Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"M" Is For The Many Ways You Kill Me.

"Just you wait, it won't be long
The man in black will soon be here.
With his cleaver blade so true
He'll make mincemeat out of you!"

"You're out!"

This is how Fritz Lang's "M" opens up, with a group of children playing a Counting Out game. Unfortunately, the song is based on events that take place in their town... a man is stalking and killing children. The town is on edge because there have been eight murders already, as we witness another child become the next victim. The adults are ready to lynch the first person they suspect, the police are struggling to find the killer and quell the public before they lynch some poor sap, and the criminal underworld is pissed because the police, in their efforts, are cracking down on their shady activities and the "bosses" are losing money. The bosses decide that since the police can't find their own collective asses with both hands and a flashlight, then they should find the killer and put him out of commission, so that decent criminals can go back to whoring, thieving, gambling and whatever else it is that decent criminals do. They use a network of homeless beggers to keep an eye on children, and watch out for suspicious characters. Ultimately our murderer, Hans Beckert played by Peter Lorre, is discovered by a blind man who recognizes Beckert by a tune he keeps whistling (the great "In The Hall Of The Mountain King") . Beckert is "tagged" with the letter "M" on his shoulder (hence, the name of the movie) to make it easier to be followed.
Beckert eventually finds out that he is marked and, in a panic, hides in an office building. From there, it's only a matter of time as reinforcements arrive and wait until closing time to search the rooms, one by one, until Beckert is found. He is dragged, kicking and screaming, into an old abandoned brewery. There, the decent criminals prove that they are decent by giving Beckert a fair trial before getting ready to kill him. They figure that since they broke the law often enough, they are qualified to pass judgement. They even go so far as to give Beckert a defender, who actually does his best to defend him, not by claiming that he is innocent, but insisting that he needs to be institutionalized rather than be executed.. This is where the movie is at it's most compelling. From the people in the gallery exclaiming what a monster Beckert is, to Beckert breaking down, bemoaning that he can't help himself and that no one can understand the "evil thing" inside of him that makes him do these things, to the defender vigorously explaining how there is no justice in killing a man who is so obviously sick. Finally, the police arrive just in time to save Beckert from being torn apart and eventually take him to the legitimate court of law. This movie is not as much horror, or even a crime drama, as it is a morality play. It is all summed up at the end by one of the grieving mothers, who say : "This will not bring our children back. One has to keep closer watch over the children.".

"M" is a German language film with English subtitles. It came out in 1931, and is Fritz Lang's first talking movie (Lang also co-wrote and directed the legendary silent film, Metropolis). A lot of background sound is ommited from the movie, mostly as a cost cutting measure, but not randomly. Lang used the silence to good effect, making some scenes a litle more eerie. This was Peter Lorre's first starring role, and before "M", he was mostly a comedic actor. Also, Lorre couldn't whistle to save his life, so all the whistling was done by Lang himself.

This is a fantastic movie, especially to those of us who can appreciate a classic, black and white film. I would give it a 4 out of 5 rating. It is available to view on Netflix instant streaming. I would like to thank Mike and Stephen at Cadaver Classics for initially reviewing this movie on their show and piquing my interest in it. For more in-depth information on "M', Fritz Lang and "Metropolis", with a splash of "Ball Talk", go check out the Fritz Lang episode of Cadaver Classics at :

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vampires Are People Too.

Hey, you're back! Fantastic. Come on in. Please excuse the mess, I'm still settling in.

Say, did you see the kick ass banner at the top of the page? That's a house warming gift from the coolest cat in podcasting, Root Rot. I love it.

Today I'm going to talk about a movie that I saw the other day, Daybreakers.

This movie came out sometime in 2009, but I haven't seen it until now. It looked interesting enough at the time, but not enough for me to blow 20 bucks at a theater. Also, I'm not the biggest Ethan Hawke fan, and even though I love Willlem DaFoe and Sam Neill, I kept putting it off. But I recently was looking at the new releases on Netflix Instant, and there it was.

It's set in the future, 2019, where vampires have become the dominate species and the human race is dwindleing. With fewer humans around, their food supply (read: blood) is drying up. They have to hunt humans down and farm them for food, ala The Matrix, while they look for a blood alternative. This is where Ethan Hawke comes in as Edward Dalton, a hematologist who has sympathy for humans and refuses to drink human blood.

It turns out that an interesting thing happens to vampires who don't get enough blood. They turn feral, becoming batlike with elongated ears and wings. They are called subsiders and scare the crap out of the "normal" vampires.

