Friday, October 2, 2015

Dude. So Grimm.

Long-time readers (and I hope there are a lot of you because pixels are a finite resource and I'm hoping not to waste them) may recall that I have an OBSESSION with fairy tales.  This is going to come in handy for today's Tropefest.

Does it come in a size 9?
Witches and goblins and fairies to lure children away.  Heroes and villains.  Princes and princesses, monsters and dragons.  Fairy tales have a long and revered history.  From the time man sat around fires with nothing to do but stare at fires because they hadn't been granted the gift of moving pictures and I feel super sad for them, man has been telling fantastic stories about life around them, often featuring creatures that don't exist and warning us of the dangers of this world.  

The modern interpretation of what constitutes a "fairy tale" is a mostly European tale, most often with a verbal origin, containing folkloric creatures as fantasy characters.  They differ from "myths and legends" in that there is rarely a religious element to them (for example, the Greek and Roman myths are primarily about man's interaction with their gods).

I can smell it when you lie.
The first known usage of the term "fairy tale" is ascribed to Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d'Aulnoy, a 17th century writer known for her fairy tales written as if she were telling them in a salon (a salon is basically a "snooty, impress your friends with your intelligence and sit back and bask in the glow of your adoring fans like a fuckin' boss" party... like this blog... because I'm vain).  Thanks to her "contees de fees" we have the written basis for many of the tales we know and love like Cinderella (Finette Cendron or Cunning Cinders).  Many of the stories we love, however, came from centuries-old stories with as many cultural differentiations as there are cultures.  Cinderella's earliest form beyond d'Aulnoy is the Greek myth of Rhodopis.  All of these stories, when collected, are analyzed using the Aarne-Thompson Index.

Nowadays, most of us get exposure to fairy tales through Disney movies and the like but these tales were originally meant for adults AND children and this is where I come in.

Wanna Date?
Fairy tales, in their original forms, whether by Perrault, Grimm, or, for real, any other source older than the 1800s or so, were DARK!  Every one of the classics that Disney has bastardized was sanitized for our protection.  Cinderella (Again, seriously?  Damn.) not only featured the two stepsisters cutting off a toe and a heel respectively to fit into the infamous glass slippers (which, A, ouch, B, an indication that Cindy was a petite girl otherwise, splinters and shards fucking everywhere and C, really were glass; there was an urban legend about how the slippers were fur but Perrault's book specifically calls them "pantouffle de verre", glass slippers) to land them the prince but Cinderella herself has her little fucking tweeting bird friends peck out their eyes at the wedding.  Another sick wedding freakshow?  Snow White.  In HER story, the wicked queen is made to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she dies.  Rumplestiltskin?  None of that "vanish in a puff of smoke" shit for him.  He either straight up tears his goddamn legs off or splits in half from stem to stern.

Beauty and the Beast?  The heroine's sisters are trying to get the Beast to eat her.  The Little Mermaid?  Oh, HER.

Maybe she's born with it...
Yeah, Hans Christian Anderson made her TRAGIC AS FUCK!!!  So, to get her legs, she, of course, has to give up her voice by way of cutting out her tongue but she also has a potion she has to drink that will make her feel as if she's being run through with a sword which will give her legs but her feet will always feel as if she's walking on shards of glass and her toes are bleeding.  In certain tellings of the tale there are three potions, one to split her tail, one to make her legs, and one to grow bones but she'll never walk.  She has a set period of time in all of them to get her prince to kiss and/or marry her.  In the story, though, if she doesn't get this done, she'll die.  Since she eventually figures out that this can't be done, she goes back to the witch and is given a knife so she can kill the prince and get his soul so that she can live.  She can't go through with it so she kills herself and has to gain a soul the hard way over the course of 300 years.


So much side-eye, Gramma.
And another perennial favorite?  The Little fucking Match Girl.  This perfectly innocent poor girl has to sell matches for a living.  One at a time.  For pennies.  She dies in the snow.

And there are other, lesser known stories, too.  The King Who Wished to Marry His Daughter?  Yeah.  He marries her.  Ick.  The Juniper Tree where a boy's stepmother cuts off his head with the lid to a trunk then serves his corpse to his father in a stew.  And one of my favorites, Bluebeard.

