The Questions Lady Terminator Raises

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Question #1: Does Lady Terminator have anything in common with The Terminator? What are the similarities and differences between Lady Terminator and The Terminator?

Similarities:

-A destructive force from another time comes to the present to exterminate someone in both films.

-Both include the line, “Come with me if you want to live.”

-There is a moment in each film where the virtually indestructible villain is knocked to the ground with ample gunfire and the camera shows their twitching fingers.

-Both feature an eye-removal-before-a-bathroom-sink scene.

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Differences:

-Guns are reloaded significantly less in Lady Terminator.

-In The Terminator, a cyborg from the future travels to the past to stop the birth of an eventual wartime revolutionary. In Lady Terminator, an anthropologist is possessed by a sea witch from the past, who seeks vengeance on her husband’s great granddaughter.

-No characters in The Terminator have magic eels in their vaginas; no sex scene in The Terminator culminates with castration by a vagina-dwelling magic eel.

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Question #2: What kinds of TVs explode into flames when shot?

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Sonys.

Question #3: Ricky Brothers composed the music to Lady Terminator. Is Ricky Brothers one man, whose first name is Ricky and last name is Brothers, or is the Ricky Brothers a band name, not unlike the Doobie or Allman Brothers?

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I don’t know, but Ricky Brothers—whether band or man—wrote for synthesizers, in my opinion, at least as well as Pino Donaggio did for The Barbarians.

Question #4: Exactly how many instances of violence to the male genitalia occur in Lady Terminator?

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Thirteen, although I’m only counting the wise old sensei getting excessively machine gunned to the crotch as one instance.

Question #5: Was Michael Sorich, the actor who overdubbed the voice of the character Snake, aware at the time of the children’s cartoon program Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Particularly, was he aware of Townsend Coleman’s work on the voice of Michelangelo?

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Probably.

Question #6: “What’s the point of not having money if you can’t spend it?”

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Question #7: How does a urine stream with that much propulsion form when the fly isn’t even open?

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Question #8: Lady Terminator lists Dave Mallow as the film’s dialogue coach. Was Dave Mallow fired before the completion of the movie on grounds of incompetence?

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Question #9: Is the glowing green thing the wise old sensei shoots into the eponymous villain’s eye what causes her to grow extra nipples?

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On the same token, does the growth of extra nipples alone warrant the painful removal of one’s own eye with an X-acto knife?

Question #10: Wouldn’t it be nice if more cops, before final showdowns with devastating murderesses, could join hands and say, in unison, “Let’s kick ass?”

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Yes.

Question #11: Why does Tania, the lady terminator, wait till she is incinerated by the flames of a bazooka blast to shoot deadly lasers out of her eyes at people?

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She had this ability the whole time, and, up until the last five minutes of the movie, relies on automatic weapons?!

Question #12: Isn’t it possible to be both a lady and an anthropologist?

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“I’m not a lady, I’m an anthropologist!”

You know, like, when did anthropologist become its own gender?

Click this link, to attempt to answer these perplexing questions for yourself.

 

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The Corpse Grinders (1971)

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What’s it like working for the Lotus cat food company? If your experience is anything like Caleb’s, your shift starts at midnight and you’re expected to dig up graves and retrieve dead bodies. You’re also continually stiffed on your paycheck. Lotus will stop at nothing to save a buck, so be ready for when, rather than paying you, they attack you and try to shove your body in a big hopper which grinds your flesh into ground meat.

Caleb (Warren Ball) has got it rough. His wife Cleo (Ann Noble) is stingy with the beef jerky (“a man’s gotta have meat!”), and thinks a toy doll is her daughter. Cleo, while she feeds the doll soup, nags and nags Caleb about the money. Lotus is doing just fine. Why can’t they pay him?

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Lotus is doing just fine. Yeah. Its CEO, Mister Landau (Sanford Mitchell), is one shrewd guy. Who would’ve thunk human flesh made such great cat food? No one seems to read Consumer’s Digest, so the fact that their product turns cats into crazed killers isn’t slowing down sales any.  The FDA’s none the wiser: “According to FDA standards, there was nothing adulterous or hazardous about it.”

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I don’t think that’s real American Sign Language, by the way, that Landau is using to communicate with his hearing-impaired secretary, Tessie.

