Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sounds and Spirits in Asheville

Old Rodan at Paley's "Passion"

This weekend, Kimberly B. and I joined our friends Beth and Terry for an overnight outing in Asheville, NC, about four hours west of here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I had been there a couple of times before, primarily to visit the Biltmore Estate, though that was a couple of decades ago. We didn't go to Biltmore this time but spent most of the trip exploring the downtown area. It's become something of a hipster's paradise since I was there last, but it also boasts craploads of goodies for us staid, middle-aged sorts, at least for when we're not burrowing through underground tunnels and clambering up trees and precarious retaining walls.

Along the way, we stopped at a couple of decent wineries — Lake James Cellars in Glen Alpine and South Creek in Nebo, both of which made very strong showings in the dry reds department — which, for me, is what it's all about anway. Lake James currently offers only three dry reds — a Merlot, a Chambourcin, and a Barbera — but they're all superior by NC standards. South Creek's dry red list is more extensive, not to mention pricier. They specialize in Bourdeux-style (all French grapes), and their reserve wines, at least, are top-notch. To me, though, the highlight of our South Creek experience was the Poor Man BBQ food truck, from which I got a beef brisket sandwich with very spicy sauce that about sent me clear over the moon. A great combo with South Creek's wines.

In Asheville proper, we checked out several bistros, pubs, and wine bars, not a one of which put us out even a little bit. Of special note were The Cork and Keg Bar at The Weinhaus; Sante Wine Bar in the Grove Arcade, which is a beautifully restored public market building, originally opened in 1929, full of eclectic shops and bistros; and, my absolute favorite, The Marketplace, which we visited early this afternoon for things like fried doughnut holes, music, and — wait for it — a bit of wine. What nailed it for me here was the live music by Ben Hovey, trumpet/keyboard player, synthesist, and sonic scientist. He plays electronic fusion — soul, dub, jazz, hip-hop, and world music — that, honest to god, put me straight into musical heaven. Below, I'm embedding a recording of one of his 2012 shows, which runs over an hour. His work can also be streamed for free at Soundcloud. That hour-plus we spent today listening to his magic made my weekend.

Of course there was geocaching. Nothing overly challenging or time-consuming since caching wasn't the main purpose of our trip, but most of the hides I found were entertaining, particularly the virtual cache called "Paley's Passion" (GCJKC9), which took me to the sculpture you see in the photo at the top. It's a 37-foot-tall steel construct by artist Albert Paley, created in 1995. I quite liked it. And last night, Ms. B. showed me up by finding a cache called "Pizza, Pool, and the Paranormal" (GC36RJV) after I had overlooked it. The cache location is the scene of a 1906 massacre, where a man named Will Harris shot five people before being killed by police. Rumor has it that paranormal activity is common at the location, including phenomena such as footsteps, voices, and the apparition of a man dressed in black — who some claim to be the town execution from the late 1800s. We didn't experience any paranormal activity, but thanks to Brugger, I did get my smiley.

Do check yourself out some Ben Hovey and see if you're not as smitten as I.


Ms. B. and Old Rodan at The Cork and Keg Bar at The Weinhaus
Terry and Beth, happy!

A couple of fun critters we passed along our way
Some intriguing basement windows in an alleyway, illuminated from within
Looking in the window at the Double-Decker Cafe double-decker bus. The driver
clearly needs to put on some weight.
I don't even know who these people are. They wouldn't leave us alone.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ban The Green Inferno?


Attempts to ban material of objectionable nature have been happening ever since human beings discovered how satisfying it is to be outraged about anything that doesn't fit neatly into their individual, myopic world views. These days, outrage is so in vogue — thanks primarily to social media — that if you're not pissed off about something and laboring with religious fervor to rid the world of the source of the outrage, not just for yourself but for others, you're not being a good little tool (or, in the current vernacular, a social justice warrior). Don't get me wrong; clearly, social injustices exist, as do noble causes worth pursuing, and anyone who takes the initiative to set obvious wrongs to rights ought to be applauded. That's not at issue here. What's at issue is the burning need for the morality police to to dictate what you may see or experience, by way of boycotts, petitions, legislation, or any means that will further their own agendas, which may have even had roots in some honorable sentiment. But there's nothing honorable about "protecting" others by attempting to dictate terms you have no right to dictate. Such attempts are especially egregious when the subject in question is a work of fiction. The specific case I'm addressing involves Eli Roth's movie, The Green Inferno, due for release in September. There's at least one petition going to get its release canceled, which — at least at the moment — does not appear to have garnered much support.

It's here: Petition to Cancel the Launch of Eli Roth's Dehumanizing Film The Green Inferno. The accompanying article is written by an individual whose sentiments, in and of themselves, may have some validity. Working to save the Amazon rain forest and ascribe dignity to its indigenous people is an honorable — indeed, much needed — endeavor. Where things get foolish, however, is the point at which the organizers(s) go beyond communicating their own statement and attempt to stifle an artist using his medium to make his. Just because they don't like what it says.

I'm no great fan of Eli Roth. Every one of his movies that I've seen has been, for me, an abject failure. Except for a few amusing moments, I detested Cabin Fever; Hostel started out on a promising, disturbing note but devolved into ridiculousness; Hostel II went much the same way. At one time, when a friend who knew my feelings about Roth's movies asked whether I'd sell the rights to Blue Devil Island for a million bucks — on the condition that Roth was the director — I said it was doubtful. (Of course I was joking, or at least half-joking; I'd probably take a million bucks for Blue Devil Island without giving the first flip who made it.) But I've got to tell you, the premise of The Green Inferno appears intriguing enough (in a nutshell, it's about some characters who go to the Peruvian rain forest for humanitarian reasons, only to face becoming chow for the indigenous cannibals), the trailer looks fair, and I'll almost certainly want to check it out. Who knows — Roth may have finally hit on all cylinders. Maybe.

But that's irrelevant. The Green Inferno is fiction. It's a story clearly not based in reality. Now the movie may feature stereotyped, dehumanized characters, and it may be quite vile. Or it may be an insightful commentary about stereotyped, dehumanized characters. (Given Roth's typical displays of depth, I'm doubting the latter). But I would like to go see the movie and make up my own mind about it. Roth himself had this to say, and I respect it: "I want to make a story about kids who don’t really know what they’re getting into. They get in way over their heads... and then the irony is, on their way home, their plane crashes, and the very people they saved think that they’re invaders, and just dart them and eat them. And make them the food supply of the village."

