Your Halloween Playlist

 

If you’re throwing a Halloween party you need more than a creaking door soundtrack to set the tone.  You need a steady rotation of thematic music so things keep rolling.  If you’re not throwing a party then maybe you’re handing out candy.  So you’ll definitely need a rocking soundtrack to keep you primed for any tricks that might preempt your treats.  Are you working on Halloween?  Then get your boss to play ‘appropriate’ music.  Look, either way it’s Halloween and music is key.  I’ve got you covered!  This is your Halloween soundtrack, my friends:

 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Honestly, the whole album.  Who doesn’t love Rocky Horror?  But if you’re looking to narrow down the Transylvanian tune choices, make sure your playlist includes ‘Time Warp’ and ‘Sweet Transvestite’.  And if you’ve never done the time warp (you’ve never done the time warp?) don’t worry - the dance instructions are right in the lyrics of the song.  We’ll all be waiting in antici.......... pation for you to figure it out.

‘Thriller’ - Michael Jackson
Vincent Price guest stars in this song.  You guys, Vincent Price.  Michael Jackson.  Zombies.  This is a Halloween staple.  This is the whole meal deal.  ‘Thriller’ is everything.

‘Tubular Bells’ - Mike Oldfield
On its own this is a creepy little instrumental piece.  Evocative, moody, atmospheric.  But ‘Tubular Bells’ is not just any piece of music.  It’s the theme to The Exorcist.  It will immediately remind you of levitating beds, a possessed girl spider-walking backwards down stairs, and an old priest and a young priest.  It’s chilling and therefore perfect.  

‘Monster Mash’ - Bobby “Boris” Pickett
Another staple.  But this one is all about an epic bash the monsters are throwing rather than about monsters crashing your epic bash.  Everybody loves this song, don’t lie.

‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’ - Backstreet Boys
I hear you questioning this song’s inclusion on the list.  But it’s the video that seals its place.  This is the video where the boys’ tour bus breaks down and they have to spend the night in a big old haunted mansion where Nick, Howie, Kevin, Brian, and AJ turn into a mummy, Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, a werewolf, and the Phantom (of the Opera) respectively.  This is so Halloween, you guys.  And also: there’s a dance.

The Addams Family Soundtrack - Marc Shaiman
Every day is Halloween for our favorite family!  The Addamses don’t do normal like regular folk.  The movie starred Anjelica Huston (my favorite) and Raul Julia as Morticia and Gomez and the soundtrack has highlights like the opening number where Christmas carolers are tarred by the family and the unforgettable Mamushka.  This is for Halloween and every day around Halloween that isn’t Halloween but should be.

‘Dragula’ - Rob Zombie
First of all, it sounds like Dracula.  Secondly, his name is Zombie.  Sample lyrics: “Dead I am the dog / hound of hell you cry / Devil on your back / I can never die / Dig through the ditches / And burn through the witches / I slam in the back of my / Dragula”  Trust me, it’s thematic.

‘Ghostbusters’ - Ray Parker Jr.
Who you gonna call?  Exactly.  Back off, man, I’m a scientist.

‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ - Rockwell
I think I’m just amused by songs where paranoia is the driving force.  I also enjoy ‘Who Can It Be Now’ by Men At Work.  Anyway, Rockwell is convinced that people are watching him: the mailman, neighbors, the IRS.  The song also references The Twilight Zone and Psycho which are name-drop wins.  Admittedly that feeling of being watched is definitely a creepy sensation.

‘Bad Things’ - Jace Everett
True Blood was many things and some of those things were camp and softcore porn but it was also about vampires and shifters and werewolves.  The theme song is damn sexy, too, so put it on your playlist so you can grind with the costumed reveler of your choice as the witching hour nears.

‘More Human Than Human’ - White Zombie
As we learned in Nathan’s Laserium post last week, the title and certain lyrical references in this song are taken from the film Blade Runner.  Which, admittedly, is not about Halloween but is about genetic engineering and a general neo-noir dystopian view of the future.  Horror comes in many forms.  Also, it features these lyrics - “I am the crawling dead / A phantom in a box / Shadow in your head” - and is head-thumping metal at its finest.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula Soundtrack - Wojciech Kilar
Say what you will about Keanu’s performance as Harker (stilted, unintentionally comedic, bad), the movie as a whole was lush and dark and full of venomous elegance.  The soundtrack is the same.  It throbs with threat and a sort of menacing dignity.  It sets a very definite mood and that mood is inky black and oddly beautiful.

