Wednesday, July 22, 2009

One Eyed Monster

Year: 2008

Director: Adam Fields

Cast: Amber Benson, Jason Graham, Charles Napier, Jeff Denton, Caleb Mayo, Bart Fletcher, Jenny Guy, Veronica Hart, John Edward Lee, Carmen Hart, Frank Noel, Ron Jeremy, et al.

Format Viewed: Satellite Broadcast

MPAA Rating: R (Violence, Nudity, Raunchy Adult Dialogue)

Official URL:

Blair Witch 3?

Premise: During a porn video shoot in a remote area of the California mountains a shooting star that's in reality a chthuloid alien force streaks out of the sky and takes possession of porn legend Ron Jeremy's member, then proceeds to rape, pillage, and/or impregnate all those in it's path.

Look, up in the sky!

The Reality: ALIEN meets THE THING in ONE EYED MONSTER, a movie in the dark comedic tradition of KILLER CONDOM, KILLER TONGUE, and KILLER PUSSY (aka SEXUAL PARASITE).

The Story: Alien possessed killer penis wreaks havoc on a mountain cottage full of "porn actors" going after them one by one TEN LITTLE INDIANS style. That's it. Honest. There's no sex, barely any nudity, and minimal plot. The latter is probably intentional given this is really a spoof of a porn movie shoot gone wrong. (See below)

It's porno time!

Assessment: The plot is minimal. Thus anything I say about the movie would likely give it all away. So I'll just comment on the movie in general, like the fact it has three writers. All with the same last name. Given that fact you may assume this is a movie full of heart but downright terrible writing or decent writing delivered in soulless performances by low rent day players. You'd be wrong.

That looks like a. .

One Eyed Monster isn't terrible. It's better than the average Sci-Fi/SyFy channel original movie. Granted as a comedy it's not exactly hilarious but it has its charm. But it may lack broad appeal. For instance aside from Ron Jeremy. .

OMG! U R famus prnstr!!!1

Who's been in the mainstream media often enough to be recognizable even to those without porn collections, most will likely have no idea who Veronica Hart is/was. .

An Oscar performance.

That may be a bad thing since there are a lot of in-jokes between these two porn actors that mainstream audiences aren't likely to get. Speaking of which be advised only one actress ever shows any skin, and even then she's only topless. So if you're only interested in seeing T&A forget about renting OEM. .

Teaser pic.

This is a nutty little horror spoof. Granted the balance of in-jokes given as nods to those in the know to jokes suitable for mainstream audiences, even mainstream horror audiences, seems to lean disproportionately to the "in the know" crowd but you don't need to get all the references. There is silliness, the usual trite moments of crazed absurdity one would expect of a low budget horror movie, and while knee-slapping gut busting belly laughs are lacking there are chuckle worthy moments.

Teaser pic #2

Verdict: This movie is an irascible bit of implied tongue-in-cheek horror comedy deviancy that plays like a porno sans the porn. Alas it does retain the long, boring, if surprisingly coherent, talky bits. Yet for all its potential ONE EYED MONSTER remains average. It doesn't push the envelope but aims squarely for the mainstream bull's-eye on the dartboard of cinema.

To objectively review this we need to ask one simple question: Who was this movie made for?

I'm not sure the writers, producers, or directors had a real audience focus in mind. This really plays more like a personal film project that, if an audience happens to get it, that's fine too. OEM wasn't made explicitly for contemporary porn fans as it has a decent if threadbare story and minimal displays of skin. All most porn fans today care about is nudity and hardcore sex, a fact that's actually poked fun of in the movie. Horror audiences will expect thrills and chills, which OEM has far too few of. One assumes Amber Benson, formerly of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was attached to attract that horror audience. But Buffy this is not.

Victim #1

So if OEM is not really for porn fans or horror fans then who is it for? My theory is OEM was made for the fun of it. Of course I could be wrong. Too, while there are some jokes made at Ron Jeremy's expense, I'm guessing porn fans have likely already heard them and non-porn fans wont get them. But is the comedy angle really on shaky ground? Yes and no. Better to have called this a spoof as billing it as a comedy puts the onus of expectations of actual ha-ha humor on this farce. Then again humor is highly subjective. Not everyone liked Monty Python or Benny Hill, doesn't mean they weren't funny.

She died how?

