Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Finally a guest review!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 10, 2006 by bigruta

Horrors of Spider Islandposter

Hello all! Monica and I have decided to bring a little more culture and refinement to the Duh! Spot with some wine and movie pairings! We’re a bit tired of hearing about finicky Ida Sue. We’re also tired of hearing about the varied flavors of beer. It all tastes like cat piss if you ask us, not that we’ve ever tried cat piss; except for “the yummy beer.” Read previous entries here to find that one.

Anyway, on to the film — short synopsis — a plane bound for Singapore crashes near a desolate Pacific island, stranding a troupe of dancers. They soon find that a radioactive spider is on the island. The manager is bitten and mutates into a crazed arachnid man bent on killing them all.She's got talent!

But, the film is so much more. The movie starts with Mr. Gary Webster auditioning a group of girls for their sexy legs and dancing skills. Gary, his trusty assistant Georgia, and the seven chosen girls embark on a flight to Singapore. The girls on the trip to Singapore are Georgia, the prim assistant; Babs, the curvy, slutty blonde; Ann, the sweet girl from Minnesota; Kate, the southern girl; Linda, the tough, trampy stripper; Gladys, the brunette and 2 interchangeable blondes May and Nelly. For the most part there’s hardly any real character development with the girls. Each is given a distinguishable accent so you have some clue who they are when they’re talking.

Somewhere over the Pacific the plane bursts into flames and nosedives into a clearly unsurvivable and horrific crash.

Cut to a life raft. Crying, suffering girls in wet, slightly ragged dresses yet with nylons and heels still in place. The manager tries to maintain control over the girls and the water supply with the girls moaning and begging for water, interestingly nary a flight crewmember is in sight. Four days of floating at sea and they finally spot land. Exhausted, they splash ashore and collapse on the beach; still in their heels.

The next day, Gary rises ahead of the rest, removes his shirt and explores the island. He discovers a waterfall nearby and calls for the girls to join him. As he reaches his cupped hands into the water and brings them to his mouth to drink, an OVERLY loud “slurp, slurp” sound is heard. Hilarious! The dubbing throughout this movie is a constant source of entertainment.

All the girls show up then, tripping and scrambling over the rocks to get to the water – moaning and slurping and splashing. After no more than a minute of refreshment, Gary, apparently embracing his role as man-in-charge, is hounding the girls, “All right girls, that’s enough. Let’s go have a look around!” Gary is all set for island explorations, having donned his shirt again and making a show of tucking it tightly into his belted trousers. The girls follow suit, smoothing their tattered dresses, adjusting stockings and putting on their heels for a trek around the island. They all look smashing! Nice hammer Gary.

The group troops off into the woods, (yes, woods! I know it’s the South Pacific) — heels and all. As they pass through a clearing, one of the girls notices a hammer on a rocky outcropping. Gary cleverly discerns that this must mean there is someone already on the island. He further identifies that it is “a hammer with a long handle, it must be for the purpose of excavating some sort of metal, most probably uranium.” Damn! Gary sure is smart for a dance troupe manager! Nelly asks, “Can you eat that [uranium]?” Gary replies, “Yeah, you can try it; come on, let’s go and find out!” Umm, maybe he’s not so smart. They had a budget.

The group continues on and discovers a cabin. Inside the cabin, they find the lifeless body of an old man, trapped in a giant spider web! The girls flee screaming into the woods nearby, but Gary and his sidekick, Georgia, remain to investigate. Just in case we’re unclear on what they’ve found, Georgia clarifies for us, “A dead man – in a giant web!” Scene cuts to the unnerved group of girls in the woods, behind them in the tree, we see our spider for the first time. The girls wander back to the cabin and now we see the spider on the ground; he is the size of a small dog. We’ve seen more lifelike animatronic characters in Disneyland rides.

Back in the dead scientist’s cabin, the group helps themselves to food, clothing and supplies. Gary tries to maintain order as the girls engage in some entertaining catfights over the clothing — fights which soon prove pointless, as the heat forces all the girls to strip to their bras and panties. Wait, what I am saying, there’s no such thing as a pointless catfight! At least in terms of entertainment value!

The girls file out to the porch to sleep, and Gary, once again shirtless, heads out for a little walk. He makes it as far as the porch only to be seduced by the trampiest dancer, Linda. They embrace and kiss but are caught by a shocked Georgia; Gary blames the heat for his behavior and rushes off into the dark woods. Georgia slaps Linda twice in the face. Linda smirks. Hey, at least she got a little action!The man below controls me, yeesss!

A storm develops and scenes cut back and forth between Gary running blindly in the woods, the spider, and the spider’s perspective – watching Gary approach. Gary stops to rest by a tree and the spider leaps on his back and bites him in the neck. He fights with the spider, finally wresting it off and throwing it to the ground. He shoots it four times with a small handgun, but not before the venom enters his system. In the subsequent lightning flashes, we see that Gary has turned One of those nights!into a spider! One who resembles the wolfman, stuck in mid-transformation. The girls hear the shots, but due to the storm, wait to investigate. The next day, Georgia takes charge and sends the girls out in different directions to find Gary. Linda is told to remain behind, she’s a bit of a bitch and happily complies. While everyone is away, Gary the Wolf spider, attacks and kills her by drowning her in the small tidal pool she had found. Linda’s dying scream draws everyone back to the cabin where she is found dead in the pool with two bite marks on her neck.

Linda’s death seriously stresses the girls out. The pressure gets too much for them to bear and a catfight breaks out between Babs and Nelly! Lot of entertainment in the form of whipping, straddling, hair-pulling, slapping, and rolling around on the floor. The other girls watch with knuckle-biting interest, but no one intervenes. The fight comes to an abrupt end as the girls notice Gary the Wolf spider reaching his claws (?) in through the window on either side of Georgia’s lovely neck. The girls’ screams scare him off and Georgia shows off the unique ability to faint standing up.

Morning arrives and the girls are found futilely shouting at a passing ship several miles offshore. Later in the day, a small boat pulls ashore with two men aboard, Bob and Joe. Bob and Joe have arrived to bring supplies to the scientist (previously found dead in the spider web). Bob spies 4 of the girls skinny dipping in a protected cove and he can’t believe his eyes. Bob grabs one of the girls. The girls flee the cove to report the disappearance of one of the girls. On the way back to the cabin, the girls find the dead spider shot several times and realize that Gary must have shot it. Gladys (?), the girl grabbed by Bob, willingly begins to make out with Bob. It’s just been so many days without a man, you know!

The other girls find Joe making his way to the scientist’s cabin. After their initial reservations are cleared up, the girls realize that they’re being rescued. Hurrah! Bob and Joe comment on how the missing dance troupe has been in all of the newspapers. The girls are excited about how famous they’re all going to be when they return!Oh yeah!

The group decides to throw a party with lots of drinking, dancing, and music. The girls dress in amazingly fashionable and sexy island-themed bikinis – hmm, wonder where they found all those bikinis? Anyway — lots of curvy breasts and bare legs galore! Joe starts to flirt with the naïve and sweet girl Ann from Minnesota. Interesting how real character development doesn’t come until the final third of the movie!

