I had no plans to turn my “Tubular 2021” post into an annual tradition, but here, by request, are some of the songs I most enjoyed discovering on YouTube or that got stuck in my head since then.

[1] “The Train to Disaster” by The Voice

Introduced on the box set Chocolate Soup for Diabetics: 82 UK Psych Classics with a sample from Arthur Brown’s 1968 classic “Fire”, this 1966 destroyer wrecks the peace with organ stabs, fiendish, spiraling guitar tentacles, and bunker-busting drum bombardment that earn it a spot in the ranks of the finest sixties psychedelic shockers. Band members included future Spider from Mars Mick Ronson, and the group received support from the infamous Process Church of the Final Judgment according to the Chocolate Soup for Diabetics liner notes, which continue: “In June 1966 the cult abruptly decamped for the Bahamas […] leaving Ronson to join The Rats and – eventually – find fame and fortune with David Bowie.”

[2] “Nasty Nazi” by Big Boy Pete

Though never achieving international superstardom, accomplished guitarist Peter “Big Boy Pete” Miller operated in immediate proximity to the British rock greats of the sixties, and as a member of Peter Jay’s group the Jaywalkers toured with the Beatles and Rolling Stones in the early part of the decade. Miller’s solo recordings, many previously unissued, received new attention with a series of CD releases decades later, and this output, though not uniformly brilliant, does include some amusing rockers and oddities like “Nasty Nazi”, a lewd and bouncy freak-fuzz virtue signal from Pete’s psychedelic experimentation phase.

[3] “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” by Toots Thielemans

Belgian harmonica master Toots Thielemans, familiar to movie fans for his memorable contribution to the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack, hits just the right notes of big-city desolation, sleaze, loneliness, longing, mystery, and danger to suit the 1977 Diane Keaton vehicle Looking for Mr. Goodbar, a wacky, bizarre, and upsetting seventies trash-film that has to be seen to be believed. The song also appears on Thielemans’s 1980 NY-themed album Apple Dimple.

[4] “Was Wollen Wir Trinken” by Oktoberklub

Based on the traditional Breton drinking ditty “Son ar Chistr” (“Song of the Cider”), “Was Wollen Wir Trinken” (“What Will We Drink”) has been recorded in several versions. Celtic harpist Alan Stivell recorded it in 1970 as “Son ar Chistr”, Dutch band Bots rendered it as “Zeven Dagen Lang” (“Seven Days Long”) in 1976, and this version by East German communist volk-singers Oktoberklub apparently dates from 1977. Changing the line “We drink together, not alone” to “We drink to Luis Corvalan” in solidarity with a Chilean communist leader imprisoned by Augusto Pinochet, “Was Wollen Wir Trinken” was popular among European socialists during the seventies and was also recorded in Spain under the title “Socialismo en Libertad”.

[5] “The Red Banner Is Raised” by Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades

I spent quite a bit of last year reading about the history of the Palestinian struggle, and one of the most interesting figures I learned about was George Habash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a nazbollish group that emerged from the volatile Pan-Arab revolutionism of the previously Nasserist Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM) in the late sixties. This song of the PFLP’s paramilitary Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades celebrates Habash (“Hakim”) and elevates the ethos of militant rebellion, nationalist heroism, and immortality through bold deeds. “The Red Banner Is Raised” is the ideal track for getting pumped up to challenge the Zionist occupation and capitalist scum.

[6] “Albulena” by Eduart Sokoli

I came across “Albulena” by chance when, always on the lookout for obscure musical artifacts and historical inspirations, I discovered We Vybz TV’s colorful reaction video. The gory and boisterous Albanian nationalist anthem commemorates the 1457 Battle of Albulena in which Ottoman forces were crushed by Albania’s Skanderbeg, “a flippin’ national hero” as We Vybz puts it. Proud, brutal, and pounding, “Albulena” rivals “The Red Banner Is Raised” as a sword-swinging blood-pumper and goad to rebellious action.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Brandon Adamson, as Pilleater announces in his idiosyncratic “review” of the recently published poetry collection Atlantean Wavelengths, is “SO BACK”. The defining statement of Adamson’s mature immaturity, the book marks a new beginning as well as a return to themes that readers of the word-god of the deep have come to expect: the ancient and futuristic, the ideal and mundane, the visionary and nihilistic competitive and intertwined as the poet’s Promethean impulse probes the limits of forces beyond comprehension or alternatively loses interest.

