Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Distinct Lack of Magic Munchkins

Now, you all know how I feel about remakes.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Remakes, in and of themselves, are not a bad thing if they treat the original with the respect that it deserves.  This brings us to today's post.


1982's Poltergeist is an amazing film that STILL frightens me.  This new one?

So, the dealio is these folks have to move into a new house but because he just got laid off, they have to take the best one available which, frankly doesn't have a damn thing wrong with it  except for the fact that it's near power lines (and was built on top of a cemetary, duh...) Oh, did I spoil that for you?  Seriously?  Because you watched the first one without watching the original and didn't expect that?  Poor you.  Have some gummie bears.

Sam Rockwell hates spoilers.  He gets pouty and makes impulse purchases.
So, within the first week that they're there, they find the one place on the bannister that always give you an electric shock, a box of creepy-ass clown dolls (because one just wasn't enough), a squirrel in the attic bedroom (where they put the boy who's consistently frightened of EVERYTHING because childhood trauma puts hairs on your chest and, seriously, he's terrified because his mom lost him at the mall... I don't believe in bullying but I really do think that some "buck up, soldier" is kind of called for, here) and a human vertebrae.  They aren't even unpacked yet when the boy has ghosts making card castles out of his comic books, the eldest sister is almost sucked into the basement floor and the Carol Anne analog (because they had to name her "Madison") gets sucked into the closet to talk to us through the TV.

Hello, Duggars.
Cue the paranormal investigators.  One of them is the dude with a TV show who just happens to be a real psychic.  Woooo.  Oh and he's the college investigator's ex husband.  Wooooo. That's actually scarier than the ghosts.  Wooooo, alimony and half-assed "I used to sleep with you" jokes.  Fuckers.

Now, I'm not going to say this is a bad movie because it isn't.  What I WILL say is that it is not a GOOD movie and it's a piss-poor attempt at recreating Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg's almost literal magic.  They left out a lot of the stuff that we liked in the original.  A lot of that touching, heartfelt humor is gone.  Now it's just a family in a haunted house.

With this thing, but still...
They didn't leave ANY of the mystery.  Just because there's technology now that COULD allow us to "see the other side" doesn't mean we should actually USE it.  In the original, we had a rope and a mother's love.  In the remake, we get a remote control drone with a fucking camera.  There's no PASSION in this film.  There's no real sense of danger.  In the original, we had a physical scary tree that required an actual fight to rescue the boy.  In the remake, we get cheesy CGI and the boy just falls out of it with the worst fucking video-game ragdoll physics programming ever written.   We don't even get the damn steak scene, we get ghosts who know how to use a fucking power drill.

You missed.
So, while this is NOT a bad movie and would probably be fine for someone who has not seen the original, I would hope that it would inspire them to go and watch the original which is a far superior film.  I was SUPREMELY unimpressed. 

Fuck you, Sam Raimi.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Not Since The Accident...

So, this TropeFest is gonna be a little odd because I'm talking about a trope that's most often found in comedy but trust me.  I'm a blogger.  I know stuff.

Let's begin.

Let's talk about "The Incident".

You know.  THAT "Incident".

You mean you don't know?

Well, I'm not sure I can tell you...

The Indicent, in whatever form it takes, again, usually comedic, is something that happened in the past that, for realsies, is never to be spoken of again.  It is the Lord Voldemort of occurrences.  It was so horrible, embarrassing, ludicrous or just plain insane that words can never be formed in the appropriate syntax to explain it and you will never find out what it is.



This trope first came into prominence with, of all things, the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes where it came up a LOT.  Bill Watterson came up with "The Noodle Incident".  A tale so fractured in-universe that Sherlock Holmes and Santa Clause combined could not piece this shit together.  Calvin maintains he was framed.  You know how I feel about children.  Watterson decided that it was best to never say exactly what happened because he couldn't come up with something more awesome than we could.

Now, in comedy, this is amazingness because our imaginations can come up with some pretty hilarious things in the context of schadenfreude.  Perhaps involving whipped cream and inflatable sex toys.

Don't you judge me...

And there are even some times when we figure out what "The Incident" was.  We don't really want to know but if it's over-the-top enough, we'll buy it and it will be all giggle-worthy and shit.


And, a lot of times, even in horror movies it's used for comedic effect.  In Aliens, we hear about "Arcturian poontang" which, you have to admit, is imagination-inspiring.  In Escape From New York, everyone keeps saying to Snake that they thought he was dead.  We never find out why.  In Ghostbusters (yes, I'm counting this as a horror movie, horror-comedy counts), we have the Third Reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick Supplicants, whatever the fuck that is.

