Monday, October 31, 2011

The Walking Dead S2E3 "Save the Last One" (10/30/11)

In the farmhouse bathroom, Shane shaves off all his hair.

Flashback: Shane and Otis run through the halls of the high school, the drooling hordes of zombies lurching along behind them, as Rick, in a voiceover, tells Lori some story about Shane's high school derring-do.  Rick and Lori are sitting by Carl's bedside.  Their son is still comatose.  At the RV, Darryl and Andrea can't sleep and decide to walk down the road a bit, looking for Sophia.  Darryl is thinking positively: he thinks that kids are resourceful and Sophia will make her way back to them.  Shane and Otis split up, Shane slipping through a small window in the gym while Otis flees through the locker room to find another way out - he's too fat to fit through the gym windows.  Glen and T-Dog finally arrive at the farmhouse (seriously - what took them so long?) to learn that poor Carl is really not doing well.  Lori tells Rick that maybe it would be for the better if Carl were to die, getting free of this hell on earth in which they live.  This thinking tears Rick up considerably.

Shane and Otis meet back up, but they are out of rifle ammo and only have their pistols.  More staggering and running away from the high school zombies.  Some time later, back at the farmhouse, Carl wakes up and starts to tell his mom about the beautiful deer he saw.  Then, suddenly, horribly, he starts to seize.  When the seizure has passed, Herschel says it's because his brain needs more blood.  Rick rolls up his sleeve to provide another transfusion, even though he's given too much already.

Out in the woods, Darryl and Andrea come across a campsite with a zombie swinging by the neck from a nearby tree.  They read the handwritten sign: the guy got bitten and when the fever kicked in, decided to kill himself rather than become a zombie.  But instead of shooting himself in the head, he hung himself ... which meant that he zombified after all.  Andrea upchucks when Darryl points out that the hanging zombie's legs have been stripped of their flesh by other zombies.  She asks him to kill the zombie but he doesn't want to waste an arrow, so he says he'll do it if she tells him if she wants to live now or not.  She answers that she doesn't really know and even though Darryl doesn't think that's much of an answer, he puts an arrow through the zombie's skull, silencing it.

Shane and Otis keep trying to outrun the high school zombies.  They're down to their last two bullets.

Back at the farmhouse, Herschel tells Rick and Lori that they either try to operate now, without the medical equipment Shane and Otis went to fetch, or Carl will die for sure.  Rick looks at his wife and she, realizing that what Carl remembered from the day was the deer and not the horrors, says okay, let's try it.  Just as Herschel is about to make the first incision, Shane drives up, without Otis but with the equipment.  As Herschel rushes inside to operate, Shane stands there, twitchy and shell-shocked.

When Darryl and Andrea get back to the RV (without little Sophia), Dale returns her gun to her and asks her forgiveness for not letting her kill herself as she wishes.  She tells him she's trying but she's not there yet.  After the surgery, Herschel comes out and says that Carl seems to have stabilized.  Lori goes in to see her son while Rick goes with Herschel to tell Patricia that her husband is dead.  Shane stands in the front hallway and twitches.  When he looks in on Carl, Lori asks him not to leave.  He nods without saying anything and backs out of the room.  Herschel's daughter gives him some clean clothes (formerly belonging to Otis) and shows him where he can shower.

Flashback to Shane and Otis lurching along, barely staying ahead of the high school zombies.  Shane turns to Otis and says, "I'm sorry, man," and then shoots him in the leg, dropping him.  He yanks the pack off Otis's back and Otis grabs him.  They tussle, Otis ripping out a big hunk of Shane's hair, before Shane can manage to get away from him.  Shane runs back to the truck, clutching the two packs, while behind him the herd of zombies has descended upon poor Otis, messily devouring him while he shrieks, letting Shane get away.

In the farmhouse bathroom, Shane shaves off all his hair.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Saturday, October 29, 2011

'Tis the season

Just to get y'all in the mood for Halloween:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #8: Quarantine

Quarantine is the American remake of the very excellent Spanish horror film, [REC].  It's a pretty faithful retelling too:

Set in Los Angeles instead of Barcelona, [and I'm allowed to copy from my [REC] review because this is my blog] a cute little television reporter (Angela) and her cameraman (Scott), shooting a puff-piece on L.A.'s firemen, tag along with two of said firemen on a call to help an elderly woman trapped in her apartment.  When they get to the apartment building, the other tenants are milling about in the lobby, disturbed by the screaming coming from the old woman's flat.  Two policemen take the firemen and the t.v. crew up to the apartment and when they break the door down, all hell breaks loose.  The old lady, fat, foaming at the mouth, nuts and wearing nothing but a blood-covered slip, attacks the rescue party, chewing a hole in one policeman's neck.  Leaving one of the firemen behind to deal with the now-restrained old lady, the rest of them drag the wounded police officer down to the lobby, only to find out that the health department has sealed the building, allowing no-one out for any reason.  Then the formerly upstairs firefighter plummets down the stairwell with a splat, face nearly chewed off.  And now the screaming starts.  The sickness spreads quickly, picking off the trapped people one by one.  There is a lot of screaming - things get very tense very quickly.  This is all shown as a real time POV movie, filmed on Scott's camera and narrated by Angela as they first hope to bring word to the world of what is happening in the building; later, when the power is shut off to the building, the filming is incidental as Angela and Scott make use of the camera's light, and then night vision scope when the light is broken.  Towards the end, the only things we see are what little is illuminated by the camera's light, and then its night vision.

I had my doubts that Quarantine could be as good as [REC] - it very nearly is, and if I hadn't seen the original Spanish movie, this one would have been very scary indeed.  The remake has made a few changes - what is possessing the apartment building's tenants is a particularly virulent, contagious and fast-acting form of rabies, and the editing is a little more frantic, making it difficult to figure out the action at times - but by and large sticks to the original plan.  I knew what was coming but that didn't stop me from watching through my fingers a couple of times.

Another point in Quarantine's favor is its cast, including Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) as Angela, Steve Harris (The Practice) as Scott, Jay Hernandez and Johnathon Schaech as the firefighters, and, as some of the tenants/fodder (undeveloped for the most part), Greg Germann (Ally McBeal), Dania Ramirez ("Maya" on Heroes), Denis O'Hare (True Blood and American Horror Story) and Rade Serbedziji ("Boris the Blade" from Snatch).  While I think Spanish Angela was braver as a character, kudos to Jennifer Carpenter for friggin' knocking it out of the park in this movie.  I seriously don't think I've ever seen an actor do "terrified" quite so well, even if the never-ending hysteria was wearying towards the end - I was getting a little concerned for Carpenter that she might pass out from all the hyperventilating.

I would still recommend [REC] to everyone but for folks who are unwilling to deal with subtitles, Quarantine will do you fine in its stead.

