Saturday, March 22, 2014

Radio Silence

I'm sorry, kids.  I know I've been lax.  The price of being a grown-up has become steep.  I have work, overtime for work, bills and preparing for the annual benefit show I'm in on April 5th.  Suffice it to say that my CPU cycles are running high. 

I've not forgotten about you, though.  I'll be back soon to snark your faces off.  If it makes you feel better, I'm posting from the parking lot at Horrorhound in Cincinnati.  I might just meet Bruce Campbell, today.  :)

KISSES!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Are Marshmallows Mandatory At Witch Burnings?

SO! 

It's been a while since I had a tropefest post, huh?  Let's fix that.

Before we get started, though, I have to include a disclaimer.  I know that you guys are all used to me talking about gore and sex and turning the air blue with my insistence upon using words my mother said never to use in polite company and generally being offensive as fuck.  Today, however, is different. 

Today, we're discussing religion in horror films and how Christianity in general has lent itself to many a macabre plot.  I am an atheist but I am not attempting to denigrate spirituality.  I am not pointing fingers at a particular sect.  I am not saying that anyone's belief in particular is wrong.  I am not going to argue religion or the existence of divinity (that's being handled on my personal Facebook page).  This post is strictly about how religion is depicted in horror films and, I gotta tell you, it's never pretty.

Much like Christopher Walken.
See, in horror there are three uses for religion.  Exploit for Good, Exploit for Evil or Debunk.  Obviously, we've got pretty much any vampire movie as an example of exploiting for good since religious symbols are pretty much universally accepted as defense against them as long as your faith is strong (as long as you're in a movie where the vampires don't fucking sparkle).  There are also the movies where there is a definitive battle between good and evil such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism, The Possession, The Omen, The Devil's Due, The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby.  In all of these films there is a very clear distinction that Satan is the bad guy and he's taken over an innocent in some way or another and the forces of good gather to stop him.  These movies tend to be very... Catholic (Except for ThePossession which was very Jewish).

Your child should never be doing this.  Seek medical attention.

So, those are all well and good but MUCH more prevalent are the films where religion or religious figures are depicted as evil.  In Legion, god decides that we're just not worth it and sends the Heavenly Host after us to just toss the board in the air and go home, which was fuckin' stupid because they all went after the woman carrying the second coming which, as we all know, was God so God is apparently schizophrenic and suicidal.  Most of the time the religions that are depicted in these stories are entirely fictional such as in any adaptation of a Lovecraft story or the Necromongers in Chronicles of Riddick and there's usually little to no mention of a "good" counterpart.  The very best examples, in my opinion, of this kind of film are Children of the Corn, The Mist and Red State which was a very clear statement by Kevin Smith in regards to the Westboro Baptist Church.  I will not give them the satisfaction of linking to their site.

*shudder*
And to a much lesser extent, we have the movies that try to debunk religion.  Even Constantine, which, ostensibly, was a good versus evil story, was decidedly anti-religion on all counts.  It was all about how good and evil are two sides of the same coin and the struggle for power has casualties.  Plus, Shia LeBeouf is the fucking anti-christ, anyway..

Most depictions of religion in horror films (See the "Exploit for Evil" section above) come from a few different belief systems.  Maltheism is the belief that if there is a God, it is either utterly incompetent or outright malevolent.  Related to that is hypothetical maltheism wherein the problem with the existence of Hell, or the existence of evil itself, is the fact that if there is a true force for good in the world, why wouldn't that omnipotent being eradicate evil (war, sickness, poverty and the social problems they solve, some of which are mortal sins) so that there wouldn't be a need for Hell? 

Pretty sure that Hell is back-to-back viewings of Nicolas Cage's filmography.

And then there's Misotheism which is hatred of God which is a further extension of Maltheism in which case the deity in question done you wrong and you actively hate them for it..  This isn't seen in film so much, anymore, but it's pretty prevalent in sword and sandal flicks and it's VERY prevalent in mythology through the ages where it was often a source of hubris.  See the character of Riddick.  Along those same lines, Richard Dawkins is quoted as saying that "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.It seems that a lot of horror directors agree even if they choose to make up a religion rather than state their intentions toward Christianity right up front.


