Monsters and make-up
A happy nightmare made real
Thanks Mister Cooper
Cheap isn’t meaningless. Cheap isn’t useless. Cheap is not something to always be avoided or scoffed at. Some of the best times of my life could accurately be described with some definition of ”cheap.” Some of the best things I’ve ever owned and some of the best things I’ve ever done? Cheap!
But you know how it is.
Talks people into giving up on their dreams, talks people into fucking over their friends and families. Money might even talk you into buying a video game dripping slick with top of the line advertising efforts and financially fluffed “reviews.” So stumbling across small, independent titles that are swimming against the tide isn’t commonplace in an unforgiving ocean of ”OMG! Have you played Titanfall? What? NO!?!? Why Not? It’s a game with things that happen and things that move! I read that Aggro-Opinonator gave it like 8 out of 5 starzors! It’s got graphics and sounds!!! It’s totes available on your PS4Box9000and you should go get it right now just like the commercial sez!!!”
I’m a fan of some huge franchises like Gears of War, but for every deserving studio out there that produces a polished product there’s another conniving to cock punch you with their next release. Like a minor-leaguer still hungry for success, some of the most innovative, inexpensive and plain damn fun to play titles will forever come from somebody you’ve never heard of in your life. So when you do find, as I have this week, one or two of these precious little nuggets floating down the vapid and empty gold-claim of the modern console era you must rejoice. And at a buck each these two are both that perfect kind of cheap I’ll saddle up with any day. Two tiny, indy, one dollar games are maybe not what you were expecting but I didn’t expect to fuckin’ fall off my horse last time I was out riding either, I didn’t expect to become infatuated with the American Southwest and need to move to Arizona and I sure as hell didn’t expect to be married to a kind and gorgeous woman who loves me a hundred times more than I deserve.
Always getting what you expect is boring. And I will not be a party to that.
So I’ll tell you a little about Cowbots and Super Amazing Wagon Adventure instead.
Cowbots is a combo platter of turn-based card game and twin-stick shooter and whether you’re facing off against the CPU or a buddy in Battle, Railroad or Survival mode it’s amusing if not terribly in-depth. No matter the mode, the gameplay is basically the same. Earn gold, guns or icons each round in order to play cards of varying offensive or defensive value before your opponent does the same. One screen (i.e. the first one I found on an image search) looks like this:
Get your strategy all figured out and pick your perfect hand. Once that’s over you roll around in a mine cart plinking rapid fire, shotgun or large caliber rounds at anybody that isn’t friendly. The variety of mechanical men you can bolster your ranks with is rather large and amusingly diverse. I specifically said “men” because there aren’t any women in this game. Not one robot whore. I weep on my pal Bender’s shoulder as he quietly leaks on mine because we both have a soft spot in our hearts for that soft spot presumably deep inside most if not all whores. Other than the glaring lack of cybernetic soiled doves my only gripe with this game is that when you play “Railroad” mode (a race to build a complete track across the screen) if you don’t get a Prayer card in the first three rounds you’re screwed. That card allows you to play extra cards each round which in turn increases your chances of fielding an impenetrable posse in addition to finding one of the eight railroad track piece cards you’ll need to win the whole shebang. Don’t see those praying hands early on and you might as well shove a bottle of Jack up your ass and give yourself the whiskey shits because your time will be better spent shitting whiskey than trying in vain to achieve victory.
Alcohol tinged taints aside Cowbots is my go-to game when I’ve got ten or fifteen to spare and I don’t feel like yelling at 12 year olds playing anything online. Like jerking off, it’s easy to learn and doesn’t take too long to finish but man is it ever fun. 3 rounds for this genre mixing little hombre. And if pretending to be a tiny terminator version of Cullen Bohannon grunting your way across the plains in the name of mechanized manifest destiny isn’t totally worth a buck, the hell if I know what is. Of course if all you have is a buck and you’re looking for the complete opposite of short and simple look no further than to the second part of this week’s review.
Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is all of these words and then more words. Like Cholera, killer scorpions, flaming buffalo stampedes, spitting lamas, exploding volcanoes and evil bandit destroying tactical air strikes.