‘Twisted Nerve’ - Bernard Herrmann
Cap the playlist with that whistling song.  Oh you know the one.  The one that starts like a jaunty little whistle and ends in the sort of discordant clashing orchestration that jars your very bones.  It’s no wonder this little ditty was used by Quentin Tarantino to underscore the arrival of Elle Driver at the hospital where the Bride lay comatose in Kill Bill.  Yes, it’s that song.

 

- Corinne Simpson

 

Nathan's Laserium: The Halloween Parade

Ba'al was getting tired of this crap. With a roar he halted the parade. He rose from his throne and jumped down to personally inspect the assembled hordes, majordomo in tow.

"You," he growled to one of the raw recruits. "Who the Hell are you supposed to be?"

"Sir," the recruit squeaked. "I'm a Lego Man, sir."

"What the Hell is a Lego man?"

The majordomo interceded on behalf of the terrified recruit. "Lego is one of the most profitable franchises in Topside history, sir. It's actually a sort of meta-franchise, encompassing a myriad other brands. It's worth tens of billions."

"All I see is a stupid yellow blocky thing that can't even march correctly." Ba'al raised a clawed finger to the Lego Man's round head, tracing the outlines of its incongruous smile. "This is not frightening. This does not inspire terror. This does not PLEASE ME!" Ba'al ripped the Lego head off and flung it into a nearby pool of sulfur. It evaporated with a tiny green burst of flame. The terrified soul under the mask turned and ran. Ba'al unfurled his bat-wings to take chase. 

"Please, milord," said the majordomo. "Here is a regiment of zombies that is surely more to your liking. And look! Pirates. Very deadly."

"Mmm. I noticed there weren't nearly enough ghosts this year."

"But there's been a huge uptick in skeletons and skull-faced girls, thanks to Dia de la Muerte infiltration."

"What about all these? Explain this." Ba'al gestured at a platoon of brightly-colored muscular and metallic marchers.

"Robots and super-heroes. Huge. This one can turn into a truck, I believe. And that green giant there- you don't want to make him angry!"

Ba'al's head exploded. The majordomo knew well that this meant he was very, very angry. Even a hulking green giant would think twice about crossing Ba'al when his head was on fire. His flaming eye-sockets looked ready to incinerate the super-hero squad. Once again the majordomo did his best to avert the coming fury.

"Most Infernal One! Movie franchises have been a venerated part of Halloween tradition for decades. Remember how pleased you were to welcome Frankensteins and werewolves and mummies into the fold."

With visible effort, Ba'al unimmolated. He didn't bother to reconstitute his face, however, so there was just an even more hideous than usual skull countenance with roiling maggots where the eyeballs should be.

"How is the Kingdom of Hell glorified by robot superheroes?"

"The licencing fees bring in millions every day. Gold mines."

"For what shall it profit a satan, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose a single soul to the enemy?"

"Well, that's the best part- you think Halloween is overly commercialized, you should see what we've done to Xmas!"

For the first time Ba'al's mood seemed to improve. Worms dropped from his rotting nose, a sure sign of mirth. The Majordomo was relieved. Perhaps it was safe to continue the inspection.

"I think you'll be pleased with these- abstract concepts turned into simple halloween avatars. Not much money in it but our participation ratios skyrocket, especially amongst the college-aged and hipster demographics. Ah. See? Here we have Euclidian Geometry. Oh and that must be Sound of One Hand Clapping. And I love this one- a Hashtag! Brilliant."

Ba'al didn't seem to be impressed, however, so the majordomo hurried them along.

"Now we come to my favorite part- the Sexy Squads!" They came to row upon row of all manner of female souls dressed in revealing and implausible garb.

"What is this?" 

"Sexy nurse! Sexy witch! Sexy vampire! Sexy zombie! Sexycop! I like to say that one all one word, sexycop. Sexy teacher.  And so forth."

"Sexycop? What? What are you talking about?"

"Sexy princess, sexy spacetrooper, sexy robot."

Ba'al stopped one of the marching souls. "What are you?"

"I'm a sexy snowman. Do you wanna build a . . . sexy snowman?"

Ba'al exploded. Not just his head, his everything this time. Gone. Maybe to some lower depth of hell. All that was left was his brimstone crown, which the majordomo defly swooped up and placed on his own head. It fit good!

