EARTHLINGS (SHAUN MONSON, 2005)

“Of all the films I have ever made, this is the one that gets people talking the most. For every one person who sees Earthlings, they will tell three.”  Joaquin Phoenix

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If you eat, wear clothes, or use products, then you ought to watch Earthlings.

Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, Earthlings brings the viewer face to face with a few of the billions of otherwise anonymous animals who suffer terribly and die brutally every second of every day in every place throughout the world for the products you use, the clothes you wear, and the food you eat. That humans inflict so much suffering and death on so many nonhumans year after year for nothing more than hamburgers, fur coats, cosmetics, and countless other such trivial items is an enduring testament to our callous disregard for our fellow Earthlings.

Step back for a moment and consider what we are doing to animals at fisheries and hunting preserves; on fur farms and factory farms; and inside testing labs and slaughterhouses. Behold the magnitude of the bloodshed and the heartless efficiency with which it is perpetrated. The *hundreds of millions* of land animals killed each year by hunters, by furriers, in medical labs and in pounds account for only a miniscule *2 percent* of the total number of land animals killed annually. Farm animals bear the 98% brunt of the slaughter. Hundreds of millions? Pfft. The United States alone raises and kills about 10 *billion* animals a year for food; worldwide, the figure balloons to a staggering 57 *billion.* (Tack on another *trillion* for fish and other aquatic animals.) Only one word does justice to what this is: a holocaust. As Isaac Bashevis Singer said via one of his characters: “In relation to animals, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.”

Of course, the difference between the animal holocaust and the Jewish holocaust, other than that the former involves the slaughter of sentient nonhumans and the latter involved the slaughter of sentient humans, is that the Nazis sought to eradicate Jews once and for all, whereas farming continuously creates and destroys animals by the billions year after year after year after year…

By providing a horrifying glimpse inside of the farming industry’s carefully concealed torture chambers and death houses, Earthlings throws the grim reality of the animal holocaust into stark relief.

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“Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a
slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.” - Theodor W. Adorno

If the tragic plight of animals does not bother you, then fuck off.

If their plight does bother you, then watch Earthlings. Do not look away and pretend that this horror is not happening. It is happening, everywhere, at all times, and each one of us is a direct participant in it. If you think you’re not involved, that your hands are clean, you’re deluded: he who pays someone else to slaughter an animal for him is as responsible for the agonizing death of that animal as the one who wielded the knife.

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A problem with Earthlings is that it fails to make clear that the overwhelming amount of suffering and death on display is completely *unnecessary*. I’d like to rectify that shortcoming by pointing out three facts:

Fact 1: We do not *need* to eat animal products.

Fact 2: We do not *need* to wear animal skins/furs.

Fact 3: We do not *need* to use products tested on animals.

Keep these facts in mind while watching Earthlings.

Allow me to elaborate a bit on fact 1 and explain why I have gone vegan:

1. We can be perfectly healthy without eating animals. We do not *need* to eat animals. Eating animals is *unnecessary.*

If you think that eating meat, dairy and eggs is necessary, that’s because you and virtually everyone you know have been indoctrinated into believing so by none other than the meat, dairy, and egg industries. There’s a word for the dissemination of such misinformation. It’s called propaganda. You, my friend, have been duped. No one other than those with a vested interest in these industries maintains that it is medically necessary to consume animal products. Indeed, there is widespread consensus across the spectrum of health care organizations that a well-planned vegan diet not only provides all the necessary nutrients but also offers optimal protection against cancer and heart disease. If you doubt this, allow me to disabuse you of your doubt with some (sausage-free) links:

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, has stated:

“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

http://www.eatright.org/about/content.aspx?id=8357

The Cleveland Clinic, one of the best hospitals in the United States, has stated:

“Eating a plant-based vegetarian or vegan diet can be a healthy, exciting alternative to traditional meat-based meal planning. Obtaining proper nutrients from non-animal sources is simple for the modern herbivore. There is a wide variety of vegetarian/vegan-friendly meat/dairy/egg replacements currently on the market. Recipes are abundant on the Internet as well as in a variety of vegetarian cookbooks.”

“There really are no disadvantages to a herbivorous diet! A plant-based diet has many health benefits, including lowering the risk for heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. It can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, plus maintain weight and bone health.”

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/food-choices/understanding-vegetarianism.aspx

The Mayo Clinic says:

“A well-planned vegetarian diet is a healthy way to meet your nutritional needs. A well-planned vegetarian diet can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and pregnant or breast-feeding women.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vegetarian-diet/HQ01596

Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation says:

“Vegetarian diets can provide all the nutrients you need at any age, as well as some additional health benefits. Vegetarian diets often have lower levels of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than many meat-based diets, and higher intakes of fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Vegetarian diets may lead to lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, healthier weight and less incidence of Type 2 diabetes, all of which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.”

http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3484249/k.2F6C/Healthy_living__Vegetarian_diets.htm

The American Heart Association says:

“Vegetarian diets can be healthful and nutritionally sound if they’re carefully planned to include essential nutrients.”

“Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.”

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Vegetarian-Diets_UCM_306032_Article.jsp

The American Cancer Society says:

“Some studies have linked vegetarian diets to lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer. A strictly vegetarian diet must be properly planned to be sure it provides all the required nutrients.”

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/vegetarianism

The American Diabetes Association says:

“A vegetarian diet is a healthy option, even if you have diabetes. Research supports that following this type of diet can help prevent and manage diabetes. In fact, research on vegan diets has found that carbohydrate and calorie restrictions were not necessary and still promoted weight loss and lowered participants’ A1C.”

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/meal-planning-for-vegetarians/

Dietitians of Canada, one of the largest organizations of dietetic professionals in the world, has stated:

“A vegan eating pattern has many potential health benefits. They include lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Other benefits include lower blood cholesterol levels and a lower risk for gallstones and intestinal problems. This eating pattern can take some extra planning. Vegans must make sure that enough nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamins D and B12 and omega-3 fats are included. A well planned vegan diet can meet all of these needs. It is safe and healthy for pregnant and breastfeeding women, babies, children, teens and seniors. A variety of plant foods eaten during the day can provide enough protein to promote and maintain good health.”

http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Vegetarian/Eating-Guidelines-for-Vegans.aspx

The British National Health Service, the largest and the oldest single-payer healthcare system in the world, has stated:

“With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs.”

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Vegetarianhealth/Pages/Vegandiets.aspx

The British Nutrition Foundation, team of nutrition scientists that conducts academic reviews of published research on issues of diet and public health, has stated:

“A well-planned, balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can be nutritionally adequate.”

“Studies of UK vegetarian and vegan children have revealed that their growth and development are within the normal range.”

http://www.nutrition.org.uk/publications/briefingpapers/vegetarian-nutrition

The Dietitians Association of Australia has stated:

“Vegan diets are a type of vegetarian diet, where only plant-based foods are eaten. They differ to other vegetarian diets in that no animal products are usually consumed or used. Despite these restrictions, with good planning it is still possible to obtain all the nutrients required for good health on a vegan diet.”

http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/vegan-diets/

The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a branch of the USDA, has stated:

“Vegetarian diets can meet all the recommendations for nutrients.”

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/healthy-eating-tips/tips-for-vegetarian.html

The National Institutes of Health, the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research, has stated:

“People who follow vegetarian diets can get all the nutrients they need.”

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/vegetariandiet.html

The Perelman School of Medicine, a medical school ranked second for research in 2012, has stated:

“A well-planned vegetarian diet can give you good nutrition. A vegetarian diet often helps you have better health. Eating a vegetarian diet can help you reduce your chance of obesity; reduce your risk of heart disease; lower your blood pressure; lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.”

http://www.pennmedicine.org/encyclopedia/em_DisplayArticle.aspx?gcid=002465&ptid=1

The New York Presbyterian Hospital, an esteemed university hospital system affiliated with two Ivy League medical schools, has stated:

“A vegetarian diet may take a little extra planning—especially at first—but it is easy to learn how to ensure your diet is healthy.”

“People who follow a vegetarian diet are relatively healthier than those who don’t. Vegetarians tend to have a lower incidence of obesity and fewer chronic health problems, including some cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

http://nyp.org/wellness/showDocument.php?contentTypeId=1&contentId=1876&heading=Vegetarian+Diets%3A+The+Myths+vs.+Facts

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, one of the largest medical centers in the world, has stated:

“A well-planned vegetarian diet can give you good nutrition. A vegetarian diet often helps you have better health.”

http://www.upmc.com/healthlibrary/Pages/ADAM.aspxGenContentId=002465&ProjectId=1&ProductId=1

The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, one of the top three hospitals in the US, has stated:

“If properly planned, a vegetarian diet can be healthy.”

“Some of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet may include decreased blood cholesterol levels
and blood pressure; lower incidence of heart disease, some forms of cancer, and digestive disorders like constipation and diverticula disease; lower incidence of obesity and some forms of diabetes.”

http://www.dining.ucla.edu/housing_site/dining/SNAC_pdf/Vegetarianism.pdf

Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the United States, has stated:

“Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods. Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C, and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates. Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”

http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2013/spring/5117-nutrition.html

Now that you’ve been thoroughly disabused of the troglodytic me-must-eat-meat myth, allow me to repeat the simple, incontrovertible fact with which I began:

1. We can be perfectly healthy without eating animals. We do not *need* to eat animals. Eating animals is *unnecessary.*

2. We don’t just eat animals. We eat *sentient* animals. A sentient animal is one who is subjectively aware, perceptually alert, sensate and conscious (although not necessarily self-conscious in a human-like way.) A sentient animal has interest, wants, and desires. A sentient animal has an interest in staying alive. A sentient animal wants to be comfortable. A sentient animal desires freedom of movement. A sentient animal seeks pleasure and avoids pain. A sentient animal *feels.* Make no mistake: the farm animals we eat are as sentient as the companion animals we love.

A handful of benighted souls still cling to the absurd and discredited Cartesian conception of animals as mere automatons devoid of conscious experience. But anyone who has ever had a purring cat blissfully curl up on your lap or an excited dog greet you with tail wags and tongue licks knows that Descartes’ impoverished characterization of animals as empty machines is wrong on its face.

That animals are sentient strikes most of us as self-evident. But it’s always nice when science authoritatively confirms what we already know, and a group of prominent scientists recently did just that, declaring unequivocally that nonhuman animals possess conscious awareness. Here’s an excerpt from The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness:

“Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf

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This newborn calf, still wet with amniotic fluid and already tagged for slaughter, was yanked away from his mother at birth by a two-legged monster and will spend the rest of his short life in the cramped confines of a veal crate. Yet another innocent victim of the dairy industry.

3. By virtue of their sentience, farm animals have the capacity to suffer, and suffer they do at factory farms and slaughterhouses, which are nothing if not places of torment. Few of us would willingly step foot into such hellholes, but farm animals spend the entirety of their joyless existence there. They are born into them. And in them they die. Please understand: the vast majority of the *billions* of animals we eat *annually* suffer mercilessly from birth to slaughter, first enduring confinement, enslavement and torture, and then meeting a brutal, terrifying death. Then we, the consumer, after paying someone else to slit their throats for us, devour the butchered corpses of these once-sentient beings for no better reason than that their flesh titillates our taste buds.

The heartless commodification of these sentient nonhumans is deeply saddening. Sadder still is that the animals we exploit, torture, kill, chop into pieces, slice into shreds, roll into balls, skewer on sticks, roast in ovens, fry in pans, char on grills, stew in pots, spin on rotisseries and greedily deposit into our ever-expanding gullets have done *nothing* to us to deserve the ultra-violence we ruthlessly visit upon them.

Throughout their lives these animals sought kindness but found only cruelty; sought companionship but found only solitude; sought pleasure but found only pain; sought comfort but found only misery; sought freedom but found only captivity; sought life but found only death. Their will to live remained strong to the last, permeating every atom of their abused and exhausted bodies even as they were led onto the killing floor of the slaughterhouse, where the death house executioner awaited to snuff out their lives.

Ah, but they’re just animals, right? Sure, they’re sentient. Sure, they had wretched lives and horrific deaths. Sure, all that agony and carnage was utterly gratuitous. But fuck ‘em. They taste good. Let ‘em be McNuggeted, Whopperized, and packaged and sold to children as Happy Meals. As Ronald McDonald said, “Nothing brings joy to a child like the corpse of a slaughtered animal.”

Doubtless a significant portion of the population does not give a shit about animals. If you are one of those people, then fuck off.

If you are not one of those people, that is, if you are someone who cares about animals and does not want to see them suffer and die needlessly, then please keep reading.

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4. Do you oppose inflicting *unnecessary* suffering and death on sentient beings? Do you oppose *needlessly* harming defenseless animals? Do you oppose animal cruelty?

If you answered “Yes” to the above questions but continue to eat, wear and use animals, then your professed values do not align with your behavior. To eat animals is to participate in animal cruelty. To eat animals is to needlessly harm them. To eat animals is to support inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on sentient beings.

You cannot reconcile caring about animals with killing and eating them. To say that you are against imposing gratuitous suffering and death on animals as you chomp on a mouthful of pig is absurd. Caring about animals is not consistent with harming them or paying someone else to harm them for you. Stabbing defenseless animals in the neck or paying someone else to stab them in the neck for you is an odd way to show that you care.

There is only one way to align your values with your behavior: GO VEGAN

5. I used to eat a variety of animals. Animal flesh tastes good. I get it. So what?

Cats and dogs taste good too. Just ask the Koreans.

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From what I understand, human meat, otherwise known as “long pig,” is downright scrumptious. Zombies are hardly alone in their hankering for human flesh. Fijians regarded the flesh of the human as the food of the gods. The Tupinambás preferred human meat to all other kinds. Māori warriors relished the delicious taste of their enemies. The Aztecs too were fond of long pig. One of their favorite recipes was hominid stew flavored with peppers, tomatoes, and squash blossoms. Mm Mm good! People…it’s what’s for dinner.

Lest you think cannibalism is a thing of the past, think again. Roasted human head was on the menu at this restaurant, which proudly catered to its cannibalistically inclined patrons. Sure, the dish was a bit pricy, but what do you expect? Hominid head is a delicacy.

So let’s review. Dogs taste good. Cats taste good. Humans taste *the best.* So what?

Is palate pleasure a good reason to impose suffering and death on dogs, cats and humans?

If you think so, then fuck off.

