My Evening with Bigfoot

Bigfoot

Yield for Bigfoot

So, if you’re in the Houston area you may have seen the news reports about Bigfoot tracker Rick Dyer bringing his prize catch for display: the body of Bigfoot that he caught in 2012 by nailing Wal-Mart ribs to a tree outside of San Antonio, Texas.  Yup. If you’ve heard his name before, perhaps it was because of his 2008 hoax, where his claims of catching Bigfoot proved to be only a $400 dollar gorilla suit stuffed with cow guts.  This hoax, Dyer says, lit a fire under him in pursuit of redemption which lead him to “get the real deal.”

Rick Dyer is now touring his Bigfoot, and the tour through Houston began on Sunday at Trader’s Village.  His exhibit drew hundreds.  Sunday’s exhibit was followed by two sold out showings at Houston’s two Alamo Drafthouse locations: Mason Road on Monday night and Vintage Park on Tuesday night.  Attending the Vintage Park event, it opened with an intro to Rick Dyer’s Bigfoot group and grainy footage of what appears to be Bigfoot eating ribs off of a tree, filmed through a small window inside a tent.  In a voice over, Rick Dyer expresses paralyzing fear in that moment and guilt over having later killed it.  Alamo then showed the two episode arc “The Secret of Bigfoot” of Six Million Dollar Man” with a 30 minute Rick Dyer Q&A intermission, followed by access to the Bigfoot corpse viewing.

The Q&A session is where the event took a drastic turn from cheeky entertainment to a hostile environment within minutes.  It became both shocking and humorous the more questions were thrown at Rick Dyer.  The more the audience demanded truth the more arrogant Rick Dyer became.  He proudly admitted to enjoy lying to people and dodged answering most of the questions.  “What college performed the autopsy?” “What form of government is interested in taking away your Bigfoot?”  “Where is the DNA, you liar?” (A personal favorite question, asked by an angry 9 year old girl)  All met with some variation of, “I’m unable to disclose that information.”  What details Rick Dyer did provide, however, always contradicted some tidbit of the story he’d told previously.  The mood went from jovial, to confused, and ended in fury.  Someone asked about his arrest for an ebay car sale fraud that Rick Dyer seemed to struggle with answering as well.  Overall the questions revealed a lot about Rick Dyer’s character, or lack thereof, which only fueled the audience members’ disgust.  When questions focused on the money Dyer is making from the Bigfoot body, he began bragging about his new Porsche and all of the money he’s out to make.

The attendees seemed an even blend of believers, people who were on the fence, and those non-believers out for a good night of entertainment.   The group seated next to me fell into the latter category, but by the end of the Q&A session actually stood up to tell Rick Dyer, “You need your butt kicked.”  The audience cheered.  Some of the attendees, dejected and disappointed, stormed out. Time ran out for the Q&A, but so many hands were still raised that they were invited to continue in the theater lobby, where the Bigfoot body viewing took place.  Nearly everyone jumped out of their seats to follow Dyer, leaving an almost empty theater to finish the Six Million Dollar Man showing.

Exiting the theater, the line to view Bigfoot and speak with Dyer stretched toward the back of the theater and moved at a crawl.  People were calling loved ones on their cells to vent their frustration, and a father was overheard telling his young children, “He’s amoral, but he’s a genius.”

Leading up to the events, there was some controversy and the programming director was bombarded by the Bigfoot community, pleading with him to cancel.  Rick Dyer is not well loved in that community.  I’m in the skeptic camp, and I was unfamiliar with Rick Dyer previously, so it seemed overkill to harass a programming director for putting on an event meant to be silly and fun.  While I still disagree with their methods, it’s easy to understand their ire having witnessed the brazen sleaze that is Rick Dyer.

He’s unapologetic about his desire for fame and money, and managed to suck the fun out of the event.  From what I’ve read, the event the night before at Mason Park went vastly different; much more calm I’m sure.  So I assume our pissed off group had a large hand in how the evening played out.

Though the event turned out different from my expectations, I still had fun.  I do not want Rick Dyer to have any more of my money (and recommend that you avoid giving him yours as well, if the chance arises), but as always had an absolute blast at the Alamo Drafthouse.

“Black Spot” Horror 3D Short with Throwback Feel.

