Monthly Archives: October 2013

Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale & Pumpkinhead

Hey there, Drinkers

It’s still October (who knew?!) so that means we’re still drinking pumpkin beers and watching horror movies. And in true BAAM form, we’re sipping on a delightful beer from Dogfish Head while watching an awful movie. Truly awful. Like just straight up, not-accidentally funny bad. So let’s get started, shall we?

Now some of you might be familiar with a little movie called Alien (1979) or its sequel Aliens (1986). Oh you’ve heard of them? Good! Because Pumpkinhead (1988) is a terrible version of these movies. Set in rural Appalachia. And not scary. And dumb. And cheap. For real guys, this movie is the poor man’s ripoff of Alien. The poorly-named Pumpkinhead creature (something about the graveyard it comes from?) looks almost exactly like the Xenomorph and even sports the same cicada-like sound. And you know who our kinda sorta protagonist is? It’s BISHOP! FROM ALIENS. GGAAAHHHHH!

Oh and there’s a flamethrower too.

Before he was a robot, he was a hillbilly

Before he was a robot, he was a sexy hillbilly

So maybe let’s talk about what makes Pumpkinhead not an Alien movie.
1) It does not take place in space.
2) Pumpkinhead is a demon, not an alien. A demon that is summoned by a gross yet spritely witch.
3) There are city kids, all of whom are annoying and you don’t care about.
4) Pumpkinhead is dumb and inconsistent. It likes to pick up its prey, drop them and then either leave them on the ground or drop them by a front door. It also stabs a guy with a shotgun and throws a motorcycle in the air. But it can’t get through wooden walls without the ramming power of a cross. Whatever.
5) Apparently Pumpkinhead is somehow connected to our villain turned hero Bishop though that’s never really explored or explained. All you need to know is that if you hurt our character, you also hurt Pumpkinhead (who also bursts into flames when defeated…). Again, whatever.

Totally NOT the Alien

Totally NOT the Alien

But there are two good things that I can about this movie. The first is that the creature effects are actually pretty solid. The creature looks fairly “believable” and moves naturally, which can be a challenge for many other monster movies. The second positive thing is that this movie ends. It may be the longest, least-scary one and half hours ever, but it does come to a conclusion. So there’s that. And now I’m moving on.

Not a fairy tale. And this scene doesn't exist.

Not a fairy tale. And this scene doesn’t exist.

So let’s talk about something good, shall we? How about something amazing? Does that suit your fancy? Well good, because paired with this awful movie was Dogfish Head’s incomparable Punkin Ale. Pumpkin ales are nothing special this time of year. It seems like every brewery has their take on the classic seasonal brew. But what sets this brown ale apart is that it deviates from the classic pumpkin flavor and instead leans heavily on a complex mix of spices and real, hearty pumpkin meat. You’ll get big notes of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg but none of these overwhelm the palate. Instead, with a little reinforcement from some brown sugar and pumpkin, you get a very carefully constructed beer that is never boring. Visually, the beer is quite lovely to behold. It pours a rich copper color with a dissipating head. Overall, this is one of the best pumpkin beers around and only continues to prove that Dogfish Head is one of the best.

So there you have it, folks. Another classic BAAM combo of salvaging a terrible movie with a fantastic beer. I really can’t recommend watching this movie (even for laughs) but I can say that if you see some Punkins at your local beer store, buy as much as you can afford.

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

punkin
Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale:
-Rich, complex spice combo
-Full-bodied but not heavy
-Perfect pumpkin ale

Pumpkinhead:
-Rural Alien
-Every character is terrible
-At least the creature looks cool…ish

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Halloween Crossover Special Pt. 2: Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple & Army of Darkness

Hey there, Drinkers!

DON’T HATE ME! CALM DOWN! Yes, today’s BAAM does not technically include a beer but remember that this is a SPECIAL. Meaning: unusual, unique or different (in a good way). So before you judge me for being a terrible beer blogger, just turn off your brain for a bit and keep reading. And then read future posts because you still love me and this blog. Okay, now that that’s settled, let’s dive into the dramatic conclusion of my Evil Dead Halloween Crossover with We Recycle Movies.

