FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Mar 28, 2008

awesome movie poster friday- the LARRY COHEN edition!

This edition is brought to you by a discussion I had with a friend about Wicked Stepmother, which I can't say I've seen. Somehow, though, I find the fact that Bette Davis's last film was a Larry Cohen schlockfest a little amusing and a LOT depressing. It's Bette fucking Davis, y'all! Even though by the time this film rolled around (1989) she'd already been dead for seven years but didn't yet realize it...I don't know, she deserved better. Of course, as I said, I've never seen it, so it could be an amazing film for all I know. There are conflicting stories as to why Davis only appears in part of the movie; quoth the imdb trivia:
According to Ms. Davis, she was so disgusted by the script that she demanded it be rewritten, and left when the filmmakers refused. The script was then reshaped to explain her absence. Larry Cohen says Davis had to leave for New York for medical reasons and that she later claimed she left because of the script because she was worried she wouldn't be able to get another job if people thought she was in too bad health.
Yeah, that poster for It's Alive with the hand emerging in a sinister fashion from the bassinet is the one that absolutely terrified me when I was a wee bonny lass. Effective poster, I guess!

Is that a bassinet? I don't know from baby accessories and accoutrements.

Note the lack of posters for last year's Captivity (written by Cohen), because...fuck Captivity.

Mar 27, 2008

Sir Linkzalot

Yo, mamas! Another week, another column over at AMC's Monsterfest Blog. This go-round it's a bit of a loving ode to the glory of 3D horror, albeit delivered in my usual rambly, tangent-laced, is she on The Crack? style. Seriously, I can't believe AMC is letting me play in their sandbox. I feel way out of my league!

The ever-lovin' Piper over at Lazy Eye Theatre has provided the public with a helpful guide to atmospheric water masses. Be informed, kids...and be safe!

Arbogast manages to name-drop photographer Cindy Sherman as he ruminates on the Funny Games poster, which means that Arbogast rules. I loves me some Cindy Sherman, y'all, for reals.

Alright, so today's more like Sir Linkzalittle. There's plenty of good non-Final Girl reading material to be found over in my sidebar, or hit up The Lamb for more. Jesus, I can't do all the work for you, you lazy bastards!

Mar 26, 2008

And I heard? This one time...

Ah, the urban legend. We've all heard countless tales of people dying when they consume soda and Pop Rocks simultaneously, or that guy who woke up to find "Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?" scrawled in blood on his wall, or "No really, my sister's friend totally knew this chick who got this cactus from Mexico and then one day she went to the doctor because she had really bad cramps and it turns out that all these spiders that were living in the cactus built a nest inside of her and all these baby spiders came out of her vagina." Good times, good times. Urban legends have long provided fodder for horror movies- horror movies like, uh, Urban Legend, Urban Legends: The Final Cut, and Urban Legends: Bloody Mary.

Fingerprints (2006) is supposedly based on one of these tall tales, but it's a new one to me: if you put your car in neutral on these train tracks where a bunch of kids died in an accident, the ghosts of the children will push your car to safety and leave behind ghostly fingerprints on your car windows. It all seems plausible to me- kids are always leaving filthy, greasy fingerprints everywhere in life, so why not in the afterlife?

feel the terror

In 1957 in an unnamed small town, a bus full of smiling, singing children meets the business end of a train when the guard and signal light at the track crossing fail. Ever since that dark and stormy night, the citizens of Unnamed Town have experienced a strange phenomenon at the site of the accident: if you put your ear to the train tracks, you can just make out the faint strains of Carol Channing singing "Hello, Dolly!"

No wait, sorry. What I meant was, if you put your car in neutral on the tracks, it'll roll off. Not nearly as exciting as Carol Channing, but still.

Melanie (Leah Pipes) arrives in Unnamed Town fresh out of rehab, ready to start life afresh and reunite with her bitch-cuckoo mom, her pushover-whipped dad, and her bland-hot sister (Kristin Cavallari). Boy, lemme tell ya, kicking heroin was a walk in the park compared to life in Unnamed Town for poor Melanie! Kids in school are mean because she's an ex-druggie, this one boy from school totally tries to rape her, and this little mute girl named Julie keeps following her everywhere.

As you could expect from any teenage girl, Melanie decides to solve The Mystery of Julie. Over several days of wacky adventures, she digs around the abandoned bus depot, talks to the town drunk, sees messages written in blood in various places, and chats with Sally Kirkland. It turns out that Julie is Sally Kirkland's sister- and one of the children who died in the horrible bus accident all those years ago! It might have been a shocking twist if we hadn't seen Julie riding the bus at the beginning of the film.

And yes, I'm calling Sally Kirkland Sally Kirkland instead of her character name, because it's just better that way.

Lest ye think you've got it all figured out, however, Fingerprints continues to deliver twists and turns, oh my brothers and sisters. Someone, you see, is killing the teenagers of Unnamed Town...who could it be?

no really, feel the terror

It's someone in a train conductor's outfit, that's who! Yup: after about a half hour of...well, nothing, Fingerprints turns into a slasher film. Melanie continues to get her Columbo on and finds out a bunch of crap that makes only a little sense: the bus accident never happened, someone was actually killing children back in 1957, there was some Nightmare on Elm Street-style justice, something about building highways and knocking down depots, and Sally Kirkland sports an "I do declare!" southern accent for no apparent reason.

a slumming Lou Diamond Phillips feels the terror, literally

All in all, it's a terribly dull affair. There's not much action to be found, and what little there is is decidedly unscary. The town history is convoluted, the ghosts don't do much, the slasher-style killings are cheesy, and the effects range from "meh" to "worst fake blood ever" to "holy shit, I totally forgot we're filming the graveyard scene today- someone run to Hobby Lobby, buy some styrofoam, and make some gravestones stat!"

Believe me, I'm all for movies with super-fake gravestones...unless the movie is just plain boring, as is Fingerprints. The only time I sat up and really took notice of the goings-on- and I mean literally sat up- happened in the last 15 seconds of the film. After yet another twist that made zero sense, there was this shot of a car swerving all over the road (due to, you know, terror)...but the footage was sped up and I swear, it looked like something straight out of Benny fucking Hill. It was an incredibly bizarre choice by the filmmakers, and probably the highlight of the movie.

"I do declare! I feel the terror!"

Given the general suckitude of this flick, it should come as no surprise that it lingered on the shelf for a couple of years: though it was produced in 2006, it was released on DVD only yesterday.

Oh my God, I heard about this girl? Who watched a horror movie that totally stunk and she was so bored the whole time! She ate a piece of cake, though, while she watched it and the cake was good. And then spiders came out of her vagina, I swear! I know her roommate.

Mar 25, 2008

when it's time to choose....

I'm keepin' things eighties-style and I'm going classic for the next Film Club selection, y'all:


Let's all take in director Kathryn Bigelow's film about those cooler-than-you vampires, who just so happen to be holding on to third place in the current "Favorite Bloodsucker?" poll over yonder on the right. Annnnd, you can watch the film, write about it, then head to Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors and get your nerd on by gushing all over star Jenette Goldstein and telling her how rad she is. That's my plan, anyway!

The film: Near Dark
the due date: Monday, April 21

Mar 24, 2008

Film Club: Scarecrows

1988 wasn't exactly a banner year for horror movies. Franchises were cramping up as they came around the back stretch; the year saw the fourth installments of Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Howling...part deux for Fright Night, Hellraiser, and Phantasm...and Jason Voorhees was showing off his ooey, gooey face yet again in F13 Part VII. Meanwhile, original properties were beginning that dangerous slide into "We really don't take this shit seriously anymore" territory with films such as Hide and Go Shriek. It's surprising, then, that 1988 would also see the release of Scarecrows, a film that keeps things simple and aims only to terrify.

When I said "keeps it simple", I meant "No really, wicked simple": a group of ex-military folk rob Camp Pendleton, kidnap a pilot and his daughter, and force said pilot to fly them to Mexico where they can enjoy their millions as they see fit. Problem is, the greedy get greedier (isn't that always the problem?) and the double-crossings begin.

Bert (BJ Turner) decides he wants the money all to himself, tosses a grenade in the plane, and jumps. Luckily for his robber cohorts, the grenade takes about 15 minutes to actually explode- long enough for someone to toss it out of the plane. Said cohorts land the plane and begin tracking Bert and the money; problem number two is, they've all managed to land in the spookiest cornfield ever- a cornfield chock full of homicidal scarecrows who are all ready to make with the chop-chop, the poke-poke, and the stuff-stuff (isn't that always problem number two?).

That's David James Campbell on the right, flyin' that plane high on cocaine. The only films on his resume are Scarecrows and Killer Workout...clearly, he's got the best resume EVER.

