Rocket Jones

June 15, 2007

Movie Review: Dog Soldiers

This is the third in a series of four reviews of horror movies, each more recent than the ones I usually watch and write about. You can find my reviews of The Descent and Ginger Snaps by following those links, or visit the Rocket Jones Cult Flicks category archives.

Dog Soldiers

This 2002 movie was written and directed by Neil Marshall, who followed it up with The Descent. Based on these two films, I'm really looking forward to his future work.

Dog Soldiers is another werewolf movie, but not *just* another werewolf movie. I mentioned in the Ginger Snaps review that according to legend, werewolves kill for pleasure. Now, keep that in mind but take the concept of wolves to the next logical step and you have... werewolves that hunt in packs. Chilling.

A squad of British soldiers is dropped off in a remote area of Scotland for a training exercise. As they make their way through the woods towards their objective, they come across the camp of a group of special forces troops. There's blood and carnage everywhere, but no bodies except for a single survivor, the special forces commander.

Soon enough, they're being pursued by a pack of wolf-like beasts and with the injured special forces officer in tow they make a run for it. As they cross a road, they flag down a woman driving by who gives them a lift to a local farm to get medical assistance and to call for help. At the farm, they find the family missing (or is that "they *don't* find the family because they're missing"? Eh, whatever), and are trapped inside the house when the werewolf pack tracks them down.

This isn't some wussy group of teenagers being hunted, these are trained soldiers armed to the teeth (thanks to the live ammo they collected at the special forces camp). They know how to work as a team, they know how to plan and execute tactics and support each other as they fight. The problem is, wolves may be the ultimate pack hunter, and teamwork is second-nature to them. It's an even fight.

The tension is relentless. There are moments of humor, but the humor isn't there to be funny, it is incidental to the characters and their circumstances. Soldiers bitch, and even in the most dire situations some wag will let slip some gallows humor. This film is full of small, quick smiles that might be laugh-out-loud funny if things weren't quite so desperate.

Warning: the accents get thick sometimes. A couple of times I had to rewind in order to replay a snippet that just didn't translate the first time I heard it.

There is a fair amount of gore and a few squirm-inducing moments, but mostly this is flat-out relentless terror.

Highly recommended.

Posted by: Ted at 05:52 AM | Comments (206) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

If Loving This Is Wrong, I Don't Want To Be Right

Ooo! Ahhh!

Thanks to Triticale for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 05:24 AM | Comments (19) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

Donnie Darko Fan?

Why yes, I am. Not to the degree of obsession that some folks have...

The IMDB Donnie Darko FAQ.

Posted by: Ted at 05:15 AM | Comments (26) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

June 14, 2007

Comfortable, Yet Oddly Uncomfortable

I'm walking around the office today sans shoes, since they're still damp after being soaked in the deluge last night.

You were dying to know that, weren't you.

Posted by: Ted at 11:41 AM | Comments (65) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

Appreciative of the Chance to Revive an Old Joke

Former U.N. chief Kurt Waldheim has died. He was a long-time sufferer of what came to be known as "Waldheimer's Disease". You know, the one that makes you forget that you're a Nazi.

Posted by: Ted at 10:12 AM | Comments (26) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

June 13, 2007

Apparently We've All Got A Rich Uncle Somewhere

Check out this fascinating map of the USA, where each state has been renamed to a country with a similar GDP. My biggest gripe is that according to this, I was born in France.

Non! Thanks to QandO for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 10:41 AM | Comments (20) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

Getting It Right

In the front yard flower beds, I finally decided to go all-perennial this year.

After much perusal of the various catalogs, we decided on a variety of plants from Spring Hill Nursery. One variety is still back-ordered, which is annoying, but two others have been in the ground awhile and are doing beautifully (that last link is to the pink variety, we have the white).

In the front bed, I envisioned this nice purple lavender hedge. Unfortunately, the first batch of six arrived dead and dessicated. Spring Hill immediately shipped a second set, which arrived in slightly better condition, but still not better enough to survive.

This morning in my email inbox was a note letting me know that a credit was on the way. No fuss, no hassle, just making it right.

I'm thinking we're going to order more pincusion flowers. Their "real" name is scabiosa, but they're too pretty to be calling them that.

Disclaimer: There are a lot of negative reviews of Spring Hill out on the net. I've been through some of what a many folks complain about, but it's about what I expect when I deal with them. I'm satisfied with them, but I'm patient. It's what gardening is all about.

Posted by: Ted at 05:13 AM | Comments (317) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

June 12, 2007

Sickening

I called in today thanks to a case of the trots. Trying to commute to work in that condition is a little too much like gambling, especially since at the end of the ride I spend another 15 minutes going through card-key checkpoints, turnstiles and cypher-lock doors before getting to my desk (and access to the bathroom).

Speaking of sick, have you heard the latest from the formerly-great state of California?

Unbelievable was the reaction from PetPAC today after Members of the California State Assembly voted 41-38 to outlaw the existence of mixed-breed dogs and cats in the Golden State.

Assembly Bill 1634, authored by Los Angeles Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, will allow only select purebred dogs and cats to breed. Pet owners who dont sterilize their mixed breed pets by four months of age will face a $500 fine and possible criminal penalties.


