Another year and another 200 (not really but I know it’s a lot) movies watched. This is my sixth time doing this list and I look forward to it all year. I’ve been keeping track since the first of January and can hardly wait to talk to you about all the awesome shit I saw!
If you want to catch up on past years, you can with these links:
I saw a lot of movies I liked this year but there were only a few that I outright loved. For the most part, it was the year of “meh.” Nothing summed up how disappointing the year was like the return of two of my favorite filmmakers (Alejandro Jodorowsky and Terry Gilliam) with movies that can best be described as predictable and forgettable (THE DANCE OF REALITY and ZERO THEOREM respectively).
Horror had an extremely poor showing this year. After more than a decade of torture porn dominating the genre, this year saw quiet horror make a huge return. While it would have been nice to have filmmakers playing with new ideas in the genre, most of the films I saw were just repeating tired old tropes. It seemed like almost every horror movie I watched was a ghost story. THE BABADOOK dominated the discussion but I was completely underwhelmed as, in my opinion, it was just repeating themes a hundred movies did better while adding nothing new. However, I didn’t hate it – I just felt like I had already seen it.
I saw two movies that were just so mind-numbingly disappointing that I can’t recommend them for any reason.
Worst Movies of 2014: WILLOW CREEK and CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO
Moving on to what I enjoyed. These are the movies I really liked but I only do ten titles a year for my list and they just didn’t make the cut.
Honorable Mentions: WOLF CREEK 2, SACRAMENT, BANKSY TAKES NEW YORK, ZERO CHARISMA, AFFLICTED, ZOMBEAVERS, SWEARNET: THE MOVIE, and COME BACK TO ME
Now with those formalities out of the way, let’s get on to my ten favorite movies of 2014!
10: EDGE OF TOMORROW (Doug Liman, United States)
Tom Cruise gets killed again and again and again. Also, it’s a really good movie!
Cruise is a soldier who is on the front lines during an alien invasion of Earth. In the battle he gets killed only to start the day over again but with memory of the events of his death. Until he gets killed once more. And so on and so on.
The premise – GROUNDHOG DAY meets STARSHIP TROOPERS – is thoroughly explored and dissected in one of the best, and surprisingly funny, science fiction movies of the past few years.
9: KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM (Joe Lynch, United States)
The nerd movie of the year!
When a group of LARPers accidentally summon a demon during an event a whole bunch of people die and they must become the heroes they pretend to be.
It’s a simple movie but super fun if you’re a total nerd. Unlike many other films that tackle nerd and niche interests, this movie never feels like it is laughing at you. The filmmakers are obviously just as dorky as we are.
I highly recommend complimenting a viewing with a few beers and tokes.
8: LATE PHASES (Adrián García Bogliano, United States)
For some reason the list of good werewolf movies is very short – fortunately, this year we got one to add. LATE PHASES feels like an eighties creature feature. The film follows a blind war veteran (Nick Damici – who is absolutely fantastic in the role) whose small community is under attack by a werewolf. Intense, darkly funny, and featuring outstanding practical effects, this film fits perfectly aside AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, THE HOWLING, and GINGER SNAPS.
And the transformation scene (obviously influenced by THE COMPANY OF WOLVES) kicks ass.
7: JODOROWSKY’S DUNE (Frank Pavich, United States)
One of the all-time greatest directors, Alejandro Jodorowsky of EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN fame, taking on one of the all-time beloved science fiction novels was just not to be. Fortunately, we have this documentary to watch and imagine what an amazing creation it could have been.
It’s a heartbreaking story about the most incredible group of creative people ever assembled and the failure of their film – not from any of their own actions but because the movie studio got cold feet. Just imagine Jodorowksy, Orson Wells, Moebius, Pink Floyd, H. R. Giger, and Dan O’Bannon all working together.
6: TUSK (Kevin Smith, United States)
We’ve seen Kevin Smith do comedy, drama, horror, and social commentary – but we haven’t seen this side of him before!
TUSK is classic body horror in the spirit of early David Cronenberg and Stuart Gordon about a man being held against his will and being surgically transformed into a walrus. Smith takes an absolutely ludicrous premise but takes it seriously (in a story-telling sense) and stretches the concept to “logical” extremes. Twisted, weird, bleakly funny, and a mean streak a baculum wide – TUSK was my favorite horror movie of the year.
Fun fact – TUSK is the first movie ever made based on a podcast. Don’t look up the original podcast unless you want most of the movie spoiled for you.
