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The idea behind this blog is to share my opinions about Post-Apocalyptic Literature, Films and Ephemera as well as my random nattering on a regular basis.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Reckoning a film in review

A Reckoning was filmed in 2011 but is just now seeing the light of day due to legal battles between the financial backers of the film and Mr. Barker the director and producer. I'm glad that after so many years it can be viewed as it is pretty damned good. 

Many years ago when I was taking some of first undergraduate classes at Western Oregon (way back before I got my degree in early childhood education, my reading masters, and my special education degree), I took an introductory English literature class. It was there that I met my good friend Gavin Keulks. I don't remember the story that we were reviewing and discussing that day but I do remember the word he used to describe how the author generated the tone or feeling of the writing. He said it was a pastiche. This is when an artist (in writing, art, or even film) puts together qualities of others in order to honor those artists with playful mimicry. One good example of this is the dance scene at Jack Rabbit Slims It is so strange and out of place in that movie because the entire scene her costume and all was lifted from Federico Fellini's 8 1/2. Not in any way is Tarantino having sport with Fellini, rather he is shining a light on the film in a playful way. Andrew David Barker treats A Reckoning in much the same way so that, through the skillful use of scenes and of thematic elements from many different movies and books, he manages to convey both that a cataclysmic event of unknown (but certainly hinted at) origin has befallen humanity leaving just a single person alive and also that that lone survivor isn't so alone after all, but instead, has gone batshit insane. 

The first tell that he might be insane is the quote at the movie's opening. 'All that we see or seem/Is but a dream within a dream' The next few lines of the poem are I stand amid the roar/ Of a surf-tormented shore,/ And I hold within my hand/Grains of the golden sand-- Those lines become important later. 

Barker also uses story elements from many different film and books to convey a sense of madness. First is the creation of straw people. Our lone survivor has spent tireless hours making people from straw complete with clothing and back stories. He places them throughout his small village. He interacts with them daily and even holds class with some of them as their teacher. It is these small interactions that call to mind other 'Last Man on Earth' type movies and books. It is these elements that convince the viewer that he is indeed the last man. In The Quiet Earth, Zak Hobson finds himself alone. To combat the feeling of aloness he takes full-sized cardboard cutouts of people and interacts with them. Zak at that point is both alone and losing his mind. But at least our lone survivor is speaking to a real object and not a total figment of his imagination. In another scene he is shown at a bar interacting with a straw man who acting as bartender much the same as Floyd does in The Shining. This is of course just a single example. There are many more. 

Lastly, going back into the cataclysmic event of unknown (but certainly hinted at) origin that has befallen humanity I wrote about before, our Lone Survivor read a lot. This can only be a call out to one Henry Bemis of Time Enough At Last. This last part here gets to the main question of 'Has the world ended or is he crazy'? He reads, all the time. The class he teaches? Just an excuse to read. He always has a book at his bed. Prominently featured is one called Noah. This might be a reference to the Biblical Flood or it may be high-five to another movie: The Noah, a movie where a nuclear apocalypse has left a single man alive. The Noah also creates someone in his mind to ease his loneliness. A pivotal scene: he is reading to his class as has become his habit when he encounters this passage:  ‘But now, when I began to be sick, and a leisurely view of the miseries of death came to place itself before me; when my spirits began to sink under the burden of a strong distemper, and nature was exhausted with the violence of the fever; conscience, that had slept so long, began to awake, and I began to reproach myself with my past life, in which I had so evidently, by uncommon wickedness, provoked the justice of God to lay me under uncommon strokes, and to deal with me in so vindictive a manner. These reflections oppressed me for the second’. The careful reader will recognize this as an excerpt from Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, yet another Last Man type scenario. It is also the view of Zak Hobson in The Quiet Earth ‘I have been cursed to live’.   

So it’s up to the viewer to decide: Is our Lone Survivor really alone? Did the teeth falling out and vomiting mean a nuclear war had happened? Was that notion further backed up by his lesson on atoms when he ‘substituted’? If so was it a neutron bomb situation that left building intact and only killed people (Henry Bemis)? Or is he just completely insane as all the other evidence points out?

Track down a copy and give it a watch. Give it two or three as I did … more clues and hints will jump out at you.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Free Books (Twenty-four)

Same drill. These are free but for an undetermined length of time. Get them now in other words.

1. After the Cure by Deirdre Gould

2. The Breakers Series: Books 1-3 by Edward W. Robertson

3. Flare  by Jonathan Maas

4. New Reality: Truth by Michael Robertson

5. Windigo Soul by Robert Brumm

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Free Apocalyptic Books (twenty-three)

Same drill. These are free but for an undetermined length of time. Get them now in other words.