Think about that old Oregon Trail game and then imagine it about fifty times harder and with aliens and sex and time travel. Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is not quite as accurate historically as the old O.T. was but you really haven’t struggled to expand this great country of ours unless you’ve fended off narwhals with your pterodactly pistol now have you? This game is 8-bit glory wrapped around a damned near impossible to complete story. It’s insanely addictive due to its fairly basic controls which make you feel like you’ve gone full retard as, in the amount of time it takes you to eke out even one complete journey, you could have probably read the dictionary twice. When I finally, and after what seemed like the longest of “lasts”, reached the West Coast I was sure the pelican that flew welcomingly over head was going to try and kill me so there I sat unaware of my victory with fingers clenched tightly around my controller and my anus clenched tightly around my anus.
It really is that amazing.
Both the game and my anus. A doctor once told me that if I kept lifting heavy weights my “rectum would fall out.” This upset my anus terribly and to this day he works even harder to support me as only he can and I’m pleased to say that all my parts are where they should be. And you amigo, should support these two little games that could. 4 rounds by the way for Super Amazing Wagon Adventure. A touch better than Cowbots because of its liberal use of ridiculous humor and the curious mix of skill and luck needed to complete the damn thing.
But both are great and you should buy them both because c’mon, it’s only two dollars. There’s probably two dollars in your car/couch/cat right now or maybe someone owes you two dollars or you could promise to show someone your dick for two dollars and then do it and then you’d have two dollars. Lots of ways to meet this minimal monetary need. You keep riding true and I’m sure you’ll figure something out and then be playing around with these two hidden gems before you can say “hey, I showed you my dick. Where’s my money?”
I watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World last night for the first time in a long time and that ended up being perfectly timed. If you haven’t seen it yet go do it right now and then come right back. Also seeing the 1984 DUNE, knowing some self-important pricks and having that nagging feeling that you’ve never quite been doing what you were put here on Earth to do will help all this make a bit more sense. I’m confident, though, that I can convey what I’m feeling well enough no matter how you’re coming at this post.
I was at AFO two weekends ago (stop me if you’ve heard this one!) and I wrote a few lines about the impact it had on Angie and I. A lot of folks seemed real excited by it all and supportive of the point that I’d be writing more about where those few days took us and where we’d be going from here. I’m not used to lots of folks reading my blog which usually consists only of haiku and reviews of Western movies. My regulars number in the fives of people so it seems antiquated and often poorly made films reviewed with sarcasm and penis jokes isn’t for everyone which is sad because sometimes a great movie squeaks in there and my jokes, much like my own dick, are sinfully easy to enjoy. Now that this blog has been up for a few years, and I’ve been wandering the halls of conventions from sea to shining sea for many more than that, it’s time to stop waiting.
And that was exactly the message I had for my Panel About Nothing at AFO 14. I knew I needed to say something special that night but I had no idea it was for both the audience and for myself to hear.
I’m not going to write a 10,000 word mission statement here filled with platitudes and vagueries because you don’t want to read that shit any more than I want to write it. I’m going to call it like I see it, no minced words, no pulled punches, no misdirection or sugar coated crap. If I say it here, in a tweet, on Facebook, on stage or in private I mean it. There is no separation between my business and our friendships. All in, or fuck it all.
So no bullshit. I’m square with myself (as hard as that is at times) and I’ll be square with you (as necessary as that is at all times). I will promise to write more often and I promise you that I’ll be out and about and on the mic more than I have been. I have lots to say and I love the way it affects people. It…needs…to happen.
Every response I’ve received post AFO was like a slap (in the face) followed by a bucket of ice cold water (in the face) finished off with a big old kick in the ass (in my ass!) All of this! But in a good and wonderful way. For too long I’ve been idle and frankly wasted some great fucking gifts I’ve been given. Hearing everyone’s success stories, reading about triumphant tears that streamed down smiling faces, realizing spirits had been lifted to unbelievable heights all because I’d stood up encouraged me to never again sit down.
I’ve rested my whole life, it’s time to get revolutionary up in this shit!
