Film Corner: Mermaid, Lake of the Dead

Mermaid, Lake of the Dead

Kissmate is sick and running a 103 degree temperature, so (a) thoughts are appreciated, (b) we might have to go to urgent care if Advil and water don't bring the fever down, and (c) he wants me to live tweet a terrible Amazon movie to take his mind off the probable flu he has. [Editor's Note: This was previously posted on Twitter; Kissmate is fine now.]

This one he picked out: it's called MERMAID LAKE OF THE DEAD. It's on Amazon Prime. "For years, she has lurked in the depths, waiting. Once a young woman sent to a tragic and watery grave, she has since become something unholy. Cursed to swim the waters in which she met her untimely death, the mermaid has risen once again."

A little girl is explaining that the Russian mermaid in the lake will drown you as soon as you express your love for her and I'm excitedly screaming because it's a rusalka??? The little girl says if you DON'T love her, she'll hound you to your grave and separate you from all your loved ones. There's an escape clause if you give the mermaid your most precious possession, but nobody has ever managed to be released before.

On a bridge, a girl approaches a boy who has creepy blood red eyes. He falls into the water and she whispers "no, take me!" Then she manages to pull him out. OH NO ETHEREAL SINGING AND WOOD CREAKING. The girl just got yanked into the water by magic and blue hands before a title dropped. That was legitimately terrifying?

Film Corner: Terminator Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate

[Editor's Note: This was previously posted on Twitter in 2019.]

I wanted to see the new Terminator anyway because of Linda Hamilton but I'm seeing that some men are angry because Feminism is in it or something and that just makes me more excited.

T1 and T2 were good because of her and because Sarah Conner was the focus of the story. T3 lost its way by believing Arnold and John were the heroes. It'd be like removing Ripley from the ALIENS series. This just confirms my belief that all the guys who use Sarah Conner and Ellen Ripley as examples of "strong female characters" they don't hate *would*, in fact, hate them if their movies came out today.

Hell, one guy I saw complaining claimed there are "no political issues" in T1 and T2 and OH MY GOD. Nuclear war, capitalism, the tech and war industries bent on our communal destruction in search of profit, medical abuse, foster neglect, THE BAD GUY IS DRESSED AS A FUCKING COP, do I need to go on??

HOLY SHIT THE NEW TERMINATOR SAPPHIC LOVE BALLAD FEELS

HOLY FUCK HOLY SHIT HOLY FUCK

YES OMG OMG OMG YES THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER

DIABETIC TERMINATOR GIRL?????

OH HOLY. FUCKING. OVARIES.

MY FEELINGS.

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

Oh god Sarah is powerful and sexy and strong and I just-

Oh my god that was the best movie I've ever seen, bar none.

The scene with Grace shoving Sarah against the wall was SEX.

I cannot deal with my own dang feels.

Ok, the only terminator movies that matter:
- Terminator
- Terminator 2
- Terminator: Dark Fate

(I personally liked Genisys for what it was, but I'm ok with it being non canon so Dark Fate can exist.)

I still find it hilarious that men were angry about the US military and cops being useless or outright evil in the movie, given that was their role in *checks notes* literally all the other Terminator movies too. "The OTHER Terminator movies didn't talk about illegal immigration!!" My dude, she goes entirely off-grid and moves to Mexico, did you think she left a passport paper-trail??

Can I just say as someone Older Than A Lot Of Folks, how valuable it was to me to see an older woman being powerful and ripped and sexy in a movie?? Linda Hamilton is 63 and Sarah Conner has my consent to do whatever the fuck she likes to me. And that's not noteworthy when it's various aging Hollywood men, and yet! I honestly can't remember the last time an action movie starred an older woman in this kind of role.

I seriously--and I am not joking here--feel like TERMINATOR DARK FATE should be shown in sex education classes to help the baby sapphics come out.

Film Corner: Frozen 2

Frozen 2

Well...Frozen 2 was a movie? [Spoilers] I'll say that I went into it wanting an explicitly ace and/or sapphic plot-line, was hyped for Elsa singing about the temptation of a siren, and had my hopes dashed in that regard. So if you're going for Give Elsa A Girlfriend / Make Elsa Ace, they...don't.

You could maybe read her as flirting with a girl in one scene, ish, but they don't do anything with it. And a "YOU'RE what you're looking for" plotline is nice in the context of 1,800 hetero-marriage Disney movies, but so many of us wanted Elsa to be queer. "Look, we made her independent and single!" would be fine for a new Disney movie, but when the vast majority of the queer community has claimed your character for their own, it's a bit of a slap in the ol' giblets.

You can definitely see how they were trying to address the cultural appropriation called out in Frozen 1, but I wonder at a deconstruction of colonialism in which the white people benefit the most and lose nothing. I would have preferred that white audiences grapple with the idea of losing some of our colonialist gains and life going on regardless despite a lessening of our generational wealth and power. But that's just my two cents; I'd rather boost POC voices on that topic. Not my own.

Oh! I will add that Elsa and Anna are now both queens with an indigenous parent, which feels significant given *waves at Disney Princess collection* but again this is NOT my lane to commentate on, being white myself.

What IS my lane is how super disappointed I am that Elsa wasn't made explicitly queer. And the fact that her "I want" song FELT like it was going in that direction was a kick in the chest when they refused to follow through. Anyway, it was a movie. The six dollars I paid for a ticket weren't wasted. Go see Terminator if you still can. I do expect her I Want song to be taken by all the sapphics. "I'm missing somebody, which makes no sense because everyone I love is here, shut up siren, I don't need you" like lol Disney this is ours now, fucking deal with it.

A moment that stuck with me from Frozen 2 is Elsa being embarrassed at the reminder of her sultry-walk, chest-wiggle in LET IT GO. And how that would've been funny were it not for the context of Disney's regret that all us Gays identified with that song. Like, it's clearly meant to be a moment of growing older and being a little embarrassed at your younger self, but the context of all their queer baiting and hostility is present and I'm still a little miffed. So I propose we all super-steal her I Want song in F2 ("Into The Unknown") and do the gayest shit we can think of while singing it.

This is good context:

@FemmedelaMer. I haven't seen the film, but my indigenous friend did because it was made with help from the Sami Parliament of Norway. Apparently the dam conflict is an explicit reference to this.

Film Corner: Event Horizon

Event Horizon

Oooh, EVENT HORIZON is on Amazon Prime. Will I finally be able to watch it without covering my eyes the entire time? "In 2047, a team of astronauts embark on a mission to retrieve a missing spaceship. However, their simple retrieval job leads to something far more terrifying than any of them would suspect." I wonder what it was like to have confidence that in 40 years time we'd have manned space mining and shit. Sorry, sorry, I'll focus on this lovely movie about hell in space.

Ooh, text scroll. "2015. First permanent colony established on the moon." Wow, so we only have -4 years to get on that, y'all OH MY GOD how is it 2019? "2032. Commercial mining begins on Mars." That doesn't have anything to do with anything, so I'm not sure why they bring it up. "2040. Deep-space research vessel Event Horizon launched to explore boundaries of solar system." I hope potatoes are involved.

Anyway, the ship disappears without a trace just past Neptune and is the worst space disaster on record. That seems really grand, actually, compared to how dangerous I assumed Mars mining would be. I had to pause and came back to a cat lying on the remote. Why do I have so many naughty cats. I ordered good cats.

Film Corner: Doom

 Doom

I want to know if the Netflix DOOM movie is as good as the campy original. "When a swarm of soul-stealing demons invades a Martian moon, a group of elite space Marines must obliterate the beasts to save earth." I forgot Mars has moons, so that's cool. The opening is very pretty and I'm disoriented because the first scientist we see looks like a scientist from the first movie. Did I put the wrong disc in, I wonder in a brief panic.

The gate between Phobos and Nevada is this ominous black onyx thing with glowing red demonic runes set in it and I really want to talk to the designers because WHY. I want a movie about the futuristic Steve Jobs figure who convinces everyone that space ships and teleporters and stuff should look as Satanic as possible for maximal aesthetic benefit. OH MY GOD, the teleporter creates terrifying writhing black goo that you have to step into, I think the goo might be SCREAMING, why would you design it this way????

Film Corner: Charlie's Angels (2019)

Charlie's Angels (2019)

[Editor's Note: This squee previously posted on Twitter in 2019.]

Y'all. You need to all go see CHARLIE'S ANGELS, trust me. It is so good. SO GOOD. How did we get this AND Terminator in the same year? K Stew is sooooo gay and good, and Ella Balinska gets so much screen time and they become friends in the most natural way and all the women are so REAL and well written and amazing. It's simultaneously an improvement over the old canon BUT respectful and loving towards it in ways that actually made me cry. So good.

