Is Leftism Really a Religion?

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Yeah, we say it all the time; leftism is a religion, a sickness and a mental disorder.  But how do we exactly go about proving that?  After all, if I adhere to certain views without an ounce of proof, someone could just as easily call what I believe to be pure zealotry.  And, to be fair, people on the right have done that very thing; Todd Akin comes to mind when he claimed women rarely get pregnant from “legitimate rape” as a defense for the pro-life stance.  And, boy, did the liberal media have a field day with that one.

Liberal and conservative are just concepts that have little meaning out of context.  After all, I DO stand for classical liberalism – free market, low taxes and economic liberty without much government intrusion – but, the modern left is anything but liberal.  It’s ironic that the leftists make fun of evangelicals so much when they hold to their views with a religious fervor that puts evangelicals to shame.  In order to maintain their narrative, they’ll defy any logic and fact based reasoning, and I shall demonstrate this with three basic examples.

  1. The alleged gender based gap in pay equity: 

    Feminists and leftists contend that women only make $0.77 for every man’s dollar strictly because of gender based discrimination.  Of course we all know that’s bullshit, so we tell these feminists that the reason women only make $0.77 of every man’s dollar is because, when women go to college, they choose fields that are less marketable, such as sociology, women’s studies and communications, rather than more marketable majors such as engineering or math.  They also tend to work fewer hours and take on less stressful, less dangerous and thus less well paying jobs.  In fact this Huffington Post article says that very thing, and, if that ain’t cognitive dissonance, then I don’t know what is.  Of course a reasonable person would then say, “oh, cool, so there isn’t gender based discrimination.  I’m glad that battle is over!”  However the leftist or feminist will call you a misogynist pig or, at very least, tell you “huh, well I don’t agree with that!”  Ergo maintaining faith in the narrative.

  2.  The need for more gun control: 

    This one is really tough for leftists.  The question is always put to them whether they a. are trying eliminate guns altogether or b. whether they just want to make it tougher to obtain guns.  If their point is a., then you’re dealing with a whole different debate in which you can give all kinds of obvious and absurd examples of how useless eliminating guns would be and how that could lead to the slippery slope of implementing knife control, like they do in England or even worse pepper spray control, like they do in Finland, where they teach women to defend themselves from rapists by using the force (notice how the “potential rapist” is a lily white guy and not a Muslim Arab, because portraying the population that ACTUALLY commits the crimes is “racist”).  However, if you’re talking to an honest leftist (which is rare) and this person doesn’t actually want to eliminate guns, but just wants to make it harder to get them, you simply point out that the places with the highest gun crime rates have the strictest gun control measures and that the crimes are committed by hood rats who own illegal firearms.  On top of that, show them that nice areas with nearly zero gun control have zero gun crime, in spite the fact that most of the citizens have a mini arsenal in their homes.  This Bill Whittle video should do nicely.  There, proven!  The person should have one less leftist belief, right?  Well, according to my former friend and ardent, dedicated leftist zealot Ernesto Yermoli: “I’m not watching a video where the guy calls people ‘weanies’.  Edwin, I have friends in Europe who are TERRIFIED of our pro-gun culture.”  Well, Ernesto, I have friends who are terrified of black people, what of it?  The narrative will be maintained.

