Lunch-Hour with Bob and Sheila … #MaleficentPresumptions

"So Bob, have you given any thought to the salvation of your immortal soul, lately? What I mean is, have you asked You Know Who to come into your You Know Where and be your personal You Know What?"

“So Bob, have you ever thought about the difference between good and evil and the implications this might have for one’s immortal soul?”

"Hold it right there, Sheila. I don't go in for all that mumbo jumbo about the Bible, and salvation, and Lords and Saviors. In fact you're the last person on earth I would ever expect to turn fundamentalist. Why, only last week you were happily nibbling the earlobes off of helpless senior citizens down at the nursing home. Don't tell me that you, of all people, have found religion."

“Hold it right there, Sheila. I don’t go in for all that mumbo jumbo about the Bible, salvation, and God coming into a perfectly wretched heart and setting up shop like He was opening a damned amusement park for sociopaths. In fact, you’re the last person on earth I would ever expect to turn fundamentalist! I mean, only last week you were happily nibbling the earlobes off of helpless senior citizens down at the nursing home. The health department thought it was rats! That was some exquisite work. Don’t tell me that you, of all people, have now found religion.”

"Who said anything about religion, you ass? I was just wondering if you'd seen the new Angelina Jolie movie, Maleficent."

“Relax, Bob. Who said anything about religion? I was just wondering if you’d seen the new Angelina Jolie movie, Maleficent. I was gonna ask you if you thought it was an accurate portrayal of good versus evil. Sheesh.”

"Oh. Sorry, Sheila. I have seen the movie and that is a fairy tale I can highly recommend. Very accurate portrayal. Forgive me for thinking you'd gotten saved."

“Oh. Gosh. Sorry, Sheila. Well, yes, I have seen the movie and that is one fairy tale I can highly recommend to all viewers. Very accurate portrayal by Ms. Jolie-Pitt. Er … please forgive me for thinking you’d gone and gotten yourself saved. I shoulda known better.”

"Oh, just finish your knucklebone stew and cartilage salad so we can get back to work. I'll pretend you never said anything, as usual."

“Oh, just finish your knucklebone stew and cartilage salad so we can get back to work, you big goofball. I’ll pretend you never said anything, as usual.”


__
Jonathan Kieran is slowly withdrawing from contemporary human society in protest against a myriad of offenses against taste and decency, but his epic new novel is slated for release in 2015. Stay tuned for more news about the book in coming months.

Jonathan is also the author of the classically appointed Rowan Blaize series of modern fairy-tales and novels. Visit Jonathan Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a “Like,” if you are so inclined. Meanwhile …

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

I was still willing to give cinema the benefit of the doubt. Then I saw Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters #despair

Look, this film is not going to get an in-depth review because it doesn’t merit one, but I do have a few pointed remarks I would like to share out of what you might call an overriding sense of colossal umbrage, or something. I happened to catch Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters on Netflix while stuck in a hotel room in Santa Cruz, not really eager to leave the joint because about thirty homies were being arrested by the entire CHP (with Swat Team) at the Velero gas-station across the street outside and twelve different varieties of Swamp People (and others from Louisiana) inhabiting the rest of the hot-button hotel TV Channels didn’t really interest me. I will say this, however:

In the annals of truly execrable fantasy/action flicks, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a particularly corn-riddled piece of sewage that rises –doubling, toiling, bubbling, and troubling– above all other festering floaters to attain an incomparable stench at the apex of the Hollywood zeitgeist’s most agonizing bowel movement. EVER. This film is the pinnacle of bowl-swirling revulsion. It is the metaphysical triumph of the Fecal over the Feasible. If anyone doubts that our society of lobotomized, nihilistic sociopaths is on the ascendency, gaze at the positive reviews for this wretched cinematic slap in the face of coherence on Amazon (and elsewhere) and doubt no longer.

