Wednesday, March 31, 2010

From The Digest Planning Board: Posts I Could Have Fooled You With

I've never been a huge fan of April Fools Day. Actually I hate it. I was always so concerned with remembering to say "Rabbit Rabbit" (as I am on every first day of the month) that I never remembered the evilness and vile cruelty that is April Fools Day. Oh plastic wrap on the toilet is sooo funny. Especially when you get pee all over yourself. The furthest I ever went on a prank was sandwiching two Oreos between some Colgate Fresh Burst toothpaste. As it turns out Oreos with a sparkly blue filling look extremely suspicious. Who knew? Sooo right, as much as I want to throw some big "hahah fooled you" prank your way on my least favorite holiday, I just didn't have it in me. Here are some ideas that I did have though.

Why Saw is the Best Franchise in History.

I thought about it. I really did. And it would have worked too because unless you've been reading my blog since the very beginning- or unless you went back and read every single post I ever wrote (which if I may brag a few people HAVE done that and emailed me to tell me about it and I got all bashful and stuff... umm what? oh yeah..--) then you would have missed this little post I wrote about one of my least favorite series. It's crap. I'm sorry and although I did think about doing this post I also didn't have the heart to gush about Saw and pretend to believe it for a full day. And also I would feel bad because I know a lot of you do enjoy Saw, and I can only imagine the staggering amounts of "yay I luv Saw" comments that I would get. So in conclusion if you like Saw that's cool with me. But to be on the safe side, I wouldn't bring it up in front of me. I still like you though.

Well I'm Off to the Team Jacob Convention...See Ya Never!

Every time I see the Horrorblips radar flooded with Twilight stories and posts about who the next director of whatever the next god awful movie is called, I die a little inside. To be honest, doing this post for April Fools Day would have been a lot of fun. I could have photo shopped all these pics of me in Jacob t-shirt's and with all these kooky teenage girls screaming and crying. But the problem is, that's a little obvious for an April Fools Gag. I mean who's kidding who here- we all know that we all hate Twilight. And if by some mistake you got through the Twilight lover detector--I'm just going to have to ask you to leave. Saw fans I can tolerate, but Twilight? Ha. I don't think so.

In Defense of Kate Gosselin

Well this post just wouldn't work because....well....because it's not a joke! If I could do an in defense of Kate post without getting shot- I'd do it. Look, I can't help it if the only joys in life I have left are to eat a delicious sandwich and watch Jon and Kate Plus 8. And before you ask-- yes, I used all of my 10 votes on Dancing with the Stars last night on Kate and one on Niecy Nash. Just because Kate's a bad dancer doesn't mean she can't get support. SHE NEEDS IT PEOPLE. Team Kate! WOOOO!

**Note this post was half kidding/ half serious. Mostly serious.

I'm Giving Up Chips

Haha....right. Like that would ever happen.

Due to an Influx of Drama, I'm Shutting Down the Blog

This joke post would just be cruel because there is so much drama happening out there, that people might believe it. But fear not, even though I barely have any time--the Horror Digest is going nowhere. Camp Nowhere!
Just kidding. But yeah I'm here to stay and to deliver the goods. Just like the milkman.

Well I'm out of ideas.

In other news- due to my new found appreciation for Brittany Murphy I suddenly remembered a not so talked about appearance that I used to friggen LOVE. That's right, I am speaking of her 20 second singing cameo in the opening for the 2002 MTV Movie Awards hosted by Jack Black and Sarah Michell Gellar. Oddly enough, I really dug this awards show. The Lord of the Rings spoof is classic. And B. Murphy's singing voice is chill inducing. Almost as chill inducing as her "Rollin' with the homies" riff from Clueless. Almost.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Dead Girl: But not THAT Deadgirl

A few months ago I was scrounging around some semi high-brow horror website where they had a list of disturbing movies or something of that nature. One of the movies highlighted was Deadgirl and the picture above the title was that of Toni Collette looking vulnerable and naked. I responded with a kind comment saying that I was confused because the picture looked more like Toni Collette from The Dead Girl and less like Jenny Spain from Deadgirl aka GET YOUR MOVIES STRAIGHT (Note my comment really was kind and not sarcastic). It really bothers me when a completely wrong picture is used to talk about a movie, especially when you are a highly regarded site. If you've seen Deadgirl then you know....I mean you KNOW that that picture is not an undead zombie girl strapped to a table. Anyways my comment was never replied to and the picture is still there. How bothersome! I understand that the titles are basically the same but if you are doing a Google image search lets try to verify the picture beforehand. Like I said if that person was as disturbed as they said they were then they would recognize the difference. Hmmph!

