Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Greatest Wish

For as long as I've remembered watching Poltergeist, I can remember being plagued by the desire to know. To know what? Dude-- to know. I want to know what is beyond the closet. I want to know exactly what it was Diane found on the other side and I want to know exactly what happened over there. The concept of a rope being put through the closet and coming right through to the other side with Diane somewhere in between, has always confused me. It's confusing because it doesn't make any damn sense. I know "sense" isn't really important in matters such as these but go with it. The whole layout of the other side when paired with the concept of the rope, makes about as much sense as the layout of the Full House house. You can't go up one set of stairs and end up on one side of the hallway and then go up a completely DIFFERENT set of stairs and end up on the same side of the hallway, you know what I mean?

The question of what's beyond the closet is one of those things that I think about at least once a week, right behind more important questions like the proverbial "if a tree falls in a woods..." question and also, "why can't Dick Miller be MY next door neighbor?" question. In my mind, when Diane passes through the closet she comes out in an exact replica of their house only no one is there. But if that's true than nothing makes sense again. If they told Carol Anne to "run towards the light" then the light should mean "the way out" which is beneath the dining room table. So when Diane went through the closet she had to book it to the dining room table, find Carol Anne and then get yanked out. Meanwhile she only had 10 seconds to do this because Steven is a bastard.

BUT when the tennis balls went through the closet, they came instantly out the other side. This is what trips me up. Why didn't Diane just instantly fall out the other side? What happens over there? Is it because she's a living soul? Probably. An easy solution is to say that the other side is just a place. It doesn't resemble their house, it's just simply a place to pass from one life to another. When Diane goes through she's just in an area, with the light on one side. But what fun is that?

It seems to me that Carol Anne, when trapped on the other side, spent most of her time running around and looking for her parents. This is why I believe that the other side resembled their house. Putting aside all that gibberish about whether or not anything makes sense (which it doesn't) I love to imagine what Poltergeist would be like if they included Diane's journey through the closet. If they had included it I'm sure it would have looked stupid and been stupid. And granted, no one is suppose to know about that secret until they've passed on but Diane got to know and Carol Anne lived there for a few weeks so why dammit can't I know too!? I envision it to be like a negative composite of the Freelings house. A space bathed in darkness with an eerie unnatural silence. I also like to think of it as a doll's house, seemingly frozen in time where you can't eat the cute little bowls of fruit.

And yes I know that technically everyone got to go to the other side in Poltergeist II, aptly named The Other Side. But screw that, I'm talking about the Poltergeist here and now. So in closing I hope that many of you have suffered the same amount of frustration and intrigue with matters concerning the other side. What does beyond the closet look like to you? What does it all mean? Sometimes I think I understand and then I cry because I don't. I really don't. It's like watching LOST and explaining it to people. Somewhere along the way you realize you have no idea what it means, so you just tells lies instead. Well I'm sick of the lies! Why can't my closet turn into a portal to the other side? Then I would know. All I would need is a rope, and someone stronger and smarter than Steven.

Why Can't All Spam Mail Be This Fun?

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.19pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Overdue account

Dear David,
Our records indicate that your account is overdue by the amount of $233.95. If you have already made this payment please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding.
Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles
From: David Thorne
Date: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.37pm
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
I do not have any money so am sending you this drawing I did of a spider instead. I value the drawing at $233.95 so trust that this settles the matter.
Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 10.07am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Overdue account

Dear David,
Thankyou for contacting us. Unfortunately we are unable to accept drawings as payment and your account remains in arrears of $233.95. Please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding.
Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles
From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 10.32am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
Can I have my drawing of a spider back then please.
Regards, David.
From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 11.42am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Overdue account

Dear David,
You emailed the drawing to me. Do you want me to email it back to you?
Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles
From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 11.56am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
Yes please.
Regards, David.
From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 12.14pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Overdue account


From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 09.22am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Whose spider is that?

Dear Jane,
Are you sure this drawing of a spider is the one I sent you? This spider only has seven legs and I do not feel I would have made such an elementary mistake when I drew it.
Regards, David.
From: Jane Gilles
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.03am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Whose spider is that?

