Thursday, October 02, 2014

Culture Shock 10.02.14: Elvira buries herself in her 'Coffin Collection'

Trigger warning: Some of the puns and alliterations in this column are particularly pungent and may produce prolonged paralysis. The author regrets nothing.

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, on the sofa of her 2010-11 series.
This time every year, the historic Knott's Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, California, undergoes a transformation, becoming Knott's Scary Farm. It's one of the nation's most storied haunted attractions.

Returning to Knott's Scary Farm's 1,800-seat Charles M. Schultz Theatre this year "by overwhelming demand," is that horror hostess with the mostess, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. It turns out you can't keep a good ghoul down. So, Elvira is dying on stage twice nightly in a Vegas-style variety show. That's about the only way nowadays you can catch her live — or even dead.

Elvira's alter ego, Cassandra Peterson, retired a while back from doing the convention circuit in character. And who can blame her? She's been donning her black, bouffant wig and pouring herself into that low-cut Morticia Addams dress for more than 30 years.

Who could have guessed Elvira would become a long-term gig or that the character, which Peterson created for local Los Angeles television, would go national, even international, like pancakes?

Elvira's original "Movie Macabre" show aired from 1981 to 1986 and featured Peterson's undead Valley girl persona hosting horrible horror flicks ranging from "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" to "Night of the Zombies." From there, Elvira branched out into merchandising, comic books, two feature films (1988's "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" and 2001's "Elvira's Haunted Hills") and a seasonal Coors Light ad campaign. You know you've hit the big time when you're shilling for the Silver Bullet.

More than almost any other horror host, Elvira has endured. But it was still a pleasant surprise when she returned to television for the 2010-11 season with a resurrected "Elvira's Movie Macabre."

Now all 26 episodes of Elvira's latest spell (including several never aired) are in one box set, "Elvira's Movie Macabre: The Coffin Collection," from Entertainment One.

At the height of her notoriety, Elvira became the
four-color hostess of DC Comics' "House of
Mystery" series.
At a suggested retail price of $99.98, the 13-disc set isn't cheap, but the movies are. (If you're cheap, a few episodes are available at Hulu.com.) Elvira sticks with films that have fallen into the public domain. That used to happen when a production company went bankrupt and nobody renewed the copyright, or nobody bothered in the first place. Thus, Elvira serves up a bewitching buffet that includes classics such as "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" and "Night of the Living Dead," and not-so-classics such as "Attack of the Giant Leeches" and director William "One Shot" Beaudine's "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter." (Note: "Frankenstein's Daughter" is not to be confused with "Lady Frankenstein," which is also included in this set. #TheMoreYouKnow)

But don't think there's no star power here. The Coffin Collection conjures up a lot of name actors with bills to pay, including Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Joanna Lumley, Dean Stockwell, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Jack Nicholson and Joseph Cotton.

Still, let's not kid ourselves here. The real star attraction is Elvira, draped across her red velvet sofa and letting it all hang out. Well, not all. This is a show that ran in broadcast syndication. This isn't HBO's "Same Old Gnomes," or whatever. For that matter, some of the movies are censored, too, to meet broadcast standards. (I'll pause while we all laugh at the idea of broadcast TV having standards.)

Under normal circumstances, I don't approve of watching movies that have been chopped up for TV, but in this case some of the alterations, such as the fogged-out "naughty bits" in "Lady Frankenstein," are entertaining on their own merits. And so is Elvira.

With skills honed as part of LA's Groundlings comedy troupe, Peterson makes even the lamest jokes get up and walk. Sure, it's kind of a slow, shambling, zombie-like walk, but fast zombies are an abomination, and don't you forget it!

Inviting a horror host into your living room is like serving comfort food to your brain, and Elvira is the chocolate-covered cheesecake of horror hosts.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Culture Shock 09.25.14: Scarlett Johansson is a different black widow

It's Cold War paranoia distilled into one feverish scene: Actor Kevin McCarthy running through the streets — stopping traffic, banging on windows, yelling at anyone who will listen, as well as those who won't.

"They're not human! They're here already! You're next!"

But no one ever listens, not until it's too late. And it's always too late.