Next on the list: Piranha or maybe eXistenZ (Mr. Mouse is hoping October ends soon so I will rent a movie he would also enjoy watching).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #7: Nadja

Well, ... that was weird.  Nadja is an arthouse vampire flick, filmed in black and white with some truly striking shots interspersed with fuzzy-focused vampire-vision scenes.  A post-modern revisiting of Dracula, this strange little movie has Romanian twin siblings Nadja (definitely a vampire) and Edgar (maybe a vampire) Dracul trying to come to terms with their lives in the wake of their despised father's death in 1990s New York City.  Edgar is in love with Cassandra, his caretaker, and living the reclusive invalid's life in Brooklyn, while Nadja, her enthralled young Irish Renfield doting on her every whim, tries to find meaning by going on dates and dancing in clubs and picking up Lucy, a depressed young woman currently estranged from her husband Jim.  Oh, and Jim's paranoid uncle, the one and only Van Helsing (a tripped-out Peter Fonda) is trying to kill the Dracul twins, just like he killed their father.

Nadja is not for everyone.  I'm not sure it was for me as it is abstract and moody, very slow-paced, dreamy in spots, with lots of talking about the emptiness of life (although there is a fair amount of black humor too) and only a little soft-focus vampire violence.  But for folks who prefer their vampire films sleek and stylish with a side of weird - the movie was produced by David Lynch, who has a cameo as a morgue guard - Nadja is perfect.

Next in line: Quarantine - we'll see how the American remake holds up.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Walking Dead S2E2 (10/23/11) "Bloodletting"

We begin with a flashback to before the zombie apocalypse, with Laurie confiding to a friend that she's not sure she loves Rick anymore, and being interrupted when Shane comes up to tell her that Rick has been shot.  Cut to now, with Rick running across a field, Carl in his arms, Shane and a fat guy, Otis, the hunter who accidentally shot Carl, following behind.  At the farmhouse where Otis lives, the patriarch, Herschel, takes charge immediately, hooking Carl up to an IV, arranging for Rick to provide blood for a transfusion (he and Carl are both A+).  From Herschel's examination, the bullet has broken into fragments which will need to be removed.

The remainder of the search party is still making their way back to the RV, while at the RV, Dale checks T-Dog's arm and sees that he's got a bad infection.  They search the nearby vehicles again, hoping for some antibiotics they might have missed before.

Herschel manages to remove one of the bullet fragments from Carl's belly, but the boy is shrieking and crying from the pain.  Finally he passes out.  Herschel says that the other fragments are in even deeper, plus it looks like there's some internal bleeding, so they need to anesthetize Carl, and put him on a respirator, and open him up.  They'll need additional equipment and supplies for that.  There's a high school about five miles away that had a FEMA shelter set up there - they should have the supplies, but last time they looked, it was overrun with zombies.  Rick wants to go but Shane says no, he needs to stay here with his son.  Shane and Otis volunteer to go and Herschel gives them a list.  One of Herschel's daughters says she'll go find Laurie and bring her back to the farmhouse.

The infection has caused a high fever and T-Dog starts to rant, paranoid, alarming Dale.  As the rest of the group nears the highway, a zombie attacks Andrea as she wanders away from the group.  Before it can munch on her, Herschel's daughter rides up on a horse, bludgeons the zombie with a baseball bat and tells Laurie that she needs to come with her to Carl.  Darryl thinks that's a bad idea since they don't know this girl, but she shouts directions to the farmhouse over her shoulder as she rides off with Laurie.  When the group reaches the RV, it is decided that Dale, Darryl and Andrea will wait overnight at the RV in case little Sophia shows up, and make a sign for her telling her how to get to the farmhouse, while the rest of them will go now to the farmhouse.  When he hears about T-Dog's blood infection, Darryl pulls a baggie of medicine out of his motorcycle saddlebags - Merle's stash, which includes crystal meth, painkillers ... and penicillin.  He hands over the antibiotics to Dale at once.

As they wait at the farmhouse, Rick and Herschel talk.  Herschel is hopeful about the future and finding a cure but Rick is pretty despondent.  When Laurie gets there, Rick takes her in to see their son.  A little later, she questions Herschel about how many times he's done this surgery and it comes out that he's a veterinarian, not a people doctor.  She is not happy about that: "Aren't you over your head?"  Herschel, calmly: "Ma'am, aren't we all?"

When Shane and Otis get to the high school, it is indeed overrun with zombies.  They wait until nightfall and then distract the walkers with flares found in an abandoned police car.  They get inside the FEMA trailer and collect everything on Herschel's list but they've taken too long and when they exit the trailer, the zombies see them.  After quite a bit of running around, fat Otis amazingly able to keep up with the fit Shane, they take refuge inside the high school, barricading themselves behind a metal gate.  The innumerable zombies growl and moan and reach for them through the gate (wouldn't you move out of their line of sight in hopes that they'd forget about you if they couldn't see you, instead of standing there in full view?)  That gate isn't going to last long against all that dead weight.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #6: I Sell the Dead

I Sell the Dead is a funny-ish little (85 minutes) horror-ish movie about two 18th century grave-robbers who, finding their vocation not quite ghoulish enough, end up snatching undead bodies as well as dead ones.  The story is framed as Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan, a/k/a Charlie from Lost, a/k/a one of the LoTR hobbits who wasn't Frodo) has been arrested for murder and grave-robbing.  His partner and mentor, Willie, has already been executed for those crimes; when the movie opens, Arthur is telling his tale to Father Duffy (a misused Ron Perlman).

There are a lot of loose ends in IStD, a lot of false starts where you think something is going to lead somewhere and never does.  For example: Willie and Arthur were accused of murder by a trail of body parts leading to each of their abodes.  Arthur says he was framed, yet nothing comes of this - who left the body parts?  I think I know, but it's never mentioned again.  Willie and Arthur are hired by a creepy doctor who needs lots and lots and lots of corpses, the fresher the better - but why?  We never see what he's doing with them or why he needs so many, so what's the point?  When Willie and Arthur begin collecting and selling the undead (vampires, zombies and, very strangely, an alien), we're told that this is much more lucrative work but we don't know who wants these beings or why.  And so on.

There's a little violence and gore but not much and the movie really isn't scary.  There's an awful lot of just talking (and talking and talking - I may have nodded off for a couple of minutes) and while some of Monaghan's line readings are funny but the movie isn't a farce or satire or even just funny enough to be a black comedy.  I give it a resounding "meh."  I seem to be giving those out a lot lately.

Next time (for sure, after TWD):  Nadja.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #5: Open Water

Okay, if I do this movie series again next October, all y'all have to give me some movie suggestions because I'm not doing a very good job of picking them out myself.  The latest less than stellar offering?  Open Water, a tepid hybrid of when-animals-sort-of-attack and man-at-the-mercy-of-the-elements, based-on-a-true-story film about a couple who are inadvertently left behind on a diving trip in shark-infested waters.  Spoilers ahead, mateys!

