Saturday, August 28, 2010

Food: Ich bin ein your dinner.

If you're a surgeon with a notably flexible interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath or a person who thinks you're being burdened with unnecessary body parts, then the forward-thinking restauranteurs behind Flime would love to hear from you.

A soon-to-open Berlin restaurant is touting for diners willing to do just that: donate body parts that it says it will turn into gourmet meals according to the age-old cooking habits of an Amazonian tribe infamous for its cannibalism.

The promotion has been declared grossly distasteful by a growing number of protesters, who say it is in particularly bad taste following the case of a real cannibal in Germany.

In a prominent advertising campaign on the internet, in German newspapers and on television, the restaurant, Flime, is appealing for willing donors and diners to become members of what it hints at being a new dining movement.

"Members declare themselves willing to donate any part of their body," the advertisement reads, adding that any resulting hospital costs will be taken on by the restaurant. They say they are also looking to employ an "open-minded surgeon".

The location of the restaurant – if it exists – is being kept a secret, as is the identity of the owners and investors behind it. As a foretaste of its menu, Flime is suggesting traditional Brazilian dishes such as bolinho, which it describes as "fried tatar balls with a sweet-sour dip", or feijoada, a main course consisting of "various pieces of meat with black beans and rice". It does not specify what type of meat is used.

The restaurant cites as its inspiration the indigenous Brazilian Waricaca tribe, which once practised the ritual of "compassionate cannibalism", or eating parts of the corpse of a loved one to emphasise the connection between the living and the dead, which was said to help with mourning.

Widely held to be a joke, local politicos are unamused by the hoax eatery and some evoke the specter of Armin Meiwes, the cannibal killer who sexually mutilated and partially consumed a willing victim in 2001.

"I'm working on the assumption that this is some sort of a warped joke," he [Michael Braun, the vice-chairman of Berlin's Christian Democrat party - CRwM] told Bild. "But it's disgusting, not least because it wasn't long ago that we had the case of the Berliner who was murdered by a cannibal."

Braun was referring to the case of the computer technician Bernd Jürgen Brandes, who in 2001 volunteered himself to the self-confessed cannibal Armin Meiwes, who chopped off his penis and prepared it as a dish seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic.

Meiwes then killed Brandes and consumed his flesh over the following months. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2006.

The case drew attention to a growing underground cannibal movement. Experts believe cannibalism has about 800 followers in Germany alone, only a minimal number of whom have carried out the practice.

It should be noted that the restaurant owners reveal a decidedly one-sided understanding of the Wari' tribe (for instance, they prefer that non-tribesmen refer to them as the Wari') and the cannibal traditions they allegedly practiced before their pacification in the 20th Century. The "compassionate cannibalism" mentioned did take place. After a member of the tribe died, family members would embrace the corpse. Then the body was left alone for an unspecified number of days. After this aging period, the dead person's closest of kin would prepare the body of dead and offer tokens of meat to members of the extended family (given that the Wari' practice polygyny, these family networks can get pretty extensive).

However, this was only one of the cannibal practices of the Wari'. The other allegedly involved the consumption of fallen enemies. Wari' warriors would bring back the bodies of slain enemies and offer them to the women and young men of the tribe. Children were forbidden to eat the flesh of enemies and the warriors, due to an elaborate system of religious assumptions, stayed away for fear that consuming the flesh of a fallen foe was a form of auto-cannibalism that would weaken you. Because this latter form of cannibalism was triumphal and less constrained by ritual, it's here that the artistic and creative aspects of cooking humans were allowed to take the fore. If, in fact, Flime exists and it is using recipes from the Wari', it is more likely that they are pulling inspiration from this latter tradition and not the tradition of "compassionate cannibalism."

The image above is artist Lulu Allison's "Cannibal Figger."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

True Crime: "Far more bizarre, improbable, and complex than has yet been reported."

In a case so unnecessarily weird and improbable that is sounds like something Dan Brown might cook up, Vanity Fair discusses the strange fate of the de Védrines family: old school Euro aristocrats who got tangled up in a web of fake Masonic plots, cultist con men, torture, confinement, and general craziness.

Here's a sample:

The woman is 58 years old. Not long ago she was the mistress of a château near Bordeaux—elegant,
soignée, an aristocrat. Now she is fed a single meal each day. She is not allowed to bathe or use the bathroom. She is drugged, and sometimes she is beaten.