I am now going to talk about some things I loved about this movie.

1. You know that trope where someone is an amazing physical therapist and they violently adjust someone's back without asking? THE MAN IN THIS MOVIE ASKS. "I would like to give you a back adjustment; do I have your consent?"

2. K Stew is, in one scene, allowed to just "oh hi hello" be distracted by a pretty woman in the mooooost sapphic way.

3. At one point, K Stew needs to cause a distraction. A lesser movie would have her strip or something. In this one, she pretends to be a monkey. Head scratches and monkey noises. Perfection.

4. If there's a "main character" among the three women, it's the Black angel, Jane. She's allowed to have this full range of emotions, she cries at one point, she makes friends, she has a full backstory. She's not The Sidekick With Only One Emotion.

5. The opening scene has a man sneer about "housewives" and K Stew says that's not her choice but there's nothing wrong with being one.

6. At no point is anyone threatened with rape.

7. K Stew saying "do you know that it takes men an additional 7 seconds to recognize a woman as a threat" while she strangles a man and his bodyguards look confused and dumbfounded.

8. There are several beautiful call-backs to the previous show and movies that are respectful and kind. There's no sense of disrespect to the other women who've been in this series. (The call-backs are also subtle enough that you can happily miss them if you haven't seen them.)

9. In fact, this movie does something I love but rarely see: one of the villains is attracted to the angels but NOT in a rapey way. He actually thinks her ability to beat him up is AMAZING and SEXY and would she like to run away with him??? This is so rare and it pisses me off because it's how more villains SHOULD act. They shouldn't all default to rapey.

10. K Stew plays an heiress who has an extensive jail record, and it's just...nice to talk about the fact that money doesn't make kids happy. (Plus, it's the white girl with the jail record and all the sketchy thefty skills, which is nice.)

11. We see a LOT of angels and Bosleys, and the movie is careful to move away from the American-centrism + Exceptional (Three) Women trope.

12. At several points, Kissmate had to lean over and say "keep breathing" and "calm your gay heart" and basically- Remember that one Ghostbusters scene that gave a lot of us gay shivers? There are a LOT of moments like that. Hell, you could probably take younguns to see this? It's not ultra violent and I don't recall any sex. The swears were often not in English. (Merde!)

13. YES-->  @MaevesMomma1. I also noticed that the characters all have a healthy relationship with food. No diet talk or abstention.

14. SAME.  --> @JacksonEflin. The way she straight up FORGETS THE WHOLE MISSION for an entire 10 seconds because someone is so hot that she becomes too gay to function is the first time I've seen myself represented on screen.

15. The movie is also delightfully trope aware in some excellent ways. For example, Jane notices something is wrong because a typist is hitting the wrong keys. (I'd noticed too!!)

@ChenClem. Naomi Scott? why every one talks about Kristen and Ella acting and nor about Naomi.

Naomi Scott is AMAZING in her role and I promise the only reason I didn't gush more about her specifically is because those really would be spoilers. But she's WONDERFUL. And it's really amazing to watch her character develop over the course of the film.

I thought of another non-spoiler thing I really liked: at one point, K Stew is allowed to make silly faces at a little girl. And here's the thing: If you know K Stew, you know her big role in Twilight landed her with a reputation for being a "bad actress" because her acting was wooden and expressionless. The thing is, she was told to act like that because conventional wisdom was that facial expressions make women "ugly". So seeing her *allowed* to make "ugly" facial expressions in a joyful scene with a little girl brought tears to my eyes. She deserved this excellent film.

Open Thread: Ice on a Stick

A shovel handle encased in a coating of ice.

Technically it's ice on a wooden shovel handle.  Picture taken twelve days ago.

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Friday Saturday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us here, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Film Corner: The Breed

The Breed

I was supposed to work today but I have a sinus infection? I can't sleep because I have to be ready to answer the door for Reasons, so I'm going to do another #AnaWatches. It's tricky finding just the right movies for this sort of thing because I want something bad but, like, an actual movie that *tried* and wasn't just a parody like Sharknado. Not that I dislike Sharknado, by any means. I was going to try another movie about the Countess Bathory but alas the only other movie about her on Amazon isn't Prime-free. I would've expected more movies about her, to be honest.

So for now it's back to bad monster movies in honor of October. This one is called THE BREED. "A group of five college kids are forced to match wits with unwelcoming residents when they fly to a 'deserted' island for a party weekend." I hope "match wits" means a really intense and high-stakes game of chess. Oh please, oh please.

Credits tell me that this is a Wes Craven production with Michelle Rodriguez, which is immediately WAY higher production and cast values than I expected for an Amazon Prime movie. Usually it's eastern European actors I've never seen before. Okay, but this has that dubbed eastern European *feel*, so that's nice. The blondest couple in the world lounge on a boat and talk about being lost and drunk until they find a creepy island. The girl goes off alone, as one does on a deserted creepy island.

Blond Girl is instantly dragged off by blur-doggos while her boyfriend futzes about on the boat. Mild gore. Smash cut to a plane and our actual group of protagonists-slash-chewtoys. They are a diverse group of college students. Michelle is dating the serious pre-med white guy who complains that he needs to study over party weekend. He and his brother are trust fund babies who, I guess, own Werewolf Island.

They're that special sort of Hollywood college kids that look in their 30s, claim to be in their 20s, and act like they're in their early teens. First: a dark basement in an attempt to get electricity to the cabin. Some drama is alluded to wherein the oldest brother is upset that Michelle is dating the youngest brother because Michelle dated the oldest brother "ten years ago". So when she was 10 or 11? Good grief.

The kids play at drinking, ziplining, hammocking, and so forth before finding a 9-week-old puppy that charms them all with its cute puppyness. They assume he was abandoned by a boater. I'm trying not to be annoyed at how bad these people are with dogs. They just want to cuddle him and aren't letting him run and play. He's a baby! He needs play!

Welp, the (new) Blond Girl who looks significantly older than the rest of the group has been bitten by a doggo. I assume she either has rabies or is a werewolf now. Pre-Med Younger Brother wants to take her back to the mainland for rabies shots but Dickhead Older Brother convinces her she can wait a few days and not to spoil the party. In bed, Pre-Med confesses to Michelle that there used to be a dog training facility on the island and that a few years ago all the dogs had to be put down as rabid. But those dogs couldn't be *these* dogs because rabies would've killed them a long time ago.

Blond Girl kisses and kiss-bites Dickhead Older Brother, so I assume he's a werewolf now too. At breakfast, she's ravenous and eating everything at the table. No one considers this odd, because of course. The boys go hunting with a bow and arrow, and notice there's no wildlife on the island. No birds, etc. Oh holy shit! The blond guy from the opening shows up, covered in blood, and says "the dogs don't want you here" before being mauled by three of them.

I can't enough stress that all these dogs are just normal dogs. The kids run back to the cabin and dogs attack Michelle. Older Brother fires an arrow at the dog and pierces Michelle's leg, but the dogs run off. Pyrrhic victory, I guess. She takes it well. Pre-Med says these dogs are acting like they're rabid but that it doesn't make sense because they should be dead. A dog explodes through the window to attack the Black Friend, who survives without a scratch to my complete surprise.

Dogs have taken the dock where the water-plane was parked. They have chewed through the anchoring rope. The plane is floating away. Drums, drums in the deep. HAHAHAHAHA, Older Brother swims to the plane to retrieve it but there are dogs waiting on the wing of the plane. They dive into the water to chase him. The kids run back to the cabin. (The two girls are doing well given that they've been bitten and arrow'd, respectively.) They nail up wood to zombie-proof the windows. I want this entire movie re-made with cats.

Michelle zip-lines from the house to the garage (which has a car that works after years of neglect) so they can drive to the other side of the island and call for help from the facility that made these NuRabies dogs. Cool plan, yes. Unfortunately, the elderly car doesn't work and she has to climb through the sun roof to escape the doggos. They only just manage to zip-line her back to the house, so that was a monumental waste of time.

At night, the cabin electricity goes out. IS IT DOGGOS? The Black man goes down to the basement and dies first. The remaining four flee to the attic. Pre-Med is bitten. They haul the attic ladder up while Good Doggies look quizzically up at them. I cannot stress how WEIRD it is to watch what is essentially a standard zombie movie premise but the zombies are perfectly ordinary puppies. Why don't we do this more often? Cats. Pandas. Koalas. Give me a zombie koala movie.

