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“Really…I am a good guy and let me explain to you why…” (Image: Multiversity Comics)

CW: Attempted Sexual Assault

How many of us went on a school trip to the zoo? (I did when I was 6) How many of us fell under mind control from evil hyenas? (I was too busy watching the gorillas throw poop.) Anyways, our favorite sleaze bag Xander does both and what happens next becomes, in my opinion, one of the worst episodes, maybe in the series. Buckle up as we delve into “The Pack”.

Do we not chaparone field trips anymore?

We open at the oft-mentioned Sunnydale Zoo, full of teenagers running amok with no chaperones. This will turn out well. Anyway, Buffy is looking over the zoo map where she is accosted by the bullies of the episode. They come by and accost her for no reason other than ‘bullies’. The gang meanders off right before Xander and Willow excitedly come up and tell about them seeing zebras mate, which Willow so eloquently put it Like the Heimlich, but with stripes”. They mosey on for a bit more talking about how this is not a bad trip because of no classes, which Xander (not so) surprisingly loves.

We are then introduced to the seeming loner of the episode, Lance. He is either writing or drawing something as he stares at the chimpanzee enclosed before the group of miscreants approach. They surround the poor kid and treat him like crap for no reason other than their enjoyment. They surround him and before anything bad could happen, they are stopped by Principal Flutie. Lance tells Flutie that everything is ok and nothing is going on. Flutie glares at the gang before leaving.

The cretins decide to reward Lance with a trip to the hyena house, which is closed off. They ignore that and go in anyway. We do need to mention the shoddy way the zoo booked off the hyena house. Anyway, Xander sees this and chases after them. Buffy and Willow follow suit but are stopped by a zookeeper. Xander goes in and interrupts the gang of n’er do wells, leaving Lance to run off. But before they can do anything, one of the hyenas flashes a glow from its eyes, which causes the same from Xander and the bullies.

Xander has changed…by being more Xander

Shock of all shocks, we open back up at The Bronze, where there is no cover for DJ Night. Buffy and Willow are hanging out as besties do, with Willow asking if Buffy noticed any changes from Xander once they left the zoo. Buffy smirks, knowing the reason that Willow noticed as much as she did as she is still head over heels for Xander. Willow tosses the head over heels moment in Buffy’s face, mentioning Angel and his leather jacket she still has. As if on cue, Xander shows up being his usual ‘charming’ self, but hyena-powered. On top of his usual creepiness, we now add smelling Buffy’s hair and munching on her croissant. Then here comes the superpowered gang of bullies who make people move because ‘it was their table’ as well as making a fat joke which makes Xander laugh, to the ladies’ chagrin.

When one goes to a library in school, what do you expect to use it for? Studying? Research? Not even close. If you go to Sunnydale, Giles and Buffy use it for kickboxing practice. After quickly finishing, Giles sends her to class so he can heal. Then we see a POV shot of something low to the ground chasing students in the hallway. Oh no! Killer hyenas! But Buffy is able to pick it up? False alarm, the new mascot got loose. Principal Flutie introduces us to Herbert the Razorback. What exactly is a Razorback? Simply an actual pig with foam dorsal spines, an ill-fitting football helmet, and false tusks.

Dodgeball wasn’t much different than when I was in school

As someone who was short and scrawny, you would think I hated dodgeball. Au contraire, I loved it. However, these were weird rules. No cones to hit to bring out eliminated teammates, no real rules, just random teams throwing the balls. Anywho, on one side had Xander, the bullies, and Lance among the extras. And the other hand Buffy, Willow, and their group of extras. It comes down to Buffy on her side, with the other side consisting of Xander, the bullies, and Lance. Instead of taking care of Buffy and winning the game, everyone turns on Lance and showers rubber ball doom onto him. Buffy rushes to save them, with the villainous group slinking away.

Willow later catches up with Xander to talk to him about his recent attitude change. At first, he mentions going through changes, and perhaps he has some sort of feelings for her. But, he twists it to tell her he is dropping geometry and will not need her to tutor him anymore, while also mentioning her having a ‘pasty face’, causing her to run off. Buffy walked in during the middle of it, walking up to the group as Willow rushes away. She glares at Xander, daring him to say something to her. He simply snickers at her and walks off.

