So here’s an interesting thing, particularly for my friends in the journalism universe.

It’s an article from a former high-level CIA officer about how to produce high-quality intelligence analysis. It’s a really good read, though, for anyone who produces (or consumes) intelligence of any kind, including news.

One of the best things — the notion of “What are we not seeing, which we would expect to see, if our analysis is correct.”

From the piece:

“During one of the most challenging times in my analytical career, I worked for the finest analyst I ever knew. In the middle of the Tiananmen Crisis in 1989—when everyone’s hair was on fire—I found him late one afternoon going through a stack of musty old reports. I asked him what he was doing. He said, “I am looking for things that did not make sense then, but do now.” “

What a great insight.

Full article, PDF, “What I Learned in 40 Years of Doing Intelligence Analysis for US Foreign Policymakers”:

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol.-55-no.-1/pdfs/CleanedPetersen-What%20I%20Learned-20Apr2011.pdf

They Live (1988) Directed by John Carpenter… is that it’s a really easy way to get people to ignore thinking about the ramifications and consequences of the particular situation, focusing their attention instead on the general opprobrium for the principle of order. The mind gets caught thinking about whether laws, in theory, are good on the whole, and forget to think about the ACTUAL ISSUE under question. Some examples:

“We need voter ID in this country to make sure there is no election fraud. Don’t you care about the rule of law in our democracy?”

“We can put up our satanic monument in the state capitol building, because if you let the christians do it, you have to let any other religious groups do it. That’s what the rule of law means!”

“The President’s executive order on immigration is making a mockery of the rule of law by bypassing the will of Congress”

“Those violent protesters really have some good points, but they should respect the rule of law and just let the cops and the justice system do their jobs.”

It’s a handy, general-purpose argument for whenever you want to try to defend the status quo from anyone who’d like to change it.

“Rule of Law” on Wikipedia

I’m up to 17 so far.

MV5BMTk0OTM4NDEzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTQ3Njc0MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_Sublime (2009)

Somehow, without trying, I acquired two copies of this movie in my DVD collection. Hospital horror. Guy checks in for a routine colonoscopy, and never checks out. Thanks, Obamacare death panels. I see what these guys were going for, and it’s not a bad idea, but there were some issues with pacing and execution that I can’t see past. There are whole subplots that are just silly dead ends, characters that only exist as metaphors, and like the whole second act is sort of this “it was a dream the entire time” thing. That being said, certainly watchable, but not brilliant.

 

Maniacts (2001)

Oh, shit, it’s in 4×3 format. Old school. It’s like Natural Born Killers meets One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, rendered in the style of Repo Man. Not entirely devoid of good ideas, but not enough to warrant watching. Only barely qualifies as a horror movie, actually.

 

Carrie (2013)

The remake. Pretty darn good. I was suspicious of a remake, because the one with Sissy Spacek is just so iconic. But the beauty of the thing here is that you know what’s going to happen, and you see all the expectations of the characters, and it lends it a different kind of tragedy, a kind of subtext of inevitability. Julianne Moore was very good in her role as the super-religious mother. Recommended.

 

MV5BNzkwNDkyNTUxNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODY1NTE3Nw@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

I’ve tried to watch this movie unsuccessfully twice; I guess third time’s the charm. Kiev seems so nice in 2012; I bet it’s not so friendly a tourist spot these days. Seems like a fellow gets a whole lot of adventure for his dollars in eastern Europe. I’m looking at you, Hostel and A Serbian Film. This movie is somewhere on the continuum between Scooby Doo visits Silent Hillski, and the Russian Hills Have Eyes. Is that racist? The ending is solid.

 

Art of the Devil (2004)

Thai, with English subs. Hell hath something something woman scorned. Probate law is a whole lot different in Thailand, what with all the black magic and such. They take their death curses very seriously, it appears. A decent, but not amazing, film.

I’m up to twelve so far. Almost halfway there.

Vanishing on 7th Street (2010)
Anakin Skywalker keeps running out of flashlight batteries. Croatoan. The ending was good.

The Dead (2010)
Hey, have you been reading about how the Ebola dead are resurrecting in West Africa? So this is pretty much like what it would look like if Ebola was a zombie virus. It’s set in west Africa, Sierra Leone. The zombies operate on Romero rules. Slow, cannibals, dead, stopped by a shot to the head.
The characters are capable, and don’t do anything overtly stupid. Its nice to see a zombie movie that isn’t set in the white middle-class suburbs of the United States, though the effect is ruined by making the main protagonist a white American man. This isn’t a great movie, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not unwatchable. Apparently there’s a sequel set in India.

 

Killer Story (2007)
Well, it’s got Joe Estevez in it. He’s like a poor man’s Gary Busey. “You’ll be a female Gene Hackman.” A character actually said that line in this movie. As a compliment. To a woman. ಠ_ಠ
I wish there was something to recommend here, but there just isn’t. The plot is asinine and transparently confessional, since both stories in this anthology are about men who are complete failures. The filmmakers apparently had never heard of “continuity” or “color correction” and they don’t have any friends in bands, judging from the atrocious casio synth score. Utterly inept on every level. This is the movie you can make if you have $10k, and you give $5k of it and a bottle of tequila to Joe Estevez for an afternoon of work.  Just terrible.

 

Final Draft (2007)
Dawson’s Creek stars in this movie as a writer who’s trying to write a story about a killer clown. I felt sympathetic to Dawson’s Creek actually; as a person who dabbles with creative writing now and again, the idea of locking yourself in a room until you finish the thing you’re working on is a familiar sentiment, one I can identify with. The story here is one of those sort of meta things. The guy is writing the screenplay and seemingly living it at the same time. The sound on the DVD release was mixed really low, sadly, but other than that, it was reasonably good.