The pluses: independent, low-budget movie, shot realistically (on video?) with natural light and no CGI, real sharks, actors actually bobbing about in the ocean and not in a shark cage or indoor tanks.

The rest of it:  the actors, unknowns, are pretty bad, although in their defense they weren't given much to work with.  When Daniel and Susan resurface and find the tour boat missing, they take it too calmly - it isn't realistic.  I think there would be some immediate panic, then subsiding to calm/shock.  Their physical condition didn't deteriorate as the hours passed: even though they were in tropical waters, hypothermia will set in after prolonged exposure, not to mention dehydration and salt sores.  Once Daniel was bitten by the shark, I don't think the other sharks would have left him alone to bleed out overnight - I think they would have gone after him, and Susan too, what with all the blood floating about.  And I found Susan's death unsatisfying: I can see how she would just give up but she was wearing a wetsuit and would have been far too buoyant to slip beneath the surface to drown, especially since she'd dropped her dive weights.

The whole thing was just unsatisfying.  I've read reviews saying that people expecting Jaws will be disappointed, that Open Water is more about fear and dread and hopelessness.  Which would have been fine if  any of that had been conveyed by the actors.  Instead, this mercifully brief movie is boring, basically amounting to watching two unlikable characters tread water for 81 minutes.  Ugh.

P.S.  I did manage to get Mr. Mouse to watch it with me and he gets points for calling: (1) no survivors, (2) Daniel dying first; and (3) the camera being found.

Next up (I think): Nadja.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Walking Dead S2E1 (10/16/11)

This was a 90 minute season opener and they probably could have condensed it down to an hour.  Yes, I realize that this show is about more than zombies - character development and interactions among the survivors being as important as the zombies ... but I am of the more-zombies-is-better camp.  I found this episode a tad slow, although certainly suspenseful and exciting in parts.

Our group of survivors is leaving Atlanta for Fort Benning, 125 miles away, in hopes of finding something, anything there in the aftermath of their visit to the CDC.  Rick gives a long monologue about being a survivor, etc., etc., over the walkie, trying to reach his buddy from S1E1 (Morgan?) and warn him away from Atlanta.  Finally, they move on in a small caravan: motorcycle, RV and SUV.  They cruising down the interstate when they are stopped by two things: a huge wreck/traffic jam across the highway and a blown radiator hose in the RV.  As Dale tries to repair the radiator hose, the others search the stranded/abandoned cars for supplies as they need almost everything: water, clean clothes, medicine, gas.

After a while, Rick sees a "herd" of hundreds of zombies lurching towards them, as if migrating.  The survivors quickly hide under various cars, trying to stay silent as the zombies go by.  Andrea is still in the RV, trying to reassemble her gun after cleaning it; a zombie decides to investigate the RV and she hides in the tiny bathroom. When the zombie tries to get in after her, Dale - who is up on the roof of the RV - drops a screwdriver down to her and she ends up staking the zombie through the eye with it, eventually killing it.  You see, they can't use their guns because to do so would alert the rest of the zombie herd.  So when Whatsisname the token black guy, badly cuts his arm on some metal, and a zombie goes after him, Darryl (Norman Reedus, my new favorite, hot off his gig as Judas in the video for Lady Gaga's eponymous song) has to silently shove an arrow by hand through the zombie's brain to save him.

Finally, the herd has passed ... except for a couple of stragglers who see little Sophia when she climbs out from under the car she was hiding under.  Sophia runs away into the woods, the two zombies chasing her, and Rick races after them.  He finally catches Sophia and tells her to hide as he draws the zombies off, and then she is to retrace her steps back to the others.  The zombies follow him further into the woods until he takes them out, one at a time, via a large rock to the skull.  Unfortunately, Sophia does not make it back to the group before Rick does, so he and Darryl head back out to track her.  They find and kill another walker, and note that it has fed recently, so Darryl cuts its stomach open (with many squishy sound effects) so they can see what it ate: a woodchuck.  They suspend the search for Sophia when it gets dark.

In the morning, everyone goes back out to search for the little girl, except Dale (who's supposed to be fixing the RV - but who actually fixed it the day before but doesn't want anyone to know because he's afraid people will want to leave before Sophia is found) and Whatsisname (who is recovering from his cut arm).  Before they leave, Andrea gets in Dale's face: she's pissed that he wouldn't let her die in the CDC explosion like she wanted.  After they've been searching a while, they find a church with several zombies inside.  After Rick, Darryl and Shane kill the zombies, there's a bunch of blah blah blah of talking to God.  Outside, Laurie and Shane argue because he's decided to leave the group since he can't stand being around her and Rick any longer.  After Laurie walks away, Andrea - who overheard their argument - tells Shane that she wants to come with him.

It's getting late but Rick feels guilty and doesn't want to give up the search.  He and Shane decide to search for another hour or so while the rest of the group head back to the RV.  Rick's son Carl wants to stay with his dad since Sophia is his friend; amazingly, Laurie and Rick agree to it.  As Rick, Shane and Carl are walking through the woods, they find a huge deer.  Fascinated, Carl approaches the deer while the men watch, smiles on their faces.  Suddenly, a shot rings out from across the clearing.  Both the deer and Carl fall to the ground.  Rick and Shane rush towards the boy, stricken looks on their faces.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #4: The Devil's Backbone

FINALLY!  A very good movie!  The Devil's Backbone, written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (a favorite here at FMS), is a Spanish (English-subtitled) ghost story, set in 1939 Spain.  Young Carlos has been orphaned by the Spanish civil war and has been left at a remote Spanish orphanage, run by Republican sympathizers.  Carlos is a bright and gentle boy, soon running up against the orphanage's bullly, Jaime, the nasty caretaker, Jacinto, himself a former denizen of the facility, and Santi, the ghost of an orphan who died not too long before Carlos's arrival.  Carlos is given Santi's bed to sleep in and the ghost seems to attach himself to the newcomer, appearing to him often and warning that many will die.

When Franco's Nationalist forces begin to prevail, the Republican sympathizers decide to evacuate the orphanage, but an explosion decimates the place, killing many of the staff and the children.  The remaining orphans, Carlos and Jaime among them, must band together to survive the onslaught of scavengers looking to pilfer Republican monies hidden in the building, as well as to avenge Santi's untimely death.

I don't know what it is, but between the RECs and all of del Toro's work that I've seen, I have a real affection for Spanish horror.  The Devil's Backbone is lovely, beautifully shot, suspenseful with building tension and a couple of jumps, but not at all over the top with gore and violence.  As in Pan's Labyrinth, del Toro has a very nice touch weaving history and scary stuff together.  It won't be for the slasher/traditional horror fan, but for those who like a little bit of sophistication (and subtitles) with their ghosties, The Devil's Backbone is a very good choice.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #3: My Soul to Take

Oh dear.  Oh dear oh dear oh dear.  Why the HELL didn't someone tell me NOT to watch this movie?  What an unbelievable waste of 108 minutes.

