Posts Tagged ‘Slasher’

Media Update 7/11/19

July 11, 2019


Defunctland

I am one of the biggest fans of amusement parks who also does not really like going on rides. I did not like them as a kid and I have shied away from them ever since. However, I am a huge nerd when it comes to the construction and design of amusement park rides, attractions, and haunted houses. Recently, I discovered this YouTube documentary series which charts the rise and fall of amusement park elements and whole parks. It explores the creation and destruction of rides and attractions that range from the nostalgic to the super obscure. The show tackles all of the creative, bureaucratic, and logistical decisions that led to each subject and their demise. For example, the series charts the entire career of Michael Eisner, a household name from my childhood. While the series is largely Disney-based so far, it also covers Six Flags, Cedar Fair, and some more obscure independent parks and attractions. There are also two companion series in the form of DefunctTV and podcasts. The podcasts are often hour-long interviews with people like puppeteers, Imagineers, urban explorers, cultural historians, and many other experts in their fields. DefunctTV is a series of deep dives on now-defunct television shows, usually involving puppets. They are currently telling the entire history of the Jim Henson Company from Sam and Friends currently up to the Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss and everything in between. I definitely recommend this series.


Slasher

I love horror movies and the slasher movie is part of the popularity and longevity of the horror genre by giving the genre a boost in the seventies. This show is a tribute to that subgenre with each season exploring a different story about a costumed serial killer. Each season also has to do with the main characters having to deal with the buried past and what happens when that past comes back to haunt you. I am currently on the first season which concerns The Executioner and it definitely feels like a comfortable tribute to horror. There are elements of The Silence of the Lambs, Scream, Halloween, Sleepaway Camp, and Prom Night. The show definitely has both horror and mystery elements as the main characters try to figure out who the killer is and who will be targeted next. As a horror buff, I do not find the show to be very scary as the jump scares are not frequent. However, there is definitely quite a bit of gore in some of the kills. Not insane amounts but a few so far have surprised me a bit. The show has a great ensemble cast but a special shout out to star Katie McGrath who struggles between playing detective and running from her past believably. I definitely recommend this one too.


Agatha and the Truth of Murder

It took me a long time to do so but recently I finally read some Agatha Christie books and now I see why she is so iconic. While not all of her books are for me, I recognize that she is one of the true giants who helped grow the Mystery genre. A while ago I discovered the famous tale about 11 days that were missing from Agatha Christie’s life. She had apparently blacked out and could not remember where she had been for nearly two weeks. This urban legend has now been proven false by historians. The truth is that Christie checked into a spa for that time while trying to mentally deal with her failing marriage. This movie tells a story trying to fill in those 11 days by sending Christie on a real-life murder case. The story dips into the real reasons behind her disappearance but in a more fanciful, positive way. The movie starts slowly with a lot of nods toward Christie’s early career. I was about ready to give up on the movie but then it kicked into gear and I ended up really liking it. It plays with a lot of Agatha Christie tropes and archetypes but also real-life criminal investigations. Ruth Bradley is a great, spirited Agatha Christie who learns how to turn things around in her darkest hour. I recommend it.

Music of the Week:
Billie Eilish – ilomilo

Logic – 1-800-273-8255 ft. Alessia Cara, Khalid

Blue October – How to Dance in Time

Chloe x Halle – The Kids Are Alright

Ed Sheeran – BLOW (with Chris Stapleton & Bruno Mars)

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Digging Up the Past”
– I watched more Game of Thrones Season 3
– I watched more Arrow Season 7
– I watched more How to Get Away With Murder Season 1
– I watched more Losers Season 1
– I watched more The Flash Season 5
– I finished Legends of Tomorrow Season 4
– I started watching Star Trek: Voyager Season 3
– I started watching Designated Survivor Season 3

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Prom Night (1980)

