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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: Donovan’s Brain

Donovans brainCurt Siodmak wrote a ton of horror movies for Universal Studios and RKO in the 1940’s. The Wolf Man, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, I Walked With a Zombie and Son of Dracula just to name a few. Siodmak also wrote a few novels, one of them was Donovan’s Brain.

Donovan’s Brain was first made into a movie in 1944 with the film The Lady and the Monster. It’s not bad but the 1953 movie Donovan’s Brain is better. The good Dr. Cory (Lew Ayres) has discovered a process where he can keep the brain alive after the body dies. Prophetically W.H. Donovan, a crooked multimillionaire is flying near by and crashes. Dr. Cory tries to save Donovan but is only able to save his brain.
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Talkies

In the 1960s Italian filmmakers had some success doing knock-off versions of old-school Hollywood Westerns. Spaghetti westerns is what those films were called, and with the likes of Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach involved, some of the flicks are considered classics of the western genre.

That’s not the direction Jayden Pfeifer is pursuing with the next installment of his popular Talkies series which goes Tuesday, Oct. 21 at the RPL Theatre at 9 p.m. Instead, he’s screening the 1979 Italian flick Starcrash which is in the vein of a spaghetti science-fiction movie since it derives a lot of its “creative inspiration” from Star Trek/Star Wars/2001: A Space Odyssey and other SF classics.

Similar to the spaghetti westerns, Starcrash features some mid-range English-speaking actors including Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer and the immortal David Hasselhoff — and is of dubious merit, which should make it ripe for Pfeifer’s satiric venom.

Tuesday’s screening is free with a donation to the Regina Food Bank, and to get everyone ready for blast-off here’s the trailer (pathetic special effects and all):

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Friendly Update, City Hall: EPCOR Makes A Fine P3 And Now You Can Too!

Three Villages Bar, Balzan, Malta

I did start writing this blog post in the Three Villages Bar. Wrote 1,500 words there, in fact. Sat on it for a few days. Realized it wasn’t working so deleted it. Rewrote it. Deleted that. Rewrote again. Etc, etc. Only the first paragraph remains from that first draft written in the Three Villages. But I kept it in otherwise I wouldn’t have an excuse to include the photo.

I’m sitting in the Three Villages Bar in Malta. It’s on a corner of a little medieval street in the town of Balzan. It’s late morning and pretty hot outside. The place is empty. It smells like my grandmother’s apartment in Galt, Ontario circa 1976, and it’s a business that seems to make its living selling bottles of screw-top wine, instant coffee, loaves of bread and dry plum cakes to very occasional, elderly passers-by. Someone stubbed out a cigarette on the floor under my seat at some point since a broom last passed this way. It’s exactly the kind of place I like to kill mornings in. So I should be enjoying this beer I’m drinking and writing goofy short stories for my kids.

That was the plan for my wife’s sabbatical.

Instead, I’m obsessing over the announcement of big savings on Regina’s wastewater treatment plant public-private partnership. By all accounts, the deal is really good. And by “all accounts,” I mean “everything I’m reading online in your Canuck media.”

“It’s a win all round,” your media tells me. Good. I don’t have to hunt through my inbox for press releases from the Mayor’s office. “It’s a triumph for Regina,” they say.

Yeah, it’s a triumph, alright. But not for Regina.

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: C.H.U.D.

CHUD“…and that’s when the C.H.U.D.s came at me.”

A woman is walking her dog down a dark New York City street, passing by a manhole cover when suddenly something comes out and grabs the woman, dragging her down into the sewers. And her little dog too. Thus begins this cult B-movie that’s more popular because of the film title then the actual film.

C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller and 30 years ago it hit theatres with a thud. It was given a limited theatrical release before it found it’s following on video. John Heard is a former fashion photographer who’s latest assignment is photographing New York City’s homeless, several who live in the sewers. Meanwhile police Captain Bosch (Christopher Curry) is frustrated continuing a cover up and starts looking into the sudden flood of missing persons that have been occurring lately. He interviews Daniel Stern who runs a soup kitchen.
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Little Orange Man

Little Orange Man - Ingrid Hansen with Ape, photo credit Dave BukachPresented by Hectik Theatre, this fringe theatre play sees Victoria-based artist Ingrid Hansen adopt the persona of a 12-year-old Danish girl named Kitt the Kinder-Whisperer.