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956) appeared at the height of the Red Scare, with aliens as stand-ins for communist infiltrators. But the fear of being subverted and replaced by outsiders is universal. Few political issues ignite passions like immigration does, because immigration strikes at things more primal than mere pocketbook concerns. People fear waking up to find they're suddenly in a culture not their own. Every new ethnic restaurant becomes a beachhead for the "invasion."

No wonder "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" has spawned three remakes so far: "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1978), "Body Snatchers" (1993) and "The Invasion" (2007). And that's not counting thematically similar movies, such as 1994's "The Puppet Masters," based on Robert A. Heinlein's 1951 novel, or 1998's "The Faculty."

With "Under the Skin," now on Blu-ray and DVD, director Jonathan Glazer ("Sexy Beast") flips the invasion narrative on its head, telling it from the invader's viewpoint.

The invader is question is Scarlett Johansson, taking time out from playing the Marvel franchise's Black Widow, but still acting out the black widow role by luring unwary young men to their doom.

She's the spearhead of what seems to be an alien invasion, although we're never entirely sure. "Under the Skin" is not exactly upfront about its intentions, rather like what you'd expect of a stealth operation.

Johansson's femme fatale tools around Scotland in a minivan, giving her as unthreatening a cover as one can imagine. She goes from the streets of Glasgow to the cloud-covered, picture postcard Highlands, pretending to be lost and asking young, lonely-seeming men for directions. She strikes up conversations, flatters her would-be rescuers, and so it goes. How many red-blooded, heterosexual males can resist an invitation from a woman who looks like Scarlett Johansson?

Back at her place, these men enter a world that can appropriately be called alien. Then they disappear, never to be seen again — not as themselves, anyway. As the title implies, it's what's under the skin that counts.

McCarthy's voice echoes across the decades: "They're here already! You're next!"

Soon enough, Johansson is back on the road, looking for the next lonely guy.

Without leaving her front seat, Scarlett has a good view of humanity: people walking, people in traffic, men, women, children, families. She sees people living, loving and laughing. She sees us at our best and our worst. One wonders what she was told to expect, if anything.

Are we people to her or cattle? Or are we as much a mystery to her as she is to us?

Glazer makes "Under the Skin" deliberately disorienting, aided and abetted by the menacing drone of Mica Levi's ambient score. When Johansson's alien crosses into our world or her victims cross into hers, there is a sense that they've crossed barriers not meant to be breached.

Neither side is hospitable to inhabitants of the other.

It's not an optimistic assessment, whether you think of it in terms of immigrants getting along with natives, men getting along with women, or simply people getting along with one another.

Glazer entrusts his film to Johansson, and she rewards him with a performance that's subtle and beguiling. This is Johansson at her best.

Her performance is as enigmatic as the movie. We're not sure what "Under the Skin" is all about. As in life, we're left to make up our own meaning.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Culture Shock 09.18.14: Hipster vampires make immortality a drag

At first it seems as though we're meant to identify with Adam and Eve, the couple at the center of Jim Jarmusch's latest film, "Only Lovers Left Alive," new to DVD and Blu-ray.

If nothing else, we're to envy their glamorous lifestyle. They're beautiful, civilized and have impeccable taste. They've traveled the world, met famous people and done things the rest of us can only dream of. And their love is eternal.

Adam and Eve, you see, are vampires.

Many movies tell us immortality is boring, but Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive" is the first to make the audience really experience it. Putting up with Adam and Eve, played by Tom Hiddleston ("Thor") and Tilda Swinton ("Snowpiercer"), is enough to test anyone's patience.

The movies have given us goth vampires and punk vampires. They've even — heaven help us — given us WASP vampires. But Adam and Eve may be the first hipster vampires.

Eve is the literary type. When packing for a trip, she fills her luggage with a little light reading, such as the late David Foster Wallace's critically lauded doorstop, "Infinite Jest."

Adam is a musician, and a good one, too, with a growing following on the underground music scene, nurtured by his reclusiveness and refusal to perform live. Not that he wants to be popular. Far from it. Adam regards popularity as a "drag." He was a fan of himself before he was cool.

He'd much rather hole up in his home, surrounded by analog technology and vintage recordings of musicians you've probably never heard of.