He turned and addressed the Halloween Horde.

"Let's go trick or treating!"

 

- Nathan Waddell

 

Live Blogging 'The Fall of the House of Usher'

The Fall of the House of Usher
Live Blog

:35     In Cinemascope!  With Vincent Price!  

:39    The Fall of the House of Usher.  1960s classic.

1:14    Dreary landscape, dead trees, lone rider on horseback.  This isn’t going to be a happy sunny story, kids.

1:36    Incredibly creepy mansion.  Any doubt as to who wrote the story this film is based on should be banished by the opening alone.  This is totally an Edgar Allen Poe masterpiece.  

3:05    Philip Winthrop is handsome.  Engaged to Miss Usher, you say?  Dashing.  Such a dashing young man.

4:20    So the old butler who asked the dashing Winthrop to remove his boots just disappeared.  Into thin air?  What? 

4:54    Nope, he’s just very stealthy.  He almost literally vanished then reappeared with slippers.  As one does.

5:51    AAAAAHHHH!  Vincent Price with blonde hair!!  Creepiest thing yet.

7:04    Plot thus far: Vincent Price is Roderick Usher.  Dashing Winthrop is engaged to Madeline Usher, Vincent Price’s sister who is apparently bedridden with illness.  Except that she just appeared - so not bedridden - and looks radiant.

8:38    If I were Winthrop I’d strongly question my decision to join with this family.  Even the fireplace is out to get him.

9:42    Vincent Price’s reaction to Winthrop’s hope for children is roughly the same as mine.

10:50    The Usher siblings apparently suffer from “the most morbid acuteness of the senses”.  Soft cloth - grating!  Boots on the floor - clatter!  Doorknob turning - knife point!

13:55    This whole sensitivity of the senses thing does explain why the butler moves like such a shadow.

14:19    A tremor?  Earthquake?  Winthrop sees a candle skidding across the floor and looks outside to see giant cracks in the house exterior.

15:31    The hallway looks crooked.  I might be projecting.  I’m trying very hard not to inject spoilers from my many readings of Poe’s oeuvre into this live blog.

16:00    The chandelier tried to kill Winthrop Phantom-style.  Maybe - conjecture - the house just isn’t stable.  You know?  Maybe a foundation issue.  

17:26    Winthrop: “It was probably the trembling of the house that caused that chandelier to fall.”  Vincent Price: “Do you really think so?”  See, this is why Vincent Price is the master of suspense.  There couldn’t be five more innocuous words but the way he utters them is profoundly unsettling.

18:43    Not for nothing, but if I had acute sensitivity to sound, that lute playing would drive me mad.  It’s doing a good job now, honestly.

19:17    The way Vincent Price stands is profoundly unsettling.  

19:38    “Good night, Philip.”  Translation: “I wish I could make out with you and wrestle your clothes off but my profoundly unsettling brother is here and I daren’t.”

20:29    See?  Winthrop snuck into Madeline’s room and planted a deep kiss on her and she loved it.

24:41    Winthrop is searching for Madeline in the middle of the night but she’s not in her bed and a series of slamming doors can be heard.  Whither Madeline?

25:15    The house tries to kill him again as the bannister on the upper floor stairwell gives way.

25:51    Doors are opening and closing with eerie creaks all around, it seems.  Winthrop, to his credit, doesn’t frighten easily.  He’s every bit the dashing hero.  Though, if I know anything about Vincent Price and Poe, that won’t help him much.  (You in back with the book in hand - no spoilers!)

27:34    Madeline is laying asleep in the chapel?  I think it’s a chapel?  The butler informs Winthrop that Madeline walks in her sleep and mustn’t be woken.

28:57    The fact that the butler cooks in a giant cauldron over an open fire is awesome.  Very Macbeth.

30:37    The house isn’t stable, you guys.  And the butler says it doesn’t worry him because “if the house dies I shall die too” which absolutely isn’t creepy at all.  

31:35    Hot gruel.  Yum.  That’s totally my dream of what Tom Hardy would dashingly serve me in bed too, Winthrop.

32:36    “Madeline I’ll have no scrawny women in my house.  Now open your mouth.”  I really must... not... comment.

33:34    I only just realized that he has more product in his hair than she does.  It’s like the 80s only more dashing.

36:08    This tour of the Usher crypt reminds me of Morticia walking Fester through the Addams graveyard in The Addams Family only so much less festive.  “Sic gorgiamus subjectatos nunc.  We gladly feast on those who would subdue us.  Not just pretty words.”

