Archive for October, 2015

Dead Snow

October 21, 2015

Zombies. I know I railed against zombies in fiction earlier this year while struggling to find a Z post for the A to Z Blog Challenge. I don’t like the tropes usually on display in zombie movies because they usually follow characters I don’t care about getting menaced by creatures I also don’t care about. The movies are built on jump scares becauses the evil creatures are usually slow and stupid. Zombies also flooded the market almost as bad as possession and ghost movies which are often just as guilty of bad filmmaking. Still, I can’t write off an entire genre just because I don’t like a vast majority of the movies. So, I gave it another shot because the idea of this movie intrigued me.

I admit I had to restart this movie after a few minutes because I did not realize that it is a Norwegian film and that I would be reading subtitles instead of listening to dialogue. I’m totally ok with this as I enjoy the hell out of subtitled anime and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The thought of it being a foreign film also intrigued me because maybe they’d have a slightly different take on the zombie genre. Also, (spoiler alert) the zombies are nazis and I think Europe has a better perspective on who the Nazis were. Also, once again we’re combining supernatural threats with wintertime weather which is somehow a recipe for terror and/or hilarity.

(Interesting note: In Norwegian Bokmal “Pilsener” apparently sounds like “Piss” which is what I think it tastes like anyway)

This movie hits the tried and true horror film technique of showing you some excitement right away and then cutting to peaceful happenings and dragging that out for a long time. For a long period it combines the desolation of snow covered mountains with the utter helplessness of a pitch black night. It only uses touches of music so we’re left with dialogue, sound effects and a lot of silence. The silence gets really, really creepy. In fact, there’s an interesting cadence to the way the dialogue goes. People tend to pause ever so slightly in their speech and there is a similar awkward pause between responses. Normally I would think this would be bad direction (like in A Touch of Satan) but it’s done with a light but intentional touch here. It’s especially on display during a long, dramatic warning from an elderly stranger which is also a common technique in horror movies.

There’s a lot of stuff in the movie that is unique. Most of it is probably because it is a Norwegian film set in Norway. The landscape is stark white as it is covered in snow and ends up looking, at least to me, like an alien landscape. It actually looks pretty terrifying as there is a lot of wide open, treeless space in the mountains but it’s still very easy to get lost in the wilderness. What music there is Norwegian jam bands and Norwegian metal bands which provide high energy to the light-hearted scenes in contrast to the silent, scarier scenes. The cold is a huge part of the movie as they did a good job making you feel the cold as you watch. The zombies have grayish and sometimes blackened skin with somewhat frozen expressions much like people who died out in the elements. Then, of course there’s the Nazis who occupied Norway back during World War II.

Beyond that there is the usual very graphic zombie gore and frightened young people getting attacked by monsters that a lot of these horror movies have. This isn’t quite the typical zombie movie though as the zombies have some sentience to them. The movie’s pretty dire but it also has great bits of humor here and there that I was grateful to latch onto. Though, most of this movie is grim as hell. I actually think they used comic timing for evil throughout as things feel like they should be funny but are horrifying. I would definitely suggest you check it out if you’re in for something with a slightly different flavor.

Aftershocks: Demon Days Pt. 4

October 20, 2015

Aftershocks 2

Several of the lights had been fried and it was a little darker now. Lydia pushed herself to her feet and pulled out a candle. With a force of will, she let the candle go and it floated into the air and lit itself. It followed her as she crossed the room and climbed into the bleachers. She leaned over and looked down at Rob. He blinked up at her and gave a weak smile.

“Are you alright, Rob?”

“I think I’m going to make it.” He said and reached his hand up carefully and Lydia helped him to his feet.

“Maybe we should get you to a hospital? Although, it looked like you had a somewhat feathery landing there.” Lydia said, gesturing the wings as best as she could.

Rob looked at her sharply. “Wait, so you saw those too? Any sign of them now?” He asked and turned in place so she could get a good look. There wasn’t a single feather now.

“No. They’re gone. If you’re alright, I need to check on Nancy. Come with me so I know you’re OK.” Lydia said and it wasn’t at all a question.