Conveying a sense of the remoteness that Adamson cultivates, the poems are clean and calm and evocative of fascination, nostalgia, regrets, and an arrogant alienation and disconsolate megalomania informed by Adamson’s taste in retro science-fiction pop and mythical lore. “I drew inspiration from a number of Atlantis-related films (I always have old movies playing in the background while I write),” he explains, “most notably Journey Beneath the Desert, (1961) Warlords of Atlantis (1978), Hercules and the Conquest of Atlantis, (1961), Beyond Atlantis (1973), Atlantis, The Lost Continent (1961) Man From Atlantis (TV Series 1977-1978), The Fantastic Journey (Atlantium episode) War Gods of the Deep (1965), Goliath Awaits (1981) and most significantly, Operation Atlantis (1965).” It is not necessary to have seen all of these to enjoy Adamson’s poetry, but for those who prefer to read his work the way some people watch Quentin Tarantino movies, hunting down every obscure samurai film and grindhouse relic to which the director alludes, the Atlantean mythos as realized in these movies and programs may lend some shading or texture to the reader’s experience.

Some pieces, like “Last Recorded Transmission”, have a downbeat character, while “Ingestible Frontiers”, a paean to fake food, stands out as the funniest. More often, playful moods or references interweave with reflections of a somber or wistful sort, as with the children’s games or the “yellow marshmallow Easter bunny” offering poignant counterpoint to the feelings of loss and disappointment in “Memoirs of a Mental Time Traveler”. Dream women and elusive inamoratas appear here, too: “that 1960s air hostess” in a spaceship in “A Postcard from Phraxos” or “this flighty / cutie-pie firefly” in “Sagittarian Girl”, “sporting a playful expression as / she’s eyeing the next destination”. These poems are best if imagined recited with Adamson’s distinctive delivery – although the persistent alliteration of the description “precocious powerpoint pop princess” rather puts me in mind of Mike Myers’s “hard-hearted harbinger of haggis”, which may not have been Adamson’s intention.

Established in the opening poem, “The Orphans of Atlantis”, Adamson’s recurrent theme is the notion of exiles from lost milieux and men not so much against time as above it. Atlantean Wavelengths rejects most conventional collectivities as “the Atlantean finds himself atomized / by default” and necessarily solitary, but therefore capable, as a later poem elucidates, of “harnessing […] atomic energy”. Adamson, with this book, has sought to disassociate himself from politics, the irony being that, in doing so, he has written a strangely political work in that it so insistently emphasizes his non-commitment, with two paragraphs of the introductory essay Adamson posted at Rabbit’s Foot being about politics – and scattered among the poems are colorful elements of the author’s private ideology: technocratic exclusivity, eugenics, transhumanism, and a consumerist’s aesthetic enclavism.   

“In an age where nobody actually has real friends (and the irony of calling reality ‘irl’), we have turned ourselves into Englishmen who write digital letters to one another as we slowly die in isolation, somewhere in middle America,” Pilleater argues: “We live in the middle of the dead malls and shopping centers that have no purpose anymore. Someone else has to find the beauty in that eclectic mess.” With Atlantean Wavelengths, as Pilleater puts it, “I could pretend […] I just so happen to find this book in a San Francisco thrift shop on Divisadero street.” Boasting Adamson’s most attractive cover design to date, the book is indeed the sort of paperback art object that might catch one’s eye in a used bookstore. Implicit within the artwork, however, is an ambiguity. Is Adamson’s jaundiced sun ascendant or on a resigned decline? Do the diagonals indicate an Atlantis rising from watery depths of the oblivion of millennia or again submerging with undisguised contempt for the world of the surface? Prospective readers are hereby encouraged to venture an answer for themselves.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

In this low-budget Native American drama set in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, simple man of the people Rolly Lamoreaux (Albert Two Bears) finds himself infatuated with prodigal daughter Constance Talking Crow (Wicahpi Bison), a deracinated professional woman who comes back to the “res” from New York in an awkward attempt to get to know her people. Contrasted with the comparatively glamorous Constance is Mary Flies Above (Allyssa Comer), a sweet but chubby widow and mother whom Rolly helps with chores. Constance, accustomed to big-city sophistication, finds the reservation backward. “People around here are so closed-minded,” she objects: “That’s probably why things around here never change.” Rolly, in choosing between Constance and Mary, is not only making his selection of a life partner, but weighing the merits of reservation life and traditional ways as opposed to the progress and opportunities of the world outside their community. Mallard’s Road has an easygoing pace appropriate to the country setting, and the presence of non-professional actors lends the story authenticity even if some of the line delivery is noticeably substandard. The film is also valuable for offering a glimpse of an America not often seen in movies. Real locations give Mallard’s Road a lived-in quality, with my favorite bit of texture being the sign taped to a grocery store’s cash register: “Due to the increase in temperature we will not be accepting money from personal body areas please use a purse.”