37:45    And now a filled coffin tries to kill Winthrop.  Take the hint, man!  Take the damn hint!

40:32    The tales of woe told by a thousand protagonists/antagonists in stories about how the land was once full of plenty and then died because of plague or fire or whatever never explain why the people endure in the land once it’s dead.  Why not just move?  Is that too simple?  I feel like staying out of some intense desire for self-flagellation is defeatist at best and insane at worst.

41:22    This tour of Usher portraits while Vincent Price explains how corrupt each one was also reminds me of The Addams Family.  Except of course in that tour it was a positive to be a serial killer or pirate and a rather awful curse to be an accountant.  

43:43    Vincent Price tries to sell Winthrop a line about the house trying to kill him and Madeline being the embodiment of evil which Winthrop totally doesn’t believe.  He’s all “crazy jerk, leave me alone with your stupid horror stories and let me marry your sister”.

47:05    Winthrop overhears some argument between the siblings then finds Madeline unconscious on a bed and Vincent Price creepily standing at the window.  Okay, fine, he was just standing.  I promised not to project.  

48:12    “Her heart could not withstand the strain you put upon it.”  Vincent Price, what even?  He’s claiming Winthrop’s love killed Madeline who is, you know, apparently dead and not unconscious.

49:45    Winthrop: “Is there no end to your horrors?”  Vincent Price: “No.  No there is not.”  That is pretty much an apt summation of his entire career.  And god bless him for it, too.

50:38    Madeline’s fingers moved.  She is not dead.  She is so not dead.  

50:42    Vincent Price closes the coffin lid with dramatically wide eyes.

53:16    As they leave the crypt, the camera closes in on Madeline’s name on the coffin and we hear breathing and a scream from inside it.  It must be said that Poe did tend towards an obsession with premature burial and/or madness.

54:48    Honestly the butler is meant to have been with the family for sixty years.  This actor is hardly a day over forty with wickedly bad old-age makeup and white-sprayed hair.  Was there no actor in the sixties who was actually sixty?  I find that impossible to believe.

55:57    Winthrop has seized on the idea that Madeline’s been buried alive.  Which the butler is trying to tell him is crazy but of course is actually the truth.

56:29    Real talk, guys: nobody padlocks a coffin shut unless the person inside is a) alive, b) a vampire, or c) a zombie.  In at least two of those instances you don’t want them released.

57:10    Winthrop busts the padlock open and flings the coffin lid up to see that Madeline is neither alive, vampire, or zombie.  In point of fact, she’s gone.  So... ghost?  My bad, I missed an option.

58:08    Vincent Price is at his spooky best when he tells Winthrop he’s hidden Madeline and she’ll never be found.  He’s preternaturally calm.  He admits to burying her alive and then assures Winthrop she’s definitely dead now.  Oh Poe, you were so sadistic.  Thank the raven you never changed.  You weirdly horrific wondrous man.

1:00:07    Winthrop is not in good shape.  If he survives this house and this family it will be nothing short of a miracle.

1:00:32    He dreams of a blurry blue fog and badly-aligned film set windows.  

1:02:04    The ghosts of Ushers past are inexplicably lit with lavender light in this dream.  And the soundtrack is a chorus of people moaning in classic sheeted-ghost style.

1:04:44    Whatever else happens in this movie, I dearly hope that damn lute bites the big one.

1:06:40    Vincent Price is fucking with you, Winthrop.  Madeline is dead, no alive, no dead, no screaming from inside a coffin... man, leave the house.  Leave. The. House.

1:07:25    Quick cut to a shot of a chain-wrapped coffin with a woman’s bloodied hand clawing out of it.

1:08:30    I’d ask why all the skeletons are out of their coffins and posed like they’re lounging on couches but as that’s the least weird thing that’s happened in this movie, I won’t.

1:09:53    So now the line is that Madeline is free and wandering around mad?  Butler and Vincent Price, you two need to get your stories straight.

1:11:32    While Winthrop is running through secret corridors and eyeballing rats, Vincent Price is standing armed in front of the most amazing “mad” impressionist portrait of Madeline ever.  I would totally hang that portrait in my home.  I am not kidding.  

1:12:41    Blood trail!  

1:12:50    Bloody doorknob!

1:13:33    And Madeline appears.  Hands bloody, eyes wide and staring, she attacks Winthrop.