5: THE LEGO MOVIE (Phil Lord, United States)
The LEGO movie shouldn’t be good. There’s absolutely no reason for it. It should just be a ninety minute long toy commercial – and in many ways it is – but in the process it completely subverts the idea. In many ways this is more anarchist propaganda than a children’s movie. LEGO heaven is depicted as being awesome because “we have no government!” Hell, the villain is Lord Business.
Combing humor, real heartfelt moments, amazing CGI/stop-motion animation, subversive ideas, and more franchises than any YouTube mashup (there’s Batman, Simpson, and Star Wars characters!) this was the surprise of the year for me.
THE LEGO MOVIE may also be the closest we ever get to a Grant Morrison movie – seriously, this is ANIMAL MAN!
4: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (James Gunn, United States)
When Marvel first announced this I thought they were crazy. Captain America and Iron Man make sense but Guardians of the Galaxy? Who the hell cares or wants to see a movie about them?
How wrong I was.
James Gunn created an epic and joyous sci-fi/action/comedy that puts everything else Marvel Studios has done to shame. This isn’t your standard bunch of do-gooders – thieves, assassins, and con artists must band together to travel the strangest parts of the universe to save all of reality. But who really cares? There’s a raccoon weapons expert who shoots everything!!!!
Far and away the most fun I had at the movies this year. This is what STAR WARS would have looked like if Troma produced it. Llody Kaufman even has a cameo!
3: RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH VOL 1 (Lloyd Kaufman, United States)
Speaking of Troma…
It’s always a cause for joy when Lloyd Kaufman does another movie. He may be the most consistent director of all time. Gore, nudity, and the lowest and highest brow humor combine to create pure movie magic in every one of his creations.
His latest movie is a part one of a sequel to his classic eighties creation THE CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH and it’s everything you want it to be – social commentary, biting humor, and punks killing people in a high school.
Fuck. What do you want to know? It’s Troma! Go watch it!
2: THE RAID 2 (Gareth Evans, Indonesia)
The first RAID was a fantastic action film. The second completely blows it away.
The plot picks up immediately where the first film ended but sends the main character undercover to prison – but that’s just the very beginning. The story takes so many twists and turns that it really feels like you watched THE RAID 2 and 3.
But why you watch this is for the crazy intense action scenes. My god, this film has probably the most insane, violent, expansive, and well directed shots of violence ever done. For those who love onscreen carnage – it doesn’t get better than this.
1: SNOWPIERCER (Bong Joon-ho, South Korea)
This is what truly original filmmaking looks like.
After a failed attempt to control climate change, all that remains of humanity is on one train that is on a constant loop around the globe. The lower class live in the back cars and do all the hard work, the upper class lives in the forward cars. But the end of the train is fed up and, at the start of the movie, lead an uprising to take all the cars. So begins one of the most unique and strange movies made in years.
At heart it’s a vicious social commentary but in practice it’s a wild wide of movie making that changes genres from scene to scene. There is absolutely no way to predict what turn the film will take next.
The axe fight/New Year’s scene was the best movie moment of the year – those that have seen it know what I mean.
Most anticipated for 2015 – THE GREEN INFERNO (Eli Roth, United States)
GODDAMMIT!!!!!! Eli Roth (CABIN FEVER, HOSTEL 1 & 2, and one of my personal heroes) was supposed to finally return to directing movies with THE GREEN INFERNO. Roth making a cannibal flick is a dream come true for me but we were all denied it due to distribution issues! Some got to see it on the festival circuit but I wasn’t one of them. There’s no news about a 2015 release but I’m praying and my cat is doing dark magic rituals for us to see it.
Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!
by Garrett Cook
Damn. Christmas sure gives you a lot of things to hate about it. Crass commercialism. Carols everywhere. Bitter cold. Mechagodzilla.
Everyone is tired of your shit!
But worse and more excruciating than all of these things is the Christmas craft fair. Purchasing poorly wrought wooden reindeer to support your stupid kid’s school for jerks is nobody’s idea of fun. I know there are people that like Christmas craft fairs but there are also people that like bestiality and the two camps are just as difficult for me to understand. Telling me that you like the Christmas craft fair is like telling me that a particular pangolin you saw has got it goin’ on in all the right places.
So, how about an alternative to the Christmas Crap Fair? How about some weird, fun stuff that you might actually want hanging up in your home? I promise, no wooden reindeer.
