Friday, August 30, 2013

Compliance: Real Life Terror

I've taken a long, long break from my Exploration Disturbia series probably because my mental health was at risk and because I was starting to run out of movies deemed 'disturbing' that were available on DVD. Also there was that whole thing where I stopped blogging for like 7 months.

But anywho--last night I noticed that Showtime had some horror movies available On Demand that I had been meaning to see for a while. One of them, Compliance--did remind me that several of my friends had used the term 'disturbing' to describe it. No time like the present right?

As with many horror movies that are 'based on true events', Compliance carries with it an extra note of horror because it really happened. Additionally--when comparing the actual events with the events of the movie, the exact similarities are startling. In my mind I was pooling together a list of what the movie embellished, but I was shocked to discover that they embellished nearly nothing. Hence, the reason why Compliance is so disturbing.

Based on the Bullitt County McDonalds Case, Compliance follows a night at a fast food restaurant after the manager Sandra receives a phone call from a 'police officer'. "Officer Daniels" informs Sandra that one of her employees, Becky, is charged with stealing from a customer, prompting Sandra to then follow explicit directions from Officer Daniels, resulting in some disturbing events. After having Sandra strip search Becky., Officer Daniels then requests Sandra to get someone she trusts to keep an eye on her. Becky, still naked, is then guarded by Sandra's boyfriend Evan. Evan receives instructions to give a full cavity search to Becky which essentially leads to some serious sexual assaulting.

The really, really terrifying thing about Compliance is that  you can sit there the whole time and be horrified and then yell things at the TV like, "Oh come on!" "Who would do that?!" and then realize that this did happen and cry. I still am having a hard time wrapping my head around it. This really happened---an employee was subjected to these terrible things because someone with apparent authority was telling someone else to do it. This is a present day example of the Milgram Experiment, only it wasn't an experiment it was some sicko. But the psychological implications remain the same. Therefore  the things I'm feeling in this movie, remind me also of the terrible feelings I had watching movies like Salo and Man Behind the Sun. Why are we as humans programmed to listen to people with authority---even when there is absolutely no evidence that the person has actual authority?

Perhaps one of the things the movie does embellish a bit is the events leading up to the incident and how it impacts our sympathy of certain characters. The manager Sandra is first introduced as being lectured by a delivery man for not being a good manager and letting food spoil. She also points out that she avoids calling her regional manager because she wants to deal with it on her own. A very strong indication that she already lacks faith in her abilities as a manager, and wants to do whatever she can to prove that she can handle things.

Similarly, Becky is anxious about losing her job because she fears she is to blame for the food spoiling. Is her willingness to go along with everything that is asked of her an attempt to hold onto that job and do what is requested of her without disagreement? I guess...

It's still all so messed up even without these apparent sympathies. I just will never understand how someone can decide that yes, a police officer does have a right to request that a burglary suspect should give someone a blow job? Why are people not paying attention to important police shows like Law and Order?

Don't they know that a police officer would never need someone else to do real, honest investigating for them? It kind of makes me angry actually. Angry at the people who let this happen, and the sicko that made the calls in the first place. The really, really awful thing too is that the real-life suspect was never charged because there was not enough evidence!

Compliance definitely makes a spot for itself on a list of disturbing movies. I just felt SO sick after watching this and trying to digest it. Why do things like this continue to happen in our world? In these instances, the most terrifying horror movie in the world cannot hold a candle to the kind of fear we experience knowing that human nature is the real threat.

Monday, August 19, 2013

House of Cards: Undecided

I tried my best to stay away from the skeevy southern drawl of Kevin Spacey in House of Cards. I really did. Something about that and the exposure to the seedy underbelly of the US government, kept me from ever wanting a piece of that recent Golden Globe buzz. But after my intense love affair with Orange is the New Black, I decided that Netflix original program was probably onto something.

Ultimately now that I'm finished with House of Cards I still feel a little undecided and also a little bit uncomfortable. Do I love House of Cards? Kind of. Is it more of a morbid curiosity than a love affair? Definitely. Here's the problem. While I'm very enticed by the fantastic performances of both Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, I still have a hard time adjusting to the fact that it's hard to really form a genuine bond with any of the characters. Claire and Frank are the key players sure--but they're villainous---anti-heroes with a taste for power...and who also make me feel a little weird in my private parts. Not turned on or anything---kind of the opposite. Like maybe they're turning my private parts into a Barbie's private parts.