I need you to understand that these boys are the most foolish fuckers I've ever seen. Somehow they get the car working, which the dogs are alternately afraid of or attacking, depending on the scene. The bitten Blond Girl has some kind of magic eye contact power over the dogs, but gets herself impaled on a child's merry-go-round. Mild gore. Dogs instantly show up to attack and/or eat her corpse. The music jangles menacingly. The trio explore the "seeing eye dog facility" and deduce that the dogs were being genetically experimented on. Pre-Med grapples with his likely impending death from being bitten. Older Brother works to hook up a cell phone to a radio tower.

Older Brother has electrocuted himself and gotten flung off the radio tower. Now he is being menaced by doggos. I idly wonder how many zombie movies Michelle Rodriquez has been in, really. More or less than 7? Michelle is about to perish in an electrical fire. Oh. Apparently they can ALL hypnotize dogs with direct eye contact and that's just a Dog Thing and nothing to do with magical bite powers. I am skeptical.

Both the boys have been bitten. They and Michelle make it to the boat from the beginning, and speculate that surely a doctor can "cure" them from...whatever they have. There's literally no symptoms, so good luck with that I guess! They open the cabin door to "get some sleep" and DOGS SPRING OUT. Smash cut to credits. So it basically was Sharknado after all, but with perfectly ordinary dogs. I feel cheated.

I'm inclined to agree that this was probably supposed to be an actual zombie movie but then they ran out of money and just used the actors' dogs instead. Like, they aren't even scary dogs, just regular doggos.

December Newsletter (2020)

December's newsletter is late for two reasons. One, I've been low-key sick with a stomach-bug so it's been hard to sit down and really write a coherent monthly update. Which, speaking of, I am very excited to be looking back at the November newsletter which was "oh god oh god the election oh god" and to realize that while the past 30 days haven't always been easy, they could've been so much worse. Thank goodness.

The second reason this newsletter is late: I've been thinking about taking December off to rest because 2020 has kicked my ass a little (whomst among us hasn't??) but I have been dragging my feet a little over whether that's safe and fair to everyone here because I know December is a shitty month for queer folk in general, what will all the family and gatherings and so forth. I want to post something(s) that you can go to for some entertainment and comfort, and have been trying to figure out how to do that while still taking a little break.

Fortunately, there are some snips and snails in my drafts folder and some old movie watches that never made it up on the patreon and I think I can solve two birds with one post here: I can clean out the drafts folder, make sure we have some posts for December, take a break to clear my head, and start 2021 with a fresh outlook and fewer text files cluttering up my Works In Progress folder.

I love you all and I hope to see you next year!

Patreon News
All Patrons: I went ahead and posted my and Kissmate's watch of The Happiest Season because I didn't want anyone to be accidentally harmed by watching it without trigger warnings. There is also an illustration up for my Grimms' fairy tale retellings project! And there will be some snips going up to clean out my drafts folder and start 2021 fresh and new.

Older Links
My Ramblings Deconstructions: Here.
My YouTube Let's Plays: Here.
My Favorite Tumblr Funnies: Here.
@KissmateKittens: Here.

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Please stay safe out there.

Open Thread: Repaired Earring

Two earring hanging beside one another

The one on the right is the repaired one, I think it was waiting to be fixed for years at this point.  Picture taken on November 15th shortly after repairs were completed.

I am so sorry about the lack of open thread of late.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Film Corner: Happiest Season

Note: I usually time-delay Patreon posts, but I wanted this one to go up everywhere as quickly as possible so folks can make an informed decision about whether to watch this imho-harmful movie.

Ana: So @VespertilioGem and I are going to watch this HAPPIEST SEASON movie that has so profoundly polarized my mentions. It's on Hulu. The splash-screen image is alarming. KStew looks amazing, of course, but Mackenzie Davis looks- what did they do to her? She always looks so pretty but they've got her in, like, a bad wig? or something?

Mackenzie is my co-pilot because TERMINATOR: SAPPHICS was the first movie I ever took Kissmate to see and we both audibly *gasped* in theaters when she started throwing rebar around. (TERMINATOR: DARK FATE is free to watch on Amazon Prime and it is so good, seriously, trust me on this.)

Abby (KStew) and Harper (MackD) are part of a Christmas tour browsing dolled-up houses, which is my personal version of hell. Abby seems to agree with me! Harper is gaga over Christmas while Abby is not, and I realize you can't define a couple by one snapshot of their day but these two don't seem like a very good match for each other. Harper coaxes / commands Abby up onto a roof (to see the ~Christmas lights~) and Abby falls off and narrowly avoids breaking a limb, which feels like a metaphor for things yet to come.

Harper doesn't like that Abby is going to be "alone" for the holidays. Now, uh. I spent Christmases "alone" for years because my ex went up to see his kids (and I couldn't travel for disability reasons) and FOR ME, it was great. I loved it. Quiet, movies, food. It was pleasant, you know, to walk around naked and eat whenever I wanted to without having to plan dinners for The Family. So if Abby is like me, and she says she is, I don't really love this whole... "I pity you being alone on Xmas" motivation? They run around the neighborhood and kiss and it's sweet and so good. Harper asks Abby to come spend Christmas with her family. "I want to wake up with you on Christmas morning," she gasps.

Writings: Familar

Previously posted on Patreon. For more content, subscribe here! ♡

Kissmate and I watched Vampires vs. The Bronx this week on Netflix and it was lovely and creative and wonderful. Very highly recommend. But one scene got my brain churning; there's the fun cliché of the extremely-old and ostensibly-competent master vampire abusively dressing down their human familiar in a way that practically screams "you might as well betray me, because I'm never going to turn you like you wanted!"

I don't blame VTB for engaging in a fun cliché that dates back to Blade at the very least, to be clear! I love me some fun cliché. But it got me thinking: Yes, this is a fast and easy way to characterize vampires as evil, but we need some subversions of this trope. Someone can be evil without being an ineffective manager who cultivates betrayal. I wanna see a vampire who carefully vets their familiars, turns the ones who are a good fit for the master and their children, and offers severance packages to the rejects they decide not to turn. That seems like it would make for a stronger coven that can collectively survive any threat: survival of the fittest through diversity, cooperative, and loyalty.

Plus, when you offer generous severance packages to your "failed" familiars, you avoid a situation where you've hired a bunch of humans, told them all your weaknesses, given them the keys to your safe house, and then told them they'd better kill you before you kill them. That's a recipe for getting your safe house burned down at high noon!

I wanted to write two scenes. One scene is that of a rejected familiar being offered other options so that he doesn't default to betrayal as the only remaining choice left to him. The second involves a captured human offering a vampire their help to "overthrow" the vampire's sire, only to be informed that the sire has cultivated loyalty from his children by being respectful and competent and a good leader. Sure, he's evil but that doesn't make him bad at managing his people!


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"Master? Can we, uh, that is- Do you have a moment to talk? With me?" John shifted his weight nervously from foot to foot while desperately wishing he could loosen his necktie. It felt too tight, like he couldn't breathe, though he knew it was just nerves. Ten years of performance reviews in the corporate world before he'd changed jobs, so you'd think he'd be used to this sort of thing by now. But usually the stakes weren't quite so dire: immediate death vs. eternal life.

"I have many moments." The vampire's favorite joke, John knew. "I can surely spare one for you. What's on your mind, John? Sit down. Would you like to close the door?"

Film Corner: The Blood Queen

The Blood Queen

Alright. I'm waiting for the text-bank to open, so it's time for a shitty Amazon Prime movie! This one is called THE BLOOD QUEEN. "Based on the story of Countess Bathory, a serial killer in 16th century Transylvania who supposedly killed hundreds. Yet, nobody knows of the terrible crimes being committed in the castle of the famous royalty." Nobody, huh?

In addition to the movie summary, we get a wall of text when the movie opens: "What you are about to see is based on the true accounts of Countess Bathory, suspected of being one of the most prolific serial killers of all time. Immensely powerful, with the Crown indebted to her, she reportedly tortured and killed some 650 children within her castle walls." ...I should probably note that historians are far from certain about any of this and it's all tantalizingly up for debate, etc.

Like, there are people who think she was innocent and the victim of a conspiracy; there are people who think she was the worst serial killer ever; and there are people in the middle who think maybe some of it was true and some of it exaggerated. Take your pick! Also, unless Wikipedia is lying to me, Bathory was a countess of Hungary, not Transylvania, though some people think she inspired Bram Stoker's DRACULA (though there's not actual evidence for that theory, it's just a fun thing to believe).

BY THE WAY, can I tell you something funny while I'm here? Kissmate has been running a campaign for us over Discord and he was reading to me some bits of another, older campaign he found and I was like "...this sounds like Gilles de Rais" and he was like "who?" and anyway long-story-short there's an old D&D module that's basically a copy-pasta of the accusations re: Gilles de Rais, which quite tickled me because I recognized the similarities.