So even though I had never seen The Dead Girl, I knew that various people has been raving about it which immediately warranted an add to queue motion and a few days ago, a move to the top of the queue motion. I am very glad I went into the film knowing very little about what would happen. I maybe had heard that it was disturbing or maybe that it was just plain awesome. But when I watched it, I was floored by how disturbing it was--yet in a complete polar opposite way from the likes of Deadgirl. While there are no naked zombies in The Dead Girl and no outrageous moments of blood and gore, there is something much more palpable and affecting. I'm talking about a real, pure sense of sadness, horror and fear. A fear of reality, or a fear for characters that seem so real, you truly care for their well being. It's quite an amazing and moving film, and while it might not be strictly horror based, it is still capable of affecting you long after you view it.

The film is centered around the sudden appearance of a dead girl in a small town near Los Angeles. The story is broken down into 5 vignettes of character's who are connected or affected by the dead girl in some way. It's an interesting setup and almost makes the film seem more like a puzzle. With each separate story we learn new bits and pieces about our characters and about how the dead girl came to be dead in the first place. I love how each character is either indirectly or directly affected and figuring out and analyzing the ways that they are connected, especially those indirectly connected, is thrilling.

Also not to be ignored is this extremely talented cast and all-star cast I might add. It pretty much goes without saying that I enjoy any movie that has Toni Collette in it (Yes even In Her Shoes) and even though she and all the other characters only have a small amount of screen time each-- each performance is as memorable as the next one. And get this guys. Yup BIG NEWS, I really enjoyed Brittany Murphy's performance. Yes she plays a crack addict whore again but, and a big but here, this performance moved me rather than fill me with bouts of nausea. Her performance is short, taking up the last 20 minutes or so of the film- but I'm telling you it's one of the most haunting and affecting 20 minutes that I've ever sat through. It could be the strange drawl she developed for the character or the sheer intensity in her face. But perhaps the most intriguing thing is that now that we've seen how every character is affected by the dead girl--seeing the dead girl and what affects her, is incredibly startling. So yes my relationship with Brittany Murphy has been patched up a bit- I still think she's a one trick pony but maybe now people will stop sending me hate mail and death threats after my badly timed Deadline review.

So in conclusion. Watch this movie. No it's not 90 minutes of a gore fest, naked women and boobs boobs boobs. Yes there are boobs- but not the kind one would enjoy. (Unless you're a psycho or an old woman saggy boob lover) But it is a unique form of a character study, a beautiful and moving film and some really depressing and eye opening stuff. Why would you want to watch some depressing, eye opening stuff? Because you just have to. It's best to go into this one knowing little, because putting the pieces together on your own will leave you in a wonderful sense of awe and intrigue. And also because I told you to. So listen.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More Random Scares

As children, I think most of us are guilty of following the same basic principle- that a spooky cover of anything is the perfect measure of how good it is. I've heard countless people mention that their start in horror came at a young age while browsing horror VHS covers and I couldn't agree with them more. There's something about a child's blooming imagination and a creepy box cover that really sets something special off. In most ways I have found that book covers are also related to this fact. When going through my Nancy Drew phase- or rather before I went through it (I think I was too young at the time) I would often browse the covers. The cover of The Ghost of Blackwood Hall is perhaps my most remembered of these.
Something about that ghastly green light and the figure playing the organ always gave me a serious case of the shivers. Like most Nancy Drew books there was of course no ghost- but that didn't change the fact that this cover kept me up at night on more than one occasion. Also no one told me that Carolyn Keene didn't really write all these books until I was like 20. There I was thinking that this woman was 140 years old- and how well she could still write. Yes it was a sad moment.

I find most of Beetlejuice to be quite unsettling, even now as a somewhat full grown adult. Sometimes, like after seeing the new Alice in Wonderland for instance, I think about how Tim Burton used to be so capable of creating nightmares in a seemingly effortless way. And now he's just boooooring. How can the same man who is responsible for a hanging man being in charge of delivering memos, and a deceased beauty pageant queen with slit wrists and blue skin later be responsible for one of the least imaginative adaptions of Alice in Wonderland known to mankind?

