Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

American Horror Story: "Murder House"


I almost didn’t write this.

Last week, I forgot to DVR the show, and it didn’t air again until last night. So really, I had an excuse and everything to simply let this fade into the ether and never mention American Horror Story again.

But I’m a glutton for punishment.

So here you go. And now I have another week to convince myself to drop this stupid show from my memory. Maybe I’ll get hit by a car. I can hope.

Goofy font informs us it’s 1983…

Sexy maid is making a bed in what presumably is the Horror House. A man watches her and makes his move. Also suggests this isn’t the first time it’s happened. The maid fights him off, but this is back before the “No means No!” campaign so he just gets attackier. While this is going on, a woman is heading up the stairs with a gun. It’s Lange – and she shoots the maid right in the eye, right before shooting her husband. Well, this is a fine how do you do part of some back story we’ve got going here!

“Clever” editing takes us back (forward? I don’t care enough) to the present day… where Ben and Vivian are fighting. At first, I assume we’re to assume they’re arguing about his recent Boston trip, but no! Apparently, this family is in the 99%! She wants to move, but due to some unfortunate investments that Ben hasn’t been forthcoming about, they really can’t afford it. I love how one of Ben’s main arguments about not moving is because he has an office in the house. The same house where his wife and daughter were almost raped and murdered in. But you know, his patients meet him there!

She ends the conversation with the “Don’t lie to me again or we’re through,” which yeah…

Creepy credits!

Vivian meets with the realtor and lays down the law with her. I’m not up on my California real estate codes, so I’m not sure who’s right in this confrontation, but I have to imagine the realtor at least wants the opportunity to sell the house and get a commission, no? Instead, she tries to get out of the whole thing, before Vivian finally threatens to sue her.

Back in the kitchen, Ben and sexy maid are trading glances.

Then 6 Feet Under maid finds Lange (I guess in the haunted house, it’s never made clear (Ever, actually. These sets all look the same) stealing silver. They too start a cat fight, filling in a few more details about their history. And what a history it is!

Ben has a new patient. She’s depressed about going through a divorce. It’s quite a sob storyA boring sob story. Ben is struggling to listen, as much as I’m struggling to watch this show.

Then he (and we) suddenly finds himself outside in the yard with blood on his hands. He comes back inside and sees sexy maid…from behind (yes I meant that as a double entendre). She’s cleaning up what she says is blood in the hallway. It leads to more sexy time until Ben has had enough and fires her.

This of course then sets up the most ridiculous confrontation between the (three?) (four?) of them: Ben and Vivian, along with each representation of the maid they see. Ben pleads his case, but obviously Vivian doesn’t buy it. The maid (6 Feet Under) pleads her case, and then gets a bit huffy about it all, threatens a lawsuit if they fire her and storms off.

Knowing the power of the threat of a lawsuit, Vivian suggests they keep her, and tells Ben he’s screwed up. Which he is of course, just like every other character in this stupid show.

And now just like that, we’re outside, where Vivian is doing a little gardening as the murder tour pulls up.

Violet is outside as well, sneaking a smoke when Ben catches her. But he’s in cool dad mode, and isn’t mad! He offers to find someone to talk to her about what happened. He leaves, and Tate comes out of the bushes to talk about how great of a dad Ben is. Not like a ghost or anything. And I seriously have no idea why this scene was even included. It doesn’t do much of anything, except take a weak stab at making Ben a character with some positive traits. Unfortunately, it takes more than this to make him even slightly sympathetic. So we’re left with nothing. As usual.

Ben, fresh off his “Dad of the Year” audition, goes in to confront sexy maid about his now missing tape recorder he had during his recent patient session. She seductively tells him she has not idea where it is, and also his next patient is in. Ben is all like, next patient? I don’t have anyone else scheduled? Oh but you do Ben, you do…it’s his mistress. So let’s play why is she now in California.

A. She didn’t have the abortion

B. She decided to move out to California to be closer to Ben

C. She wants Ben to pay for the move and her living conditions so he can be a part of the child’s life.

D. All of the above.

Thankfully, this awesome plot contrivance is interrupted by a detective. Not a homicide detective however – a missing persons detective (huh?) who is looking for the now officially missing patient Ben treated. After making some wide generalizations about a whole bunch of stuff, he ogles sexy maid when she walks in and then leaves.

And now we get to the part of the show where we seemingly jump around from place to place with no rhyme or reason!

Cut to: some weird possible flashback of a guy murdering another guy in an alley, over misconceived homosexuality. I almost break into a nervous sweat thinking that this is a new plot point to cover when thankfully it’s revealed it’s just stop on the murder tour, which Vivian is on. I guess she’s trying to find out more information about her house and the ghosts fuck around too much with Google in her house.

And now we get some more history on the house. A surgeon to the stars built the house in the 20’s, but like all successful doctors got into a Frankenstein fetish. So much so that he would often be late to dinner working on his “bat-pig” experiments. His bitchy wife (shout out to Philly!) constantly nags him about everything. So while he wants to go back down to the basement and make his pig bat, his wife, ever the entrepreneur, wants to continue their lavish lifestyle.