Fuck you, Axl.  Just... fuck you.
However, it is also sometimes played for NO LAUGHS AT ALL!!!  Because fuck you.

In Predator, there's "that little job in Libya".  In Aliens, "Just another bug hunt".  Billy's lucky backpack in Jurassic Park III.  Hell, we have Butch eating Red's leg in Disney's The Lone Ranger.  WE DON'T EVER NEED TO KNOW THESE THINGS! 

Seriously, never. 'Cause eew.

And this also makes me want to slap the bejeezus out of horror directors that try to give us too much villain backstory because STOP IT! 

I'm lookin' at YOU, Rob Zombie.  You smug dick.

Cheese and crackers, leave us with some fucking MYSTERY.  Damn.  Give a fucking "Incident" and let us work on our own head-canon.  Fuck.  Just... stop.

All jokes aside, this trope is usually fairly effective.  It engages the audience but not in an overly distracting kind of way.  I've not seen a complete bomb of it's use, yet.

Not since the accident.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

What the Dook?

Today, children, we delve into yet another highly praised, celebrated, critically-acclaimed pile of shit.

The Babadook.  No, really, that's what it's called.  The Babadook.  It's like the writer just kind of hung around heroin addicts and thought that overdose babbling was the coolest sounding thing, ever.

Goddammit, Kristen, you're not allowed to help anymore!
So, anyway, the story starts out as all good Disney movies do, with the death of a parent.  Wait, did I say Disney?  This isn't Disney.  Why did I say Disney?  Oh... because it's true.  ANYWAY, our lead, Amelia (Essie Davis) and Sam (Noah Wiseman) are spending the next two hours reeling over losing Oskar in the automobile accident that killed him on Amelia's drive to the fucking delivery room.  So, Sam is mourning someone he never knew except as the occasional dick poke during his formative months.  I get why Amelia's sad about it but damn.  Seriously?

During the course of all of this grief, Amelia (who is not the sanest crayon in the box to begin with) comes across a pop-up book that she was not previously aware of and reads it to Sam as a bedtime story.  Because this is a horror movie, the book really isn't something that should be read to children.  In this book, the creature described, the titular Babadook, is one that will haunt the fuck out of you for just knowing about it.  Like Jesus.  Or Rush Limbaugh.

I do kinda want a copy, though.  I mean, it would make more sense than the Bible.
And so the haunting begins.  And it's less "haunting" than it's "Shut the fuck up, Sam, before I rip that whiny tongue of yours out and feed it to you because you are the worst."  'Cause, y'see, kids, this movie isn't really about the haunting.  It's about a woman who has never gotten over the death of her husband because she's got a constant, loud, disobedient reminder living in her child's room.  All touching his father's old stuff and making deadly projectiles to protect himself from the monster in the closet and shit.

And screaming.  So much high-pitched screaming.
Now, I say this is a pile of shit because I don't consider it a horror movie.  It's a family drama about the madness of grief and when taken in that context, it's actually quite good.  It's just all of the stupid shit we have to sift through to GET to that little nugget that I don't care for.

Exhibit A.
When taken as a horror movie, though, it falls flat.  It's a slow-burn, first off, and while I LIKE a slow-burn from time to time, I just wasn't feeling it, here.  I didn't need 2 hours of screaming that only dogs should be able to hear over something that got less screen-time than the shark in Jaws.  I wanted to see more of Amelia going through her mental illness paces, since that's the direction the film was heading and I didn't see that.  It was too literal in some spots and not literal enough in others.

Oh, thank Great Blogathotep it's over.
This is another of those "Your Mileage May Vary" numbers.  I, personally, didn't care for it but, then again, consider the source.  I'm much more a "slasher" guy than an "haunter" guy so take this with a grain of salt.

Oh, and stop reading mysterious pop-up books, for real.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A moment of solemnity.

So.  Let's talk about the Hugo awards for a second and what kind of bullshit the Sad Puppies campaign really is.  I know that the Hugos are for "Science Fiction" but without Science Fiction, we wouldn't have Alien and that would be a sad thing indeed.

Larry Correia, a half-assed  "writer" who likes to get all "Halo" in his books about hunting monsters started Sad Puppies three years ago because he was convinced that people were ignoring "Right" fiction because, lo and behold, people like to read books where societal underdogs actually win.  He called it Sad Puppies because “boring message fiction is the leading cause of Puppy Related Sadness".  (I've read some of Correia's books.  They're kind of "Ooh-Rah" but not utterly horrible.  NOT award-worthy by any stretch.)

