By Scott Tre

The nature of evil is difficult to contemplate, and even harder to visualize. Movie villains often have clear motivations that are spelled out explicitly. The audience is made to understand how and why they came to be. The audience is also made to understand what their goals are, and just how they plan to go about getting them accomplished. Such rules are considered mandatory for proper storytelling. However, backstory and exposition are sometimes unnecessary. An effective villain can simply be a force of nature, with no rhyme or reason as to his existence or actions. The most horrible acts often occur without the benefit of logical explanation. The horror genre, which is a great medium for examining mankind’s collective fears, has many examples of how such characterizations can be employed to optimum effect. In 1978, writer/director John Carpenter offered a vision of evil that revealed it to be faceless, emotionless void. It was simply titled Halloween.

On Halloween night, 1963, a horrible tragedy befalls the Myers household. Eight year old Michael suddenly and inexplicably stabs his teenage sister to death. He is then placed in a sanitarium, where he spends the next 15 years of his life in a state of impenetrable catatonia. Psychiatrist Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasance) takes pity on the troubled young boy, making several attempts to connect with him. His efforts prove fruitless as Michael proves beyond treatment of any kind. Fifteen years later, on the night before Halloween, Michael suddenly reanimates. He escapes captivity and returns to his old neighborhood. On Halloween day he begins stalking a meek, virginal teenage girl named Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Laurie begins to sense that she is being followed, but her suspicions are immediately dismissed by her friends. As day turns to night, Laurie dutifully performs her babysitting duties while her friends indulge their raging hormones. As they will all find out, Michael Myers initial crime was not a random, isolated occurrence. It was the beginning of a murderous spree, one that he means to continue on that very night.

Halloween was initially conceived when producers Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad enlisted filmmaker John Carpenter’s help in crafting a commercial horror picture. They were quite taken with Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 and thought him to be the right man for the job. Per their request, Carpenter and his then girlfriend Debra Hill drafted a screenplay titled The Babysitter Murders. In order to maximize the film’s commercial chances, Yablans suggested that the screenplay be set on Halloween night and named after the holiday as well. The meager budget and tight shooting schedule did not allow for extravagant production values. This was evidenced by Michael Myers wardrobe. The screenplay vaguely described his mask as having ‘the pale features of a human face.’ Taking that description into account, Production designer Tommy Lee Wallace purchased a William Shatner mask for a mere 1.98. He then spray painted it white and enlarged the eye holes, giving it a ghostly, mannequin-like appearance. Evil now had a visage.

Outfitted with nothing but the aforementioned mask and wielding a butcher knife, Michael was a blank slate in every sense of the word. He spoke not a single word through the duration of the film. His movements were robotic, revealing nothing in the way of personality or expression. Bladed weapons and firearms have little to no effect on him. His amazing strength and seeming imperviousness to physical damage are never explained. Like Michael himself, such attributes just simply are. Upon seeing him, his victims simply freeze and/or shriek in terror. They make no attempt to plead or bargain with him. His figurative and literal blankness discourage any attempt at human connection. He is a void of emptiness, devouring anyone he comes in contact with. He is the enigma that drives the film, and undoubtedly a key part of its unprecedented success. Halloween made the slasher genre commercially viable. Its influence extends all the way to the sci-fi and action genres. The Terminator, as envisioned in the original film is a distant cousin of Michael. Like him, the T-800 personifies not only death, but the inevitability of death. It can be postponed, but never cheated or stopped. It will clear any obstacle in acquisition of its target.

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By Scott Tre

Vigilantes invaded American cinema in a big way during the 1970’s. The world of superhero comics responded in kind. Mere months before Michael Winner crafted arguably the definitive vigilante film of the period with Death Wish, Marvel comics offered up a costumed anti-hero who had an eerily similar modus operandi. He was conceived as an antagonist to none other than Spider-Man. By the mid to late 80’s, American superhero comics were entering the “Grim and Gritty” period, which offered up exceedingly dark takes on classic heroes such as Batman. The tone fit the punisher perfectly. Seeing as how the character had never been the subject of his very own series, writer Steven Grant and artist Mike Zeck felt the time was right to finally unleash the character on an unsuspecting Marvel Universe. They did so in a mini-series fittingly titled “Circle of Blood.”