The rest of the girls all begin a relentless competitive seduction of the young stud, Bob. Bob decides not to be picky and smoothly transitions from one girl to the next. Gladys has apparently fallen in love with Bob (in less than 24 hours) and is dismayed by his philandering at the party. Bob and Joe argue and then fight each over the “honor” of the girls, knocking each other silly inside the cabin before finally laughing themselves to this conclusion— Bob realizes that Gladys is a girl he could get serious with (all this in less than 24 hours) and goes to find Gladys. Bob is surprised by Gary the Wolf spider and killed before he can tell Gladys of his epiphany. Tragically his death takes place off camera.

Gladys finds Bob’s body and screams when she sees Gary the Wolf spider. To escape him, Gladys inexplicably decides to climb up a treacherous cliff; pursued by Gary, she then falls to her death (shock!). Joe confronts Gary, but then quickly flees when he realizes his gun has no bullets. Gary then threatens Georgia who screams and calls out his name. He chooses not to kill her and heads out into the woods. (yes, woods! You know, the woods you normally find on a Pacific island.)

Joe and the girls all grab flares and chase Gary through the woods and across a field of tall wheat-like grass. Just what Pacific island is this? Unfortunately for Gary, his escape route leads directly to an area of quicksand. Joe and the girls all watch as Gary struggles, splashing and sinking into the quicksand as the sun sets.

The expedition ship returns to take them all off the island.

Goodies:Are they fighting, or...

Babeage: Lots of trampy slutty zoftig girls either catfighting or in mild peril.

Sleazeploitation: Not very much. Some groping and kissing action between the girls and Bob but doesn’t last long enough to become truly sleazy

Beasts, Freaks, and Weirdos: Gary as the bizarre mutant spider man is the only beast. However all of the time he spent walking around without his shirt on made him quite the freak to begin with.

Violence: Almost none. All of the deaths happen off-screen.

Gore & FX: No gore at all. I think calling the mutant spider a special effect would be insulting to all other special effects in movies.

Some great quotes:

Bob talking to Joe: “What are dancers? Hot goods for cold nights.”


Babs to Gary, “I’ve already been to Singapore.”
Gary replies, “And you look like it.”

Moral: Disappearing while on a trip overseas can lead to a life of fame and notoriety. Hmmm, or maybe crashing on a Pacific island is not a very hard thing to survive – Tom Hanks was a wimp.

Conclusion:

We liked Horrors of Spider Island. It’s a bit of late night entertainment. The dubbing over the German original,Toter hing im Netz, Ein, is a constant source of amusement. Apparently the original version was much more risque than the edited US version we watched with several nude scenes. So the movie has all the basics; curvy girls in peril, a mildly creepy creature, some poorly lit scenes, and a somewhat satisfying ending. Not nearly enough suspense, gore, or sex for our tastes but amusing nonetheless. Normals will find it boring.

h+m

Photos for this review were,…uhm…uh…provided courtesy of Horror-Wood and Club Des Monstres. Uh, yeah.

-BigRuta

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We drank beer! No! Of course not…we drank wine.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 9, 2006 by bigruta

We sipped Oliver Winery‘s Creekbend Chambourcin Rosé 2004. Oliver Winery is a vineyard in south-central Indiana. The Creekbend name is a new label only recently introduced. The Chambourcin Rosé has a deep, brilliant color with flavors of raspberry and watermelon. Not really a true red but more of a darker white zinfandel. It was a rather enjoyable semi-dry wine.

h+m

Yes it is true, my cohorts are not what I would call beer fans. However, they do keep an open mind (despite the comment made in the movie review) and have tried several beers upon recommendationion. I myself love wine also, but I find it hard to follow movie plot lines if I drink an entire bottle.

-BigRuta

"I’d like to be, under the sea…"

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10, 2006 by bigruta

Howdy again friends, neighbors and other freaks ‘o nature! Well my own little slice of Hell continues with the bathroom renovation. The good news is it is nearly finished! The bad news is we still cannot use the shower! Dag nabbit! Carn flabbit! The highly skilled yet mentally challenged construction crew is taking this weekend off and so I have a bit of time to get this post up. I am sorry that there has been a two month period of inactivity, but that’s what ya get when you go with non-union labor! So while Biggy Bigs and La Nueve Constructor are not around, let’s get this sucker done!

This is the first in a continuing series of reviews focusing on the films of Ray Harryhausen. If you don’t recognize that name, well I feel sorry for you. Because that means that your childhood must have been very dull indeed. Ray Harryhausen is the person who made the technique of three dimensional stop motion special effects into an art form. Ray was influenced by Willis O’Brien who did the stop motion animation for King Kong (RKO 1933). Harryhausen worked under O’Brien and went on to become the master of stop motion eventually producing films highlighting his effects.

It Came From Beneath The Sea (Monster From Beneath The Sea)

Columbia, 1955, 78 minutes, Not Rated menu screen

Actors:

Kenneth Toby – as – Pete Mathews: atomic sub commander
Donald Curtis – as – Dr. John Carter: world famous marine biologist
Faith Domergue – as – Dr. Lesley Joyce: new woman and world famous marine biologist

Crew:

Robert Gordon – Director
Charles H. Schneer – Producer
Ray Harryhausen – Technical Effects

Taxonomy: Ray Harryhausen stop motion animated giant critter flick.

Plot: Giant octopus gets irradiated from atomic testing and decides to eat San Francisco.

Bluntly: Fun black and white 50’s style giant monster flick with a cool monster. Great intro to Harryhausen.

Overview:

It came From Beneath The Sea is not Ray Harryhausen’s first film, but it is an early one and will work fine as an introduction to both 50’s giant monster flicks and Harryhausen’s “technical effects.” It shares some common features (some would say flaws) with other 50’s monster movies. First there is an over reliance on stock footage to pad out the length and keep the plot rolling along. Then we have the traditional dogma of just showing a little bit of the creature at first and saving full well lit shots of the critter until the climax. In this case this was necessary because stop motion animation and film matting was – and still is – very time consuming, so just having a peek at the octo gave Harryhausen a break in his work load. Additionally, these movies tend to have very weakly drawn characters that benefit from skillful acting in order to bring them to life. It Came From Beneath The Sea lucks out in this regard as the three principal actors do indeed breath a little bit of life into their parts. It Came From Beneath The Sea also displays qualities that would come to be de rigueur for Harryhausen films. The animated creature in some ways shows more spark than the human actors (translation: stop motion – very good, script – crappy!). And we see Harryhausen’s love of having his creatures interact (translation: destroy) famous landmarks. That was one of the things that made me love Harryhausen flicks as a kid. Think of it! The guy was lucky enough to work in movies, build models all the time and make and animate cool monsters! What little boy would not think that was the coolest job ever!

Okay on to the flick…We start out with a useless voice-over narration that explains that the world’s first atomic powered submarine is currently on its shake down cruise. The sub is a modern technological marvel and cost $55 million. Guess what? This is accurate! The first nuclear powered submarine, The Nautilus put to sea on January 17, 1955 and cost about $55 million. Something in a 50’s monster movie reflecting reality! Wow! Don’t get used to it!

