Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grave Encounters: Who Wants to Pee AND Poop Their Pants?

Grave Encounters is one of those very rare movies that isn't particularly fantastic yet somehow, it manages to make you pee and poop your pants at the same time. It's one of those movies you can watch with your friends and scream and cry and burn the roof of your mouth by biting into a piece of pizza that's too hot. Not that I would know or anything...

Oh by the way, Grave Encounters? FUCK YOU. I don't know why these found footage ghost stories really send me off my rocker but man. Why did I choose to watch this on a night when I'm home alone and vulnerable? I wasn't even drinking wine---what the hell was I thinking? Plus, where is my cat? Doesn't she know I NEED her?!

My fascination with paranormal "reality" TV shows began and ended with MTVs FEAR. That show really scared the crap out of me. I'm still not even going to listen if you tell me it was all fake. And it's not like we ever really saw anything concrete in that show that would even remotely suggest that ghosts existed. It was really the reactions of the people and that feeling of pure terror you get when walking down a dark hallway knowing that something just does not feel right. The feeling of being trapped. That's what made that show really fucking terrifying.

Grave Encounters takes the concept of the paranormal reality show and really uses it to its advantage. The characters, especially the main one really nailed that stereotypical douche bag thing that happens with these shows today.

Like, "HI. I'M A TOUGH GUY WHO WEARS BLACK SHIRTS. LET'S FIND GHOSTS. AHH SOMETHING TOUCHED ME. NOPE NOPE, I'M COOL GUYS DON'T WORRY". You can honestly believe this guy and all the phoniness that appears to be happening behind the scenes. That's what makes the actual scare factor of Grave Encounters so good. It really spins that idea of douche head ridiculousness and it almost feels gratifying getting to see those douche bags actually get scared.

The premise is simple--a network guy shows us this final tape of a paranormal investigator show. The plan was to spend the night in an abandoned and supposedly haunted mental hospital but the cast and crew never made it out---yet, we have their footage.

I'll be up front with you and tell you that for the most part Grave Encounters follows the school of in your face terror. That really mean and unfair terror where you're all like, "Huh? What? There's a person over there?" *DEVIL FACE ALL UP IN YOUR FACE* *HIGH PITCH SCREAMS* It's a cheap shot but goddamn does it work. It gives you that instant jolt that so closely resembles a heart attack and it makes you laugh or in my case cry---because you have to get that adrenaline out somehow. See this is why I can't go in haunted houses. When things really jump out at me I freak out and either punch someone really hard or cry. Nobody wins!

Sure, Grave Encounters has its fair share of subtle scares as well. There's a really nice little part early on where the camera man puts the camera down to call his girlfriend. In the background we see the wheelchair slowly........roll a bit and the camera man never even notices. That right there is good stuff because it's dramatic irony and that stuff rocks.

Another unexpected thrill of Grave Encounters is the kind of twist that happens to our characters inside the abandoned mental hospital. I was not aware things would be taken to such a nightmarish, supernatural place. Basically what happens is you find that our characters are having a really difficult time getting out of this place. It does exactly what Blair Witch does in that it traps you as the viewer with them. We too feel pain, anguish and frustration and it creates this insane amount of tension.

Of course I will say that Grave Encounters definitely takes things and runs with it. Yes, it's all still very scary in that FUCK way but it's in that way where someone just keeps playing a mean trick on you. You keep telling them to stop but they don't! And after a while it just gets so ridiculous but you still react every time.

Oh right, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Grave Encounters gets a little too CGI happy at times. Again, it's still effective but it is at least a little bit jarring in that it kind of removes you from that intense, realistic feeling of found footage. Obviously I know that giant weird black hands wouldn't really come through the ceiling and the wall, the question other people know that? I guess not.

Anywho, I will highly recommend you watch Grave Encounters if you are in the mood for peeing and crapping your pants. It's not the kind of scary movie that sticks with you long after the viewing but it's certainly the kind to keep you wildly entertained and on your toes for its total running time.