Adam is also a fan of scientists, which gives him cause to vent about how humanity keeps ignoring or persecuting them. He grumbles that people still haven't come to grips with Charles Darwin, and he powers his off-the-grid house, located in an especially bleak part of bleakest Detroit, with one of Nikola Tesla's "free energy" generators. Just when you think our hipster vampire can't be any more cliché, he dabbles in steampunk.

Both Adam and Eve have plenty of money, although neither seems to have a way of earning it. Maybe they have rich vampire parents somewhere? But money means nothing to them, except when it buys vintage musical instruments or the best all-natural, free-range, organically farmed, preservative-free blood. Eve's connection for the "good stuff" is Elizabethan playwright-turned-vampire Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who claims to have written the works attributed to Shakespeare, although I'm not sure he's trustworthy. Adam's source is a Dr. Watson (Jeffrey Wright), if that is his real name.

Stalking victims and sucking them dry is played out. After all, you don't know where they've been or what they've been eating.

Eva and Adam, we're told, are passionately in love, but passion seems the farthest thing from either of them. What they are is comfortable, like Adam's centuries-old dressing gown.

The film finally livens up when Eve's wild-child sister, Ava (a marvelous Mia Wasikowska), drops in and makes things uncomfortable. Ava is a mess, but she is the only one who sees Adam and Eve for what they are: "condescending snobs."

As far as Adam and Eve are concerned, we're the problem: you, me and the rest of humanity, whom they dismiss as "zombies." It recalls the words of the original hipster, Henry David Thoreau, who wrote, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Adam and Eve read the right books and listen to the right music, always on vinyl. When Ava asks if she can have a download of one of Adam's songs, his contempt is palpable.

Jarmusch fills the screen with pretty pictures, and Swinton and Hiddleston are charismatic enough to command our attention, even if their characters do nothing to deserve it. It's only at the end, the final shot, that we see Jarmusch has played a joke on his lovers, and perhaps, unintentionally, himself.

Driven by hunger and desperation, Adam and Eve revert to the old ways. Their masks of refinement drop, and the vampires are just zombies, too. It's a good punch line, but it's not worth the set-up.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Culture Shock 09.11.14: 'Without Warning' pits alien against Oscar winners

Future Oscar winner Jack Palance and future Oscar winner Martin Landau probably weren't thinking Academy Awards when they agreed to appear in "Without Warning." But I'll take "Without Warning" over "Ordinary People" any day.

Released the same year that "Friday the 13th" kicked the slasher genre into high gear, "Without Warning" wastes no time putting a different spin on the soon-to-be-cliched formula of teenagers venturing into the woods where an unstoppable killer awaits to pick them off one by one.

This time, the killer is not of this Earth.

Greydon Clark directs this pre-"Predator" sci-fi movie about an eggplant-headed alien who comes to Earth to hunt "the most dangerous game." Only instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura and Carl Weathers, the alien targets Palance, Landau and a young David Caruso (in his first role, unless you count an uncredited bellboy in an episode of "Ryan's Hope," and who does?).

Cult movie label Shout! Factory brings this 1980 drive-in classic to home video with a shiny Blu-ray/DVD combo set that includes interviews with the crew and an audio commentary with the director.

The movie starts with two young couples (including Caruso) heading to the woods for a day of fun and relaxation, probably because it's 1980 and YouTube cat videos haven't been invented yet.

Surprisingly, they think this whole going-to-the-woods thing is a good idea despite the scary warning they get from the creepy taxidermy enthusiast who runs the gas station (Palance) and the foreboding graffiti scrawled on the station's restroom walls.

Technically, that makes the movie's title a lie. Clearly there is a warning. Just because you ignore the warning doesn't mean there isn't one. That's just logic, plain and simple.

Anyway, by the time our young victims get to the crystal-clear lake in the middle of the woods, our extraterrestrial Elmer Fudd has already declared hunting season on Golden Age TV actors.

Cameron Mitchell ("The High Chaparral") plays a hunter, Darby Hinton (Daniel Boone's son on "Daniel Boone") plays his son, and Larry Storch ("F Troop") plays the world's worst scoutmaster.

Maybe Clark has a fetish for typecasting actors based on their most famous roles.