Live footage of what Willow felt after Xander being cruel (Source:simpsons.fandom.com)

Careful of eating raw pork

Ah, lunchtime. The most segmented part of the school day. You eating at the same table with the same people every day. We all remember that scene from Mean Girls. The group o’ meanies walks up to a table outside where one of the guys sitting down asks Xander about some singer of a band, like seen at one of the nightly sojourns to The Bronze. Instead of engaging in a deep philosophical discussion about frontmen, Xander and the group of hyena types just glare before stealing their hot dogs and walking off because they smell something less cooked. Their heightened sense of smell leads them to the room Herbert the mascot is in. After surrounding the cage and frightening the poor thing, they all dive in and devour the poor pig.

We then turn to a devastated Willow who is pouring her broken heart out to Buffy. Willow has convinced herself that she is the third wheel and Xander is nicer to Buffy because he wants her (Yeah, that adds up). Buffy reassures Willow and heads to Giles to see if she can pinpoint the problem. She brings him all the warning signs, which he somewhat humorously writes off as him being a teenage boy. Buffy keeps failing to convince Giles that something more than hormones is at work until he mentions about ‘preying on the weak’. It clicks to Buffy of the attitude change after the hyena cage. Before they can get any further into this, Willow rushes in to say that they found a dead…and eaten Herbert.

Principal Flutie, we hardly knew thee

Principal Flutie, rightfully so, is on the warpath as he approaches the group, sans Xander. He demands that they meet him in his office, as he knows what they did. They did themselves no favors with all but admitting it. Meanwhile, the 3/4 of the Scooby Gang not possessed by evil hyena spirits figure out what we knew all along. Giles has the bad news that if they cannot figure out how to stop the possession, there could be some deadly consequences, so Buffy rushes off to find Xander.

CW: Attempted SA Buffy rushes into the classroom that held the former mascot looking for Xander. While looking around and discovering pieces of the poor pig’s spine among other bones, she is surprised from behind by Xander, who is creepier than usual. At more than one point, Xander is able to overpower her, apparently getting stronger is one of the side effects of the possession. Xander starts to tell her creepy things that you know have been in his head since the beginning. The scene cuts just ass he starts to sniff and nuzzle her. The next scene has Buffy dragging an unconscious Xander into the library and into the same cage we all had in our high school libraries. Before anyone says it never went that far, Buffy actually says he tried his hand at ‘felony sexual assault’.

While this scene is going on, they keep cutting back to Principal Flutie in his office with the other hyena-possessed crowd. They slowly surround him as Flutie tries to get to the bottom of the issue, even threatening to call their parents. Before he can dial one number, they all jump onto the principal, kill him, and eat him. Even sadder the camera pans down to a photo on his desk of himself. No significant other, no pets, nothing.

Zoo Tycoon never played like this

Xander finally wakes up in the library cage, while poor Willow is still doing her hyena research all alone in the library. While Willow does seem, genuinely concerned for her friend, Xander seems uncharacteristically the same to her. He seems to finally be over Buffy and lays out how he finally wants to show her affection. Willow once again shows how lowkey clever she is, but goaded Xander into revealing that he is still under the spell.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Giles are talking to the zookeeper, trying to convince him about the hyena possessions. According to the zookeeper, this is a special breed of a hyena (of course it is) that was worshipped by ancient priests. The best way to solve this issue is a reverse transpossesion , but he needs the kids to come to the hyenas. The keeper states that because after feeding and sleeping they will meet up with the rest of the pack…Uh-oh! That means they are coming for Willow at the library. As if on cue, the rest of the ruffians crash into the library to release Xander and go after a scrambling Willow. Just when it seemed like Willow’s time ran out, here comes Buffy and Giles to save her. They decide to split the party with Willow and Giles heading to the zoo right away while Buffy guides the baddies there.

How did Giles and Willow get so dumb so quick?

Back at the entrance to the hyena house, Giles runs inside and leaves Willow outside to help guide them in. The zookeeper in his finest Violet Beauregard robes and facepaint as Giles runs in. With the ceremonial markings on the floor, it takes too long for Giles to figure out that the keeper was one of these high priests trying to gain the hyenas powers, but the teens were able to do this before him. As a reward for him finally figuring this out, the zookeeper knocks him out and stuff him in a closet.

Willow hears Buffy running in with the gang close behind. Being one of the intelligent ones, Willow readily agrees to get her hands tied and the keeper putting a knife to her throat because they need a predatory act for the transpossesion. Willows finally yells that it was a trap all along, causing her to stop and get tackled. Before they could finally finish her, the keeper screams something in another language, causing all the hyena souls(?) to transfer to him. So, here we go, the final battle between him and Buffy. Could someone with all the souls topple here when she had trouble with one soul? Nope, a quick couple of blows and she throws the priest/druid cross-class who gets eaten by the hyenas.