Anyway, we meet sub commander Pete Mathews and a few members of his crew. They are listening to music over the sub’s intercom! Gee, hope the Commies ain’t listening. Suddenly a gigantic image appears on the sonar! Then the unnamed wondersub is stuck! There seems to be a very high level of radiation outside the sub! Full power and blowing the ballast tanks do nothing, the sub is caught fast! Crafty old Pete tells his helmsman to alternate setting the fore and aft dive planes for dive and surface and this pops the sub free! Yea! Of course they were still at full power with empty ballast tanks and so one would think that they would zip to the surface and perform a rather spectacular breach that would slam all aboard into the bulkheads, but that does not happen. So much for realism. To give the filmmakers credit, the interior shots of the sub are good and cramped which is how a sub of the era would look.

The sub puts into Pearl Harbor for repairs and the Navy asks two marine biologists (“The best minds in the nation.”) to examine the big blob ‘o stuff they found stuck in one of the dive planes. And so we meet Dr. John Carter and Dr. Lesley Joyce. Some of you might recognize the name ‘Doc Carter’ as a hero from the golden age of pulp magazines. Or not. Was this intentional? Who knows! I have a hard time believing that such a hip reference to 30’s/40’s era pulp would be intentionally written into a 50’s monster movie, but who can say?

Carter and Joyce obviously have a thing going, she calls him, “magnificent, brilliant” and he refers to her as, “darling.” They set to work and Pete hangs around to see what they come up with. The testing takes two weeks, and all the while Pete is right there. So, the commander of the first atomic powered submarine has nothing better to do than babysit a couple of marine biologists for two weeks!? Of course not! Don’t be silly! He makes good use of this time by putting the moves on Dr. Joyce! They talk and flirt in a very silly way – again the script ain’t that hot. Dr. Carter does not seem to notice that Pete is coming on to his girl. Why? BECAUSE HE IS WORKING! While Dr. Joyce and Pete are playing truth-or-dare, Dr. Carter is getting the job done! I kept hoping that he would look up from the microscope and say, “Hey! If you two are not going to contribute, then get the hell out of the lab! Some of us care about our work!” But he does not. He puts up with the silliness in a good natured fashion.

So, our first impressions of the three principals are set: Commander Pete Mathews – tough, cocky Navy officer who knows what he wants and goes after it! Dr. John Carter – Serious yet casual intellectual who does not act until he has plenty of data. What about Dr. Joyce? Well, we get to hear the first of several of her little bullet point arguments. She has the annoying habit of saying, “A. blah, blah, blah. B. blah, blah, blah. and C. blah, blah, blah.” I guess this was the writer’s idea of how a woman with an analytical mind would express herself. Domergue carries it well, but it comes across as quite forced. Dr. Joyce also sells herself as very much the prototype for the liberated woman who does not need a man. And of course, because this is the 50’s, everybody smokes like a foundry and drinks hard liquor like it was Kool-Aid. “Oh Yeah!”

After two weeks of Dr. Carter’s hard work, they announce to the Navy brass that their brand spanking new gee-wiz neeto-keen atomic sub was caught and held in the grip of a frickin’ huge octopus! Well, okay, they do not use those words, but that is the gist of it. The brass laugh, shake their heads at these dorky scientists (Hell, one of them’s a woman!) and leave. Dr. Joyce, liberated tough intellectual chick that she is, pouts.
Uh...guys?
Okay, now we get to see some octo action! The frickin’ huge octopus attacks a trawler. We see the often repeated shot of a big old tentacle looming out of the sea as someone in the foreground looks on agape. This is done with back-projection and as always with this technique, the result is kind of dopey looking. Some of the crew of the trawler jump overboard while the octopus is attacking. They jump towards the octopus! I think I could have made it to the other side of the ship before jumping into the drink. Then we get to see the octo sink the trawler.
Hello sailor!
A few of the crew survive and are brought in for questioning. They seem to be suffering from radiation poisoning. They quickly learn that telling folks that their ship was sunk by a giant octopus tends to make people think they are nuts and so clam up. Dr. Joyce steps up to the challenge and with a combination of cleaver questioning, cleavage and flashing thigh, gets one of the crew to tell what happened. Another point for women’s liberation!

Now that they have creditable witnesses (translation: male sailors) the Navy starts taking the whole frickin’ huge octopus thing seriously. The search is on! Dr. Carter and Dr. Joyce speculate that the giant octopus is a natural creature from the Mindanao Deeps who became irradiated as a result of atomic testing. They think it is attacking ships because the radiation would cause its normal prey to avoid it’s vicinity. Hey guess what? Many fish can detect electromagnetic fields, which means that this is plausible! Wow! Twice in one flick!

The navy snaps into action! A sonar picket is established as well as anti-sub nets and electrified cable across San Francisco harbor. Mines are laid and the water is baited with dead shark! The plan? Lure the octo in and finish him off! Of course all of this frenzied activity is shown via stock footage – cause it’s cheap! Do you have any idea how much it would cost to rent the United States Navy and film all that crap!?

Meanwhile, Dr. Joyce and Pete fly to Oregon to investigate reports of low fishing catches and the disappearance of a family at the beach. Dr. Carter stays to help with the defense of San Francisco bay. Mm’kay? Pete and Dr. Joyce go to the beach with the local sheriff (translation: octo chow) and find the missing family’s crushed car and giant sucker marks in the sand. Pete and Dr. Joyce have time to make-out a bit – in their swimsuits – before the frickin’ huge octo shows up and thankfully kills the dumbass sheriff. At which point hardnosed Dr. Joyce screams and falls into Pete’s arms. Yep! She’ll be a burnin’ her bra any time now. They deduce that the octo is heading for San Fran. The game’s afoot!
Ouchies!
Back in San Fran, we finally get to see Harryhausen’s octo do some real damage. It smashes the clock tower at Fisherman’s Wharf and explores the streets with it’s tentacles. The Army uses flamethrowers to convince it to get back in the bay. When the flames touch the tentacles, the octo screams! Hee hee hee! Well the electric cable just pisses old octo off and it attacks the Golden Gate Bridge. Dr. Carter realizes that the electric current is doing more harm than good and goes out on the bridge to shut it off. The octo smashes his car and Pete comes to his rescue. then Dr. Joyce hugs them both. Damn woman, make up your mind! I'm just trying to find my heart!

The film ends with a great sub vs. frickin’ huge octo scene where Dr. Carter repays his debt to Pete by saving him and then we get the closing scene with the love triangle situation still in doubt – but it could be interpreted as Dr. Joyce deciding to try out both guys for a while! Pete has the closing line as he says to Dr. Carter, “Say Doctor, you were right about this new breed of woman.” In the end, Pete seems like a nicer guy, Dr. Carter seems like a brave more action oriented guy and Dr. Joyce has definitely loosened up!

Goodies:

Babeage: Faith Domergue! She was one of Howard Hughes discoveries, ya know. She was in many sci-fi films and TV and is best remembered for her role in This Island Earth.
Hey you two, want to have some fun?
Slezeploitation: Nope. But if you stretch the love triangle thing a bit…

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: Harryhausen’s great octopus! I cannot imagine how much work it took to animate that critter! Many people have pointed out that it only has six arms. I never took the time to count, and we rarely see the whole critter anyway, so who cares?

Violence: A little at the end, but it’s pretty comic bookish stuff.