Entertainment Weekly featured a somewhat overwrought article in response to the call to boycott, but it features a very salient line: "...the public in general often can’t differentiate the nuances between commentary on a stereotype and just perpetuating the stereotype." Just because the story is about some nasty cannibals in the Peruvian rain forest, it hardly insinuates that the population of the Peruvian rain forest consists entirely of cannibals. That's a wrong-headed assumption, just as wrong as the assumption on the part of certain reviewers that I am anti-semitic because, in my story, "Orchestra," a deranged killer targets Jewish people.

That whole Entertainment Weekly article is here, and worth a read: The Green Inferno Boycott.

Me, I plan to watch The Green Inferno. I half-suspect it will follow along the lines of his previous films. But I'm willing to give it a try to experience it for what it is, not what some misguided boneheads tell me what it is. If you want to see a movie such as this go away, I'll tell you the most effective means to reach me: write a solid, well-reasoned review of the movie, pointing out exactly where and why it goes wrong. I take intellectually honest reviews seriously, and because of this, I've kept my hard-earned money in my pocket on countless occasions when I feel that a movie, book, program, or what have you is not suited to my interest. But tell me, sight unseen on your part, that I don't have the right to watch the product of another creator's vision — however either of us might appraise its validity — and I'll tell you to fuck off, thank you very much.
A perfectly representative sample of the inhabitants of the Peruvian rain forest.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Of Conventions and Culverts

Dammit, Jim, that's my girlfriend!

Con-Gregate is done, geocaches were conquered, the shower is a mess, and I'm off my rocker. For me, between the conventioning and the caching, it was a whirlwind weekend, devoid of much downtime. I participated in several panels and workshops, all of which were well attended, well run, and punctual — something one can't always say, particularly with these smaller, local conventions. Many of the con organizers and staff are longtime veterans of StellarCon and thus know how to run a tight ship, which is a welcome fact for those of us who, as guests, have suffered through conventions that define the term "disorder."

Ms. B. had perhaps too good a time, as you may deduce from the photo above.
The men's room at Thai Herb, now open
seven days a week. My relief is palpable.

During my off time at the con, I made my way around High Point, picking up a few of the remaining caches I had yet to claim in the area. Most were of the quick and easy variety, so today, after stopping for a satisfying lunch at Thai Herb restaurant (at which, I was relieved to learn, the men's room is now open seven days a week — see the photo at right if you doubt it), I went after a particular hide that, for now, shall remain nameless, but which has been on my radar for some time. It's one placed by my friend Scott "Diefenbaker" Hager, and if one were looking for a fair terrain challenge, this one would qualify. In fact, this Diefenbaker hide is evil enough to make me think that, just maybe, Scott ought not be my friend anymore. Because Scott is evil. He is an evil man. This is an evil hide.

The first stage took me into subterranean darkness, but it at least it was possible to remain upright — never mind the fact a bad step could have resulted in mud up to my knees. (Fortunately, because I knew I might be venturing into challenging territory, I came dressed for the occasion.) The first stage proved simple enough, mainly because it stood out in my flashlight beam. Oh, could that be because a bird had built a nest on top of the container? Why, yes it could. Thankfully, at least for the bird, the nest was long-abandoned (the cache has not been found in quite a while). Now, while this stage was a little beyond the ordinary, the real fun was yet to begin. Because the cache's terrain rating at geocaching.com indicated it offered only a moderate challenge, I failed to anticipate the steps required to claim the final stage.

Think human pipe cleaner.

Now, while rating cache difficulty is admittedly subjective, if I were the cache owner, I might bump the terrain rating up from 2.5 stars to perhaps 3.5 (out of a maximum of five). However, since the cache has been out there for a few years, with a good many finds, perhaps we can just conclude that I am a weenie when it comes to terrain rating. Indeed, feel free to call me Mr. Weenie; I shan't mind.

To Scott's credit, he was kind enough to offer me some guidance as I made my way forth, and from looking at past online logs, I think it's safe to say that those of us whose higher brain functions range from marginal to impaired would be hard-pressed to find this cache without a bit of foreknowledge. However, at the end of the day, I got my signature on this cache's log, and I personally know any number of geocachers who couldn't or wouldn't do this thing, no matter how much help they had. So take that from Mr. Weenie!

A few days ago, I undertook a meticulous, much-needed scrubbing of my bathroom. Sad to say, my shower following this cache undid all that. (Go back to that line about human pipe cleaners.)

In all seriousness, Mr. Diefenbaker is a man among men, and I admire his wits, his physical dexterity, and his thoracis. On geocaching.com, you can award favorite points to caches you find particularly impressive, and this one has been so awarded.

I'm wondering whether a second shower might actually be in order.
L: Stage 1 container, complete with bird nest; R: the view facing forward at stage 2
The view facing backward at stage 2, just for perspective
My "Scott is not my friend anymore!" face. P.S. That tunnel in the background is just a walkway.
No geocaches in there.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

ConGregate II in High Point


This weekend, I'll be a guest at the second annual Con-Gregate convention in High Point, NC, at the High Point Radisson. The first Con-Gregate, last year, was in Winston-Salem, but this year it has moved to the long-time home of StellarCon, which will be very familiar to most local con-goers.

I'll be participating in several events, including a couple of panels, a writing workshop, a reading, and a book signing. Here's the schedule so you can determine exactly when you need to avoid the con at all costs:

Friday, July 10
8:30 PM: Reading (excerpt from Blue Devil Island)
9:00 PM: The Evolving Role of Authors (panel)

Saturday, July 11
10:00 AM: Allen Wold's Writing Workshop
3:00 PM: Book Signing

Sunday, July 12
10:00 AM: Allen Wold's Writing Workshop Recap
11:00 AM: Writing the Other (panel)

The Greensboro News & Record ran a fair little article on the con, which you can find here: "Sci-fi fans to convene in High Point at Con-Gregate." And for more information, you can visit the con website here: Con-Gregate 2: Scoundrels and Rogues

Also a bit of happy news today — Cemetery Dance Publications is putting out a new Best of Shivers anthology that will feature my short story, "LZ-116: Das Fliegende Schloss," which originally appeared in Shivers IV in 2006. Is nice.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Great Wall of Death and Others

"Have you seen the cache? Where's that confounded cache?"

