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IN 1934, Alexander Wiederseder recorded this architect’s nightmare on the area surrounding Los Angeles.
That dog looks like a French bulldog.
BY THE 1980s, the Baby Boomers, who had enjoyed the Sexual Revolution as trim youth, suddenly found themselves with a little extra weight as they entered their thirties. The alarm was sounded, and what followed can only be described as a cocaine-fueled mania. One manifestation of this fitness assault was an aerobics explosion. I don’t think anyone really knew what they were doing, but they looked wonderfully insane doing it.
Of course, this whole maniacal phenomenon would’ve never gotten off the ground were it not for the necessary endorsement from celebs. Jane Fonda made a mint off her workout video, but other famous names were only too quick to jump on the new trend.
THREE Israeli teenagers have been kidnapped by Islamists.
Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach were hitchhiking their way home when they vanished.
Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner makes a statement:
“As long as our boys remain abducted, Hamas will feel pursued, paralysed and threatened. We are committed to resolving the kidnapping and debilitating Hamas terrorist capacities, its infrastructure and its recruiting institutions.”
ADD this to the list of things that give Daily Mail readers cancer:
FACES of the week: Bridget Mulread (left) and Mona Venables, residents of Curragh Lawn nursing home in Kildare were treated to a world cup party and BBQ on Tuesday June 17, 2014. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
TO Port Charlotte, Florida, where Kayla R. Oxenham, 23, used a hot stick to brand her 5-year-old and 7-year-old children. She did this because to better identify the children as being hers.
Oxenham, who says she loves fire (note that her head resembles a match), works as a medical assistant.
“YOU are to have absolutely no contact with the alleged victim,” says Judge Mary Jane McCalla Knisely to Bonnie Lynne White, a 35-year-old woman accused of sexually molesting a boy in Billings, Montana. “I’m going to add the additional condition that there is no contact with anyone under the age of 18.”
The age of consent in Montana is 18.
The boy, who first encountered White when he was 10, says she “pushed him onto a bed, pulled off his clothes and fondled him”. He claims White threatened to hurt him and his family if he told anyone. There are further allegations that she assaulted him and other children.
White has yet to face trial.
But in the meantime, we’re invited to look at her mug shots.
‘The Same Animals…Only Functioning Less Perfectly:’ The Five Most Underrated George A. Romero Movies
GEORGE Romero’s impressive movie-making career stretches back to the Pittsburgh area in the late 1960s and spans over forty years.
Like many horror filmmakers of his generation, Romero has seen his share of big successes, like Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Creepshow (1982), critical darlings like Martin (1976), cult classics such as The Crazies (1973) and the occasional out-right bomb, like Diary of the Dead (2007).
But several of Romero’s finer films didn’t meet with financial or critical success, and deserve to have further light shone on them. Accordingly, my selections for the most underrated of his feature films are listed below.
Hungry Wives (1971)
George Romero’s self-described “feminist” horror movie, also known as Jack’s Wife and Season of the Witch, involves a bored suburban house-wife, Joan Mitchell (Jan White) who is only able to define herself in terms of her place in the suburbs as a married woman and a home-maker.
In an attempt to rebel against her “accepted” role in society, Joan delves into witchcraft and then adultery, but the movie’s crafty point is, commendably, that witchcraft is no more defining or self-actualizing for Joan than being a house-wife had been. She has merely changed her demographic affiliation or club, while everything else in her life remains the same
Hungry Wives is so powerfully-wrought because George Romero serves as both editor and director, and his editing flights-of-fancy make the movie’s point plain in terms of visualizations. Early on, for instance, Joan experiences a telling dream in which her husband leads her around on a leash, like a dog. One of the film’s final images reveals Joan involved in a coven ritual, a red rope looped about her neck, and the symbolism is plain: she has merely traded one trap for another. This visual counterpoint is underlined by the counsel of Joan’s therapist, who advises her that she is imprisoning herself, and must change that pattern if she hopes to make her life better.