No, not Bluebeard the pirate.  This Bluebeard is a serial monogamist.  Of course, he's also a serial killer and is widely considered to be based on Gilles de Rais, one of France's most notorious serial killers.  He marries a woman, givers her a set of keys and an egg.  Tells her she's not to use the smallest key.  What does each wife inevitably do?  She uses the fucking key on his gruesome man-cave where he basically shows them that he's Jeffrey fucking Dahmer and hacks them to pieces.  

Now there have been a lot of horror movies built around these premises.  Hansel and Gretel have 4 that I can think of off the top of my head.  Snow White has a WONDERFUL interpretation starring Sigourney Weaver.  The Leprechaun movies (yes, including that gawdawful reboot) are based on Irish fairy tales and folklore.  Bluebeard even has a couple of movies under his belt (including the 2015 film Ex Machina).

This is because the stories themselves are so rich and diverse.  There's just SO much gruesome content that it's hard not to use it.  Not just the monsters.  The people.  Some of the people in fairy tales are deliciously evil.  

But the bridge trolls help. 

And, for real, I suggest reading your kids the originals.  The Disney stuff is all well and good but kids?  They like blood.  Kids are animals.  Scared children behave.  True story.

Monday, September 21, 2015

She's a DOLL!

Oh, for fuck's sake.

I made myself watch Annabelle.  I didn't wanna do it, I had to.  Like it was some kind of sick obsession.  I didn't even LIKE The Conjuring!  But, no, I had to see the horrible for myself because I am what?

A glutton for punishment.

 DAMMIT, I hated this movie.

So, we all know ABOUT the doll, Annabelle, from The Conjuring but this movie is about the doll itself and the havoc it wreaks on a poor pregnant woman's body and sanity.  Because dolls are creepy.  We know and understand this.  We also know that creepy dolls, such as Chucky and Tiffany, are, 9 times out of 10, going to try and kill you.

Well, in this flick, we find out how Annabelle got to be the soul-sucking plastic homunculi she is today.  Or at least she was in the 70s.

Bearing in mind that this movie was "based on a true story", the doll was involved in some fuckin' occult murder or some shit and soaked up the blood of one of the stabbers.  Because this was all planned through the auspices of patchouli and weed.  To bring a demon to Earth.  Because they thought they had a chance to gain power from it.  Because cultists are fucking idiots.

Seriously.  A damn DOLL?  They couldn't just kidnap a baby like normal people?  They had to link this demon to a doll?  Demons don't particularly care for dress up and tea time, do they?  Who fucking knew?

"I like your doll."  Best line in the movie.  Not saying much.

Anyway, the movie is all about dealing with the potential loss of a child and a cursed doll.  That's really it.  Nothing groundbreaking.  Nothing even interesting.  I pity Alfre Woodard who has been relegated to being the magical fucking negro.  Yes, that's a trope.  Yes, it's racist.  Yes, Alfre should be slapping the bejeezus out of her agent right about now.

Why did we let this movie get made?  Who let the editor put in all of the boring.  ALL OF THE BORING!  There are a few people I need to punch in the dick right about now and hopefully that bit of exercise will allow me to get the hour and a half I wasted on this shit back into my life.

Is it REALLY a good idea to give a priest anything that resembles a child?
This whole movie was Snoozeville.   Not only was it nap-worthy but it was disjointed, badly acted (sorry, Alfre), horrifically costumed and OMFGPONIESONTHEBBQ, that fucking doll is entirely too butt-ugly to be anything but recyclables.  Not scary, people.  Just incredibly fucking ugly.  If it was an actual PRETTY doll and went through some kind of metamorphosis to represent it's possession, I may not have had such a problem but even before the film started it looked like it fell out of an ugly tree and hit every goddamn branch on the way down.

Plus the basement scene was just idiotic.

I'm going to need to start reading some calculus textbooks to get some of the IQ points I lost back, here.  I hate math.  See that, filmmakers?  You made me math.

I hate you so fucking hard, right now.

