Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Week 17: Minnesota Defense and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

Written by :
Published on : January 5, 2017

 

Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…

 

The lights have dimmed, the bloodlust is sated, and tarantulas crawl over virgin flesh.

 

Week 17: Minnesota Defense With Team Effort in Strip Sack For TD

 Celebrating the TD.

 

Watch Video: Here

 

Sure there’s always gonna be one or two high drama games in week 17 in terms of playoff hopes, but for the majority of squads, the die was cast back in weeks 15 and 16. The best games in the regular season’s final week are invariably those between two teams already locked out of the playoffs, playing for pride alone.

 

Minnesota has had a high caliber defense all season and this play against a hapless Matt Barkley shows us that scary pass rush in all its glory. Three different Vikings D-men get in on the action here, starting with Linval Joseph. The Defensive Tackle doesn’t so much strip the ball as he puts a hard shot on Barkley that knocks the ball loose. Anthony Barr comes in with the smart play to goose the ball down the field in the other direction when he realizes there’s no whistle, and that Charles Leno Jr. of the Bears is about to recover. Finally Everson Griffen scoops it up with the sure hands and brings it home.

 

My Lions are going to the playoffs this season, leaving the Vikings behind, but I’m not looking forward to facing that Minnesota defense again next year

 

Week 17: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

Brain

 

Director: Joseph Green
Released: 1962

 

Operating on a level that may be the closest to the platonic ideal of what this column is about, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die serves up enough monsters, kink, and weirdness to satisfy most obsessives of obscure cinematic horror.

 

Once again, we have mad science to thank for the majority of this film’s pleasures with an ambitious Frankenstein-like doctor brilliantly, but unethically, pioneering new transplant technologies including the successful reviving of his fiancée’s severed head!

 

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“Jan in the pan” isn’t thrilled about her new predicament and begs to be taken offline for good, but Doc Cortner won’t have any of it as he prowls the streets, strip clubs, and beauty contests in search of a proper body to affix Jan’s noggin to. Meanwhile, in the laboratory basement, Jan’s tortured melon begins to communicate telepathically with a giant monster locked behind a heavy wooden door…

 

The-Brain-That-Wouldnt-Die

 

Lots of good stuff here, particularly Virginia Leith’s performance as Jan, with her husky voice and barely concealed rage expressing a Medea-worthy madness. The sex angle is pure sleaze and gets a pulp slant when the bad doctor introduces a two-faced burn-victim and former beauty queen into the scenario as Jan’s body-to-be.

 

The monster is no joke either with a seriously ugly makeup/prosthetics design that’s of a higher quality than might be expected. His inevitable violent rampage includes an arm ripped from the socket, and a throat chewed open. The whole experience is dizzyingly unwholesome. Just what the doctor ordered.

 

brain4

 

Cop that trailer:

 

Full flick here:

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Week 15: Two Sacks By Jadeveon Clowney and “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter”

Written by :
Published on : December 21, 2016

 

Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…

 

The lights have dimmed, the full moon looms ominously, and the black spells have been cast.

 

Week 15: Jadeveon Clowney Sacks Blake Bortles Twice

Watch the first sack: Here

 

It’s natural for humans to create patterns in the things they see around them, and every football season it’s inevitable that my diseased brain is prone to obsess over the NFL defensive squads I like the most. Seattle is pretty much a perennial contender, and I’m also a big fan of Kansas City. Last year, I was losing it over Denver’s squad for obvious reasons, and this year it seems my defense of choice is the Houston Texans. They’re definitely not the best, but over the course of the season they’ve caught my eye the most.

 

In his third season in a pro career plagued by injuries, it’s great to see Jadeveon Clowney have a game like this. Both of these sacks may come in the first quarter but an early statement like that can have a rattling affect on a QB.


The football intelligence on display is remarkable with Clowney sidestepping or shooting a gap to get the hapless Bortles in the blink of an eye. In the first sack, Clowney gets scary sneaky as he crosses over to take advantage of a gaping hole in the line. On sack number two, the Texans’ defensive end has great eyes in not being fooled by the handoff. On both plays he hits the Jacksonville QB with such authority and efficiency that it’s hard to imagine the label “draft bust” being laid on Clowney now.

 

Week 15: Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter

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Director: William Beaudine
Released: 1966

 

I’m not sure if it’s possible, but this is arguably the most unapologetically schlocky B-movie we’re going to screen in the Dungeon this season, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a flick begging to be given the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment more than this one.