 -Also, I'm back. I'll try to update more often.

1. Code Breakers: Alpha by Colin F. Barnes

2. After the Winter by Mark R. Healy

3. Glimmer of Hope (Land of Tomorrow Book 1) by Ryan King

4. Dollywagglers by Frances Kay    

5. The Variant Effect by G. Wells Taylor   

6. The Last City of America by Matthew Tysz 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

World Gone Wild: A Survivor’s Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies

World Gone Wild: A Survivor's Guide to Post-Apocalyptic MoviesA couple months ago I got an e-mail from David Moore asking me if I would be interested in reviewing his soon-to-be-released book World Gone Wild.  We exchanged a couple of e-mails, geeked out about movies a little, and then I forgot all about the book.

It arrived in the mail Monday afternoon. It's a large, heavy, hardbound book. Clearly this book is meant to be displayed prominently and lovingly on a coffee table. The font used for the title immediately called to mind the knock-off straight-to-videos that once populated the video store down the street from my house when I was a teenager. 

When I opened the cover I was met with a poster-sized two page inner cover. I knew I was in for something truly remarkable.  I flipped through it and looked for titles that I expected to find. I enjoyed the writing style Moore used in the reviews for the movies. And yes ... this isn't a simple listing of different movies but, rather, he actually watched all of them.
 A careful reader will instantly know what he thought of the movie. Most reviews are short and to the point. Each gives a short synopsis of the film and ends with his opinion about it's watchability, and sometimes other movies like it you might enjoy.

One small item that I really enjoyed; Moore invented a rating scale. So if you are in a hurry or think that the review might be a little spoilery (and some of them are very spoilery), the icon accompanying the title will let you know if it's a must watch ("The Bomb") or if you'll be in for a video rodeo as you attempt to keep your seat and continue watching ("Toxic").

I was interested in seeing how movies that I had in my top ten fared in his system. Here's how it matches up:

1. The Quiet Earth (Safe Zone)
2. Mad Max (all of them but Beyond Thunderdome in particular) (The Bomb)
3. Miracle Mile (The Bomb)
4. Last Night (The Bomb)
5. The Day After (The Bomb)
6. 12 Monkeys  (Safe Zone)
7.  Ever Since The World Ended (Safe Zone)
8. A Boy and His Dog (The Bomb)
9 Carriers (Go At Your Own Risk)
10. Hardware (The Bomb)

And a look at the other end of my spectrum .... the unwatchable or those that I nearly lost the Video Rodeo to:

Autumn (Toxic)
Def-Con 4 (Toxic)
Epidemic (Not Reviewed) 
The Happening (Gold For Some, Useless To Others)
The Sacrifice (Gold For Some, Useless To Others)

It looks to me as though we mostly line up. With that in mind I'll trust his reviews and rating system as I hunt down movies that I'd never heard of. It is of note that he did leave a couple movies out, he either forgot to include them or hadn't watched them yet. Most notibly (for me) is the exclusion of The Last Mimzy. This film plays out like a children's version of 12 Monkeys where a ruined future sends stuffs back to the past in an attempt to fix itself.

The book has several other features though besides just movie reviews. There are many quality interviews with actors and directors of some of my most favorite PA movies. Some of these interviews even contain Easter Eggs for upcoming titles such as Mad Max Fury Road. The end of the book features a listing of all the movies reviewed (800+), as well the movies placed into individual and very handy Sub Genres. Among these are: Aliens, Creatures, etc.,  Animated, Astronauts Return, Bomb Shelters, Comedies, Mad Max Riffs, Last People on Earth, Nuclear, OK For the Kids, Biggest Most Badass Trucks, and on and on ...

Lastly, when I first got the e-mail for Moore I thought about the website It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Max World. I was mistaken. It's far superior to that site. My highest recommendation. Order it here through the publisher, Schiffer Publishing.  You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Key Vest for Wasteland Weekend

I started with five gallon bucket half filled with all the miscut key my friend Deathrattle could scavenge for me on his truck route (he drives for a smaller chain of hardware stores). I sat them out in the weather over the fall and winter to age and when that didn't work I soaked them in vinegar to really get the shine off.
All that remained was to scavenge a roll of thin gauge mild wire from my aunt and uncle.

I started drilling a small hole in the tip of each key with a drill press:

When I had a goodly amount of them drilled I wove the mild steel wire through the top of one key and then through the small hole I had drilled:

 Once I had enough keys to make one pass around my torso I wove wire through the top the same way:

I figure another seven of these and the shoulder parts and my vest will be done. And my fingers will be very blistered. See you in the Wastes.