Why, yes, I could become accustomed to spending whatever retirement might lie in my future geocaching the days away, as do numerous retirees of my acquaintance (he said with a little dash of envy). Lord have mercy, it's so nice to have a day off work that's not a national holiday, as such things are pretty rare for me. (I have a fair bank of vacation days to take each year, so no complaints on that count, but that's a whole 'nuther story.) Because I do have some time off available, I opted to take an extra day after the Fourth of July holiday, and things worked out such that I was able to get in some quality geocaching with my friend Bridget (a.k.a. Suntigres) over in Chapel Hill and Apex, NC, a few miles east of here. "What kind of quality?" you ask. The not-quite-run-of-the-mill-climb-the-fucking-Great-Wall-of-Death kind of quality, that's what kind — as you might deduce from the upper left-hand action shot that Bridget took of the old dude.

Damn, that was fun.
Ah, there it is!

I spent my 50th birthday — oh, a good many years ago — climbing a big old retaining wall not unlike the one you see here, and in the years since, I've enjoyed going after any number of "extreme" caches. Many of them look more dangerous than they really are, though every now and then you do run into one that might kill you if you're not careful. Still, I tell you, there's a lot to be said for getting the blood pumping and facing some little fear or another so you can get your signature on the cache's log sheet. For me, geocaching has been the best means of getting over a couple of phobias, most specifically, arachnophobia (see "Face Your Phobia," May 18, 2015") and acrophobia. It isn't necessarily that the fear itself is diminished, only its power to influence choices. There are healthy fears and then there are irrational fears — and, I suppose, those that lie somewhere in the middle. I think it's that midrange where caching is the most psychologically beneficial.

Then we have caches that are just plain cool, such as a trio of hides we found today, which require the finder to go to the coordinates listed on the cache page at geocaching.com, find a QR code somewhere in the environment, scan it, and then seek the final cache container based on the information the code inputs to your smart phone. There were three of these on our route today, hidden by master "Nittany Dave" Coffman. Our favorite was one where the QR code downloads a video to your phone, and you have to find the cache container by following the route that the video reveals.
Bridget and some weird-looking fluff

One of the other joys of geocaching is finding great restaurants. I mean, after a hard day on the caching trail, one works up an appetite bigger than Berwyn, IL, and today was no exception. Our find today was MacGregor Draft House in Apex. It's an unassuming little compartment in a shopping area off U.S. 64, with pretty much zero in the ambiance department, but they do have a bison and brisket burger on the menu. Read that again. They have a bison and brisket burger. How does one go into a place with a bison and brisket burger and not order one? So I did, I got one. I shall wax poetic here and tell you that this was one motherfucking good burger. To cancel out the effect of all that dead animal, I got as my side item a cucumber salad, and it was so-so — plenty of cukes and vegetables in there, but they were swimming in vinegar and thus too tangy for my palate. But they have a bison and brisket burger, which they prepare to order, and I would be hard-pressed to recall when I've had anything better in the realm of burgers. Recently, Hop's Burger Bar, here in Greensboro, was voted the best burger place in North Carolina. Well, I've been to Hop's, and to be honest, compared to MacGregor's bison and brisket burger, their burgers are kind of like clumps of old cat hair that came out from under the couch. So while I can't speak about the other items on MacGregor's menu, I can say that the bison and brisket burger is one motherfucking good burger. You should probably get one.

All righty then. Thank you for your time.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Das Boot — The Director's Cut


In the early 1980s, I saw the original cut of Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot (a.k.a. The Boat) at one of Chicago's best theaters, on a huge screen with fantastic sound. I was blown away by the spectacular visuals, the intense drama, the music, the authentic sense of being aboard a German U-boat at the height of World War II. The original theatrical release ran 150 minutes, which was longer than the average movie-goer's attention span, but the running time didn't hinder its financial and critical success. The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, and won numerous other awards worldwide. In 1988, the BBC released a 300-minute-long mini series using previously unseen footage that featured considerably more character development than the action-centered theatrical release. Then, in 1997, Wolfgang Petersen produced the definitive director's cut, with additional scenes, enhanced video quality, and new sound effects, with a running time of 208 minutes. I had never seen this version, which is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, so this weekend I availed myself of the opportunity.

It was rather different than the movie I remembered, which, after its original theatrical release, I had only seen once, probably in the late 1980s. The director's cut plays as deeper, darker, more claustrophobic, more unsettling than the shorter original cut. I would go so far as to say it is one of most intense movies I have ever experienced, so much so that I don't think I want to sit through it again. Even knowing how the drama would ultimately end, I found some of the moments of suspense so nerve-wracking as to be almost physically exhausting — far more so than during my viewings of the original cut.

The movie is an adaptation of the novel, Das Boot, written by Lothar-Günther Buchheim, a German war correspondent, who, in 1941, joined the crew of U-96 for a single tour to chronicle the submarine's mission, primarily for purposes of propaganda. The story is fictional but only just, with much of it based on actual events. In the movie, actor Herbert Grönemeyer plays the war correspondent, here named Leutnant Werner. He appears naive but devoted to his duty, and he gets on well with the U-boat's battle-hardened captain (Jürgen Prochnow). Initially, the mission is endless tedium, the boat missing numerous opportunities for combat due its remote position, which the captain feels to be the result of ignoramuses running the German naval command. The mission is further thwarted by a violent storm that forces the boat to remain submerged for extended periods.

Finally, however, the U-boat makes contact with a flotilla of allied freighters, and it successfully torpedoes several of the ships. The captain gives one of the damaged vessels time for its crew to be evacuated before sending it to the bottom. However, as the ship sinks, he and his crew find — to their shock and horror — that the crew had not been evacuated. Forced by his orders to take no prisoners, the captain, with obvious emotional distress, turns the U-boat away from the scene, leaving the survivors to their fates in the ocean. But now, the fleet's escort destroyers pursue the boat and damage it with depth charges. The hardy crew manages to repair the ship so it can make its way to the neutral but Axis-friendly port of Vigo, in Spain. Here, the captain hopes the crew can disembark and return home in time for Christmas, but to his dismay, he receives new orders to take the U-boat to La Spezia, Italy, via the heavily defended Strait of Gibraltar.

