Vignette 2: The Hitchhiker, or I Wonder Which One's the Psycho?
This is the best vignette out of the four, but not because of the first half. Just thought I'd let you know. It's a dark night and there is a feeling of menace in the air. I know this because the same repetitive orchestral music is playing that played nonstop during the last vignette. It's just the same string instruments going "Bruuuuuuuuump bruuuuuuuuuump bruuuuuuuuump" over and over again. But if there's one thing I learned from four years of film school, it's that I didn't go to film school. But if I went and learned one more thing, it would probably be that the string instruments going "Bruuuuuuuuump bruuuuuuuuuump bruuuuuuuuump" over and over again is a sure sign of menace. And that's practically as good as fact! Oh, by the way, Steve Sessions also wrote the score. Just thought I'd point that out. I hate Steve Sessions. Him and his dumb name.
No, it doesn't have a point! It's just cool!
A brooding teenage boy stands on the edge of a road. His dark clothing and piercings speak volumes about his troubles - he just got fired from the Teddy Bear Depot. Luckily, a man just happens to be waiting in his car about six feet away, just in case any hitchhikers happened to be looking for a ride in that exact geographical location. What a sweetheart! Okay, now we have our two characters. Hmm... I wonder which one's the psychopath? You know one of them has to be homicidal. In any given pair of hitchhiker and ride-giver-outer, one of them has to be criminally insane. Those are the rules. So who could it be? The quiet, shy teen, or the guy who sits in his car with a pile of polaroids of teenage boys while waiting for someone in need? Only time will tell!
They drive along, making polite conversation. The teen explains that his roommate was supposed to pick him up, which the older man takes as a cue to launch into a discussion about how he doesn't know if the teen is a maniac, and likewise the teen doesn't know if he's a maniac. The subtle hints just keep coming, don't they, Steve Sessions! The man mentions the teen's roommate Walter. When the teen responds that he never mentioned his roommate's name, the man sticks a needle in his arm and pumps him full of night-night juice. I'm still a little fuzzy on who the maniac is, but I assume all will be revealed in good time.
Dread the evil of his floral print drapes!
The teen comes to and finds himself tied to a chair in a suburban home. The drugs are still making him groggy, as indicated by the fact that he keeps staring at a lava lamp. At least, that's what it's supposed to indicate. In my opinion, you're only not in your right mind if you don't stare at lava lamps! Those things are more addictive than crack! The man pours himself a refreshing beverage and launches into a diatribe about how the teen really wants to die and how life is meaningless since death is inevitable. It's a bunch of cliched existentialist hogwash - the man read a little too much Sartre and got the blues - but that doesn't change the fact that the teen is in what philosophers would call "a shitty situation." That, of course, is to complement the man's performance, which the philosophers would call "shitty acting." The teen asks who the man is, to which he replies chillingly, "Suicide helpline, this is Frank!"
Now, your average viewer would probably make the connection that the angsty teen called the suicide helpline one night, talked to Frank, and left him with the impression that he did, in fact, want to die. That is because your average viewer isn't a complete numbnuts. Steve Sessions really geared "Cremains" toward the numbnuts portion of the populace, though, so he has Frank produce a tape recorder and play the tape of the teen's call. Does everybody get it? Good. Frank wraps a plastic bag over the teen's head, and that's just about that. My only real complaint is that if he was just going to kill him by plastic bag, he probably could have done that in the car. The road was completely empty. If you're going to waste the time and money to drug someone, bring them back to your home, and tie them up, it's only common courtesy to have some more bizarre and hideous death in mind than a plastic bag. Just a thought.
Back in the interrogation room, the Cremation Provider explains that no one ever discovered who killed the teen, which raises the question, how the fuck did he just tell that story? The disembodied voices aren't concerned with little details like that, though. From the sound of their voices, they're not concerned with anything. Ever. They just want another story. Luckily, the Cremation Provider's got another one up his sleeve, and this one doesn't make any sense! Yay!
Vignette 3: The Waking Dream, or This Movie's Getting Boring, So Here's Some Lesbian Vampires
Quick, Lassie, get help! That man ate Sigmund Freud! Oh no, he ate Lassie, too!
