Friday, October 9, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #5: Monsters

A space probe returns to Earth, crashing into the jungles of Mexico and unfortunately bringing with it alien life.  These alien creatures take to their new environment quite well, growing and reproducing and flourishing.  Six years later, both the Mexican and the U.S. military are still fighting to contain the creatures, trying to keep them in an "Infected Zone" that basically covers the top third of Mexico, running up to the southern U.S. border.  As the movie starts, somewhere further south, "San Jose, Central America," a monster has surged out of the Infected Zone into a small city and the military orders an air strike, killing the creature but also killing a lot of civilians, including tourists in a hotel.  Photographer Calder (the wonderfully named Scoot McNairy), down there on assignment to try to get a shot of a live alien, is ordered to track down the wayward daughter of his magazine's owner (Sam, played by Whitney Able) and get her back to the U.S.  He does so, reluctantly, and they slowly get to know one another as they make their way up to the border of the Infected Zone.  There are two ways across to safety in the U.S.:  by ocean-going ferry, in relative safety for $5,000 per person, or by river boats and dirt roads across the Infected Zone itself.  I bet you can guess which route they end up taking.

Here's the thing.  Monsters is not at all scary.  I wouldn't have even included it in this series except for the fact that I am bound and determined to watch more movies this October than I did last year and by the title alone I thought it was going to be a monster-genre horror movie.  The critters are pretty well-done: all CGI, of course, but with a bit of a Cloverfield-vibe in that you basically just see bits and pieces and tentacles and not the whole critter.  Calder and Sam become characters that you get invested in, having distinct personalities and some character development.  No other character gets a name and they, of course, are monster fodder.  There is some destruction and some post-destruction bodies but at no time do you ever worry about the two main characters.  Monsters is a well-done enough creature feature (for all that you scarcely see the creatures) but a horror story it is not.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sixth Annual Scarelicious FMS October Movie Series #4: Dead Within

I had never even heard of Dead Within, only finding out about it after it got a mention in the comments on this Final Girl post.  But it was streaming on Netflix and short - a taut 91 minutes - just perfect to watch before bed.

In Dead Within, you really should settle down and watch the opening credits.  There are two couples, one with a baby and a super-cute yellow lab, out for the weekend in a rustic cabin somewhere.  There is making of dinner and drinking of wine and laughter and smiles and it all looks like the start of a really nice weekend away among friends.  Then the credits end and we cut to black.  When the movie starts back up, it is six months later.  One of the couples, Kim and Mike, are still in that cabin but they've boarded up all the windows and barricaded the doors and they skulk around almost silently, clutching machetes and shotguns, flinching away from the horrible shrieks and growls that come from outside the cabin.  They are alone in there: their baby is gone, their dog is gone, the other couple is gone.  It seems the world outside has gotten hit by some sort of rage zombie apocalypse (kind of like 28 Days/Weeks Later, I guess); the virus isn't in the water but it is very contagious.  You can tell the infected (the "trollers" Kim and Mike call them when they are heard outside the cabin) by their black eyes, black blood and general shrieking murderousness.  Mike goes out every few days, armed with the shotgun, to scavenge what he can - canned goods, batteries, soap.  But Kim stays in the cabin, and the movie stays with her, and it is there that she starts to go mad, terrified of what may be outside. She has no idea what's out there - Mike won't let her go out and there are only partial glimpses through the boarded-up windows - and she can't tell if it's scarier within the cabin or without.

I thought this was a solid little low-budget horror flick.  It's a just little gory but the main terror comes from the claustrophobia of being trapped in the tiny cabin with Kim.  We only get her point of view.  She tries so hard to be brave but the noises from outside are so scary, and sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing.  To the movie's credit, it keeps the viewers in the dark right up until the end: we never get a clear view of the world, never know if it's real or all in her head, and that keeps the unease and dread going.  My only complaint was that the sound levels were uneven: the music was loud but the dialogue was soft and I found myself having to adjust the volume a lot, and missed out on some dialogue even so.  Still, I can definitely recommend Dead Within - go watch it!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #3: V/H/S

Well now, that's more like it: another anthology but with scary bits this time!  V/H/S is a collection of indie horror shorts from different writers and directors, consisting of one bizarre framework story wrapped around five self-contained tales.  The linking conceit is that all of it is "found footage" which, if I'm honest, was pretty wearying by the end.  But when V/H/S came out, that style hadn't been done to death yet (I guess) so I'll allow it.

The framework story, "Tape 56," directed by Adam Wingard: a group of truly gross (all white, all male) thugs like to film themselves doing reprehensible things - sexual assault in parking garages, vandalism - and have the video camera (how quaint!) rolling when they do some B&Eing.  They've been hired to find some rare VHS tape.  They find a dead body in a room full of televisions and VCRs.  While most of them split up (don't do that!) to search the house, one sits down with the dead body (WTF - why would you do that?!) and watches a video.

#1, "Amateur Night," directed by David Bruckner:  This was probably my favorite as it made sense, had progression, went to a weird and bloody place and had resolution.  Three hard-partying bros, one wearing camera eyeglasses (to get the "found footage"), go out for a night on the town that ends very, very badly.  Moral of this story:  when you're out to pick up some strange, make sure it isn't TOO strange.