Also again, fuck you to the scene where someone in a hospital gown runs in the background and then faces the wall and............yeah......fuck that scene man! That was very upsetting and now I'm never going to go in my basement ever again. Guess someone won't be having clean clothes ever again. Oh nuts that someone is me.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Birthday David Lynch!

I stopped trying to make sense of David Lynch films in the moment I realized that a woman with chubby cheeks was dancing inside of a radiator. While ERASERHEAD rests comfortably in the realm of great film making, I have barely met one person that is confident of its true meaning. David Lynch is one of those infuriating director’s that keeps most of the deeper meanings of his films to himself. This is why I’ve resigned myself to believe that David Lynch composes the bulk of his films with the aid of a gigantic wheel depicting several random and seemingly unrelated phrases. The wheel is spun until Lynch arrives at the strangest imaginable description of something and then he writes the scene literally.

Ignore the misspelt Nitrous

Here are some possible results of the wheel of ridiculousness.

Old people, paper bag, smiling, purgatory, dumpster, monster.

Swollen cheeks, radiator, weird dance, uncomfortable, worms, squish.

Nitrous Oxide, humping, daddy, closet, velvet.

See? It makes perfect sense. This is why he never tells anyone what the hell his movies are supposed to mean. They mean nothing.

Of course there is another possibility. I suppose what really happens is that David Lynch is a genius. A man who thinks of things few of us will ever be able to experience. A man who probably thinks in terms of algebraic functions, or worse---knows what they mean. Yes, that must be it. The very thought that someone out there conceived of a notion where the sounds of a radiator turn into a scary woman dancing on a stage and squishing worms is enough to make my head explode. It makes me want to find a secret door and enter into his head, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH style. Would I find the inner workings of a factory, churning out Kafka ideals and existential thoughts? Or would I find a chaotic palette of random ideas and themes meshed together like one grotesque blob?

Aside from the fact that most of us have no idea what these films mean, we tend to love them regardless. While I admit to needing some time to get warmed up, I believe I have finally reached a point in my life where my acceptance swells with a bright feeling of joy. Yesterday I found myself craving the need to watch MULHOLLAND DRIVE again, and before that I was immersed in the land of DUNE—hypnotized by Kyle MacLachlan’s odd inner monologue about the spice. This is a step above where I was previously. Before this I found that I had to be in a very specific mood in order to even pay attention to a film as surreal and oddly moving as one of Lynch’s. It took me two tries to watch BLUE VELVET and I only watched half of ERASERHEAD before being so strangely disturbed that I had to take a break of 6 months before a second attempt.

This brings me to a question that has been plaguing me for a while now. What is it about David Lynch and his films that often leaves them on lists of disturbed films? Having just watched IRREVERSIBLE, I was combing through lists of what others had deemed the most shocking and disturbing films. I’m always a bit surprised however to find that ERASERHEAD almost always appears somewhere in the top five. Can I really agree that ERASERHEAD is more disturbing than a film like IRREVERSIBLE or even CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST? Strangely, I think I can. After all, I was able to watch CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST in one viewing but ERASERHEAD for whatever reason had me tripped up. If trying to figure out what David Lynch’s films really mean is impossible, then trying to come to a conclusion of what makes them particularly disturbing must be equally hopeless.

As far as I can tell, ERASERHEAD employs the Lynchian method of trapping the viewer inside a tiny bubble of confusion, keeping them cut off from oxygen and only supplying them with strange images and themes. We are kept in the dark, away from civilization and we are instead forced to watch a world in which deformed cackling cow fetuses laugh at men with fuzzy hair and where a line of pencils comes dangerously close to becoming the world’s most beautiful shot in the world. I’m serious. When I think of how uniquely perfect that shot of all the pencils is, I start slowly placing it over CITIZEN KANE inside my head. Pencils. Pencils!!!

When I’m watching ERASERHEAD I feel like I’m trapped in the bowels of a nightmare. I get worried that if I watch it for too long my head will be trapped inside of that world and that I’ll develop an eraserhead too.