If you don’t think so, then ask yourself this: if palate pleasure is not a good reason to inflict suffering and death on cats, dogs and humans, why then is it a good reason to inflict suffering and death on chickens, cows and pigs? Like all sentient beings, farm animals want to live a normal life with a chance to pursue their interests free from pain, fear and violent death. Does your palate pleasure trump their basic desire to live unmolested? Are you okay with depriving them of everything that could make their lives worth living, and subjecting them to the horrors of the abattoir, just so you can indulge your appetite for chicken wings, hamburgers and pork chops? I hope not.

Victimizing defenseless animals because they taste good is barbaric. Count me out. I can please my palate just fine without participating in animal cruelty.

Watch Earthlings. Make the connection. Reject speciesism. Go vegan.

SPECIESISM: THE MOVIE (MARK DEVRIES, 2013)

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Speciesism: The Movie is the thinking person’s animal rights movie, the intellectual companion piece to The Ghosts in Our Machine. Drawing upon the philosophy of Peter Singer, the Princeton professor whose seminal 1975 book, Animal Liberation, is considered a classic of the animal rights movement, Devries’ film advances the position that no rational justification exists for excluding other sentient animals from the realm of ethical concern, and that causing them unnecessary suffering is a violation of our most basic moral principles.

No, the film ain’t gonna win an Oscar. But it is, at least, thought-provoking. Mostly I’m plugging it for this reason: I feel obligated to be a voice for the mute suffering of non-human animals. What happens to factory farm animals on their way to our stomachs is an abomination. Let’s be honest: if you or I did to our cats and dogs what is regularly done to chickens, cows, and pigs, we would be arrested on felony cruelty charges. So if you’re opposed to animal cruelty (and who among us isn’t?), please give this film a look. On behalf of the billions upon billions of sentient creatures who suffer mercilessly from birth to slaughter so that we may enjoy our fried eggs, milkshakes, bacon strips, and hamburgers, I thank you.

Click to visit the official page.

PARADISE LOST: A BLOODY DEBATE, WEST OF MEMPHIS

Count Dracula: This is very old wine. I hope you will like it.

Renfield: Aren’t you drinking?

Count Dracula: I never drink…wine.

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I regret to inform my readers that this blog has been co-opted by Cinatas Cinap and Retro P. Pus. As such, my role here has been relegated to that of debate moderator. Hello, my name is Al A. Vomit, the blogger formerly known as Mat Viola. Tonight’s debate will focus on Exhibit 500. Introduced by the defense during the penalty phase of Damien’s trial in an effort to keep him off death row, Exhibit 500 is an extensive record of Damien’s mental illness around the time of the murders, the contents of which make non-supporters rejoice and give supporters fits. But hear this: emotional outbursts from the audience will not be tolerated - no cheering or booing, applauding or hissing, high-fiving or jeering.

The debate format is as follows: I’ll introduce a topic from Exhibit 500. The participants will debate it. And I’ll put a stop to it when I can stand the lunacy no longer. To ensure the participants adhere to this agreed upon format, electrodes from my trusty electro-shock generator have been attached to the foreheads of Messrs. Cinap and Pus, allowing me to zap them with 450 volts of electricity should their commentary stray off point. However, I also reserve the right to zap them for the sheer fun of it. Zapping is at my sole discretion.

First issue: Damien’s penchant for consuming human blood. That Damien had, and perhaps still has, a hankering for blood is not in question. Damien himself admits as much. The question is, so what? What does it mean? Is he a vampire? Does he suffer from Renfield’s Syndrome? Does he have an iron deficiency? Whatever the case, his taste for blood is well-documented. One notorious incident occurred during Damien’s September 1992 stint at the Craighead County Juvenile Detention Center:

“Approx. three hours after Damien arrived, he was sitting in rec. area with several other residents. One of the boys had scraped his arm a little, and it was bleeding some. Without warning, Damien grabbed the arm that was bleeding, and began to suck the blood from it.” [Page 464 ]

Mr. Cinap, you won the coin toss, so you’ll go first. The floor, I’m afraid, is yours.

Cinatas Cinap: Before I discuss Damien’s twisted predilection for human blood, allow me to expose Exhibit 500 for the unholy abomination it is. First, notice that, alphanumerically speaking, Exhibit 500 adds up to 10. Now, Exhibit 500 actually consists of 509 documents. If you add those 9 additional documents together you get 45 (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9 = 45)

45 + 10 = 55.

55 + 500 = 555.

Basic occult numerology tells us that 555 used three times and reduced to a number is a hidden 666.

555 = 15 = 1 + 5 = 6.

555 = 15 = 1 + 5 = 6.

555 = 15 = 1 + 5 = 6.

Therefore, Exhibit 500 is actually Exhibit 666. In other words, it’s Exhibit Satan.

Oh goodie, I get to test out my electro-shock generator.

Cinatas Cinap: YOWCH! My but that stings like the dickens! Why in tarnation did you do that?

Cut the numerology claptrap, Cinap. Veer from the issue again and the voltage increases. Now, why does Damien have a taste for blood?

Cinatas Cinap: A “taste” for blood? That’s like saying pigs have a “taste” for slop. That Charles Bukowski had a “taste” for booze. That William S. Burroughs had a “taste” for smack.  Echols doesn’t have a “taste” for blood…he has an all-consuming, unquenchable, vampiric craving for it. Echols is to blood drinking what Kobayashi is to hot dog eating. Echols can quaff a barrel of blood faster than a partying frat boy can shotgun a can of beer. Echols chases a shot of Cub Scout blood with a decanter of toddler blood. Echols…

Retro P. Pus: Please zap that insufferable tub-thumper, would ya?

Retro P. Pus: YOWIE! Man oh man that smarts!

Let’s get something straight. Nobody tells me when or who to zap or not to zap. I zap when and who I want to zap. Stay on point, Pus.

Retro P. Pus: I have just one thing to say: Damien does not drink blood:

Retro P. Pus: See? He licks blood.

Cinatas Cinap: Ha! Undead revenants like Echols don’t “lick” blood. They drain it. As in, from your body. As in, all 10 pints of it. Your body is to Echols as a plant is to a sap-sucking aphid.

Retro P. Pus: Damien is constitutionally incapable of lying. If he says he licks, he licks!

Cinatas Cinap: Damien is constitutionally incapable of not drinking blood. He drinks!

Retro P. Pus: Licks.

Cinatas Cinap: Drinks.

Retro P. Pus: Licks.

Cinatas Cinap: Drinks.

Retro P. Pus: Laps.

Cinatas Cinap: Swigs.

Retro P. Pus: Sips.

Cinatas Cinap: Slurps.

Retro P. Pus: Takes a little nip.

Cinatas Cinap: Guzzles 7% of your body weight.

Retro P. Pus: Wets his whistle.

Cinatas Cinap: Soaks his horns.

Retro P. Pus: Gingerly samples.

Cinatas Cinap: Aggressively chugs.

Retro P. Pus: Delicately tastes.

Cinatas Cinap: Violently gulps.

Cinatas Cinap: OUCH! Jiminy Crickets! It burns, it burns…

Retro P. Pus: OW! Criminy, my body’s a throbbin’!

Shut…the fuck…up! Never mind how much blood Damien ingests. The question is, why?

Cinatas Cinap: Because drinking blood gives him power.

Retro P. Pus: Pfft. Blood is mostly water. Just a bunch of cells designed to absorb and deliver oxygen. Hardly a nutritious food for humans. I mean, a unit of blood gives you roughly 100 calories from albumin, sugar, and fat, and 350 calories from hemoglobin. That’s a whopping 450 calories per unit! Wow! What a source of power! Damien might as well eat a donut.

Cinatas Cinap: First of all, who said anything about human? Echols is undead. As such, he has no resting metabolism calorie requirement; hence, he needs far fewer calories than a human. Second, if you think Damien limits his daily intake of blood to a mere unit, I have a story about Metallica-listening teens who got falsely accused of murder to sell you. Third, and most important, Damien doesn’t drink blood for its nutritional value. He drinks it for the same reason mortals drink Red Bull: for an energy boost. Blood is the energy drink of choice among walking corpses. It gives cadaverous Damien his vigor, his oomph, his get-up-and-go. Without it he’d just be lying around the crypt all day, miserable and depressed, complaining about how fatigued he is. But it’s not really about the blood per se. He’s got a more sinister underlying motivation. You see, by drinking blood, Damien absorbs the victim’s life-force. Forget sugar. Forget protein. Forget fat. Damien sucks souls. Damien chews Chi. ‘tis thence he gets power.

Retro P. Pus: Cinap, inanity billows out of your mouth like pollution out of a smokestack.

Cinatas Cinap: Pus, the truth must ride on infrasonic sound waves to your ears - because you can’t hear it.

Retro P. Pus: Cinap, the truth is to your big mouth as light is to a black hole.

Cinatas Cinap: Pus, the truth frightens you, which is why you flee from it like a nun from a dildo factory.

Retro P. Pus: Cinap, idiocy oozes from you like oil from a pimply-faced adolescent.

Cinatas Cinap: Pus, one more word out of you and I’ll kick your ass. Just shut up!

Retro P. Pus: You shut up!

Cinatas Cinap: No, you shut up!

Retro P. Pus: No, you shut…

Retro P. Pus: EEEYOUCH! Gadzooks! You’re really puttin’ the hurt on me now!

Cinatas Cinap: AAARGH! Egads! Ya got me good that time!

Mr. Cinap, apologize to Mr. Pus.

Cinatas Cinap: I’ll do no such thing…

Cinatas Cinap: OW! Alright, alright…Pus, I sincerely apologize for the dildo comment and whatnot.

Mr. Pus, apologize to Mr. Cinap.

Retro P. Pus: Cinap, I’m truly sorry for the mean and nasty things I said about your oozing idiocy and billowing inanity.

Retro P. Pus: OW!

Increase the sincerity or I increase the voltage.

Retro P. Pus: Okay. Mr. Cinap, no words can express how deeply sorry I am for whatever I said and what have you.

Ok, carry on, Mr. Cinap.

Cinatas Cinap: First, let me say that I have the utmost respect for my worthy opponent. I hold the eminent Mr. Pus in the highest regard. Really. I truly do. I’m not just saying that. Having said that, Damien drinks blood. Only a complete moron would think otherwise. Furthermore…

Wait, what did you say?

Cinatas Cinap: Damien drinks blood.

After that.

Cinatas Cinap: Furthermore.

Before that. You said something under your breath.

Cinatas Cinap: No…no I didn’t.

Yes, you did. Let’s play that back, amplified.

Cinatas Cinap (recorded and amplified): Only a complete moron would think otherwise.

Cinatas Cinap: ZIPPITY ZAPPITY FUCKING DO DA! Ok, ok, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Reasonable people can no doubt reach different conclusions on this issue. Please accept my humble apology. My contrition is bone deep.

Ah, aversive conditioning is a beautiful thing. Start over, Cinap.

Cinatas Cinap: Damien drinks blood. But not just any blood. Damien prefers chillun’s blood. Why? Because the younger the body the purer the blood, and the purer the blood the more power Damien derives from it, and the more power Damien possesses the easier it is for him to infect others with his vampirism, and the more vampires he creates the easier it will be for him and his minions to eradicate our chillun, and eradicating our chillun spells the end of the human race. Don’t you get it? The juvie hall incident was just the beginning! Damien is a Vampire Regent with an insatiable thirst for the lifeblood of innocent young’uns. He must be stopped before it’s too late for us all.

Retro P. Pus: I respectfully beg to differ with my esteemed opponent. Intelligent people can reasonably disagree on this issue…but the fact is, you’re dead wrong and I’m indisputably right. Damien *licked* that boy’s scrape to hasten the healing process. You see, due to a benign genetic mutation, Damien’s saliva is awash with antibacterial and antiviral enzymes, the curative properties of which promote wound healing. Just as Saint Mary Magdalena of Pazzi cured a nun of sores by licking her wounds, so Damien cured the injured boy by licking his wound. Far from being a blood-drinking vampire, Damien is a wound-licking healer. He’s a mender, a shaman, a curandero, a medicine man whose medicine comes from an inner wellspring of cleansing spittle. Not for nothing did Damien take the name of Saint Damien of Molokai, the martyr of charity who selflessly cared for lepers until he died of the disease himself. One day Damien will be known, not as the West Memphis Boogeyman or the Witch City Bugaboo, but as Saint Damien of the Arkansas trailer parks.

Cinatas Cinap: I say this with all due respect to the honorable Mr. Pus: Poppycock! No, scratch that - Cockypop! Fact: Cub Scout blood contains regenerative properties essential for the health and well-being of animated cadavers. Fact: Damien is an animated cadaver. Fact: Undead Damien regularly replenishes himself with revitalizing Cub Scout plasma so as to acquire the energy needed to help his Pa bring about the Apocalypse. Deny these patently obvious truths at your peril.

Retro P. Pus: I humbly put it to my distinguished challenger that he’s blowing a minor incident out of proportion with inflammatory rhetoric. Notice how innocuous the original incident report was:

“Approx. three hours after Damien arrived, he was sitting in rec. area with several other residents. One of the boys had scraped his arm a little, and it was bleeding some. Without warning, Damien grabbed the arm that was bleeding, and began to suck the blood from it.” [Page 464 ]

Retro P. Pus: Now see how the story grows increasingly sensationalistic with each telling, going from a level-headed description of Damien’s beneficent wound-licking to satanicky panicky embellishments about Damien’s sinister vampirism, much of it originating from none other than vampire and demon hunter extraordinaire, Jerry Driver:

“Knocked him down to the ground, sucked the blood from the arm, rubbed it over his face and body, and say he is a blood sucking vampire. . .  also grabbed another person and tried to suck their blood.” [Page 341]

“Hit male who cut wrists sucked blood of male.  Smeared blood on self.  Made statements indicating belief he is a vampire who worships the devil.” [Page 366 ]

“While in the detention center, Damien witnessed a co-patient slashing his wrist. Damien is reported to have knocked the co-patient to the ground and began to suck the young man’s blood…was observed sucking the wrists of the young man and smearing his blood over Damien’s body.  [Page 374-375 ]

Cinatas Cinap: There’s nothing embellished or sensationalistic about it. Damien not only drank from that poor boy’s arm like a parched Bedouin at an oasis, he ripped the lad’s limb off at the shoulder, clubbed everyone in sight with it, and smeared the gushing hemoglobin all over his face and naughty bits while maniacally declaring himself a devil-worshipping, blood-chugging vampire.

Retro P. Pus: Hey Cinap…ever wonder what it’s like to be a fear-mongering, rumor-spreading, misinformation-spouting, twaddle-spewing, rabble-rousing, monosynaptic, infrahuman zealot? Well, wonder no more. You’re a natural.