Black Spot3d poster image

Paul is stranded on a lonely country road when his car fails to start. He walks through a melancholic landscape of missing person posters and floral tributes to roadside deaths, before chancing upon another car, but one which ironically is also broken down. Not only will this car provide Paul with salvation and suffering, but force him to face his own recent past actions and a provide him with a potential chance to redeem himself…

“Black Spot” is a 6 minute sensory assault by Sussex based film maker Luther Bhogal-Jones, using only a 3D camcorder roughly the size of a Blackberry.  The writer/director’s love of 3D films inspired the classic look of the short.  Faster Productions offers three ways to view this short: stereoscopic 3D for 3D tvs, classic 3D requiring red/cyan 3D glasses, or standard 2D.  The 3D is what really makes this short, giving it a throwback 70s horror feel.  With an unyielding soundtrack, the short isn’t bogged down by unnecessary dialogue either.

All three versions can be viewed here.

While there, be sure to check out Luther Bhogal-Jones’ other horror short, “Creak.”  Well received by genre critics, “Creak” is haunting and atmospheric for its short 5 minute run time.  It’s amazing what can be done with a small budget and only a few minutes to tell a complete story.

Haunt Movie Review

ImageHaunt opens interestingly enough: a man emotional over the deaths of his children tries to contact them through an antique EVP radio and things go awry when he turns the dial and hears their voices.  Their voices aren’t the only that he hears. Something is comes through the open connection and the man dies as a result.  This gives way to a narrated montage explaining the tragedy that befell his family in that house, known as the “Morello curse.”  Only the mother(played by Jacki Weaver) survives and she moves out, leaving the large creepy house open for our protagonist, Evan, and his family to move in. 

As Evan and his older and younger sisters explore their new house, their images are juxtaposed with the corpses of the previous tenants as they move past the spots where they died.  First sign this movie was going to disappoint, as this came across more clumsy and forced than atmospheric.  Evan claims the large attic space as his bedroom, and the deliberate camera shots of the small door in the corner and moving floorboard really rub your face in the foreshadowing.  

Restless one night, Evan takes a walk in the woods and comes across a girl his age crying alone in the path.  Naturally, they hit it off immediately, and Sam spends the rest of the movie attached to Evan as she’s hiding from her abusive father.  She’s very familiar with Evan’s house, claiming to have spent a lot of time in the house before, and I admit I wondered if she was a ghost.  Her behavior was a little strange for a normal girl.  She somehow knows about the antique EVP radio left behind in the small attic room and talks Evan into using it to make contact with spirits.  Contact is made, much to Evan’s surprise, and he shuts the radio off.  Only the ghosts aren’t ready to cease communication and the haunting escalates.

Haunt is a competently made film, but it’s like so many haunted house flicks before it.  Some of the jump scares work, but so many fall flat because you’ve seen the exact same ones duplicated before.  When Evan peers through the partially opened door of his younger sister, curious who she is talking to, I bet you can guess what happens next.  The designs of the ghosts are well done, and not all scares fall flat.  Some of the visuals are effectively creepy.

The actors all do a fine job, and the dialogue is more intelligent than you’d expect for a horror film featuring teens as the leads.  Evan and Sam actually make logical choices.  Jacki Weaver packs a lot of punch into her smaller supporting role.  

As typical and generic as most of the film felt, I admit the ending was not what I expected.  The mystery is wrapped up rather abruptly, though, and I was left wishing there was a little more explanation.  Some plot threads felt under utilized and pointless, but overall the narrative was interesting enough.

An enjoyable haunted house flick with decent scares lead by a likable cast, just don’t expect anything new.

Odd Thomas is an Odd Mess (Review)

ImageAfter a long delay due to legal issues, Odd Thomas is finally receiving a wider release later this month.  Based on Dean Koontz’s bestseller, Odd Thomas revolves around a short order cook, played by Anton Yelchin, in a small town who is often sought out by ghosts to solve their deaths. When he’s jolted from his bed in the middle of the night by faceless people in bowling uniforms being gunned down, he knows something evil is coming.  The stakes are raised higher by the CGI Bodachs, demons that feed off of death and carnage, that start accumulating in large quantities everywhere he goes.  Odd Thomas, usually never seeing more than one at a time, realizes they’re on the brink of devastation. Using his supernatural gifts, Odd must hurry to prevent whatever catastrophe is about to befall the town.

Only two people know of Odd’s abilities: police chief Wyatt (Willem Dafoe) and girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn.  Wyatt covers up for Odd whenever Odd happens to nab the bad guy in the midst of ghost duty, and also serves as a father figure.  Stormy (Addison Timlin) is the quirky love of Odd’s life who worries about his safety.  They serve as Odd’s allies as he bumbles his way through solving the mystery, using the Bodachs as a bread crumb trail.