To begin, the premise was actually interesting: storybook faves Hansel and Gretel survive their post-traumatic gingerbread nightmares to grow-up and become avid witch-destroyers. So many imaginative, exciting, funny, ironic, satirical, scary and even MEDIOCRE things could have been done with that basic plot-line alone, but this Simmering Stew of Stool-Samples fails to even hit the level of mediocrity.

The dialogue is ludicrously bad: it was clearly written by the kind of 21 year-old college graduates who emerge as utterly illiterate as they were before their “higher educational” years, probably armed with BA degrees in The Ramifications of Pole-Dancing for Comic-Book Design Trends or The Sociological Implications of XBox Video-Character Motivation. These pungent examples of American aptitude then hitch-hiked to LA and offered their orifices in earnest for a chance to enter the Tinsel Town Collective and display their world-class creative chops, living six-to-an-apartment until someone from the AMC zombie-show finally noticed their “work” and rescued them from having to toil for the kind of people who greenlight toxic effluvia like Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Or, one could say that this ghastly piece of brain-sludge plays-out like a cheap video game from the early ’90s, designed by catatonic Japanese gamers trying to approximate an American fairy tale after reading a synopsis translated from English into Sanskrit into Chinese into Japanese and then back into English. It doesn’t have to be blamed entirely upon America.

The action sequences are toddler-level in conviction and, in contemporary film tradition, everything about this wreck is arbitrary, dimwitted, and utterly disconnected from any purposeful trajectory.

The performances are repugnant –all of them.

The CGI is half-baked. The witches look like diseased wax-figures in need of potent antibiotics from the free clinic. The story is a mangled piece of pork gristle.

And Famke Janssen … Oh, Famke Janssen has hit a Career Doom-Wall with such devastating impact and velocity that we imagine she signed all the necessary “Do Not Resuscitate” papers just before inking the contract for this epic. Yep, Dr. Tender Titties from X-Men: Wolverine’s Wet-Dream is looking awfully embarrassed as Ms. Big Baddest Sorceress in Hansel & Gretel, and deservedly so. Someone clearly needed a quick check and needed it bad. Famke sleepwalks through this travesty without even the decency to suppress her anguish at imminent home-foreclosure (or whatever caused her to take this job) and camp-it-up on camera as a sheer coping mechanism. She could have at least done that, since it’s obvious everyone is going straight down the sluice that leads directly to Hell’s Central Sewage-Treatment Plant. But who can blame Famke? One hopes she was heavily sedated during the “filming” of this barrel of sun-burned fish-guts. I watched her hit her pathetic marks during this “movie” and truly imagined the shrill, squealing fights she must’ve had with the director (Who Shall Not Be Named)–screeching and begging and probably scratching her own face with little razors in anguish:

“PLEASE, can I do this whole movie in the cheap CVS Drugstore Halloween mask so the crowds of ill-bred millennial spawn drooling into their popcorn will never know it’s ME? Please?”

Too bad for you, Famke Janssen, and too bad for those members of humanity who enjoy watching decent fantasy flicks. Our Entertainment Culture receives yet another nail in its already overloaded coffin. And there’s going to be a sequel because this work of art was so WELL-RECEIVED. A franchise is stillborn! Prepare the klieg lights, boys!

One star is given for the set-designers, who seem to have been the only people who believed they were actually getting paid to do a legitimate job in the making of this bewildering atrocity.

Otherwise, I say: “Long live the Stupids of the world!” (Because the more they multiply, the easier it becomes for the Rest of Us to recognize their physical characteristics and stay far, far away from them.)
__
Jonathan Kieran’s new novel is slated for release in Autumn 2014. Look for news about the book here and at Amazon.com in the coming weeks and months.