A schizophrenic serial murderer is killed on the night seven babies are born, and vows to come back and claim them all.  Sixteen years later, someone is murdering the "Riverton 7" ... is it the killer, back from the dead?  Or is it one of the seven, possessed by the killer's soul?  Seriously, though, who gives a shit?  The story is confused and confusing, dialogue and actions jumping around meaninglessly sometimes even in one scene.  The characters are stupid and undeveloped, caricatures really, and I found it impossible to care when they started getting killed off.  The kills were boring, unimaginative and not scary - and mostly took place out of frame or even off-screen.  Ugh.  I can't even talk about this anymore.

This stinking pile was written and directed by Wes Craven.  WES CRAVEN!  How far the mighty have fallen.

Up next: The Devil's Backbone (which by gawd better be good or else).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #2: [REC]2

[REC] was the ninth movie I watched last October for the First Ever FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series and wow, I just loved it.  It was original, scary as hell and quite well done.  [REC]2 picks up just moments after the first movie ended.

The sequel is filmed using the same conceit as the first: a squad of four cops accompany a doctor into the quarantined Barcelona apartment buildings, recording the whole thing on their helmet cams.  The entry is sealed behind them and will only be opened upon voice recognition from the doctor - so it behooves the cops to protect him or they'll never get out.  The entry way and staircase are awash in blood but there are no bodies to be seen.  The doctor leads his team up to the penthouse apartment to begin their search for something from which to develop an antidote.  During the search, of course, they are attacked and one of the cops is infected.  When the doctor locks the infected cop in a room and hangs a crucifix on the door, the other cops demand to know WTF is going on.  As it turns out, the doctor is actually a priest and the infected rage-zombies are demonically possessed; the priest needs to procure a sample of blood from the original possessee, who was a young girl years ago, whom another priest was experimenting on in this building.  The cops are less than happy about all this but go along with it.

Around this time, the father from the first movie who went to the pharmacy for antibiotics and was locked out has convinced a firefighter to let him into the building.  Three teenagers with a videocamera see them sneak in through a sewer tunnel and follow.  Unfortunately for everyone, the police outside see them going in and weld their entry point shut.  Now they're stuck.  The movie at this point switches from the cops' helmet cam POV to the teenagers' camera POV, which makes for an interesting switch as the two groups of characters finally meet.  Things go from bad to worse as more infected/possessed rage-zombies come out of the woodwork and whittle the group down one by one.  In the end, the priest and the last surviving cop return to the penthouse SPOILER where they find Angela, the reporter from the first movie, has inexplicably survived.  The last minutes of [REC]2 are back in the penthouse, in the dark, illuminated only by Angela's camera's night vision and her survival goes from inexplicable to explicable, for better or worse.

[REC]2 is by far a weaker movie than its excellent predecessor, although I admit my opinion may be colored by the fact that I watched R2 in broad daylight, which pretty much negates any fear factor.  I still liked the real-time story-telling but it no longer felt original.  I did not like the demonic possession explanation for what was going on; the first movie was scary in part because we had no idea why this was happening to  people; [REC]2 had the priest doing too much exposition and that slowed things down some.  And demonic possession can be tough to do: watching a bloody, disgusting little girl speaking in a hoarse demon voice was too much of a callback to The Exorcist and ain't nothing can compare with that.  The second bottle rocket bit (not the sex doll one) was a nice touch, however.

Sequels are tough to pull off, especially when the first movie is so good and feels like such an original idea (see also The DescentThe Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity].  I appreciate the attempt [REC]2 makes, and I absolutely did the movie a disservice by watching at 11:00 a.m., but even so, the second falls far short of the first.

Up next:  My Soul to Take or The Devil's Backbone, whichever shows up first.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #1: Insidious

Welcome (finally) to the Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series!  And, boy, let me tell you - way to start things off with a whimper rather than a bang.  Due to the vagaries of the U.S. postal system, I received our first movie, Insidious, starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey, instead of the anticipated [REC]2.  You work with what you get, I guess.

The story in Insidious goes thusly: Josh (Patrick Wilson), Renee (Rose Byrne) and their three young children move into a new home, a big ol' house with nice dark wood trim and a scary attic.  It doesn't take long for things to start going wonky: books spilling out of bookshelves, boxes where they're not supposed to be, the front door opening for no apparent reason, creepy voices heard over the baby monitor.  After exploring the scary attic, their middle son, Dalton, will not wake up.  It's not a coma per se, say the doctors, but he just won't wake up.  Rose is convinced their new house is haunted and they move to another one, installing Dalton there with his at-home IV drip and nasal feeding tube.  But the wonky stuff keeps happening, and seems to be getting worse, so Josh's mom (Barbara Hershey) calls upon an old friend of hers, a psychic, who determines that it is not the house (houses) that is haunted, but poor little Dalton.  It seems that Dalton does a lot of inadvertent astral projection and has gotten lost, his empty body now serving as a possible gateway to our world for a whole host of nasties that are looking for a way in.  They have to get Dalton to return to his body.

Insidious starts well enough when you think it's a haunted house movie.  The tension builds nicely; it's jumpy and the glimpses of the nasties are just enough.  But then the psychic lady and her assistants show up, and the tone abruptly changes to a Ghostbusters meets Poltergeist one, and the bumbling assistants' comic relief is an unwelcome contrast to the earlier creepy tone.  And then it just gets silly when little Dalton gets possessed by a demon and starts throwing people around, and the whole astral projection thing is silly and boring as Josh wanders around the foggy, empty "Further," looking for his lost son, and with about twenty minutes left in the movie I had completely lost interest.

Insidious is billed as being from the creators/producers/whatever of Paranormal Activity and Saw but it just doesn't live up to its pedigree (the PG-13 rating doesn't help either).  The performances are good enough, I guess, although Patrick Wilson looked as bored being in the movie as I was watching it; the music is overwrought and distracting; and the astral projection plot is not compelling.  I give it a solid "meh."

Next on the SAFMSSOMS[REC]2.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some thoughts on American Horror Story

I know I'm dropping the ball on the Second Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series but True Blood just took longer than I thought it would, plus we had to go out of town for a long weekend.  [REC]2 should be arriving in my mailbox shortly, however, and then we'll get down to it.  In the meantime, I watched the first episode of FX's hot mess, American Horror Story, and have just a couple of thoughts about it.  For a longer, more carefully thought out discussion, check out the A.V. Club's review - I think those guys have pretty much nailed it.