My list of random scares in this movie are a bit long- also don't forget I already talked about the shrimp scene in an earlier scary moments post. But for right now I would just like to mention just how scary the hanging man really is.
The scenes in the un-living world are some of the creepiest I've ever seen. What a sense of vile mystique and wonder. It mostly plays like a continuous nightmare sequence and a sequence that I just can't get enough of. Like I said, nothing has ever been more capable of giving me the heebie jeebies as much as that hanging man does. It might be that sudden note of doom, or the way he looks so lifeless and still able to pass out memos. I'm just not sure! I suppose a large portion of this has to do with my fear of seeing hanging people....but also I'd say it's just damn creepy. Also creepy, the classic Tim Burtonesque hallway- and the room of "lost souls" dictated to us by the man in the diner from Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

Speaking of Pee Wee's Big Adventure, can I just reiterate how freaking awful and scary that clown dream is?
Do you have any idea what that kind of scene does to a child? It was because of this movie that I developed an irrational fear of getting into a motorcycle crash and being taken to the hospital. Thanks again Tim Burton.

Typically when people think back to the days of watching Fantasia they want to remember those HOT centaurs
or perhaps the cherubs and Pegasuses. However when thinking of scary moments I immediately think of the T-rex scene from the dinosaur Rite of Spring sequence. I think it's the way the other dinosaurs "hear" the T-Rex before we have any idea that something is wrong. The battle with the stegosaurus is very sad and his impending entrance was always somewhat anxiety provoking for me as a young one.

You may be wondering why I wouldn't say that the ending sequence is the first that comes to mind when the word "fear" is involved
---and the sad truth is I could never stay awake long enough to catch that sequence so I really don't remember much of it. I do remember some ghouls though...oh look a demon.

This is kind of a random one but the scene of that old guy slapping young George in the ear has always created an intense feeling of suspense and dread within me. I think what scared me so much when I was younger, is the fact that he slaps him so hard, that his frickin ear bleeds.
Ummm he was just trying to save your career you old fool! Violence, especially violence and yelling taken out on children was always something that scared me as a young one and hopefully many of you out there can agree.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Well, I Guess They Were Right--Gremlins 2 IS a Bad Movie.

After watching Marathon Man a few days ago I knew I would have to back and watch Gremlins 2 for the first time in quite awhile. I wanted to make sure it wasn't secretly a good movie that everyone was pretending to hate just so they could have all the love for it to themselves. Turns out- it's a pretty bad movie, but for some odd reason I held it so near and dear to my heart as a child that it almost hurt. What was it about this dreadful sequel that made me rent it every month or so at the local video store? I'm guessing the cuteness of Gizmo is to blame, but these days you just never know. While the movie is bad, you can't deny the fact how simultaneously strange and amazing it is that Christopher Lee is in it or that the movie withholds the possible record for most movie references in history.

But first I wanted to share with you all something I found to be very uncomfortable. I speak of course of the fact that the fuzzy Gremlins have human fingernails.
Seriously....what the fuck is up with that? Not only are they perfectly manicured but these hands are on the verge of killing me with their likeliness to....ugh....puppet hands!
Why would they give something so cute, something as horrendous as real fingernails? Bleck.

Also, speaking of Marathon Man--didn't I just see this guy in that movie?
What is the deal with old Asian men and their cataracts?

Aside from the fact that Clamp is a horrible name for a dynasty of high tech...stuff. I find the building regulations to be a little strange. For instance, Billy is cited for having an unauthorized potted plant in his office because it could be carrying aphids.
The annoying woman with the worst New York accent in the entire world (who also sometimes sprinkles some British in there) is however still allowed to smoke like a chimney.

Can you believe how big this pot is?
Have you ever seen a bigger pot? I wonder if the only reason they got such a big pot was because they needed to put a Gremlin in it. Yes...that must be it.

Back to physical characteristics of Gremlins that make me uncomfortable. These lips are ridiculous.

Who let Brooke Hogan into this movie and why does she always have to take her top off?

Also, someone should tell her that she's due for an upper lip waxing.

This may be the best shot in the whole movie.
Christopher Lee carrying what can only be described as a pod person.
I just love it.

But anyways...I still laughed out loud here and there- mostly for nostalgia's sake but perhaps the movie isn't entirely bad. Turning it into a game of seeing who can spot the most movie references is fun, and I must say the scene in the elevator is actually a bit scary. For children of course...yes...yes for children....

So it may not hold up to today's standards, but who said we couldn't indulge in a little bad movie madness? The cameos, references and overall shenanigans of the Gremlins is enough to keep you entertained for at least 5 minutes after the ending credits roll. Hey, that's further than Waxwork got me. Sorry Zach Galligan.

The Mist: I'd Sacrifice the Kid Too.

Warning! This will contain a lot of spoilers. Almost all spoilers actually. So stay away if you do not wish to have things spoiled.