Retro P. Pus: AHHHHH…! My deepest apologies to Cinap! Respect!

Cinatas Cinap: Instead of defending Damien from me, you should be defending yourself from Damien. With permission from moderator Vomit, I’d like to cover what the citizenry needs to do to ward off Damien.

Proceed, Mr. Cinap.

Cinatas Cinap: Thank you, Mr. Vomit. Ladies and gentlemen, listen up. The Echols menace is a matter of grave concern. And I mean that literally. The Pus’s of the world would have us believe that Damien is harmless. Better than harmless, in fact. He’s a magickal medicine man committed to improving our collective lot in life - a fuckin’ do-gooder! The reality is far more sinister. Damien wants you to believe what Pus believes. Damien wants to give you a false sense of security. Why? Because then you’ll let your guard down. That’s when Damien will swoop in and massacre the populace. So pay attention! What I’m about to say is of the utmost importance. Heed my words or die. It’s that simple. To stay alive you must arm yourselves with apotropaics aplenty. Now hear this: Follow my instructions without the slightest deviation or, make no mistake, the end is nigh:

1) Build a moat around your house and fill it with holy water. Holy H2O is the Echols repellent par excellence. It is to Damien as sulfuric acid is to mortals. He won’t dip his little toe in there.

2) Bloodthirsty corpses like Echols despise hallowed ground. So dig up the consecrated dirt from your local churches and spread it evenly around your yard. Damien won’t step foot on it.

3) Sprinkle mustard seeds on the roof of your house. Don’t ask why. Just do it.

4) Tattoo a crucifix in the center of your forehead and on each butt cheek. That way you’re protected from top to bottom and front to back.

5) Eat raw garlic daily and DO NOT brush your teeth. Repeat: DO NOT brush your teeth. Never ever again. Pucker up for a kiss if Damien approaches and watch the alliumphobic fiend flee.

6) Purchase firearms for everyone in the family, including the chillun, and load them with sacred silver bullets. Making holy bullets is a snap: simply inscribe a silver coin with a cross and forge it into the shape of a bullet. If Damien comes a knockin’, blow his preternaturally pale ass back to the stinking bowels of Hell from whence he came.

7) To counter Damien’s malevolence, keep your body and spirit pure by crumbling Eucharist wafers on your breakfast cereal. [Warning: This does not work with Count Chocula, Franken Berry or Boo Berry cereals.] These blessed crackers also go well with soups, salads, and pasta sauce. You can even try them with your favorite dips, be it sour cream, salsa, hummus or guacamole. Added bonus: Christ’s crackers are surprisingly nutritious.

8) Beat Damien at his own game: Imbibe a carafe of the blood of Christ daily. With the Holy Spirit coursing through your veins, Damien is sure to go suck some heathen’s neck instead.

9) Keep a tanning lamp in every room of the house. Not only will the artificial sunlight repel the heliophobic Echols, but you’ll get a beautiful golden brown tan to boot.

10) Never leave home without a wooden stake. Why? Because Damien never leaves home without his staff - aka a big old stick. If you run into him you’re sure to find yourself fencing Damien to the death. So be on guard! You must plunge the stake into his decomposed heart before he disembowels you with his staff. Of course, you could simply blow his decayed brains out with your silver-bullet gun, but that wouldn’t be very sporting.

Are you quite done?

Cinatas Cinap: Almost. Only about fifty more essential vampire antidotes and repellents to go through.

Cinatas Cinap: YOW! BLISTERING BARNACLES! leck mich am Arsch!

Let’s translate that from German to English.

Cinatas Cinap (recorded and translated): Lick my ass!

Well, Cinap - what do have to say for yourself?

Cinatas Cinap: Das tut mir Leid?

You’re done. Go ahead, Pus.

Retro P. Pus: Defend myself against a piddling blood licker? Pfft. Why, Damien Echols can lick my blood anytime. I’d be honored to have Mr. Echols lick my wounds. And I stress *lick*.

Cinatas Cinap: If Damien doesn’t drink blood, why did he tell his counselor that drinking blood makes him feel like a god?

“He obtains his power by drinking blood of others. He typically drinks the blood of a sexual partner or of a ruling partner. This is achieved by biting or cutting. He states “it makes me feel like a God”.  [Page 52 ]

Retro P. Pus: He was misquoted. Damien didn’t say he drinks blood; the shrink did. Damien’s no biter either. He’s a licker, not a biter. A lover, not a fighter. This is just another example of people putting words in his mouth. And of course he felt like a god! When you’re blessed with magickal healing powers, how else are you supposed to feel?

Cinatas Cinap: Amazing how you dismiss Damien’s theomaniacal ravings. You won’t be so dismissive when he’s got his fangs sunk in your jugular vein. Only then, as the lifeblood slowly drains from your body, will you realize how damning Exhibit 500 is.

Retro P. Pus: Exhibit 500 is jack shit, wrapped in fuck all, inside not a goddamn thing.

Cinatas Cinap: What a contemptible potty mouth!

Retro P. Pus: Aww, did I injure Cinap’s pansy ass delicate wittle sensibilities?

Word of advice, chaps: my hand is on the button of my electro-shock generator.

Retro P. Pus: Let me rephrase: Exhibit 500 amounts to nothing. It’s rumor, gossip, hearsay, anecdote, allegation, assertion, misinformation, hyperbole, sensationalism, embellishment, exaggeration, and confabulation more than documented fact. It certainly doesn’t prove Damien killed those kids, nor does it place him at the crime scene.

Cinatas Cinap: I say this with all due disrespect and with the utmost disregard for my dishonorable opponent…

We all heard that, Cinap. You’re not fooling anyone. But carry on…

Cinatas Cinap: If nothing else Exhibit 500 sheds light on Damien’s disintegrating mental state at the time of the murders.

Retro P. Pus: It sheds light on the mentality of satanicky panicky Bible belters bent on railroading a sensitive kid simply because he was a bit unconventional.

Cinatas Cinap: Right, it’s just “a bit unconventional” to sacrifice your firstborn to Satan!

Retro P. Pus: Quick! Call an exorcist! Mr. Cinap is possessed by the satanicky panicky spirit of Jerry Driver!

Hear that ominous hum coming from the electro-shock generator? That’s bottled up electric current itching to roast a couple of nuts.

Cinatas Cinap: Fact: That there was no blood at the crime scene proves Damien was there. He drank it all.

Allow me to put this into syllogistic form:

1: Damien drinks every drop of blood spilled in his vicinity.

2: Robin Hood Hills was in Damien’s vicinity.

3: Blood was spilled in Robin Hood Hills.

4: Police found no blood in Robin Hood Hills

5: Therefore, Damien drank it.

I defy you to find a flaw in that reasoning.

Retro P. Pus: Ah, but blood was found at the scene; Luminol testing detected it. The area “lit up like a Christmas tree” when Luminol was applied. That proves Damien wasn’t there, because if he had been, he would have drunk it all.

1: Damien drinks every drop of blood spilled in his vicinity.

2: Robin Hood Hills was in Damien’s vicinity.

3: Blood was spilled in Robin Hood Hills.

4: Police found blood in Robin Hood Hills.

5: Therefore, Damien didn’t drink it.

Cinatas Cinap: Ah ha! So you admit that if Damien had been there he would have drunk all the blood.

Retro P. Pus: Yes, Damien would have drunk it all had he been there. But since blood was detected, it follows, ipso facto, that he didn’t drink it. Hence, he wasn’t there. Hence, he’s innocent.

Cinatas Cinap: Ipso facto? Try Ipse dixit. Fact: Damien was there. Fact: Blood was detected. Conclusion: Damien doesn’t drink blood. He licks blood, as he himself admits.

Time to roast these nuts.

Sorry folks, that’s all the time we have. There’s much more to discuss about Exhibit 500. Perhaps I’ll schedule another round of debate. In the meantime, go watch West of Memphis and see if there’s any mention of Damien’s taste for human blood.

Cinatas Cinap: Don’t watch that lousy piece of propaganda! Watch the biopic of Damien instead. It’s called The Omen.

Retro P. Pus: West of Memphis is the unvarnished truth!

Al A. Vomit

A SATANIC MUSICAL INTERLUDE

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Whatever you do, do not forget to drop by here on Tuesday, August 6, 2013. Why? Because that’s when WM3 heavyweights Cinatas Cinap and Retro P. Pus will be debating Exhibit 500. It promises to be a truly momentous occasion, which just happens to coincide with the video release of West of Memphis.

In the meantime, let’s listen to some music. Now, what type of music would be fitting as an interlude between posts about the WM3? Classical? Nah. Opera? Uh-uh. Nordic folk? Nope. Vietnamese chamber music? ‘fraid not. Scat jazz? Kabuki? Polka? Funk? Barbershop? Yodeling? I’m gonna have to go with no to those. Heavy metal? Well, yeah, but heavy metal music is verboten on this blog, so that’s out. Besides, this is a film blog, and so only film music will do. Fuck Metallica. I’ve got some real devil music for ya.

Let’s kick it off with music from the granddaddy of all demonic possession movies, The Exorcist. Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’ is so closely associated with The Exorcist it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t originally composed for the film. Poor Mike: I doubt he set out to make “scary” music, but who can listen to it now without thinking about swiveling heads, crucifix masturbation, and projectile vomiting?

The commercially disastrous sequel to The Exorcist features a score by my all-time favorite film composer, Ennio Morricone. Here Ennio gives demonic possession a kinky disco beat, complete with sadomasochistic bullwhip lashings. Is there nothing The Maestro can’t do?

L’arcidiavolo is more bawdy comedy than horror movie, but that’s okay, because the theme of this post gives me an excuse to play the fiendishly cool guitar riffs in this cue by Morricone contemporary Armando Trovaioli.

Nobody puts his lips together and blows quite like Alessandro Alessandroni. A world-class whistler, Alessandroni is the dude whistling so memorably on the soundtracks of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. In La plus longue nuit du diable, Alessandroni puts his whistling talents in the service of Satan with some seriously sinister lip-piping. His sister, Giulia, supplies the equally eerie and otherworldly vocalizations.

Spawns of Satan need shuteye too. Here’s Mia Farrow’s Rosemary La-La-La-ing a lullaby to her hellborn baby:

Charles Manson. Do I have your attention now? Charlie wasn’t the only murderous musician in his “family.” Let’s not forget the satanic stylings of fellow family member and convicted murderer Bobby Beausoleil. Imagine Beausoleil’s spooky psychedelic music from Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising playing in the secret torture chamber underneath Damien’s Hermetic Reiki Center.

Step aside Charlie Daniels. Daniels plays a mean fiddle, but he’s no match for Satan, whose supernatural ability to pluck the fretboard with ten fingers is on diabolical display in Christopher Young’s masterly ‘Concerto to Hell’ from Drag Me to Hell.

Want to see the Devil actually play the fiddle? Check out the 50:07-51:39 minute mark of The Devil and Daniel Webster. Old Scratch appears in the form of Walter Huston, frantically fiddling an orgasmic rendition of ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ at a sinful hoe-down. Here Bernard Herrmann uses the multi-track recording of a solo fiddler to devilish effect.

“Damien. Damien. Damien, look at me. I’m over here. Damien, I love you. Look at me, Damien. It’s all for you!”

Remember that from The Omen?

There’s no better way to conclude this post than with one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded on celluloid, Satanic or otherwise. Jerry Goldsmith must have commissioned an evil choir from the pits of Hell to sing his ‘Ave Satani’. Doubtless Goldsmith’s Gothic choral orchestrations were influenced by Stravinsky’s ‘Symphony of Psalms’ and Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’, but he betters the both of them in terms of sheer spine-tingling, hair-raising, goose bump inducing creepiness.

For those of you unfamiliar with Latin:

Sanquis bibimus, Corpus edimus
Prode corpus Satani
Ave, Ave Versus Christus
Ave, Ave Satani

We drink blood, We eat flesh
Bring forth the body of Satan
Hail Antichrist
Hail Satan

PARADISE LOST: THE BOOGEYMAN, WEST OF MEMPHIS

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Citizens of Salem beware!

A murderous fiend with an insatiable thirst for blood resides in your midst. His name is Damien Echols, aka the West Memphis Boogeyman. Spawned from an unholy union of Arkansas trailer skank and Satan, Damien is half white trash, half dark lord - in other words, unpure, adulterated evil. Be on the lookout for an inky-haired, raven-eyed mutant with tattoos and talons wearing noir leather and Goth goggles, listening to death metal and Zen chimes, clutching an inverted pentagram in one hand and waving a magick wand in the other, munching raw gristle from the leg bone of a dog carcass, oozing malodorous fumes of sulfur, twittering a steady stream of inspirational fortune cookie platitudes out of one side of his mouth and quoting Aleister Crowley out of the other, and bragging about murdering and mutilating scores of prepubescent cub scouts. If you see someone matching this description, run for your ever-lovin’ lives!

If perchance you find yourself trapped in his malignant presence, say while standing in line at the local supermarket, for God’s sake do not look at him. You’ll feel his vacant, soulless eyes peering at you from behind those ultra-cool shades, inviting you, urging you to look in his direction, but you must resist the impulse lest you be transfixed in his fatal gaze. If he’s standing in line behind you, face forward and do not look back. If he’s standing in front of you, turn around and proceed backward to the checkout counter. Many a poor soul has paid the ultimate price for mistakenly thinking it safe to look at Damien just because he’s sporting snazzy Ray-Bans. Do not make that same mistake. You see, my friends, his hip sunspecs are specially equipped with a motorized rotating psychedelic hypnosis spiral, one glance at which instantly puts you into a deep and everlasting trance, rendering you forever powerless to resist his every command. The hypnosis spiral is one of Damien’s favorite secret weapons against pesky interviewers. If an interviewer is on the verge of asking him a challenging case question, such as why none of his alibi witnesses can cover him between the crucial hours of 6:30-9:00pm on the evening of the murders, Damien simply activates the hypnosis spiral and telepathically programs the spellbound interviewer to ask him only soft questions.

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Like other wand-wielding wizards, Damien exudes magickal charisma. But hear this: Resist his devilish charms or be indoctrinated into his cult of death and compelled to do his evil bidding with the rest of his legion of murder groupies. To embrace Damien is to embrace the abyss. An abyss bejeweled by twinkly crystals and perfumed with myrrh-scented incense. Watch out! His soft-spoken, Zen-like demeanor masks a diseased mind hell-bent on death and destruction. Make no mistake, while masquerading as the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice to the outside world, Damien is secretly concocting magick potions, casting evil spells and, worst of all, hatching diabolical plans within the confines of his Reiki center, which is nothing but a front for his foul and nefarious activities.