October 26, 2018

My prom was rather uneventful. I skipped my Junior Prom, completely uninterested in the event and my friends did not seem too gung-ho about it either. While the richer kids were looking at the options for limos, dresses, and tuxes, I was excited to do just about anything else. I honestly do not remember what I did instead of going to Junior Prom and I know for a fact that nobody asked where I was the following Monday. I was already the weird theater kid who would have probably gone full goth if he did not have social anxiety. The following year, the Senior version of Prom approached and I was similarly nonplussed. Some of my friends were bringing dates but I had nobody and I had zero desire to ask anybody. I also had zero interest in going without a date. I just did not understand the appeal. I was working backstage at a show downtown at the time anyway so I had an excuse to get out of it. However, my mother pushed me to go anyway and so I went to the venue about thirty minutes before the scheduled end time. I really only agreed to attend because there was a tour of the cemetery where Poe was buried but when I arrived, the tours had been canceled. So I left.

Obviously, from what is written above, one could infer that I was alienated from my fellow students in high school. That is really how I felt. I felt that people I went to school with could care less if I lived or died and forgot me as soon as I was no longer in their field of vision. Looking back, I know that I decided this because it was a defense mechanism because of my social anxiety. If I wrote people off so I did not have to risk myself or put myself out there while I was in an extremely vulnerable time in my life. I had really good friends, two best friends at that time actually, but I was not as plugged into the social scene. I spent a lot of time with headphones on, scribbling in composition notebooks with bad poetry, story ideas, video game plots, short plays, short stories, and even song lyrics. It was during this period that I really embraced writing, something I still really love. In my memory, I shut myself off and just tried to survive. However, I went to reunions later and realized that people did remember me and remembered me fondly. They cared about what I was doing and who I am now. So, a lot of it was in my head and I have found that is a common experience in high school.

The first thing I noticed (as a former sound designer and technician), is the excellent sound in the movie. Older movies had fewer options when it came to special effects but they definitely could apply cool effects to audio. Over and over it is a part of older horror movies I have reviewed here like The Innocents, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and The Hills Have Eyes. This movie is no different. The simple string music and the deep, rich sounds, and the proper use of echo sounds are so important to making this movie scary. Of course, this is also a disco movie but that is to be expected for a school dance movie in the early eighties. The pacing of this movie is also really good. There is a slow build to the movie that is instrumental to the tension of the movie. The movie has a slow burn that does well with ratcheting up the tension so that the viewer is good and ready for the chaos to begin. It also lets us get to know all of the players really well so that we will empathize with them as much as possible.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the cast in this one, especially considering a new release in theaters right now (Oct. 2018). The movie stars Jamie Lee Curtis, two years after Halloween so she is a little more mature and she has a few more movies under her belt. This was during the time she was gaining her title of Scream Queen (three horror movies in 1980 alone!). There is a reason that she is so celebrated. She is a great actress and she was really proving herself in this movie. Her father (and the principal) is played by Leslie Nielsen, who people forget can play a good straight man in non-comedic movies. George Touliatos plays the police lieutenant who is trying to track the killer, a very serious and haunted man. His scenes are very psychological as he is consumed by the responsibility of keeping the community safe. There are plenty of other teenage victims, the point of most slasher movies and it is interesting to see them interact in high school before the big dance. It creates a lot of intrigue, laying plenty of red herrings so it is harder to figure out who the killer is.

Overall, I really liked this movie. It came out the same year as Friday the 13th and is similar but I feel like it is way more artistic and fleshed out. Despite having Jamie Lee Curtis in it, it failed to be as big a hit even though I feel like it is the better of the two. Coming from me, that is high praise. The movie is more complex than many horror movies of its day (and later) in that it explores the victims and the killer and the situation in depth before really plunging into the real horror. I went in expecting this to be goofy but it had way more thought and heart than I thought it would.