And that, my friends, is pretty much that. By the time the opening credits have finished rolling, the plot is out of the way. The remaining 80-odd minutes are all about scares and atmosphere as the bad guys run around in the dark, eat raw corn, and meet the business end of various pointy things wielded by perhaps the most frightening-looking scarecrows ever committed to celluloid (and yes, I'm counting Dark Night of the Scarecrow here...while that's undoubtedly a superior film, these straw dudes fucking rocked my face off).

What I like is that writer/director William Wesley doesn't know, bogged down in details and explanations here. The scarecrows simply are- they're simply alive and mean. They simply want to make more scarecrows out of their victims, simply because. Simple, simple, simple. How do the dead, freshly stuffed with straw, get up and walk around? Bah, who knows? How are the scarecrows able to mimic voices in order to lure their victims out into the darkness? Pfft, whatevs. Scarecrows is meant to be a fun, scary ride- and it is.

This film looks like it had a budget of about $1.98, but that buck-ninety-eight is stretched to its limit. I've already mentioned how great the scarecrows look (seriously, this movie would have left me super damaged if I'd seen it as a kid), but I've got to give a shout out to the kill effects as well. There's not a ton of gore, but there certainly are a ton of wince-inducing moments: Wesley knows exactly where to poke a bitch to get the maximum cringe factor from the audience. Calves are repeatedly stabbed, hands are sawed off slowly, fingers are bitten, someone gets stabbed in the fucking face! I watched this one alone and I was still embarrassed about the faces I was making in reaction to the on-screen carnage.

As much as I enjoyed Scarecrows (and I really did enjoy this movie, despite its shortcomings and occasionally odd dialogue ("demonic demons", anyone?)- I think its cult following is well-deserved), though, I kind of feel like we had our moment together and that's that. I'm sure I'll bust it out again at some point in the future, but I can't say I felt that super special spark that's going to put Scarecrows on my short list of forever awesome. You know, it's kind of like you have a little too much to drink with a friend some Friday night and then Saturday morning you're all "Well, that was fun and stuff, but it's not like we're dating now or anything".

Or something like that.

Wait, what?

Give it up for the Film Club Coolies!

Craig Moorhead
Aphorisms and Ectoplasm
The Horror Section
Media Kitten
Meg's Boyfriends in the News
The Film School Dropout
Look Back In Anger
Mermaid Heather
Evil On Two Legs
The Cemetery Scene
Fade In
Askewed Views

Mar 20, 2008

Bah! I mean...baa.

Check it out, babies. First of all, a huge whopping THANK YOU to everyone who participated in and/or did a ton of reading for this week's Hey Internet, Stop Being Such Cynical Effing Douchebags Blog-A-Thon. I'd say it was a big fat sparkling success- it was great reading about stuff that people love, and I've gotten feedback that people actually enjoyed writing about stuff they love! The whole affair filled me with a burning desire to spend the day listening to The Fifth Dimension, and hopefully we all learned a little something about each other- and ourselves- in the process. Hugz!

So...I'm a lamb! I've gone and joined the Large Association of Movie Blogs, your one-stop shop for...uh, links to movie blogs. There's lots of good goodies to be found, so go check it out. No really, go ahead. I don't mind if you see other blogs, so long as you always come home to me. If you'd like to read my boring answers to some questions- it's all a part of my lamb hazing- then click right the eff here and see what I had to say.

If you'd like to HEAR what I have to say about horror-y stuff, then guess what? You're in luck! This Friday- tomorrow, that is, I'll be a guest on Grindhouse Radio, airing 12am-1am EST / 9pm-10pm PST. Click the link to listen looks like there's even some sort of interactive chat thingy so we can know, interactively chat. I have no idea what we'll be discussing, but it'll be be there AND be square!

All through April I'll be writing a weekly column over at AMC's Monsterfest blog. I'm so excited! I'm about to lose control know what? I think I like it. My first column is up and it's all about everyone's favorite topic- remakes. Please go read it so AMC feels justified in asking me to write for them.

Don't forget, this Monday marks Film Club Day! Get ready for breath is bated already.

One last FYI, I've had the theme from $25,000 Pyramid stuck in my head for a few days now, and I fear it may be starting to drive me mad. Don't get me wrong, I love the theme from $25,000 Pyramid. A few days, however, might be a bit much. How fucking awesome is it, though, that I can click that link and listen to it anytime I want? The Internet RULES!

Speaking of things that rule, here's a picture of Brett Somers.

Mar 18, 2008

The HISBSCFD Blog-a-Thon!

...or, more simply put, it's Awesome Day! I've been thinking and thinking about this, trying to formulate some big, grand essay, a trip down memory lane or something that would unite us all in a cloud of love that smells like fresh cinnamon buns. Now that the day is here, however, I'm feeling all list-y and random, so you're getting tidbits that make my crusty old heart sing...and There Will Be Random.


Staying power: I, my friends, am a browser. Put me in a room lined with shelves upon which there are hundreds of videos- some of which are horror!- and I will stay until I've read every damn spine in my search for...something. Who knows? I'm just browsing! There are so many places in LA to go it's staggering; there are still mom and pop movie rental stores that are liquidating their VHS and I can't tell you how excited I get when I stumble across a new one. Then there's Amoeba, a massive store where you can trade in your crap...which means the stock is constantly rotating. Which means it's not completely pointless to spend a long time- I mean a hmm...should've brought some trail mix because my blood sugar is getting low long time- in the VHS clearance aisle. I just love to look- I love the hunt and I always have hope I'm going to find something awesome tucked away somewhere, even if 9 times out of 10 I walk away empty handed. But hey, one time I found The Haunting of Julia for $1.99! That makes all my effort worth it!

Staying up: There's something about watching a horror movie late at night that makes the whole endeavor more naughty and more scary. Yeah, I know, that's probably in my head, but I don't care- I adore the idea of the late-night horror movie, the one you watch with all the lights turned off, the one that will keep you up until morning, cowering in fear. Maybe it's because my mom told me stories of sneaking out of bed to get her horror dose; maybe it's all those sleepovers I had in junior high, when Elena lived up the hill from Nick's Video and Nick's didn't care what we rented so long as it wasn't p0rn and we'd come home with a pizza and somethiing mind-bending like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and we'd stay up long after her family went to bed, stuffing our faces and getting scared out of our wits. I have no idea where I got the notion, but don't rock the boat I adore horror movies as late night event. Imagine how I felt when, on Melrose Place, I learned that Billy and Allison were the same as me and they'd stay up late to watch something like Nosferatu. Actually, I was conflicted; it was cool that they stayed up late to watch horror movies, but then I hated Billy and Allison. Well, I kind of loved to hate Allison because she was whiny and would always change her mind about everything, but Billy was just a plain old tool. See? It says so right here.

Soft spots: There's a place in my heart that can only be filled by the mid-90s goodness that is...The Craft. Is it a great movie, or even a good movie? I have no idea...but it's awesome. My memories of it are tied to a prime example of a good night gone really fucking bad and I've loved it ever since. Surprisingly enough, it seems that most people have a fondness for The Craft, and finding a Fairuza Balk is fucking crazy isn't she and whatever happened to Robin Tunney and remember when Christine Taylor's hair fell out eww soulmate always fills me with glee. See, I saw it one fine night when I was hanging out with my pal Ara Jane. We went to this weird mall that had one good store: Media Play (RIP). However, the mall also had a roller rink, an arcade, and a movie theatre. Ara Jane and I played games, used the photo booth a lot, ate crappy food, and saw The Craft. Yay! Sweet night! After the movie we walked out to the parking lot and, after some puzzled silence, I said "Hmm. Didn't I park there?" as I pointed to an empty spot. Yeah...someone stole my fucking car out of the mall parking lot. It's a testament to The Craft's awesomeness that even after such a shitty end to the night, I still love it.

Trivia! The dude who wrote The Craft went to my high school. He named the school in the film (St Bernard's) after a nearby Catholic school and the film's douchebag Chris Hooker (Skeet Ulrich) is named after the captain/quarterback of our football team. Yay!

I'm really looking forward to The Strangers. Is it a remake/rip of the film Ils (Them)? Filmmakers insist it's not, though the plots are incredibly similar. I don't care. I sat in a massive, crowded hall at San Diego Comic-Con last year during a panel for the film and watching a clip actually made my heart race. It was tense, it was scary, and I was smitten. I've had the poster hanging on my wall for months. Almost a year will have passed by the time I finally get to see it. I'm ready! I can't wait! It's definitely one of those skip work and catch the first showing movies for know, like Silent Hill. I don't care if it doesn't live up to the hype- the anticipation is almost the best part. I remember seeing this teaser:

and being practically beside myself. Lemme tell ya, that 45 seconds took forever to download on dial-up and I must have watched it 10,000 times. I went a little nuts with the Silent Hill stuff, I'll admit, but come on- how often does a movie come along that gets you that psyched? I only hope I'm that excited for the sequel when it appears on the scene.