Public Service Announcement: A Reiki session with Damien is an appointment with death. If not physical death, then certainly spiritual death. His promise to re-channel your energy flow for just $130 is a pretext for getting you alone for an hour so he muck around with your chi, drain your lifeblood, sap your élan vital, and swallow your eternal soul.

Take heed, Damien plans to make your town his personal slaughterhouse, so for the love of God and all that’s holy, lock your doors and hide the women and chillun. Tonight he’s on the prowl, his elongated fingernails sharpened to fine points, lurking unseen and skulking unheard, perhaps hiding tightly coiled behind a bush ready to spring at unsuspecting passersby, or creeping with malice aforethought just outside your back door, or, one shudders to think, lying in wait under your chillun’s beds itching to tell them their final bedtime story.

Never venture outside after dark lest you run afoul of Demon Damien and his devilish disciples. Should you find it necessary to leave the relative safety of your home, stay the fuck out of the woods, especially during the full moon, for Damien’s out there, presiding over orgiastic esbats from the stroke of midnight to the witching hour, when he and his maniacal minions stomp, skin, and devour puppy dogs, commune with vile denizens of the netherworld, place hexes upon your town, and sacrifice nubile young virgins to the King of Hell.

Speaking of nubile young virgins, Damien would like nothing better than to defile, debauch and deflower your teenage daughter, so if she thinks he’s hot, you must act quickly to protect her hymenal membrane. Purchase a chastity belt posthaste and strap it on her securely until she gets over this foolish and fatal adolescent crush.  (A more extreme option is genital mutilation. Given Damien’s penchant for mutilating the genitalia of young’uns, this is probably your daughter’s fate anyway, so you might as well do it yourself before he gets his talons on her.) If she expresses a desire for a tattoo of, say, an inverted pentagram or, heaven forbid, the dreaded “X”, well, I’m afraid it can mean only one thing: she’s possessed by a dangerously erect incubus from the bowels of Hades. Contact an exorcist immediately, or before ya know it she’ll be sucking cock in Hell.

Dearest Salemites, I beseech you: heed my warning before it’s too late. You and your loved ones are in great peril! The West Memphis Boogeyman has put down stakes and set up shop in your town, intent on making a new name for himself: the Salem Hobgoblin or the Witch City Bugaboo. Endowed with powers dark and magickal, Damien’s ability to rend entire communities asunder is unrivalled in the annals of arch villainy. Only an evil wizard of the highest order could rape, torture, castrate, mutilate, murder, and urinate into the mouths of your chillun without leaving a trace of inculpatory evidence. No fingerprints. No broken fingernails/talons. No hoofed footprints. Not a strand of freaky long black hair. Not a drip of vampiric blood. Not a drop of warlockian urine. Not a drib of demonic jism. Nothing. Almost as if he’d never been there. Oh…but he was there alright. And he’ll brag about it later at your local tarot card store.

(If all this weren’t bad enough, Damien also happens to be a twittering cliché-generator cruelly infecting your town with a never-ending onslaught of witless platitudes, vacuous maxims, would-be epigrams, and hackneyed sayings.)

Good people of Salem, do not say you weren’t warned.

Yours truly,

Cinatas Cinap

The above letter, penned by one Cinatas Cinap, reflects the “Satanic panic” that gripped the nation during the 80s and early 90s, a dark period in American history, to be known henceforth as the Antichrist Zeitgeist, which climaxed in the great Beelzebub hubbub of ‘93. I refer, of course, to the notorious case of the West Memphis 3, the central figure of which, Damien Echols, is now considered the primary if not sole source of the panic then sweeping the nation. Virtually every “satanic” incident in the country from the moment of his birth until 1993 has been directly traced back to the creaky front door of his dilapidated trailer home. Ya see, Damien is to Satan what Jesus is to God: his dutiful son. But whereas God sent Jesus to suffer for our sins, Satan sent Damien to make us suffer for the hell of it. Damien is the Antichrist, possessed of a soul vile enough to make Old Scratch beam with fatherly pride. (If you doubt me, consider that the name Damien Echols is an anagram for Demon Chi Sale. Coincidence? Surely not! His very name implies that he’s a walking, talking, tweeting advertisement for demon chi. What a marketing opportunity for the Hermetic Reiki Center! Don’t be shy! Step right up! Get your genu-ine white trash demon chi here!) If Damien had his druthers in ‘93, he would have lain waste first to West Memphis, then to the country, and finally to the entire world, setting the stage for Dad to ascend from Hell and take dominion over the earth, bringing the dastardly father/son duo one step closer to their ultimate goal: triumphantly storming the gates of heaven and wresting control of the universe from God Almighty. Such would have been our tragic fate were it not for the heroic efforts of demon-hound juvie officer Jerry Driver; occult expert and mail order PhD Dale Griffis; Detective Gary “this case goes to 11″ Gitchell; then-Judge, now-Senator David Burnett; and then-Prosecutor, now-Judge John “there’s not a soul in there” Fogleman. Let us now give thanks to these courageous saviors of humanity.

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Oh, shut up, non-supporter! Hater, be gone! Saviors of humanity? Ha! More like saviors of human-inanity! For the record, the above was also written by the cretinoid Cinatas Cinap, a zealot trying to co-opt this blog with alarmist non-supporter bullshit. But I won’t let him! My name is Retro P. Pus and I’m here to set the record straight about Mr. Echols. Damien Echols is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life. All the more tragic, then, that he was railroaded by a bunch of Bible belt bumpkins bent on burning him at the stake just because the poor kid wore black, listened to Metallica, and read Stephen King books.  (Okay, so maybe Damien tried to enucleate a schoolmate. Big deal! Who hasn’t? He was just going through what scientists have identified as the “Heavy Metal” stage of adolescent development. All teenage boys go through it as a rite of passage to adulthood. It’s no biggie. Besides, although Damien admits to attacking the boy, he denies trying to claw out his eyes. Let’s move on, people!) In the end, Mr. Echols not only survived the most egregious miscarriage of justice in the history of the universe, he emerged from it, miraculously, not just a better man, but the best man in the history of mankind, a noble, wise, saintly, magickal, multi-talented prince among men who now just wants to get on with his life, a life destined not just for greatness but one destined to be nothing less than the greatest life in the history of existence.

I assure you, Mr. Echols is just here to help, not just himself, or you, but everyone and everything in the universe and beyond. There’s no reason to fear him. He wants to rearrange your chi, not your face. He wants to X you, not hex you. He wants with you to harmonize, not with his fingernails to gouge out your eyes. So please, I beseech you, exonerate him, don’t abominate him. C’mon, let’s hear it! Exoneration, not abomination! Exoneration, not abomination! Exoneration, not abomination!

Sincerely,

Retro P. Pus, Esq. (aka Ret R. Oppusa)

P.S. Damien Echols is also an anagram for ID Chosen Male - so there!

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Yeah, well, Damien Echols is also an anagram for has demon lice. And his wife, Lorri, might like to know that Damien Wayne Echols is an anagram for wed one slay machine. Take that, supporter!

Insincerely,

Cinatas Cinap

P.S. Don’t salute him, electrocute him! The solution is electrocution! The solution is electrocution! The solution is electrocution!

————————————————————————————————————

What West of Memphis tells you: Damien was the victim of a modern day witch hunt because of how he looked (scary), what he listened to (devil music), and what he read (horror).

What West of Memphis doesn’t tell you: Exhibit 500 exists.

What is Exhibit 500? It’s a compilation of Damien’s psychiatric records, introduced by his lawyers during the sentencing phase of his trial in a last-ditch effort to keep him off death row, which shows, among other things, that Echols was placed in a psychiatric hospital three times in the year leading up to the murders. In other words, Exhibit 500 is what gives non-supporters a sizable boner and what supporters would rather not discuss.

By no means does Exhibit 500 prove Damien murdered those boys, but it does provide insight into his mental state around the time of the murders. For example, in early 1993, just months before the murders, Damien described himself as sociopathic, suicidal, and homicidal. (Note: Damien described himself thus on an application for Social Security disability benefits, so it’s possible he was exaggerating the severity of his condition in order to receive said benefits.) That West of Memphis fails to mention, let alone address, some of the jaw-dropping material in Exhibit 500 betrays the bias and, perhaps, dishonesty of its makers. On the other hand, alarmist non-supporters are being equally disingenuous when they indiscriminately cite material from Exhibit 500 as though every word therein were incontrovertible fact.

Next post, I’ll examine some of the material in Exhibit 500, hopefully with a bit more objectivity than the likes of Messrs. Cinap and Pus.

Sincerely,

Al A. Vomit

PARADISE LOST: CONFESSIONS, WEST OF MEMPHIS - POSTSCRIPT

You’ll recall from his first confession that Misskelley mistakenly said the victims were tied up with rope, when in fact they were bound by their own shoelaces.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, who tied the boys up?

MISSKELLEY: Uh, Damien.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Did Damien just tie them all up or did anyone help Damien or

MISSKELLEY: Jason helped him.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Ok, and what did they use to tie them up?

MISSKELLEY: A rope.

Such a glaring discrepancy seemingly supports the “false confession” theory. However, there’s reason to believe that Misskelley, guilty or not, already knew the boys had been tied with shoelaces. Below is testimony from Kevin Johnson, a Search and Rescue worker who was an acquaintance of Misskelley’s:

STIDHAM: You tell the jury what you told Mr. Misskelley?

JOHNSON: Yes, I told him that–that one of the boys were beaten and caserated.

STIDHAM: You told him that one of the boys had been castrated?

JOHNSON: Yes, sir.

STIDHAM: What else did you tell him?

JOHNSON: Uh…

STIDHAM: Did you tell him anything else?

JOHNSON: Yes, that they, that - that they was tied with the shoestrings.

STIDHAM: Where did you get this information, Mr. Johnson?

JOHNSON: From the–heard it from the members of the Search and Rescue.

Johnson’s testimony lends credence to the non-supporter contention that Misskelley intentionally lied to the cops. And if he lied about the shoestrings maybe he lied about other details as well, such as what time he was in the woods. Jessie himself says as much in subsequent confessions. According to the incident report filed after his patrol car confession, “Jessie said he lied about the time and the rope to trick the police and to see if they were lying”.

The issue comes up again in the Bible confession:

STIDHAM: What did they tie them with?

MISSKELLEY: Shoe string.

STIDHAM: Why did you tell the officers it was a brown rope?

MISSKELLEY: I made it up.

STIDHAM: Why?

MISSKELLEY: (silent)

STIDHAM: You don’t know why?

MISSKELLEY: Huh-uh. (Negatively indicating)

And yet again in the 2-17-94 confession:

DAVIS: Now you said before when the police asked you in their statement and asked you what they were tied up with. And you said they were tied up with rope.

MISSKELLEY: I made that up.

DAVIS: Why?

MISSKELLEY: Tried to get off, you know get ‘em off track.

Not surprisingly, Jessie offers a very different explanation for the rope/shoelace discrepancy when proclaiming his innocence in statements to Stidham and defense witnesses.

On 12-10-93 he says:

MISSKELLEY: He ask, they asked me was they tied up with, and I, I guessed, I just said, well, brown rope. And, uh, Ridge said no, it wasn’t, and then I tried to argue with him and say yes it was. And it was like they was arguing with me so I was going to argue with them back and say yes, it was.

WILKINS: “Jessie, was it a brown rope?” You know, you say, “No, it was a green rope.” And you said “no.”

MISSKELLEY: They was arguing with me so I was arguing with them back, saying it was a brown rope. He asked me how they was tied up and, I didn’t know. So I just guessed. I said from the front, and he said no, they wasn’t. So…

STIDHAM: …so you just kept guessing until you got it right? ‘

MISSKELLEY: Yeah.

WILKINS: So you said okay and talked it back to them the next time around? `

MISSKELLEY: Yeah. I, I just guessed until I got it right, you know. I didn’t know how they was tied up.

And on 12-17-93 he says:

MISSKELLEY: That’s when they started asking me, uh, asking me questions about them boys.

OFSHE: Give me some examples of the kind of questions they asked you.

MISSKELLEY: (Pause) About what the boys was tied up with.

OFSHE: Did you know what the boys were tied up with?

MISSKELLEY: Huh-uh. (Negatively indicating)

OFSHE: What did you tell them?

MISSKELLEY: A rope.

OFSHE: What did they say?

MISSKELLEY: Uh, Gitchell shook his head, No - I mean, Ridge shook his head, no. Said it wasn’t a rope.

OFSHE: What did you do next?

MISSKELLEY: I told them it was a rope. They said, no it wasn’t a rope.

OFSHE: What made you think it was a rope?

MISSKELLEY: That’s what normally what people tie up people with a rope. So, I figured it had to be a rope.

Even here, Misskelley denies knowing about the shoelaces. What’s going on? I see three possibilities: 1) Kevin Johnson misremembered - despite his testimony he didn’t tell Misskelley how the boys were tied up, 2) Misskelley forgot what Johnson told him, or 3) Misskelley lied.

Number 2 seems unlikely (though still possible), given that Misskelley remembered Johnson telling him about another significant detail:

STIDHAM: Did you know what happened to the little boy?

MISSKELLEY: I heard that they - - they was cut up.

STIDHAM: Who told you that?

MISSKELLEY: Kevin, that same day the, uh, they paged him - - the thing was cut - - thing was cut.

WILKINS: Who’s Kevin?

MISSKELLEY: Johnson.

WILKINS: Who’s he?

MISSKELLEY: He’s a search and rescue.

WILKINS: Oh, and he lives behind you?

MISSKELLEY: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating.)

And:

OFSHE: How did you learn that one of the boys had been cut on his penis? How did you come to know that?

MISSKELLEY: Because one of my friends, he works at Search and Rescue. And, I guess he seen the boys cause he told me about how they was cut up and all that.

OFSHE: Who was that?

MISSKELLEY: Kevin Johnson.

OFSHE: When did he tell you that?

MISSKELLEY: I’d say about couple days later.

OFSHE: After the killings?

MISSKELLEY: (no audible response)

OFSHE: So you already knew that one of the boys had been mutilated, that just penis cut up?

MISSKELLEY: That’s what Kevin said. You know, I didn’t know.

OFSHE: Well, you had that information and you had the information from Kevin?