I bring that up here because Gilles is another one of these Notorious Serial Killers Of History that may have been entirely innocent and nobody really knows because history is like that sometimes. I should add, too, that Bathory's alleged victims were aged 10-14ish, which are "children" in our modern lexicon but in her culture they were essentially servants and apprentices. I mention that because we now get a voice over about monsters from a 6 year old girl. I am going to be annoyed if they aged down her victims just so people will be more shocked or will care. A 14yo girl is worth as much as a 6yo girl, dammit. *shakes fist at patriarchy*

Anyway, someone who sounds like Newt from ALIENS tells us that "we put crying children to bed and tell them [monsters aren't] real" and I- that's- *looks over at stack of Grimms fairy tales and sighs* Bathory takes an escalator up some stairs for the uncanny "floating woman in a dress" effect, then walks up the last few steps so the camera can pan out and show blood pouring from under her skirts. SYMBOLISM. Her dress is Ren Faire more than, you know, accurate.

The movie continues to insist we're in Transylvania. A young girl using the g-slur word does some kind of street act that's combination religious speech and Houdini act wherein her small accomplice performs an escape act for coins. A man at an inn seems to have been sent by the king to investigate a missing 600 girls. He's a young man who appears bored and he wonders if the children are being carried off by wolves.

I will note here that the "650" number came out at trial from a servant and was based on the claim that she'd seen it in Bathory's private books wherein she was supposedly tallying up all her victims like an accountant. It wasn't, like, an independently sourced number wherein 649 girls went missing and then around the 650th someone was like "maybe we ought to look into what happened to all the girls" and then CSI music started playing and Bathory's fingerprints were found.

There's a lot of g-word stereotypes about magic and powerful dreams and fortune telling. I'm assuming the Barker Girl is going to be hired on for the winter months to work for Bathory and duly menaced. The girl who still does not have a name is arrested for pickpocketry. One of the countess' women takes an interest in her and has her released to "the Bathory orphanage" which is probably supposed to be the countess' gynaeceum which is...not the same thing.

Before the girl and her brother are released to the countess, she asks if they've seen their missing older sister. "Lots of children disappear" is all she's told. The countess' ladies ride in an open cart of the sort you would pile hay bales in. This is supposed to be 1610, but it looks much earlier/poorer than that. Not that I'm an expert on early 1600s Hungary. I'm more of a Tudor enthusiast.

The children are awed by the sight of the castle where they'll be living, but the countess' ladies tell them that the countess finds royalty intolerable and will prefer their company. "Royal blood? Yuck!" (That was from the lady-maid and not the children, in case you're wondering if it was foreshadowing or sinister. Little of column A, little of column B.)

A line of identically dressed orphans is served gruel in a very Oliver Twist-esque scene. (They get bread once a week, etc.) This is just hilariously wrong in terms of historicalness. Bathory's gynaeceum--not an orphanage--were daughters of the lesser gentry sent to learn court etiquette. So all these boys are wrong, and they wouldn't be fed nearly inedible gruel from the Inedible Gruel Pot.

I resent that we still don't have names for these children. She just keeps referring to themselves as g*psies. (Sorry, I'm not sure how to warn for that word, because I know censoring it is harmful to some folks, but not censoring it can be harmful to other folks.) I don't really understand the point of the orphanage, either; if this is where Bathory selects her victims, why take in boys at all? And why are the girls marked down as "missing from town" if they were in the orphanage?

Girl mentions that Bathory has "other orphanages" and that kids are sometimes transferred, so that seems like a perfectly cromulent built-in excuse for why your victims are missing: you reassigned them to Castle *cough cough* Look A Distraction. OH MY GOD THEIR SHOES. I'm sorry, I am not trying to be That Guy who demands perfect historical accuracy from shitty Amazon Prime movies, but Girl has completely modern, kitten heel, strap-and-metal-buckle Mary Jane shoes that you could buy right now at a shop. In 1610. AH YES, THE MARY JANE ORPHAN SHOES. SO HISTORICAL. I made Kissmate come in here on his lunch break just so I could show him the Mary Jane shoes.

A NAME! I am informed from the closed captioning that [Aletta] is speaking. I still have no name for her brother. Oh thank goodness. The subtitle gods tell me that her brother's name is Mischa. I swear those names have never yet been spoken in this film.

Elisabeth shows up in an empire waist nightgown thing that looks... well, wrong, but what else is new. She's blond and ethereal and looks like she's trying out for the part of Galadriel. She tells the girl about school where they teach clever girls "to read and write". I mean, she did HAVE a school and maybe this is a reasonable modern adaptation since people aren't going to understand Etiquette School as way more valuable to a girl like Alette than reading and writing, but like.

Mischa endures bullying from the other boys (why?) on the yard crew. Aletta wants to stay and learn to read, and wants to look in the Countess' book because she wishes to see if there's a record of their missing sister passing through the orphanage. We get tense music and shots of the Countess wincing as she's corsetted up tighter and tighter. Her two favorite lady's maids--who seem to be on Bully The Orphans duties--are generally bitchy at the children.

Oh gosh, @nephthys0xa has sent me this link and it is marvelous: Freaky Friday: Five Things About The Blood Queen.

Bathory wants Aletta to be her new special companion and it's all very ominous but, like, is she supposed to have done this for all 600 girls? Because when would she have the TIME, is what I want to know. Well, now I'm not so sure it is only girls being killed. During the night, Mischa sees the oldest of the bullies being dragged off by two of the guards. The next morning the children assume he's "run off" and that it "happens all the time". But, like, Bathory was accused of killing girls and women only. Not boys. I'm pretty sure? So that's weird. Mischa is put on duty "digging holes" while the king's investigator finds a fresh grave and possibly a body.

Upstairs, Aletta scrubs a tub that has blood streaks in it. Bathory says it's mud from Paris to "clean the pores but leaves the tub filthy". Bathory throws a fancy dress ball and Aletta is dressed up like a pretty doll to serve wine. Her brother uses the distraction to steal Bathory's book o' secrets, in which Aletta hopes to find their sister's name. Mischa is discovered in the kitchen. He and the book are taken to Bathory. She threatens him with a kitchen knife and we flash to Aletta without seeing what happens. (Aletta has Magic Dreams because of her ethnicity.)

Aletta goes down to the kitchen and finds the chef dead-by-knife. Bathory chains up Mischa and threatens him while asking him what he saw. Oh, she's not just writing the details, she's DRAWING how she kills people. Of course, how silly of me. I mean, okay, serial killers take trophies and I guess a book of drawn deaths is the 1610 equivalent of a bunch of photos. I feel like this movie is trying to be a horror movie but it's not hitting the right horror notes. There's a lot of good material here; this should be a good October flick (minus the historical inaccuracy) but it's... just not sticking the landing.

Sister Katja is riding through the forest looking like Hot Topic exploded all over a Ren Faire. Mischa uses his previously established Houdini powers to unchain himself and wander the dungeons. Bathory's messenger arrives to report that the King wants her to stand trial for murder. Bathory decides to hire a personal guard, figuring that she can wait the king out. Katje walks around the castle--I really cannot tell WHY or what her ROLE is; I think she works for/with Bathory's messenger??--and sees Aletta. Aletta tells her Mischa ran away last night, but Katje doesn't believe.

It sure would be nice if The King's Men and Bathory's Men would wear, like, contrasting colors so I could know who is who and what emotions I should feel about them being on the countess' land. Relief? Tension? Katje explores the dungeons with Ye Olden Torche. I would still like an explanation, please, for how she ended up "missing" but also "in the Countess' employ" and "dressed like a lady" and possibly "international spy".

Aletta looks for her shoes and ends up cornered by Bathory, who wants a hot bath before bed. While Aletta pours water, Bathory pieces together her suspicions that Aletta must have told Mischa to steal her ledger. Bathory says that Katje was a "good student", and that some nights she seemed to enjoy the killing as much as Bathory did. Well, that's a bit of a twist. Did not see that coming. Okay, so Bathory isn't, like, grooming girls specially for their blood; she's just a sadist who likes to kill and torture for fun. Katje smacks her in the back with a hefty candelabra and hauls Aletta out to safety.

In the snowy forest, Mischa freezes to add an element of time-based suspense for us. Katje and Aletta prep to hide out in a castle stairwell (which is...secret? it's unclear why this is safe after attacking the countess). Someone mysterious picks up Mischa. Morning: Bathory tells her men to look for the "dangerous little girls" which she wants returned to her alive. Katje is possibly stabbed by one of the other lady's maids. Mischa is dealing with law enforcement officials who think he ran away from his "court sentence" and don't believe his tales of torture. They threaten to kill him.