It's the little things: I love the dance scene in Creepshow during the "Father's Day" segment. Ed Harris totally acts a foo' and the song is bitchin'. I love this line in Halloween: "Lindsay, Lester is barking again and getting on my nerves again!" and no matter how many times I've seen that film, Carpenter's score still gives me the willies. I love the scene early in The Brood- the one at gramma's house, where the unseen things are riffling through gramma's cupboards and you know something's going to happen and the tension builds and then the unseen things are no longer unseen and when you see them the first time, you're completely fucking blown away with terror. I love Tom Atkins. I can't explain exactly why- maybe because he was just in so damn many horror films that appeared during my formative years- but he is, undoubtedly, The Man. I gotta meet this guy someday.

I love the graveyard scene in the original Night of the Living Dead. I know what's going to happen, but it still makes me feel like I'm a terrified eight year old- and "They're coming to get you, Barbra" is one of the greatest lines to appear in any horror film in the history of ever. Don't tell anyone, kinda scares me. Still. I love Virginia Madsen in Candyman. I love Mrs Kobritz's death scene in The Fog. I love The Rumplestiltskin Phenomenon. See, Rumplestiltskin is pretty much the worst movie ever. Somehow, though, if you talk about it enough with your friends, in your mind it becomes the best movie ever and you're struck with a fiery urge to watch it again right this very second. So you watch it and rmember how much it sucks...but then, as soon as it's over, you're talking about how great it was and you want to watch it...and so on, ad infinitum. Trust me, I speak from experience on this. Exhibit A: the car chase.

As far as I can tell, the phenomenon is restricted to this one film, although I wish it would happen more often.

Well, that's enough from me for now. I have no idea what I've just written- I can't see for all the sparkly rainbows of love! Hopefully I'll be updating this post throughout the day. Hopefully you'll cast off your shackles of internet douchebaggery and tell us all about something you adore. Dude, I just admitted to Rumplestiltskin...come on, it can't be as bad as that!


At Time and Place, David Benz discusses the 1915 silent film series "Les Vampires".

The Way It Were
gives you a few of his favorite things...

loves a certain film festival.

It's a Brian De Palma and Jessica Harper as Phoenix love-in over at Tractor Facts.

Take a trip down The Horror Section's memory lane.

I'm Just Saying
...The Blair Witch Project really scared Cornelius.

Are any of The Sexy Armpit's favorite scenes your favorite scenes, too?

Look Back in Anger sends out a call-to-arms.

For The Roses pumps up her love for Pump Up The Volume.

thinks third time's a charm in the Poltergeist series.

Nearly naked boys singing? Stinky Lulu says yes, please.

My New Plaid Pants gives us 20 reasons why he loves Donnie Darko.

Agitation of the Mind
goes Where Eagles Dare.

Film for the Soul got Naked and fell in love with movies.

The Moon is a Dead World
, but movie theatres aren't according to Ryne!

Rural Juror
gets all Maria Von Trapp on yo ass.

Mausoleum Girl loves ghosts stories. Me too!

Chris Thieke loves him some Alien. Me too!

Loving a bunch of stuff is what they do at $7 Popcorn.

Feel the retarded joy of Brain Damage at mochaLouder!

Filmopia hearts movies. I can't relate at all.

Feel the Lazenby love at Headquarters 10.

Have another bucket of $7 Popcorn as dreamrot exposes Raging Sharks tomfoolery!

My Blog Could Be Your Life loves April Fools Day almost as much as I do.

Movie Morlocks
says vampire brides don't suck...or do they?

There's tons o' tumblr as Rimozione da Tiffany, Land's End, and Gosford Parkour update with love throughout the day!

's heart is afire with love for Susan Flannery in The Towering Inferno!

The Mixed Up Files Of...
Gena Rowlands in Gloria. 'Nuff said, as they say.

Media Kitten calls out Night of the Comet, giallo films, Roger Corman...stuff that all has a place in my heart.

Get all ten kinds of post-apocalyptic with The Blackest Eyes!

Pierce gives it up for film bloggers over at Askewed Views. I'm blushing. Thanks. Pierce!

's got me wanting to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street again. Man, Freddy was cool in that one.

Lazy Eye Theatre is sick...with love.

The Children are our deadly deadly future according to Goatdog.

When you’re six no one can hear you scream

by Chris Thieke for the HISBSCFD Blog-a-Thon!

This is a long story that happened a long time ago. It’s about the movie Alien. It is one big SPOILER.

It was raining one Saturday afternoon in 1979 and my Dad asked if I wanted to go to the movies. I put down my Ranger Rick magazine and said sure. I was six years old and we were going to see whatever Disney movie was playing at the Gateway cinema at the time. That was the plan. The Gateway was a very small cinema two towns away. The theatre was full of kids. Since it was a rainy and a Saturday, the Disney movie was sold out.

My dad was a little disappointed. This place was far and he didn’t want to just turn around and go home. He said “let’s see what else is playing”. I left it up to him. The options were slim.

He figured I was ga-ga for all that Star Wars stuff. This movie called Alien was playing in a ½ hour. Alien huh? That seems like it takes place in space my dad thought. The kid will like that. Right up
his alley. We’ll try that one. “Two tickets for The Alien” my dad said to the ticket guy.

Now I’m sure you all have seen Alien. To my dad’s credit he was just going by the poster hanging in the
lobby. It was just a glowing space egg. Also this is the 1970’s. Movies had ratings, but nobody paid much
attention to them I guess. If you want to bring your six year old kid to a movie like Alien, mister be my

Going to the movies for a six year old is a big deal. You’re in a big room with people sitting in the
dark watching something like a big TV set. I had probably only been to the movies a few times in my
life before this. Two times to see Star Wars and I think I saw Dumbo . I knew the drill but my dad went
over it with me again anyway. “No talking during the movie. If you get bored, try to sleep.” I remember
saying something like “if it’s about space it should be great.” Then the credits started.

Now if you’ve seen Alien you know it’s a little slow at first. Takes about 30 minutes or so to get going.
There are no laser shootouts, no storm troopers, and no talking robots. It’s just a bunch of grownups, in a
spaceship. I must have yawned or fidgeted in my seat and my dad asked ” you want to go?” Then the
Nostromo’s alarm starts going off and there was trouble. I shook my head and said “no.”

Needless to say, the grownups in the movie land on this strange planet. Then they go into a giant scary
space ship. See some scary stuff and one of them gets this weird thing stuck to his face. Some swear words
are said (shouted) and now it’s my dad fidgeting in his chair. My dad is not a guy who swears a lot (mom
is). Should a kid be hearing this? He probably thought. Some more stuff happens then the thing falls
off the guy’s face and everything seems to be fine. Seems to be any ways.

So now the grownups are eating lunch and joking around. Then the guy with the face thing starts
choking and going into a fit. And before my dad can say “ you want to go?” the alien burst out of the guys
stomach. I had never seen anything like that before. Totally unexpected and there was blood everywhere. I
wasn’t too grossed out thought. Just shocked. The blood, the grown ups in the movie screaming, the folks
in the theatre (including my dad) hollering. Nobody could believe it. Is the guy choking? Then blam-mo! My dad tried to cover my eyes but I slapped his hand away. I remember asking very loudly “ is that man
going to be okay?” The lady behind us leaned forward and said “it’s just pretend. In real life that man is
fine. He’s just an actor.” That seemed to make a lot of sense to me after a minute or so and I calmed down
a little. My dad asked if I wanted to leave and I said “no it’s just pretend.” This seemed to satisfy him
and we watched some more. Parent of the year … the Academy is calling.

I’m glad we stuck around though. Then this movie got really good. Lots of running around dark hallways,
more swearing, and people getting caught by the alien. Every time someone got snagged by the alien (which was now as big a person) the lady behind me would say “just pretend.” The thing that was bothering me the
most though , was not seeing the alien for very long. That made me mad. What did this thing look like?

The movie continues and one of the grown ups freaks out and starts trying to kill the other grown ups. Then he gets his head knocked off (“just pretend”) and milk starts shooting out of him instead of blood? What
the hell? Do I have milk in me instead of blood ? Being six, I drank a lot of milk.

Then there is a lot more running around, screaming, swears, and killing of grown ups. There was also a cat. I remember thinking “I don’t care about what happens to these people. Nothing bad better happen to that cat.” Then the last grown up and the cat escape. The big ship does a Death Star and blows up and everything seems fine.

Then Ripley looks all relieved. Pets the cat then starts taking her clothes off (another movie first for me). Dad’s hand tries to cover my eyes again. The poor guy. He innocently takes his kid to a R rated sci-fi
movie that’s at first sort of dull, full of bad words, people getting ripped apart by a monster, and now he’s
going to have to explain boobies too? Needless to say it’s just a lady in her underwear. No big deal and dad
is relieved.

Until … it turns out the monster is in there with her. In this little room. Everyone in the theatre is
going ape shit. Yelling at the screen “ run lady! “ or “ holy shit!” This was the scariest moment yet for me. Needless to say she kills the alien (which you finally get to see) and she goes to sleep. The movie ends and
my dad gets our coats. We walk to the parking lot and get in the car. As soon as the door closes my dad
asked “ did you like it?” I went “yeah it was scary. Is that cat okay?” he told me “ the cat’s fine. He asked if I had any other questions about the movie? “Am I made of milk?” My dad started the car and said no. He also made me promise to tell mom we saw the Disney movie. Permission to lie. Another first, on this great day of firsts.

Seeing Alien when I did left some weird after effects. Some bad but most were good. As far as the bad went milk was off table for a week or so. Yuck. That’s robot blood. My dad was afraid I’d have nightmares but I didn’t. I slept with a flashlight in my hand for a few days but no nightmares. We also had a cat that constantly hid in the basement. My sister used to go down in the dark basement to get the cat
all the time. I was convinced I was going to be an only child soon. Or worse, she’d walk upstairs with a
parasite on her face.

I used to try to draw the alien constantly. My mom thought there was something wrong with me. “Where
do you get this stuff? That thing looks crazy. Draw something nice like a house or a dog.” I’d then draw
the alien sitting on a house or chasing a dog. I also remember having a poster of the alien on my wall. I
got the Alien action figure (a major score). Too bad I lost it at the beach on a trip out to Cape Cod to my
never-ending chagrin. I borrowed the movie adaptation book for Alien from the library (never gave it back).
I had the graphic novel (the movie in comic book form) and the Behind the Scenes book on how they made the movie. Even the whole set of trading cards. Everything, and anything that had to do with the movie
Alien I had to get. Still have most of that stuff on my bookshelf. Star Wars was great but I was obsessed
with Alien. It made me the nerd I am today.

Since then anytime I see a scary movie I want that jolt that Alien gave me. Sometimes I get the jolt and
sometimes not so much. Seeing Alien when I did was one of the great movie going moments of my life. The above description is bare bones at best. Those were just the details I remembered best from seeing it the first
time. After seeing Alien a bunch times since I still notice something new every time. But I’d have to say
seeing it the first time at that tender age was the best.

Mar 17, 2008

answers and questions

The answer to the other day's name the film from whence the screen cap doth come contest is...dun dun dunnn, George Romero's The Crazies! Congrats to all of you who answered correctly. Gloat away!

FYI, yes indeed, The Crazies is on the remake list. I can't much be bothered to care...then again, it's Monday and I got nary a wink last night.

In other news, why wasn't Lynn Lowry a bigger star? She worked with some of the best directors of our time- Cronenberg, Demme, Romero- and she was gorgeous. Gorgeous, I tells ya! She still is, actually. One of life's great mysteries, I suppose, not unlike "Who shot JR?"

Even know, that one got solved. Anyway.

Mar 15, 2008

ne forget pas

Hey babies, don't forget: this Tuesday (le 18th) marks the Hey Internet, Stop Being Such Cynical Effing Douchebags Blog-a-Thon. Cast off the shackles of ennui and hate! Help make rainbows by writing about something movie-related that you love. Anything movie related; I don't care if you write a haiku about Sno-Caps.

Actually, I think I'll write a haiku about Sno-Caps right now.


You were my first love
at the cinema, Sno-Caps...
then I met Twizzlers.

See how easy it is to join in? I can feel the hearts already.

Speaking of love, name the film from whence this screen cap doth came and you will win a prize*!

*you will win no prize save glory

Mar 13, 2008

Why horror?

During a conversation about (sigh) "torture porn", a friend mentioned she'd heard of the film Amateur Porn Star Killer. She wanted to know...well, I guess she wanted to know what it was all about and if it really was as notorious as she'd read. The hitch, though, is that she doesn't watch horror movies. Her suggested solution to that problem is that I could watch the movie and tell her all about it. I said I'd think about it, but I'm really not a fan of the brutal stuff and watching people suffer doesn't give me a thrill.