But I can’t do it alone. Never have and never will. Because it’s simply not possible. I could get up on every stage and scream into every mic from here until the end of time and if we don’t connect? You won’t hear a word I’m saying and I’m throwing away precious seconds from all of our lives. If we both don’t give a shit, neither of us will. See, when a lot of folks I’ve heard get up in front of people a whole lot of this happens:
When I speak, it seems, this happens:
But it’s not because of me. I’m only as important as you want me to be and at the end of the night the most important thing in the room isn’t me at all or where I’ve been or who I know or how goddamn awesome I am.
It’s every one of you out there in the audience.
As someone who is so entirely full of himself this is strangely interesting to type and even cooler to really understand. Feeling damn liberated by these booming words and, if you’ll have me, I’ll keep up the thunder and be ready for the reply. You’ll hear me and I’ll hear you and maybe we can all make even a little difference in this huge world we call home. Don’t do this for me, or for your folks, or for someone you hope will like you.
Do it for yourself.
The effort it took for my two friends to put together their kick-ass anime Scene-It gameshow was beyond any joke I’ve ever told. The bravery it took for one young man to pack up and follow his dreams across the country into new and unfamiliar territory was more than a few good post P.A.N. feelings could ever have mustered. The frankness it took for my big bud J.J. to start seeing his own purpose on this planet began with a friendly smile but will continue only if he commits to it. Scott Pilgrim had it wrong for most of his movie almost losing himself fighting for love instead of self-respect. I can’t blame him, myself I’m quite a Roxy Heart, you all love me for loving you and I looooove you for loving me, but no matter how great one speech, one panel or one entire con might feel to any of us, those moments will inevitably end. At that point all we’re left with is our own determination. Do we squander our lives or do we rise to the occasion?
We start today then. We look in the mirror and we get goddamn honest with ourselves. About who we are and about what we want. It’s confusing some times and really hard all the others. It’s not really easy to admit I like to full-on dress up like Britney Spears and play Gears of War every once in a while, but I just did.
I am true to my dreams, I am true to my desires, I am true to myself. And to my inner Britney. I make one hell of a cute Lancer wielding school girl.
Knowing any truth about yourself sets you free from so many fucking things. Being candid breaks down the walls between you and some wild, freaky wisdom. From listening to everyone who reached out to me in the past few weeks, with every kind word, every affirmation, every victory and every ongoing struggle, I could see that either they knew this too or they were willing to figure it out with blood, sweat and tears.
So where do you fall? And where are you going from here?
Get to those mirrors, get to reflecting, and then get on with it. I know it’s scary. Think gaming in high heels is either a physical or emotional piece of cake? Not so much, so yeah, I know. But I also know this: everything you need to change yourself and this world for the better is staring right back at you.
Fucking believe in yourselves guys.
God knows after this past AFO weekend, I sure as hell do!
A million monkeys sat at a million typewriters once and wrote the screenplay for this week’s movie. They sat back and read what they had created. They literally went ape-shit with shame and disgust. They threw every page away into a nearby trash-bin and that’s how famous TV mogul Aaron Spelling found it before starting production on what would become Wild Women. Aaron’s Hollywood legacy not only includes some of the most beloved and long running shows ever to grace the small screen but his stunning daughter as well. I wouldn’t count his made-for-TV movies anywhere among the prouder achievements of his career. Wild Women is difficult to review because my eyes were screaming in pain most of the time. Hailing from 1970, it is representative of the very worst that can happen when you need to fill two hours of Prime Time and have whatever advertising dollars Charmin will give you as your one and only goal. Mr. Whipple could have used every roll from every store he ever worked in and there would still be shit-stains left behind by this movie and yet it still has a least one fan I noticed on the old IMDB. A man who goes by the screenname “william” had some fantastic things to say about this fucking atrocious film:
“This is a sexy sensuous cute Western about five women convicts trying to deliver arms to 1840 Mexican Held Texas.Made back in 1970,it’s comparable to the other great westerns of that era that’s highly commendable and recommended.It’s a fun must see movie that’s very well worth watching!!!”
Copied word for word with all spacing gaffs and grievous errors of critical thought left intact, I could spend the better portion of what’s left of my night cataloging all that’s wrong with the above statement. I had to consciously stop myself from having a stroke the first time I read that paragraph in its entirety. And once I had I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror those being the cries of any person from any good movie that had just been compared to this formidably fucked-up flick. My only consolation through all of this was that poor, poor “william” has not made any further comments since late 2006. I can only assume he sat down to sing the praises of Mac and Me but instead just died because it was the right thing to do.