First of all, this show is completely nuts, schizophrenic even.  It doesn't know what it wants to be and it's got a lot going on all at once.  It first wants to be a haunted house story, opening nicely and creepily with some kids breaking in and coming to a scary end in the basement.  Then it kind of wants to be an exploration of a crumbling family, as the Harmons move in, trying to get a new start in the wake of a family tragedy and the husband's subsequent infidelity.  Then it just starts piling on as many possible horror cliches and tropes as it possibly can: poltergeistish activity, psychic savants, the decaying Southern belle (played with lunatic enthusiasm by Lange), psychotic murals, disturbed teenagers, deformed creatures in the basement, crazy and mutilated strangers with secrets, the hag/whore succubus, pleather fetish suits, possession and possible demon spawn.  All in the first hour, getting more and more frantic as the episode wears on.  This show needs to learn that the best and most scary movies let the tension build and build, not assault the viewer with every possible trick until they're cowering out of sheer sensory overload.

Secondly, AHS has some decidedly disturbing moments, but they're not the scary ones: I don't need to see Dylan McDermott creepily glad-handing himself, then bursting into tears, nor was I that psyched about the fetish-suited ghost raping Connie Britton.  Sure, she thought it was her husband playing dress-up, but ew.

Finally, great cast.  If the writers/showrunners can manage to get their acts together, figure out WTF is going on and slow it down some, this cast should be able to knock it out of the park:  Britton, McDermott, Lange, Taissa Farmiga, Denis O'Hare (the Vampire King of Mississippi himself!) and Frances Conroy.  I think American viewers are ready for a episodic basic cable horror series, and I think AHS has potential, but it's going to need to make some adjustments first.

Friday, October 7, 2011

True Blood episode recap "Evil is Going On" (S3E12)

Eric and Russell lie in Fangtasia's parking lot, slowly burning up in the sun.  A vision of Godric (wtf?) appears to Eric, pleading with him to forgive the King and let go of his quest for vengeance.  Eric screams in pain and frustration.  Inside, when Sookie wakes up, healed by Bill's blood, she jumps up and slaps him hard across the face, furious that he's betrayed her yet again.  She turns to Pam and asks where Eric is.  Pam is still in tears, watching on the CCTV, and replies that Eric is outside, burning.  Sookie refuses to let him do that and rushes outside.  She can't get the handcuffs off at first, however, and Russell taunts her, saying that he'll get free and kill everyone she knows just because she can't access all her powers.  Angry, she steps back and that faerie light bursts from her hands, splitting the handcuffs.  Then she hits Russell with another blast, knocking him into a fence, and then drags Eric back inside the club.

Back in Bon Temps, Sam makes post-coital pancakes for Tara and all is well until he comes out to her as a shapeshifter.  She freaks out, saying she canNOT deal with non-humans rights now - she has had it with all the supernatural freaks around this town.  Sam tells her that she's smart enough to get away from it all, change herself and her life and be a brand new person.  He did it, after all.

When Eric regains some strength, he tells the group that Godric told him to spare Russell.  Everyone protests - Pam: "Do us all a favor and let that little fuck fry."  But he is insistent and so Sookie grabs up that silver chain and runs out to the crispy critter in the parking lot, and drags him into the club.  Russell is still alive and his make-up is fantastic: burned to a cindery crisp.  They chain him to the stripper pole and then Eric, Pam and Bill, having gotten "the bleeds" from being awake too long in the daytime (ah, that explains that - how did I not know that?), have to go lie down in their coffins.  Bill wants to help Sookie keep watch over Russell but she doesn't want to be around him right now.  As he strides off, Eric makes a call to someone, saying he'll need his help and his van tonight.

Jason swings by the sheriff's office, which is abuzz with activity what with the DEA being in town and all.  Andy lets slip that the Hotshot raid is happening today and Jason runs off to go tell Crystal.  Meanwhile, when Hoyt gets to work, he finds his mother, Summer and his old high school guidance counselor there, ready to stage an intervention.  He listens to their bullshit for a while and then tells them that he loves Jessica and if they can't handle that, they can't be part of his life.

Lafayette is still suffering from post-V hallucinations: when Sam lets him into the bar because he forgot his key, he sees Sam's hands running red with blood; he sees Rene, pawing at Arlene and whispering that he's inside her.  He freaks out and calls Jesus, telling him that he's seeing things and is afraid he's schizophrenic like his mother.  Jesus hurries over and tells him that when he was learning magic, he saw things too.  Learning magic?  Yeah, Jesus is a witch.  Lafayette: "You a witch, who's a nurse, who's a dude?  Guess I lucked out then, huh?"

Russell tries to bribe Sookie to let him go, offering her $5 million, his house in Mississippi, killing either Bill or Eric for her, or both of them, or neither - her choice.  She turns him down.  He then starts to rant about how glorious her blood is and how the next vamp who tries it, probably won't have the self control not to drain her.  She listens for a while then sprays him with Pam's colloidal silver.  Now he's pissed, and shouts that he'll rip her to pieces, so she picks up the crystal vase holding what's left of Talbot and prances over to the bar.  She dumps Talbot into the insinkerator and turns it on, laughing maniacally while Russell gibbers and shrieks in rage, cursing her in many languages.

Jason and Crystal drive up to Hotshot and she calls her people out.  They are a sad, sorry, dirty, emaciated group.  Calvin is pissed that she's brought Jason here until he hears that the DEA is coming.  They scurry around, gathering up all the drugs: the meth will be hidden in the woods; the V will be dumped down the latrine.  But Felton, having sampled some V himself, has other ideas.  He grabs the V and shoots Calvin and another guy, killing them.  Everyone cowers and screams.  Felton says he's leavin and takin Crystal with him, or else he'll shoot Jason.  She agrees to go with him to save Jason's life, and she tells Jason that he's in charge of the Hotshot rabble now, who'll need someone to look after them.  Jason promises to do what he can - and he'll find her again, somehow.  Jason = new mayor of Hotshot!  (cliffhanger to S4)

Sam makes the rounds, apologizing to the folks he offended the night before.  When he gets to Tommy's cottage, the place is abandoned.  He gets a thought and rushes back to the bar, only to find the office ransacked and robbed.

That evening, Alcide strolls into Fangtasia.  Sookie is excited to see him, but a little disappointed to learn that he's just here because Eric has a job for him.  He tells her that his family is okay, although Debbie has gone missing (cliffhanger to S4), and that he's been thinking about her a lot.  Aw.  Eric begins dragging the still-charred Russell out to Alcide's van and Bill tells Sookie to stay at the club so Pam can protect her.  She snaps that she thinks she can protect herself just fine and shouts that she is formally rescinding the invitation to her home to all vampires present, so none of them need follow her back to Bon Temps.  Alcide smirks at Bill; Bill glares at Alcide: Eric mutters, "If you two are done eye-fucking each other, we have work to do." Heh.

Tara says goodbye to her mother, then goes home to Sookie's house and cuts off all her hair.  Sookie is home when she goes back downstairs and Tara apologizes for being such a bitch.  She tells Sookie that she's going over to Merlotte's to see Lafayette and Sookie gives her a big hug.  When Tara drives up to the bar, she looks at it for a while but doesn't go in, driving away instead.  Will she be back?  (cliffhanger to S4)
The DEA stomps back into the sheriff's office, Jason in handcuffs, angry that no one was there at Hotshot except Jason and the two dead guys.  Andy scolds him but Jason is at peace with what he's done:  "Sometimes the right thing to do a wrong thing, and I know I done the right thing."

