Thursday, November 26, 2009

Martyrs (2008)

So I was looking for something different. I often jump around the international horror genre and thought, "where are some places of which I'd like to see more?" I didn't feel like a zombie movie (I know, shock of shocks) and have recently had a string of disappointments in the Japanese ghost genre so I wanted to have a break from that for a while. I'm always open to recommendations and the one for the 2008 French film "Martyrs" came from Andre Dumas, author of the great horror blog The Horror Digest. She did not steer me wrong on this one. Not by a long shot.

"Martyrs" was directed by Pascal Laugier and not only stars but showcases the tremendous acting talents of Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï. I mean, they are so good in this, my paltry words do little justice to their talents.

As I begin, let me tell you that to discuss too much of the plot is to give too much away. The twists and reveals that unfold in this bloody thriller are so much a part of the ride, it'd be like showing you a blueprint of a roller coaster, then taking you on it. No way. Much like the first time I road a roller coaster a mere seven years ago when my brother said, "let's just ride the biggest one and see if we like it." "Martyrs," much like that roller coaster, was something I liked very much. So I'll show you the roller coaster, which may involve some little things revealed, but it's up to you to ride it.

I'll take you only so far in the recap, but after that, you're on your own. A young girl, bloodied and beaten, stumbles out into the harsh daylight from a run-down abattoir (full of rust and decay - see my earlier post on how much I enjoy buildings like that). She is tense with fear and adrenaline, and as she starts running, she allows the screams to finally escape. The girl, Lucie, is rescued and raised at an orphanage as the investigation into the building reveals nothing but some remnants of her torture. Standing out in particular is the chair to which she was chained, a hole in the seat providing a place for her to relieve herself. Immediately, you, the viewer, want to get your hands on the vile filth who put poor Lucie through that.

At the orphanage, Lucie is at first anti-social and withdrawn. One brave, compassionate little girl, Anna, reaches out to her and becomes her best friend and sister figure. But being friends with Lucie isn't easy. The nightmares never left her. Not only that, there is a mysterious, violent figure that haunts and attacks her.

Cut forward 15 years. An affluent French family enjoys a nice breakfast full of banter and teasing, mixed in with some teen angst. The daughter is a champion swimmer. The son is a restless genius. The doorbell rings and as the father answers it, an adult Lucie (Jampanoï) blows him away with a double-barreled shotgun. Weeping and shaking, Lucie systematically kills each member of the family before breaking down, then calling Anna to come help her. Anna is terrified. Lucie was supposed to confront the couple. Why? From a newspaper article on the daughter's swimming exploits, Lucie swears the parents are the couple who tortured her all those years ago. Swears that it's them. But Lucie has some serious problems. That mysterious person, a horribly disfigured, growling woman, repeatedly stalks and attacks her in the home. Anna is there to calm Lucie down, even getting her to sleep, but it's no easy task. Anna takes it upon herself to dispose of the bodies, but even that has its complications, as you will see.

It's not long after Lucie's final breakdown that the movie takes another of its sharp, 90-degree angle turns and almost throws you from the ride. Oh, yeah, and get ready for more because they're coming. Did I mention the bloody, brutal house of horrors section of the ride? Yeah, steel yourself for that, too, because it is relentless. "Martyrs" takes you from believing one thing, to revealing that there is something much, much deeper. Much, much more sinister. There is a moment while Anna is talking to her estranged mother on the phone from the family's house that involves a door. A door that wasn't there just minutes before. It is the moment that your roller coaster gets that much more thrilling, more intense. What happens after that will run your poor little soul straight through the wringer. You will learn what the title of the movie means. Let me just say two words as a clue: manufacturing martyrs.

The ending is...well, I won't give you a shred of what happens in the last portion of the movie, but it's open for interpretation. It will leave you thinking about it long after you power down your DVD player. To me, that means something. I haven't mulled over an ending like this since "The Mist."

I cannot gush enough about this movie. The acting set the bar high. The photography and direction is beautiful, bordering on Hitchcockian. I understand that Laugier is tabbed to direct the remake of Hellraiser. I'm not often keen on remakes, but Clive Barker's creation would be in good hands if this film is any indication of the type of product Laugier will put out. Oh, and the twists and turns, the twists and turns...

It is a roller coaster that will blow your mind, slug you in the gut, and headbutt you...and you'll ask for more.

