Photo Fun Friday: Dana Skully and Fox Mulder

I’m sure a lot of you already know that there’s a new X-Files mini-season playing right now. It’s a six-episode one-shot (so they say) that is now four episodes in. Yes, I’ve been watching it. You might have noticed that I’m a bit of a geek. And while I haven’t really geeked out a whole lot here at the lair over my two favorite FBI agents, I have mentioned them now and again. I also used them for one of my annual holiday photo manipulations.

[Loba Tangent: That might actually be one of my favorites so far…especially Scully. She looks so…right as Mrs. Claus, doesn’t she?]

So, as I’m sure you’re all wondering at this point: What do I think of the mini-season of new episodes?

Eh.

I say that with all due love and respect (to a show that I stopped watching after the sixth season and have yet to finish). Are the episodes bad? Not really. Are they great? Not really. They’re fun. And, of course, it’s great to see Scully and Mulder together again. I guess, though, that I’m growing weary of this constant nostalgia barrage from Hollywood. Just because you make something with characters that say things that will make me go “Hey, I know/remember/used to like that!” doesn’t mean that you have an automatic hit on your hands.

Of course, didn’t I just describe the whole point of The Big Bang Theory?

[Loba Tangent 2: No, seriously, didn’t I? I don’t know. I have never watched an episode of that show. After having the 10th person tell me that it was “my kind of show,” I knew I needed to stay as far away from it as possible. I’m secure that my decision was the correct one.]

Anyway, yes, I am enjoying this new season of The X-Files, if only for those purely nostalgic reasons (with some new joy thrown in here and there for good measure). I’m laughing where I’m pretty sure I should be laughing. I’m sufficiently moved by things I’m sure were engineered specifically for maximum feels. I did find the episode “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” a bit forced. I wanted a monster-of-the-week episode. I did. I just didn’t want one that was so self-aware of being a monster-of-the-week episode. Less is more, people.

And now we’re down to the final two episodes of this mini-season. I feel as though they kind of need to get back to the whole point that they seemed to have in the first episode…and then kind of wandered away from. Not that I want a whole lot of that alien mythos BS bludgeoning me over the head. That was kind of what turned me away from the show in the first place. That and giant spider legs climbing out of someone’s mouth. That was just way more NO than I felt prepared to handle. Ever.

I’m not sure how things are going to wrap up, or even if they are going to wrap up. Maybe they’ll decide they want to do another mini-season. Or another movie. (Please don’t do another movie.) However it goes from here, I will be there to see it through. I’m happy enough revisiting these old friends that this time I’ll stick around until the final curtain call. Plus, I was promised Agent Reyes at some point before the end. I want my Agent Reyes fix, thank you.

And, of course, going home to the FBI once more has re-sparked this little PhotoShop trickery in my brain. I always wanted to do something that made Mulder and Scully’s names more than just names. Over the years, I’ve seen iterations of this idea that kind of came close but not really. This new mini-season finally pushed me to make my dreams real (dream big, Loba!). I actually pre-tested these elsewhere to what I would call success. And by success, I mean people found them to be generally disturbing. Win!

So, without further ado (or curmudgeonly rambling), I give you Agents Dana Skully and Fox Mulder. You’re welcome.

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Photo Fun Friday: Wes Carpenter

First, the source of the inspiration:

Sidney: You know, if I was wrong about Cotton Weary, then…the killer’s still out there.
Tatum: Don’t go there, Sid. You’re starting to sound like some Wes Carpenter flick or something.

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Second, a beautiful quote from John Carpenter and Sandy King in response to the passing of their friend, Wes Craven:

Wes Craven was a good friend. His passing took the world of cinema and his friends by surprise, which is probably how he would have liked it. Shock was his stock and trade.

He was a craftsman and a master storyteller who amused and thrilled audiences around the world with his films. He was a gentleman who leaves his friends missing his fellowship and generosity of spirit.

And now, the point of this post:

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Photo Fun Friday: Lucille Blanchett

If you’re lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) to follow me other places online, you have already seen an iteration of this image. I’ve tweaked it little by little every day since that original posting. I think I’m finally pleased with the end result. You know me, though. I’m sure I’ll probably swing back around and replace this image a few times. Not that I’ve ever done that here with any of my other Photo Fun Friday posts.

Hmm.

Anywho. This is to mark the announcement that Cate Blanchett will be playing Lucille Ball in a biopic written by Aaron Sorkin and produced by Ball’s children.