Alcide drives off after dropping Bill, Eric and Russell at a construction site.  Eric has dumped the King in a foundation hole and is pouring cement over him.  "Wrapped in silver, encased in concrete, you won't be going anywhere for at least a hundred years," smirks Bill.  Russell is undaunted, still raving as the cement closes over him.  Then Bill sneakily slaps a silver cuff on Eric's wrist, pushes him in another foundation hole and pours cement over him.  He has snagged Eric's phone too and calls Eric's pet assassin, Reuben, telling him to kill Pam.

Hoyt has rented a cute little cottage for him and Jessica.  He wants to marry her, even though that's currently illegal.  They hug and smooch, happy, not noticing a creepy doll lying in one of the dark, empty rooms.  Also, Hoyt's momma has gone out and bought herself a rifle that shoots vampire-killin bullets (cliffhanger to S4).

His work done, Bill shows up at Sookie's house and she invites him in, willing to hear what he has to say.  He tells her he's taken care of Eric, Russell, Pam, and soon the Queen - any vamp who has tasted Sookie's blood.  He professes his undying love for her ... and then Eric is at the door, covered in cement dust, and asking if Bill has told Sookie yet that the Queen sent him to Bon Temps originally to "procure" Sookie for her, or if Sookie knows that Bill actually hired those rednecks in S1E1 to beat her to a pulp so that he'd be able to feed her his blood, forming the bond between them.  Horror crosses her face.  Eric goes on to say that Bill tried to silence him so that Sookie would never know the truth.  She is beside herself, screaming that her invitation to Bill is again rescinded, and he is physically sucked out the front door of her house, and crying that he manipulated her into falling in love with him.  She also yells at Eric to get the fuck off her porch and slams the door in his face.

Eric goes back to his club and finds Pam there, fresh from the shower and bitching that she'll never get all the cement out of her hair.  She mentions that it was Reuben who tried to kill her, so she took care of him.  "Oh, great," complains Eric, "On top of everything I'm out an assassin."  Pam: "I have zero tolerance for that shit."

Tommy is walking down a dirt road, duffle bag in hand, when Sam drives up, murder on his face.  Tommy takes off, running through the woods until Sam fires a pistol into the air.  Tommy is so upset, saying that Sam changed his life, taking away everything he ever knew and now is throwing him away like garbage.  Sam tells him to get over it, get a job, and Tommy shouts that he can't read.  Sam doesn't care so Tommy storms off, muttering that Sam ain't gonna shoot shit.  Sam watches his brother and then aims the pistol, and fires (cliffhanger to S4).

Queen Sophie-Ann arrives at Bill's house, dressed in fashionable black and red as a new widow.  Bill has brought her here under false pretenses: she thinks that he's going to hand Sookie over to her.  Instead, since he has nothing left to live for, he is challenging her and only one of them will ever leave this house.  Their fangs pop out and they fly at each other, shrieking (cliffhanger to S4).

Sookie runs through the night to the Bon Temps cemetery.  Claudine and her glowing faerie cohort are there.  They hold out their hands to the crying Sookie and she steps into their embrace.  The faerie light grows stronger, then flashes, and all the faeries, Sookie included, are gone.

Here's the thing: If Eric can get out of the cement, so can Russell since he's so much more powerful than any other vampire.  The writers obviously couldn't figure out how our regular vampires could possibly kill him OR they're going to bring him back again which would be great.  As confused and overrun as this season was, at least they didn't kill off all the new characters and left some stories to continue to the next season.  Although closing a couple of arcs might have been okay.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Thursday, October 6, 2011

True Blood episode recap "Fresh Blood" (S3E11)

Bill storms into Fangtasia, shouting for Sookie and Eric.  Pam intercedes, cold and gloriously bitchy, and when he won't back down, she maces him in the eyes with "colloidal silver - in stock and overpriced at your local health food store."  Gawd, how I love Pam.  The Estonian stripper scurries down the basement stairs and unlocks Sookie, who grabs a length of silver chain and races back up the stairs.  Pam and Bill are currently trying to rip each other to shreds so Sookie loops the chain around Pam's neck and drags her off.  When Pam 'fesses up that Sookie was to be a gift to Russell, Sookie and Bill take off before Eric can get back with the vampire King.  "Don't leave me here with this idiot immigrant!" calls a chained Pam.  Estonian stripper: "Idiot?  In Tallinn I am cardiologist!"

Jesus and Lafayette rehash their V trip, Lafayette admitting that V is crazy and intense but not that crazy and intense.  He is a little wigged out but Jesus is jazzed and wants to take more right away.  Lafayette listens to him and then YIKES! Jesus transforms into a demon and lunges at him, then flashes back to himself.  Lafayette is unsettled but blows it off as an aftershock and refuses to tell Jesus exactly what he saw.  Instead, he tells Jesus that he needs to go home for the night.  Jesus is disappointed but leaves without much fuss.

Jason is struggling with the concept a little: "Like a werewolf ... but a panther."  Crystal is a little frustrated: "Yeah, a WEREpanther!"  She's feeling sorry for herself - "All I got to do is marry my half-brother and let him breed me 'til I'm old or dead" - but Jason is so confused.  He wants to clear his head and goes out to try to find his sister.

Hoyt and Jessica are making out on the couch at the home she shares with Bill.  She cools things off for a bit, telling him that she killed that trucker accidentally, but now she knows how to feed without killing a person.  She won't live on TruBlood: she drinks human blood and she's not going to stop.  Hoyt thinks about this for a moment and then offers his throat to her.  Jessica's eyes widen and she is turned on immediately, climbing her way up his body before straddling him and plunging her fangs into his neck.

Eric finds Russell at an art museum, musing over a painting that Talbot loved.  Russell asks him why he did it and Eric says it was payback for Russell killing his family 1,000 years ago.  The King thinks that's maudlin and chuckles, "You are nothing but a lump of muscle with a blood grudge" and says he can't wait to kill him. Eric says he can offer him day-walking - the ultimate vampire dream, the achievement of which would make Russell nigh on invulnerable.  Russell is intrigued.  Eric's phone rings, a jaunty little tune, and he answers it with a "Not a good time."  Pam, on the other end:  "No shit.  Bill and Sookie escaped and Yvette cleaned out the cash."  She hangs up on him and, after the blonde club bartender finishes unchaining her, Pam grabs her and takes a drink.

Sookie and Bill drive through the night in her little car.  He whinges and moans about her trusting Eric; she points out that after recent events, she can't really trust either of the vampires in her life.  They fantasize together a bit, imagining a new and normal life together where she is a real estate agent and he teaches third grade and goes fishing with Jason, until Eric and Russell drop down into the road in front of them.  Sookie screams and stomps on the brakes.

