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June 20, 2005

Blog
[Posted 10:33 PM GMT by Whiggles]

Catch all the latest news at the Whiggles.com Compact Blog!

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June 19, 2005

Big Brother: farewell, Sam, we hardly knew ye
[Posted 08:38 PM GMT by Whiggles]

Sam: a perfect illustration of the fact that attractive women never do well in reality TV shows.
Sam: a perfect illustration of the fact that attractive women never do well in reality TV shows.

Sam has become the third housemate to be evicted from this year's Big Brother. She is also the third female to be kicked off the show, proving once again that women rarely do well on Big Brother unless they (a) start a turgid "romance" with a male contestant or (b) used to be a man. Good-looking women have an especially rough time on shows of this sort, especially if they give any hint that they **gasp!** might enjoy sexual intercourse. Sam entered the house on the "nympho" card, portrayed as an outrageous sex kitten who would sleep with anyone and everything. She also claimed to be bisexual, but given this show's track record in this arena, it is unclear whether she is a genuine bisexual or in actual fact an "I-want-to-sound-cool-and-interesting"-sexual. In any event, what sealed her fate seemed to be a rather stilted lap-dance performed for a male housemate, following a rather slurpy kissing session with a female housemate. Such antics, naturally, resulted in a crowd of fat ugly women screaming "Slag!" and "Fucking tramp!" when she was evicted. She even had some sort of projectile lobbed at her, and the jury is still out as to whether it was an egg, urine or water. The fact that the slurping and lap-dancing were performed because she was participating in a speed-dating task which required her to seduce various "partners" within two minutes was clearly lost on them (as was the fact that the rest of the housemates were "guilty" of equally shocking "attrocities").

The saddest part of all is that, beneath her sexy facade, Sam was actually an extremely insecure, shy individual who struggled to relate to anyone in the house and had severe problems communicating without resorting to nervous laughter and anxious snorts. She seems to have been a target for nasty types from day one. It has been revealed that she was bullied viciously at school, a process which continued while she was in the house in the form of an odious specimen from Huddersfield named Lesley. A hulking great hippopotamus of a woman, Lesley subjected Sam to a barrage of insults and threats, which culminated in a statement that she would be waiting to kick the shit out of her when she was evicted. After Lesley got the boot last week, I had hoped that Sam would integrate better with the rest of the group and go on to do well in the game. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, the remaining contestants continued to ostracize her, so it is probably only natural that, in an interview today, when asked if she had enjoyed her stay in the house, she replied "No, I didn't like any of them". It was refreshing to hear her telling it like it is rather than going down the usual route of saying "Oh, everyone was lovely!"

Sam, Sam, in a house full of wannabes and fakers you were the most normal of the lot, and I'm sorry to see you go. To be honest I don't really have much interest in watching the show any more. It seems fairly clear that to do well on Big Brother, one must be a completely bland poser with no original traits. Intelligence and honesty don't go far at all on this show. Then again, we knew that already, didn't we?

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June 16, 2005

Bricks and pieces
[Posted 09:19 PM GMT by Whiggles]

Since my exams ended, I've been making the most of my free time by doing some activities less taxing on the brain, and one of them has been the building and rebuilding of my various Lego sets. Since I was a very small child until I was about 12, I was madly into Lego and got the various sets at most birthdays and Christmases, and indeed whenever I had some free cash. For some reason or other, I began to lose interest at around the age of 12, but I kept all my old sets, which currently adorn virtually every empty surface in my bedroom. When I was cleaning out my room last month, I discovered that they had collected a fair amount of mould and an interesting array of cobwebs, so I decided to chuck it all in the bathtub to clean out all the filth. Most of the constructions didn't really survive this adventure, which led to me rebuilding 90% of them from scratch. This reawakened my obsession with building these brightly coloured bricks, and after going through all of the sets in my (rather large) collection, I decided I had to get my hands on a new one.

Lego. It's fun.
Lego. It's fun.