Finally, there's Dystheism where the deity in question isn't wholly good or evil but their behavior is such to make a character question their divine motives.  Hellenistic and Norse mythology kinda relies on this because their gods were more "human".

Not a god.  Not Hellenistic or Norse.  Why is she praying?
All of these differing beliefs give us some very rich soil in which to plant plot seeds.  Questioning the tenets of religion is why there are so many of them out there.  There are hundreds of offshoots of Christianity alone and some of them have beliefs that are disagreeable at best which make them a prime target for a skewering in a horror flick.

This isn't symbolism at ALL...
Obviously, this topic is WAY too complex for me to cover in a simple blog post and there are a HOST of other belief systems that dig into this sort of thing (such as Gnosticism, Luciferianism and, hell, Judaism), but it seems that as long as religion exists, horror authors, directors and screenwriters are going to use horror to explore religion, their experiences with it as seen through their own particular twisted imaginary lens and what it means to them.  

And it will scare us shitless.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Worst. Baby Shower. Ever.

So... horror movie fans?  Show of hands.  Who wants a vacation?

I know I do but there are places I won't go.  Australia.  Haiti.  Uganda.

When it comes to horror movies, though, it appears that anywhere near South America should be right the fuck off of anyone's list.  So what does the couple in Devil's Due do?  They take their honeymoon in the goddamn Dominican Republic.






And to add to the stupid,  the newlywed wife gets her palm read which is never fucking good.  Ever.  You may believe in it and that's all well and good but if you want your skin and wallet to remain intact, it's probably best to leave that shit alone.  Like Ouija Boards.  That shit will just fuck your life up.

You masturbate a lot, don't you?
Next act of dumb?  Letting the cabby decide your destination, particularly when it leads to an underground club full of what happens to be newlyweds on their honeymoons.  'Cause, seriously, that's just too strange to be a coincidence.

SO, yeah.  All of this leads to OHNOES a pregnancy.  Which makes the dude very happy but, of course, screws with the young wife's plans for the future.  Dammit, she's never gonna graduate, now!  The fact that she's pregnant with a demon and being followed around by zealot Satanists is just icing on the cake.

HI, MOM!  Love me!
Following an increasing weird pregnancy through the auspices of a handi-cam is not normally my idea of a fun time although I'm not gonna call this bad because it isn't.  In fact it's kind of awesome, even though it's trope-heavy as all fuck.

I mean, seriously?  Possession by baby?  Been done.  Mom eating raw meat?  Yep.  Possessee killing the local wildlife for a snack?  Checkaroonie.  This is what caused the death of Bambi's mom, kids.  Arranged pregnancy and Satan-baby?  Done and done.

CGI-extended Venom-jaw?  Oh, yeah.
All-in-all, this is pretty damn tame for a P-horror film.  Body count is low.  Gore is almost non-existent.  It's a good watch with some awesome moments and a decent amount of suspense but otherwise, meh.  I've seen it all before.  There's people in this that need eaten but, nooooo.  Most of them live.  The Hellboy horns on the kid are kinda worth it, though.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Voice. You Can Hearz It.

In lieu of an actual post today (sad face), I was invited to join the Geeky Bears podcast last week! 

The podcast was all about the representation of gay people in the media and I had a BLAST doing it!

Give it a listen!  It's kind of awesome.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

You... Can Have My Place In Line.

Seriously, Adam Wingard?  Seriously?

Maybe I'm just dating myself but this new crop of directors is really hit or miss for me and I may be the only one in the room tat feels this way but I'm thoroughly fucking tired of half-ass directors putting out less than half-ass product and expecting a horror audience to just fucking show up.

Also, I kind of hate "home invasion" movies.  The best of the lot is The Strangers and that was insanely brilliant.  Everything else is just a pale comparison and that brings us to today's review.





You're Next is the tale of a pack of animals getting hunted down by the Terrible Trio from Batman.  Because nothing gets me wetter than a bunch of guys in masks hunting The Most Dangerous Game for no fucking reason leaving DNA evidence everywhere and basically itching to get caught.  It makes me want to cry, it really does.  Once again, The Strangers was awesome.  Nothing else can ever compare to it.  You're Next is a shitshow of bad acting and a lot of unnecessary screaming.