“Alright. Lead the way.” He said with a shrug and picked up his shotgun.

They walked out of the gym and into the night. Nancy was sitting on one of the swings in the swingset, a silhouette against the full moon. The demons probably used the magic of the full moon for such a massive demon summoning. It was the only thing she could think of that made sense at the moment. Lydia had no idea who the King of the Demons was but she guessed that the title was pretty self-explanatory. If he cared about her and Nancy then they must have felt threatened. If they felt threatened before, then how would they react to Ley being defeated? There was no way they were out of the woods even with the addition of Rob.

Of course, she was thinking about all this instead of walking the few feet to talk to her best friend. She didn’t know what to make of the transformation she had seen. If she were a little more truthful with herself, she would admit that she was scared. Scared that she would say the wrong thing and scared that Nancy might not be Nancy anymore. That was the scariest thought. Nancy was the first person to truly embrace her after the incident. Sunny Nancy could not be evil. It was that last thought that allowed Lydia to move her feet forward. She walked toward Nancy slowly, the candle still following her.

“Did I hurt anybody?” Nancy asked before Lydia had reached her. She asked without turning around so she couldn’t see it when Lydia shook her head. Lydia closed the gap and stood next to her friend and tried to be brave. What she had seen was scary but she had to believe that her friend was still in there. She just had to.

“Just that Ley demon and that’s a good thing, Nance,” Lydia said and reached over to stroke her friend’s back gently. She could see the tears on Nancy’s face and her normal hands clinging to the chains of the swing.

“I’m scared, Lydia. Of me.”

“Nancy, I know you. You wouldn’t hurt anybody. I believe in you.”

“I don’t know about that.” She said and turned to face Lydia, tears still flowing. “I think part of him is still inside of me.”

“I know, Nance. I know.” Lydia said and pulled her friend into a hug and the two girls stood hugging in the middle of the abandoned playground in the moonlight. Lydia could feel Nancy’s tears on her own cheek and only hugged her tighter.

“Ladies, can you explain what happened here tonight?” A voice said. Nancy and Lydia both looked up to see the muscular form of Principal Wood.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors

October 19, 2015

This past year, we lost a legendary horror writer, producer and director in Wes Craven. Craven created several horror franchises that are still well known today. He created The Hills Have Eyes (a movie I almost reviewed in this spot) about mutated killers that has been slightly ripped off over the years. He created the Scream franchise which isn’t really my cup of tea but it helped to revitalize horror in the nineties. He also created a list of creepy but interesting horror films, most of which are being remade these days. The greatest thing he accomplished, at least in my opinion, is the Nightmare on Elm Street series of films.

Freddy Krueger is an interesting character. Sure, none of the movies have an intricate character study of the guy but he’s always there and he’s always a very clear character. He was a school janitor who preyed on children in life. The parents of Elm Street rose up against him and ended up burning him to death. Of course, there’s more backstory than that but the end result turned him into a dream demon. He seeks to punish the descendants of the people who killed him and then after that it seems he seeks to conquer the world. Robert Englund always performed the roll with a sarcastic, punny wit wrapped around a bitter, angry core. He really likes killing teenagers but it’s also now part of what he is. They keep expanding on the mythology while keeping it fairly loose for the next writer.

I honestly thought I had seen Dream Warriors, afterall I had heard the Dokken song enough times. When Wes Craven died I knew that I had to review one of his films for Halloween and I started to look through his filmography. I thought of doing something recent like Red Eye and I thought of doing something more obscure like Shocker. The longer I looked at the poster for Nightmare on Elm Street 3, the more I was sure that there were gaps in my knowledge of the series. This was great news. I quickly tracked down the movie and decided to watch it for me and for this Halloween review series.

The movie is pretty great. After the first Nightmare, Wes Craven took a hike from the franchise because he didn’t really believe it was strong enough to be a franchise. He was right. The first film was fun and interesting but it was pretty basic. It created the concept we all know and love but they didn’t go far enough with it. Dreams are weird, scary, sad and silly and sometimes they are a huge vat filled with emotions. It feels like this is the movie where they finally decided to make things surreal as hell. A lot of the effects are filmed in reverse or with stop motion blended surprisingly well with live action. Where possible they used ridiculous practical effects that are straight out of somebody’s dream journal.

