Cannibal Holocaust, Eli Roth, & Riz O

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This iconic scene from the movie, Cannibal Holocaust (1979) was so troubling to Italian authorities, the director, Ruggero Deodato was forced to prove the images were fictitious in court and explain to law enforcement that he hadn’t actually killed anyone.

I’m not reviewing Cannibal Holocaust (1979). That’s been done to death and also I just don’t feel like referencing the faux outrage and calls for censorship of Eli Roth’s upcoming remake, Green Inferno (2015). My review today is about the soundtrack from Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1979) composed by the great Riz Ortolani.

But since I’m on the topic of Eli Roth’s new movie, here’s what I’ll say about it for now. When I see it, I’ll compare it against Deodato’s version and write up a gratuitous review for your enjoyment. Trailer below:

Do I think Eli Roth’s movie should be banned? Do I think a movie about white, social justice warriors getting brutally massacred by brown people is offensive? Ha. What do you think? More often in horror movies, brown and black characters are slaughtered without dignity for white entertainment. Our bodies are still first to be jeopardized onscreen and off…so am I supposed to wave torches and pitchforks over fictionalized, reversed-racial horror? You’ll find out when I watch Green Inferno.

But I digress. Let’s listen to the maestro, shall we?

What made Cannibal Holocaust so great was the off-kilter soundtrack. I use “off-kilter” ironically, because in truth, there is nothing off-kilter about it. It’s fucking beautiful. I adore horror movies with a full orchestral score and my absolute favorite composer for that sort of thing is Bernard Herrmann. However Riz Ortalani’s score is a must for any horror movie buff, too. Not only is the soundtrack beautiful, but when combined with scenes from the movie, the result is a strange, horrifying cognitive dissonance. Modern horror filmmakers alert audiences to the horror with music that is meant to frighten us. But Riz doesn’t do that, here. Instead, he uses sweeping violins, folksy guitar, and funkadelic pops of the synthesizer. By listening to the soundtrack alone, you would never know it accompanied such a gory, controversial movie.

There are 10 tracks in all but my favorites are Adultress’s Punishment (the infamous impaling scene) and Savage Rite. If you write horror, I strongly recommend you try listening to the Cannibal Holocaust soundtrack to get you in the right mood.

Have you watched Cannibal Holocaust? Green Inferno will come out September 25, 2015. Place your bets which one will be better. Whadduya think, fam? Should we all be outraged?

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Ghetto Tarot and the Haitian Slums

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Artist Alice Smeets recreates the Rider Waite tarot deck with Haitian people in the slums. All pictures copyrighted by Alice Smeets.

Voodoo is the official national religion of Haiti, but few if any Rider Waite tarot decks feature Haitian people or Haitian artists (let’s ignore the fact that a black woman invented the first Rider Waite tarot deck) Enter Alice Smeets and her fascinating photography project, “Ghetto Tarot.” She, along with a group of local Port-Au-Prince artists called the “atis rezistans” recreate iconic images from the Rider Waite with locally-sourced materials found in the Haitian slums.

The Queen of Wands “Ghetto Tarot” style by Alice Smeets.

I think this art project is fantastic. The recreated images are smart and offer a surprising glimpse of Haiti. Although the country’s impoverished surroundings are hard to ignore in these photographs, it is presented in a fun, interactive way. Yes, the poverty in Haiti is a crisis, but there is also more to Haiti than devastation and disaster. These Haitian artists’ sense of humor really made me smile and I wanted to share these images with all of you. Mondays suck. A little warmhearted irony can’t hurt. I originally found this story HERE on Design Boom.

All photos in this post are owned by Alice Smeets and respective artists.

Adorable, don’t you think?

5 of Cups recreated beautifully.

Alice Smeets writes about the project:

my aim was to create a very personal deck without loosing the different spirits of the cards’, smeets says. ‘then the idea entered my mind to combine three of my passions: the spiritual world, the haitian culture and people as well as the philosophical reflections about the dualities in our world; in this case rich and poor. moving away from the clichéd images of poverty, illustrating the spirits and meanings of the cards with a touch of humor in the middle of the slum and showing colored people for the first time on the traditional, old European cards to break stereotypes.’

