31 Days of Horror: El espinazo del diablo

El espinazo del diablo aka The Devil's Backbone (2001) was director Guillermo del Toro's stab at a creepy little ghost story that he made after his disastrous attempt at making a Hollywood horror film - Mimic (1997). Where he failed in Hollywood he succeeds here in this low budget Mexican/Spanish gothic horror film.

The story takes place in 1939 Spain during the civil war. A new boy named Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at an orphanage thinking that it's temporary stay while his father is off fighting in the war. The orphanage is a creepy old place - there's a defused bomb sitting in the middle of the courtyard and in one of the buildings is a basement with a man made pool of water filled with the most disgusting looking muddy yellow brown water that you ever saw.

Some terrible things have happened at the orphanage and it becomes quickly clear that the place is haunted. The ghost is one of the orphan boys and Carlos is drawn into finding out what happened to him.

Del Toro is a really gifted director - he knows how to build tension and to tell a tale to make your hair stand on end. But he seems to lose his gift when he's making Hollywood movies. Films like Blade 2 and Hellboy are all right but they are nothing compared to his independent film ventures like Pan's Labyrinth and this film.

And now for something completely different – Rosie LaRose’s Top Six

How did you know I spent the weekend watching Bravo TV’s Monty Python special?

1. BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE Last December Saskatoon police arrested an 18-year-old university student for possessing ‘explosives’ – actually, a high-school chemistry set. (cbc.ca) Earlier this month, all the charges were dropped. (cbc.ca) Since ammonia fertilizer and diesel fuel were the substances used in the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1994, (Wikipedia) Saskatoon police should be arresting every Saskatchewan farmer for possession of explosive devices.

2. COLLATERAL DAMAGE FROM THE COLLAPSE OF CORPORATE MEDIA I always thought Adbusters (their home page) was an organization dedicated, in part to combating the media oligarchy and consumerism. So why does Canwest Global’s television station and National Post divisions – the ones in bankruptcy protection – owe Adbusters more than $9,000? (Media Union of British Columbia). UPDATE: Paul tells me that the money Canwest Owes Adbusters stems from lawsuits stemming from Canwest refusing to air Adbusters anti-commercials. More here (Adbusters). Gee, you'd think Canwest would be happy to have a paying customer ...

3. NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT Remember when the Tories and right wing groups such as the National Citizens’ Coalition would get on about Liberal and NDP MPs being eligible for gold plated pensions? Now that the Cons are in power, there’s not much talk about it … except for Rick Mercer (Rick Mercer Report via YouTube)

4. NOT JUST STEPHEN HARPER GETS BUY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS … Ohhh, look. A Cons bagman in Quebec seems to have interesting friends … who are caught up in a Montreal municipal government scandal (Canadian Press via The Globe and Mail)

5. IN OTHER NEWS, THE NUMBER OF CARDIAC PATIENTS AT REYKJAVIK GENERAL HOSPITAL HAS DECREASED BY 50 PER CENT Iceland’s collapsed economy means people having a Big Mac Attack will have to leave the island. McDonald's is pulling out. (Globe and Mail)

6. THINK ABOUT THIS WHEN YOU BUY STUFF China Hush (home page) is a website dedicated to stories that the Chinese government and the international business community would rather you didn’t see. Such as these pictures of China’s industrial pollution. Weep for the planet, and for humanity. (China Hush via The Galloping Beaver)

Oh Happy Day

This is what's going on on my little bit of Albert street:

Not only a new Japanese/Korean restaurant but a Karaoke place! If it gets even a portion the lost crowd from the Plains Hotel it should be good and weird. Juba Grocery seems to be hanging in (and have very good hours, so shop there and keep it going!). The Chamber of Commerce seems to be putting more windows in. Maybe it will help them see more clearly.

Will keep you posted. Karaoke!

Pick of the Day: The Village People

Sorry, couldn't resist.

The 1970s and '80s, for me, were a bit of a drag. I didn't really hit my stride until the '90s. The catch-phrase of that decade, if I recall correctly, was "lean and mean". I wasn't crazy about the mean part, obviously, in which governments froze/slashed spending on all sorts of worthwhile social and cultural programs to combat deficits, and corporations engaged in repeated rounds of downsizing.

But the idea of a leaner, less superficial approach to life was definitely in keeping with my personality and mindset. As icons of the disco era, the Village People contributed significantly to my misery. But they were far from the worst offenders. And I definitely respect the role they played in helping to popularize a queer sub-culture and win broader acceptance for queers in mainstream society.

I'm not sure how many of the original members of the Village People will be onstage tonight at Casino Regina, but for a blast from the past, here's the video for one of their biggest hits "YMCA" (YouTube)