It feels like Freddy really ramps it up in this one. He seems to take a lot of his kills and tortures from the things his victims loves or yearns for. He tries to turn whatever is in their heart into their biggest fear or often their doom. It actually ends up being way more creepy than the usual route of turning someone’s fears against them. He could fill the movie with spiders, clowns, rats and all sorts of horrors but he creates horrors out of a lot of innocent things. He attacks children while Nancy (Heather Lankenkamp), the heroine from the original film, sits by helplessly for most of the film. The real, creepy concepts of lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis play heavily into why this movie is so creepy but also why it’s so creative and innovative especially at the time.

I definitely recommend this movie and most of the Freddy movies. It’s got all the great familiar elements and they even threw in a young Lawrence Fishburne who does a great job.  I haven’t seen a couple of the sequels and I definitely haven’t seen the recent remake. I’m glad Wes Craven returned to this series when he did and he will definitely be remembered fondly.

Sunlight Fugitives

October 17, 2015

US Marshal Mike Okubo walked slowly and a few feet behind ordinary citizen Tracy
Peterson. Mike was wearing a bulletproof vest and light tactical armor and he had his pistol drawn with the attached flashlight lit. He aimed down the hallway of the abandoned St. Jude clinic. He was ready to shoot anything and he also lighting their way. In contrast, Tracy was dressed in jeans and a tank top and had a fire axe hanging from a homemade sling on her back. The only sign in her clothing that she was here for battle were the combat boots she had borrowed from the Marshals office. Her jeans actually twinkled from the sequins sewn into them for the love of mercy.

“Do we have to creep around in the dark? Sunlight kills these things, right? Let’s get a bulldozer and punch holes in the place.” Mike asked. He knew it might just be his anxiety talking but it was a thought he kept coming back to.

“Vampires can be tricky. They could escape through the sewers before the bulldozer even hit a wall. At least, that’s what the handbook says.” Tracy said with a shrug.

It had only been a few weeks of hunting vampires and other creepy crawlies. The world of magic was now out in the open, so to speak. Mike had been a by the book sort of guy but not a handbook on hunting vampires. It was strange and way outside of his comfort zone but it was the job.

“Respectfully, this is bullshit, Miss Peterson. We’re both too new at this and we’re hunting vampirs and monsters.”

“Yeah, but the original girl started out that way and she was alone. At least, she was alone at first. I saw her at a seminar once.”

“Yeah and their group kept all of this a secret and eventually a whole town ended up getting destroyed. I’m lucky my mother decided to evacuate beforehand.” Mike said with no small amount of bitterness.

“Well, there was no way to keep it a secret after the Empowerment and we’re cooperating, aren’t we? That’s why Director Mars deputized us girls, right?” Tracy was excited to be working with the government like this. It was so exciting most of the time.

Mike sighed and nodded. “Yeah. The office really did me a great favor assigning me to the project.”

Tracy smirked. “What? Partnered with a superhero? Yeah, I envy you.” She said as she flexed a bicep that looked toned but not up to the incredible feats of strength Tracy had proved she could perform.

“Shut it, your little group is practically named after a Heavy Metal band. Wait, did you hear that?” Mike said, the last was almost a whisper.

They both stood absolutely still and silent. After a few moments they both definitely heard something moving off to the left. Before Mike could issue any orders, Tracy had kicked the door to the left off its hinges and well into the room beyond. She ran fast down a corridor before Mike could even get his own feet moving. He grumbled as he picked up the pace but he could already hear a commotion coming from two rooms away. By the time he got there, he saw Tracy standing in the middle of four men. There was a huge claw mark on her right shoulder but she had pulled her axe free.

Mike aimed and fired at the vampires farthest from Tracy and Tracy started to swing her axe at the agile creatures. Blood sprayed on the wall from bullets and axe and the vampires broke formation and desperately tried to kill Tracy. She whirled and chopped two of their heads off. She reversed and pulled a wooden stake and stabbed the third which then turned to dust as it collapsed on the floor.