#2:  "Second Honeymoon," directed by Ti West:  I liked this road trip one pretty well too and found it uneasy enough to watch through my fingers for a bit.  A young couple road-trip through Arizona, doing young couple-y road-trippy things and videoing each other (to get the "found footage").  They get their fortune at a kiosk a la Big (Big is actually referenced) and things get sketchy from there.  At first I was all WHY DON'T YOU DEADBOLT/CHAIN YOUR MOTEL ROOM DOOR and then I realized that it just didn't matter.

Framework: We keep popping back in to the B&E as the thugs keep disappearing as they search for the videotape.  The dead guy also keeps disappearing - he's not always in his chair.  Yikes.

#3:  "Tuesday the 17th," directed by Glenn McQuaid:  Four unlikable and, frankly, uninteresting young folks go up to a remote rural lake.  One of them is the survivor of a massacre there from a couple years ago and she's brought her friends along as bait to try to catch the maniac.  She videos it all for proof that the maniac exists (and also to get the "found footage").  It all ends as well for these kids as you might imagine.  There are some interesting shots, when the video camera glitches to show the previous massacre's victims, but it all ends up muzzy and confusing: why does the killer only show up in the static?  And then everyone gets killed before there's really any time to care.

Framework: Dead guy is back.

#4:  "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger," directed by Joe Swanberg:  The found footage here is all via Skype chats between a girl and her boyfriend who lives some states away while going to medical school  She thinks her apartment is haunted - and keeps digging and scratching at her arm, yuck - and calls him at night so he can see, via the computer, what is going on.  I didn't see the twist coming and, quite frankly, don't know what the hell was going on.  This is one that I wish had been a little more explain-y because I liked it up until that one point when the lights came on.

Framework:  From my notes:  "Where's the dead guy? NOT SO DEAD"

#5: "10/31/98" by Radio Silence:  This one is one of the stronger offerings with very nice special effects for such a low budget piece.  Four buddies head out for a Halloween party (one guy is dressed as a teddy bear nanny-cam ... to get the "found footage").  While their driving around lost to find the party goes on a little long, once they get to the place - or what they think is the place - things start to get fun (for the viewer) and weird (for the characters).  There is no one actually at this Halloween party and tension slowly ratchets up as the guys go through all the empty rooms, looking for the party.  They finally find people in the attic but those people are absolutely not right; as it turns out, the house is haunted/possessed and, as the guys try to rescue the screaming woman they find tied in the attic, they find that things are not as they seem to be.

V/H/S is a mixed bag.  I liked the short form story-telling, I liked the indie/low budget/practical effects and I liked the scary bits which, when they worked, worked well.  In the end, however, found footage is difficult to do well and I was over it by the end.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #2: Tales from the Darkside

At some point in this "scarelicious" movie series I should probably watch a scary movie, right?  Tales from the Darkside: the Movie (1990) would not so much be classified as scary.  (Also, I realized twenty minutes into it that I'd seen it before, which also lessens the scare factor.)  Set up as an anthology, TftDtM has three story chapters, surrounded by an overarching framework story in which a little newspaper boy keeps telling stories to the witch 1,001 Nights/Scheherazade-style who has captured him to keep her from stuffing him in the oven, Hansel and Gretel-style.  (The witch appears to live in Brookline, Massachusetts, as you do.)  Timmy the paperboy is played by Matthew Lawrence (Blossom's Joey Lawrence's little brother - ah, the 1990s!) and the witch is played by Debbie Harry, who is not much of an actress.

The first story-within-the-story is "Lot 249," in which dweeby college student Edward orders a mummy (from a catalog?) to get revenge on the popular students who are tormenting him.  Dweeby Edward is Steve Buscemi; two of his tormenters, preppy Andy and Andy's sister Susan, are played by Christian Slater and Julianne Moore respectively.  This vignette is more funny than scary although there are some gooey moments when the mummy recreates his own mummification process on his victims.

The second story-within-the-story is "Cat from Hell," a pedigreed tale with the story by Stephen King and the screenplay by George Romero.  In this one, rich old man Drogan has hired a hitman to take out the titular cat who he believes is killing off his family.  The hitman thinks this is a ridiculous thing to do (although for $100,000 he's game) but things do not go well for him - or the old man, for that matter.  Again, not so scary but the hitman's demise by cat is great fun.

The third story, "Lover's Vow," is not really scary at all.  A broke and despairing artist comes across a real life gargoyle one night.  The gargoyle kills his friend (swipes his head right off his shoulders) but promises to spare the artist's life if he vows to never, ever tell anybody about their encounter.  On his way home, the shaken artist meets up with a pretty girl (Rae Dawn Chong, wearing a trenchcoat - ah, the 1990s!).  They hit it off and the artist's life immediately gets better.  His work starts selling, they get married and have kids.  But at night he keeps drawing and sculpting gargoyles, haunted by his encounter.  Finally, after ten years of success and bliss, he tells his wife about the gargoyle.  TWENTY-FIVE YEAR OLD MOVIE SPOILER-ISH:  He shouldn't have done that and it ruins everything.  Not at all scary, scarcely gory and hilarious practical gargoyle effects.