I'm just glad it's over.  Now I can pray for the sweet release of a violent death so that I can forget this movie ever existed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

That Which Man Was Not Meant To Know

You know how I keep saying found-footage movies suck donkey balls

I'm about to be a little bit of a hypocrite only not really because The Atticus Institute is a mockumentary.

The premise behind this movie is a parapsychological testing lab created in the 60s.  Like most of these institutions, they had they battery of tests.  The cards, the dice, the coins, the electric football tables... wait, seriously?  Electric football tables?  I know they were a thing but, for fuck's sake, there has to be a better way to test telekinesis.


Everything is going all "Ho-hum, I'm so bored with trying to find people that actually have magical powers.  When will someone with real power come and make ten years of this bullshit worth it?"  And along comes Judith Winstead.

And she is PISSED!
Now, we can tell right away that good ole Judy has some... issues.  Frankly, the folks at the institute had to be blind and deaf to not know this.  They kept going, though, because she was blowing the other psychics away with her utter mastery of "mind over body".

This doesn't end well for a damn one of them.

A sad, sad, lonely man who may or may not be a total perv.  The movie doesn't mention his sex life.
And WHY, do you ask, does it not end well?  Because Judith is fucking possessed.  She's not just crazy, we're talking inches away from crab-walking down stairs and a full-on Exorcist twist.  (And there's your Buffy reference for the day.)

This... should have tipped them off.
Now, I don't normally go in for possession movies but I have to say that this one was a pleasant surprise.  It wasn't preachy, it was just people in an extreme circumstance.  There was almost no reference to religion until the end when they had to bring in a priest.  (Mind you, not an old priest and a young priest.  Just one priest.  He does not do his job right.)  It was... refreshing, if not original.  There have been plenty of films that reference studying psychic phenomena as a focal point for evil.  This one just used the old tropes extremely well.

Except for this.  What the fuck is this?
The effects?  Old hat, unfortunately.  Yeah, there was some CGI splatter.  That didn't make me happy.  What, did you blow your budget on 70s pimp-wear and couldn't afford some fucking Karo syrup and food coloring?  Seriously?  What the fuck?

Overall, I really did like this one.  maybe not enough to watch it again, but it was certainly a couple of hours well-spent.  If you don't mind a slow-burn, check it out, kids.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

No, I'm a Frayed Knot

So, yesterday was a bit of a treat for me as I got some downtime in wedding planning (Yes, I'm getting married!  If you would like to help out with that for whatever reason, click here and thank you in advance!) so I got to watch a couple of new movies rather than half-assing my way through flicks I'd already seen.

Unfortunately, the other new movie I got to force into my eye sockets was The Gallows.

So, what shall we say about The Gallows, hmm?  Let's see.  I KNOW!


I mean, yeah, "school haunting by the kid who got accidentally hung in a school play because the people building the sets didn't know how to rig it so he didn't actually die" is a seemingly solid premise, right?  Could be spooky.  Lots of chances for theater shenanigans, do you think?

This is less than 5 minutes in and it's like the worst parent/school play home video ever.
Yeah, no.  Ish.  I mean, there are plenty of shenanigan-like opportunities but none that are actually taken.

For starters, the plot, here, isn't "the production of the play is haunted".  The plot is "Asshole teenager that isn't content with just sitting at home, faux sexting, skyping with friends after bedtime and being young and pretty decides that in order for his buddy to win the heart of the lead actress in the school play, he has to first tell said lead actress that his buddy has a crush and then convince said buddy, who is the lead actor only he's not good at all which speaks volumes for the dork they cast for this movie, that the play will tank if he tries to deliver a single line so they have to break into the school at night through this door that is never locked (which sets off a whole lot of "look at me, I'm the school maintenance guy and I should be fired on the goddamn spot" whistles) and break the set."

Wait, what?!?

You're gonna look me in the eye and tell me that someone actually put this in writing?  Someone got paid thousands of dollars for this?  How do I get in on that because I'm relatively certain that I could fall asleep on my fucking keyboard and come up with a better story than this.

OHNOES!  The school is dark and we can only depend on the light from this Sony Handicam for lumination!
So, they get into the school as planned and then get locked in, natch, and are found only by the aforementioned lead actress which is... weird.  Because there are no security cameras in this school?  No security personnel patrolling the grounds?  No janitor?  C'mon, man, Old Mr. Wilkins should have shown up at least ONCE in this Scooby Doo shitshow!  Have you no respect for the standard tropes of teenage horror films?

Your dad was supposed to have been the guy that died?  Tell me more.  Oh, wait.  I don't fucking care.

Whatever, n00bs.

Yeah, even for found-footage, this is a dumpster fire.  It's about as Dramamine-worthy as Blair Witch with the screaming found in Unfriended and, shockingly, none of the actual spookiness of Paranormal Activity

Hell of a hicky.
I literally cannot describe to you how much I NEED this to be the death knell of the found-footage genre.  I get that it's cheap to make but time and time again, it SHOWS how cheaply it was made.  You're not giving us actors, you're giving us improv and screaming.  You're not giving us a plot, you're giving us "run around with the camera and pretend you know what you're doing".

Yes, there are examples of well-made found-footage films.  This is not, by any stretch of the fucking imagination, one of them.

If it hadn't been for the fact that I enjoy writing these articles, I wouldn't have touched this with your father's dick.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Chuck E. Cheese's, Where a Kid Can Be a Snack.

You might want to sit down for this because I'm going to say something that I don't believe I've ever said before on the pages of this blog.

Are you sitting?

You really want to stand?

Are you sure?

OK, it's your funeral.

I found a movie since Hostel that I did not hate with Eli Roth's name attached to it and it's about a killer clown.

There.  I said it.  WHEW, it feels good to get that off my chest.  I feel so much... oh, hey, there, buckaroo?  Why are you cringing in the corner?  Didja see a ghost?  OH! 

That "clown" thing.

Well, I told you you should be sitting down. 

Seriously, folks, BIG trigger warning, here, if you're coulrophobic, you should skip right on by this review.  (But, please, seriously, don't... I need the site traffic.)

ANYway.  So, the deal here is that this guy has the clown for his kid's birthday party cancel on him so he's all "well, crap" but as he's rummaging through a house he's remodeling, he comes across, wouldn't you know it, a fucking clown suit and he's all "Everything will be fine, honey, *click*"  SO he shows up to the party all clowned up and saves the day and all of the kids are too hopped up on cake and balloon animals to recognize that clowns are fucking creepy as balls.

It continues that he can't get the damn thing off.

Well, that's worrisome.

Like, REALLY can't get the suit off.  It's like someone superglued it on him in his sleep.  But, they didn't.

Get used to that hair, cowboy.
So, yeah, blah, blah, demon skin, blah, blah, needs to eat 5 kids to get the fucking thing off, blah, blah Peter Stormare looking incredibly homeless, blah, blah, only other option is beheading, action ensues.

With all of the "blahs" up there, you'd think that I hated this but, to be completely honest, I didn't.  It was not genre-changing in the least, and it could use a little pick-me-up in the way of body count and gore but this is a solid story.  On the surface, it's your standard monster movie.  A heaping helping of "That's not your Daddy, anymore" with a decent sized portion of demonic possession (complete with utterly fictional Scandinavian Demon backstory), and a side order of childhood phobia.

Cloyne: From the people that brought you Lutefisk... Oh, wait.  Lutefisk is a real thing.
Underneath, though, you can catch little hints of "what happens if my husband dies" and "how do we deal with the very real possibility of mental illness".  How do I know if I can make the hard choices, here?  Because these are real grown-up fears and it's nice to see some attention being paid to them.  Because adulting is hard and the world needs to be reminded of that by way of horror movies about clowns.

Plus, this little ass-weasel totally deserves whatever he gets, foul mouthed little bullying son-of-a-bitch.
Now, this movie isn't going to be winning any major awards any time soon but I won't say it's a bad way to spend a few hours, either.  New director Jon Watts (whose breath still probably smells like Roth's nutsack but we all have to start somewhere, I guess) didn't hit it out of the park but he did snag a couple of bases. 

I caught it on YouTube of all places but I wouldn't expect it to be there for long because copyright and stuff.  