  3. White police officers are out to get blacks: 

    As the clear and simple evidence shows, police officers are bigots and it’s open season on unarmed, black teenagers.  After all, Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown and Brown was unarmed.  Now, all you have to do to debunk this absolutely silly notion is remember how Michael Brown was strong arming the owner of a convenience store for cigarettes, charged a police officer and tried to grab a gun away from him and that all of the witnesses who allegedly saw the incident lied about it.  On top of that, you have to consider that, like the Trayvon Martin case, the media decided to make it a national news story, rather than a local one and, in the latter case, turned the Hispanic George Zimmerman into a white man.  You also have to look at the statistics, which say that police officers shoot white people way more than they shoot black people, that officers have actually become more reluctant to shoot at blacks for fear of being accused of racism and that the net result of cops deciding not to do their jobs for fear of being accused of racism lead to a huge spike in the murder rate in Baltimore, in which gangs settled all of their scores.  It doesn’t hurt to mention that people living in black neighborhoods prefer to have a police presence to keep their neighborhoods from turning into total bedlam.  Of course, once you explain all of that, hopefully that’s one less leftist view that person will have.  But, things aren’t that easy.  The leftist is sick in the head doesn’t think that way.  Instead he/she/it will say, “YOU’RE RACIST!!! MICHAEL BROWN WAS UNARMED AND DARREN WILSON SHOT HIM!!!  DARREN WILSON IS WHITE, MICHAEL BROWN IS BLACK, THEREFORE RACISM!!!!” Again the narrative will be maintained.

 

Sometimes I wonder where this extreme narcissism and inability to listen to facts comes from.  My friend Dan told me that, as long as I have solid evidence with which to present my points, then people will be reasonable and listen.  If that was the case, then why does Bernie Sanders have a career?

 

 

Playlist 3/1/2016

Voivod – Post Society EP
Voivod – Rrröööaaarrr
Voivod – Killing Technology
Cows – Orphan’s Tragedy
Cows – Sorry in Pig Minor
v/a – Dope, Guns ‘n Fucking in the Streets Volumes 8 – 11
Cherubs – Heroin Man
Graveyard – Graveyard
Graveyard – Hisingen Blues
Helios Creed – Activated Condition
Manilla Road – Open the Gates
Manilla Road – Crystal Logic
Hawkwind – Warrior on the Edge of Time

UXO

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Considering that Chris Spencer (Unsane/The Cutthroats 9/Celan) and Steve Austin (Today Is the Day) are two of my favorite guitars of all time, it should be no surprise the elation I felt when I heard that these two monster gods of heavy, crushing noise guitar would team up.  Jeezus that was two years ago when I initially announced it on this here very site.  The rest of the band includes Pat Kennedy, who played with Austin in Taipan, on bass and Aarne Victorne on drums.

UXO – Reptilian (2016)

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Steve Austin actually stayed at my mom’s house a few months ago after Today Is the Day played at the Pike Room in Pontiac, MI.  I told him that, as long as he holds Republican views, he’s more than welcome there.  I gotta say, it was pretty surreal seeing this 6 ft plus man with a confederate flag plus snake tattooed on his arm talking to my 4’11” Jewish mother.

Anyway, UXO stands for Unexploded Ordnance, which are explosives that weren’t used, but still pose a threat of detonation.

The self titled debut LP/EP from UXO contains seven cuts and not one of them is a dud.  If you’re familiar with either Today Is the Day or Unsane, you should probably know what to expect from this record; brutal, heavy, noisy and consistently pissed off throughout.  But what really makes the record a winner is how Austin and Spencer play off each other.  On every track you can hear Austin’s whirling, swirling Fripp-style melodies and weird noises play off of Spencer’s low end riffs, while both gentlemen take turns shouting over the din; or in the case of “Redlegs”, shouting together.  Spencer throws in his bluesy, bottleneck slides as well.

As for vocals, Chris Spencer sounds like he always does, just angrily shouting at the top of his lungs, while Austin sings in his mocking, demonic tone, except for the track “Blind Suicide”, where he sounds a little like Steve Albini.  And lyrically, the songs are all thoroughly dark and depressing as titles like “Bitter”, “Trauma” and “User” would indicate.

It should also be noted that the song structures are closer to that of Unsane.  So, if you’re wondering how or if Steve Austin incorporated those excessively complicated song structures that you’d hear on Today Is the Day classics like Supernova or Willpower, he didn’t.  The songs are closer to the simpler Unsane approach, but sludgier, plodding along to angular, non-4/4 drum beats.  Also, “Everything’s a Mistake” has a beeping noise in the background that sounds like an alarm clock going off.