Dear David,
Yes it is the same drawing. I copied and pasted it from the email you sent me on the 8th. David your account is still overdue by the amount of $233.95.
Please make this payment as soon as possible.
Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.05am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Automated Out of Office Response

Thankyou for contacting me.
I am currently away on leave, traveling through time and will be returning last week.
Regards, David.
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.08am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Hello, I am back and have read through your emails and accept that despite missing a leg, that drawing of a spider may indeed be the one I sent you. I realise with hindsight that it is possible you rejected the drawing of a spider due to this obvious limb ommission but did not point it out in an effort to avoid hurting my feelings. As such, I am sending you a revised drawing with the correct number of legs as full payment for any amount outstanding. I trust this will bring the matter to a conclusion.
Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Monday 13 Oct 2008 2.51pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Dear David,
As I have stated, we do not accept drawings in lei of money for accounts outstanding. We accept cheque, bank cheque, money order or cash. Please make a payment this week to avoid incurring any additional fees.
Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 13 Oct 2008 3.17pm
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

I understand and will definitely make a payment this week if I remember. As you have not accepted my second drawing as payment, please return the drawing to me as soon as possible. It was silly of me to assume I could provide you with something of completely no value whatsoever, waste your time and then attach such a large amount to it.
Regards, David.
From: Jane Gilles
Date: Tuesday 14 Oct 2008 11.18am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?



Monday, August 30, 2010

Kill Baby...Kill! AKA Operazione Paura AKA Curse of the Dead AKA Take My Breath Awaaaay

The deeper I throw myself into the Italian horror world, the more I become invested in Mario Bava. It's pretty easy to understand why I prefer Bava and by default Argento over Fulci. It's all a matter of personal taste and my hunger is screaming out for atmosphere and beauty-- things that I have a hard time finding in Mr. Fulci's later work. There seems to be a true sense of awe when I sit down and watch a Bava film. There's something so uncharacteristically beautiful about all of it that it makes me swoon with excitement. Maybe it's because Bava's films aren't dubbed and because the story actually makes sense for once, or that it just gets me so excited to recognize where some of my favorite horror movies get their inspiration from. It's a combination of all of these things but the biggest one is that these scenes are some of the most beautiful scenes I've ever laid eyes on.

As is custom with most Italian horror, Kill Baby..Kill! has a silly name, and about 20 different ones at that-- none particularly moving. The story however is pretty simple; villagers of an old and neglected town have been committing what appears to be suicide at an alarming rate. When a sexy
(I mean he's a little sexy right?) doctor comes to town he finds that the victims have all had gold coins inserted into their hearts. Soon he learns of a 20 year or so old curse that involves the ghost of a young girl who drives the villagers to kill themselves. Is it really a ghost or could there be something more sinister involved?

I just love ending synopsis' with silly questions! Well, as it turns out the film is substantially creepy. Paired with the incessant howling of the wind and what sounds like childlike giggles, is the claustrophobic landscape of this barren almost ghost-like town. Its narrow streets and shadowy houses are the bread and butter of creating a haunting atmosphere and yes, it works. All of this is the foundation for a story riddled with the ever creepy image of this little girl.

Let me tell you that Bava has a real talent for being able to mess with his viewers in terms of faces. We saw it of course with The Drop of Water in Black Sabbath and we see it again here with this little girl and with....dolls!

Yes, there are creepy dolls in this so brace yourself. Accompanied by the sweet tinkling of piano keys and giggles, this little girl not only has the power to scare us with her angelic glow of a face, but also with only a hand!

The thing is--as terrifying and creepy as those images are they are also stunning. Shadows, lighting, shades of green and red (not sure where they got those special light bulbs at the turn of the century but....*cough*) all make each shot of the little girl pretty breathtaking.

While the story line behind the villagers, the witchcraft and the coins in the heart is all very good, I find that what I am most attracted to in this film are the beautiful shots. Let me tell you about one of the most thrilling things I have ever witnessed. While ambling through the eerie villa of the Baroness, Paul (the sexy doctor) walks down a green tinted hallway, adorned with wait for it....arms as candle holders.