And what better way than by opening an illegal abortion clinic in their basement?

Vivian, listening to the story, and really realizing she doesn’t want to live in an old abortion clinic, suddenly realizes she is bleeding from her, uh…baby canal, so she rushes into the house.

So now we’re in the doctor’s office with Ben and Vivian. Vivian checks out, everything is normal, and the blood is attributed to “spotting.” And I thank God/evolutionary randomness that I never have to deal with “spotting.” Of course then the doctor also demands they plan on moving for the next nine or so months, due to the stress a move puts on people…people like Ben who suddenly faints.

Cut to: Lange is out walking her Dachshunds, and waves at Tate who is standing in a window of the horror house. The realtor, putting up the “For Sale” sign looks to see who she’s waving at and of course sees no one there. Instead of this scene, I just wish Tate would wear a shirt that said, “Yes, I’m a ghost.” It would be subtler.

Cut to: Ben power walking and who does he run into but into half-melted face guy! They talk. Well, HMFG talks and Ben yells and threatens. Then he gets mad and power walks off in a huff.

He comes home and tears up his office in an attempt to find his voice recorder, before blacking out and waking up in the yard again. Feeling as though he might have had something to do with his patient’s current missing status, he grabs a nearby shovel and starts digging up some recently dug up dirt in his yard. Lange pops over to chat about this and that and not digging up the yard. But Ben is determined. 6 Feet Under maid glumly stares out the window.

Cut to: Vivian answering the door again this time to the original owner’s wife, though wearing modern fashions. Vivian “Fool me once shame on you…”) still really wants to sell the house, and lets crazypants in anyway. Crazypants because she loves the old parts of the house, but hates the new, modern pieces of the house – like a pasta hook, or something. Something that would scare me. As they’re talking the camera spins around to the back of the woman’s head where we see a huge gash. Vivian turns to get the tea she’s making and when she turns back the woman is gone! So it seems Doc Bat-Pig Inventor got bored enough with having to split abortion profits with her and does her in at some point. We’ll either learn about it next episode or it will never come up again.

Ben is still digging in the yard and the missing persons detective comes back. His patient has been found in some hospital somewhere, with the voice recorder. So Ben didn’t killer her! Though he may have wished he did after we get to hear what’s on the recorder. The patient got so annoyed that Ben was barely listening to her that she slashed her wrists in his office. Ben grabbed her bloody wrists to stop her, and then proceeded to let he walk out with his voice recorder. Makes enough sense for me to just ignore it.

Cut to: Vivian and Violet checking out a new apartment, because Vivian is not about to let her stupid doctor tell her what she can and can’t do. Unfortunately, she might not have the same strategy with her daughter. Violet goes off on her pregnant, recently tortured mother about not moving, ending with the ultimatum that she will run away if they move. And adds the ol’ “yeah and there’s no way you’ll ever be able to find me because I’m a master ninja and CIA operative that is an expert in getting off the grid.” Or something like that.

Cut to: Ben is on the phone getting his blood work back from when he fainted. He had some weird drug in his system that causes memory loss, that I guess explain his black outs. But before he can really confront sexy maid about it, Hayden, his REAL sexy mistress from Boston, is at the door, screaming about him standing her up. Also in the screaming is her yelling that she is going to tell his wife all about the baby and whatnot. Ben calms her down, and suggests they go somewhere to speak rationally, and that someplace can’t be his house. She agrees, and walks out of the house and into a swinging shovel from HMFG. Ben, just about completely off his rocker at this point, oscillates between going to the authorities and letting HMFG handle his situation his way; burying the body and keeping a secret.

Ben goes inside to think about it and vomit while HMFG buries the body in the hole Ben already started earlier. How fortuitous! Digging a bit, he finds what we presume is the body of sexy maid, at the same time 6 Feet Under maid wistfully looks on from a window above. Lange shows up behind 6 Feet Under, and says, “Now you’ll never get to leave.” Ben, deciding to take the sneaky approach with his dead mistress promptly builds a gazebo over the gravesite. And when I say “promptly, I mean it. Seriously, the guy has a future in carpentry. And after all, who wouldn’t want to sit and sip tea on the site of their buried mistress?

And finally, we cut to Vivian sleeping and abortion doctor/Bat Pig creator’s wife watching her sleep. Because, why not?


So there you go. It hardly seems possible, but each episode finds a lower point. The AV Club is suggesting it’s one of those things that’s so bad it’s good, but I’d argue against that. Usually, guilty pleasures and other things that work on the level of “so bad it’s good” start with a serious endeavor. And I refuse to believe this show is taking seriously by anyone. The clincher had to be the somber pop song playing over the scene where HMFG is burying Ben’s chippy Boston mistress.

So, at least on some level, the show wants to be taken seriously in some parts. As most horror type projects have to do. But it also wants to remain campy in some areas, and those two things are not good playground buddies. Shaun of the Dead pulled it off, but when you think about it, it started with the comedy and as it went on ratcheted up the horror until the comedy pretty much went away.

