Monster Hunter Nation

Review of Frostbitten

Over the weekend I got to catch a couple of monster movies.  The one that stood out was Frostbitten, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454457/, a dandy little vampire flick from Sweden.   Yes, Sweden, which means that A.  It is subtitled, B. Everything looks vaguely like it came from Ikea. 

The movie revolves around a doctor with a stash of red pills that turn the user into vampires.  And apparently it is totally cool amongst Scandinavian teenagers to take random unknown drugs to see what happens.  (must be from the socialized medicine).   They pills get passed around at a party, and hilarity ensues.   

Monster movie fans should catch this one.  There are some good performances as various people turn into vampires, talking dogs, and assault and battery with garden gnomes.  Which leads to my favorite lines of the whole flick, “Quit hitting me with gnomes!” 

It drags in places, and nothing really resolves, but I’ll recommend anything where somebody eats a poodle, bonus points if it is still on the owner’s leash. 

Video Games

Holy moly, no posts for a couple of days.  I’ve been a bit distracted, what with all of the explosions and killing.   Halo 3 is really fun.  I have to say that I’m really impressed.

Visually, it is so impressive that sometimes you find yourself stopping, just to admire the scenery.   Then something usually comes up and clubs your brains out, but that is beside the point.

Next I’m eagerly awaiting Mass Effect.  It is from the same people that made the best role playing video games ever, Knights of the Old Republic and Baldur’s Gate.  Figure that when that one comes out, just write me off for a couple of weeks.  I’ll be in my basement, growing a beard, squinting at the TV, and living off of Ho-Hos until I win it or die from lack of vitamin D. 

The dumbest thing I've ever done with a gun

So last night, I finish teaching a CCW class, and get home around 9:30 at night.  My wife, who must really love me, surprised me with Halo 3.  Now I love video games.  I enjoyed Halo 1 & 2 immensely, and since I’m a sucker for hype, I was really excited for the final chapter.  This was a great surprise.

One problem, the batteries were dead in my X-Box controller, and I couldn’t seem to find any double As anywhere in the house.  (D, N, 123, A, but none of those darn AA) So I decided to run down to the local store.  Now keep in mind, if I’m outside of my house, I’m always armed.  Since I had already gotten comfy, and had put on a t-shirt and a pair of sweats, my usual methods of carrying wouldn’t work.

Normally I carry on the belt, or on a bellyband that fits under loose clothing.  I was too lazy to change, and figured it would only take a minute.  Now some people would go out unarmed, but I’m a man of principle.  Snort… Nah, seriously, I’m just one of the most unlucky people I’ve ever met, and that means that the very first time I go out unarmed, I’m going to blunder into the finale of Heat. 

So I borrowed one of my wife’s concealed carry rigs.  She sometimes uses a fanny pack with a Makarov in it.  The fanny pack is a fashion no-no, but Master Chief is waiting for me to save the earth from the evil forces of the Covenant, so there was no time for pants.  I lengthened out the straps, (a lot), strapped on the pack, and ran out the door. 

I made it to the store, walked inside, in a hurry, thoughts of Halo dancing in my little brain, asked a sales person to point me toward the batteries, and then…

CLANK

I look down, and see a Bulgarian Makarov sitting there on the white linoleum floor of my local grocery store. 

See, this is my wife’s rig.  I don’t normally use a fanny pack since on a big, normally fully-dressed man that looks kind of like a young Tony Soprano, it just screams I HAVE A GUN, SHOOT ME FIRST.  In seven years of carrying a gun every day, I had never dropped one. 

See, my wife unzips the fanny pack when she gets done using it.  She leaves it open inside the safe, and she is in the habit of doing a chamber check, and zipping it shut when she leaves the house.  I didn’t even think that the pack might be unzipped.  And while in a hurry, it looked closed, since she zips it across the top, and shoves her hand in through the side.  The side was open, and that evil little gun just waited until it had witnesses before jumping out, while screaming “Hey World!  Look at me!” with a Bulgarian accent.

So back to our adventure.  I scoop up the gun, and shove it back into the pack.  The clerk looks at me, having seen the gun, and says “What was that?”

Being really clever, I answer, “I dropped my gun.” 

His response?  “Oh, that kind of thing happens.  I’ve got a .380 on right now…  Batteries are over here.”

God bless Utah.

I felt like such an idiot.  What a horrible, ignorant, newbie mistake.  The fact that I had just gotten done teaching 25 strangers how to legally carry a gun was painfully ironic. 

Moral of the story?  Never assume.  Know your gear, especially when you borrow your wife’s stuff.   No matter how cool Halo 3 is in HD with surround sound, you still need to pay attention to real life.  And most importantly, be friendly to your local grocery store staff.

 

Teaching CCW for free for students, teachers, & military

I’ve got a class scheduled tonight at the Cabelas in Lehi, Utah.  I haven’t talked much about CCW related stuff on this blog yet. 