In the beginning of “Circle of Blood,” The Punisher’s one man war on crime was been brought to an abrupt halt. He has finally been apprehended and is being held in Ryker’s Island, surrounded by any number of inmates who have a vendetta against him. After being double crossed during a failed prison break, the Punisher is offered tempting proposition by the warden. He will be allowed to escape, so long as he agrees to head up a squad of vigilantes funded by a private organization known only as The Trust. Now back on the streets, The Punisher orchestrates a turf war among the New York’s various criminal factions. He hopes this will cause New York’s underworld to cannibalize itself and implode, but it simply results in unnecessary bloodshed. While trying to bring the warring parties to a peaceful resolution, The Punisher realizes that the Trust’s intentions do not line up with his own.

Spurred on by such phenomena as the crack epidemic and the war on drugs, national crime rates skyrocketed throughout the 1980’s. Right wing pundits proposed a “get tough on crime” strategy to galvanize voters. This sentiment was reflected in the popular entertainment of the day. The public was indeed ready for a character like the Punisher to receive his own monthly title. Yet, Marvel was initially skittish about doing so for its lone executioner. “Circle of Blood” was very much in the vein of contemporary action films. The story begins in the bowels of Ryker’s Island and gets more violent as it progresses. Its protagonist did not do battle with flamboyantly costumed villains. He performed hits on Mafia dons and the like. Not to mention that the Punisher himself was a rather sullen and distant character. He had no pretensions toward heroism. Like many of the cinematic anti-hero’s of the period, he was a Vietnam veteran, compelled to rid the city of scum after his own family was slaughtered during a gangland dispute in central Park.

The artwork of Mike Zeck made Frank Castle come alive as never before. He outfitted the character with a bodybuilder’s physique that wouldn’t at all have been functional in the real world, yet that’s exactly what it was on the comic page. The Punishers broad, skull clad frame truly inhabited each panel from a spatial standpoint. Zeck also infused him with mood and presence. His furrowed brow and curled lip channeled Dirty Harry Callahan, Paul Kersey, and John Rambo all at once. Supporting it all was Steven Grant’s writing, which set up The Punisher as the proverbial man of few words.

“Circle of Blood” was published over the course of five issues during the first half of 1986. The character was enthusiastically embraced by readers, leading Marvel to give him his own ongoing monthly title the following year. Throughout the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the Punisher’s grim visage would grace no less than three ongoing monthly titles. By 1995, public demand for the character had diminished considerably. He was successfully resurrected five years later by Garth Ennis, who offered perhaps the most satisfying iteration of the character yet. He’s also been the subject of three feature films, none of which managed to capture the basic appeal of the character. “Circle of Blood” is where it all started. It was the perfect comic at the perfect time. Beware the Punisher.

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Porn starlets, Andy San Dimas and Jessie Andrews, are the faces (and bodies) of Mishka’s Fall 2011 Collection. Here’s what the guys over at Mishka had to say about it:

“So we got these two girls together and photographed them in and out of our clothes. There’s a lot of shots of them wearing just sweatshirts from behind with their butts visible, which I am very interested in. I think that there should be a band called Young Butts. So check out these two fly young chickadees sporting our garb in the woods, hanging out with old dolls and inside cars. If you like our clothes and admiring/jacking off to two very pretty ladies then this is Мишка’s way of saying happy birthday to your dick and balls. Or if you are a lady, to your lady genitals and imagination. Everyone loves looking at nude ladies. I have straight female friends who prefer lesbian porn because they prefer to look at the lady approach to boffing and lady’s bodies are more likely to make them feel sexy than some Ron Jeremy testicle monster. I’m not sure why I am talking about this.”