No, American Horror Story wants to be everything to everyone, and that’s pretty much impossible. I can only hope the American public will wise up about that soon.

Book Trailer for John Hodgman's Latest and Greatest

I'm a sucker for anything with Dick Cavett...

Monday, October 24, 2011

You Are About to Save So Much Time

Wait, you take your shirt off arms first? Head first? Why do you spend so much time doing it the stupid way?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Shatner Being Shatner

I got to the "Open your eyes" line and tapped out. I just couldn't go further.

Thankfully, the above video does give me reason to repost this video, which I could watch a hundred times over...

Michael Winslow Does Led Zeppelin

If this isn't a commercial for why we need a Police Academy 9...

The Better Movie Trailer

Sure, the Avengers movie is grabbing a lot of attention and hype, and the recent movie trailer that came out is only helping that cause...

But seriously, isn't this sweded version of it totally better?

I enjoy the fact that the sweded version took a lot of effort - probably more effort by the people involved than the actual trailer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

American Horror Story: Home Invasion

After last week’s underwhelming premiere, I thought long and hard about continuing the recaps of American Horror Story. Unlike the Killing, my last foray into following a television series, American Horror Story, is a complete mess, and we're only 2 episodes in. It seems the creators/writers/whoevers simply have a list of famous horror movies that they then pay homage to, with little rhyme or reason. I’m have some faint hopes that a centralized story (other than “dysfunctional family moves into haunted house, bloody, improbable hijinks ensue”) will start to develop, but so far I haven’t seen much evidence of one.

The other reason doing the Killing recaps was fulfilling was the amount of familiar people I knew also watched it and commented. It made watching the show slowly devolve at least palatable. So far, no one I know is watching AHS. I would beg them to start but that wouldn’t be very nice of me.

Anyway, I guess the reason I’m sticking with this is I’m a masochist at heart, and the show is very sadist, so in a way we’re made for each other.

Once again we start with a flashback; our jaunty font says we’re in the year 1968. We’re in the house following 3 girls getting ready to go to a Doors concert. This is immediately unbelievable as one of the girls is black, and if I know anything it’s that black people hate the Doors. I mean, most white people do. Regardless, they head down the stairs off to their concert, making snide comments about two girls who opted to miss the Lizard King and study instead. Well, one of them is studying, the other one appears to already be a nurse. And…I have no idea of the dynamic of these five girls. I guess it’s not too important, as we’ll soon see, but it just seems like really poor writing.

The two shut-ins settle for a night of studying and Laugh-In just as there’s a knock on the door. It’s a guy who was in an accident and could he get some help? Help as in “I really need to kill some nurses because I hate nurses and thankfully I found a house that contained an actual nurse and a nursing student.”

No, really. He quickly overtakes them, makes the student dress up in a nurse outfit that I guess he brought with him? And proceeds to lay her out on a white couch, in her white uniform, and stab her. It’s quite graphic. Yes, if you want me to get specific she prays and he says that’s not going to help her, and he’s right. So is the house the devil? Good lord would that be annoying. We don’t see what happens to the other, actual nurse, but assume she upstairs masturbating. Although with this show…

Cue clichéd credits...

Ah, back in the present day…Ben is working with crazypants teen (aka Tate) and they’re verbally sparring. Tate tries to get under Doc Ben’s skin by telling the doctor his sexual thoughts about Violet, his daughter. Now call me crazy, but I doubt he would still be treating him. Remember, he already found him in Violet’s room. Anyway, before we come squirm out of that moral wormhole, he gets a call on his cell from a woman simply saying, “I’m pregnant.” Which I assume is the woman/girl with whom he had the affair that started this whole thing.

Next, we find ourselves in an abandoned pool with a bunch of skateboarding teens. Violet and her coke fiend girl nemesis are now a bit more chummy. Or at least not fighting. I guess demon attacks are a good thing to bond over. They talk about what happened in the basement. Violet tries to play it off as Tate just scaring her (even though she seemed pretty spooked last week about it). Crazy chick isn’t buying that though and shows Violet her now streaked, white hair. Kinky!

Cut to: Violet now asleep, in the house. And who shows up but Tate, watching her sleep? Because what says completely sane and normal more than creepily watching someone sleep? Unless of course Tate is a ghost. Which he totally is. Suddenly, the house alarm goes off. Ben grabs a bat and heads downstairs to find the front door open. Ben’s next stop? The basement…where he finds Addie, playing with a ball. And I realize that Jessica Lange is crazy, and Addie has down syndrome so she’s not a normal child, but seriously – it’s late enough where everyone is asleep. We can’t keep a girl with down syndrome in check? Obviously there’s a subtly hint of supernatural stuff (seriously, the ball Addie was playing with mysteriously rolls across the floor when no one is there – but more seriously, are we supposed to be spooked by that? We had a rubber suited man rape a woman last week. The ball-across-the-floor seems slightly underwhelming after that) before Ben turns off the lights and heads back upstairs.

