Diary of a Dark Lord

  In the early 90s, I was a dreadlocked guy living in Austin Texas after a recent move from Houston. I had picked up and relocated after feeling  I had burned through most of my good options back home, and had recently gotten out of a long term relationship. I was on the market, and hanging out with a woman that I liked a lot. She was kind of odd though.

  I never figured out if she had romantic intentions, or just liked having a guy around a lot… She had a ton of male friends, but liked me to be around a LOT – To the point of taking baths in front of me… Requiring me to avert my eyes until she was in the tub, and more frustratingly, asking me to spend the night with her almost every evening. It is a weird thing to be a 22 year old male, and to have a confusing but beautiful 22 year old female ask you to sleep over at her place  without any seduction taking place. I had other options, and being shoved into a weird corner of the friend zone was not part of my plan.

  This went on for a month or two, and just got too frustrating for me. I wouldn’t share the same bed and bath time with a male friend, and it was not something I was going to start doing with platonic female pals.

  I got enough attention from other women at that time, but was still interested in my confusing friend, and it was driving me crazy. I began to suspect that she either was stringing me along indefinitely until a better option for her came along… Or was a head case with weird intimacy issues. I’m still not sure which was closer to the truth, but I was not the type of guy that was going to wait around forever to find out.

  Eventually, Shannon (That was her name), introduced me to a few of her friends… She was one of those people that seemed to know everyone, but liked to hang out with me alone most of the time. I ended up meeting “Carol”, a very attractive natural blonde, that seemed very cool, and somewhat responsible. She had a real job, and didn’t work at a bar or record store like most of the other people I certainly wasn’t a model of career development myself, but it seemed  impressive to meet a woman my age with a degree and some ambition.

   I offered her a ride home, and we ended up getting along well. Unsurprisingly, Shannon was not pleased with this turn of events, but I figured that nothing was happening between us, so I might as well move on.

So I set up a date with Carol.

  The next weekend, I picked her up and drove the two of us to a restaurant on the North Side of town. We hit it off pretty well – She was smart, and that was something I always liked in a woman, she seemed to have a career planned, which was interesting – Most of the women I knew at that time were only interested in who was playing at Emos the next weekend… It was new to me, I guess.

  She talked about that and the other thing that were important to her… Art… Music… History… Her Spiritual Guide….. Wait… Hold on a minute – “Spiritual Guide”?

That’s when things got weird… And I was used to weird… This stuff was a little weirder than I liked.

  Carol apparently had a trusted Spiritual guide… Some sort of guru as far as I could tell, and the woman seemed to have a LOT of influence over Carol’s life. She never named any specific religion, but the spiel reminded me of the “Ascended Master” junk that new age hucksters like Elizabeth Claire Prophet tried to sell.

  Her world view was quite exciting – Of course there was a very real battle between the agents of Good and Evil, and the world was secretly ruled by spirits both low and high. Her “Advisor” – ( I’ll call her “Val”), consulted with Carol on just about every topic that affected her life, and on a daily basis.

  While she explained the situation, I tried to politely take it all in, without betraying the fact that I was hearing cuckoo noises in my head as she talked and talked about this Val person, and her enormous mystical powers.

  I’m a patient guy. I’ll overlook some pretty massive flaws in a person, and I was used to ignoring some craziness in the dating pool back then. It was the early 90s and Austin Texas after all… You didn’t have to keep things weird, they were already weird. And I was weird too, so I decided to try to get through the date without telling Carol that the stuff she believed was absolute bullshit. Besides, she was very attractive, and I was only 22. These things happened.

  Actually two things happened after dinner that night – Carol spent the night. A real “sleep over” between two people of the opposite sex, not the weird naked, non sexual buddy system that Shannon seemed to prefer, and Carol continued to talk about Val, and what Val thought about…. Everything.

  Carol just droned on and on about this cosmic battle that her guide was helping wage against unseen demons. Val was so tied into Carol’s life… Approving what housewares she bought, the types of clothes she could buy… Everything… It came to light that Val had even given  Carol permission for us to eat at the restaurant I suggested –  It was clear that Val was the invisible chaperone on our date the whole night.