To be honest, I’m actually more excited by the fact that Aaron Sorkin has been tapped to write the screenplay. I like Cate Blanchett, but I might be the only person on the planet who was not impressed by her attempt at Katharine Hepburn. However, I thought her portrayal of Veronica Guerin was exceptional (far more Oscar-worthy than her Hepburn performance), so she’s 1 and 1 with me for her portrayals of real people.

And now that I’ve dropped that bit of cinematic sacrilege on you all, here is my latest mistresspiece. Ha. What I did there. I see it.

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Flashback Friday: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

I thought about doing this on the original 1984 movie, but I wanted to shake things up a bit and go instead with the movie that continued to show Wes Craven as an innovator of the horror genre as well as helped lay the groundwork for the franchise that would once again place his name at the top of the horror movie game. And so it goes with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.

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Released in October 1994, New Nightmare marked Craven’s return to the franchise that he unwittingly launched 10 years earlier. Craven’s original intention was to make a one-off film. He never intended that first movie to receive sequels. In fact, the movie’s original ending was far less ambiguous than the one that producer Bob Shaye insisted be tacked on at the last minute. Just like any money-hungry producer, Shaye saw the potential of this film to spawn the one thing that producers crave: a franchise (isn’t that right, Spielberg? Could have had a great horror ending to Paranormal Activity, but, no, you had to ruin it with a franchise-friendly ending…just like you ruin most movies you have anything to do with).

Fast-forward through the first sequel, with which Craven had nothing to do and which kind of hangs in this weird homoerotic netherworld among the rest of the franchise as not quite belonging but still being kind of awesome in its own weird right, and Shaye and New Line invite Craven back to pen the third movie (they had actually wanted him back to direct as well but he was still working on Deadly Friend). However, again, Craven doesn’t want Freddy to become a series. His original script for Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors was far more disturbing, dark, and demented than what Shaye finally greenlit. Craven returned as a way to try to take back control of his creation, to take Freddy to those darker places that he always thought Freddy should inhabit. Craven’s original Fred Krueger wasn’t just a child killer; he was a molester. He was so horrific in death because he was horrific in life. Craven’s original Fred Krueger was not in any way meant to be a hero of any kind. Shaye, however, wanted the camp, the lovable child murderer who smacks you down with zingers before gutting you in a haha gotcha kind of way that makes fans love him so. Guess who finally got their way? Craven’s Freddy was shelved…until he returned once more to the franchise to reclaim his monster and ultimately save him from what he had never wanted Freddy to become.

All that being said, was it such a terrible thing that Craven’s original creation became the franchise he became? I’m sure no one whose bank accounts grew from the series ever complained. And as I mentioned in my post yesterday, I discovered Freddy Krueger through one of those haha sequels. I had no idea how gruesome Krueger originally was. Also, because I first discovered him through the campier side of the character, I do hold a special place in my heart for that iteration. But from a more pure horror perspective, I think that Craven’s original monster is, by far, superior. But what about the new Krueger that Craven unleashed in 1994? Not only was this Krueger more in line with that original depraved character, but he also looked more in line with Craven’s original visual concept. Nothing but sinews and organic claws and hideous deformity.

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I know that Craven would later state that he regretted changing Freddy Krueger’s look for New Nightmare. I actually think that it was necessary to make this change for this particular story. Remember, we see the “original” Freddy—the version portrayed oh so many times by Robert Englund and the version that die-hard fans had come to have such a gloriously Pavlovian response to—early in the film. This was “Freddy.” This was the fantasy that fans made real through their devotion to the character and the actor portraying him. It was integral to the story, therefore, to somehow differentiate this Freddy from the darker, more elemental Freddy. This Freddy did not deal in witty bon mots and scenery chewing. This Freddy sprang from the most primal, most basic, most genetically programmed vein of fear within us all.

He had to look different. He was not who any of us had known before this movie. I always felt as though this was one of the concepts that Craven was trying to convey through this film—that Freddy Krueger had become far more than even his creator ever dreamed he would become. He lurked in the shadows of his fictional self, feeding upon the fear released by those films, biding his time until the lines between worlds could blur and recede and he could finally step forward at the franchise’s end to claim his rightful place and begin anew as king of infinite space and unceasing nightmares.