Having now spent a half hour of my time to write a few hundreds words I’ve put more work into dismantling Wild Women than ABC did into assembling it. One of the first things you’ll notice about this film is that it’s a godddamn horrible film. From the tacky studio back-lot sets to all those “open range” shots that look like, and were most likely filmed, ten yards into the scrub on either side of California’s Interstate 5. These locales present us with unique opportunities to showcase scenes like that night they stopped somewhere along the trail and who could forget that other night they stopped too. There’s a lot of filler here, some of it’s funny and then some of it’s serious. This production never could decide between the two so tongue-in-cheek becomes foot-in-ass becomes tongue-in-ass and then you feel really uncomfortable but it’s nothing compared to how Wild Women makes you feel on the whole.
And then there’s the water! The whole wagon train made up of convict women pretending to be married to Army soldiers working to smuggle arms down to the Southern border to bolster American forces for the coming conflict with Mexico all get drunk one night and dump nearly all of their aqua into the desert. It’s a terribly grave situation, one they will spend literally minutes of time to remedy. See, they had no water…then they found water! Compelling Christ that’s some good TV right there!
They play and presumably pee in this sacred Apache spring until the Apaches show up all pissed about the playing and the presumed pissing.
Busted! Then the leader of our heroic expedition throws a fight against the Indian chief to save his party during a fisticuffs fracas that lasts longer than the original search for hydration did. But they have some H2O and their scalps so they’re set for what must be one of the most un-anticipated finales in made-for-TV history. It actually might be the only piece of clever storytelling the writers mustered as our faux-omesteaders forgo using any of the heavy ordinance they’ve brought with them in lieu of an amazing tactical plan that boils down to getting the twelve guys attacking into a crossfire. They way “the plan” is alluded to you’d think it would make Patton or Rommel look like preschoolers but no. Put some folks on this side of the street and some over there and then shoot. Zap Branningan has come up with more masterful plans that this. Your life would be better served Googling “Wild Women” and just enjoying the endless image pages that populate for your peepers rather than ever consider spending a moment on this movie. See!
1 round in the chamber. Maybe those girls right there put me in a good mood or maybe I just thought “at least this wasn’t as bad as Hooded Angels.” I have significant doubts that anybody has ever enjoyed this movie, well except for “william” God rest his soul, but the fact remains that Wild Women was in a two disk collection I purchased leading me to believe that somewhere, at some grave point in time, someone actually passed over any number of even shittier films to make sure this one was included. They’re out there and I’m sure I’ll cross paths with ‘em at some point but mine is not to reason why, mine is but to watch this crap.
And write about it every now and then too. Till next week amigos.
This is a title card:
That’s German and it means “the fuck?” Which is what I was thinking at least every thirty seconds or so during Sartana and the Valley of Death. Much like the Django character, Sartana had an original run of core movies and an additional dozen total rip-offs looking to capitalize on the name alone. These unauthorized sequels were pumped out with all the polish of a watery turd. Ill formed and difficult to look at (watery turd) there were bits of humor and entertainment to be had during its merciful 79 minute run time but I don’t believe any of them were intentional. These films were meant to be gritty not shitty, but want in one hand and make this movie with another and see what you get. I could see every attempt at spectacle coming a mile away the likes of which would have made the outcome of a T-ball homerun derby at the Special Olympics unexpectedly engaging by comparison.