 

The title speaks for itself with European fugitive Maria Frankenstein playing God with corpses and prairie lighting just as famous gunslinger Jesse James hits town to rob the place. The monster in this outing winds up being Jesse’s hulking, slow-witted, and recently departed, partner who gets his sub-par brain replaced with an artificial one thanks to Maria’s kooky mad science.

 

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The acting and casting are delightfully atrocious all around, but the leads stand out with Narda Onyx (that name!) as the baroness hamming it up in an unapologetic hackfest while John Lupton just gives up by playing the saddest, oldest, and least charismatic Jesse James one could imagine.

 

Unfortunately, the horror elements take a complete backseat to what is mostly a cheapie western. One imagines the accessibility of old timey western sets, costumes, and props easier to find on your average backlot than the duds necessary to make a proper Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory.

 

Jesse-James-Meets-Frankensteins-Daughter-photo-4

 

You’ve got to be willing to slog through some boring scenes and are way more likely to enjoy the flick for its camp value than anything. The monster himself has no defining makeup other than the circular scar around his dome where the brain was replaced, but Cal Bolder (again with them names) is so totally ripped, shredded, and jacked that his strongman act almost adds a hint of the sideshow to this eccentric turkey.

 

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I present you the trailer in all its goofiness: 

 

Whole movie here for the true masochists out there:

 

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Week 9: Aaron Donald Takes Down Cam Newton and “The Ghost Ship”

Written by :
Published on : November 9, 2016

 

Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…

 

The lights have dimmed, blood drips from the walls, and my hideous assistant has turned in for the night.

 

Week 9: Aaron Donald Gobbles Up Cam Newton For Big Time Sack

 

Week 9 proved to be a pretty glorious one in terms of highlights with a miraculous Lions victory, a great game for the Ravens in Baltimore, and Melvin Gordon starting to look downright freakish in San Diego. The Haunted Dungeon is always looking for a good sack, and while there have been a few good ‘uns in the 2016 season (I’m looking at you Khalil Mack) we finally got that monster QB hit we’ve been waiting for.

 

Aaron Donald’s second sack of the game came in the fourth quarter of a supremely ineffectual offensive effort for both teams. The big boy in 99 looks almost Suh-like as he pushes forward, pulls a little move, and then leaps out to smother Cam Newton and take him down. It’s a textbook power play that brings the oft-used word “explosive” to mind.

 

I’m not gonna forget this hit anytime soon. I don’t think Cam is going to either.

 

Week 9: The Ghost Ship

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Director: Mark Robson
Released: 1943

 

In week 1 of the Haunted Dungeon I made a little jab at Val Lewton for making movies in which you never really “see the monster.” In a way it wasn’t a fair thing to say because Lewton’s real genius efforts were sort of in a league of their own that had nothing to do with jump scares or rubber monster suits.

 

Lewton is primarily known as a producer for RKO, a studio that wasn’t Poverty Row, but wasn’t one of the big players either. He’d take wonderfully lurid titles thought up by company brass and then generally work those pulpy monikers into highly cerebral and atmospheric thrillers and horror films. Today he’s best known for Cat People (1942), but my very favorite Lewton films are the ones without any hint of the supernatural at all.

 

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The Ghost Ship is one of those films. The title evokes all sorts of eerie happenings and ghoulish goings-on, but in reality the film deals with something far more terrifying than ghosts or goblins: human psychosis.

 

Lewton was the king of atmosphere, and here he builds unbelievable amounts of suspense, dread, and foreboding with noir-ish cinematography and a ship captain (Richard Dix) who is mentally unstable and incompetent to such a degree that the lives of his entire crew are in jeopardy.

 

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The salty world of sailors is a fun one to dabble in and the depths of psychology involved really cut to the quick with a frightening combination of megalomania and cowardice interwoven into the nut-job captain. It’s a level of insight that goes far beyond the film’s b-picture trappings to make it worthy of Hitchcock’s brainier forays like Rebecca (1940) or Marnie (1964).

 

There’s also a nice device in one of the more visually interesting seamen, Finn the Mute (Skelton Knaggs), narrating the story through interior monologue. The effect comes off as cheesy initially, but grows more powerful and poignant as the picture progresses.

 

Ghost-Ship

 

If this is your kind of thing I also highly recommend the Lewton films Isle of the Dead (1945) and especially The Seventh Victim (1943).

