Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

Fatherhood at 5:30am

Yeah, no, this looks like great fun to clean up. This is totally what I wanted to be doing at half-five in the morning.

Thanks, son.


…you kinda look like…



March 31, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 17 Comments

A Political Prisoner

January 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 22 Comments

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, panic spreading far and wide.

It's a snake. I get it.

As logos go, this is elegance incarnate.

Let me explain something to you.

If aliens landed right now, and they were the kind of squiggly slime-beasts that were totally into wiping out mankind, there’s one organisation that I’d want to defend us. It wouldn’t be the US Army, or the ThunderCats, or even the Autobots led by a Powermaster Series Optimus Prime from eBay with all the fiddly gun bits still in the box.

The organisation that I’d want to defend us against space invaders – indeed, the only corporation I actively want to join even now – is Cobra.

Cobra gets a very bad rap, but that’s not always their fault. Their principal opponents are flag-sucking Stars and Stripes wankers with suntans and perfect smiles, and that’s the kind of thing that gets American TV networks spooging all over their safe, safe schedules full of safe, safe programs.

I’m willing to admit that Cobra has its flaws, but what company doesn’t? Yes, their leader’s catchphrase is “Cobra! Retreat!“, but in his defence, they’d all be arrested or killed if they stood around fighting a losing battle. So really, retreating is about the only smart thing you can do in those situations. At least he’s not shouting “Cobra! Surrender!” or “Cobra! Let them take us to Guantanamo Bay for our crimes!

But too often, this is the image people have of Cobra Commander:

I admit, this looks bad.

But that’s all he does? He kicked a dog once, and that’s it? That makes him a bad leader and a useless terrorist mastermind?


Besides, that dog was probably being a dick.

So what is it about Cobra that makes them so awesome? Why do I, a 29-year-old white male, want to join a ruthless terrorist organisation bent on taking over the world?

I’ll tell you why.

First, watch this:

Now, there are several things you can take from this, before we even get into the real shit.

Firstly, notice what’s happening at 0:41.

These are a killer's eyes. And these are a killer's balls.

Cobra Troopers are parachuting down, and that one guy is so badass you don’t simply zoom into his thousand-yard-stare, because he totally catches a thermal, rises up, and descends toward the camera again. And on this second time, you get a close up of his balls.

You might think all terrorists are assholes, but these are the guys that go headfirst into battle, decide that’s just not rad enough, and make it balls-first instead. My point is this: If you don’t think that’s hardcore, then you and I will never be friends.

Judging by all the flashing lights, fireworks and multicoloured balloons floating around the Statue of Liberty, Cobra are apparently committing a parachute assault against a Gay Pride March. I don’t know why this would be, but then, I’m not Cobra Commander. I assume he had his reasons for deploying his private army in such a way. What I find particularly haunting about this naked aggression against gays is that Cobra is, in all ways, an equal-opportunity employer. So maybe they just got their coordinates wrong this once.

But then, a lot of this opening sequence is actually bullshit, and goes against the fundamentally awesome principles of Cobra. Gay-bashing is just one of the things they’d never do.

Look what happens at 0:56.

As if Cobra Troopers didn’t look awesome enough, here’s a Crimson Guard – one of Cobra’s elite soldiers – parachuting down to be off the scale in maximum coolness. They didn’t always wear this armour, by the way. They also acted as deep-cover agents in civilian life, and it was mandatory for all Crimson Guards to have accounting or law degrees. I’m not even kidding. That’s how rad Cobra was: their elite guards also had day jobs as handsome lawyers.

Billy, from Ally McBeal - A captain in the Crimson Guard (Director's Cut only).

But here’s why this cartoon reeks of anti-Cobra propaganda. This guy lands and punches a camera, shattering its helpless glass eye.

That makes no sense. That’s not what Cobra was about. They loved publicity. One of the reasons Cobra was so awesome was that they advertised themselves on TV. They became a sovereign nation. They had their own embassy/office block in some US city that I forget the name of right now. They craved attention. The sky is full of 3,000 parachutes all with the Cobra symbol on them. Does this look like a sneak attack?

There’s no way a Crimson Guard – who, let’s recall, has a law degree – would just touch down and punch out Camera One. That’s not the Cobra I know and love.

Objectively, there’s no way of arguing against the central fact, here. Dressing up like this:

…is the best thing any of us could hope to do in our lives. Which brings me to my next point. Why would I be a soldier in Cobra, but not join the army?

Simple. I couldn’t be trusted in the army.

