Over at Alex on Film I’ve finished posting my notes on Tom Six’s three Human Centipede movies: First Sequence, Full Sequence, and Final Sequence. These movies are notorious for being among the most tasteless and disgusting ever made, though that’s a distinction we can expect will fade with time. I thought it was interesting that Six did at least try to make three very different movies, not just in terms of subject matter but also in tone, linked in a meta-cinema way. Unfortunately, I also thought the series went downhill (or, to mix metaphors, off the rails entirely), and that the third instalment deserves its reputation as one of the worst movies of the decade. It will be interesting to see what future audiences think.
An excerpt from my new book Revolutions: Essays on Contemporary Canadian Fiction is up at the Walrus website. You might even want to buy a copy!
Over at Alex on Film I’ve added my notes on Cat People (1942) and Curse of the Cat People (1944), a pair of very different horror movies produced by Val Lewton. Though you might question whether Curse of the Cat People is really a horror movie, or a sequel. I really wanted to include notes on Paul Schrader’s 1982 remake, starring Nastassja Kinski, but you’ll have to wait for that. I haven’t seen it in years!
Harvey’s Meal Deal
Overview: With the coupon I had, I guess it was a deal. But was it a meal?
Label: Not much sticker shock from the nutritional guide on this one. The Harvey’s “original burger” is only 360 calories undressed. 17 g of fat and 970 mg of sodium. That’s liveable. As part of the meal deal I had a coupon for, however, it came with a side order of fries. This, remarkably, had the same amount of sodium and 50% more fat than the burger! Throw in a medium soft drink (not my thing, but it’s part of the deal), and some fixings for the burger, and the total came to just under 1,000 calories. That’s not too bad. Of course there’s nothing here that’s actually good for you, but it’s not a health crisis either.
Review: Harvey’s is pretty much the only burger chain I can stomach. The burgers still retain some faint resemblance in taste and texture to a real hamburger patty, and I like that you can watch them make it the way you want it with a nice range of toppings. Like black olives. I put those on everything because I read something a long time ago that said they were healthy. Alas, the burgers are so small that the olives keep falling off.
I think some people get carried away with all the choice. The woman behind me in line wanted ketchup, mustard, and relish on her burger. That struck me as in some way counterproductive. It’s like she was making a burger slurry.
I really enjoy the atmosphere at my local Harvey’s. There are often a lot of oddballs in there, including, this time, one of the biggest guys I’d ever seen. His head was almost touching the ceiling, which I would have thought was impossible. Ordering was an adventure, as I honestly couldn’t make out a single word the cashier was saying, and she was speaking English. I had to get her to repeat everything three times. Best of all, they always play great classic rock. I ate my meal to AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock We Salute You,” a song I haven’t heard for decades. It doesn’t get any better than that.
The big problem I had with the meal deal itself was that it wasn’t enough. As I’ve said, the burger seemed really small. I think I could have easily eaten three of them in one sitting. I’d already eaten a lot that day, but by the time I finished walking home I was hungry again. So while the numbers weren’t too bad, I wasn’t getting stuffed. To be honest, it felt more like a snack than a meal.
Score: 5 / 10
In Simon Sebag Montefiore’s The Romanovs he describes Napoleon entering a Moscow abandoned and on fire: “Only a few French tutors, actresses and lethiferous bands of looters haunted the streets as Moscow burned for six days.” If you know Latin, or if you’re just good at guessing based on cognates, you’d figure (correctly) that “lethiferous” means “deadly” or “lethal.” Still, it’s an obsolete word I don’t recall seeing used before. Another one for the word bank!
Over at Alex on Film I’ve added my notes on the 1974 classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and its 2003 remake. I still find Tobe Hooper’s movie disturbing and effective. The remake, like all the twenty-first century horror franchise resets, is just something to be endured. There’s a more general point to be made here about horror movies in our time that I hope to address in an essay soon.
I’ve also heard that the message boards made less income from ads and were costing too much to run, which sound like more accurate reasons for shutting them down.
In any event, I’ll be very sad to see them go. A year ago I wrote a post about how large parts of the Internet were turning away from the model of an open forum by disallowing comments on news stories. A lot of the backlash has latched on to the figure of the villainous troll, and how anonymous haters spreading fake news and all the rest of it represent a clear and present danger to civil society. I’m not defending the trolls, but that seems like a massive exaggeration to me, and I suspect it’s just an excuse being used to stifle different points of view. I’ve certainly had comments I’ve made at various news sites deleted by moderators over the years, all of which were just expressions of political opinions (that is, non-obscene, non-personal, non-threatening). Sure there were silly posts on the IMDb boards, but I suspect what’s really happening here is that advertisers didn’t have any use for them and the site operators found them uncontrollable, so they had to go.
Is this the Internet 3.0 taking shape? I don’t like it.