 

I couldn’t find a trailer online but you can cop the whole flick here:

 

 


Fantasy Football Draft Strategies

Written by :
Published on : August 1, 2016

 

 

Thank God, football is coming back. And with it, comes the evil step brother known simply as fantasy. Many drafts are still weeks away but some crazy leagues do them at the start of training camp. So it’s not too early to start talking about it, even though my girlfriend would disagree. But for once, this isn’t about her. This is all about the fantasy football draft and how you should decide to pick players. I’m talking Winston Churchill war room level. The draft is one of the biggest determining factors to who wins the championship. Waiver wire is hugely important but if you select a top trio of QB, RB, WR and they all stay healthy and productive then your path to a trophy is much easier. The big question is, who do you take? And when?

 

If the draft scares you or you think this sounds like too much work then just set your team to auto-draft and sleep easy. We call these people “draft dodgers.” To be fair, I’ve had some pretty decent squads the few times I let the computer pick. My first team back in 2003 was auto drafted and I made the playoffs. Another year, I was hungover and a slept through the draft. Still made the playoffs. Damn, maybe the robots know more than me? Fuck that. I reject that theory. Let’s get to business.

 

1st pick

 

The old fantasy football draft rule was go running back, running back with your first two picks. This is still a viable route because the value of a solid RB is unmatched. Then we saw freak wide receivers and quarterbacks going in the top ten. Players like Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson changed the game. These guys are fantasy studs. No question. But is it smart to use your first pick on a WR or a QB? I say no, because of the the drop off between the production of ball-carriers versus other positions is way out of balance.

 

That means a top QB may get 30 points in a week while a waiver QB may score 20. But when it comes to RB’s it will be a difference of 30 to 3. If you play in a 10+ team league then there just aren’t quality and consistent players available to add. You can find a serviceable QB while there will be zero starting RB’s. For example, last year, I used a combo of Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick (both claimed off the waiver wire) in the final weeks and playoffs. They equaled or out performed my highly drafted competition. I also won the championship. There will always be these type of finds.

 

So, your first pick should be a running back. You can never guess who will get hurt but try and draft someone with a decent o-line and hopefully, a short injury history.

 

2nd pick

 

With your second pick, go either a top pass-catcher (WR/TE) or another clear starting RB. If the back is in a timeshare situation then I go with the receiver who is most likely to either see higher volume and or lots of red zone targets.

 

Note: tight end is another role that has little middle class. Getting an every week starter is a blessing. One less slot to stress over. Just leave Gronk in the lineup until the bye.

 

3rd pick

So we have an elite running back, a big WR and we are back on the clock. I’d still go after a RB. There are lots of attractive QB’s and number two wideouts but they will mostly be there next round. Get that other bell cow now and then you can move to deep threats while everyone else is scrambling and buying high on guys who only see 10 carries a game.

 

4th round and beyond

So far we picked RB, WR, RB. Now get that TE. The top three names will be gone but there’s plenty talent left. If for some reason, all good the tight ends are drafted then grab another WR or your favorite of the remaining QB’s. These are the suggestions for next round anyways. After rounds 4 or 5, it’s hard to recommend position picks, mainly because we don’t know what the board will look like. The draft is all about finding value.

 

The one stat that would best explain this concept is the baseball metric WAR (Wins Above Replacement). WAR relates to a players performance against the average athlete. Keep that idea in mind when you are picking. Where are you finding the best values? And don’t fall into trends. If WR’s are going like hot cakes, don’t sell out your plan just to not be left out. Because after all those teams have receivers, they are going to start taking the other things you need. Stick to your guns.

 

The double down and handcuffing

 

No, I’m not talking about a wild weekend in Las Vegas, I mean the double down aka the double dip, which is drafting players on the same team. Like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. So when Ben tosses a TD to Antonio, you get points from both players for one touchdown. It’s nice when it can happen but I try and not count on it. Don’t move up/change your draft plan just for a double down. The NFL season is crazy. Tons will get hurt, traded, arrested. Who knows. Diversity is key to a deep squad. Don’t bet the farm on Tony Romo playing all year with Dez Bryant.

 

Handcuffing is when you draft the backup to a popular player. Just in case they get injured. I like this for one skill player per roster. Find that guy you would be screwed without and invest in their nightmare. Look, if your first round pick goes down and someone else scoops the backup then your team lost a huge asset and you handed it to your jerk friend. At least this way, no other franchise gains because of your loss.

 

Wrap up

Take backs early and often, then top pass catchers and more backs. Wait on the QB and stock up on depth. Standard formats see lineups with two RB and two WR with one TE and a FLEX (can be any RB, WR, TE) so it makes sense to address the biggest need. Yes to hand cuffing but no to the double down. And always beware of the celebrity trap. It tricks us, makes us take Russell Wilson too early or draft a defense in the 6th round. Stay strong and you can get through this.