1:14:38    She tries to kill Winthrop again in the portrait room then the fire leaps out of the fireplace and catches the rug on fire.  Just as Madeline launches herself onto Vincent Price, basically the entire house explodes into chaos and is consumed in flame.

1:16:09    Winthrop runs around and the fire has spread honestly so damn fast.  All the portraits are burning individually and apparently moaning.  

1:17:06    Winthrop staggers out the gate as the House of Usher burns down and, yes, falls behind him.

1:17:20    “-- and the deep and dank tarn closed silently over the fragments of the House of Usher. - Poe”  Best. Last. Line. Ever.

Well that was disturbing, as all Poe tales are, but a decent filmed version.  Suitably creepy.  And of course still leaves the ultimate end of the story in delicious uncertainty - was that actually Madeline?  A reincarnation of Madeline?  Her ghost back to exact revenge on Roderick?  The other half of his personality bringing his prophecy of his own death to fruition?  Either way the fall of the House of Usher is both figurative and literal for as Roderick dies, his line dies with him and the house’s actual descent into the tarn takes everything literally down.

Brilliant.  Poe, you were brilliant.

 

- Corinne Simpson

 

VampireNomad's Pick of the Week: Emily Carroll

Every so often Alan lets me step in on these Monday posts to tell you about something wonderful that I've found.  Something I adore that I really want to share with you all.  This is one of those Mondays.

Today's pick of the week is Emily Carroll.

Yes, a person!  A wonderful talented woman who weaves divinely creepy stories with delicious illustrations which she hosts on her site: emcarroll.com.

What she creates are sometimes fairy tales, sometimes fables, frequently creepy, often horrifying and all completely unforgettable.  She posts them in the form of interactive comics - you click through each illustration and the story unfolds darkly before you as you dive deeper into the site.  Each tale is brief but haunting and completely original. 

'The 3 Snake Leaves' illustration copyrighted to Emily Carroll - used with permission.

Her works have appeared in anthologies but her first solo collection of short stories, Through The Woods, was published this year and one of the stories within it, Out Of Skin, was just this month selected by Flavorwire as one of their 50 Scariest Short Stories of All Time.

Emily Carroll is brilliant and crafts tales that get inside your mind and claw beautifully and awfully up your spine.  Chilling and gorgeous.  Everything you want on a cool October evening as Halloween approaches.  Check her site out and then search out her book - you won't be disappointed. 

 

- Corinne Simpson

 

One in the Chamber: Live Blog

Every so often I get in the mood for a big dumb action movie.  I’m not looking for Oscar-quality.  Just give me solid fight choreography and practical stunt work, and I’m generally happy.  Most of the current blockbuster action films rely a bit too much on CGI, and, let’s face it, we’re a bit short on action leads now. 

Recently, though, I ran across THIS article on Den of Geek ranking the top 25 underappreciated films that went straight to DVD.  Not surprisingly, most of them are action flicks.  I put a few titles onto Ye Olde Netflix Queue, and the first selection has arrived.

Join me as we watch 2012’s One in the Chamber starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Dolph Lundgren and directed by William Kaufman.

Opening Credits – Ahh shaky 90s-style credits with a bunch of blurry images flashing by.  I suppose we have ­Se7en to blame for this. 

Yes, Cuba Gooding, Jr. is in this movie, but I will do my best to forget Snow Dogs…and Chill Factor…and Boat Trip. 

Dolph is a great name.  Adoph is not a great name.  Dolph is just cool, though.

Bill Murray is in this thing?  Oh wait.  That’s Billy Murray.

And Louis Mandylor?  Is this like one of those movies with Frank Stallone and Don Swayze?  As a side note, did you know that Costas Mandylor played me in a movie once

4:30 – Wow, Cuba’s opening voiceover is really monotone.  Maybe he’s going for resigned or detached, but he comes across as the most bored mob “fixer” ever.  And do we need multiple shots of him taking off his sunglasses and putting them away in a case?  Is our attention being drawn to this for an important later plot point, or is it just bad directing/editing?  Time will tell.

5:30 – Demyan Ivanov: Underboss of the Tavanian Crime Family has exited his vehicle.  How do I know it’s him?  Because the movie just did a freeze frame of his face and put his name up in giant letters.  The Old West Instagram filter is a nice touch.  Ok.  Maybe not nice.  But it’s a touch.