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Lotus might be getting away with grave robbing to cut down on material costs. Landau might have a giant meat grinder for people right next to his office, but Dr. Howard Glass (Sean Kenney) and his lovely assistant Angie (Monika Kelly) are suspicious. Dr. Glass is a jack of all trades. His hospital apparently specializes in humans as well as animals. He’ll examine a cat’s autopsy and remove a man’s gallbladder all in a day’s work. And Angie. She’s a regular gal. She’s just like anyone else. After a long day’s work, she likes to strip down to her bra and panties, crack a Budweiser, and watch some television. “Why would the cats suddenly turn into man eaters?” That is the question that plagues Dr. Glass and Angie. Do they actually resolve this question? That’s up to the viewer’s interpretation, I suppose.

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Yes, you better believe the crew of The Corpse Grinders breaks out the red and green tints for the human flesh meat hopper scenes. Other than that, the photography is minimalistic and economical: You only really need one shot of gross, light brown man burger coming out of a meat grinder. Reduce, reuse, recycle. The Corpse Grinders only has one weakness. There aren’t enough cat attack scenes. You’re left wanting more, more, more scenes of cats launching themselves onto people’s necks and red, lipstick-like blood appearing. Other than that, it’s just as good as Ted V. Mikels’s other flicks: The Astro Zombies, The Worm Eaters, The Doll Squad. Thanks for this, Mr. Mikels. Thank you.

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Watch the theatrical trailer right here! 

Wiener-Dog (2016)

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When I saw Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Doll House, Palindromes) had a new movie out, I knew I had to see it. But I had to be ready—in the right state of mind—for the darkness, awkwardness, and sadness a Solondz movie entails. So, I waited till I was couch-bound, sick, and loopy from cold medicine.

Anyway, Wiener-Dog. It’s an homage of sorts to Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar: you know, that horribly depressing and stark French art film where the poor mule has all the different cruel owners. It’s the same idea with Wiener-Dog, except it’s with, yeah, a wiener dog instead of a mule.

The female wiener dog, our hero and protagonist, goes through a number of different owners. Each one gives her a new name. Her names include Cancer, Dootie, and Wiener Dog. With each different owner, we get a different vignette, and we see our hero the Dachshund go from a wealthy suburban family’s kid (Keaton Nigel Cooke) to an awkward do-gooder Veterinary Assistant (Greta Gerwig) to a developmentally disabled husband and wife (Connor Long and Bridget Brown) to a failure of a film professor (Danny DeVito) to a bitter elderly woman (Ellen Burstyn). Each owner is too dysfunctional in their own special way to care for and keep the poor wiener dog, and in every vignette, human hangups prevent our hero from ever enjoying a stable home.

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Wiener-Dog has its hilarious moments as well as its heart wrenching, the world-is-a-cruel-horrid-place moments. It’s definitely a lot funnier than Au hasard Balthazar, but then again so is The Virgin Spring. It also might be even sadder, in its own weird, deadpan way. There’s something so perfect about the wiener dog. In spirit, it seems far and beyond superior to the humans that determine its life. If you have a dog, you’ll be hugging, clasping, and saying, ‘I’d never ever treat you that way’ to it after seeing Wiener- Dog. Affective, the film is, with Solondz’s signature dark humor keeping the sadness in check.

The scene where Greta Gerwig rescues the dog right before it’s about to be put to sleep at the vet’s is pure teary triumph.

The scene where the dog is fed a granola bar by a kid who doesn’t know any better is familiar, disastrous, and cringe-inducing.

Overall, the movie is loaded–it’s rich–with so many different elements. It philosophically posits the question, What are dogs in human lives even for? It lampoons, if not indicts, film school and doctrinal screenwriting approaches. Danny DeVito plays one sad sack. I loved the scene where his students tear him apart behind his back, ridiculing his tastes and achievements. There’s an awfully tender love story between Greta Gerwig, the dog’s potential best owner, and Kieran Culkin. There’s a hilarious performance by Michael Shaw as a controversial New York artist whose first name is Fantasy.

It’s a simple story, yet very complex in the emotions it plumbs the depths of.

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I recommend it. It’s an experience.

LADY FRANKENSTEIN (1971)

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Lady Frankenstein delivers everything you could possibly want from a b Frankenstein flick. Bad makeup effects, corny period costumes, gothic sets, gratuitous nudity . . . this phenomena oozes through the wonderfully grainy 35mm patina.

Directed by Mel Welles (who played Mr. Mushnick in the original Little Shop of Horrors), Lady Frankenstein is a radically different Frankenstein movie. Just when you think you’ve seen what it’s throwing at you, it veers sharply off course.