A few days ago, we left off with the bizarre and campy Evil Dead 2, which left us with Bruce Campbell’s Ash transported to a medieval land. Well, the 1992 follow  up Army of Darkness ostensibly picks up immediately after that moment. But, in classic Evil Dead fashion, we are first treated to a two minute recap of the franchise while also completely ignoring the events of the previous films. Quite the feat, if you ask me. So with the canon reset and our location updated to a medieval desert/forested bog/department store, Army of Darkness moves forward. And that’s kind of the best way to describe this plot: it moves forward. The narrative is mostly a thinly-linked string of events with little-to-no continuity and a ton of sweet effects. Seriously, the stop-motion and puppetry in this movie are really on point. As Anne from WRM noted, Army of Darkness might be the greatest homage to Don Chaffey’s Jason and The Argonauts ever.

So many skeletons. For real.

So many skeletons. For real.

For the sake of clarity, we’re going to ignore the pervasive continuity and logic errors that plague this film/make it amazing. What I do want to talk about it is how this film is a major departure from the previous two films. Where the first film was simply a low budget horror homage film and the second a low budget camp horror, Army of Darkness discards much of horror’s tropes for those found in fantasy and adventure films. Aside from the obvious set and wardrobe adjustments, much of the visual style and dark tone are gone from this movie. There are no jump scares, the film is generally brighter than its predecessors and, most noticeably, the franchise’s signature ghost cam is largely absent. It actually only appears twice whereas it appears about 264 times in each of the two previous films. In terms of tone, this final installment fully embraces its camp absurdity. Bruce Campbell’s Ash is pretty much just Bruce Campbell with a healthy dose of crazy thrown in for good measure. He spouts off one liners, trash-talks everyone and makes out with random women. Because he can. The movie also just let’s Bruce Campbell play. And I have to say, he’s quite the slapstick actor.

Bruce Campbell's never-empty "Boomstick"

Bruce Campbell’s never-empty “Boomstick”

I have a lot more to say about this movie but there’s actually too much. What I will say, in summation, is that this movie is great fun. I mean, it’s a pretty terrible movie, but it’s one of those classic great terrible movies that will have you and your friends yelling at the screen in delight. But make sure you watch it with friends. Otherwise you’ll just be bored. And lonely.

Army-of-Darkness

Double the fun!

And how about BAAM’s first non-beer? Well, I have to admit that Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple was a bit of an impulse decision. Anne had a few spares in her fridge and it seemed appropriate, given the molesting trees in the first two movies (though they were absent in AoD…woops!). But it did make me feel better when I found out that the Boston Beer Company (the makers of the Sam Adams) are also the owners of the Angry Orchard label. That makes it better, right? Anyway let’s talk about this drank.

Angry Orchard is one of several cider labels that have become popular in recent years and the Crisp Apple is, as far as I can tell, their flagship. Since I was drinking out of a can (what have I become?!), I can’t comment on the color but I’ll say that the mouthfeel was light and highly carbonated. The nose strongly suggests apple (who knew) and the same goes for its principal flavor. There were some hints of booze in there, as most ciders do, but for the most part it was like drinking apple juice with the added benefit of alcohol. I will say that it was not overwhelmingly sweet and allowed for a healthy balance of apple and booze. I guess it’s worth noting that this was not a traditional English “dry cider” but it was quite crisp nonetheless. So for those who want something very easy to drink and aren’t the biggest fans of beer (though you should be), the Angry Orchard Crisp Apple is not a bad option. And now it’s time for a beer.

So there you have it, Drinkers. The odd conclusion to our Halloween Special. A classic, crazy movie with a little something different for me. Be sure to check out Anne’s perspective over on We Recycle Movies. If you like these holiday crossover specials, be sure to let us know and we’ll keep ’em coming. And even if you don’t, we’ll probably still do them. Sorry!

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:angry-orchard-crisp-apple
Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple:
-Light, crisp, refreshing
-Strong apple flavor with a hint of booze
-Not too sweet, which is good

Army of Darkness:
-The oddball conclusion to the Evil Dead franchise
-No longer a horror movie
-Fully embraces its camp, becoming absurd

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Halloween Crossover Special Pt. 1: Alesmith’s Evil Dead Red & The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2

Happy (early) Halloween, Drinkers!

In the first of two installments, BAAM has teamed up yet again with We Recycle Movies to bring you another holiday special review! In part one of this devilishly delightful dual review, Anne from WRM and I watched the first two films from the original Evil Dead franchise while sipping on AleSmith’s appropriately thematic Evil Dead Red. Part two will cover the conclusion to the Evil Dead  trilogy and will be posted next week. So, without further ado, let’s dig up some corpses and get into it!