The reason I could never be trusted in a military situation isn’t because I suck at taking orders (although I do), but because if I was going house-to-house in Fallujah, I wouldn’t be able to control myself. I’d kick in people’s doors and scream “COBRA!” at them while they cowered in fear. At the first sign of conflict, I’d shout “COBRA! RETREAT!” in Cobra Commander’s whiny voice. I just know I would. There’d be no stopping me. Maybe for the first few times, the other guys would laugh. But sooner or later – and probably sooner – they’d just shoot me in the back and say the bad guys did it.

My parents would be told that I’d died a hero’s death, which would be a lie. I’d have died an annoying twat’s death, and it would’ve been a fate I’d earned most richly.

Part of my affection for Cobra is simply that they weren’t G.I. JOE, because the Joes were unbelievably, insufferably uncool. I’d cringe every time they won, because they really didn’t deserve to triumph at all. The Joes were also confusingly American, which I found hard to relate to. They waved that flag every 5 minutes and talked like idiots, while their tagline was “A real American Hero”.

Cobra, on the other hand, were deliciously multinational. Destro was a morally-flexible arms dealing skinhead in a weird silver mask, and as if that wasn’t awesome enough, he was also Scottish. I thought that was a nice touch, though even at a tender age I wondered just what opportunities for gun-smuggling could arise between Carlisle and Aberdeen. Destro also got laid, which was something the Joes never seemed interested in. But Destro, that Scottish ironmonger, was a hit with the only lady worth anything: The Baroness.

After millions of years, evolution finally gets it right.

But the real reason I would willingly swear my life (and indeed, die) for Cobra is that I thought their plans were fucking brilliant. Vision like theirs deserved to be supported.

Each time the Joes foiled them, I’d regard it as some inevitable but disgusting shame, and eagerly await the next caper that would deserve to hand them the world on a plate, while knowing it would ultimately end in a necessary retreat.

Even in this opening sequence, there’s a great plan that deserves to go all the way, cockblocked at the last minute by some square-jawed asshole in an unbuttoned shirt. Here we have Destro giving a bomb to Cobra Commander, which the latter will use to blow up the Statue of Liberty.

Firstly, I admire the sheer ambition of that as a statement of terrorism. I feel like it’s something I could get involved with. Aim high. Live to win. All that good stuff.

Secondly, Cobra Commander jetpacks in to plant the bomb himself, and I think we can all get behind a leader who likes to get his hands dirty once in a while. Note also, at 1:36, Cobra Commander actually plants the bomb while under (pink…) enemy fire, after flying through a massive sky war. That’s not the action of a coward, so again, anyone who says Cobra Commander sucks needs to shut the hell up, and piss off while doing so.

And thirdly, the Statue of Liberty is French, so fuck it. Blow that shit up.

Cobra’s plans were always like this. At one point, Cobra’s very own ninja, Storm Shadow, comes to England and finds Excalibur, which he then promptly uses in an attempt to kill Americans. Did King Arthur intend this? I just don’t know, but it’s an intriguing notion.

Later, when Cobra runs out of money, they set up a heavy metal band – the mighty Cold Slither – in order to brainwash the population with subliminal messages in the music. Why didn’t that work? It should’ve done. The world would be an awesome place if it had.

Gene Simmons fucked Mick Hucknall, and their child is playing a wooden spade.

Here are some of the Slither’s fine lyrics:

“We’re Cold Slither, you’ll be joining us soon,

A band of vipers, playing our tune,

With an iron fist,

And a reptile hiss,

We shall rule.”

Real subtle, guys. Anyway, as with all of Cobra’s plans, something goes wrong. In this case, the members of Cold Slither are too batshit-crazy, and they go from shoving guitars up each others’ asses to simply chainsawing their instruments in half. I can’t be mad at them for that, though. I mean, we were all young once.

Cobra celebrated its weirdness. Ninjas and freaks and bikers and terrorists, all hanging out and trying to take over the world by heavy metal, flamethrowers, chainsaws and accountancy. They’d manipulate the stock market. They’d invade countries. They’d invent bubblegum that turned kids into zombies. All of this was punishingly awesome. I’d be proud to have all of that on my resume’. I’d be honoured to kick in people’s doors and yell “COBRA!” at them, only to retreat if they seemed annoyed.

By contrast the Joes were impossible to relate to. Even their names were related to being an asshole boiling in his own bubbling machismo, or being a sports guy. Roadblock? Beach Head? Big Lob? Gung-Ho ran around in army gear with no shirt on. Falcon and General Hawk were named after birds of prey. Duke – fucking Duke – who the hell is called that in real life? Who’d choose that as their codename? Only the Overlord of Douchebaggery.