Willow to Buffy after everything finally clicks in place (Source: Business Insider)

Couldn’t be more tone deaf

The episode closes on the gan reviewing what happened in the past few days with Xander not remembering what happened while he was under the spell. The girls brush it off before he runs into Giles. Giles talks about no mention of memory loss, meaning that Xander remembers everything he did during the episode. So, do we use this as some sort of character development and see Xander grow as a person. Does this cause a rift between everyone? Do we use this as a teaching tool on SA? Nope, we end on whimsical music and never speak of it again.

In closing, this would have been a pretty good and interesting episode if they never had that scene. But by keeping it, trivializing it, and brushing it under the rug, it really put a huger sour note on the episode. The way such a sensitive topic was handled really put this as the weakest episode of the season, maybe of all time. The big blemish on an overall solid first season.

1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

1971’s ‘The Corpse Grinders’ is purrrfect

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Have you ever wanted a movie from the 70’s where a woman gets home from work, strips down to lingerie to lounge on her couch, only to be killed and eaten by her cat?

a cat eating a lady in a bra and holding beer

Of course, you’re a regular human, just like the rest of us. Who doesn’t fantasize about that?

Well, kids, I found us that perfect movie in the salacious and groovy Arch Hall Sr. film, THE CORPSE GRINDERS.

The Plot of The Corpse Grinders:

Corruption! Capitalism! Murder! Fake-ass sign language! Cats! This movie has IT ALL.

To cut costs on production, The Lotus Cat Food Company decides they can find cheaper meat alternatives in the Soylent Green variety. Which, to be fair, is a step up from Taco Bell, amirite?

Partnering with a couple who owns a cemetery, they begin grinding up the mystery meat and sell it to unsuspecting consumers. But the consumers begin to be consumed themselves (that’s my best joke of the year, you’re welcome), a veterinarian begins to investigate the reason why our feline friends have turned feral.

Can this nefarious plot be found out in time by investigators? And by “investigators”, I mean, literally just this veterinarian and some nurse. Or will they too become victims in the feeding frenzy?

a hungry kitty with blood on face

Thoughts on The Corpse Grinders:

This was only written by Arch Hall Sr. and not directed, but honestly, for being a low-budget comedy-horror, it cements him as a cult classic icon. Probably known most for Eegah, of MST3K infamy, he wrote and directed many camp movies during the 60’s and 70’s. Usually to showcase his son’s, er…talents.

But he legitimately had some fun ideas and execution, especially when someone else was in the director’s chair. THE CORPSE GRINDERS is fun and exciting schlock, a feast for the eyes in its limited cinematography, acting, and lighting.

And call this a hot take, but I think THE CORPSE GRINDERS would have made a better edition to MST3K than Eegah did because it works so incredibly well as campy horror. There’s a lot of honest humor in it, but metric tons of things to poke fun of and riff.

Brainroll Juice:

So, I have two brainrolls.

First, give me the rights. Gimme. Because this movie is RIPE for a reboot. Yes, that’s right. Not Pinhead, not Chucky, not gay icon Chucky – no! Corpse Grinders is a perfect example of something with enough cheese, enough spark, and enough of a story that still gels. With the right writers, director and cinematographer, this could really be a great reboot.

brannyk with a reboot sign

And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – reboot movies like THIS. Old, beat-up movies with enough spit and polish to be fun and enjoyable. Something you could add to with more budget, technology and direction. Stop, please, stop making ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ part 24. It’s done, it’s old, lie those types to rest and focus on movies that kind of sucked but would be phenomenal after time has passed.

The second is, um…American Sign Language (?) in the film. Which, okay, I’m a million percent with having those with disabilities shown on screen. I love it. Gimme 2.0. But…But why this, specifically?

We have a side character who is Deaf, but…um…the ASL is, well…

very fake American Sign Language

Remember that séance scene from Wild World of Batwoman? Yeah. It’s on par with that.

In MY new Corpse Grinders, she’s going to have a much wider role and actually be a Deaf actress and not…whatever that was. Because you took a cool idea and made it incredibly offensive. So, six of one and half-dozen of the other.

Bottomline:

If you love campy fun movies about cats eating people and-…

Jellybeans?

Jellybeans the cat looks mad

Jellybeans, what are you doing?

OMG Jellybeans has a knife!

Noooo!!! Jellybeansss!!!

Jellbeans is killing me aaahhhh Oh No!

Whyyy?!?! Ahhhh!!!!

Brannyk is being eaten

helloo itsme branyl i wriet horro movis nd not a jellllllybens cAt. can i haz humnbrger?

absolutely not a picture of jellbeans with a bloody knife
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

February Titles for Arrow Streaming

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Wow, January sure flew by fast! But guess what? It’s time to see what goodies Arrow is bringing to the small screen soon. Let’s find out!