He explains the situation to Vivian who promptly tells him she’s afraid for her baby. You see, this pregnancy seems different than the last one. And while I know next to nothing about pregnant woman, isn’t that uh, kinda normal? Like women who vomited a lot with their first child didn’t vomit at all with the second? Whatever, I guess we have to build some suspense for the baby here since it’s the product of a rubber-suited man demon.

Cut to: a new, blond woman patient with Ben, spouting some ridiculous nonsense about Karen Carpenter and an elevator. Unfortunately we aren’t just told though, we’re shown her freaky, “I’m gonna get chopped in half dream.” Then she turns it on Ben and asks about the murder house and tells him how his house is on the murder house tour. She seems obsessed about the murders. And the house. (Bianca)

Cut to: Ben calling Tate’s mom and telling her he can’t treat Tate – which at least shows the creators are trying to ground the show in a little bit of reality. Meanwhile, crazy blond patient wanders in lying about how she got “turned around” when she was leaving. And there we’ve effectively eliminated the reality because I can’t imagine any psychiatrist with a home office simply tells the patient to show him/herself out the door and leaves them alone. Well, I guess any psychiatrist with an office NOT in a haunted house.

Let’s go wander over and see what those oh-so-wholesome neighbors are doing. Why, it looks like they’re baking something! And spitting in it and putting ipecac syrup in it. How lovely. I can only imagine who that’s for.

Cut to: Ben running again in the apocalyptic valley and having flashbacks of what I can only imagine is his affair girl. Melted head guy shows up, and talks more about the house and seems to have a lot of Ben’s personal information. Ribs him a bit about the affair which, yeah – why not? He also gives the audience the cliff notes version of his story, just in case we missed it last week (plausible) or there are some new viewers this week (extremely implausible). He predicts Ben is going to lie to his wife and so we…

Cut to: Ben lying to his wife about why he is flying to Boston.

During the lying conversation, Constance comes over and brings the cupcakes with the explicit instructions that Violet eats them, which I don’t get, and can only assume will be revealed in the future as to why Constance wanted to make Violet sick. At least I hope it’s revealed, and not just a stupid way for the cupcakes to come up later in the episode. I really hope they explain why Constance baked yuckcakes for Violet, when we’ve seen little interaction between these two characters. Good lord I feel like I’m in for disappointment. I mean more disappointment.

Anyway, Constance non sequitors into a premonition that Violet is “with child.” Because she’s a ghost, right? And Violet, maybe because she’s losing 5% of her brain with the pregnancy, or maybe because it’s just shoddy writing, invites Constance to stay so she can talk more about her unborn child with her, all the while teasing the audience with the yuckcake in her hand. Will she or won’t she eat it? Will we care or not?

Constance doesn’t seem to want wife to eat the cupcake, but she also doesn’t go to too many great lengths to prevent it. Then Ben walks in. Then 6 Feet Under maid walks in. And it seems Constance and the maid have a history together. A prickly history. Constance also makes sure Ben doesn’t eat a cupcake. Like he was going to. He’s way too busy ogling sexy maid.

Cut to: Violet’s room With Ben gone, I guess mom and daughter have to talk. Of course as every mother/daughter conversation goes, Violet calls her mom “fat” and “weak.” You know, the usual stuff. Vivian leaves the yuckcake with her, but Violet leaves it out in the hallway, presumably to poison a rat. Or ghost. Or homicidal wannabe woman actress.

Vivian feeling rather glum, goes and calls Ben. Ben is of course with his little chirpy, sipping wine in her apartment. And its here I start questioning the timeline of everything going on. If we’re supposed to believe the that Ben’s affair chick’s unborn child is his…did he have the affair and then 2 weeks later pack up the family to move to California? I thought there was time in between the affair and then the move? Or, is this not his kid? Or, am I putting way too much thought into this? I

I think we know the answer to at least one of those questions.

Anyway, he makes the mistake of checking his phone in her presence, she goes all psycho, and then he apologizes and seemingly slips his phone into her pocketbook? I rewound like 4 times to see if I could understand what was going on, since that seems like the stupidest thing anyone could ever do in his situation, but that’s what it looked like. I mean, I realize she asked him for the phone during her tantrum, but he wisely said no and refused to give it to her. Then they hug, and he seemingly slipped it into her bag unbeknownst to her. And you wonder why I’m currently banging my head on they keyboard in frustration.

And now starts what may be one of the most ridiculous plot lines in a television show. And that’s saying a lot coming from a show based in fantasy: Vivian is laying in bed watching some movie, when she hears someone banging on the front door. It’s a woman employing the same tactics as the 1968 guy who killed the girls in the beginning of the show. Thankfully, Vivian isn’t a stupid nursing student and doesn’t fall for it. She looks around for her phone before screaming for Violet to get her phone and call 911. She goes back to check at the door, and glimpses the woman, now wearing a creepy black mask. Simultaneously there is a man in a black mask creeping up on Violet, who is frantically looking for her phone.