Last night before my highly anticipated nap, I finished Stephen King's The Mist. Typically I try to distant the time between viewing the movie and reading the book within a few months to avoid any unnecessary critique on tiny or big things left out of the film adaption. Lately my take on adaptions has changed which I'll talk more about a bit later- so I guess at this point it doesn't really matter. However while reading The Mist, I was so excited about the movie, of which I had heard great things about, that I timed it's Netflix arrival with my finishing of the story. I was so eager to see the horrible things in the book presented in film form and even more excited to see how this "changed" ending played out. Yes the ending was spoiled for me at some point but no, I did not wish to seek it out this time. Anyways, this is less of a review and more of a what's good, what's not. And I promise that I'm really trying to distance my liking or not liking away from the original story. If anything the story just helped me understand the themes played out in the movie and caused me to question certain choices made by the director.

One of the main things that I struggled with, was how the two different sides of the spectrum were handled-- science and religion. I didn't love the fact that we were force fed an explanation for the mist, but the concept also shoves to us the fact that the reasoning behind the mist is very science oriented. Even though we are given this fact and in extraneous detail, we are still shown things that make us question the validity of the Arrowhead Project causing the events. This wouldn't bother me if the reasoning was meant to be ambiguous but I really feel that it was not.

It felt like we were being told the real cause, shown Marcia Gay Harden's Mrs. Carmody and then told that crazy religious people are well, crazy and to be feared. YET- we get these strange instances of religion almost proving that it does have a hand in the events. That giant bug landing on Mrs. Carmody for example, that flies away after her rapid praying, whereas that other bug kills the cashier girl who only moments before was having sex in the storage room (before she was married? Gasp!). What are we suppose to take away from that? Is it just another sucker punch to the gut? Well, what about the realization that the woman from the beginning who put herself above the rest to go home and save her children- whom no one would "see home", was still alive and with her kids on the army bus being driven to safety? What about that choir of heavenly angels/ Lord of the Rings music at the end? It all seemed very confusing to me. Confusing in the sense that the movie felt like it was unsure of how we were suppose to react to it and that bothered me- it really did. It makes me wonder if we are suppose to think that perhaps Mrs. Carmody was in some stupid way right about everything. Bleck. Religion!

I've done a lot of combing of the inter webs to find out about the few major changes that were made and why Darabont chose to make them- and his answers really threw me for a serious loop. It's in many ways exactly like the movie not knowing if it's science based or religion based. I guess I'll just have to go ahead and talk about the ending because all of this stuff fits into that. The first major thing is this idea that one of Darabont's main drives was to make this movie extremely different from the influx of "torture porn" movies that were coming out at the time. If that is true then why completely change the ending to make it one of the bleakest, most hopeless endings of all time? Doesn't the ending basically fall under the same principles that torture porn movies do, and the idea of Nihilism? It just doesn't add up to me. And I'm sure he mostly means different in the sense that it's a step back to the days of good old classic monster movies- but another thing that Darabont said is also questionable in this respect.

He compared the townspeople in the store rallying together to survive, to the people who underwent Hurricane Katrina- where people rallied together to create hope. But as I said, the ending is a complete absence of hope! In King's original story, Drayton and those in the car make it to the Howard Johnson and he is able to hear one single word on the radio. He says it sounded like two very similar words. One was Hartford. The other was hope. It's like Darabont read that was and was like oh yeah hope- and then suddenly needed to change things up for the sake of stirring up controversy or making the movie different.

I'm all for a downbeat ending but in this case it just felt plain unnecessary. I would have been a little bit better if they had all just died in the car- but the fact that the rescue comes at such a bad time is too much of a sucker punch to withstand. Sure there is hope in the sense that things are under control and the world or just Maine I suppose, will be back to normal again--but why completely and utterly destroy our main character's well being so brutally? Drayton- who did nothing questionable, is torn apart with one simple view of an army tank. Why? If people dislike movies like Hostel and Saw that offer us feelings of emptiness and no true sense of redemption by the time the credits roll- why do we ignore the fact that this ending is almost worse- especially when it's suppose to be an entirely different kind of movie?

OK now that that's out of the way, I only had a few other things I wasn't crazy about. The acting. It felt strange at times. People keep referring to it as great but it felt oddly forced to me. Writing was fine, Thomas Jane and Marcia Gay Harden were great-especially Jane at the end there. But a lot of times it just felt completely unnatural to me. Like the actor's were reading all of their lines with a strange sense of unsureness. And sorry to say this but the kid sucked. There are good child actor's out there but sadly this kid is just not one of them. Another thing that bothered me was the music. Did anyone else hear that strange comedic like music that would play sometimes when the bugs were attacking? What was that all about? Preachy music at the end? Didn't love it. Once again made me feel like this WAS all about religion.