Day of the Dead (1985)
Before 2007 at least, Day of the Dead (1985) was the least-appreciated of the famous Romero living Dead cycle. This lack of approbation was a result, in part,of the film’s overtly and relentlessly serious tone. For all its mayhem and violence, Dawn of the Dead — set at a shopping mall — also had a fun or jaunty side to it. But Day of the Dead proved a totally different animal: a solemn and extremely gory exploration of mankind’s last chapter as the dominant species on Earth.
Rather unconventionally, the movie ends with a committed and likable protagonist, Sarah (Lori Cardille) realizing it is all over but the crying, and essentially giving up the fight so as to live her last years (and the last years of humanity…) on a nice island beach somewhere with two decadent helicopter pilots.
But importantly, Day of the Dead also moves the cycle forward in significant fashion via its introduction of Bub (Howard Sherman), a zombie who has been domesticated, after a fashion, and reveals both rudimentary memory, and rudimentary humanity.
In fact, this lovable zombie shows more humanity than the film’s brutal military leader, Rhodes (Joe Pilato), and thereby suggests that the change in the social order might not be all that bad, if the zombies continue to evolve towards something…civilized.
Finally, Day of the Dead features an epic and awe-inspiring opening,:a view of a city in Florida completely overrun by the living dead. This moment is arguably the biggest in scope of the entire dead run, and establishes brilliantly the zombies’ numerical advantage. As this shot reveals, Day of the Dead is actually the Twilight of Man.
Monkey Shines (1988)
I still remember discussing this Romero horror film at length with visiting movie critic Molly Haskell at the University of Richmond in the late 1980s. We agreed that the critical community had virtually ignored what was a very powerful and very relevant film about human nature.
Monkey Shines involves a man, Allan (Jason Beghe) who is paralyzed in an accident and becomes a quadriplegic. As such, he is provided by his scientist friend (John Pankow) a capuchin monkey named Ella to act as his arms and legs. Before long, Ella and Allan form a close bond of friendship and dependence…but then each begins acting on each other’s emotional states and desires. Soon bloody murder is being committed…but is it at Ellas behest, or Allan’s?
Monkey Shines informs audiences that the “devil” is “animal instinct,” which acts by its “own set of laws,” and then asks the pertinent question: are we that different from the lower animals we treat as pets? Are we truly evolved, or — underneath the surface — are we just as violent and capricious as cousins in the jungle?
The scenes involving Ella in Monkey Shines are convincing and powerful, save for a few moments where an inert stand-in is clearly utilized, and the film’s debate about instinct (an avatar for the human subconscious in some critical way…) makes the film stand out in an era when rubber reality and slasher movies reigned supreme.
The Dark Half (1993)
Here’s a Stephen King adaptation that almost nobody loves, or even remembers. In The Dark Half (1993) Timothy Hutton plays Thad Beaumont, a writer grappling with his famous nom du plum, George Stark. When Beaumont elects to kill his famous literary name, however, the alter ego comes to life and threatens the writer and his entire family.
A deliberate and modernJekyll-Hyde story, The Dark Half is part of an early 1990s “meta” or post-modern movement in horror. Films such as Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) and John Carpenter’s In The Mouth of Madness (1994) gazed at worlds in which the line between fiction and reality were blurred. The Dark Half treads meaningfully in similar territory, and gazes at the act of writing as literally a physical birth, as an independent creation that – much like a human child – can no longer be fully controlled by its creator.
There’s nothing flashy or expensive about The Dark Half, and the ending is a bit of a bust, but otherwise Romero crafts a thoughtful, low-key horror film that possesses some electric jolts. One early scene, set in an operating room is downright terrifying, and another — with a woman broaching an invader in her dark apartment — also gets the blood flowing.
More than anything, however, The Dark Half explores the idea that the creative act of writing represents a violent assertion of will. “The only way to do it is to do it,” one character notes, and this same determination indeed is what wills the Dark George Stark into the world.