Paintings and Prints
The most notoriously hangable of art works, paintings and prints are something we often think of as out of our price range or somehow culturally austere. We might own posters but actual paintings by a contemporary working artist aren’t as common in people’s homes as they could be. Particularly if you decide you want to do something about it.
My alterego Henry Price is a lucky guy. Having gotten three covers from Justin Coons for my Satan’s Mummy novelettes, Henry’s work has been represented by a whole lot of monster kid whoopass. Justin Coons brings the weird and brings pulp art back to a Heavy Metal magazine kind of place.
Narwhal vs. Unicorn
Escape from Hamster Planet
Get it all here.
Ann Koi is a gifted sculptor and artist. Her erotic and strange art and wonderful assortment of bone sculptures are sure to invigorate any discriminating Bizarro friendly residence.
Resin owl skull
The Undeniable Beauty of a Love in Decline
Jim is one of the finest artists in the Bizarro community. His work is cartoonish, organic, filthy, fun and diverse. His shit is just plain awesome. You can view his stuff on the page below. And you should buy most or all of it.
Liv Rainey Smith
Liv’s woodblock prints and Lovecraftian stuff are great for the dark fiction and cosmic horror enthusiast in your life. Occult esoterica with class, distinction and a genuinely informed viewpoint on the subject matter. While possessing a modern perspective on the history behind the imagery, it hearkens back to a profoundly archaic style, wearing the influence of traditional alchemy on its sleeve.
Surrealism and psychedelia merge with Neopagan and Aquarian tradition in Pepera’s work. There is usually a space between the surreal, which is often thought cerebral, the province of manipulated logics instead of magicks and the sacred but Jodorowsky and Kenneth Anger and French Decadents never cottoned much to these boundaries and neither does Alexandria. These paintings are beautiful, colorful, distinctly sexual, tantalizingly dissassociative and pleasing to all three of our eyes. With a pop art color pallet, a strong narrative and a library of dream images, these psychedelics don’t patronize or pander or bring back memories of sparking up a jay to Umma Gumma.
For a full gallery of Alexandria’s work, check out the link below.
Grade A Monster Kid, class act and erudite, fun artist, Nick Gucker does cosmic horror and horror fandom in a way that has caught the attention of many publishers and collectors alike. Nick’s work graces Skurvy Ink’s Jimmy Plush t-shirt and the pages of Imperial Youth Review, the magazine I edit, so I’m a little biased but that bias certainly wouldn’t have existed in the first place without Nick doing stonecold fantastic stuff.
Alan M. Clark
Man. Myth. Icon and iconoclast, Alan Clark’s cover have adorned work by some of horror’s very finest. His paintings can adorn your home too. His longtime obsession with the Ripper murders has inspired not just his novels, which I highly recommend but some of his art. Visit his online store, The Imagination Aperture: http://ifdpublishing.com/zencart2/
Phillip Lo Presti
Phil is a crass and smart poet with a ton of potential and exactly no fucks to give. If you know Phil online, you have probably at least on one occasion wanted to push him down a flight of stairs. But, he’s a good, generous, caring and often very funny guy and he does great work, with an irreverent eye and a lot of attitude.
Jim Snorfleet came highly recommended by my friend pinup model, Sauda Namir due to his horror pinup work. His photos are eerie, fun and confrontational and his models are well chosen. For the fan of burlesque and gothic imagery, these photos will go great on their walls.
Scupture and Craft
Sheryl Westleigh, Noadi on Etsy, is a sculptor and jeweler par excellence. For the geek, the pervert and the worshiper of Elder Gods, Sheryl is a person you gotta know with stuff that will make you exceptionally happy. Her Etsy store features things like fetus earrings, tentacle pendants, octopia, cuttlefish, bacteria and everything squirmy. Mad science chic.
Specimen Jar Necklace
Sanity Check Pendant
Fetus Specimen Jar Earrings
Something I’ve learned after becoming part of the horror and bizarre communities is that very often the weirdest, darkest, goriest, nastiest, most horrific fiction comes from individuals who are incredibly nice. A perfect example of that is Adam Cesare. To be honest, Adam is so damn nice I sometimes want to punch him in the face to try to knock some sense into him. Anyway, besides being one of the good guys, Adam is also a hell of a writer. His novels are always great and, what’s more important, he seems to do the impossible and get better with each outing. Now his latest novel, Exponential, is out. Well, no better time than now to talk to him about books and get him to show me his shelves. Dig it.
GI: Who are you and what role do books play in your life?