And a big one that I think a lot of people may have missed was Drayton's wife. She felt very pushed to the side. We don't even get a nice goodbye scene with her and husband and son. She seemed too young and boring though maybe that was why. But in any case she should be a major focus point and motivation for Drayton to leave the supermarket and maybe she is at the end but when we see her dead body- we feel no true emotion. It becomes almost impossible to feel that connection to her because that connection was never really made.

Alright enough negativity. I realize it sounds like I may have not liked this movie at all but on the contrary, I quite enjoyed it. One thing that I surprisingly loved were the creatures. I was only bothered by the CGI one time- the giant tentacle in the storage room. And other than the fact that the spiders had some goofy ass faces, I was a fan of the creatures. I especially enjoyed how we don't get to see them up close and personal- the big ones anyways. That last shot of the huge one on the road was especially memorable- Jurassic Park like even. They have this great other worldly quality about them yet still kind of seemed tampered with in a mutated sense. It was quite an interesting combination.

This is a good movie- not a great movie, but it's good and it's different. I can understand why people really enjoyed it, and I can understand why other's did not favor it at all. Other than the ending, almost every single thing that was in the story appears in the novella. Even little things which I loved. Lately I've come to terms with the idea that books, like remakes- aren't always meant to be an exact retelling. Rather they provide a nice story board- or foundation. So I'm not going to write off a movie for changing huge things, but in the case of the ending again I just felt it strangely unnecessary-especially with that wanting to move away from torture porn thing. The ending however WAS extremely emotional. I may have almost had a panic attack because I put myself in the car with them. I did. and I almost cried too. It was so unbelievably heavy. Maybe if there was a bullet left for Drayton I wouldn't have minded it as much. But really. The government showing up thing really just killed it for me. Other than that the scenes were exactly what I had pictured in my head, and how can you not absolutely love Ollie with that gun!? The gore was horrifying and grotesque- the pharmacy scene especially, which, was also the scene that stuck out the most to me in King's story so I'm ecstatic that I felt the same when seeing the movie.

All in all, a solid adaption- but more importantly a solid movie. Sure I have my problems with it but don't the best works get the most criticism? Maybe someone just told me that in a creative writing workshop to make me feel better. But regardless- a solid time with some truly, truly memorable moments. Plenty will agree and plenty will disagree but I stand by my critiques, and by my fondness for it as well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Marathon Man: You Could At Least Have the Decency to Wear Some Gloves

I've been avoiding Marathon Man like the plague for two reasons. For one it combined two things I don't enjoy; running and the dentist. And two, because I knew it was over my limit in terms of length. 2 Hours? Pssssh I don't have the time for movies longer than an hour and 30 minutes. OK fine I kid. I was actually avoiding it, because I knew that there would only be one main scene of importance when talking about scary moments. And being the good movie watching pup that I am I knew I had to watch the whole thing or people may think I was....a...a....loser! I will also admit however that I was excited to see that particular scene because of Gremlins 2. As a child who had a strange fascination with Gremlins 2 but not Gremlins, I always knew that the "Is it safe?" dentist Gremlin carried a deeper meaning with it.
My father found the scene to be particularly funny and when I asked him what it was in regards to, he always said something about some crazy dentist. Hence- an interest in Marathon Man but not an entire interest in the movie. And yes I realize Marathon Man is a good movie yadda yadda yadda--well it put me to sleep, sue me. Here are some quick thoughts on the matter.

First off why does Dustin Hoffman have to be so goofy looking? I asked this question on Twitter last night and the answers were half and half. Are we suppose to find him attractive? It was never made clear to me. He's got that big schnoz and that Charlie Brown head, he seems short--I mean what exactly is the appeal? He kind of annoyed me in this and there even a few moments of bad acting on his part. Hoffman--what is the deal??!

Oh right--I forgot about the plot. Well it's a little confusing. Basically it involves, double agents, government agents, Dustin Hoffman running, Dustin Hoffman running in pajama pants on the Brooklyn Bridge, a crazy Nazi dentist, some diamonds, and some Jewish people.

There ARE more than just one creepy scenes in this. One that really stuck out to me was when Roy Scheider is on his balcony and that scary guy with the two colored eyes breaks into his apartment and just watches him from behind that thin curtain.

Holy crap. Isn't that scary? He looks like some crazy possessed doll- and you can just barely see him. Personally this scene freaked me out a bit more than the big dentist appointment. But then again I do have an irrational fear of creepy Asian men with two different colored eyes hiding behind curtains when I'm on a balcony watching a bicycle race. Can you really blame me?

