Film Corner: Howl


HOWL: Passengers on a night train are attacked by a vicious creature out of folklore, and must band together in order to survive until morning. I hope it's a banshee. (It is never a banshee. It will be a werewolf.)

Oh, good, the unskippable Amazon Prime videos now include fat jokes.

Our POV character appears to be an employee of the "Alpha Trax" line. Is that a real line or a werewolf alpha joke, I legit don't know. He's been turned down on his application to supervisor, on account of management preferring to promote an obvious douche. Obvious Douche puts Alpha Trax Boy on the next redeye because the usual guy called in sick. (FROM LYCANTHROPY? WHO KNOWS.) He's a ticket inspector with a crush on the stewardess. He rattles off the names of the quaint English places they'll be passing through, all of which I assume will not be equipped to deal with werewolves.

We have been jump-scared by a Chihuahua.

Passengers are rude to him. So far I am existentially sorrowful for this boy. We see a full moon, then the train hits something and screeches to a halt. A vast misty forest surrounds the train on all sides. Probably just hit a deer. Though it's a little disconcerting that when the rudely awakened ticket guard visits the first car, the lights are dim and there are no people. Where are the passengers?

The driver says there's something on the line and they'll be on their way shortly. Alpha Boy and Stewardess try to right her upset cart. A surprisingly strong passenger with two sets of house keys helps. This is vaguely strange. (LYCANS? HAVE TWO HOUSES INSTEAD OF ONE?) Passengers continue to be absolute bastards. I guess we won't be sad when they get eaten? The train driver walks in the dark rain in search of whatever stopped the train, which I feel would be pretty fucking enormous? I thought trains basically GO unless something very very very big says stop.

I have been informed that night trains out of London do not pass through misty rainy endless forests.

To my immense astonishment, my prediction of "probably just a deer" turns out to be true. The driver is attempting to physically pull a dead deer by the antlers from between the train wheels, and like. A fully grown buck weighs more than the entire moon. This isn't happening, buddy. Something outside the train eats the driver. Everyone on the train waits in increasing tension.

I really cannot stress how rude the passengers are. One girl is smoking and singing aloud to her phone, and was verbally abusive to the protagonist. Having been in retail work, I'm torn between "Well, it's realistic" and "But now I won't be sad when they get et." Alpha Boy and Stew Girl call in the emergency, then report to the passengers that it'll be 4 hours before a rescue team can come get them moving again. Passengers yell at them.

One of the passengers wants to walk the remaining 1-3 miles to the station. I find this movie very amusing as an American, because they're *acting* like entitled Americans but they've got UKian accents, so maybe American Rudeness has crossed the pond. One of the passengers is an elderly man with high blood pressure, but he thinks walking 3 miles at night is a grand idea. I refuse to believe the Scottish businesswoman with a laptop and high heels wants to walk in the rain.

They all leave the train and the doors close ominously behind them. They are in "Thornton forest" which I assume is definitely a place and definitely has werewolves. At this point, I strongly believe that Alpha Boy is being liberated by werewolves from these passengers. Maybe he's their long lost cub. Is that the right word for werewolf babies? Cub? Actually, a "yer a werewolf Harry!" story could be really compelling, especially if they're rescuing the poor lad from retail work.

....well, they found the missing driver. Alpha Boy is able to get everyone back into the train in time except the posh elderly woman. And even she's alive, just badly bitten. I wonder if she'll fursplode. The passengers are freaking out. Not ONE of them is quoting those Keep Calm posters. My mental image of England is being challenged.

He has a name! Alpha Boy is Joe. He tries to hail emergency assistance on the phone, but the lines are down. "There haven't been any bears or wolves around here for centuries" they say of Thornton forest. Their cell phones have no signal. I have to say I love the bitchy Scottish businesswoman, like she is 110% personal goals. Oh no, she's got a family. She's doomed.


The elderly man gives them a "get it together, y'all" speech, and now they're montaging the windows to be reinforced. Trains apparently have lots and loss of spare loose metal to weld against the walls. You'd think that in itself would take the 4 hours we were told it would take to get help out here. They've already run out of water. It's been, like, an hour.

I think the elderly bitten woman is about to fursplode. She foolishly divulged a backstory. The mystery of the guy with two sets of keys is revealed: he keeps a city flat for mistresses. He's asking Joe to Be Strong and leave the weak behind if it comes to that. Another passenger dies in the lavatory, which you'd think would be safe from werewolves!! Wolf went right through the train ceiling.

The least furry werewolf ever--he's like the Sphinx cat of werewolves--beelines right for Joe to growl at him. Maybe they ARE trying to save/recover him?? The passengers are killing the buff naked werewolf with, like, a crowbar and a fire extinguisher. I'm impressed. The passengers are pleasingly quick to recognize that the werewolf is, well, a werewolf. They're alarmed to see the werewolf is wearing a wedding ring. "Maybe it's a disease you catch?" They all look at elderly pensioner lady.