Our man Dalton literally bumps into a group of humans, and instead of turning them in, he hides them from the authorities. This eventually leads to a meeting with Willem DaFoe's character, Lionel "Elvis" Cormac, vampire who regained his humanity by being exposed to sunlight and then submersed in water. Somehow this jump started his heart again. Now, instead of a blood substitue, Dalton wants to replicate this and cure vampirism. Unforunately his boss, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), doesn't think that vampirism needs to be cured.

How does it turn out? What the hell are you asking me for? Go check it out yourself.

What did I like about this movie: The story in general is pretty decent. There are not many vampire stories where vamps are the dominate species. Also, I really dig the subsiders. They are pretty freaky looking and I love how they scare the batshit out of the other vampires. Finally, the jump scares in this movie don't annoy me and the gorefest at the end was pretty cool.

What I didn't like about this movie: The "cure" for vampirism is complete crap and totally unbelievable. Yes, I know I'm talking about a movie about vampires being unbelievable, but come on! The sunlight and water thing is only part of it, and that was bad enough. I won't say what the rest is, so you're going to have to watch it and cringe for itself.

Now, while we are on the subject of "likes" and "dislikes", I just want to say that I realize that CGI is a fact of life. Of course I prefer practical effects, but I don't mind CGI as long as it's decent. There were plenty of CG effects in this movie, and for the most part , I thought that they were done pretty well.

I haven't settled on a ratings scale yet, but for now, I'll say that I give Daybreakers a 3 out of 5.

One last thing before I leave you with the trailer: Julie Hoverson of 19 Nocture Boulevard has a great story, a crime drama in a vampire dominated world called The Big Dark. Check it out at or look for it on iTunes and subscribe. It's well woth it.

Well, I hope you enjoyed your visit. Stop by again and feel free to leave a comment. Now, where the heck did I put that trailer? Ah, here it is:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Serial What?

Hey, good to see you. Glad you could stop by.

Come in, come in. Make yourself at home.

Say, I'd like to introduce you to somebody. This old geezer right here is Charles Manson. Yeah, he's seen better days. It's been a while since I hung out with ole Charlie and, quite frankly, I thought I was done with him. However, I recently listened to my friends over at the Witch's Hat Podcast discuss serial killers and why are we fascinated by them. I must confess a certain fascination with them myself. What is it that makes a man into a monster? Was he raised this way, did something affect him growing up, or is it just that there a broken switch in his brain? How is this different from me? I've had my fair share of bad life experiences, but I don't go around swinging an axe at other people. Well, not on purpose anyway.

Manson is different. He's not a murderer, not in the traditional sense of the word. He is what was used to be called a twerp. A little guy, a petty criminal, only as big as the weapon he was carrying. He stole cars, forged checks and pimped out prostitutes. The most heinous act of his youth was that he sodomized another kid while holding a razor to his throat. He spent most of his young life in juvie centers and prisons.

He is also a master manipulator. He's charismatic, and despite a shoddy education, he is rather intelligent. His IQ was tested at a range from 109 to 120. That's high average to superior (I looked it up). Now, take this guy and hook him up with a bunch of unwashed hippies, throw in some drugs and all the sex you can handle, and he went from "twerp" to "David Koresh". He finally had power, such as it was. He convinced these flower children that the black man was going to rise up and go to war with the whites, and that the black man would win. He also convinced them that the black man was too dumb to be in charge of the world and would need Charlie and his family (who would hide somewhere in Death Vally until the whole race war thing blew over) to lead them. Wow. Racist hippees. Who knew?  Anyway, Charlie got tired of waiting, and decided that he'd have to show the black man how to get started, so he sent his children on a mission to ignite the race war.

This is the very abridged version. To get the whole story, definitely read Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi.

Well, I think I got Charlie out of my system. Again. Before I go, make sure you check out Root Rot, Misfitboy and Rock&Roll Ray on the Witch's Hat Horror Discussion  on serial killers.

Hey, thanks for stopping by. Hope you liked it here and that you will stop by again.

I'll let Charlie have the last word:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Biting the bullet and going for the gusto!

Hey gang! Welcome to Poppy's Playhouse. I am you host, Graciespoppy.

Damn, that sounds waaay too corny. Let me just simply say, welcome friends!

 I've been contemplating doing this for a little while. I want to contribute a little more to this horror genre community that I've immersed myself in. It's not much... I'm not a skilled writer, nor am I technically savy. Let's face it, my greatest skill is being a jackass, but you work with what you got. As to the content of this blog, for right now I will showcase the work of my friends who do this so much better that me to anyone who stumbles on to my little romper room.

I'm still working on my site's appearance and on the links. I'll be adding to it for some time to come. I'm also not going to keep to a schedule on posting. I'll drop a line here and there to when I post something new. I just want to give you guys a taste of what I'm doing. I welcome comments (and criticism), but I don't expect them.

Hey, crack open a beer and let's have some fun!