Yes. Yes! How cool is that? This picture of him walking down the hallway, with the green and the shadows and the arms is just fucking great. There's no other way to describe it. It's pure perfection in the eyes of me. Not only this hallway, but the entire villa is like one gigantic slice of Andre's dream come true. Cobwebs as thick as rope, creepy pictures of creepy children, dolls, SPIRAL STAIRCASES

it's all so fantastic. The villa in particular, with its hues of eerieness and its never ending hallways of course reminds of Suspiria which is perhaps why I take an even greater liking to it than the average person. Speaking of nightmarish--the scene where Paul is chasing after a man and he keeps entering a door and then entering the same exact room over and over and over and over again??? Gosh, I hate it when that happens. But, again shows that what Bava serves up over at ye olde villa de baroness is completely insane in the best, most beautiful way possible.

Aside from all that fantastic imagery, there is still a pretty captivating story. There's certainly a mystery when trying to decipher just why people are haunted by the little girl and what's more--who is really behind it. Sure, the part I mentioned above with Paul's chase scene is a little strange and almost out of context but it makes the appeal of the story and all the talk about curses and witchcraft much more alluring. The characters are kept to a minimum thank goodness, and nobody has the same hair color. I mean that's my main gripe with Fulci--I can't keep track of all these blonde women that kind of look the exact same OK? The scene involving the younger girl's brush with the ghost girl is interesting and her "exorcism" as the doctor calls it (I'm guessing a mistranslation) is both creepy and somehow unsettling.

My only big problem with the film is that the ancient curse stuff and the witchcraft aren't as well fleshed out as they maybe could have been. There seems to be a strong divide between the curse and the mystery behind the ghost girl and for some reason they do not seem to join up as the film nears its end.

I did however quite enjoy getting a first hand look at just how manipulating and convincing that little ghost girl can be.


Yes yes yes!




And how about this little familiar interaction?

Wait a minute.....

Man of science....man of FAITH?

Isn't that creepy? Not only does sexy doctor Paul kind of resemble Jack Shepherd as an older gent, but hellooo he's a doctor. And this bald guy was also in a wheelchair! Ok just kidding, but I mean he's sitting down so close enough.

In short, if you have seen some Bava and not seen this one, do yourself a favor and get it immediately. It contains some of the most aesthetically pleasing shots I have seen and has atmosphere coming out of its...face. That's right its FACE.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Poltergeist Plot Holes

In case you haven't noticed yet, I have named Poltergeist as this Month's Movie of the Month. What is Movie of the Month? I'm glad you asked. Each month I'll pick a movie that I have a secret or not so secret affection for. Throughout the month will be special posts devoted to that movie and well, that's really it. Poltergeist month may run a bit into September, since I didn't act on this idea until halfway through the month but that's just something you'll have to handle. To catch up on all things Poltergeist at the HD click here.

In keeping with this month's glorious choice, I have watched Poltergeist maybe 5 times this month alone and while doing so I have noticed a few things that bother me: plot holes. To be very clear, these plot holes do not affect my adoration for Poltergeist. Poltergeist is perhaps my 2nd or 3rd favorite horror movie of all time (I haven't worked out the details) but one cannot ignore the confusion that ensues when Tangina tells us one thing, and then proceeds to do a different thing. I mean, she's suppose to be the clairvoyant voice of reason! Who do I trust if I can't trust Tangina?

Why did Tweety have to wait for a school day?

I thought about this one recently. Judging by Robbie's unsympathetic reaction about Tweety's death and wanting to dig it up to see the bones--I'm guessing Tweety was primarily Carol Anne's bird. In the beginning of the film, Diane finds a dead Tweety and says, "Tweety, couldn't you have waited for a school day?" But the big question is---why? The next day is Monday, and Robbie and Dana go to school, but Carol Anne stays home. So she doesn't go to school? But wait! Thanks to Teague we know that she does go to school, because somebody else's daughter is in the same nursery class. So wait a minute...why wasn't she in school on that Monday? NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANYMORE. I mean I guess maybe nursery school doesn't happen on Mondays or maybe they just decided she needed a day off. Did they keep her home because she was up late and talking to the TV again? What gives?

Where was Carol Anne playing?

When Dr. Lesh asks Diane where Carol Anne was playing, Diane dreamily replies "In her bedroom closet". Since we got a first hand look at the moment of Carol Anne's departure we know she wasn't playing anywhere-- she was in her bed. IMDB refers to this plot hole as one of those "intentional" mistakes made by the filmmakers which they attribute to Diane not having been there at the time of abduction. Still, if Diane and Steven weren't there they still knew that when Robbie was taken by the tree--both kids were in their beds as they were supposed to be sleeping. No one was playing anywhere. And by the way--who the hell plays in their closet? Granted, I may have played in mine because it was a big closet, BUT it just seems so out of the ordinary to claim that she was playing in her closet when she clearly wasn't. Intentional mistake my butt.

We keep the room locked at all times.

When Steven is showing Dr. Lesh and her assistants the house, he lets them know that they keep the door to Carol Anne's room closed and locked at all times. Later on he tells them that the spirits will not let them enter the room at all. Steven is shown with a ring of keys opening the door to Carol Anne and Robbie's room where they find as you know, the children's toys gallivanting around. Later on, when Diane is in the house alone and folding towels or something, she knocks softly on Carol Anne's door and says, "Hello?". She then puts her hand on the door knob and opens it freely.

Locked my ass.

She will only hear her mother's voice.

This one always gets me because she says it plain and simple. Tangina tells the lengthy story of what is going on on the other side, where Carol Anne is currently detained. Through all the talk about spirits, and the light, and whatever else goes on over there, Tangina quite nicely concludes with; "And she will only hear her mother's voice". Isn't that lovely. Then, perhaps a few minutes after this whole speech, Carol Anne is being held back by "the Beast", and Tangina demands whichever parent Carol Anne feels most threatened by to get her to speak. Steven is the victor and after promising a real spanking from both parents, Carol Anne cries out. Wait a minute Tangina, you said she could only hear her mother's voice??? What the frick.

This house is clean? Oh really?

Being that Tangina is all psychic and wise and everything, one would think that she would have still felt the ever foreboding presence of the rightly named Beast, still lurking on the other side. She said it herself, that the Beast's presence was extremely strong, strong enough to punch a whole into our world and take a living human back with him. Why then, would she assume that by simply rescuing Carol Anne, and telling the normal souls to cross over that the Beast would also be gone? It just doesn't add up. Clearly this beast isn't a normal spirit, it's a BEAST. Why on earth would she randomly think the house was clean just from some shoddy rescuing business that practically went down the tubes when Steven messed everything up? Shit's whack yo. Don't even get me started on Steven's brilliant idea to let the family stay while he took 5 years tying up loose ends at the office...

Dead bodies are buried how many feet underground?

The answer is 6 feet. Most pools happen to be about that deep in the deep end---except the Freelings are hoping to have a 3 meter board attached. Since Steven lets us know that 3 meters is 10 feet, clearly the deep end in the Freelings pool will be a little bit deeper than 6 feet. So when Bruno and his bulldozer are busy digging up the pool, isn't it a little funny that they don't run into any graves?

At the film's conclusion dead bodies in coffins are popping up all over the place. By that information, it's a pretty safe bet that the backyard would be riddled with coffins. Yes, skeletons eventually pop up in the swimming pool, but that means they were like 11 feet under the ground--and that ain't right. I call shenanigans. IMDB also clues us in on the fact that a community with all those houses, basements and foundations would allow for the bodies to be found much sooner than they were. Definite shenanigans.

You win-- a brand new headboard!!

When Carol Anne is first taken into the closet, she grips onto her bed's headboard for dear life. In doing so, the board actually rips apart--

Carol Anne even takes a piece of it with her into the closet as she floats away.

Later at the end of the film, Carol Anne and Robbie are shown getting ready for bed when the closet intestines come back to life and tries to suck them back in. Carol Anne is sitting in her bed---the head board intact!

Sure maybe it's less of a plot hole and more of a blooper---but I demand to know just when they had time to buy Carol Anne a brand new bed, in the time span of a day. It's not like head boards are you know...important. I'm also curious to know why they would keep all those previously possessed toys. Obviously the first thing a normal person would do is throw the clown doll out immediately.

And I should mention I would do that even if it wasn't possessed.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hellbound: GET OFF ME SUCKA!