The sex scenes in House of Cards are for lack of a better word--terrifying. I don't think there's been one sexual moment where I've been like... yes, this is nice. Rather, I'm making a face that kind of looks like this the whole time.

And I'm looking around me like I expect the Thought Police to come crashing through the walls at any second. It's uncomfortable, it's weird, and it's very, very un-sexy. Which I think is mostly on purpose. I think we're made to feel uncomfortable in the same way that we're made to hate Frank and Claire.

 Frank and Claire are entirely un-sexual beings when they're together, but their love runs deeper than that. As a contrast, Frank and Claire's sex lives outside of each other are scary and uncomfortable. It's almost cruel in a way--to the viewers I mean.

But I think that's what makes House of Cards so startlingly addictive. It's like watching 50 minutes of a sexual car crash. Really it's not in your best interest to keep it going, but at some point you just have to throw caution to the wind and say--'Okay Frank. Let's get creepy".

Aside from all that creepy sexual activity, House of Cards can also be fairly hard to follow. It's a lot of talk. It's a lot of political talk--which for many is almost similar to if the show was spoken entirely in Swahili. But once you start understanding what is happening--and granted, it may take you till the second to last or even the last episode of the season to understand---it's quite terrifying. Frank's evil master plan has been carefully calculated all the way and that scares the crap out of me. He's SO evil. I don't think people realize how evil he is. But somewhere in those last few episodes I just thought......yikes. He and Claire are like a mature Boris and Natasha.

A dastardly duo that entertains you but at the same time makes you bolt your doors at night so they don't accidentally stumble in and discover that you have a weakness.

Yes I'm going to watch the next season because damn it---I need to see some justice here. I will say, that I didn't start getting truly invested in the show or the outcome until the crack team of reporters starting peeling away the layers of Frank's ultimate plan.

Which is probably again intentional. And after realizing that all of Frank's decisions throughout the season are intentional---it's not too hard to figure out that everything House of Cards makes you feel is also 100% intentional.

So yeah, House of Cards? Man, I'm just not too sure about it. I'm sucked in, but I'm still a little scared of it. I guess that's probably the overarching message here. Politics? Scary.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Awakening: Those Classy Brits

At some point doing my revolt against horror movies on Netflix, I kept seeing 'The Awakening' come up under my recommendations. Since I was in a revolt, naturally I scoffed at it and then complained about how there weren't any good, interesting, or sort of good movies streaming on Netflix that I hadn't seen yet. Of course, I hadn't seen any of these movies yet I still somehow knew they were terrible. But, details...details.

I think The Awakening turned me off because I thought it was some low budget crap ghost story that somehow was based on Kate Chopin's the Awakening. Well, what do you expect when you name it the same thing?! For some reason as I was perusing Netflix last night, I suddenly had a change of heart.

OK well honestly, my change of heart started when I realized this was a British film and that it didn't have the typical 2-star doom rating on Netflix. It was a ghost story yes, but something about it being British, made me perk up. I think because those Brits can make anything classy. Also, Imelda Staunton is in it--and why would Professor Umbridge choose to be in a mediocre horror film? My thoughts

As it turns out, I kind of really enjoyed The Awakening. It was spooky in all the right places, quiet in all the right places---and it never let the ghost story cliches take the reigns. Instead, it plays on the quiet and the naturally scary aspects about a good, solid ghost story. Also it's British so everybody wins.

Taking place in England 1921, The Awakening follows Florence Cathcart, a strong-willed woman who is essentially a paranormal investigator. However, in her case... it's more about disproving the paranormal. When she is called to an old boarding school to investigate a disturbance plaguing the school for years, Florence is ready to unmask the human perpetrator. However as time goes on, Florence slowly starts to realize that the disturbance may not be human at all.

Now that plot summary may sound as cliche as you can get, but The Awakening is so much more than that. There's this whole other level of course that I'm not going to go into because I don't want to ruin it. Yes, there is a plot twist but it's not something that completely ruins or negates the entire film. On the contrary, the twist that evolves makes your head spin with intrigue. It makes you question everything you just saw BUT in a good way. It makes you want to re-watch it instantly and reabsorb everything.