Sam staggers into his bar, drunk and belligerent.  He insults all his employees (including calling poor Terry a "shellshocked motherfucker," to which Terry replies, "You're gonna hate yourself for sayin that").  When he calls Arlene and Holly bitches, they tell him to wait his own damn tables and walk out.

Oh, who the hell cares about this?  Jason has wandered over to the high school football field and discovers that the current QB1 is using V to enhance his athletic performance.  Whatever.  Also in the "I don't really care" department, Summer shows up at Mrs. Fortenberry's house in tears, saying that Hoyt has rejected her.  They decide they aren't giving up yet.

Tara, after crying her eyes out at Eggs's grave, walks into Merlotte's, amused to see the drunken Sam waiting tables.  She goes over to Andy and bitches him out for covering up Eggs's death.  He tries to explain how fucked up it all was, Maryann messing with everyone's heads, Eggs seeming determined to die, and Jason not knowing what was going on.  In the back room, Sam and Tommy get into a shouting match when Tommy accuses him of acting like Joe Lee - drunk and mean - and Sam, infuriated, fires his little brother and kicks him out of the rental cottage.  Tommy is stunned and immediately apologetic - he has nowhere to go.  But Sam is on a rampage and won't hear it, going back out to the restaurant to kick all the patrons out.  He turns on Tara, who is now sitting at the bar and helping herself to a bottle of tequila, and shouts at her to get out.  She looks at him calmly: "No."

Out in the woods behind the bar, Holly has set up a sacred circle with salt and candles.  She goes on (and on and on and on and on) about the great mother goddess and mixes up a "decoction," telling Arlene she's to drink it four times a day for at least five days.  She also tells Arlene that there's no guarantee that this will work because if this spirit is meant to be born, it will be, nothing they can do about it.  Arlene nods her head and knocks back her first dose.

Lafayette is woken up by [hallucinating?] all his little god dolls and idols talking to him.  He's freaking out.

Russell, Eric, Sookie and Bill arrive at Fangtasia.  As Russell strolls into the club with Sookie in tow, Eric whispers to Bill to hit him.  After being slightly too slow on the uptake, Bill punches him and they start trading blows.  Russell rolls his eyes and continues inside.  The boys stop fighting and Eric says he has a plan.

Sam and Tara sit at the bar, drinking and talking about how Sam may have just lost all the friends he had, and Tara doesn't have any friends really anyway.  They decide to go back to his trailer and screw.  While they are thus occupied, Tommy cuts the alarm wire and cleans out the bar's safe.

Terry wakes Arlene up, frightened because their bed is full of blood.  She is calm, though, and tells him there's no need for an ambulance: she'll get cleaned up and he can take her to the hospital: "I'm sorry, honey, I think we're losing the baby."  At the hospital, however, the doctor tells them not to worry as the baby is fine and dandy.

When Jason gets back to his house, he tells Crystal that he loves her, no matter what she is.  Then she tells him that they have to stop the upcoming DEA raid on Hotshot because of all the innocent, meth-cookin panther kids who just won't survive bein put in the system.  He's like, the folks up there are really sketchy - I saw some guy "chewin on somethin dead."  Crystal:  "That's my double cousin Buford.  He ain't right but he never hurt nobody."  She goes on to say that her daddy Calvin and Felton are nuts and will burn Hotshot to the ground, with everyone in it, if they feel threatened.

Back at Fangtasia, Russell is skeptical that Sookie is even part faerie so Eric tells him to try her blood.  Bill backs Eric up, saying that he's done it and walked in the sunlight, but they should be careful and not drain her or they won't get any more.  Sookie's like, WTF, why are you helping these guys?  He tries to explain that maybe Russell will let them live this way but she is not appeased:  "I hate ALL you guys."  Russell considers and says, well, okay, but Eric, you go first.  Then he and Eric latch onto poor Sookie and start slurping.  She screams and stares at a helpless Bill.

Then, with much trepidation, Eric steps outside into the sunlight while Pam and Russell watch on the CCTV. He moves away from the entrance when he begins to smoke and whispers to himself, "Don't let them see, don't let them see."  Russell is thrilled:  "Faeries!  Fuckin faeries!"  Tears of joy bleed down his face and he walks out after Eric, while Pam remains glued to the t.v. set, crying herself.  Bill pleads with her to unchain him so he can heal poor Sookie with his blood.  When Russell joins Eric, the Viking's face is blistered and starting to scorch, but he chains himself to the King with silver handcuffs, binding them together.  "Traitor," snarls Russell.  They fall to their knees and Eric tells the King to be brave - they'll die together.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

True Blood episode recap "I Smell a Rat" (S3E10)

Sookie:  "I'm a faerie?  How fucking lame!"  Bill explains that somewhere down the line, a male fey hooked up with one of Sookie's female ancestors and the subsequent end result was Sookie, a human/faerie hybrid.  (But that would mean that Jason is part faerie too, right?  Is he going to suddenly develop powers now too?)  Bill goes on to tell her that as far as anyone knows, the whole faerie race was wiped out by vampires who craved their ultra-delicious, "intoxicating" blood.  (Except that Claudine and her glowing cronies, who are clearly still in existence somewhere, just maybe not on the earthly plane anymore.)  Sookie wonders if it's her tasty bloodd that makes Bill so attracted to her.  He insists that no, he loves her for her.

In the aftermath of Jason's obliterating Franklin with that wooden bullet, Jason starts to freak out a little.  Tara takes charge, telling him they'll bury the sludgy remains and burn Franklin's clothes.  She spits on the patch of bloody dirt.  Meanwhile, Sam is back in his trailer, disinfecting his shredded hands with booze and remembering the bad old days when he was a grifter and a thief, and he was double-crossed by the blonde chickie he was with and her boyfriend.  I'm just not buying the whole "Sam Merlotte was a bad dude" thing.  Sure, he's had his secrets but this seems to have come on too suddenly, like the writers were stretching, trying to find a use for cute Sam Trammel.

At Fangtasia, Eric is making out his will and leaving everything to Pam.  She is furious with him for not putting up a fight.  He says that he's only covering his bases and her ass, making sure she's taken care of if he can't defeat the older and much more powerful Russell Edgington.

Lafayette drives to his house, realizing that they'll never make it to a hospital before the badly beaten Calvin kicks the bucket.  He runs inside and brings out some V, pouring it into Calvin's mouth.  In just a few moments, the wounded man heals in front of their eyes.  Jesus marvels and Crystal weeps with joy.  An ungrateful Calvin backhands her across the face: "You let these faggots put vamper juice in me?"  He runs into the woods, his daughter shrieking and following.  Lafayette: "Them fuckers is a whole new dimension of trash."  Heh.  Out in the woods, Calvin chews Crystal out for chasing after a human and mixing with outsiders instead of keeping to her place.  She snivels that she doesn't love Felton and won't go back to him.  She runs off and he calls after her that she's dead to him and no daughter of his.