Knowing he faces an impossible challenge, the captain nevertheless takes the U-boat through Gibraltar. However, before it can make its way clear, it is attacked, first by aircraft and then by destroyers, which send the boat, critically damaged, to the bottom of the strait. With water pouring in and their oxygen running perilously low, the captain and crew appear doomed to an ignominious end beneath the sea. But using all their wits, their materials, and almost superhuman willpower, they manage to make repairs sufficient to bring the boat back to the surface. Finally, the captain is able to find a clear course back to their home port of La Rochelle, France.

However, no sooner has the U-boat arrived at the port, to great fanfare, than low-flying Allied aircraft roar in over the nearby hills and unleash a devastating bomb and rocket attack, which kills or injures many of the crew. The assault all but destroys the entire port, leaving Leutnant Werner and the wounded captain to watch in helpless sorrow as their U-boat sinks slowly beneath the surface of the water. At the very end, the captain collapses from his wounds, and Leutnant Werner stands alone amid the wreckage of what was to have been his mission's triumphant finale.
Before the mission: Leutnant Werner (Herbert Grönemeyer), the Captain (Jürgen Prochnow),
Chief Engineer (Klaus Wennemann)
Captain and crew on the conning tower, searching for enemy contacts
Allied freighter burning after being torpedoed by the U-boat
The Captain (Jürgen Prochnow) and crew listening for telltale sonar pings, indicating
that enemy destroyers have found the U-boat

Das Boot, even in its original incarnation, presents itself as essentially apolitical while portraying in most vivid fashion the horror and futility of war. With one blatant exception — a young, fiercely devoted Nazi officer (Hubertus Bengsch) — the men of the U-boat fulfill their duty because they believe in honoring the call of their homeland, regardless of whether they embrace its political ideology. By way of their sometimes less-than-guarded dialogue, possible only because of their isolated environment, the captain and his officers show more disdain for their nation's politics than one can imagine their superiors would tolerate. With its extended running time, the director's cut is more suited than the original to emphasizing the crew members' basic humanity while minimizing the political nightmare that has forced them into their untenable positions.

This does not necessarily diminish the moral bankruptcy the Nazi regime has engendered. At the beginning of the movie, the young, brash crew members clearly believe in the righteousness of their cause, and it is only when they witness the sheer horrific nature of their mission — as they watch the crew members of the ship they have torpedoed, some with their bodies aflame, leaping into the ocean — that an onslaught of remorse overcomes their innate senses of duty and honor. The captain, in particular, appears stricken — haunted — after leaving countless enemy sailors to die in the ocean, duty-bound to follow his orders that dictate he take no prisoners on board the U-boat. He simply cannot, for there is no space aboard for any souls beyond his crew.

For the movie, the U-boat set was built to be as realistic as possible, and the camerawork conveys a sense of claustrophobic confinement unmatched in any other film I've seen. During the destroyer attacks, the tension becomes palpable, the repeated booming of depth charges a cruel assault on the senses. In the penultimate act, with the U-boat lying at the bottom of the Strait of Gibraltar, damaged and taking on water, the crew beyond any realistic chance of salvation, the pervasive sense of futility becomes overwhelming, yet — despite the fact that from the American point of view these men are the enemy — it would be difficult not to hold out hope for their survival. There was, for me, a rush of pure relief when the crewmen escape their watery prison; yet there is no final relief, for only destruction waits for the boat and crew at their last safe haven.

It's an irony that hurts. It assures you that this is the true face of war; that whatever ideologies drive us as human beings, our strengths, our weaknesses, our basic natures aren't very different. Not in any meaningful sense.

Das Boot has been hailed as one of the greatest of all German films, and one of the best, if not the best, films about submarines ever made. The director's cut affirms the validity of such sentiments.

In 1983, it was actually Klaus Doldinger's driving theme from the soundtrack album, which a friend had played for me, that alerted me to the movie's existence. As is often the case, the album recording was a bit different than the actual movie score, with the addition of percussion and rhythmic sonar pings, but I quite love this version, and I've embedded the YouTube video of it below. (Some of you may also remember Doldinger's fabulous score to The Never-Ending Story.)

Enjoy.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Beware...the Jaws That Bite, the Claws That Catch


Have you ever had a run-in with a honey locust tree? Lord knows, these arboreal beasts are the work of Satan. So lush and green, so innocuous-looking, rather resembling the mild-mannered crabapple tree. Now and again, though, I find a geocache stashed in a honey locust, clearly placed there by some cacher in a misanthropic mood. Until you get up close to one of these cruel and devious monsters, you probably won't realize that they are bristling with two-inch-long, very pointy thorns that don't just lounge around in passive self-defense mode; they reach out, grab your ass, and stab you repeatedly until blood is gushing from your wounds like so many little geysers. I found a cache — which, for the benefit of future cachers, I shall not identify here — in such a host this morning. The cache was not named "Jabberwocky," but from here on, that is the name by which it shall be known to me. That's it there, in the above-left photo; you can see it peeking out from behind a branch. However, you might not immediately notice that the container is ringed by a crown of thorns. In my zeal to make the find, neither did I until it was too late. I got my signature on that log, all right, but there were utterances.

A few years back, my friend Bridget (a.k.a. Suntigres) and I found a geocache in a honey locust tree. It was a fun one. My online cache log read as follows: "When I reached to grab the cache, I realized what kind of tree I was facing. I might have spoken a dirty word or two." Bridget's log read thus: "When I heard Mark repeatedly crying for his mother, I knew he had found the cache."

There's just meanness in this world.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
—Lewis Carroll
It appears so pretty, green, and harmless — until you take a closer look.
Yep. They'll bite you.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

None But the Brave


Most of the movies I review here are of the horrific persuasion, but I'm breaking tradition because I've recently been on a western and war movie binge — mostly stuff from the 1960s. None But the Brave is a 1965 American-Japanese co-production directed by and starring Frank Sinatra, and featuring a few recognizable names in both the American and Japanese casts. Sinatra himself plays a supporting role as a booze-swilling medic, with Clint Walker (The Dirty Dozen, Cheyenne, Killdozer, Scream of the Wolf, et. al.), Tommy Sands (Babes in Toyland, The Longest Day, Ensign Pulver, et. al.), and Tatsuya Mihashi (The Bad Sleep Well, Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Human Vapor, et. al.) taking the lead roles. The film does have a clear connection with my favorite monster movies in that the Japanese part of the production comes courtesy of Toho Studios, featuring special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya and starring several Toho "regulars," including Mihashi himself; Kenji Sahara, veteran of numerous Godzilla and other daikaiju films; and Susumu Kurobe, best known for his portrayal of Hayata in the original Ultraman series. A young John ("Johnny") Williams provides the musical score.