6:15 – We’ve had two more freeze frame intros in the last 45 seconds?  Is the movie going to do this for everyone?  And how come the last guy didn’t get the Old West filter?  His was more 70s crime thriller.

6:45 – One problem with having a background in screenwriting is that bad dialogue causes me pain.  Based on the three actual minutes of movie that we’ve had so far, I am going to be writhing in agony before this is over.  Why did I want to do this again?

8:30 – The runtime of this movie is 91 minutes.  I just spent an entire minute watching Cuba walk silently down a hallway.  How much of this runtime is going to be filler?  And do I mind?  At least it means people aren’t speaking.

10:30 – Cuba finally shot someone!  He’s got a high-powered sniper rifle, and he fired from a building at least a block away into the building where our now-dead target was standing.  Now dead guy’s bodyguards have sprung into action, and they are firing indiscriminately out the window.  At what?  And even if they could see Cuba, they aren’t going to get anywhere near him with pistols.  Is this just so they can claim they did something when their performance reviews come around?  “The boss was killed on your watch.”  “True, but we did return fire.”

14:00 – We can forget the performance reviews, since Cuba has picked these idiots off one by one.  Our buddy Demyan is still alive, though.

16:00 – As Cuba has abandoned his backpack containing the sunglasses case, I’m guessing the answer to my previous question is bad directing/editing.  Also, he’s awfully lucky that the four heavily armed men sent to find him decided to give him orders to turn around and didn’t immediately shoot him when he didn’t obey him.    

16:30 – We’ve spent another 30 seconds watching Cuba walking.  Oh wait.  Voiceover!  He just narrowly escaped being shot up by four guys with machine guns, but he still sounds bored. 

17:30 – Shaky black and white flashback time!  Cuba shot a guy who was reading a bible.  And the guy’s young daughter walked in on him.  Double Guilt Whammy!  No wonder Cuba’s so scarred.

18:15 – Awww…Cuba kept the guy’s bible and now reads from it every morning.

19:30 – Now he’s stalking some woman.  Target or ex-girlfriend?  In other words, just how creepy is Cuba?  She just went into a building, so the answers will have to wait.

25:00 – Dolph has finally graced us with his presence.  And he just beat up five guys in possibly the slowest way possible.  He may be slow, but he looks like he’s having a good time, something that cannot be said for our lead.

29:00 – Speaking of, we’re back to Stalker Cuba.  He’s been watching the woman for a long time now, and he’s pasting pictures of her into an album.  Um…in every crime movie and show since…well…ever, wouldn’t this mark him as a serial killer?  Which I guess he kind of is, since he’s a hitman. 

29:30 – He also keeps a picture of her in the bible.  She’s the little girl from the flashback all grown up, isn’t she?

30:00 – We’re 1/3rd of the way through the movie, and we finally know our protagonist’s name: Ray.  I will now go back to calling him Cuba.

32:00 – Dolph has pulled up in a big white convertible with a Hawaiian shirt and white fedora on, a cigarette hanging jauntily out of his mouth, and the dog he took from the guys he beat up earlier by his side.  Again, he is the only one in this movie enjoying himself and the only one with a semblance of a personality.  Am I supposed to be rooting against him? 

35:00 – And he’s got a code of honor.  He won’t shoot innocent parties.

37:00 – There’s a lot of apple imagery in this movie for no apparent reason.  And Cuba is finally going to talk to the woman!  Words were exchanged.  Her name is Janice.  And he chickened out and fled while she was out of the room, leaving his jacket behind.

39:20 – A lot of the Russian accents in this movie are really dodgy.  And why is everything in Prague in English, even the newspapers?

45:00 – Who is this Andrei guy?  Should I remember him?  Demyan is talking to him like he’s important, but I don’t remember seeing him before.  And I’ve been taking notes!  Also, every confirmed bad guy in this movie is either wearing a cross or has a cross tattoo.  Sometimes both.  Just noting the fact.

48:00 – Janice has found Cuba because he left something with his address on it in his jacket.  I always thought assassins for hire were a bit like secret agents and didn’t do stupid things like leaving their address where it can be found.  Evidently not.

49:00 – Awwww, she’s smitten with him.  Of course she is.  And he just locked himself out of his building.  Seriously.  That happened.  This man is a professional killer?

