Film Review: House (1985)

Also known as: House: Ding Dong, You’re Dead (video title)
Release Date: December 6th, 1985 (Victoria, Texas premiere)
Directed by: Steve Miner
Written by: Ethan Wiley, Fred Dekker
Music by: Harry Manfredini
Cast: William Katt, George Wendt, Richard Moll, Kay Lenz

New World Pictures, 93 Minutes

Review:

“Hey, it’s great to have a new neighbor. Woman lived here before you was nuts. Biggest bitch under the sun. Just a senile old hag really. Wouldn’t be surprised if someone just got fed up and offed her. Know what I mean?” – Harold, “She was my aunt.” – Roger, “Heart of gold though. Just uh, a saint really. And uh such a beautiful woman, for her age.” – Harold

I never liked this movie. In fact, I remember not being alone in that based off of what other people said about both House films when I was a kid. But in the last few years, I’ve heard people talk it up like it’s a classic or a hidden gem. Being that I hadn’t watched it since the mid-’80s, I wondered if I had missed something as a kid. Was it maybe too adult for my eight year-old sensibilities?

The short answer is “no”.

I still think that this is a pretty bad movie. The main reason is because it is dreadfully dull.

This is like a family friendly horror movie of the worst caliber. It’s like a terrible episode of Amazing Stories and then it’s even worse than that.

The story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, it’s really just a total fucking mess and it is hard to care about any of the characters because you can’t take any of this seriously enough to connect to anything.

Sure, this has some good comedic actors with William Katt, George Wendt and Richard Moll. Their talents are mostly wasted though. Katt is a wee bit charming but he’s too goofy and thus, it’s hard to sympathize with his turmoil. Wendt has some funny lines but he’s not in the film all that much and he’s sort of just on the sidelines. Moll wasn’t used in a comedic way at all and it’s such a departure from the Moll audiences would have been used to due to his time on Night Court. In fact, I wonder why the cast him in the first place.

The special effects are pretty hokey, even for 1985. Although, I was impressed by some of the matte painting work.

In the end, I still think this movie sucks. I’ll probably watch the second one in order to review it but I’m not enthused about it.

Rating: 4.25/10
Pairs well with: its sequel and other films that Italy merged into a series of unrelated pictures called La Casa.

Retro Relapse: The Legend of the Douchebag Brewer

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

This article is inspired by a few things I have witnessed or heard from friends in the craft beer industry that are too respectful to publicly speak their mind – contrary to those that this is about.

Many of us that travel in craft beer circles, at one point or another, have heard the Legend of the Douchebag Brewer. He’s the brewer that has gained a bit of small town fame around his place of origin. He has also built up a reputation of traveling around and being a complete dickhead when visiting other breweries or talking to other craft beer connoisseurs.

The douchebag brewer is high on his own bullshit and whether or not he is good at his craft, he perceives himself to be the best in the world. In fact, he has to make sure that everyone knows this by always talking up his beer, his secret process and how it is superior to everyone else, all while trashing other hardworking and passionate brewers in the process.

Some of these douchebag brewers like showing up in brewery taprooms when the other brewers have left for the day. They then cowardly trash the beer to the bar staff or to other patrons, most of which are loyal customers of the brewery that the douchebag is trashing.

Their inflated sense of worth must cloud reality because whenever I’ve encountered this character, I have made it a point to avoid his brewery and write him off as a piece of crap not deserving of my business or respect. And I am sure that other craft beer connoisseurs view this character the same way.

These douchebag brewers often times take their self-obsessed views to social media, using Twitter and Facebook to express their “expertise” in regards to how great they are, how much everyone else “doesn’t get it” and to sell their preferred beer styles as superior to every other. Their palate is God and we all must bow down! Trust in Beer Jesus or be damned to an eternity of poorly crafted Berliner Weisse!

Some of these idiots perpetuate whatever beefs they seem to have with other brewers, whether real or imaginary. It is like some old school rap beef but no one really cares except for the whiny self-important douchebag brewer and maybe one hardcore fanboy that still relishes in the fact that his buddy brewer gave him a free beer six months prior.

What these people fail to realize is that they are doing massive harm to the craft beer industry and to their own brand. People don’t like supporting assholes and more often than not, they won’t knowingly support a douchebag. And trashing others who do what you claim to love is counterproductive to the bigger picture.