Kitt’s described in the press release as a high octane girl, and her greatest delight is to re-enact for neighbourhood children grisly folk tales told to her by her grandfather. She does so by using toys, shadow puppets, and even leftover bits of food from lunch.

In previous performances in other cities Little Orange Man received rave reviews. Despite its sometimes manic subject matter, the play is rated E for Everyone.    

Little Orange Man runs Wednesday Oct. 15 to Friday Oct. 17 and Wednesday Oct. 22 to Friday Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. at the Artesian. Saturday Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 there’s performances at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students with ID, although tonight’s show is pay what you can.

You can find more information on the Artesian website.

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: The Shadow Of The Cat

Shadow of the CatHammer Studios is best known for their versions of classic monster movies like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy but they branched out into different areas of horror too. Like today’s film the 1961 movie The Shadow of the Cat.

Poor Ella Venable (Catherine Lacey). She’s been forced to change her will to leave her vast wealth to her evil husband Walter (André Morell). Walter along with the servants, who are getting a cut of the inheritance, then murder Ella and bury her body. The only witness to the crime is Ella’s cat Tabitha.
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Brushes With Death

defiantspirits-195This lecture, which goes Wednesday Oct. 15 at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, is subtitled “The Great War and the Group of Seven.” It’s being delivered by Estevan-born, England-based novelist and non-fiction writer Ross King. It’s part of the University of Regina’s 1914: A Turning Point in History and Culture lecture series that examines the impact of World War I on various aspects of Western society.

In the case of visual art, the war began during a time of transition when artists were breaking with the tradition of realism and beginning to take the first tentative steps on the road to modernism. One hallmark of that shift was the Armory Show that occurred in New York in 1913, and introduced Americans to avant-garde European art movements such as fauvism, cubism and futurism.

In Canada at around the same time, the Group of Seven was forming in Toronto. In his 2010 book Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven (cover image above) King explored that seminal moment in Canadian art history. As a group, they were still pretty wedded to realism, but they were keen to explore the Canadian landscape, and they often did so in an expressionist style where paint was used to convey more than just pictorial detail. It was also used to convey emotional and spiritual attachment to the land.

When WWI broke out, several of the group served as war artists and traveled overseas to record their observations of the conflict and the soldiers and civilians who were struggling to survive on the battlefields of Europe. And in his lecture, King plans to examine the impact that haunting experience had on their art practice once the war ended.

Again, the lecture is tomorrow at the MacKenzie Art Gallery at 7 p.m.

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: The Haunted Strangler

Haunted StranglerBoris Karloff was a far better actor than he was ever credited. Stuck doing horror movies his entire career he did them extremely well. While he was prolific in the 1930’s and 40’s by the 1950’s he wasn’t very much in demand. With Hammer Studios bringing back the horror genre in the late 1950’s, rival movie producer Richard Gordon tried to jump into the horror game too.

In 1860 there’s murderous strangler on the loose. After killing five women a man is arrested, convicted and executed. 20 years later novelist and humanitarian Boris Karloff has decided to investigate the murders, believing that the wrong man was convicted.
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6 Worthwhile Lessons The Public School Board Is Teaching My Kids

Hey remember that 10-year plan the Regina Public School Board had that listed a whole bunch of  schools that needed to be torn down because they didn’t have the enrollment to sustain them? Remember how Davin and/or Connaught (preferably Connaught) was slated for closure because Cathedral just didn’t have enough kids? And remember how Real Renewal came together to oppose all those school closures saying they felt small, walkable community schools were worth keeping and that up-to-date demographics showed that neighbourhoods like Cathedral were getting more kids and needed all their schools intact? And then remember how more recent demographics have shown that Real Renewal was by and large right about that?

Well, even though Connaught had the enrollment numbers to save it from the wrecking ball, it came crashing down right on schedule according to that 10-year plan. It’s almost like the enrollment justification was a ruse and secretly the board just wanted to be rid of the thing all along. I guess it just goes to show that even if you’re wrong about something you can still get what you want if you have all the power and money.