Survival of the Dead (2009)
Survival of the Dead is yet another Romero living dead movie, and another seriously underrated work of art. Since the very beginning of his career in 1968, director Romero has used his zombie saga to explore political and social issues of the time.
For example, Night of the Living Dead speaks to the political violence and upheaval of 1968, and to race relations in America. Dawn of the Dead very much concerns conspicuous consumption and the “Crisis in Confidence” Carter Age. And Land of the Dead (2005) explores post 9/11 territory.
Similarly, Survival of the Dead is a thoughtful, point-for-point allegory for American involvement in the Iraq War. Unfortunately, horror movie fans were too busy complaining about CGI blood effects to notice the movie’s clever thematic framework.
In short, Survival of the Dead involves a refugee, O’Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) — the fictional equivalent of Ahmed Chalabi — who tricks American armed forces into fighting his war for him, and ousting his enemy, Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) — a Saddam Hussein figure – from the land that he would like to lead, paradise-like Plum Island.
Obligingly the National Guard moves in — guns blazing — only to find that matters aren’t so straight-forward. The soldiers have become involved in a pissing match that, ultimately, doesn’t concern them or their well-being.
The film features an Old West sort of milieu on Plum Island, with rivals O’Flynn and Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) wearing cowboy hats and riding horses while zombies (here called Dead-Heads) are trapped in the nearby corral.
Again, Romero’s thoughtful set-up makes it impossible not to think of the post-911 “dead or alive” rhetoric from the Bush White House. The film’s final imagery — which depicts cowboy zombie versions of O’Flynn and Muldoon trying to kill each other under a bright moon — makes one despair that human nature is ever going to change.
With neo-con dead-enders everywhere on cable news stations this week attempting to re-enlist America in the war in Iraq a decade later, Survival of the Dead is more relevant than ever. Accordingly, this Romero film is really about discredited zombie ideologies that have long outlived their usefulness, but which keep coming back from the dead to threaten the rest of us.
THIS record is proof of a glitch in the Matrix. Life is an illusion, a computer simulation, created by aliens to harness our biologic energy…. it’s literally the only explanation for this record.
Apparently, in 1968 the Milton Bradley Company tried to market their new “Bump Ball” by issuing a corresponding record. The rules of the game: (1) Throw the Bump Ball into the air, then (2) you and your partner attempt to catch it between your bodies.
AMNESTY International’s new campaign features a tortured Iggy Pop saying “The future of rock is Justin Bieber”. The message is “Torture a man and he’ll tell you what you want to hear”. Also, the Dalai Lama (“A man who does not have a Rolex at 50 years of age is a failure”) and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld (“The height of elegance is the Hawaiian shirt with flip-flops.”).
NO more breast augmentation operations will be available on the NHS. At least that’s the promise, that there should be no more fittings of Bulgarian Airbags, or boob jobs, on the NHS.
Cosmetic surgery should not be paid for by the taxpayer, Jeremy Hunt said today in a clampdown on NHS spending.
The Health Secretary said he could understand public anger at high profile cases of breast enlargements, dental work and slimming treatments being offered by the health service.
Mr Hunt insisted that all decisions must be taken on ‘clinical need’ and public money must not be used to pay for surgery just to improve someone’s looks.
Of course, this doesn’t cover women getting reconstruction work after surgery for breast cancer. Or anyone at all who the doctor says is being made really miserable by not having the cosmetic surgery done. Which means that this changes absolutely nothing in fact for the NHS doesn’t do purely cosmetic surgery anyway.
FLASHBACK to 16 June 1914: German prisoners help French wounded to reach the rear lines on stretchers during the Great War, date and location unknown. (AP Photo)
WHAT did you do in the war, dad?