And I’m sorry, but “Yo, Joe!” is not a cool thing to yell in the middle of a battlefield. It’s not cool to yell it anywhere, but mid-warfare is surely the stupidest place.

The only good Joe was Snow Job.

"And that's why they call me..."

Snow Job is awesome for all the most obvious reasons. His name means to lie;  to get cocaine snorted off your cock by a hooker; and it sounds a bit like blowjob. Strangely, his wikipedia article has this to say about him:

“He helps the Joes secure weapons grade Plutonium that Cobra was trying to steal. He also tries a to run a minor scam against Rock’N’Roll via getting cash to set him up with Gung-Ho’s sister, a model (who was really nine). After Doc explains the trick, the officer himself says ‘This is why they call me ‘Snow-Job'”.”

I have no idea what that means, but it sounds pretty illegal. So maybe he should just join Cobra? He can leave the 9-year-old girl at the door, though. That’s not cool.

Lastly, even in situations of catastrophic terrorism, it’s not Cobra that causes danger to the public. If you watch that clip, at 0:33, the cobra skythingy arrives and eclipses the moon in what top scientists suspect is a metaphor.


And then Cobra’s guys jump out. All good, right?

That means this is above the Statue of Liberty. Like, directly above it. Whether it’s a Gay Pride march or not is irrelevant. You’ve got people running around everywhere.

I've never met a gay person who dresses this badly.

So how do the good guys solve this problem?

Duke (Ugh, that name…) jetpacks around, takes the bomb, and plants it on the bottom of the Cobra airship.

"Only 8 seconds left!" "Must... cause... harm to... innocent bystanders..."

So the hero has just set explosives on a massive warship thing that’s hovering over the Statue of Liberty and all the crowds.

That little girl will never see her parents again.

Good game, genius.

And that’s why Cobra is awesome.

On a final note, if Cobra Commander ever came to me and asked if I had any ideas, I’d say “Yes, yes I do.”

Step 1: Breed an army of these:

"Father! Why have you abandoned me by the shore?"

Step 2: Introduce them into every river in some out of the way place, like Burma or whatever.

Step 3: Cobra! Retreat!

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 38 Comments


May 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 19 Comments

Terminator Salvation

Gregory had been trapped under the broken tractor for some time.

So I watched Terminator Salvation recently, and I had no fucking idea what was going on. So… it’s, like, a generic sci-fi action series now? And in the grim darkness of the far future, Terminators aren’t scary? They’re giganto robots and motorcycles and stuff, right? And if you can’t send Terminators back in time with laser guns, why send them back naked? Why not send one of these slightly older models back in time, with guns that weren’t very futurey? No?

Okay, cool.

No, wait. The other thing that isn’t cool. Unbelievably tedious bullshit. Yeah, that’s the one.

Anyway, with great power comes great responsibility, so I rewrote Terminator Salvation, because rebooting franchises is practically all Hollywood can do these days. “Quick, Maguire’s out of the room. Reboot Spider-Man while’s taking a piss.” And I think I got the new theme right, because I’m giving the audience even more of what it wants, which is essentially all of the shit I didn’t.


by Aaron Dembski-Bowden


We see two guys crouched in the ruins. One of them is JOHN CONNOR, who looks – and for some strange reason talks – just like Batman. The other guy is KYLE REECE, who instead of being awesome is an annoying child.


Fucking terminators, man.




Hey, I know you, kid. Didn’t you play Chekov in the Star Trek reboot?


Yeah, that was me. Didn’t you play Batman in the Batman reboot?


Yeah, but now I’m John Connor in the Terminator reboot. Hey. Hey, do the thing.


Is this a reboot? I’m not sure. Anyway, what thing?


Yeah, you know. Like, say words wrong, or whatever. Like in Star Trek.


Ensign Pavel Chekov, code Weektor, Weektor Fife.


Ha! Victor Victor Five. Haha! Russian people.

Kyle raises his future gun, and is all like:


Fuck me, a terminator!


Damn it! It’s one of the new models!

The new terminator model stalks through the ruins on a carpet of skulls. The camera pans up to reveal its synthetic face. It’s JEFF BRIDGES. He occasionally quotes The Big Lebowskibecause people liked that film and it’s illegal to come up with new ideas.


Humans detected. This aggression will not stand.

Kyle and John look like they want to bail.


I want to bail.


Okay, let’s bail.

They bail. Both resistance freedom fighters make a break for it, running across the ruined city. The terminator shoots after them, doing that movie-shooting, where bullets skid along the ground so it looks awesome when the bad guys inevitably miss by miles.