It surely is one of those nightmares that you can’t wake up from. Sure, no one gets raped-- but cow fetuses get stabbed and weird shit happens. Like really weird shit. ERASERHEAD with all of its oddities then is something of a mind fuck and is a film that impairs some portion of your daily thought processes. It is perhaps one of the most disturbing films that I’ve ever seen. It’s unexplainable aura of dread and its nightmarish landscape of industrial waste is in fact something that sticks with its viewer until long after they watch it. Even still to this day, when I lay on my bed and hear those sizzling obscenities emanating from the radiator, I envision—hell.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Return of the Living Dead: Finally Talking About It!

I've been asked several times by readers and Twitter followers and homeless bums on the streets, why I haven't reviewed Return of the Living Dead yet. The truth is, I've written about it a few times just not on this here blog. But because I'm feeling especially saucy today and because I realize people just don't click on links because I tell them to--I will be reposting one of my favorite articles that I wrote way back in August of 2010, on the subject right here and right now. That way we can all hold hands and sing and be happy about stuff. AND maybe also eat sandwiches. Because really, what's a Monday without delicious sandwiches?

If there is one thing I’ve grown tired of lately, it’s the fan base of everyone’s favorite horror icon, the zombie. Since my horror craze started a bit later in my life, I was late at grasping the concept that at some point in time zombies were not annoying– they were terrifying. How was I suppose to know that before zombies became memorabilia for teenage horror fans, they were vehicles of social commentary? Who would have told me that once, long ago, zombies were not punch lines but actual walking corpses that managed to chill the blood of anyone watching? Luckily it doesn’t take a whole lot to learn these startling facts. A copy of Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, or even Fulci’s ZOMBI 2 is enough to help you understand that zombies had a history and a life before they were downgraded to a joke.

If we think back on where zombies went wrong, I think a fair assumption to make is that the addition of zombie comedies played a major role. You could also say however that the DAY OF THE DEAD zombies who clearly represented the free thinking zombie and Bub the comedic relief zombie, also had a big hand in the eventual demise of the zombie. More so however, I think I would blame the masses–

well, the zombies I guess, for eating up every single piece of zombie hysteria that was thrown at them.

One would think that being a modern day zombie hater, would mean that by default, I would hate the grandaddy of all zombie comedies–RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Don’t worry, I thought it too. I expected to roll my eyes at the joking and glorifying of the zombie race but instead, I grew interested. In the short time span that I’ve held RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD in my hands I have watched it about 3 times. Not because I was instantly taken with it, but because I respected it and wanted to understand why it didn’t fall victim to my automatic hate of zombies.

As far as I can tell, the main reason that RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD does not fall prey to its expected outcome is for the same reason I came to like it—it has respect. It’s quite easy to determine that the makers of the film have an appreciation and a respect for zombies that seems missed by most modern filmmakers today. Perhaps the most obvious way it does this is by keeping the zombies scary. There are moments in RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD that have me wincing with semi-embarrassed fear. My favorite being when the paramedics turn on the headlights to find an eerily motionless horde of zombies starring back at them.

It was like a swift punch to my gut which then caused me to glance around and wonder if people were taking note of my inherent loser gene by being scared of a zombie comedy. But that’s the beauty of it. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD while at times hysterically funny, never forgets that it is still a horror movie, and that’s what I love about it. Images of creepy midget zombies, half torso skeleton zombies, cadavers hanging by huge hooks put through their ears—it’s all scary and effective and more importantly, laughing is far from my mind.

On the flip side of the respect argument, the film also does something that is extremely hard to come by today. The joke and comedic aspect never has to do with the suggested ridiculousness of zombies. Rather, the comedy comes through the character’s reactions to the terror that the zombies are creating. Do you see? The respect is more present than ever by the very idea that the zombies are not the joke–we are.

Today it is common for the opposite to happen, as people start insinuating that zombies are just slow dead people and their only threat is their large number. Yes it’s very funny when a stumbling zombie ambles through the doorway and Mr. Tough Guy shoots him in the head as a mere afterthought. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD however gives us grown men screaming their heads off and falling apart at the very idea of sawing off a dead guy’s head. Additionally, it barely has one instance where the living people are shown overcoming the dead. It’s always the dead in complete and mass control of their surroundings.

