1 Dec
2017

December Events!

...Or, the many and varied ways in which Kards Unlimited will observe, celebrate, and participate in jolliness, merriment, and all Holiday tom-foolery!

December is hands-down our favorite month here at KU.  We love the holidays, guys.  A lot.  Almost as much as we love our dogs!  ...Ok, not really that much.  That was a little crazy.  But seriously, we love them so much.  Take a look below the cut to find out all the crazy-awesome things we'll be celebrating this month!

Read more >>

By    No Comments
1 Nov
2017

The Events of November 2017!

Happy November, friends!  November is one of my very favorite months of the year!  It has Thanksgiving, which is a totally top drawer holiday, and it's usually when the weather starts getting well and truly chilly, which I always look forward to.  Sweater weather is the best weather!  November is also a month of all kinds of crazy awesome stuff at Kards Unlimited!  Find out more after the break!

Read more >>

By    No Comments
30 Oct
2017

The Early Works of Peter Jackson

 

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post contains images of blood and gore.

Also: SPOILERS!!!

When I was 15 or 16 years old,  I loved hardcore punk music, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and gory horror films.  I was a young punk kid.  I wore black.  Tons of black.

Dip Shit

Yeesh.  Anyways.  My top 3 favorite gore movies are Evil Dead 2, Cannibal: The Musical, and Braindead (released in North America under the title Dead Alive).  I've recently revisited all of these movies and it's fair to say that they've stood the test of time.

Evil Dead 2 is kind of a remake of The Evil Dead, with the second one presenting a much looser, goofier vibe than the original.  Cannibal: The Musical uses the gore genre as a springboard for witty humor and sight gags akin to the movie AirplaneBraindead, however, tops all of them. Using slapstick humor, plenty of gross-out scenes, impressive practical effects and buckets upon buckets of blood, this is the bloodiest, goriest movie I've ever seen.  I can't imagine another movie will ever top it with regard to the amount of fake blood splashed all around the set and actors, especially at the end.

This makes me happy

The Evil Dead trilogy was the brain child of Sam Raimi, who would go on to direct the original Spiderman trilogy and Cannibal: The Musical is the first feature length film of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Braindead, however, is actually the third feature-length film of legendary director Peter Jackson (or Petey Jax, as he likes to be called), whose birthday is October 31!  His first two movie are in the same vein as Braindead.  His first film, Bad Taste, follows three members of a paramilitary troop who try to foil the plans of alien invaders intent on harvesting humans for an intergalactic fast-food franchise.  Simply typing that sentence fills me with unspeakable joy.

Gross. And awesome. Grawesome. GRAWESOME!!!!

His second film is an all-puppet feature, Meet the Feebles, that plays like a Muppets production on a bad acid trip (or perhaps a good PCP trip, if such a thing exists).  Following the exploits of a dysfunctional stage troupe, the movie explores many sordid subjects such as drug addiction, adultery, rape, murder, suicide, pornography and many more.  Too many more, to be completely honest.  Even knowing what I knew about this movie, I really wasn't ready for just how sordid the material would be.  Willfully displaying over-the-top violence with no regard for taste is one thing.  Most of us will probably never have a run-in with organ harvesting aliens.  But Meet The Feebles handles delicate subject matter the way Lennie from Of Mice and Men handles rabbits.  They bleed, they vomit, they smoke, they shoot heroin, they eat shit, and they disappoint more often than they impress.  They're The Feebles and they are available for free on YouTube.

Braindead, by comparison, is really good-natured.  A team of explorers, while on an expedition to Skull Island, capture a Sumatran Rat-Monkey.  After the leader of the group is bitten by the Rat-Monkey, he is hacked up with a machete by his team members.

Short summation of the movie: The monkey is shipped to a New Zealand zoo, it bites a woman, she turns into a zombie, and her son tries to keep the whole incident under wraps by housing the growing horde of zombies in his mansion.  The story hits a gory climax with an incredible scene involving a room full of zombies and one man with a lawnmower.

THIS is the Peter Jackson I know.  And while my friends and I were indulging in these bloody disgusting delights, Jackson was dominating the world with his adaptations of The Lord Of The Rings.  I've recently watched all three films (thanks Mel), and they are unimpeachable.  I went in with high expectations and was still blown away (Return of the King in particular is quite good.  Poor Smeagol.)  I quite enjoyed his other films, as well.  The Frighteners was fun and King Kong was surprisingly well-executed, if a little long.

Jackson was delivered from the world of red corn syrup and bad acting with his film Beautiful Creatures.  His post-splatstick (great term) films are certainly admirable, but to my mind, nothing will compare to the corny macabre brilliance of Braindead.  Maybe one day he will follow in the footsteps of Sam Raimi and make a return to that world.  After all, red food dye and corn syrup is much cheaper than chainmail.

