Last night my little town of Lamar, South Carolina, hosted a candidates forum to give voters an opportunity to learn more about the candidates for Town Council and the Mayor’s race. Our Town employees did an excellent job organizing the event, which was held in the Fire Department’s fire truck bay. I brought some sound equipment and setup a very basic sound system for the candidates.
There are two Council seats up for election, which Councilwoman Mary Mack and myself currently occupy. We’re both running for re-election, so we are officially running unopposed. Residents will have two votes to cast in the Town Council race, one for each position.
As such, Councilwoman Mack and I were invited to tell voters a bit about ourselves and our visions for the town. The main event was the mayoral forum, which was structured in a series of questions (nine or ten) posed to each candidate. The mayoral candidates received their questions in advance, and the audience was not allowed to ask questions (although I think several people did after the forum formally adjourned).
Both candidates acquitted themselves nicely, differing mainly in the margins. Councilwoman Inez Lee focused on cleaning up the town, literally and metaphorically, frequently invoking Franklin Roosevelt’s “First Hundred Days”: we have a number of dilapidated buildings on Main Street that are eyesores. James Howell, a local landscaper, focused on improving the town’s infrastructure and zoning to make the town more attractive to businesses.
All candidates for all offices touted the need to fix Lamar’s water system, so we sell our own water again. We are currently purchasing around four million gallons of water each month from the Darlington County Water and Sewage Authority, paying rates that are onerously high for residents.
This week’s Monday Morning Movie Review is a double feature: I’m reviewing the comedy-horror flicks House (1986) and the even goofier sequel House II: The Second Story (1987). While the films share a name and both take place in odd houses, the two storylines are completely independent of one another.
Last night the Lamar Neighborhood Watch organized an observation of National Night Out, an evening dedicated to supporting law enforcement and encouraging strong community building. Most communities observe National Night Out in August, but Texas and other States observe it on the first Tuesday in October, when the weather is a good bit cooler. August in the South is rarely a good time to host outdoor events.
My walking buddy neighbor helped organize the event, but he took a unique approach to it: rather than having one person or a committee coordinating all of the participants, he invited residents to host whatever bit of entertainment and fun they could muster. The result was a small but truly grassroots street festival.
I’m a big sucker—pun most certainly intended—for vampire movies. I’ve always enjoyed the vampire mythos, and find them to be terrifyingly fascinating villains (or anti-heroes). The concept of immortality in a fallen, ever-changing world is itself a haunting prospect, one filled both with opportunity and, ultimately, hopelessness.
I also love science-fiction movies, notably those that take place in space. The sense of boundless adventure and the thrill of exploration combine with high-tech gobbledygook to make for some fun stories. Sci-fi, like horror, also has the ability to be among the best social commentary put to paper.
With 1985’s Lifeforce, those two genres are combined in a pleasing, memorable way. Indeed, the film is based on a novel called The Space Vampires, which gives the game away on the front cover. The vampires of the film and the novel are energy vampires, sucking the lifeforce from their victims, luring them in by shapeshifting into the guise of what the human victim most desires in a mate. In doing so, they turn their victims in ravenous husks who must feed on the energy of others to survive. If they don’t, they explode into a puff of dust and ash.
Earlier this week I reviewed 1977’s Star Wars, the film that started a craze that is still raging nearly five decades later, despite Disney’s best efforts to destroy the franchise. What I didn’t realize is that nearly a year to the day earlier, I’d written a review of 1981’s The Empire Strikes Back, quite possibly the greatest Star Wars film ever made—and, I would argue, just one of the best films ever set to celluloid.
Naturally, I had to do a throwback to my review of the film, which I think was my first Monday Morning Movie Review. Kind of crazy to think that I’ve been doing regular movie reviews every Monday for a year. It both seems longer and shorter than that.
The weather here in South Carolina has turned blissfully autumnal, which means we can finally partake in all manner of outdoor activities without dying of heat exposure and dehydration. The humidity has calmed itself to a bearable level, and the mornings and nights are crisp and cool.
One of my enterprising neighbors—and most dogged constituents—took advantage of the cool weather this weekend to test out an inflatable projector screen. He invited me to join his family for a private, driveway screening of the original 1977 Star Wars, later entitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Specifically, he screened the “de-specialized” version, as he called it, so there was none of the clunky 1990s CGI additions of the special editions.
In other words, it’s the way Star Wars was intended… before George Lucas changed his mind and decided to change his own films.
Shudder continues to deliver up the bizarre and unusual, proving it’s well worth the price of admission for the streaming service. This last week saw the service bring the 1985 film The Stuff to the service.
It’s an unusual horror flick that combines elements of consumer protection advocacy, mass media advertising, consumerism, ruthless business tactics, and addiction into a blob of creamy terror.
Indeed, the film is something like The Blob (1958) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) rolled into one: a greedy corporation knowingly sells a dangerous product, which turns out to be a goopy white organism that entire consumes the very people consuming it.
So, essentially, the entire flick is a metaphor for consumerism and corporate greed run amok.
The poems in this volume appear in Jeremy’s first three releases (get them here, here, and here), so they’ve seen publication before, but if you loveHalloween—and I definitely do—this collection puts all of his spookiest poems together in one place. If you love Halloween and you’re a cheapskate, you can save some cash and pick up the present volume (though I highly recommend you purchase his entire oeuvre, as I have done—at least in paperback).
Jeremy definitely loves Halloween, too, and often says he wishes every day were Halloween. That might rob the holiday of some of its magic, but I appreciate the sentiment: Halloween these days seems to get short shrift during the holiday season, with the commercialized version of Christmas stretching its imperialistic tentacles deep into October—and even September! But that’s all to say that a guy who loves Halloween that much is going to release some of the spookiest, most spine-tingling poetry you’ll ever read.