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Mallard’s Road is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Body-positive, featuring a plus-size love interest and other characters not afraid to let it all hang out.

Arguably homophobic. A homosexual loitering in a post office – possibly one of the “weird, rude guys” Constance later remembers seeing there – is begging for money and explains, “I have to go across the street and get a wiener. I’m hungry and they got the biggest wieners.”

Socially conscious, politically cynical, and anti-capitalist. “Get rich?” Rolly scoffs with reference to a political scammer’s promises of green-energy development and economic prosperity. “Who’s gonna get rich? Only your candidate. Who’s paying him?” Delia (Lili Schuh), working alongside Constance for the politician’s campaign to earn a temporary income, explains: “Folks here are poor. Banks steal from us every way they can. They charge high interest rates when Indians go to buy a car or [apply for] a Christmas loan. You put money in the bank, but with the late fees and what they charge for overdrafts, it’s never enough to cover all the charges. […] It seems they can never invent enough ways to steal from us. So we have to cut them off […] for their own good. By using money orders, people don’t get their money stolen and it keeps the banks from stealing, it does everyone good. Just like it says in the Bible: Thou shalt not steal. We’re trying to give these wasichus [i.e., white people] a shot at Heaven.”

Indian-Nationalist, ethno-spiritual, and anti-white. More than one character casually denigrates whites, with Rolly’s father, for example, badmouthing an old tribal acquaintance as “a white man. An asshole. Just a brown white man.” Rolly, whose bookshelf includes a biography of Gandhi; Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West; Black Hills White Justice: The Sioux Nation versus the United States, 1775 to the Present by Edward Lazarus; and They Have No Rights: Dred Scott’s Struggle for Freedom by Walter Ehrlich, wonders, “Why would anyone want a court system like the white folks have – a system of justice where you can get all the justice you can afford?” On the reservation, Christianity intermingles with traditional tribal beliefs, which for Rolly still have value. Constance, contrarily, sees the reservation’s spiritual life as “nonsense”, and remains materialistic, which prevents her from identifying with her people. “Sometimes I feel like a fraud, like I don’t even know who I am,” she confesses. At the end of the film, she returns to her white boyfriend in New York, but the viewer is left with the impression that she will never be happy wherever she goes, psychically cleft and separated from her nation as she is.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

With the experience of Vietnam as a reference point, downbeat reflections of war dominated the seventies, highlighting disillusionment, loss, and madness in Welcome Home, Soldier Boys (1972), Deathdream (1974), Rolling Thunder (1977), Coming Home (1978), Apocalypse Now (1979), and Friendly Fire (1979). Coming out of the Carter years and heading into the Reagan presidency and the ascendancy of a neoconservative foreign policy agenda, with Israeli producers like Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus, and Lou Lenart, as well as US-based assets like Jerry Bruckheimer and Buzz Feitshans playing key pop-cultural roles, the eighties and nineties would witness a rehabilitation of American militarism and jingoistic themes in a cycle that included such successful features as Missing in Action (1984), Red Dawn (1984), Rambo II (1986), Top Gun (1986), and Navy SEALs (1990) – some of which, like The Delta Force (1986), Iron Eagle (1986), Iron Eagle II (1988), and Rambo III (1988), were literally made in Israel. These were movies that helped to shape the worldview of young boys of my generation – people who, conveniently enough for the Zionists, would reach military service age in time to enlist and fight in the “War on Terror” prosecuted under Bush and Obama. Most notably, Bruckheimer’s Pearl Harbor (2001), released mere months before the “New Pearl Harbor” of 9/11, would remind patriotic Americans of how they are supposed to behave when attacked by foreigners.

Bitterness over the conduct and outcomes of these interventions, in addition to growing awareness in the internet era of the forces lurking behind such disastrous US policies, did much to fuel anti-war sentiment, the popularization of libertarianism, and the eventual emergence of the Alt-Right under Obama. American identity having been diluted to the point of meaninglessness as the founding stock of the erstwhile nation was increasingly vilified, with standards of living and health diminishing across generations, the dwindling number of young men who are mentally and physically fit for service increasingly see little reason to enlist, and all branches of the military are currently struggling to meet recruitment requirements. It is in the context of this vacuum of patriotism and rising tribal strife that Bruckheimer saw fit to resuscitate Top Gun, a crowd-pleasing Reagan-era throwback, and retool it to herald what elements of the establishment anticipate as a decaf DeSantis cool-down period of pseudo-American blandification following the populist flare-ups and chaos of the still vaguely loitering Trump era.

