A Week After Whitey's Death

The Infamous Whitey Bulger, Boston mobster and informant was found dead in his cell at 8:20 on Tuesday morning October 30, at age 89. Bulger was brutally beaten to death within hours of being transferred to Hazelton. James Bulger was born to a one-armed dock worker from canada and an unremarkable first-generation Irish immigrant. The youngest of three siblings Jimmy, as he like to be called, took to crime at a young age. He carried a switchblade around in his cowboy boots and even tried to get people call him “Boots” for a time, but it wouldn’t stick. Police soon took to calling him “Whitey” due to his light blonde hair, a nickname which he hated, but stuck nonetheless. In his teenage years he joined the unsurprisingly named Boston street gang “the Shamrocks”. In this gang he would be arrested and sentenced to a Juvenile Reformatory program, his crimes including assault, theft and forgery.

Surprisingly Whitey then went on to Join the Airforce, as you can imagine a reform school in 1940’s was  not very effective and the newly enrolled Bulger spent much of his time in the military behind bars. Shockingly however he was honorably discharged in 1952. Returning to Massachusetts with basic training and a few more years of jail time under his belt Whitey once again landed himself in prison. For the conspiracy folks, Bulger brushed shoulders with MK-Ultra after volunteering for LSD based experiments. During this time Whitey was transferred from prison to prison in what could only be described as a famous prison super tour, starting in Atlanta Penitentiary, on to Alcatraz, then Leavenworth, and finally was set free out of Lewisburg after serving a total of 9 years. Now a free man he returned to Boston and worked as an enforcer for another famous mobster Donald Killeen. To make a long gang-war story short someone from Killeens gang bit the nose off of a member of the rival Mullen gang and thus a gang war broke out with Whitey as one of the commanding officers, while many men died as a result no one else got their noses bitten off.

After joining the Winter Hill gang and rising up the ranks Bulger went from street enforcer to running the streets of Boston (which is hard because it’s so damn easy to get lost). This is where the legacy of Whitey really takes off. Along with running most of the organized crime in the city of Boston Whitey started a career as an FBI informant, taking advantage of the fact that his older brother was now in the Massachusetts Senate. From the 70’s to the 90’s Whitey Bulger was the premier crusty Irishman when it came to racketeering. Controlling the drug supply by day and informing on enemies by night. But unbenounced to the Boston gangs, the DEA was closing in. The golden age of the Winter Hill gang would soon be coming to a crashing halt. By 1995 the DEA was closing in on the accomplished boss having arrested most of Bulger’s close counterparts Whitey and his girlfriend, Theresa Stanley, decided that it was a good time to flee. Unfortunately for Whitey, life on the run was not all it was cracked up to be for Theresa and within a month they returned to Boston. But Whitey Bulger being Whitey Bulger just took his OTHER mistress Catherine Greig. And thus began a 16 year chase for Bulger as his name sat on the Top Ten Most Wanted list and the FBI chased him across the country and the world. It’s important to note all the cool shit Whitey did during this time, to spite those trying to track him down. The FBI attempted to coax him out of hiding by showing limited premiers of the Departed on the West coast.

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He and Catherine even visited Alcatraz posed as tourists during his 16 years on the run. If that’s not the most smug couple you’ve ever seen you’re probably wrong.

This spree of tourist photos and easy living would not last however. In June of 2011 Bulger and his mistress were captured in Santa Monica. The reign of James “Whitey” Bulger came to a screeching halt as he was indicted on 11 counts of murder. James Bulger lived a long crime-riddled life, his death marks final end of a bygone era of crime and terrible nicknames.

- Michelle

Cronos, A Review

As imaginative as the title of this blog post is, this film is much more imaginative than that, believe it or not! Cronos, aka La Invención de Cronos, is exactly what H.P. Lovecraft would’ve ordered on Amazon Prime for another quiet night in. It’s a beautifully made film released in 1993 by Guillermo Del Toro, a then young misfit special effects makeup artist and short film director who spent eight years trying to get this movie made.