Jonathan is also the author of the classically appointed Rowan Blaize series of modern fairy-tales and novels. Visit Jonathan Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a “Like,” if you are so inclined. Meanwhile …

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

No Amount of #HocusPocus Can Save Bad Movies from Themselves. We Love ‘Em, Anyhow …

POP HAZMAT-RETRO HALL OF LAME presents LOVABLY ROTTEN FANTASY MOVIES

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: HOCUS POCUS (Walt Disney Pictures, 1993)

hoc poc poster

GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, all Producers, Directors, Writers

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: This movie appears to have been a gratingly earnest attempt by Walt Disney Pictures to ca$h-in on the craving of mainstream 1990s audiences for supernatural comedies, but the finished product was more garishly ill-advised than headliner Bette Midler’s entire film career. It may even be regarded as emblematic of her oeuvre, if you ask me. More processed and synthetically cheesy than a big chunk of Velveeta burning a toxic hole through a flaking Paula Dean-brand skillet, Hocus Pocus is so bad that you keep expecting Eddie Murphy to pop-up any minute and say, “Surprise! This is really my movie. See, I didn’t cause nearly enough brain-damage with my last piece of garbage and I’m still two years away from embarrassing the hell out of myself, Angela Bassett and the human race with Vampire in Brooklyn!”

"I smell a great big, festering, career-wrecking box office FLOP!"

“I smell a great big, festering, career-wrecking box office FLOP!”

No such luck, at least as far as a ridiculous Eddie Murphy cameo, which might have actually helped this disaster make some sense. After all, even a narrative travesty ought to have some degree of self-awareness in terms of its abysmal quality, and Murphy might’ve brought that dynamic full-circle. Instead, we witness a screamingly awful, bucktoothed and bewigged Bette Midler, a mincing and desperate-to-act Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy nuke-bombing the last ramshackle bridge that spanned from her overrated turn in Sister Act to any viable future in Big-Time entertainment whatsoever. The plot? The story? Fuggedaboudit. Three sisters stupid and untalented enough to get themselves hanged for witchcraft back in olde Salem manage to resurrect themselves on Halloween night and proceed to flatten all of their enemies through the magical power of rotten dialogue, ludicrous overacting, deplorable comic timing and the merciless hurling of one mind-ulcerating horror movie cliché after another. Oh, I almost forgot: there’s also some inexplicably stupid storyline involving a black candle that needs to be lit by a virgin. You didn’t think these gifted cinematic luminaries were going to leave an important motif like that out of the equation, did you?

This film is gonna make me such a star. Bigger than that goofy little supporting turn in 'Sister Act.' I'll have to beat the offers away with a stick!"

This film is gonna make me such a star. Bigger than that goofy little supporting turn in ‘Sister Act.’ I’ll have to beat the offers away with a stick!”

As adult-fare,Hocus Pocus is a festering piece of odiferous roadkill, very much akin to the kind of roadkill one encounters routinely along the Orlando interstate while heading to Disney World for a sweltering afternoon of terminal ennui. Unfortunately there’s no Pleasure Island at the end of this crippling entertainment journey, wherein one might drink! drink! drink! the badness out of one’s head via shots of tequila or perhaps vomit the very memory of watching Hocus Pocus from one’s scarred and aggrieved soul with bloody dry heaves retched into a sparkling, Snow White-approved Disney toilet bowl.

Why, yes, this is exactly the spot into which I'm going to shove an ice-pick through my agent's brain for sending me the Hocus Pocus script. This is also the spot where I'll probably shoot myself after seeing the box office returns. Oh, well ... there's always Vegas, isn't there?"

Why, yes, this is exactly the spot into which I’m going to shove an ice-pick through my agent’s brain for sending me the Hocus Pocus script. This is also the spot where I’ll probably shoot myself after seeing the box office returns. Oh, well … there’s always Vegas, isn’t there?”