This movie is extremely dated looking - hair- and clothes-wise.  It barely registers as horror but is worthwhile as a collector's piece, I guess, especially if you are fond of anthology series.  I am, because I like horror short stories.  But in essence this is a pretty silly collection.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #1: Storage 24

And we're off!  Rather with a muffled moan, which is better than a whimper but not so good as a bang.  To start this year's October scary movie series, I began with Storage 24, a British import monster movie.  It was astoundingly mediocre and yet I persevered.

Set in London, Storage 24 takes place in a 24-hour storage facility (see what they did there?).  At some point there's a plane crash, a military cargo plane going down just around the corner from the storage place.  Vehicles are crushed by debris, the electronics start to go wonky and a dogwalker loses her dog to SOMETHING that appears to have escaped from a crushed cargo container.  That evening, due to the wonky electronics, several people get trapped inside the storage facility when the metal shutters won't retract.  The parties in question:  Charlie (whose girlfriend has recently dumped him), Mark (Charlie's buddy), Shelly (Charlie's ex), her friend Nicki, Nicki's douchey boyfriend Chris, the storage facility's clerk, the maintenance guy trying to fix the stuck shutters and a crazy guy living in the storage facility because he's hiding out from his wife.  Also stuck inside the storage facility is the SOMETHING that got out of the crashed plane.

There's really not much story here:  people stuck in a place with a monster; people trying to escape from the place with the monster; the monster picking them off one by one, especially when they get separated from the group.  It's also not that scary because the movie reveals the monster far too soon.  SPOILER: it looks like a cross between the Predator and the prawns from District 9.  I did get a little tense towards the beginning of the movie, when Nicki goes to the loo by herself and could hear something moving about in the bathroom just outside the stall door.  But after that, there was really no suspense, not many jump scares and really not that much gore.

One thing I found particularly annoying was the cinematography.  Almost the entire film was shot with very tight close-ups so that it was nearly impossible to see what was going on.  I understand that the point was to induce claustrophobia and make it seem like everything was from the point-of-view of the characters, but a little more judicious use of varied shots would have been nice.  One thing I did appreciate was that the character of Charlie was played by Noel Clarke, who also played Rose's boyfriend Mickey on fifteen episodes of Doctor Who, so that's fun.  Charlie is also the only character who experiences any growth through the course of the movie, going from whiny schlub to hero.  So that's fun too.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pre-Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious Movie Series

I believe we were at an all-time low for scary movies watched in October in 2014 2012.  I'm concerned that record will be broken in 2015 as October will bring houseguests as well as out-of-state travel for me.  I will do my best - over the last few weeks I've been trying to watch some movies and write posts ahead of time, to be automatically posted.  Surely I can do better than five!  Suggestions for watchable movies are always welcome (I like monsters!).

Here's what was watched in the past:

The Cabin in the Woods
Warm Bodies
The Ring
The Conjuring

Friday the 13th 3D
The Convent
Land of the Dead
My Bloody Valentine (remake)
Dog Soldiers
Ginger Snaps Back

American Zombie
Bubba Ho-Tep

My Soul to Take
The Devil's Backbone
Open Water
I Sell the Dead

Night of the Creeps
Friday the 13th
The Burrowers
Friday the 13th Part 2
Dead Snow
The Thing
28 Days Later

True Blood episode recap S6E9 "Life Matters"

Home stretch, y'all.  This episode, and then one more episode and then - eventually, I certainly don't want to rush into anything - one more season.  

Sookie feeds her own blood to Warlow, trying to save his life after Eric has all but drained him.  Bill's all, I need what blood he has left and we had a deal.  Sookie: Well, Eric just came and fucked our deal in the ass.  She points out that right now, Eric has more of Warlow's blood in him than Warlow does, so maybe Bill should just go deal with Eric directly.  Then she zaps him with her light, sending him out of the faerie realm.  He's annoyed but zooms off, back to the vamp camp.  At the vamp camp, meanwhile, it's full daylight and Eric, bursting at the seams with Warlow blood, surveys the armed guards.

Terry's funeral is just getting underway.  Sookie bids Warlow farewell (ah, so that's why she's all dressed up in a black dress) but before she goes, he asks her if she still intends to join with him.  She says that she always keeps her promises and leaves the faerie realm, re-materializing right in the cemetery where, amazingly, no one notices.  She takes a seat near Mrs. Fortenberry, saving a seat for Jason and a little dismayed when he never shows.  Alcide comes to pay his respects and she definitely takes notice of him.  Perhaps her promise will be tested.

Vamp camp.  By the time Bill gets there, Eric has gone underground after ripping dozens of the guards to shreds.  There are heads and severed limbs and viscera everywhere.  Downstairs, Eric finds a particularly sadistic doctor, the one who injected Nora with the Hep V, and casually rips his genitals right off his body.  GROSS.  Eric then continues to saunter through the compound, releasing the vampires in the Gen. Pop. pens, instructing them to go kill their captors.