Like practically everybody else in America, I always enjoyed Top Gun and found its all-American messaging seductive, which is part of why it disgusted me to learn that a sequel had been produced last year. Enhancing my revulsion was the presence of Maverick in the title. “Maverick” is the nickname of Pete Mitchell, Tom Cruise’s heroic pilot character in the film, but the word will always be tainted for me by the celebrated career of Arizona senator, war-peddling shyster, and psychotic political prostitute John McCain, whose self-aggrandizing “maverick” shtick was merely the branding of his flaming Zionist toadying. Coincidentally or not, Top Gun: Maverick producer Bruckheimer was one of McCain’s financial backers, and Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain (Ed Harris) even tells “Maverick” Mitchell he could have been a senator if he had played his cards right. As disheartening as the Zionist provenance that attaches to a beloved childhood film and now a franchise, however, is the fact that Top Gun: Maverick is not the ridiculous pile of garbage I had hoped it would be, and that it is actually a watchable albeit wholly superficial film that goes down as easily as a cool glass of Coke and is about as nutritious. Like David Bowie’s upbeat “Let’s Dance”, which echoes lightly in the background of a bar scene, one has the sense that the eighties, if not in the room, are nearby, wafting through the air like a degraded but still affecting memory.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Top Gun: Maverick is:

Capitalist. For the first thrill of the film, the hero risks his life to push an experimental aircraft to its limits in an effort to save the jobs of the aerospace engineers employed on a military-industrial boondoggle. “Put that in your Pentagon budget!” exclaims a nerd in the control room.

Anti-woke. Non-whites appearing in the film as Pete Mitchell’s students and colleagues are of a type to put older whites at ease. They are dutiful, patriotic, polite, friendly, and, one assumes, occupying their positions by way of a meritocratic system. In an early scene, Mitchell’s credit card is declined – the optimistic Reaganite America he personifies having been discredited – but to the extent that his students may entertain doubts about Mitchell’s qualifications, he capably redeems himself and demonstrates that the old white guy still has a thing or two to teach them about being fighter pilots. In sympathy with the “1999 heroes” referenced in “I Ain’t Worried”, the OneRepublic song that accompanies a lighthearted football sequence, Top Gun: Maverick could easily pass for a movie from the nineties, free as it seems to be from the grotesque political climate of 2022.  

Zionist. “The target” of the top-secret mission with which the movie climaxes “is an unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant built in violation of a multilateral NATO treaty. The uranium produced there represents a direct threat to our allies in the region.” While the language employed lends an air of respectability to American adventurism through the illusion of international cooperation among ostensibly sovereign partners vis-à-vis the unnamed “rogue state” – “rogue” being somehow less reputable than merely wholesomely “maverick” – the scenario strongly insinuates the necessity of preemptive military strikes against nations like Iran and North Korea, both of which were named as constituents of the “Axis of Evil” by George W. Bush’s speechwriter David Frum, an Israeli asset. Never mentioned, of course, is the intransigence of the most insistently belligerent of America’s “allies” and its failure to sign onto the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Science-lover Laine (Sydney Craven) and her dorky black boyfriend Chase (Imran Adams) are in Louisiana to attend a “nerd-fest” convention dedicated to horror fandom. Chase, a devotee of supernatural lore, is particularly interested in the legend of the Creeper, a demon that reawakens every twenty-three years to terrorize and eat people, and the horror convention – coincidentally or not – is being held in the Creeper’s rustic stomping grounds. When the pair signs on to participate in a Creeper-themed escape room challenge, they unexpectedly find themselves confronted with the real thing.

Unfortunately, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn’s insistence on a multiracial cast of characters contributes to its failure to evoke believable situations or a sense of place, as does the occasional appearance of chintzy CGI. The monster is revealed too early and in too-candid detail to be as effectively scary as it might be, and the weak dialogue is also immersion-disrupting, with characters uttering groaners like, “We’re in its twisted web right now. It’s time to turn the tables.” None of the Jeepers Creepers films will probably go down as timeless classics, but the first one, at least, was scary. Reborn is such an unwanted bastard of a reboot that one can only hope for a case of franchise SIDS.