Aletta finds a stabbed Katje. This family of orphans is having quite a series of unfortunate events. She's stabbed with... a needle full of sleeping solution. Okay, sure, fine. Mischa awaits execution because the judge is taking bribes from Bathory. Aletta has been chained up near the Ominous Bathtub. All seems lost. But wait! The executioner is out cold and Mischa is missing. The King's man brings in Bathory's messenger, who is willing to confess Bathory's crimes--and his own--because he was dating Katje and he found her dead body. That might be more impactful if we'd seen them exchange even a single word and not just meaningful glances.

The judge is cowed into finally accepting the truth. (Where is Mischa? Did he knock out the massive executioner? I have no idea.) The men prepare to storm Bathory's castle. Beside the tub, Baths prepares her death tools. Aletta stalls Bathory by telling her about her magic dream visions. Men scream as the soldiers storm. The two evil Lady Maids try to hide Katje's body. They...apparently??...begin seeing zombie ghosts of children who died. I'm just as confused as you probably are.

The King's men are confused to find that Bathory's inner guards have already been slain by some unknown and mysterious beast. "Has the King sent an army of his own?" Oh! The maybe-kinda-mentally-disabled man who has been working for the judge--his name was Bear--is the one who helped Mischa escape and killed the guards. I know this because he just walloped Bathory in the face. Mischa undoes Aletta's bonds and lets her down, but oh shit Bathory stabs Mischa in the heart by accident (she was aiming for Aletta). He bleeds out in the tub. Well, that's a downer.

Bear gently carries him out but I don't think he's going to survive this. The King's man takes Bathory into custody but she doesn't look like she's doing so well either. She was wounded several different ways. Mischa is laid to rest in the snow and dies. I'm having Not Good emotions about this movie taking a person famous for killing girls and making all her on-screen victims boys. Are girl-deaths just not important enough to care about?

Aletta gives us a voice over about Bathory's imprisonment. "They closed her in, brick by brick, where she had no contact with anyone and no light shone on her." Various other people suffer punishments, including the maids being burned at the stake. For reasons I cannot understand, Aletta takes the job of feeding Bathory every day. I guess she gets to watch her tormentor suffer. Bathory dies four years into her imprisonment.

Anyway, that's the movie. As I said, the reality is a lot more controversial. My money is that Bathory wasn't a serial killer so much as she was "just" a brutally abusive mistress with a body count. What's terrifying about Bathory isn't her crimes so much as the fact that she was probably more "normal" than many of us like to believe about nobles. Well, that's my pet theory anyway.

Film Corner: Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2

Kissmate
: Time for the next movie! Silent Hill: Revelations (2012). I have heard that this is not high art, and should be afraid. I say to that: "well, it can't be worse than Valerian, right?" Before we even get to the movie, already I notice a particular kiss of death: The studios are not the same. Tristar/Sony published the first movie. Universal published this one. I am in for shit, aren't I?

Heather runs through a carnival, being chased by a leather cult. Pyramid Head runs the merry-go-round as she tries to hide on it. Dark Heather appears before her and sets everything ablaze with one warning: "Do not go to Silent Hill." Heather wakes up screaming. Chris rushes in to calm her down and tell her that Silent Hill , but then gets stabbed by a monster! But it's all okay, but it was just another dream! Oh good, we're using this cheap cliched tactic.

Turns out Heather isn't her real name, which is close enough to Silent Hill 3. But wait, Chris is now Harry? Wait... Why are we making him Harry now? I thought this was supposed to be not-quite Harry, like she's not-quite Cheryl. This feels like fans complained. Harry gets her an early-birthday present of the signature vest. Then he sends her off to school. Sean Bean's accent is really slipping in this movie. It kind of was last movie, but it's more obvious here somehow. I guess cause he's speaking more?

Harry goes looking in her journal and hides the page of "SILENT HILL" in a box with the save symbol on it. Rose tells Chris through the mirror that she can't be in this film, so take Sharon and keep her safe. Then Sharon is just on the couch with a brass symbol. So dude finds his daughter with a weird symbol-covered disc and thinks "yeah, I'll make a box covered on that". …..I think Harry would NOT do that. That seems more like a Henry thing to me.

Heather sees a homeless man, but catches a flash of him faceless. This spooks her already, but then a creepy man starts pushing some "do I know you" bit on her, making her more freaked. Can this girl not catch a break? Heather's homeroom forces her to share something about herself. She gives a verbal middle finger to the whole class and sits down. Good for her! But she's not the only new student. Now we meet... Vincent. A leather-wearing bad-boy. Oh no.

As Heather goes to her next class, she starts getting visions of Alessa being bullied in class and how she's next. Then the Otherworld flickers in around her. An Armless Man wanders in, prepared to charge her. Just as she's about to run, Vincent grabs her. Oh fuck, we're going to be forced into a romance with this, aren't we? He follows her, asking about coffee. She says no. He gives puppy eyes. And now the creepy guy from before is following her. She calls Harry, and it looks like someone found him at home.

At least this feels like we're setting up for some of the SH3 plot. Heather waits in the mall next to a birthday party. The cake and balloons say "Happy Birthday Heather". Alright, there's a lot of Heathers out th- OH MY GOD NOW IT SAYS ALESSA. THE CHILDREN EAT CARNAGE. THE GUARD IS FACELESS. NOW CREEPY GUY FOUND HER. RUN!!! [TW: Cannibalism] In the staff only area, she sees a man getting carved alive by a butcher, then the flesh being cooked next to the dead bodies. The FDA is going to have a field day in this mall!

Heather runs off with creepy guy in pursuit. He keeps calling her Sharon. Finally she grabs a pipe and tries to intimidate him. He says he's a detective hired by The Order of Valtiel and.... Wait a god-birthing minute... This is Douglas? Creepy skinny guy is the gumshoe detective from SH3? And what's that about The Order? I thought they were more of a Christian/Puritan cult thing. Is the movie backpedaling to be more "faithful" to the source material? Oh, it's gonna regret that.

Either way, Douglas gives her information that her father might not be upfront with her. After he gives the name Silent Hill, a monster appears and kills him, leaving Heather to run and hide in the basement of the mall. The monster we've seen is called the Missionary, and is supposed to be Harry's killer, not Douglas'. Also, is supposed to be male, not female, but... Eh, they still look interesting. Honestly, they're hard to make out in the game, so this is a nice clean concept!

Heather heads back through the mall and makes it outside where there's 911 responders present. Someone found Douglas' body and reported it. Was there a time jump she went through? I felt she wasn't in there long... Otherworld, man... Heather walks away to rush home, but Vincent starts to follow her to talk. She's not in the headspace for letting people in, but he tries to be a decent guy and offer his jacket. She sees the leather cult again, but Vincent doesn't. It seems she's hallucinating.

Quick aside about Vincent. That ain't Father Vincent. This is a classy, leather-wearing, chip-on-his-shoulder, heart-of-gold sweetheart. Father Vincent is a chaos agent who jokes about serious topics and brings jokes into serious discussions. Why the name??? On the way home, Heather mentions dreams and reality. Vincent talks about his grandfather mentioning worlds on top of worlds. His grandfather is committed, so he doesn't talk about it. (Oh my god, Vincent sounded like Vincent in that scene.)

They walk her to her street with some chemistry naturally(!) blossoming between them. She's still not ready to let people in, but there's a chance that he'd be an exception. He may not be Game!Vincent, but he's a good man! May this charming character not die... Heather walks in, expecting her father. A message in red tells her to "Come to Silent Hill" with a red symbol next to it (Halo of the Sun). Then Vincent knocks, asking if she's ok. "I heard you screaming." She lets him in, asking for help. He's the exception!

Vincent watches as she pulls stuff out of a box with the Halo on it that Harry kept. His job is to ask questions so the audience has answers. Then the police bust in, because she must have been the one who killed Douglas! Vincent drives them away, trusting her. At least the cops in this movie act realistic. Bust down the door of a house they suspect is correct, assume the murderer is a high-school girl rather than do any actual thinking, guns drawn because someone didn't open the door right away at midnight. Realistic! So Vincent is getting her to Silent Hill rather than Douglas. Ok.

Chris/Harry wrote a note, telling her that she isn't to go back to Silent Hill and that he lied to her to "protect" her. Wouldn't telling her the truth eventually actually help you protect her? Harry's notebook is really detailed and cool-looking? How did he find those monsters? Anyway, they mention that Silent Hill was built on sacred Native American lands (which is from game's Mouth of God, though doesn't make it less racist).

