Sunday, August 13, 2017

Miscellany: Anna Ruby Falls

The uncharitable would call the town of Helen, Georgia a tourist trap, what with its kitschy faux-Bavarian architecture and obvious focus on catering to Atlanta weekenders. If you can look past that stuff, you can take a visit to the nearby Chattahoochee National Forest and its crown jewel, Anna Ruby Falls.

The hike to the falls is easy and scenic - a paved path neighboring sun-kissed rapids.

Legend has it that a local Confederate soldier, Colonel John Nichols, found the waterfalls while riding in the area. He gave them both the name Anna Ruby, after his only daughter.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Movies: Crowdfunded Creeping Cosmic Horror Double Feature

The '80s were the golden age of special makeup effects. Rob Bottin's "The Thing," Rick Baker's "An American Werewolf in London," Tony Gardner's gruesome "The Blob" ... if you wanted disfigured latex faces and slimy puppets, you were spoiled for choice.

Nowadays, though, to see a guy in a rubber suit terrorize people, you're going to have to support it yourself. Unlike the CGI-fests at the multiplex, today's two movies were funded, in part, by horror fans who are keeping the practical effects tradition alive.

Harbinger Down

Okay, let's be frank - Lance Henriksen has been in far better movies, but you have to give him credit for playing it (mostly) straight in "Harbinger Down":

In the frigid waters of the Bering Sea, a fishing trawler encounters a crashed Soviet lander carrying mysterious cargo. Now, you don't have to be a genius to figure out what happens next, but the threadbare plot and so-so performances are only barely holding up their end of the bargain. The film lacks the tense drama that made "The Thing" such a classic; it never aspires to be anything more than a passable B-movie.

I do respect Amalgamated Dynamics' creature effects, though, which are all the more poignant considering that (1) their work was mostly cut out of "The Thing" prequel and (2) they funded the effects with their own money and $380,000 raised from Kickstarter backers.

Rating: 5/10

The Void

My friends and I are big fans of the Fantasy Flight Cthulhu Mythos board games, and "The Void" is sort of like a giant mash-up of all the tropes in those games. Produced by Canada's Astron-6 along with $82,000 in Indiegogo money, the movie never slips into parody or self-awareness, but it does wear its influences on its sleeve:

In "The Void," a small-town cop brings in a strung-out junkie to a near-deserted hospital, only to find that the place is surrounded by murderous robed figures. Who are they? What do they want? It probably has something to do with the ominous triangles everywhere, but at 90 minutes, there isn't a lot of time to find out, much less care about most of the characters. Still, all the Lovecraftian elements of John Carpenters' Apocalypse Trilogy are here: cultists, body horror, parallel worlds, insanity, and, of course, a whole bunch of tentacles.

Rating: 6/10