53:20 – Cuba’s handler just told the bad guy that, if he goes looking for Cuba, Cuba will find him first.  The same Cuba who just locked himself out of his own home?  Remember in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indy tells the Nazis that they’ll never find Marcus Brody because he has friends in every city in the world and can blend in?  Meanwhile, Marcus is bumbling around?  Yeah.  That’s the feeling I’m getting here.

54:30 – Yep.  Dolph found Cuba.  No problem.

56:30 – Andrei is back, but he left his accent behind.  Now he sounds more Irish.

58:00 – Janice just showed up at Cuba’s house.  She’s smitten with him because he’s a fellow American?  Is that really what she just said?

58:40 – Yep!  She’s the little girl from the flashback!  And back then Cuba wore a mask.  Convenient.  Why is she now trying to kiss him?  Cuba has to be 20 years older than her, and they’ve exchanged all of about 100 words.  Is she that desperate to meet another American?  Aren’t there tourists?  An embassy?

1:00:00 – So while Cuba was on the phone finding out that his handler ratted him out to the bad guys, Janice made straight for his back room and instantly recognized her dad’s bible.  I’m all for moving the story along, but this is a bit much.

1:01:00 – He’s trying to protect her?  From whom?  She’s a waitress in Prague.  We haven’t had any indication that anyone is after her.  Instead it seems like stalking her from a distance under the guise of “protecting her” is just his way of trying to make himself feel better.  Of course, considering that she just stormed out, most likely into the waiting arms of Dolph, she’s probably in danger now.  But it’s Cuba’s fault that she’s now in this mess.  Nice job, Cuba.

1:01:45 – I’m wrong.  Dolph snuck into Cuba’s place after she left.  Fighting ensues.

1:04:00 – Cuba won the fight and, for completely inexplicable reasons, let Dolph live.  Could we have some character motivation behind that decision please?  If Dolph does end up threatening Janice later, Cuba will be in the running for worst hitman ever.

1:07:00 – Dolph is going to join forces with Cuba by the end of this thing, isn’t he?  Meanwhile, the non-Demyan crime boss has Cuba’s stalker pictures of Janice. 

1:08:00 – But first, it’s Demyan and his men versus Dolph in a bath towel (After Dolph puts the dog in an armoire to keep it safe.  See Cuba.  This is what heroes do…kinda.).  And down goes Andrei.  Demyan bursts in, continuing his crime family’s tendency of shooting at nothing (or in this case, a defenseless sofa).  Dolph and his bath towel emerge victorious over Demyan.

1:13:00 – The non-Demyan crime family has taken Janice hostage.  Shocking.

1:14:00 – This would be a much shorter movie if the bad guys actually had their guns drawn when approaching Cuba.

1:18:00 – The remaining main bad guy’s name is Mikhail.  I know he got a freeze-frame intro early on, but so did about eight others, all with Russian names.  I forgot his.  So sue me.

1:19:30 – Cuba is out of ammo for his machine pistols (which are pretty cool, I have to admit).  How fortunate for him that the two remaining henchmen both had to reload their machine guns at the same time, giving him the chance to run out and beat them up.

1:20:00 – Mikhail has a gun to Janice’s head.  No surprise there.  Mikhail orders Cuba to drop his gun, and he does.  Also no surprise there.  And he shoots Cuba in the shoulder because he wants to draw things out.  I’m sure that plan won’t backfire at all.

1:20:45 – Like when Dolph shows up a few seconds later.  Bye bye, Mikhail.  For those keeping score, Dolph has killed both of the crime bosses and saved the dog, Janice, and Cuba.  He is the hero of this movie!

1:22:30 – Janice has issues.  Cuba killed her dad, and he is responsible for her being taken hostage.  She just watched several men die.  After all of that, she still looks like she wants to kiss him.  Thankfully, Cuba made her get into a cab before she could.  But she’s still looking back at him longingly as Cuba and his shot shoulder walk off into the rainy night.

1:25:00 – It’s some unknown time later, we’re in a completely different city, and Cuba is still stalking Janice.  At least he gave her her dad’s bible back.  They also perfectly set up One in the Chamber 2: Two in the Chamber, a wacky buddy comedy in which Cuba and Dolph team up against the mob.  I won’t hold my breath for that one, though.

And that’s that.  Thank you for joining me for One in the Chamber...even though you couldn't actually see it..  I can’t say that you missed much.  The action choreography wasn't all that great.  Bullets were fired.  Cuba sulked and completely lacked charisma.  But at least we had Dolph lumbering around to lighten things up.  

- Alan Decker

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