©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
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This week:
The Amityville Horror

Filthy says:
"This ain't no boo."

I laughed at the bums in LoDo Denver, the once scummy area around a derelict train depot. I laughed because they did such a good job making it a scary hell hole that the money suits couldn't resist buying it up and selling it to the yuppies. The city scrubbed off the brick facades, strung some twinkling lights in the trees on Larimer, started calling the minor league team a major and, most important, renamed the crummy old apartments "lofts." I laughed because the people who buy their music at Starbucks and think personality come in hair care bottles bought it hook, line and sinker. They moved in like ants on a rotting apple, and paid a shitload of money for the same places the bums used to squat in with a can of beans, a bottle of Mad Dog and some tinfoil for smoking crack. Those poor bums got priced out of the neighborhood they built through their own tender loving disinterest about where they shit, what they vandalize and who they rob.

I thought the whole gentrification thing was pretty damn funny until it started happening to me. I don't want to say I get all the credit for making Olde Town Arvada so fucking filthy that it stopped being gross and started being hip. But let's face it: I've done more for the pride of Arvada than anyone else.

Now Arvada has the "Water Tower" project with row houses and, yes, "lofts." We've got a jazz bar, wine stores, some shithead bar that actually wants to serve those fucking phony Sunday Harley riders. The slot car track was replaced by a silk flower shop. The junk shops have become purveyors of collectibles. And the skate punks in the town square were swapped out for carolers, easter eggs, scarecrows and other seasonal horeshit.

I'm not worried about our apartment becoming some snooty loft. It's in the basement. But, who the fuck knows? Those yuppies might decide that living by the BNS&F tracks and having to put non-skid adhesive on the bottom of their dishes so they don't rattle off the shelves is even cooler than buying oversized SUVs. Anyway, even if we keep our pad, all this dandifying is screwing up my life. For Christ's sake, now there's all sorts of strangers touring the Tavern every night.

Up in the old ghost town turned gambling hall Central City, there is a bar where some old crazy guy once painted a beloved lady's face on the floor. People come from all over to look at "The Face on the Floor" and buy T-shirts to let people know they did. Now, people have caught wind of the Tavern's legendary "Lady on the Floor." This was something we kept to ourselves and never dreamed would be of interest to nomadic yuppies. Sure, it's only the Harelip, and she doesn't land there until after four p.m. most days. But that the outside world has taken interest means that we can no longer take a shit in the alley out back without being considered "local color." Sometimes you just want to take a shit with a flash. Except for Worm. I think he likes it better now.

Meanwhile, these newcomers start strutting around like they own the place, acting like the people who have been there forever have no rights. They want this removed, they want all mailboxes painted this color, and you can't make noise after eight p.m. They love Arvada and moved here because it's so picaresque, but they'd like it better if it were just like every other fucking suburb. To hell with that. We liked things better when nobody gave a shit. But everyone caves in to the newcomers who don't have the common decency to be apathetic.

It was The Amityville Horror, a pretty bad remake of a pretty hoaky 70s movie, that got me thinking about gentrification and solipsistic yuppies because, if it is about anything, this is it. Some upward aspiring yawners moving in to a new place and then expect all the people to change for them. Maybe not people, more like ghosts, but still. Why the fuck can't the carpetbaggers just move in and take the good with the bad? I've never complained to our landlord about the lump in the hallway shag that weeps blood when you step on it. It's part of the charm of Casa de Filth.

In The Amityville Horror, Ryan Reynolds, a contractor who never, ever has to interrupt his day with a job, and his wife (Melissa George) buy a massive fixer-upper lake house. They know a man murdered his family in it a year earlier. They got such a great deal, though, how could they resist? Man, I know the feeling. I once got an awesome deal on a Craftmatic adjustable bed because it had electrocuted its previous two owners. I sleep in a wetsuit and no problems.

What Reynolds and George don't know (besides that Justin Guarini probably turned this piece of shit down before they said yes) is that the house is haunted by the ghosts of Indians tortured long ago by a nutty religious leader. And those ghosts drove the previous resident to kill his family. As is typical with bad horror movies, the surprise of the dead Indians is supposed to make us forget that it makes no sense as a motivation, and doesn't at all explain why the Indians are still around or wanting the current residents dead.

Meantime, Reynolds hears the voices and sees ghosts. Actually, everyone sees the ghosts. I think if Reynolds were a more interesting or talented actor, we would see his gradual descent into insanity. He's not, though, so we mostly see a really shitty hack flaring his nostrils and showing off his Bowflex abs. Congrats to him for the nostrils, though. He may look like he's never taken an acting class, but those nostrils surely studied under Strasberg.

Phillip Baker Hall makes an embarrassing cameo as a local priest who is a big fat pussy, and based on no real priest or research. He tries to do an exorcism on the house with that Holy Water that always sizzles in the movies. You know, the first director to use that trick must have been a jackass, but every one since must be the sort of lazy prick who'd rather rip off a jackass than be creative.

Overall, The Amityville Horror is an unimaginative bore. Sure, the acting is terrible, with Reynolds showing us his boogers instead of emoting, and George mostly screeching and yowling like a cat with its tail caught in a woodchipper (she has dazzling breasts, though, and nice sweaters). But what lowers this thing into the crapper is how lame and contrived the scares are. Every single one is simply a scurrying shadow or quick image of a ghost accompanied by a loud whomp of scare noise from the orchestra.

Screenwriter Scott Kosar is either a shut in or deaf because he has no ear for dialog. It's all on the nose with no grace of personality. He actually has several characters say "What are you trying to tell me?" and "I don't understand what you're saying," as though he needs to grant himself permission to unspool long-ass threads of exposition. That's fucking lazy.

Now that I think about it some more, I'm going to guess he's a shut in because he also has little concept of reality. The lead characters go out to a romantic dinner shortly after saying they have to make major sacrifices in order to buy the new house. Reynolds has a huge sign for his business on the side of his truck, but never once goes to work, or even tries to fix up the house they bought. And they happily leave the kids with a babysitter who dresses slightly less modestly than the 2 A.M. dancers at Larry's Villa in Las Vegas.

It's just a bad, dreary horror movie. It could have more to say about yuppies aspiring to turn shitholes into paradises, but it's too busy sucking. Two Fingers for The Amityville Horror. Would somebody put out a good movie?

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Jeffrey Lyons

Sahara is "One terrific movie! Sahara is the most enjoyable, thrilling and entertaining action-adventure since the heyday of Indiana Jones!"

The Upside of Anger is "one of the most absorbing, compelling family dramas. It is Kevin Costner's best film in years and Joan Allen solidifies her position as one of our great actresses."

Madison is "Warm and absorbing, in the tradition of Breaking Away. I highly recommend it."

Let's be fair, though: Lyons is not a whore, just a man with really bad taste and limited lexicon.

Filthy's Reading
Peter Biskind - Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

Listening to
Bobby Charles- Last Train to Memphis


The Cincinatti Kid