Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just who are these hungry Kappas?

Believe it or not, but I do occasionally get asked what's up with naming my production company "Starving Kappa Pictures." While I'm far from a fratboy, many people assume it has something to do with a fraternity I must have attended (and been unceremoniously expelled from). Truthfully, any friend of mine would be wise to realize that if I named my production company after a frat I didn't attend, it would be "Delta Tau Chi" or "Tri-Lamb Productions."

No, the real story behind my production company is far geekier (but a little less gay) than a bunch of drunk dudes sharing a communal bathroom, giving man-hugs, and slapping each other on the ass. That IS what happens in frats, right?

The Kappa is a ghoulish little Yokai (creature from Japanese mythology) who has a scaly, ape-like body encased in a turtle's shell and a pool of water vital to its survival sitting atop its beaked head. Amazingly smart, they supposedly taught humans how to set bones and have perfect etiquette, even though bowing will cause the water atop their head to spill out, grievously weakening - and sometimes even killing - the little guys.
A sign in Japan actually warning young swimmers about the dangers of Kappas.

But here's where it gets good. The Kappa also has one other quirk. Its favorite food is human innards - and since Kappas live underwater, the easiest way to grab a quick snack is by swimming up underneath a wary victim, attaching its mouth to their anus, and sucking out their guts.

Yes, their guts. Through their anus.
An instructional 1881 woodcut, explaining that a well-aimed fart will repel a hungry Kappa. Seriously.

And while Kappas adore this particular intestinal indulgence, there's one food they love even more: the cucumber. For this reason, people in ancient Japan would oftentimes swim with a cucumber attached to their belt - or throw one in (with their name written on it, no less!) before entering the water. This also explains why those tasty cucumber rolls you order at your local sushi place are called Kappa-maki. Really.
Kappa-maki. Made with cucumber, not anus.

So, always rooting for the underdog, my production company pays tribute to all of the starving Kappas out there who sadly can't find a single butt to suck. My heart goes out to you, guys. Good luck on your hungry little journeys.

And look on the bright side, in America, all we've got is Bigfoot. And he doesn't eat ass.

Monday, October 12, 2009

All Your Horror Are Belong To Us.

Hello there, I'm a typical thirteen-year-old horror fan. I was born in 1996, the same year that Scream, From Dusk Till Dawn, and The Frighteners came out in theaters. They are all what I call "really old."

You might think I'm a bit young to be watching horror movies, but I'm guessing you were around my age when you first started down this slippery, red slope. Sadly, you had to watch everything on video when you were thirteen. Thank God DVD was invented the year before I was born, and VHS was all but obsolete by the time I was old enough to walk. No having to "adjust the tracking", whatever that shit means, for this kid.

My dad was born in 1974. When he was a kid, his favorite movies were the old Halloween, the old Friday the 13th, and the super old Texas Chainsaw Massacre - which, incidentally, came out the same year he did. Apparently there were six Halloweens, nine Friday the 13ths, and three Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequels released before I was born. Not surprisingly, none of them scare me. Because they are really fucking old... like my dad.

My old dad is totally determined to scare me with his old movies. One time, he made me watch The Evil Dead, which came out fifteen years before I was born. After I pissed him off by laughing Evil Dead off the screen, I made my dad watch 1959's The Killer Shrews to prove that horror movies made 15 years before you're born are always big piles of un-scary shit.

Even though he is old, my dad and I actually do have a lot in common. My favorite movies are the better versions of Halloween, Friday the 13th, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Thanks to the storytelling skills of Rob Zombie (who, I guess, was in a band way before I was born), I expect a real slasher film to have a death at least every 90 seconds. No more of this "waiting around" suspense crap. Blood equals horror. Oh yeah, and his Halloween has a lot of swearing, which I also love. Ass. Shit.

It also has a bunch of wrinkly old actors in it that my dad gives $20 to at conventions and poses me in front of while I pretend to know who the crap they are. But its cool because there are like a billion deaths in Rob Zombie's Halloween. Oh yeah, and all the songs in it are oldies by a band called Rush and a lady named Alice Cooper.

My dad tried to make me watch the old Friday the 13th once, but I got really bored and started twittering my disdain. They spend almost 30 minutes introducing people and giving them names and stories before they started killing them. Jesus. Who has time for that?! Rob Zombie could have stabbed 25 naked girls in the face in that amount of time.

Kevin Bacon is in it, who I believe is now a senator, and like a year into the movie, a hitchhiker gets her throat cut. Unfortunately, dad then made the mistake of telling me there was no hockey mask until the third movie, so I immediately freaked out and put in the remake.

Now there's a goddamn movie. I'm told that in the old Friday the 13th, you have to wait for the whole movie to see the old lady's head get chopped off. In the new one, it happens in 45 seconds. Look how much time that saves! Oh yeah, in MY Friday the 13th there's a bunch of boobs, a giant field of pot, and a black kid who wants to be a rapper. Now that's a movie I can relate to. All 13-year-olds love boobs, weed, and rapping.

Oh yeah, and in MY Texas Chainsaw Massacre (by the guy who made Transformers 2!), Leatherface isn't a fatty. Dad says big fat killers are scarier than bodybuilders, but maybe he says that because he's fat and wants to feel like a badass.

