Tuesday, October 03, 2017

TINSELTOWN TESTAMENTS

GENESIS 2:18

Douay-Rheims Version: “And the Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.”

Revised Standard Version: “Then the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

New American Bible: “The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.”

Bride of Frankenstein: “Alone… bad. Friend… good. Friend… good!!!"

Friend Good

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

SHORT FEATURE: FRANK ZAPPA - CHEEPNIS

Ah, the joys of free association. While reviewing the new theatrical version of IT for Aleteia, I couldn't help but recall all those other ITs which have appeared in movies over the decades. Naturally, I had to write about them over at SCENES. That led to a discussion of It Conquered the World, which just so happened to be a favorite of fellow B-movie aficionado Frank Zappa. Knowing that, what else could I do but share this video a fan put together for the rock icon's ode to all things low budget. Ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing and listening pleasure, we present Cheepnis...


In his book You Are What You See: Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens, author Scott Nehring suggests that "we make a statement with the films we choose to see, and those films eventually express themselves in our daily lives." If that's true, what does it say about folks like me and Frank Zappa who have a deep and abiding love for cheap monster movies and the like.

Well, obviously, I can't speak for Frank and neither can he now, so his reasons will have to remain a mystery. As for myself, there is no one answer. Part of it is the simple fun, escapism, and novelty to be found in these types of films. I mean, did you watch the video? There's a clip in there featuring a giant monkey swinging a dinosaur around by the tail. That's fun, escapist, and novel all rolled into one.

There's nothing inherently evil in any of those things, although they can end up that way if not taken in moderation. Continuous novelty seeking, for instance, might indicate someone is a dopamine or adrenaline junkie, and we wouldn't want that. Rest assured, I know when it's time to stop having fun, turn the channel, and wallow in the misery of the nightly news for a while. And vice versa.

But it's more than just the entertainment aspects. Like many other religious persons, I try to filter everything through a spiritual lens. Or as the Jesuits might put it, I do my best to find God in everything. And yes, that even goes for movies with giant monkeys swinging dinosaurs around by the tail. You'd be surprised how much God can be discovered in films like that. Often buried really, really deep, sure, but still there. And surprisingly, that makes them all the more fun, escapist, and novel. As evidence, I offer ten years of this blog.

And that's enough navel gazing for one night. Let's get back to the movies shall we? See you next time.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

THE B-LIST: THE 5 WORST JOBS IN SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIES

As more than one comedian has put it, Labor Day is that time of year we get to celebrate having a job by not working all day. However, the official website of  U.S. Department of Labor would prefer we take a more somber approach to the holiday. It reminds us that Labor Day “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

In that spirit, we here at The B-Movie Catechism would like to take the time to celebrate those laborers who take care of the most thankless tasks imaginable, those who have the worst jobs in Sci-Fi/Horror movies.

sssss

1. LAB ASSISTANT

It doesn’t matter whether you’re working for Victor Frankenstein, Herbert West, or any other of the countless mad scientists out there, the job of lab assistant in sci-fi/horror movies just plain sucks. It’s not just the usual tedious tasks like prepping experiments, recording data, and cleaning up the  equipment afterwards. It’s more all of the grave robbing, kidnapping, and dealing with a boss who daily intrudes on God’s domain that makes the job such a chore. At best, you’ll end up dead. At worst, you’ll find yourself strapped to a table and turned into some hideous human/cobra hybrid with an intense aversion to mongooses (not mongeese, we looked it up). If you can find a way to skip such an internship, we highly recommend it.

dune

2. PERSONAL CARE ASSISTANT TO BARON HARKONNEN

Vladimir Harkonnen was bad enough in Frank Herbert’s written works, what with being a pedophile/rapist who regularly drank blood straight from his servants’ hearts. So wretched was he that the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserits cursed the creep with a degenerative disease making him so fat (how fat was he?) that he has to use anti-gravity suspensors just to move his butt around. If you’ve ever watched a single episode of My 600-lb Life, then you know what that means. Somebody has to give this guy a bath every day. If it was just the weight, that might be okay. That’s just one of the challenges of caring for the morbidly obese. But in David Lynch’s movie version of Dune, Harkonnen’s corpulent condition is also accompanied by huge, festering boils all over his body. Nobody wants the job of rubbing a damp sponge all over that, especially not when there’s a better than average chance of getting buggered in the process.