If you believe that the answer to America's problems is more government, then you are a fool.

Thanks to Random Nuclear Strikes for pointing that one out. If I wasn't ill before, I am now.

Posted by: Ted at 02:01 PM | Comments (60) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

June 11, 2007

You Don't Know My Damn Words

But you can, if you head over to Joe Horror and read the latest movie reviews. My contributions this week are The Ryli Morgan Collection (for you indie movie lovers), and Hot Wax: Zombies on Wheels.

Posted by: Ted at 05:13 AM | Comments (40) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

June 10, 2007

Launch Report - 6/9/2007

Yesterday was our regularly scheduled rocket club launch out at Great Meadow. Besides the usual sport launching (for fun), there was a regional contest event scheduled and the sky was full of rocket gliders, helicopter recovery rockets and more.

I almost didn't go because I'd worked for most of the week on converting one of my high power rockets for hybrid-engine flight. On Friday night about 10pm I ran into "one more problem" and got frustrated. Rather than try to force things, I just decided to not take anything but small model rockets to the launch. Even then, the weather forecast called for pretty stiff winds and I'd heard that there were several cub scout packs due to attend. Not conducive to improving my mood.

What the heck, I went anyway. The winds were brisk, but not insurmountable, the hordes of cub scouts didn't materialize (or they were the smallest horde on the planet), and I had a good time.

Two other rocket-bloggers were there. Dick Stafford flew his usual assortment of unusual rockets, including his legendary "hat of death", his too-new-to-be-legendary-yet "Yamikazi" and a couple of models made completely out of folded paper. Rich (of Vertical Force Rocketry) was there with his family. Hopefully he'll make it out to the launches a little more often this year. It was good to see them again.

There were several high-power flights made, and towards the end of the afternoon a wedding was taking place up the hill at the Summer House. We all got a chuckle after one particularly roaring flight, when we could hear the wedding guests do a collective "holy shit!" Someone imagined that the Bride's mother was probably having a conniption over our activities, and I impersonated the Groom at the alter: "Whoa... huh? Oh yeah, I do."

I remembered the sunblock, stayed hydrated, flew streamers for recovery because of the wind (and still had long walks to recover most everything), and worked a couple of hours as safety check-in dude. As usual, it was big fun.

Here's what I flew:

1. Vampyre - A10-3T - Original design ringfin. Perfection.

2. YJ-113 - A10-3T - This little beastie is a downscale of the Estes Yellow Jacket, and it's about 7" tall. My Level 2 certification rocket is an upscaled version of this same rocket, about 7' tall. Like all Yellow Jackets, there is a tendency to severely over-engine the rocket and this time was no exception. I didn't have a 1/2A engine so I went for the full A and almost lost it due to extreme speed and altitude. I love this design.

3. Groove Tube - C6-5 - Centuri classic tubefin design from the 70's. Big motor, recovered on twin streamers because of the wind, but still had a long walk because of the drift. With all those tube fins, she gets her nose into the wind and acts like a glider.

4. Zen Doggie - B6-4 x3 - I haven't flown this rocket a whole lot over the years because it is sometimes marginally stable. The fins are rather small, and there is a gap between the front fins and rear fins. It looks cool, but I suspect that the gap is causing the air to be too turbulent over the rear fins to be useful, which makes the rocket squirrelly and not too safe. Couple that to the fact that it's a three-engine cluster, and there's a whole lot of weight at the back end, which is exactly where you don't want it. I've added nose-weight and tweaked the design some, and today I decided to try something different. I put a layer of masking tape between the two sets of fins, effectively turning them into one fin surface, thinking that it might solve the stability problem. Oh yeah. The flight was perfectly straight, so I'll be making this a permanent mod. Rich had a great idea about using clear plastic packing tape, so the fins still look split, but behave like a single fin.

5. Sparrow - A10-3T - This was my original "born-again rocketeer" rocket, and I fly it once a year just for old time's sake. It's a tiny Estes kit and it's battered and worn, but she made yet another flight without falling to pieces.

6. DTR-1 - B6-6 - Great flight from this original six-fin design.

7. Dynamic Carrier - B4-4 - I've done this cool Custom Rockets kit up as an alien space ship. She looks great and flies great too. Perfect recovery.

8. Saturn III - A10-3T x4 - four-engined original design, it looks Saturn-ish. All four motors lit, and at ejection it sounds like popcorn as all the ejection charges go off within a split second of each other. Great flight, long drift again.

That was it for me. No damaged rockets, no lost rockets, no sunburn. Good day.

Posted by: Ted at 07:30 AM | Comments (34) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

June 08, 2007

Movie Review: Ginger Snaps

Vampires prey upon humans because they need our blood as sustenance. Mummies animate to fulfill dire prophesies on those who ignore the warning curse. Even Godzilla and his cousins leave mankind alone until someone or something causes them to open yet another can of whoopass on poor Tokyo.

Werewolves kill for pleasure. That right there is what makes werewolves so frightening.