Also, everyone in MY versions of YOUR movies is hot.

Seriously, I just want all you old people to leave me alone, let me watch good movies, and quit giving me shit about them. I don't forbid you from liking Hellraiser - and that movie's so old, I think Lincoln was watching it when he was shot.

The bottom line is this, geezers: my friends and I control horror movies now, so you better get used to the awesome stuff that they're making for us.

Oh yeah, what's A Nightmare on Elm Street about? Is that the one with Freddy? My dumbass dad made fun of me because I dressed up like Freddy for Halloween last year and he said I knew absolutely nothing about him. Well dad, you were wrong. I know Freddy is burned or deformed and has really long fingers. What else do I need to know? Its not like the dude's a goddamn child molester.

Here's an idea, pops. Why don't you test your pacemaker by watching Night of the Living Dead or something else from the 1800s and leave me alone?

...Oh, but before you go, can I have twelve bucks for Halloween II? I hear its totally freakin' sweet, and that the next one's gonna be in 3-D.

Kids my age would watch Nazi propaganda films if they were in 3-D.

Ass. Shit.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fantastic indeed.

Fantastic Fest was far more fantastic than I could have imagined, and I've now got another event that I'm going to have to attend every year until I die. The people who put on this show are some of the nicest most down-to-Earth folks on the planet, and their show is absolutely top-notch.

I spent the majority of the weekend with my good buddy (and New York Asian Film Fest honcho) Marc Walkow, ROBOGEISHA director Noboru Iguchi, FRANKENSTEIN GIRL director Yoshihiro Nishimura, MACHINE GIRL starlet Asami, and awesome-at-just-about-anything Cay Izumi.

Thrown into the mix were a bunch of other great friends, both old and new. If you helped make my time in Austin better, then you're very gratefully included in this general thank you. I had two of the best days... well, ever.

There were movies galore, massive alcohol consumption, pole dancing, karaoke, Australians serving Jamaican beer to Japanese, swords, a goth club, and the latest night I've had in over a decade (I passed out at... wait for it - 8AM).

For limited photos, check out my Facebook album here. If you can read Japanese, check out Iguchi's wrap-up (which includes a photo of me and N) here. And if you're not interested in either, here's

In between chugging Japanese alcohol from coffee pots, I managed to catch screenings of CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT and SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD.

While I expected CIRQUE to be tween-ish, sitting in the theater waiting for it to start felt like a Jonas Brothers concert. The plot has to do with a dreamy teenager who becomes a vampire to save his dreamy friend's life. Then his dreamy friend becomes evil and dreamy #1 has to team up with other G-rated freaks to stop him.

The film was weak, and dreamies #1 and #2 were even weaker. Sadly, the film's stellar supporting cast - who should have been able to save the flick from mediocrity - was extremely underused. Orlando Jones, Jane Krakowski, and Kristen Schaal - three amazingly talented, very funny individuals - probably share a total of 15 lines between them over the course of the entire film. Lame.

Also sadly - and surprisingly - underwhelming were Willem Dafoe (made up to resemble Vincent Price) and the usually stunning Ken Watanabe (who was apparently made up to resemble Sloth from THE GOONIES). The only real high points in the cast came with John C. Reilly and Salma Hayek, who always hit their marks and seemed to have a blast with the material.

Thankfully, the film is pseudo-saved by the special effects work, which is so good, its almost worth the price of admission. For horror fans with kids, check it out. Its Nickelodeon's version of TRUE BLOOD. For folks like myself... wait until it hits cable and Discovery isn't airing any good episodes of MYTHBUSTERS at the same time.

As for Romero's already-controversial SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD: I liked it. Its very different than DIARY and is lacking Georgie's usual political and social commentary. After LAND, he started a new mythos, and I think fans should step back and see where he takes us with it.

The acting is uniformly solid and the effects are fun - even with a touch too much CG. The plot has the dickish military dude from DIARY finding his way to an island off the coast of Delaware where two long-bickering families are duking it out over whether or not zombies should be mercifully put down or left to wander.

To add up the absurdity: we've got a team of soldiers (including a woman who is a chronic masturbator), island-dwelling Irish Hatfields and McCoys (oh, did I forget to mention they're all inexplicably Irish?), a random truck full of money, and... well, a few surprises that should really be seen to believed.

I say this film is "good" because, all insanity aside, Romero keeps things extremely fun for about 60% of the film. Sadly, the middle of the flick really drags and is filled with way too much exposition. Right when I was on the edge of my seat, he slammed on the brakes for a good half hour... but the beginning and end (especially the kickass final shot) do make up for it.

Apparently, Romero's plan is do several more of these spinoff stories involving minor characters from DIARY. Personally, I'm all for it. Let's see where these go.

And now, with all that behind me, I'm back in New York. I'm overjoyed to be with my wife, family, and friends... but I'm missing The Alamo Drafthouse a hell of a lot more than I expected to.

If you EVER have the opportunity to hit up this amazing festival, do it. It more than lives up to the hype (and name). I just wish I had another four or five days to soak up all of its awesomeness.

Ah well, I guess that's what next year is for.