The film starts prophetically in 1536, where an old alchemist creates a device, part watch, part supernatural insect, part grandmother’s broach. The device, Cronos, has the ability to grant eternal life. This is true because the voice over narrator says so. The alchemist, who created it to resemble an analog watch with its gears and ticking, uses it for four hundred years until he is killed by a building collapse in 1937. His fitting dying words were “suo tempore” translated from Latin as “one own’s time”.

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The lost Cronos apparatus turns up again sixty years later in an antique dealer shop owned by Jesus Gris, an old man who lives a quiet life with his loving wife and sweet granddaughter, Aurora. His happy life gets turned upside down when a strange man wanders into his shop and discovers an antique Angel statue with one eye missing in Jesus’ inventory and runs off. Jesus inspects the statue further when cockroaches invade the base of the statue which leads him to find the Cronos. It then attaches itself to his hand, leaving him injuring and confused. Jesus soon finds himself younger and full of vigor. It isn’t long until he realizes why it’s a sought over artifact.

His antique shop quickly gets ransacked after Angel De La Guardia, played by Ron Perlman, buys the same statue to find it empty. All that’s left of his mess of a shop is a business card which leads him to De La Guardia’s uncle, a dying wealthy industrialist who, so I’ve been told, is not Hyman Roth. Jesus Gris then escapes De La Guardia just long enough to have Chronos hid by his young granddaughter.  As the family is ringing in the new year at a party, De La Guardia abducts and kills Jesus. But how can he be killed if he’s immortal? He’s not dead! He breaks out of the crematorium and finds his granddaughter Aurora, who lovingly makes his bed in a toy chest after discovering that he burns when he’s exposed to sunlight and has a new penchant for blood.

What happens next is an artfully written third act where paying the price of eternal life leaves many consequences and an ultimate sacrifice. This film was Del Toro’s first feature film that won him the recognition and friendships from directors like James Cameron and Pedro Almodovar. A romantic ode to horror served in a Frankenstein/Dracula combo. Del Toro, who studied under legendary special effects makeup artist Dick Smith while making the film, even formed his own company, Necropia. The effects and gore go perfectly with this elegantly rich fabled story. All I gotta say is, come for the grotesque, stay for the beauty.



Ice Cream Man

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Ice Cream Man

Not as literal as I'd hoped...

This movie came heavily recommended on a thread on Reddit which made me immediately purchase the double feature DVD with Jack Frost 2 for seven dollars. What a deal! Thanks highly upvoted internet stranger! Ice Cream Man is exactly the definition of a campy slasher film with a low L.A. budget production value where saying you get taken out of the movie constantly is an understatement. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

The movie starts with the origin story of the Ice Cream Man. He is a mischievous young boy who witnesses his neighborhood ice cream man killed outside the ice cream truck. Soon after, this young boy spends his formative years in a mental institution with a maniacal doctor who makes sure to drive home the point that, “There are no bad days, only happy happy days!” Appropriately the new adult Ice Cream Man is played by Clint Howard, whose younger brother, Ron, is famous for starring in the popular 70s sitcom Happy Days, directing Willow and other stuff.

Clint Howard does his best creepy Ice Cream Man face when he pulls up to a regular suburban neighborhood, handing out lots of treats mixed with body parts to kids. He starts with a dog owned by his institution nurse/landlady (Olivia Hussey) and soon moves on to people, starting with a young boy who goes missing soon after he runs out after the ice cream truck. The police are called and detectives go straight to the Ice Cream Man to ask him questions. They then order ice cream cones, one of which has a squishy eyeball inside. Lots of close ups in that one.

The movie also stars a ragtag team of kids who call themselves the Rocketeers: Johnny, Tuna, Small Paul and their very own Beverly, Heather. These kids know something is up with the disappearance of the young boy, even if the police or their own families believe they shouldn’t be getting involved in this crime investigation. “Damn meddling kids!” -adults in movies. But once Small Paul gets abducted too they take action, and to hell with anyone who went missing before. These kids go to all lengths to save each other including launching a live rocket and using ice cream-making equipment as a weapon to bring down the Ice Cream Man!

Ice Cream Man is directed by Paul Norman who may (and should) be very proud of this movie. This was Paul’s first and only foray into mainstream filmmaking. He is more known for his pornographic films such as Intercourse with the Vampire 1 & 2, the Edward Penishands trilogy and the Bi and Beyond collection. Get them all if you’re a completist!