Basically a picture of everything I talk about down below.

Feb 3rd: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA

February 3 Joyce documentaries about the American indie film scene: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA (both US/UK/CA/IRE). Joyce’s documentary profile of Altman, originally produced in 1996 includes contributions from Altman, Elliott Gould, Shelley Duvall, assistant director Alan Rudolph and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury. 

Feb 3rd: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster

February 3: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster (UK/IRE/US/CA). Triple-threat writer-producer-director Charles Band has been pulling the strings making horror, sci-fi and fantasy features since the 70s and his films were a massive part of making the 1980s home video boom, well, boom.

Charles Band: The Puppetmaster brings together many of his wildest and most fun work, from murderous pint-sized puppets to re-animated horrors, from time-travelling Trancers to a terrifying Tourist Trap, and even the re-tooled Doctor Strange movie starring Jeffrey Combs as a slightly different sorcerer supreme. And I LOVE Jeffrey Combs!

Titles Include: Puppet Master, Doctor Mordrid, Trancers.

Feb 6: Killer Tech

February 6, while shopping for a gadget for your sweetheart, ARROW uploads Killer Tech (UK/IRE/US/CA) to the service.

We all want the latest gadgets, but in Killer Tech screen time means scream time.

From cursed videotapes and phone calls to the dangers of the dark web and vicious virtual reality, ARROW’s newest, smallest, lightest, fastest, most expensive curated collection doesn’t just have the best screen, largest amount of storage and the coolest camera – it also comes with a guarantee that the newest tech equals instant death.

Titles Include: .com For Murder, Laguna Ave, Edge of the Axe.

I recommend Edge of the Axe!

Feb 10: Cinematic Void Selects

 February 10, ARROW hands the keys to the kingdom to Cinematic Void, a Los Angeles-based cult film screening series into the mouth of cinemadness. Focusing on all oddball gems of all genres, the Void unleashes an onslaught of horror, eurotrash, exploitation and gonzo action on the silver screen at the American Cinematheque. CV film programmer Jim Branscome has selected a few of his favourite films of the genre for your viewing pleasure in Cinematic Void Selects.

Titles Include: Deadly Games, Deep Red.

Feb 14:

February 14 celebrates Valentine’s Day with the perfect pairing: the undead and the living dead.

Two Orphan Vampires (UK/IRE/US): A pair of teenage girls, who are blind by day, but when the sun goes down, they roam the streets to quench their thirst for blood.

Zombie Lake (UK/IRE/US): In a small village, somewhere in France, German soldiers, killed and thrown into the lake by the Resistance during WWII, come back.

Also Valentine’s Day:

Jean Rollin: The Fantastique Collection Part IV (UK/IRE/US).

Led by the brand new and exclusive documentary from filmmakers Kat Ellinger and Dima Ballin, Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World Of Jean Rollin, welcome to ARROW’s final volume of horrifying dream-like sauce from the master of conjuring up erotic nightmare fuel, Jean Rollin, The Fantastique Collection Part IV.

Titles Include: The Living Dead Girl, Lost in New York, Dracula’s Fiancee.

Feb 17: The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol

February 17, with The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol (UK/IRE/US).

For five decades Claude Chabrol navigated the unpredictable waters of cinema, leaving in his wake more than fifty feature films that remain among the most quietly devastating genre movies ever made. Sardonic, provocative, and unsettling, Chabrol’s films cut to the quick with a clarity and honesty honed to razor sharpness.

Though influenced by Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir, Chabrol’s voice was entirely and assuredly his own, influencing in turn filmmakers like Bong Joon-ho, James Gray and Dominik Moll. His amused, unblinkered view of life and refusal to judge his characters makes his films timelessly relevant and accessible to all.

Dark, witty, ruthless, mischievous: if you’ve never seen Chabrol before, you’re in for a treat.

Titles Include: Cop au vin, Madame Bovary (1991), The Swindle.

Feb 24: King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection

February 24 hits it off with King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection (UK/IRE/US/CA).

Put up your dukes and prepare yourselves for brutal and lightning-fast martial arts action starring the King of Karate: Sonny Chiba.

Whether you’ve only heard of Sonny through Clarence and Alabama’s True Romance triple-bill, have seen him sword-making for The Bride in Kill Bill, or know Shinichi Chiba from way back in the 70s martial arts boom where his lethal mastery of karate, judo and kenpo made him an in-demand anti-hero to legions of fans, there’s plenty of bruising bad-assery to be had in King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection.

