November 11, 2013

The Short-Lived Existential Crisis Of A Middle-Aged Horror Movie Fan

The Creeping Terror (1964) claims a victim
The Creeping Terror (1964) claims another slow moving victim.
     How will I feel on my deathbed, when I reflect upon all that was and all that could have been and realize just how many of the fleeting moments of my life were wasted watching movies?  Is "wastedthe right term here?  Surely, my life is enriched by these movies - or is watching these movies the sum total of my life?  As I ponder this conundrum I picture an image of myself sitting alone in the dark on my couch, coffee in one hand and cigarette in the other, my hydrocephalic head lolling about like a ham atop a toothpick as my pale, withered limbs curl up beneath me like singed strands of hair.  I'm pretty sure some big things are happening outside because I see it depicted in the movies I watch - I just don't have time to investigate for myself.  It's more important that I make time for one more viewing of The Creeping Terror (1964) just to be absolutely certain it's as bad as I remember.

     Yep, it is.  Glad that's taken care of.

     I'm being facetious, of course - but only a little bit.  It's difficult to make a valid argument that too much time watching movies - particularly movies of often questionable merit  - is a worthy pursuit.  I could be working in a soup kitchen or planting trees.  I could be reading to the blind or assisting the elderly.  Hell, I could even be doing something as arguably useless as making movies, and at least then there would be a historical record of my efforts, something for future generations to study and dissect.  As it is, there's just that ass dent in the couch.  Every crease tells a story, though.

The Howling (1981) poster
     I often have difficulty remembering events from three days ago, but I have movie related memories from three decades ago that are as clear as a natural spring.  For example, I can still tell you with one hundred percent certainty the name of the theater in which I saw The Howling (1981) for the first time.  It was the Wayne Theater in Waynesboro, Virginia.  It was a sunny afternoon, and my mother and I had been shopping in downtown Waynesboro when we happened upon the now iconic poster for the movie in the light box outside.  I'd seen a television ad for The Howling the night before, and I persuaded mom to spring for a couple of matinee tickets.  Oddly, neither of us knew it was a movie about werewolves.  The advertising used for The Howling (including that poster) was intentionally ambiguous since most of the audience for horror in '81 was only looking for the next big slasher movie.  Werewolves were passe.  We paid our money, though, and we took our chances.  I ordered a popcorn with extra butter at the concession stand, but I had to settle for a Mr. Pibb to drink because they didn't have Dr. Pepper.

     The Wayne was one of those old megaplex prototypes made by splitting a pre-existing full size theater into two separate venues.  Theater number one was the larger one.  The Howling, of course, was playing in theater number two, which was small enough that it bore an unnerving resemblance to the porno booth in the movie in which reporter Karen White first meets Eddie Quist.  I remember that afternoon showing was sparsely attended, and I distinctly remember being spooked when I had to slip out of the theater alone for a Pibb induced bathroom break.  I even specifically remember that the scene playing when I returned from the bathroom was the one in which Karen's friend Terry first realizes the woods near The Colony look suspiciously like a sketch taken from Eddie's room.

Ok, who's responsible for this mess?  Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
     Watching The Howling for the first time must have been an important moment in my life for me to remember the details so vividly, right?  I'm certain I won't regret spending that ninety minutes of my life watching a movie, but not all movies are that good.  Take, for example, Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)That's ninety minutes of my life I want back.  For every one really good movie I watch, I probably watch a dozen that range from barely adequate to worthless.  I keep doing it, though.  I keep chasing the dragon.  That metaphor is all too apt.  I'm a junkie, and a really good horror movie is the high I'm after.  So let's get back to my deathbed - is realizing that I've wasted all that time because I'm an addict going to make it easier to stomach?

     The Dog Farm is creeping  up on its first anniversary, and a big part of the appeal of creating this blog was to apply some kind of structure to the fruits of my misspent life watching horror movies.  I'm far from being the resident authority in the company of the knowledgeable folks who run their own horror movie blogs, but I do take solace in the fact that there are so many others like me.  It's like one big old horror themed Narcotics Anonymous meeting - but I digress.

     Following that mental image of my big-headed, movie watching self turning to mush on the couch is the image of my baby Gunnar all grown up and watching the horror movies I loved.  He'll know I loved them even if I'm gone, because he'll have access to a time capsule called the Dog Farm that's still drifting in the blogosphere like an abandoned satellite.  It's all here. 

     So is it all just a waste of time?  I think not.  It's more like a calling.  It makes me happy to be building something for myself, for my future, and for Gunnar.  It ain't much, but it's home.

     Now I'm going to watch The Creeping Terror just one more time.  You can join me if you like.  You'll have to sit in the recliner, though.  That ass dent in the couch is mine.