It’s a home invasion, sadly without the Ice-T soundtrack. There are three invaders, and one of them is the woman patient from the beginning, this time with two of her goon friends…and they really are obsessed with the murders that happened in this house, so much so they’re going to recreate them! (Un)Thankfully Violet and Vivian aren’t so submissive and they fight back, as much as they can. Violet breaks away and runs upstairs. Tate shows up, and tells Violet to get the three of them into the basement. Makes a bit of sense, since we saw what he did with coke addled teen friend when Violet got her in the basement. And that was just to scare her! Meanwhile, Vivian is trying to talk herself out of getting murdered, when we see Addie creeping into the house. Guess there are some positives to leaving your door unlocked. Other than letting homicidal house invaders in. Violet Subtly tries to tell her to go get help. Meanwhile Violet is caught and is being forced into a nurse outfit where she is going to be drowned. Apparently that is what happened to the other woman in the beginning scene. Of course, why that was not revealed in the beginning, and held to this moment makes little sense, but at this point we just have to go with it. Right? I mean there’s no way to actively change a television show on the fly is there?

Just as we’re about to get on with Violet’s drowning, blond wannabe actress homicidal maniac comes strutting into the bathroom gnoshing on the yuckcake that Violet had left out in the hall. Because everyone knows murdering makes you hungry!

Cut to: Constance getting busy with a young man. A studly, young man. Unfortunately, before she can remove his trousers with her tongue, Addie upends the mood with news of what’s happening next door. But of course, since she’s a television character with down syndrome, we know where this is leading, right? Well, not where it eventually lands, but we can guess that Constance won’t believe her.

So yeah, Constance doesn’t believe her, and puts her in the “bad closet” to “look at herself.” The bad closet is a closet full of mirrors. And so I guess all the scenes leading up to this point is just to show off that one of the writers came up with the bad closet concept. Because seriously? This has nothing to do with anything.

Back in horror house, the blond murderer girl is vomiting. In a stupor, she’s looking for her crime cohorts, before Tate comes out of nowhere and buries an ax in her stomach. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, and I know it was something like five minutes ago, but weren’t we lead to believe a little earlier that Tate needed the three home invaders to go in the basement before he could “act?” I guess that’s out the window. But then why did he wait to act? Why didn’t he help them out before…oh just forget it. I blame myself for picking this show apart at such a logical level.

Downstairs, Vivian is getting prepped by the dude to get stabbed. But wait – there’s a struggle! and she gets the upperhand.

Meanwhile, Violet, per Tate’s implicit instructions, is leading the last remaining kidnapper to the basement. And there’s Tate with a tub. Vivian and Violet escape and run down the street, leaving Tate to handle these crazy kids anyway he wants. And how he does that is conjures up the nursing student ghosts. Because, of course.

Back in Boston Ben and his chirpy look like they’re waiting in a high school gymnasium sponsoring a blood drive. And maybe they are. We know she was/is a student. And I can only guess that he will get a phone call and have to leave, and she’ll be pissed. Which is pretty much what happens.

Cut to: Constance, Six Feet Under Mom and Tate standing over the bodies of the kidnappers. Tate suggests that if they want the doctor to keep treating him, they have to get rid of the bodies. Uh oh, careful here, we’re getting a semblance of a reason this show exists. Now don’t worry, I’m certain it will be forgotten about. They hatch a plan to get rid of the bodies.

The aftermath. Ben is home and the family is being interviewed by the police. The one girl was found down the street with multiple ax wounds; the other 2 haven’t turned up yet. Ben confronts his daughter about Tate being in the house. She snarks back. You know usual snark stuff after a home-invasion-almost-murder. Vivian ends the episode with “we’re selling this house.”

Something tells while she may have the best intentions, she isn’t going to get her wish.

So, what are we left with? Suggestions that Constance isn't a ghost (since we see her outside of the house) which lead us to believe that the house makes people go crazy internally. Tate also shows possibilities of both being a ghost (all the basement talk) and not being a ghost (actually stabbing a real life person with an ax). So basically, we know nothing.

I'm really dreading next Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Swingin' Thing

It's not often the Internet can surprise me with something so completely bizarre. But when it does, it's magical.

Case in point: What if John Carpenter's 1982 masterpiece The Thing was soundtracked by Frank Sinatra?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sour Patch Kids, by way of Wu Tang

Temporarily ignoring the debate of cool brands becoming a corporate shill, please enjoy this Sour Patch Kids commercial presented by Method Man and the rest of the Clan.

Friday, October 7, 2011

American Horror Story: Premiere

Ugh. I’m pretty sure after watching the first episode, I made a mistake devoting any time to recapping this show. However, because I have an obligation to you, the reader, I will forge ahead. No matter how stupid this show gets.

The beginning starts off great…the show is rated MA LSV. For the acronym challenged, an ominous voice further clarifies stating this program will contain “Language, sexual situations, and violence. Having not really committed to any FX shows (Feel free to insult me in the comments all you Shield, Damages, Justified and Sons of Anarchy fans), I’m not sure what this implies. But I’m mildly excited by the potential. This will not be an episode of Whitney.

We start in 1978. How do I know? Because a black screen with white text and a crazily serifed font tells me so. A little girl stands outside a lovely yet decrepit house somewhere. She turns and shows the audience that she has down syndrome. A pair of twins sidle up to the house presumably heading inside. Down syndrome girl warns them by telling them they are going to die. They go in anyway.