The craft beer industry is competing with the macro beer industry, who have now felt the threat and upped the ante in attacking beer that is better than their mass produced adjunct-filled garbage. If the freedom fighters are preoccupied with in-fighting amongst themselves, the evil empire wins. If you are as passionate as you claim about craft beer and your product, you shouldn’t want the evil empire to win.

Craft breweries need to build each other up. With as large of a piece of the pie as macro breweries have, there is enough to go around for craft breweries. If you think there isn’t, than you simply don’t understand business, economics and what it is that you do.

Most of the breweries that I love and frequent, go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to helping out the other breweries around them. People share brewing tips, they help the new guys get off the ground, offer business advice and often times collaborate in new beers, which strengthens their bond and thus, strengthens the craft beer scene.

There is a kinship among brewers and breweries that doesn’t exist in most other industries. Most brewers have the respect for one another being that their passions are the same and that they are all small businesses trying to make it in a highly competitive industry in a country with an unreliable economy. Through hard work and passion, there is a respect between brewers.

The douchebag brewers apparently don’t understand that and are only out for their own gain regardless of how it effects the industry as a whole. You have to build and create, not trash and destroy.

Now assuming that some of these douchebag brewers are as good as they claim, why wouldn’t they want to use their knowledge and skill to make the industry a better place overall? Through collaborations and joint ventures, they can help educate newer and less experienced brewers. They could be business and brewing mentors to many of the brewers who are good but not yet great. Besides, isn’t the world a better place with more good beer than more shitty beer?

Most brewers out there are pretty good people that understand all of this. But with everything, there are always bad apples. I choose not to support them because they are actively working against something I love, as well as the livelihoods of others who feel the same as I do.

If you are the master of your craft, you have a responsibility of passing that craft on. If your craft doesn’t survive, future generations won’t give a shit about you anyway.

When Budweiser, the Coca Cola of shitty beer, feels compelled to attack craft beer in every ad, they are against a wall and threatened. When you’ve got the beast’s balls in your hand, you rip them off, you don’t just stand there arguing with the other hunters that you are the best at holding the beasts balls because that’s when the beast bites your head off.

Ego ruins everything. And brewing great beer shouldn’t be about ego, it should be about kinship and respect because ultimately, isn’t beer better when you are sharing it with your friends?

Comic Review: Preacher: Book One

Published: 1995-1996
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 351 Pages

Review:

Over the years, I’ve read several different story arcs from the Preacher comic book series. But never have I started from the beginning and tried to read the series in its entirety.

I’ve only read the second story arc that makes up this first book. So getting into the earliest Preacher issues was a real treat.

This kicks things off with a bang and for fans of the television show, the beginning of the comic is vastly different, even if there are some similarities.

As dark as the show is, this is bleaker, meaner and has a harder edge than anything that they can put on television, especially in 2019 where everything is deemed “too offensive”.

In fact, this is ’90s comics at its peak. But this was also from an era were Vertigo wasn’t complete shit. Say what you will about ’90s comics, good or bad, but this is one of the titles that defines the best parts of that decade. Everything in the ’90s was “extreme” and this encapsulates that like no other comic except for maybe some bootleg and outlaw comics of the time.

But this doesn’t feel like it’s a gimmick that didn’t age well, it feels genuine and authentic. That’s probably why it has stood the test of time.

Garth Ennis was on his A game right out of the gate and his fantastic writing is greatly enhanced by Steve Dillon’s art on every page, as well as Glenn Fabry’s stupendous covers.

Preacher is a perfect storm of hardcore, extreme, edgy boi shit and I mean that complimentary. It’s a product of its time and the culture around it. While I’m sure that is off putting to some, like easily offended snowflakes in 2019, this is still a comic series with merit and a lot of emotional turmoil that the reader can relate to despite how dark this world is.

It also examines a lot of religious taboos and criticism in a creative and exploratory way. As someone that grew up in a really religious environment, some of this was uncomfortable for me to read the first time but in retrospect, it’s good that it challenges these ideals and asks what the point to it all is.

Preacher is not a comic series for everyone. I can see where it would push away certain sects on the right side and left side of the political spectrum. For those of us in the middle, who want some of the answers to life’s mysteries, it’s a cool exploration into that backed up by badass characters doing badass things and killing off scumbags that deserve it.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Video Game Review: Gauntlet (Arcade)

Few games made me go broke faster than the arcade version of Gauntlet. That being said, I still loved the absolute shit out of it at an age when losing a quarter felt like losing twenty bucks.