Russian tourists enjoy a Black Sea beach about 35 kms (22 miles) from Yalta, Crimea, Sunday, June 15, 2014. When Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea earlier this year, it regained not only harbors for its navy and abandoned Ukrainian military bases but also long stretches of pebble beaches that were the summer destination of choice for millions of Soviet citizens. The Kremlin is hoping to attract tourists to Crimea, which Russia annexed in March, by asking state-controlled companies to send their employees on free vacation trips.(AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)
JEREMY Paxman has taken his quizzical expression and sardony to pastures news. The BBC’s Newsnight will find a new bullshit wrangler.
Paxman became the best thing on Newsnight. He set its knowing, sneery tone. He’ll be missed by many.
So. Let’s see his best 8 moments:
The Michael Howard Loop
EPIC banners harks back to April 13, 2005. It’s the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg. Juventus are playing Liverpool at the Stadio Delle Alpi. The Juventus fans hold up a message.
“YOU ARE MORE THAN CAMILLA”
TRANSFER Balls looks at Arsenal and Carlos Vela:
May 19, Daily Star: “Arsenal would be STUPID not to sign me! Carlos Vela talks up potential Emirates return”
May 22, Daily Star: “I’m so much better now: Mexico striker Carlos Vela ready for Arsenal return”
CARLOS VELA reckons he is ready for a return to the Premier League after a spell with Spanish side Real Sociedad.
June 6, Daily Star: “Carlos Vela to reject Arsenal and replace Chelsea bound Diego Costa at Atletico Madrid”
The striker, who scored 11 goals in 64 appearances for the Gunners, has reportedly told friends he has received an “irrisistable” offer to join Diego Simeone’s Champions League runners-up.
Read the rest of this entry »
Hillsborough Joins The War On Free Speech And Bicholim: Chelsea Fan Sacked For Abusing Liverpool On Wikipedia
THE War on Free Speech looks at the story of the man who posted a message on Wikipedia. In “Revealed: How The Telegraph found the Hillsborough Wikipedia vandal”, the paper reports:
A civil servant in Liverpool has been fired for using government computers to post abuse about the Hillsborough disaster on the Wikipedia website following an investigation by The Telegraph. The Whitehall official used the government intranet to mock the 1989 tragedy in which 96 Liverpool fans died at Sheffield Wednesday’s football ground.
The 24-year-old idiot changed the message “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to “You’ll Never Walk Again”.
ALBANIA is not on the backpackers trail. But it soon will be. Maybe.
Last week, Albanian special forces raided the marijuana-growing village of Lazarat, south of the capital Tirana.
Gangs based in Lazarat are believed to produce about 900 metric tons of cannabis a year, worth about 4.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion) - roughly half the small Balkan country’s GDP.
So. What do the police do with such a valuable cash crop in a pretty poor country? Yeah, they burn it. What utter idiots.
THIS is a memo on British newspapers by American diplomat for King George VI’s 1939 visit to the US:
THE success rate of old television shows brought to the big screen is a sad one, to say the least. Time after time, great shows have been adapted to film with less than stellar results. Sure, there have been a few good ones, but they’re the exception, not the rule. Here are some of the tragic attempts made in the last decade or so. This list is by no means comprehensive. There are many more examples of Hollywood’s inability to get it right, but this is all I can ask of you to stomach in one sitting.
Fat Albert (2004)
I’m sure there are people who enjoyed the Fat Albert remake… but then, I’m sure there are also people who like to get peed on.
To quote Roger Ebert’s review of North (1994): “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”
The Honeymooners (2005)
Science Fact of the Day: If there exists an alternate universe composed entirely of anti-matter, then the greatest film ever made in that universe is The Honeymooners.
Get Smart (2008)
This film adaptation somehow managed to discard all the camp humor and charm while retaining every shred of stupidity. (slow clap)
The Flintstones (1994)
Charlie’s Angels (2000)
The Charlie’s Angels film adaptation bears just enough resemblance to the TV series to be insulting, but also finds new ways to be terrible in its own right. Thanks to tons of hype, it made big piles of money on its release… but as time wears on, it sinks deeper and deeper beneath the bargain bin; forever forgotten unwanted.