Funeral.  After the preacher speaks - and he knew Terry pretty well, knowing that above all, Terry valued and believed in family - he invites others to speak as well.

Vamp camp.  Bill is tracking Eric but not catching him.  He finds the de-penised doctor, bleeding out on the floor.  The man begs for Bill to kill him.  Bill asks if he'd done anything to Jessica and the doctor whimpers yes, so Bill stomps on his head.  GROSS.  So far, just twelve minutes in, this episode is pretty much the bloodiest and nastiest episode I can recall in this whole series.

Funeral.  Andy speaks first, talking about how Terry disappeared into Fort Bellefleur - their childhood forest hideout - when he got back from the war.  We get a flashback and see the shell-shocked Terry, trying to make sense of his life back stateside, and Andy, trying to help his cousin, offering to find him a job.

Vamp camp.  As Bill stalks through the corridors, he sees vampires torturing humans in the same ways they had themselves been tortured.  When Eric releases some of the female vampires, he finds a woozy Jason who has been heavily fed upon.  Eric feeds Jason some of his blood, reviving him, so that Jason can guide him around the compound.  After the two of them walk by, Sarah Newlin drags herself out from under a pile of corpses where she has been hiding.  She runs quickly the other way.

Funeral.  Sam speaks, saying that Terry was one of the best employees and one of the best and most loyal friends he's ever had.  Flashback to Sam offering Terry a job as a cook, and the two of them and Andy going fishing together.  When Terry reels in a huge catfish, he tells Andy to throw it back, saying that every life matters.  And we have the episode title, woohoo!

Vamp camp.  Eric pauses long enough to catch up Pam's former therapist.  The man is ballsy enough to sneer that he will die a happy man since he "fucked [Eric's] progeny."  Eric immediately goes cold, snatching the protective contacts out of the therapist's eyes; thus glamoured, the therapist confirms that he traded sex with Pam for her release from solitary.  Eric relaxes a little and says that he's not going to kill him: he's going to bring him to Pam and let her kill him.  That scares the therapist somewhat.

Funeral.  Lafayette is next, relating a story about his first day working with Terry.  Flashback in which Terry spaces out and ruins a batch of fries.  He straightens up, though, and tells Lafayette that he wants to be good at this job and asks for him.  Lafayette looks deep in his eyes and sees something there.  He drops some of his usual snark and teaches him how to use the Fryolator.  After him, Terry's cousin Portia talks about being kids with Terry.  The preacher is ready to call Arlene up at this point, but Sookie hears Arlene's panicky thoughts: "I can't do this, I'm not ready, I'm not ready to say goodbye!"  Sookie walks up to the podium, giving Arlene a slight reprieve.  Then she comes out to the assembled people, saying that she's a telepath and, as such, she has a slightly different insight into Terry.  She - and we get a flashback - tells Arlene about the first night both Terry and Arlene worked together: Sookie read Terry's thoughts and heard that he was in love with Arlene from the first time he met her and he never stopped.  "Not too many people can say that they were loved like that.  But you can, Arlene."

Vamp camp.  Bill still hasn't found Eric but he has found a guard who is still alive.  He forces the guard to take him to the white room.  Meanwhile, Sarah Newlin is climbing up to the top of the building, breathily chanting the Lord's Prayer as she turns the wheel that opens the window into the white room.  But when she looks down into the now sun-filled room, she is horrified to find Bill there, spreadeagled with all the captive vampires sucking his blood from his arms, legs and throat.  Except for Steve Newlin, who can't seem to get in there.  Eric, Jason and the therapist show up.  While Jason guards the therapist, Eric grabs Steve Newlin, snarling that he has been around when everyone he loves has died.  He holds Steve by the throat and thrusts him into the sunlight; before Steve bursts into flame, he throws his head back, sees Sarah peeking down at him and cries, "I loved you ... Jason Stackhouse!"  After all the vampires have consumed enough Bill-blood to be protected from the sun, they start to flit around, dizzy and high from the blood.  Eric tells Pam that he saved the therapist for her.  She grins, "You take such good care of me," before baring her fangs and burying them in the therapist.

Funeral.  It's Arlene's time at the podium and she says that part of why she and Terry worked so well was because they took turns freaking out and taking care of each other.  Flashback:  the night their baby was born, Mikey wouldn't latch onto her breast and, not having slept, Arlene was beside herself.  But Terry was calm, encouraging her to take slow breaths.  She calmed down, and then the baby calmed down, and then the baby began to feed, and all was well.

Vamp camp.  Pam, Tara, Jessica, Willa, Violet, James and all the other vampires, still high, wander out of the compound, leaving the drained Bill on the floor.  He looks bad.  Topside, Jason grabs Sarah Newlin before she can get away.  And this scene is a bit tonally off, not only because we all know Jason is never going to kill Sarah, but it's just awkward.  Anyway, after a bit, Jason lets her go and she drives away, half-hysterical.

Funeral.  Big John (another of the cooks at Merlotte's) sings a lovely old gospel song, "Life Matters."  Pretty much everyone is in tears by the time he finishes.