The movie tells the parallel stories of two platoons, one Japanese Imperial Army and the other US Marine, both stranded on the same remote island in the Solomons, the former simply left behind as the Japanese military retreats farther and farther north, the latter the survivors of a US Navy R4D transport shot down by a Japanese Zero. The two ranking American officers, Captain Dennis Bourke (Walker) and Lieutenant Blair (Sands) initially clash over command of the unit, with the more seasoned Bourke advising a strong defense and the use of guerrilla tactics and Blair advocating a full-on frontal assault against the enemy, which Bourke claims will end in their own defeat. Eventually, Bourke's toughness and no-nonsense approach earn him full command. The two enemy forces engage each other, each inflicting a few casualties on the other. During a reconnaissance mission, the Marines discover that the Japanese are building a boat in order to escape the island. The Marines attempt to capture it, but rather than have it fall into their enemy's hands, the Japanese destroy it.

During the fighting, a Japanese soldier named Hirano (Homare Suguro) suffers a leg wound that turns gangrenous. Japanese commander Kuroki (Mihashi) meets with Bourke and offers a truce between them if the Americans will send their medic, Maloney (Sinatra), to perform surgery. Bourke agrees to the terms, and Maloney — in reality, only a pharmacist's mate — is forced to amputate Hirano's leg in order to save his life. While the Americans and Japanese maintain their uneasy truce, which is to last as long as the war continues to pass them by, the monsoon season begins, and the two adversaries discover they must work together and build a dam to prevent the spring that supplies their fresh water from being submerged beneath the rising ocean waters.

The endeavor is successful, but the Americans have managed to repair their radio transmitter and contact their HQ, which sends a destroyer to rescue them. With the war now returning to their little island, Bourke offers to accept the Japanese's honorable surrender, but Kuroki refuses, stating that he and his men would rather die than become prisoners of war. And as the Americans prepare to evacuate the island, Kuroki's men attack and kill many of the Marines, though, in the end, it is they who are, to the last man, wiped out.

In the 2000s, director Clint Eastwood received critical acclaim for his war films, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, which told the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the American and Japanese points of view respectively. To some extent, those movies mirror the themes from None But the Brave, which portrays individuals on both sides as sympathetic, exhibiting both dignity and weakness, their focus on personal honor and duty. Sinatra's movie articulates a distinct anti-war sentiment, which comes off as both heavy-handed and occasionally cheesy, though there's no question of its sincerity. The character of Kuroki narrates the movie — by way of personal journal entries — portraying himself as a soldier by duty but a noble romantic at heart. As his American counterpart, Bourke is a man haunted by having lost the love of his life in a Japanese attack just before proposing marriage to her. He proves himself a capable leader and fierce fighter, but as he gets to know Kuroki, a long-repressed compassion for his fellow man begins to surface.

At the climax, as the Americans are preparing to evacuate and the Japanese refuse their terms for surrender, Lt. Blair tells Kuroki, "We wouldn’t attack you, Lieutenant." Kuroki replies, "I would! The truce is ended. I belong to the Imperial Japanese Army. Until my country advises otherwise, I remain at war." These lines seal the fates of both sides, and the deaths of both the Japanese and the American soldiers — men who had worked together for their mutual survival — hit pretty hard, despite the rather static staging of the battle scenes. Heavy-handed though it may be, it's an effective, moving statement that these men's sense of duty — their nationalism — supersedes their basic humanity.

Sinatra may not be the world's finest film director, and a certain amateurishness to some degree undermines the story's solemnity, but the movie is colorful, with fair pacing and more than competent acting, especially from the Japanese cast members. The special effects by master Tsuburaya often shine, exhibiting the distinctive and appealing visual style of the best of his tokusatsu films. The aerial dogfight early in the film is very clearly done with models, but these are beautiful models, the flying scenes realistic enough to be visually exciting. The raging monsoon, which floods the island and finishes off the Marines' R4D transport, brings to mind the brilliant storm footage at the beginning of Mothra vs. Godzilla (a.k.a. Godzilla vs. the Thing). Unfortunately, John Williams's score — like most of his early film work — comes off as nondescript, ultimately forgettable. It is fortunate that over the course of his scoring career he matured with style.

I admit to having more than a soft spot for None But the Brave, for purely nostalgic reasons. Back in the summer of 1970, the movie aired on television on a Friday night — a most memorable Friday night, a night that I spent over at my friend David Hare's house. It was the night before the Saturday that we went to see the daikaiju double-feature War of the Gargantuas and Monster Zero, and, in my lifetime, rarely has there been an event more indelible in my mind. A World War II film featuring Toho regulars and special effects by Tsuburaya made for the perfect appetizer for the upcoming main course.

None But the Brave may be far from a great film, but it's a strong film, with good performances, some fine visuals, and a moving theme.

"Nobody ever wins."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Other Gods


If you're one of those unfortunate (or perhaps very fortunate) souls who have never made the acquaintance of Other Gods, then permit me to introduce you.

Other Gods is my biggest and — in my thoroughly objective, non-biased, reasonably informed, and ultimately irrelevant opinion — probably best collection of short fiction. It contains sixteen of my horror tales written between 1986 and 2008, there or about, some linked by common characters and settings, most dealing with dark, deadly, unknown forces — hence the "Other Gods" of the title. Dark Regions published the collection in 2008, with beautiful cover art by M. Wayne Miller, whose work graces the covers of several of my books (not to mention a number of issues of Deathrealm back in the day).

I wanted highlight a particular story here, as people sometimes ask me what I consider my scariest story. For me, that's a difficult determination to make, but based on feedback from readers over the years, I'm inclined to say that story is "Silhouette," which was originally published in Cemetery Dance #24 (Summer 1996). “Silhouette” draws on some old, old personal fears, going back to when I was a kid and dreamed of a faceless, stick-like creature that came bouncing up our basement stairs to pursue me. Also included in the imagery is the silhouette of the title, based on a rather disturbing visual I spied in an old brownstone apartment window when I visited Chicago in the late 1970s. Another scene is drawn from one of the only true night horrors I ever had, which occurred early in my college years and kept me awake for an entire night.

