Saturday, October 22, 2011

House by the Cemetery and Pyramid Thunderhead

This week’s unpolished turd of a movie is Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery.  I have this strange Love/Hate relationship with Fulci’s work.  Some of it is really good; City of the Living Dead (I don’t know why I like this movie so much).  Some of it is okay; Zombi 2, The Beyond.  And some of it sucks; Zombi 3 and The House by the Cemetery.  I got the movie and a case of Pyramid Thunderhead at the ready.  It’s time to plow through this shitty film.  Here we go.
I started my drinking an hour before during dinner.  I knew what projects I had on tap for the evening and I knew I couldn’t go in cold.  So I started with a couple of Thunderheads (love the name) and some turkey dinner.  BOOM.  Ready to go!  The movie starts out at a break neck pace (pun).  There’s a topless girl in a dusty, cobweb covered mansion (the ultimate aphrodisiac) getting dressed presumably after doing “the deed”.  She ties her shoes, buttons up her blouse (exit the movie's only nudity), and searches for her man toy who is playfully hiding from her…..or is he.  Dun dun dunnnnn!  She goes searching the house and eventually finds him hanging at the back of a door with his face removed.  She screams but it’s too late!!!  She takes a knife to the face!  I guess technically she takes a knife to the back of the head and it comes out her face.  It seems that Fulci has figured out that people don’t like stuff happening to their faces and exploits that.  I for one do not want to get stabbed in the face or have a tarantula eat my face/tongue.
Now that I’ve got a little nudity and violence in the bag I think it’s time to talk about Pyramid.  They have grown exponentially in the 27 years since their inception.  They began as Hart Brewing in Kalama, WA in 1984 (my birth year!) and eventually changed names to Pyramid (hefeweizen anyone) in 1996.  They have a wide array of beers but only a few “imperial” type beers, only two of which reach past 7%.  Not that alcohol is everything.  I don’t relish a high alcohol content for its intoxicative properties but rather for its indication of a thicker, fuller, more complex brew.  I know this isn’t always true but for the most part if you’re sipping on an IPA with a wimpy 5.3% (no names here) or a full 7.6% you’re drinking a very different beer.  I realize that I need to step down my misguided beer snobbery a bit.  I realize the value in a well crafted hefeweizen that’s only 5% or a guez that doesn’t reach 6%.  In fact I was inspired by Samuel Smiths’ low alcohol/high flavor English ales.  With that denunciation of my own misguided elitism I try to love the smaller beers.
Thunderhead is a respectable 6.7% abv and 67 IBUs.  This is significant because they use a textbook Gravity to Alcohol to IBU ratio which is supposed to help craft a well balanced beer.  As you know this type of blanket formula can’t work for all styles of beer and the distribution of the IBUs (between bittering, flavor, and aroma) is more important than the total number of IBUs in the beer.  That being said the ultimate  in IPA producers (Dogfishead) uses this formula (60 min IPA=6%abv and 60 IBUS, 90 min IPA = 9%abv and 90 IBUs).  The website says the malts used are 2-Row Barley, Munich 10L, Caramel, and Carapils.  The 2 Row is the base malt and makes up most of the beer.  The Munich malt adds the slight orange hue and imparts a nice malty flavor.  Caramel malt (crystal 10L probably) will give a light sweetness.  The Carapils is for mouthfeel and head retention.  The hops are CTZ?  Extensive googling revealed that this means Columbus also named Tomahawk or Zeus, and Nugget.  Now had I known these were the hops they used I probably would not have gotten this beer.  Nugget is supposed to be floral and resiny, used mostly for bittering.  Columbus (CTZ) is one of the big American C hops.  It’s citrusy and resiny but without that nice polished character that Centennial or Cascade have and without that biting bitterness of the Chinook.
Enough background.  Here’s the beer.  It poured a deep yellow with just a slight orange tint to it.  It was perfectly clear until I emptied the last bit of sediment from the bottle.  Now it’s a mostly clear beer with a little cloudy sediment.  It’s got a white here it is/there it goes head and a slight lacing that follows.  The aroma is mild.  Floral hops and slightly sweet malty notes are present.  Muted citrus, apricot mostly.  The flavor matches the aroma.  Nothing really going on here.  It’s an IPA for people that don’t like IPAs.  It’s mild mannered and not overly bitter.  Medium mouthfeel with the same old same old barley flavor and muted hops pushing on your tongue.  It’s calming and coaxing.  You have a few of these and say to yourself  “wow I think I might like IPAs!”  So you go out and buy a Stone Ruination and spend the rest of the night dry heaving into a bucket while your significant other cradles your sobbing head in her hands praying that it will pass.  Yea…..that’s about right.
As for the movie.  It’s a lot like the beer.  There’s a lot of drawn out suspense scenes where a door is squeaking or the floor is creaking and people are really scared but nothing happens.  There are also a lot of very long murder scenes which are signature Fulci.  But nothing is so new or so well done that you’re surprised.  There’s just a lot of flesh colored plastic being cut and torn from necks.  A solid effort, but at the end of the day its still flesh colored plastic.  The idea is that this family of three moves into this giant mansion that has a zombie living in the basement.  It was some doctor that was barred from the medical field for his unorthodox experiments.  That S.O.B. found the key to immortality!  All you have to do is wear a skin mask that covers your entire face and start eating people.  How am I not already doing this!  So yea three people (5 if you count the babysitter and realtor) all get hacked up by a skin face zombie.
Fulci focuses a lot on the neck in this movie.  Three big death scenes that I can remember.  All of them involved the neck!  One is a fire poker (I think that’s what that was) that after a couple jabs to the chest is sent deep into the neck artery.  Wow does that blood gush.  This was very well done!  It’s inspiring gore if I’ve ever seen any.  Next was the babysitter who is this weird mix of evil or not evil (it’s never really explained).  She gets her head cut off…..S-L-O-W-L-Y!  Then it rolls down the stairs.  Lastly and my least favorite, after accidentally cutting off the zombie’s hand then stomach stabbing it on purpose (the head damn it!), our main male character stands frozen with knife in hand as the zombie rips his throat out with his giant lizard hand.
Is this a zombie move?  At first I thought no!  It was a haunting movie.  But after a lot of consideration I think it is a zombie movie.  The fact that it only takes place in this house is a matter of convenience not some kind of ghost spell.  There is a zombie in the basement that need live flesh in order to survive.  It’s definitely dead and definitely eating people.  Check and check!  It’s a zombie movie.  Now I will say that for a zombie movie there sure is a lot of tools used instead of some teeth ripping action but that’s okay.  The plot of this movie jumps around more than my two year old.  And at the end I’m left baffled but not enough to really care.  Maybe some of it was lost in translation.  Those damn Italians.

The Beer:
Aroma – 9/12
Appearance – 2/3
Taste – 16/20
Palate – 4/5 
   Overall – 6/10
Total = 37/50
The Movie:
Production – 3/5
Plot – 3/5
Gore – 2/5
 Zombies – 2/5
  Overall – 2.5/5


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