AC: I’m Adam Cesare. I write books and I’ve been lucky enough to get them published. And then I have no idea how to sell them unless I’m yelling at perspective readers in a convention hall. Being obnoxious in person I’m pretty good at. Online self-promotion, not so much.
I also read books and (as you can see) hoard them. People come over and ask “Is that good?” and an embarrassing amount of the time I’ll say “I haven’t read it yet.” My physical books are the tip of the iceberg. These days I do 99% of my reading digitally, so when I feel the compulsion to pick up a paperback, I end up hamstringing that book’s chances to actually get into my eyeballs. I plan on getting to everything, though. Once I retire.
GI: You write horror but you’ve also somehow managed to become part of the bizarro scene. Have you bribed a lot of people? If so, where’s my moolah?
No grift. I don’t think.
That’s something I think about sometimes. I don’t know why I’m “in” with some of the bizarros, like whether it’s a chicken or the egg thing. It’s probably a lot of factors: first and foremost, I’m a reader of bizarro and a fan.
But my first professional connection to the scene came through John Skipp, who was the editor of Tribesmen. That was the second longer work (a novella) that I’d finished, but the first one to get published. Skipp’s a traditionally horror guy, but he’s dabbled in the weirder end of the literary pool and his Fungasm imprint has put out some fantastic bizarro. So I guess after or around the same time as I approached him I had started pestering some other bizarros online.
I met Cameron Pierce and Kirsten Alene Pierce at a reading they’d done in Boston and I hit it off with them. I’d known both their editorial work and writing before that, but they were cool people to talk to on top of the professional element. I’d interacted with them a little online before that, but when I shook hands with Cameron his eyes glazed when I introduced myself and I realized that he had no idea who I was and that I had been kind of presumptuous to think he’d know me. Then he had a flash of realization and went, “wait you’re Adam Cesare? We thought you were like forty years old.” So I guess I seem older online.
I moved to Philly about a year and a half ago and started hanging out with Scott Cole, even though I’d known him through twitter before that. He’s one of this year’s NBAS participants. Last year he was going to BizarroCon and I tagged along. Which was a good choice, because it was probably the best con I’ve ever been to.
So, I don’t know. I write horror, but I know a lot of people in the scene and on the periphery, through odd connections. I think it speaks more to the inclusiveness and approachability of the bizarros than it does any of my people skills. I’m happy that Tribesmen is out with Deadite, a subsidiary of Eraserhead, it feels like a weird kind of cosmic homecoming. I hope to do another with Skipp soon.
GI: For a young dude, you’ve done/published a lot. What’s the trick? (Please don’t say hard work.)
AC: Okay I won’t say hard work, but I will say anxiety is part of it. I’m a naturally anxious person, and SUPER impatient. I guess if you couple that with luck and a healthy work ethic, that’s my recipe.
If you’re the type of person that checks your email every six minutes, every thirty minutes while you’re trying to sleep, then writing commercial fiction just could be the fabulous career for you!
The thing is I never feel like I’ve done a lot. Most of my books are novellas and even my novels are on the shorter end of the spectrum. There are times that I feel like a goon who can’t write fast enough.
And then there are other times where I feel like I’m producing and releasing too much. Because there are writers out there who have similar release schedules to mine and (sorry to be blunt) but some of those authors are able to keep up with the workload because the books they release are hot garbage. I get really anxious that perspective readers take a look at the number of titles on my amazon page, see that the release dates are close together, and then don’t bother with me.
But whatever. There are people who like what I do and I like them for it. But I’m never really satisfied with my productivity, for one neurotic reason or another.
GI: Super unique question time! House is burning down. Weird angel comes down. He says “Fool, you have two minutes to run in there with this bag and save ten books. Go!” Which books end up in the bag? Do you punch the angel once you’re out or are you too fucking nice for that?
AC: Punch an angel? I wouldn’t do that, probably out of fear. But I’m an autograph collector, so I probably wouldn’t target books based on whether they’re my favorite book or not, but based on whether they’re signed or not. I love getting inscriptions, which is problematic because it means I usually leave cons needing an extra suitcase. I have a signed hardcover of Joe Lansdale’s By Bizarre Hands, so that would be saved. I have a copy of Charles Grant’s Nightmares that I found at a used bookstore in Boston. It’s signed, dated, and the date is a couple years before my birth. I met Gillian Flynn at my first HWA convention and she gave me a pretty funny inscription in Sharp Objects. I’ve got an ARC of The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones which is the coolest. I’ve got signed Tom Piccirilis, signed Sarah Langans. Almost every Jack Ketchum book I have is signed, because I stalked him throughout late high school and early college. Oh and Junot Diaz and Joyce Carol Oates were the last two readings/signings I went to in Boston, both at the Brookline Booksmith, so those are special.Am I at ten?