The event that actually brought the story into being, however, was something of an academic exercise. In the early 1990s, my friend and fellow scrivener William R. Trotter gave me a tape of some creepy music, which included “Hidden Voices” by minimalist composer Ingram Marshall. I found it among the eeriest stuff I had ever heard. Danielle d’Attilio, who helped me edit Deathrealm, and I decided to sit down and play the music in absolute darkness, then write about whatever came to mind as we listened. Her story was actually called “Hidden Voices.” For me, “Silhouette” was the result. And from the many comments I've received from readers who were unnerved by the story, I'd have to say it rates at the top of my "scariest story" list.

Other Gods includes "Silhouette" and fifteen other creepy little critter tales. The book is available in trade paperback from Dark Regions — for $9.95, marked down from $19.95. There's never been a better time to check it out. Give it a look:



"I finished Other Gods feeling as if I had been processed through the kaleidoscopic imagination of a born storyteller. Other Gods is a superb example of what this sort of long-term collection is good for: It plainly highlights the author's long-running thematic obsessions and shows him circling back to revisit and reshape the concepts, tropes, and emotions that inspire him."
—Matt Cardin, Dead Reckonings #4

Sunday, June 14, 2015

All Alone in Goblintown


It's been a somewhat slower year for geocaching than others since I took it up in 2008, mainly because I've claimed most of the caches within reasonable proximity and have to travel farther and farther afield to find appreciable concentrations of hides. For a while now, I've been slowly but steadily creeping up on find number 8,000, and for that milestone, I've been hoping to go after something a little out of the ordinary. I finally settled on a cache called "All Alone in Goblintown" (GC1EAWF) at Philpott Lake, near my old hometown of Martinsville, VA. It's out on an island a good couple of miles from the nearest marinas, and it's been sitting out there unfound for the past six years. Since I do not own a boat, I'm reliant on others for water transportation, but happily, a few members of the redoubtable Team Old Fart are aficionados of paddle caches and have kayaks to spare. This weekend looked good for making the attempt, so I got together with Diefenbaker (a.k.a. Scott) and Rtmlee (a.k.a. Robbin a.k.a. Yoda Rob) to paddle out after this lonely, lonely cache.

There was no telling whether the cache might still be out there after all this time, and, if so, what condition we might find it in. All part of the challenge, of course, and most of the fun of geocaching is the journey. And this one proved quite the journey: a seven-plus mile round trip, counting a detour to go after a couple of other, considerably less lonely caches. Outbound, it wasn't too hot and we had a constant breeze, which made for a pleasant morning of it. Once we landed at Goblintown, we made our way to ground zero, and there we found the cache, quite readily and in remarkably good condition. (That's the container you see in the photo above.) We all scribbled our monikers on the log, snapped a few photos, and took a break to chow on some beef jerky and re-hydrate ourselves. Then it was back on the water to paddle over to Turkey Island for a couple of caches there. Now the wind stopped and the sun became oppressively hot — thank ye gods for sunscreen. But for us, mission accomplished.

Once back at Goosepoint marina, we hit the road and, never one to rest on our laurels, Diefenbaker and I stopped to find a few more on our way back to Greensboro. Best part of the trip back — dinner at The Celtic Fringe in Reidsville, which is one of my favorite dining spots anywhere. And lucky for me, while I was gone, a number of new caches have been placed around Greensboro, so I'll at least have a few more in the area to hunt.

Next stop: working on a new short story for an upcoming anthology. Never a dull moment.
Old Rodan on the way to "All Alone in Goblintown"
Rtmlee, a.k.a. Robbin, a.k.a. Yoda Rob
Old man getting a workout
Old man taking a much-needed breather
It's not too far now.
Mission accomplished. Checking out the contents of the cache.
Our route

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Deer Damage

One deer: dead (R.I.P., deer). One Mazda 3: a bit cracked up.

Helluva scare for Ms. B. late last night — or rather, in the wee hours this morning. Kimberly and I wanted to hit the Eden Drive-In this weekend, and as I've been in Martinsville helping look after Mum, we decided just to meet in Eden. Poltergeist and Mad Max: Fury Road were showing, which looked like a fun enough double bill. The former movie — hardly unexpectedly — was in dire need of a writer, a director, some actors... you know, movie stuff and all, and Mad Max was pretty decent, much on par with The Road Warrior. The burgers at the Eden Drive-In are to die for, by the way. (I know, I know; under the circumstances, that might not be the best use of hyperbole, but there it is.) Afterward, we departed in our respective vehicles, but it was only a few minutes later that I received a call from an understandably rattled Kimberly. Something — she knew not what — had slammed into her car and shattered the windshield. As I hurried back to meet her, some distance shy of where she was pulled off the road, I encountered a good-size dead deer: clearly, the cause of the upset. By the time I reached her, only a couple of minutes later, a pair of officers were already on the scene.

Now we got to take a good look at her vehicle, and the damage was far more extensive than it initially appeared. Shattered windshield. Broken rear-view mirror. Dented side panel. And crunched rear door. Thankfully, apart from her nerves, Kimberly was fine. The car is going to need some serious medical attention, but I reckon that's better than one of us needing it. Almost ironically, on our way to the theater, we had seen a deer bounding across the highway at top speed and remarked on it — at almost exactly the same location of her accident. Not out on a country road, mind you, but on the main highway through Eden.

As an aside, it was very refreshing, after seeing so much negative about the police lately, that the law enforcement officers who responded — the local sheriff and a deputy — were prompt, sympathetic, cordial as can be, and quick to provide an official report in case it's needed for Kimberly's insurance. My hat's off to those folks.

On my drive back to Martinsville, which did involve some lonely back roads, deer were everywhere, and no less than three darted out in front of my car. All of this is a stern reminder how fast the unexpected can happen, and how severe the damage can be from a single deer strike. It could have been much worse, too. The critters are out there, you know, and they might just have your number. Beware!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Forgotten Door and Others


I've been geocaching in Danville, VA, countless times; in fact, I've cached out the town more times than I can remember, only to have a wealth of new caches pop up, bringing me back again and again. Whereas I once took Danville to be a rather drab, uninviting place, I've taken quite a shine to it— all thanks to caching, which has introduced me to countless locations I would never have otherwise experienced.

