Sunday, September 17, 2023


Dr. Jekyll’s Dungeon of Death (1979) Continuing the family tradition of questionable medical practice, a mad doctor injects people with his great grandad's secret formula, compelling them to beat each other to death in his basement. Pretty sure this isn't the sequel Robert Louis Stevenson would have written, but since the film crew consists almost entirely of one guy and there's only a couple of sets, I suppose this is the sequel we get.

TIL: Early on, Robert Louis Stevenson was adamantly anti-religion and often disparaged belief of God, and yet in his later days he penned prayers for household worship meetings, a book of which was published by his wife following his death. "Strange as it may seem to you," he wrote to his strict Calvinist father, "everything has been, in one way or the other, bringing me nearer to what I think you would like me to be. 'Tis a strange world, indeed, but there is a manifest God for those who care to look for him."

Turns out that walking in the footsteps of Jesus and the prophets isn't just a metaphor. This week for  Aleteia I take a look at the new documentary Route 60: The Biblical Highway.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023



Creature of the Walking Dead (1965) Some idiot brings his mad scientist grandpa back to life but discovers the old coot needs human blood to keep going. At least I think that's what happens. This is another one of those Jerry Warren specials wherein new unrelated footage is inserted into a re-edited re-scripted badly dubbed Mexican film, so what's actually going on is anybody's guess.

TIL: Riffing on the 4th Commandment, the Catechism notes that grown children have a responsibility toward their elderly family members. "As much as they can, they must give them material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress." Note, however, that there's nothing in there about trying to raise them from the dead to prey on the living.

Still Voices - Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) "Two heads are better than one only if they contain different opinions." - Kenneth Kaye

Saturday, September 09, 2023


Man Beast (1956) After an expedition to the Himalayan Mountains to locate Yetis goes missing, a woman puts together a second group to rescue them. However, unbeknownst to our intrepid heroes, the Yetis have placed a spy in their midst. The purpose? To prevent the humans from interfering with the Yetis' ultimate goal, which is the acquisition of that most important of resources... dames. The pulpy plot is actually creepy and fun, but the unrelenting padding to stretch out the running time is nigh unbearable.

TIL: Oddly enough, in the Himalayan region, the number of Catholics has increased so much since 1970 that they now compose around 20% of the population. As is often the case, the surge came not as a direct result of preaching, but through the building of schools and hospitals, and though the Corporal Works of Mercy.

The Long Dark Night Gallery of the Soul #003: For your consideration... some paper bags. Yeah, yeah, I know, try to contain your excitement. The reason for showing you bags was the process fascinated me. The idea of the exercise was not to pre-sketch the overall image, but to just work on finishing small sections of ink washes, slowly letting the bigger picture emerge in its own time as each section was completed.  Art and life are like that sometimes. While it's happening you may not always be able to see how the little section you're working on contributes to something bigger, but as God has assured us, your contribution matters. Have faith and do the work. "Your big picture will never be a masterpiece if you ignore the tiny brushstrokes." - Andy Andrews

Sunday, September 03, 2023


Amsterdamned (1988) A maniacal scuba diver stalks the canals of Amsterdam. I don't know, can you stalk underwater? Lurks, maybe? Dog-paddles dastardly? Whatever, this is a surprisingly decent Giallo-adjacent thriller with slasher elements and an unexpected,  but well done James Bond style boat chase scene plopped right in the middle of it. If it sounds all over the place, it is, but it's never less than entertaining.

TIL: There is no officially designated saint for scuba divers, but lots of folks unofficially claim St. Brendan the Navigator for the position based mainly on the start of a prayer honoring him which goes, "God of sea and land, you endowed your servant Brendan with a bold and adventurous spirit, to occupy himself for your business on the great waters, and revealed to him your wonders in the deep." Works for me.

One Sheet Words of Wisdom: Anthropophagous (1980) "You can only come to the morning through the shadows." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Saturday, August 26, 2023


The Demolitionist (1995) What if the powers that be decided to make a female version of Robocop, but all they had to work with was some pocket change, a few scraps of latex, and one of the ladies from Baywatch? Well, not to worry as that seemingly imponderable question has already been answered.  To be sure, you may not like said answer,  but at least there is one. Cameo aficionados will have fun spotting the likes of Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero, Bruce Campbell, and Reggie Bannister, but that may just make you wistful wondering what a movie starring Ash and Reg would have been like. If only somebody would have answered that question instead.

TIL: In the original Robocop 2, it's suggested that Murphy's sense of duty springing from his devout Catholicism is the only reason he's able to survive the horrors of the Cyborg transformation while all the other Godless heathens used as test subjects end up committing suicide. This is likely because Christianity teaches it's possible for unavoidable suffering to be offered up for the good of others rather than wasted in despair.

Freeze Frames #013: "True villains are extremely photogenic." - Wallace Stevens

Monday, August 21, 2023


The Long Dark Night Gallery of the Soul #002: For your consideration... a colored pencil study I did of a mosaic, the name and location of which I'm ashamed to say I didn't write down. "None of us is alone in this world; each of us is a vital piece of the great mosaic of humanity as a whole." - Pope John Paul II

Dad Rock Diary: Dead Kennedy's - Frankenchrist (1985) Fans seem to consider this the kinder, gentler Dead Kennedy's, but for the uninitiated, that's probably like receiving a kindler, gentler boot to the face from an angry rioter. Just saying, if you're having one of those days when you're ready to burn the whole military-industrial complex to the ground, this is still an acceptable soundtrack. Laudable Lyrics: People, we know who should know better howl, "America rules, let's go to war!" Business scams are what's worth dying for!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023


The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) A British nobleman (Christopher Lee!) is troubled by a family curse and the spectral beast which accompanies it. All seems hopeless, but not to worry, Sherlock Holmes is on the case. One of the best adaptations of one of Arthur Conan Doyle's best stories with Peter Cushing providing one of the best onscreen Sherlock Holmes. It's a shame this didn't do well enough to convince Hammer to turn it into a series but, alas, you take what you can get.

TIL: Modern interpreters of the character predictably try to claim Holmes as an atheist, however, the books strongly hinted Sherlock was a believer of some sort. The detective once mused, "Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers."

Freeze Frames #012:  "Looking up into the night sky is looking into infinity — distance is incomprehensible and therefore meaningless" - Douglas Adams