I was a little nervous when Stacie assigned the Chuck Norris-centric Hellbound for this months Final Girl Film Club. For one reason or another I never got on board with all that Chuck Norris business. I mean I can appreciate it and all but I feel like things got a little over played when it hit its hey day. Watch a film like this however and it's easy to understand why things developed the way they did--Chuck Norris is fucking ridiculous. By using an easy math equation one would assume that Chuck Norris in a horror/action film where he is up against Satan's emissary would be pretty amazing. Something however does not quite add up and Hellbound just turns into a giant ridiculous mess. Oh wait a minute....I did the equation wrong--that WAS the expected outcome! In that case, Hellbound rules!

Our film begins with your typical Star Wars knock off vertical scrolling bar.
It tells us the basic information setting up the plot-- I'm not sure why those plot points couldn't have been described to us via regular text on the screen but...oh well. Apparently, Satan's emissary, Prosatanos is called to rid the world of its inhabitants when there is weakness and despair or something. Prosatanos attempted to do this during the Crusades but luckily King Arthur was there to thwart his plans. In the 1950s a couple of hoodlums broke into the tomb and accidentially unleashed Prosatanos. Now in 1994, Prosatanos has reclaimed the pieces of his mystical scepter and is ready to bring about the end of the world--again. That is of course, unless detectives Shatter and Jackson put a stop to it.

Right off the bat things got a little kooky when King Arthur and his men were suddenly doing battle with creepy face Mcgee and a bunch of red faced and cloaked Darth Maul impersonators.
Things got even kookier when I realized that Chuck Norris' partner is none other than Joe Gipp from Adventures in Babysitting, which just happens to be my family's collective favorite movie.
I should point out that because of this I will refer to him as Joe Gipp. Don't be confused. These two have just a swell good cop, bad cop, black cop, white cop, thing going on and isn't it just lovely. Isn't it just so funny when Joe Gipp says something zany??

I was also pretty surprised to find that Christopher Neame played Prosatanos himself. Christopher Neame for those of you that do not know plays Johnny Alucard--a disciple of Dracula in Dracula A.D. 1972.
Apparently the man is always just creepy enough to be some evil perons's sidekick but never the evil person...interesting. This guy in case you didn't realize is really really strange looking.
He creeped me out when he was younger and he still has the ability now. Perhaps what makes it even worse is that Prosatanos gets to wear an absolutely hideous wig and have long fingernails painted white. Hooray!

The film's set up is strange. We get sort of an action/detective story hybrid. When Prosatanos kills, he does it with what is apparently a lot of demon angst. Whether this is due to his demise at the hands of King Arthur or because he is balding, we'll never know. Regardless, he likes to do things in a big way and then at the end he tacks on his crazy face for good measure. Observe when he pulls a Rabbi's heart out of his chest.

Gosh he's so demonic. Oh! I almost forgot, when he's really angry and really being a demon he uses his deep demonic voice. Which is as we all know your standard synthesized angry demonic voice. A true treat.

Once our pal Chuck and Joe Gipp decided that what they are dealing with isn't necessarily from this world, they head to Israel to find out more. Here is where our film turns into a bit of a comedic bromance. My favorite thing about the film overall was when they would play this kooky Israeli music whenever something funny was happening. Really great stuff. For instance...when the Israeli cop was driving too fast and Joe Gipp said he was a shitty driver...*kooky Israeli music* and then when there was that GREAT chase scene when looking for the kid that stole Gipp's wallet *kooky Isreli music*. Honestly, it was the greatest thing ever.

Basically in terms of Chuck Norris awesomeness this film is kind of a letdown. There is simply way too much down time. If you need to introduce some Israeli kid who knows about the secrets of Israel, why do you have to force us to watch 20 minutes of him stealing a wallet, and Chuck Norris trying to get it back. Just have him be there god dammit. Oh sorry I forgot we needed that scene because how else could we possibly end the movie without a freeze frame of the kid stealing Gipp's wallet AGAIN.

Silly me.

There is also not a lot of action, which is surprising for an action sort of film. The final fight scene is kind of whomp whomp in my opinion. The little Darth Mauls are back, Joe Gipp gets tossed about 15 times and lives, and Chuck Norris kicks Prosantanos a few times before delivering the fatal blow with the scepter. There wasn't any fire or explosions, or cool demon things happening at all. If Chuck Norris is supposed to be fighting a demon, I want him to be fighting a demon and not some guy wearing a bad wig. Where was the excitement? Oh and also this fight scene should probably in be in Hell. Just saying.