Gore & FX: Harryhausen’s great stop motion animation and model work, some not so great back-projection and stock footage. Gore? Didn’t see much in the American films of the 50’s.

Great Lines:

Opening Narration – “The mind of man had thought of everything – except that which was beyond his comprehension!” I guess that sounds better than, ‘The mind of man had thought of everything – except what he hadn’t thought of!’

Pete Mathews to one of his crew – “Not afraid of a little radiation, are ya Mack?”
The crewman’s response – “I’ve heard it makes you so you can’t have children, Sir.”

Dr. Carter – “Their’s a squid on display at the American Museum of Natural History that measures just under 100 feet.” Uh, yeah – like about 70 feet under!

When Dr. Carter and Dr. Joyce wonder why the giant octo keeps heading toward SF despite the Navy’s efforts to shoo it away, Pete Mathews says, “Maybe it wants to fight!” Too bad this is a 50’s movie. If it were made today, one of the learned doctors could turn to Pete and say, “Oh shut the fuck up!”

Moral: Chain smoking tobacco and drinking gallons of hard alcohol are less of a public health threat than giant irradiated pissed-off cephalopods.

Conclusion:

Oh come on! How can you go wrong? Ya got a silly giant monster story, several scenes of stock footage, a rather low key love triangle, almost – but not quite – cardboard characters, Faith Domergue – Rrroowww!, and a cool Ray Harryhausen animated hextopus smashing up San Francisco landmarks!
What film is this scene from?
This film is available on DVD as a stand alone purchase or part of The Fantastic Films of Ray Harryhausen boxed sets. There are two boxed sets, each containing 5 films. It Came From Beneath The Sea is included in the Legendary Science Fiction Series set. The other set is the Legendary Monster Series. I purchased both sets last year for $30 each. They should be cheaper now. If you are interested in Ray Harryhausen flicks, these sets are a great deal. The ten films are not the complete works of Mr. Harryhausen, but they make a great start for any interested collector. The prints are beautiful, the sound is great, the presentation (menus etc.) is fun and they included some nice (although repetitive) extras.

This film and the boxed sets get BigRuta’s Seal of Approval and Highest Recommendation!

I once saw a pentapus in Florida, but he was yellow, fairly small and lived in a swimming pool.

Oh those crazy Belgian monks!

Chimay Peres Trappistes Grande Reserve Ale (Blue)

Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont
S.A. Bières de Chimay, Chimay, Belgium

Chimay Blue Label is one of three ales produced by the brothers of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (or Trappists) at the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont. The other Two Chimay ales are Chimay Red (Premiere) and Chimay White (or Blonde or Triple or Cinq Cents). Each Chimay beer is wonderful and has its own personality, but my favorite is Chimay Blue.

The Trappist monks in Belgium have a long brewing tradition and a reputation for excellence. Trappist Monk Ale is a recognized ale style unique to the six Trappist Abbeys that produce ale for profit. The six Abbeys are: Chimay, Rochefort, Orval, Westmalle, Westvleteren, and La Trappe (Holland). They can be rather hard to find in America. I have only had the pleasure of tasting Chimay and Rochefort. By law, only these six monasteries can call their product Trappist Monk Ale (Peres Trappistes). Many breweries imitate the style, but they must refer to their product as “Abbey Style Ale”, “Belgian Monk Ale” or some other non-official moniker. All true Trappist Monk Ales are top fermented, bottle conditioned (additional yeast is added after bottling to produce a secondary fermentation), very flavorful and complex. They can vary in color and bitterness, but most have relatively high alcohol by volume.

ABV: 9.00% IBU: I would guess 30 to 50.

Color: A beautiful deep rich red – almost brown. Ruby highlights when held up to the light. If it were not for the head, you may think it was port.

Aroma: Rich and complex, but so well balanced you really have to concentrate to pull out the individual scents. Nutty, roasty, slightly sweet, fruity like raisins or figs.

Head: Wonderful soft brown creamy rich dense persistent head. Smells slightly of toffee or caramel. Leaves strands of suds called “Belgian Lace” on the sides of the glass as you drink it.

Taste: Here is a sign of a great balanced beer in the European tradition – the taste reflects the impressions you had from the aroma and head! Rich and smooth, even and balanced, the flavor does not change abruptly but evolves as you drink. Roasted nuts, sweet dried fruit like raisins and figs, toffee and caramel overtones. Slight hint of spice. Warm dark bread flavors and a nice cleansing bitterness – far from harsh – during the finish. Short aftertaste which then gently fades.

Recommendation: Chimay Blue is one of my favorite beers. It goes well with just about anything and is great with game and red meat. Chimay Blue also complements desserts nicely. I have had it with 70% cacao dark chocolate and the combination is fantastic! But I think my favorite way to indulge in Chimay Blue is just by itself. On a cool Autumn evening or frigid Winter night it is a great way to reward yourself!

Get some! Drink it! Thank me!

Okay, well, I feel better now that I have posted again! Till next time remember: Life is short. Watch fun movies. Drink real beer!

-BigRuta

Questions, comments and requests welcome.

"People lookin’ at me like I was cray-zay! They say, ‘What’s a matter with you boy!’"

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27, 2006 by bigruta

Hi y’all! Bet you thought I was out of the country due to the lack of activity here at The Duh Spot, eh? Not so! I have just been super busy the last month. You see, I am helping in the renovation of my parent’s home, and it has really worn me out. We gutted the bathroom and are in the process of turning it into a 20th century bathroom as opposed to the 19th century bathroom that I have lived with all my life. A shower! Great God in heaven a shower! Yes! Maybe someday we will actually have a home that fits the century we are living in – it could happen!

Of course Ida Sue Cooter has been yanking me around alot – and not the way I like, if you know what I mean and I think that you do! I tell ya, that girl ain’t right. Sometimes that can be a bad thing and sometimes that can be a very good thing!

So I do apologize for the lack of any updates. But you just hold on folks! New reviews are on the way! Including The Duh Spot’s first guest review!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, eat too much good BBQ and drink too much good beer, and as a couple of wise folks I know often say, “Have too much fun!”

BTW: Happy Birthday to The Duh Spot!

Be back soon,

-BigRuta

P.S. Here’s something to keep you entertained till the next review!

NYT article on Lambics!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2006 by bigruta

Hiya –

I enjoyed this article in the NYT recently about Lambics (title:
ALES OF THE TIMES; Lambics: Beers Gone Wild; May3, 2006; Eric Asimov). It’s only available for free for a short time, so read it now!

I became acquainted with lambics last year when BigRuta began a quest on my behalf to find a ‘yummy’ beer. He succeeded with Lindeman’s Peach Lambic which he brought along on our group trip and shared with all of us – Thanks again, ‘Ruta – it is WAY yummy!

Enjoy the article — and maybe some of the recommended lambics!

~Hal’s wife

"Let’s all go back! Way back! Back to the caveman days!"

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2006 by bigruta

Well, Ida Sue went to visit some relatives in the deep dark Ozarks. She said that we needed some “alone time.” Whatever. She also told me that she will not put up with a man who watches creepy crawly critter flicks. Might be time to cut her loose. Too bad. Those toes just do something for me. To console myself, I decided against my trusty DVD collection and vowed to watch the worst thing I could find on TV. But after 15 minutes, even I couldn’t take any more American Idol. So I started hunting for b-movies. Sure enough I found just what I was after on Adelphia’s Midnight Movie.