Elderly Man is telling the story of how this all happened in 1963: a rail crash in the Thornton forest, bodies missing or eaten, a mystery people didn't think too much about. Whoops! It's still alive but after some more fire extinguisher work, it no longer has a face.

Two tiny problems.

1. Elderly Jenny looks real bad.

2. There's more of them in the forest.

Two Keys wants to kill Jenny because she's one of them. The passengers restrain him. The problem is...he's pretty clearly right? Like, I'm ok for amoral bastards to get what's coming, but they need to NOT be right about the obvious zombie-werewolf in their midst.

Two of the boys are going out to try to repair the fuel leak. They don't have any tools, but I think you can do that with bare hands. Stewardess Girl stays in the front with Joe to tell him how wonderful he's been. Ah, ok, they have tape. That's all you need to repair a train. Lookout Boy hears a voice in the woods calling weakly for help. He walks towards it, swinging his light wildly and shouting HELLO. Usually that's a thing you do at the start of horror movies, not 2/3s of the way in.

The train starts up. Jenny turns into a werewolf. To my surprise, Two Keys actually does attempt to save her husband from her. Scottish woman is down, sacrificed by Two Keys. We're supposed to hate him for it, but there was honestly nothing he could do *and* she's responsible for the ongoing Jenny On A Train situation. The tape gives out and the train stops again. Jenny is dispatched but two more Werewolf Zombie Gollums are now on the train.

Don't really see a happy ending here, tbh. Two Keys tries to sacrifice Joe as bait for the monsters, but Ellen cuts Two Keys with glass shards. Ah, you see, the real monsters was us all along. Joe and Ellen escape through judicious application of someone else setting the train on fire. Joe, now a man, stays behind as a sacrifice so Ellen can get away. I assume they'll crown him their king for his bravery. Ellen arrives at the next station, covered in blood; none of the passengers notice.

Back in the woods, Werewolf Joe eats Two Keys. Credits slam in.

...that was dreadful.

Storify: Impeachment Hearings


Okay, I'm going to try to live-tweet the Impeachment Hearings.

I'm coming in late because I had tech problems on my end. Chairman Schiff is outlining the concerns in a thoughtful manner. "The president has instructed witnesses to ignore subpoenas and refuse to appear." (All quotes from me are subject to user error; the feed isn't closed-captioned.) "If we find that the president abused his power ... must we simply 'Get Over It'? Is this what Americans should now expect? If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?" --Schiff

I haven't heard Schiff speak before; he's a very effective public speaker so far. Calm and measured, thoughtful, not grand-standing. Nunes is talking now. He, uh, strikes an immediate awful contrast to Schiff's calm. He's blasting Democrats for "smearing any Republican who ever shook hands with a Russian." Nunes is playing to the base and I don't know how well that will work. Instead of answering Schiff's thoughtful charges, he's complaining that Dems tried to obtain "nude photos" of Trump from Russians.

Film Corner: Beyond the Trek

Beyond the Trek

BEYOND THE TREK: A deep space mining vessel has been adrift for two years. It is suspected the crew brutally killed each other, but the reason for the bloodbath is unknown. A rescue crew is sent to find if there are any survivors, what happened, and why.

Ok, first of all, does this sort of investigation EVER end well? It's always either demons, aliens, or Space Mental Illness. Second of all, does that title make any sense except as a desperate bid for Star Trek fans to notice it? I'm surprised they didn't go whole hog and call it Event Trek: Horizon Dead Space.

Event Trek: Dead Wars on the Horizon Space.

Event Trek: Battlestar Dead Wars on the Horizon Space.

Event System Shock Trek: Dead Wars on the Horizon Space.

Although, honestly given what we know about human nature, most workplace killings just involve a disgruntled employee with a weapon. Has a SciFi movie ever done that as the reveal?? Don't say Pandorum, it's covered under Space Mental Illness and also I'm the only person to watch Pandorum. Even the director of Pandorum didn't watch Pandorum. I love it anyway, though.

I still really hate the unskippable Amazon Prime commercials.

We open with the usual ominous timeline:

- 2015: Scientists genetically modify human embryos.

- 2020: Human generic modification is commercialized. Genetically modified babies have higher IQs, ideal physical traits, and positive temperaments.

Space Mental Illness it is, then. Just a reminder that IQ tests are basically a test of how a person has been socialized, not of their superior gene-ious. (Aha, a wordplay joke.) In that regard, I actually find it plausible that expensive designer babies would score highly on the tests made by expensive designer people. But there are cheaper and easier ways to tell if someone is a wealthy white American.

- 2038: The process has a 97% success rate as the first generation of genetically modified humans become adults. These 'perfect' specimens are called GC Humans, named after the company that created the process, GLEN CREST LABS.