Ralph Meeker, who portrayed Mike Hammer in Robert Aldrich's brilliant 1955 film noir "Kiss Me Deadly," has a small role as a bar patron.

Classic television informs more than just Clark's casting choices. The alien (Kevin Hall), looks like he just walked in from the set of "The Outer Limits." And speaking of typecasting, Hall went on to portray the extraterrestrial big game hunters in "Predator" and "Predator 2."

The alien's preferred method of attack it to throw small, star-shaped aliens — blood-sucking little critters that vaguely resemble the face-huggers from "Alien" — at his intended victims. This makes for some pretty cool and squishy kill scenes.

But the real stars of the show are Landau and Palance. Both still more than a decade away from their Oscar triumphs, these old pros can chew scenery with the best of them, and they do.

Landau plays a Vietnam vet who came back from the war a little funny in the head. He's been convinced aliens are invading for years, so when they actually are, no one believes him. Not that they would have believed him anyway, what with him being funny in the head.

Meanwhile, Palance's trophy-hunter character naturally is the first to realize what the alien's game is and think up a way to fight back. Palance delivers the gasping, wheezing, snarling performance that always made him a terrifying bad guy and, on rare occasions, an even more terrifying hero.

Clark helmed two movies that ended up targets of a good-natured "Mystery Science Theater 3000" ribbing: "Angels Revenge" (aka "Angels' Brigade") and the Joe Don Baker vehicle "Final Justice." But "Without Warning" — like some other Clark movies, such as "Satan's Cheerleaders" and the arcade-culture sex comedy "Joysticks" — is plenty of fun without anyone talking over it.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Culture Shock 09.04.14: Every duck has his day

After 1986's "Howard the Duck," the film's titular star was about the last character anyone expected to see return to the big screen. "Howard the Duck" was the flop that launched 1,000 turkey puns.

Yet there he was: Howard the Duck, still trapped in a world he never made.

If, like me, you tortured your bladder and stuck around through the end credits of "Guardians of the Galaxy," you were rewarded with a brief cameo appearance by Marvel Comics' most oddball character this side of Fin Fang Foom.

In the '86 movie, Howard was portrayed by actor Ed Gale wearing an unconvincing duck costume, plus seven other actors credited with providing Howard's voice (Chip Zien) and otherwise bringing the anthropomorphized fowl to some semblance of life. In "Guardians" Howard is a far more realistic CGI creation voiced by an uncredited Seth Green ("Family Guy"), who coincidentally voiced Rocket Raccoon in the "Avengers Assemble" animated series.

It was just a few seconds of screen time, but Howard the Duck can now lay claim to appearing in the year's No. 1 movie. Heading into the Labor Day weekend, "Guardians of the Galaxy" had grossed $274.6 million in North America, moving it ahead of "Captain America: The Winter Solder" and "The Lego Movie." OK, all that green has a lot more to do with the talking raccoon and the dancing tree than it does the wisecracking waterfowl, but still. For Howard, it's quite a comeback.

Before Jar Jar Binks, "Howard the Duck" was pretty much universally regarded as George Lucas' greatest failure. And Lucas just produced the movie. It wasn't as if he'd written and directed it.

Even today, the '86 "Howard the Duck" film is more Lucas' albatross than Marvel's.

At a showing of "Guardians of the Galaxy," I overheard someone speculate that Howard's post-credit cameo had come about because Disney owns both Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm. He didn't know Howard is a Marvel character, although one who has appeared only sporadically since his comic book's original 31-issue run from 1976 to 1979.

Howard was created by the late Steve Gerber, who brought the counterculture sensibilities of underground comics into the Marvel mainstream, and artist Val Mayerik. But it was the late Gene Colan who drew most of the "Howard the Duck" series, and he was the perfect complement to Gerber.

Gerber's stories were satirical with a tendency toward absurdism. But Colan kept Howard grounded with gritty, street-level illustrations. No matter how weird Howard's adventures were, you never forgot he was just a poor, schlubby duck out of water who happened to fall into a world run by "hairless apes." Even worse, he'd landed in Cleveland, and he wasn't getting out any time soon.

"Howard the Duck" was, briefly, something of a breakout hit for Marvel, which tried Howard out in a newspaper strip that ran 16 months and promoted him with a fake 1976 presidential campaign.