When I eventually got the version that was ported to the original Nintendo, I was ecstatic because I would no longer have to lose boatloads of quarters or tokens. Granted, that version of the game wasn’t as epic and grandiose as its arcade counterpart.

What’s great about the arcade version is it’s graphics and sounds. Also, it plays so fluidly where I always found the NES port to be buggy and laggy.

Sure, you get severely overwhelmed in all versions of this game but that’s sort of the appeal. There’s just something cool about being absolutely swarmed by a ghost army and then having to run for your f’n life every time the Grim Reaper or multiple Grim Reapers appear onscreen.

I guess I had always assumed that eventually you would reach the end of this game. However, I played this for two hours straight and after a while, the levels, despite their number, start to repeat.

This is an endless game. I’m sure it was designed that way to deliberately squeeze as much change out of ’80s kids as humanly possible but that doesn’t make me mad, it makes me kind of respect the game’s developers.

Because, really, this isn’t even a game you play to beat, it’s a game you play to see how long you can hang.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Gauntlet II

Film Review: Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001)

Release Date: October 2nd, 2001
Directed by: Brent Maddock
Written by: John Whelpley
Music by: Kevin Kiner
Cast: Michael Gross, Shawn Christian, Susan Chuang, Ariana Richards

Stampede Entertainment, Universal Pictures, 104 Minutes

Review:

“[Suggesting names for the flying monsters] Assblasters. How’s that?” – Jodi, “Sounds like a porno film.” – Jack

I wouldn’t call this film unwatchable but by this installment, the series is really out of gas. The only thing that salvaged it for me was Michael Gross.

This one follows the framework of the second film in that it has the Graboids evolve into another form. So where we had the Shriekers, we now have the Assblasters, which are basically Shriekers that are sleeker, have wings and can fly propelled by their flamethrower rocket blasting asses. Hence, the name.

The new monsters aren’t that creative and they just seem like an early ’00s edgy boi joke that didn’t age well.

The problem with these new monsters is that they still don’t pose the same level of threat as the original Graboids. Sure, they fly and they spray ass flames but that’s more comedic than threatening.

Now there are some Graboids. In fact, this introduces El Blanco, an albino Graboid, who would go on to be a protagonist through the rest of the films and television series. But they still feel lost in the big mess of a film that this is.

Plus, the CGI effects are really bad and where Tremors II felt like it had half the budget of Tremors, this feels like it had half the budget of Tremors II. It’s noticeably cheap.

The acting is pretty terrible and the only person that seems like they have chops is Gross. But Gross is a veteran, has created a good character within this mundane franchise and is really the only reason to revisit it whenever they decide to return to the Graboid well.

I’m not looking forward to watching the other sequels but the fourth film is a prequel and also has Billy Drago in it, so I’ll give it a shot.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: the other Tremors movies.

Documentary Review: Funhouse (1997)

Release Date: 1997

Discovery Channel, 44 Minutes

Review:

I remember seeing this on the Discovery Channel when it was new. It always stuck with me and after becoming a fan of the YouTube channels Defunctland and Yesterworld, I wanted to try and track this down to revisit.

Sadly, there is no information about it online. There isn’t even an IMDb page. As I like to list the credits for everything I review, it sucks that I can’t give the proper people the credit they deserve for this cool little documentary that has stuck with me for 22 years.

Seeing it now, it was still a lot of fun and the real high point is where it showcases local, lesser known theme parks throughout the country. The two main ones that we get a peek at here are Bushkill Park and Kennywood, both from Pennsylvania.

What’s extra special about seeing this now, is that since this documentary, Bushkill Park has fallen into disrepair and doesn’t function as a full park anymore. There have been attempts at fixing it but the iconic rides of the past no longer function and have been wrecked by flooding and vandalism. But at the time of this documentary’s production, we got to see a lot of the old attractions in their mostly full glory.

This also goes into the technological advances that Universal Studios and Disney World were bringing into the theme park industry at the time. Some of the “new” rides featured here no longer exist or have evolved but this was a cool time capsule that looks into what was cutting edge in the ’90s.

If you like theme parks and their history, this is a fun watch. I put the whole documentary below and it even has the commercials left in, so its like a real ’90s TV time capsule.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: the YouTube channels Defunctland and Yesterworld.