The Mod Squad (1999)
The Mod Squad adaptation could have been good. Just a few minor tweaks like rewriting the script from scratch and firing everyone involved is all that it would have taken to make this better.
McHale’s Navy (1997)
To paraphrase Mark Twain’s review of an Ambrose Bierce book: “For every laugh that is in this movie, there are five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit.”
The Avengers (1998)
The Avengers adaptation is a pus-filled bedsore of a film that should be avoided like an exploding bag of hepatitis. But, otherwise, it’s not too bad.
The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)
Say what you will about the original series, it was pretty funny. The film version, however, seems to be saturated in some sort of comedy-repellant.
My Favorite Martian (1999)
To quote TIME magazine’s review of the silver screen adaptation of Myra Breckinridge: This film is “about as funny as a child molester.”
Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
To compare the Dukes of Hazzard TV show to the movie is to understand the difference between lovably dumb and abrasively retarded.
I Spy (2002)
What a hot mess this was. But let’s not lose sight that there have been some damn good adaptations as well (ex. Star Trek, The Addams Family, Mission Impossible, Starsky & Hutch).
The problem is there seems to be no end to the awful adaptions. There’s Steve Martin’s horrific fail, Sgt. Bilko (1996), Will Smith’s nightmare rehash of Wild Wild West (1999), Matthew Broderick’s retarded abyss known as Inspector Gadget (1999), Tom Hanks’s foray into fecal cinema, Dragnet (1987), Disney’s steaming turd called George of the Jungle (1997), Will Farrell’s waking nightmare, Land of the Lost (2009), Johnny Depp’s public humiliation, Dark Shadows (2012) ….. you get the picture.
What happens to these film adaptations that everything that was good about the original series is sucked out? Hollywood seems to think that jettisoning the heart and soul of a TV series is okay; what matters is retaining the “brand”’. Thus, only the name and appearance stay the same. Yet, what made the originals so enduring are lost in the shuffle as these misguided film adaptations shit themselves as they fall off the cliff.
MADELEINE McCANN: The Sunday Express front page leads with the sensational headline: “I killed Maddie, you’re next.”
The story is that British woman Clara Corrigan claims that the man who stabbed her in Portugal screamed: “I killed Madeline McCann and I’m going to kill you.”
HOW England were cheated out of TWELVE World Cups.
See that lone star above the Three Lions crest?
CHRIS Carter’s landmark TV series The X-Files (1993 – 2002) proved not only a ratings blockbuster throughout the 1990s, but a cultural phenomenon too…the Star Trek of the Clinton Age, essentially. The series, which starred David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson proved so popular that its success led to movies, comic-books, toys, and even spin-offs such as The Lone Gunmen (2001). Chris Carter even had the opportunity to create another masterpiece for the era: Millennium (1996 – 1999).
But importantly, The X-Files also dramatically proved to network executives that horror and science fiction could play well on television if presented intelligently, and with a strong sense of continuity.
Accordingly, the years between 1995 and 1999 saw a veritable flood — a genuine boom — of horror-themed genre programming hit the airwaves.
These series had titles such as American Gothic (1995 – 1996), Strange Luck (1995 – 1996) , Dark Skies (1996), Kindred: The Embraced (1996), Poltergeist: The Legacy (1996 – 1999), Psi-Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1996 – 1999), The Burning Zone (1996 – 1997), Sleepwalkers (1997), Prey (1998), Brimstone (1998 – 1999) and Strange World (1999).
Most of the series above lasted only a season, but nearly all of them involved, like The X-Files, aspects of the police procedural format, and elements of the horror genre, namely the supernatural or paranormal. Many of the series also involved government conspiracies, or an “Establishment” attempt to hide some important “truth” from the American populace.
Below are my choices for the five best of this post-X-Files pack.