Vamp camp.  As all the other vampires frolick in the sun, Eric systematically destroys the pallets of contaminated Tru Blood.  The rest of them think that looks like fun and join in.  And across the world (I guess Eric has made some phone calls?) vampires attack the delivery trucks and destroy the tainted Tru Blood shipments.  Back at the compound, Lilith's bloody merkin minions have come for Bill.  But Jessica comes to herself enough to rush back down to where he is lying, James at her side.  She feeds him some of her blood, still coursing with residual Warlow-ness, enough to revive him.

Funeral.  The Marines give a 21-gun salute, play "Taps" and fold the flag draped over Terry's coffin, handing it to Arlene.  She is actually at peace with this, thinking that she thinks even Terry would have appreciated the ceremony.  Sookie hears her and smiles a little, glad for her friend.

Vamp camp.  Jessica and James bring Bill up into the sunlight and all the vampires walk off in slow motion, some applauding him and thanking him for saving them.  Violet scoops up Jason, to his slight dismay.  Pam looks for Eric and finds him, standing apart from everyone.  They stare into each other's eyes.  He looks sad.  She says, "Don't you dare leave me" but he flies away as she gasps with pain.

The A.V. Club has a good recap/review of this episode in which they talk about the juxtaposition of Terry's funeral, as an example of "true human frailty done right," with Eric's bloody, over the top rampage through the humans in the vamp camp.  I see their point, I do.  And on my second viewing of it, I appreciated the funeral part more.  But the shallow part of me just can't get past the fact that we just spent half an episode on the funeral of a very minor character in a show with a superfluity of characters.  Still, it was a lovely send-off for Terry.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Saturday, September 26, 2015

True Blood episode recap S6E8 "Dead Meat"

Eric, staring at Nora's remains, snipes at Bill, asking him how long has he known this would happen, how long has he seen it foretold?  Bill's all, I don't see everything, I didn't see this.  Eric is enraged and grief-filled, angry that Bill didn't bring Warlow to save Nora, not in the mood to join in Bill's war against the humans.  Eric is half-crazed - which seems a bit out of character, frankly - and hisses that Bill is no fucking god.  I never said I was, snarls Bill, telling Eric to get out of his house.  With one last insult, Eric goes.

Alcide returns to his pack, only to discover that Ricki has picked up Nicole and her mom.  Ricki says that Alcide is a big ol' fuckin' liar and she's had enough of it.  She challenges him for alpha, two other werewolf bitches backing her up.  It's an ugly fight, three against one until Alcide starts breaking some of their bones.  Ricki taunts him, saying that he doesn't have the balls to kill her.  He snarls and growls but ultimately realizes that no, he's not going to kill her.  He doesn't belong here with this pack.  He collects the terrified Nicole and her mother and leaves.

In female Gen. Pop., Tara and Willa eye this new vampire chick Violet warily but are not strong enough to take her on over Jason.  And make no mistake, Violet has laid claim to him and plans to feed off him as much as she can and as often as she likes.  But she will not share him with anyone else.  Also, he's worried that she's going to rape him but she tells him that she won't fuck him until she wants to, and then he'll beg her for it.  (Actually, this bit happens a little later in the episode and goes on much, much longer, but that's the gist.  Has she just been introduced to give Jason something to do?  Because I really don't see the need for this extraneous character at this point, not at E8 in the season.)

Sookie goes back to the faerie realm and asks Warlow if he would be willing to help Bill free Jessica, Pam, Tara, etc.  She promises that she won't let Bill kill him.  Warlow is all, I will only do this if you agree to let me turn you into a vampire so we can be together for eternity.  Sookie's like, um, I need to think about this a little.  She goes back to the real world, muttering to herself: Eternity?  Can't we just go to the movies next week?  Heh.  Little does she know that Eric is lurking in the trees of the cemetery when she re-emerges.  When she goes, he tries to figure out where she went and how she got there.  In the faerie realm, Warlow, still tied up, can sense Eric's nearness and fangs up.

Jessica and James are all cute and cuddly post-sex.  She tells him not to drink the contaminated Tru Blood.  They start to get it on again but are interrupted by a couple of guards who take them back to their respective Gen. Pop.  Jessica is joined by Pam, who just finished having sex with her therapist.  Jessica, grossed out: How was it?  Pam: Oozy but productive.  God, I love Pam.  When they get back to Gen. Pop., the guards are handing out bottles of [contaminated] Tru Blood.  Our girls take their bottles but don't drink.  In the men's Gen. Pop., Steve Newlin takes his bottle of Tru Blood and sits next to a quiet James, introducing himself.  James, in an attack of conscience, tells the former Reverend not to drink the blood.

Back in Bon Temps, sad Sam boxes up Terry's belongings for Arlene.  When he goes outside, Alcide is there.  He has brought Nicole and her mother.  Sam rushes to his trailer to see if they're okay, pausing long enough to thank Alcide and to tell him that if he wants, there's cold beer in the bar.  The ladies are shaken but unharmed.  They will stay in his trailer for the night and plan to leave the next day.  When Sam says goodnight to Nicole, hugging her, he sniffs her.  Because that's not at all creepy.  He goes into the bar, finding Alcide there, having skipped the beer and gone straight to the bourbon.  Sam joins him.  They talk a bit, drinking steadily, and Alcide mentions that he scented that Nicole is pregnant.  Sam agrees - that's what he scented out too.  They keep drinking.