Thanks to the wonders of eBay, I managed to pick up a sealed copy of this rather large castle for around half its recommended retail price (Lego was always an expensive hobby, and the prices seem to have skyrocketed in the last decade). It arrived today, and I had the thing up and running ("up and running" essentially means "sitting on top of my bookcase") in just over an hour. Boo. They seem to have really simplified the instructions since I last bought one of these buggers, if this one is anything to go by, and a lot of the challenging aspects are gone. That's a shame. For me, even when I was a kid, playing with the finished product was never of any interest to me: I much preferred the process of building them, finding the pieces and deciphering the instructions. Now it seems to be all spelt out and as a result some of the fun is gone. Still, it was great to have a new building in my hands for the first time in nearly 10 years, and I think this could easily spark a new resurgence in the buying of these expensive dust-gatherers. You can never be too old to play with building blocks.

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June 15, 2005

Hitchcock in September
[Posted 10:31 PM GMT by Whiggles]

Source: Dark Discussion

Sounds as if Dario Argento's TV-movie Do You Like Hitchcock? will be released on DVD in Italy in September. No telling yet whether or not it will have English audio and/or subtitles, but I'll probably buy it regardless because I really want to see it. He also mentioned that he will be directing another episode in the series, entitled The Babysitter, at some point. Additionally, he has an episode of Anchor Bay's Masters of Horror TV series, entitled Jenifer, coming out later this year. Hopefully he'll get on with The Third Mother soon, but I'm beginning to have my doubts.

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Big Brother: caged monkeys
[Posted 10:11 PM GMT by Whiggles]

It's a funny show, that Big Brother. It's nearing the end of the third week (out of a total of 12) of the current series, and for me it's as much of a love-hate relationship as ever. At its best, Big Brother is a fascinating insight into the bizarre behaviour illicited from people by being placed in a completely isolated environment; at its worst, it's a bunch of complete and utter morons talking about farts and arguing about who's "fake".

The first Big Brother was an interesting social experiment. The game was fresh and new, and the contestants had no idea how to react. Each year, the participants have become progressively wiser about the way the game works and how to "play" it, and as a result they have become less and less genuine. Much like last year, Endemol's answer has been to populate the house with extremely strong, over the top personalities, doing their best to provoke the most hostile reactions possible. The problem with this is that the likeable housemates are few and far between. This year especially, as I have said before, who you want to win tends not to be classed in terms of the person you like the most, but rather the person you dislike the least.

This year, I've been changing my minds about the housemates as often as I change my underwear (daily, before you ask). People that I thought I would hate have turned out to be reasonably tolerable, and many of those that I thought I would like have proven to be detestable. During the first week, my favourite character (and "character" is the most appropriate word for these individuals) was Mary, the wacky witch from Ireland, who regaled people with her tales of alien abductions and crazy nocturnal antics. The retarded British public voted her out first, so I decided to transfer my affections elsewhere. Unfortunately, no-one else seemed remotely likeable or even interesting, but when one housemate, the shy and socially awkward Sam, became the target for a round of rather nasty bullying, I did my usual "side with the underdog" thing and began rooting for her. Since her chief tormenter, the big fat chav Lesley, has left the house, Sam has come out of her shell and has started being quite amusing. Sadly, she's up for eviction again this week and could well go on Friday, judging by the polls, so I guess I'll probably have to find a new favourite.

The most likely candidate is Science, a tough-talking bad boy from "the Ghetto" (somewhere in Leeds, apparently) who, beneath all his posturing and lack of articulatory abilities, seems to be a rather shrewd fellow with stronger principles than most of the rest of them. The guy makes himself look like a giant twat, but I'm beginning to think that this is all part of a clever ruse to make himself look like less of a threat. So far, it seems to be working. Despite being involved in frequent arguments, he has received very few nominations from the other housemates. Another possibility is Maxwell, whose crazy antics with the hose have provoked much laughter both inside the house and out. That said, he's getting too big for his boots, especially after hearing the rapturous cheers he received from the crowd at last week's eviction, and could do with being knocked down a peg or two.

Ah, I don't know. I care too much. I don't know why I get so involved with this show. I guess it's like crack (or what I assume crack to be like): total garbage, but you can't give it up. It certainly keeps me entertained during the summer months, though.