While running, Kyle gets plugged in the back. In the fucking spine, even. He goes down like a sack of kicked crap.


My bones!


Shit sandwiches.

Suddenly, from some awesome sniping position, a sniper snipes the terminator with a sniper rifle. The sniper round takes the terminator in the eye.


Ow! Fucking fascist!

The terminator goes down. There’s the requisite several seconds of a machine gun firing up into the air and all around, until it finally lies still.


Kyle, man, can you stop the bleeding?

Kyle lies in a pool of blood the size of Norway. There are guts and stuff. It’s real intense. It’s like a real war, but better, because of being in the future.  Blood pisses out in interesting arcs of arterial spray. He convulses and stuff. It’s pretty extreme, and should probably be in the trailer.


Just get me on my feet, Jay. I can make it. I can make this shit. They’ve got to pay for Judgement Day.

John helps Kyle to his feet. The sniper emerges from the ruins, and it’s BRENDA, played by Olivia Wilde, who is straight-up one of the hottest women in the world. If I was in the same room as her, man, her bodyguards would need to gun me down faster than Bin Laden on a White House tour.


Brenda! It’s you!


Hey, I know you. You’re in the Tron reboot.

KYLE REECE (dying)





Tron Legacy… is… a sequel… dickhead.

Kyle dies. “My Heart Will Go On” plays, or something else pretty emotional to make girls care about stuff.


Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! FATHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Come on, Skynet will hear you.




Come on!


I have to bury him and say good words.


There’s no time! Skynet might hear the good words!


You’re right. You’re… you’re so right.

John and Kyle are done, professionally. John rises to his feet, and leaves his friend/future dad in the dust and skulls. It’s a metaphor, a powerful one.


We’ll take my car!

A car pulls up, though it’s more of a pickup truck, which proves this is America, because they don’t really exist anywhere else. The driver is DUKE BLACK, played by Edward Norton.


Get in!

John gets in. So does Olivia Wil– Brenda, but a nearby terminator opens fire, and her clothes get shredded. Go for a PG-13, because I want to see her rocking tits at this point. It’s essential for character development.


They’ve found us! Someone must have made noise… The car engine maybe…


Let’s burn rubber!

They drive away and skid or whatever. Skulls go rolling from under the tires, and across all the other skulls on the floor. It’s pretty extreme, and also a metaphor.


Duke, man, I know you.


You don’t know me.


You played Bruce Banner in the Hulk reboot.



Terminator robocycles come screaming out of the ruins, because terminators are robocycles now. Twin miniguns, which is a dumb name for the biggest machine guns of all time, fold out and start shooting shit up. Tires blow out, and there’s more skidding. It’s pretty extreme.


Shit, they’re robocycles now. I’m glad Skynet never sent these back in time to kill me all those times. It would have been over at the end of the first chase scene.

The pick up truck totally explodes. In a cool, calm bit amongst the flames, Duke tries to crawl to safety, but dies.


Must… warn… Resistance… Must… tell them… the truth…

He dies. The music is real sad, and it’s pretty extreme, but also sorrowful. In the wreckage, Brenda is on her back, her remaining clothes are sort of burned up and gone. She’s dying, but it’s all internal so it doesn’t look gross. John is next to her.


At least I got to have you, Johnny.


Well, we didn’t really.


Make it quick.

They kiss in slow motion, in the flames. It’s totally going into the trailer. Girls will love it because it’s true love, with him kissing her even though they’re in the fire, and guys will love it because John ruthlessly gives it to her right there, and they do it for ages, and you see it all. She’s shaved.


That was hot.


I’m not done yet.

John finishes. He’s done now.


I’m done now.


That was so hot.

John looks at the flames around them and smiles handsomely. He gets the joke. When he looks back to Brenda, she’s dead.



There’s a noise, maybe footsteps or future walking or whatever. John’s all like:


Fuck, Skynet heard me.

Another Jeff Bridges terminator comes over to him and aims his gun down. He smiles, and it might be because he was watching John and Brenda porking softly. But he doesn’t shoot, and it’s a mystery.


Kill me! I hate you terminators!


No, John. You are a terminator.

John gets a scrap of broken mirror and sees his reflection. His face is all skinned and stuff, showing the roboskull beneath.


But… it makes no sense… It’s not a very good story…





It starts to rain. There’s a voiceover as stuff goes into slow motion.


I knew I could beat this. I knew I could beat the machine. I knew I could cure myself of the robotics inside me.


There was a storm coming, and everything was going get all wet. But I knew if I kept fighting, I’d stay dry.

Roll credits.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 17 Comments