November 8, 2013

Sunshine? Here At The Dog Farm? I Guess Every Dog Has His Day . . .

The Sunshine Award sunflower pic
     Isn't it great to start the day with a pleasant surprise?  Like many folks, my morning routine includes a cup of coffee and a half hour or so checking web correspondence before leaving for work.  A couple of mornings ago I opened an email which informed me of a Tweet in which I'd been mentioned which in turn  informed me that Vern at Vern's Video Vortex (who also runs The Vern's Videovanguard) had awarded me The Sunshine Award

     Thanks for the recognition, Vern!  Before going any further, please allow me to share the rules of The Sunshine Award . . .

The Rules

1. Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.
2. Link to the person who nominated you.
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself (use these or come up with your own).
4. Nominate 10 bloggers.
5. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.

     Following are my ten questions as dictated by the rules above, which in turn are followed by a list of the ten bloggers I've nominatedThanks again for the accolade!  This is my first blogging award!

 1.  How long have you been doing this, and when did you launch?  

     I began blogging just a bit shy of a year ago at the behest of my friend Phil Neff, who maintains the real world dog farm for which Movies At Dog Farm is named.  Phil told me that the freakishly long comments I'd been leaving on the Movies At Dog Farm group page on Facebook were, in fact, blog entries.  He also convinced me I could teach myself the nuts and bolts of blogging.  I doubted that.  I took a stab at it, tough, and here I am about to celebrate the Dog Farm's first anniversary.

 2.  Most pleasant blogging surprise? 

      I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me that www. stands for World Wide Web.  I was surprised and amused that my silly little movie blog was being read by folks in other countries.  Consequently, one of the first gadgets added to my sideboard was a Flag Counter.  It still tickles me when I pick up a new flag.

 3.  Most hard won blogging wisdom?

     I'm doing this for my own satisfaction.  I couldn't be happier if others are interested, but even if they're not this project is something I do because I enjoy it.  By extension, if I'm not enjoying it and it becomes a chore, then I'm not doing something right.

 4.  Topic of your favorite post?  

     My favorite post is also one of my earliest and lengthiest: Ten Best Genre Movies Directed By Canadian Auteur David Cronenberg It's still the Dog Farm's most viewed post by a wide margin, which I'd like to believe is not coincidental.  The Dog Farm quickly developed a less review oriented structure, though, since I don't really fancy myself qualified to be a movie critic. 

 5.  Favorite movie franchise?   

     Phantasm, because it does such a fine job blending elements of horror, sci-fi, action, comedy, and just about anything else you can think of that's entertaining into a genuinely unique whole.  I'd give my left nut for one final entry in the franchise while the Tall Man still walks among us.  Angus Scrimm can not be replaced.

 6.  Favorite animal? 

     I'm a cat person all the way.  Don't even try to make that reconcile with this page's thematic conceit.  Life is full of contradictions.

 7.  Recent movie you most feel the need to re-evaluate?

     Maniac (2013).  I generally don't care much for horror that's too "real", and I was never really a fan of the original.  I'd seen a great deal of Elijah Wood on Wilfred, though, which is often a dark and disturbing show, and I had faith that he could do the role justice.  He did, and the conceit of seeing everything through his eyes - which easily could have turned into a video game - was well rendered and highly effective.  Perhaps it was too "real" for me.  I've been haunted by images from Maniac since my first viewing, though, so I feel like I need to take a second look.

 8.  Favorite band?

     Radiohead is probably the only still active band I listen to.  Each successive album is more creative than the last.  I listen to Thom Yorke's solo albums for variety.

 9.  Favorite movie to subject straights to even though I'm almost certain they won't enjoy it?

     Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970).  I've not made many converts, but the movie's history and execution fascinate me.

10.  Favorite movies to subject straights*  to because I'm certain they will enjoy them? 

     Suspiria (1977) and Pontypool (2008)The Thing (1982) is also a great choice if the straight in question leads a more sheltered life and I want to demonstrate the glory of practical special FX within the context of an altogether fantastic movie.

* "Straights" in this context refers to individuals not predisposed to enjoying genre movies.  


     Carl at The Info Zombie
     J.D. at Blood Sucking Geek
     Jeremy at [Being Retro]
     Warden at Warden Stokely Horrorzine
     Erin at Seven Doors Of Cinema
     Giovanni at At The Mansion Of Madness
     Bob at Candy-Coated Razor Blades
     Maggie at MK Horror
     Steven at Watching The Dead
     Kev D. at Zombie Hall

     All of these winners are talented individuals who commit a lot of time and effort to turning out some great content - in addition to just being an all around nice bunch of guys and gals.  Each of the listed sites is unique and displays all of the considerable personality their respective contributors bring to the table.

     Congratulations to the winners!

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