The Ghetto Tarot project could use your support. They are trying to make it into a real 78-card tarot deck. They’ve met their goal, but you can preorder the deck along with posters and other prizes at their IndieGoGo page:

http://igg.me/at/ghettotarot

More about the artist:

http://www.alicesmeets.com/

@alicesmeets on Twitter

More about the atis rezistans:

http://www.atis-rezistans.com/about.php

Shit sandwiches, the Hugo Awards, and PuppyGate

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I must live in an alternate reality where white straight male writers never win the majority of literary awards, and white straight male narratives are appallingly underrepresented in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative fiction. I mean, whenever I walk into a bookstore or library I have to search for more than an hour just to find one book (JUST ONE) about a white straight guy saving the world. I wish there was just one strong example in scifi/fantasy/horror where the main character was white. And if I want to see white straight men on the silver screen, I can’t without attending those special artsy cinemas that show indie stuff with subtitles.

This must be the alternate reality I live in. A toxic subset of manbabies think white straight male writers have struggled for centuries from what they call, “literary affirmative action” and therefore can’t win Hugo Awards without sabotaging the election process and kicking all the icky gays, racial minorities, and women out. I mean, it’s only fair, right? Because what science fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative fiction needs more of is less diversity and we can thank the fine folks at Sad Puppies for making this our reality in fucking 2015.

Taken from Book Riot:

Along with the Nebula Awards, the Hugo Awards are considered to be one of the two major awards for science fiction and fantasy works. While the Science Fiction Writer’s Association nominates and votes on Nebula Awards, the qualifications for the Hugos are more lenient. One only has to buy a supporting membership to WorldCon in order to vote.

In recent years, the nominees and award winners for Hugos have begun to diversify. The world is changing, both in and out of publishing. As our world becomes more embracing of diversity, our reading and awards are reflecting that. More women and authors of color have been nominated and are winning. Unfortunately, not everyone sees this as a good thing.

Enter Sad Puppies, a small group of authors and fans that have decided the Hugo Awards were not accurately reflecting the tastes of science fiction and fantasy fandom. (You know, the people who were already voting on the awards.) So Sad Puppies, led by Brad Torgersen, created their own nominee list and encouraged people to vote for them. The list is significantly less diverse that it has been the last few years.

According to Torgersen, the Sad Puppies effort is to fight what he sees as an “insular” fandom of voters at Worldcon. Part of his defense of these choices, however, is more telling:

Along the way we fairly skewered the concept of literary affirmative action — that works and authors should be judged on the basis of author or character demographics and box-checking, not the audience’s enjoyment of the prose…

In a worst-case scenario (which is far too often fact in situations like these), this is coded, aggressive, anti-diversity talk. For the sake of argument, let’s take Torgersen at his word. If he’s speaking plainly, then he’s ignoring a big problem: the publishing industry (especially in science fiction and fantasy) is skewed heavily toward white, male writers.

Torgersen is right in one regard: awards should be handed to the best novels and their writers, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. No one thinks otherwise. But if we’re not reading diversely, the pool of books we nominate will not be diverse, either.

It’s a common straw-man argument against reading diversely: “I read what I like, regardless of the author’s race or gender.” We at Book Riot see this all the time. This argument would work if the publishing industry were fair. If the genders and races of published authors were equivalent to the actual demographics of the world, then sure, that argument holds water. But since the publishing industry isn’t fair, that argument falls apart.

Further Reading:

Elizabeth Bear

Chuck Wendig

io9

George R. R. Martin also weighed into this fight. His response is taking the limelight right now, so I thought I’d also include it HERE.

The general consensus among authors and readers is this: Sad Puppies’ hijacking of the Hugo Awards is a shit sandwich and spells future disaster for booklovers and writers alike. No, Damsels with Chainsaws is not a SJW blog, but we do want to see good stories. ALL good stories. Expanding fiction for everyone is not going to hurt the SF/F/H community. If anything, I think it’ll make our readership stronger.