A dweeby, John Polonia-esque guy comes home and finds a letter from his inexplicably British wife, Alison, waiting for him. According to the letter, she's gone off to find a doctor who can help her with visions she's been having of her dead friend Lisa visiting her in her sleep. Alison checks into a hotel and promptly hangs a string of garlic over the door and nails a crucifix to the wall. Now, they don't actually say it, but I think it's pretty obvious what's going on here. A friend returning from the dead? Garlic? Crucifixes? We've got a robot problem on our hands! Alison pays a visit to Dr. Brendan Frye, who is the author of a book about a woman experiencing night terrors similar to Alison's. Frye, who could stand to lose a pound or fifty, is not quite as helpful as Alison had hoped. He tells her that he doesn't believe in his own book, and that the visions of her friend returned as a vampire are nothing more than stress-induced hallucinations during the period between waking and deep sleep. With the doctor's reassurance that she doesn't have a vampire after her, but instead is merely fucking insane, Alison returns to her hotel.
Dive, Jesus, Dive!
After making a call to her geek of a husband to tell him that everything's okay, she's just crazy, Alison gets ready for bed. Now this is a prime example of the forced titillation that is a mainstay of Steve Sessions' direction. Alison brushes her teeth, then decides she has to pee. The camera sticks with her as she takes off her pants nice and slow, keeping about level with her ass. She only closes the door, blocking the camera out of the room, when she's down to her panties. Now, it seems to me, if you're alone in a hotel room, either you're going to leave the bathroom door open or you're going to close it the minute you get in there, depending on how you feel about that sort of thing. Nobody would close the door at random midway through the undressing process unless they were trying to give a camera a decent, but not completely pornographic show. Meanwhile, Dorky Husband is in his own bathroom. A crucifix remarkably similar to the one Alison brought to hotel hangs on the wall. As the husband is brushing his teeth, Jesus falls off the cross, which, when you think about it, is actually a step in the right direction for him. Unfortunately, he falls into the toilet. That's just bad luck. "Oh boy, I've finally gotten down off of this rotten cross! I'm going to live! I'm going to live! I'm going to - blub blub blub...." Once again, it sucks to be Jesus.
Can't... make joke... vampire... too hot...
Elsewhere, a female vampire in a whispy white dress does what female vampires do best - gyrates and grinds against a random bedpost while rubbing herself. In all of her writhings, the dress slips right off of her without any actual effort on her part. Is there an actual point to this? In terms of plot progression, no. In terms of justifying this vignette with at least a few seconds of entertainment, absofuckinglutely. When she's done dancing around like a supernatural stripper, the vampire puts her dress back on and pays a little visit to Alison. While crawling across the bed to feed from Alison's neck, the vampire's dress falls off again. I'm beginning to think that the undead simply don't know how to shop for clothes that fit. The vampire has herself a nice, incredibly fake looking meal, but Alison is not completely defenseless. She reaches into the drawer beside the bed and pulls out the Bible. When the vampire gets a glimpse of the Bible, she vanishes instantly. Odd, I've never heard of that happening before, but then, I'm not the writer/director here. Relieved that she was able to vanquish her friend, Alison wearily stumbles back to the bathroom. Unfortunately, she'll have to hold it, as the vampire is waiting for her there.
We see Dr. Frye working at his computer. He wraps up his work and gets up, only to find Alison standing in the shadows, waiting for him. She bares her fangs and lunges for him.
I have a hard time finding any legitimate way to connect that one to the Cremation Provider, but it's his story all the same. As he finishes up, the disembodied voices direct the interrogation back to his multiple cremations. It is revealed that the adult body that the Cremation Provider burned along with the little girl was the body of a serial killer. The voices also hint at the fact that it was the Cremation Provider's fault that the serial killer came back to life and went on a killing spree that claimed a number of lives, including his own. Get it? He's on trial to defend his entire life! It's so clever! So fresh! So original! I would have never suspected that he was defending his life! Even though they obviously know the entire story, the voices tell the Cremation Provider to explain what happened, which I don't think is really fair, since he's only alive for about half of it.
‘Toad coin?’ wondered the traveler as he examined the pebble. It did not look all that different from any other pebble, and certainly nothing like a coin. ‘What manner of coin has no head or tail, and bears no seal or flag? Who backs this toad coin, the toad bank? The toad treasury!?’ The traveler laughed, but the toads croaked sternly back at him.
Spending $10-15 a day on perishable organic dog food is not a sign of a decadent culture in terminal decline, it's actually real good and worth it.
No lifeguard on duty. Maze run at your own risk.
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