May I suggest a cotton candy and peanut snack tray?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Screams and Nightmares

It is with a heavy heart that I report that Wes Craven has passed away after a battle with brain cancer.

Words and pictures can't really convey what I feel right now.  His movies scared me and thrilled me and he created one of the most iconic horror villains ever.  He was more than just a director.  He was a hero.

A hero to all of the horror fans that were validated when Freddy became a household name and a boogeyman for the ages.  A hero to those who thought the slasher was getting stale and was revived with Scream.  A hero to those who disagreed with Roger Ebert who claimed that The Last House on the Left had no redeeming social value (edit:  A hero to those who got LHotL confused with I Spit on Your Grave... do the research, Bob).  A hero to the folks that said, "I'm going to make monsters because Wes did it and the world thought it was cool."

Craven was a visionary and his dark visions both terrify and comfort us as horror fans.  They are familiar terrors and they are remembered with a fearful love.

Rest in peace, Wes Craven.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Game Fucking Over

Stomach bug day 3:  I'm delirious.  I have to be.  If I weren't delirious, I would not have wasted the last 2 hours of my life watching what is, quite possibly, the biggest piece of multi-million-dollar-budgeted, diamond-studded, horror-adjacent, five-alarm-chili-in-a-porta-john-after-a-Miralax-smoothie SHIT I have ever had the misfortune to witness in my 43 years on this planet, PIXELS.

YES, I'm counting Battlefield Earth.  Don't judge me.

Also, YES, alien invasion movies count as horror-adjacent, even if they DO star Adam "Man-Child" Sandler.

Pixels started out as an internet short.  See Below:

Now that you've witnessed the awesome, let's bring it right back to the suck-tastic world of Adam Sandler's frat-boy money machine.

Let me get this straight.  Adam Sandler plays a person who, in 1982, had the mental acuity to see all the patterns in every video game in existence like some kind of quarter-hoarding Stephen Hawking (along with his friends, the conspiracy nut and the kid who is only good at the claw machine).  He manages to lose the championship with Donkey Kong because there's no patterns at the higher levels and thus begins what is, apparently, the downward spiral that is his life until he's in his late-forties, divorced and unhappy and working as an audio-video installer, a la Geek Squad.  His claw game friend, however, manages to end up as possibly the worst President ever (akin to if Dan Quayle would have won) and the conspiracy theorist still lives in Lainie Kazan's basement pining over a video game character in a manner that would have CSI over there in a goddamned heartbeat if she actually fucking existed.

For real?

Oh, it gets better!

You wouldn't lie to me, would you?  Oh... you would.  Carry on.

Sandler manages to both befriend (for a little while) and offend the female lead who, when she isn't curled up in her closet drinking wine out of a sippy cup (when there is no toddler in sight, sooo...), is a military-esque government official.  He spends 5 minutes of the movie making creepy stalker jokes about her (after attempting to kiss her, unsuccessfully, while she was already intoxicated which tells me he's one of THOSE guys) as she follows him to the WHITE HOUSE where she has a DARPA pass and he, apparently, has an all-access pass to the Oval fucking Office.  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?

The rest of the movie is him and his man-child friends chasing video game characters around the globe without once experiencing exhaustion which is HILARIOUS since the movie takes place over the course of, like, 4 days and part of it is in fucking LONDON.  They are led to these locations first by Conspiracy-Theorist Olaf who shows them the videotaped broadcast of 80s television clips that include such celebrities as Madonna and Ronald Reagan that interrupted his One Tree Hill binge-session... On videotape... Not DVD, not Blu-Ray... Videotape. Which give them the coordinates of their attacks because the best militaries ALWAYS say where they're gonna be like a schoolyard bully.  (I know Ronnie couldn't have voiced himself but if I find out that Madonna did, I'm burning my fan club card. Just kidding.  I don't HAVE a fan club card.  But if I did...)

