Friday, October 24, 2014

Movie Poster of the Week

That's what I want to know.

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Cuento de Mi Id

“The Tocayo”


Martin turned to look behind him but there was no one there. Nothing behind or in front of him but shadows.

Must have been my imagination, he thought.

He continued onward.


Martin turned again. Again there was no one behind him.

My imagination again, he thought.

He started walking faster.


This time he almost jumped out of his skin. The voice sounded very close that time. Yet he could not tell where it was coming from.

One of the surrounding apartments maybe?

Perhaps but they all looked dark. It was unlikely that anyone was even in one of them. And even if there were, they were probably asleep.

Then who--


Martin started walking faster. He had no idea who was calling him, but they obviously meant no good if they kept ducking out of sight. Besides he didn’t even know this neighborhood. He normally rode the bus home at this hour. Just his luck that tonight he had stayed after class just a little too long and ended up having to walk home instead.

Still his home couldn’t be too far away. He just wished he knew the neighborhood better.


Martin circled around, hoping to see someone shouting at him from upon a fire escape or from behind a garbage can. But there was no one in sight. No one at all. Except himself.


It’s a gang, he thought. They spotted my umbrella and briefcase, and they assumed I was easy pickings. Never mind that I’m probably poorer than they are. They’d probably just make up the difference with bruises.


If it was a gang, he thought, it was a pretty strange one. And how did they know his name anyway?


They picked a name at random, he thought. The minute I reacted to it, they knew they had the right one.

He frowned. The thought of having been fooled so easily made him angry. He felt like throwing down his briefcase and umbrella and challenging the mysterious name callers to a fight. He would never do that though. He knew better.

“Mar-teen Gar-see-ah! Doan-dey ess-staas?”

The voice sounded strangely familiar. As if it were someone he knew.

That’s crazy, he thought. He didn’t know anyone in this neighborhood.

So how come they knew his complete name?

Coincidence, he thought. Just coincidence.

“Mar-teen Gar-see-ah! Doan-dey ess-stass?”

The buildings were starting to look more familiar now. He recognized the corner street light ahead and sighed with relief.

He suddenly realized that for the last few feet he had been brandishing his umbrella like a sword and his briefcase like a shield. Pretty foolish of him, he thought. He wasn’t the type to start a fight, and you could fill a thimble with everything he knew about self-defense. Still if he had discouraged someone from messing with him, it was worth it. Even cowards could fight when cornered.


There he went again. He was beginning to sound nearer. Much nearer. Yet Martin still couldn’t see who was calling that name.

There went the voice again, calling for Martin Garcia. By now he was sure it was a coincidence. After all, he was in plain sight. Why keep asking where he was?

Whoever the caller was, he was obviously after another Martin Garcia. Which was just fine with Martin. He had no intention of getting involved in another man’s business.

Then he rounded the corner and ran into a dark-clad figure. He stopped and dropped his jaw in amazement.

The stranger before him was just a few years younger than he was. Young enough to be a possible gang member.

His hands were empty but there was no telling what he had beneath that black windbreaker. And that face. If it had not been so pale and free of chickenpox scars, it would have almost an exact duplicate of Martin’s own face. A coincidence, perhaps, one worthy of all those dumb TV shows his cousins watched, but it was unsettling all the same.

“Who are you?” Martin asked.

The stranger before him answered, “Martin Garcia.”

Martin scowled. His hands curled into fists. He was tempted to deck the stranger, but he noticed by the boy’s trembling that he was more scared of Martin than vice versa.

Maybe he was telling the truth. Maybe he too was named Martin Garcia. It was not all that unlikely in this neighborhood.

“You’re kidding, right?” Martin asked, just to make sure.

The boy looked at him as if he was going to throw up.

“No, I’m not,” he said with an effort. “I really am Martin Garcia. Who are you?”

The unknown caller interrupted. “Mar-teen!”

Martin noticed that the boy paled as soon as he heard the voice.

“Who is that?” Martin asked.

The boy replied, “My father.”

“Your father?”

“Yes,” the boy said. “I ran away from home and now he wants me to go back.”

He looked Martin straight in the eye. “But I don’t want to go back. My father did mean things to me when I lived with him. He used to beat me and -- and --” his face blushed. “--treat me like a man treats a woman.”

Martin did not know what to say.

“That’s why I ran away,” said the stranger. “I -- I just couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to fight back but I couldn’t. He was too strong. Besides he’s my own father. So I ran away.”

