Demonia (5/10)

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Another late stage Fulci horror movie that disappoints despite the awesome title music and excellent poster/box art. From the art, you would expect this to be nonstop satanic nuns on a killing rampage. Instead, it’s mostly a bunch of Canadian archeologists camping out in some ancient ruins, drinking, and singing bad folk music. This is Fulci, so there are two or three good, albeit cheap looking gore scenes that have nothing to do with the plot including a kitty eye-gouge attack, a nail through a tongue, and silly putty drawn-and-quarter scene. The killer nuns are literally only in the last five minutes of the movie.

The Perfume of the Lady in Black (8/10)

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I had never heard of this psychological mystery until I saw it posted on a giallo site. It’s not really a giallo but certainly has all the visual style of one. Every set has a primary color associated with it and as you go from one scene to the next, the palette changes. Mimsy Farmer lives alone in a fancy apartment complex and, not unlike Rosemary’s Baby, everyone around her seems to have sinister motives. Eventually she starts seeing spooky things and the film starts to drift into weirdo territory. By the end you’ll be scratching your head as to what just happened, but it’s all so very arty.

WordPress: A Month Later

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I have been using my new WordPress site for about a month now and can say that I am very satisfied with how everything is working. So much so that I would really like to convert all my sites to WordPress, if not for the fact that hand migration process from Drupal was a horrible pain.

The Good

WordPress is much faster than Drupal. Even without a caching plugin I am seeing my pages load up super quick. With the cache enabled—which, as an editor, I don’t actually see—the pages load almost instantaneously.

The Gutenberg editing interface takes a little getting used to, but works very well especially with the addition of the EditorsKit plugin. Adding images and media like YouTube embeds or audio files is completely hassle/code free. The EditorsKit plugin adds in the all important Insert Special Character function and a few other less common HTML tags like `abbr`.

Askimet provides spam-blocking that actually works. Drupal used to have a great anti-spam service in Mollum, but that was unceremoniously discontinued and the floodgates of spam opened up. In a related note, WordPress comment moderation is very simple and clean and, for the time being, I actually like seeing pingbacks

With the right plugins, creating custom content isn’t as bad as I originally thought. I had to pay for the unlimited install Advanced Custom Fields plugin, but, between this site and my work projects, it has been well worth the investment.

Finally, as I have stated before, updating the site is a complete breeze. This was my main reason for making the switch to WordPress. Click a button and the WordPress core is updated! The latest version allows me to tell the system to install updates automatically based on a per-plugin setting. Coming from Drupal, this is life changing.

The Bad

It’s not all hearts and rainbows here in WordPressland. There are still a few areas that could use some improvement. First and foremost is that lack of anything like Drupal Views. Views allows front-end users to display site content in any manner they can imagine without needing to touch a single line of code. Instead, I am stuck having to hand code queries into WordPress PHP template files. The query code is relatively easy to learn but every little tweak you want to make requires hours of combing through help forums and documentation for an answer. I still have no idea how to add filters to my various Reviews lists. In Views you just expose a filter and poof you have a dropdown or a field that visitors can use to narrow down a list.

I’m sure there is a plugin for this, but I would want to set up automated backups of the site. The WP All-in-One Migration plugin makes backing up easy, but I can figure out a way of making it run on a schedule.

While the front-end of the Media Library is excellent, WordPress is constantly creating unnecessary image copies of every image I upload, regardless of context. This means there’s a lot of unused junk in my uploads directory. It’s not horrible, but my Internet ’98 mentality wants me so save as much hard drive space as possible.

Most of my other complaints are about things that could be accomplished with a module in Drupal but require PHP coding to do in WordPress. Off the top of my head: highlighting a menu-trail based on a content type, customizing RSS output, custom menu blocks, etc.

The Ugly

Clint Howard

Seven Murders for Scotland Yard (5/10)

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I think about 40% of this movie is just boring shots of Paul Naschy limping through the streets of London. Then there are the murders, of which there are nine, not seven. Technically, you could say there is a bit of gore but it is literally a close-up of a knife puncturing Silly Putty. And then the killer’s identity is fairly apparent within the first ten minutes of the film. I was fully expecting this to be a red herring, but nope. Yet, despite all this Seven Murders manages to entertain in that bad movie way. Also, great death faces on all the victims.