GI: What’s your next book about, where can we get it, and what’s so crucial about pre-orders?
My last full novel with Samhain, The Summer Job, was a hard sell for some readers who liked Video Night and Tribesmen. I mean, I don’t think it was slow or ponderous or anything, but there are less blood and guts in that one, nothing supernatural, so less people bought it. And the thing about The Summer Job was that, not only did I think it was far and away my best book, but it was WAY harder to write, was much denser. So I wanted to use Exponential to stretch muscles I hadn’t used in a little while.
It’s not like I write my books to be movies, they’re novels and “novelistic” in approach, but when I’m brainstorming I think in terms of movies. I can’t help it. It’s the way my brain works.
So I pitched Exponential to myself as: “What if, coming off of Raising Arizona the Coen brothers weren’t allowed to do Miller’s Crossing? What if instead they were brought on to do a pass on the script to Tremors and then ended up directing that instead?” I mean, that would be bad for history, but it was a good tonal barometer for me to use.
There’s a bit of Jaws in there, a bit of The Blob (both versions), a bit of Razorback. I love “big creature” stories, the size distinction between mogwai and kaiju.
A decent monster is only half the battle, so I focused on character and structure once I got my creature and its powers in place. I tried to make the characters likable and unique. A bunch of them have got a crime-feel to them, like Elmore Leonard took a sharp corner and all his characters fell into a Guy N. Smith novel by mistake.
It isn’t completely lacking it subtlety but it’s still a loud book. It’s the shortest of my three novels with Samhain, so it’s kind of like a punk song. Those things are never more than two minutes but they try to kick your ass in that span.
Ha! Don’t ask me sales questions. I have no idea if pre-orders help or not. With Video Night and Summer Job I was sharing the link in the months leading up to their release, figuring pre-orders were good. But I didn’t do that with this one, just in case a more concentrated stream during the week of release is the way to go.
I don’t care how people buy it: digital or print, Amazon, B&N or get their local indie store to order a copy. All I know is that if people do buy it they should know that I so goddamn appreciate it.
Seasons greetings to all. And a Happy Holidays. And….
Ha ha ha! Not this time, Kirk Cameron! You’ll have to get your holly jollies elsewhere, Seaver.
It seems the holidays are upon us. Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Black Friday, Hawkman’s birthday, Take Your Lion to Work Day….
The harder you push, the less I give, Cameron.
At any rate, the gift giving holidays are upon us. We in the Bizarro community know that this is the most important part of the season. Because what the fuck else is there? Family? Togetherness? Jesus. Fuck that noise. This is about choosing the swag that is swaggiest and therefore most worthy of the very conditional love of the people in your life whose presence is almost completely contingent on said swag. How are you going to make sure your lovers don’t find other lovers and your family does not replace you with someone younger, smarter and more successful? With gifts, that’s how. And we’re here to help you pick the right ones, the gifts that will make your lovers give Mr or Mrs. Right Now the heave ho and get your parents to return the replacement son or daughter to the Serbian baby farm they came from.
Why? Because we’re young, we’re hip, we’re weird and we don’t let certain sitcom stars from the 80s boss us around.
Except for the one guy.
Gordon Shumway, CEO of the Bizarro Trilateral Conspiracy, Buyin’ Low and Sellin’ High
As in our Vienna sausage eating contests, the newest Bizarros, the authors of the New Bizarro Author Series have to go first. Mostly just to make sure that no important Bizarros are mauled by gift hating Communist tigers. We know you’re out there.
Or not. Well, anyhow, here are Tom Lucas, author of Pax Titanus and Scott Cole, author of Superghost with some most excellent holiday gift suggestions, the things they themselves want for Christmas.
TOM LUCAS- Author of Pax Titanus
1) The Art of Sean Brants: http://www.brantsart.com/about.html
I’ll take any one of his custom rock show posters. I mean, just look as these. Painted for those with a third eye for aesthetics. Hang one on the wall and decorate your personal oblivion with panache.