MISSKELLEY: Right.

If Misskelley remembered Johnson telling him how the boys were cut up he’d probably remember Johnson telling him how they were tied up. So, if we eliminate number 2, we’re left with two possibilities: either Johnson, contrary to his testimony, didn’t tell Jessie, or he did and Jessie lied about it.

Let’s assume Jessie lied about the shoelaces. Questions for supporters and non-supporters alike:

1) If he’s innocent, why would Jessie lie to the cops about the shoelaces?

If he’s innocent, then Jessie’s confession is a complete fabrication and we’re left with an entirely different question: why is this innocent man confessing? That Jessie said the boys were bound by rope is just another lie in a sea of lies, is it not? But if the confession amounts to nothing more than Jessie telling the cops “what they wanted to hear” so they’d stop “hollering” at him and let him go home (as he maintained to Ofshe), then why tell them the boys had been bound by rope, which is decidedly not what the cops wanted to hear? If he knew the boys had been tied up with shoelaces, and if as he claims he was only telling the cops what they wanted to hear, then he should have told them that the boys were tied up with shoelaces. Lying defeats the stated purpose of Jessie’s confession.

2) If he’s innocent, why would Jessie lie to Stidham, Wilkins and Ofshe about the shoelaces?

If he’s innocent, why not say, “Kevin Johnson not only told me how the boys were cut up, he also told me how they were tied up, but I lied to the cops about the latter because….” He’s got nothing to hide, so why bother lying to his defense team about it?

3) If he’s guilty, why would Jessie lie to the cops about the shoelaces?

If Jessie was remorseful and voluntarily confessed, why would he lie about the shoelaces, or anything else for that matter? Why “trick the police” and “get ‘em off track” in a supposedly voluntary confession. To what end? To…”get off”?  If he wanted to confess, why try to “get off”? If he wanted to “get off”, why willingly confess in the first place? If somehow he inadvertently confessed and then wanted/tried to get himself out of trouble, why make up barefaced lies to “throw off” the cops rather than just, ya know, retract his earlier admission of guilt?

And why tell the cops what Kevin Johnson said about how the boys were cut up but not what he said about how they were tied up?

4) If he’s guilty, why would Jessie lie to Stidham, Wilkins and Ofshe about the shoelaces?

If Jessie admitted that “Kevin Johnson not only told me how the boys were cut up, he also told me how they were tied up, but I lied to the cops about the latter”, the first thing he’d be asked is “Why?” What would he say? He can’t tell Ofshe et al that he was trying to throw off the cops - that statement is reserved for his confessions.  He can’t say he was telling the cops what they wanted to hear - because, ya know, he wasn’t. He’d have to make up some other bullshit. It’s simply easier on Jessie to deny knowing about the shoelaces, for it avoids the inevitable “why?” question. Guilty men falsely proclaiming their innocence don’t like “why” questions. The fewer whys the better.  Am I right?

Kevin Johnson’s testimony about the shoelaces is the kind of detail you won’t find in West of Memphis or the Paradise Lost films. You’ll find it only through independent research. I bring it up not to draw from it any definitive conclusions about Lil J’s confession, but to offer an example of an interesting detail which adds complexity (and perplexity) to the case. Perhaps it doesn’t mean much from an overall perspective. But sometimes the minutia reveals secrets. ‘tis better to delve deep into an ocean of minutia and come up empty-handed than to prematurely pluck a false conclusion from surface details.

Remember, the devil is in the details - unless, of course, the WM3 are innocent, in which case “The Devil” is not in the details.

PARADISE LOST: CONFESSIONS, WEST OF MEMPHIS

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For those unfamiliar with the case of the so-called West Memphis Three, here’s a chronology of events.

And here’s a short history of my interest in the case:

1) On May 5, 1993, the day the three cub scouts were brutally murdered, hogtied and tossed into a watery ditch, I was tanning all day by the family pool. That night, I heartily quaffed a few carafes of fine wine at a bacchanal and had carnal knowledge with a bevy of delightfully delectable divotchka’s. I know this because that’s what I did every day and night back then.

2) My girlfriend and I saw Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills in 1996. On the drive home we discussed the case for a few minutes. Both of us were undecided as to the guilt or innocence of the soon-to-be called WM3. After having a pleasant dinner at Chi-Chi’s Mexican restaurant, we repaired to her parent’s house and made mad passionate love. Employing several devastating sexual techniques, which I’ve copyrighted, patented and trademarked, I effortlessly brought the two of us to simultaneous orgasm, then rolled over and dozed off as she droned on about the sanctity of our love or some such thing. By then I’d forgotten all about the case. In fact, I don’t think I gave it another thought until…

3) …Paradise Lost 2: Revelations came out in 2000. I saw it by myself. On the drive home I discussed the case with myself for a few minutes and concluded that I was still undecided as to the WM3’s (and Byers’) guilt or innocence. That night I had dinner by myself, went to bed by myself, and cried myself to sleep thinking about my ex-girlfriend. I didn’t give the case another thought until…

4) …2011, when the WM3 took the Alford plea and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory came out. This turn of events piqued my interest in the case like never before, but still not enough to make me actively research it.

5) In late 2012 I moved to Dollars, Taxes with my two cats, Iggy and Tara. People think I’m bragging when I say I live with two females, but it’s totally true. I just don’t mention that I have to scoop their poop. Around this time I started following Damien “I believe in Magick” Echols on Twitter. To my surprise, he answered (and “favorited”) a few of my tweets, though not the one in which I informed him that the Moon was just a lifeless rock forever orbiting senselessly around the Earth.

6) I saw West of Memphis on January 27, 2013. (Later that night, I watched an unrelated documentary called Machete Maidens Unleashed! But never mind about that. That’s a completely different story.) If you’re looking for an objective analysis of the case, you won’t find it in West of Memphis, a blatantly one-sided advocacy piece which aims to prove the trio’s innocence once and for all while pointing an accusing finger at Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of victim Stevie Branch.

7) Still harboring doubts about the purported innocence of the WM3, I googled “the WM3 are guilty” and found highly researched sites like wm3truth.com forcefully arguing against the WM3. More importantly, I discovered an exhaustive archive of case documents and trial transcripts at callahan.8k.com. And so, for the first time, I found myself researching the case in earnest.

8) From there, I decided to write a series of posts, each one focusing on a key aspect of the case, using a “what West of Memphis tells you/what West of Memphis doesn’t tell you” approach. First topic: Jessie’s confession(s).

Note: The first ten people to comment on this post will not receive a complimentary X tattoo on his or her derrière, courtesy of Damien “I’m not a tattoo artist” Echols.

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Jessie’s confession(s)

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(Oops, now I really gone and done it.)

What West of Memphis tells you: Misskelley’s June 3, 1993 confession was coerced and false.

What West of Memphis doesn’t tell you: Misskelley confessed numerous times, both before and after his conviction.

On June 3, 1993, Jessie Lloyd Misskelley Jr., affectionately known as Little Jessie or Lil Jessie or Lil J, confessed for the first time, implicating Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin in the process. You can read the transcript of the confession here and/or listen to the recording of it here.

The problem is that the confession is riddled with inaccuracies, full of details that contradict the known facts of the case. For example, Misskelley initially claims he was at Robin Hood Hills on the morning of May 5, 1993 even though the murders occurred sometime after 6:30 PM that evening:

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: What time did you get there?
MISSKELLEY: I got there about 9.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: In the morning?
MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Of Wednesday morning?
MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

Only after police prompting does Misskelley get the timeline correct:

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Just sit there. Jessie, uh, when when you got with the with the boys and with Jason and Baldwin when you three were in the woods and then the little boys come up, about what time was it? When the boys came up to the woods?
MISSKELLEY: I would say it was about it was about five or six, five or six.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Now, did you have your watch on at the time?
MISSKELLEY: Un-uh.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: You didn’t have your watch on?
MISSKELLEY: Un-uh.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Uh, alright you told me earlier around seven or eight or, which time is it?
MISSKELLEY: It was seven or eight.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Are are you sh-
MISSKELLEY: I remember it was starting to get dark.

How do we account for this whopping time discrepancy? Was Misskelley *misleading* the cops or were the cops *leading* Misskelley?

But that’s just one of many discrepancies. Misskelley also claims that the boys were tied up with rope (they were tied with shoelaces); that only their hands were tied up (they were hogtied); that Christopher Byers was choked to death with a stick (he was beaten and, possibly, castrated); and that the boys were sodomized (the autopsy showed no evidence of anal penetration). Supporters contend that these and other inaccuracies prove that Misskelley never stepped foot in those woods, that he was pressured by overzealous cops into giving a false confession.

Non-supporters, on the other hand, contend that Misskelley voluntarily confessed but tried to downplay his involvement at the same time. I find this problematic. Downplaying his involvement is one thing. Forgetting details is another. Intentionally misleading cops with obviously bogus details in a supposedly voluntary confession is something else entirely. Why didn’t Jessie downplay his involvement without including the gross inaccuracies? Why provide details that both he and the cops know to be untrue? Take the time discrepancy. If guilty, Jessie knows, and he knows the cops know, that the murders occurred in the evening. There’s no point in lying about that since both parties know the facts. He might try to fudge some details the cops weren’t certain about, for example by saying that he never struck the boys or that he left the crime scene early, but saying the murders occurred in the morning, which he and the cops both know is a barefaced lie, makes no sense. Why not say, 1) he was there at 7 PM, 2) he chased down Michael Moore and brought him back to Damien and Jason, 3) he watched Damien and Jason brutally beat and murder the boys, hogtie them with their own shoelaces, and throw them in the water, and 3) he left. That way, he confesses, gets the facts right, and downplays his involvement. Deliberately adding erroneous details to throw off the cops is gratuitous. Why would he do that? Why purposely make a voluntary confession appear false?

Perhaps Jessie never intended to confess. Perhaps he slipped up by admitting to chasing down Michael Moore. Perhaps after making this blunder he tried to limit the damage by intentionally lying. In other words, he bumbled his way into confessing and then tried to bumble his way out of it, only to get himself hopelessly entangled in a web of truths, half-truths, and outright falsehoods. Perhaps.

Either way, it seems supporters have Occam’s razor on their side: Jessie got the details wrong simply because he wasn’t there. But maybe things aren’t that simple. After all, Misskelley didn’t confess just this once. He confessed at least six times - to the cops, to the prosecutors, and even to his own attorneys. Of course, if that first confession is false then the rest of them must be too - unless somehow he was innocent on June 3, 1993 but guilty later. Still, Misskelley’s serial confessions surely must give supporters pause. Has there ever been a case, anywhere, at any time, in the entire history of the judicial system, in which a wrongfully tried and convicted person so repeatedly confessed?

On June 11, 1993, a few days after confessing to police, and again on August 19, 1993, a few months before his trial, Misskelley confessed to his defense attorneys, Dan Stidham and Greg Crow. Coercion was not a factor in these confessions, so why did Jessie make them? According to Stidham, Jessie didn’t know what a defense lawyer was - he thought Stidham and Crow were working for the cops! I find this incredible, especially since Jessie and his father were, shall we say, no strangers to the criminal justice system.

More believable is that Stidham initially wanted to make a plea deal with prosecutors - and Jessie just went along with the plan. That was Stidham’s strategy until late September, 1993, when a private investigator working for Echols’ defense team convinced Stidham the confession was false, prompting a change in strategy: plead not guilty and argue that the cops coerced Jessie into confessing. And Jessie? Yep, he just went along with the change of plan.

Just how compliant is Lil J?

Breaking News: Jessie Misskelley admits to being the second gunman.

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FBI officials confirmed today that Lil Jessie Misskelley, the dumbass of the WM trio, has admitted to his involvement in the assassination of JFK. That Misskelley was born 12 years after the event in question is, officials concede, a mildly troubling discrepancy. Nevertheless, they insist that Lil J’s confession is fundamentally truthful. The following conversation took place between the FBI and Misskelley on 4-1-13:

FBI: Jessie, let’s go straight to that day - November 22, 1963. What happened on the grassy knoll?

Jessie: I ain’t never been on no glassy knoll.

FBI: Admit it, knucklehead! You’re the second shooter. Just confess and we’ll go easy on you. Now tell us what happened.

Jessie: When I was there, I saw Oswald shoot that man…

FBI: President Kennedy?

Jessie: Right. Then he started screwin’ him and stuff. And then I left.

FBI: Quit downplaying your involvement. Tell us the truth!

Jessie: The truth is, me and Oswald done it.

FBI: You shot Kennedy from the grassy knoll?

Jessie: Yeah, Oswald done shot him from that there book suppository building, then I done blowed his brains out from that there glassy knoll. Then I left.

FBI: What time were you there?

Jessie: To my knowledge, I’m gonna say midnight.

FBI: And when you say midnight, you mean noon, right?

Jessie: Right, I was there at noon.

FBI: What weapon did you use?

Jessie: Ah…I done blowed his brains out with a high-powered pea shooter.

FBI: And when you say pea shooter, you mean Carcano rifle, right?

Jessie: I’m gonna say, right.

FBI: Just how stupid are you?

Jessie: To my knowledge, I’m gonna say borderline retarded.

FBI: There’s no borderline about it, Lil Jessie Misskelley, no borderline about it at all.

[Note: Actually, it might not be so easy to pressure Jessie into confessing. Check out the December 10, 1993 statement Jessie made to Stidham and defense witness Dr. William Wilkins, in which Stidham and Wilkins try unsuccessfully to coerce Jessie into confessing to a bogus robbery.]

The false confession defense failed at trial: on February 4, 1994 Jessie was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison plus 40 years without the possibility of patrol. No sooner had Lil J stepped foot out of the courthouse than he was at it again, confessing anew to the cops, this time to deputies transporting him to prison. Here’s the incident report.

Of all Jessie’s confessions this one seems the most difficult to explain away. Supporters contend that the post-conviction confessions were motivated by Jessie’s desire for a reduced sentence in exchange for testifying against Damien and Jason at their upcoming trial. But exactly when did prosecutors first approach Jessie about such a deal? Was it, ahem, between the time his sentence was read and when he stepped into the car transporting him to prison? Did prosecutors catch him in the hall on his way out the courthouse doors? Or did the feeble-minded Misskelley have enough sense to start angling for a reduced sentence before prosecutors approached him about it. (Maybe he’s savvier than his borderline retarded reputation would suggest - after all, the incident report says that “Jessie claims he has felt sorry for what has happened and talks as if he wants to testify against the other boys so they will not go free and to help himself.”) Whatever the case, Jessie returned to his original admission of guilt. And he did so, as far as I can tell, of his own volition. Nobody is coercing him to confess. Nobody has broached the possibility of a reduced sentence. Yet there he is, blabbing nonstop to deputies about his participation in the murders all the way from the courthouse to the prison. The question is, why?

