Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (5/10)

I read this mostly because I am an admirer of Apocalypse Now. It sorta lost me by the end so I really didn't enjoy this.

Star Trek into Darkness (8/10)

The second Star Track reboot film was mindless fun. I was never bored despite the lame retread story, excessive attempts at style, and ill-advised grasps at nostalgia. Someone yells, "Khaaann!" Hardy, har. There's a lot to complain about here, but in the end I liked it despite these flaws.

Spasmo (6/10)

This giallo has been on my must see list for a very long time. Scored by Ennio Morricone, the excellent soundtrack is probably the best part of this movie. For whatever reasons, the film has alluded me. Years past, and the DVD eventually went out of print. Having finally seen it, I can say It definitely is not worth the high price tag one sees on eBay these days. The story is deliberately confusing in the beginning. Was there a killing or not? And what's with all the mannequins?

The Giant of Marathon (7/10)

The Amazon prime version of this movie looks like crap. I watched it anyways as part of my Mario Bava homework. I actually liked the movie more than I expected. It's not as fantastic as Hercules Unchained, but features some truly epic battle scenes. I swear they must have killed a dozen horses in the making of this film. There is also a wacky underwater battle filled with diapered Athenian men.

Caltiki, the Immortal Monster (6/10)

I have been slowly working my way through Tim Lucas's All the Colors of the Dark mega-book about Mario Bava. Whenever possible I have been trying to watch the films discussed. Caltiki wasn't directed by Bava, but features his camerawork and effects. The movie starts out rather slow with a few cool moments when the characters discover the flesh melting blob monster. Things don't pick up again until the climax when blobs rampage through miniature sets and the flamethrowers come out. Mildly fun, but nothing special.

One Million Years B.C. (6/10)

This movie is precisely as cheesy as one would expect for a low budget, mid-sixties film about bikini clad cave dwellers. My family and I found it is surprisingly entertaining.There's plenty to mock, but it's played straight and the Ray Harryhausen stop motion effects are great.

The Iron Giant by Various Artists (10/10)

Format: 
CD

Although it contains two selections from Michael Kamen's score, this is mostly a collection of songs featured in the animated film, The Iron Giant. The movie, at least for now, remains the last great American 2-D animated movie (even though the giant himself was a 3-D CGI model). The music featured here is mostly foot-tapping 50's rock 'n' roll tunes with a thematic focus that's mix of rocket ships and beatniks. Concerning the latter, there's a couple of cool bebop jazz numbers thrown in the mix as well.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Original Cast Recording by Various Artists (7/10)

Format: 
CD

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the greatest musical about a statutory rapist since Subway! The Musical. I saw the off Broadway production a few years after the original cast had moved on and enjoyed it enough to buy this CD. However, my appreciation for it has waned as of late. Musically it sounds like a Meatloaf album with less clever lyrics and fewer baseball announcers. That said, it has its moments. "Wicked Little Town" is fantastic and some of the punk-rock inspired tunes are pretty rockin', despite their wannabe phoniness.

Forbidden Planet by Barron, Louis and Bebe (6/10)

Format: 
CD

This is a weird album. It is considered to be one of, if the the first record comprised entirely of electronic sounds and instrumentation (mostly oscillators and echo loops). I found out about it years ago while reading the RE/Search book Incredibly Strange Music. The "music" consists only of various electronic bleeps and bloops with no attempt at song structure, melody or anything even remotely musical. Despite this, it makes a good CD to play in the background if you just want atmosphere. It will often go into rotation for me around Halloween.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (8/10)

Gritty crime fiction. Basically the blueprint for the entire genre. The writing and language are a tier above most of the pulp trash I've read. I wasn't blown away by the story but that's probably because this is a standard that has been repeated a zillion times afterwards.

Batman by Prince (3/10)

I think I liked the "Batdance" video on MTV back when this came out. Maybe I was just caught up in Batmania (although I don't remember loving the movie). For whatever reason, I own this universally mocked record. Listing to it again, I was hoping it would reveal itself to me as an underrated gem. Nope. It's pretty awful. I actually like the groove of "Vicki Waiting" and "Batdance" still is a fun listen, but the majority of the tracks are just too boring or too sappy.

Apple ][ Assembly Language Programming

The past few weeks I have been diving into the world of assembly language programming on the Apple ][ computer. My interest in the topic stems from the recent book release of a compilation of articles on assembly language programming called Assembly Lines: The Complete Book. The articles were written by Roger Wagner and originally published in Softalk magazine back in the early eighties. This edition was edited by Chris Torrence and is available for download and purchase from a number of locations.

Now, I am pretty familiar with Applesoft Basic programming, but I was always in awe of commercially released software on the Apple ][ that ran so fast, had fancy hi-res graphics and used sounds other than the system beep. What was the secret of these mythical programs that required you to type "BRUN" in order to get them to load? The secret was machine language.

A Golden Wake on PC (6/10)

A golden Wake... don't be deceived by this screenshot. There is no dancing in this game.

Although I'd give them props for creating a game with a truly unique theme, this Wadjet Eye adventure falls a bit flat. The game is set during the 1920's land boom of southern Florida and focuses on the player-character, Alfie Banks. Essentially it's a character study, but, unfortunately, interactive storytelling doesn't lend itself to well so such narratives. Games excel at mood and environment but creating riveting characters just doesn't seem to fit the medium all that well. Without a strong narrative plot focus (i.e. save the princess or defeat the evil villain) it's hard to justify the extra time spent clicking options and parsing dialog trees to get to the same point that a short paragraph of exposition would.

Apocalypse Now by Coppola, Carmine and Francis Coppola (9/10)

Format: 
CD

Not so much a soundtrack as it is an abridged version of the movie that you can listen along with, the double CD Apocalypse Now focuses on narration and dialogue instead of music. Sure there's "Ride of the Valkyries" and that stupid (aren't they all) Doors song, but for the most part the atmospheric synth sounds are limited to background here and there. That's okay by me.

1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) by Eurythmics (9/10)

Format: 
CD

Although technically speaking this is a soundtrack, I don't think any of these songs made it into the film 1984. That's fine. The dance floor beats don't really fit the tone of a dark and cruel dystopian future. Nevertheless, I have always really liked this CD (with the exception of the overly long "Julia"). Along with the attempts at police-state pop music, there is a nice mix of instrumentals where Lennox's voice is just there for atmospheric effect.

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