So make some popcorn and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dead Air (2009)

Radio has been a constant in times of chaos. There have been radio broadcasts at pivotal times in history. The crash of the Hindenburg. The War of the Worlds. FDR's "fear itself" speech. President Obama's "at war with ourselves" speech when the zombie outbreak began.

"Dead Air," starring Otis Driftwood Bill Moseley and Patricia Tallman and directed by Corbin Bernsen (yes, that Corbin Bernsen), explores the power of radio along with what happens when terrorism is the reason behind a viral/zombie-ish outbreak.

A radio host not concerned with ratings? Whaaaa?

Moseley plays Logan Burnhardt, a nighttime shock-jock for a Los Angeles radio station hugely popular for being a controversial, confrontational personality. In reality, though, he's a nice guy with a young wife and daughter who knows how to separate his on-air and off-air personality, despite its difficulty. Drama follows him no matter what, as his producer is also his ex-wife, Lucy (Tallman). Their relationship is contentious, but professional for the most part. Joining him for his shift are his co-host Gil (David Moscow) and engineer Burt (Joshua Feinman), not to mention approximately one million listeners (according to Lucy at a later point in the movie). Seems like it's going to be another night behind the microphone, but Logan's running late. He has no material, so he just wings it, coming up with a subject off the top of his head.

Paranoia. He goes with paranoia, and if you don't see the foreshadowing here, then I may have to drag out an old-school blackboard.

A few callers are crackpots that Logan insults (actually rather tamely, I thought), but one guy he goes completely off on for his beliefs that "the Muslims are responsible for all that's wrong in the world." Everyone looks nervous as Logan tears this nutter a new one, maybe two new ones, and the audience finally gets to see the bite Burnhardt has. It's a bit of a spoiler to say why he gets so riled up, but I'll just say it's very personal. This is actually a well-played bit of character background that unfolds rather nicely.

At an NBA game, we are privy to two terrorists up to some no-good shenanigans. They prepare to unleash some gas into the event, but one of the butterfingers causes it to leak early. He freaks out and the other is forced to shoot him through his pathetic noggin before stumbling out in a gas mask. No, not conspicuous at all.

It's business as usual at the station for a while until reports of rioting and strange behavior start emenating from that very same stadium. News stories show frenzied crowds and some people just acting like utter nutbars. Said nutbars branch out, seemingly multiplying. This infections is along the nasty lines: it can spread through bites and scratches. The terrorist who didn't botch his massive hate crime catches up with two others, but due to his exposure to the gas, is put down by the leader, Abir (Navid Negahban), who also happens to be his brother. The remaining two miscreants make their way to the radio station to further along their plan.

Meanwhile, Logan doesn't want to give his airwaves over to the Emergency Broadcast System, choosing instead to field calls from frightened people in the thick of the chaos. He's not enjoying it, like you would think certain other radio talk show hosts (who shall remain nameless here) would - after all, hey, ratings. Logan's got other, more important things on his mind, namely his wife and daughter. How frustrating is that? Trapped in a well-fortified building but knowing your loved ones are somewhere out there, in the path of all the bitey, infectious insanity.

The terrorists make it to the radio, and Abir ditches his last ally, telling him to kill himself before the infection spreads in him. Abir, after all, has only enough antidote for himself. Proving himself to be one gracious dude, Gil volunteers to take his motorcycle and speed over to Logan's house to help protect his family. He nearly doesn't make it out, thanks to an infected Burt (as a result of an earlier scuffle with the security guard). From his bike, Gil reports back about the desolate streets and sudden throngs of crazy bloody-eyed people.

Infected terrorist, you deserve the painful diarrhea I'm sure that chemical will cause.

Abir reaches the studio and holds Logan and Lucy hostage, forcing Logan to give out false information to spread the panic and fan the flames of hate, including inflammatory comments directed at Muslims. There's a good reason why this makes Logan uncomfortable, and again, I won't spoil it for you. In a struggle, Abir's last syringes are broken, and he makes Logan retrieve some from a diabetic co-worker's desk. There's a showdown in a stairwell as the delirious Abir runs into his former cohort, now fully infected, which results in a humorous take on the bullet to the brain moment. Cue a newly-infected Susan Ruttan from L.A. Law (it is directed by Corbin Bernsen, mind you) and Abir is meat.

Scratched during a battle with that pesky security guard who shows up again, Logan takes the antidote and survives, guiding the few listeners he has left into a new day. The antidote will be taken to the proper authorities, and the terrorists will not have won, though the death toll is huge. Logan is able to go home again, and be reunited with his family. There is, as is standard with most horror films these days, a bit of a twist, but it is left open for interpretation. Depends on your mood how you might see it as ending.