  I had no doubt that she would hear every detail about what happened over our evening together, and would probably get a very clinical and detailed review of our bedroom activities the next day.

  In the morning, Carol called Val from my house, and talked rapidly in a hushed whisper. Her eyes kept darting my way, and it was not a comfortable way to greet the day. After a minute, she hung up and hurriedly excused herself, leaving me and the breakfast I’d been cooking for us behind.

  It was a weird first date, but at that point in my life, I didn’t let that sort of thing bother me. I figured that was the last I’d see or hear from Carol though, so I was surprised the next day when She called me and wanted to go on a second date.

  That outing was as weird as the first – Perhaps even more awkward. While Carol had been content to talk endlessly about herself, Val, Val’s great metaphysical gifts and wisdom, and how Val guided Carol through a life full of dangers both seen and unseen… Well, this time she wanted to know everything she could about ME.

  We went to dinner again, at a different restaurant, but the whole evening Carol peppered me with questions… Some very specific. She wanted to know all sorts of things – Whether I came from money, or had career plans, what my concepts of spirituality were, whether I thought I might be missing anything in life… Lots of creepy questions throughout the meal.

  I had mentally decided that I had endured enough, and while I kept my composure, I was ready to just take Carol back to her place and drop her off. The questions were annoying and her company was exhausting.

  I guess she picked up on my chilly demeanor as we left, because she started to quickly tell me how cool I was, how much she liked me, and how sexy she thought I was. The flattery wasn’t entirely convincing, but I was still trying to figure out what was happening with this strange woman, and I agreed when she asked me to come in to her place.

  We spent another night together, and it was good enough… It even seemed normal. She quit the uncomfortable interrogation, and switched gears into something resembling  seduction. She even managed to not mention Val during that second half of our evening together.

But Crazy is resourceful, and Crazy doesn’t like to hide for long, so the next morning Crazy made another unwanted appearance.

  “You have to leave now.” Carol grimly told me as I woke up. She was standing naked above me, and looked like she had been watching me sleeping. Maybe watching for a long time. She had a blank look on her face, and her eyes were cold. She may as  well have been looking at a strange lizard lying in her bed instead of me. I was relieved and somewhat surprised that she didn’t have a large knife or a hatchet in her hand.

I took her advice – Got dressed in record time, and drove home. Neither of us said anything.

  Maybe a week later, I was moving on… I had found someone else to go out with, and the unpleasant creepiness of my dates with Carol were quickly fading from memory. I was lounging around my place when I noticed that I had a message flashing on my answering machine. I went to check it, and sure enough it was Carol.

  She had called to let me know that Val had consulted other “Masters” and they had come to two conclusions – I was a “Dark Lord”…. Some sort of fallen angel in human form, and that Madonna… The singer Madonna… Was also a fallen angel.

She simply couldn’t see me anymore, as darkness would continue to grow around me, and I would soon harness evil forces without even meaning to.

I thought about calling her just to laugh in her face, but thought better of it.

This Dark Lord had better things to do. At least I kept good company, what with Madonna and all.

Slimey Worm Rape on a Dark Planet

Galaxy of Terror – 1981

  Galaxy of Terror seems to be one of the more famous Roger Corman produced films from the early 80s. It was one of those movies that my friends with cable always raved about, and I remember liking it when I finally saw it one late night at one of their houses.

 The story begins on a stormy and dark planet called Morganthus. The last survivor from a crashed spaceship is violently killed by some unseen beastie, and somewhere on a distant planet, two people are playing a weird board game. One of these individuals is a kind of cosmic fortune teller, and the other is identified as the “Planet Master”, an all powerful being with a red glowing light obscuring his features. They talk vaguely about events being put into motion, and then Mr. Glowing Light Orb For a Head commands his military to send a ship to Morganthus immediately.