Only two months into 2016 and UXO is easily a contender for one of the best records of year.  I just wish it was longer.

The Undertaker and His Pals (1966)

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You just never know.  You watch enough of these and you stumble across a real gem, a movie so funny yet so odd and surreal that it transcends the genre it ostensibly was aiming for.  By all accounts The Undertaker and His Pals could easily be passed over as nothing more than a Herschell Gordon Lewis-style splatter-fest without so much as a thought to technique, script or craft other just getting through the story and showing some onscreen gore but you’d have to be a fool not to see the brilliance of The Undertaker and His Pals.

To be sure The Undertaker and His Pals is undoubtedly a completely miniscule budget affair but, unlike Gordon’s films, everything that the movie doesn’t have is used in its favor.  Bad acting, cheap effects, corny dialogue and predictable and ludicrous plot devices are deliberately played for laughs – but, then again, if you weren’t expecting to laugh at a movie called The Undertaker and His Pals, then you are probably too serious for your own good.  And something that’s often overlooked in these types of films is that the direction from one time director T.L.P. Swicegood (who wrote the script as well) is good!  You cannot say that about an H.G. Lewis picture!

The “plot” is a mish-mash of events that includes three homicidal, machete wielding bikers, a shady undertaker who overcharges on funeral costs, a local diner which serves “leg of lam”, a series of gruesome murders, some cannibalism, a stereotypical private dick who tries to solve the murders, a hot femme fatale named Friday and her equally hot, twin sister, Thursday.  There’s absolutely no reason to further talk about the plot since it’s merely just a frame for a series of ridiculous events, visual gags and slapstick humor.  Some of these are funny; some not so much.  The undertaker tripping on the skateboard was pretty lame (maybe that’s what they were going for) but the site of closeup of the sailor’s photograph, which changes during the murder of a young woman is quite funny.

It’s clear the entire thing is played tongue in cheek like say, A Bucket of Blood or The Little Shop of Horrors but, unlike those films, this one gets as grizzly as say Blood Feast, 2,000 Maniacs or Color Me Blood Red.  There is a machete to the face, scalpel through a forehead, severed limbs, a man dipped into acid, a body disposed of via meat grinder and, grossest of all, a “surgery” sequence in the back of the diner in which we’re treated to an actual closeup of medical, surgery footage to create the “effect.”  Well, it was pretty effective to say the least.

Unfortunately I can’t really say much about who is in the movie because the credits don’t link characters to the actor names except for the super hot Warrene Ott who played Friday and her twin sister Thursday and played some minor roles in some Hollywood sex comedies, James Westmoreland, who played the private dick was in a few TV shows and in the 1980 slasher Don’t Answer the Phone and, unsurprisingly Ray Dannis, who played the Undertaker, also played similarly creepy roles in Al Adamson’s awesome The Corpse Grinders and Tom Alderman’s The Severed Arm.  I also liked the wicked, jazzy score.

And now for the greatest orange soda commercial of all time.

Scream Baby Scream (1969)

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My grade of three out of four iron crosses can’t be trusted, so don’t get mad at me if you google searched Scream Baby Scream on my recommendation and end up hating it and me (though you probably already do), and then look up my address to try to kill me because you thought I endorsed the movie because I’m telling you right now that it’s a shitty movie.

From the start, it’s clear that this ain’t no high budget affair and that we’re dealing in H.G. Lewis territory.  The direction is only slightly better than an H.G. Lewis film but the lighting is so piss poor, you’re gonna be looking at a black screen for seconds at a time and these aren’t transitions.  Also the two main characters are completely unlikeable, with the male one constantly having a pissy attitude about everything (i.e. “what babe, you’re dancing?  Congrats on being a piece of shit!”) and his girlfriend being a narcissistic, art snob who exemplifies the cliched “free spirit” of the time when she’s just another hussy looking for cheap kicks.  Furthermore the dialogue scenes go on interminably making one (such as me) forget I was even watching a horror movie in the first place.  Oh, and the gore makeup looked like shit.