While Sookie sleeps on Jason's couch, Bill goes outside to find Eric waiting for him.  Eric knows that Sookie is part faerie, and what her blood can do, and that Queen Sophie-Ann sent Bill to Bon Temps to get close to her.  Bill says okay, but the partial faerie blood will only keep a vampire in the sun for a few moments before a slow burn starts.  They start snarling at each other and Eric dares Bill to "tell Sookie the truth."  Sookie's come up behind them and wants to know what truth.  They blow her question off and Eric bids them both farewell, wishing Sookie the best since he won't be around for much longer.

Hoyt drives Summer back to her home and she all but throws herself at him, unbuttoning her blouse and saying that even tho' "God likes girls to wait," she'll give it up for him since he's a "sexual being."  Hoyt cannot get out of there fast enough.

Tired and bloody, Jason and Tara go back to Jason's house and are none too pleased to find Bill there.  Tara is snarling and defensive and tells Sookie that she's had enough of vampires who kidnap you and tie you up and tape you so you can't scream, and rape you and try to turn you ... and the "man" that Sookie loves didn't lift a finger to help.  Sookie's eyes fill with tears and she grabs Tara into a hug.  Outside, Bill tells Jason to get his shotgun and be careful: werewolves are really fast.

Back at Lafayette's house, Jesus has decided that he wants to try a V trip.  Lafayette is reluctant at first, saying that the drug is intense and unpredictable, but Jesus is persuasive, saying that they are connected to mystic power and the V could take them even closer.  Soon enough, the drug kicks in as the boys are dancing with each other, the little gods and idols on Lafayette's mantle dancing along with them.

In the morning, all the Merlotte's employees are nervous and jerky around Sam until he tells them that Calvin is okay and they should just act normal.  Holly offers up some black cohosh to smooth him out a little.  Sam asks if she's got anything for "nosiness and bad boundaries." She apologizes, saying she's a Wiccan and this is what she does, offer up remedies.  He says it's okay, seeing how she's new, but the bar has two rules: no dancing and no religion.

After Bill has gone to ground, Jason tells Sookie what happened with Franklin and then, distraught, tells her that he's the one who shot Eggs, not Andy.  She's shocked and tells him that Tara has got to know.  He doesn't want to tell Tara, saying he's protecting her from the truth.

The V trip gets deeper and weirder, making the boys speak out of each other's mouth and sending them through time and space: to visit Jesus' Abuela, a kindly witch who saved people from spells; to one of his Mexican Tias, another witch who solved fertility problesm; to Lafayette's great-great-great grandma May and her daughter Winnie, salves who were conjurers and who never had to share their masters' beds because of their powers; and to Jesus's scary Abuelo, a sorceror versed in the dark arts, from whom Jesus's mother ran away, trying to protect her son from her father's big plans.  The old sorceror looks up at them and they scream, and bounce out of the V trip.  Lafayette is freaked out but Jesus thinks that was way cool.

Sookie has a dream about Eric, and knows it's a dream; dream Eric tells her to enjoy it since she knows she has feelings for him.  Sookie: "Eew."  He kisses her and she kisses him back a little.  Dream Eric tells her that she can't trust Bill and she wakes up with a start, her brother looking at her curiously as he takes a breakfast tray in to Tara.  Unable to restraint himself, he admits to having shot Eggs.  Her face moves with shock and horror and grief - she's had about all she can take and runs out.  When Jason comes out into the living room, he sees the note Sookie has left: Gone out, back soon.

Sam goes wandering out in the woods, drinking and remembering the bad old days again when, as a cute beagle, he tracked the two who double-crossed him, then shifted to human and shot them both.  Ah, so we're supposed to accept that Sam is REALLY a bad ass and not to be trifled with.  Whatever.  I'm still not buying it.

Sookie has gone to confront Eric at Fangtasia, barging into his office and demanding to know what he meant by not being around much longer.  He doesn't want to talk about that and reminds her that she's not to trust Bill.  Also, he wants to kiss her before Russell kills him.  He grabs her and kisses her and she really kisses him back and it is HOT - they have much, much more chemistry than she and Bill do.  Pam bursts in:  "Blah blah vampire emergency blah blah."  Heh.  Eric follows her out and wants to know WTF.  Pam points out that they're in a ration of shit and he's too busy making out with the solution to realize that he should give Sookie up to Russell in exchange for their lives.  Eric says he won't do that and Pam sneers that he would have done anything to save Godric.  If he won't give Sookie to Russell, he ought to figure out how to use her.

Speaking of Russell, the crazy King goes trolling and picks up a male prostitute who looks vaguely like poor Talbot.  They go back to the whore's place and after sex, Russell gets weepy, talking to the confused whore like he's really Talbot.  Then, bereft, Russell stakes the poor guy who, being human, dies slowly and in great pain as the vampire cries against his shoulder.

At Merlotte's, Arlene asks Holly if they can talk about alternate ways to get rid of Rene's evil baby.  Holly nods solemnly.  Hoyt shows up and announces to Jessica that he loves her and wants her back.  Tommy watches jealously.  Jessica says that Hoyt doesn't know all the horrible things she's done ... and enjoyed doing.  He tells her again that he loves her and knows what he wants, but she can't get any more words out and he leaves the bar, hurt.  Tommy chases after him, sneering, "Nice work in there, dude."  Hoyt punches him and Tommy, infuriated, shifts into his pitbull and attacks Hoyt, ripping into his arm.  Jessica hears the commotion and rushes out.  She grabs the pitbull and flings it into the bushes, then looks at Hoyt's shredded arm.  She bites into her own wrist and makes Hoyt drink her blood, telling him that she loves him.  Tommy, shifted back into human form, watches them from the underbrush.

When Jason returns home from looking for his sister, Bill grabs him and shoves him against the wall, wanting to know where Sookie is.  The vampire is angry, saying that Jason was supposed to protect her.  Jason is first sorry and then snaps, shouting for Bill to shut the fuck up and get off him, and to get the fuck out of his house.  The invitation to enter is rescinded and Bill is physically sucked out the front door, shock evident on his face.  Jason sags against the wall, then hears something in the back of the house. He peeks into his bedroom and is speechless to see a huge black panther sitting in the middle of the room.  As he watches, the  panther shifts into a naked Crystal.

Wait. Wait a fucking minute.  This show is out of control.  First it was vampires and mind-readers, then shapeshifters and maenads, then werewolves and faeries and sorcerors and witches and now fricking werepanthers?  Seriously, this show is lacking some focus.

Eric returns to his office and throws Sookie over his shoulder.  As she struggles, Bill, in Bon Temps, hears her screams and takes off.  Eric takes her to the basement and chains her by the neck to a pillar.  Apparently Pam persuaded him and he's some some sort of plan now.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood