Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2012

But The Flesh Is Weak: Cronenberg's Body Horrors

Body horror; something that effects each one of us as we are made of squishy, fallible, and finite flesh. Tackled many times in many ways throughout the years, body horror will stick with us until we finally learn to lose these weak, human bodies and begin existing in some other form.

There are many lenses through which to view body horror, lets talk about a few quickly before talking about some specific films in this genre.


Science and Technology
We depend on technology, especially in regards to our flimsy, fleshy bodies. Hip replacements, new hearts, brain surgery, iron lungs, cheek implants, etc. We have limited abilities and a limited lifespan, so we lean on technology to increase both. But what happens when we take that melding of mechanical and organic too far? Horror and scifi have taught us that going too far can lead to frighteningly devastating consequences and monstrous creations. (SpeciesRobocopFrankenstein, etc.)


Gender
Much of body horror is related to or revolves arou…

My Belated Friday the 13th Post

The great trifecta of horror: Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, & Friday the 13th. I've been tackling them, one at a time, and being that yesterday was (in fact) Friday the 13th, it seemed a fitting time to finally write about the movie.

Before I jump into the movie itself, let's talk for a minute about why these three film franchises are so very important to the horror genre. Each falls into the subgenre of "slasher films" which are commonly believed to have grown out of Psycho and Peeping Tom. The ways in which they conform to and break free of that genre makes them interesting, influential, and lasting.

Everything about these movies, down to their names, is designed to elicit fear in it's viewers.

Halloween - A day when it's believed that sprits can walk the Earth amongst the living.
Directed by John Carpenter. Released in 1978.

What's it got?
Halloween is remarkably "un-gory" (much like Psycho itself.) Being considered a large piece of &…

"American Independent Film, 1999" - Movie Review: Love and Death on Long Island

Unfortunately for some really great films their trailers do them an enormous disservice.  This was the case with Love and Death on Long Island.  From the trailers I envisioned a totally different film then what I saw when I put the movie in.  I was pleasantly surprised when I began watching Love and Death, it was touching without being pathetic and sappy.  I actually found myself really drawn into the movie; I cared about the characters – more specifically, I cared what happened to John Hurt’s character.  His performance made the movie for me, without him I wouldn’t have been so moved.  
Hurt took the “psycho” out of obsession for me.  He played Giles down to something human and not dangerous and sick.  Although he was so old, and Ronnie so young, he never came across as a “dirty old man.”  There was something very young about his character – something very like a teen girl: watching all of Ronnie's movies repeatedly, memorizing all Ronnie's sats, switching his brand of cigaret…

More Childhood Trauma Brought To You By The 80's (And Poltergeist)

Last month I wrote about haunted house movies and a few nights ago I wrote about Nightmare on Elm Street so it feels somehow fitting that tonight I talk about Poltergeist. (A haunted house movie from my childhood.)

Proving, yet again, that my view of the world is strangely skewed, I actually think of Poltergeist as a, "kid's movie." But I've heard plenty of my friends classify this movie as, "one that screwed me up as a kid." or "a movie that scared the crap out of me when I was growing up."

On a related note, did you know that Poltergeist is turning 30 this year? While it's commonly accepted that the movie is still wildly popular, I'd love to get my hands on some stats from places like Netflix, confirming how many people are still watching and enjoying it.

I suspect there's a couple of major reasons that people still love Poltergeist:
Spielberg. Regardless of which rumors you believe about his level of involvement in the film, it simp…

My First Love, Nightmare on Elm Street

The first horror movie I ever became fanatical about was Nightmare on Elm Street. Over the years, I've probably watched this movie a hundred times and I never get tired of it. (Freddy looming over Nancy while she sleeps in Tina's bed. Tina appearing in the school hallway wearing a bloody body bag. Dick jokes. Nancy booby trapping her house. And Freddy himself. Awesome, awesome stuff.) I can recite nearly every line of dialogue, much to the dismay of my friends.

All those little, nerdy details fanatics know about things, I know about this movie: what's Nancy watching? (The Evil Dead trailer). What makes the dream stairs "gooey"? (300 lbs of Pancake batter). Production schedule? (A little under a month). Earnings? (About $26 million). Freddy's glove? (Made of upside down steak knives. There was one "real" glove and two "fakes"). The blood when Glen is killed? (The room is upside down and the blood is pouring in but it was so heavy that it m…

Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!

I like to keep my readers (how pretentious does that sound?!) on their toes so I thought I'd write about a movie that changed my life and isn't a horror movie. Auntie Mame.

Everything about this movie continues to charm me years after first watching it. The idea that life has so much to offer and everyone should explore every possible option is, and pardon my soft side here, completely inspiring. The character of Auntie Mame, with her fearless enthusiasm for exploring and tackling new adventures, gave me a place to set the bar for myself. I consider myself lucky to have grow up in a household where trying new things, exploring new cultures and places, and continually learning new things was highly encouraged.

My life was anything but boring growing up and I remember watching Auntie Mame thinking how terribly boring "normal life" seemed and how my biggest fear was growing up and into such a mundane existence. I feel drawn to the life Auntie Mame creates for her nephe…

"have you read sutter cane?" or "do you know tyler durden?"

1995 was a pretty good year for horror thanks primarily to In The Mouth of MadnessLord of Illusions, and one of my all time favorites, Demon Knight.

For some reason, in my head I always confuse In The Mouth of Madness & Lord of Illusions. Don't ask me why but when thinking about them I'm always like, "which one is which?" So every once in  a while I need to watch them both to remind myself which is which.