Doesn’t sound bad, right?  Unfortunately the film ends up being a convoluted mess that doesn’t seem quite sure what it wants to be.  The movie opens at break neck speed, throwing you into the deep end of Odd Thomas’ life and ties to the supernatural.  It feels almost like an MTV production- overly stylized with a trendy soundtrack while the plot isn’t nearly as polished.  The film’s tone seems all over the place as well.  Sometimes happy, sometimes funny, sometimes slightly dark.  It adds to the confusion. As it barrels to the finish line from the get go, the dialogue has to constantly explain what you just saw and the exposition gets tedious.  Any rules the film sets up early on are dismissed later on without explanation or consequence.  For example, Odd pretends to not notice the Bodachs as, he explains in voiceover, they kill any one who can see them.  So prepare to be confused later on when that rule is ignored.

Willam Dafoe is affable in his limited role, but the role of Stormy was puzzling.  I assume she was meant to be quirky and strong minded, but the actress seemed only able to deliver the lines in such a perpetually perky way that it felt flat.  Any scenes between Stormy and Odd were salvaged only by Anton’s genuine geniality that he brought to his role.  It was thanks to him that any emotional scenes had any impact at all.  Actually, Anton Yelchin is the glue that held this mess together. There are a few smaller cameos that I imagine had larger roles in Dean Koontz’s book, but held no meaning in the film.

Overall, Odd Thomas is hindered by the script.  If you have to constantly explain to your audience what is going on via narration, then there’s something wrong. Character development was non-existent as well. Instead of cleaning up the narrative, style was slapped over it as a band-aid.  The only positive was Anton Yelchin’s performance, keeping the film from floundering altogether.  

 

Xenomorph Truffles (and how to)

I found an Alien “Big Chap” ice cube tray on Amazon and determined that I needed to have such a thing in my possession.  Of course, my freezer already has an ice maker and the Alien ice cube tray consisted only of two normal sized cubed xenomorphs and four small ones so this item really was a novelty purchase.  Struck with a moment of genius (ha!), I thought how cool it would be to come up with a dark outer chocolate shell and neon green cream filling.  Best truffle ever, right?  My kitchen experiment turned out well, so I thought I’d share in case anyone else wanted to make these.  Valentine’s day is coming up right??

This would work with any chocolate or silicone mold, so it doesn’t have to be Alien related (though it should be horror related, otherwise it’d be far less amusing).  First step is making sure your mold is clean and dry.  Next, melt your chocolate using your preferred method, this page explains each method.  For simplicity, I used the disposable bag method.  Be careful when choosing this method that you don’t use a thin ziploc bag that could melt in the microwave.

Next, squeeze/pour chocolate into molds evenly.  For the smaller xenomorphs I just filled to the top, but for the larger ones fill only the bottom and use a clean brush to dip into the bottom and brush along the sides of the mold, covering all surfaces.  Like so:

Mold

I would use less chocolate on bottom next round.  The more you have on the bottom of the mold, the thicker your shell is.  Once the mold is filled and coated to your liking, tap the bottom on the counter to release air bubbles and just smooth out the chocolate in the mold.  Pop this in the fridge to set while you focus on your filling.

I went with a simple ganache recipe for this initial experiment:  1/3 cup heavy cream to 12 oz chocolate or candy melt ratio.  Bring the heavy cream to just before boiling and add the chopped chocolate bits, stirring until shiny and melted.

double double, toil and trouble??

double double, toil and trouble??

To get the aesthetic I wanted, I went with the lime green Wilton candy melts.  What an..erm…appetizing color?  Once ready, I poured into a bowl and put in the fridge to set.  When the ganache cooled, I pulled it out of the fridge along with the mold and spooned the filling into the half filled wells.  Keep the filling in the center, away from the walls of the mold, and don’t fill all the way to the top.  If your leftover chocolate has hardened, reheat at this point and fill the rest of the way.  Tap out the air bubbles and put back in the fridge to set.

Finally?  Enjoy.

greencenter

Next attempt I’d like to play more with the flavors, like a raspberry filling to pair with the chocolate. Really, this is just a basic idea to expand upon (and boy did this inspire a lot of ideas for me).  I used the smaller ones to top cookies and cream cupcakes.  I’ve got ideas how to spruce those up as well…next time…

Cupcaketopper

Cookies and cream..and xenomorphs, oh my.

Cannot wait to try more ideas out.  I’d love to see what you come up with!