Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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Spring is blooming here in East Texas. The Azalea Trails, which is something the town of Tyler is known for is in full bloom. It will be my first spring down here, and it has already been nice. In West Texas spring isn't a very nice time of the year, you just get high winds and a lot of blowing dust. But down here, a lot more foliage is on display. We do get more inclement weather, which I'm not used to, and high winds will kick up, plus tornado alerts, and some hail--I'm still not used to that and it gets a bit scary at times. But I guess you take the good with the bad. The flowers are a nice change though.

I got out and went by Walmart and bought some of those Topsy Turvy tomato planters where they grow upside down. I also bought some plants for them, and another potted tomato plant for the patio. I thought I was picking up two Topsy Turvy planters, but mistakenly picked up a pepper one, so I need to go back to Walmart and buy some pepper plants to plant in that. I got back and raked up leaves a little bit and cleaned out the flower beds. I need to put down some mulch. I got out the lawn mower and mulched the leaves, planted the tomatoes, and dug around out in the storage building for a bit.

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I came in later, and cleaned up and ate a bit of supper. I'd gotten in a couple of DVDs. I watched The Norliss Tapes (1973) first. It was a made-for-TV movie, which I think was going to be the pilot of a series, but never happened. It's still an interesting watch, sort of like the X-Files or closer perhaps to Kolchack: The Night Stalker. It started Roy Thinnes as David Norliss, who was also in the Invaders series. He played an investigative news reporter who has disappeared. His boss goes to his house to try and find out his whereabouts and to see if anything is wrong as he hasn't called into the job lately. He looks around for him, and while there sticks in a cassette of some of his journals. The story plays out as a sort of flashback to his past life. This was to act like a framing device, where we get flashbacks into his life, and it reveals some of his supernatural investigations. It was done pretty well. Part of the draw of movies and TV shows is that you get to fantasize about other lives. There are some nice shots of California and San Francisco in the film. One shot, atop a restaurant looks down at the Golden Gate bridge, which is one of the nice shots in the film. The film plays out as an occult mystery. William F. Nolan, who wrote Logan's Run, and many other SF and horror stories scripted it, and Dan Curtis, who's known for Dark Shadows directed and produced it. It was a fun, escapist adventure story.

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The better film of the night, which I'd never really heard much about was The Night of the Hunter. For me, it fell into the classic territory. It stars Robert Mitchum as a con artist preacher, who while in jail, meets Ben Harper played by a young Peter Graves, who had stolen some money. Graves has hidden the loot on his property, and tells his son, never to reveal their secret to anyone, and always protect his sister and mother--a rather large responsibility to place on a kid. While in jail the preacher learns of the hidden money, and Harper dies rather mysteriously. Once released the preacher pays a visit to Harper's widow to charm her and his family and community. From there on out the movie picks up speed and grips the viewer until the ending. The film offers a lot of odd shots, which while I watched it reminded me of David Lynch, and the preacher character reminded me of Randall Flagg from Stephen King's The Stand novel for some odd reason. So it has this odd mixture of horror and suspense to it. It was directed by Charles Laughton, the English actor, who starred in many famous roles. It was made in 1955, but certainly worth a watch, as I said, I'd consider it a classic.

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