So menacing.  I'm shaking.  Really.
Oh, wait.  They DO have a reason and it's kind of stupid.

But, hey, they use crossbows and tripwires at neck height so that makes it awesome, right?  Ummm... no.

I don't care about these people.  I don't care who lives or dies.  I just want this to stop and stop quickly but it doesn't.  It just goes on and on because there's, like, 14 fucking victims and they're all fucking stupid.

QUICK, stupid sister number 1, the killers are right outside the goddamn door.  Run for help!

Hmmm... let me count the way these assholes are stupid.

They arrange a family reunion when they all obviously hate each other.

They can't CRAWL past a goddamn window?

They don't actually BARRICADE anything?

They scream entirely too often seeing as how they don't WANT to be found by the jackholes with crossbows.
The asshole who tries to remove a crossbow bolt from his own back because A) that's not really possible without breaking the fucker off in there and B) The LAST thing you want to do with a stab or puncture wound is remove the foreign object without medical assistance.  Doesn't Wingard watch E.R.?

The MULTITUDE of times they try to get to the neighbors.

One of the killers actually aims an axe at his own foot.

The actual suggestion that someone go to the cellar to check the fusebox alone followed by the instant "I'll be right back".

Fuck, Wingard, you can at LEAST try to play around with the tropes instead of playing them straight.

I hate you, Adam Wingard.  I.  Fucking.  Hate.  You.

Kick him!  Kick him right in his smug fuckin' face.
Why people think this is the best damn horror movie in ever is completely fucking beyond me.

Just die already.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Scariest Place On Earth

Today we're going to do something a little different.  While this is still TECHNICALLY a Tropefest post, we're going to be examining a body of work rather than a particular trope.

Because this has been bothering the shit out of me.

Let's dish on Disney. 






Any little kid will tell you that they LOVE Disney movies.  My little sister, between the ages of 3 and 4, could not complete a day without watching Sleeping Beauty because Princess Aurora was the prettiest princess in the ever-est of EVER and Maleficent was just friggin' awesome (which is why I did not destroy that tape after day 3).  What they will ALSO tell you is that they are traumatized by every Disney film they witness.

GAAAAH!  Fuck you, Fantasia!
One of the things I like about Disney is that they aren't afraid to step into the dark places.  Yes, they rewrite classics to be more family-friendly and take all of the cool gory bits but 9 out of 10 people will tell you that there is no Disney movie that doesn't dip a toe in the darkness.  Even the most innocuous of Disney movies, Bambi, will cause a child to run screaming from the room when they hear that gunshot and figure out what it means.

That being said, there are some TRULY horrifying moments in Disney films that make me question whether these are really for little kids.  Let's step into the Wayback machine and take a peek at some of these gruesome moments.

Nice 'n' Easy, bitch.  Invest.
The Evil Queen's transformation in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is not, by any stretch, the darkest of the lot but it IS the first in a feature length animated film which is why it's here.  I still cringe a little hearing her shriek of torment turn into a hideous cackle.  Of course, I'm also concerned with how her hair is just sprouting out of that cowl but I figure that's all magic and shit.

Hope they aren't going to Tijuana.
Don't do drugs, kids.  Drugs will turn you into a donkey.  Just like Lampwick in Pinnocchio.  This scene is often credited as being the most disturbing scene in Disney history and for good reason. Yeah, Lampwick was a jerkwad but the prolonged transformation went on just that few seconds too long to be "comfortable" and his fear and pain are felt by every child in the audience.

A pink kink in your think...
What did I just fuckin' tell you?  Don't do drugs, kids.  Don't.  Fuckin'.  Do.  Drugs.  This alcohol-fueled nightmare from Dumbo probably had the exact OPPOSITE effect of keeping people from drinking because if you drink enough, the pink elephants go away.  And so does your liver.

That cape is HIDEOUS!!
It took me three tries to watch Disney's adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow all the way through as a kid.  This is some serious hoodoo, right here.  This short is one of Disney's few attempts at actual "let's call it horror" horror and, being Disney, they hit this nail right on it's non-existent head, comedic moments and all.  Yeah, they tried to give it a sappy ending but we all know poor Ichabod got chopped.

