Category Archives: horror movies

The Collection, and My Cautious Excitement For It.

EDIT (7/17/13): Having finally watched this movie, I will say that I DID like it. As far as the torture genre goes, there was really only one scene I can recall with any sort of prolonged grossness, and it was camptastic. The movie has a very anti-authoritarian feel that makes me think of such 90s cult classics as Disturbing Behavior and The Faculty. BUT, I did get a few details wrong in this post. The female lead from The Collection is not the same little girl from the Collector. The new film picks up very close after where the last left off.

So last Halloween, I watched The Collector for the first time. What struck me was that: A) the protagonist didn’t piss me off, B) The villain was mysterious and scary enough to take him seriously, and C) The concept of a murderer who utilized deadly and sadistic traps was pretty damn awesome. If you think some of the Collector’s style is a bit too derivative of the Saw series, let me just stop you there. First of all—Saw one-through-whatever was terrible. Second, Jigsaw never captured his victims with traps, he always knocked them out, and placed them in a deadly and controlled environment of his own making.

The Collector’s methodology is completely different, at least under the parameters of the first film. First, he enters a strange environment—a rich family’s home—and rigs it with booby traps. The variability of just how the family members will be caught and when is so high that the Collector doesn’t really have absolute control over the environment. Also, unlike Jigsaw, his motives for killing are unknown. Like Michael Myers, the Collector seems to be some otherworldly man capable of surviving the impossible to do the unthinkable. Here’s the trailer for the first movie:

Now, here are some spoilers for some of you who haven’t watched the movie yet (and I recommend that you do!)

In the first film, as some of you may know, a thief by the name of Arkin enters a rich family’s home due to circumstances forcing him to end his abstinence from crime. But things take a turn for the worst when a slasher appears to murder the entire family. Our protagonist has a choice—leave and save his own skin, or stay and help the people who treated him like dirt and who he planned to rob. In true Hero fashion, our man stays, and through his efforts, he is at least able to save the youngest of the family, a little girl named Hannah.

The big twist at the end was that the Collector was not done. No. Instead of our Hero riding off into the sunset, our maniacal slasher appears to kidnap Arkin and put him in the infamous Last Survivor’s Chest.

Now in the new movie, The Collection, which you can watch the trailer for below, Arkin seems surprisingly whole and well. He’s even brought in to police as a sort of “expert” on the Collector, having been one of the few to survive his attacks. I’m truly curious to see how they explain Arkin’s escape from the villain at the end of the first film. And he isn’t the only one who makes a “return”. In the Collection, Hannah makes a return as a young adult. The trailer shows her heading off to some underground rave, but—surprise surprise! The Collector is there, and with a nasty trap for the crowd.

I suppose Arkin is assuming his role as protagonist again, which is fine by me. But I wonder if the charm that the original Collector had will be lost as the story enters into that scary and soulless world of franchises. It’s written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan once more, with Dunstan directing again as well, and while I try to ignore their involvement with the Saw franchise, I still fear that the new school slasher film with old school roots will become hackneyed and ridiculously commercial.

Okay it’s safe now. 🙂

The other day, I was watching the Hellraiser series inspired by Clive Barker’s novella, The Hellbound Heart, (which is currently available in totality on Netflix’s Instant Watch, by the way.) Now while it is the lowest grossing slasher franchise to date, it’s still perhaps my second favorite, wedged right underneath Halloween, and just above A Nightmare on Elm Street. Why? It was because it’s iconic character, the Pinhead, was not a mute beast who killed with no reason. He had a reason: he was a creature of hell, and he reveled in inflicting the most extreme pain as a form of pleasure. Nothing convoluted or hard to understand about that, right? Even Michael Myers reason for existence seems muddied and confused throughout his long tale, but not Pinhead’s. And as he would put it:

The other reason I like Hellraiser so much is for its use of live special effects. No CGI, no fast cuts, no cutting corners. Everything in Hellraiser is right there for you to see, and it is horrifically imaginative: A woman whose throat is sliced upon and held that way by wire flossed through both her cheeks; a tall and muscular being with no facial features save for twisted skin and a lipless mouth whose teeth ceaselessly chatter; a fat and disgusting creature wearing black glasses whose stomach looks like a victim of circumcision gone wrong. The deaths, while at times over the top and cheesy, were still imaginative, and the special effects did an excellent job of furthering the atmosphere of evil and extreme violence. Throughout its series, I thought Hellraiser managed to retain these qualities.

Will the Collector be able to do this too? I was rather happy with the first movie, and while I’m sort of excited for the sequel, due for release in November 30th this year, I just hope that Dunstan manages to keep his original vision from escaping him. I mean, yes, he was involved with the craptascular Saw franchise of which I loathe, but he was also the co-writer of Feast, which I love to gory little bits. I haven’t seen Feast 2, so I cannot comment on that as far as quality goes. I just hope that the Collector is able to retain some integrity as the horror industry’s “sequelitis” worms its way into the picture.

Halloween is right around the corner kiddies, and it’s my favorite time of year. Expect to hear me talking about spooky things more and more as the clock winds down to October 31st. I’ll probably due a full review on Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, which I’m totally stoked for. I’ll detail the reasons why later, but for now. I’m done. Steam is doing a free-to-play weekend for Saints Row the Third and I wanna know if this game is worth even half of the hype it got when it came out.

By the way, Akumu Love Panic! is at some 2500 words so far! Nearly done, whoo! As for Eikasia? Uhh…wellllll….

I’m working on it. >_<

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THIS IS NOT AN EXIT – American Psycho Further Explored

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“We really don’t care to know if you’re afraid of Virginia Woolf. Stay home and freak out. Buy a Chainsaw.”

So in my recent trip through dark cinema, I once again touched on American Psycho, and for some morbid reason felt the need to fight through the novel the film was based on. While it is as mind-numbingly shallow and violent as I remember, I managed to (sort of) read the whole thing this time. I read much of the beginning, then about 50-60 pages in, started skipping forward through scenes I perceived as boring. I didn’t just skip forward for Bateman’s depraved acts against humanity, but some of the black humor tucked away in all the banality of yuppie culture. Like when he tries to speak “ebonics” to two black men, when he writes a racist haiku, when Luis Carruthers confesses his love to Patrick, when Patrick breaks up with Evelyn, when Bateman and Price try to get high off of Sweet n’ Low, the sudden and outrageous admissions that Bateman makes on a regular basis (but whom no one hears or takes seriously), his awkward meeting with Tom Cruise…and lots of other little moments. Not really laugh-out-loud funny, most of this stuff, but still amusing in its own, dry, sardonic, dark way.

I remember trying to read the novel way back when, and at the time, I just couldn’t because I found it morally reprehensible. Well after watching something like A Serbian Film (dear god, avoid that movie at all costs) the scenes were a lot more bearable. I even noted a satirical outrageousness along the lines of Takeshi Miike’s Ichi the Killer where the violence is so over the top as to seem cartoonish. Not to say that any of the rape, torture, or murder scenes made me laugh, but they did paint an interesting picture of a man who can be understood to be a giant black hole. Perhaps my desensitization also allowed me to see the eerie parallels between Bateman’s detached description of his home stereo system, and the violent ways in which he kills his victims. The detached tone helped, I think, in stomaching the otherwise graphic details described in the book.

The only character in the entire book that Bateman seems unable to kill is Jean, his secretary. When I watched the film with my friends back in high school, the theory was made that Bateman spared her because he needed her to keep his illusory life going. At the time I quietly felt that there was more to it than that, and after reading the book, my feelings were reinforced. Why DID Bateman spare Jean, even in his hallucinations? Because Jean was the only person in his life who genuinely cared for him, but more important than that, she was OUTSIDE of the shallow yuppie lifestyle that Bateman was entrenched in, and hated so much. On page 266, Bateman envisions him and Jean running around Central Park on a cool spring afternoon, laughing and holding hands. They buy balloons and let them go, perhaps a symbol for Bateman’s possible salvation (though we know he doesn’t really find this). When Jean is first introduced, Bateman narrates that she will be someone he “will probably end up married to someday”. In the section marked “The End of the 1980s” (pgs 371-380) Bateman has brunch with Jean. In the conversation that follows, Jean confesses her love to Patrick, and Bateman asks her if she owns a briefcase or a roladex. (in his mind, he’s comparing her to Evelyn) Jean replies that she does not own a briefcase, but she does own a roladex. Suspciously, he asks if it is designer. She replies that it isn’t. He feels relieved at this news.

After this conversation, nothing further seems to develop of their relationship, as Bateman slips further into his insanity. I found a very interesting write-up online by Chris Schaffer that explored Bateman’s possibly mental problems. Among those discussed were: Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depersonalization Disorder, and Comorbid Idealization. It goes on to state that Bateman has a weak super-ego and a strong Id, which leads to little restraint when it comes to his violent acts of depravity.

It really explains a lot about his character, and it draws interesting parallels between his psychosis and his career. As one involved in mergers and acquisitions in the 80s, Bateman was in a hyper-masculine world where companies were “violently” taken over, or dominated, and cannibalized. Along with his need to feel powerful and manly, Bateman fears anything that threatens his capabilities and hates everything that is the antithesis of his weak super-ego. When this happens, the metaphorically violent nature of his work becomes manifested literally through his Id, which moves to protect his fragile image. Chris Schaffer goes on to state that everything Bateman states comes from some external source–be that periodicals, television, film, or music. Nothing he says is original, thus resulting in his almost pathetic, cartoonish caricature of a rich yuppie.

Reading the Patrick Bateman wikipedia page, I was surprised to find that there was a series of fake emails collected into what is known as American Psycho 2000, which was meant to be an advertisement campaign for the movie. None of the emails were written by the books author, Ellis, but he approved each of them before their release, so they can be understood as canon. In these emails, it is revealed that Bateman DOES in fact marry Jean, but one child and twelve years later, he is seeking a divorce. He goes through counseling, less for the desire to become “well” and more for the desire to appear well, so that he can gain full custody of his 8-year-old son, Patrick Bateman Jr., often referred to as P.B.. He idolizes his son, believing him to be a beautiful, brilliant child with his father’s sense for high quality. The entire email series is transcribed here.

**For some reason, the site asks for a password. Just click cancel several times, and the popup will go away, allowing you to read. I think the reason it asks for a password is because the images displayed on the site are from a password protected directory of the site-owners. Not entering a password does not bar one from reading the email transcripts, you just won’t be able to see the images in some of them.

The emails are amusing (and is the source of the above quote), and they show an older Patrick who has fallen “out of love” with Jean (if one could say he was ever in love with her). The emails state that Jean, over the years, had changed, essentially becoming one of the shallow, materialistic women that Patrick despised (almost like Evelyn). As stated, Jean cannot get by a month without one hundred and eighty nine thousand dollars a month in alimony. Thus why he wishes for a divorce.

After reading the books and these outside materials, it made me want to watch the movie again. While I think my second attempt at reading Bret Easton Ellis’s novel brought me closer to his message against the materialism, narcissism, the self-destructive behaviors of the upper class, and the deteriorating effects our consumerist society has on humanity, I still prefer the movie over the book.

Please share your thoughts!

“Hey, I’m a child of divorce, gimme a break!”
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Donnie Darko and the Four Basic Functions of Myth

I wrote this for my Historical Archetypes and Mythology class at Full Sail Online. I recently watched Donnie Darko, so when the instructor asked us to find modern examples of Joseph Campbell’s four functions of myth, I went overboard. By the by, have you guys seen the Donnie Darko website? It’s so fucking cool! It gives extra material beyond the movie too, naturally. It makes me really want to get the Director’s Cut DVD. Anyways, before I post my little “analysis”, here’s Campbell’s four functions for those of you who don’t know it:

  • First is the metaphysical function. Myth awakens and supports a sense of awe before the mystery of being. It reconciles consciousness to the preconditions of its own existence. Myth induces a realization that behind the surface phenomenology of the world, there is a transcendent mystery source. Through this vitalizing mystical function, the universe becomes a holy picture.
  • The second is a cosmological dimension deals with the image of the world that is the focus of science. This function shows the shape of the universe, but in such a way that the mystery still comes through. The cosmology should correspond to the actual experience, knowledge, and mentality of the culture. This interpretive function changes radically over time. It presents a map or picture of the order of the cosmos and our relationship to it.
  • Third is the sociological function. Myth supports and validates the specific moral order of the society out of which it arose. Particular life-customs of this social dimension, such as ethical laws and social roles, evolve dramatically. This function, and the rites by which it is rendered, establishes in members of the group concerned a system of sentiments that can be depended upon to link that person spontaneously to its ends.
  • The fourth function of myth is psychological. The myths show how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances. It is this pedagogical function of mythology that carries the individual through the various stages and crises of life, from childhood dependency, to the responsibilities of maturity, to the reflection of old age, and finally, to death. It helps people grasp the unfolding of life with integrity. It initiates individuals into the order of realities in their own psyches, guiding them toward enrichment and realization.

And now my analysis–feel free to contest it or ask questions! If you haven’t seen the movie yet–please do. It’s really good.

Joseph Campbell’s extensive research into world myths led him to write a great deal of theories and observations, all substantiated by his findings. His findings showed that though each culture independently developed their own myths, each followed a similar pattern of initiatory adventures. He further explained that all myths have four basic functions. These were: cosmological, metaphysical, sociological, and psychological.

In modern culture, it can be easy to assume that today’s stories, in whatever form or media they come in, do not follow these patterns or exhibit these functions. But this is not true. George Lucas’s Star Wars is probably the most famous example of a modern day initiatory adventure as defined by Joseph Campbell. Lucas even cited Campbell as being an inspiration and mentor, but far more recent than Star Wars, is the film Donnie Darko.

The psychological function is perhaps easiest to determine in the film,but each of the other three functions can be found as well. The story follows a troubled young teen who begins having visions of a twisted looking rabbit named Frank, who (functioning both as the Herald and the Mentor) warns of impending doom. A plane turbine crashes through the roof of his house, destroying his room while Donnie is out sleepwalking. It is later revealed that the turbine came from a tangent universe, pulled through a time portal by Donnie’s telekinetic power (facts only revealed in the Director’s Cut DVD commentary). The Donnie Darko website goes on to reveal that the turbine is the only thing to survive from the tangent universe. The same plane in the new universe actually remains intact and lands safely. Richard Kelly (the film’s writer), in his DVD commentary, doesn’t outright say whether or not the tangent universe is “real” (as if God were showing Donnie his path and why he had to be killed by the turbine) or if it was a vision.

Donnie also begins seeing the very elements of time and space (fulfilling the cosmological function) and struggles to uncover its secrets before disaster strikes as Frank had warned. This search leads him to not only wrestle with the scientific functions of his world, but with the concepts of free will and the role of God and the mystical nature of the universe (fulfilling the metaphysical function). As a very lonely individual, he clearly struggles with connecting with others and following the conventions of society. But as the story progresses, he succeeds in forming a relationship with the new girl at school, Gretchen, outing Jim Cunningham as a pedophile, following his mother’s wishes to take his medication (after a fight between them makes him feel guilty), working in harmony with his sister to throw a party at their house, reaching out to Grandma Death (the woman who wrote the book that filled his understanding of tangent universes and time and space), and standing up to the school bullies (though all of this inevitably leads to tragedy.) This all fulfills the sociological function. Donnie’s relationships with his family, his girlfriend, his school, and with society at large, are finally reconciled when he realizes that in sacrificing himself, he is actually creating life, thus overcoming his fear of dying alone and achieving his destiny. Collapsing the tangent universe, Donnie goes back in time to when the turbine crashes through the roof, laughing in (what seems hysterical) joy, just before he is killed. This fulfills the psychological function.