At the Stackhouse farmhouse, Sookie takes a shower, remembering the vision/apparition she saw in her bathroom of the scary Warlow face.  Not so much a guy she wants to spend eternity with.  She goes downstairs and, even though she generally doesn't drink, pours herself some shots.  Southern Comfort, I think.

In the morning at the Bellefleurs', Arlene is a little hungover and so Lafayette is making her eggs and bacon.  As everyone drinks their coffee, he tells them about the life insurance policy Terry took out.  Arlene is sad and angry about that, plus she's anxious about going to the funeral home later in the day.

Sookie goes to Bill's house, asking him how his plan will work.  Bill says that Warlow will accompany him to the vamp camp and feed some of his blood to all their vampires so that they will not burn up in the sunshine.  When Sookie asks if Bill is planning to kill Warlow afterwards, he says no, because his pet/captive scientist hasn't figured out how to synthesize his blood yet.  He presses her for her answer and Sookie gets a little testy, telling him about Warlow's ultimatum to her.  She just isn't sure she wants to become his vampire faerie bride - it's a big decision.  Bill doesn't seem to think it's that big a deal, brushing her off and asking when he should swing by to pick up Warlow since time is short.  Sookie: How about I let you know when I'm good and ready, you motherfucking monster.

Sarah Newlin arrives at the vamp camp, ready for battle in her sharp white suit.  Almost immediately, a middle manager reports to her that a bunch of vampires are refusing to drink their Tru Blood.  Sarah: Is my ex-husband one of them?  She pulls him out and makes him run on a hamster wheel, threatening him with UV light until he says that they know about the Hep V and his new friend James told him.  Satisfied, she stomps off.  Later, Steve and James are brought to the white room (the one with the skylights).  Sarah tells her minions that any other vampires who are not drinking their Tru Blood are to be brought to the room too.

Back in Bon Temps, Holly's two idiot sons stop by the Bellefleur house and convince Adalind to come out drinking with them.  At Merlotte's, Sam is trying to convince Nicole to stay (her mother doesn't think this is a good idea, noting the age difference between her 23 year old daughter and this redneck "silver fox."  Yes, she calls him "silver fox."  It's kind of awesome.)  They are interrupted by Sookie who is desperately striking out for any other options she can: she basically has come to Sam, offering herself to him and offering to give up her faerie gifts to be with him since he's always wanted her.  Sam is all, WTF, Sookie?  She has- the very worst timing: for years he's wanted her and she's never cared, always wanted the more dangerous guys - but now there's Nicole, pregnant with his child.  Sookie stares at him, wide-eyed, and runs off.

At the funeral home, Terry's sister and grandmother are overruling pretty much everything Arlene wants for Terry's service.  When his grandmother insists on a 21-gun salute, she freaks out: "Are y'all out of your fuckin' minds?  Terry was shot by a gun and you want twenty-one of them at his funeral?"  Holly takes her outside to calm down.  Andy sits there a moment: "I'm tryin' to decide if it's gonna be more uncomfortable for me in here or out there."  Heh.  He thinks on it and then joins Holly and Arlene outside.  They calm her down and they all three hug, banding together, supporting each other.

Sookie stops by her parents' graves in the cemetery.  She muses a bit, talking herself into it and finally deciding that she's going agree to Warlow's ultimatum, in part because "I'll be damned if I'll spend eternity lying by your fuckin' sides.  I'd rather walk the earth as a fuckin' corpse than spend another minute thinkin' about you."

The spokeswoman from Tru Blood arrives at the vamp camp, completely pissed off about who knows what and demanding to see the governor.  Sarah puts on her brightest, fakest smile and intercepts her.  The spokeswoman isn't having any of Sarah's bullshit, however, punching Sarah in the stomach and pushing her way into the back room where she sees her product being contaminated.  Cue cat fight!  Sarah chases her through the vamp camp corridors - they are hilarious on their super high heels - until the Tru Blood woman finds herself on the catwalk above the male Gen. Pop.  Her high heel gets caught in the grating and Sarah pounces on her, beating her head into the grate.  The vampires cluster beneath, licking up the spatters of blood.  Then Sarah wrenches the other woman's stiletto from her foot and pounded the heel through her head.  Blood pours out of the dying woman and the vampires below slurp it up.  Sarah sits back, white suit splattered with blood, and cries triumphantly, "Thank you, Jesus!"

Sookie goes home and calls Jason, getting his voicemail.  She asks him to be careful and come home in one piece.  She tells him about Terry and says she hopes he can come to the funeral.  She says that there's so much she wants to talk to him about but she'll see him later.  Tears in her eyes, she hangs up.  Then, steeling herself, she calls Bill: Pick me up in an hour.  She goes upstairs and gets gussied up, putting on a black lace dress for her impending wedding/transformation.  [Note:  this is meant to be symbolic, I'm sure, because Sookie usually dresses in bright colors and pastels.]