Dr. Frankenstein, played by a presumable hard-up-for-cash Joseph Cotten (The Third ManShadow of a Doubt), is, you guessed it, experimenting with the reanimation of dead tissue. With the help of Dr. Charles Marshall, played by Paul Muller (you may remember him as the doctor in Vampyros Lesbos), Frankenstein brings a dead body back to life, creating a dangerous monster.

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No surprise there, but things turn to uncharted narrative territory, as the monster kills Dr. Frankenstein seconds after its reanimation. Meanwhile, Frankenstein’s daughter Tania has come to visit her father. Tania, played by beautiful b-movie babe Rosalba Neri, has a morbid fascination with death, and she is as determined as her father to make her mark on the world of dubious medical experimentation. The apple never falls far from the tree, does it?
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While the monster her father created roams around wreaking havoc (most its violent outbursts are directed toward fornicating couples), she decides she’s in love with Dr. Charles Marshall. Well, not quite. She’s in love with his mind, but not his body. She’s in love with the body of a man named Thomas, but not his mind. Thomas is developmentally disabled. Tania convinces Dr. Charles to let her put his brain in Thomas’s body. She is, indeed, so seductive a seductress she can convince a man to kill for her and have his brain transplanted to the dead body he is responsible for. Now, that’s seduction.
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Can Lady Frankenstein realize her strange and lustful desires, or will the angry mob of villagers, outraged by the deaths her father’s monster has caused, stop her dead in her tracks?

You can see, plot wise, Lady Frankenstein ain’t your everyday Frankenstein story. It also distinguishes itself in other ways, with other details. In this Frankenstein story, the monster gets his face singed by the lightning, leaving him to look like a deformed Dom DeLuise. In this Frankenstein story, the monster is so powerful that all he has to do is hug someone, and blood spills from their mouth and they die instantaneously. In this Frankenstein story, the monster runs around in striped, mod rocker pants.

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Lady Frankenstein is recommended to everyone who likes movies with clumsy, jarring cuts—people who enjoy a little charming sloppiness (the overdubbed dialogue has its moments, like when Rosalba Neri is talking, but her mouth isn’t moving). It’s recommended to those who like their Frankenstein flicks a little erotic (eat your heart out Andy Warhol) and for them to have a trippy, would-be avant garde musical score. Do you like movies where the fake blood looks like Ketchup, sometimes cocktail sauce? You better not miss this one.

Overall, Lady Frankenstein is pure, messy b-movie accidental greatness. And the best part . . . it’s public domain. Watch it right here!

YET AGAIN, I FAILED THE OCTOBER CHALLENGE

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I don’t know what it takes to watch 31 horror movies during October, because I can’t do it. I tried last year. I tried years before that.

The October Challenge, which, I believe, originated on the Internet Movie Database’s Horror message boards, asks that you watch 31 horror movies in October. 16 must be first time views and the other 15 you will have seen before.

Here’s what I (pathetically) managed:

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  1. The Birds (1963)

I feel safe declaring THE BIRDS to be Hitch’s most out there movie. Legions of birds are turning against humans. Why? No one knows. But my favorite scene is the one where everyone in the coast town’s bar and grill has their own explanation. Absolutely classic.

2. Tales From the Crypt (1972)*

Fantastic British horror anthology film based on the E.C. comics. It’s hard to pick a favorite segment, but the one with Patrick Magee, playing a blind man who leads an uprising against his home-for-the-blind overseer, is the most memorable. Ralph Richardson is wonderfully sinister as the Crypt Keeper. And this film’s twist ending is one of the best ever.

3. Arachnophobia (1990)

A good, creepy, and warm-hearted popcorn movie for all the nostalgic children of the ’90s.

4. 13 Ghosts (1960)*

Another gimmick fest from William Castle in which a family moves in to a creepy old house. The previous owner of the said house collected ghosts as a hobby. Really corny and unbelievable, as the family is so utterly nonplussed by the ghosts. “Golly gee, our house sure is haunted.” Worth it, maybe, for Margaret “Wicked Witch of the West” Hamilton’s performance.

5. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

This one is considered by many to be the best Jason movie. I probably agree. It’s all here in spades: the formula, the terrible dialogue, the gore, the gratuitous nudity. And Corey Feldman takes down Jason in an unforgettable manner.

6. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

So much for The Final Chapter being final. This one tries to break the formula by placing the hatchet fodder–I mean, characters–around a mental asylum. (Hey, kind of like the 3rd Nightmare on Elm Street flick.) The sad thing: this is by far the most formulaic of any of the sequels. Yawn.

7. Warlock (1989)*

Really dumb movie. But, I guess, really entertaining, too. It’s sort of like THE TERMINATOR, but the bad guy comes from the past and not the future and is, well, a warlock and not a cyborg.

8. The Mummy’s Hand (1940)*

A slightly less intelligent sequel to the 1932 original with a lot more archetypal monster movie content. You’ll inevitably shake your head at the casual racism of the day in a few scenes. Tom Tyler makes a great Kharis mummy–maybe even a better one than Lon Chaney Jr.

9. The Mummy’s Tomb (1942)*

Kharis is back, this time played by Lon Chaney. Not the best Mummy movie by any means.

10. Night of the Creeps (1986)

Right up there among the best cheesy horror-comedies of the ’80s. It’s hard not to love this one. Tom Atkins kicks so much ass as a grizzled police detective. “Zombies, exploding heads, creepy crawlies . . . and a date for the formal. This is classic, Spanky.”

11. Madhouse (1974)*

A decent Vincent Price vehicle in which Price plays Paul Toombes, a method actor and horror star who starts to take his roles a little too seriously.

12. 10 to Midnight (1983)*

This is one of the most unintentionally hilarious Golan-Globus-produced Cannon films of the ’80s. It’s a hybrid action/slasher film starring Charles Bronson. Bronson is on the case trying to catch a serial killer who doesn’t wear a mask–he doesn’t wear anything at all, in fact. He’s a birthday suit killer. And Bronson has to crank the DIRTY HARRY formula way up to stop him.

13. Manhunter (1986)

This wonderfully atmospheric adaptation of Thomas Harris’s novel, RED DRAGON is, I think, Michael Mann’s finest hour. Its use of noir-like visuals are amazing, and it has perhaps the definitive ’80s horror synth soundtrack. Tom Noonan (ROBOCOP 2, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL) is terrifying as the Red Dragon serial killer. You’ll never hear Iron Butterfly’s “In a Gadda da Vida” in the same way again.

14. Starry Eyes (2014)*

The slow burn with a throwback synth soundtrack is turning into a sub genre unto itself, but STARRY EYES, though very much following this trend, is an excellent victim film about the Los Angeles struggling actor scenario going horribly awry. Just when you think there won’t be any gore in this one, it gets piled on heavy.

15. Vampires (1996)

VAMPIRES is John Carpenter’s last totally kick ass movie, filled with gritty action, gore, and dumb one-liners.

16. Housebound (2014)*

This horror comedy from New Zealand follows a young woman on the wrong side of the law who is sentenced to house arrest at her mother’s home, which happens to be filled with baleful secrets. This movie crosses genres quite well, and is chock full of twists and turns.

17. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

Craven’s most meta horror movie.

18. Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1980)*

One of those made-for-TV-beyond-the-grave-vengeance flicks.

19. Zombie (1979)

This is, without a doubt, my favorite Lucio Fulci movie, maybe even my favorite zombie movie: melodramatic, corny, eye-poppingly gory, and apocalyptic.

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HONEYMOON (2014)

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HONEYMOON starts out and it’s almost disgusting how in love with each other Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) are. As the title would suggest, it’s their honeymoon. They’re newlyweds. They have no shortage of sex to have, of inside jokes and loving horseplay to make. They’re off to Bea’s family’s lakeside cabin to celebrate their new married lives together. At first, as they mosey around half-naked, cook pancakes, swim in the lake, etc., it seems like they’re enjoying pure connubial glory.

A David Cronenberg-esque downward spiral would have to ruin that, wouldn’t it?

Oh, yes.

There’s a white flash in the middle of the night. Some dark force seems to stalk the woods. There’s a childhood friend of Bea’s they run into who’s definitely, definitely not behaving normally. Neither is his girlfriend. Bea’s not known to sleepwalk, either. Well, she’s sleepwalking now. She’s wandering off deep into the woods, too.

When she starts forgetting who she is, when Paul catches her writing down mnemonic notes on her basic identity, it becomes clear: something is up. The slime on a variety of her possessions is strange, too.

Things escalate and escalate to some revolting body horror and Bea finding an eventual “new home” in the heart of the woods.