Like all too many southwestern and south central Virginia towns, the industries that were Danville's lifeblood for at least a century — textiles, tobacco, and railroads — in the 1980s and 90s, packed up and left, thanks in large part to NAFTA. Though it hasn't completely bounced back from its hardest times, based on everything I've seen over the past few years, the city is well on its way to becoming a thriving center of commerce again. To me personally, above and beyond all things, Danville has an appealing, multidimensional character. There are several great parks with lots of hiking and biking trails; the beautiful Riverwalk along the Dan River, which extends from Anglers Park, east of town, into the heart of the city; a sizable, picturesque old warehouse district that is in the process of being redeveloped, with cobblestone streets, scenic river views, shops, bistros, offices, and historic sites; and — only minutes outside the city limits — countless miles of beautiful countryside that embody Piedmont Virginia's classic rural charm. Danville does have quite a rich history. It was, briefly, the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. If you listen to The Band's original recording of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (not Joan Baez's inexplicably reworded version), you'll hear a reference to General Stoneman's cavalry destroying the rail line that was the main supply line between Danville and General Robert E. Lee's forces in Petersburg. You may also have heard the song "The Wreck of the Old 97," about a hellish train wreck that happened in Danville in 1903. (There is also a geocache commemorating this event.)
There's someone at the door....

Today, I had to head to Martinsville to offer my mom some physical assistance, and I did so by way of Danville, where several new caches awaited me. I'm happy to report that today's haul pretty much exemplified what caching is all about. There was a challenging tree climb; a hike in pouring rain through some mighty rugged woodland terrain — which I ended up making more rugged than it should have been, thanks to my GPS getting ornery and leading me all over the hills and hollers before settling on a stable ground zero; and a little trek through the old warehouse district, where I found a cache called "Forgotten Door" (GC5PKJ2) because, well...see the photos for yourself. It's pretty much an old, forgotten door in a secluded, all-but-unseen alcove in an section of warehouses along the riverfront. I don't know whether this particular building is fated for total refurbishing or what, but I have a feeling no one ought to mess with it. From the noises I heard on the other side of the door, I started looking for a sign reading "Abandon all hope, ye who enter," but I couldn't find one. I'm guessing it must be around there somewhere.

To end my all-too-brief run through Danville today, I stopped at Tokyo Grill for lunch, where I've often had some pretty decent sushi. Today's was absolutely awesome and though the place was jam-packed for lunch, the service was impeccable. Then it was on to Martinsville. I will say this — there are a number of highly skilled, enthusiastic geocachers in Danville who have done bang-up jobs on their wares. I hope there's plenty more to come from them.

Bless you.
Do you see the cache? I wish I could have had a photo taken of me up in this tree. I would look pretty small.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Lebo Coven — Now an Audio Book


The good folks at Crossroad Press, who have previously released my novels Balak, The Nightmare Frontier, and The Monarchs as audio books, have now released my 2004 novel, The Lebo Coven, as an audio book as well. Read by Chris Andrew Ciulla, The Lebo Coven is the story of two brothers who have chosen very different paths in life but are drawn together — with traumatic results — in the shadow of dark supernatural force. There's murder, mayhem, romance, witchcraft, Satanic rituals, cattle mutilations, and beer.


"...Rainey gives his horrors an original cosmic twist...A few twists and a well-executed climax raise The Lebo Coven above more routine horror fare."
Publishers Weekly

Here's a little more detailed information:

"After a ten-year absence, Barry Riggs returns to his hometown of Aiken Mill, Virginia, in search of his brother, Matt, who has mysteriously disappeared. Not only is the younger Riggs missing, but his house has been ransacked and branded with the strange word Lebo — painted in blood on the master bedroom wall. Faced with a local sheriff whose efforts to solve the crime are anything but devoted, Barry sets out on his own to discover the truth. He meets a number of locals he had known in his youth, including a young woman named Jennifer Brand, whom he had once treated with contempt because she suffered from a repulsive, crippling affliction. After some awkward moments, the two become friends, and together they attempt to unravel the mystery of Matt’s disappearance. Certain locals suggest that the name Lebo holds ominous significance, but no one will so much as whisper its meaning. Barry eventually encounters a mysterious character who goes by the name of Ren — a reputed worshiper of Satan. As Barry and Jennifer unravel the clues, they learn that all is far from what it appears — and that dark, inhuman forces truly are at work."

Here is the Audible site link, from which you can download the audio file: The Lebo Coven by Stephen Mark Rainey at Audible.com

You can order the ebook from Crossroad Press at Amazon.com: The Lebo Coven by Stephen Mark Rainey

Saturday, May 30, 2015

PI PSA


I do a lot of geocaching in the woods — I hid a new cache on one of Greensboro watershed trails just this morning — and especially at this time of year, I run into lots and lots of poison ivy. It's North Carolina's de facto state plant, as it grows more profusely here than anywhere else I've ever been. Certainly, in this part of the state, you can't step into a wooded area without being surrounded by it, and the fact I am deathly allergic to the stuff does me no favors. Years ago, I had such a bad outbreak of it — when I say I had a rash everywhere, I mean everywhere — the only relief I could get from the itching was to scrape my skin with a razor blade to break up all little blisters and then bathe in alcohol. Why, yes, as a matter of fact, it was agony, but compared to the endless, maddening, driving-me-to-the-brink-of-insanity itching, it was a little slice of heaven. The outbreak was so bad that I eventually had to see a doctor, who had me take steroids and regularly apply some kind of ointment, which did, in fact, dry up the poison ivy; the ointment was so potent, however, it also dried up any unaffected skin until it withered and flaked off.

Since then, I have taken desperate measures to avoid a repeat of such an affliction. Abandoning or postponing geocaching is not an option, so prevention and treatment have been very high on my agenda. I've read and heard all kinds of anecdotes and recommendations; tried quite a few; and, happily, found an effective, very inexpensive solution that I will pass onto you here. Consider it a little public service announcement.