One thing that I would like to get out there is that I teach a lot of folks for free.  I will teach the class for free to anyone who is a student, faculty, or staff at any Utah school.  I don’t care if you’re the janitor.  Bring some ID that proves you work in a school, or attend a Utah college, and your class is free. 

Also, anyone that is currently in the military, whether active duty, reserve, or guard, the class is free for you too.

Here is my reasoning.  For the military, that is just personal.  You guys work your butts off to protect the rest of us.  You’re usually underpaid, overworked, underappreciated, and have the pleasure of deploying for really long stretches of time to very sucky places filled with angry scumbags that want to blow you up.  This is one way FBMG can say thanks.  Besides, with all of the actual experience our military has now, that is exactly who I want carrying concealed weapons in public. 

As for students and school staff, anyone reading this from outside of Utah needs to realize that we’re actually allowed to have guns in school here.  Damn right. 

It was a battle to get CCW recognized in school, and even once it was recognized as legal, the University of Utah sued the state, saying that their “academic freedom” gave them the right to ban guns.  So we went to war.  Finally, the UofU got their collective asses handed to them, and they had to back off.  I was involved in that fight, and was one of the CCW instructors that got to testify in the senate against the U.  I don’t want to give the impression that I did much, I was just one of a great many.  And Utah has some awesome pro-gun activists. 

The timing for this was interesting, because the last hearing was the day after the Trolley Square shootings, one of the worst mass murders in this state’s history.  I was the instructor that volunteered to talk about mass public shootings.  I told the senators that if we banned guns on campus, then it was a matter of time before another mass killing occurred. 

The ban bill passed the committee.  (we already knew it would, that’s politics) But we built up such a huge swell of public outcry that the legislature shot the thing down.  The people won.  The academics lost. 

Sometime passed, all the predictions of students doing stupid stuff with guns turned out to be just as false as usual.  Then came Virginia Tech…  That very same morning the anti-gun imbeciles at the U were grousing around about how they needed to reexamine their ban on guns, and how they needed to bring the ban back. 

Well screw that.  Not in my state.  We immediately announced we would be teaching students for free.  Not only that, we immediately spent a big chunk of our own money advertising in campus newspapers that we were offering free firearms instruction. 

So I teach students and teachers for free for two reasons.  First, I want more guns in school.  In most states, schools are a giant hunting preserve for psychos.   Second, I want to get more people with “skin in the game”.  The more people I can get carrying in school, the harder it will be for the panic-stricken, ivory-tower, hand-wringing, bed-wetting, anti-gun academics to ban them again. 

Plus it makes me feel like I’m giving my finger to authority, which makes me feel kind of cool. 

Since I started doing this, I’ve taught a ton of people.  I don’t have any actual stats, but I’m going to guess that I’m probably one of the busiest instructors in the state.  I’ve taught a shocking number of students at this point, and it brings me a tiny bit of joy to know that I must be pissing off some Liberal Arts and Classical Basket-Weaving Professor somewhere. 

I teach at FBMG and Cabelas.  If anyone reading this is in one of the above groups, or knows anyone in one of the above groups, send them my way, and I’ll get them taken care of. 

Correia's Top 5 Werewolf Movies

In the pantheon of monster movies, the big three are vampires, zombies, and werewolves.  Today I’ll talk about the hairy ones, and hit the undead next time.  There are a lot more to choose from on zombies and vampires on the shelves, primarily because it is a lot tougher to do decent special effects.  Some hamburger and fake fangs, and you’ve got vamps or zombies.  Werewolves take work. 

Now, the original,  The Wolf Man http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034398/  isn’t on the list.  Primarily because that was the beginning of the genre.  Hell, the rules that define most of the others come from this movie.  It is, no pun intended, the Big Dog.  If you haven’t seen this movie, and you’re one of those folks who think, but it’s OLD, just trust me and watch it.   Sure, it comes from the days before pretty colors, and directors that are MTV refugees, (Quick cut!  Quick cut!  Motion sickness!  AAAHHH!)  just trust me and check this out. 

5. Big Bad Wolf http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0488962/ Squeaking into the top 5 is a relative new comer.  I watched it recently, and loved it.  It starts out with a setup that leads you to believe it is going to be another bunch of college-kids-trapped-in-a-cabin-with-a-monster-outside movie.  But nope, then it turns into something else entirely.

The werewolf costume was borderline old school.  Yes, he is even wearing pants!  But despite the Guy In A Suit monster, this werewolf is extremely entertaining.  Major bonus points because A.  He talks, and B. He’s psychotic.  He takes his werewolfing old school, like medieval witch burning old school, in that he doesn’t just turn into an animal that wants to eat you, he’s going to rape and pillage first, because he’s just plain bad. 

The characters start out as stereotypical cut outs, and because of a couple of really good performances, turn into real people you can root for.  It ends in a way that leaves it open for a sequel.   So fingers crossed, we need more original stuff like this.