2 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Anti-Christian. In the film’s prologue, married couple Ronnie (Alien Nation’s Gary Graham) and Marie (The Howling’s Dee Wallace), identified as Christians by the cross hanging from their rear-view mirror, are driving along a deserted highway when they have an encounter with the Creeper. They think they see it disposing of a dead body and go back to verify because “turning a blind eye is not an option.” They are not unlikable characters, but their do-gooder impulse leads them to the slaughter. Later, at the horror convention, a group of Christian fanatics appears with a sign that reads, “REPENT OR BURN IN HELL”.

Suprarational. Whereas Laine is a skeptic and a materialist who believes in “Occam’s razor”, Chase is a chaser of the mysterious and the supernatural. “Your precious science doesn’t have all the answers,” he tells her, to which she retorts, “Conspiracy theories have no answers.” Chase is validated in his belief in the uncanny, as the pair’s ordeal with the Creeper illustrates.

Centrist and cautiously multicultural. Non-whites appear among both the protagonists and the antagonists, with women of different races demonstrating the ability to collaborate harmoniously in the context of a satanist cult. Ethnic and cultural differences threaten to divide and weaken the protagonists’ camp, contrarily. Local carny Stu (Peter Brooke) is insultingly accused of “country hick incest” and dismissed as a “hillbilly” and “crazy redneck” by urbanite elitist Jamie (Matt Barkley), prompting Chase to scold the latter, insisting he modify his polarizing attitude lest their makeshift coalition disintegrate: “We gotta start working as a team. So as difficult as I know it is for you, I need you to stop bein’ a fuckin’ asshole.”  Initially suspected of complicity in the Creeper’s plot, Stu turns out to be a valuable member of the team.

Miscegenation-ambivalent. The film appears to normalize interracial relationships in its depictions of seemingly healthy couple Laine and Chase. Chase plans to propose marriage, and Laine discovers that she is pregnant. Laine’s pregnancy is cursed, however, with the Creeper desirous of feeding off the unborn child’s lifeforce, arguably implying that miscegenation feeds or furthers the ends of evil entities. At the end of the movie, Laine’s eyes turn black, indicating that she has been possessed. The film’s poster, an homage to Rosemary’s Baby, could also be interpreted as anti-natalist, the question being whether the cursed nature of the pregnancy is race-specific in this case.

Disingenuously media-critical. Horrified to discover that the organizers of the horror convention are devil-cultists devoted to the Creeper, Laine observes, “They’re feeding it.” In the literal sense, they are luring people for the Creeper to eat. In an allegorical reading, however, the morbid indulgence of the kidult attendees in nihilistic horror fandom and preoccupation with evil and murder is feeding back into real-world negative outcomes. The Jeepers Creepers franchise occupies a uniquely unsavory place in the horror genre for having been created by Victor Salva, a convicted pedophile who arguably utilized the movies’ mythos to express his own malevolence toward the young. Salva, revealed to have molested Nathan Forrest Winters during the filming of 1989’s Clownhouse, was permitted to continue working in Hollywood on high-profile projects like 1995’s Powder despite being a known sexual predator. His name appears nowhere in the credits for Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, but the film has been dedicated to Winters in an acknowledgment of the franchise’s genesis and probably also a bid to fend off accusations of exploitation. This reboot is arguably “feeding it”, however, in pruriently perpetuating Salva’s vision and even alluding visually to his crimes with the appearance of creepy clowns in more than one scene.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Reformed hacker Orlando Friar (Kevin Dillon) is having the worst day of his life. First, his wife (Lydia Hull) tells him she’s filing for divorce. Then, when he reports for work at his tech support job, he’s informed that a bomb is attached to the bottom of his chair. A mysterious rival hacker – who, not very imaginatively, looks just like the typical illustration of a shadowy figure in a hoodie used in every news story about cyber-terrorism – has a score to settle with Orlando, holding him hostage to make use of his hacking prowess to hatch his revenge against the “bankers, hedge fund crooks, jackals,” and “little pigs” he hopes to see “live in fear for a change.” Orlando is a nice showcase for Dillon, and Mel Gibson is as always likable in a supporting role as an “old, washed-up bomb squad guy”, but the casting of Shannen Doherty as a hardened law enforcement honcho is something less than spot-on. A comparatively low-budget film, Hot Seat is no Swordfish but is about as taut as can be expected for a movie that largely consists of a guy sitting in front of a computer.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Hot Seat is:

Christ-indifferent. Perhaps as part of a feeble effort to give the movie a Die Hard feel, the story has been set at Christmastime, but little significance appears to attach to this fact.

Conspiratorial, acknowledging the “false flag” as a military tactic.