This movie does what others couldn’t, which is fitting a severed head into a giant ice cream cone. If you want to have as much fun as the filmmakers did, then watch this movie. There is a particular favorite scene at the mental institution where the patients parade around police detectives that will undoubtedly have you want to join them. Go crazy and get a scoop of Butter Brickle you pied piper ice cream dicks!

-Carolina Hidalgo

Mother's Day

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Mother's Day

Fuck camping.

I really like Troma films. I was in one! For about three seconds but it counts! The movie I was in was great but Mother’s Day is my favorite. The movie centers around of course, mother. She’s very much a living version of Norman Bates as his mother but shittier. Mother lives in the New Jersey rural wilderness with her two sons, Ike and Addley. Mother’s hobbies include luring unsuspecting victims to their death, slashing throats and watching her adult sons, Ike and Addley, put on improv shows with abducted victims. This family is the worst of humanity, living in filth and depravity with Pink Flamingos pride.
The main plot starts with the story of three women who have been best friends since their crazy college days and take an annual trip to somewhere exotic like New Jersey for a girls weekend. They each have their own distinct personalities: Trina the Beverly Hills blonde who enjoys throwing cocaine fueled pool parties, Abbey the insecure quiet girl who takes care of her demanding elderly mother, and Jackie, the strong smart one with awful taste in men who take advantage of her big heart and coke stash. The three girls head out to the Deep Barons for a weekend of fishing and drinking until the brothers, Ike and Addley, literally grab the girls in their sleeping bags and throw them into their home for Mother who is delighted to have new victims to terrorize.
Now the next part is the not so fun part. The girls do go through a traumatizing ordeal, especially Jackie a la Last House on the Left. The family is gross and abhorrent to the extreme. I can’t even watch Ike and Addley eat, much less their other activities. Even though they are Saturday morning cartoon villain two dimensional characters (see Bebop and Rockysteady), they’re capable of total horror that makes you more uncomfortable the more time you spend with them. But that’s the point! And just like LHOTL, the third act makes it worth it. I am spoiling the movie by saying the family gets what they deserve but how they do is the thrill ride that we’re all waiting for.
This movie is well written and produced for a budget of a hundred grand and I’m happily surprised. Not that I thought an early Troma movie would suck, but it’s amazing how well the comedy and scares are written. Uncle Lloyd’s brother Charles Kaufman directed Mother’s Day and wrote it with Warren Leight who has enjoyed a great producing career with tv shows like Law and Order and In Treatment. It’s clear a bunch of twenty year-olds with a talent for making low-budget B horror movies put together something worthwhile, something that will make me always think, “To hell with camping.” There’s no way there’s not a Leatherface behind every brush in the wilderness. You’ve been warned. Don’t go messin’ up in Deep Barons lez-beans!
-Carolina Hidalgo

Brain Dead

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BRAIN DEAD

 

the one with both bills

Brain Dead is a great movie. The title, however, is a misnomer. That’s because the brains - including the ones kept in jars - are alive. ALIVE I TELL YOU!!! Then again, who’s to know what’s dead and what’s alive within the realms of this universe. That’s what this movie is all about. Brain Dead is not just a sci fi horror film but also a philosophical film. It’s a sci fi phi film.
The story revolves around Dr. Rex Martin (Bill Pullman), a scientist studying the brains of those no longer with us. That’s until his old college roommate, Jim (Bill Paxton), shows up asking for a ridiculously unethical favor. Jim wants Dr. Martin to study and subsequently lobotomize the brain of Halsey (Bud Court), a patient at a mental institution who claims he works for Conklin Mattresses. Halsey truly believed that his former imaginary boss, that crazy man Conklin, murdered Halsey’s family. But according to Jim, Halsey is a scientist and employee of Eunice Corporation. Jim is tasked to find in Halsey’s brain the extra special numbers that will revolutionize science and McGuffins for all mankind. As you can see, it’s hard for Dr. Martin to say no to studying a “fresh brain” as opposed to his stacks and stacks of boring old brains that are held in jars on his lab shelves that really should be stabilized with a couple more screws. It’s an accident waiting to (inevitability) happen!
Now this is where the fun part really begins. After Dr. Martin performs what seems to be a successful operation on Halsey, Dr. Martin starts to see a crazy old cackling man drenched in blood, the same one Halsey was seeing! All of a sudden everything feels like an illusion and nothing makes sense anymore with Dr. Martin falling from one reality into another. But what is reality unless you experience illusion? Start packing your bowls my friends.
There’s one point during Dr. Martin’s journey where he is told he’s the actual Shutter Island Halsey living in a mental institution because he murdered his wife and her love Jim. Wait, what? THAT JIM? I’ve already said too much. Then Halsey comes to rescue him, letting him know he’s innocent not once, but twice. The second time around Dr. Martin asks, “Have we done this before?” Halsey responds, “Are we doing this now?”
That’s the existential nightmare that makes the movie. The plot resembles a gorier version of a Twilight zone episode, no surprise as it was written by Charles Beaumont who wrote a fair amount of TZ episodes including the classic “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You”. Unfortunately he never got to see this film as he died in 1967 but I’m sure he would have been proud. Sure, it’s low budget, the editing is not quite right, and the music was dated even in 1989. But in the end, it makes perfect sense, only because it doesn’t.
-Carolina Hidalgo