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Hey look! It’s makeup!

Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead  (1981) marks a special time in horror movie history. While it by no means created many of the stereotypes and cliches we now associate with the genre, it quite definitively solidified the tropes that are now almost laughable (as you can see from my review The Cabin in the Woods). It also walks the delicate line between true horror and classic camp. For those familiar with the franchise, The Evil Dead is now camp royalty but when apart from history, this film is more an astounding feat of independent filmmaking. Yes, the acting is poor, the writing even worse and it pretty much has no story, but I don’t really think that’s what this movie was made for. Rather, this film is much more about its visual style. The camera work, while quite jarring, is unique and perfectly captures (and enhances) the tone of the film. The same goes for the editing as well. It may not always make sense, or even be that pretty, but it services the rest of the film so well that you actually will find yourself nodding in approval, rather than shaking your head in disgust. The disgust comes from the blood, so don’t worry.

Which brings up another point: this movie (and this franchise) are not for the feint-of-heart. While all of the gore and other general creepiness is more humorous than upsetting, there is still a shocking amount of blood and guts and other mysterious body fluids. All of which end up on Bruce Campbell’s strong-chinned face. But like the film’s visuals, the movie’s shock-value also serves a purpose and services the story…sometimes. Yes, it’s all absurd, but at least it knows that about itself.

Yup...super gross

Yup…super gross

Since we’re on the topic of self-awareness (and gore), let’s talk about Evil Dead 2 (1987), which is arguably the strangest sequel ever. Okay maybe it’s tied with Mad Max 2 but that’s besides the point. Ostensibly taking place immediately after the events of the first film, Evil Dead 2 weirdly resets the franchise by boiling down the first movie into a two minute prelude that negates much of what actually happened. From there, the film takes a wild twist into campy insanity. Where the first film didn’t laugh too hard at itself, Evil Dead 2 fully embraces its own absurdity while still clinging to its recognizable visual style. What that translates to, essentially, is more blood, more guts, more demons, more possessed hands and more overall craziness (like when the entire cabin starts dancing and laughing).


As is probably quite obvious from the above clip, this movie be CRAZY.

Overall, what is important to take away from these movies, aside from their solidifying insanity and overzealous blood usage, is how visual style (and crafty production design) can really sell a movie. Without its distinctive style, it’s entirely plausible to believe that the Evil Dead franchise could have sunk into oblivion.

Groovy

Groovy

And what about your unusually appropriate beer, AleSmith’s Evil Dead Red? I have to say that AleSmith has unofficially become the preferred brewer of BAAM. I’ve reviewed five of their beers (including the Evil Dead Red) and not only are they all delicious, they generally pair very well with movies. And the Evil Dead Red did not disappoint. Pouring a spectacular, clear red with a thin khaki head, this brew was everything I wanted out of the style. It’s nose promised a complex mix of malt and fruit while its flavor was a striking balance of hop and malt. Most interestingly, this beer is decidedly hoppy but does not feature the kind of bitterness you find in most West Coast IPA’s. Rather, the hops are well balanced against mild-mannered malt notes with a few hints of sweet citrus. Truly a well-rounded and well-crafted beer. Looks like AleSmith has done it again.

So there you have it, Drinkers! Part one of our two-part Halloween special with our friend Anne over at We Recycle Movies. She’s a professional smart person, so be sure to check out her review of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 for a better review. Be on the lookout next week for our review of the franchise’s bizarre conclusion in Army of Darkness.

And as always keep drinking, my friends. Happy Halloween!

alesmithevildeadred__84643.1380219397.1280.1280

Tonight’s Tasting Notes: 

The Evil Dead:
-Doesn’t really make sense
-Very bloody
-Striking visuals in every department

Evil Dead 2:
-Makes even less sense
-Even bloodier
-Really goes hard on the camp

AleSmith’s Evil Dead Red:
-Striking red pour
-Hoppy but not bitter
-Remarkably balanced & complex
*Bonus: ABV clocks in at 6.66%

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Lucky Hand Black Lager & Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today, we’re going to Vegas! Time to bet big and lose your life savings! We’re watching the 2001 classic update of Ocean’s Eleven and sipping on Lucky Hand’s Black Lager (their labeling is gambling themed, go with it). Beer, money, attractive men, Vegas…doesn’t that sound like the perfect BAAM? Hint: it was pretty sweet.