If I had a single complaint it's that the writers were too inhibited in their approach to humor and the horror aspect. (I was really hoping there'd be a gibbering, slathering, one-eyed puppet monster with either a saber toothed maw or giant glistening cycloptic eye dang-it!) Granted OEM avoided the trap most low budget b-movies fall into of overusing juvenile toilet humor, but the lack of even a few 'crap' lines stands out like a sore thumb. Yet, and this will probably shock some, ONE EYED MONSTER is a fairly decent b-movie. Could it have been better? Sure. And I'll admit to not knowing who Veronica Hart was and having to grab a reference book off the shelf to find out. So what? Once I knew she was a real veteran porn starlet, even though I didn't get the references, I got the gist of the humor.

This entire movie seems to be a grand farce in which two porn star legends (Ron Jeremy & Veronica Hart) poke fun at themselves, their industry, and filmmaking in general. Its' that self-deprecating humor that makes this fun to watch. I doubt any critic has yet to see the perfect movie but this is far from the worst movie ever made thus I would cautiously recommend it, doubly so to those who actually know who the porn stars mentioned herein are. (And if I missed mentioning others by name I apologize.) I look forward to the inevitable sequel: ONE EYED MONSTERS. And, yes, you can freely use that title.

One Eyed Monster is available on: DVD

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Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Monday, July 20, 2009

Budget Label Bargain Bin DVDs

Here's an update to a post from the original Mise-en-scene Crypt blog. The original publication date was: 07/24/2006 11:37:20. This was an examination of the video quality to be found on certain "PD" (wink wink nudge nudge) budget labels and asked the question: Are budget DVDs a bane or boon?

It's a question that's still very pertinent today as the budget labels have moved on to producing "multi movie" packs that cram anywhere from 10 to 20 to 100 or more movies onto a bare minimum of flipper discs. What's the big deal?

If you are like me you like movies. I wouldn't necessarily say I like all the movies I have on DVD, nor would I want every movie I've seen over the years on DVD, but when I buy a DVD I expect to actually be able to SEE the movie. Movies are meant to deliver on one important need, an escape from the dull routine of everyday life. Sort of like going to a mall. They are entertainment. Sure you never know going in what a movie has in store until you see it, but that's half the fun. Same with some of the DVDs released by certain budget labels. However the bargain bin holds treasures as well as junk. You can look at what's in the bargain bin but there's one problem with it, no matter what's in there you're buying blind.

Bargain bins are like Outlet or "Dollar" stores. Sadly not every mall has them but most video retailers do. Sure you often have a love-hate relationship with them, but there's almost always something chuckle worthy to be found in a bargain bin. (And I don't mean dump bins where some stores treat DVDs like garbage and just throw them into a mass heap like a farmer tossing slop to pigs.) On rare occasion you may find something interesting, like DVDs of old cult favorites and half-forgotten movies you may never have heard of. Savvy shoppers get to know labels as not all bargain bin labels take care to secure decent looking source prints. But that's a risk you sometimes have to take.

For instance I found my original DVD copies of Lady Frankenstein, Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman, Web of the Spider, Deep Red, Horror Express, and other movies too numerous to list here in video stores bargain sections. However Bargain Bin DVDs are like last years fashion. Nothing wrong with them, per se, just a bit questionable sometimes. Too, when you get that item home you find out it doesn't fit quite right, wont play properly, or wasn't at all what the packaging advertised. This happened with a 4-movie pack purchased out of a bargain bin. What a surprise it turned out to be!

Don't get me wrong the price was too good to pass up, so I've only got my self to blame. Yet one has to wonder what people thought that bought this set when it was first released and going for full price. But I am getting ahead of myself. The DVD set in question was..

Bad Boys of the West

DVD Type: 4-movie pack (2 double sided DVDs)

Label: Brentwood

Cost: $3.99

The Movies - Disc One Side A: Vendetta


This is an extremely grainy version of Poncho Villa sourced from VHS with its original title crudely replaced by a still image insert. In all honesty I actually stood in the store and read the write-up and said to myself, "This sounds like Poncho Villa!" yet bought it anyway. Caveat emptor indeed! Funny thing is the sound track is louder on this DVD than my WS version, which isn't to say it's better, rather the person responsible for the re-dub work just cranked up the volume.

Disc One Side B: A Town Called Hell



There was a feature on certain consumer grade analogue video editors that allowed you to zoom in or out to reframe the picture during dubbing. One assumes this was intended to allow creative minded home video editors to play around with SFX. Alas too many dubbers had no real clue how to properly utilize this feature thus they usually ended up with improperly framed and severely overscanned dubs. You see a lot of this in PD (wink wink nudge nudge) type releases taken from broadcast television where the dubber was trying to hide onscreen logos or create a faux letterbox effect. Alas Westerns seem to be plagued by this more than any other genre, witness this video, which was obviously sourced from such a dub.