Heather reads the plot (cult trying to birth God for their apocalypse) while he keeps driving. After a while, they stop at an inn for the night. Then he says that Heather shouldn't go to Silent Hill because something might happen to her. This is seen as touching? Oh shit, he's sent to bring Heather back! He's a child of The Order! (If his mom is Claudia, I'm shitting bricks.) He shows a massive wound in the shape of the Halo, which the only way he can move between the worlds. The cult member Harry killed had a mark like that.

Vincent says that Harry's dead if The Order has what they want (Heather), and that she has to go of her own free will. In order to save Harry for good, she has to find the other half of the brass plate. Looks like we're in for a Silent Hill scavenger hunt! In her rage against him, the Darkness peels away around them. As she tries to ask questions, Vincent is captured, and Heather knocked out. She wakes in the ash world with a gun, ready to take on Silent Hill.

She walks into town with no trouble, but people watch from the building windows. Down an alley, she's at a church. Past some bodies, and we run into Dahlia! She joins in the "stay away from Silent Hill" club. Here, we get a quick version of the previous movie's history about Alessa. The Darkness takes over, interrupting their conversation. Heather runs into a building where a birthday table is in the hallway. Something spooks her to run into another room.

A room full of mannequins. Oh god no. She wanders through the shelves, creepy mannequins looking back at her. One is even breathing! She comes across a woman being slowly turned into a mannequin! Holy shit! THE MONSTER IS HORRIFYING!!! Heather manages to save a woman from the monster and get her out of there. Oops! Spoke too soon. She dead. Vincent is now being interrogated by the Leader of the Cult, and his mother. She calls him weak for not doing his job and sends him to the asylum.

Heather makes it to the asylum herself, looking for Leonard. But she's not alone. A faceless man tries to kill her, but the bullet takes him out quick! She makes her way to S12, where Leonard is just tethered to the floor. (Not a monster, but is Malcom McDowell.) Leonard tells her not much, but when he's given the Seal, he names it and thrusts it inside himself as he had the other half. Now he can see and fight! NOW he's a monster! He carries her away, but then she steals the Seal, killing him. Heather then finds herself surrounded by grabby "inmates" and can't get free. She cries for help, which comes in the form of Pyramid Head slicing arms like salami! It's enough for her to hide and slip away.

She hides again and sees Vincent being wheeled away. Looks like she's going to save him. Cut to a room full of faceless nurses. They remain still, until they sense movement. Vincent is soon the only one alive. Heather rescues him, barely, and they book it. I noticed something odd about these Nurses. Light isn't what draws them anymore, and they make these very sexy gasps and moans with every movement. IMO, the gasping kind of makes them less scary and more silly? Just my opinion...

We learn that the Darkness has been on the whole time, which... is a choice. I thought it was cool to go back and forth. Yet, here we are with no transition back after we talked to Dahlia. Huh.... So now we're at the carnival! Vincent goes back to "get out of Dodge" talk and I'm super peeved. Why did they make me hate him? She's here already! She can't just GO BACK! How about you go back to being that cute boy at the beginning?! I liked you then!

The Carnival springs to life around them and fills the air with annoying (sry, scary) noises. Some Order soldiers (The Brethren) are searching for them. Vincent "sacrifices" himself to distract them. Then Heather realizes this is just like her dream. Heather gets caught by a Brethren, but is stopped when she rips his mask off. See, they believe that the air of the Darkness corrupts them. Turns out to be right as he starts turning black and coughing up black fluid! Weird!

Heather runs for the Pyramid Head merry-go-round, and the dream repeats itself. She and Dark Heather have a talk. Then hug it out in a battle of wills. Heather accepts the Darkness in her, now whole. I think they're whole? Heather awakens in the sanctuary and walks through like she owns the place. She finds Harry, but is stopped by- did we get a name for her yet? White One. She says that Harry will feed the god and Heather will birth it, so all of the world will pay for its sins.

Heather gives White One the Seal so we can see her turn into the Missionary. Awesome, awesome! AND NOW PYRAMID HEAD AND MISSIONARY FIGHT! YES! It's... an ok fight. She's gonna win, I feel. But it's long enough for Heather and Vincent to save Harry! Nevermind! She gets some good hits in, but then he cuts her head off like butter! Fade to white as Pyramid Head walks away, and now we're in the ash world. Though, the ash has stopped. There's some talk that things will be different, though maybe not over...

Harry/Chris says he can't go with Heather as he needs to finds Rose and she can't go with him because it's his task and not hers. I think Sean Bean just wanted out without having to die. He walks off, taken by the fog. Heather and Vincent find a way out of the ash world and walk along the highway. They get picked up by a trucker named TRAVIS GRADY! IT'S THE RETCON MAN HIMSELF. As they drive off, we see police traveling along the road in a similar scene to Downpour.

The End...?

Look, if you want to make a movie adaptation that's LIKE the game, but not exactly like it, the first movie is a good way to go about it. The second one, I feel, isn't. There were several references made in the first film to be a good adaptation, but also enough creative differences here and there to persuade me to believe that it was a nice little AU of the first game.

The second film didn't quite hit that sweet spot for me. Maybe it was the sudden renaming of the main characters back to the original ones. Maybe it was the almost retelling of the plot of SH3. Maybe it was something else. I don't know. But it just quite didn't. But, it's not SH3 made for film, it's a movie sequel. So as a movie, how does it fare? Actually, not terrible. It's not AMAZING in the slightest, but it's not god-awful either.

6/10, better than Valerian! I knew it! Also, that WAS Claudia as Vincent's mother!!! I figured it out! Silent Hill's references were subtle and acted like a bit of Easter egg candy for the fans. Revelation's references were like someone winking at the camera going "see what we did there?".

Film Corner: Silent Hill 1

Silent Hill 1

Kissmate: I just read an upsettingly poorly written e-mail from my father-in-law, so I'd like to prove a better writer with a #Kissmatewatches! Today's watch will be Silent Hill (2006, dir Cristophe Gans) and Silent Hill: Revelation (2012, dir M. J. Basset). I've seen Silent Hill before, but not Revelations. Since my first viewing was on a night when I was more worried about my husband's health, I figured the second viewing would hold my attention more. Also, I have played some of the games, so Nerd Cred!

We start with parents (Christopher and Rose) looking for their daughter Sharon. Rose finds her by a waterfall/cliff, swaying in her sleepwalking haze. We see the pool below fade into another world of fire, rust, and iron. There's a glimpse of another girl below. Just as Sharon is about to fall into the pit, Rose football tackles her to the side, saving her life. Sharon then starts screaming "SILENT HILL" over and over, clearly not well. As the family takes a huge breath of relief, a lit-up cross shines in the distance.

Next we see Sharon coloring animals and being a cute kid. Rose tells her about the trip to Silent Hill they're taking because of the sleep walking. Sharon seems a little confused since she doesn't remember her dreams. We then see a sign quoting Corinthians. Turns out Rose is going behind her husband's back and taking Sharon to Silent Hill without his knowledge or consent. Don't know how to feel about this.

Sharon has been making some drawings with dark creepy people and some runic-looking crosses. I'm noticing a motif of Christian iconography here that I hadn't before. That wasn't really brought up in the games, so I'm wondering if it's a change so the cult seems more American, or something. Or maybe the symbols are to mean that "this is safety and you are leaving it" instead. We'll find out! I'd also like to add that the music is VERY reminiscent of the OST of the games and I'm VERY excited about that!

Turns out Sharon didn't like her pictures changed. She doesn't remember! A cop walks toward Rose's car. She tries to talk to Sharon, but she rolls up the window with a "Don't talk to strangers" muttered. Good girl! When Rose tries to pay for gas, the cards are declined. When Rose calls Chris to tell him off, he says that Sharon needs doctors and medications, not trips to ghost towns. Rose disagrees, saying she's taking their adopted daughter to her home town for answers.

This conversation is a good example of a realistic and difficult situation. Their daughter is clearly not well and needs attention of some kind. When science "fails" to work, Rose looks to a more supernatural means. This is a very common reaction for parents. Instead of Rose going to a Faith Healer or a New Age Healer, she goes to the place that her daughter screams out every night in her sleep. It's her only lead. And you can't blame her for trying. Rose sees the cop circling her car. The cop offers assistance of any kind, but Rose quickly and firmly brushes her off. We see the cop write down the plates. Rose travels on with that good sweet music playi- DAMN IT, COP!

Rose thinks the same thing and stops just long enough to get the cop off her bike, then drives off to the Silent Hill exit. (I like the little nod they give to Brahams there!) Rose bursts through some gates blocking off the road. There's nothing stopping her now!