Terrifier (2017)

October 8, 2018

I have a long history of hating clowns, a rivalry that I really like to promote when I can. Clowns are scary entities largely because of their over the top appearance and the uncanny valley. As a young, mostly shy kid, I was the antithesis of in-your-face and I have never really liked anybody in my personal space. With my anxiety issues, that personal space always expanded far beyond what most people would consider reasonable. When I went to the circus or birthday parties, seeing these clowns getting up in kids’ business made me really nervous. I did not want to engage with a stranger and these strangers were paid to engage with kids so I did my best to avoid it. The same goes for mascots in stadiums and amusement parks. I would cringe and start to feel the beginnings of fight or flight and my heart would beat faster until the situation passed. I do not remember really having any interactions with clowns but I also did my best to avoid them. Born from social anxiety, that fear grew and to this day I still avoid them if I can. However, I will be eternally fascinated by their aesthetic.

Another part of why I always felt nervous around clowns is that they are often always silent. As somebody who was already nervous dealing with people, I think the idea of dealing with somebody who was not explaining themselves, In addition, when somebody is not talking, it is easy to feel that they are also not listening. Also, as I discussed a bit in The Neon Demon review, silence is inherently scary on its own. I am not a big fan of silence in general. Having grown up as a city boy, I was accustomed to sirens and traffic as my lullabies. My life had a constant soundtrack so whenever it was quiet, it signaled that something was wrong. Of course, that was eventually fixed somewhat by attending Quaker meeting and living out in the boonies for five years. However, when you are waiting for something bad to happen, there is nothing worse than silence. That is my theory on why the blood lab that I went to recently plays inane talk shows in their waiting room. It is hard to be too scared when there is so much inane noise going on.

I have seen quite a few slasher movies at this point so I have seen a lot of the variations. When something new is presented, I consume it eagerly. That was the case with this movie. On its surface, this is a simple concept and a simple plot. Art the Clown just really likes killing people and proceeds to do so. The movie plays on the usual fears of clowns that I highlighted above. Art is absolutely silent and that ended up being way more terrifying than I thought it would be. David Howard Thornton plays Art and he is obviously an actor’s actor. He brings style and art to what could have been a forgettable performance in a forgettable movie. Like I said, the actor stays absolutely silent throughout but he apparently had some training in mime because his movement tells such a story. He is at once scary, funny, and confusing as he glides silently through the movie. His makeup and design enhance this as they created something that you might see a horror cosplayer make but is also deeply unsettling. He uses the greasepaint and the prosthetics to his full advantage to create a fascinating picture in every frame he is in. When so many of my favorite horror villains have witty catchphrases, it was refreshing to see one who could do the same with just a look.

The effects in this movie were absolutely fantastic. Setting aside the aforementioned brilliant costuming, the rest of the effects are eye-catching. I was immediately amazed by the gore effects in this movie which are extensive. Everything looked practical and everything oozed and sprayed. It was very visceral but it was also so much blood that it felt unreal and it did not rattle me as much as I thought it would. It is basically the Deadpool effect where violence gets to a cartoonish level. Of course, maybe I have seen so many horror movies at this point that I am a little inured to the violence. Of course, part of it was that the violence was actually a relief. What really got me was the long periods between the kills where I had no idea what Art was going to do next or when he would pop up. The tension absolutely destroyed me for most of the movie and I felt like I never relaxed from start to finish. Part of that is that Art is just so blatant in his actions. There are jump scares, sure but that was not what made this one rattle me. It had a refreshing psychology to it.

Overall, I really loved this movie. It took a lot of old tropes and twisted them a bit to create something that felt fresh and new. I cringed at every death but I thought that it felt like it did new things with the genre. It should instantly make Art the Clown into a new horror icon. I have read that there is a previous movie that has Art in it and I will be checking that out as soon as possible. The movie was delightfully over the top in all of the best ways. It definitely reinvigorated me to finish this challenge I have set before myself once again. I recommend this but it is definitely not for those with weak stomachs.


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