Pro-family, giving the father a satisfying redemption arc, and with Orlando’s marriage and familial integrity restored at the end.

Capital-ambivalent. Hot Seat references Wall Street criminality, but, like The Dark Knight Rises with its characterization of Bane, suggests that the vengeful impulse of the hacker villain, who murders more than one “capitalist pig” and resents Orlando as an “Ivy League prick”, has the potential to unleash even more dangerous evil and chaos. The film instead places the viewer in a position of sympathy with Orlando, a former financial criminal who now wants to live a simple and honest life.

Anti-woke. The casting of Gibson in a heroic role, in consideration of his history of racism and anti-Semitism, is inherently provocative – particularly when the character he plays is named Wallace (William or George?). Bucking the expected movie convention, Wallace defeats arrogant black colleague Jackson (Eddie Steeples) in a game of chess, prompting the latter to jokingly refer to him as “Bobby Fischer”, an allusion to Gibson’s infamous remarks about Jews. Father Stu, another Gibson movie released this year, contains a similarly facetious allusion to Gibson’s anti-Semitism, and what these little moments indicate is an oversaturation of the public sphere with “Nazi” and “anti-Semite” accusations, to the point that the shock value of such charges is now greatly diminished. In addition, when Wallace kids Jackson about screwing his mother, the sporting reply is, “My mom don’t like older men. Plus, she’s racist” – acknowledging that in-group racial preference occurs not just among whites alone and refuting the claim of the likes of Michael Eric Dyson that “black people can’t be racist.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

The Purge franchise is so preposterously over-the-top and nearly self-parodying to begin with that a deliberate spoof hardly seems necessary, but for anybody who wanted one, here it is. Hard-ass patriotic Boomer racist Bill Wilson (Grid Margraf) works as an agent of FIRE, the agency responsible for “Forest and Immigration Raking Enforcement”, and only has two weeks to go until retirement. This year’s purgers, however, are determined to see to it that Bill doesn’t live that long. Visiting Bill and his family to watch TV on the night of the annual bloodbath is young ICE agent Daryl (Justin Crose), who takes a shine to Bill’s niece Jenna (Heather Farace) and serves as the butt of the movie’s mockery with his bumbling and socially awkward attempts at heroism and romance. Unfortunately, 2025: Blood, White and Blue simply isn’t very funny, with too much of the humor revolving around nihilistic violence, urination, and dildos. And, not that it matters much, nothing pictured on the poster actually appears in the movie.

2 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that 2025: Blood, White and Blue is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Anti-pedo. A television screen shows Joe Biden touching a child, the implication being that the contact is inappropriate. The same theme is addressed more explicitly when a little girl, at the urging of her parents, takes part in the purge by shooting a pedophile.

Anti-drug. Bill goes undercover with a pair of drug mules to catch a fentanyl-dealing cartel kingpin. “A speck o’ that’ll kill you,” he warns of the drug. Skizzy (Brian Ruthruff), a smuggler who runs a cocaine delivery service in his “Blowmobile”, also commits a gleeful vehicular homicide.

Anti-feminist. The hero has a hot fling with tough broad he spars with in a gym, but she later turns out to be one of the purgers. The women with whom the viewer is encouraged to sympathize are more conventionally feminine and more likely to need defending by men. An obscene grandmother (Nanette Geree Rice) gets in the last shot, but this assertiveness is in defense of her family.

Pro-gun. As a caricature of a right-wing Boomer, Bill is of course a firearms enthusiast, and his habit of packing three pistols on his person at all times comes in handy when his home is invaded.

Centrist. Trump, who has returned to the presidency while also appearing on a tacky reboot of The Apprentice, is presented as a clownish but almost benign figure. Rather than implementing a totalitarian nightmare as so often depicted, the president has coupled the construction of a wall with a work visa program for Mexicans, who are paid to rake a forest floor. “Shoulda made the wall ten times bigger,” grumbles Bill, who favors construction of a second wall and a crocodile-infested moat in the middle. That way, illegals who make it over the first wall will “be too slippery and wet to climb” if they even make it to the second barrier. His president fails to deliver draconian levels of immigration restriction, however, with Mexicans still “stealin’ jobs from American citizens.” Bill’s authoritarian fantasies come across as cartoonish, particularly as 2025 depicts border enforcement as ineffectual, with sensitive Daryl favoring “catch and release”. Even so, the appearance of Mexican traffickers indicates that Trump’s concerns as expressed in 2015 were not entirely without merit. At the other end of the political spectrum is “Commiefornia”, where urinals have been outlawed and men are expected to sit to piss. “So you’d rather stand up to pee,” queries Bill’s liberal colleague Aidan (Toby T. Johnson), “than stand up for bathroom gender equality?” Arguably evincing more of a thematic affinity with 2020’s The Hunt than with the Purge franchise, 2025 reveals radicalized liberals to be even more bloodthirsty than gun-fetishizing conservatives, with Aidan and a gang of corrupt cops targeting Bill and his family.