Quick recap of each before we dig in
In The Mouth of Madness: Directed by John Carpenter (win.) and starring Sam Neill (double win.)
$.25 version of the story - Writer creates books that make people go crazy.

Lord of Illusions: Directed by Clive Barker (mega win!) and staring Scott Bakula (okay, small win.)
$.25 version of the story - Magicians do creepy things.

Honestly, you'd think I'd be able to keep those two things clear in my head! Ugh.

So, In The Mouth of Madness. While there's plenty of great elements to look at, if you keep up with my blog th…

Waxwork, A Perfect Moment in 80's Horror Cinema

"Waxwork" is simply a beautiful example of the 80's horror/comedy genre; completely charming in it's goofiness yet somehow engaging in its "scare factor."  I fell in love with this movie when I first watched it at around 11 years old or so.

I know. I know. You're rolling your eyes right now because you've probably ignored or forgotten this movie all together but I'm here to shed some light on why you should give it a chance.

Actors we know and love
"Waxwork" is peppered with genre actors whom we have come to adore:

Dana Ashbrook (who would go on to star in Twin Peaks);Deborah Foreman (fresh off of April Fool's Day); Zach Galligan (of Gremlins fame); David Warner (where do I even begin!? the Omen, Tron, Time Bandits, My Best Friend Is a Vampire - you name it, he was probably in it.);John Ryhs-Davies (equally as prolific as David Warner but let's sum it up with Indiana Jones and Lord of The Rings.)A tolerable story Riddled with lu…

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Or If You Can't Fuck, Kill.

Like any good horror fan, I love the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Not only a fantastic horror flick but, a seminally important one to the horror genre, TCM is one of my all-time favorite movies. But today, I'll be ranting about a different animal altogether: the sequel.

"Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" is a comment on gender politics, the nature of sexuality, and how these concepts are taught to us at home (by our families, however bizarre they may be).

As I've talked a bit about in other blogs, psychos and sociopaths have issues with human interaction and thus lack any relationship skills or experience. But these human monsters still have carnal urges and when they are faced with those urges and their inability to fulfill them, they kill.

"Monsters" aren't socially allowed to have relationships and therefore are terribly, sexually frustrated.

When Leatherface has Stretch cornered in the radio station, she initially fears he'll kill her…

"I live, I love, I slay & I am Content."

Let me tell you a little about myself; something real about the home I grew up in. There were lots of people around all the time. I was the only child. And, thankfully, I wasn't treated as such. Much like today, I was just the shortest member of the household.

But what's that really mean? Above and beyond it means that I had many influences growing up. For this entry, my father's influence is the most important.

My father loves arms and armor. He loves history and mythology and the art of warfare. And as any good father would, he shared these passions with me as a kid. I remember him making me wooden swords to play with. We played chess together. And I remember him reading me Greek myths and comic books before bed. He also shared his nerdy love of scifi, fantasy, and horror movies with me.

For all of this, I am grateful. And I am now passionate about the same things.

Spoiler alert: the following statement is not a dick joke. I have a love of swords. And barbarians and slay…

The Greatest Love Of All: Or Why American Psycho Works As a Book & a Movie

I've never explicitly written about "American Psycho" - although I have talked a bit about it in some of my plan papers. Considering my movie pedigree, I feel like this blog entry is long overdue.

Let me first write that I love this movie. I crave it. I watch it multiple times a year. I never get tired of it. I have bits of dialogue repeating in my head on a daily basis. I've actually used, "I have to return some video tapes" as an excuse to get out of an already awkward situation.

Confession: the first time I saw "American Psycho", I hadn't read the book. As someone who was raised with a love of reading, I feel like a terrible person writing that. But wait! Don't judge me too harshly; I have since read the book. Actually, I read it almost immediately following my first time watching the movie. I needed to know - what was I missing? A movie this good must have come from a book that's twice as amazing. I opened the book, prepared to com…

Proving Again That In Space - No One Can Hear You Scream

"Event Horizon" came out when I was in high school. I saw it in the theatre with my boyfriend. It was nothing new; just another entry into the horror/scifi cross-over genre. But we loved it none the less.

Let's be honest - there are so many things wrong with this movie:


The Event Horizon is (possibly) the most poorly designed ship in all of scifi history; someone in set design went to town taking the ship from "Alien" and exponentially increasing the haunted-house elements to create a terrifying environment. Too bad no one stopped to ask, "think this thing would fly?" or "why would you have that on a spaceship?"
There's hardly any lighting (the ship is constantly shrouded in darkness).  Some rooms are made of spikes, twisting metal, or otherwise life-threatening elements. The medical bay is filled with what look like instruments of torture. Why is the center of the ship filled with a fish tank reminiscent of that at the Boston Aquarium? W…

Woman in Black or The Most Boring Haunting Story, Ever

When going into a haunted house story you know there's only 4 options:

The location itself is haunted (the land, the country, the world, etc.)The building is haunted (the house, the bunker, the tent, etc.)The inhabitants are haunted (the people, the pets, etc.)Nothing is haunted (it's all in someone's head, faked by an outside source, etc.) Of course, there are nuances, details, and variable elements to each - are we talking about a "haunting" or a "possession"? (Think "Amityville".) But despite the seeming variety of each film, the ending will always be the same. 
But the ending, the big reveal, isn't really the point. It's how you get there. The key element of any scary story is the tension. The suspense. The feelings of imminent horror that builds throughout the film. Without that, you've got nothing. And no one cares.
Unfortunately, the art of weaving a terror tale has somehow dissipated over the years giving way to cheap, jump…