  So off speeds the “Quest” piloted by Captain Trantor (Grace Zabriskie, – Many viewers will recognize her from lots of other films) who is mentally disturbed and reckless due to a traumatic space disaster she’d survived in the distant past. The rest of the crew is a colorful bunch, and includes such improbable members as an “Empath” (Played by Erin Moran from “Happy Days”) and a “Crystal Master”… Whatever that is… Played by Sid Haig. Other familiar faces are the ship’s cook, played by “My Favorite Martian” star Ray Walston, and the crew’s “Ranger” played by Robert Englund.

  Once the ship nears Morganthus, it goes out of control and crash lands. The crew slowly makes it’s way across the surface of the planet to the other ship, where they discover the aftermath of a terrible massacre. They also find that something on the planet caused the crash, and upon further investigation, they stumble across a huge pyramid structure, and decide to explore it.

  It is at this point that the real purpose of the movie unfolds – Specifically, the crew members are murdered one by one by horrible monsters within the pyramid. These are all set pieces, and what the film is generally remembered for – There is a nasty scene where the generic blonde crew member is stripped naked and raped by a really slimy giant worm… That’s the scene that seems to stick in people’s minds the most, followed in notoriety by the scene where the Empath is torn to pieces by tentacles…. Joanie from “Happy Days” meeting that horrible end sticks with you.

  Almost everyone is dispatched in gruesome ways within the pyramid, until only the main protagonist “Cabren”  is left. At that point, he encounters “The Cook”, who reveals that he’s really the “Planet Master”, and that the pyramid was essentially a game created by a long extinct race to allow them to manifest their worst fears, and to gain mastery over them.  Cabren kills the Master, and replaces him – Becoming the new “Planet Master” himself. The End.

  So, “Galaxy of Terror” has a few things going on. It’s deeply corny in a lot of ways – there is extensive  use of very dated looking “laser affects”, and the characters are also silly -The Empath and “Master of Crystals” in particular. I dig Sid Haig in most things, but his character is pretty hard to like in this film. He basically throws around a couple of cheesy looking crystal throwing stars, and looks angry, up until he’s killed by those same throwing stars.

  Ray Walston as the Cook was also hard to take seriously –  There was no way I could shake the feeling that I was looking at “My Favorite Martian” anytime he appeared on screen. That goes double for Erin Moran – I kept thinking of “Happy Days” anytime she showed up. Robert Englund was problematic for the same reason, but I’ll give him a  pass, since “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was still a couple of years in his future.

  The movie is also completely derivative of both “Alien” and “Forbidden Planet”, borrowing plot devices and production design from both. About the only original ideas in the film are it’s worst ones – The cornball “Planet Master” being the main one.

  A lot of low budget movies came out during this time period that ripped off Alien. It was one of those landmark films that changed the way people thought a movie in space could look. And honestly, I’ve seen the atmosphere from Alien ripped off and done worse in lots of other bad movies. Sure, it’s not done REALLY well – The distant shot of the Pyramid looks like a painting on canvass, and some of the sets look as cheap as they undoubtably were. Others manage to look convincing and atmospheric enough though – So no originality at all on that front, but it’s effective enough for an exploitation film like “Galaxy of Terror”.

  As to the plot… Well, the plot is really just there to get the silly characters into that Pyramid so they can be raped and slaughtered. The killings are really the reason this film is remembered – I can’t imagine that anyone would still care about this film if the violent set pieces had been toned down. I’ve met people that still remember Galaxy of Terror because of the infamous, and still  horrible to watch worm rape scene… Lots of slime in that one.  And there are several other graphic scenes in the film, so it’s not surprising that Galaxy of Terror has garnered a cult following over the years. The special effects range from very dated and laughable, to moderately well done. I’ve definitely seen a lot worse in Corman movies over the years.

  It’s all distasteful and pretty goofy, and a person that over thinks things will be wondering why they combined so many stupid plot elements with the things that work for this film. Did they really need that silly “Planet Master” character at all? Was Ray Walston a wise choice to use? Was Mr. Walston forced into this film because he owed someone money? Did they think that a guy throwing crystal throwing stars was  really a good idea? So many questions.