Bette Midler has made some tacky, head-scratching career moves in her day, but this one was a whopper, even for her. I have to hope believe that Bette set her own hair on fire, cartwheeled into her agent’s office and smacked him repeatedly about the the skull with a rhinestone bedroom-slipper after sitting down to a final screening of this catastrophe. Sarah Jessica Parker … well, at least she was still presumably young and eager enough to sleep her way back into contention for roles, if that’s what she had to do. It might not have mattered: Midler and Najimy are so mesmerizingly atrocious throughout the flick that you barely notice Parker’s push-up witch-boobies amid the carnage, much less her grade school-level thespian contributions. Najimy must’ve gone straight home after the premiere of Hocus Pocus and promptly placed one of her poodles in the microwave, mad with the realization that her blazing sun of Sister Act success was surely about to set on a bleak horizon of asinine Veronica’s Closet one-liners and voiceover work for Mike Judge.

"Hey, Bette, I suggested that the producers ought to rename this movie 'Hex in the City,' but they told me to button my lip and work this push-up bra with a little more moxie or they'd cut all my scenes! I'm starting to think that might be a good idea. The scene-cutting, that is."

“Hey, Bette, I suggested that the producers ought to rename this movie ‘Hex in the City,’ but they told me button my lip and work this push-up bra with a little more moxie or they’d cut all my scenes! I’m starting to think that might be a good idea. The scene-cutting, that is.”

The film bombed like a bunker-buster at the box office and critics were generally as unkind as I’m being, to put it mildly. At least my review of Hocus Pocus is satirical and meant to be a bit over-the-top funny; I respect the work of all of these entertainers, more or less. Film critic Ty Burr (of Entertainment Weekly) lambasted the movie, however, writing that it was: “… acceptable scary-silly kid fodder that adults will find only mildly insulting. Unless they’re Bette Midler fans. In which case it’s depressing as hell … the sight of the Divine Miss M mugging her way through a cheesy supernatural kiddie comedy is, to say the least, dispiriting.”

Ouch.

Despite years of mocking from peanut galleries far more prominent than my own, Hocus Pocus did indeed go on to become something of a cult-classic on DVD-Video/Blu-Ray, where so many egregious flops have an opportunity to redeem themselves financially, if not artistically. The relative success of the film on video as a kiddie crowd-pleaser makes a lot more sense because children don’t really give a rat’s ass about Bette Midler’s dubious track record, unless they are possibly going to emerge as gay children. It might be a good idea to arm yourself with some helpful pamphlets about affirmative parenting if your eight year-old son watches this film at home and you catch him making a remark like: “Bette’s sharpest instincts were clearly not at play when she opted for the role of Winifred Sanderson. Winifred Sanderson is badly lit. Winifred Sanderson’s coiffure is unflattering. Winifred Sanderson’s rendition of ‘I Put a Spell on You’ is nothing short of ghastly! Who’s responsible for these horrifying arrangements?”

Yeah, prepare.

As mindless fluff-stuff for five and six year olds around Halloween, Hocus Pocus is ideal, minus Parker’s nicely overemphasized rack and the genuinely warped & creepy subplot involving a black candle and a virgin-girl. This fact alone, however, underscores the reasons why the movie remains so utterly repellent as suitable fantasy entertainment for anyone literate over the age of fourteen; the flick was marketed to a primarily adult audience. Yikes. One hopes that Bette Midler’s agent lived long enough to secure better parts for other actors and, hopefully, Midler herself made some sort of back-end $$$ deal with video distributors to assuage her lifelong humiliation. Money’s good like that. We all know that Sarah Jessica Parker survived this train-wreck to inspire millions of fashionable women and gay guys to become jovial, Cosmo-swilling alcoholics via Sex and the City, and Kathy Najimy really did do some excellent –even iconic– voiceover work as the feisty Peggy Hill in genius Mike Judge’s classic (and sinfully underrated) King of the Hill series.

Never fear. A determined actor or writer can overcome any mega-bomb. Sometimes all it takes, ironically, is a little hocus pocus.

DEFINITIVE DIALOGUE: “Oh, cheese and crust! He’s lost his head!” — Bette Midler as “Winifred Sanderson.” (Yeah … tons of cheese, abundant crustiness, and loss of brain matter are hallmarks of the Hocus Pocus viewing experience for adults.)