So, you’re probably wondering what the hell was good about it?  Well, nothing.  I kid, I kid!  In my estimation, the way the movie wrapped up and the shock ending made the movie worthwhile for me even if I found most of it annoying or frustrating.

The main plot concerns a weirdo going around disfiguring people as inspiration for his twisted art.  It’s pretty obvious who is doing the deed, but the result is actually kinda creepy even if the effect comes off as totally cheap.  Also the supposedly sophisticated, European artist doing the killing sounds like the killer in Blood Feast, so that should clue you on the level of acting you’re dealing with.  The two main characters are art students, and they have two other friends who are also a couple, and the group goes around to hippie clubs, drops acid and watches a psychedelic band play.  There’s also a fun acid trip sequence that takes place at a zoo, so that’s another plus, and I liked the mansion setting at the end as well.

Oh and I should mention the zombies.  Yes there are zombies.  Their makeup is really poor and they barely do anything worth noting.

Screenwriter Larry Cohen would go onto write It’s Alive and Q: The Winged Serpent.  I have the worst taste in movies.

 

The Deadly Bees (1966)

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Hey!  That’s a pretty good rendering of Suzanna Leigh, the movie’s lead character!  For my second installment in the two part series of non-Hammer films that were directed by Hammer directors, here’s a pretty lame but occasionally fun thriller called The Deadly Bees.  To be honest there’s really nothing to complain about since the movie delivers exactly what it promised; it’s just that, ya know, deadly bees aren’t exactly the most exciting form of screen danger and, when you direct the movie like you would any other Hammer horror film, that is by trying to build up suspense and not just have a constant flow of action or violence, you tend to turn your movie into a snoozer.

The movie also tries to be really hip and modern, opening up with a sequence at a TV studio where we see a completely pointless and wasted performance from the Birds (not the Byrds), a wicked R&B, mod rock group who had Ronnie Wood before he was in the Creation and the Stones.  The focus switches to Vicki Robbins (Leigh) a popular singer, who passes out on camera due to exhaustion (surely not from drugs!) and, as a result, gets carted off to some island (actually an obvious “small village” set with a painted backdrop) to stay with some assholish, bee-obsessed professor guy.

As you would expect, things start to go wrong when bees start attacking people (and the family dog).  But who’s bees are they?  The assholish guy who is mean to his wife and flirts with the local barmaid or is it the very friendly but somewhat suspicious other scientist?  Oh the mystery was killing me!  Actually it wasn’t at all.  I really didn’t care.

If anything I was actually kind of frustrated by the lead character.  Half the time she’s acting like a super sleuth, constantly snooping around, putting on the thoughtful face every time she found something and half the time she acted like a complete moron.  Ya know: book smarts vs. street smarts, I guess.  “Hey, I’m gonna kill you with my bees, hahahah!!!”, “oh, then I better just stand here gawking at you and not run even though you’re giving me ample opportunity to get away!!!”

And now, here’s Joi Lansing singing “Web of Love”!

The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)

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How can you go wrong with a film that’s a mash-up of The Day the World Ended, Panic in Your Zero! and The Last Man on Earth and crams it all into 62 non-boring minutes?  If you get bored at something like that, then you need to take your ADD medicine more often.  The Earth Dies Screaming is great and it’s directed by Terence Fisher yet it isn’t a Hammer film!  How’s about that, eh?

Just to prove to you that this movie isn’t full of shit, the movie just begins with everyone dying!  Planes fall from the sky, trains crash and people just like totally drop dead within in the opening sequence!  You know from the get-go that something ain’t right!

But, because a film needs characters, some people inexplicably survived and, as you might have expected per your viewing similar films such as the above mentioned and, of course, Night of the Living Dead, a bunch of strangers meet by happenstance and have to both fend off the bad guys and deal with each other.