Now, this movie didn't suck whatsoever, but oddly, it didn't blow me out of the sky, either. It clocked in somewhere smack dab in the middle. I like my infection movies full of blood, guts, goo, and other multi-colored liquids and masses. When there's biting and clawing, well, I don't expect the infected to hold back with a "oh, sorry, there, chief - didn't mean to poke your eye." Several times in the movie, and I can understand budget constraints and even a little "leaving to the imagination," there were moments when something terrible was about to happen to someone and, just a bit underwhelming. They did save the ripping and tearing for Abir, which is poetic justice, I suppose. And there was a funny scene when Abir shoots his former colleague in the head. Seems the infection dulls the pain receptors and causes people to be puzzled while they fish the bullets from their wounds. To rehash, the infected aren't dead, just really sick and with a hard-on for beating, biting, kicking, and bleeding from the eyeballs.

In all, I just felt like it was a good movie about how terrorism, paranoia, and the fear of chemical attack go arm in arm, but as a whole, one that fell just short of being really good. Bill Moseley is fun in just about anything, and I really feel Patricia Tallman is an underrated actress (she always gets me in the remake of "Night Of The Living Dead"). Yeah, the acting was fine. Some sequences were standouts, too. Burt's transformation in the elevator in front of a shitting-in-his pants Gil was very well done. A quick long shot of Gil speeding down an empty street, with infected nutjobs emerging from random shadows, really did it for me.

So, up here in my helicopter, I'll stick with music but hey, if Logan Burnhardt wants to go back on the air, I'll listen, but I'm afraid he's just too nice a guy to be controversial. Kind of like this movie was too nice to be really scary.

'Til next time, keep your doors and windows barricaded.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Changeling (1980)

Even though I have a deep love for the horror genre, it's very rare when something actually reaches below my skin and gives me genuine chills. It's not because what I see is bad - well, sometimes it can be, but we won't worry about that - I've seen some movies, read some books, and subscribe to one comic that is a monthly punch in the gut (Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrow's Crossed). It may be because certain primal images deliver the blow straight to the subconscious fear center and causes the brain to make with the heebie-jeebies.

Welcome to "The Changeling," directed by Peter Medak. This offering from 1980 (the year the Phillies won their first World Series1) features George C. Scott as John Russell, a composer and university professor who, in the beginning of the film loses his family. They don't just leave. No, they are brutally taken from him in a horrible automobile accident that he witnesses just mere feet away. The movie starts with that. It kicks you in your solar plexus, then backs off to say "I'll wait until you catch your breath."

Eat your heart out, Don Draper.

Without going into too much revealing detail, we get to know John a little better as he slowly recovers from mourning his wife and daughter. He's having trouble, and who wouldn't? He takes a job teaching at the university while he composes music. Living quarters? Well, there's the rub. He rents a house suggested to him by a nice lady, Claire (Trish Van Devere, Scott's real-life wife), from the historical society. Seems like a nice place. I'd live there.

Things start happening, though. A strange, rhythmic banging sound echoes through the house. Water taps turn on by themselves. John sees the image of a young boy in the water of the tub. An attic window spits glass at John outside. He gets disturbed, but also curious. Seems to be strange, especially the laughter. The attic itself is hidden behind boards, and when he opens it, it appears to have been left in its state since 1909. There's a wheelchair, a music box, a journal and oodles of cobwebs.

Needs just a bit of Pledge.

But when the little red ball that once belonged to his daughter rolls down the stairs not once, but twice (and believe me, the second time's the charm)...well, that's when the movie asks you "recovered from that kick yet, because I'm warming up my foot."

Aw, shiii...

From here, it turns into a mystery rolled up with the creepy aspect, as John and Claire try to solve the mystery of who this ghost is, how and why he died, and what he wants. There's a seance, and you know some good will come of that. Oh, it does. But it was the post-seance that gave me the biggest chills, as John listens to the tape made of the seance. Readers, turn your TV's up for this entire movie. The sound is incredible, and is a character all in itself. Sometimes the noise is slamming into your ear, at others it's not quite there, like you heard it in your imagination. And I'm telling you, when John hears what he hears on that tape...

Not an unreasonable reaction.