I did quite enjoy a number of scenes that may not have been scary, but just well-awesome. The one that stands out the most however is the scene where Szell goes to get his diamonds appraised and SPOILER ends up slicing that guys throat with his crazy wrist knife. That was most definitely one of the most ballsy things I've ever seen. Also that knife rocks.

Now onto this scary moment. It's a pretty basic fact that no one really likes the dentist. Since I had bad teeth for most of my life- I can relate. I once had 10 cavities when I was 6 years old...too many sweets! I remember little about the experience except that I cried a lot and that my mom told if I didn't cry at the 2nd session she would buy me a toy. Oh the little things in life. Anyways--this scene is quite chilling and is also handled very well. It's not over the top, it's really just a subtle chilling scene. Seeing Svell with his dental equipment and the way he keeps repeating "Is it safe" is just....gah. I actually loved Dustin Hoffman's interaction with him at that point, kind of funny while at the same time, terrifying. And then the drill noise, the sharp thingy they poke your gums with being shoved into his cavity- egad. Imagine going to your dentist and finding Svell there instead? Yikes. But honestly, what's with him not wearing gloves? Gross.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Recommendations for Gore-o-phobs! A Guide to Not Puking in Your Popcorn.

Yes I found this gem when searching "I hate gore"

A few days ago during an email correspondence with my dear mother, she relayed to me the recent movies she had seen. Believe it or not a good portion of these films were horror! There were the obvious choices such as District 9 due to their recent Oscar cred and then the less obvious choice, Blood Creek, which she promptly exclaimed that there was too much gore for her to really enjoy it. I couldn't believe my mother watching gory movies?? As it turns out most of these decisions to watch such things were a mistake, including the ending sentence "I found another new title I don't remember adding, "Midnight Meat Train" is that gory?" MOM! I practically spat at my keyboard- delete that immediately!!!!!"

Yesterday, a very good friend of mine messaged me with a personal request. While he loved the blog, he was wondering if I could do a post on horror movies for people who dislike/ are scared of gore. I exclaimed, although not well because Miley Cyrus on American Idol was both disgusting and enthralling me, that I would LOVE to write such a post. As it turns out my dear friends, I am one of a rare breed. I do not love gory horror movies. I do not believe that it makes the movie, nor do I believe that it is a necessity. Yes there are amazing movies that have scenes of intense gore- but then there are also terrible ones. And yes I do realize that a large part of the horror genre is blood and guts oriented, but I tend to concentrate more on the innate fear that movies exude- and how they affect you and stay with you long after. This is another reason why I get so offensive when people get all huffy puffy about genres- and about movies like The Silence of the Lambs not being a horror movie. Call me crazy but, Silence of the Lambs is a movie that stays with you and haunts you a bit more than say, Saw. If something has the power to scare you, or visibly shake you, why can't it be called a "horror film"?

And so these are some recommendations for those of you that like to be scared and like to be creeped out- but do not want to vomit in your popcorn due to excessive amounts of ripped out intestines and vital organ soup. And yes- these are the same movies I recommended to my mother.

Note that there is one moment of gore in this movie-BUT it's quick enough that if you close your eyes you will be OK. The difference between the kind of gore in this film and the kind of gore in movies like Saw is that it is not the sole purpose of the film and it doesn't carry the film. The Orphanage is probably one of the more creepier and moving films I've seen in a long time. There are scenes in this movie that made me want to hug my cat and cry because I was so terrified. I'm serious! If you enjoy movies with a supernatural element, want to be scared out of your wits and then cry a little- put this on your Netflix queue (or watch it instantly) straight away.

The Changeling is your classic ghost story, only George C. Scott is in it- so as usual that gives most things a special kind of zest that is hard to find. What I find to be most intriguing about The Changeling are the little things that worm their way into your head and really mess with you. There are moments in this film that simply turn your blood to ice- and that is something quite hard to find with movies these days.

The Innocents is a prime example of a classic masterpiece that many people may have forgotten. It is a rare occurrence when a black and white film puts me on edge (easy now I'm just being honest), but I can promise you that I did have to turn the lights on while watching this film. Plus the uber creepy kid in this is the same uber creepy kid from Village of the Damned. AND I could and have listened to the opening song for hours. Pay attention to how it plays against a black screen for 45 seconds until the 20th Century Fox logo appears- a simple touch that many theaters thought was an accident and mistakenly started the film once the logo appeared. It's one of many subtle touches that make this film so very very creepy.