Nowhere Man (1995)
Created by Lawrence Hertzog, Nowhere Man ran for twenty-five hour-long episodes in 1995 and quickly proved a paranoiac’s dream. The series involved Thomas Veil (Bruce Greenwood), a photographer whose very life was “erased” in the premiere episode (“Absolute Zero”) by a shadowy conspiracy.
This act of erasure was undertaken because Veil publicly revealed a top-secret photograph called “Hidden Agenda.” Soon even Veil’s wife, Alyson, (played by Millennium’s Megan Gallagher) claimed not to have any memory of him. She had been “gotten to.”
As the series continued, Thomas began to uncover secrets about the photograph, and about his enemies too, a sinister cabal or conspiracy called “The Organization” (think The Syndicate on The X-Files).
Nowhere Man picks up primarily on The X-Files’ conspiracy vibe, but also features a strong if oblique connection to another TV paranoia trip: The Prisoner (1967). There, the prisoner, Number Six (Patrick McGoohan), was trapped in a bizarre European “village” for spies and ex-spies; but here Veil finds himself in an Information Age trap where the prison is the global village itself.
Nowhere Man is cleverly constructed, right down to the hero’s name — Veil — and so the series’ final episode saw the “veil” over his eyes lifted at last. Today, this series would be ripe for either a movie or TV reboot.
American Gothic (1995)
American Gothic is the tale of Caleb Temple (Lucas Black), a youngster of questionable lineage who lives in the town of Trinity, South Carolina. In the premiere episode, little Caleb sees his father go stark, raving mad, and his sister Merlyn (Sarah Paulson) murdered by the nefarious sheriff, Lucas Buck Gary Cole). Then he learns that not only is Lucas Buck Caleb’s biological father…he may also be the devil.
But before Sheriff Buck can seduce Caleb to the dark side, the sinister force must contend with two most unwelcome “do-gooders” in Trinity: reporter Gail Emory (Paige Turco) and a Yankee upstart with a dark past, Dr. Matt Crower (Jack Weber).
Both carpet-baggers realize Buck is up to no good, and take steps to protect Caleb, but must simultaneously deal with their own personal demons. Gail’s parents died in Trinity twenty years earlier and Lucas Buck just happened to be the person who discovered their bodies. And Matt is still recovering from a drunk-driving incident in which his wife and daughter were killed.
Created by Shaun Cassidy, and produced by Sam Raimi, this soap opera horror owes as much to Twin Peaks (1990 – 1991), perhaps, as it does The X-Files. But all the x-trademarks are present, from a focus on corrupt (or actually evil authority figures…), to storylines which involve police solving crimes in a small-town.
American Gothic succeeds in part because of Gary Cole’s central presence and enormous charisma as the evil sheriff, a figure who can seduce anyone with a smile, and who is even taken, on occasion, to whistling the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show.
Dark Skies (1996)
Like all the TV series featured on this list, there can be little doubt that NBC’s Dark Skies was granted a prime-time berth because of the success of The X-Files.
There’s also little doubt, however, that Dark Skies is an original, visually-distinctive, and involving program. The one-season series showcases a memorable, growling regular performance from the late J.T. Walsh as the leader of a top-secret alien-hunting organization called Majestic, and features rewarding and intricate plotting across the span of the catalog’s nineteen hour-long shows.
The series is a period piece, interestingly, that concerns alien abduction — one of the key concepts explored in The X-Files.
Dark Skies opens immediately after President Kennedy is inaugurated and the age of Camelot commences. Two young Americans who are filled with enthusiasm — John Loengard (Eric Close) and Kim Sayers (Megan Ward) — go to Washington to serve the country and the new president but quickly become disillusioned when they learn that all is not as it seems. Aliens have infiltrated the highest levels of the American government.
While it’s true that Eric Close looks like he was incubated at a David Duchovny Clone Farm, and that matters of conspiracy in Washington were also heavily featured on The X-Files, Dark Skies nonetheless forges its own unique identity. It does so by replaying key events from human history — the first TV appearance of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, for instance, or the Kennedy Assassination — through the lens of alien infiltration in human affairs.