ENGAGE NOSTALGIA ENGINE!  No, fucking seriously.  Engage it because so far this sucks on toast.
Also, how the hell did DARPA come up with light-based weaponry over the course of 2 days when they haven't been able to in the past ENTIRETY OF HUMAN FUCKING HISTORY?  "Oh, wait.  These little pixel fuckers don't like getting hit with lasers.  Let's just whip up working prototypes out of legos and spit and OHMAHGAWDTHEYWORK!"  Or, oh, hey, let's INVENT FORCE FIELD TECHNOLOGY THE DAY AFTER WE INVENT STAR WARS BLASTERS!

Fuck me.

Meanwhile, they have to bust out the cheesiest motherfucker ever enshrined in celluloid (Peter Dinklage, who, I'm sure, has spent the last month kicking his agent in the dick) from prison.  His demands include a three-way with Serena Williams and Martha Stewart.  This is disturbing.

You can toss those barrels any time you want to, sir.  I accept my fate and am prepared to feel the sweet embrace of death.
Oh, did I mention that every time they won a fight against the aliens, they won a trophy?  Like, "one of their soldiers" trophy?  As in that goddamn dog from Duck Hunt and Q-Bert?  Because slavery is ALWAYS cool.  This becomes relevant in a minute.

NO, I don't wanna build a goddamn snowman, motherfucker!
See her?  That's Lady Lisa.  She doesn't say a damn thing in the 5 minutes she's on screen.  She goes from righteously kicking ass in the name of her alien overlords to falling in love with a doughy stalker who, literally, calls her his fiancee five minutes after he meets her.  Because Red fucking Sonia up there has no more self-worth than Bigfoot's bunions... 'cause they don't exist, see?

They save the goddamn day and all the aliens go home.  Including Lady Lisa.  Awwww... sad Olaf.  But, oh, look.  Q-Bert, one of the trophies they won, TURNS INTO LADY LISA.  She is now LITERALLY a TROPHY.  Not only that but a trophy belonging to the kid voted Most Likely to Go Full Uni-Bomber.  On what planet did the script-writers think this was a good fucking idea?

No longer are the days of Happy Madison, where it was perfectly acceptable for Sandler to act like a baboon who had somehow managed to find a human skin-suit.  Somehow, though, this news has appeared to bypass Sandler entirely because he still thinks that it's open season for grown men to act like sexist asshats with no ambition and less brains and still manage to save the day.  The end of the movie doesn't even show Sandler's character doing anything useful with his life even though he finally does get to kiss the woman who, by all rights, should have reported him to his supervisors the minute he left her home for invading her personal space and attempting sexual advances.

 I know that this movie is supposed to be fantasy but under NO circumstances should this be considered a "family film" unless you want to teach your kids that it's perfectly OK to degrade women who turn them down and that women will automatically fall in their laps and do whatever they want because they're men. No child should be taught that you can get away with not doing anything with your life.  Frankly, no child should be taught that video-gaming is a legitimate career or an actual sport (and I say that as a gamer) but, hey, there are competitions and so forth so that could work for some folks.  I still say get an education.

About the only GOOD lesson, here, is that people CAN be productive members of society after they get out of prison (even if they get released and basically given a government promise of payment in sex because women are commodities).  They couldn't even get "Cheaters Never Prosper" right.  I swear, the more I think about this, the more I'm absolutely certain that Rose McGowan was right and Sandler needs to have his testicles roasted slowly and fed to him.

Seriously, kids, I HATE Adam Sandler and everything he stands for but I wanted to like this one.  I really did.  And it's not badly made from an effects standpoint but in all honesty, the only good thing to happen in this movie is that Sean Bean didn't die.

I don't normally want to wish harm to anyone (OK, that's a damn lie) but Adam Sandler needs to be fed to rabid feminists (like, actual feminists infected with rabies who, I'm sure, have utterly correct arguments for the equal treatment of women when they aren't foaming at the mouth and infecting Saint Bernards) right about now.  Everyone even remotely associated with this movie should be followed around for the rest of their lives by the Shame Septa (Game of Thrones, kids.  Seriously?  I had to tell you that?).  There needs to be several pillories and scheduled whippings.  This is a gigantic, mysogynistic mountain of suck that I can never unsee.

I hate you Adam Sandler.  I hate you with the power of a million suns.  From Hell's heart, I stab at thee.  Grow the fuck up and stop making this trash.

And also FUCK YOU.