Shadows Unseen (7/10)

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A journalist has been murdered and the department really wants to find the killer quickly and brush this case under the rug. Commissioner Luca is sure that the guy they arrested is a scapegoat. In his search for the truth, he ends up crossing the mob, politicians, and the cops. Unlike most poliziotteschi, the main actor dubs his own dialogue complete with his nasally Italian accent. His voice doesn’t match the intensity of the acting. In any event, this was quite good albeit very confusing. Characters from the first three minutes of the movie appear later on and you don’t remember that they were part of the original killing. The climax is a great cliffside car chase and a nihilistic ending. I liked it despite not being able to follow the plot.

The Death and Resurrection Show (7/10)

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A documentary about one of my favorite bands, Killing Joke. It’s an okay overview of the band’s history as told through the lens of their goofy occult beliefs. I’m not sure a casual viewer will be able to follow this. I was most interested in the behind-the-music story of the Outside the Gate album, but this topic was given the briefest of overviews. Instead, a large portion documents the various global pursuits of Jaz Coleman as he attempts to perform rituals and slip into intra-dimensional states of being. The movie very matter-of-factly proclaims that he succeeded. I think we can assume drugs played a large part in his success.

Death Occurred Last Night (5/10)

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An early 70s Italian police thriller that has one of the weirdest/dumbest plots ever. The main story here is that a man’s tall, sexy special needs daughter has been kidnapped and forced into prostitution. She has the mind of a three year old and the body of a supermodel! The movie includes a cringey father helping daughter put on bra scene, “good” cops planting drugs scene, hooker informant invited to live with cop scene, death by laundry scene, and death by dryer scene. Also, a police sketch (seen above) that is described as, “It’s the face of a pimp, that’s obvious!” Yup, this is a weird one.

Puzzle (6/10)

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Also known as L’uomo Senza Memoria, this is a 1974 giallo about an man suffering from amnesia who reconnects with his wife in Italy in an attempt to regain his memories. In a movie like this, when there are only four characters, it’s pretty easy to predict who the bad guy is. You know it’s not the kid in a Speedo… or do you? You also know there is a reason to show that the heroine is keeping a chainsaw in her pantry. Most of this is pretty dumb, but for some reason I wasn’t bored. The climax contains some pretty hilarious slow motion action that’s played for drama but comes off as ridiculous.

Johnny Cool (6/10)

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Johnny Cool is a black and white gangster movie from 1964 featuring a pre-Bewitched Elizabeth Montgomery and, in the title role, Henry Silva demonstrating that he is more cheekbone than man. Johnny just goes around killing various mob bosses which include members of the Rat Pack and the great Telly Savalis. In hindsight, there are a bunch of plot points that never pay off and Silva’s portrayal of Johnny as a cold, icy killer means he has one expression of cold, icy-ness throughout the entire picture. The Sammy Davis Jr. cameo is fun though.

No More Heroes on Nintendo Wii (6/10)

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No More Heroes is a spazzy fighting/action game for the Wii in the vein of say Madworld. It leans very heavily on humor and style rather than any sort of innovative game play. The player’s task is to run around a largely empty open-world city collecting money so that they can pay for your next ranked assassination battle.

As far as the fighting goes, it’s really basic: target-lock an enemy, then mostly hit the A button, sometimes hit the B button, and occasionally dodge with the crosshair button. When your opponent is ready to explode into a shower of blood, swing the Wiimote. It’s not horrible, and is definitely not as frustrating as a Devil May Cry or Bayonetta game, but it is far from the pinnacle of gaming variety.

Where No More Heroes shines is in its self-aware plot and dialogue. Travis Touchdown may be a super-cool assassin, but his reality is mostly that of an Otaku fanboy with anime posters, toys, and a pet cat. The game goes to great lengths to point out how much of loser he really is by having him constantly get embarrassing calls from the video rental store and making his home base a crappy motel room. This stuff is great. I only wish the fighting was a little more fun or the world more interesting to explore.