Ginger Snaps (2000) is a werewolf movie with an original spin on the mythos. As I tend to do, I'm going to review this movie as entertainment and not dig too deeply into symbolism and philosophical meaning and such. If you're into that sort of thing, then the reviews are out there that will tell you about how the lycanthropic conversion is a metaphore for puberty and all that crap. I'm a simple man enjoying simple pleasures.

The initial scenes highlight that the story takes place in a sort of planned suburban community, and you get the feeling that they're a little isolated and in a sense even a little inbred. I grew up in a similar environment, where the folks living there tend to know everyone else. You all see the same people, you all do the same things and the kids all play together at the same games. The entire community focuses inward on itself.

Within the community, Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald are outsiders. Closer than most sisters (not *that* inbred, you perv), they're dark, morbid, and share a mocking attitude towards the "average" world around them. In other words, they're teenagers.

The people of the community are scared, in a low-key, background kind of way because something is killing pets in a horrific manner. Dogs and cats are being ripped to shreds and the news reports air constant reminders to be wary of the ferocious wild animal that is stalking the neighborhoods at night.

Late one night Ginger and Brigitte are out, hatching some half-thought-through revenge on a hated classmate. They come across yet another pet torn limb from limb and decide to get home. Just as they start back, Ginger is attacked by... something. Something big and fast and strong. Brigitte doesn't hesitate to chase the thing as it carries Ginger into a wooded area.

They manage to escape and the beast gives chase. Ginger has been badly mauled, but the girls make it to a road with the creature in close pursuit. Just after they cross the beast jumps out after them and gets splattered by a passing van.

By the time they get home, they know something is wrong because Ginger is already starting to heal. Over the next few days and weeks, it becomes apparent that Ginger is changing, and only reluctantly do the girls admit that she may be becoming a werewolf.

Through all of this, Brigitte tries to stay supportive of her sister, even as Ginger starts to become popular with the guys because she turns into an agressive slut. Both girls are confused at the changes happening in their lives, and their conflicting emotions with and towards each other drive the plot.

In the end, that's what this story is about. Two sisters, devoted to each other and how they adjust and react as they each deal with changes in their lives.

Don't get me wrong here, because this movie has buckets of blood being splashed around. There's enough gore here for the slasher fans, and it's a special treat to see the special effects being done the old fashioned way, with makeup and actors instead of computer generated stuff. The werewolf is pretty freakin' amazing to see too.

The acting is excellent all around, especially the sisters. We've all known teens like their characters, even if they weren't our friends, and the ladies nailed their performances.

This was another small-budget horror movie filmed in Canada. After I enjoyed Decoys and now Ginger Snaps, I think I'll be watching for other similiar releases in the future.

To paraphrase one of the characters in the movie, the first werewolf was splashed like roadkill by a car, so you can throw Hollywood crap like silver bullets out the window. Don't expect the "classic" werewolf mythos, but do expect to be pleasantly surprised by this excellent movie.

Posted by: Ted at 10:21 PM | Comments (937) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

I Write Like A Girl

Over at Joe Horror, I entered a contest to write a scene from a Nazisploitation movie (a sub-genre of "women in prison" movies, the best known being Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS). My entry was in short story format, and can be seen here. Warning: These movies are sick and chock full o' nudity, rape, torture, humiliation and so on. Needless to say, so is my story, although it is mostly implied. It begins:

Weakened and exhausted, Simone hangs from the ceiling, no longer caring that the heavy iron of the manicles [sic] cuts into the flesh around her wrists.

Anyway... I won!

I loved this comment after my story was posted:

I bet number four was written by a woman. It's well written, and seems to have a genuine feminine touch.

Hear that ladies? I'm in touch with my sensitive side!

Posted by: Ted at 05:04 AM | Comments (58) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

June 07, 2007

Screw iPhone

I want *Surface*!!!!!!!

Thanks to QandO for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 06:51 PM | Comments (64) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

Shamelessly Stolen

From Grant, over at the McCovey Chronicles:

All-Time Team of Great-Named Giants Draftees:

C - Giuseppe Chiaramonte
1B - Turtle Zaun
2B - Van Fixico
3B - James Snoots
SS - Monico Corral
OF - Sylvester Love
OF - Reuben Smiley
OF - Wynter Phoenix

P - Boof Bonser
P - Kavonski Chatman
P - Everhard Griffiths
P - Harlan Highfill
P - Skip Pitlock


Honorable Mention, Uncomfortable Question Regarding Parents' Ethnicity Division: Juan Eichelberger


Everhard?

Posted by: Ted at 05:00 AM | Comments (31) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

June 05, 2007

Oh Dear

By now, you've probably seen the official logo for the 2012 Olympics in London.

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Personally, I kinda like it, although as a logo it's got just about everything wrong. Take another look at it, and tell me if you don't agree that it looks like Lisa Simpson giving a blowjob.

Follow that link for the hilarious animated version, and thanks to QandO for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 06:28 PM | Comments (726) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)

Warning: Fun Ahead

Here's what I did using this Warning Label Generator:

warninglabel.jpg

It's going into the banner rotation.

Thanks to Brad Isaac for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 05:28 AM | Comments (798) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)