smogmonster

3. TOKYO DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION WORKER

Fandom being what it is, there have been numerous online debates as to whether or not Godzilla poops. The general consensus seems to be that since the Big G ingests nothing but radiation, there would be no physical waste to worry about. Rodan, on the other hand, you just know that guy has to leave droppings everywhere. And then there’s Hedorah, the Smog Monster. He’s basically half-excrement to begin with. So, when the fighting is all done, somebody has to clean all that doody up, right? Well, a little investigation reveals that in New York, it is actually the Sanitation Department’s job to clean up anything the City’s mounted police force leaves behind. As such, it seems reasonable to expect their Japanese counterparts would to have to do the same for any beasts, large or small, roaming their streets. They probably have to use bigger shovels though.

chud

4. NYC SEWAGE TREATMENT WORKER

As the New York Times so succinctly points out, the job of Sewage Treatment Worker is tough, unpleasant, and just plain dirty. It goes without saying, however, that modern metropolises couldn’t function without the public service provided by these dedicated men and women. And it’s not just dealing with filthy working conditions and the occasional vermin that make sewer workers the unsung heroes of the Big Apple. If the movies are to be believed, they also have to put up with giant alligators, flesh-eating blobs, human-mimicking mutant cockroaches, Jason Voorhies, and C.H.U.Ds. Whatever you do, don’t forget about the C.H.U.Ds.

2017-09-03_150059

5. PRIEST

In the real world, a recent study published the University of Chicago showed that if you want to have a job where you are the happiest and most satisfied, then you need to join the clergy. One of the authors of the study noted, “The most satisfying jobs are mostly professions, especially those involving caring for, teaching, and protecting others and creative pursuits.” That pretty much describes being a priest, which got a whopping 89% satisfaction rate on the survey. It’s a little different in the movies, though. In the celluloid universe, anytime some half-ass sorcerer, self-centered Cenobite, dime-store devil worshiper, or demon de jour shows up and wants to make a name for themselves, they head straight for the nearest Catholic Church and try to take out the local pastor. You know, a priest’s schedule is packed enough as it is. Add in having to stop what they’re doing every fifteen minutes to ward off the hordes of Hell, and it just gets unbearable.

And there you have it, the worst jobs to have in Sci-Fi/Horror movies. There’s no doubt more, so be sure to drop a note in the comments letting us know what you think should be added to the list. Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

NOW SHOWING AT A BLOG NEAR YOU

Now Showing Marquee 3

I was about to complain that I’m still knee deep in the work-year from Hell, but since I’m the one who spent all that time praying for a way to keep paying my bills, I don’t think I can honestly say the bad place is to blame for my crushing work load. Ah well, at least I’ve managed to find time to squeeze in a few reviews for Aleteia, including ones for Spider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes. I also revamped one of my old articles about Horrifying Masks from the Movies for SCENES. Around here, though, pickings have been slim. Fortunately, there are some other sites out there talking about movies and religion to compensate for my lack of content.

To start with, there’s Bradford Walker’s article at SuperversiveSF in which he reflects fondly on The Last Starfighter. Sure, the movie may be a bit of old school 80s cheese chock full of video gamer wish fulfillment, but according to Mr. Walker, it’s also a praiseworthy tale about the necessity of accepting responsibility. Grig would be pleased.

Not quite as positive is Matthew Walther’s take on the HBO series, Game of Thrones. Writing for The Week, Walther puts forth the argument that the show is nothing more than “ultra-violent wizard porn” that’s ultimately bad for your mortal soul. I’ll have to take his word for it as (GASP!) I’ve actually never seen a single episode.