The Last Dinosaur

This is a Japanese / American movie, I really have no idea which companies were involved, nor do I care. 1977, 95 minutes, PG.

actors: Richard Boone, Joan Van Ark, Steven Keats, Luther Rackley, Tetsu Nakamura, Masumi Sekiya.

directors: Alexander Grasshoff, Shusei Kotani.

Taxonomy: International guys in rubber monster suits flick.

Plot:

An aging big game hunter and oil billionaire and crew encounter dinos in a lost world – and try to kill them.

Bluntly: For hard core bad movie freaks and Knots Landing fans only.

Overview:
Thrust, Masten Thrust
Oh man, this film could only have been made in the 70’s! Okay, the main character in this fine piece of multinational film making is a guy named Masten Thrust (Richard Boone). Yes, that is his name! Is too! Mr. Thrust (Great name for a porno star, eh?) is the last of the great white big-game hunters. He also owns an oil company and may just be the richest man on Earth. We learn all of this during the opening montage where Thrust’s girly girl is browsing through his scrapbook! Yep, an ultra macho big-game hunter and oil billionaire keeps a scrapbook. Guess he’s just an old softy at heart. One of the folks responsible for making the fake newspaper articles that appear in the scrapbook must have been a Hunter Thompson fan because one of the headlines reads, “Fear and Loathing in Africa”!

Next day, old softy Thrust (snicker) dumps the bimbo and gives her a solid gold rifle cartridge as a keepsake. Classy. Then we learn that Thrust’s arctic oil exploration team have made an incredible discovery. Using a manned laser polar borer – kind of a combo drill and submarine – they have found a lost world under the arctic ice. It could happen! But that’s not all! There are dinosaurs living in this lost world, including a Tyrannosaurus rex who ate every member of the team except the Polar Borer pilot Chuck Wade (Steven Keats). This weekend at The Kit Kat Klub Masten Thrust and the Polar Borers! Sorry. Anyway, Thrust announces that he is going to go and explore the lost world.

Also going on the journey will be Chuck Wade, cause he knows the way, Dr. Kawamoto (Tetsu Nakamura) a paleontologist to study the flora and fauna, Francesca Bands (Joan Van Ark) a pretty blond reporter and photographer who is going along because she did the nasty with Thrust who was originally opposed to her being on the team, and finally Thrust’s trusty Masai guide Bunta (Luther Rackley). We know Bunta is a Masai because he is a tall solemn black man with a spear. Yes a spear. Don’t be so closed minded! Just because the only black guy in the flick has a spear that don’t mean it is a racial stereotype! He just really likes his spear, so he takes it everywhere he goes. You never know when you may need to chuck a spear now do you?
Bitch!
So, they all ride the polar borer down to the lost world. Everybody wears flight suits and helmets, except Thrust who wears his usual safari outfit and vastly too big sunglasses. He’s the boss, I guess he can do whatever he wants. Once they reach the lost world Francesca – who everybody calls Frankie – is shocked that Thrust brought guns. They are just supposed to explore and study, why do they need guns? Yeah, Frankie is a bit on the dim side. Which she proves by nearly getting trampled by what Dr. Kawamoto describes as a “ceratopsian.” What it really is is two guys in a rubber suit. And the thing is freaking huge! Much bigger than a real dino of that type. That is a common mistake in this flick, all of the dinos are closer to the size of office buildings than dinosaurs.

Of course there are cavemen in this lost world as well as dinos. No mammoths, no cave bears, no sabretoothed tigers, just dinos and cavemen. Japanese cavemen. Oy!
Rexy
Well, it don’t take long for old Rexy to show up! And what a specimen he is! They state that the T. rex is 20 feet tall, but this thing is 50 feet tall if he’s an inch! Amazingly, despite the fact that the ground shakes when he walks and we hear loud thuds whenever his feet touch the ground, Rexy manages to sneak up on two different characters! Once Bunta climbs a tree to scout out the big toothy critter and – TAA DAA! – Rexy pops up right behind him! The second time, Rexy tiptoes his way up behind Dr. Kawamoto while the good doctor is intently studying a mushroom, and steps on him! Then Rexy destroys the team’s camp and kicks the polar borer out of the lagoon and up a hill. Rexy tries to bury the polar borer and digs up a Triceratops that sounds a lot like Godzilla! Rexy and the ‘tops have a nice bloody fight, during which the guy in the Triceratops suit tries not to let his knees touch the ground. Rexy wins the fight and wanders off.

Well, the group comes across Rexy again and Thrust’s gun jams and is smashed. Bunta chucks his spear at Rexy from about 20 yards away and hits! But Rexy ain’t impressed. They all wisely flee. The Japanese cavemen find Bunta’s spear. Hmmm…

Upon discovering the trashed camp and squished Dr. Kawamoto, Thrust swears vengeance. The T. rex must die! When it is pointed out to Thrust that he has no weapons that could hurt the T. rex, Thrust screams, “Then I’ll make one!” Thrust screams a lot in this flick. Frankie does not cry over the death of Dr. Kawamoto, but she does cry when she realizes that they can not go home. Bitch.

Months pass and we see that the four survivors have made a nice home out of a cave – which they do not sleep in, no they sleep outside of the cave mouth (?). Frankie is torn between Thrust and the younger hunkier Chuck. And of course there is the strong but silent Bunta. She deals with this obvious sexual tension by cooking, cleaning and making their clothes. Just like a good woman should. Remember, this was the 70’s, the era of the women’s liberation movement.

They are having trouble getting enough food. Seems whenever they make a kill, the cavemen show up and throw spears at them and steal their kill. The cavemen did not have spears until recently. Hmmm… Well, Thrust has had enough of this, so he fashions a crossbow out of the remains of his rifle and other salvaged stuff. A crossbow that looks like it came from Sears. When the cavemen come in force to their cave, Thrust decides to educate them. Frankie, who had just been bitching about how bad killing was wishes Thrust luck. Bitch.
Hazel
Thrust confronts the chief caveman and shoots him. Then reloads and shoots another caveman and the rest of the cavemen run away. Except for one cavewoman who sticks around. Frankie adopts her and calls her Hazel. Hazel (Masumi Sekiya) is soon taught how to be a good little servant.

Soon they are plagued by Rexy again. Thrust comes up with a plan and instructs Bunta to gather about 200 yards of tough vine (!). They tie the vine to a big boulder at the top of a hill. Then they use Chuck and Frankie as decoys to get Rexy’s attention (!!). Once Rexy runs by, Bunta lassos Rexy’s tail (!!!) and Rexy pulls the boulder loose, the boulder rolls down the hill and pulls Rexy off his feet and down the hill (!!!!). This whole sequence is too stupid for words to adequately describe.