Now, a campaign to garner votes is not against the rules but the people behind the campaign, known as the "Rabid Puppies" are led by folks like Vox Day and John C. Wright (Wright, by the way, believes that he's never heard of lesbians being beaten to death with axe handles and crowbars... because, in his very own words from his reaction to The Legend of Korra, that's "the instinctive reaction of men toward fags.")  A short story nominated for a Hugo last year called "If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love", which is playful, haunting and beautiful, garnered 65 votes and STILL ended up in third place because the Sad Puppies folks were offended by the fact that the story turned out to be how science fiction is how some people cope with the tragedies of real life, in this case, a gay bashing.

Don't get me wrong.  The Right has their share of good, award-worthy authors.  I've even read some of them and while I don't agree with their politics and will borrow, rather than buy, their books, they certainly have their share of talent.  This kind of bullshit is straight-out ballot stuffing and it's not fair to ANYONE involved.  No one is winning based on talent.  People are winning based on politics.

So, all of this being said, I'm REALLY fucking tired of hate-sourcing and hate-funding.  I'm tired of being polite to people and "respecting their views" because people like Correia and Wright and Day obviously don't respect mine.  I'm about DONE with political correctness.  You know what?  Call me a fag.  You know you want to.  And I'll call you out on your shit, too.  I no longer have time for pleasantries.  I will SAY to people "Happy Holidays" and if they're offended, that's their problem.  I will BE an out and proud gay man because I am a human being who is deserving of all of the rights and protections this free country has to offer.  I will BE an intelligent atheist and continue to point out the hypocrisies and logical fallacies of religion.  I will BE an outspoken activist for my community and other disenfranchised individuals and I will FIGHT to ensure that everyone is treated fairly.  I will BE myself, inappropriate humor and all.

Above all, I will not tolerate hate.  Period.

Hate is what the Hugos have become.  And that makes me die a little.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Put the Fucking Shovel Away

For months, now, I've been hearing about the fanTAStic "mockumentary" by Adam Green, director of the cult favorites Hatchet and Holliston, both of which are friggin' awesome, by the name of Digging Up the Marrow.  

"It's AMAZING," they said.  "You'll LOVE it," they said. "It will change the way you view the world," they said.

No, really, they actually said that.

What we have here is another found footage nightmare.  And by "nightmare" I mean "I want my 6 bucks back from the cable company because this movie is so suck-tastic that it should have bought me dinner first."

The deal is that Adam Green gets this crazy motherfucker trying to get him to make a movie about "The Marrow" except the dude is so fucking paranoid you'd think he said "Fuck it.  I don't need those anti-psychotics and I think I'll start my day with a dime bag."


* The Management wishes to inform you that while he does not enjoy the mystical properties of marijuana himself, others are perfectly free to indulge.

In the process of all of these shenanigans, they lose a camera, find the freaky fucker tampering with the cameras, catch him in some gigantic lies, find out that he's approached other horror directors since they would be the only ones to believe him (they don't) and see a few sort-of-legit monsters. Most of the movie, though, is that dude from Reaper telling Adam Green and his crew to shut up and turn the lights off.

So, yeah.  90 minutes of the movie are wild goose chase.  10 minutes are a little freaky and about 2 seconds of it are actually scary.

 What kills me is that this could have been very good.  It could have been the monster movie to end all monster movies but, no, we had to suffer through a couple of hours of exposition.  No legit plot, very little in the way of scares and some half-ass latex makeup. 

Y'all can skip out on this one.  It did not please me.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Found Footage Can Still Suck It.

I will say it again and again, found footage films can eat a bag of dicks.  They're cheap, they're disorienting and I'm tired of them. 

But here's the thing.  I found one that I almost like.  Almost.

See, this here is a found footage film for art history and antiquities majors.  I appreciate that, not because I'm an art history or antiquities major, but because I do enjoy a thoughtful movie from time to time.  The title, As Above, So Below comes from the basic tenet of alchemy and Hermeticism, "That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing" and the movie itself is an abridged version of a journey through the seven circles of Hell a la Dante's Inferno.

And it's a good damn thing that Inferno is in the Public Domain because somebody would be pantsless for a long time after the lawyers got through with them.  Meh, who needs pants?  I don't.  I'm pantsless right now.

Hey!  Let's fuck with a priceless fucking antique in a museum!  Loads of fun.

ANYWAY, a recurring theme in the movie is that they have to keep going down.  Down through the fucking catacombs of Paris.  Because that's a direction everybody wants to head.  Even their buddy La Voule (The Mole) who basically just wanders around down there in a daze because he's stuck in fucking boneyard purgatory.   Much like watching Catacombs, that abysmal movie with P!nk in it by FearNet. 