  But if you go in with low enough expectations, and like blatant Alien rip offs, Galaxy of Terror is not the absolute worst way you can spend an hour and a half.

80s Teen Sex Comedy Graveyard – Screws Are Loose in Canada…

“Screwballs 2: Loose Screws”

  Netflix streaming service has really filled the niche that 80s cable movie channels used to. Specifically, it’s made films available that I never would have gone to see at the movies, and always passed up on the video rental shelves because they looked too crappy to pay the rental fee. There were movies that I’d continuously see on those shelves… Lots of dumb looking horror or teen sex films, that just didn’t look quite interesting enough to take a chance on.

  Now, I’m making up for those lost “opportunities”, because Netflix and YouTube seem to have an enormous collection of those rarities for me to indulge in. Unlike the rental roulette I used to play, if a flick turns out to be ridiculously dumb or not entertaining, then I can watch something else that I know will be good without having to drive back to the video store. It’s pretty awesome.

  I remember having friends with cable back in the early 80s, that would regale me with tales of what I was missing in some of the films that haunted those channels late at night. Me? Unfortunately I missed the 80s cable revolution. My parents just didn’t want cable, so the only time I ever watched any of it was when I was staying with friends. But I’m a lifelong fan of weird/bad cinema, so I’ve eagerly embraced the chance to watch some of those crap recently.

  Which brings me to “Screwballs 2 : Loose Screws”, the sequel to well, “Loose Screws” obviously… A puerile teen sex comedy I also recently saw on Netflix. When I say “teen sex comedy” let’s face it – These films were almost all created for, and marketed to teenage males (Or perhaps really immature adult males), so maybe “Male targeted teen sex comedy” is more appropriate.

  Having been an immature male teen at one point in my life, I feel qualified to review this flaccid turd of a film – I suppose you can count “flaccid turd” as a review if you want the shorthand, but here is the more complete breakdown:

  Like the first film, four male friends attend the wackily named “Beaver High”. They’re supreme fuckups and the improbably group covers several stereotyped character types popular thirty years ago – You have the fat guy, the nerd, the jock, and a ladies man/80s preppy guy.

  They have ridiculous names… “Hugh G. Rection” being typical. Basically, everyone in tho film has a hammy dick joke or double entendre name. It’s like reading an old Mad magazine  spoof for hairy palmed adolescents. Anyway, I couldn’t keep up with who was named who – Seemed like investing too much thought into these characters.

  I’m not even sure if they are supposed to be the same guys from “Loose Screws”. The guy playing the nerd is the same actor, but the others are different. Doesn’t matter in any case. If they’re not the same guys, they’re the same basic characters from the first film.

  The group of friends has spent four years as seniors due to the madcap antics and sexual harassment that seems to occupy all of their time. The Principle of Beaver High (Mr. Asshoale or something to that effect) calls them to the office, and tells the merry troupe that he’s sending them to “Coxswell Academy”, a special school for screw ups like them, since they’ve spent four years in the 12th grade… Which explains why they all look like they’re in their mid 20s. This may be the only realistic plot device in the movie – I don’t recall ever seeing another that explained why the “kids” in the movie look 27 and not 15.

  In any case, the rest of the film takes place at Coxswell Academy, and is essentially a remake of the first film. This time the group spends the movie spinning elaborate schemes to fuck as many of the girls at Coxswell as possible – They even create a point system for their conquests. Whether that system ever really affects the plot, I don’t know, the sexually retarded hijinks just seem to “happen” without any real purpose or plot purpose – Par for the course for a film like this. The main target for their lust is the French teacher, “Mona Lott” (of course), who is not so secretly sleeping with an Eugene Levy lookalike, Principle of Coxswell “Mr. Arsenault”.