Meanwhile, out in a field somewhere, one of Holly's sons is passed out drunk on a headstone while the other one has managed to get Adalind's shirt off.  However, Eric interrupts their tryst.  He glamours the boys so they won't remember either him or Adalind.  The faerie girl takes off but doesn't get very far before Eric catches her up, burying his fangs in her neck.  Some time later, Andy finds his daughter, bleeding from the neck but okay.  He hugs her tight as she cries.

It doesn't take long before Pam, Jessica, Tara, Willa and Violet are brought into the white room with James and Steve.  Steve takes one look at Jess's face and cries, "What? What do you know?"  Jessica looks up at the ceiling and then around at all of them: "We're going to meet the sun in here."

Sookie brings Bill to the cemetery and takes his hands.  But first he wants to know what changed her mind.  Sookie: I don't know - I guess destiny is just too much of a bitch to keep fightin'.  She takes them both into the faerie realm ... but Warlow is just lying there, still tied up and unconscious (perhaps dead?).  She rushes to him, gasping, who did this?  Bill knows who did it:  Eric.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Thursday, September 24, 2015

True Blood episode recap S6E7 "In the Evening"

Eric instructs Willa to go back to Gen. Pop. and tell Pam not to drink the Tru Blood, which has been contaminated with Hepatitis V.  He then takes the failing Nora and climbs under a departing truck to make their getaway.  Their escape has been noticed, however, and all the guards are on full alert.  Jason realizes that he may need to step up his rescue of Jessica.  Willa lets Pam, Tara and Jessica know what's going on, putting herself back into Gen. Pop. in the process.  Meanwhile, Eric has taken his very sick sister to Bill's house, saying that he doesn't know WTF Bill is anymore but if, in fact, he is god, please fix her.  Eric wants Bill to give Nora his blood but Nora refuses it, saying that it's Lilith's blood and she won't drink it.

Sarah Newlin drives up to the Governor's mansion and is surprised to find the doors wide open and no guards anywhere to be seen.  She runs to the back garden and finds everyone dead, and the Governor's head propped on a piece of statuary.  She falls to her knees and sheds some tears before steeling herself.  Now is when Sarah Newlin comes into her own, I imagine.  Some time later, she meets with a senator and informs him of the plan:  they will not admit to the Governor's demise but the senator will continue to run the state and she will run the vamp camp, saying that the Governor is in hiding after an attempted attack.  He acquiesces because she threatens to reveal his secret gay lifestyle.  They only have to keep the ruse going until Hep V becomes rampant throughout the vampire community - it won't be long.

UGH GROSS.  Sookie and Warlow snuggle in fuzzy post-coital focus.  The good feeling doesn't last long, however, because Warlow has assumed that because she actually enjoyed the sex, she was willing to marry him and become a vampire.  Sookie's all, you know it doesn't work like that ... we have the vote now too.  Then she hears sobbing coming through from the real world:  Arlene is crying in the cemetery.  She gets dressed and leaves the faerie realm.  I'm not sure why Arlene is crying in the cemetery because Terry isn't buried yet, but there she is, and she tells Sookie what happened.  Sookie's all, you have to go home and tell your kids, and I'm going to be right there with you.

Also, Sam calls to check in on Lafayette, who tells him what happened to Terry.  Sam is shaken and, despite Alcide's warnings not to return to Bon Temps, immediately makes plans to go back.  He tells Nicole to call her mother to come get her - they won't be continuing on together.  But while they're waiting for her mom to show up, they have sad-faced shower sex.  In Bon Temps, when Arlene gets back to the Bellefleur house, Lafayette is there and she lays into him until Andy can calm her down and get her to go talk to the children.  Lafayette tells Sookie about Terry's safe deposit box and they decide they should go check it out.

At the vamp camp, Jason has Jessica brought to him in a conference room.  He tells her that he wants to do right by her and take her away from this.  She says no, I should stay (Jason: You don't have stockholder syndrome, do you?).  He says he saw what they tried to do to her in the copulation room and says that he doesn't want her to suffer like that again.  But for some reason, she refuses his help, asking a favor instead:  she wants to thank James, the vampire who wouldn't rape her, face to face.  Confused, Jason goes to fetch him for her.

When Sookie and Lafayette open Terry's safe deposit box, they find a single insurance policy for $2,000,000, that Terry took out on his own life just three days earlier.  They realize that Terry had planned his death.  Lafayette's all, I guess he thought he was doing the right thing.  Sookie: Since when is leaving your family behind ever the right thing?  Lafayette just shrugs sadly.

Whatever:  Alcide gives his dad a ride home.  His dad tells him that he really doesn't need to go back to the pack - that sort of life doesn't suit their family.  Alcide looks like he's thinking about it, but drives off anyway.  When Nicole's mom comes to pick her up, she gives Sam the stink-eye for whatever he's gotten her baby girl into.  Nicole and Sam say goodbye, and she gives him her phone number, you know, just in case he wants to call.