Titles Include: The Street Fighter, Wolf Guy, Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Hiroshima Death Match.

Feb 28: Millionaires’ Express 

February 28 closes out the shortest month of the year with Millionaires’ Express (US/CA).

All aboard for the all-star action-packed adventure of a lifetime as martial arts maestro Sammo Hung (Heart of Dragon) brings East and West crashing spectacularly together in Millionaires’ Express!

Sammo himself plays Ching Fong-tin, a former outlaw with a wild scheme to make amends with the citizens of his struggling hometown of Hon Sui: explosively derail a brand new luxury express train en route from Shanghai so that its super-rich passengers will have no choice but to spend money in the town. He’s not the only one with eyes on the passengers’ deep pockets, however; a gang of ruthless bank-robbing bandits are on the way, looking for a priceless map being guarded by a trio of Japanese samurai. Bullets and fists will fill the air in equal measure, but will Hon Sui Town be left standing?

Jean Rollin Collection promotional. It's kinda trippy.

Head over to ARROW to start watching now.

Subscriptions are available for $6.99 monthly or $69.99 yearly. 

ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Samsung TVs, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.

ARROWEssentials curates collections based on genre, decades and themes; and ARROWStories takes a fresh look at the world of film and TV with exclusive documentaries, interviews and video essays diving deeper into the many curated seasons and titles on the platform for a richer and deeper viewing experience.

With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface, and an unparalleled roster of quality content from westerns to giallo to Asian cinema, trailers, Midnight Movies, filmmaker picks and much, much more, ARROW is the place to go for the very best in on-demand entertainment.

ARROW is also home to ARROW Stories – an ever-growing collection of interviews, trailers, documentaries and additional extras, both newly created exclusives for the service and from the company’s extensive archives. The service will be updated regularly with fresh content, new curation focuses and never-before-seen content, all selected by the ARROW team as well as the filmmakers themselves. With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface ARROW is the new alternative place to go for the very best in On-Demand entertainment.

Be on the look-out because in the coming months, ARROW will be adding Oscar-winning hits, European classics, Asian cinema masterworks, rediscovered Westerns, offbeat gems and much more as part of ARROW’s international strategy to support and celebrate the medium of film.

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Movies n TV

Dahmer, The Good Boy Box

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I think if it were possible to awkward someone to death, Dahmer never would have had to use any other weapon. Because if episode four is any indication, the man was a walking personification of awkwardness. 

Let’s discuss. 

We start this episode with Dahmer talking with the police detectives after his arrest. He doesn’t seem to have any issue laying everything out for them, starting with the murder of the hitchhiker from the last episode. He’s seeing a psychiatrist, which feels overdue. And the psychiatrist is bringing back some memories. Starting with his graduation from high school.

Still from Dahmer with Evan Peters.

A few days after graduation, Lionel Dahmer finally decides to look in on his family. He comes home to find no one but Jeff there, drunk and scribbling out the faces of his classmates from his yearbook. 

After taking some time to blame Joyce, Lionel sets himself to the task of fixing his son. He first sends Jeff to Ohio State. Within a semester, Jeff is expelled with a GPA of .45. So, Lionel sends him to the army. And for about a year, that seems to work out. Jeff goes through basic training and everything is fine. But then, he’s discharged. 

It’s not outright said in the show why Dahmer was discharged. He later tells a woman that it was because of his drinking. But he lies and gives half-truths to everyone without any remorse. So there’s no way of knowing. 

Finally, we pick back up where we left off a few episodes ago, with Jeff’s grandmother finding the stolen mannequin in his bed. She throws it away, and he starts to unravel.

He goes to a state fair and gets arrested for masturbating in public.

Evan Peters in Dahmer.

Honestly, there are a lot of masturbation scenes in this episode and the last. Probably more than we needed.

Every time Jeff seems to get some sort of handle on his life, he manages to mess it up. He loses jobs and starts drugging men at bars. Finally, he finds himself in bed with the body of a beautiful young man he brought home the night before. 

I liked this episode. It was a deeply disturbing portrait of a mentally ill young man trying and failing to get himself together. It’s easy to feel bad for Dahmer. To feel like there should have been a way to save him from himself.

And there should have been, to be clear. Dahmer was throwing up enough red flags early enough that someone should have been able to do something.

And yet, nobody did until seventeen men were dead. It does make you wonder if it would have gone on so long if Dahmer hadn’t preyed on gay men. If he hadn’t been a white man. And maybe it should make us wonder that.

I’m sure this point will be made clear to us as we watch the second half of the season.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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