Disc Two Side A: Hunt the Man Down


Another cheap looking retitling job, this time for "Bad Man's River". As if you are going to fool anyone. The song playing during the intro repeats the title in chorus several times over. How Brentwood slipped through the cracks with this one boggles the mind. To add insult to injury whatever source was used is dark, murky, and so poorly filtered through whatever cheap analog video processor the garage dubbers used as to render the movie virtually black and white.

Disc Two Side B: Deathwork


Yes, you guessed it, this is yet another retitled western. This time it's "Captain Apache". How can I be certain? Because the song that plays during the intro has a chorus that repeats the original title over and over. However it's hard to tell if the colors are murky or if the guy operating the dubbing machine was colorblind. It also doesn't help that the contrast was turned too far up (when viewed on screen there's a bright haze in evidence throughout that the thumbnails don't really show that well). Obviously sourced from an amateurish dub job.

One is moved to ask what Brentwood was thinking when they released this box set, alas; the likely answer is they weren't thinking so much as laughing all the way to the bank. After all these are "PD" titles. So any money they made on these sets was gravy.

Then there were DVDs like this..



DVD Type: single sided DVD (bare bones)

Label: Front Row Entertainment

Cost: $2.99

To be blunt this DVD is a heinous example of hideous video that is excruciating to watch. Alas, believe it or not, I've actually seen worse. This DVD, at least, is well authored with no intrusive compression artifacts though the picture does have an odd curvature that might lead the imaginative to wonder if someone didn't use a camcorder to record it off a TV screen. Alas the source appears to be a copy of the print PBS stations used to broadcast during the eighties, which was not very good to begin with, thus making the video herein barely tolerable.

A Few Observations

Metropolis is one of many Public Domain titles that have been making the rounds on budget label video in dark and murky, washed out and blurry, barely viewable prints of questionable provenance for years. If there was no other version of it available one could argue that such companies are providing a service given difficult circumstances. Alas there not only is another much better version available it's a restoration print!

True it costs roughly six to seven times as much as the average bargain bin fare, and this is an black and white movie, which means the average consumer is likely to balk at the price tag. It's also a rare DVD in comparison to these mass produced low-end DVDs. But for the movie buff this premium edition is the way to go, even if it takes a big hit to the wallet. More importantly the picture quality will be a marked improvement.

Which is not to say every budget label release is bad. True, picture quality varies wildly, but then so does the quality of the movies themselves. Over the years I've even purchased a few such titles that turned out to be letterboxed. Alas these are few and far between. Usually what you have on these ultra cheap DVDs are full screen versions of movies, often over scanned, and seldom with any extras.

Then there are the multi-movie sets like Bad Boys of the West. I don't know what it is about budget labels and their multi-movie packs but they seem to think they can hide video prints of dubious origin on these and no one will notice. One assumes this is either done blatantly or out of a willful ignorance breed from the desire to make a quick buck. After all if one doesn't look at their source prints all that closely they can, like a good politician who tells his staff not to bother him with details, claim plausible ignorance.

Yet, and yet, there are so many titles that haven't ever appeared on DVD, even DVDs of questionable provenance, that one has to accede to the fact greed, alone, isn't the single driving force here. Sure there's the questionable (and often hard to find) DVDs released with alternate titles. Movies like Female Space Invaders (Star Crash) but there's also a ton of movies that, while not available (officially) in R1, have been released elsewhere. Premium editions exist of movies like Twins of Evil, The Humanoid, Star Crash, the Ator movies, and many other marginal genre titles. Alas, infuriatingly, not in R1! Which leaves gray market merchants and DVDs with alternate FS versions taken from dubious sources.

If these budget labels really were pirates they'd be ripping and re-burning these titles left and right. That they aren't would seem to indicate the state of video rights is just as murky, blurry, and shadowy as the movies these companies release to DVD. Mores the pity for cinephiles and movie buffs who've been waiting for years on end for that certain title to receive a proper DVD release.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Service Call to Hell

Aren't they all?

Just so you know the blog isn't dead, nor am I for that matter, though scheduled posting was having problems for awhile and I got off my planned posting groove. But, today, I bring you a semi-divine (or infernal pending your point of view) and totally fresh rant about something that most of us have probably had to endure: Service Calls.

Specifically service calls to satellite companies customer support. Oy, they are vexing!