Bigfoot in Big Bear

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BIGFOOT IN BIG BEAR

The state of California is being sued for not recognizing Bigfoot as a species.
“I ran into a Sasquatch — a Bigfoot.  We were face to face.  He was 30 feet up in the tree,” said 46-year-old Cynthia Ackley.  She and her two daughters, 11 and 14, encountered a Bigfoot (or Kissel) last March in Lake Arrowhead, CA.
“He looked like a neanderthal man with hair all over him. He had solid black eyes. He had no expression on his face at all. He did not show his teeth. He just stared at the three of us,” said Cynthia.  She thought he looked about 800 pounds.  Her younger daughter also reported seeing two more identical cryptids on the ground.
Cynthia Ackley has been a Bigfoot enthusiast and researcher for over two decades, so she was quite disappointed when the park ranger told her she’d probably seen a bear.  So she teamed up with Bigfoot documentary filmmaker Tom Standing and sued the state in San Bernardino Superior Court on the 18th of last month.
The San Bernardino Sun reported:
“The lawsuit alleges the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Natural Resources Agency have been derelict in their duty by not acknowledging the existence of the Sasquatch species, despite a mountain of documented and scientific evidence. It has had a chilling effect on the study of the Sasquatch, considered illegitimate and relegated to the category of paranormal research. It has damaged Ackley’s ‘livelihood, public image and credibility,’ as well as others dedicated to the study of the bipedal hominid, according to the lawsuit.”
Cynthia Ackley is apparently concerned about the public’s safety, since 800 pound humanoids can probably do a great deal of damage.  “People have to be warned about these things. They are big.”  According to Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan, Bigfoot is not a recognized species by his agency.  Safety warnings cannot be issued for nonexistent beasts.  I'm sure Ackley is crossing her fingers that this case could be a big step forward for cryptozoology.
This is Cynthia Ackley’s third Bigfoot sighting since 1997.
-Rachel Hsu
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Sunrise, Sunset

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SUNRISE, SUNSET

This past Monday, the Sunset Mesa funeral home was shut down by the Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration after it was discovered that they were giving back “cremated remains” that were cement powder, not human ashes.
Various reports from former employees of Sunset Mesa led the FBI to conduct a raid on the Colorado business last week.  They found bags upon bags of cement in the funeral home’s back rooms.  
Sunset Mesa’s owner Megan Hess also runs a body broker operation, Donor Services out of the same building.  Former employees have relayed the graphic extent to which donated bodies there were dismembered and sold (which might just hint at where the missing cadavers from the next door crematorium went).  Once again, family members have been duped by a funeral home while the remains of the dead are profited off of and transported around the world in the mysterious market of cadaver relocation.

The phone number and website for Sunset Mesa is down, and mysteriously, so is that of Donor Services, even though the Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration maintained that it did not shut down the donation operation as it’s out of their purview.  
Hess’ lawyer has asked not to be contacted further, but we’ll be keeping tabs on what ends up happening to her.  Let’s face it, the real crime here is her haircut.
 Oh, Megan.

Oh, Megan.