Uhhh, what happens to the other 3%? And, really? That's the least catchy name ever. Extremely doubtful. "Glennials" is right there.

- 2047: GC Humans deploy to deep space.

I....ok? That......I guess? Not really sure I understand how that was a natural progression, but sure. We're informed that Climate Change made this necessary, but I don't really follow that either unless the plan is to evacuate ALL OF EARTH to somewhere else.

On an extremely pretty ship, five extremely pretty people wake up. I assume they're all Glennials. Maybe it's six people? Two of the guys look functionally identical to me.

They're...apparently here to recover cargo from a much bigger ship, which is trying to crash into Titan. (The Saturn moon?) This doesn't seem to have anything to do with the introduction's climate change OR the description's promised investigation into a bloodbath.

Event Horizon had the bloodbath and Pandorum had the climate change so maybe they changed course and went with recover cargo which no one has done before-- ALIEN, get out of here, I'm trying to do a live-watch! Take Sigourney Weaver with you but leave the cat.

I need you to know that the Not Star Trek uniforms have a little dip in the back that draws the eye down to the butt crack and it's unsettling as a design. The Weyland Yutani guy back home yells at his robot, so I'm assuming one of the crew members is secretly an advanced robot. My money is on the doctor.

The cargo is VERY IMPORTANT to recover because it will magic earth's atmosphere back to normal. Duh. Weyland says that non-Glennials can't manage space travel because normies get Space Mental Illness and that's probably what happened to the dead crew. Grand. Oop, the cargo ship has a robot on it. There's a lot of "PC culture" jokes about what to call robots ("ART" for Artificial Human) and non-Glennials ("premie" is a Bad Word).

The ghost ship has Death Metal being piped over all the speakers, I guess for irony. The Glennials board with their guns drawn and at the ready, which seems uhhh, I mean. Yeah, I know this is a survival horror movie, but what the fuck guys. A tiny little metal robot from robot wars shoots at them and they fry it. RIP, Stabby.

"Black box has been forcibly removed", reports a Glennial. The whole point of black boxes is supposed to be that they're shit hard to recover / tamper with. The greenhouse is now a jungle so we're ripping off LOST IN SPACE and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense because you'd think plants in space would have limited nutrients to become overgrown like this.

A bearded and very silent survivor has been located. The magic cargo is missing. He isn't talking but that doesn't stop the doctor from diagnosing him with several mental illnesses because I guess you can just tricorder that in the future.

The Glennials are stating that only non-Glennials bond with pets and robots. I'm over here wondering: How the hell did they remove basic pack-bonding from our genes and how would the result be recognizably human? Like. Even the loneriest loner has pack bonding tendencies which inform our actions. If you completely remove that so the result is one that doesn't bond with animals or things that look and act human... that's a hefty domino chain.

Anyway, they're kinkshaming the survivor for giving a shit about the robot which has been his only companion out here in deep space for god knows how long.

...Glennials don't have violent impulses, urges, or interest in violent sports. Like! Non-violence is great, but an entire race of humans who have no violent urges at all still feels unrecognizable to me? And yet they're supposed to be driven, highly competitive, and grade-focused. ...and they carry pulse rifles everywhere.

One of the Glennials has developed a hand-tremor, and another is becoming forgetful. The Glennial doctor is suggesting they torture the survivor since he's not talking fast enough. You'd think he'd at least know that torture is not a very effective means of getting at the truth. The patient will say what he thinks they want to hear.

Two of the Glennials are hooking up and I think it's supposed to be seen as another glitch behavior, but I'm down with casual sex so it's hard to view as strange. *shrug* Now the Glennial Girl is crying because her boyfriend is in danger of dying and everyone is SHOCKED at this display of emotion, like, they're more concerned by her tears than they are at the prospect of the ship exploding.

"For only $999999, you too can have a baby that won't pack bond with you or anyone else, will hate sports and pets, won't ever show a single emotion, and won't hesitate to torture or shoot you!" / "What a deal!! Let's call him Damien, darling."

The patient is quoting Tolstoy and this is now being cited as proof that he isn't actually a trauma victim, because "I've never heard of a patient quoting Tolstoy before." I cannot. The patient jettisoned the cargo onto Titan (the moon) because... I think *he* thinks it's a biological weapon designed to wipe out non-Glennial humans? The Glennials are torturing the robot in an attempt to psychologically break him.

The couple are having a discussion about how love is a distraction and wrong and bad and yet here they are, etc., what is happening to them, and I'm uncomfortable? Being aromantic isn't abnormal! Romance is not inherently human! At the same time, these sound like conservative college kids who have just discovered pantsfeelings and think they invented romance all on their own, so that part rings familiar.