2) Armor from Prince Armory: http://www.princearmory.com/
Continuing with the idea that I’m not picky (please see my extensive list of ex-girlfriends), I will simply state that I would take ANYTHING made by Prince Armory. These custom armor kits and individual pieces are so fucking epic that even complete lameass normies can’t dispute their glory.
3) Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini: http://amzn.com/0847842134
I’m requesting this as a gift because it’s a wallet-buster at $125.00. However, I’ve seen a copy and it’s so beautiful it makes unborn babies cry. Why this didn’t replace the Gideon Bible in every hotel room is crime against art and the human race. Rather than diminish the work with my mediocre vocabulary, I’ll just give you the Amazon blurb:
An extraordinary and surreal art book, this edition has been redesigned by the author and includes new illustrations. Ever since the Codex Seraphinianus was first published in 1981, the book has been recognized as one of the strangest and most beautiful art books ever made. This visual encyclopedia of an unknown world written in an unknown language has fueled much debate over its meaning. Written for the information age and addressing the import of coding and decoding in genetics, literary criticism, and computer science, the Codex confused, fascinated, and enchanted a generation.
FUCK YEAH. I WANTS A COPY OF THIS.
4) Blast Knuckles: http://amzn.com/B008CH250Q
Whoever the guy was who said: “Man, I love these brass knuckles. I just wish they had a taser built in.” – he’s a muthafukin’ genius. These bad boys will make anyone a ghetto superhero. I think they should be sold in pairs for maximum asskicking.
5) The Holy Land Experience: http://www.holylandexperience.com/
You can keep your stupidface Mickey Mouse House. This is the amusement park you want to visit Orlando for. The Holy Land experience, where Jesus is crucified every day at 4pm. Grab a corndog and watch the show.
If you are religious, I have no idea why you would want to do this. Commodification of your sacred beliefs should offend you. I’m a staunch agnostic and this shit turns my stomach. These people have serious intentions. How in the world is this OK?
I’d never pay to go here but if someone gave me tickets, I’d get up bright and early. I’ll bring you back a t-shirt if you hook me up.
6) Eraserhead Press New Bizarro Author Series: http://eraserheadpress.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/eraserhead-press-celebrates-its-sixth-year-of-the-new-bizarro-author-series/
This six-year running series introduces new authors to the Bizarro community. Many of them go on to Bizarro greatness. You should read all of them, but please start with mine, Pax Titanus, because…
I AM A COMPLETE WHORE.
At least I own my shit. You should try it some time. Makes you a better person.-
It won’t just be Tom giving you recommendations this year. Scott Cole, who’s also great, has some ideas. He’s got some pretty choice swag here, particularly for those of you shopping for Scott Cole. I hear he’s a wandering polygamist with several families, so that’s probably a lot of you.
Scott Cole, author of Superghost
http://www.amazon.com/Uzumaki-3—1-Deluxe-vols/dp/1421561328/Maybe you’re cooking a splattery meal, and you need to protect yourself with a human flesh apron. Or perhaps you need to accessorize your newest outfit with an eyeball and teeth necklace. Or you need a Save The Date in the form of a finger. IT CAME FROM UNDER MY BED may be your one stop shop.
Not all zombie movies can claim to feature vehicles made from human body parts, chainsaw swords, and zombified baby projectiles. But HELLDRIVER can. If that zombie fan in your life is getting a little bored with zombies, give them the gift of truly bizarre Japanese cinema.
Do you need a candle in the form of the titular character from The Incredible Melting Man? A USB thumb drive in the form of a cockroach? Handmade toys inspired by movies like From Beyond, Basket Case, or Motel Hell? Visit NOVELTIES BY STEXE on Etsy.
Al Columbia is, in my opinion, one of the most tragically underappreciated comics creators around. Actually, that’s not completely true; For the most part, those who know his work love it. It’s just that not enough people seem to know it. It’s weird and dark and twisted, fusing horror, discomfort, and a 1930s cartoon aesthetic into a delightfully disturbing package. PIM & FRANCIE: THE GOLDEN BEAR DAYS collects a bunch of Columbia’s art (but don’t be afraid to dig deeper and track down some of his old contributions to comics anthologies like Zero Zero and Blab!, or both issues of The Biologic Show if you can find them on eBay).
Do you wish your fingers had fingers? Try FINGER HANDS! But why stop there? Archee McPhee has tons of cheap weirdness, from Krampus Christmas tree ornaments to literary action figures.
by Cornell R. Nichols
I’m not quite sure how it happened but, at the age of thirty, I found myself stuck in a dead-end job, with virtually no prospects for my dead-end life.