The radio. Something's wrong with her radio. It screeches and causes Sharon to cover her ears and scream. Rose then has to swerve not to hit a girl that looks very similar to the one we saw in the pit earlier. The car crashes, causing Rose to get knocked out. This whole scene is a nice recreation of the intro to the first game while still being a wonderful piece of film. The action, the editing, the camerawork. Not a thing out of place here. *chef kiss*

Rose slowly comes to, with Sharon missing. Heavy fog obscures most vision and ash falls from the sky. This feels and looks like the first game! Rose think she sees Sharon and rushes after her into an alleyway. Then the sirens begin. Darkness takes the screen until the sirens fade. Rose opens a lighter and continues on, needing to be with her child. The walls and fences are covered in wet rust now, and rain seems to be falling instead of ash. (The camera angles are like the first game!)

A gurney is just there, but before we can look at it, Sharon runs away. Rose chases her, but is stopped by a ghastly visage of a disemboweled person tied to the fence with barbed wire, guts everywhere. They're not dead though! As Rose turns around, a small child made of darkness and fire screeches at her, calling more of its brethren. She tries to get away with little success as they claw and grab at her. Only by the changing of the worlds is she saved. They burn away, and she faints.

Those little shadow children were exactly what I'd think a film-version of the monsters would be like! This movie is getting it! Also, that was horrifying to watch! Thousands of faceless monster children trying to smother you with their numbers is TERRIFYING. Rose wakes up suddenly to "Ring of Fire" playing in a bowling alley. Rose runs through the streets, finally coming to a dead end. It's like a huge knife cut through the town, and she sits on the edge.

A woman tells her only the "Dark One" opens the way to Silent Hill. When Rose mentions she lost her daughter, the woman goes on. "We've all lost our children... They deceived me. Their evil. Their hate. They hurt my child... Alessa." Wait... DAHLIA? So in this movie, Dahlia is NOT the mastermind behind the cult like in the game. IMO she's one of the biggest differences. We'll get into it more later when her story is revealed, but for now know that there is Movie!Dahlia and Game!Dahlia.

Rose shows Dahlia the picture of Sharon and starts exclaiming that she's her daughter. There's a tussle and Rose breaks out into a run, leaving Dahlia behind. "Into the fire, she swallowed their hate," Dahlia says. We see Chris in Brahams, asking about his wife. When that doesn't get him answers, he asks about Silent Hill with a bit of money to grease the tongue.

Back to Rose, who went back to her car. There's a drawing there Sharon made of a school, giving her a clue. She tries to start the car and make a phone call to Chris. The car stalls while she apologizes to the answering machine. Then the cop rolls in. CYBIL! Oh, shit, Cybil. They made her a bit of a bitch. She arrests Rose, handcuffs and all, and gets Rose to start walking back to Brahams with her. Rose tells her off a bit, but it means nothing to Cybil. I don't recall game!Cybil being this mean...

Chris gets the voicemail, but it's all static and broken phrases. He gets to the gate and sees that something blew through it. The police mention that her Jeep is there, but empty. Chris joins with them in hopes to find his wife quickly.  Little Easter Egg here I heard about: Detective Thomas Gucci (policeman on the bridge) is a name taken from a document Harry finds in the game. Not the same person, since Gucci died before the game via "mysterious circumstances", but still a nice little thing.

Cybil goes on about how she saw a boy get killed here once and she doesn't want it to happen again. Rose tries to tell her off again but Cybil blows it off. "How do I know she even is your daughter?" Would I have some random child's photo around my neck??? Think! They come across another knife cut in the road and Cybil is in disbelief. Even after Rose is proven right, Cybil still insists on getting to a radio with a handcuffed Rose. "Fuck you, you stupid cop." MOOD.

They see a silhouette in the distance and Cybil calls out to it. Then the radio starts emitting static. That can only mean one thing: that ain't human. The Armless Man from SH2 stumbles in and attacks Cybil, who then shoots it to death. The best part here is Cybil loses the helmet and jacket making her not only look better, but adds the transition of "no longer an asshole"(iirc). Rose runs away still cuffed, though gets her arms to her front. She uses the bus stops as a map to get to the school she thinks Sharon's at. (The school is also the one from the game!)

The doors have the same symbol Sharon drew when she slept: a strange crucifix. There's even a Bible verse above the doors! I get this is in West Virginia, so Bible Belt, but Texas didn't have verses everywhere in a public school setting. There's definitely something going on here. Rose heads to the main office and starts looking around for... I guess a heavy flashlight, cause she takes one and starts looking around.

Cut to Chris and Gucci going through the town. Gucci mentions his family died here in the '74 fire. Interesting. Rose goes through the school, but encounters some masked weapon-wielding people. Scared they could be monsters, she runs through the courtyard. (The hopscotch Heaven/Hell thing is amusing to me. Pause it and look, it's kinda funny.) Rose makes it to a classroom where she finds a desk with the dust disturbed. The name is Alessa Gillespie. Then we see Sharon or that girl (Alessa) run away, with Rose following her into the upstairs bathrom.

Rose tries to comfort the crying girl from the other side of the door, but opens it to find a body twisted up in barbed wire instead. There's something in his mouth and writing on the wall "daring, daring, doubling daring" her to take it. Oh no... After a tense scene and her nearly puking, she takes a blue item. She runs out to the hallway, where Rose is found by those people again! She locks the door, grabs a necklace (locket or cross?) and starts begging for help. It comes in the form of the Otherworld.

The people book it right before the siren goes off, leaving her alone in the Darkness. The Janitor crawls out of the stall, no longer a body. Rot seems to surround him, spreading on the walls from his touch. To put it lightly, he reminds me of a pervert monster. [TW: CSA] He molested Alessa when she came here to cry in the past. Now he's forced in a position so he has to drag his genitals on the floor to move around. His tongue waggles out of his mouth. He's blinded, so goes by hearing. This monster is super fucked.

Rose manages to get out, passing mutilated bodies in the hallway. She finds the people from before, now screaming as they're covered with foot-long bugs. Possibly little biters. She screams in horror either way. [TW: Insects] Oh yeah, they're biters. We see the bugs strip the flesh off the people in seconds. Their bodies are then covered by the swarms. Rose rushes to a room, hoping for an escape. Alessa scribbles away in the same room. Then Rose falls out of a window.

We get a glimpse of our world, where Chris and Gucci walk through the untouched school. And back to Rose, who is still inside the school (what are physics?) catching her breath. From behind her comes Pyramid Head himself, surrounded/untouched by the insects. Rose books it! Chris calls for his wife, who's so close, but dimensions away. Rose breaks down crying as Gucci leads Chris away. As the swarm closes in, Cybil drags Rose behind a door and barricades it. Then the cuffs come off. Yay!!

The peace doesn't last long as Pyramid Head thrusts his giant sword in past their defenses in hopes to stab deep inside them. Insects swarm in as he forces their backs to the wall. If I make that sound sexual and gross, it's because the director wanted it to be. Just as it looks like they're done for, the bugs start dying and Pyramid Head walks away. The world comes back, likes ashes falling into place. Peace returns, for now.

Chris is escorted out of the town and told to let the police handle it. He doesn't believe them, so starts making calls. Cybil and Rose makes their way to the hotel that the blue object eluded to. There, they find two women having a tousle. Anna is throwing rocks at Dahlia, calling her a sinner. Rose and Cybil stop her from attacking further as Dahlia escapes. Here, we get some answers about this town. There are more people here and they live at the church with Cristabella in charge. The symbol we've been seeing is on all the old buildings. It's "a symbol of our unity and faith" to Anna.

There's a drawing of a burning scene in the mail slot of room 111. Chris breaks into Braham's archives. Everything from Silent Hill is here, though it looks very burnt. He finds a file made by Gucci about Alessa, which includes the orphanage she was sent to. But not the one he got her from? Cybil and Rose takes Anna with them to Room 111. Turns out this town had witch hunts "to keep us pure". Rose takes this as a hint to rip open the painting of the witch burning to find room 111. There, the room leads to another building that looks burnt badly.

Rose goes through the building and sees Alessa crying in the corner. She crosses a bottomless pit and rocky footing to try to comfort her. Alessa gets up and bursts into flame with a giggle. But it was merely an illusion! No burning here anymore! As Rose gets back, Anna screams that the Darkness is coming. They run tot he church, which Sharon drew before. It doesn't look comforting. Dahlia tries to warn them not to go inside and Rose tries to talk about Alessa.
Then it goes black.