Racist! Bill, an anti-Mexican bigot and flag-waver right down to his Uncle Sam underwear, is a ludicrous character, but also turns out to be the most heroic person in the film. If anything, he has been inadequately paranoid in his prepper mentality and in his mistaken certainty that living outside the city will protect his family from violence. The younger and more liberal Daryl is less manly than Bill, but still served well by his racist instincts. Stuck at a gas station when his car refuses to start not long before the purge begins, he rejects a seemingly well-meaning African-American gentleman’s offer to help and his distrust is validated when this deceptively friendly figure is later revealed to be a member of Aidan’s gang. “I think you’re pretty hot – even though you work for ICE,” Jenna decides in the end, reciprocating Daryl’s romantic interest.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

I haven’t been this depressed watching a horror movie since Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. Prolific horror writer-director-producer Ti West’s boring bugman nihilism is on obscene display in this retro slasher set in 1979. Cuckold and shoestring smut producer Wayne (Martin Henderson) hires cinema nerd and would-be auteur RJ (Owen Campbell), black Vietnam vet Jackson (Kid Cudi), and a couple of prostitutes to shoot a pornographic feature on a remote farm in Texas. The property’s elderly owner (Stephen Ure) is unaware of why Wayne has rented his cabin, but when the codger’s wife (Mia Goth) discovers the nature of the goings-on, her reawakened lust unleashes a night of bloody insanity. West’s cast of characters inspires nearly uniform revulsion and contempt, but it’s unclear if this is his intention. The sex scenes, all interracial and mercenary or geriatric, are consistently disgusting, so that what results is an unsexy film about sex, competently produced from a technical standpoint but hollow, emotionally uninvolving, and morally mongoloid.

2.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that X is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Anti-gun. The elderly couple’s aggressively wielded shotgun works against them in the end.

Drug-ambivalent. Coke-snorting whore Maxine (Mia Goth, in a dual role) is the final girl who survives the night. Wayne advises her that too much of a “good thing” is dangerous, but Maxine seems to have arrived at a functional regimen. “Praise the fucking Lord,” she exults sarcastically at the movie’s conclusion, snorting another nostril-full and drawing the tiresome parallel between faith and drug abuse.

Anti-Christian. RJ’s girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega), who works as an assistant on the porno production, is a Christian and an innocent at the beginning of the story, but feels inspired to become a pornographic actress after witnessing polyamory and mudsharkery up-close, with West featuring a close-up of her crucifix as she removes it before her initiation into bestiality. Periodic glimpses of television screens show a hokey televangelist (Simon Prast) holding forth in fire-and-brimstone fashion to represent the ascendancy of the Religious Right during this period and to insinuate the hypocrisy of the Bible Belt, whose feigned uprightness hides the faithful’s deviant desires and murderousness. The big yawn-inducing twist at the end is the revelation that Maxine is the televangelist’s daughter, the implication being that an inordinately conservative Christian upbringing is self-defeating, instead priming young people for lives of debauchery. West’s screenplay gives his prostitutes and pornographers a platform for some hackneyed carpe diem statements, the idea being that people ought to stuff as much orgiastic fun into their primes as possible. It’s not clear if the vapid quality of the dialogue is intentional and condescending or if it merely reflects West’s own lack of depth, but he chooses to punish most of these characters with violent deaths, in either case. Voyeuristic cuckold Wayne fittingly dies with a pitchfork to the eyes, for example, but the elderly predators also meet with unenviable ends. No moral judgment appears to attach to most of the deaths, however. If anything, West’s film reflects his own misanthropic lack of regard for the value of human life and little else.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