I did think about it. Eventually I sent my friend an email including the following passage:
[T]he other day I spotted Amateur Porn Star Killer amongst Co-Habit-Tron 3000's movies, remembered you had mentioned it, and then I thought about watching/reviewing it. I decided to first check out some other reviews of it to see what I would be getting myself into (conclusion: not well made (perhaps purposefully), lots of graphic sex (with a "13 year old"! yay!), and ultimately not a good movie)...which led to discovering that there are far, far worse films on the market than APSK- far worse than Hostel or Captivity or whatever could hope to be. Reading about the depravity of these films sent me into a downward spiral regarding the state of the human condition, what people will make- and watch- for 'entertainment'...and had me questioning my taste in entertainment and wondering whether or not I should, in fact, enjoy horror movies so much.
I go through this...crisis every once in a while. Why the fuck do I like horror movies? Do I really want to see some teenager stabbed to death? How is that "fun"? Obviously, these crises never turn me off of horror for good (insert terrible Al Pacino in Godfather III impression here)- though my friend takes credit for sending me into this particular crisis and she's wearing it like a merit badge- and the next thing you know I'm adding Twitch of the Death Nerve to my Amazon Wish List. Maybe it's better to question one's own tastes from time to time. Maybe this example speaks to my conscience, speaks to the fact that I'm not completely jaded and cynical, and silences the argument that horror movies completely desensitize everyone to all horrors, real and imagined.

How fitting, then, that this week, when I'm in the midst of therapy sessions with myself, that I go to a screening of the Funny Games remake.

I haven't seen the original version- in fact, I'd never seen a Michael Haneke film before this week. Given my then-current state of mind regarding horror and brutality and violence, I was reticent to go see this one; the story of a family suffering brutality after their summer home is invaded doesn't necessarily get my juices flowing. But then, Tim Roth is in it and I haven't seen him in ages. But then, Naomi Watts is in it and to be honest, I'd pay to watch her in a film where she does nothing but insult me for 90 minutes...maybe even if it co-starred Paul Reiser. But then, trusted sources have told me to check out Michael Haneke.

I had no idea what to expect from Funny Games. Beyond the half-sentence plot summary I gave you above, I didn't know anything about it...well, other than the fact that Haneke remade his own film.

I've never seen anything quite like this, and I'm still reeling from it days later. The film exists to push the audience, to force the audience to examine their relationship with violence and their desire to witness on-screen violence as entertainment. Though the movie as a whole speaks to these notions, Haneke uses several clever- and, at times, maddening- devices to push buttons. The most obvious examples occur when Haneke has characters break the fourth wall to ask the audience what they want to see. It's a slap in the face- not that I'm complaining. I think people need their buttons pushed in a smart way; I think, as I said earlier, that people should question why they want to see people get hurt on-screen. Most people don't enjoy being forced into self-reflection, however, and I'm expecting most audiences aren't going to enjoy Funny Games.

Odd word choice, that: "enjoy". Did I actually enjoy Funny Games? No, absolutely not. I didn't "enjoy" it at all. I marveled at the acting. I was astounded by what I was seeing. I took notes on Haneke's storytelling techniques. This, however, is one of the toughest films I've ever had to sit through...mind you, Haneke doesn't really show us any of the brutality. The aftermath- and we do see the aftermath- of the violence tends to be the raw emotional aftermath. You don't need to see a damn thing to feel for this family; it's mostly a dance of words, of anticipation, expectation, and tension.

I commented afterward that I loved the fact that there was no explicit violence, that I could react so very strongly without it. Would actually seeing a helpless character get punched in the face have made me even more sympathetic? No, I don't think so. My viewing companion, however, was disappointed by the lack of explicitness. This shocked me, and we ended up talking about why she felt that way- which is, at least in part, the point of the film.

Horror fanboys and girls who have been seeing posters for the film slathered all over genre websites will perhaps hate this film. There's no "pay off" like there is in, say, Hostel. Most people who want the violence and the gore but find none aren't going to say "Hmm. Why do I feel the need to see it? Why the bloodlust?"...they're going to go home and take in another viewing of Hostel. Or Saw MCMXLV.

Whether or not that sounds like you, maybe you should go see Funny Games when it's released tomorrow. I can't remember when I've been so profoundly affected by a film, horror or otherwise.

*screengrabs pinched from My New Plaid Pants, who's been looking forward to this movie forever.