The captors include members of her own family. They say she knows the number because she is The One—the possessor of knowledge that will free her and the rest of them to fulfill their destiny. They want the number of a bank account in Brussels that will lead them to a secret that will save the world. They were selected for this mission by a global network of secretive grandees, whose head, named Jacques Gonzalez, is said to be a cousin of the Spanish king Juan Carlos, and reputed to be more powerful than the presidents of France, Russia, and the United States.

The rich are not like you and me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Music: Give the old man a thrill.

When I'm 90 years old, I hope somebody still thinks of me this way. NSFW.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Movies: Inexplicable exclamation point!

In order to explain why Daniel Maze's 2009 neo-slasher Cornered! (aspirational exclamation point his, not mine) is even worth writing about, I have to spoil the flick. The "serial killer targeting bodega employees" logline is, in and of itself, worth a chuckle; but the odd idea of a bondage mask wearing slasher dispatching cornershop employees isn't the real reason to watch the film. Honestly, the reason to queue up this odd duck horror disk on your Netflix account is because it features - and here comes the spoilation - Steve Guttenberg as a psycho slasher.

I shit you not. For reals.

If you've been possessed of a burning desire to see Mahoney bury a meat cleaver halfway through some whore's neck, this is the cinematic experience you've been waiting for.

And, for the record, the "whore" thing isn't me passing judgment on the lifestyle choices of a character of the presumed personal life of an actress. In said film, the be-cleaved is a semi-freelance sex industry worker.

Now that we've covered those details, I'm not sure what, exactly, there is to still say about Cornered!. And, yes, I'm going to add the exclamation mark to the title every time it shows up. You can't see it, but I'm actually doing jazz hands every time the title appears in my review. 'Cause any film can be ho, hum . . . Cornered, I guess, but this is Cornered!, F**k Yeah!: the movie so unjustifiably self-satisfied that it deserves to be a Tumblr blog!

It would be easy to spend the rest of the review scoring cheapo zingers off this flick which is, regardless of anything I might say after this sentence, not a very good film. Instead, I'd like to point out a couple of aspects of the film that worked for me.

First, our victim collection is a nice departure from the stereotypical gaggle of teens. Admittedly, it staggers belief that a run down cornershop that - as far as we see - has no customers would employ enough people to make up a slasher fodder cluster (SFC). Still the SFC is made up of a nice platter of urban wreckage types and, for the most part, the actors bringing these dead-end types to life all acquit themselves honorably. Special props to Peter Story who has the thankless task of animating the donut-addicted Donny: a character who is constantly on the verge of becoming a hero, but repeatedly retreats into cowardice and uselessness. Donny doesn't discover his hidden resourcefulness until everybody else is pretty much dog food and his personal survival in on the line. His utter incapacity and pointlessness makes him something like the opposite of the mostly mythological final girl and Story, Maze, and Co. deserve credit for denying themselves the easy route of sudden and senseless heroism.

Second, there's a nice magical realism element involving James Duval's kickin' cold turkey junkie character, Jimmy, and a tribe of sinister, seemingly intelligent cockroaches. This running bit gives us many of the film's most pleasing moments.

And third - freakin' Steve Guttenberg as a slasher.

That's points four, five, and six as well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stuff: "We stress being prepared for a good dose of reality!"

The last days of summer are quickly slipping past us, but if you still have a little vacation time and you're looking to take the family somewhere that will ravage their fragile psyches and ensure years of therapy, then I heartily recommend Hollywood's own Museum of Death!

Founded in San Diego in 1995, the museum was moved to its current L.A. home in 2000. Proprietor James Healy curates a mind-boggling collection of morbid curios, including what is purported to be the world's largest collection of serial killer art.

From the Museum of Death's website:

the Museum of Death houses the worlds largest collection of Serial Murderer Artwork, Photos of the Charles Manson Crime Scenes, the Guillotined Severed Head of the Blue Beard of Paris, Henri Landru, Original Crime Scene and Morgue Photos from the Grisly BLACK DAHLIA MURDERS, a Body Bag and Coffin collection, replicas of Full Size Execution Devices, Mortician and Autopsy Instruments, Pet Death Taxidermy, and much much more!

Also on display are videos of autopsies and serial killers, the Heaven's Gate Cult recruiting video, and the infamous Traces (not faces) of Death video, all real (not re-enacted) Death footage.