At one point our protagonist, Lee Calloway, is trying to GTFO and ends up cornered between two advancing lines of angry townsfolk. Slowly being corralled towards a seemingly inescapable doom this moment has all the tension of an original Star Wars film and all the fucktardery of a Star Wars special edition. How does our anti-hero get away? By shooting the ground till it explodes of course causing all the horses to scatter just like The Duke and Clint always did. For the record, when this gets re-released in fifteen years or so it will be edited so that the ground shoots first. So, Lee avoids both capture and competent storytelling by heading off into the badlands with a trio of bastardos he released on their word that they would cut him in for 50% of some gold they just stole. Things don’t go as planned however:
Up to this point all the negotiations had been proceeding heavily in Lee’s favor as the percentage he was owed kept climbing for reasons I have thankfully forgotten. Rest assured, if you’ve ever seen Nucky Thompson work a room to his advantage then you might just compare this movie to Boardwalk Empire, of course I might just punch you in both fucking balls if you do. I’m just kidding, I will punch you in both balls if you do. But let’s let things you nor your balls have ever probably thought be as water under the bridge eh? We shouldn’t be getting our blood up for a film that doesn’t even, at any point, feature it’s titular character. Sure, IMDB lists Lee Calloway as “AKA Sartana” but he’s never referred to as such on screen. Imagine having a woman over for adult activities and she gets naked and you get naked and she’s like “what the hell is that?” once she spots your flagrantly tiny penis to which you reply “that’s my flagrantly tiny penis AKA huge goddamn cock!” The producers of Sartana and the Valley of Death were without a doubt betting on the fact that by the time you figured out the Sartana you knew and loved was nowhere to be found in their film you’d just sit there and finish what you started to slink away, just like your date above, once the deed was done bathed in lackluster cinema and below average sexual performance. Don’t be ashamed though Lee, this happens to a lot of fellas your age.
About the time things go all to shit in this movie, well, beyond when I pressed “play”, we find Lee wandering hopelessly in a Valley of Death so at least the title got that part right. But no one accurately figured the effective range of the pistols he fires at those double crossing dicks who are dogging him from on high. I’m not expert but the dude empties a gun belt’s worth of ammunition from what looks like anywhere between 30 and 50 yards and never even gets close. This guy shot the dirt earlier and it blew up so he should be causing avalanches with his mind by this point by no, instead we’re treated to this film’s version of Blondie’s famously tortuous death march across the wilderness from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I would bet you twenty percent of this movie is spent of Lee listlessly stumbling over some Deustchland-y desert. Laborious but expertly so, Leone’s journey was deftly delivered to us with the skill of a master surgeon. By contrast, this scene in Sartana is like checking your own prostate with a crow bar after slathering both hands with Vaseline. By the end of it all you feel about as good as Lee does:
I simply cannot impress upon you how grueling it was to watch all this. I have had more fun watching documentaries about the Holocaust. I took a slap-shot to the balls once: immeasurably more enjoyable. One time I had blood in my stool and every thought of what that might mean was more stimulating to me than anything I had just seen. Here, these are called “sailing stones.”
Until now scientists have often wondered how they seemed to moved unassisted across the sands. I can answer without reservation that it’s because these rocky motherfuckers are just trying to get as far away from this film as possible. Pacing then is just one casualty of this film. Women’s lib is another. Whether we’re talking about the poor country bumpkin girl who sounds like she’s one of Bo and Duke’s lost cousins, the charming Southern Belle send-up with such breathy dialogue she’d make Marilyn Monroe roll her eyes or the lounge singer who comes off about as bright as your standard pool float, every woman you see on screen is there only to make you and your flagrantly tiny penis feel good about yourselves. It’s as if the casting director once heard Andrew “Dice” Clay’s famous “two tits, a hole and a heartbeat” bit and thought “that’s exactly what we need!” A one dimensional object would look morbidly obese next to any of theses women who are so devoid of personality beyond a regional accent that the gas you last passed would be more engaging to converse with. A great Western, any great movie in fact, relies on memorable action, notable words and souls, troubled or otherwise, swirling behind the eyes of its characters. All Sartana and the Valley of Death brought to the table was comically inept editing, troubled scene continuity, an oddly named gunman whose skill with a pistol came and went like the breeze, three silly bitches and a hillside of mechanical Mexican dancing dolls trying hard as fuck to make the finale artsy and fartsy. They failed at one of those attempts.
2 rounds in the cylinder. I’ve seen a hell of a lot worse but this was still a damn chore. A chore like having to do the dishes while blindfolded only using your butt cheeks. You get through it, but by the end you’re wet, confused and your ass is all kinds of cramped. You are however still alive and you’ve learned some important lessons. Like never watch Sartana and the Valley of Death and forks can do a surprising amount of damage to your ass if you’re not careful.
Even in the deepest of crevasses, ain’t life just grand sometimes?