We might also ask why Jessie confessed again a few days later, on February 8, 1994, in a private tape-recorded conversation with Stidham. Prosecutors got wind of Jessie’s patrol car confession and went to the prison with Stidham to talk to Jessie about it. Once there, Stidham insisted on talking to his client alone. Not only that, he had Jessie make the statement with his hand on a Bible. Here’s the opening exchange:

STIDHAM: Okay. Jessie, a few minutes ago I asked you about making some statements to the officers when they transported you from Piggott to Pine Bluff. You told me that you had told them some stuff. Is that Correct?

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

STIDHAM: And at first you told me that you were just making it up, that you were lying to them, and then you placed your hand on the Bible and told me that you were there when these boys got killed.

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

STIDHAM: Uh, what’s the truth, Jessie? I want to know the truth.

MISSKELLEY: The truth is, me and Jason and Damien done it.

STIDHAM: You were there when the boys were killed?

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

STIDHAM: Now, what’s going to be very important is for you to tell me why it was that you have been maintaining that you weren’t there all this time?

MISSKELLEY: I was scared.

STIDHAM: What were you scared of?

MISSKELLEY: I always lied and I hadn’t ever put my hand on the Bible and swore. Nobody didn’t tell me to do that. If they would have told me that at first, I would have done it. Nobody told me to put my hand on the Bible.

STIDHAM: Okay. So basically, you’ve been lying to me and Mr. Crow for the past seven, or so months - about not being there when in fact you were there?

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

So, at first Jessie told Stidham he’d lied to the deputies. Then he put his hand on a Bible and confessed. Hmmm. Given that Jessie was born and raised in the Bible belt, could it be that the Good Book holds some totemic power over Lil J’s feeble mind, compelling him to tell the truth? About 45 minutes later Stidham emerged from the room visibly upset and muttering “What am I going to do now?” Yep, Lil J had gone and done confessed again.

Of course, just because Jessie had his hand on a Bible doesn’t mean he was telling the truth. Indeed, although Misskelley’s Bible confession aligns more closely than before with the facts of the case, perhaps because he incorporated details gleaned from his trial into the story, some of what he says still lacks the ring of authenticity, particularly references to an enigmatic, unnamed man in black who presided over satanic cult meetings Jessie allegedly attended with Damien and Jason.

STIDHAM: What’s he look like?

MISSKELLEY: He’s tall, got black hair. He looks just like Damien.

STIDHAM: Mustache, beard?

MISSKELLEY: Mustache and a beard.

STIDHAM: He had a mustache and a beard?

MISSKELLEY: Uh-huh, at that time he did.

STIDHAM: How can he look like Damien, Damien doesn’t have a mustache and a beard?

MISSKELLEY: When he shaves it he looks like Damien.

Aha, the black-clad mystery man with no name is the spitting image of Damien - except for, ya know, the mustache and beard. Only when clean shaven does the shadowy nameless one resemble Damien, doncha know? A satanic cult leader who looks just like Damien, eh? Hmmm, could he be…oh, I don’t know - SATAN!

But wait, his name starts with an “M”:

MISSKELLEY: Murphy - no. I can’t remember. I can’t think of his name.

STIDHAM: Murray?

MISSKELLEY: It started with a M.

Perhaps he’s…oh, I don’t know - Mephistopheles!

STIDHAM: Murray Farris?

MISSKELLEY: Uh -

Aha, Murray Farris just might fit the description. Cult leader - check. Name starts with “M” - check. Wore a mustache and beard - check.

STIDHAM: Do you know who Murray Farris is?

MISSKELLEY: Huh-uh. (Negatively indicating) I hadn’t never saw - I hadn’t ever heard that name.

Damn! The mystery continues. According to Jessie, Damien did Mr. Nōnàmé’s bidding. When Nōnàmé told Damien to do something, such as kill a dog or hurt a kid, by God Damien did it.

MISSKELLEY: No, he told Damien what to do - he always told Damien what to do.

STIDHAM: What did he tell Damien to do?

MISSKELLEY: He tells Damien, you know, go kill a dog, or - hurt a kid or something, and he’d do it.

Is Lil J’s hand still on that Bible? This sounds like horseshit. Damien strikes me as a guy who does nobody’s bidding but his own - unless, of course, that nobody happens to be - SATAN!

The Bible confession has its share of howlers. To wit:

STIDHAM: Who was carrying the beer?

MISSKELLEY: Damien.

STIDHAM: And he was carrying a stick in one hand and the beer in the other?

MISSKELLEY: Well, it was Jason. (inaudible)

STIDHAM: The beer?

MISSKELLEY: Uh-huh.

Wow, that beer sure changed hands quickly. First it was in Damien’s hand. Then - presto chango! - it was in Jason’s. I wonder how many beers they drank before the boys arrived. Didn’t they toss the cans away? Apparently not. The WM3 might be murderers, but at least they’re not litterers. No doubt after beating, raping, murdering, hogtying, and submerging the boys, they did the right thing by picking up and recycling their empty beer cans.

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STIDHAM: Did Damien and Jason get in the water?

MISSKELLEY: No.

STIDHAM: Damien and Jason get in the water?

MISSKELLEY: Yeah. Damien.

Damien and Jason didn’t get in the water…but Damien did. In the first confession both of them got in the water and took turns giving each other underwater blowjobs. One wonders: Did Damien give himself an underwater blowjob?

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STIDHAM: Let’s start from the point where you guys were walking on this trail off of the service road by Blue Beacon, what happens?

MISSKELLEY: What do you mean?

STIDHAM: I want you to tell me where ya’ll walked to and what you did. I don’t want to ask you whether you did this or this. I want you to tell me what happened?

MISSKELLEY: I still don’t understand.

Jessie’s asked “what happened?” and he says he doesn’t understand the question. What’s not to understand? Is Jessie incapable of telling the story without leading questions?

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STIDHAM: What was the boy wearing that you went and got and brought back?

MISSKELLEY: Uh - to my knowledge, I’m going to say, the one - I don’t know their names, you know, to my knowledge, the one that was wearing, uh, like a boy scout uniform. I don’t know, you know, that’s to my knowledge. That’s what one of them was wearing, I don’t know which boy.

Say what? Is it so hard to say “he was wearing a boy scout uniform” without sputtering and stammering incoherently? And, uh, I don’t know, but, I’m going to say, ah, to my knowledge…didn’t Jessie specifically identify the boy as Michael Moore in the first confession?

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STIDHAM: Okay, let’s start at right now, let’s go from, ya’ll are sitting there by this pipe drinking?

MISSKELLEY: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating)

STIDHAM: Then what happened?

MISSKELLEY: We hear some noise, me and Jason hid and Damien just sit there, and we hollered for Damien, you know - not real loud, but lightly, and Damien hid. Then that’s when them three little boys came out.

They hollered. Not loudly, mind you, but lightly. They, ahem, lightly hollered. In other words, they whispered - the opposite of hollering.

___________________________________________________________

STIDHAM: Well, what happened after everybody started hitting on the kids?

MISSKELLEY: Um, uh, Damien choked - I don’t remember which one.

STIDHAM: Now you know, you heard during the trial that the medical examiner said none of the boys were choked.

MISSKELLEY: He didn’t choke him - “choke choked.” Just, you know, just say like just hold their head and choked, not hard enough, just holding him.

In Lil J’s world, hollering isn’t really hollering and choking isn’t really choking. He didn’t choke choke him, he just kinda, ya know, choked him, but not in a hard way. By the way, what happened to the “big old stick” he used to choke the boy to death in the first confession?

___________________________________________________________

STIDHAM: How deep was the water that the boys got thrown into?

MISSKELLEY: I’m going to say deep, real deep.

STIDHAM: Over their heads - over your head?

MISSKELLEY: Yeah.

This statement would be absurd were Jessie not roughly the size of a hobbit.

Jessie also seems mighty confused about the topography of the woods and the surrounding area:

STIDHAM: Make an X where the dog track was.

MISSKELLEY: Dog track?

STIDHAM: Uh-huh. ‘Cause I’m going to write Boys Blue Beacon beside it. Now tell me where the Dog Track is?

MISSKELLEY: The Dog Track?

___________________________________________________________

STIDHAM: Okay. Now where does the interstate run?

MISSKELLEY: Interstate?

________________________________________________________

STIDHAM: Where did you put a bridge at?

MISSKELLEY: The bridge?

___________________________________________________________

STIDHAM: Draw me the creek now.

MISSKELLEY: Creek?

___________________________________________________________

STIDHAM: Where’s this 76 Truck Stop?

MISSKELLEY: 76?

___________________________________________________________

STIDHAM: Okay, are there smaller pipes beside the bigger pipe?

MISSKELLEY: Uh - to my knowledge I don’t really know.

_____________________________________________________

STIDHAM: There’s the X. Now tell me where Blue Beacon is from that X.

MISSKELLEY: From that X?

STIDHAM: Okay. Make an “X,” a green “X” for me.

MISSKELLEY: Make a X?

___________________________________________________________

STIDHAM: Okay. You said over there in (inaudible)?

MISSKELLEY: I’m not too good with my - my -

STIDHAM: I’m going to make a X right here.

MISSKELLEY: I’m not too good with my - whatever you call it.

Great news! Stidham and Misskelley have taken their comedy routine on the road. For tickets to the duo’s next show, in which by popular demand they’ll perform their classic routine “Where does the X go?”, please call 1-800-CON-FESS.

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Still, the Bible confession contains the single most incriminating detail in all of Jessie’s confessions. Jessie says he was drinking Evan Williams whiskey on the evening of the murders and smashed the bottle under an overpass on his way home. Sure enough, Stidham and the prosecutors looked for and found just such a whiskey bottle under an overpass in the area, which seems to corroborate his story with actual physical evidence. Hold on a minute while I don my supporter hat. I see two possibilities: 1) Jessie made up the story about the whiskey bottle, and the fact that one was found under an overpass in the vicinity of the crime scene was a coincidence. If you drive under enough overpasses in the area chances are good you’ll find one, 2) Jessie indeed smashed a bottle under the overpass, but did so at another time and knew it would be there. Now let me doff the hat. Neither explanation is particularly compelling, so unless a supporter can come up with a better one, I’m placing the Evan Williams whiskey bottle on the “guilty” side of the ledger. By no means does this prove Jessie was involved in the murders. But it is…interesting.

On February 17, 1994, in defiance of the advice of his counsel, Jessie gave his final documented confession, twice stating that he was going ahead with the statement because “I want something done about it.” With Damien and Jason’s trial looming, Jessie was being pulled in two conflicting directions: prosecutors were dangling the possibility of a reduced sentence in front of him in exchange for testifying against Damien and Jason, while his defense lawyers were claiming new evidence could win him a new trial if he’d just stop confessing for a minute and start proclaiming his innocence instead. At the same time, Jessie’s father, affectionately known as Big Jessie or Big J or J Biggie, was urging Lil Jessie to listen to his lawyers. (If nothing else, it may be said of Lil J that he loves his Big Daddy J.) In the end, Jessie opted not to testify, recanted his confession(s), and has maintained his innocence to this day (though unsubstantiated rumors circulated in Arkansas for years about confessions to prison counselors). Apparently, he didn’t “want something done about it” quite badly enough.

So, why didn’t Jessie testify? Is he really innocent? Did Stidham coerce him into recanting? Did Jessie decide not to betray his partners in crime? Did Big Jessie threaten to ground him if he did? Was Lil Jessie simply too petrified to take the stand? Who knows, but I suspect he weighed the pros and cons of testifying and ended up doing what he thought was to his advantage. If so, I wonder why Damien and Jason still defend him. Why don’t they denounce him? After all, he not only (falsely?) implicated them in the first place, he probably would have thrown them under the bus had he thought it in his best interest to do so. Were I Damien, guilty or not, I’d kick his ass, if not sacrifice him to the Prince of Darkness.

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The following is an imaginary whispered conversation between Lil J and Damien “spawn of Satan” Echols during a photo shoot:

Damien (whispering): Hey dumbass, so how many times have you confessed now?

Jessie (whispering): To my knowledge, I’m gonna say I gone and done confessed ‘bout 100 times. And then I left.

Damien: Confess again and I’ll make you my next sacrificial offering to the Evil One. Understand, knucklehead?

Jessie: Yes, Master Damien.

Damien: So, shit for brains, why did you confess to the cops that first time?

Jessie: I just said what they wanted me to say. I told them I wasn’t there but they wouldn’t listen. They just kept on hollering at me and egging it on, saying I was there, but I wasn’t. After they kept egging it on, I figured in my head, well, they ain’t gonna stop until I say what they want to hear, so I finally said, okay, I was there and I done it, but I wasn’t and I didn’t.

Damien: Why did you confess to Stidham before your trial? Did your defense attorney coerce you into confessing too, dimwit?

Jessie:  To my knowledge, I don’t know. He raised his voice real loud. Then he hollered at me. Then he egged it on. Then I stood up and balled my fist. Then I left. To my knowledge.

Damien: Were you trying to get a plea deal, dumbbell?

Jessie: I don’t deal with no pleas. I tell about what I know. And I don’t tell about what I don’t know.  If I don’t know nothing, I don’t tell nothing. If I don’t know something, I don’t tell something. If I know nothing, I don’t tell something. If I know something, I don’t tell nothing. To my knowledge, that’s what I’m gonna say.

Damien: Later on, did Stidham coerce you into recanting, nitwit?

Jessie: I just said what he wanted me to say. I told him we was there, and we done it, but he wouldn’t listen. He just kept on hollering at me and egging it on, saying I wasn’t there, but I was.  After he kept egging it on, I figured in my head, well, he ain’t gonna stop until I say what he wants to hear, so I finally said, okay, I wasn’t there and I didn’t do it, but I was and I did.

Damien: Shhh! Keep your damn voice down, muttonhead! You just confessed again, numbskull!

Jessie: We didn’t have nothing to do with it. We don’t know nothing about it. We didn’t do nothing to those boys. We never committed no murder. We ain’t never been to no Robin Hood Hills. I didn’t chase down no boy. And I didn’t bring no boy back to you. And you didn’t kill nobody I didn’t bring back neither.

Damien: Shut the fuck up, you imbecile!