  The first day they are at Coxswell, the team of male pals stage a fake breast exam for the female students. I’m not sure where it would be considered legit for a high school breast exam to take place where the “doctors” are all guys too young to be through medical school, commanding the young women to strip down to their underwear, so they can feel them up, but apparently that kind of thing flies at Coxswell Academy.

  The next scheme has one of the guys dressing in bad drag so he can infiltrate the all girls dormitory, something he improbably pulls off, even managing to take a bath with one of the girls.

  And so it goes. The problem with a movie like this, is it manages to somehow achieve the unthinkable, and makes nudity boring. The tedious and unbelievably stupid plot devices are only there to set up another impossible set piece so that the viewer can see some boobs and butts (Though not much full frontal nudity for some reason), and those plot pieces drag the film to a tedious halt most of the time.

  There’s a quick attempt to tie up the loose ends of the plot near the end, and it involves an airborne aphrodisiac or some crap like that, and of course we all finally get to see Ms. Mona Lott topless, but there’s not really a story here. Perhaps in a movie like Screwballs story is not the primary concern. I get that.

Random thoughts:

1. Lots of hideous 80s fashion on display. That might be the real appeal of this film.

2. The “boys” in this film must be in their early to mid 20s according to the “spent four years in 12 grade” plot device. Since the females in the film are supposed to be teenagers, that kind of makes a lot of the wacky hi jinks kind of rapey – So a group of 23 year old men have a points system game where they win by having sex with as many teenaged high school girls as possible? I’m pretty sure that kind of activity gets you put on a sexual predator list these days.

3. Having every character in a movie named after a dick joke or sexual function isn’t funny unless you’re a 13 year old boy.

4. Nudity CAN be boring. I have stared into the abyss, and this is the horrific revelation that stared back!

5. Canada was responsible for this film. Like a lot of early slasher films, there are telltale signs that this film was shot north of the US border. Actors saying “Aboot” abound, and the license plates and street signs are not American. At one point, the gang goes to a Town “Centre”… So yeah. I’m actually glad this wasn’t made in the US.

6. Unlike most 80’s stock “Nerd” characters, the nerd in this film comes across more like a creepy molester type than the normal stereotype. All of the male leads do, but he comes across the worst.

  So my final judgment? If you want to see a lot of 80s looking women in their underwear, and occasionally naked, and don’t mind wading through at least an hour and twenty minutes of barely watchable “story”, then this might be a good movie to watch. I think I’d probably have enjoyed it if I were drunk and sitting around with friends making fun of it. So it’s not totally without merit I guess. But if you want some 80s vintage titillation that’s not nearly as stupid, then watch “My Tutor” instead. It’s also on Netflix right now.

The Bubble Bursts. Mountains of Porn and Underwear Follow.

  In the late 90s, I had moved back to Houston after living in Austin for several years. I felt like I needed to settle down and find some sort of direction in life, after nearly a decade of chasing fun, but irresponsible pursuits. Unfortunately, those misspent years had left me with few marketable skills, and my job options in Houston looked pretty bleak.

  After looking fruitlessly for a month or so, and only being offered crappy low paying pizza delivery and janitorial jobs, my Father entered the picture. He owned a small business doing “Resurfacing” services. Basically, he had technicians that would go into apartments and homes where cabinets, countertops, or old sinks and bathtubs were screwed up – Either horribly outdated looking or having serious cosmetic problems. His technicians would patch the problems up, and then use a durable paint to change colors or make the affected area look better. There were still thousands of apartments with hideous avocado or “harvest gold” color schemes in their kitchens or bathrooms, so business was good.

  Like many things, when done well, it could make ugly or damaged areas look new, and when done badly, it just drew more attention to the original problems.

  I realized that the job would be physical, and that there would be some unpleasant aspects to doing it, but the pay was appealing, and since my dad was the boss, I had hopes that I might end up running the office at some point.

  I was prepared to hustle, but what I wasn’t prepared for were the…. “Unexpected” and unsavory aspects of the job.