This scene has pretty much confirmed my “Always heed a warning uttered by a girl with down syndrome” rule as being a good one to follow. Unfortunately, the twins don’t share my sentiments. They go inside…

And start smashing stuff with their bats. After that fun is over, they stumble upon a rodent of some sort. It seemed comically large to be a rat, but not quite distinct enough to be a possum. I spent way too much time trying to figure out what it was. Anyway, it had a crazy amount of blood pouring from a wound in its head, but it also seemed to be breathing. Mechanically, almost. I’m not sure we were supposed to take something away from its weird breathing, or it was just bad animatronics. The way the rest of the show went, I don’t think it’s going to come into play again.

What better way to celebrate a finding a not really dead rodent than to head down into the basement of an old abandoned house? Which is exactly what the twins decide to do.

Now, I understand that the desire to smash things in an abandoned house is an itch few preteen boys would ignore. I get that. My problem is that these twins seems a little too ignorant of the history of the house. Children in any neighborhood are going to gossip about the tales of murder and woe of any house around them. Even if it’s not true, a creepy looking house will have a story made up about it. And the kids will tread lightly around it. That’s not to say they won’t dare one another to go inside – but to traipse in willy niilly like these two did seems a tad implausible.

Regardless, we head down into the basement with them, where we find a number of specimen jars holding weird things. The weirdest? A baby’s head. This mildly freaks the two boys out (And when I say mildly, I mean neither runs out screaming), and then they die a horrible death. You might think I skipped over some stuff, but really, that’s pretty much exactly what happens.

So now we know there’s some weird shit going on in that house.

Present day…

In what I can only imagine is an homage to Nip/Tuck (the creators of AHS also created that show) we start off in a gynecology exam. The doctor and patient are going back and forth about some hormonal treatment designed to make her look ten years younger. She balks at first, but c’mon – if you don’t think these hormones are going to play a part in this show at some point, you’re crazy. She takes the prescription. Vivian leaves, heads home, and hears something in her house. Assuming its an intruder she calls 911 before grabbing a knife and heading upstairs to check it out. And if you think I’m going to fast, you’re wring – this is the pace of the show. And before you get used to it, it gets faster. And weirder. And worse.

She finds her husband home, and the only intrusion is him intruding another woman’s sey parts. She gets made enough to take a swipe at him with the knife, cutting his arm. Then we’re treated to some Nine Inch Nail inspired opening credits.

Back from the credits we’re treated to the interior of the car, holding Vivian and Ben (the two who just a moment ago were a blade away from a monkey knife fight), their teenaged daughter Violet, and a dog (in its own car seat and I hate them all already for this simple fact), driving down a Los Angeles highway. Definitely much chummier than we last saw them, though Ben’s hand holding is rebuffed by Vivian. So it seems they’re trying to work it out…with mixed results.

It seems the family is looking to move to Los Angeles, in order to start fresh and get away from the bad memories (and sexy times!) of back east. And what better way to do that then buy a really creepy house? As a realtor goes on and on about how gorgeous the house is, she also states that she has to tell them about the murders of the previous owners that happened in the house. A murder suicide. While she’s doing that, the dog goes off, and starts barking at a door. The basement door. Violet, being a misunderstood, angsty teen explores a bit, likes what she sees (no the specimen jars are gone) comes back and proclaims to everyone, “We’ll take it.” Who knew she was the decision maker in the household? The realtor smiles, relieved she got these suckers to buy a haunted house.

Cut to: (and really, I hate to use the term “cut to” as transitions between things, but in this show? It’s totally appropriate) Violet having a run-in with the Mean Girls at her new school. In a twist, it is they who are aghast at Violet’s smoking. This scene is played off in such a campy way, you start to think American Horror Story might be a comedy?

But that thought is eliminated once we get back to the house and focus on Down syndrome girl (now all grown up) as she wanders into the house spouting her now, “you’re gonna die,” spiel (hoping she’s got a trademark on that) before her mom Constance (or Jessica Lange) heads into the house. She appropriately and dutifully gives us her complete backstory. Thank god we don’t have to see that subtly filled out in future episodes. Nuance is the enemy here! To further move the plot along (what faster then breakneck? Breaknecker?) she gives Vivian a housewarming gift of sage. Telegraph much? Vivian still uses it.

As Vivian is burning the sage around her house, (because even though we are led to believe Vivian thinks Constance is a nut, we have to also show Vivian might believe the house is haunted?) she sees the drawstring that leads up to the attic, so of course we’re going exploring! And what do we find up there? A black rubber S&M suit of course. Ben is psyched; Vivian not so much. We see Ben throwing it away. At night, but don’t you dare for one second believe this show has any basis in chronological order. Or logical order. Or logic.

Cut to: A teenager speaking with Ben (I guess I forgot to mention this earlier; Ben is a psychiatrist, and he has a home office. See, this is just like Growing Pains, but with homicidal rage and down syndrome sprinkled in) about how he wants to go Columbine on his friends. We see his fantasies as he describes them to Ben. But Ben is one of those cool psychiatrists, who doesn’t tell the dude he’s crazy, but that’s he’s normal!