4.  Ginger Snaps http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0210070/   Now this one isn’t fair, in that you can’t just watch one movie, but you have to watch all three to get the whole picture.  Think of them as a werewolf/coming of age/chick flick.  The appearance of actual monsters is kept to a minimum until the 3rd movie, which somehow takes the main characters from the first movies set in the present, and travels back in time to the 1800s, and then it is werewolf o’rama.  No, it doesn’t make a lot of sense in that respect, but it is still awesome. 

The acting is excellent.  The characters are weird.  And best of all, if you significant other says, “Oh no, not another stupid monster movie.”  You can, while keeping a straight face, reply “No, this one is actually a drama about a young girl facing the struggles of growing up in Canada.  Look, it has angst!” 

3.  American Werewolf in London http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082010/   Now a lot of monster movie fans probably have this as their number one, no real disagreement there.  The only reason this doesn’t rank higher for me is because I find most of the movie kind of dull.  Honestly, if you’ve got this on DVD, how many times have you gone back and watched the whole thing?  No, you skip ahead to the single greatest transformation scene in the history of movies.  That scene is movie gold.  It is painful and visceral. 

No wimpy CGI there.  Just latex and suffering.  This move set the gold standard for transformations, and nobody else has come close.  Keep in mind that this is from 1981, and that makes it even more impressive.  I was probably 10 years old when I first saw this, and I’ve been screwed up ever since.

2.  The Howling http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082533/ Also from 1981, this is the other great 80’s werewolf movie.  Now I’m talking about the original, not the huge number of bad sequels, though honestly I have watched every single one of those, and they do have a few good points.  (Come on, Marsupial werewolves, you know you want to watch #3). 

But the original was something different.  It starts off gritty and trashy, with serial killers in the red light district, and just goes on from there.  If American Werewolf in London is the icon, this is its seedy cousin. 

This movie also has the 2nd greatest non-CGI werewolf transformation ever.  Man, 1981 was a great year, though I don’t really remember it, because I was only 6. 

1.  Dog Soldiers http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0280609/   Bring on the English for the win. 

Dog Soldiers is the story of a group of British soldiers on a training exercise deep in a Scottish forest.  In reality, they’re bait.  An SAS group is trying to capture a werewolf.  However there is actually a family of werewolves, and the SAS gets eaten instead.  Then it just gets better from there.

It is non-stop carnage and chaos.  And these aren’t the effeminate Hugh Grant English.  These are the squaddies and soccer hooligans.  The main character went on to play Lucius Vorenus in Rome, (which is probably one of the best TV shows ever made, I AM A SON OF HADES!).  In most movies, people scream, and run, and get eaten.  In Dog Soldiers, it is on like Donkey Kong.  They may run, but it is while leap-frogging from cover to cover, laying down a constant stream of fire. 

Even at the very end, they go hands on in one of the most entertaining action sequences I’ve ever seen in a monster movie, bar none.  Everything is a weapon.  If you don’t have a door, make your own, and when all else fails, punch them in the face.

The werewolves are some of my favorites.  They’re tall, skinny, and creepy, and when you see one, there will usually be impossible amounts of blood and guts strewn around in a matter of seconds. 

Honorable mention:  For a well-rounded monster movie education, you also need to watch Silver Bullet (even though you know how most Stephen King movies turn out), Bad Moon (Lassie vs. the Werewolf!), and all of the Paul Naschy super-campy Spanish werewolf movies.  I’m not usually a big fan of movies with actual budgets, but Underworld had some cool werewolves, and they’re probably the least offensive CGI werewolves I’ve seen.

 Bad Werewolf movies:  First and foremost, Wes Craven’s Cursed.  For a year leading up to that movie, I was eagerly awaiting what was possibly going to be an actual big budget, really cool, werewolf movie.  NAY!  It wasn’t meant to be.  Cursed sucked.  I could make a joke about how the things that were cursed were the script, but that would be too easy.  Twenty plus years after American Werewolf and advances in fx technology, an actual budget, and I’ve seen better transformation scenes in videogames.    

Does it make you a bad person to actually root for all of the main characters in a movie to die, so that it could just end?   He tried to make a hairier version of Scream, and it just failed miserably.

And this one is probably going to earn me some hate mail, but Company of Wolves sucks.  Yes, I know it has a huge internet following, but why?  It is this disjointed, pieced together, little stories, staring (I kid you not) Angela Lansbury, that is some sort of metaphor for adolescent sexuality.  And I know you’ve never really thought of the lady from Murder She Wrote and sexuality in the same sentence before.  That’s okay, you still probably shouldn’t.

Company of Wolves is painfully boring.  The fans of this movie talk about how it is “like a dream come to life”.  Yeah, that’s the feeling I get if I take too much Sudafed.  I totally understand.