Okay, homestrech. Thrust announces that now Rexy won’t leave them alone, so they have to kill him. Uh, didn’t he already vow to kill the T. rex? Anyway, he comes up with another brilliant plan, and builds a catapult! They leave the catapult armed with a big rock and wound and ready to fire and wait for Rexy to show up. This would completely destroy any tension they had managed to get from the tough vine, but whatever, it is always a mistake to let reality interfere with the enjoyment of these flicks. Meanwhile, Chuck has found the polar borer and he and Frankie somehow manage to get it all the way back to the lagoon!. Oh, by the way, the polar borer prop is way, way, way too small to be the vehicle they traveled in earlier. Frankie tries to get Thrust to see reason, but he will not leave until Rexy is dead. Bunta will not leave Thrust.
Then, I'll make one!
So, the moment we have all been waiting for – no not the end! – Rexy shows up. Bunta regrets staying because he is soon eaten by Rexy. Thrust waits until Rexy is in his sights and then fires the catapult! The rock flies through the air and hits Rexy right on the head! At this point we are treated to a true b-movie moment. When the rock hits Rexy’s head, it makes a very visible dent in the rubber dino head and bounces off! Yeah baby! Oh hit that rewind button, we have to see that again! Boing-oing-oing! Ha, ha ha! Rexy falls over, everybody celebrates cause they think he is dead, but then he gets back up again.

Well, it is too late now, Thrust tells Frankie to get home and he runs away. Frankie reluctantly joins Chuck on the polar borer and they go home. Bitch. What happens to Thrust? We last see him letting Hazel walk along with him. What a guy! The End.

Goodies:

Babeage: Folks made a big deal of Joan Van Ark in the 80’s when she was on Knots Landing, but I have never really cared for her. She is kind of cute here as the slightly dumb and morally loose reporter. Matsumi Sekiya makes an okay cavebabe, but she sure ain’t no Raquel Welch or Barbara Bach! She is Asian, however so that gives her double fetish points.

Sleazeploitation: None really. Sure there is a strong suggestion that Frankie used her feminine whiles to get on the team, and then there is the whole 3 men 1 woman thing. The Thrust and Hazel thing is kind of kinky, but it is all implied. Remember, this was a TV movie in the USA.

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: The dinos. Got to love guys in goofy floppy rubber dino suits. Unless they are purple and sing, then you must torch them with a flamethrower. As far as I am concerned Masten “Mr. Warmth” Thrust also belongs in this category.

Violence: Two cavemen get skewered, but the bloodiest stuff happens between Rexy and the Triceratops. Again, when guys in rubber dino suits have a bloody fight to the death, it’s damn funny!

Gore & FX: Little tiny bit of blood. Models and rubber suits. Horrible music – does that count as gore?

Great Lines:

Dr. Kawamoto – “Paleontologist have called them (T. rex) the crown of creation!” Very scientific doc. Where did you get your Ph.D. Oral Roberts University?

Masten Thrust, on the endangered species list – “They’ll put cows on it soon!”

When his bimbo asks what she is supposed to do with a solid gold bullet Masten Thrust tells her, “If times get really tough, you can bite on it.”

Masten Thrust on the voyage to the lost world, “This expedition is bigger than the mission to the moon!”

When Frankie initially approaches Thrust he mistakes her for a whore and tells her, “I haven’t got time for you.”

When Chuck confronts Thrust over the subject of bringing guns, Thrust really lets him have it, “You DING-DONG!”

Moral: Masten Thrust is the last dinosaur, not Rexy. Get it? I love it when b-movies get all philosophical.

Conclusion:Knots Landing days

Well, I had fun watching The Last Dinosaur, but it certainly is not for everybody. You have to love really stupid stories and cheaper than cheap effects. Richard Boone was Paladin on the 50’s TV show Have Gun Will Travel and also stared in the cult flick I Bury The Living. Joan Van Ark has been in lots of stuff, including a stint on the 70’s cult sci-fi/comedy show Quark as Princess Libido, but is best remembered for Knots Landing. So if one of the reasons you watch b-movies is to see stars in embarrassing crap, this could work for you. Normals would probably not enjoy this flick.

Ya know, that crossbow Thrust made sure looked strong…

Strongbow English Dry Cider

Brewed by H. P. Bulmer Ltd., Hereford HR4 OLE, UK

Cider is made by fermenting grain adjuncts and apples with wine or brewers yeast. Hops are not used. This was a traditional way to use up all the left over apples at the end of the season before winter. Most ciders are clear and well carbonated, and may be simple or spiced. New England Cider tends to be stronger in taste and alcohol content. If pears are used instead of apples, the cider is referred to as a “perry”.

ABV: 5.00% IBU: 0 IBUs measure the acid released by hops – no hops, no IBUs.

Color: Deep yellow almost amber. Looks like a lager. You could probably fool others into thinking you are drinking a beer. Great way to keep the goobers off your back while they swill their Bud.

Aroma: The aroma is described in the name; crisp dry apple cider.

Head: None. Carbonation yes, but cider usually does not contain the proteins that produce a lasting foamy head.

Taste: Kind of surprising. Most American ciders are at least a little sweet. Strongbow hints at sweetness at first, then goes dry almost immediately. Very crisp and clean with a slightly sour apple flavor. There is a hint of wheat in the finish and sour dry aftertaste. Very much like a slightly underripe Granny Smith apple. Refreshing and more beer-like than many ciders.

Recommendation: Strongbow English Dry Cider would be just the thing to serve to those who either do not like beer, but enjoy semi-dry white wine or those who think that cider is too sweet. As stated above Strongbow is quite refreshing and would be great on a hot summer picnic; just remember the alcohol and shoo the kids away.

Picking up some Strongbow and a few other brands of fermented cider and having a taste comparison would be an excellent way to while away a steamy summer Sunday.

Recommended for those in the mood for something a little different.

Well folks, that’s about it for now. As always, comments, questions, suggestions and requests welcome.

-BigRuta

"It was the Best of times, it was the worst of times…"

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2006 by bigruta

Howdy fellow b-movie freaks! This update is a little late. Sorry about that. You see, I’ve been having a little relationship trouble. It’s hard to believe it has taken this long, but my little snugglebunny Ida Sue Cooter seems to have just recently discovered that many of the movies I watch involve, as she put it, “varmints.” I never would have guessed, but apparently just the thought of certain critters makes Ida Sue’s cute little webbed toes curl up. I’ve tried to reason with her, but she insists that if I continue to watch “those kindsa creepy crawly critter flicks” she might just have to move on. That would be a shame because the girl has talent – if you know what I mean and I think that you do! I’ll continue to try to win her over, but it might be an uphill battle. Dang! Things were going so well between us. Then last Saturday night I fired up the DVD player and settled on the couch with Ida Sue and a couple of cold ones ready to watch a fine 1950’s cheap sci-fi flick, but when the title came on screen Ida Sue freaked and went home. She was so loud she nearly woke the rest of the trailer park. Women!

The Killer Shrews

Hollywood Pictures Corp., 1959, 69 minutes
actors: James Best, Ken Curtis, Ingrid Goude, Gordon McLendon, Baruch Lumet, Judge Henry Dupree, Alfredo DeSoto
producer: Ken Curtis, executive producer and distributor: Gordon McLendon
writer: Jay Simms
director: Ray Kellogg

Taxonomy: Giant mutant critter flick.

Plot:

A team of scientists and the crew of their supply boat find themselves trapped on a deserted island along with a couple hundred giant killer shrews during a hurricane.

Bluntly: Cheap and silly sci-fi fun 1950’s style.