Jessie: Hollering people make me mad. Better not egg it on. I’ll pull a ball bat and I’ll pull a knife and I’ll pull a gun on you if you holler at me and egg it on and make me mad.

Damien: So nincompoop, why did you confess to the deputies transporting you to prison?

Jessie: To my knowledge, I didn’t say nothing to no deputies. Them deputies was lying ‘cause they don’t like me, ‘cause my name is Jessie Misskelley just like my Big Daddy. They don’t like Big Jessie and they don’t like Little Jessie neither. They was trying to send me up the river like they done to my Big Daddy.

Damien: Hey blockhead, you had just been convicted. They weren’t trying to send you up the river, they were taking you up the river.

Jessie: They said I confessed to what we done, but I didn’t say nothing about what we didn’t do, ‘cause I never talk to no deputies who say I done something when I didn’t do nothing.

Damien: Why did you confess to Stidham with your hand on the Bible, you ignoramus? You can’t deny that.

Jessie: I don’t deny nothing. I don’t deny nothing but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God. Nobody never told me to put my hand on no Bible and swear to God to tell the truth about nothing, the whole nothing, and nothing but the truth about nothing. Or something. To my knowledge. The truth is, I don’t know nothing about nothing or nobody no more. And then I left.

Damien: Why did you confess to the prosecutors, against the advice of your counsel? Were you going to testify against me and Jason in exchange for a reduced sentence? Why didn’t you go through with it?

Jessie: The bottom line is this, my friend: I once was a pawn of the State, a cog in the wheels of injustice, a hapless victim caught in the labyrinthine mechanisms of an endemically corrupt system, a tragic figure trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare from which there was no escape. Then I left.

2012 NOFF AWARD Winners

Here are the winners of the 6th Annual Noff Awards! Too busy/lazy to write comments this year.

I’ve seen the following 131 eligible films:

Amour
Anna Karenina
Arbitrage
Argo
Avengers, The
Barbara
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Bernie
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The
Bestiaire
Beyond the Black Rainbow
Brave
Cabin in the Woods, The
Central Park Five, The
Chronicle
Cloud Atlas
Comedy, The
Compliance
Cosmopolis
Damsels in Distress
Dark Horse
Dark Knight Rises, The
Day He Arrives, The
Deep Blue Sea, The
Detention
Devil’s Carnival
Dictator, The
Django Unchained
Dredd
Elena
End of Watch
5 Broken Cameras
Flat, The
Flight
Forgiveness of Blood, The
4:44 Last Day on Earth
Frankenweenie
Girl Walk // All Day
God Bless America
Goodbye First Love
Goon
Grey, The
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
Haywire
Headshot
Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The
How to Survive a Plague
Hotel Transylvania
Hunger Games, The
Impossible, The
Imposter, The
Invisible War, The
It’s Such a Beautiful Day
Jack Reacher
Jeff, Who Lives at Home
John Carter
Keep the Lights On
Keyhole
Kid with a Bike, The
Killer Joe
Killing Them Softly
Kill List
King Kelly
Klown
Lawless
Les Misérables
Let the Bullets Fly
Life of Pi
Life Without Principle
Lincoln
Loneliest Planet, The
Looper
Lorax, The
Loved Ones, The
Lovely Molly
Machete Maidens Unleashed!
Magic Mike
Man with the Iron Fists, The
Marley
Master, The
Michael
Miss Bala
Monsieur Lazhar
Moonrise Kingdom
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Oslo, August 31st
Pact, The
Paperboy, The
Paranormal
Pirates! Band of Misfits, The
Pitch Perfect
Polisse
Possession, The
Prometheus
Queen of Versailles, The
Raid: Redemption, The
Rise of the Guardians
Ruby Sparks
Rust and Bone
Safety Not Guaranteed
Samsara
Savages
Secret World of Arrietty, The
Searching for Sugar Man
Sessions, The
Seven Psychopaths
Side by Side
Silver Linings Playbook
Sinister
Skyfall
Sleepless Night
Sleep Tight
Sleepwalk With Me
Snowtown Murders, The
Sound of My Voice
Take This Waltz
Ted
Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
To Rome with Love
Turin Horse, The
Turn Me On, Dammit!
21 Jump Street
V/H/S
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists
West of Memphis
Whore’s Glory
Woman in Black, The
Wreck-It Ralph
Your Sister’s Sister
Zero Dark Thirty

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BEST PICTURE

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Amour

Beyond the Black Rainbow

The Comedy

The Cabin in the Woods

Holy Motors

 

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The Imposter

It’s Such a Beautiful Day

Killing Them Softly

The Master

Seven Psychopaths

And the Noffscar goes to: Holy Motors

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BEST DIRECTOR

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Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master

Leos Carax for Holy Motors

Panos Cosmatos for Beyond the Black Rainbow

Andrew Dominik for Killing Them Softly

Don Hertzfeldt for It’s Such a Beautiful Day

And the Noffscar goes to: Leos Carax for Holy Motors

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BEST ACTOR

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Jack Black in Bernie

Denis Lavant in Holy Motors

Tim Heidecker in The Comedy

Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln

Joaquin Phoenix in The Master

And the Noffscar goes to: Denis Lavant in Holy Motors

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BEST ACTRESS

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Greta Gerwig in Damsels in Distress

Louisa Krause in King Kelly

Gretchen Lodge in Lovely Molly

Emmanuelle Riva in Amour

Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea

And the Noffscar goes to: Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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Daniel Henshall in The Snowtown Murders

Matthew McConaughey in Killer Joe

Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike

Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master

Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

And the Noffscar goes to: Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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Amy Adams in The Master

Ann Dowd in Compliance

Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables

Sarah Silverman in Wreck-It Ralph

Juno Temple in Killer Joe

And the Noffscar goes to: Amy Adams in The Master

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BEST SCREENPLAY

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The Cabin in the Woods

Damsels in Distress

 

Holy Motors

It’s Such a Beautiful Day

Seven Psychopaths

And the Noffscar goes to: Seven Psychopaths

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BEST EDITING

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Holy Motors

The Imposter

Killing Them Softly

Kill List

The Master

And the Noffscar goes to: Holy Motors

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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The Deep Blue Sea

The Master

Moonrise Kingdom

Skyfall

The Turin Horse

And the Noffscar goes to: Skyfall

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BEST SCORE

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Beyond the Black Rainbow

Listen

The Master

Listen

Moonrise Kingdom

Listen

Ruby Sparks

Listen

Listen

Listen

The Turin Horse

Listen

And the Noffscar goes to: Ruby Sparks

Honorable Mentions:

Anna Karenina - Listen

Cloud Atlas - Listen

Compliance - Listen

Frankenweenie - Listen

Killer Joe - Listen

Kill List - Listen

The Snowtown Murders - Listen Listen

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BEST ART DIRECTION/SET DESIGN

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Anna Karenina

Cloud Atlas

Lincoln

Moonrise Kingdom

Skyfall

And the Noffscar goes to: Anna Karenina

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BEST SOUND

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Beyond the Black Rainbow

The Grey

Killing Them Softly

Kill List

The Snowtown Murders

And the Noffscar goes to: Kill List

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BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

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Amour

Elena

Holy Motors

Oslo, August 31st

The Raid: Redemption

And the Noffscar goes to: Holy Motors

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BEST DOCUMENTARY

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Bestiaire

How to Survive a Plague

The Imposter

Searching for Sugar Man

Whore’s Glory

And the Noffscar goes to: The Imposter

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BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

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Frankenweenie

It’s Such a Beautiful Day

Wreck-It Ralph

 

 

And the Noffscar goes to: It’s Such a Beautiful Day

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BEST ORIGINAL SONG

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“Prick! Goes the Scorpion’s Tail” by Emilie Autumn from The Devil’s Carnival

Listen

“Ancora Qui” by Ennio Morricone and Elisa Toffoli from Django Unchained

Listen

“Who Did That to You” by John Legend from Django Unchained

Listen

“Strange Love” by Karen O from Frankenweenie

Listen

“Skyfall” by Adele from Skyfall

Listen

And the Noffscar goes to: “Ancora Qui” from Django Unchained

Honorable mentions:

“Grace for Sale “ by Terrance Zdunich from The Devil’s Carnival - Listen

“The Misty Mountains Song” from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (singing only version) - Listen

“Sambola!” from Damsels in Distress - Listen

“Who Were We” – Holy Motors - Listen


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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

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Cloud Atlas

 

The Cabin in the Woods

Flight

The Dark Knight Rises

Prometheus

And the Noffscar goes to: Cloud Atlas

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BEST SCENES

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Beyond the Black Rainbow:

Sentionauts

Watch

The Deep Blue Sea:

“Molly Malone”

Watch

Django Unchained:

KKK comedy of errors

Watch

Django Unchained:

DiCaprio’s phrenology monologue

Watch

Girl Walk // All Day:

Dance and the world dances with you

Watch

 

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Holy Motors:

Entracte:

Watch

Holy Motors:

Merde:

Watch

It’s Such a Beautiful Day:

Ending: Bill lives on…

Killing Them Softly:

Card game robbery:

Killing Them Softly:

Killing Liotta softly

Watch

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The Master:

Freddy’s informal processing

Skyfall:

Shanghai highrise - fighting silhouettes

Watch

Take This Waltz:

“Video Killed the Radio Star”

Watch

Ted:

Wahlberg vs. teddy bear

Watch

The Turin Horse:Opening sceneWatch
And the Noffscar goes to: Merde from Holy Motors

Honorable mentions:

Bernie - Opening - watch

The Cabin in the Woods - Monster Mash - watch

The Comedy - Tim humiliates male nurse - watch

The Comedy - Taxi hip-hop - watch

The Grey – Comforting the dying - watch

The Grey - Neeson to God: “Fuck it, I’ll do it myself”

Holy Motors - Motion capture fucking - watch

Killer Joe - Chicken drumstick BJ - watch

The Master – Master vs. Skeptic

Les Miserables - Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream (the film’s one good scene) - watch

Moonrise Kingdom - End credits - “The Heroic Weather Conditions; part 7 : After the Storm” - watch

Pitch Perfect - Kendrick’s audition - the “Cup Song” - watch

The Raid: Redemption - Mad Dog’s two on one fight - watch

Seven Psychopaths - Cemetery shootout - watch

2012 NOFF AWARD NOMINATIONS

Here are the nominations for the 6th Annual Noff Awards! Winners will be announced this weekend.

I’ve seen the following 131 eligible films:

Amour
Anna Karenina
Arbitrage
Argo
Avengers, The
Barbara
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Bernie
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The
Bestiaire
Beyond the Black Rainbow
Brave
Cabin in the Woods, The
Central Park Five, The
Chronicle
Cloud Atlas
Comedy, The
Compliance
Cosmopolis
Damsels in Distress
Dark Horse
Dark Knight Rises, The
Day He Arrives, The
Deep Blue Sea, The
Detention
Devil’s Carnival
Dictator, The
Django Unchained
Dredd
Elena
End of Watch
5 Broken Cameras
Flat, The
Flight
Forgiveness of Blood, The
4:44 Last Day on Earth
Frankenweenie
Girl Walk // All Day
God Bless America
Goodbye First Love
Goon
Grey, The
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
Haywire
Headshot
Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The
How to Survive a Plague
Hotel Transylvania
Hunger Games, The
Impossible, The
Imposter, The
Invisible War, The
It’s Such a Beautiful Day
Jack Reacher
Jeff, Who Lives at Home
John Carter
Keep the Lights On
Keyhole
Kid with a Bike, The
Killer Joe
Killing Them Softly
Kill List
King Kelly
Klown
Lawless
Les Misérables
Let the Bullets Fly
Life of Pi
Life Without Principle
Lincoln
Loneliest Planet, The
Looper
Lorax, The
Loved Ones, The
Lovely Molly
Machete Maidens Unleashed!
Magic Mike
Man with the Iron Fists, The
Marley
Master, The
Michael
Miss Bala
Monsieur Lazhar
Moonrise Kingdom
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Oslo, August 31st
Pact, The
Paperboy, The
Paranormal
Pirates! Band of Misfits, The
Pitch Perfect
Polisse
Possession, The
Prometheus
Queen of Versailles, The
Raid: Redemption, The
Rise of the Guardians
Ruby Sparks
Rust and Bone
Safety Not Guaranteed
Samsara
Savages
Secret World of Arrietty, The
Searching for Sugar Man
Sessions, The
Seven Psychopaths
Side by Side
Silver Linings Playbook
Sinister
Skyfall
Sleepless Night
Sleep Tight
Sleepwalk With Me
Snowtown Murders, The
Sound of My Voice
Take This Waltz
Ted
Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
To Rome with Love
Turin Horse, The
Turn Me On, Dammit!
21 Jump Street
V/H/S
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists
West of Memphis
Whore’s Glory
Woman in Black, The
Wreck-It Ralph
Your Sister’s Sister
Zero Dark Thirty

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BEST PICTURE

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Amour

Beyond the Black Rainbow

The Comedy

The Cabin in the Woods

Holy Motors

 

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The Imposter

It’s Such a Beautiful Day

Killing Them Softly

The Master

Seven Psychopaths

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST DIRECTOR

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Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master

Leos Carax for Holy Motors

Panos Cosmatos for Beyond the Black Rainbow

Andrew Dominik for Killing Them Softly

Don Hertzfeldt for It’s Such a Beautiful Day

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST ACTOR

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Jack Black in Bernie

Denis Lavant in Holy Motors

Tim Heidecker in The Comedy

Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln

Joaquin Phoenix in The Master

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST ACTRESS

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Greta Gerwig in Damsels in Distress

Louisa Krause in King Kelly

Gretchen Lodge in Lovely Molly

Emmanuelle Riva in Amour

Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea

And the Noffscar goes to: 

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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Daniel Henshall in The Snowtown Murders

Matthew McConaughey in Killer Joe

Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike

Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master

Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

And the Noffscar goes to: 

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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Amy Adams in The Master

Ann Dowd in Compliance

Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables

Sarah Silverman in Wreck-It Ralph

Juno Temple in Killer Joe

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST SCREENPLAY

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The Cabin in the Woods

Damsels in Distress

 

Holy Motors

It’s Such a Beautiful Day

Seven Psychopaths

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST EDITING

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Holy Motors

The Imposter

Killing Them Softly

Kill List

The Master

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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The Deep Blue Sea

The Master

Moonrise Kingdom

Skyfall

The Turin Horse

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST SCORE

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Beyond the Black Rainbow

Listen

The Master

Listen

Moonrise Kingdom

Listen

Ruby Sparks

Listen

Listen

Listen

The Turin Horse

Listen

And the Noffscar goes to: 