That left the last one which took off in a panicked run toward the door. Of course, that put Mike directly in its path and the bullets Mike was putting in it hardly had an effect. Suddenly, the vampire stiffened and fell face first onto the ground. The axe was sticking out of its back. It wiggled but didn’t seem to be able to get back to its feet. Tracy breathed deep as Mike approached her and started to bandage her shoulder.

“How was that?” She said with a smile.

“It’s a good start.” Mike said and he couldn’t help but smile too. “We’ll call in a bus to take this one back for interrogation.”

“Good, I could definitely use a shower.” She said as she hoisted the vampire over her shoulder and started to walk out.

Horns

October 16, 2015

We are humans. We tend to do a lot of bad things as humans based on the ethical standards we’ve generally set as a society. As often as we do bad things, we think about doing bad things a lot more often. Of course, most people dismiss the impulse and move along their day trying to do the best they can. Those impulses though, can be the most terrifying things in the world. I’ve had them. It’s strange to think of walking through the world and realizing that people around you are having thoughts of their own. Some of those thoughts are angry, dark and even violent. When you’re thinking of punching the sexist guy on the bus in the nose, somebody else really hates your t-shirt and would love to drag you into a back alley. Our thoughts aren’t always that intense but dark little thoughts flit through our brains all the time and we can’t stop them.

Danielle Radcliffe has become much beloved by the American people (and I can only imagine his fame is pretty equivalent internationally). As he grew into the role of Harry Potter, I grew to respect his craft more even though he almost grew out of the role in the end. His interviews with the press are excellent as he rails against sexism and derails them with horrible puns. He’s made one of the most successful transitions between child actor and adult actor. He seems to choose roles that are challenging rather than taking the easy and potentially more lucrative route. This movie is no different and he’s excellent in it, even rocking an American accent.

The plot in the movie comes in the aftermath of a tragic death that has rocked a whole community. Everybody is suffering and hurting and the press is crawling all over it like ants. That’s a terrible situation to be thrown into even without supernatural elements. Young, unexpected death brings our lives to a screeching, uncomfortable stop even if we’re tangentially connected. It’s a gateway to introspection and apparently it’s a gateway to other strange things in this movie. Radcliffe plays a character who can suddenly bring out the worst thoughts of people around him and worse yet they ask his permission to act on them. That’s too much for one man to bear and the concept deeply unnerved me.

I’m going to cop to something here. This movie isn’t really that frightening or scary for most of its running time.  It’s more of a supernatural mystery/thriller than a horror movie. Though, it definitely hits a lot of the points that makes it feel like Halloween. Invoking the devil, death, comedy and the darkness in people’s hearts coming out are definitely in full effect.  The supernatural stuff is a slow burn so don’t be disappointed, just wait.  I guess I should also warn you that there’s a lot of sex talk and a lot of nudity and sexual situations in the movie as well. I can’t warn you about that enough.

The movie gets stranger as it progresses and at some point I had no clue where it was going. The movie got dark, really dark. Uncomfortably dark. The acting was so, so good from everybody. The music added a whole dark, almost sad element to it that really helped the mood. The direction and visuals were obviously very carefully crafted. I won’t spoil the mystery but it works so well. I definitely recommend this movie but it’s not for the squeamish. If you can stomach quite a bit of sex and violence, you will be rewarded.

Media Update 10/15/2015

October 15, 2015


Blindspot

Memory is an interesting thing. I remember things all the way back from childhood and some things I completely forgot. Whole pieces of my childhood are only remembered by me because my mother told me about them happening. At least I have my memory. The female protagonist of Blindspot (Jane Doe) has absolutely no idea who she is as she has had her memory chemically wiped. Sure, it’s a little science fictiony but it is still an interesting concept. She wakes up in the middle of Times Square naked with no memory and her body covered entirely in tattoos. I have a thing for tattoos as they have the potential to be absolutely beautiful. The tattoos here are a puzzle that will be slowly solved as the show continues. This show has a lot of stuff I’m into and I’m pretty excited to see it unfold. The acting is pretty good so far and the characters are pretty likeable and I’m interested in getting to know them. I’d check it out if I was you.