Red Road returns tomorrow on Sundance!

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The Red Road returns for its second season on Sundance channel Thursday, April 2nd 10/9C

This is a heart pounding, nonstop action kinda series and not just cuz Jason Momoa is in it (although that helps, too, ha, ::blush::) I didn’t know what to expect going into the first season and I’m so happy I sat down and actually watched it. Red Road combines everything I want to see more of on TV (not just Jason Momoa ::blush::) like Native American issues and more people of color with prominent roles (Hello! FINALLY!), slick, suspenseful writing, and real world characters who aren’t just canned stereotypes.

Red Road is gritty, engaging, and keeps you guessing all the way through. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer! The first season was only 6 episodes, so you guys can catch up without much difficulty before season two’s premiere.

Trailer:

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

In a nutshell, the series is about a Native American criminal and the dangerous game he plays with a white cop who covers the accident of his schizophrenic wife and the Native boy she ran over with her car. It’s a cat-and-mouse murder mystery set on an Indian reservation where the “good” cop has to outsmart the “bad” guy. However what’s good becomes bad, and what seems bad in the beginning, is slowly revealed to be good. You’ve seen it before but not like this, I promise. The predominately Native American cast is a refreshing change of pace. If you like psychological cop stories with a lot of twists and turns, then Red Road is for you.

I’ll be tuning in tomorrow to watch season 2! Will you?

African American Tarot

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http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i250/bubblensqueak_logos/Squidoo/DSCF0002-10.jpg

I have several tarot decks but I haven’t reviewed any of them. Today I’m pulling out my newest  set, African American Tarot by Lo Scarabeo. Lord knows, I searched low and high for a tarot deck that didn’t have the generic white, European characters on them! I saw a few decks that depicted “ethnic” characters/themes, but the artwork was hideous and I don’t accept that having brown characters means I have to compromise on quality. No, honey, not this one. White folks have been whitewashing the trade since…well…colonialism. But that’s another rant for another post. Just walk into your local occult shop or hoodoo shop (haha, don’t get me started!) and count how many people of color you see. Chances are, not many.

So I searched for a beautiful tarot deck with lush, detailed pictures like the Euro-centric ones in my collection. It wasn’t easy. There were a few that caught my eye, but I’ll only review  the deck my boyfriend surprised me with. I like obscure and or rare tarot decks, and I was not disappointed by African American Tarot. Illustrations are by Thomas Davis and Jamal R. is the writer.

The African American Tarot has nothing to do with “African Americans,” like advertised.  It’s more like generic tribal with afro-centric imagery. Lots of zebras, elephants, lions, and muscle-y men in loincloths and elaborate headdresses. I don’t mind all this, but there’s nothing “American” about what I just described, either. I was hoping for a more…um…”modern” approach, but whatevs. At least I have a deck with characters that (sorta) look like me! Historical black figures grace the foreground on some of the cards. 2 of Chalices has Jean Baptiste Du Sable and 5 of Pentacles features Sojourner Truth.

The minor and major arcana are based on traditional Rider-Waite themes. Like most tarot decks, there’s a booklet included with notes from the author. He infuses African-based folklore and deities into the descriptions and does not limit his scope to just one African religion/region. But I appreciate his broad approach. I don’t know what Sojourner Truth has to do with the 5 of Pentacles, but I’m happy she’s there, haha. Disjointed? Yes. But I’m willing to forget all that because the artwork is so well-done! The images are interpretive and I feel a visceral connection to them. Some of the images are odd, like the 2 of Wands, which depict a ghostlike man screaming in agony while a man rides on a bull above a baby in a crib. Um…yeah.

My favorite card (in any deck) is the Queen of Swords and so I always look to her first before making up my mind about the rest of the deck. In the African American Tarot, she is personified by Yemaja, who also just  happens to be my favorite Goddess. All in all, I like this deck. It’s not my favorite of all time, but I do look forward to using it when I am in the mood for an intuitive and less structured experience.