So, yeah, they have to keep going down because the only way out of Hell is through the very bottom of the very last circle.  In the meantime, another motto of alchemy is "VISITA INTERIORA TERRAE RECTIFICANDO INVENFIES OCCULTUM LAPIDEM" or "V.I.T.R.I.O.L." (a term that people who play White Wolf's "Prometheus" should recognize right out of the gate).  The phrase translates to "Visit the Earth's interior parts; by rectification you shall find the hidden stone".  Remembering that the purpose of Hell is to punish sinners for wrongdoing in order to make their souls right enough for Heaven (which apparently never works because "eternity" is neverending by design, should you believe in that sort of thing) the phrase in the movie's case lends itself to characters that "rectify" their own perceived wrongdoings, such as Scarlet's self-imposed guilt over her father's suicide or George's undeserved guilt over his brother's death, neither of which they were truly guilty.  Vitriol is another name, by the way, of sulfuric acid.which means that it literally rectifies things by eating away at the surface and revealing what's underneath.  HA, HA!!  Now we get it.  Get on with your bad self pretentious director-man!

See, I would have actually stopped because it tells me to.  I'm rebellious but I'm not fucking stupid.

Now, all of the artsy-fartsy shit being said, let's talk about why this is not so great a film.  First off, it's TOO artsy-fucking-fartsy.  I'm all about intelligence, don't get me wrong.  I appreciate some brains with my slaughter (See what I did there?) but fuck me if this was some high-brow shit.  There's no way I could watch this with some of my friends.  I'd spend half of the movie explaining what shit meant and no, I don't like talking through movies unless it's someone saying "I seem to have lost half of my foot in a freak stadium seating accident, can you excuse me, please?" or "I'm sorry.  My water just broke and that's why the floor is all sticky.  May I pass and buy you a new pair of size 10 1/2 Joker chuckies?"

Meh, partie deux, because it needs to be said in fucking French, is that it's disorienting and confusing.  I know I said that before but because I like CLARITY in all things unless I'm on the good post-surgery drugs, it needs to be said again.  This movie needs to be followed constantly to get it and, seriously, there are some things you need to frame advance on your blu-ray player to even see which make the movie make a little more sense.  But only a little because, dammit, this is art-house horror.  Bitch, if I want confusing horror, I'll watch L.A. Zombie.  At least with Bruce LaBruce I'll get porn out of the deal.

Dead babies.  Always good for a laugh.  Only not.
Et enfin (That's "and finally"), while there's decent exposition as to why they need to get into the catacombs, there's too much that doesn't get an explanation at all, like the cult people that are just kinda hangin' out down there, moving all spooky-like and just generally being a pain in the ass.  You know I hate dumbing shit down but SOME background would be nice. 

To wrap this up, the concept and premise of As Above So Below were kind of awesome but the delivery made my head hurt.  It's not a bad watch but it's not a great one either and it could probably have been told better without relying on the found footage format.  I say if your audience has to watch it twice to get shit in the beginning of the movie that's almost but not quite explained at the end, you have failed as a storyteller.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bomb Pops

In the annals of history, one horror movie villain stands out as the most heinous, the most cruel, the most diabolical, the most... fattening?

No, today on Tropefest, we're talking about that perennial children's favorite person in the whole wide world on a hot, summer's day, the ice cream man.  A person so ubiquitous in our childhoods that it always comes as a shock when they're portrayed as anything other than peaches and cream, lily-white, "this-person-wouldn't-hurt-a-fly"-ness.

Oh, HELL, Naw!
We all know about the windowless, white van we're supposed to stay away from but in moves like Ice Cream Man, Maximum Overdrive, Legion and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, getting a Drumstick™ is going to take a lot more than cadging a buck off of your mom.

Now, the creepy ice cream truck isn't a new thing.  Well, it's newER since we needed delivery trucks to actually exist but as long as they've been around they've been a symbol of the corruption of innocence which, as we all know, is a popular theme in horror.  In the Masters of Horror episode  "I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream", the truck istelf isn't evil, but the driver is a revenge story gone oh, so right because the driver is a ghost who's feeding the kids of his tormentors magic ice cream that melts their fathers.  Into sherbet-y goo.  It's hilarious.

This also ties into people's fear of clowns since, y'know, a lot of horror movie ice cream men appear as them. 

As a trope, though, this one can only take so much mileage even though the fear of having a child harmed weighs heavily on, well, everyone's mind.  Kids don't want to be kidnapped and parents don't want to hunt down good pictures to place on milk cartons.

Or end up in a waffle cone.
This is a silly trope and it knows it.  It relies on sight gags and puns and, while that's OK, they can get stale real fast.  There are very few instances of this trope in any kind of serious horror film and, y'know what?  I'm OK with that.  We all know how much I love my horror-comedies.

Now, I believe there was some mention of a sundae?