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Headphone humdrum
[Posted 09:46 PM GMT by Whiggles]

A couple of weeks ago, my headphones, the trusty Sennheisers I bought around a year ago, broke. Ah well. I was never too happy with them to begin with given that, despite the claims of certain individuals on the DVD Forums, they leaked noise like a sieve and were of, let's say, not the greatest build quality. This time, I decided to be more careful with my purchase and read various reviews before settling on a pair. Eventually, I decided to go with another set of Sennheisers: the HD202, whose main selling points are insulation against exterior noise and a low level of leakage. They finally arrived this morning, and I must say that they are great. I was a bit put off by how tinny they sounded initially, but after around five minutes I became used to their sound. I have to say that I think a lot of the criticism that many people make about different sets of headphones are more down to getting used to slight differences in frequency than anything else, and that even a minor change from what you've become accustomed to can make it seem like they are producing a "bad" quality output. The case in point are my brother's in-ear headphones, which he swears by, but which I wasn't overly impressed by. No doubt if I listened to them for an extended period of time I would become used to them, but as it is, their sound differs from what I perceive to be the norm so to me they sound "bad". At the end of the day (to borrow a phrase that is being used with infuriating frequency on this year's Big Brother), I'm happy with my purchase and think I've got a great deal for only £17.99. They're hefty big buggers, though.

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Warner Home Video: for shame!
[Posted 09:39 PM GMT by Whiggles]

I've written a blog post at DVD Times detailing Warner Home Video's crimes against Tom and Jerry in their refusal to provide uncut copies of the cartoons that were censored in last year's Spotlight Collection release. I've also amended by review of the set with scores that more appropriately reflect its content.

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June 12, 2005

Hall of Fame
[Posted 11:40 AM GMT by Whiggles]

I've added 21 Grams (R2 UK) to the DVD Transfer Hall of Fame.

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June 11, 2005

The Case of the Scorpion's Tail
[Posted 11:56 PM GMT by Whiggles]

DVD

The second of two "Sergio Martino Collection" releases by NoShame Films, I've reviewed the R1 release of the director's second giallo, The Case of the Scorpion's Tail.

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The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh
[Posted 06:40 PM GMT by Whiggles]

DVD

I've reviewed the R1 US release of The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, the first giallo film to be directed by the underrated Sergio Martino and the first title to be released by new cult label NoShame Films.

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June 10, 2005

Big Brother: Vindication
[Posted 10:45 PM GMT by Whiggles]

Tonight my faith in the British public, or at least the Big Brother-watching British public (which is probably just about everyone), has been restored. Lesley, that vile creature who was responsible for the constant bullying of poor drippy Sam, has been evicted to the loudest jeers and boos that have ever been heard in the six-year history of the show. I guess when someone makes comments like "When you come out of this house I'm going to be waiting for you" and "One day you're going to have the shit knocked out of you" it's kind of hard to reasonably support them, but the fact that some people are still trying to defend her beggars belief.

It's amazing how wrong we can be with first impressions. This year my opinions of the various contestants are constantly changing, probably because the vast majority of them are assholes of the highest order, and instead of actually liking any of them it's more a case of disliking some less than others. I was convinced that Maxwell was a complete chav when he first entered the house and was prepared to loathe him, but he has actually turned out to be a pretty decent individual, being one of the few people who actually stood up for Sam after Big Les and her stooge Craig had been bullying her for several days. I still don't exactly like him - I don't think I like any of them - but I'd rather see him win than most of the other cunts. And believe me, there are many cunts in that house. There's part of me that would like to see Sam win simply to make up for what she's been through, but the problem with that is that (a) she doesn't stand a chance and (b) she's pretty boring. The sympathy vote may have worked this week but I suspect she'll be out before too long, unless her personality seriously changes now that her tormenter has left the building.

Next week should, at the very least, be interesting, as we see the scummy Craig go into a tailspin after realizing that, with his only true ally gone, he is very much on his own.

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June 09, 2005

Result!
[Posted 07:34 PM GMT by Whiggles]

Success! I got a 2.1, or an Upper Second Class, or in other words the grade I needed to get into my Film Studies course. Tonight I am a happy bunny. Surprisingly, I didn't start panicking about it until around an hour before the results went online, so I guess I managed to spare myself the agonizing, nail-biting moments that tend to come before exam results. Hell, I even had a good night's sleep beforehand.

Yes, I'm gloating. Deal with it.
Yes, I'm gloating. Deal with it.