And, as you might have also guessed, the characters are all archetypical.  You’ve got the sensible leader guy, the double crossing guy who you never quite trusted, a wimpy guy (who, in this case drinks a lot), the wimpy guy’s wife, another woman who is okay, a younger guy and his girlfriend and an adult couple who are about to have a kid.  All of them meet up at a house and basically just try to figure out how to defend themselves against the radiation shooting, killer robots who stalk the village streets.  But here’s the crazy thing; if you’re looking for another source from which Night of the Living Dead riffs from, look no further than the zombies which eventually also become part of the problem.

So yes, The Earth Dies Screaming has killer robots and zombies!  And guess who created the zombies!!!  Give up?!  THE KILLER ROBOTS!!! HAHAHHAA, CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!  Considering it was released in 1964, don’t expect any real gore but there is action and people getting shot and killed in other ways.  Given the movie’s short run-time and quick pace, the solution to the problem – at least in their tiny village – seems a little too easy to come by but, hey, whatever.  The outer space, radio controller thingy that was controlling the robots couldn’t have anticipated the humans would be smart enough to knock down a tower, could they?  Oh, was that a spoiler?  Sorry.

The Asphyx (1973)

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Congratulations William Castle on directing a Hammer film!  What’s that you say?  The Asphyx isn’t a Hammer film?  William Castle already directed a Hammer film called The Old Dark House?  Well, umm, let me explain the joke.  The Asphyx looks, sounds and smells like a Hammer film even if it was released by some other studio and the concept of the movie is so gosh darned ridiculous and silly, that it rivals The Tingler.  You still don’t get it because you haven’t seen The Tingler?!

The premise of that ridiculous movie is that, when you get freaked out, you can isolate a creepy, crab-bug type creature called your “tingler” that grows on your spine and can have it physically removed and I guess watch it crawl around for no particular reason.  Sound pretty stupid, right?  Well, your “asphyx” (or Slimer from Ghostbusters) is essentially your soul, which apparently can be removed, isolated and trapped in a box and, as long as it stays in said box, you remain immortal.  Once it’s set free, you die.

The fact that I bought into the ridiculous premise is telling considering I gave the movie a grade of three out of four.  And I would have given it a perfect score because, as the movie progressed, the story got more and more absurd yet totally enjoyable.  But, sadly, they fucked up so badly that I had to drop it by a single grade.  See, if your soul is captured and you’re 27 years old, then you don’t grow any older than 27.  You don’t get younger either but you definitely don’t get older.  As a result of this rule being established in the film, I couldn’t get past the major continuity gap which manifests itself in the epilogue, where we see the main character as a really, really old man, see.

The plot of the film concerns a scientist named Sir Hugo Cunningham (Robert Stephens), who makes no bones about using the Dickensian-level, impoverished people for his twisted experiments where he lets them die and, as they die, he captures their “asphyx” in a box – which makes me thing the creators of Ghostbusters might have borrowed the capturing ghost concept, not to mention that the “asphyx” looks like Slimer – in an attempt to immortalize them;  apparently having your soul torn from your body is extremely painful as one person took to throwing acid at the doctor while he attempted to remove this “asphyx.”  A few other things happen along the way, such as the romance between the adopted Giles Cunningham (Robert Powell) and desired bride to be and daughter of Sir Hugo, Christina Cunningham (Jane Lapotaire).

Unsurprisingly, as the story progresses, Sir Hugo gets progressively more insane; going from well-meaning oddball to crazy nutjob, leading to one of the most, “woa, WTF moments” I’ve seen in a long time involving a guillotine and the doctor’s daughter.  “Don’t worry honey, it’ll work out just fine.”  And, given the concept of the movie, it SHOULD have buuuut….

As I mentioned, the movie looks and feels like a Hammer film; from the gothic, old fashioned laboratory set pieces to the hilariously hammy acting but damn if I wasn’t entertained by the whole thing.  Again, great movie with one annoying continuity gap.