Behind Anna, who's ready to attack Dahlia again, Pyramid Head materializes. He grabs her, skins her alive, then throws the bloodied skin on the door just as it's closing behind Cybil and Rose. So what I'm seeing is don't fuck Dahlia, or Alessa gonna get ya. The church inside seems fine and 30+ people seem safe here. They call out against Rose and Cybil, calling them witches. Cybil calms them with a warning shot. Christabella calls them all to pray, after which the Darkness recedes.

Chris goes to the orphanage to ask about Alessa, but the Sister shuts down any questions. Gucci comes in to arrest Chris. Doesn't stop him from spilling what he does know about it, though still limited. These people did terrible things to Alessa, and she didn't make it after the fire in Silent Hill. Gucci shows he has burned hands from something and tells Chris to leave "this town and it's last 30 years" to him. Rose asks about finding Sharon to Chrsitabella. She tells them to go to the demon, though no one's lived to tell about it. Christabella pockets Rose's locket, but doesn't open it yet. That's an uh-oh waiting to happen.

Christabells them how to get there, but sees that Sharon looks like Alessa right before they go in. They try to stop Rose, but Cybil tells her to "find her" before blocking the way with Rose all alone. See, I believe game!Cybil would do this for Harry! Cybil gets the shit beaten out of her, but her fate is still up in the air. Rose walks out of the elevator and makes her way to the room she was shown. Unfortunately, there's a small platoon of sexy, faceless nurses twitching towards her!

Rose turns off the light, causing them to freeze. Rose squeezes past them, but one spots her! They struggle to hit her, but keep hitting each other instead. Rose bursts through a door and into safety! And a bright light, it seems. I noticed a lot of the monsters are from Silent Hill 2, even though the story is based on Silent Hill 1. I get why; SH2 has the more cinematic creatures while SH1 was more generic "flying demon" and "undead dog" creatures. It's just something worth noting to me.

Alessa congratulates Rose with the truth. Alessa was fatherless. That was enough to turn the town against her. Dahlia, in weakness, gave her to be purified. The town burned her to kill the evil, but it caused a HUGE fire. Gucci was the one to save Alessa. Alessa lived on for a long time, scared, alone, in pain, and full of hate. Alessa asks Alessa if she wants to make them hurt too. (Maybe a demon, or something?) That's what caused these worlds to be created and hurt those who hurt her. So, you know, stuff from the game, really.

Rose walks in to see a nurse in red (Lisa?). Alessa still lives, though barely. The Dark Part of Alessa tells Rose that Sharon is the only goodness left of Alessa. "It is time for the end of days." But Alessa can't enter the church alone. So now Rose has a job! Christabella raids Dahlia's home and finds both her and Sharon! Chris is taken to his car with a warning to not let it happen again. We then get a look into Cybil as she stayed with a boy for three days until he could be rescued. How was this supposed to comfort?

Cult is making a bonfire indoors. Smoky the Bear has a few words to you. They plan on burning Alessa, Dahlia, and Cybil. Cybil screams that they're fucked, right before she dies. Rose comes back and isn't happy with their bullshit. Rose screams how wrong they are. Christabella stabs her. The black blood is what causes Alessa to enter the church. So much for "telling them the truth", eh? Either way, Darkness Falls.

Rose starts bleeding profusely, opening a hole to Alessa. But all the blood was just Alessa, so Rose heals up real quick after. Bed and Alessa rises up on a column of barbed wire, ready to rain revenge on these assholes! Christabella is the most gruesome death. Barbed wire lifts her in the air, then shoots up her robes. Next we see those wires shoot out of her body in various places until she's split in half. Dark Alessa dances in the blood like it's rain. More wire comes out, killing the cult. Rose saves Sharon and tells her to shut her eyes. When Sharon faints, we fade to black.

Dahlia was spared, because she was Alessa's mother. They drive back home (sans Dahlia) with ash still falling. Chris gets a call from Rose, but it's all static. Rose and Sharon gets home, but it's all foggy still. They're in the wrong world. But... they're home.

~NEUTRAL END~

This movie showed me how an adaption can be different from the source material but still be an amazing piece on it's own merits. I really do recommend this movie for those who can watch it. The gore is the only thing that prevents me from watching it non-stop. All-in-all, this movie tied its hair back, pulled up its sleeves, and gave us a hell of a run! 9/10, keep your radios close and your survival skills closer!

Break time before I subject myself to the sequel!

Open Thread: Puzzle

A puzzle I made

Picture taken in my kitchen right now after I realized I was going to bed on Sunday and I hadn't posted an open thread in two weeks.  It's of a puzzle I designed and had 3d printed years ago.  At some point in the past month or two I noticed that if one turns every layer by 45 degrees it makes a kind of interesting shape, and that's what you're seeing in the picture.

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Friday Sunday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us so almost over, but you can still give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Film Corner: The Circle

The Circle

I haven't done an Amazon Prime movie in a long time and I think I need one to soothe me so here's something that promises to be awful but which I actually wanted to see at the time: THE CIRCLE. I think it's about Evil Off-Brand Facebook.

"Mae lands a dream job at a powerful tech company, only to uncover a nefarious agenda that will affect the lives of her friends, family and that of humanity." Whoops. It sounds a lot like ANTI-TRUST (2001) with Ryan Philippe and when I looked up his name he's apparently in this movie too, so that's a weird coincidence. [Editor's Note: I don't think he ever was in this movie that I saw, so that's confusing.]

We rapidly establish that Mae has a shitty job, a broken car, ill parents, and a neighborhood boy with a crush on her she doesn't really return. Dad needs medical help that their insurance won't cover. Ouch. Her best friend has gotten her an interview with The Circle, which is the best news ever but Mae has to ace the interview. The Circle is glowingly described as making the web simple by using your real name tied to a credit card. Ooh, ooh, I know why this is bad! Call on me, a trans person!

November Newsletter (2020)

I don't really know how to do a newsletter for this month. I'm scared about the election and I know a lot of you are as well. Please stay safe out there. Kissmate and I have stocked up on groceries as much as we are able and are staying inside, continuing our quarantine. I'm trying to keep writing and keep watching movies and keep...breathing? I don't know what else to say, because it's hard to know what to say when you're scared. I love you all.

I'm posting 2 more queer fairytale retellings this month, and 4 live-watches. (Two by me and two by Kissmate.) I hope they bring you enjoyment as something good to distract from all the bad.

Patreon News
All Patrons: Kissmate watches the Silent Hill series and I watch a couple bad horror movies.
$5+ Patrons: Queer fairy tales!

Older Links
My Ramblings Deconstructions: Here.
My YouTube Let's Plays: Here.
My Favorite Tumblr Funnies: Here.
@KissmateKittens: Here.

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Please stay safe out there.

Open Thread: Last Leaves

Last Leaves

Picture taken October 25th.  After having to go to my sister's house several times, which is an hour and a half ride each way, I finally remembered to bring my camera to take pictures of the foliage.  By then almost all of the beautiful colors had passed, but I did my best to get shots of what survived.  Then my camera broke.  (I need to check if it's still under warranty.)

The plan to return to a Friday open thread this week didn't work out, but at least there is an open thread this week.

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Friday Sunday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us so almost over, but you can still give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Film Corner: Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil 6

KISSMATE: Alright, my delightful followers, tonight is the last installment of the Resident Evil film series! Aptly named, it's called "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" (2017) directed and written by Paul W S Anderson. Last reminder that the series is live watched by both me and Ana Mardoll!

The other films range from an alright but annoying flick, to a fun cheesy zombie movie. We'll see where this lands in the odometer! High hopes, low expectations, and all that. A light annoyance: The other films had clips and movement in their DVD menu. TFC can't be bothered. It shows a lack of effort.

Alice gives us a recap of how the T Virus began and who all was involved. None of the characters have their original actors. Oh no. That's a bad sign. Oh, this is one huge boot of the history this film series has been building. I am ~pissed~ that the last five movies were just flushed right down the drain! I feel like the movie's telling me "What do you believe, your eyes or what I tell you?" and that's FUCKED.

Open Thread: Distorted Reflection


Picture taken November 5th 2019 from the Portland side of the Casco Bay Bridge.

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Friday Sunday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us so almost over, but you can still give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Film Corner: Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

KISSMATE: Today we're continuing the Resident Evil film series! Written and directed by Paul W S Anderson, we're watching "Resident Evil: Retribution" (2012). The last one was fun with cheesy writing, so I'm hoping for something similar. Just a nice popcorn flick. Don't forget this is a double team with Ana Mardoll!

I did notice something interesting last movie. Wesker said he needed Alice's blood to become stable with the T Virus. After she was stabbed in the fight, she stabbed him with the same knife. Meaning she stabbed her blood into his brain. I'm hoping he comes back!