As characters in a horror/suspense movie, John and Claire displayed traits that really endeared them to me, such as intelligence and curiosity. Not dumb curiosity of the "let's go into Stabyerguts Woods and find firewood" sort. When John finds evidence of an extra room boarded up, he tears it down. I'd have done the exact same thing. He's not petrified with fear, though he has every right. He's curious and he wants to help find justice for this spirit. I hoped Claire wouldn't be the less smart of the duo, and I was pleased when she showed the same depth and brains that John had. The acting by Scott and Van Devere was top-notch.

You want dumb? Try police detective De Witt (John Colicos - the supervillain Mikko Cassadine on General Hospital in the 80's...don't ask how I know that). On the payroll of the movie's antagonist, Senator Joseph Carmichael (Melvyn Douglas), De Witt makes threats and demands in a GRAND SHAKESPEAREAN VOICE that made me wish he was in the film for longer. Threats against a man trying to help solve a mystery about a ghost? Eh, not a good idea.

Gone to that Globe Theater in the sky.

Looking for something creepy, atmospheric, well-acted, and well-made with believable characters and truly chilling moments? Find a way to get this movie, pop it in your DVD player or whatever the looters didn't take after the zombie apocalypse, and turn the lights off. You won't be disappointed.

Oh, yeah, and you might want to remove all little plastic red balls from your home.


1As a lifelong Phillies fan, I am contractually obligated to add this every time the year 1980 is mentioned.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Roots Of Personal Horror, Volume 1

There have been a lot of factors that lead to my love of the horror genre. Everything from my fascination by the original "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" series to collecting ghost stories contributed something along the way. It's no secret that I have an affinity for apocalyptic revenant or infection fiction. You know, that unstoppable juggernaut of disease that might only spare a few lucky sociological experiments. However, it doesn't take away from my love of supernatural fiction, especially when it involves ghostly, often abandoned, locales.

I may have always been enamored with abandoned places, especially businesses or even spookier, services like hospitals or - gulp - asylums. I don't know. I have always imagined what history they had - they're ghosts with walls. But I can trace back to an adventure on wintry night in Northville, Michigan, when it took root in my subconscious for good.

One of my very best friends, Keith, lived near Detroit and often told us tales of childhood shenanigans. One such set of shenanigans involved sneaking into an enormous complex of abandoned buildings that were once the Wayne County Training School for Feeble-Minded Children. Yeah, you read that right. Try getting away with that kind of name these days. Or don't, because it's not cool. But back in the 1920's, that's what passed for a serious name. To Detroit residents, it was known by the much shorter, much more politically correct, "The Tunnels." This name was a result of the method by which one gets around in there without being detected: the steam tunnels connecting all the major buildings.

One weekend, Keith and I were joined by Ric, another of my very best friends and roommates, and made the trip to Keith's home for the weekend. There, we met up with Jim, Keith's childhood friend who knew The Tunnels like the back of his hand. It was a dreary, hazy winter night. Snow on the ground, slight rain glossing it with an icy sheen. We weren't even there yet, and it was surreal.

The first thing we did was hide from a train. Talk about a bunch of grown men acting like kids in the 1940's, we were that. Plus, we were going into an area that was forbidden. To get caught at that time was a substantial fine for trespassing. We had no intention of vandalizing anything, but the police don't care. Approaching through the woods, we found the first building and in that strange night, our flashlights and the fuzz-toned moon in the sky the only source of light, it looked like ghostly past and post-atomic future all in one.

My mind reeled. I got scared. And then I fell in love.

Old buildings with rust and brick and decay and graffiti, derelicts beached by history. I imagined: what was their purpose? What kind of person worked or lived inside the walls? What ghosts remained?

Jim took us inside the first one, then down into the tunnels themselves. Cramped, we could only go single file in the absolute and pure darkness. There was real danger. Maybe Jim didn't know every nook and cranny of the place. And there were a lot of those. Gangs had been known to frequent the place. We'd heard tales of an LSD-riddled girl trapped down there for who-knows-how-long. When Ric's flashlight started flickering, it was icing on the adrenaline cake.

The everyday trappings of society were everywhere, too. There was a bowling alley in the activity center. We found a pool. A theater. Rooms, beds, desks, even canisters filled with food in the fallout shelter. It was like we'd found a place frozen forever in time, aided by the cold winter air. So quiet, too. Only our voices and the wind, and that was fairly calm.

We saw some other things, too. A blue light moving past a set of windows. Looked at straight on by all of us. No road nearby, so it wasn't headlights. It may have been something entirely innocent, but we've always liked to think it was something else. There was also ominous, telling, and often hilarious graffiti. One scrawled message blurted out "Hail Satin!" I guess we were to praise fabric.