Now anyone who has ever worked behind a desk answering phones knows that human stupidity knows no bounds. However, when calling from the other side, it's rather annoying to have to navigate through those ludicrous automated voice response answering machines that make you annunciate every consonant and vowel at either 500 decibels above your normal speaking voice or in your best deep bass Barry White guttural monotone. You try to maintain your composure but it's difficult, especially when it's about an extant issue. Like, say, something that should have been resolved by the Tech who made the service call, gave you a cell # to call (which you had to ask for), telling you to call in case of problems then seems to just ignore you.

Honestly calling in to customer support isn't just the LAST THING on most of our lists of things to do it's likely NOT ON IT, period. Some service center people seem to not be aware of this fact. They INSIST on wasting our time. Now, I understand, they have checklists of what they are supposed to do and say but C'MON!

It's bad enough when you have to call in about mundane satellite service issues. If you've ever called in more than once you know that you will have to navigate through the river Cocytus, and this is only the beginning of your sojourn into Hades. For from Cocytus your trip takes you into Acheron, the river of pain, and it is suffering you will endure listening to craptacular elevator music interspersed with the chipper baritone of a fast talking methhead's voice trying to get you to buy this, that, or the other programming package.

Then, if you're lucky, a live voice attached to an agent infernal will pop in just in time to wake you up (or keep you from defenestrating your phone) and start asking you the usual 20 questions to verify this, that, and the other thing before finally getting around to asking you WHY you are calling. The experienced know THAT is when you take a DEEP BREATH, and hope the dice you are about to roll don't turn up snake eyes. Sadly they usually do and you end up repeating all the above, at least once, usually twice, before finding someone that can actually do something (not necessarily help you) about your "issue" (they're never "problems" anymore) which usually means sending you to YET ANOTHER operator to explain everything all over again.

But that's just for the usual run of the mill problems. Heaven forbid your sojourn into the nether regions in search of a light bearer should come as a FOLLOW UP call to attempt to seek an issue be fixed that a previous service call did not. For then you must endure the agent infernals continued efforts to take you through the CHECKLIST OF TROUBLESHOOTING, which, being a veteran who's escaped confinement to the pit by the thinnest of reprieves, you know all to well. And HEAVEN FORBID you try to get the agent infernal to realize this fact and SET UP A SERVICE CALL. They wont do it. Oh, no, they'll keep coming at you with their passive aggressive no-service fu. Oh yes they've been trained well by Lucifer, these agents infernal, to NOT accept that you might actually be intelligent and know about the checklist; Shh! no one is supposed to know about the checklist! Nor will they accept that you *gasp* have already CHECKED the equipment for fault and don't actually want to be talking to these agents infernal. You just want them to set up a service call to take care of your issue, which wasn't fixed, but if you don't go through the flaming hoops with these agents infernal that means wasting YET MORE OF YOUR TIME waiting for a SUPERVISOR. .

Which, for those who've ever answered phones, know this is really the "cool down period" for callers that these agents infernal have marked in their computers as TROUBLE CALLERS, meaning anyone of an IQ greater than the acidity of water who don't meekly submit to the CHECKLIST OF TROUBLESHOOTING, and so it's back to Limbo and listening to bad elevator music and ads for programming packages that you aren't likely in any mood to give two shakes of a Lamia's tale about.

After all that what do you end up with? Excuses. And, if you're (un)lucky, a scheduled call back from a supervisor or special customer service rep for the following day. They try to make it sound special, like they're doing you a favor, but you don't need to have worked phones in a service center to know this is a line of BS. Heck the "supervisor" you're talking too is likely Larry or Steve or Leland, the guy from three cubicles over, and he's just reading off the CALMING ANGRY CALLERS LIST (which is a far more polite title for what service centers actually call these things) with one goal in mind: Getting you OFF the phone.

Which, under normal circumstances, would be fine. After all this wasn’t a call you wanted to make anyway. But now you've got time invested in this. You've probably been standing there for at least 20-25 minutes. You're beyond annoyed. All you wanted was for the infernal agent to set up a friggin' service call! You pay the extra monthyly fee. Just set it up! Is that so difficult?

Apparently it is because now you have to make an effort to be around your phone the following day at a certain time to talk to someone who, you hope, assuming they ever bother to call (which they might not) will actually DO SOMETHING besides waste your time. If you could add up all the man hours that service centers spend collectively wasting peoples time and vice versa (some callers really are idiots) I bet you'd find that it'd be measured in the decades.

Moral: Life is too short, so stop wasting time. (ESPECIALLY MINE!!!)

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