Saturday, 20 December 2008

Things That Go Bump in the Night

"Marty, if you see anything suspicious, you know where I am."
"The trouble with this swamp is that everything is suspicious."
Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster

IT WAS AN OFFER I had to take up: My Internet, telephone and television service all through my broadband connection, for a combined price saving me some dosh.

Of course, I agreed and asked "When?" and was told that the new Hub for the broadband would be in the post that day. I could set it up myself and in doing that would activate it. The device for the telly, however, would not be delivered until Monday, 5 January, 2009. Wait! The good news: I'd be first on the delivery list and it would be at my door at seven o'clock in that morning on the 5th. Would I be home? Well, yes. In bed. And I could install that machine on my own as well. I'm not very technical. Oh! It's simple. Easy enough for some bloke called Rui in India to say.

The next morning the broadband Hub turned up. It weighs less than the instruction booklet that came with it, if you don't include all the wires, plugs and adaptors that came in a plastic bag labelled "You may not need these. See the set-up instructions."

I called Sky TV and asked them to collect their satellite dish and equipment when convenient. They'd be right round. Before I had figured out what Hub accessories I did and did not need, there came a knock at the kitchen door. The man from Sky. He had everything removed in under five minutes, and didn't charge me for doing it. And I had only my telly and DVD player, and no connection to the outside world as far as television is concerned. I'm now counting the days until 5 January.

One would miss certain things keenly, and, fortunately, a number of our TV channels feature their programming online a day after the regular broadcast, and available to view online for a week or more. I'm not going to miss Coronation Street much to my relief: Maria has realised that Tony had her husband, Liam, killed for having the affair with Tony's fiancée Carla, and Tony realises he has to despatch Maria as well.

Watching things on my computer monitor, in the kitchen, is not the way I prefer to spend an evening. I use my computer a fair bit at other times during the day, recently on my personal genealogy project (577 names as of yesterday), and for some correspondence, and I consider my desk area an office of sorts. I like to get away from it by teatime. The sofa calls.

We have, in Amble by the Sea, a little DVD rental store. Now and then I do rent a film, but the store tends to stock the goriest horror films involving power tools and Disney cartoons. That's what they can rent and make money at it, I guess.

21st Century Movies is Amble-sized: a walk-in cupboard sort of place. Because there is so little room, the rental copies are sold off a few months after first appearing in the shop. As an extra source of income, the owner brings in rental copies from other dealers, puts them in racks out on the pavement, and sells them. And here one can find a shiny seam among all that dark computer-generated gore. I buy used DVDs for a pound or two each.

I've picked up some classic old movies, better newer films, concert films, documentaries. One never knows what to expect. There are a great many westerns, a genre I'm not terribly fond of, though I've been to Kanab, Utah, a number of times, where many of the great westerns were filmed, and loved the place. I don't care for the face. Sorry, Duke. And there are horror films. The chainsaw features sell immediately, leaving the likes of The Lost Boys, Bride of the Monster, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and real horror like Gallipoli for me to pick through. Curiously, nobody had taken In Bruges and Phonebooth and Alexander, recent offerings. Do we not care for Colin Farrell in Northumbria? In Bruges and Phonebooth have an element of horror, Alexander is just horrible.

Last night, at two o'clock in the morning, I put Bride of the Monster into the DVD player. It was made before I was permitted to go to Saturday matinees, or just never made it to Bermuda's Island Theatre. In fact, those horror and sci-fi films were missing from my childhood, with the exception of serials like Flash Gordon that ran before features that tended to be gladiator flicks. I looked for Ed Wood films after seeing the Johnny Depp comedic bio-pic.

Bride of the Monster is hilarious, camp, and makes one wonder. Was Ed Wood serious, or just having a laugh? The film features a monster which appears to be file footage of an octopus, references to that creature in Loch Ness, super-men, mind transfer, devious hypnotism, a heroine with perky breasts strapped to a gurney, electric shocks, flashing lights, sliding fireplace backs, cabins in the woods, an alligator, bumbling coppers, big cars, thunderstorms, swamps, the famous giant rubber octopus without a motor that Bela Lugosi had to manipulate himself, lights in the sky, and it ends with an atomic blast and cloud and the cop saying: "He tampered in God's domain."

There was so much thunder added to the film's soundtrack that I didn't notice that we had a storm going on outside my flat. To be honest, I expect the storm was affecting the whole of Amble and inland for a few miles. When the film ended, I heard the real storm and a metallic clanging around in the courtyard. Cailean looked out from under his blanket. Fix that, papa.

I went outside, of course, and there were plant pots tipped over, and the lid of the barbecue had taken wing, looking not unlike the saucers in Ed Wood's Plan Nine from Outer Space. The wind was howling; I could hear the sea booming on the beaches.

I secured the barbecue's lid, and looked upstairs at the windows and saw lit, real candles burning, flickering. It was three-thirty in the morning. One doesn't feel too happy knowing someone upstairs in an old building has candles burning while they might be unconscious. That really is scary. There was no sleeping on the cards for me.


sarah corbett morgan said...

Imagine how interested I was when I saw the quote and the photos on your blog today, Ross. I saw Ed Wood last night and enjoyed it a lot. Johnny Depp... well, really, the whole cast was superb. The scene where Bela Lugosi was forced to wrestle the rubber octopus (because the power had gone gunny sack for the thing) was so good I swore it was the real thing. I suppose that was Ed's point, wasn't it. Ed Wood strikes me as someone PT Barnum would have liked. Perhaps they're related. I quite enjoyed the scene with the worst director and the best talking shop in the bar. Whoever played Orson Welles had him down flat.

Other movies you mentioned we have seen, mostly by accident. I used to be an avid Movie Goer when I lived in the U.S. but living where we do now there is a large vacuum that has replaced my movie habit... unless it's on Sky TV. In Bruges was one of those we stumbled upon one night. I, like you, tend to leave my desk in the evening and Alan and I watch the news and maybe a flick or baseball when in season. Next month it will be tennis from Australia. In Bruges we thought was excellent. Scary in a controlled kind of way. I agree with you, Alexander was terrible.

But all of this is more than I can say for your dismally boring housemates. I really do think you should complain-- to someone. I think a phone call to the fire department might be in order before you all go up as fly ash after one of her "romantic" nights. The relationship has to be toxic, don't you think: let's get drunk and fight (a rendition of the old country western song by Jimmy Buffett). I don't suppose the landlord would approve either if he/or she knew of the flammability quotient that resides above you. You might send an "anonymous" letter informing him/her of the facts, as you know them. How many other tenants are there in that building? Perhaps a group effort could get them evicted. I'm putting it at the top of my "willed events" for the New Year. No resolutions just posative thought about very negative people. They need to leave.

sarah corbett morgan said...

How boorish of me. I signed off forgetting to wish you a very happy Solstice, and the rest of the holidays as well. Little cailean will probably gain a few pounds with all the doggy bags over the next week.

Cheers, Ross, and Merry Berry back to you.. ;-)