When it comes down to it, Hellbound fails to deliver what we really want. We really want fucking Chuck Norris fighting a fucking demon. But nope! Just some silly bromance, an annoying little kid and more dectectiving (yes I made that word up) than there are sweet moves. I want some sweet moves, is there something so wrong with that? Even in the beginning plot summary it says Prosatanos will prowl the earth with fire and blood. There was a little blood, but really? There was barely any fire, candles don't count. Poor show. I expect fire when dealing with Satan, ya know?

However, here are some of the finer points.

When Prosantanos lifts that guy above his head, I just LOVE how the director (who was Chuck Norris' brother I should add) utilizes this cool shadow technique. Unfortunately, the "body" that Prosantanos is holding looks more like a box with a head.
I'm guessing it probably was a box with a head.

When there was a sweet fight scene in Chuck Norris' apartment, there was a convenient thunder and lightning storm to make things look really neat.
When the fighting stopped, so did the lightning! It was like a miracle.

Only seconds before Prosantanos' demise, he shows off his cool demon powers by teleporting from place to place so that Joe Gipp can never shoot him. For some reason, when the scepter is across the room and Prosantanos must reach it before Chuck can, Prosantanos thinks the best way to get there is by awkwardly running.
Umm hellooo use your cool teleportation powers dude.

All in all, I think Hellbound secretly wanted to be an Indiana Jones movie. All the elements are there...heart being ripped out, silly local kid, useless woman, archaeology--it's quite clear. Unfortunately the film will have to remain what it is--a less than stellar action flick with a less than stellar demon and some less than stellar moves. Sorry Chuck. It's just that I expected more from the man who was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bad Ronald: I Smell Opportunity

For almost as long as I've started this blog, I have heard two words whispered softly in the wind. The whispers, gentle and peaceful pass by my ear with the grace of a swan. They say---"Bad Ronald". Ahh Bad Ronald. What are you? Thanks to the decline of humans everywhere, the first thing that always came to mind was that asshole Ronald Mcdonald.
Whose genius idea was it to make the mascot of Mcdonald's a scary clown? Don't they know that out of all the things in the world children fear clowns the most? As it turns out, most of the people who grew up in the 70s had a very different association with the name Ronald and this TV movie was the cause of it.

Based on the book of the same name by Jack Vance, Bad Ronald is about well--Ronald and he's baaaad. Well, kind of. Awkward, and strange Ronald lives with his over protective mother and is one day denied the love of his crush. On his way home he encounters the girl's sister who taunts him, causing Ronald to push her. The girl lands on a cement block, killing her instantly. Fearing the consequences, Ronald buries the girl and rushes home to tell his mother what has happened. His mother fears that this incident will jeopardize Ronald's future career as a doctor and sets to work on keeping Ronald out of harm's way. They create a lair for Ronald inside the house, by sealing off a door and wall papering over it. Ronald must live in this space until things settle down and the police stop looking for him. One day Ronald's mother dies unexpectedly while getting surgery done and a new family moves in. Ronald trapped within the house's walls begins declining mentally as he slowly starts believing that his artwork depicts a very real scenario. The new family starts to recognize missing food and hear strange noises but they have no idea what is living inside their walls.

That's probably the longest synopsis I've done in a while but I can't help myself. The story is really too good to be true. I never knew that thousands of people had been plagued by nightmares of having a Ronald trapped within their walls. What an ingenious scenario! This gives an entirely new perspective on the hearing noises in your house situation. Thank GOD I did not see this when I was little. Once after watching The Exorcist for the first time, I stayed up all night with the lights on in fear that the devil would possess me. It is then very possible that if I had seen Bad Ronald I would have stay huddled on my bed, clutching a knife and ready to stab at the first sign of a bursting wall. I probably also would have checked every inch of the wall for peep holes. Jesus, I had a hard enough time trying to force the thought that my Batman (Forever) (Don't judge me) poster had a real persons eyes behind it from my head without the possibility of a full on person living in my walls. That shit is insane!