That’s a good lesson you just learned from the Regina Public School Board. Here are five more…

1. EVERYTHING IS DISPOSABLE! Oh sure, they have a “unit” on “sustainability” somewhere in the school curriculum. I think I remember my kid bringing home a blue papier-mâché globe she made on Earth Day or something. I threw that shit out.

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Menopause: The Musical

Written by Jeanie Linders, this parody musical premiered in Florida in 2001. It concerns a group of four women (a businesswoman, housewife, earth mother and soap star) who trade war stories about different facets of menopause tied to cravings, hot flashes, memory lapses and other physical/psychological effects.

The women do this while shopping for lingerie at Bloomingdales, and many of the stories that they tell are done through familiar songs (some with titles and lyrics slightly modified) from the 1950s through ’80s.

On Wednesday, Oct. 15 a touring production of Menopause will be mounted at Conexus Arts Centre. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $54.75 and $65.75. To give you a sense of what to expect, here’s a promo video:

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Prairie Dance Circuit

Forever in Blue Jeans 4Hosted by New Dance Horizons, this is an ongoing dance series that involves collaboration between companies in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Regina to organize and present performances showcasing prairie dancers and choreographers.

On Oct. 15-16, the focus will be on the 50th anniversary of Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers. Included will be works by Brent Lott and  Ming Hon, along with a screening of a film by Danielle Sturk that examines the dance career of WCD founder Rachel Browne who passed away in 2012.

The Prairie Dance Circuit performance will be held at University of Regina Theatre on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are Adults $25, Students & Seniors $20, while the Thursday matinee is $15.

Pictured above, by the way, is an image from Forever In Blue Jeans. Choreographer is Ming Hon, performers are Natasha Torres-Garner, Ali Robson, and Kayla Henry, and the photograph is by Leif Norman.

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From Earlier Today

Autumn TreeNot sure what species of tree this is behind Darke Hall in Wascana Centre just east of the pool, but it definitely produces great fall colours (click to enlarge).

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Weekly Reckoning: When You Reckon With The Week You Get The Reckoning Edition

weekly-reckoning1. STATE-SANCTIONED DEATH ISN’T CHEAP AND IT ISN’T TRANSPARENT. Everyone who’s anyone agrees that if you’re going to be sentenced to death by the State, the state to do it in is Oklahoma. If you end up getting shuffled off to their lethal injection chamber, you can rest assured that they’ve spared no expense in providing you with a state-of-the-art, $100,000 end-of-life experience. It’s now very unlikely that you’ll spend 43 minutes dying horribly on the gurney. Even more reassuringly, you won’t have to put with nearly as many nosy journalists; the new chamber provides only five seats for the press, down from the previous chamber’s 12.

2. REMEMBER THOSE PROTESTS IN FERGUSON? THEY’RE STILL GOING ON Thousands of protesters marched through Ferguson on Saturday to decry police violence and the broken system of law enforcement that allows uniformed police to shoot black youth in the street, leave their bodies in the sun and suffer no meaningful consequences. Meanwhile, I went for breakfast this morning at a golf club where I overheard three white guys make jokes about Martin Luther King Day, because they were dirtbags.

3. A LITTLE MORE EBOLA FOR YOU ALL. A health care worker in Texas who treated Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has Ebola.

4. WHATEVER THE FUTURE HOLDS, HE’S NOT GOING TO OKLAHOMA. Oscar Pistorius, the girlfriend-murdering athlete who murdered his girlfriend in about as murdery a way as possible, may face the harshest punishment of all. Wait, he may face a suspended sentence or a fine. But we don’t know yet. It’s all about the intricacies of the South African legal system, which none of knows us a thing about, really. Is this even news? I just like a bit of outrage in the afternoon.

5. VICE IS INHERENT AND LOOKS PRETTY HILARIOUS. Here is the trailer for P.T. Anderson’s adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice. Come for Joaquin Phoenix’s muttonchops, stay for Josh Brolin’s flattop.

 

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: From Beyond

From BeyondH.P. Lovecraft’s work hasn’t translated too well into movies. The most successful have been director Stuart Gordon’s adaptations but they have very loose interruptions. Still as movies they are a lot of fun.