iZombie

So I had heard this show was good but I never caught it and then it popped right out of my head and I forgot it existed. When it popped up on Netflix I thought it was the perfect time to check it out. I make no secret that Veronica Mars is probably my favorite TV show of all time. It’s a show that was lost before its time and had particular rhythms that resonated with me. This show was created by the same people who created Veronica Mars. It has a lot of the same rhythms and scratches an itch I’ve had since I watched the last episode of Veronica Mars. The dialogue is my favorite part of the show but the premise is really fun too. This is the science fiction flavor of zombies and Liv’s status as a zombie allows her to see the memories of those who are murdered once she eats their brains. It’s the strangest zombie comedy/crime procedural and I love it.


The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

I have been watching the Daily Show for a long, long time. I first started watching it when it was hosted by Craig Kilborn and it was just a piece of fluff produced by Comedy Central to fill time while the station was still figuring itself out. They found Jon Stewart and it was a match made in heaven. Stewart forged the Daily Show into a news satire juggernaut that helped shape the cultural and political landscape by making fun of everything and the way we look at everything. Stewart gathered great writers and comedians around him and launched the careers of people who soared to new heights and also people who couldn’t survive away from his light. After 17 years, Stewart retired from the show still on top of his game. South African comedian Trevor Noah has now taken over hosting duties and I have to say, as a huge Jon Stewart fan, that Noah is great. He started strong and can only get better as he grows into the role. He’s hilarious and insightful and he has a strong team to back him up. The legacy is in good hands.

 

Links of the Week:
Jaws 19
Sweet Dreams
Kurt Kobain – And I Love Her
Guns
DC SuperHero Girls

Updates:
– Sons of Anarchy Season 2 was awesome but very emotional leading into Season 3
– Arrow Season 2 is awesome so far
– Picking The Flash back up mid-season one and it’s as awesome as I remembered
– I hope people are enjoying the Halloween reviews or at least checking the movies out themselves
– Blacklist Season 3 is strong and even better than the first two seasons

Eye of the Beholder

You might have noticed her blog on the sidebar of my blog but my friend has a great blog mostly about family and knitting over at her corner of the web. She’s also a part of the gaming group which is where a few of my stories came from. She’s been posting a lot more latey so if you’re into that stuff definitely check her out.

TerrorVision

October 14, 2015

So I didn’t intend to seek out another Empire Pictures movie, it just sort of happened. I picked the movies fairly randomly and based on my tastes in horror movies. I tend to lean towards the sillier horror movies because they’re a lot more fun. I shy away from torture, hauntings and found footage. TerrorVision looked like it might be a silly little movie but I was worried it might be a movie I’d seen before. Satisfied that this was an all new movie to review, I decided to give it a shot.

So obviously, Charles Band strikes again with this one being one year later than Ghoulies. As soon as the movie began I was interested to see how different this would be from Ghoulies. I was interested to see that the movie had more in common with the wackiness of the later Full Moon Pictures. The movie has a really campy feel to it, a strange mix between Batman ’66 and the way Vincent D’Onofrio acted in Men in Black. Just about everybody acts so weird that it’s really hard to be too scared of anything. The colors are straight out of a Cyndi Lauper music video and the people wear some 80’s fashions that I’m sure nobody ever really wore.

In fact, the eighties-ness of the movie is far weirder than anything else the movie throws at you. You’re instantly greeted by a woman in spandex workout gear who is the uptight, horrible mother. The leisure suit wearing dad might as well have a pipe clamped between his teeth and is an equally horrible parent. The grandpa is weird, his brains rattled from some unnamed war. The daughter looks like Cyndi Lauper exploded all over her and the son is in camo. Beyond that is punk, swinging, early MTV, Science Fiction, comedy and horror thrown in a blender and then splattered everywhere.

I get the feeling that the movie is trying to make a weird comment on the dangers of television but the message is kind of lost in the mix. Sure the family in question literally has a television in every room but we usually don’t get monsters coming out of our television sets no matter how obsessed we are with television. When it comes to lessons, I think we’re left with one of the oldest lessons that horror movies teach us. When a kid says there’s a monster running amuck you believe him. Also, don’t drug your kids into oblivion so that they don’t bother you while you’re engaging in swinging.

The movie had a lot of dated references but that just manages to up the camp factor which makes the movie weirder and funnier. I have to add points to the imaginary scorecard because the movie took a shot at ET, a movie I’ve always hated. After four years, I suppose it was time for a televison-based monster alien to invade instead. In the end the movie was way better than I thought it was even if it was more science fiction than horror. I would suggest you check it out if you can stomach campy humor.

Aftershocks: Demon Days Pt. 3

October 13, 2015

Aftershocks 2

The gym was quiet and the three of them fell just as silent when they entered, listening to their footsteps echoing back from the walls. That had been a while ago. Now the sun was beginning to sink outside and it was already just after seven. They had arrived on time but leave it to demons to be late to the party. It was irritating and the atmosphere was thick with magic and anticipation. Lydia could feel the growing shadows grating against her protection spell like a bad rim on the road. Lydia was starting to get pissed and she could tell Nancy and Rob weren’t pleased either. Rob paced back and forth, full of nervous energy. Nancy absently chewed on the sleeve of her sweater.

When it happened, it was like stop motion from a movie in the late eighties. Monstrosities seemed to form from thin air or the shadows. They climbed all over the bleachers, arranging themselves like some unholy choir. None of them made a single sound but every single one had eyes for the three would-be demon slayers. Their looks were confident and not a bit wary of what was going to happen next. Some of them had tails, some had wings, some had multiple limbs but all of them had vicious claws and teeth. They looked like something out of an off-brand horror film but the fact that they were real was absolutely chilling. Rob stopped pacing and all three of them slowly moved closer together.

A man stepped out of the far wall and smiled big. Well, he was not a man exactly. There was definitely something demonic and evil about him even though he looked mostly human. His dark hair hung a little long, his eyes were white and without pupils and something was off about his jaw. Lydia looked at her watch and it was now 7:06. She grunted and unsheathed her sword.

“You’re late.” She said, approaching the middle of the basketball court.

“I think I’m right on time.” The lead demon said, unleashing a less than disarming smile.

“Who are you? Why are you even here?” Nancy asked, a little bit of hysteria struggling in her voice. It was not unlike the panic of a trapped bird.

“I am called Ley. The King of Demons sent us. When the King says hail, you hail to the king. He doesn’t take the fall of trusted lieutenants lightly. The thing is, we didn’t invite you, short stuff.” The demon said and pointed directly at Rob.

“Well, tough luck, Chinnigan,” Rob said and Ley glared and touched his prominent chin. “You’ve got me.” He smiled and looked at the girls. “Us. Are we going to fight or what?”

“Come get some,” Ley growled.

Ley didn’t move but the demons surged forward all once like a tidal wave with teeth. Lydia held her hand up and they slammed into her protection spell, knocking her back a few feet. That’s when the battle started. Lydia began swinging her sword and almost immediately lost sight of the others. She had to hold onto the belief that they were still alive. She really didn’t have much experience with a sword so she just kept slashing and avoiding the demons. After a while, her muscles started to burn and she knew she couldn’t keep this up much longer.

Lydia glimpsed Ley through the crowd and he was leaned against the wall, watching the action. Seeing him so nonplussed was really disheartening. She suddenly tripped over a tiny demon she hadn’t seen before and the fall felt like it was in slow motion. Right before she landed she spotted Rob, blood flying everywhere as a claw gouged his forehead. There was a sudden blinding light and Lydia covered her eyes and hoped the demons wouldn’t take advantage of the moment. When she looked again, Rob was standing in a clear space, free from demons. Glowing white, feathery wings had sprouted from his shoulders.

Rob drew his shotgun and started to pull the trigger over and over again. A bright light erupted from the shotgun with each shot and demons simply disintegrated when it hit them. Half of the remaining demons tried to scatter and the other half tried to rush Rob. Neither tactic was of any use as both groups of demons disappeared in a hail of white light. Rob stood triumphant, wings spread wide and a distant look on his face. He looked much older than he was in that moment and Lydia wondered what the hell was happening. With all the demons gone, Ley finally stepped away from the wall and rushed Rob. He hit Rob with surprising force that sent Rob flying across the gym and into the bleachers.