Through all the amazing-ness of the story line, one cannot ignore the several flaws of Bad Ronald. Being that it is a TV movie from the 70s, there are of course the usual annoyances with bad acting, poor writing and just overall messiness. Those I don't mind so much. What gets me is that I never really saw a clear switch from regular Ronald to psycho- Dungeons and Dragons Ronald. When did that happen? I seriously felt like I had hit the wrong button and somehow missed a vital segment of the movie. Most descriptions make a big deal out of Ronald's fantasy world with the princess and what not, but from my perspective--Ronald burst out of the wall and just started calling Babs the princess. How on earth was I suppose to figure out that those drawings told a mystical story that Ronald was living out in his own mind?

I also never got a clear sense of what made Ronald so weird. He didn't even seem that awkward to me. It's possible, and this is just a thought--that currently from today's eyes Ronald just represents something cool and hip. If this movie was made today I wouldn't be surprised if the role of Ronald was played by Michael Cera himself. But honestly, what was the hubbub about Ronald? Again, it is a TV movie and there are limitations. If this was one day destined for remake status I wouldn't be surprised if they embellished Ronald's character a bit more. Yes he's a mama's boy, but what really sets him apart from his peers? I must know! And not just that but the above problem that I addressed can also be solved by giving Ronald more depth. Why do we never see him falling apart over the death of his mother? We need to see his change happen gradually instead of all at once. The wonderful story is there it just needs to be tweaked.

Clearly Bad Ronald is not winning any Oscars, but it is one of those films that continues to be talked about because of the memories it stirs up. I am both relieved and saddened that I missed this growing up. That doesn't however prevent me from realizing that it is some truly creative and creepy stuff. Lately I've been on a rare DVD/VHS kick. I keep hearing about films and made for TV movies that people have been traumatized by in their youth. Since many of these are not yet released on DVD I have a hard time making my dreams of catching up come true. Luckily Bad Ronald is available for purchase and like many of the others rarities I've seen lately, it can even be watched on YouTube.

Poor, poor Ronald. It's almost like a inverted Tell-Tale Heart concept except I still need Ronald to feel more guilt and turmoil. It really seems like he's enjoying himself in there and that can't be right. I almost ran over an old man a week ago and I've been plagued by guilt ever since. Is Ronald really that far removed and "weird" that his guilt can never be brought to the table? If his drawings and his fantasy world are a way to suppress his guilt, why do we not get a clearer idea or even an inkling that it exists until Ronald reveals himself? I know, I know it's a made for TV movie from the 70s cut it some slack. It's just that I see a lot of potential in Bad Ronald and I'm feeling the need to rescue it and make it better. I'll just stick it up in my head with my Salem's Lot reboot concept. Sigh.

Still though. Bad Ronald is pretty bitching.

Also, do you think Patrick Dempsey's character from Can't Buy Me Love was modeled after Ronald. His character's name was also Ronald.

I think so.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors: If the Wizard Master Can't Make It, Who Can?

I'm pretty vocal in my disinterest when it comes to sequels. People are always aghast when I tell them that I've never seen a sequel in either the Friday the 13th series or ANOES series. I usually claim it's because I'm juuuust not that into them. Lately however, I've done some thinking and realized that I do secretly like sequels. I can't pretend that I didn't enjoy Halloween 2 for example or that Hellraiser 2 used to be one of my guilty pleasures. Who am I really to deny myself the great pleasure that only a really bad (but good) sequel can bring? Before I came to this realization however, people were pretty mad. Through their anger however, they were always able to make one thing very clear to me. If I was to resign myself to any sequel in the horror world, that sequel should always be A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, aptly named Dream Warriors. I was dubious, but finally decided last night that the time had come to face the sequel.

As it turns out, ANOES 3 is pretty amazing. Of course a film directed by the same man who did The Blob remake is typically destined for greatness. Then again he's the same person responsible for The Mask so that complicates things. One thing is certain however--the man knows how to create some lasting images. Out of all the box covers in the series this one has always haunted me. It's thanks to that box cover that I continue to never desire to be swallowed by a giant Freddy head.

And who knew that little blonde girl was Patricia Arquette? And wait what? Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon return to reprise their roles? Why am I so oblivious to these things? Oh right I ignored sequels until now.