Like Ti West at his best in THE INNKEEPERS, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, and THE SACRAMENT, HONEYMOON is an exercise in the building of tension. Nothing bad happens for so long . . . then . . . blecch. A sense of danger is created out of the initial glaring lack of danger.

So, yes. You have the slow burn approach, which is becoming en vogue again (IT FOLLOWS). This approach works very well for HONEYMOON. Maybe the revelation of the danger at hand isn’t as shocking in this one as it is in the aforementioned West titles, but things still get damn creepy. Your jaw hangs open through the final act. Mine did, anyway. It’s a hell of a climax.

Did I mention it does wonders with its minimal budget? This couldn’t have appropriated funds in accordance with ambitions better.

But what’s great, chiefly, about HONEYMOON is how convincing Bea and Paul’s relationship is. They’re both quite eccentric and fun, and it’s tragic how, as Bea is slipping, part of her still—instinctually—wants to keep things normal, and so does Paul, as he tries to wrap his mind around what’s happening to his wife. They’re so trenchantly committed to each other throughout the film, which makes this a horror love tragedy: a unique take on the genre. The Autumnal vibe the cinematography gives off is excellent, too, as is the claustrophobic musical score and the grotesque—but sparing—makeup fx. (I mentioned David Cronenberg earlier, didn’t I?)

Overall, HONEYMOON is worth seeing for its fantastic sense of realism, its brilliant intimate performances, and the tragedy it injects into the genre. The directorial debut of Leigh Janiak, I can’t wait to see what else she has in store. This movie, for the most part, scared me shitless.

ELECTRICK CHILDREN (2012)

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It’s been way too long since I’ve sat, in a state of daze, with the credits rolling, saying, “Wow, what a fucking good movie.” Rebecca Thomas’s debut feature film, Electrick Children, though, left me with that feeling of bliss. Nothing could have prepared me for the experience this movie imparts. It’s a potent mixture: part coming-of-age drama, part road trip movie, part magical realism (assuming you don’t buy the immaculate conception story) . . . a beautiful journey of self-discovery altogether. Gush gush gush gush.

Rachel lives with her family on a Mormon colony in Utah. She’s just “celebrated” her fifteenth birthday, and, soon after, discovers a blue cassette tape. She sneaks off in the night to listen to it and hears a cover of Blondie’s “Hanging on the Telephone.” Rachel finds herself utterly enraptured by the song. She loves it. She, in fact, believes she’s been touched by the glory of God hearing it.

The next thing she knows, she’s pregnant. And Rachel thinks the song caused her pregnancy. An immaculate conception. A miracle.

Her family isn’t as optimistic. So they blame her brother, Mr. Will (Liam Aiken), for impregnating her. Her “father” (Billy Zane) arranges a marriage, but before it can happen she flees to Las Vegas in search of the man singing “Hanging on the Telephone.”

In Vegas she falls in with a group of hard-living, punk-rocking skateboarders and develops a romance with one of them: Clyde (Rory Culkin). Mr. Will, ostracized from the Mormon colony, comes looking for her, but ends up falling in with the same crowd.

Rachel finds the man on the tape, but he is not what she was expecting at all. He represents something ultimately as important, though, as Rachel learns lots about herself finding him: she learns there is much more to her own identity than she realized.

The question, who is the father of her child, by the way, is never answered, leaving the end of the movie open to interpretation.

What a fascinating spectacle. Watching the most sheltered of sheltered breaking out of their bubble, running with a crowd that drinks, does drugs, swears, listens to loud, abrasive music. The whole situation is funny, terrifying, and sad all at the same time– with an uncanny amount of suspense to be felt watching it all go down.

Julia Garner offers a more-than-credible innocence, sense of determination, and overall believability. Seemingly, the movie wouldn’t have worked without her. Rory Culkin, for that matter, is the perfect counterpart. He’s scary, at times, in his reckless oblivion, but ultimately decent.

Elecktrick Children tells a great story, and it unfolds with a seamless hypnosis on eye-popping backdrops: the Utah desert, the open road, neon-lit streets, shitty apartments, dingy all-ages rock clubs. The camera flows like water and stops to dwell on some truly great images: Rachel on the streets of Vegas in heart-shaped sunglasses; Mr. Will daringly about to descend into a skate park, then having to get his arm set over a snare drum; Clyde pensively smoking on the side of the highway. The soundtrack is perfect, too, featuring music from a relatively unknown Omaha, Nebraska band called Conduits.

Electirck Children, overall, instills hope that the Indies really, really have something going this decade.