Unfortunately, Howard's hard luck extended from the printed page to the real world. Disney didn't like that Howard somewhat resembled Donald Duck, forcing Marvel to tweak Howard's design, including putting pants on him. Now Disney owns Howard, but he still wears pants.

Worse still, Gerber and Marvel clashed over creative control, which led to Marvel kicking Gerber off the book. That was the beginning of Howard's slide into obscurity, broken temporarily only by the Lucas movie, from which Howard is still recovering.

Marvel already has a full slate of films on its schedule, and no one thinks Howard is getting one of his own again anytime soon. Still, Marvel has made the 1976-79 "Howard the Duck" series available again as digital comics, on sale through ComiXology and Marvel.com.

Most tellingly, Howard the Duck merchandise is starting to crop up again, spurred by the demand Howard's "Guardians" appearance has generated. First a bobblehead, and then the sky is the limit.

"Guardians" director James Gunn says Howard's cameo is just a bit of fun. It doesn't portend anything. But with the world as screwy as it has ever been, maybe it's time for the duck to again have his day.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Culture Shock 08.28.14: Something borrowed, something 'Who'

Peter Capaldi, left, is the Doctor and Jenna Coleman is Clara in the 2014
season of the BBC's "Doctor Who," airing on BBC America.
"Don't look in that mirror," the Doctor barks while still in the throes of post-regeneration delirium. "It's absolutely furious!"

The only constant in the universe is change, and "Doctor Who" (Saturday nights, BBC America) has seen plenty of that in its 50-plus years. This time, it's a biggie. Matt Smith's manic, absentminded professor is gone, but not forgotten. In his place is a more mature and cantankerous Time Lord portrayed with gusto by 56-year-old Scottish actor Peter Capaldi.

If Capaldi's visage is anything, it's furious. Showrunner Steven Moffat, now in his fourth year at the helm, turns that into an asset. Even Capaldi's eyebrows, which "Doctor Who" fans glimpsed to near universal delight in last year's 50th anniversary special, are potentially lethal weapons.

"They're attack eyebrows," the Doctor says after studying his new face. "You could take bottle tops off with these!"

One thing we know about the new Doctor: He has a gift for dialogue. His one-liners can kill.

The Doctor is always dangerous, but he usually plays the fool, lulling unwary opponents into a false sense of security. "My dear, no one could be as stupid as he seems," a villain once said of Tom Baker's Doctor, the iconic one with the endearingly ridiculous scarf. But Capaldi's Doctor seems ready to dispense with the pretense, and the scarf.

"I've moved on from that," he says. "It'd look stupid."

He's dangerous, and you should bloody well be terrified, especially if you're an old foe such as the Daleks or the Cybermen or, as in the season opener, "rubbish robots from the dawn of time."

But no one is more frightened than the Doctor's current traveling companion, Clara (Jenna Coleman), who is finally coming into her own as a character, even as the Doctor undergoes his most jarring regeneration since the show's classic era. Going from personable to prickly isn't an easy transition, as poor Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor) learned. Although, in all fairness, poor scripts and tacky production during Six's tenure were the far bigger issues.

If anyone can make such a character compelling, it's Capaldi, whose Doctor has already displayed little flourishes reminiscent of Capaldi's wickedly brilliant Malcolm Tucker, the foul-mouthed political enforcer of "In the Loop" and "The Thick of It," only without the swearing.

The combination is something like another TV doctor: Hugh Laurie's Dr. Gregory House. In a preview for Capaldi's second episode, the Doctor even finds himself playing doctor to "a Dalek so damaged it's turned good. Morality as malfunction. How do I resist?"

But back to Capaldi's first outing, "Deep Breath." Moffat slows the pace and allows the story and characters to — forgive the pun — breathe. "Deep Breath" is a character study, a meditation on the nature of identity. That's a deep subject for a character who's had a dozen of them.

"Deep Breath" is structured around an ancient Greek thought experiment. Say your name is Theseus, and say you have a ship. Over time, the ship's planks become worn, and you replace them one by one until one day, finally, you've replaced them all. Is it the same ship you started with? Now say you saved all the worn planks and reassembled them. Now you have two ships. So, which is the true ship of Theseus?