Carnival of Souls is a movie that perfectly captures an atmosphere and places us directly in the main character's shoes by the way it's filmed. There is this incredible fuzziness happening that truly makes you feel a bit removed from everything that is happening. While you can probably guess the "twist" within minutes- thanks to more modern takes on the same idea, the movie as a whole does not disappoint when delivering off putting scenes, extremely creepy floating men outside of cars and one of the scariest waltz sequences known to man.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a movie that often gets easily passed over by gore-o-phobs. The title and the implications of the deaths that take place are most likely at fault but if you do sit down and watch it you will have a hard time finding a solid bit of gore in the entire film. It's grittiness and it's honesty make it one of the most subtly intricate movies in horror history. Don't be afraid to watch this- it's a landmark and a vital piece of heck-- general cinematic history.

If you enjoy creepy religious er non religious cults and if you would like nothing more than to see Christopher Lee dressed in a long wig and dress, then The Wicker Man is for you. How much creepier can you really get? The impending doom is present from the moment we start wondering what a wicker man really is- and the ending sequence will have you wide eyed with something that resembles terror.

While I found Paranormal Activity to be a bit overrated due to excessive amounts of hype and really only truly terrifying if you saw it in the theaters- I will say that it accomplishes a great deal while showing no gore or blood or even boobs. It's a movie that will give your heart a bit of a flutter as soon as your turn your bedroom light off, and that simply cannot be ignored.

Peeping Tom was hailed in it's day as being one of the most controversial movies to date but today remains an entirely too interesting concept of voyeurism. A kind of voyeurism that speaks as a whole to the audiences that enjoy watching a horror movie and how we (or most of us) desire to "watch" terrible and ugly things enfold on the screen.

Movies with a bit of gore that you have to see anyways because you just have to.

An American Werewolf in London
The House of the Devil
Jacob's Ladder

I would also recommend avoiding anything with meat, blood, or guts in the title and even though it may be one of the finest and most thought provoking movies ever made- I would suggest you gore-o-phobs stay far away from Martyrs.

Random Recommendations

Well yes, I must admit I've been in a bit of a slump lately. I blame my sudden influx of hours at my second job, my aching feet and tiredness--but mostly I blame laziness. Anywho for today's non-review post I thought I'd give you all a few lovely recommendations. I don't know about you, but I sometimes find that when I do reviews and I recommend something, those recommendations get lost down the road AKA no one paid attention and you're still the only one raving about a film that you think is the best thing since dinosaur chicken nuggets. Maybe a person mindlessly added them to their already staggering Netflix queue and forgot about it, or maybe someone just plain didn't feel like seeing it. It's OK, I know we all have a seemingly endless list of movies to be watched and reviewed but I'm letting you know that since I'm usually right about these things, (just ask Dod March) you really ought to check out these things STAT!

Ever since my foray into blogging began in the summer, reading has taken a serious back seat in my life. And no I'm not getting less intelligent because I still do a NY Times crossword puzzle every night before bed... ahem anyways...yes the reveal button may be used occasionally but never mind, never mind. But lately when my friends ask me to recommend a book to them I always want to suggest a certain 2. The problem is the second I mention the words "kind of fantasy-ish and cannibalism" my normal friends get turned off immediately. So that's where my weird horror friends come in.

The first is a book called Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link, a local author from North Hampton that I heard about while in college (thanks to Andre the teacher). This book is filled with some of the most incredible short stories I have ever read, the kind of writing that makes you want to put your favorite sentence into your facebook status- but thankfully you stop yourself before anything that embarrassing can happen. I will re-read a large portion of these stories just to get to those lines that are so amazing and so bone chilling in the most marvelous of ways. Nothing is really horror themed, but there are still these moments where you just shiver- and that to me is some powerful writing. In the first story, the narrator imagines he has been in a coffin the whole time and that if he listens close enough he can hear the dead people next to him scratching on the outside. Something about that has always stuck with me and I will never forget how powerful it is. Other great stories with these same bone chilling results are The Specialist's Hat, Louise's Ghost and The Girl Detective. So please give this book a read and talk about how much you love it.

My senior year creative writing class had us pick 2 books from a list of several well known authors- and a lesser known one- the professor's wife's. Of course, being the natural pessimist I am I figured he was only recommending it to us because she was his wife- ignore the fact that she too was a professor and was quite well known both in Western Massachusetts and in *gasp* Hollywood. Anyways I gave the book my attention and can't tell you how much I enjoyed it. Possibly even more than I enjoyed all the rest of the books (by people like Virginia Woolf and Gabriel Garcia Marquez). A Carnivore's Inquiry by Sabina Murray is part history lesson, part murder mystery and part awesome. It's not so gruesome as it is fascinating, a true study in the importance of forming a unity between reader and main character. How important that bond is, even when one discovers something awful, and how our loyalty still remains. Read it and you won't be disappointed I promise.


