Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

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Birthdays, bad movies, history, and name-dropping

I ought to be in bed, but right now I feel like doing a recap of the last few days.

First of all, happy birthday to all y'all who had or are having birthdays anytime within the last/next week (or so). That's like, 60% of my Friends list. If I didn't/don't make it to your celebration, it doesn't mean that I don't love you. The fact that I'm not that fond of you means I don't love you. On a different note, I wonder if there's a correlation between so many March birthdays and the fact that June is such a popular month for marriages.

Anyway, one of the celebrations I did manage to attend was evil_jim's on Wednesday. crabmoon had planned it as a surprise and had gotten as many people as she could to show up at Pedro's for dinner at 7:00. laviorli, pennylane_81 and Craig, her fiancée phil_bond, henrietta1, matt_william, koriandrkitten, the_tick27, and The Other Tom were all in attendance. It was a good time and Jim apparently enjoyed his gifts, although none of them was a harmonica. The Balloon Animal Guy (his real name) came over and made us an alien and I fought and lost to the Three-Pound Burrito, which was my intention when I ordered it.

After the restaurant we went back to Jim's house which Matt and Sarah had decorated. Mary unveiled her Wizard of Speed and Time cake (pictured on her journal) and we played Truth or Dare Jenga. I bade a fondue to Sarah who is going to Connecticut for Helicopter Flyin' School, and I ducked out early because I had to work in the morning. I was in bed by a semi-reasonable time but completely failed to fall asleep before 2:30. Oh, I also received two robots from Jim, which just goes to prove how awesome he is.

On Thursday night I got together with Gemma and we watched Stuart Gordon's Dagon. Apparently there are plenty of people who loved Dagon, but it didn't do much for me. For those who care (that's probably just you, Jim), Dagon is Gordon's screen adaptation of The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft. I have a love/hate relationship with Stuart Gordon's works, the most famous of which is Re-Animator. He's clearly a hardcore Lovecraft fan, but he's either trying to make HPL more accessible or simply doesn't understand how and why HPL's fiction works. Usually his films retain the sort of tiny-but-important plot details that other good book-to-screen adaptations would throw out, but discard HPL's creeping, psychological horror for T&A and visceral gore. It's not a good trade-off. Dagon has the same problem, except that it culminates in a brand new ritual sacrifice scene that could have been part of one of the more disposable episodes of The X-Files. Still, if all you're looking for is fight scenes with fish-people, this may be the movie for you. Maybe.

Tonight fuzzyinthehead and I went out to Gino's and I had a ridiculously good eggplant parmigiana. Afterward she decided that this would be the night she'd finally sit me through Jacob's Ladder. I imagine that like most people, you've already seen it six times. I hadn't, though, and it's a really good film. I feel totally unprepared to discuss it here without seeing it through again.

Liz had planned to accompany me to see The Toxic Avenger at the Orpheum, but she was feeling tired so I went on my own. tmbgfan1234 showed up, as did one of Liz' coworkers (confidential to Liz: Jason says "hi Liz.").

This is probably the only chance I will ever get to see The Toxic Avenger on the big screen outside of a film festival. I generally don't like Troma films (which I've said many times on this journal), but if Tromeo & Juliet is Troma's Citizen Kane (relatively speaking, of course), The Toxic Avenger is Troma's Star Wars. Half '50s-vintage teen horror schlock, half low-budget, special effects, gore extravaganza, The Toxic Avenger is about a geeky janitor who becomes a crime fighting hero after being dunked in a drum of toxic waste. More surprising than its premise is the fact that it's kind of an important film.

The Toxic Avenger came out at a time when drive-in theaters (which were the last haven of indie film distribution) were dying out thanks to the burgeoning cable TV and the video rental industries. It was one of the first movies -- certainly the most successful movie -- to bridge that gap. Thanks to the financial success of The Toxic Avenger on late-night cable TV (USA Up All Night, anybody?), Troma practically created direct-to-video marketing. Whether that's a good thing or not is debatable (did Wild Things need any sequels?), but the end result was much better distribution for small-scale productions that lack the appeal for wide theatrical release. If you've seen a good, cheaply-made, independent film recently, you have Troma to thank for it. They took a lot of gambles and they changed the freakin' industry.

Granted, there's a big difference between The Toxic Avenger and say, Primer, the latter of which is a science fiction movie for very smart people. The Toxic Avenger is mostly about beating up burglars in fast food establishments.

I should totally be the next Roger Ebert.
Tags: birthdays, crappy movies, getting free robots, pointless pontification
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