Donnie Darko is a very dark and mind-bending story, and even its genre and target audience seems slippery and broad. But through simple analysis, one understands how this tale of death, time travel, and coming-of-age follows Campbell’s initiatory adventure, and satisfies the four functions of myth he outlines. While some may disagree with Campbell’s emphasis on the psychological versus the sociological, and even his somewhat formulaic detailing of an adventure, one cannot deny that his research holds some truth, even in modern day stories.

Sources:

Donnie Darko Analysis: http://www.math.nyu.edu/~neylon/movies/donniedarko3.html

Everything You Were Afraid to Ask About “Donnie Darko”: http://www.salon.com/2004/07/23/darko/

The Donnie Darko official website: http://www.donniedarkofilm.com/

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#3: Penguins and Torture – Misguided escapism and the fall of true horror.

A reader sent Fangoria (a horror movie magazine) this letter discussing Grindhouse’s economic fallout and how movies today don’t even skim the waters of reality:

…To the shock of both film critics and genre fans, Grindhouse had a disappointing opening weekend at the box office.  When something like this is beaten out by an Ice Cube family comedy, you know we’re in trouble!  Does anyone have any answers?  Personally, I believe timing was a major factor; an Easter weekend release was not very smart!  But there’s something more being said here.  Horror fans have been hungry for this sort of film for eons, and to finally have it brought to major theatres—well that’s definetly the icing on the cake!  Or is it?

As I was watching Grindhouse, a couple of things occured to me.  While I thoroughly enjoyed myself, especially during Robert Rodriguez’s Lucio Fulci-esque Planet Terror, I found myself thinking, ‘What’s the point?’  If I want to see a Lucio Fulci film, why don’t I just watch one?  Maybe I was hoping that sharing something like this with the general public might enhance the viewing experience, or perhaps grindhouse movies could possibly go mainstream!  But here’s the real problem:  We’re all sick and tired of remakes and homages, whether we’re willing or ready to admit it.

We’re living in a time of war, public beheadings, hostages, terror, and potential Iranian nuclear doom.  You’d think the horro genre would have something to say about all this—not in a direct/obvious way, but in a subconscious manner, the way horror is supposed to work!  We all remember the fright films of the Vietnam era—those are classics now!  But unfortunately, this era is almost completely forgotten.  Will we really want to watch the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (the film that started the craze) 10 years from now when the original is still far superior?  This reveals a lot about our generation.  We’ve got nothing to say, even living in these extreme times!  This could have easily been an era of genre classics, but instead we’ve released the creative license to fanboys and not artists.

–Tarik Polansky

While important things are going on both in America and the world (a civil war in Iraq, global warming, and an upcoming presidential election here in the states) my generation in particular has chosen to ignore such issues in favor of living their own makeshift realities.  …These realities consist of computer generated talking animals, and people being tortured in variously horrifying ways.  I cannot quite understand why so many thought Saw and Hostel were such great movies.  Alternatively, I don’t know why penguins were suddenly catapulted as one of the most loved animals in the US.  One thing I DO know, is that these films continue to be made purely for profit.

I’m not going to play stupid.  Of COURSE money dictates what films are going to be made.  Companies want movies that will attract an audience—not progress art.  But I have to admit, I wish being innovative and intelligent was all it took to get people interested.  Back in the 60’s and 70’s you got all manners of movies appearing on screen, addressing directly (or indirectly) the problems of society.  Nowadays, writers and directors are afraid to comment and point out various issues due to fear of ostracization both by critics and audiences alike.  It’s “too depressing” or “too bothersome” to sit and hear what it’s really like outside of our own comfort zones.

So why do we like penguins and torture films?