EXPERIENCE THE BADNESS: Watch Sarah Jessica Parker “sing,” writhe and make stilted emotive gestures with her spindly arms while her breasts cast a spell on unsuspecting trick-or-treaters.

______________________

If you’re bored and don’t have any Japanese eyeballs to lick, hop on over to Jonathan Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a Like!

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

HAZMAT-RETRO HOF: WHY I WRITE FAIRY TALES IN LIEU OF THE COMING APOCALYPSE EDITION (Showgirls)

NOTE TO GOODREADS COMMUNITY: HANG TIGHT — WE’RE GOING TO BE DOING SOME WONDERFUL GIVEAWAYS VERY SOON AND TRULY APPRECIATE YOUR INTEREST AND SUPPORT ~Jonathan K.

A rather arrogant goddess wants to skin the face off the most adorable warlock you could ever imagine. YOU can save him for only $0.99. Click HERE.

HAZMAT-RETRO HALL OF LAME (LOVABLY BAD CINEMA)

"Kyle, I have a bad feeling about this gig."

“Kyle, I have a bad feeling about this gig.”

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: SHOWGIRLS (1995) posted by JONATHAN KIERAN

GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: Everyone Humanly Involved

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: I don’t know how “lovable” this torrid piece of cinematic brain-murder might be, but Showgirls has become a bona fide cult classic in the eighteen years since Catastrophic Drumbeats of Doom first rumbled to herald its arrival in theaters across the world. Countless scorched human eyeballs and ululating critical execrations later, the piece remains a wonder-lit panorama of mind-meltingly ludicrous casting, acting, dialogue, plotting, pacing, writing, editing, staging, costuming, financing, and flat-out conceptualization. This stinker’s creators would have us believe their story is a “tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme” but the story was in fact only as timeless as the 4-day tequila & lap-dance blackout bender Joe Eszterhas must’ve been on while writing the sub-human script from start to finish. Who knows what sort of devil from the Nineteenth Pool of Damnation whispered in Paul Verhoeven’s ear to get him to sign-on to this bilge classic? Showgirls basically encapsulates every reprehensible and distorted sexist fantasy that ever passed through the diseased, cheesecloth brains of Every Lecherous Old Man that Ever Existed. Plucky young lady with sequined wishes and Long Island Iced Tea dreams goes to Vegas. Plucky young lady meets string of cutthroat cretins that defies imagination. Plucky young lady reveals that she, too, is cutthroat cretin. Everyone gets naked and rapes someone else. Plucky young lady escapes town with her pasties and deplorable morals intact.

Did I mention that, at least in terms of dialogue and the performances, this is one of the funniest films ever made? It was not, however, a comedy.

DEFINITIVE DIALOGUE: “I’m getting a little too old for that whorey look.” (Cristal … Get to KNOW her.)

BRUSH WITH GREATNESS: Showgirls remains the highest-grossing NC-17 production in history ($20,350,754 North American Box Office). One of MGM Home Video’s Top 20 All-Time Moneymakers. All-Time Record Razzie Award Nominations (13, with 7 “wins”) and 2000 Razzie Award for Worst Film of the Previous Decade.

LAMENTABLE LEGACY: Why a sequel, of course. Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven (2011)

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Joe Eszterhas, Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, Gina Gershon — they’re all still around, but let’s face it: none of them really got out of this mess alive.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: “Nomi, what kind of a turn was that?”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

One witty 2,800 year-old warlock. A suspicious storm that hurls him to earth near London. A goddess who wants to destroy the world. The catch? She needs Rowan’s face. REMOVED.

A deliciously twisted magical adventure is born with Rowan Blaize and the Enchanted Heritage Chronicles. Use any of the Rowan Blaize book icons on the upper-right (or use the links below) to learn more or purchase with an enchanted click.

Amazon Kindle Version (Only $0.99 Each!)
Book One
Book Two
Book Three
Amazon Author Page (Kindle and Paperback versions)
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads