Constantine: Danse Vaudou Smoking Cigarette and Gun (Review)

Constantine: Danse Vaudou Smoking Cigarette and Gun (Review)

The beginning of Constantine: Danse Vaudo, sees John with a smoking cigarette between his teeth while working on a zoetrope which affects Zed, after this little display, something else is seen smoking, a gun fired by an off-duty cop. In this episode Constantine will meet up with Papa Midnight in order to stop the man from bringing vengeful spirits back from the dead, Chas shows just how resilient he really is a little more is learned about Zed.

Westworld (1973) The Original Terminator

Cover of "Westworld"
Cover of Westworld

Written and directed by Michael Crichton and starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Dick Van Patten and Majel Barrett in a cameo as the Brothel owning Miss Carrie, Westworld  was a breath of fresh air in the Science Fiction genre.

Released in 1973 the film has admittedly not aged as well as it could have. Despite having the distinction of being the first feature length film to use digital image processing, a lot of the special effects, especially those dealing with the computerized hardware on the robots, are very dated. The transistors and ‘chips’ and wiring are ludicrously huge compared to today’s computer technology.

This doesn’t hurt the film though. A good story with excellent acting can overcome a lot. I remember watching this film in a drive-in as a youngster and ‘the gunslinger’ scared the crap out of me.

He still does.

Westworld is set on another planet and it is just one of three adult ‘theme’ parks. There is also a Medieval world and a Roman world. Guests pay a thousand dollars a day to experience these worlds. Each one is as realistic as possible and is populated by incredibly life-like android robots. The only part of the android that is a complete give away are the hands. “They haven’t perfected the hands yet,” James Brolin’s character wryly points out.

Richard Benjamin is lawyer Peter Martin, freshly divorced from his wife and she’s taken him to the cleaners. James Brolin is John Blane, Peter’s best friend and a ‘regular’ to the adult theme park. A shuttle takes the new guests to the park’s reception area. While on the shuttle guests are given a coloured badge to signify which world they will be staying at. Blue equals Westworld.

The two men get settled in and John teaches Peter  how Westworld actually works. He finds out that the guns won’t work on real people after he has a gunfight with Yul Brenner’s gunslinger. While the film is focussing on the two main guests, John and Peter, we are able to see ‘behind the scenes’ and witness how the park is maintained.

We also learn that the park is experiencing problems with the androids and other robots in the various worlds. The Chief Supervisor (Alan Oppenheimer) is concerned ,as it appears that the robots are ‘transferring’ the problems, “like a disease.”

The main focus of the film are of Peter and John and the gunslinger. Played chillingly by Yul Brynner, the gunslinger is malevolent, un-stoppable, and damned scary. He is the first terminator. While watching this film for the first time, my daughter stopped it about halfway through. She looked at me and said, “Without this film there would have no terminator.”

I agree. Brynner’s mechanical treading towards his victim is undeniably scary. Combined with the overlaying soundtrack making a noise like a ruler being thrummed on something (a description my daughter came up with to equate the sound to) he sounds mechanical and menacing.

In fact the music of the film helps to set up each world, but the music for Westword, so evocative of say Ennio Morricone or Dominic Frontier intermixed with the computerized and mechanical music sells the action perfectly.

I have read that Warner Bros are still talking about doing a remake of Westworld and I hope it never happens.

Where on earth are they going to find an actor of Yul Brynner’s calibre. Brynner was paying a homage to his role as Chris in The Magnificent Seven, that brilliant remake of Seven Samurai and one of the best westerns ever made.

Are there any actors out there at the minute who can fill Yul’s boots?

I don’t think so.

Walk of fame at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis...
Walk of fame at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, Tennessee. Yul Brynner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Haunted House