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971)

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What a frustrating movie!  I don’t know if it was just poor editing or a poor script but, for whatever reason, Murders in the Rue Morgue unintentionally ends up being like a Luis Bunuel or David Lynch film!  I love both of those directors but, if I wanted a film that makes it unclear if the entire thing is a dream not, I’d watch The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.

In 1971 it had been seven years since American International pictures had released a film that was named after but bore little resemblance to an Edgar Allen Poe story.  Not only does Murders in the Rue Morgue not have an actual gorilla in it – it has a man in a gorilla costume and that part is pretty cool, which I’ll explain momentarily – but it doesn’t even have a morgue in it!  The “Rue Morgue” in question is actually a theater!  Who the hell would name their theater The Rue Morgue?

What’s weird is that nobody in their netflix or IMDB reviews mentions or makes a strong point about how damn confusing this movie is, almost as if they chose to ignore this aspect of the film.  Ostensibly the film takes place in 19th century France and is just about how this crazy guy named Rene Marot (Herbert Lom), who wears a mask that covers up his acid-disfigured face, goes around killing and pouring acid on people who are associated with Cesar Charon (Jason Robards), the head of the Rue Morgue theater.  All the while Charon’s wife Madeleine (Christine Kaufmann) keeps getting into a sleepy, dreamy state that most likely recalls past events which she probably blocked out but serve as a missing piece to the mystery as to why Marot keeps killing and pouring acid on people.

The problem I had and the reason I started the review so negatively is because every time Madeleine goes in a dream state, the film never returns to her non-dream state in a clear way.  Or rather, we never actually get to see the return to the real world!  It all starts happening early in the movie; Madeleine is on stage, performing a part in a stage play and, as she’s being tied up, she goes into a dreaming fit where she sees a rope dropping and the Herbert Lom character falling and then will wake up in bed.  At first I excused it but then it happens again with no clear point of return to the real world!  And, I guess, what are supposedly important plot points happen before, during and after the dream sequences start!  So what gives?  Is this ALL happening in her head?  I watched until the end for some sort of closure but NOPE!  The end revealed nothing!  In fact it seemed like it was just arbitrarily tacked on just for the movie to seem even weirder.

So why such a high grade for a movie I’m essentially trashing?  The devil is in the details and the details me likes a lot!  First of all, the opening scene is a hoot!  I may be spoiling it by revealing it but it’s close to the beginning so whatevs, it’s cool.  Basically it starts with a very typical movie scene of an escaped ape going crazy, trashing stuff, rebelling against its master, carrying off the girl, etc. and I thought, “my howdy do, that gorilla outfit looks extremely fake and did these editors not notice that you can see the actor’s human neck every time he swings his head upwards?  Maybe I’d expect this from the 1932 Murders in the Rue Morgue but certainly not from this!”  Then they reveal the said action is on a stage and I thought, “oh my!  You guys got me!”

There are more neat scenes like that which re-create what it must have been watching a horrific stage play, where it’s clear the wooden board with spikes on it is clearly fake but the audience who hadn’t been jaded seem legitimately shocked by the onstage events of torture and grue.  Then of course it’s even more shocking when something actually goes wrong, like when Herbert Lom’s character accidentally gets real acid thrown in his face and they have to stop the performance.

There are also some righteously debauched scenes of old-timey partying with them naughty burlesque women, wooo!  Jason Robards, who is supposedly a level headed and caring husband commits a no-no with the super hot whore played by Maria Perschy.  But the problem is is that act of moral indiscretion becomes somehwat meaningless since it wasn’t clear if it actually happened or if it was part of the dream thingy.

Oh, and if you’re into old-fashioned looking carnivals, this movie has tons of that stuff along with great performances from top notch actors and really sick looking burn makeup.  In other words, if you’re looking for an entertaining film of individual scenes and other cool stuff then go for it but if you’re looking for a movie that isn’t a complete mess and you need to have some closure at the end, then avoid this movie at all costs!