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Terrible television tragedy
[Posted 12:47 PM GMT by Whiggles]

Why do problems with electronics and alliterating topics always come in the month of June? Around this time last year you gasped with disbelief as you followed the saga of Overclockers and the Shitty Monitor. This year, the HMS Whimsy has one-upped that little fiasco, and I am now proud to present:

Samsung and the Malfunctioning Television™

Last week, Lyris decided it was time to get a new TV. His Sony screen, which even I, the anti-TFT campaigner, will grudgingly admit is an impressive piece of equipment, is missing a rather important feature: HDMI connectivity. This latest and greatest of connectors, which looks set to be the standard for HDTV in the UK, was unceremoniously shorn from European models of the TV by the brigands at Sony. Not wanting to be stuck in the Stone Age, Lyris ordered what seemed to be an excellent deal: a 32" Samsung LE32R41B, a bargain at only £800.

All seemed fine at first, and everything seemed to be working great in conjunction with Lyris' new DVD player, the Panasonic DVD-S97, connected via HDMI. Then, we began to notice tearing problems in NTSC DVDs. Not constant and by no means awful, but pretty noticeable nonetheless. The fact that the backlight could not be adequately adjusted turned out to be another problem, essentially leaving a choice of two modes: too bright or too dull. Rather than settle for second-best, the TV has now been packed away and the old Sony box has been re-instated. Too bad - the Samsung could have been so perfect if they'd just made sure they got everything right rather than only most things. If there's any consolation to this debacle, it should be somewhat easier to get a refund for this than it was for me when dealing with the cowboys at Overclockers.

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June 08, 2005

Judgement day tomorrow
[Posted 10:06 PM GMT by Whiggles]

Exam results tomorrow afternoon. My future hangs in the balance...

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June 06, 2005

Big Bully
[Posted 10:51 AM GMT by Whiggles]

Yet another Big Brother post. Sorry, guys, but this stuff is fascinating in a morbidly sick way. Those outside the UK have absolutely no idea of how this vacuous but addictive little show completely takes over the country for the duration of the summer months.

Right now, I'm still shaking my head in disbelief at the fact that the idiotic British public voted out Mary, surely the most interesting of this year's line-up and arguably one of the best they've had in six years of the show. Voting her out would be baffling enough if it were not for the fact that she was up against Craig, a nasty, spoilt, self-centred little he-bitch who, currently on a high from thinking the public loves him, is showing his true colours. Unfortunately, spurred on by the Chav Crew, he seems to be taking all his insecurities out on certain housemates who have done him no harm, the chief recipient being poor drippy Sam.

Craig, the scummy bitch with the saggy man-tits.
Craig, the scummy bitch with the saggy man-tits.

On the first night of the show, I described Sam as being completely vapid, with her looks standing in for an actual personality. I still think this is true, but watching the way that she has been ostracized by virtually every other housemate over the last week has not made for pleasant viewing, to the extent that she essentially spends each day sitting on her own with no-one paying her the slightest bit of attention, and last night's little spat, which in my opinion amounted to bullying, takes the cake. Essentially, the rest of the house conspired to hide her make-up bag from her, which led to her having a panic attack, and I'm being completely literal. Considering that her looks are a substitute for her personality, you can imagine the disastrous effect this had on her. In general, people who are that concerned about their appearance leave me shaking my head in disgust, but this is not an isolated incident. Rather, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. The fast slag Lesley taunting her and threatening her with physical violence as she became increasingly upset didn't help matters.

In the same way that poor, harmless Mary was made into a hate figure for the gullible British public last week, Sam seems to be the new scapegoat. Many of the contestants showed their true colours last night, with many of those who had previously come across as harmless turning out to be rather nasty pieces of work. The ringleaders, predictably, are the aforementioned Craig, who somehow managed to weasel his way out of getting the boot last week, Kemal the attention-seeking little prat, and Makosi, the self-centred Queen of the Bitches. Maybe I just have an unfortunate habit of always rooting for the underdog, but I'm definitely warming to Sam. No doubt she'll be gone by the end of the week, though. Mary was right: these people are "low-down, common-as-muck scum".

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June 05, 2005

Creep
[Posted 02:08 PM GMT by Whiggles]

DVD

Released tomorrow, Creep is a clumsy and uninspired monster movie starring Run Lola Run's Franka Potente, presented on a very good R2 UK DVD by Pathé. Full review at DVD Times.