I guess my ideas were to blame. I have foolishly dared to dream of becoming a journalist, and so I went to college and started to get accustomed to writing daily. I would roll a sheet of paper onto the platen, push the buttons of my typewriter, slide the carriage return with a satisfying ding and then, orthpen in hand, correct my own paragraphs with zero tolerance. I repeated this ritual tirelessly, producing article after article on the most mundane topics:
Mischievous Laundry Escapes Yard!
Neighbor’s Zombie Breaks Off Leash, Eats Mailbox
Snail Farmers Complain: Economy Is Slug-Slow.
Write, revise, correct, write, revise, correct…
In the end, the corrector’s mind was all that I was left with while journeying to Job Land. I was hired by the local printing company at the lowest position possible.
The Boss said to me from the very start: “Mr. Pointe, this company is all about cost-cutting. At this point, we regularly print pamphlets, political manifestos for the Order of the Grammar Neo-Nazis, several books of ill-circulation; but nothing that would bring us humongous heaps of hay. Am I making myself clear?”
I took a look at his nose prosthesis, very crude, just a snowman-style carrot, and I realized that he wasn’t lying. At least his nose didn’t grow or anything.
“Got it, Boss.”
“And because of this financial predicament our main printing press has been bought at, shall we say, a bargain price. It is a tad retarded and forgets to dot. Your job, Mr. Pointe, will be to place said dots, or tittles if you like, wherever they are missing from the text. Here’s your desk, sit down and tittle away!”
And so I became the company tittler. The pay was irrational, and as such could be represented by the irrational number pi—$3.14 an hour. But I didn’t complain. I did not dare to. After all, it isn’t easy finding a job after college. I was glad I was getting any pay at all. So day after day I would dot and tittle like a human dot-and-tittle machine, searching out every lonesome “i” and “j” with the blade of the orthpen, taking particular care of the Order’s orders. I once saw a Grammar Neo-Nazi slice a man in half with a claymore just for using “who” instead of “whom”. I even wrote an article about it: For Whom The Bell Tolls.
But now, knee-deep in work-mud, I had no time for writing light news. Dot, dot, dot, dot—eight hours, dot, per day not counting, dot, the overtime. And ending several hours late became, dot, something of a regular thing. Especially when the printing company managed to keep its head above the water and more and more orders started to come like an ink tsunami. Dot.
And so one day, almost a year after I was hired, the Boss paid me another visit. By then he was already wearing a diamond-encrusted ivory nose, very pointy and chic.
“Mr. Pointe,” he said, “we’re expanding rapidly. It’s still a tightrope walk, so no chance for a raise, don’t even ask. But you will receive a bit more work, I’m afraid.”
“How big a bit are we talking?” I dared ask.
“Not a big one, not big at all,” he said, waving his hand dismissively. “We just bought a few more fonts for our dear special Printy, that’s all.”
The new fonts were for publications in German. They were dot-less and tittle-less, of course, meaning they had no umlaut diacritics. Not only did I have to double-dot those foreign vowels, twice the work, but I also had to know where they actually go. I spoke German only so lala, so I had to constantly ask the typesetter guy which of the signs were plus-umlaut and which ones I should just leave as they were.
Such a long time did I have to spend at work, that my eight-hour day became the twelve-hour one, no breaks. Not a single moment was left to polish my newspaper articles.
And meanwhile, the Boss Man concocted a new entertainment for my delight: math textbooks.
Now I would tittle dawn to dusk. I sweated over the symbols and hieroglyphics: “multiplied by”, “divided by”, “therefore”, “such that”. I stabbed at the paper imagining it to be the noseless face of my Boss. Every pi in every circle reminded me of the pitiful pay, of the lack of life outside of work; of my long-forgotten articles. What was I thinking, for Dot’s sake, wanting to become a journalist? I should have majored in tittling! Maybe they would teach me how to avoid writer’s cramp? Maybe with the master’s degree in Advanced Dot-Making I would get paid a bit more than $3.14 (tax not included)? I started asking around if anyone’s heard of any decent tittling courses but people just took me for a wacko.
I was alone. Misunderstood. The only tittler in the whole wide world, breaking his back over another dot-less publication: dot, dot, dot, dot…
Until one day he appeared at my desk again, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. The Tyrant, the Belze-Boss. The stingy bastard with a nose of priceless antimatter.