I’m sick of these zombie contingency plans and people asking me my survival techniques when the zombie invasion happens. My plan? Sit in a corner and cry—which is what everyone else will be doing. I’m sorry, but half of you people have never picked up a gun in your entire life and a much smaller number of you have ever killed someone OR more importantly, anything. I have a hard enough time putting a lobster into boiling water without feeling guilty, so I’m pretty sure that if I had to shoot any of my family members, or even my neighbor for that matter, I would rather shoot myself.

It’s harsh man, but in my opinion–the truth. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD exemplifies this principle perfectly. There’s no burly hero, or even a shot of someone getting the better of the zombie. There is hopelessness and of course eventual resignation which solidifies the great amount of respect that the film has for zombies. Zombies aren’t the joke at all–our false sense of strength and intellectual capabilities are.

While I may have been dubious of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD’S appeal at first, I have eventually come to realize its greatness. Yes, Trash may dance naked in a graveyard,

and sometimes the zombies say silly things—

but through all of this, the film never looses sight of its initial inspiration-the zombie genre. Its respect is evident in more ways than one and it has me fully prepared to admit that the more realistic account of the zombie apocalypse is not NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD at all—it’s THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, as much as our inner hero doesn’t want to admit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Scary Face Club: January Inductees

January isn't exactly my favorite month of the year. Better than that whore March sure, but January...oooh January. It has its fair share of STDs as well. Most notably devilish ones like the snow and being cold and being 31 days long. Let's hope this month's meeting of the Scary Face Club makes things better.

Skinny Thing


The skinny thing in REC and REC 2 is quite possibly one of the most scarring things I've ever had to watch. When that thing starts ambling around the darkened apartment it's like a giant dump truck of filth and despair is falling on top of you. As if the terrifying face, stringy hair and skinniness weren't enough, the skinny thing also has to wave it's saggy boobs in our face too. Bleck. They should make a haunted house and have this thing sneak up on you. I'm fairly confident that people would just keel over and die.


Little Monsters

The character of Boy in Little Monsters is one that continues to baffle me. He doesn't have what I would say is a conventionally scary face but there's just something about that face that still gives me the willies. Granted I'm sure it has to do with his creepily calm and sweet demeanor and the fact that he's about 30 years old and not a "boy" but still. His face is practically scabbing and falling off around the edges so it is actually very unnerving. Not to mention when Boy reveals his actual face it is somehow less frightening than the 'mask' he was wearing.

Dead Birds

I'm not sure these things have official names, but instead of calling them "Scary Thing 1' and "Scary Thing 2" this will have to do. I'm not one to applaud CGI scares in horror films,but like I said during my review of Dead Birds, there's no way you can deny these things of their scare power. Especially when without warning they just scream and open their creepy mouths. It's one of those unfair scares sure, but I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I didn't pee my pants.



There were very few things that scared me more in life then watching the face rip scene from Poltergeist. There's something about ripping your own face off that really rubs me the wrong way. Plus also? It's fucking gross! When those giant globs of skin just plop into the sink. Aside from that, I had that moment where the so obviously fake face makes this like skeletal growl. Why does that freak me out so much? Is it because the face feels fake, or because it's legitimately just a damn scary face/thing?

Old Hag


My favorite part of Pumpkinhead, aside from the obvious doll that is suppose to be Lance Henriksen's son,

is the terrifying old hag. Honestly, have you ever seen a more terrifying hag in your life? This is like the dictionary definition of old hag my friends. Sometimes I'll just be standing around enjoying the happiness of life and then all of a sudden an image of this hag will pop into my head and I'll die a little on the inside. True story.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dogtooth: What a Feeling

I can't believe I forgot to watch Dogtooth after putting it on my "See this now" list. Nine months later after giving birth to my food baby and watching movies where CGI bees come out of Bradley Cooper's ear, I finally remembered to watch Dogtooth. What was I doing all that time? Oh right, being lazy and wearing no pants. Also maybe eating pizza, but who can say for sure?