Haunted House
Haunted House (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
Summers when I was a kid were fantastic. The greatest thing about summer was the obligatory three months away from school. The second greatest thing was that because it was three whole months, summer seemed to last forever. I split my time away from school between working for my Dad and meeting with my friends. I also got to see a lot more of my two female cousins.
My cousins and I had a close relationship. My oldest cousin was about two years older than me and her sister about a year older. When we were together we acted more like brother and sisters than cousins. Things were different back then. When we were younger and one of us got a Doctor’s kit for a present, we immediately played Doctor. Of course our version was like that old Bob Hope  gag. We diagnosed each other with exotic illnesses and then sued each other for malpractice.  Those were the days.
One summer when I was about twelve or thirteen I had my then best friend Peter over. *note: Peter was not his name, but as I don’t know where he is now to get permission to write about him, Peter will do just fine*  His father was a local preacher. Peter at that time had no intention of following in his father’s footsteps. Not surprising as most kids of twelve or thirteen don’t know what they want to do when they grow up. I was showing off my new CO2 gas powered BB pistol that could also shoot pellets. Pretty cool all right, except for the fact that when you shot pellets it was a ‘one-at-a-time’ affair that could be a bit laborious.
It was while we were doing a bit of target practise that my two cousins showed up. They were actually there to visit our Grandmother who lived right next door to us and the town school. Introductions were made and we started talking about different things when Peter asked if we had heard about the haunted house.
Our interest peaked, we all said no, we hadn’t heard of it. Where was it? “Not too far from here.” My cousins and I were delighted to hear this. It meant we could go see it quite easily. “Yeah,” Peter continued,”You just go down to the end of the road, turn right and go down to the end of that road.  When you get to the stop sign, look straight ahead and you’ll see the house. You guys know where I mean?”
I did. It was “catty corner” across the road from where my biggest crush lived. She had black hair, cornflower blue eyes and a slight dusting of freckles across her nose.  She also had a figure. Where most girls her age had the build of a ten year old boy, she was different. I was ecstatic. I hoped that we might just bump into her when we went to the haunted house.
My oldest cousin, being the older smarter member of the group, asked how Peter knew it was haunted. Peter grinned confidently. “It’s haunted because the owner died in his “easy” chair while he was watching T.V. and nobody found him for days! They say if you are really quiet you can hear him having the heart attack that killed him!” We were suitably impressed by this information. We all decided to immediately go down to the house and check it out.
You could see the house as soon as you turned the corner. At the end of the road was a ‘T’ junction. The house was right in front of the ‘T’. It was a two story clap board house that someone had painted a horrible shade of yellow. It was surrounded by brush, black oak trees and junk. As we approached the house, I shot a quick glance over to my crush’s house. No one seemed to be at home.
We all entered the house via a broken  back window. In a hushed tone Peter explained that a lot of the furniture was still in the house. Apparently, the owner had no relatives to sort out his affairs, so most of it was just falling to ruin. Inside the house was like a sauna. As we moved through it, we noticed that there was no air circulation at all, despite most of the windows being smashed. It was so quiet that even though we were “tip-toeing” every move we made sounded like a gunshot.
The “easy” chair was still there. You could see the stains left by the owners decaying body. It seemed that Peter was telling the truth about the amount of time it took for folks to find the poor sod. There was also a horrendous smell in the still air. It made me think of rotten tomatoes. It also made all of us gag. On the wall next to the ‘easy’ chair was a doorway into a closet. The owner had put a sheet up over it in place of a door. As we looked at the sheet in that still house, it suddenly began to move. It looked as though the closet was trying to breathe.
In. Out. In. Out. As the sheet started to go in for the third time we were galvanized into action. All four of us ran out of there as fast as we could. We did not stop running until we got back to my house. Overheated by our stampede from the house we shakily laughed at our scary adventure. After catching their breath my cousins then went to my Gran’s house and Peter and I went back to our target practice.
Peter then decided that he should stay over at my house. The idea was that when it got dark we would go back to the haunted house. Peter did stay over, but, we never did go back to the house. Why? Well, just as it got dark the empty field across from my house suddenly had a tall white shape in it. We were on my front porch when I saw it. “What is that?” Peter looked across at the field and said, “I don’t know. But it’s moving toward us!” We both flew back into my house, closed and locked the front door and stood peering out of the big picture window in the front room.
The white shape looked man-sized. It moved back and forth. Sometimes it would  come up to the edge of fence near the street light in front of my house. Peter and I were terrified. We were convinced that the dead owner had followed us to my house and was now trying to figure out how to get past the street light to get us.
Peter and I stayed up all night.
When the sun came up, we decided to go down to the local cafe for breakfast. After eating the “special” Peter went to his house and I went home to tell my Mom about the ghost. I told her about the haunted house and the white shape across the road in the empty field.
My mother suddenly broke out into gales of laughter. I couldn’t quite see the humour in it myself. Her eyes streaming with tears, she then explained about our neighbour who owned the field across from us. It seems that the day we went to explore the  haunted house, they had bought a white horse and put it in the field.
For years my Mother  would break into hysterical laughter every time she told the story of how Peter and I were haunted all night long by a white horse.