For this reason, it was imperative for Craven to convince Heather Langenkamp to return. Her Nancy was the character who both gave that original Krueger life and then snatched it back (one of the main reasons I chose Nancy as a bad-ass Lady of May-hem). Without Nancy, there would have been no Krueger. His focus on her, I believe, stemmed from his understanding that she was ultimately the only one who could take away his power and his life. Not even Craven could do that, because Craven granted this gift to Nancy in the first film. It’s why Craven tells Langenkamp in the film that stopping this nightmarish Krueger pretty much depended upon her willingness to be Nancy one more time.

Sounds deliciously meta, doesn’t it? While I’m sure that this metafictional approach to what had become a watered-down slash-o-rama was neither what franchise fans were hoping for nor what the horror genre at the time was looking to embrace, it planted the seed that, 2 years later would be ripe for the picking, in part by the man who planted it in the first place.

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Again, while Craven didn’t write the script to Scream, the power of his directorial influence cannot be denied. Neither can the influence of his metafictional approach to his heretofore most famous contribution to the genre. Kevin Williamson’s own metafictional script this time blurs the lines of fantasy and reality on the viewer’s level rather than the creators’ level. He demolishes the protection granted by the fourth wall and subsequently drops us all into the path of a monster we can understand because “we” are creating him. After all, “movies don’t make psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!”

That level of self-referential awareness is part of what makes Scream work so well. We are lulled in by the familiarity of what we think we understand, only to have the floor summarily drop out from beneath us. Nothing is as how it should be in the town of Woodsboro, just as nothing was as it should have been in the Hollywood horror machine of Craven’s New Nightmare. Craven thrived upon facing the ugliest fears within ourselves and by facing them, defeating them. His was the Litany Against Fear, embraced myriad times in myriad ways by characters who helped sculpt and ultimately save us from our worst nightmares:

I will not fear.
Fear is the mind killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Flashback Friday: Watcher in the Woods

Some people can say that their first exposure to Bette Davis was through one of her classics like All About Eve or Dark Victory or Jezebel—or even that camp classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? And while I do love me some Baby Jane Hudson, I must confess that my first exposure to La Grande Dame Davis was through what might be one of the more terrifying Disney live-action movies I’ve ever seen: the 1980 “family” horror film The Watcher in the Woods.

First, check out the poster art for this one:

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Actually, this was the poster artwork that Disney did for the film’s DVD release. Still, it does quite a satisfying job of visually summarizing the creepy factor of this movie. Here, watch the trailer:

Lovely, no? So what’s it all about, Alfie? Well, it’s about a family who moves into a manor owned by Mrs. Aylwood, played by Ms. Davis. The family’s older daughter Jan looks remarkably like Mrs. Aylwood’s daughter Karen, who disappeared 30 years ago under still-unexplained but supremely creepy circumstances. Others notice the similarity as well, including a watcher. In the woods.

All together…hilarity thus ensues.

Just as Clue played a memorable role in that portion of my adolescence filed under the “Slumber Party” tab, so, too, did this movie. And while I haven’t seen the film in many a moon, it was memorable enough that it has remained embedded deep in my brain (and might still make me want to have a dog named Nerak) and made me terrified of Bette Davis for years.

[Okay, to be honest, I’m still kind of terrified of Bette Davis. That was a woman you did not want to cross.]

For being a family-oriented company, I have to say that Disney can pull out the stops when it comes to the creepy factor. Plus, there was that stretch of time when the company seemed quite obsessed with the occult. Witchery popery popery witchery. Or something like that. Whatever, the point is, Disney has always liked a bit of occult in their films and this one was no exception.

Does this movie stand up to the passage of time? Well…no, not really. It came out more than 30 years ago. Give it a break. It was top-notch at the time, though, and part of what made it so spectacular was Davis. True, she took some…questionable roles in her later years, but she was Bette Davis. Bette Davis on a bad day puts most actors on their A-game to utter shame.

If you’ve never seen The Watcher in the Woods, give it a try. It might be fun…or at least good for a laugh, depending on how jaded you are. And if you have seen it, then enjoy this clip of the alternate “alien” ending, which I’m quite glad they didn’t use for the film. It’s a bit…no.

Photo Fun Friday: Richard Simmons

I don’t know what I want to do with Flashback Friday. In some ways, I feel as though that particular part of the lair has run its course. Not sure. Still hashing it out.