“I see,” said Martin. Actually he did not see anything, but it seemed the right thing to say. The real scary part was how frightened the boy looked. Nobody deserved to be that scared of his own father.

He’s just a few years younger than me, Martin realized. He even has the same name. A tocayo, he thought. A namesake. There but for the grace of God...


The voice was louder this time -- and even closer than before. The boy grew paler.

“He’s coming,” the boy said.

Martin looked around. “Where is he?”

“Close,” said the boy. “Too close. He’s been following me ever since I ran away, and he doesn’t ever stop.”

Martin stared at the boy. “Why don’t you go to the police?”

“It wouldn’t do any good,” said the boy. “He’d just get me there. You see, just before I left home, I hit him on the head with a frying pan. I hit him real hard -- and it didn’t do any good. He still follows me.”

“But surely --”

“I hit him so hard his skull broke. I’m sure of it. And still he follows me.”


The voice sounded like it was just a few inches away now and still Martin could not see a thing. The boy’s eyes, however, were as wide as they could be.

He seemed to be staring at something just behind Martin’s shoulder -- something only he could see.

Then he screamed and ran off in the opposite direction. Martin started to run after him, then stopped and wondered what he was doing. It was then that he heard it. A second set of footsteps running right by him in the boy’s direction. And not a soul in sight.

There but for the grace of God, he thought. He walked hurriedly in the opposite direction.


He did not bother to tell his parents about what he had seen that night. He did not tell anyone. He just went straight to his room and buried himself in his homework.

Martin was never so grateful for night school as he was that night. At least it gave something to think about apart from what he had seen. When at last he was through and he retired for the night, he wondered what had happened to the boy. None of his business, he decided. It wasn’t his problem.

Nevertheless, it was a sad case. And lying there in the darkness, Martin could almost hear the same voice he had heard before.


It must be his imagination, he decided. Or a dream.

Even the sound of pebbles being thrown at his window was just his subconscious’s interpretation of a more mundane sound.


The voice sounded louder now. The pebbles being thrown against the window sounded louder too. Almost any minute he would see his namesake before him...


Martin sat up in bed. For a minute there, it sounded as if someone had thrown a huge rock at the windowpane. He turned on the lamp on his nightstand and saw that the windowpane was still intact, the street below still empty.

It was just a dream, he decided.

He reached for the lamp switch and brushed against something. It was a human hand.

Before he could scream, another hand clamped itself over his mouth. Then the lamp went out and things got really interesting.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Movie Quote of the Week

Hold on, man. We don't go anywhere with "scary", "spooky", "haunted", or "forbidden" in the title.
--Matthew Lillard, Scooby-Doo (2002)

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TV Quote of the Week

When you live forever, it's disappointing how little humans change. Technology, though, it always gets better. If I hadn't become a vampire, I would have missed out on the Internet, TIVO, World of Warcraft... and GPS.
--Alex O’Loughlin, Moonlight, “Out of the Past”

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When Bud and Lou Met Frankie

If Equinox is the definite example of an old-fashioned horror movie that just did not age well, then the 1948 film Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is an example of the exact opposite. Indeed, I watched it just the other night and found myself laughing as much with the movie that night as I did when I first saw it as a little kid. Of course, one might argue that A&CMF is not really a horror movie but rather a horror comedy. Then again I can think of some horror comedies that have not aged well either and the chances are you can too.

Anyway, the secret to A&CMF's success lies in the fact that its makers were smart enough to play to their cast's strengths and not their weaknesses. The horror actors did not try to tell jokes or do pratfalls and the comedians did not try to look menacing or act scary. Of course, that approach seems obvious to most modern-day movie-goers but then the history of Hollywood is littered with cinematic failures whose flaws seem equally obvious in retrospect.

In any event, A&CMF was the first of the several films in which Bud Abbott and Lou Costello met monsters from the Universal movie lot and it is still the best. Beginning with an eerie animated sequence at the beginning, the movie does not hesitate to set a mood and it keeps returning to that mood over and over again. Along the way, Wilbur (played by Lou Costello) keeps running into Count Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster -- AKA Frankie -- and the Wolfman -- AKA Lawrence Talbot -- while driving his buddy Chick (played by Bud Abbott, natch) crazy with the way he keeps acquiring the attention of two women -- a mysterious European brunette named Sandra Mornay and a blonde American woman named Joan Raymond. (I'm not sure why Wilbur and Chick never get last names in this movie but I suspect the writers thought the younger audience members would already be confused enough by the fact that Abbott and Costello were not playing characters named Bud and Lou. At least, I remember experiencing such confusion the first time I saw this film -- but maybe that was just me.)