-Rachel Hsu

Bon Appétit

BON APPÉTIT

Gacy really knew how to live.

If you find yourself on death row, you can look forward to a special treat on the way to the chair.  In many parts of the USA, prisoners about to be executed are allowed to request whatever they’d like as their last meal on this earth.  While the last meal tradition has roots in England and France, today it is inextricably tied to America’s relationship with capital punishment.

The archetypal last meal is something like John Wayne Gacy’s: a dozen deep-fried shrimp, a bucket of Kentucky Friend Chicken, french fries, and a pound of strawberries.  One might think 33 counts of murder warrants no special treatment, but tradition allowed Gacy a final moment of gluttony.  Timothy McVeigh ordered two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream (I approve).  Since Ted Bundy didn’t make a special request for his last meal, he was given a generic last meal of medium-rare steak, eggs over easy, buttered toast with jelly, hash browns, juice, and milk.  It seems that most death row inmates go for a last hurrah of excess.  Jessy Carlos San Miguel, who was put in prison for robbing a Taco Bell and shooting the restaurant’s manager, requested a pizza topped with beef, bacon bits, and double cheese; 10 quesadillas (5 mozzarella and 5 cheddar), 5 strips of open-flame grilled beef, 5 strips of stir-fried beef, broccoli, chocolate peanut butter ice cream, double fudge chocolate cake, grapes, and sweet tea.  

Others are more minimalist: Victor Harry Feguer, the last inmate to be executed before the death penalty’s temporary ban in 1972, asked for a single olive with the pit in it.  Robert Anthony Madden, who was executed at 23 for the murder (and postmortem binding and disposing of) a father-son duo, asked that his final meal be given to a homeless person instead of him.

In 2011, Lawrence Russel Brewer requested a large dinner before his lethal injection.  The white supremacist had been convicted of chaining a black man to his pickup truck and dragging him along the road, which decapitated his victim.  Brewer requested a pound of barbecue; half a loaf of white bread; three fajitas; a ground beef, tomato, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, and cheese omelet; two chicken fried steaks smothered in gravy with sliced onions; a triple bacon cheeseburger; a large bowl of fried okra; a meat lovers pizza; a pint of vanilla ice cream; a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts; and three root beers.  When he was given his meal, he refused to eat.  This was seen as an exercise of power against the prison system, forcing them to waste resources on a pointless act.  Texas officials decided that enough was enough, and officially ended the last meal custom in the state.

Final meals are inspired by Judeo-Christian values, drawing upon Passover and the Last Supper to indicate unity, forgiveness, and gratitude for salvation after a sacrifice of self.  They are ceremonial, with the potential to range from humorous to haunting.  But it seems bittersweet that after such a strong tradition held on in the States for so long, Texas is denying their death row inmates their final salvation.  I imagine they now have little left to look forward to.  While some, like Brewer, use their last meal request as a political tool to miff the prison officials, others may just wish to have a final taste of their free life.  Gacy was a KFC manager for years, and it seems like his last meal was more for his own pleasure than as a fuck-you to the prison.

After Texas’ decision, jailhouse chef Brian Price offered to prepare death row meals for free, but they denied him.  Since he cooked 218 last meals before the ban in 2011, Price noted in an interview: 

“The Texas Department of Corrections has a policy that no matter what the request, it has to be prepared from items that’s in the prison kitchen commissary. And, like if they requested lobster, they’d get a piece of frozen pollock. Just like they would normally get on a Friday, but what I’d do is wash the breading off, cut it diagonally and dip it in a batter so that it looked something like at Long John Silver’s — something from the free world, something they thought they were getting, but it wasn’t. They quit serving steaks in 1994, so whenever anyone would request a steak, I would do a hamburger steak with brown gravy and grilled onions, you know, stuff like that. The press would get it as they requested it, but I would get their handwritten last meal request about three days ahead of time and I’d take it to my captain and say, “Well, what do you want me to do?” And she’d lay it out for me. I tried to do the best I could with what I had. Amazingly, we did pretty well with what we did have. They are served two hours before they are executed and it is no longer a burger and fries or a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich or whatever they requested. All it is, two hours later, is stomach content on an autopsy report.”

 

- Rachel Hsu