I also somehow missed the 2015 insect horror flick, Bite, a low budget gore fest with overtones of Cronenberg’s The Fly. However, my curiosity is raised by Thomas M. Sipos’ post at The Hollywood Investigator in which he assures me (and everyone else) that Bite is a surprisingly conservative Christian allegory on the dangers of fornication. Guess I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

Speaking of bugs, Philip Kosloski has a short piece up at Aleteia in which he ponders the role of spiders in Christian art and whether or not the hideous venom-filled things deserve their reputation as sinister creatures?

While you’re at Aleteia, you might also want to check out Matthew Becklo’s review of A Ghost Story, the new film in which Casey Affleck dies and comes back as a spirit who wanders around wearing a sheet with eyeholes in it. Apparently it’s thoughtful and touching and not at all as stupid as it sounds.

More somber sounding is John Macias’ musings on Logan at Crisis Magazine. Now that the film is out on home video, it might be a good time to take in his thoughts on the film and its themes of Technocracy and the Abolition of Man.

And finally, in honor of of the release of the aforementioned War for the Planet of the Apes, here’s a picture of some nuns feeding a monkey. Everybody likes monkeys.

20/04/1966

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

THE B-LIST: QUESTIONABLE MUSICAL MOMENTS #23 – THE APPLE

This isn’t the first time we’ve sampled The Apple here at The B-Movie Catechism, but the simple fact is that Menahem Golan’s gonzo musical/biblical allegory is a crap-filled cornucopia that never runs empty. For instance, in our review of the film we didn’t even get around to mentioning the brief sequence in which the entire movie comes to a screeching halt so that every single person on the planet can take part in a daily state sponsored exercise routine. Behold, if you dare, the national BIM Hour.

At first glance, this would appear to be some sort of government run torture program. I mean, “Hey hey hey, BIM’s on the way!” repeated ad nauseam for a straight hour. That’s worse than water boarding, right? But the citizens seem to love it, so that theory doesn’t really work. I suppose BIM Hour could be a national health care initiative, as the dialog hints at. After all, a fit populace would definitely cut down on expenditures. But no, there seems to be far too many portly participants for that to be the case. If the exercise hour is some part of BIMcare, it’s definitely one that’s not working.

That leaves ritual. As behavioral scientists Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton noted in a recent post at Scientific American

“People engage in rituals with the intention of achieving a wide set of desired outcomes, from reducing their anxiety to boosting their confidence, alleviating their grief to performing well in a competition – or even making it rain…. Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective… What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work… Despite the absence of a direct causal connection between the ritual and the desired outcome, performing rituals with the intention of producing a certain result appears to be sufficient for that result to come true.”

Okay. So, what is the desired outcome BIM is hoping for with their daily dose of mandatory jazzercise? Well, in an article for the journal, Cultural Anthropology, sociocultural anthropologist Barry J. Lyons suggests rituals play an important part in discipline and the maintenance of social order. He states, “Anthropologists have long regarded ritual as a way that societies make cultural assumptions tangible and impress social structural principles upon participants.” Given that, the ritual of BIM Hour is most likely a way of reinforcing the populace’s collective voluntary submission to BIM. It’s the Nuremberg Rallies via way of the dance floor.

Ritual doesn’t have to be so sinister, though. Discussing the Christian ritual of the mass, the Catechism explains that…

“Signs and symbols taken from the social life of man: washing and anointing, breaking bread and sharing the cup can express the sanctifying presence of God and man's gratitude toward his Creator.  The great religions of mankind witness, often impressively, to this cosmic and symbolic meaning of religious rites.”

In the case of religion, then, the purpose of ritual is not merely to establish some form of social order (although some secular leaders have almost certainly attempted to use religion for such reasons). The rituals of religion are meant to do no less than allow its participants to experience God. Of course, that only works if people actually show up and participate in said rituals. Might want to remember that come next Sunday.