The “March of the Penguins” had to be the least fascinating accumulation of penguin documentation known to the history of man.  Morgan Freeman is a good actor.  I loved him in “10 items or Less”, “Batman Begins”, and “Unleashed”.  …But he should NEVER narrate another film so long as he lives.  Even worse than “March of the Penguins” was “Farce of the Penguins”, done by the unwitty half-wit Bob Saget–one of the most ABYSMAL comedians to ever hit television screens since sitcoms went down the ol’ shitter. 

And riding on the coat tails of the penguin tornado came “Happy Feet” the ‘almost all right’ film about an outcast heretic known as Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) who just can’t stop his sinful feet from doing the tap dance of catastrophe.  The movie would’ve been all right if they had put in more dancing numbers, more of an ACTUAL antagonist, and even less environmental BS (or atleast pull it off more gracefully, like Ferngully).  The ending was definetly “WTF” worthy.  It was a rushed, half-assed ending, constructed purely to excuse the pseudo-musical that preceded it.  I was left unsatisfied and disappointed when I left the theatre that night.

When the dancing penguins cleared from my head, I came to hear about “Surf’s Up”, yet another penguin film, but this time dealing with surfing culture and your general beach shenanigans.  Lulled by the charm of animated-talking-animal films, my friends have been tempted to go see it.  I’ll admit, so am I, but as I stop to consider another popular film trend, I begin to shudder—deeply unnerved.

On the more perverse side, we see our head-humping hotshot Eli Roth slap together yet another reel of gore-porn–spiced, seasoned, and smelling slightly less fresher than Preston Lacy’s ass.  My disappointment with the first Hostel movie was its failure to paint out well-rounded characters, its disturbing ability to pulsate male homophobia, and it’s complete lack of imagination.  Nothing about what I was seeing was terribly original.  Just very bloody and very sadistic.  I probably would’ve thought the movie better (and scarier) if I had never even seen it for heaven’s sakes!  I recall sitting in the theatre and feeling nauseous–like I was getting on a terrifying roller coaster ride.  But then the movie started, and after the first ten sets of boobs flashed across the screen, I realized I was in for 94 minutes of a different kind of torture…

From Hostel 2, I’ve heard tell that it really is just a rehash from the first—only with girls.  The women (the ‘heroines’) are your typical stereotypes—rich sluts—fixed with such drab and colorless lines that one can’t help but wonder if they bought all their lackluster sayings from an Ed Wood vending machine.  The ever so critical Rotten Tomatoes racked up an average rating of 4.6/10  Now it may seem unfair to shoot down a film I haven’t even seen…but I’m coming from both an artistic and moral point of view when I say:  I REFUSE to watch Hostel 2.  Why?

Because Eli Roth is a jerk. Period.  He doesn’t deserve to be called the ‘leading man of horror’.  He’s an artistic nightmare (if you’ll excuse my pun,) and he couldn’t construct a genuinely frightening film if a serial killer sat on his head.  People mistake gore for horror.  Gore is not horror.  I repeat:  GORE IS NOT HORROR.  Films like:  Saw (one big horror rip off), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the remake), and The Hills Have Eyes (the remake) do not deserve to be stuck into the horror genre.  In fact this dives headlong into another topic I wanted to address before I make my final point.

Movies today are not progressing.  America has become caught up in a trend of remakes (especially in horror) and doesn’t seem to want to make anything new.  And it’s not just in movies, either.  Everywhere I look I see regurgitated fashion, hear musical copycats, and feel cultural regression.  Our society, our escapist society, does not wish to acknowledge the problems of the world, the decisions that need to be made, the things needed to be created.  We remember the past and we’re stuck in it.  We create our fantasies and we drown in them.  We close shut our minds and focus only on the pretty and horrific things that send sugar-razored chills up and down our spines.  And there is nothing more demented than what our fixations have become.

Penguins and torture.

Innocence and evil.

Joy and violence.

I want people to sit and wonder why so many others (perhaps even themselves) like watching sadistic films—NOT horror films, just SADISTIC films—films that take away the element of fear and leave only an adrenaline rush.  There is no fear when watching Hostel.  You know what is going to happen.  These wannabe horror films take viewers away from the position of the victim, thus taking away all elements of REAL horror.  By PORTRAYING violent deaths—closing in on it, feeding on the energy, drawing it out—the audience no longer view things from the eyes of victims, instead, they see things from the eyes of the killer.  The knife is in their hand and they are now feeling empowered.

Surf's Up

But don’t forget the penguins!

The lovable fluffy things that dance on the other side of the spectrum—never quite teaching us anything about discrimination, race, religion, or hell, even the environment—instead simply giving us a reason to smile.  And what’s wrong with smiling?  What’s wrong with kids feeling good and parents feeling good with them?  What’s wrong with being politically correct and portraying idealistic ideas?

It’s wrong because the world is not this way.  I’m not saying to show the kids murder, show the kids political backstabbing, or terrorist attacks.  But the sugar coated PC-ness that has infested children’s entertainment makes life seem hollow and 2D.  Instilling awareness and tolerance in children early is a good thing.  Putting blinders on them, just so that they can be warped by movies like Hostel later in life, isn’t.

My best friend’s brother (who in all fairness is yet another friend) wrote a rant about some comments made by Eli Roth to a fan in Fangoria.  Now I’m copying and pasting this because I feel that this guy (who also happens to be the one nicknamed Spaz in my post on FPS games) puts down in words what many horror fans WISH to say.  Originally posted in a place none would see it, I now bring it to you in a spot where more are inclined to read it. (because it deserves to be read)

For a time there was a group I frequented of hardcore malcontent Horror people called The Abominable Apothecary. I use the past tense because we all stopped going when it became apparant that the only thing we had to look forward to were remakes, uninspired sequels, and watered-down Hollywood shit. You should have heard them go on about Saw.

Contrary to popular belief I’m not a fan of senseless violence. When not based in plot or character with a fair degree of justification I feel cheapened. Meaning somewhere some hack has just written a story that another person thought was good enough to invest millions into to perpetuate a cycle of stupidity.
When it comes to story you can believe a great many ridiculous things but when it comes to human nature it is one thing you can never try bullshitting to an audience. It’s because of this every recent Horror movie I’ve seen with an audience has nothing but laughter and applause for the onscreen violence. Who cares about character when everyone’s stupid? During Final Destination 3 a baked kid in front of me commented to his group about the camera work, “Holy shit, a low shot! It’s all dramatic now!”

Then again there’s always something like Ross Campbell’s manga The Abandoned with amazingly real and empathetic characters… In A Zombie Story! That’s right, your run of the mill roving ghouls, but with awesome characters. What does it say when the only Horror films made have great monsters, the only Horror stories written have great characters, and both have absolutely nothing else?

I’d like to blame political correctness but I know that’s not entirely true.

A recent viewing of the film Hard Candy makes me wonder why it’s okay for a psychotic teenager to torture a pedophile but when the tables turn it’s not okay to have her hurt in turn. Suddenly the title has changed to “Sympathy For Mr. Pedophile” and a film nobody wants to see.

The writer & director of fledgling film Last Stop (http://www.laststopthemovie.com/) had this to say about it’s troubles. “Last Stop is pretty damn dark, there are two scenes with violence towards children that have put some fear in those who would finance it.”

Then again there’s always those douchebags that use it as a stepping stone to justify their shitty films. In Fangoria magazine there was this recent query about Hostel:


“I went to a screening of Hostel at the Toronto Film Festival and Eli Roth was there to introduce it. All in all the movie isn’t too exciting; it’s gory and blood-filled which should please many. My main issue is with the blatant and overt heterosexism and homophobia that permeates the film. The characters continuously refer to each other as “fag” or “you’re gay” and everyone laughs and everything is jolly. But not for me and not for a lot of queer rights supporters.
The most appalling display of homophobia occurs when the three main characters (all heterosexual males) are on a train. A man joins their little group and places his hand on one guy’s leg. The guy proceeds to freak out and orders the man to get lost and he willingly obliges. Later in the film the guy bumps into this “dirty disgusting homosexual” and decides to make amends. He apologizes for his rude reaction and proceeds to have a heart-to-heart conversation over a drink he buys the gentleman. His friends of course call him a “fag” for having done this. Later in the film it turns out that this “sick homosexual” will become this guy’s killer. The lesson learned? “No matter how nice they seem, never be nice to a homosexual, because in the end they’ll get you!”
I understand that this is just a horror film and that it probably won’t impact much of society, but as long as movies like this continue to target an audience of teen to late-twenty heterosexual males (where the majority of homophobia and heterosexism prevails) issues of anti-gay prejudice will never be satiated. I had the perfect opportunity after the film to question Eli Roth about this in front of the entire theater but I chickened out (mainly because he was receiving nothing but praise and my comment would definitely have put me in the minority) and I have regretted it ever since.
I have been highly disturbed by this since I saw Hostel and it’s something I felt I needed to address. I may have missed an opportunity during the festival but I’m trying to make up for it now.”

Usually people don’t respond to the letters but Eli Roth thought it better to attack the author: 


“Letters like this one reflect a disturbing trend happening in cinema today: political correctness. This person is clearly out of touch with how young people in America speak. If you go to any high school or college campus kids use the word “gay” to describe something that is stupid or idiotic. I am trying to write characters who are real and speak the way young American people actually talk to each other. When someone is acting like a pussy they call that person a “fag.” It does not mean that the person using it is homophobic or is saying that someone afraid to do something is homosexual. It’s interesting to note that this reader found no offense at burning a girl’s face off with a blowtorch and then cutting her eye out, but was seriously disturbed by the words “gay” and “fag.”
I remember when Basic Instinct came out some activists were protesting because they were afraid that people would think that all bisexuals were murderers. Does this person honestly believe that this movie will make people think that homosexuals are killers? Come on. Grow up. Get over yourself. When I was in college a student held a seminar about “recovered homosexuals.” He invited six “recovered homosexuals” to talk about how religion cured them as if they had some disease like alcoholism. About six hundred angry people attended the seminar, many of them gay, and the whole room watched in amazement as these people on stage talked about using Jesus to choose “the right path” and how they left behind a life of “homosinuality.” This was an event I witnessed with my own eyes and I used it as a basis for a character who acts out his repression through torture instead of religion.
Is this person saying I don’t have the right to write what I’ve seen into my scripts? Should we all just give up and make movies with characters so politically correct that they don’t offend anybody? Who wants their horror films safe? If you want safe movies that are politically correct why are you reading this magazine? Why not spend your time fighting politicians who try to outlaw homosexuality instead of filmmakers who are reflecting the world they see around them?
However Hostel clearly stirred something in this reader and sparked a discussion which for a filmmaker is all you can ask for.”

Just what we need, some NYU brat riding the coattails of famous directors and shooting his mouth off to the people that took the time to see his movie. Fuck Eli Roth!

Now we’ve got a new an unneeded subgenre of Horror, “the torture movie”. Nobody asked for it, nobody wants it, and this is why we’re watching some prick getting his fingers cut off and hearing someone behind us respond, “That’s what you get faggot!”

All these things are the reason why the hardcore fans I know stay in the heydays of Horror when they still had great characters and monsters, a unique plot, and were genuinely scary. Relegated into a cookie-cutter purgatory I too share their cynicism but hope and work toward a better future.

I never thought I’d say this, but I think for a time Horror deserves a rest.

 

For more Eli Roth bashing, visit this site. I like bashing Eli Roth. He stands for just about everything that’s wrong with the movie industry (and probably America, too.)  I guess this post became something of how much I hate him and these torture films.  The penguins are bareable compared to seeing someone’s achilles tendon sliced through.

Well, my rant is through.  Not as broad as I would’ve liked it, but the recent release of “Hostel 2” turned my eyes red…the penguin movie, “Surf’s Up”, also has me feeling guilty for wanting to see it.  I feel like a marketing victim.

Anways, next post shall be on video game music and why it’s so damn cool.