Of course, this being a horror comedy, both women turn out to have ulterior motives for courting Costello. Ms. Raymond wants to use Wilbur to help solve an insurance case involving missing exhibits from a local wax museum while Ms. Mornay wants to use Wilbur for more nefarious purposes. Everything comes together on a dark but not so stormy night when Chick discovers the hard way that Wilbur was not fibbing about seeing monsters and then -- Well, you can probably appreciate what happens next much better if you see the actual movie.

For what it is worth, author Jeff Rovin once wrote a literary sequel to this movie called Return of the Wolf Man but unfortunately, it is out of print right now and almost impossible to find unless you're one of those people who can afford to spend a king's random on a paperback book. It would be nice to to say that I saw this book in my local library, but alas, I am not yet that lucky.

But, hey, in the meantime, we'll always have Bud and Lou. Not to mention a classic movie cameos at the film's finale -- if, indeed, "cameo" is the right word to use for a role in which a famous actor never actually appears on film yet utters a memorable line of dialogue. Confused? Well, that just means you haven't seen the movie yet. Shame on you!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Curly Howard!

AKA Jerome Lester "Jerry" Horwitz.

Born October 22, 1903. Died January 18, 1952.

He was everyone's favorite stooge of the original Three Stooges yet ironically he was the first of them to pass away. He has been missed.

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Beware the Equinox!

The 1970 film Equinox can best be described as one of those low-budget horror films that works a lot better when you are ten than when you are twenty -- and even then, you can't help watching it as an adult and wondering, "What was I thinking when I saw this as a kid?"

It does have a memorable last scene. But whether it is memorable in a good way is yet another matter altogether.

For that matter, the opening sequence involving a car with no driver seemed pretty memorable to me when I first saw this movie -- but that probably says more about my inexperience with horror movies back then than it does the craftsmanship of the movie's director.

If I had to pick the saddest thing about this movie, it is that it featured a brief appearance by the famous horror writer Fritz Leiber -- who was not at his best here and who really deserved a better showcase for his acting than this movie. If I had to pick the best thing about this flick, it is that it probably inspired director Sam Raimi's first horror movie The Evil Dead -- though I somehow doubt that Mr. Raimi will ever acknowledge that.

Anyway, I remember liking it when I first saw it at a very young age. But why I liked it? I have no idea. Perhaps it was the Claymation sequences that impressed me. Or all the references to demons. The movie did tend to work better when it focused on the nonhuman characters than when it focused on the human characters -- though there was one kissing sequence involving a demonic being who looked human that seemed to my adult eyes to be more laughable than scary.

I suspect that some of the animated sequences haunted my dreams for many nights after I first saw the movie but I somehow doubt that I would be affected the same way if I saw it for the first time today. And I for one would like to think that is a good thing. Right?

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Halloween Song of the Week: "Joan Crawford"

One would think that they would play this song more often during October but apparently they don't. At least not in Dallas.

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Comic Book Image of the Week

This is one of my favorite scenes from Cemetery Girl: Book One: The Pretenders, the new graphic novel from Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden. (The art was done by Don Kramer.)

The character in this scene is, of course, the title character of the graphic novel. Her name is Calexa Rose Dunhill -- or at least, that is the name she gives herself. I could say more but you know, spoilers...

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Monday, October 20, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Wanda Jackson!

AKA Wanda Lavonne Jackson.*

Born October 20, 1937.

She is one of my all-time favorite country singers. I still remember the day I heard one of her songs playing in the music area of a now-deceased bookstore. It took me a while to get accustomed to her twang but once I did, I could not help wondering why I had ever had an issue with the type of singers who sang with twangs. Ignorance, I suspect.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that she is also a favorite singer of Rosie Flores, who is also one of my favorite singers.

Plus I love the way Ms. Jackson wears that red dress in the above photo.

* Birth name.

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Quote of the Week

Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed.
--Bruce Springsteen, intro to his cover of Edwin Starr's "War"

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wow! Better Than Sharknado?

Spied at a local DVD store last October.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fantasy Quote of the Week

It was night in the lonesome October.
--Edgar Allen Poe, "Ulalume"

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Science Fiction Quote of the Week

How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great god, His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscle and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion, and straight black lips.
--Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

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Iconos de Cine (Werewolves I)

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