Honorable Mentions:

Anna Karenina - Listen

Cloud Atlas - Listen

Compliance - Listen

Frankenweenie - Listen

Killer Joe - Listen

Kill List - Listen

The Snowtown Murders -  Listen Listen

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BEST ART DIRECTION/SET DESIGN

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Anna Karenina

Cloud Atlas

Lincoln

Moonrise Kingdom

Skyfall

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST SOUND

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Beyond the Black Rainbow

The Grey

Killing Them Softly

Kill List

The Snowtown Murders

And the Noffscar goes to: 

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BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

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Amour

Elena

Holy Motors

Oslo, August 31st

The Raid: Redemption

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST DOCUMENTARY

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Bestiaire

How to Survive a Plague

The Imposter

Searching for Sugar Man

Whore’s Glory

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

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Frankenweenie

It’s Such a Beautiful Day

Wreck-It Ralph

 

 

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST ORIGINAL SONG

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“Prick! Goes the Scorpion’s Tail” by Emilie Autumn from The Devil’s Carnival

Listen

“Ancora Qui” by Ennio Morricone and Elisa Toffoli from Django Unchained

Listen

“Who Did That to You” by John Legend from Django Unchained

Listen

“Strange Love” by Karen O from Frankenweenie

Listen

“Skyfall” by Adele from Skyfall

Listen

And the Noffscar goes to:

Honorable mentions:

“Grace for Sale “ by Terrance Zdunich from The Devil’s Carnival - Listen

“The Misty Mountains Song” from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (singing only version) - Listen

“Sambola!” from Damsels in Distress - Listen

“Who Were We” – Holy Motors - Listen


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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

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Cloud Atlas

 

The Cabin in the Woods

Flight

The Dark Knight Rises

Prometheus

And the Noffscar goes to:

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BEST SCENES

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Beyond the Black Rainbow:

 Sentionauts

Watch

The Deep Blue Sea:

 “Molly Malone”

Watch

Django Unchained:

KKK comedy of errors

Watch  

Django Unchained:

DiCaprio’s phrenology monologue

Watch

Girl Walk // All Day:

Dance and the world dances with you

Watch

 

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Holy Motors:

Entracte:

Watch

Holy Motors:

Merde:

Watch

It’s Such a Beautiful Day:

Ending: Bill lives on…

Killing Them Softly:

Card game robbery:

Killing Them Softly:

Killing Liotta softly

Watch 

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The Master:

Freddy’s informal processing

Skyfall:

Shanghai highrise - fighting silhouettes

Watch

Take This Waltz:

 “Video Killed the Radio Star”

Watch 

Ted:

Wahlberg vs. teddy bear  

Watch

The Turin Horse:Opening sceneWatch 
And the Noffscar goes to: 

Honorable mentions:

Bernie - Opening - watch

The Cabin in the Woods - Monster Mash - watch

The Comedy - Tim humiliates male nurse - watch

The Comedy - Taxi hip-hop - watch

The Grey – Comforting the dying - watch

The Grey - Neeson to God: “Fuck it, I’ll do it myself”

Holy Motors - Motion capture sex - watch

Killer Joe - Chicken drumstick BJ - watch

The Master – Master vs. Skeptic

Les Miserables - Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream (the film’s one good scene) - watch

Moonrise Kingdom - End credits - “The Heroic Weather Conditions; part 7 : After the Storm” - watch

Pitch Perfect - Kendrick’s audition - the “Cup Song” - watch

The Raid: Redemption - Mad Dog’s two on one fight - watch

Seven Psychopaths - Cemetery shootout - watch

Re-Ranking the Sight & Sound Top 100

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The results of last year’s Sight & Sound poll shook the film community to its sedentary core. Cinephiles everywhere could be heard shouting from the rooftops their recliners - Oh my God! Jesus Christ! Holy shit! Citizen Kane, officially the “greatest film of all time” for 5 decades, had been dethroned by Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo! What strange new world were we living in? This tidal shift in critical consensus (Citizen Kane plummeted all the way to #2) inspired cinephiles to rise en masse from their recliners…then sit back down and take to Twitter. I too took to Twitter, with the aim of shattering the legitimacy of the poll in 140 characters. Alas, I recently deactivated my Twitter account and don’t remember what I said, but trust me, it was devastating. Happily, I remember the gist of the tweet, which I’ll get to in a moment.

First, let me say that I have nothing against Vertigo, per se. I have no ax to grind with it. It’s a fine film - the second best of 1958, behind Welles’ best film, Touch of Evil. No, my issue is with the poll itself, with the very idea of determining which films are the greatest ever made through a collection of personal top ten lists, as though a consensus of subjective opinion somehow held more objective weight than an individual opinion (for the record, it doesn’t). It wouldn’t make any difference even if all the critics in the world regarded Vertigo as the best film ever made. Even then, Vertigo wouldn’t actually be the best film ever made - it would merely enjoy unanimity of subjective opinion as such among film critics.

Of course, in reality Vertigo enjoys no such universal preeminence. Not even close. And that’s what my devastating tweet was about. Only 191 out of the 846 participants polled voted for Vertigo, which means that 77.5% of critics worldwide didn’t even put it on their top ten lists, let alone at the number one position. Yes, Vertigo received more votes than any other film, but a whopping 655 participants did not vote for it. In short, according to most critics Vertigo is not the “greatest film of all time.” (Of course, this goes for every other film ever made as well.) This is so obvious it wouldn’t even be worth pointing out were it not for the fact that so many self-important critics take the list very seriously indeed. Ten years from now we’ll do it all over again. Will Vertigo retain its title as the greatest film of all time or will it drop precipitously to number 2? Will Citizen Kane reclaim the throne or will it languish at number 2 for another decade? Wake me up in ten years.

Shortly after tweeting my qualms about the Sight & Sound poll I received an invitation from Iain Stott at 100 Evenings Illuminated to participate in a film poll of his own intended as a response to the Sight & Sound poll. Stott noticed that Vertigo appeared on only 191 of 846 ballots and wondered “just what did the other 655 people think of it? Would it have made their top 20s, 50s, 100s? Did they-and indeed do they-even admire it at all? This poll seeks to address that question; or, at least, to go some way towards doing so.”

The idea was for participants to re-rank the top 100 films from the Sight & Sound poll in preferential order and see how things shook out. How different would the list look? Would Citizen Kane remain dethroned? Would Vertigo still be number one? Where would Touki-Bouki end up? Sure, the poll promised to be every bit as arbitrary and meaningless as the Sight & Sound poll, but so what? I’d be in it. For some unfathomable reason I wasn’t invited to participate in the Sight & Sound poll (perhaps it had something to do with my not being a professional critic, who knows?), so to rectify that grievous oversight I jumped at the chance to participate in this one. Now my opinion, the one true opinion, would be heard.

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So here, then, is my re-ranking, i.e. the one true re-ranking, of the Sight & Sound top 100:

1.  Once Upon a Time in the West

2.  The Third Man

3.  Chinatown

4.  2001: A Space Odyssey

5. Taxi Driver

6. Sherlock Jr.

7. The Godfather: Part II

8. Psycho

9. The Godfather

10. North by Northwest

11. Touch of Evil

12. Mulholland Dr.

13. Blue Velvet

14. Citizen Kane

15. M

16. Rear Window

17. The Passion of Joan of Arc

18. Blade Runner

19. The General

20. Singin’ in the Rain

21. Man with a Movie Camera

22. Sunset Blvd.

23. Tokyo Story

24. Vertigo

25. Raging Bull

26. Persona

27. Rio Bravo

28. The Battle of Algiers

29. The Night of the Hunter

30. Seven Samurai

31. Apocalypse Now

32. Breathless

33. Casablanca

34. Some Like It Hot

35. Close-Up

36. Greed

37. The Magnificent Ambersons

38. In the Mood for Love

39. Modern Times

40. Aguirre: The Wrath of God

41. La Grande Illusion

42. The Wild Bunch

43. The 400 Blows

44. Bicycle Thieves

45. Un Chien Andalou

46. Nashville

47. Pierrot le Fou

48. La Jetée

49. Late Spring

50. City Lights

51. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

52. Pickpocket

53. Rules of the Game

54. Sansho the Baliff

55. A Man Escaped

56. L’Atalante

57. A Matter of Life and Death

58. The Spirit of the Beehive

59. Pather Panchali

60. Touki-Bouki

61. Wild Strawberries

62. The Seventh Seal

63. Metropolis

64. Fanny & Alexander

65. Battleship Potemkin

66. Lawrence of Arabia

67. Play Time

68. Intolerance

69. The Searchers

70. L’Eclisse

71. L’Avventura

72. Shoah

73. Ugetsu Monogatari

74. 8½

75. Les Enfants du Paradis

76. Madame de…

77. Au Hasard Balthazar

78. Le Mépris

79. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

80. The Leopard

81. Barry Lyndon

82. Rashomon

83. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

84. La Dolce Vita

85. Imitation of Life

86. Partie de Campagne

87. Stalker

88. A One and a Two

89. Beau Travail

90. Andrei Rublev

91. The Colour of Pomegranates

92. La Maman et la Putain

93. Journey to Italy

94. Gertrud

95. Mirror

96. Ordet

97. Sans Soleil

Unranked

A Brighter Summer Day

Histoire(s) du Cinéma

Sátántangó

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By the way, in case you’re curious, here are the results of Stott’s poll. Citizen Kane is back on top, with Vertigo at number 2. Take that Sight & Sound! It’s official: Citizen Kane remains the greatest film of all time. But, of course, that’s complete bullshit - Once Upon a Time in the West is. (See my re-ranking above.)

We were also asked to make an alternative list of 100 films we considered just as worthy of canonization. Here’s mine (in chronological order):

Our Hospitality (1923, Buster Keaton & John G. Blystone)

Seven Chances (1925, Buster Keaton)

Ménilmontant (1926, Dimitri Kirsanoff)

The Unknown (1927, Tod Browning)

The Skeleton Dance (1929, Walt Disney)

Vampyr (1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer)

Duck Soup (1933, Leo McCarey)

Blood Money (1933, Rowland Brown)

Footlight Parade (1933, Lloyd Bacon & Busby Berkeley)

It’s a Gift (1934, Norman Z. McLeod)

Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)

Swing Time (1936, George Stevens)

Pépé le Moko (1937, Julien Duvivier)

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937, Leo McCarey)

Bringing Up Baby (1938, Howard Hawks)

Porky in Wackyland (1938, Robert Clampett))

The Wizard of Oz (!939, Victor Fleming)

The Shop Around the Corner (1940, Ernst Lubitsch)

His Girl Friday (1940, Howard Hawks)

The Maltese Falcon (1941, John Huston)

Le Corbeau (1943, Henri-Georges Clouzot

Double Indemnity (1944, Billy Wilder)

The Suspect (1944, Robert Siodmak)

The Body Snatcher (1945, Robert Wise)

The Big Sleep (1946, Howard Hawks)

My Darling Clementine (1946, John Ford)

Northwest Hounded Police (1946, Tex Avery)

Quai des Orfèvres (1947, Henri-Georges Clouzot)

Oliver Twist (1948, David Lean)

Red River (1948, Howard Hawks)

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949, Robert Hamer)

White Heat (1949, Raoul Walsh)

The Set-Up (1949, Robert Wise)

High Diving Hare (1949, Friz Freleng)

Gun Crazy (1950, Joseph H. Lewis)

Pickup on South Street (1953, Sam Fuller)

El (1953, Luis Buñuel)

The Naked Spur (1953, Anthony Mann)

A Star is Born (1954, George Cukor)

The Ladykillers  (1955, Alexander Mackendrick)

Smiles of a Summer Night (1955, Ingmar Bergman)

The Killing (1956, Stanley Kubrick)

Sweet Smell of Success (1957, Alexander Mackendrick)

Paths of Glory (1957, Stanley Kubrick)

12 Angry Men (1957, Sidney Lumet)

Fires on the Plains (1959, Kon Ichikawa)

Eyes Without a Face (1960, Georges Franju)

Shoot the Piano Player (1960, François Truffaut)

The Apartment (1960, Billy Wilder)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962, John Frankenheimer)

Harakiri (1962, Masaki Kobayashi)

The Innocents (1963, Jack Clayton)

Hud (1963, Martin Ritt)

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, Stanley Kubrick)

Woman in the Dunes (1964, Hiroshi Teshigahara)

Repulsion (1965, Roman Polanski)

For a Few Dollars More (1965, Sergio Leone)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966, Sergio Leone)

Bonnie and Clyde (1967, Arthur Penn)

The Graduate (1967, Mike Nichols)

Branded to Kill (1967, Seijun Suzuki)

Night of the Living Dead (1968, George Romero)

The Flat (1968, Jan Svankmajer)

Le Boucher (1970, Claude Chabrol)

A Touch of Zen (1971, King Hu)

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971, Robert Altman)

Duck, You Sucker (1971, Sergio Leone)

Badlands (1973, Terrence Malick)

The Long Goodbye (1973, Robert Altman)

Mean Streets (1973, Martin Scorsese)

American Graffiti (1973, George Lucas)

Jaws (1975, Steven Spielberg)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones)

Annie Hall (1975, Woody Allen)

Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)

Manhattan (1979, Woody Allen)

The Empire Strikes Back (1980, Irvin Kershner)

Modern Romance (1981, Albert Brooks)

Tango (1981, Zbigniew Rybczynski)

The Ballad of Narayama (1983, Shôhei Imamura)

A Christmas Story (1983, Bob Clark)

Once Upon a Time in America (1984, Sergio Leone)

This is Spinal Tap (1984, Rob Reiner)

Blood Simple (1984, Joel & Ethan Coen)

The Terminator (1984, James Cameron)

The Thin Blue Line (1988, Errol Morris)

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989, Woody Allen)

GoodFellas (1990, Martin Scorsese)

Miller’s Crossing (1990, Joel & Ethan Coen)

Reservoir Dogs (1992, Quentin Tarantino)

The Wrong Trousers (1993, Nick Park)

Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)

Bottle Rocket (1996, Wes Anderson)

Fargo (1996, Joel & Ethan Coen)

Happiness (1988, Todd Solondz)

Election (1999, Alexander Payne)

Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyazaki)

Before Sunset (2004, Richard Linklater)

No Country for Old Men (2007, Joel & Ethan Coen)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007, Andrew Dominik)