 

Champs

 

 


What lies ahead for the Lions’ defense?

Written by :
Published on : May 5, 2016

 

 

By most accounts, the Detroit Lions 2016 offseason has been a successful, if not earth shattering. Gone are Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew, and with them the last vestiges of the dark period in the team’s history when Matt Millen crippled the franchise with his inept management of the roster. In their place is a man named Bob Quinn, who the Lions signed as their new GM, stealing him away from the New England Patriots’ organization. He has proven to be a prudent team manager and seems to have the franchise headed in the right direction.

 

Faced with the loss of Calvin Johnson, one of the greatest wide receivers in the history of the NFL, Quinn acted quickly by signing Marvin Jones, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals. While no one man can replace the monster they call Megatron, the fact is that Jones was the best option on the market and provides a nice, sure-handed, one-two-punch, along with Golden Tate.

 

Bob Quinn also made good on his promise to improve the offensive line, by selecting offensive tackle, Taylor Decker out of Ohio State in the first round of the NFL draft last week. He also added a former rival of Decker, the center out of Michigan, Graham Glasgow in the third round. Decker should start at right tackle from day one and Glasgow should light a fire under the ass of the underachieving Travis Swanson.

 

 The Lions’ new right tackle.

 

So the offensive side of the ball is pretty set and seems to be in good hands. But what about the Lions’ defense?

 

This doesn’t seem so clear cut. The Lions lost starting cornerback Rasheen Mathis to retirement, and safeties James Ihedigbo and Isa Abdul-Quddus to free agency. They also haven’t made a move to re-sign defensive end Jason Jones and announced that they would eventually cut middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, though he still remains on the roster.

 

In the trenches moves were made to re-sign an aging Haloti Ngata and a question mark (due to being injured most of last season) in Tyrunn Walker at defensive tackle. The team also signed Stefan Charles and drafted what lookd like a 45 year old man, Kimbo Slice impersonator and second round steal, A’Shawn Robinson to join an already crowded middle of the trenches along with Caruan Reid and Gabe Wright. That’s a lot of big boys in the middle of the defense.

 

 Kimbo, is that you?

 

What they haven’t done is pay much attention to the defensive end position. The team still has standout Ziggy Ansah, as well as Devin Taylor, both of whom are slated to start at this point. While Ansah is an obvious starter, I’m not so sure about Devin Taylor. He has developed into a solid rotational player in his three years since being drafted out of South Carolina, but he has never been a starter and I would be more comfortable with him in a backup role. Behind those two are Kerry Hyder and Wallace Gilberry, who don’t exactly inspire fear in the hearts of opposing offensive linemen.

 

Why so much attention given to the defensive tackle position and seemingly so little to the defensive ends? I think the answer may have something to do with a shifting of defensive philosophy by the team and their defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

 

Historically, the team has run a 4-3 defense with four down linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs. This has been a pretty standard defensive set for most of the history of football. The team has given the indication that they may begin running a lot more of a base nickel package like they did in the year that Stephen Tulloch hurt his knee by doing the discount double check. This involves running with five defensive backs and two linebackers, and would give the team a chance to showcase second year nickelback Quandre Diggs. But I think the team may be headed in the direction of using the 3-4 defense.

 

 Can Ziggy cut it as a 3-4 outside linebacker?

 

Perhaps some of the many defensive tackles on the roster are indeed slated to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. Robinson and Walker could easily slide in at defensive end in the new scheme and, in theory, Ziggy could switch to being a pass rush specialist at the outside linebacker position. I’m sure many people, like me, have reservations about moving someone who is still relatively new to the game of football, and just now starting to get a strong grasp on his current position, to a new spot in the defense but with Ansah’s size, speed and athleticism, I think it just might work.

 

That would leave Kyle Van Noy to play the other outside linebacker and DeAndre Levy and Tahir Whitehead in the middle, with all the other defensive linemen and linebackers as reserves and rotational pieces. If Van Noy (this is a big if) can show a bit of development from last season this could be a pretty scary front seven with a ton of speed and athleticism. I can just see Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Teddy Bridgewater shaking in their cleats.