The Museum of Death is a self guided tour, lasting approximately 45 minutes to an hour, but those who can stomach it stay as long as they like, the movies run for hours.

There is not an age limit for for the Museum of Death because WE ALL DIE but we STRONGLY recommend MATURE AUDIENCES !! There have been a number of Falling Down Ovations (people passing out) at the Museum (mostly Men) so we stress being prepared for a good dose of reality!

Have fun!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Friday the 13th.

Here's Jason, holding his favorite teddy bear (Mr. P. J. McSnookums) and wondering when he lost touch with the sweet, primitive joys of his youth.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Movies: Slasher stats.

The intersection of sex, violence, and gender is something of a black hole for critics of the slasher flick: an infinitely dense conceptual point that, sooner or later, exerts a pull on whatever is said about the subgenre. You don't have to look further than the "final girl" concept - minted in 1992, this much criticized idea remains the chief currency of slasher debates - to see all these obsessions at play. However, the final girl concept, and nearly all other criticism of the subgenre, is maddeningly vague. Opponents of the concept have pointed out that you can only apply the archetype after abstracting the films it purportedly described to the point of absurdity. Others question the mechanics of identification at the idea's core: the final girl seems to assume that everybody in the audience reacts the same to a film, switching allegiances at all the right points, all in psychic lockstep with their fellow film-goers.

This vagueness hold true for several other much-discussed aspects of the subgenre. The often invoked, rarely described "formula" that slashers purportedly follow is another example. Ask people for a rundown of the formula and you'll get something that almost never applies fully to any given film in your subset. Lone killer? Not Texas Chainsaw. Minority victims go first? Doesn't hold for Nightmare on Elm Street. Lone female survivor? More often not the case. I await the day when somebody does the basic work of actually trying to define and apply the formula to see if this bit of horror-fan folklore actually holds true.

I bring this up to make the case that Sex and Violence in the Slasher Horror Film: A Content Analysis of Gender Differences in the Depiction of Violence, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, would be of interest even if all it did was approach the subgenre without preconceived notions and a level of methodological rigor. But, aside from the notably quantitative approach, the results are interesting.

Researcher Andrew Welsh surveyed 50 different slasher flicks, from the subgenre's start to modern iterations, in order to discover gender-based variations in depictions of violence and sex. His conclusion:

Findings suggested that there are several significant gender differences in the nature of violent presentations found in slasher films. In general, female characters were more likely to be victims of less serious and graphic forms of violence, but were also significantly more likely to be victimized in scenes involving a concomitant presentation of sex and violence.

Specifically, male characters were most often the victims of extreme violence. However, the duration of the violence shown was shorter than the duration of violence in similar scenes involving female victims. Slasher cinema likes getting rid of its men fast and messy, but it likes to linger on female suffering. Slasher cinema also tends to juxtapose these images of female suffering with sexual imagery. This rarely ever happens to men in the subgenre.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Books: "For what it is worth: It now seems morally important to me to do without minor characters in a story."

Over at Letters of Note, a blog dedicated to the perhaps decaying art of the personal letter (I recently saw a blog post written as an open letter containing the confession that the blogger never wrote an actual letter to anybody), they're featuring a letter from author Kurt Vonnegut to then first-time novelist Mark Lindquist. I share it because I think it is neat, but my excuse for putting it on a horror blog is that he discusses the supposed high-brow/low-brow culture divide and gives his opinion of the work of Stephen King. With that thin excuse for horror cred in place, read on:

he fact that you have completed a work of fiction of which you are proud, which you made as good as you could, makes you as close a blood relative as my brother Bernard. The best thing about our family, our profession, is that its members are not envious or competitive. I was with the great Nadine Gordimer recently, and a reporter encouraged us to speak badly of a writer who made one hell of a lot more money than we did, Stephen King. Gordimer and I defended him. We thought he was awfully damn good at what he did. Long ago, I knocked the schlock novelist Jacqueline Suzanne off the top of the Best Seller List where she had been for a year or more. She was a sweet, tough, utterly sincere lady, and, as I say, a blood relative. She sent me a note saying, "As long as it had to be somebody, I'm glad it was you."

The last lines of the letter are interesting.

For what it is worth: It now seems morally important to me to do without minor characters in a story. Any character who appears, however briefly, deserves to have his or her life story fully respected and told.