“My dear Mr. Pointe, I just had the most brilliant idea ever, period!” he declared with his usual amount of modesty. His voice resonated inside the magnetic trap that was holding the prosthesis together. “Have you ever heard of a French painter, one Georges Seurat?”
I shook my head. The only painter I knew well enough was Albrecht Dürer, and that’s only because I was in the process of tittling his three-volume zombiography. The wretched thing was written entirely in third person—Dürer this, Dürer that—as if to spite me. I punctured the pages over the undead scribbler’s name picturing nails being hammered to his coffin.
“Who’s this Seurat, Boss?” Dot. Dot.
“Well, he was this genius pointillist, which basically means he created paintings… yes, you guessed it, out of dots only! I was just visiting the National Gallery with my wife and I thought to myself: ‘What is a text if not just a collection of close-knit dots?’ Why, every shape in the universe is made out of a finite number of points! You know what this means, right? Illustrations, we can dot them out as well! Isn’t this absolutely marvelous? A revolution! The entire work of a printing company in the hands of a single worker. No need for some half-retarded machine. Think how much money I can save thanks to that!” he exclaimed, delighted.
The mention of money sprung me into action, as if I were stabbed with the tip of my own orthpen.
“And how big of a raise are we talking about here, Boss? To go along with this promotion?” I asked, fingers twitching with hope. “After all, I will be responsible for the entire company, no?”
The Boss smiled apologetically and explained to me, point by point, that, unfortunately, blah, blah, blah, the savings need to be, blah, blah. Only due to the patience acquired at work, did I manage not to get arrested that day for the assault with a deadly three-volume Grammar Neo-Nazi nightmare and for gory orthpen-rape.
The next morning I tittled out my letter of resignation. It was short, straight to the point and featured a pointillist caricature of the Boss as a noseless goblin, with carrots sticking out of his ass.
Then I found a job at the local tattoo parlor. Here, for an entire day of dot-dot-dotting butterflies and hearts, they pay me hundred times more.
Cornell R. Nichols usually writes in his native tongue but words like “chrząszcz” and “gżegżółka” are slightly too extreme even for the bizarro crowd. Due to the miracle of translation, his real name can mean “Horny Santa’s Little Helper”. He supports the cause of the snail farmers.
Missed Part One? Never fear! Click HERE to catch up!
by Eric Hendrixson
The House on the Rock is an architectural anomaly, a spectacle, an autobiography in clutter, and a museum of hoarding. It holds vast, unrelated collections of of artifacts, some of them authentic. It is said to be the most popular tourist destination in Wisconsin.
As you enter, there is a small museum dedicated to the man who made this happen: Alex Jordan, Jr. A college dropout, Mr. Jordan enjoyed picnicking on Deer Shelter Rock, a towering rock formation near Spring Green, taking a hibachi and a gallon of Tom Collins with him on each trip. When challenged by the land owner, he leased the area for his picnics, eventually purchasing the rock.
After building a platform on the rock, he decided to build a Japanese-style house on it. He decided this having never been to Japan, probably never having seen a Japanese house. The first section of the self-guided tour is through the home he built without a blueprint or any architectural experience. The house is like something a Frank Loyd Wright impersonator would have designed during a drunken weekend, the floor plan resembling a cavern more than a house. While Johnson was well over six feet tall, the ceilings would be low for hobbit hole. The building resembles a stone treehouse that has grown wild. Live trees grow through the walls. It is decorated with dolls, oriental artifacts, kitchenware, stained glass, and self-playing instruments, including a banjo, tambourines, and a player piano that plays Aerosmith’s Dream On slightly out of tune.
The house climaxes with the Infinity Room, a tapering, unsupported structure that hangs over the valley like a wood and glass diving board in a creaking, vertigo-triggering homage to insane design. The house is only the first section of the tour. The second and third sections are larger buildings dedicated to this local eccentric’s collections.
The second section starts with a mill house, complete with a working waterwheel that turns only itself. The visitor then sees a number of glass cases, showcasing a collection of completely unconnected items, including a flintlock rifle with three locks but only one barrel, massive stores of colored glassware, locally-produced medieval armor and weapons, self-playing musical instruments, and animatronic displays. Because the exhibits are not labeled, identified, justified, or explained, they resemble a bunch of stuff more than a curated museum.
The tour continues through a replica old-timey Main Street—complete with ridiculously complete collections of the kinds of items each business on the street would have, coin operated nickelodeons, and animatronic fortune tellers. The dim lighting gives a twilight effect throughout the tour.