I wrote a post a few days ago about the instantly-infamous rape scene in the Game of Thrones episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” in which I basically said that I found the scene excruciating and unnecessary, but also that the incident itself served the larger narrative of the show. Having now seen the next episode, “The Gift,” I feel rather vindicated in two areas: (1) that the scene served a larger narrative, and (2) that the scene was needlessly brutal.
What “The Gift” managed to accomplish, and where “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” fell short, is in what one might call the fine art of “less is more” in filmmaking.
The titular alien in the original Alien, to give one example, was scary not only because it was an eight-foot-tall creature with a retractable jaw that bled acid, but also because we barely ever saw it. Continue reading
The Teletubbies have always been creepy, bordering on terrifying. It turns out their vibrant colors, which I always thought were doing their best to chip away at my sanity, were actually sparing us from even further horror:
Via RadioNOW 100.9 / Facebook
After someone observed that they look like they’re in a Joy Division video in this picture, someone else went and actually made a Joy Division video (h/t Sallie): Continue reading
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
This is why teddy bears are awesome:
Big GIF = slow loading
(h/t pokoshoko on Imgur)
I couldn’t find the video this comes from, but I found an animated short about a teddy bear who fights monsters, and a short about a boy with a monster under his bed (based on perhaps the scariest two-sentence short story ever.) (Videos are embedded below.) Continue reading
Today’s recommended reading: The Enigma of Amigara Fault by Junji Ito. I don’t even know how to describe it. It certainly channels H.P. Lovecraft, but the story operates on a much more personal level.
Click the first page to go to the entire story, which is posted at OpenAwesome.com. Remember that manga are printed right-to-left, so read accordingly:
It’s also posted at the delightfully-named brasscockroach.com.
If you don’t follow John Kenneth Muir’s blog, you are doing yourself a disservice. In honor of today being Friday the 13th, he has a list of 13 reasons why he loves the venerable slasher franchise.
For my part, I do not “love” the Friday the 13th movies in the slightest, nor would it be entirely accurate to say I “like” them. It’s more that I recognize their cultural impact and importance.
Mr. Muir makes a couple of observations that stood out to me. After noting multiple instances of hidden, surprisingly brainy references, like a child reading Sartre’s No Exit during a throwaway scene in Part 6, he devotes a whole item of his list to Ginny Field from Part 2.
Ginny Field (played by the awesomely-named Amy Steel) was perhaps the only character to genuinely outsmart Jason—which shouldn’t be that hard, one might think, but whatever. A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Nancy probably owes her level-headed handling of Freddie Krueger to Ginny Field’s clever ruse against Jason.
I would hardly call the Friday the 13th series a triumph for women in film, and a few Ginny Field-type characters really don’t make up for the hordes of stupid these movies throw at the screen. It’s also unfortunate that Ginny Field stands out as one of the few heroines who doesn’t get killed in a sequel (like Alice from the first Friday the 13th or the aforementioned Nancy).
Every year, around this time (i.e. approaching Halloween), I have to confront the contradictory facts that I do not like slasher films on a very fundamental level, yet I cannot seem to turn away from them when I come across them on TV. (Whether or not I deliberately seek them out on some subconscious level will have to be a question for my biographers.) Since SyFy is apparently running a Friday the 13th marathon today, I suppose the die is cast. In honor (or shame) of this film franchise, here are some (mostly-non-gory) GIFs culled from Google. Spoiler/NSFW alert, I guess.
The original slasher, Pamela Voorhees:
An early appearance of George McFly:
The man himself: Continue reading
“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