Friday, November 02, 2007


Judge Michael Mukasey, muddled on waterboarding. It's not "simulated drowning," folks, it's slow suffocation: water does enter the lungs, and it is torture, and has been for centuries.

I caught Rendition and Saw IV this week, the mainstream one-two punch of Hollywood state-of-the-art torture pix. Rendition represents that mainstream at last engaging directly with the political, cultural and international reality of our most horrific debasement of the ideals "we" (meaning our President and his Administration and supporters) continue to profess, while Saw IV is the latest installment in the most prominent 'torture' horror franchise, the genre that provided the only mainstream theatrical vehicle previously available for mirroring/exploring/exploiting that public debasement of the American ideal (the worthy documentaries on the subject have only landed limited urban and alternative theatrical distribution).

It seems worth mentioning the timing of both -- along with the Tuesday DVD release of the much-reviled, sight unseen, Captivity, which was blistered off the stage due to its billboard ads alone -- coincidentally hitting screens in uncanny conjunction with the very week real-life torture was again foremost in American news headlines. No surprise, either, that Rendition is the better film, and that Saw IV is a muddle. But I have to say that Saw IV is the more accurate mirror of America today.

Tobin Bell as a purely imaginary, fictional torture activist in the Saw series from Lionsgate

Yes, Saw IV's messiness is a factor of sequelitis, but it's hard not to equate its utter confusion (which was not characteristic of the prior three Saw films) with the reprehensible denial and 'debate' associated with
  • Michael B. Mukasey's nomination for attorney general devolving into another Bush Administration square-dance around the ol' torture circuit.

  • This is a vile new low -- not Saw IV, but the spectacle of Mukasey's equivocation (understandable, perhaps, in strict legal terms, but in the context of yet another Bush-appointee, an inevitably loaded equivocation), and the reaction from President Bush and Fox News and all the apologists, supporters and scumpuppies,
  • as if the word meant anything other than it does as defined by international law: "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."

  • That's the fucking law, President Bush, as defined by the United Nation's Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, December 10, 1984.

    Anyone claiming otherwise is pissing up a rope. Period.

    Just worth noting, I thought, that Bush and
  • the toadying Heritage Foundation (how can anyone applaud and cheer him on?)
  • and all the Bushies and acolytes and war-mongering assholes that constitute so much of our Disunited States of American were so punctual about confirming Saw IV, not so much despite but because of its many flaws, as a strangely accurate, immediate mirror of our collective cultural madness, still in the thrall of the maddest Presidency of them all.

    The Manster -- the movie manster. Not real. Not in my pants.

    The spam "Ashamed of your size? Manster will help! ggw" has been popping up (pun intended) in the spam can throughout the past month: "Get Bigger p e n 1 s tonight! veery weal gripe.aerial bleed adult." was the enigmatic message. Wait, here's more: " Ashamed of your size? Manster will help! ekjgoodx," "Manster is your new weapon. ka" (what's that, spam for rapists?) and "Manster is your reality, Dreams are not! fzuh". Ya, Fzuh!

    Me, I only need the manster I was born with -- and, of course, the movie Manster!

    Here's the Japanese one-sheet poster for the original release of the Japanese/American weirdo classic Sôtô no Satsujinki (The Two-Headed Devilish Homicide)/The Manster (1962), released in some markets as The Split -- here's that release's one-sheet, below, which I'd love to have on my wall!

    This wasn't the first two-headed humanoid movie monster -- in animated cartoons, the Fleischer Brothers's Technicolor featurette Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor (1936) featured a two-headed giant, and a live-action double-domed cyclops enhanced The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962), played by The McKeever Twins, Mike and Marlin -- but it did make a major impression on genre fans, even if (like me) they first 'met' the manster in the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland #28. Its American double-billing with Georges Franju's jewel Les Yeux Sans Visage/Eyes Without a Face, presented stateside under the title The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus, only added the the mystique of The Manster, forever linking them in my generation's mind.

    Hmmm, there's also a 1939 cartoon entitled Two-Headed Giant, which I've never seen, and of course the 1970s offered American-International Pictures's pair of Manster drive-in successors, The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant (1971) and The Thing With Two Heads (1972). Then there's Bruce Robinson's savvy post-modern satiric revamp, How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989). But I'm rambling... hey, it's my rant.

    Anyhoot, these manster emails are amusing in the short term, if only for bringing back unbidden flash-memories of The Manster whenever I purge the email each and every morning -- which is the sweetest unintended laugh unwanted spam has given since the mini-torrent of Christian online dating services.

    Hey, you takes your chuckles where you can find 'em.

    Have a great Friday... and a good weekend. It's really feeling like autumn here, and we're prepping for winter, so it'll be a busy weekend for us.

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