A retro horror set in 1978, The Black Phone evokes the era of Ed Kemper, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy in relating the story of the turtleneck-wearing Grabber (Ethan Hawke), a child killer terrorizing a Denver community. When Finney (Mason Thames), a high school baseball player with talent but a lack of confidence when it comes to defending himself against bullies, becomes the Grabber’s latest abductee, he is forced to rely on his own wherewithal – plus a little help from beyond the grave – to outwit the killer and make his escape. Hawke, ordinarily an inherently likable screen presence, succeeds here in realizing a viscerally disgusting character, and Thames, slightly reminiscent of Phantasm’s Michael Baldwin, is convincing as a terrorized seventies kid. Boasting good music, believable period feel, and multiple nail-biting moments, The Black Phone is recommendable Halloween viewing.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Black Phone is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Anti-drug. Living with the Grabber is his cokehead brother Max (James Ransone), an amateur sleuth and comic-relief character preoccupied with the Grabber killings and unaware that his own sibling is the culprit. While Max’s habit does lend itself to an intensity of mental activity, and he does realize the truth after snorting a line of cocaine, his drug-induced scatterbrainedness ultimately leaves him more vulnerable.

Anti-racist. Moose (J. Gaven Wilde), a hulking racist bully and “giant asshole”, tells Hispanic kid Robin (Miguel Cazarez Mora), “I will pound you like a nail, you scrawny little beaner.” Instead, the smaller Robin channels Jewish hero David, gets the better of him, and bloodies his face with a savage pounding, reinforcing the storytelling convention that verbal bigotry warrants harsh corporal punishment.

Feminist. Finney’s little sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) is scrappy and foulmouthed – a little too Soph-like to be completely believable as a schoolgirl of the seventies – and is not afraid to engage boys in physical confrontation. Gifted with inchoate psychic abilities inherited from her mother, Gwen is brutally discouraged from making use of these by her father (Jeremy Davies), and it is possible that his well-intentioned but dysfunctional determination to inhibit his daughter’s special aptitude prolongs Finney’s captivity.

Agnostic. “Jesus, what the fuck? I mean, what the fuck?” asks Gwen of her Savior: “I ask you for help and you give me these clues that don’t mean anything. […] Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?” After speculating, “Maybe you’re not even real”, Gwen later prays “Please be real” as she searches for Finney, locating the Grabber’s house shortly after making this supplication.

Homophobic! Though the Grabber never molests Finney, it is strongly insinuated that he is a homosexual pedophile in addition to being a murderer, with Hawke’s mildly effeminate delivery conveying the connection between gayness and violent antisocial behaviors. Bullies at school refer to Finney as a “fag”, conflating homophobia with psychological abuse, but Gwen undermines this when she, too, resorts to homophobic language in countering the bullies, calling them “fucking cocksucking cowards” and reinforcing the notion that homosexuality is inherently bad even as the movie treats this as a moment of heroism on Gwen’s part.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Writer-director Karlton Clay adapts his own stage play for the screen, with Mar’Ques Woolford in the title role as an arrogant, hypocritical preacher who has stumbled into sin, becoming more preoccupied with material gain and sexual gratification than shepherding the souls in his congregation. “When are they gonna realize they gotta take care of their man of God?” he demands, frustrated with the modesty of the collection plate: “If I ain’t right, they ain’t gone be right!” Thorne is successful, but seems to have crested as his ministry stagnates. Idealistic minister Nathan (Donald Ross, Jr.), who handles the books, has ideas to offer about how to grow the church and better serve the community, but Thorne, whose manhood is “so big and long Moses could’ve used that to part the Red Sea”, is more interested in screwing Nathan’s trashy wife (Kiara Bennett) behind his back. Meanwhile, also vying for the pastor’s amorous attentions is Sade (Caranita Harrelson), a mysterious hood seductress with an “ass so nice she’ll make you talk in tongues, cuz.” “You used to be so on-fire for Christ,” Pastor Thorne’s long-suffering spouse (Lakeisha Sherron) reminds him. Cocksure and boastful that “people are eatin’ off my words”, Thorne thinks his wife needs to “sit back, shut up, and support your damn man”. Will his marriage weather the rising hellstorm? Will Thorne succeed in putting out the multiplying fires engulfing his ministry? Clay keeps the story engaging, so that black and crossover audiences will enjoy finding out how it all ends.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Pastor Thorne: Lust of the Flesh is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Anti-slut. Sade turns out to have syphilis, which Thorne has presumably contracted as a result of their tryst.

Anti-drug. Thorne’s son (Mitchel Corley), a budding rapist and aspiring drug kingpin, gets busted for peddling dope and is only saved from conviction on account of his father’s rapport with the chief of police.

Christian. While some might object that Pastor Thorne: Lust of the Flesh presents an unflattering depiction of church life, the film serves as a cautionary tale in depicting the consequences for those who stray from the faith. Moreover, as recent church drama illustrates, Pastor Thorne grapples with problems actually confronting today’s congregations.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

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