In a mansion owned by Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel), the good doctor has been conducting experiments with a machine he invented called the Resonator. It creates vibrations that simulate the pineal gland allowing the person standing in the vibration field to see into another dimension that is always present in our dimension. With the aid of his assistant Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs) Pretorius has finally completed the machine and turns it on. Things go wrong and Pretorius is found decapitated and Tillinghast is the main suspect.
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Sloan

Usually when I’m doing research on a veteran band like Sloan for these blog posts, the musicians involved are grouped into current and former members. That’s because as the years pass in the rock ‘n’ roll biz, founding members and/or replacement members inevitably resign from the group and move on to other things.

Not with Sloan though. The band got its start in Halifax in 1991, and the four original members (Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, Jay Ferguson and Andrew Scott) are still together. If that isn’t a record for longevity, it’s got to be pretty damn close. And they’re still reasonably active as a band too.

In fact, in September Sloan released their latest album called Commonwealth. And tonight the quartet are in town to play a gig at the University of Regina campus bar the Owl. Not sure if there’s a support act, but tickets are $25.

To give you a sense of what they’ve been up to lately, here’s the audio for the first single off their new album “Keep Swinging (Downtown)”:

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Oops, There Goes Another… Explosion!

On Tuesday, a train carrying petroleum and other toxic industrial chemicals derailed and caught fire near Wadena. In its investigation, the Transportation Safety Board is apparently focusing on poor rail maintenance.

Now today, a TransGas pumping station near Prud’Homme has exploded.  According to this CBC report, the well-head controls seven caverns filled with natural gas, and the fire’s been burning out of control since morning.

Not sure how much more of this we’ll have to put up with before proper controls are put in place to regulate this important, but also potentially very deadly,  sector of our economy.

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: Night Of The Comet

Night of the CometA comet is passing by Earth. The last time the comet was by Earth was when the dinosaurs were wiped out. It’s just before Christmas and everyone is having a party for the passing comet.

Catherine Mary Stewart works at a movie theatre. While everyone is watching the comet. Stewart spends the night with her boyfriend, the projectionist, in the steel lined projection booth. Meanwhile Stewart’s younger sister (Kelli Maroney) has a fight with their step-mom and spends the night in the steel lined shed. In the morning everyone is gone. There’s nothing left by piles of clothes and red dust. The sky has a red haze to it.
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Gob

If you’re a veteran fan of the Canadian punk scene you’ll doubtlessly recognize this Vancouver outfit. Gob has been around since 1993, although they’ve been a pretty intermittent presence over the last 10 years or so, releasing only two albums: Muertos Vivos in 2007 and Apt. 13 in August 2014.

During that time there’s been a few line-up changes in the rhythm section, and founding guitarist Tom Thacker has toured and recorded a lot with Sum 41.

Tonight Gob is in town to play a show at the University of Regina’s campus pub the Owl. Sharing the bill is the Ontario-based pop/punk band Seaway. Tickets are $15, or $20 for a ticket/album combo.

To get everyone who is going pumped, here’s video from 2012 of Gob closing a show at Sneaky Dee’s in Toronto with “You’re Too Cool” and “Soda”:

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Friday Afternoon Kitty: Vacuum Cat

Cat likes vacuums!

Much more here. Have a great weekend!

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31 Days Of B-Movie Horrors: The Maze

The MazeWilliam Cameron Menzies didn’t direct a ton of movies, he was a production designer and his art direction won him a couple of Academy Awards. But when he did direct, they were memorable films. He had a busy year in 1953 he directed what would be his last two movies. The first one will be showcased later this month, the second is today’s movie, The Maze.

While on vacation in Cannes, France Kitty Murray (Veronica Hurst), her aunt Edith Murray (Katherine Emery) and Kitty’s fiancee Gerald MacTeam (Richard Carlson) discuss their wedding plans. MacTeam reveals that his uncle won’t be attending because he never leaves the ancestral estate Castle Craven. Later MacTeam receives a letter urging him to return to Castle Craven immediately leaving Kitty and her aunt in Cannes.
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