That was the “literal” level upon which Dark Skies operated, but the series also, overall, served as a metaphor for politics in the U.S. Naivety and idealism quickly give way to cynicism and dark agendas, and it’s a struggle to know who to trust, and who to believe in.
The tag-line for the short-lived series Prey on ABC-TV was “We’ve just been bumped down the food chain,” and the series concerned a beautiful geneticist, Sloane Parker (Debra Messing), who learned that a look-alike species — homo dominants — was gaining a foothold on power in North America.
A brilliant scientist not unlike Scully (Gillian Anderson), Sloane came to work with one of the dominants, Tom Daniels (Adam Storke), to help reveal the breadth of the dark conspiracy.
The X-Files often concerned genetic mutants like Victor Eugene Tooms, or other freaks of nature who, in some way could represent one possible future for humanity. Prey likewise involved a similar scenario, but taken to apocalyptic levels. Mankind was losing ground to superior beings, yet those beings were not aliens or monsters…but ones created under the auspices of evolution, by Mother Nature herself. The human race had become outmoded.
So the question became: can man outwit, defeat, and outlive its replacement species?
Over the course of Prey’srun much information was learned about the new species, including the fact that it lacked human emotions but possessed ESP. Prey was also weirdly prophetic. One episode involved school shootings — less than a year before Columbine — and the entire premise seemed to forecast the War on Terror.
In particular, the homo dominants looked and sounded like us, and therefore could imitate humans flawlessly. So your neighbor could actually be a sleeper agent, just waiting for the right moment to strike. In 2004, this was the premise of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica.
Brimstone (1998 – 1999)
Created by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris, Brimstone aired on Fox as the lead-in to Chris Carter’s Millennium on Friday nights, and ran for just thirteen hour-long episodes before an untimely cancellation.
The series starred Peter Horton as hangdog Detective Ezekiel Stone, a former Manhattan-based police officer who died in 1983…and promptly went to Hell. Stone did so because he took the law into his own hands and murdered his wife’s rapist, Gilbert Jax. Two months after that act of vigilantism, Stone was killed in the line of duty, and he has been trapped in the Underworld ever since.
As the series commences, however, 113 of the “most vile” criminals in Hell manage a jailbreak and return to Earth to wreak havoc. The Devil (John Glover) – trying to cover his ass with the Man Upstairs – recruits Detective Stone to pursue the fugitives and send them back to Hell and permanent incarceration.
Ezekiel can do so only by destroying their eyes, the so-called “windows to their souls.” In exchange for his service, Stone gets a much-valued second shot at human life, happiness, and redemption. Each time Stone kills an escaped convict, a strange runic tattoo (representing the convict’s “number” or identity) burns off his body. Stone must also deal with the fact that some of escaped convicts are extremely powerful, with terrifying supernatural abilities
As the Devil informs the detective: “The longer you’ve been in Hell, the more it becomes a part of you.”
The villains featured on the series reflect The X-Files concept of the “monster of the week.” They are literally twisted creatures from Hell, and the roster includes an unrepentant rapist (“Encore”), a shape-shifter with multiple personalities (“Faces”), a lovelorn poet who kills virgins (“Poem,”) and even a Bonnie and Clyde-styled pair of thugs (“The Lovers.”)
Presented in a kind of de-saturated or silvery-steel color-scheme, Brimstone was another police procedural of the 1990s, like the X-Files, but it proved an original initiative because it worked overtime to diagram a universe of nuanced morality. Despite the presence of God and the Devil in the stories, Brimstone always explored shades of gray, not the least in terms of Stone’s behavior. Did he deserve a second chance? Did he deserve to go to Hell in the first place?
In exploring these issues, Brimstone proved more than your average X-Files knock-off and emerged as a memorable supernatural noir. The series’ sense of humor, revolving around a man from 1983 living at the turn of the century, also proved stellar.