So let’s get started, shall we?

A quick disclaimer before we begin: I’ve never seen the original 1960 Ocean’s Eleven, so I won’t be making comparisons or assumptions about this modern reboot. So here we go, Ocean’s Eleven is Steven Soderbergh’s star-filled, quick-witted, hyper-stylish heist movie. And in many ways, it really is a classic heist movie. The first half of the film gathers our crew, explains their skills, lays out (most) of the details on the job and sets up how much of a dick our bad guy is. Hint: he’s a real dick. The second half of the film is the job itself, offering its little twists and turns and surprises, gently unfolding the hidden parts of the heist to the delight of the audience and the chagrin of the bad guy. But what’s interesting about this film is that it’s not really  about anything. The biggest impetus for the heist seems to be mostly because they’re bored and “it’s never been done before.” Our hero, Danny Ocean, is also motivated by the need to get his wife back (which happens way to easily and is kind of a dumb character point). But most of the reasoning is sidelined and deemed unimportant. In the end, the movie isn’t actually about much but since you have so much fun before the credits roll, you don’t really mind.

Brad Pitt tells Carl Reiner to steal things...just cuz

Brad Pitt tells Carl Reiner to steal things…just cuz

The real magic in this movie is, quite obviously, the casting. You have some of the biggest and more talented male actors in recent memory all sharing the screen together, quipping away at each other like there’s no tomorrow. Lead by the two kings of smooth, Brad Pitt and George Clooney, the film has an incredibly sharp wit and fast pace, making it easy to get caught up in the dialogue. Almost every line is expertly delivered and reveals something about the character, their history and their relationship with the people around them. The unfortunate side-effect of having so many talented actors is that only a few of them get enough screen time. Even Matt Damon the super actor seems underused, mostly because he just has to share his screen time with so many others. The other casualty of this intense screen-sharing is that only a few characters get a real history. Yes we get good, short anecdotes on most of Ocean’s 11, but the history of their relationships with one another is vague, leaving the audience to assume that all smart criminals are best friends and always know where to find one another. Maybe that’s the way it is in real life, but I’m not a super criminal so I can’t say for sure.

One other small thing to note before I move on is the film’s visual style. The first half of the movie has a very specific, highly-stylized visual character that seems to get a little lost as the film progresses into the heist. The visuals, coupled with the editing and soundtrack do give the movie a certain 60’s throwback vibe, but all of the truly interesting visuals step aside for narrative clarity in the latter of half of the movie.

But overall, the film is success. I think that’s mostly because Soderbergh understood that this film is more of a playground for his actors than anything else. It’s fun, quick and our heroes make a lot of money. Oh and the men are beautiful.

It's really unfair to guys like me that guys this actually exist...

It’s really unfair to guys like me that guys this actually exist…

So was our beer as Lucky as our movie? I’d say so. Lucky Hand is not a brewery  I heard of before and black lagers/schwarzbiers are not typically my bag. But I have to say that Lucky Hand’s Black Lager was a nice surprise. For those who don’t know, schwarzbiers are black in color but lack the same heavy, malty body of a stout or porter. Instead, the beers tend to be on the lighter end of the spectrum with regards to body. The Lucky Hand poured a deep black with a rich, caramel head, giving off strong notes of roasted malt. But with that first sip, you’ll be surprised to find the beer quite easy to drink. Moreover, those roasted malts are balanced quite nicely with some mild hopping. The end result is a low ABV beer that is both rich in flavor but light on the stomach, making it easy to take down the bomber I had to myself. As BeerAdvocate notes, these qualities make this beer a nice alternative for the typically heavier winter beers. So when the temperature dip below 70 here in sunny Los Angeles, Lucky Hand’s Black Lager is not a bad option.

So there you have it folks. A night with the cards all stacked in our favor. A great, fun, light movie with a great, fun, light beer. Definitely not a bad way to kick back and relax on a weeknight.

And as always keep drinking, my friends.
tumblr_lt6qq6dt6u1qb6golo1_500
Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Lucky Hand’s Black Lager:
-Deep, black color
-Nice hop/malt balance
-Surprisingly light & easy to drink

Ocean’s Eleven:
-A heist movie, for fun
-More about the character than the story
-A-list cast delivering sharp dialogue

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