 

MV5BMTY1NzYzNTU5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODc2ODQ5MQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_Splinter (2008)
Best line of dialog: “It’s ok. We’re cutting your arm off.”
This is a creature feature in the best sense, and oh my, what a creature! Reminds me of that fungus that infects ants, and makes them crawl to a high spot in the tree branches, where the fungus eats through the ant body, and then releases its spores onto the forest floor, to infect more ants. It had lots of echos of The Thing and Alien Raiders. Good and scary, with a fair amount of disturbingly realistic gore. One plot complaint: it would have been easier to make an ice suit than to lower homeboy’s body temperature. Simple is the best solution. Some of the action scenes got a little shaky-cam, but I can live with that. Totally solid movie.

 

Update on the October Horror Movie Challenge. I banked a few extras over the weekend. At this rate, I’ll finish up all 31 with a week to spare!

The Midnight Game (2014)

Sort of a bloody mary, candyman urban legend kind of story. It’s based on one of these creepypasta things, like slenderman. Felt very contemporary, of the present. It even contained some handy search terms in the end credits. (I looked, and it leads you to some of the creepypasta stuff about the rules of the midnight game, etc.) Cleverer than I expected. It’s solid, and I expect it’ll probably get a sequel one day. A perfectly serviceable new release.

 

Torment (2013)

Hey, did you like The Strangers, but you left the film thinking to yourself, you know what that movie needed? A ridiculous explanation about why the whole thing was happening, rather than just, “You were home.”
Then you’ll love Torment. A home-invasion sort of thing, like The Strangers, Funny Games, etc, but not as tense or scary. Unneeded exposition requires me to remove a star because it was dumb.

 

The Snowtown Murders (2011)

The story of John Bunting, Australian serial killer.
I probably would have liked this movie better if I was Australian. I couldn’t figure out why anyone did anything in this movie, nor could I discern how the characters were related to one another. It just seemed like a bunch of disconnected stuff that happened. Meh.

 

skinliveinThe Skin I Live In (2011)

A film by Pedro Almodovar, Spanish, with English subs. Stars Antonio Banderas. An absolutely original film that invoked themes of gender, madness, identity, and revenge. Conceptually fascinating, and well made. The soundtrack really stood out to me, as well as all kinds of hidden flourishes and nuance that elevated this beyond genre into the realm of Good Art. Strongly recommended.

 

The Scribbler (2014)

Girl with multiple personality disorder moves into the world’s worst halfway house, where she modifies her electroshock-at-home unit to give her magic karate powers. Lots of style, little substance. Sort of reminded me of Sucker Punch, but not nearly as imaginative. 2.5 stars, and that’s mostly because the chicks were cute.

Ok, so I’m trying the October Horror Challenge — watching 31 horror movies in October.

The caveat being they have to be ones you haven’t seen before. So far, I’ve watched two.

Oct. 1 – Man From Deep River [AKA Sacrifice! AKA Deep River Savages] (1972).

Billing itself as the “first cannibal movie”, it’s more like “How to be a dick to everybody in Thailand”. There are actually cannibals in this movie, for like 5 minutes, but you’d barely notice if you weren’t watching for it. Many animals were in fact harmed during the making of this movie. It’s also extremely sexist, racist, and fairly offensive all around. The story is basically The Last Samurai or Dances with Wolves, but not nearly as interesting. Skip this one, and check out Umberto Lenzi’s later cannibal flick, Cannibal Ferox (1981) instead.

 

sorority2

Oct. 2 – Sorority House Massacre II (1990).

This movie is exactly what you’d expected from the title. Late-80s straight to video sleaze horror. Its even in 4×3 format, so you can pretend you’re watching vhs. Five semi-cute sorority girls buy a haunted sorority house and fix it up. Almost every line of dialog in this flick is some kind of innuendo. The girls spend most of the movie either naked, changing clothes, or in lingerie. Not very scary, not very gory, lots of nudity. A tounge-in-cheek B-movie that doesn’t aspire to much more than that.

 

What should I watch this weekend?

So my favorite thing I’ve seen so far today is blog-spam comments that are come-ons for joining the satanic Illuminati conspiracy. Seriously.

Check it out (email address removed to thwart their schemes):

my name is michael i really want to share my testimony on how i became an
Illuminati member, through my friend. i was moving with my friend for more
than 10 years and he have been getting rich everyday and even giving me
money but he never told me the secret of his success until a day i was
frustrated to let him know that he should help me also that was when he
open up to me and tell me that he was a member of the Illuminati that he
have been in the court for more than 10 years that his riches and
protection came from this court.so i told him to let me be into the court
but it not an easy task to be a member but i was finally initiated into the
devil church of the Illuminati and i was confirm in there church. after a
month of being a member of Illuminati i got promotion that same month in my
working place and within a year i was promoted thrice in my working place
to the extend of being a managing Director i never know how to thank this
church of Illuminati and today am rich as my friend also, and also the one
that surprise me most was that i got an accident with my new car and the
car was right off but i still survive the accident and nothing happen to me
i really thank you people Illuminati. so i just want to share to the world
that this is real and it have help me and work for me so if you want to
become a member i can lead you into the court of richness and you will
never be poor again, know that it only a member in the Illuminati that can
initiate you into the church of illumination they do not contact directly
because they are fake Illuminati all over the world, this is my email
XXXXXXX@gmail.com they will tell you how to join,

Who could resist?! Shut up and take my money!

H.R. Giger, 1940-2014

H.R. Giger, 1940-2014

 

I’ve always found his work extremely inspiring, and he had a huge impact on the way I think about visual art. RIP.  Click here for the full story.

Wikipedia on HR Giger

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