Rather than spend bunches of money on Tecnu and other poison-plant-specific products — which, by the way, for me have been essentially ineffective — I carry around a little bottle of Purell hand sanitizer with me. It's good for general hand-cleaning as well as breaking up urushiol oil, which is the nasty substance that causes the rash. While geocaching, I find myself frequently wading through vast gardens of poison ivy, climbing trees laced with its vines (mind those big fuzzy ones, by the way, as touching them will also result in some serious grief), and occasionally grabbing bunches of the plants while making my way through some challenging woodland corridor. If I can apply a generous amount of hand sanitizer to any exposed skin within about an hour of contact, the urushiol oil won't bond and cause the rash. Just as a matter of course, I always scrub up with some sanitizer after a deep woods outing. Then, once I get back home, I scrub even more thoroughly with dishwashing liquid, which is also good for breaking up oil on the skin, and cold water (not warm, since it will open your pores and make your skin more likely to absorb any urushiol). Plain soap and water is better than nothing, but it isn't anywhere near as effective as an alcohol-based product or what is essentially a degreaser.

For about the past five years, I have conscientiously used the hand sanitizer and dishwashing liquid treatment, and I've been all but poison-ivy free ever since. The only times I have suffered an outbreak at all, and these very minor, are when I've failed to scrub up after handling the clothes or shoes I was wearing while out in the woods. The urushiol oil will stick to your apparel and remain potent for some time. It pays to be careful on that count.

Everyone reacts differently to poison ivy exposure, but even people who believe themselves immune can occasionally receive a nasty shock. I've passed this technique along to numerous folks of my acquaintance, with highly positive results. Now, forearmed with this information, you may feel free to get out there and hunt my new cache when it's published — it's a Twin Peaks-inspired hide called "Let's Rock" and requires that you overcome a little challenge to secure the coordinates before you hit the woods. I can assure you, you'll want to do some serious scrubbing up after you've visited this one.

And beware of Bob, by the way.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Exists


I've gotta tell you, I'm a sucker for movies about Bigfoot and other cryptozoological beasties. During my teenage years, it was a rich time for all things Bigfoot, with movies such as... wait for it... Bigfoot, with John Carradine (surely one of the world's worst movies, yet such an all-fired hoot I can't help but love it); The Legend of Boggy Creek; The Creature From Black Lake; Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot; et. al. Exists hearkens back to just that kind of movie — both hokey and creepy as all get-out. It's directed by Eduardo Sánchez, who brought us The Blair Witch Project and others some years back. Not unlike Blair Witch, this one is largely seen through the eyes of various cameras — Go-Pros, cell phones, and such — though it isn't found-footage per se. The camera's eye views are not as erratic and shaky as Blair Witch or Cloverfield (the latter of which I refuse to watch again because the shaky-cam footage isn't just overdone, it's stupidly overdone). Exists, fortunately, is largely shown through a more traditional camera lens and features an honest-to-god score, composed by Nima Fakhrara.

The story is classic drive-in movie fare: five young adults — brothers Matt (Samuel Davis) and Brian (Chris Osborn), Dora (Dora Madison Burge), Todd (Roger Edwards), and Elizabeth (Denise Williamson) — take a weekend trip to a remote cabin, located somewhere in the wilds of eastern Texas. On the way, they run over some critter, which they take to be a deer until they discover some odd hair stuck in the radiator grill. It isn't long before something begins making scary squalling sounds out in the woods and then comes prowling around the cabin. Next thing you know, said something has smashed the youngsters' car, leaving them stranded and all but helpless. Matt decides to try fleeing on a bicycle so he can bring help. Alas, he never reaches his destination. And the remaining four young people become subject to a relentless assault by the thing — or things — out in the woods. There is much destruction, screaming, hollering, and even some blood. These young 'uns at last realize that their chances of getting out of the woods alive are mighty slim.

The wooded setting and cabin couldn't be more conducive to frightening things happening; happily, it's all filmed on location, without any dopey-looking sets or crappy CGI. There's an atmosphere of both serenity and strangeness about the woods that couldn't be more genuine. (As a matter of fact, the woods closely resemble those around what I call the Bigfoot Trail, just a few miles up the road, where I've done quite a bit of geocaching over the years.) Until just about the end of the film, the critters are shown only in silhouette or in quick cuts, and one scene, in which the monster is seen as a black shadow racing through the woods alongside a trail in pursuit of Matt on his bicycle, is actually pretty hair-raising. When, at the end, we have the big reveal, it's not disappointing. It's pretty damned good. I'd go so far as to say Exists offers a few of the best-staged Bigfoot scenes, well, maybe ever.

What Exists also offers... unfortunately... is a great big nasty-tasting, nausea-inducing, brick shit house full of stupid. Oh, my lord. The characters, to the last, are obnoxious, ever-swearing, hyper-screaming, pot-smoking, stereotypical boneheads who can't formulate a rational thought even when they're not panicking, and there's more than enough panic going on here for about four movies. Yes, it may bloody well be true that in highly stressful, likely deadly situations, many people will, in fact, lose their shit. But I think that segment of the population has been more than adequately represented in horror movies over the years, and I am weary beyond weary of them. (And even most of them would have a fair idea of when to actually get rid of the Go-Pro.) Why not make a movie with the same scenario but with characters who, between them, have more than a single functioning brain cell? Or at least make them colorful. Ever see Creature From Black Lake, with Jack Elam, Dub Taylor, Dennis Fimple, and John David Carson? Talk about enjoyable characters. Dopey, maybe, but what hoots! In The Legend of Boggy Creek, we have plenty of not-necessarily-bright characters, but the audience never looks down on them. They're kind of charming in their way. Hey, Travis Crabtree even had his own ballad written about him. It doesn't get much more charming than that. I tell you, the world is dumbed down aplenty as it is, and Exists, despite so many wonderful aspects that work, is insulting to an even marginally thinking audience. Mr. Sánchez, is it really, really true that your film won't make a buck unless your characters are idiots?

I believe you're wrong. Really, really fucking wrong.

That doesn't even begin to cover some of the contrivances, the hackneyed plot devices, and the almost note-by-note reproducing of scenes from The Blair Witch Project. Even these would be somewhat more palatable if it were possible to give a hoot about the people on the menu.

Four and a half Damned Rodan's Dirty Firetinis for the atmosphere and the Bigfoot scenes. One Damned Rodan's Dirty Firetini for the overall movie.

Shame on you, Eduardo. Shame on you for taunting me with all kinds of goodies and then throwing a rancid pie in my face.
A rare moment of non-panic, and not a bad one at that. (For this, you need to watch the deleted scenes.)
Nincompooper! Is upside down!
You'd think that with this beast in hand, Todd might not panic quite so badly. You would be wrong.
"If you say 'Where's my Go-Pro?' one more time, I'm gonna drown you."
That ain't Harry out there.