Photo Fun Friday, though, is something I still enjoy doing. And I’ve been having these weird ideas for photo mash-ups that combine celebrities with similar names. Kind of like what I did with Dylan McDermot Mulroney or Steven Tyler Moore. Oh, or Tawny Kattan. I still get a kick out of that one.

Then there’s Richard Simmons. This bolt of lightning hit me during my commute this morning.

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Fabulous Photo Friday: Zoonami!

This is the post that started the downfall of the lair last September. I wanted to find a nice photo gallery plug-in, which I thought I had. Turns out, though, that because my CMS was already crashing, the plug-in just served to bring it down even more. Strangely, that same plug-in still won’t play nicely with my blog. Oh well, just had to find a new one.

These are photos from a trip I took to San Diego in January 2014. For a couple of exquisite reasons, my time at the San Diego Zoo quickly became the pinnacle of my time there. I spent practically from the moment the zoo opened until right when it closed, roaming the paths, snapping tons of photos, and just standing, mesmerized, while watching all the marvelous beasties at play.

Here, then, are my favorite photos from that day.

Photo Fun Friday: Dylan McDermot Mulroney

I’m struggling to find the time and the motivation for posting lately, but this was another one of those “inspired-by-true-events” misspoken names, a la the now infamous Tawny Kattan photo (which is still probably less traumatic than Steven Tyler Moore), that turned into an “I have to make that happen” PhotoShop moment.

Without any further explanation or any further ado, I give you…Dylan McDermot Mulroney. You are, of course, very welcome.

Dylan McDermott Mulroney

Flashback Friday: Mannequin

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As I’m sure that several of you read recently, Meshach Taylor passed away from cancer at the end of last month. I’m sure many people’s initial response was that Anthony Bouvier had gone to join Julia Sugarbaker in that great design firm in the sky. The first words out of my mouth were “Oh, no, Hollywood Montrose died.”

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To anyone who isn’t certain who exactly that might be, Hollywood was the flamboyantly gay window dresser Taylor portrayed in the 1987 cuh-lassic movie Mannequin. Of course, I use the term classic in a very subjective way, since I know that this movie: a) isn’t everyone’s particular idea of entertainment; b) is now incredibly dated in that uniquely 80s “how on earth did this ever get made?!” kind of way; and c) will always make me laugh no matter what kind of mood I’m in or how many times I’ve seen it. And I’ve seen it quite a few times, denizens. Because Kim Cattrall.

Okay, so Cattrall was the reason I wanted to watch the movie in the first place, but she’s not the only reason I ultimately fell in love with it. I know it’s ridiculous and doesn’t make sense and the adult me sometimes takes over while I’m watching it and points out all the absolutely nonsensical parts of the script that make her cringe…but the kid who fell in love with this movie all those years ago promptly regains control and just goes along for the ride, whether by motorcycle, hang-glider, or Hollywood’s fabulous car…

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Which brings me back to Hollywood. I wrote this about the character elsewhere, but here it is again:

I know Hollywood was horribly cliched and stereotyped as only an 80s-era movie could do with minority characters. But even with as campy as he was, Hollywood was still integral and important to the story. He was Falstaffian, yes, but he was also one of the heroes. That meant a lot, especially since for years movies felt compelled to portray gay characters as anything but heroic. Unnatural, yes. Evil, yes. A good character? Never. Also, Hollywood was hilarious. And that car. And those glasses. And…oh, man, I loved Hollywood.

Yes, Hollywood was stereotypically gay, but he also got to help save the day…and wield a big effing fire hose while doing it. And, in the end, he stood by the hero’s side when he finally “got the girl” in true cliched style. It might be small by today’s inclusive standards, but showing Hollywood as important enough that he remained right to the very end of the final reel, right by the hero’s side? Good times.

Beyond all that, though, this movie is just a bundle of 80s WTFery in all its big-haired, big-shoulder-padded, glitzy, goofy, shiny, “I think they’re implying that he’s having sex with a store dummy, but let’s just ignore that and listen to this Jefferson Starship song really loudly” style.

Okay, wait, fan-made video break:

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Complete it all with Andrew McCarthy in his first appearance with a non-responsive human co-star (personally, I would choose a dummy over a dead guy, dude), Estelle Getty (picture it: Sophia Petrillo, running a department store in Philadelphia) and James Spader in probably the most un-James Spader role he’s ever played and, again I say, cuh-lassic.

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