Dogtooth is not a horror movie, but it does live in that little area of land known as Disturbia. Disturbing because of the subject matter and the weight of the situation, plus also there is cat trauma and tooth trauma! Double sad face.

You may remember that Dogtooth was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign language film. This means that I am almost certain that this is a great film and that there is a lot of nudity. It's better if you do not ask me how I come to certain conclusions in life. Trust me.

Dogtooth centers around a mother and father who have cut off their children from society. Their 3 "teenage" children live in an isolated house with tall fences and have been raised to learn the complete opposite of everything that is fantastic. For instant, a telephone is a salt shaker. A pussy is a bright light. And zombies are little yellow flowers. It is in fact, a very grim and disheartening commentary on censorship. By the way, I'll keep referring to the kids as "kids" because I'm pretty sure they are all about 30 years old.

As you may have guessed, even if all the (what are perceived as) negative aspects of life are blocked out---the violence, the hatefulness and the fun still find a way to worm their way in. Because if The Village taught us anything, it's that you can always send the blind girl over the wall if you don't want the surprise ruined and also---don't try to protect people from the real world. It's not okay.

I really enjoyed Dogtooth for the sheer amount of blatant craziness that it was exuding. It's the kind of movie that continues to keep you baffled well up until the end of its running time. You would think that after seeing the kinds of weird shenanigans these "kids" get up to, you would not be surprised when they then start doing a weird dance during their parent's anniversary dinner. But you would be wrong. You would also be wrong in saying that the eldest daughter doing her own rendition of the Flashdance dance was not the greatest thing on the planet. It is the greatest thing on the planet and you better believe it.

It's just that the levels of insanity seem to grow and grow as the movie progresses. But not in this extremely ridiculous way. More in a steady incline kind of way. The most painstaking part of it all though, is how we never get a clear cut explanation for why the parents are doing this. And I totally love that. Again, who needs explanation? The thing about censorship and those loonies that try to keep their kids away from TV is that no one ever really has a great reason. They mostly just want to protect their kids, or shield them from something they perceive to be evil or harmful to their development. What those parents don't know however, is that TV is very good for development. Where would I be in life for instance without the vast knowledge that giant pieces of meat and diapers are the most expensive items at the grocery store?

Without TV, how would I possibly know the correct way to hit a target while effortlessly dodging tennis balls being shot at me by a really scary, yet oddly attractive body builder?

Kids need these things in life. They need experiences and they need to make mistakes. Without them, the "bad' finds a way to get inside anyways. And plus, any parents that condone the slaying of a cat with garden shears should probably be killed. Just sayin'.

Dogtooth is a truly remarkable film. Despite it not being in the club of horror, it is insanely creepy and unnerving. It's almost like you feel that someone is playing a really clever and intricate joke on you. Like the actors will stop in the middle of their creepy, psuedo psychotic games and be like HAHA Andre we were just joking. But they're not you guys.

They're not.

Moral of the story is: don't try to protect your children, because in the end, you'll only harm them and cause them to bash their teeth in with a dumbbell.

Oooh also AWESOME ENDING huh? It's probably one of the most simple things you could think of, but it's so damn meaningful isn't it? People that have seen it--you know what I mean. Or do you? Tell me this, what is implied by that very last shot? SPOILER: is it that once freedom is achieved, it's too late? It's too scary to leave the confines of the trunk? Or maybe she's dead? SO MANY THINGS HAPPENING INSIDE MY HEAD RIGHT NOW.

Anyways, watch Dogtooth. You'll be uncomfortable for about 90% of the film and during the other 10% you'll be laughing at the Flashdance re-creation and the Jaws and Rocky quoting.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bitter Feast: Too Many Dick Heads, Not Enough SPICE.

If there's one thing I can say with utmost surety it's that I am awesome at watching TV shows. Well okay, who isn't? You would think that wouldn't you? But the truth is, being awesome at watching TV isn't as easy as you think it is. To use a Top Chef metaphor it's kind of like cooking an egg perfectly. Many people think they can do it, but when the pressure is on, the egg well....isn't that perfect after all. I mean how many times have I gone out to breakfast and had my sunny-side egg burned brown at the edges?