Overview:

Well, here we have one of those films that make watching b-movies so much fun! I’ll get to the story in a minute, but first I would like to make a couple of comments about the cast and crew. The two male leads in this flick, James Best and Ken Curtis, should be recognizable to cult TV show fans. Both of these actors have been in scores of films and television, but they are best known for their work on two of American television’s most popular shows. Ken Curtis played Festus Haggen on Gunsmoke and James Best was Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard. Okay, I know you want to do Roscoe’s laugh. Go ahead. James Best also did some guest appearances on Gunsmoke. Swedish Miss Universe 1957 Ingrid Goude plays the daughter of Polish character actor Baruch Lumet – and you can hear the obvious difference in their accents! Finally, this film was directed by Ray Kellogg a veteran associate director and special effects man.
If I didn't have puke breath, I'd kiss you.
The flick opens with our hero Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltra…uh, I mean Thorne Sherman (tough as nails charter boat captain played by James Best) and his faithful black firstmate “Rook” Griswold (minority side-kick in a 50’s monster movie – gee, wonder what will happen to him? – played by Judge Henry Dupree) trying to outrun a hurricane and get to the island with supplies for the scientific team. When they reach the island they find three members of the scientific team waiting for them: Dr. Marlow Craigis (principal investigator – polish accent, played by Baruch Lumet), Ann Craigis (hottie daughter of Dr. Craigis – Swedish accent – holding a suitcase, played by Ingrid Goude) and Jerry Farrel (drunkard research assistant, Ann’s fiance and all around twerp, holding a shotgun, played by Ken Curtis). Dr. Craigis asks if Captain Sherman can take his daughter back to the mainland. Sherman says they can’t go anywhere until the storm blows over. When Sherman asks why Jerry has a gun, Jerry says it is for protection against…animals. They all head to the scientist’s compound, except Rook who stays behind to secure the boat. Bort! Bort! Bort!

Once at the high fenced scientific compound (complete with garden and livestock), the characters do what all characters do in 50’s monster flicks – they have cocktails. Dr. Craigis introduces Sherman to his research partner Dr. Radford Baines (geeky data obsessed workaholic played by Gordon McLendon). Dr. Craigis and Dr. Baines tell Sherman a bit about their research. They are trying to solve the coming over-population problem. Dr. Craigis has the idea that if humans were smaller, they could live longer on the same amount of resources. Dr. Baines then shows Sherman one of their test model animals – wait for it! – a shrew. He says it is a Sorex soricities – at least that is how it sounded to me. Well, I’ll give them points for the proper Genus name, but I can’t find a shrew species called soricities. I guess he just mispronounced Sorex cinereus, the masked shrew, although Sorex longirostris, the southeastern shrew would fit the setting better. Maybe they meant to imply that their test animals were a new species? Whatever, anyway moving right along…Dr. Craigis mentions that these shrews must eat three times their own body weight every day or starve to death. That comes close to the truth; shrews have such high metabolic rates that they need to eat huge amounts in order to survive. Shrews do not sleep much, if they did they would be too weak upon waking to catch more food, and so starve. Dr. Craigis says he hopes to find a way to make humans smaller without having our metabolic rate increase. To this end he has attempted to do the opposite with the shrews – make them bigger and see how it effects their metabolism. The film does not spell it out as clearly as I just have, but that is the idea.
Sorex soricities
Okay, I just want to do a quick and dirty little explanation of the relation of size and metabolic rate. Don’t worry, I’ll be as brief as possible. In general, as body mass increases metabolic rate decreases. Why? Because large animals have more interior volume than surface area. So what? Well, that means that large animals can trap heat better within their bodies and small animals get cold faster. How does this relate to metabolic rate? The main waste product of animal metabolism is heat. Get it now? If you are small and therefore get cold fast, you need to eat more and process that food faster to maintain your core body temperature than if you are large and retain heat better. Mice eat more compared to their body size and more often then elephants. This is why there are no such things as giant shrews. Shrews can’t get much bigger (they are the smallest mammals, smaller than mice) because if they did their metabolic heat would kill them. This is one of those pesky little scientific facts that screw up b-movie plots. Another one is the fact that insects depend on atmospheric pressure to force air into their bodies. Once they get so big that atmospheric pressure cannot supply them with enough air they die. So they don’t get as big as say, a cat. Needless to say they do not get so big as to threaten entire cities. Insects were larger in the past, when atmospheric pressure was higher.
Very small tree.
Anyway, Captain Sherman starts worrying about Rook, who should have made it to the compound by now. The storm is almost full strength outside so they do not go looking for him. Well, you know what happens, Rook gets chased up a tree by the giant shrews. A very small tree. Rook is a very large man. Rook shouts for help, but no one can hear him over the storm. The tree collapses and the shrews get some dinner. This is the first time we get to see the shrews, and boy-oh-boy ain’t they cute! Why they look just like dogs with shaggy coats on and big old fake teeth! Know why they look like that? Yep!

Meanwhile back at the compound, the shrews have gotten into the livestock paddock and ate the animals. Ann tells Sherman the truth, that the experimental shrews were accidentally set free, by Jerry the dink, and there are now about 200-300 of them on the island each weighing in at 50-100 pounds! Dr. Craigis comes clean and tells Sherman that the shrews will soon run out of food and will attack and eat each other. All they have to do is wait. Sherman points out that there is another source of food on the island – people. Lab staff hard at work.

During the night a shrew gets into the kitchen through a window. Mario (Alfredo DeSoto) the latino servant traps the shrew in the basement, closes the window and secures it with STRING (!!!) and gets Sherman. Where was Jerry? Drunk on his watch, the shit. Sherman and Mario go down into the cellar with guns to kill the shrew. The shrew bites Mario on the leg. Sherman kills the shrew and tries to help Mario, but to no avail, Mario dies. Why did Mario die? The bite was not that bad. They find out that he died from poison. Yep, them shrews is poisonous too! Seems that old Doc Craigis tried to poison the shrews after they escaped, but they simply assimilated the poison into their systems! In this scene we get to see the shrew puppet they made for
close-ups. Hee, hee, hee!

Well all this has Captain Sherman mightily pissed. And being a man-of-action, he comes up with a plan. They will wait out the night, then in the early morning they will fling the dead shrew over the fence and wait about an hour. If no other shrews show up to eat the body, they will assume that the shrews are in a cannibalistic frenzy and try to get to the boat. Only one problem, there are already some shrews in the house. They dug their way into the kitchen. How did they do that? Well, you see, the house is made of adobe. That’s right, a simple adobe structure on an island in the Atlantic ocean that experiences hurricanes. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.