Dream Warriors follows a group of teenagers at a psychiatric hospital who have been incorrectly diagnosed due to their lack of sleep and apparent suicide attempts. As it turns out, all the kids are hunted by our good friend Freddy Krueger! But look out kids, a new doctor is in town. Yes, maybe a year out of college and Nancy Thompson is a psychologist and ready to help these last surviving children of Freddy's revenge. Unfortunately she has walked right back into where her nightmares began...mwahahahasupercheesyplotsummarymwahahaha.

So basically, ANOES 3 is pretty amazing. I know I said that already but for the love of Pete it's true. While I will always hold the original near and dear to my heart, I must say that the nightmare sequences in this are absolutely fantastic. A few weeks ago I wrote an article for the wonderful Blood Sprayer about nightmares in horror films. Long story short, I love dreams and nightmares in horror films. It's often hard to find a film that can translate a dream as an actual nightmare and not a "dream sequence" na' mean? It's tough stuff, but ANOES 3 is one of the finest examples I've ever seen. From the "Oh no I'm suddenly walking in a tar river" feeling to the "Oh shit I think I'm actually carrying a big doll and not that little girl I was trying to rescue" feeling, Dream Warriors traps the viewer in the same nightmarish world that we find our characters trying to escape.

I was completely creeped out by the appearance of this tricycle tracking blood on the floor,

this Freddy marionette puppet,

and the possibility of swallowing a spoonful of ground coffee just to stay awake.

The thing that sticks out the most however is that insane scene where Phillip's arteries become giant marionette strings. Seeing him eerily walk about tethered by an invisible string was almost as grotesque looking as when we actually see the arteries.

People wonder sometimes why I always remain loyal to ANOES and not Friday the 13th and this is a perfect reason. The death scenes in ANOES have the ability to be completely surreal, terrifying and absurdly creative all at the same time. The film offers up a sort of freedom in that way that keeps things much more interesting than Jason and his machete do. Scenes like this are one of a kind and are what make me EXCITED about stuff like sequels and you know....stuff! People being trapped in mirrors? YES! Getting killed by being pulled into a TV set? YES! YES Laurence (Larry) Fishburne as an orderly?

YES YES YES! See? I'm really excited. Oh and heroine needles for knife fingers? I'm speechless.

Aside from all the amazing nightmare sequences, the film isn't perfect. It gets a little silly and weird I might add when a ghost nun pops up and offers critical advice to head psychiatrist Dr. Neil Gordon.
And I must admit I was terribly embarrassed when skeleton Freddy appeared and started doing mean things.

Skeleton Freddy may in fact be the most horrible thing I've ever seen. I pray to God that he does not make an appearance ever again in my life. I must also admit that I wasn't too impressed with the believability factor involving Nancy's new psychologist self. Heather Langenkamp plays one of my favorite final girls, yet her portrayal of herself 6 years after the events of the first film leave little to be desired. How old is she suppose to be again? She just feels too young. I also had some confusion involving plot points with the remains of Freddy's body and what not. As several of you pointed out to me on Twitter however, you aren't suppose to question the logic of sequels. But..... oh fine. Never mind.

Despite how it seems to lose its footing a towards the end half of the film, I still came away enjoying myself quite a bit. Dream Warriors offers up a really unique perspective on a plot that could have easily died as soon as the 2nd film ended. It keeps the foundation of the story while finding a new element that keeps things interesting and allows for the audience to get further invested. Having the kids actually become warriors in their dreams is a great concept and one that serves as a nice way to counter act Freddy's devious behavior. I can only hope that when Freddy visits me, I too can develop the dream power of being a super ninja gymnast or if I'm really lucky---the Wizard Master.

And if I'm really really lucky, I can be this.

But I'm not holding my breath or anything.

So in conclusion--thank you everyone for demanding that I see Dream Warriors. It has opened my eyes to the extensive region of sequels and an astounding realm of imagery that practically makes me pee with excitement. It did have me question however just why Unk and Christine chose to leave off the Popsicle stick edition of Nancy Thompson's house when making their lists of deadly homes to live in.

Speaking of which. Why is Patricia Arquette so good at crafts? Is that included in her magical powers of pulling people into her dreams? Probably.

Wait a minute...

Shhhhhh.... do you hear that?

I think it's the sound of a mystical golden imprint being left by John Saxon.

Oh it is, it is!

Bless you John Saxon, bless you.