Ley started stalking toward Lydia, an axe suddenly in his hands and a sadistic smile forming on his face. It was at this point that Lydia realized that she had not gotten back to her feet after the shock of seeing Rob transform for the lack of a better term. She tried to push herself up but knew that she wouldn’t make it to her feet before Ley arrived. The axe started to come down and Lydia held up her hand in the dim hope the protection spell would still work. The axe didn’t make contact and Lydia opened her eyes in time to see it flying through the air. Nancy was standing there and giving Ley a very defiant look. Lydia had never seen Nancy angry but there she was seething with anger.

“Get away from her, You Bastard!” Nancy cried out and the sound almost sounded like she had a microphone. Then Nancy started to scream and her arms got visibly longer and her hands formed into nasty claws. Ley just looked stunned and blinked at Nancy like a mouse looks at a snake just before the end. Nancy swung her hand and the claws bit into Ley’s neck and swung with the other one and off came his head.  Ley and his head tumbled to the ground and for a moment Lydia saw his wide-eyed expression of shock before the body parts dissolved into a jet black goo and then evaporated. Before Lydia could get to her feet, Nancy ran from the gym and out of sight.

American Psycho

October 12, 2015

I have a bias against the rich and wealthy people of America. My family always had money but we were never rich, like most Americans we lived on a budget and we did our best. We had lean times and times that were not so lean. However, as I grew more politically aware and knowledgeable about the world I grew to resent the truly wealthy people. In a lot of ways they are like aliens that walk the Earth and somehow absorb our currency faster than normal Earth humans. Many of them lose touch with what it is to be human and their children are born never knowing the true value of a dollar. These people are scary. The mindset that there will always be more than enough money frees some of them from any regard for human life. They grow socially conservative and guard their money against those who desperately need it. Their concerns become trivial by average standards. This movie is full of these people and it is terrifying.

I’m a huge Christian Bale fan and I have been since I discovered him when he took the role of Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy of movies. He brings everything to a performance even in a bad movie. I’ve since tried to slowly consume all of his filmography bit by bit. I even lingered and watched the Shaft remake because he played one of the villains. He was even great in the Shaft remake, what more do you want from the guy? In this he’s incredibly creepy. He plays a wealthy young man who does something with business in the eighties. He is very successful but something is very, very wrong with him. He conforms to society but it is quickly apparent that he has deep psychological problems and is just going through the motions to cover them up. His speech pattern is very superficial and unnatural, almost always smooth but with a weird rhythm and tone to it. He ocassionally seems to have outbursts of incredible anger but the character he’s yelling at never reacts so you’re left wondering if that was just in his head. It’s a really good portrayal of a serial killer.

The movie lacks any sort of sense most of the time. The surreal atmosphere of the super rich coupled with the insanity of Bale’s character makes for a disjointed, uncomfortable plot structure. Half of the time there’s barely a reason for the next thing to happen and even Bale’s narration isn’t going to help you very much with his motivations. I really gave up trying to figure out exactly what was going on pretty early in the movie. Instead, I sat back and enjoyed the ride while letting little interpretations and theories bounce around in my head. The insane main character is not the only crazy part of the movie. The people around him tend to react very strangely in that they largely don’t react. He’s very strange, the kind of person I would desperately try to avoid at a party or any other engagement once I had met him. Yet, the world around him is permissive and nonchalant about his eccentricity. Maybe they’re afraid to dig deeper and find the madness underneath. When the madness finally does come out it’s like a volcanic eruption and it’s all the scarier.

This movie is very well put together. Unlike a lot of the movies I will have reviewed this month, there was an actual budget behind this one. The camera work and music feel more artistic and that helps add to the pretentious and shallow feeling that I got. The director, Mary Harron, has only directed four films in her career. However, she was also the co-writer for this one (and all her films) which earns her a lot of points in my book. She has worked on two films concerning Andy Warhol which explains some of the weirdness of the movie. Yes, I am aware that the movie is intended as a parody but parody often rings a bit true. The film is visually designed with a minimalist and simple eighties style. There is a lot of black and white and some other expanses of solid colors that just feel empty. She and her friend Guinevere Turner adapted the movie from the novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis. Ellis did a lot of true crime research for his novel which I admit I haven’t read. However, I do see that he did a lot of film work as well as novels and obviously his work translated really well into a great movie.

Really, I was surprised by how good this movie was. The atmosphere was creepy, the characters were offputting and every part of it really worked. The actors beside Bale are all really good and put in more subtle performances which happily clashes with Bale’s performance. Even Willem Dafoe puts in a subtle performance and that’s really saying something. I would suggest you checking this out if you can stomach a lot of gore and a little sex.

Jack Frost (1997)

October 9, 2015

I’ve actually wanted to see this movie for years but I never got around to it. Now, with the internet, seeing such things takes just a few keystrokes and is amazingly easy. I don’t know what it is about setting horror movies at Christmas or other snowy times. Maybe, like killer clowns, the people who make horror movies want to juxtapose things meant to delight us with things meant to terrify us. I ran to the window many a time during winter to see snow piling down, joy building in my heart. I listened to WBAL for the school closings (and later work closings) with intense anticipation. I was never a winter sports enthusiast but I always loved walking and playing in snow and ice as a kid. I still get a kick out walking along a snow-covered path and feeling the intense quiet a snowstorm seems to bring. So, I was excited to see this joy turned against me.

The movie follows a serial killer (named Jack Frost) who is caught by a small town sheriff (from the town of Snowmanton) based on a traffic stop. The killer is tried and sentenced to death which requires him to be transported at night in what appears to be a blizzard. The prison transport collides with a truck carrying genetic research also during a blizzard at night. Everything seems plausible so far. The two trucks collide and suddenly they got their murderer in the genetic goop and vice versa and now he’s a killer snowman. Yes, it’s that old chestnut. He proceeds to try to take revenge on the sheriff instead of the legal system that tried him or whatever. A hundred snow and ice puns ensue as people are slaughtered. The townsfolk seem alternately very scared and very apathetic about the whole thing.

Before college, I had very little experience with small towns. After college, my first job was right in the middle off a small town. In a small town, people are in each other’s business a lot. They can’t help it. In a situation where everybody pretty much knows everybody, you learn a lot about the few people you’re able to talk to. You grow uncomfortably close to these people. Also, it always feels like there’s very little to do in a small town which isn’t entirely true. There’s a multitude of bake sales, fairs, carnivals and other momentary distractions but it’s usually at least an hour drive to the closest movie theater and other such entertainment. It’s definitely a foreign world and one I never quite adapted to. This movie is rife with that claustrophobic feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere. Don’t worry, it doesn’t linger on this for long but it’s always in the background.

There’s no way anybody ever took this movie seriously and that includes the actors and crew. The thing kind of smells of Airplane-style parody as things are offbeat and very punny. It ends up being a little wackier than I expected which isn’t exactly a bad thing. The killer snowman was something that intrigued me as I expected the effect would be done with stop motion animation. What seemed like a no-brainer was too much money for a straight to video release apparently. Instead, most of the work is done with what looks like animatronics and voice overs. In fact, the killer snowman doesn’t appear all that much. He easily kills the dumbest characters that you could kill with a dull spork. One scene gets a little raunchy so this, in addition to a little gore, should discourage parents from letting their little kids watch this one.

My favorite part is that Jack Frost has a very set goal that he explains in the first ten minutes of the movie and it is repeated several times so we don’t forget it. He wants to kill the sheriff who caught him. However, he easily succumbs to the same psychopathic ADHD that plagues supernatural killers like Charles Lee Ray. Instead of pursuing his goal, he lets himself get distracted by easy targets and cracking jokes that waste time he could have been using to accomplish his goal. Of course, a horror movie needs victims so you can’t complain too much. In fact, I didn’t complain much and I would suggest if you’re in a jovial holiday spirit to check this one out. Make sure it’s the 1997 Jack Frost as the 1998 one is way too scary.


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