Ok, so the cargo turns water lethal but Glen Crest sells a proprietary filter that fixes the water. *jazz hands* CAPITALISM. The Capitalism side slaughtered the "Maybe Let's Don't Poison The Entire Earth" side. Survivor dude killed the capitalists in their sleep. "The compound isn't a cure. They already had a cure. What they needed was the disease."

We learn that Glen Crest put a proprietary tracking code in the DNA of every genetically modified human. It is mutating and causing "irreversible neurological problems". "GCs have never known emotions, so they don't know how to control them. Their downfall is fast." THEY TURNED OFF PACK BONDING, SURVIVAL INSTINCT, AND EMOTIONS.

"The earth is burning. Regular humans are being hunted down and harvested for their blood, to keep GCs temporarily stable." They've only been gone THREE YEARS, is the thing. The earth went full Genetic Vampires in THREE YEARS. Super jazzed, by the way, that the couple have manifested emotions by way of "Man, Horny and Territorial; Woman, Weepy and Trades Sex For Hugs". REAL AWESOME. I mean, having the woman manifest mental illness by being sexually aggressive probably wouldn't have been *better*, but you could've at least made them consistent regardless of gender.

The doctor wants to harvest the survivor for all his blood. A vote has been taken on whether to kill the human in order to harvest his blood. The sexy couple says no; the remaining 3 vote yes. Making the Black man the sadistic torturer of the group sure was a choice, huh. I gotta break down the characters for a second here. The tall white commander is becoming caveman-brutish. The Black doctor is the one who keeps advocating sophisticated medical torture. The attractive man is the lusty, protective pantsfeelings one. The brunette is manifesting emotional weakness: crying constantly, bemoaning her lost childhood, and trading sex for physical closeness. The blonde is manifesting physical weakness via hand tremors and that's about it. She's the POV character.

How has nobody turned to emotional support eating, you'd think they'd wanna pack that in for shame points.

Survivor is set up for killin', but the others realize he was reading Sun Tzu's The Art of War. OBVIOUSLY, that means he didn't actually do the real killing but rather had the robot do it and she's a danger now. WHO PUT MONEY ON "KILLER ROBOT"? ...who put money on the Black man dying first. Fuck shit.

"With a combat chip, she's every bit our equal." Oh, right, the previously well-established combat chips that have been mentioned before this very moment. Hey, if they abhor violence, you'd think that actually they'd make really shitty soldiers and that they could be overpowered by a single normal human with a knife. But of course then they wouldn't seem "superior" to an American audience, so.

Emotional Girl dies second, immediately after saying "whatever happens, I want you to know I love you." Lusty Man gets a few good hits in before dying. In an honestly unforeseen turn, Blonde Girl turns on her people and kills the last Glennial. She reveals that she was one of the "failed 3%" of Glennials for having emotions, and she's been having to fake being emotionless like them. You'd think that would make her just a Normal Human, but instead they're making her out to be Dangerously Mentally Ill and Violent. Sort of? Ish? She still feels remorse for the violence, I guess.

She saved the Survivor and his Robot because she's worked out that the robot has...developed self determinancy? She tells them to go back to earth. (Where...humans are being harvested for blood?) "I may seem fine now, but you're not safe with me." Ah, yes, the dangerously mentally ill. He protests that earth isn't a great place to go back to and she tells him to "do what you do best: survive" but that might mean she wants him to kill all the Glennials. Blonde crashes her ship onto Titan at maximum speed.

What a great movie that was for stigmatizing mental illness. SPACE MENTAL ILLNESS was the culprit after all, just with a side of capitalism. In closing, I wish to note that both the title and the box image have NOTHING to do with the actual film. Calling it "Uncle Bob's Space Jamboree" would've been equally relevant.

December Newsletter (2019)

These monthly review posts are always so strange for me because I have to think things like "was my girlfriend really not my girlfriend last month?" That seems strange and impossible. Surely my girlfriend has always been my girlfriend. I cannot quite comprehend a time in which she was not, and yet I know it must be true. can probably tell I'm doing well this month. *shy smile*

Movies were live-watched on Twitter and scheduled for posting on the Patreon every Tuesday and Thursday--I hope you'll like those a lot. I posted a new Narnia post! I have some more D&D drabbles to put up, although a few of them still need to be put onto paper. I'm working on a story which is coming along very slowly; I've always known I work slower in winter because of my seasonal affective disorder. It's alright. Slow and steady wins the race.

Reminder! It's a new month, which means new paper books for the $25 patrons and new bookmarks for the $5 patrons! If I don't have your address, send me a message on the internal system or email me at AnaMardoll at gmail dot com. I love sending ya'll things!

An index to the deconstructions on my blog is here.

My YouTube channel is here.

Do you like "Tumblr Threads" which collect funny tumblr posts? I have one here!

My Twitter account @DivorceKittens with stories and pictures is here.

Please drop in the comments and let me know how you're doing? I love you all and I know this time of year isn't always easy.