Monday Morning Cute: Cats and Dogs Doing Cat and Dog Stuff

First, we have a few cat GIFs I found on Tumblr (h/t Sarah Jeong).

Here is the now-famously-curious Pallas’ cat:

They’re definitely not pets, but they’re certainly photogenic and meme-able: Continue reading


Is This the Greatest Horror Movie of All Time?

I have remarked before that I love the “horror” genre in film but think about 99% of actual horror movies are complete and utter crap. (Yes, I know that violates Sturgeon’s Law. Shut up.)

For me, the ability of film to evoke particular emotions is fascinating, and that includes feelings of fear or dread. It’s just that very few movies do it effectively, and a few might do it too well in one way or another. To give an example, I find movies like Hostel and Wolf Creek to be terrifying, not because they actually evoke a feeling of fear in me personally, but because it scares me that people actually made those movies and that others found them entertaining enough to warrant sequels.

I am mostly talking about the “slasher” genre here, which may have started with 1974’s Black Christmas, a genuinely creepy movie. The genre has a few highlights, at least in an iconic sense, such as Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but they mostly fall into the old, tired tropes that were parodied (not very effectively, in my opinion) in the Scream movies. The one truly great slasher film is almost never even considered to be part of the genre at all: Alien, in which a killer picks off the crew members of a ship one by one until only one woman is left (as it happens, in her underwear.) It’s just that the movie is phenomenal, with a good story, well-written characters, and superb actors; the killer is an alien creature; and it all happens in outer space. Plus, if you pretend the ending hasn’t been spoiled for the entire universe, it’s not at all clear throughout the film who’s going to make it. Continue reading


Self-loathing morbid curiosity: why I watch horror movies

-pHLhWBiGEWqPEpzXRccHw2“Self-loathing morbid curiosity.” That was my answer when someone asked me why I watch movies like Hostel and Piranha 3-D when I so obviously hate them.

Halloween is the time of year when cable TV runs marathons of various horror movie franchises, and I seem to find myself drawn in even when I can’t actually stand watching. This is not limited to the Halloween season for me, though. I occasionally find myself watching bad knock-off slasher films on Chiller, or second-rate horror movies on HBO. Not too long ago, I was flipping channels and came across the beginning of Final Destination 5. Perhaps it was the sight of Dave Koechner getting covered in hot tar while dangling from a bridge (yea, that was a spoiler, but it happened in the first ten minutes), but the next thing I knew, I had watched the whole damn thing. I admire the creativity the writers have shown in killing off characters across five movies, but I have to wonder if that creativity could be better spent elsewhere.

At least the Final Destination films show some creativity, albeit of the most formulaic sort. The Saw films made a valiant effort to maintain a complex continuity across seven films, and it required a new sort of suspension of disbelief. Rather than forcing the audience to believe that a slow-moving berserker could deftly pursue sprinting teenagers, the Saw films asked us to believe that a cancer-ridden civil engineer could build, maintain, and oversee multiple Rube Goldberg-esque schemes, both from his deathbed and from beyond the grave, with only the help of a handful of emotionally crippled proteges who remained unaware of one another’s involvement. That’s far less plausible than a burly masked man keeping pace, at a walk, with a sprinting eighteen year-old, but it is at least slightly more engaging for the higher functions of the brain. Continue reading