Jason brings James to Jessica and then gets his heart broken a little when Jessica says she'd like to be alone with James for a bit.  After Jason goes out into the hall, Jessica and James talk for a while and he really, really does seem like an actually nice guy.  A vampire, sure, but an unusually decent and kind one who makes different choices than most.  Jessica tells him about the contaminated Tru Blood and warns him not to drink it.  He smiles at her, "Don't you have any good news at all?"  And then, after a little more talking, they do have sex.  For Jessica, it's the first time with another vampire and apparently it's quite excellent for her.

Back at Bill's, Eric begs Bill to cure Nora, saying he will do anything he asks.  Bill's like, what if it doesn't work?  He tells Eric about his vision of everyone burning in the sunlight-filled room: he says that's why he's going to get Warlow, to get his blood so that he can protect the other vampires from the sun.  Bill says that if Eric will come with him, maybe they can stop it.  Eric says you have my word that I will help you if you help Nora.  So they go back upstairs and make Nora drinks from Bill's wrist.  But it has no effect, to Eric's utter dismay.  He latches onto the hope that Warlow's blood might help and Bill agrees to go after the vampire/faerie.

Sookie and Lafayette return to the Bellefleur mansion to tell Arlene about the life insurance.  Sookie asks Lafayette if he's ready for this.  Lafayette: "About as ready as Big Pharma can make a man."  But when they go inside, Andy heads them off, warning them that maybe this is not the best time.  And then they see why:  because Arlene is hammered, two-fisting with whiskey and PBR.  Lafayette to Sookie:  I'm thinkin', no talk.  He takes Arlene off to the kitchen just as Holly's two sons walk in.  Andy introduces Adalind to Sookie and Holly's boys and then the front door opens again, Bill Compton walking in, daylight streaming behind him.  Sookie:  HOLY FUCK.  Adalind scurries upstairs with all the rest of the young folk; Adaline and Lafayette come back into the living room.  Bill expresses his condolences to Arlene for Terry and also to Andy for the loss of his three daughters.  Amazingly, they seem to call an uneasy truce.  Then Bill wants to talk to Sookie.  He's basically, I need Warlow's blood to save Eric, Pam, Tara and Jessica, telling her about the vampire death camp.  He encourages her not to let her anger at him endanger her friends, but he does it fairly condescendingly and she's not that impressed.  "Bring me Warlow, and soon," Bill intones.

At the vamp camp, Pam goes in to her therapy session.  She knows exactly what to say to get him revved up.  And then she cuts a deal:  she'll fuck him but he has to put her back in Gen. Pop.  He thinks that can be arranged.  Guess who else is now in Gen. Pop.?  Jason: Sarah finds him, tells him that his leverage has died with the Governor, cuts his forearm and has him through into women's Gen. Pop.  Tara fangs up, protecting him from the other chick vamps until this other vampire, older and stronger than Tara, steps up, saying Jason is hers.  Oh great.  Just what we need is another character in this show.

And at Bill's, Nora is at the end of her life.  As Eric weeps and sobs, we are interrupted for a terrible flashback with horrible wigs, when Eric met Nora for the first time, back in the time of Charles II, before he took her to Godric to make her.  Seriously, these flashbacks are the worst and timed so strangely, right in the middle of when we're supposed to be sad about Nora's dying and Eric's grief.  This grief, though, is doesn't ring true for me:  we didn't even know about Nora until S5 and now, at the moment of her death we're supposed to believe that Eric's heart is breaking?  The death is pretty gnarly though:  as Eric shrieks (yes, high pitched shrieks), Nora melts like that Nazi at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, dripping and squooshing and collapsing through his arms into a stringy puddle of thick blood and liquefied organs.  Nasty!

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mini book review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

It must say something about my current opinion about the state of the world that I seem to only read fantasy and dystopian fiction anymore: I'm either looking for an escape or am trying to plan ahead to face what's coming.  Case in point: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, a bleak and yet somehow lyrical novel about what happens when 99% of the world population is brought down by the flu.

It's grim - although it isn't supernatural a la The Stand - as the few remaining people try to survive and rebuild their lives.  This flu (no reason for it given) was particularly fast-acting, decimating the planet in about two weeks.  The survivors, who never learned why they were immune when so many weren't, were scattered far and wide.  Some simply hunkered down where they were, like the passengers stranded in airport, and rebuilt from there, hunting deer, planting crops, establishing museums of what once was.  Some wandered for the first year before settling down in small settlement; those settlements were often vulnerable and people came and went.  Others banded together and kept wandering, like the Traveling Symphony, a ragtag group of actors and musicians who caravan along, stopping at various settlements to bring a little bit of art and beauty to whomever is living there.

Station Eleven does not have a straight shot narrative (which is not my favorite).  The main character is presumably Kirsten, a member of the Traveling Symphony, and the book follows what happens to her and her friends.  But Mandel bounces around in time, visiting Arthur Leander, an actor who meets Kirsten when she is a child, and then continuing with Arthur's life with his many wives, even though he doesn't survive the flu-pocalypse.  Arthur's life intersected with many other lives, and those intersections are touched upon, interweaving as the book shows life both before and after the flu pandemic.  Some parts are brutal and violent, some are gentle, wistful, hopeful, beautiful.  Although Station Eleven is about an apocalypse, it is ultimately hopeful.