October 25 – 31, 2011

Strange daze. What happened to the week. Was I abducted by aliens?

Halloween, Pender Island, BC
Night Visitors

In daylight things looked better.

Pumpkins, Pender Island, BC
By Daylight

But I started staying up later and later into the dark night and seeing less daylight.

leaves in twilight Pender Island

Fecund nature persists in filling any void.

leaves and window, Pender Island
Window on the World

The horror, the horror…

bloody backdoor on Suzuki
Blood Seeps

Visions in the darkness, gathering around the glow in the dark…


Shaun of the Dead movie poster
Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead (2004) gets air play in our home and is now a Halloween classic. What better way to start the week?

(Well…  I think we may have watched the 1958 Hammer Dracula with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing earlier. Sue fell asleep. Despite having its moments it is more a historical curiosity than a great vampire flick. Followed quickly by Shaun…)

Actors Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and directer/writer  Edgar Wright, take zombies to town, somehow always ending up back at the local. A story of friendship, family and redeemed love facing the undead, who appear from the hazy edges of the roommates’ messy lives. The belly laughs and shocks alternate as friends and family are bit, eaten stabbed, shot; becoming either dead or undead. Using their unique talents (improvising a ‘zombie walk’ so as to blend in with the crowd) they persevere until their final haven, the pub, disintegrates around them. Zombies are not so cuddly cute when there are hundreds of them slathering after your innards. Rating: 9/10

Also highly recommended and by much the same people: Hot Fuzz (2007) which may, or may not be, even funnier than Shaun. I watch both these films again and again.They’re well written, clever and over-the-top funny. Kinda same, same but different is Paul with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, directed by Greg Mottola. A wee alien turns a couple of traveling comics geeks lives upside-down and sideways in this surreal road trip. Once again some over-the-top performances and lots of fun (long as you don’t mind ‘filthy’ language).

Repulsion movie poster

Repulsion (1965) was found on Netflix while casting about for thrillers. Once again Sue lost interest, and pretty much summed it up as “One of those films about psychotic frigid killer bitches”. Repulsion, directed by Roman Polanski, looks very ’65 and suffers the fate of innovation. Many of its once cutting edge moves have now been so used that the film looks like a Film Studies feature. Rating: 6.5/10

Attack the Block movie poster
Attack the Block

Luckily we found Attack the Block (2011) which comes from the same English quirkiness as Shaun etc. and the Misfits TV series. Loud, action packed with empathetic characters in a hysterical melding of cultural mythologies. I loved the simple form of the aliens. They reminded me of Stephen King’s Langoliers: dark, vaguely glimpsed, loud and  ferocious carnivores; with simple needs. A small band of youth and some acquaintances come between the aliens and their desire. Plenty of action packed fun and witty dialogue. Rating: 8/10

Bram Stokers Dracula movie poster
Bram Stokers Dracula

Another Halloween classic: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). So baroque, so lush, such bad accents… (could Coppola not have found some attractive young English actors for those roles?). I love the colours, textures and the raw flicker around the edges. Dracula in all his vamping glory, consumed by love. This film’s like a big, juicy steak… with some disconcertingly green bits. Rating: 9/10

Let Me In movie poster
Let Me In

On Halloween, after the sun had set, I watched Let Me In (2010). I’ve read a couple of blurbs about the film and understand it’s the American remake of Let the Right One In (which I’m going to watch tonight, review next week). The price was right though and I decided I’d watch the  re-make first. Especially as the remake also gets good reviews. I enjoyed the twists on vampire legend. Having such young protagonists lent the film a pre-teen, puppy-love innocence. But that’s also the age where bullies  and peeping-toms lurk.. With a nod to Rear Window we meet our young man who’s age of anxiety is about to take a sudden turn. Grisly violence doesn’t  come between the friends. Instead, it may even be a transforming and lovable quality. Rating: 8.5/10 (I may have to leave some room at the top for the original)

Planet Terror movie poster
Planet Terror

And to top the week off: Planet Terror (2007). The UK spawned Shaun of the Dead  and America dropped Planet Terror. I favour Rodriquez’s half of the Grindhouse duo over Tarantino’s Death Proof, though it’s a close call. It’s a roller coaster ride as the quality of life goes from bad to nasty in a remote Texas community. Zombies feature, but may be the least of the troubles. An uncredited Bruce Willis’s Lt. Muldoon wreaks military mayhem whilst attempting to control the bio meltdown. Rose McGowan’s Cherry Darling utilizes some of her many talents to help her along. All action, all technicolor, all grindhouse glory, and the best Texas barbeque. Rating: 9.5/10 (could it be a 10? maybe…)


Impossible Dead book cover
The Impossible Dead

Yes! The newest Ian Rankin novel! And I could I slowly savour it? No! I read it until I finished a few days later.  I traced the environs and ‘hoods of Edinburgh centered Scotland following a web of almost-forgotten history with new Rankin protagonist Malcolm Fox, of the Complaints department. Similar to a certain other detective, whose presence is felt but not mentioned by name, Fox follows his instincts, trying to fathom the connections and how high they might go. I don’t think Fox has reached the top of his game yet but he’s getting there quickly. Rating: 8/10

Burma Chronicles book cover
Burma Chronicles

In preparation for our travels to SEAsia this coming year I got a copy of Guy DeLisle’s Burma Chronicles, an illustrated journal of his year in Burma, along with his NGO-employed wife and their young son. DeLisle’s simple, yet precise, style and storytelling drew me into his wryly observed life. Burma: the good, the bad and the really ugly. Bits I recognized from my own experiences in SEAsia. Some bits I’m glad I’ve missed so far and am warned off. Best of all the book reminded me of those special moments when wandering into someone else’s life and looking around in amazement. Rating: 9/10

From Outta the Sketchbook

Kelly Irving sketchbook pages
Halloween Sketches

The thing in the top centre is an attempt at anthropomorphic building design. I’m rather fond of the little critter to its right though.

And More…

I added, and upgraded, photos in the USA section of my Travel Photography section.

Plugging away and working on my multi-tasking capabilities :–!

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