Cut to: The teen patient walking in on Violet in the bathroom as she half-heartedly toys with some light suicide. He explains to her the best way to do it (vertical cuts dummy!) Violet, of course swoons over the boy and his ghastly knowledge.

Cut to: Ben walking around the house, starting a fire in the fireplace (naked) and honestly, who has a fireplace prepared to blaze right up when you throw a match at it? I mean, I guess it could be a gas fireplace, but still… it went right up. Vivian finds him and asks what he’s doing. “I’m buying a dream.” At least that’s what I think he said. I have the show DVR’ed and I could have rewound, but yeah…

Oh hey look, it’s the mom from Six Feet Under! She shows up as Vivian is outside hanging laundry and tells her she’s the housekeeper. They verbally spar over some cleaning tips before going inside to talk about the history of the house over some tea. Why not?

Ben wanders in the kitchen and is introduced to the housekeeper. But what he sees is a red headed sexpot housekeeper – basically the fetish version. She leaves and Vivian tells Ben she wants to hire her. Horndog that he is, Ben, completely shocked that the woman he cheated on would hire such a sexpot, not knowing his wife sees her as the mom from Six Feet Under readily agrees, all while eating a banana (I wish I made that last part up).

Ben then goes and has another session with crazy teenager. He’s trying to figure out if he’s a danger to his fellow classmates. Shockingly, the reveal is that he’s now “seeing” Ben’s daughter.

Cut to: Ben finding Crazy Teen together with his daughter and rightfully tries to put a stop to it, which I assume will happen and nothing terrible and horrifying will come of this union.

Cut to: Ben walking in on the sexy housekeeper playing with herself. Because what’s a show without an awesome masturbation scene? And how do you make an awesome masturbation scene better? You have Ben run out, go into another room, strip down and shame masturbate. What is shame masturbate, you ask? Well, and I’m guessing here, it’s when a guy can’t help himself from getting turned on by someone after you have cheated on your spouse.

Not sure if he finished or not, but he peeks out a window (and yeah, I thought it was a little odd that he was standing in front of a window to masturbate, but who am I to judge?) and sees a well dressed man with half of a melted face standing in his yard. And I don’t care who you are, that is going to harsh an erection.

Vivian, possibly downstairs the entire time, or possible this is another day, walks into the kitchen and sees a mess. She wanders around and finds the down syndrome woman. Oh and we get a quick shot of the now bloody twins. In case you forgot about them.

Vivian and Ben confront the down syndrome woman (I want to say her name is Adelaide) and her mom about coming into the house. It doesn’t go great. The dog bites Adelaide on the way out. Jessica Lange threatens Vivian. You know, typical neighbor stuff when you live in a haunted house.

Cut to: Ben on the phone attempting to report his crazypants patient. And of all the times for hes sexy housekeeper to decide to clean the study. I love her excuse after Ben tells her it’s not the greatest time. “Well if I don’t do it now, it won’t get done until next week when I come back.” As if the study was filthy to begin with. Unfortunately for Ben, it seems cleaning wasn’t her primary motive as she starts talking about how she saw him walk in on her private fun time session, and then asks him if he ran away and touched himself. It’s like she’s a clairvoyant! Or a ghost or something. She’s saying all this as she slowly straddles Ben. But then here comes Violet to spoil all the fun! She walks in on the two of them, seeing the maid as the mom from Six Feet Under, which probably further skeeves her out.

Cut to: a music video montage of Violet getting beat up at school.

Cut to: Ben coming into help Vivian take some wallpaper down that was covering up some lovely demon murals. Because what better way to lighten up the décor of your house with depictions of demons eating the souls of the damned?

Ben, either fresh off the sexual taunts of the maid, or just getting turned on by demonic violence to humanity, decides to get frisky with Vivian, but she rebuffs him, which leads into a huge fight. And if I told you I didn’t see sex coming at the end of this as soon as it started, I’d be lying. It was telegraphed a bit. A lot comes out here. Stuff about a miscarriage, stuff about the dog being a crutch, the person Ben slept with was his student…it was nicely acted by these two, except…it just felt forced, and once again a lot to swallow in episode one. Anyway, we get to sexy time.

Cut to: Violet walking in to the kitchen, attempting to hide her bruises from the fight. Mom sees through it though, and the two have a heart to heart. And I’m not sure why Violet never brought up how she walked in on the housekeeper and her dad. Maybe she just doesn’t care anymore. You know, like the audience.

Cut to: Violet and crazypants concocting a plan to get back at the mean girl who beat her up. The plan involves Violet telling her she is a drug dealer (because somehow they come to the conclusion this girl is a coke head) and getting her to come to Violet’s house, where Crazypants will wait in the basement and scare her. Ok, I’m not an expert on the current social trends of high school girls, but this might possibly be the worst plan I’ve ever heard.