I try to recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good old fashioned disturbing movie where children are involved. It happens more than you would think, believe me. Baby Blues is about a mother suffering from postpartum depression, a subject often taboo in today's society. Well try making a movie about postpartum, where the mother's depression goes a little further than the typical Brooke Shields. Read my review for more info and watch it! It's startling, original and just down right terrifying. Also a must see for anyone that greatly enjoyed The Children.
While not a downright horror movie, I'm Not Scared is just insanely beautiful. I've never been more emotionally moved and disturbed by something in all my life. When you hear me talk about how I love things that are "terribly beautiful" this may be the ultimate poster child. The music, the scenery, the subject matter, and the cinematography are incredible. The last scene, and the very last image, made me cry for no inexplicable reason, other than the fact that it was so beautiful and awful at the same time. I challenge you to find a movie more moving and more under the radar than this.

TV Shows

If you have never seen an episode of Breaking Bad I'm going to smack you in the face and suggest that you fix that immediately. If you're looking for a new TV show to be addicted to then Breaking Bad is your man. Bryan Cranston has won two Emmy's for his portrayal of Walter White, chemistry teacher, cancer patient, turned crystal meth maker. All for the sake of getting money for his struggling family. I'm not lying when I say that each and every single episode could be considered a short film of brilliance. The things that happen in each hour...well I can't even explain to you how crazy they are. Plus it just may be the most well done TV I've seen in a long time. It's a show that I would never see myself getting into, yet after watching the first episode I was hooked right away. The 3rd season just began this past Sunday so I suggest you do some serious catching up pronto. I may have to buy the DVD's so I can force Emmy Doomas to watch them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Duel: Not the Rattlesnakes!

I'll be honest--I was avoiding Duel for a very long time. Mostly because the idea of sitting through an hour and a half of a guy trying to escape from the clutches of a truck didn't exactly thrill me. I knew that it was the made for TV movie that got Steven Spielberg noticed, and that it was "exciting" or something of the sort, but I figured that all that "truck stalking" action wouldn't happen until a considerable amount of time had passed. Turns out--it happens right away! It reminded me of how quickly that first creepy phone call comes in Scream or how quickly that first zombie stumbles into the cemetery in Night of the Living Dead. It's nice to have the action begin so quickly, but because I knew that seeing the truck so early would mean it would be an entire hour and 30 minutes of the same kind of thing, I began to get very worried.

As it turns out, Duel is pretty exciting and possibly even a bit nerve racking. Road rage is never a good thing-and I'm sure we've all been the target or possibly the perpetrator in our days of driving. I am willing to bet however that no one was ever stalked relentlessly by a scary truck with questionable motives. Perhaps one of the more frightening things about Duel is figuring out what could have possibly set off that truck driver in the first place. Was it because David Mann passed him? Or because David Mann's red car set off the driver like a matador's red cape sets off a bull (Yes I know a bull is actually colorblind just go with the metaphor mmmk?) Or maybe it was because David Mann's face just kind of annoyed him. The fact that there is no clear cut reason and that we never get to see the truck driver is both frustrating and chilling.

With every scene that David Mann looks in his rear view and sees the truck approaching behind him, we get more and more nervous. The beauty of it all is- Spielberg-almost in the way that he portrayed fear with just a dorsal fin and/or music, is able to create fear just with that single shot of the rear view mirror.
Plus even though the movie does consist mostly of David Mann in his car and the truck driver in his car- the film still manages to keep your attention. However these scenes that continue to keep our attention raised usually have to do with when David is out of his car. The scene where he is trying to help the school bus full of the biggest rapscallions this world has ever seen,
and of course the rattlesnake farm scene were two of my favorites. They both truly showed the massive extent to which this truck driver's balls could swell--imagine almost mauling a man down in a phone booth for no real reason at all?
Then we have the diner scene. Even though we are never told or shown who the truck driver is--we all have our assumptions. But honestly, how much more frustrating can you make things? David's inner monologue is panicky, anxious, and paranoid--everything you would expect from someone who almost lost their life for no good reason. So many questions arise in us as we try to place ourselves in the same situation, but it soon becomes quite clear that we could do no better. Plus how completely awesome is that last scene? Not as awesome as David Mann's victory leap, that's for sure.

Overall, Duel is a pretty solid film. Sure it gets a little tiring and annoying being trapped in a car with David Mann, whose facial and verbal expressions are almost as hilarious as that little old lady and her wacky snake farm. But in all honesty it was pretty darn good. Maybe not as a feel good horror movie- but of an I'm in the mood for some crazy truck driver shenanigans movie.