Happy Birthday, Petey Jax!

27 Oct
2017

My Buddy, Frank

The last Friday of every October is reserved to honor one of and, in my opinion, the greatest of, Great Monsters. You know who The Greats are: Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Mummy, and The Wolfman. But who am I talking about? I'm talking, of course, about Frankenstein. Okay, okay, I KNOW, Frankenstein's monster. For this post, don't hate me, I'm going to call him Frankenstein. It's just easier that way, since Frankenstein's monster is a pain to type every time.

Look at how much emotion is in this still frame alone. Are any of the other great monsters so well-developed? No.

I really liked monster stories when I was little. The Monster at the End of the Book with loveable Grover was my favorite as a tot. Long before I should have been rebelling, I would sneak out after lights out while my parents were watching X-Files and watch from behind the couch, spooking myself with the supernatural. Now going for my MFA in Creative Writing, my very first stab at writing, in elementary school, was a picture book about a haunted house, the monsters who lived there, and how they weren't actually all that bad once you got to know them.

But what really encouraged my monster mania was the 1987 film, The Monster Squad. About a gang of young horror movie fans who learn that their town is being overrun by monsters (and of course the grownups won't believe them), they decide to take the matter into their own hands.

What the trailer doesn't really show, though, is how Frankenstein's role plays out in the film. The children befriend Frank, and, for a kids' movie, does a lot to explore just what it means to be human and what it means to be monster (it even has a subtle reference to the Holocaust, further muddling the line). The "monster" in the film resembles Boris Karloff's Frankenstein a bit more than Mary Shelley's (more on that later), and even plays on the famous scene in the 1931 film with the little girl near the river, but he is very human. The youngest member of the squad (the annoying younger sister, my favorite, since I was essentially this girl in my neighborhood) forces the older boys to see Frank in a new way. He is not scary. He is not evil. He is not a monster. He protects the children, essentially turning his back on the actual monsters that the world has grouped him with based on appearance alone.

This movie is one of the few movies that makes me cry.  Every time. Every. Time. The scene involves Frankenstein. It's sadder than what you're picturing. I'll pretend, though, that everyone lives happily ever after, and that this is the final shot of the movie:

Frankenstein is such a wonderful monster because he is so very human. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein set the bar for this way back in 1818. Shelley's monster is much more human-looking than Boris Karloff's. Tall, yes, misshapen and scarred, yes, but human. And, unlike some re-imaginings, he is intelligent. He is aware that his creator's disgust for him is wrong. That he shouldn't be judged by his appearance alone. I wrote a paper once about society's propensity toward 'othering' those whose appearances don't fit within societal norm. Shelley's Frankenstein was inextricable from my argument. Shelley makes the reader aware of just how deeply the so-called creature (as in, not human) feels, and how it's society that turns him into the actual monster he becomes. The novel has some of the most haunting lines I've ever read in literature.

He is so utterly alone he even envies the devil himself:

'Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even YOU turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred.' Chapter 15.

I mean, come on. How can you not sympathize with this guy? Interestingly enough, one of the most-oft quoted lines on the internet is not, in fact, from the book, but from the 1994 Kenneth Branagh film, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein:

But, man, is it a fine piece of writing (notice satisfy versus indulge). And that's the thing with Frankenstein, I've yet to see a reincarnation that lacks heart (ok, or at least is really fun to watch). So, if you are like me, and love all things Frankenstein, here are a few more ways to get your fix.

Books:

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelley. The beloved classic. (Book Riot did a really awesome post       of the best covers printed, if you're interested in such nerdy things. It's here.)

The Frankenstein Series, Dean Koontz. A modern re-working of the tale focusing on a mysterious tattooed man who    teams with detectives to solve crimes.

Television:

Penny Dreadful, Showtime. This three-season show features both Dr. Frankenstein and his creation as main                   characters. It is gory, graphic, and incredibly engaging. My mom and I watched this show together. If you're                  familiar with the show, you'll probably know why it should have been more awkward than it actually was.

Films:

All of the Frankenstein adaptations: Boris Karloff's 1931 film, plus 1935's Bride of Frankenstein and '39's Son of              Frankenstein. More recently we've seen the Kenneth Branagh film and 2014's I, Frankenstein.

Young Frankenstein. The classic laugh-your-patootie-off comedic reinterpretation from Mel Brooks.

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. An even older comedic movie, part of a series in which the bumbling duo run    into monsters.

The Monster Squad. Not about Frankenstein's monster, per se, but super seriously worth a watch, anyway. Seriously.

23 Oct
2017

Hats for Sale!