So, the night passes and nobody goes into the kitchen. The dead shrew does not attract any live ones, so Captain Sherman and Jerry try to make it to the boat. On the way Jerry threatens Sherman with a shotgun and tells him to stay away from Ann. You see, Ann is starting to think that a hunky sailor might be better than a drunk coward. Well, Sherman gets the gun away from Jerry and they make it to the beach. They find the skif smashed and the remains of Rook. They head back to the compound with Sherman holding the shotgun on Jerry. Sherman tells Jerry not to run, and of course, Jerry freaks and runs away when they start to hear shrews nearby. Jerry gets to the compound first and locks Sherman out! Sherman climbs over the fence just as the shrews arrive, beats up Jerry and picks him up and is about to throw him over the fence to the shrews when he sees Ann and decides to let Jerry live. Damn! That is the best scene in the movie and would have been so much better if Sherman had fed Jerry to the shrews!
Do it!
Well, they all go into the house and Ann goes to make coffee. Like all 1950’s b-movie women scientists she knows her role is to serve the men. Atta girl! When she opens the door a shrew pops out! It bites Dr. Baines on the leg before Sherman shoots it. Dr. Baines tells everyone he is okay, just ripped his pant leg, that’s all. Then he calmly sits down at the typewriter and writes out his symptoms until he falls over dead! That’s dedication folks!

Okay, so now all the survivors are trapped in the front room and court yard of the compound and shrews are digging through the walls. Sherman finds a welding torch and some steel drums and comes up with the idea of welding four drums together and using them to hide in and walk out to the boat! Everybody figures that is as good a plan as any and they set to work. As they are constructing their little tank, a shrew tries to get through a hole in the fence. Sherman burns its face off with the welding torch and Jerry boards up the hole. When the tank is finished Jerry refuses to go, he would rather stay up on the roof with the shotgun. The others wisely decide to leave without him. They make it to the beach while shrews try to get to them every step of the way. At one point, Sherman has to shoot a shrew who has forced his head under the front of the tank. Damn! Firing a hand gun while you are inside a steel drum! That had to have shattered his ear drums, but you could never tell from his reaction – what a guy! Escape

Jerry, realizing that maybe he made the wrong choice, tries to get to the beach on foot and gets ripped apart by about five shrews. Yea! He’s dead! His death scene is kind of funny as you see his legs sticking up and spasming while he screams and the shrews get their munch on. I know it does not sound funny, but you have to see it to appreciate the humor.

Captain Sherman, not bleeding from the ears, Ann and Dr. Craigis make it to the boat. Ann and Sherman kiss – The End.

Goodies:

Babeage: Ingrid Goude was Miss Universe 1957 and is a lovely little blond thang. She can’t act, though, and since this is a 50’s flick, we only get a peek at the tiniest bit of cleavage.

Sleazeploitation: None. Too early, sleaze really came into its own in the 60’s.

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: The shrews! Great Googly Moogly the shrews! Dogs in costume for long shots and puppets for close-ups. Many people have ragged on the use of dogs in this film, but to be fair, for a low budget 50’s sci-fi flick, they work okay. Much better than the Tobanga in From Hell it Came. Oh, yeah, and Jerry. What a low-life prick.

Violence: Fist fights, shrews get shot, people get eaten by the shrews (never shown) and of course the great welding torch scene. Pretty comic bookish.

Gore and FX: No gore to speak of. A little bit of fake blood. The only FX are the previously mentioned shrews.

Great Lines:

Completely unnecessary opening narration: “There were reports of a new species – the giant killer shrew!”

Dr. Craigis: “If we were half as big as we are now, we could live twice as long on our natural resources.” Remember, if you enjoyed watching this movie just half as much as we enjoyed making it, then we’ve enjoyed it twice as much as you!

Thorne Sherman: “Now look, I don’t ask questions cause it’s against my principles.” Huh?

Ann: “The wind has a lonesome sound, doesn’t it?”

Jerry: “Imagine an intelligent girl like her going for a common sea tramp like him!”

Thorne Sherman: “Doctor, that’s not the animal you showed me! That’s a monster!”
Dr. Craigis: “As I said, they are mutants.” He shrugs.

Ann, referring to zoology: “If we ever get off this island, I’ll never have anything to do with it again! I’ll live normally, like normal women do!” That’s right honey, dames ain’t cut out for science. Uh…normal women?

Thorne Sherman: “I’ll take a dull alive woman every time.” I’m more the gregarious dead woman kind of guy, myself.

Dr. Baines: “It [the poison] remained within the salivary glands of their jaws! Isn’t that wonderful? Oh, I am sorry. Of course, I always speak from the clinical point of view.”

Moral: Sometimes it is better not to be shrewd.

Conclusion:

I have one little bit of nitpicking about The Killer Shrews. We know that the people in the compound have a few guns and some ammo. We know that they have crates and barrels that they can stand on to look over the fence. We know that the shrews come right up to the fence. So…why don’t they just shoot the damn things from behind the fence!!!

I remember when I first saw this flick. It was at 2:00 am on a Friday night in the late 70’s or early 80’s. They showed it on 8 All Night. Anybody else remember that show?

The Killer Shrews is a great little cheapie of a sci-fi flick! It’s fun, fast paced, and you get to see two great character actors in one of their early embarrassing works. Plus at 69 minutes, you get lots of b-movie bang for your time investment. If you see this movie playing on TV watch it! Or if you can get it cheap – my copy was $1 and included another flick – grab it. Lots of fun.

One last thing, The Killer Shrews was the second film produced by Hollywood Pictures Corporation. Hollywood Pictures Corporation was founded by Ken Curtis, Gorden McLendon, Ray Kellogg and Jay Simms. Their first film was The Giant Gila Monster, which I will review for your pleasure in a future post.

Oh yeah, hover over the pics to see the captions.

It’s March! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Well, I was rootin’ around my brew cellar trying to find just the right beer to enjoy with the shrews, when I saw a dark bottle sort of off in the corner. I grabbed it, and lo and behold it was a Christmas gift I had forgotten about! Shame on me!

Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout

Ridgeway Brewing, Oxfordshire, UK.

Many breweries put out special beers for the holidays. These usually have some spice added or are richer, more robust versions of their regular beers. Stouts and porters are popular winter beers so it is no surprise that there are many Christmas versions. The popular wisdom is that people like dry, crisp hoppy beer when the weather is warm and richer, creamy malty beers when it is cold. Whatever, I drink ’em when I feel like it, no matter what time of year.

ABV: 8.00% IBU: I would guess about 40 – 50

Color:

Very dark brown, almost black, with some deep honey / ruby highlights.

Aroma:

Soft and mild, malty, roasty, hints of chocolate and hazelnuts.

Head:

Creamy nougat colored head with the characteristic double carbonation of many stouts – large carbon dioxide bubbles moving up in the center of the glass force the small nitrogen bubbles downward along the inside surface of the glass to give you that churning effect.

Taste:

Rich, smooth, starts sweet and moves to a nice roasty, malty gentle bitterness along the sides of the tongue. The bitterness adds chocolate and hazelnut flavors along with a hint of dark roast coffee. Not suprisingly, this holiday stout is not very dry at all, but it is not as creamy as other standard stouts I have had. Hop flavors are well hidden.

Recommendation:

Lump of Coal Dark holiday Stout is very nice. It surprised me by not being a big creamy foamy stout. It is nice and smooth and has some subtle flavors. This would be great with Christmas cookies or Pfefferkuchen. Of course any stout goes well with chocolate cake or cheesecake. The bottle says that this beer is “Much more than you deserve for Xmas this year.” I would not go that far. Recommended.

Well, that’s all for now friends and neighbors. I got to go see if I can calm down Ida Sue. The other folks at the trailer park said that we were too loud last Saturday night. Wussies!

-BigRuta