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June 03, 2005

DVD debacle
[Posted 11:35 PM GMT by Whiggles]

DVD DVD DVD DVD

Bumper mega giallo delivery this morning!

First up, two deliveries from KultVideo: La Casa dalle Finestre che Ridono (R2 Italy, a.k.a. The House with Laughing Windows) and Sette Scialli di Seta Gialla (R0 Italy, a.k.a. Crimes of the Black Cat). The former looks to have pretty good image quality, but as for the latter, don't even bother. The image quality is absolutely appalling. Although it is in widescreen (the cover states full screen), it is non-anamorphic and the picture looks distorted. There is practically no detail in it at all and it is a standards conversion (despite being an Italian release, the disc is encoded for NTSC). I honestly wouldn't be surprised if they transferred this from a video tape. You can see screen captures of the monstrosity here. Needless to say, I shall be giving "Dagored Films" a very wide berth from now on.

Also in the mail were the two NoShame Films releases, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh and The Case of the Scorpion's Tail (both R1 USA). Again, I am disappointed. After hearing these transfers being hyped up beyond all reasonable levels by so many reviewers, and after reading the text proudly proclaiming them to be "digitally remastered and restored from the vault original 2P negative", I was shocked to discover that both were PAL-to-NTSC standards conversions. I'm assuming that NoShame's Italian branch prepared PAL masters for these films, and instead of doing separate masters for the US market, they just converted them to NTSC. I'm sure they looked absolutely superb before this was done, but given the amount of time NoShame have spent hyping up the image quality of these releases, I was expecting better.

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Ding dong, the witch is dead
[Posted 09:46 PM GMT by Whiggles]

Once again, the gullible British public have proven their complete and utter stupidity and have voted psycho witch Mary out of Big Brother, leaving in the drippy, dull-as-dishwater Craig. Look, don't get me wrong, I know the witch rubbed some people up the wrong way, but I have never been able to understand why people can be so stupid as to vote out the ones that are annoying yet entertaining while leaving in the boring ones that contribute nothing to the show. It's been the same story every year, and it can almost be guaranteed that the show will collapse at around the point at which it hits the half-way mark, once all the interesting people are gone and only the zombies are left. Of course, it doesn't help that tonight's editing was shamefully biased, showcasing all Mary's mood swings and temper tantrums and showing none of Craig's constant whining and self-pitying tirades.

Ah well, Mary has given me a week's worth of entertainment and I for one am sorry to see her go. I'll still watch the show, but as the interesting housemates are gradually worn away I suspect I'll be watching less and less.

Update, 11:29 pm: Her "best of" montage and interview were excellent too. I'm so glad I got to see her broomstick frenzy again. Long live the witch! You know, they should get her to present one of those awful "The Most Haunted Houses" shows on a crappy network like FTN. She has exactly the right demeanour... or as she would say, "aura".

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June 01, 2005

DVD debacle
[Posted 11:07 AM GMT by Whiggles]

A bunch of deliveries today:

DVD DVD DVD

I got a free copy of 9 Songs (thanks, Anthony), that most controversial of controversial films that has had all the tabloids and moralists in an uproar. At the end of the day, this film was pretty weak, but I'm glad I've seen it since now I know what the fuss was all about (i.e. nothing). I also received The House That Screamed (R0 Australia), to which the word "bootleg" springs to mind. Finally, Disney sent me check discs for Alias Season 3, but I'm going to return them since I already have the retail copy. There's not much point in sending out check discs when the real thing has already been released, is there?

And oh yeah, as part of my Xploited Cinema order (which also included The House That Screamed), I also received The Giallo Scrapbook, a dinky little booklet covering a number of top gialli. Don't buy it. It's a waste of money. This is one seriously amateur production with some extremely badly-chosen screen captures, and while I admit that some of the pictures and reviews have got me interested in films I might not otherwise have considered, there is an astounding lack of detail in it. There really is nothing in here that Blood and Black Lace doesn't provide in greater detail and on a wider scale. Then again, personally I'd think twice about buying Blood and Black Lace at the moment, considering that it's published by Dark Side, the rag-tag organization run by Allan Bryce, who let's just say is not my favourite person in the world right now given his theft of copious online reviews, including one of mine.

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