 

None of us really know whats going to happen with the team until we get to training camp but hey, what else do we have to do in May but speculate about our favorite teams. While I’m not a huge proponent of the 3-4 defense, I’m a big fan of doing whatever it takes to win football games and destroy the opposing quarterback (I’m looking at you, Rodgers). And if making some changes in the defensive scheme is the best way to do that, then I have full faith in the judgement of Teryl Austin. Let’s just hope that he knows what he’s doing with this group because there is too much talent on this roster to justify another year without a trip to the playoffs.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Review ‘N Brew: Weeks 11 and 12

Written by :
Published on : December 4, 2015

 

All right gang, this week you get a two’fer seeing as how I take off the entire week of Thanksgiving every year come hell or high water. After the belt is loosened, the naps slept, and the leftovers properly sandwiched, I’ve got fat reserves a-go-go to bring you the greatest plays from the NFL’s weeks 11 and 12, respectively.

 

 

Week 11: Matt Hasselbeck Flips to Ahmad Bradshaw for 7 Yard TD

Bradshaw for the TD!

 

VIDEO: HERE

 

If you’re gonna pull a comeback it needs to start somewhere. This time, the Colts three point victory over the Falcons got off the ground thanks to an old familiar face. Ahmad Bradshaw turns to Hasselbeck, as the replacement QB is about to get run-over under pressure, and catches the quick shovel pass. It ain’t too difficult for Bradshaw to take it seven yards to the house with two big blockers and a lot of green in front of him.

 

It certainly doesn’t look like a planned screen to me, and regardless whether or not it was, it took some quick reflexes and smarts on the part of both Hasselbeck and Bradshaw to pull it off. If Bradshaw can remain a viable back, it certainly takes some pressure off fellow old-timer Frank Gore, and would give the Colts a more successful running game down the stretch.

 

 

Week 12: Chris Ivory Refuses to Be Tackled

He won’t be stopped!

 

VIDEO: HERE

 

Chris Ivory has always been a beastly downhill runner, and he really lives up to his rep with this diehard effort. The play doesn’t look great to start as Dolphins linebacker Neville Hewitt bolts through a hole in the line, but Ivory manages to elude Hewitt, making him whiff on the tackle. Ivory gains a few, and by all rights should be stopped as the Jets back runs afoul of three linemen attacking from three different directions. Inexplicably Ivory twists out of this and gets free. Throw in one more missed tackle by linebacker Kelvin Sheppard and you’ve got a Review ‘N Brew worthy highlight on your hands.

 

Of course Ivory deserves all the credit and respect on the play, but there’s something troubling in the listlessness shown by a defense that some thought would be an elite squad at the beginning of the season…

 

 

Weeks 11 and 12: A Ceramic Mug of Congealed Turkey Gravy Melted in the Microwave

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Another sweet sweet Lions win in the books, and a blowout on Thanksgiving to boot! Every bite of turkey tasted like an eagle, and every mouthful of fluffy mashed potatoes like Chip Kelly’s fragile dreams. That night I gave thanks to Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Matthew Stafford, and especially Ziggy Ansah. There was even room in my heart for Joique Bell and Stephen Tulloch. Commensurate to the room in my belly for pumpkin pie (whipped cream, please.)

 

On Thanksgiving, that most pigskin friendly of holidays, I ate and drank my fill. Fine wines and side dishes, brewskies and desserts: all traveled merrily down my gullet as I celebrated with friends and family. I didn’t want it to end. I never want Thanksgiving to end.

 

One of Calvin’s three touchdowns on Thanksgiving

 

That night I couldn’t sleep, as I was unsurprisingly afflicted with indigestion. I crept downstairs and watched highlights from the day’s games. Poor Tony Romo. Bears win at Lambeau! I opened the fridge, but I wasn’t hungry. I was now possessed by either the spirit of the holiday, or by the ghost of a vengeful Native American exiled from his homeland after lending a helping hand to the pale-faced new arrivals.

 

I pulled a tupperware of gravy from the fridge and a spoon from the drawer. The cold gravy, once so warm and velvety, had now become the texture of jelly as the turkey grease congealed around the flour and mushroom chunks. This wouldn’t do. Not one bit. I looked for an appropriate receptacle and came upon a ceramic coffee mug. Inspired, I started spooning gobbet after gobbet of the meat slurry into the cup. 30 microwavable seconds later the gravy had returned to its former glory, with the mushrooms proudly floating atop my beautiful brown elixir. The aroma of rendered fowl fat was intoxicating.

 

I drank and I drank. I sucked up that damned gravy in one go. Sated, I hit replay on the day’s Lions highlights, smiling with joy between grimaces brought on by chest pains. Tomorrow would be a rough one, but right now everything was just as it should be.

 

 


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