The Greeks came up with many possible answers, and so does "Deep Breath." The Doctor's cyborg foes have rebuilt themselves so many times there's nothing of the originals left. For Clara, the question is whether the new Doctor is still the man she knew.

To ease the transition, Moffat brings back the Doctor's Victorian gang of Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax. The Doctor changes, but some things remain the same.

And sometimes one of those old, worn planks washes up ready to set sail again. An older, more temperamental Doctor gallivanting around time and space in a blue box with a schoolteacher who feels out of her depth? That seems familiar.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Culture Shock 08.21.14: Aronofsky's 'Noah' sails Bible's subtext

If he'd stuck to the text, Darren Aronofsky might have gotten a 30-minute short subject out of Noah's ark. So, like other filmmakers, from Cecil B. DeMille to Mel Gibson, he embellished.

If nothing else, it's a daring experiment, and after months to mull it over, I'm still undecided as to whether Aronofsky's "Noah" — now on Blu-ray and DVD — is a success or merely an ambitious failure.

Perhaps the fact I'm still thinking about it answers the question.

Aronofsky takes the story of Noah and uses it to hammer away at a subtext that runs throughout the book of Genesis: Cities are bad news.

From the start, cities in the Bible are a source of evil and violence. The first city, we're told, was built by the first murderer, Cain. Cain also is a "tiller of the earth," and we know from archeology that the agricultural revolution of the Late Stone Age made possible the rise of cities, displacing nomadic shepherds such as Cain's victim, Abel.

A few generations later, the lineage of Cain produces his namesake, Tubal-Cain. The first man credited with forging tools of bronze, Tubal-Cain makes possible the first great armies, based in fortified city-states and armed with bronze weapons. With the Bronze Age comes the first arms race.

Later still, Abraham would leave the city-state Ur and become a wilderness nomad, returning to the old ways, yet always running into trouble whenever he comes upon a city, whether in Egypt or the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah.

Adam and Eve's fall may have brought sin into the world, but it's Cain's sin, the first murder, that drives "Noah." We meet the teenage Noah just before he witnesses the murder of his father at the hands of the aforementioned Tubal-Cain. This is one of Aronofsky's embellishments — using figures who appear in the Bible solely for the purpose of genealogy — but it allows him to kick off the story with what amounts to a reenactment of Cain killing Abel. Noah is descended from Cain's other brother, Seth, so the tale retains the brother-against-brother conflict.

Noah (Russell Crowe) is portrayed as a shepherd, like Abel before him. He, his wife (Jennifer Connelly) and their three sons, including rebellious middle son Ham (Logan Lerman), live among the windswept hills, far from the temptations of the city, where a battle-scarred Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) rules and all life is cheap.

By "all life" I mean all animal life — people and critters. It's here that Aronofsky is most likely to rub his audience the wrong way. Noah is a devout vegetarian, which kind of makes sense if you think about who you want to captain a boat full of the last breeding pairs on Earth. Tubal-Cain and the other children of Cain, however, obsess over eating meat, which they say keeps them strong and ready for battle. Again, this is Aronofsky compressing all of Genesis into Noah's story: The world before the Fall, the world Noah still represents, was a world without death. But Aronofsky isn't subtle about it.

As for the sin that leads the Creator — the only name "Noah" uses for God — to flood the world and start over, here Aronofsky and the Bible agree, as the only sin Genesis specifically mentions to explain the flood is violence.

"Noah" starts strong, aided by Aronofsky's often quirky choices. Anthony Hopkins hams it up as Methuselah, played as an ancient wizard, and Noah gets help building the ark from rock-encrusted angels who vaguely resemble the golems of medieval Jewish folklore. "Noah" is the Bible as Hollywood fantasy film. But once the rain starts, the movie stops, and we spend what feels like 40 days and nights watching Noah's mental collapse. Savior is too big a job for a mere human.

Noah and Tubal-Cain are both zealots, and Tubal-Cain can twist scripture as well as anyone. As Shakespeare said, "The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."

Aronofsky is neither devil nor angel. He's just a man who made a movie that will make you think. That is its own justification — and just maybe its own reward.