The letter is brief, but worth the click over.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


From Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922):

From Barbarian Goddess (aka Cannibals) (1979):

From Peeping Tom (1960):

From M, (1931):

From Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964):

From This is the Laziest Excuse for Horror Blogging I've Ever Seen (2010):

Friday, August 06, 2010

Movies: If paying for their monocle polish happens to be your idea of fun, then it's all win for you.

Remember when the flood of remakes reached what we'd hoped was it's peak, remakes of
My Bloody Valentine and Friday the 13th were coming out in the same season, and people declared it "return of fun horror"?

Well bend over again, the fun's not over.

According to the Screen Rant site, the Bros. Weinstein are about to launch a one-company horror deluge of crap in a bid to save their crumbling film empire.

Among the turds being polished by Harvey and Bob are a head-scratchingly unneeded fourth film for the Scream franchise, another installment in the post-Zombie Halloween franchise, and remakes of Hellraiser, Children of the Corn, and, unbelievably, An American Werewolf in London.

Ever committed to quality, the BW look like they're going to hire the cat who penned the Jim Carrey/Joel Schumacher dud The Number 23 to handle the script of the new American Werewolf and give it "a modern spin."


Remember when the Weinstein's involvement in a project was, in and of itself, a reason to get interested in a flick? What the heck, guys?

That said, I can see working the Scream thing from this angle. After the first couple of kills, we get the obligatory "here's the rules" scene. You have somebody explain to Sidney that, if after the the third incident, the killer comes back, then she's in a franchise and the killer is motivated by the fact that two very lazy film executives need more monocle polish. Then the expositor could explain that, unless the film's a dud, she can expect the killer to return in any slow quarter. So Sidney goes around adding lame comedic bits; intentionally fumbles a passionless romantic subplot; brings in a previously unmentioned younger African American sibling to appeal to teen audiences with his hip, street-smart sensibility and zany, irreverent humor; discovers a never before discussed superpower ("I can speak to dead cats!"); commits acts of stupid kill-me-please-ism that will infuriate even the least discriminating slasher fan; and maybe gets a sparkling vampire involved; all in the hopes of bombing the movie and saving herself from further franchise installments.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

True Crime: "I still have 83 more women to kill."

The francophone Afrik News has a story on the proliferation of serial killers across Africa and the unique problems they pose to nations that often lack the investigative and communication infrastructures to identify, track, and capture such criminals. Drawing extensively from the work of Stéphane Bourgoin, an expert on African serial killers, the article paints a nightmarish portrait of these predators. Along with the police organization and data sharing issues that would hound detectives and researchers in any country, the article points out the way in which local cultural traditions can, for lack of a better word, normalize serial killing in some African communities. From the article:

And while these rampant murders are are sometimes not linked to tradition, most of them are. In southern Africa, sangomas [midwives, healers and soothsayers] call on hired killers who, for the pleasure of killing end up as serial killers, provide them with some of their tools of work. The sangomas sometimes prepare concoctions containing human body parts. A beverage brewed from a child’s sexual organ, for example, is believed to cure impotence.

"Muti killings", murders committed by puncturing the organs of a living person, is the cause of hundreds of deaths per year. "Africa registers more crimes related to cannibalism and vampirism than anywhere else in the world". Eating someone means capturing the soul and spirit of that person. And the victims’ blood are believed to contain life. It is no secret that fetish priests and some traditional worshipers believe that by drinking human blood they either become immortal or are reborn. "This kind of belief explains the acts committed by the two Kenyan serial killers: Philip Onyancha, who drank the blood of his victims and George Otieno Okoth, who collected human hair.

Besides the "muti killings", it can be noted that across Sub-Sahara Africa, many of those often labeled as witches or wizards, mostly by fetish priests, are poisoned, drowned, hacked to death with machetes or buried alive at will in an attempt to deliver their souls from the snare of the ‘devil’. Here again, a killer could evoke witchcraft in order to be given the leeway to kill to satisfy his whim. Only last year, a Zimbabwean judge, Justice Ndou, ruled that 32 year old Vusumuzi Ndlovu’s unshakable belief in witchcraft was an extenuating factor to spare him from the southern African country’s legally imposed punishment, after he killed his neighbor whom he accused of witchcraft.

The title of this post comes from Philip Onyancha, shown under arrest above.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Art: Stay calm and carry on?

Over at
I Love Horror, Mr. McHargue has post a handful of illustrations from a 1910 issue of The Strand depicting a giant insect attack on London. Half steampunk, half '50s Atomic Era horror, all awesome - the full gallery is a treat.