhibit. The subject this year was galloping stallions, and what you see above is an artist so focused on detail and accuracy that they spent at least a little bit of their day fashioning a horse’s butthole out of butter. That is amazing. The State Fair of Texas is amazing. EVERYTHING IS AMAZING.

Except for your State Fair, which, as previously mentioned, sucks nards.

America’s Worst Haunted Houses

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Spooky King – Hartford, CT

This is a Burger King that some enterprising franchisee has draped in fake cobwebs and rubber bats on strings. The teenager manning the drive-thru is dressed as a Dracula and all the other employees are dressed as The Crow, save for LaShonda, who doesn’t need this shit from an $8-an-hour job. The Whoppers are usually lukewarm at best, but the fries are hot, salty, and full of the Halloween spirit inasmuch as they are chock full of melting, fun-sized Mr Goodbars.

Darren’s Haunted Trailer of Doom – Lansing, MI

Just a large-ish moving trailer parked out by the dump. It is spray-painted black, inside and out. Darren is usually asleep outside on a lawn chair, though occasionally he’ll get drunk enough to put on a fright wig and dance around. This usually results in him falling over and cutting himself on some scrap metal. You will have to take him to the hospital. There is nothing remotely scary about the trailer itself, however the paint fumes can cause some interesting hallucinations.

Nightmare Horror Factory EXXXTREME – San Jose, CA

After standing in line for three and a half hours, you will be admitted into a room lit only with a black light. On a couple of stacked cinder blocks, there is a glass punch bowl filled with what are clearly de-breaded McNuggets. You are told to put your hand in the bowl. “They’re eyeballs, or whatever,” says a girl in a sexy kitty costume, in between huffs from a paper bag containing… what, exactly? Oven cleaner? Varnish? It is unclear, as you are immediately hustled out of the room and back outside. You will most likely find that your car has been towed.

The Old Cemetery Road Haunted Hay Ride and Apple-Bobbing Extravaganza – Waxahachie, TX

Not a haunted house, nor is it a hayride. Technically speaking, it is more of a trap. Steer clear unless you’re into the idea of being hunted for sport.

Mrs. Cavanaugh’s 3th Grade Scare-a-teria – Tempe, AZ

A fundraising venture mounted with the hopes of raising enough money to take care of the many wasps nests that have infested Elmer C. Burnblatt Elementary, this haunted house offers nothing in the way of thrills and/or chills. It mostly consists of a strobe light, seventeen children in ill-fitting ghost costumes, and a lot of urine (the kids have yet to really master “potty time”). Much scarier is the walk to and from your car, where you will invariably be attacked by great clouds of wasps.