Watching TV is like an art form--which may or may not involve the ability to effortlessly slip TV show references and episode plots into day to day conversation. ALRIGHT fine you got me. I'm just using my good TV skills as a way to make myself feel better about being fat and lazy. The truth is, I don't even have cable! But I do have Comcast On Demand which doesn't allow you to do much of anything unless you subscribe to real cable. However. Bravo is one of those cool networks that lets people who have Comcast On Demand watch their shows for free. This means, that I can still enjoy my favorite reality show..Top Chef, despite not having *stupid cable.

**By stupid I mean, oh god, oh god I miss you cable TV and watching bad shows like Teen Mom and Kendra. WHY DOESN'T ANYONE ELSE AGREE WITH ME THAT KENDRA IS LIKE A REAL PERSON?


Top Chef is the bees knees. I remember when I first started watching it sometime back in Season 2, I instantly hated it because it was trying to be too much like Project Runway. Little did we know, Project Runway would someday be turned over to the not-enough-drama Lifetime network and Top Chef would be Bravo's new top dog. Plus, Top Chef is awesome.

Oh right I forgot I'm supposed to be talking about movies. Well the thing is. Bitter Feast combines two of my very favorite things. Well, 3 I guess. Celebrity chefs, Horror and blogging. The film is about a super dick head celebrity chef

who receives a scathing review from an equally dick of a head food blogger.

This prompts DH chef to kidnap DH blogger and torture him in various ways. I should mention DH chef has other problems that set him off besides the whole getting a bad review thing. Oh and DH blogger's kid died from cancer. Which is why he's a DH.

I remember reading about Bitter Feast and being really excited about it. It's like a horror movie for people addicted to Top Chef and the Food Network I thought--and YES it mostly is. The only problem it runs into is that it's a bit dragging. However, it does bring some zesty originality into the plot as far as food is concerned. And by that I don't mean that DH chef forces DH blogger to eat things until he pukes (this isn't Jackass 5.6 or whatever) instead, DH chef forces DH blogger to cook a steak to medium rare perfection with his hands tied!

It's like Top Chef with sadomasochist undertones...and blood! Wait.....Top Chef is pretty much already like that, isn't it?

Hmmph. Well at any rate, I give Bitter Feast huge props for doing something different but for the most part I believe it mostly falls victim to that whole.....boredom thing.

It's just that there isn't a whole lot keeping me glued to the screen. The problem with having two absolute DH characters is that we don't really give a crap what happens to either of them. So while we see DH blogger get beat up and starved to death we aren't really shedding tears. The film is also an hour and 44 minutes long which is TOO LONG for a film that only has one main thing happening throughout its running time.

Aside from that, there just isn't enough oomph. Give me suspense, give me excitement, give me something! Sure, the acting is pretty good, the camera work is nice but what are we really holding out for here? I suppose there is the whole drawing of similarities between DH chef and DH they're both so bitter that it's almost worth it if they both would just die. I also appreciate the significance of how they both have pretty stellar lives despite the obvious depressions. For DH chef, he may have lost his cable network show, but he has 2 houses! And one of them has an elevator that opens up into his apartment!

DH blogger lost his kid sure, but he still has the love of a wife who cares deeply for him despite his insane asshole levels. Both of these men are too bitter to ever realize these good things however and so they are essentially dead before the movie even begins. I'm okay with that I guess.

I did quite enjoy how the movie ended though and I will not spoil it because it is actually kind of unpredictable in a.....predictable way. Wow that only made sense in my head. Anyways, I didn't hate Bitter Feast but I wasn't insanely crazy about it either. It did instantly make me want to watch another episode of Anthony Bourdain's latest show the Layover though.

Sigh. Tony, Tony Tone. Not only are you one cool motherfucker, but you hold the same amount of distaste that I do for hipsters, burgers cooked medium and human statues. Why can't we be together? Hey, I'd settle for a friendship here.