It was a real adventure, almost like the kind The Goonies have, only much less dangerous and marketable. But the images I came away with have stuck with me for years since then. I still dream of underground tunnels, ghostly feelings, and empty places. They aren't nightmares. They're sleep gold.

Much like the horror genre binds many of us as friends, the thrill of The Tunnels binds anyone who visited them. They're gone now, but those who experienced it even once still talk about it. As a wrestling insider in Detroit for a few years, all I had to say was "remember The Tunnels?" and it became a campfire story-fest backstage. Keith, Ric, and I still talk about it to this day. And we toast the memory of Jim, who passed away several years after. He was a really, really good guy.

The abandoned asylum and good friends. The rush of doing something we shouldn't and seeing things that were pieces of history. There is no doubt it contributed to my horror palate.

For some great pictures (which is where I got the two above) try this link at Forgotten Michigan. For more information, including maps, try this link at Northville Tunnels.

Thanks for reading this long post, fellow survivors. See you next time...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Personal Zombie Soundtrack

So, to entertain myself, I often create themed CD's. Nothing new, I know. I've got ones ranging from 80's hair metal to music I envision being played in a strip club to songs you don't expect to blast out of my stereo's speakers (like William Shatner's rendition of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"). One of the most obvious ones someone like me would create sits firmly in my player right now: a zombie mix.

Now, outside of the WGON Helicopter site, I'm writing a story that is zombie-themed. The idea for it came many years ago, well before the first remake of Dawn of the Dead, and it started as a script. It's still in its first draft as a novel, and hovering around 450 pages. My talkative side came out in my writing, so my editing side must step in for the second draft. While writing this story - hell, while writing any story - I turned to music to help me build scenes or moods. The right song can put me emotionally in the story, which hopefully reflects to the reader. For most of the actual story writing, I listened to dark ambient music on WinAmp. It had that minimal, forboding structure that wasn't distracting, but added to said mood. But there are some other songs I had in my possession that I put on a disc that could be seen as a "soundtrack" to the story. Each song gave me images that ended up in the story, whether as they originally came to me, or in edited form.

See? Talkative. I've gone on long enough with the setup. Let me delve into the songs and maybe a little about each one.

Track 1 - L'Alba Dei Morti Viventi by Goblin - The main theme of the original "Dawn of the Dead" works here, too. Spooky and plodding - watch the movie again, and you'll feel it, too.

Track 2 - Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums by A Perfect Circle - I could see the contagion spreading to this song. It's relentless, and I imagine the disease would be the same.

Track 3 - End Of The World by Cold - "...when everyone else got sick." Kind of fits, I think. It's the end of the world, and they can do nothing about it. Plus, it has a thunderclap as a sound effect, which always gets me.

Track 4 - Forgiven by Within Temptation - I really fell for Within Temptation's music during this. This song is tremendously sad, and works in a scene that was heartbreaking to write. Someone close to the main character falls victim to the disease, and begins his cycle of guilt. "You gave up the fight/you left me behind/all that's done's forgiven" and "I watched the clouds drifting away/still the sun can't warm my face." Brrrr! Chills. I had to put my hero through hell, though.

Track 5 - Escape From Hellview by CKY - OK, this song really doesn't fit in the story, and I'm positive it's not about zombies, but it just put me in a rock-n-roll zombie type of mindset.

Track 6 - Alcohulin' Ass by HELLYEAH - Somewhere in the story, this fits. I see a set of travelers, brandishing guns and assorted weapons, on an open road for what may be their only rest as they drive.

Track 7 - Falling Again by Lacuna Coil - "I'm here, another day is gone/I don't want to die/please be there when I arrive/don't cry...please." There's a sad pleading which goes with what some of the characters feel. Hey, they don't want to die, and the way they're there for each other ranges from sweet to downright ewwww.

Track 8 - Say My Name by Within Temptation - Another Within Temptation song, yes. The lyrics might not seem to match what I'm writing, but I just see the way the music builds as key. When the guitars really kick in, two of my characters realize their rushed feelings for each other are just fine.

Track 9 - S.O.S. (Anything But Love) by Apocalyptica featuring Christina Scabbia) - Two characters develop a seriously dysfunctional relationship. She falls for douchebags, and he is one. The poor girl's feelings are played upon by more than one person in this story, and it gets to be too much.