Cut to: Vivian getting ready for bed…and the guy in the rubber suit appears. Mistaking him for Ben (and we know this because Ben is downstairs trying to light his hand on fire with the gaslit stove. Duh.) Vivian is totally up for round 2. And may I say, lord knows what their sex life was like before the house if this didn’t make her question anything. Cut between the thrusts of sex of these two is Jessica Lange telling Ben it’s not his time to die yet – as she leads him away from the stove. And the sex scene is also played slightly weird – not really sure if Vivian was into it or not. The ambiguity of it all was slightly confusing.

Cut to: Violet and Crazypants plan in action. Mean Girl is being led down into the basement as Violet is giving her this crazy story about how she gets the coke. What a poorly written scene. For instance, why would the Mean Girl be in the basement looking around for the coke as Violet stood behind her? Anyway, she walks into a room and sees Crazypants sitting on a chair. Violet hits the lights and then Crazypants attacks. It turns into a series of strobe cuts that also involve a demonic creature that scratches mean girl Violet screams a bunch, turns the lights on, Mean Girl runs out, Violet says she never wants to see Crazypants again, and scene. That went about as well as it could have.

Cut to: Ben running, possibly to stay in shape for all the sex he’s planning. Someone is following him in an old car. It’s melted face guy! And he comes with a warning! Ben’s family is in danger. You see, melted face guy is a convict. He used to live in the house, but he killed his family, because the voices told him to. He burned them all. Which at least explains his burns. Now, before you start questioning why he’s not in jail, there’s a very plausible answer: he has brain cancer, so they let him out. Obviously. Ben does threaten to put him in an asylum before telling him to leave him alone. I guess brain cancer can’t keep you out of a state sponsored hospital for the insane?

Cut to Jessica Lange trying to steal some diamond earrings from Vivian’s jewelry box. She would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for that meddling housekeeper. 6 Feet Under Mom walks in on her and tells her to put the earrings back. Jessica Lange, embarrassed for getting caught in the act can only retort, “Don’t make me kill you again!” which is exactly what I say to my wife when she catches me taking 3 cookies instead of my allotted two.

Vivian comes home and tells Ben she’s pregnant. Because there wasn’t enough for us to follow. And that’s the end of episode one.

So there you have it…a complete mess that at times tries to play straight and camp and fails at both. It’s a shame too, because I like all the principle actors and thought going into the show there was a lot of potential. But horror is tricky, because to be effective there needs to be a build up and then a payoff. And all we’re getting here are payoffs. Without the build up there’s no emotional investment.

I imagine the housekeeper, teenager and crazy teenager patient are ghosts in the house. They weren’t seen anywhere else in the episode. The melted face man was scene outside, so I assume he’s not a ghost. No idea who the black rubber suit guy is. I assume that will be a mystery to follow along with Vivian’s pregnancy. I’ll stick with this show I guess, but it will be hard. The pace at which it moves is ridiculous, as is the cutting and intertwining of stories. It’s extremely difficult to follow the timeline, and know what might be real and might be a dream. I understand that in horror, that can be effective, but you still need to establish the rules before you can go off breaking them. So far it seems American Horror Story has no rules.

But that’s just one guy’s opinion. Anyone else want to share their thoughts?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Popcorn Trick's Next "New Favorite Show:" American Horror

After the awesomeness (you might slightly disagree unless you are a fan of sarcasm and I just totally confused myself) of The Killing, the last show the Popcorn Trick decided to follow, we thought it might be fun to do it all over again. And with the new Fall Season here, what better time than now?

Unfortunately, there were few contenders that tickled our fancy.

The Playboy Club?
Put it on Showtime or HBO and I'm interested. Put it on NBC and I'm longing for the return of The Event (not really).

Pan Am?
I'm sure it has more than women in airline costumes flying around to different locales, but seriously, does it have more than that?

That's a joke, right? If so, it's one more than what was in the first two episodes of Whitney.

Person of Interest?
Honestly, it looked intriguing until I saw the promos had Jesus going around and kicking ass and it fell flat. Perhaps we'll revisit it.

So, just when we thought we'd have to turn off the television and (ugh) pick up a book or something, we stumbled across news of a new FX show called American Horror Story. And oh yeah, all the hype that is following it.

Instead of poorly attempting to describe what it is, why don't you simply watch this trailer that poorly describes what it is!

Here's also the first five minutes of the show, which I've elected not to watch, some to stay fresh, but more so because five minutes sounds like a long time right now...

We'll hopefully be posting recaps 1-2 days after the episodes air. So come join the fun. After all, how could the creators of Nip/Tuck and Glee mess up a television show about horror?

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Down with the clown 'til you're dead in the ground."

American Juggalo... a film that looks into what it means to be a fan of the band Insane Clown Posse, filmed at the annual Gathering of the Jugglalos.

I'm really not sure what to think. Much like the brilliant documentary Capturing the Friedmans, once you decide to take the trip down the rabbit hole, the ride continues to get freakier and freakier. I'll let you pass your own judgement, however.

Please be advised, there's plenty of profanity and nudity. But no "bigotory." (Ok, so that was a little judgement.)