  We mostly serviced either occupied apartments, or ones where the tenant had very recently moved or been evicted. Our main clients were almost exclusively with giant complexes occupied by working class or working poor people. The apartment supervisors were usually cheapskates that would rather hire companies like us to gloss over cosmetic problems than they would like to pay to have new cabinets or appliances installed. In some cases, they had been using companies like ours so long that I would have to resurface stuff that had already been done two or three times in the past.

  The occupied units were the worst – The processes we used created highly toxic fumes – I had to wear a respirator the whole time I worked – The residents knew well in advance that we would be working in their home, and it was creepy to see the crap they would leave laying out in the open for us to see.

  Sex toys were common. I’d often have to journey through a bedroom to get to a bathroom, and there would be an astonishing array of huge dildos and lube laying out on nightstands. Sometimes there were drugs or paraphernalia out in the open too. Huge bongs were common, and I spied at least 20 crack pipes in the year I worked for my dad.

  I had to wonder what went through those tenants minds… The sex stuff was pretty yucky, but who leaves their drugs out in the open for some stranger to see?

  The apartments where recent evictions had taken place were often weird too. The same drug stuff and sex toys were common in those, but they were usually empty of furniture, so the things left behind stood out in high contrast. One place I worked at had nothing left in it besides a sink of very dirty dishes, and a mountainous heap of porno magazines in the living room. Another had the biggest pile of underwear I’ve ever seen accumulated in one location, and occasionally someone would leave behind Polaroids of themselves naked or having sex. I don’t know why these were the kinds of things left behind so often, but they were. It was as if some tenants fled hurriedly in the middle of the night, leaving behind their most embarrassing or illegal items as some sort of dark window into their lives. Sometimes I wondered if they just had so much of that kind of stuff that they were forced to leave behind their beloved collection of anal lubes and porn because their car was already stuffed full of other sexual junk.

 There were also catastrophic looking messes sometimes. I’d enter an up until recently occupied apartment, to discover that nothing was left but some awful looking stain on the carpet. Blood? Sewage? Dye? I had no idea. Other times there would be garbage everywhere, as if the tenant had said “Fuck it”, and dumped the contents of ten huge garbage bags all over the floor. Once, the only thing left in the whole place had been a creepy looking homemade doll… A big one… Sitting up against a wall. It felt like the vile thing was watching me the whole time I was working, and gave me a serious case. of the willies.

  I also discovered a disturbing fact for any apartment tenant – It is apparently common for maintenance guys to find and steal drugs when working on a unit – I once had a maintenance guy brag about all of the weed he found and taken from apartments… Because what were they going to do? Call the police?

 More troubling was the discovery that some of those guys also go through women’s underwear drawers when they aren’t around.

  I had to work in the bathroom of a fairly upscale apartment once – The woman that lived there… The tenant was obviously a woman… Had a huge and impressive collection of antique furniture and Asian art, something I noted as I made my way to the back bathroom.

  I did my job, and then a couple of days later we were told that they suspected me of going through her underwear drawer… Not something I ever wanted to be suspected of.

  There were fingerprints and a hand print left in the fast drying white paint that I’d used all over her dresser and other furniture. I knew it wasn’t me, but had to go in to show the apartment supervisor – My hand was several inches bigger than the print left on that poor woman’s dresser, which exonerated me, but proved that someone else – Most likely the maintenance man- Had been in her place immediately after I’d finished, and had been stealing her underwear.

  In some of the slummier apartment complexes, just walking around was scary. I once entered an apartment, to discover that not only was the occupant still there, but she was busy conducting plans for a drug deal over the phone, with a bunch of hand guns sitting out on her table. I left that one without doing the job.
  After awhile, I realized that I wasn’t really making much money, wasn’t going o be moving up anytime soon, was tired of inhaling dangerous toxic fumes, and encountering so much filth and creepy weirdness. So I quit. No regrets either. Every person’s home is a sort of bubble… A private place. Seeing the aftermath of that bubble being burst, or getting a glimpse of the darker corners of a person’s private life was more than I wanted to deal with for a meager paycheck.