SEIG HEIL!!
Jumping forward, because, seriously, I could write a book about this shit, Scar from The Lion King was the epitome of "malevolent dictator" and he was bat-shit insane to boot.  Laying out his plan for taking over Pride Rock in the song "Be Prepared" showed us exactly WHY we should be afraid of him and his hyena toadies.  Being voiced by Jeremy Irons made him even creepier.  Fun fact:  Did you know that the song "The Madness of King Scar" had to be cut from the movie because it was basically about how Scar tries to rape Nala?  They kept it in the Broadway show.

EEP!
How The Hunchback of Notre Dame kept a G-rating, I will never know because the lyrics and imagery in the song "Hellfire" should have at LEAST have gotten this a PG, maybe a PG-13 considering animated Esmerelda fire-boobs.  Fuck ME this was... well... hellish.  No child is going to understand that this guy is driving himself insane with a conflict between his lust and his religion but they sure get that he's being attacked by a fireplace.

Fish are fucking food.
The sharks in Finding Nemo (on top of the freaky deep-sea fish and that fish-murdering moppet).  Yeah, this may be a personal one but ever since Jaws, I can't look at sharks (well... relatively realistic-looking sharks... Shark Tale doesn't count) without feeling dread, even if they belong to some kind of self-destructive 12-step group that tells them to deny their basic instincts.  This is scary on two fronts.  These are sharks and these are SUICIDAL sharks.  You know one of those bitches are going to snap and we're gonna have little scraps of Nemo all over the place.

Your friends are fuckin' shady.
Dr. Facilier.  Oh, damn, Dr. Facilier.  You voodoo bastard.  YOU KILLED RAY!  That little firefly never did nothin' to you. Watching you get snagged by your shadow puppet pals in The Princess and the Frog was INTENSELY satisfying... and more than a little reminiscent of Drag Me to Hell.

Suffice it to say that I still enjoy Disney films.  I just look for the scenes with more black and red ink than the others.  I, for one, would LOVE to see a Disney-animated full-on horror flick.  Can you imagine it?

Walt Disney Presents:  Hellraiser.

Roger opened the box, didn't he?


Hell, they can do it.  They own Dimension Films.  It would be beautiful and disturbing.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Anvils: Don't Leave Home Without Them

Before we go forward with this, let me start by saying that I appreciate Ireland for doing what they're doing in horror film. 

They're trying, bless their hearts.






Suffice it to say that 2013's Dark Touch did not excite me.  I had seen a review that said "An Irish Carrie" and my 2 in the morning brain said "OKAY!" and now I'm relatively certain that there are parts of me that are dead only I don't know it yet. 

Besides my pancreas.  That bitch done gave up the ghost months ago.

Fuck you, Pancreas.

On the upside, I am now part zombie.

ANYWAY!  So, yeah.  Telekinetic teenagers.  We know them.  We love them.  We know that abuse is going to cause a big, ole psychotic snappy-snap that's going to leave many, many bodies behind.  They are human suffering and revenge writ large.

Except not in this movie.

Because in this movie, the plot hung around our young monster's neck like a fuckin' cinder block.

Jesus, can you whine MORE about playing with a damn doll?
OH MY GAWD, we GET it!  Child sexual and physical abuse is BAD, Damn.  The moral of this movie just kept hitting me over and over until finally I had to call the fuckin' cops and invest in a Hooters tank top.  I wouldn't have had a problem with that if the roaring rampage of revenge ever made it past a slightly rude whisper but, fuck me if insomnia was the only thing that kept me watching this HOPING that this kid would just start laying into people one by one slamming them into walls, leaving delightful splatters all over the place, but, no.

We get a party of girls who almost, but not quite, touch the fire that's 4 fuckin' feet away from them and even her big "fuck you", Pied-Piper moment to a town that doesn't believe her or want to help her (except for, y'know, the cops, the people that took her in and her counselor and her teacher and a whole crap-load of people that she's never met) is a throwaway.

THIS... is as menacing as she gets.
It really just seems like they wanted to exalt in the "Abuse destroys" angle and there was no bright spot.  There was no hope, no joy, no counterbalance to the dread and no rescue from the pain for Neve or from the boredom for the audience.

Skip this with a fuckin' song in your heart.