Track 10 - Pretender by James Labrie - This is just pure gun-firing action. I just see this as one of the "let's get the hell out of here" carnage scenes.

Track 11 - Knights of Cydonia by Muse - Let me just preface by saying, I love this song. It has cheesy elements. It may not fit perfectly into this story, but the bombastic heroism of the song would highlight any zombie soundtrack! Guitar riff partway through = the hero(es) kick ass.

Track 12 - Join Me In Death by HIM - The love metal band had to make it on here somewhere. There's a sad scene featuring a bit of an explosion where we say goodbye to a couple characters. Kind of fits there.

Track 13 - The Host of Seraphim by Dead Can Dance - Oh, man, does this song just drip with a haunting sadness. You may have heard it towards the end of the film "The Mist." I see it just after the story loses half its cast, and the survivors not only have to see it, but have to deal with it in the moments afterward.

Track 14 - In This River by Black Label Society - Little metal ballad to wind it down. Hero finally breaks down after everything - he'll need his friends, his fellow survivors right about now.

Honorable mention: Doomsday by Murray Gold - This piece from the Doctor Who episode of the same name was amazingly haunting during that show. I can see it as the final song played as the characters ride towards their final fate - is it safe, or is it zombie-filled? There's a trace of hope in the song, but it's still forboding.

There you have it. There are other songs that didn't make the cut, but they're quite good, too. I think many of you might have other songs which could make a zombie soundtrack that I hadn't even thought of or heard. Please share 'em with me! I'm always open to new stuff.

In the meantime, enjoy some music and remember to be careful of corners when running from the bitey people.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Checking In From High Above The Biters

This may be a bit scattered today - I'm kind of all over the place, helping corral survivors towards the safe zone, keeping the infected away from the north gates. All in a day's work.

I'm going to start my own little horror hall of fame here soon. Been wanting to for ages, but I've been distracted with all sorts of non-horror business. The hall of fame itself will be my own tribute to those who have made horror enjoyable for me. Many of my choices will coincide with others' choices, some may not - hard to say at this point. It's just something I want to do for fun and respect to the genre I love.

Take a peek over there to the right and down a little. See those other horror blogs and such? Take some time and visit them. Many of them are by friends I have made since I decided to take my horror fandom to the Intra-webs. These are good, creative people who put out some real awesomeness out there. So go take a look, you won't be sorry!

Among the things suffering because of my scatterbrained ways in recent weeks is my movie-viewing pace. I did manage to sneak in a viewing of Sion Sono's Exte: Hair Extensions. This bizarre, creepy, and oddly humorous Japanese offering centered mostly around -- you guessed it -- hair extensions. Dig this: You got this bizarre, Jame Gumb-wannabe morgue attendant named Yamazaki.

Jame Gumb...

...Yamazaki. Distant cousins?

Seems Yamazaki has an intense hair fetish, clipping it off of corpses and often crafting hair extensions to sell when he isn't displaying/rolling in them at home. Oh, and he steals a corpse to take home when he notices it growing hair in the morgue. He thinks, "hey, free hair factory." You also have sweetly innocent Yuko (played by Gogo from Kill Bill, Volume 1 - Chiaki Kuriyama), a novice hairdresser at a busy salon. Yuko has her own subplotline wherein she "inherits" her young niece, Mami, from her abusive, hosebag sister. Their paths cross as Yamazaki creepily stalks both Yuko and Mami because they have perfect hair. Meanwhile, he's selling extensions from the corpse, and that's not exactly going well. At least not for the ladies who wear the extensions, who have visions of the dead girl's end and die from hair-related chaos.

Hair. Growing from eyeballs. And tongues. Everywhere.

If all that doesn't put you off hair extensions, I don't know what would. Well, just don't buy them from a creepy guy presenting them to you in an old bird cage.

Things go from bad to worse as Mami is taken back to Yamazaki's house, and Yuko goes to save her. Yamazaki's in heaven since there's all this hair, and now he has his two perfect specimens at his disposal. When he tries to cut Mami's hair, well, it all falls apart - and for him, literally. The ending had a plausible reason, and a moment where I laughed out loud - kind of a "what the hell did I just see?" sort of laugh.

One of these days, I promise I'll get to The Red Shoes - maybe even tonight. But you know I've made and not delivered on that promise before, so I'll see what cards I'm dealt.

That's all for now. Got to land this bird and get prepared for another busy day tomorrow. That's all for now. Stay mostly sane.