Not only that--but at the heart of the Awakening is a tragically sad and beautiful tale. It really is. There's just something so profoundly sad when all is said and done and I really enjoyed that. So often, ghost stories are solely about scaring the pants off of us. Seldom do they carry within them some tiny kernel about our inner feelings and our inability to accept death and change. And by this I mean ghost stories in the present. There are a handful of ghost stories from the past that do this well (ahem the Changeling, which is echoed nicely in one scene here!).

Similarly, the scares in the Awakening are good. Yes, at some point they do tend to cross over into jump scare land (and I could definitely do without the occasional screaming ghost face scare), but it wasn't those scares that made the film scary. It wasn't all about that. The best scares are the quiet ones. The ones that aren't accompanied by some jolt of music or some scary face. There are several of these quiet scares throughout, and it's this more than anything that truly makes me appreciate it.

The ending is also one of those ambiguous, choose your own ending type deals which apparently drive a lot of people nuts. I say, get over it. It makes for great conversation, and thinking--plus if there was a clear cut ending people would probably have a problem with it. So this way--you can end it how you want. Problem solved!

Ultimately, this is a ghost story for someone who enjoys thinking, who prefers the simplicity of an eerie ghost story, and who likes to feel emotionally invested in the story and the characters. Sure, you may see aspects of the twist coming, but I think The Awakening has many, many more layers than you would initially imagine. And I don't think anyone actually sees that coming---which makes it all the more impressive.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Way to Go Moments in Adventures in Babysitting

Adventures in Babysitting rests comfortably in my family's "Best Movies of All Time" canon. Here it sits alongside other such masterpieces as, Baby Boom, Overboard, and, The Chipmunk Adventure. We all have them--movies that you and your family members hold a special connection to. Movies that you know by heart and that you would gladly pick watching over some legit masterpiece any day. No, these are not Oscar winners, or National Film Archive nominees. These are pieces of your SOUL.

Adventures in Babysitting actually happens to be a highly entertaining bit of film if I do say so myself. I still think it can stand up against most dated 'teen' comedies of its day and plus it has Elisabeth Shue AND Vincent D'onofrio plays a surly mechanic with a secret identity of Thor, God of Thunder. Also, he's blonde and skinny--who knew?

While perusing channels the other night, my sister and I came across the highly evocative ending scene. And by evocative I mean it makes you want to grab Sarah by her Thor helmet and yell things. Naturally it was this moment where I realized that I could write an entire post of Way to Go Moments using the entirety of Adventures in Babysitting. Remember 'Way to Go Moments'? I miss those bitches.

Way to Go: Chris' Mom

Who lets their kid borrow the station wagon, when the station wagon doesn't have a spare???? Isn't that the first rule of parenting? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is look:

Rules of Parenting

1. Make sure there is a spare
2. Don't kill them

Thanks to Chris' mother, the kids and Chris are stranded on a busy Chicago highway with a flat tire and no spare.

Granted, how would she have known Chris would take the kids into the city to pick up her friend from the depths of hell/bus station?

 Minor details. Chris' Mom, you should be ashamed of yourself!

Way to Go: Pruitt

While at first, Pruitt does a good deed in picking up Chris and kids. He even has that old kooky charm that only a crazy guy with one hand can have. But then, he goes and ruins everything by getting so mad at his cheating wife that he endangers the lives of everyone, by taking a gun out of his glove box and shooting up the joint. Worst of all---he turns one tiny flat tire into a bullet ridden windshield.

Of course, he sort of makes up for this by saving the kids from mean sleaze creep at the hospital and for paying for the windshield. So OK Pruitt? You cool, you cool.

**** BONUS TRIVIA**** Pruitt is Tom Noonan's brother in real life!

Way to Go: Bad Guys

It's not like these bad guys are running a hole in the wall, chop shop operation. They seem like they have things pretty together. The chop shop runs smoothly. They can supply coffee. They hold regular business meetings. They have working phones. Why then---do these guys think it's a good idea to write down very, very important meeting notes on the centerfold of a Playboy? Somebody get these guys some note pads. Come on!

Also way to go Bad Guys for sending this guy in to do the negotiations with the kids.

No wonder Sarah makes a run for it and goes out the window of a skyscraper. Dude is creepy as fuck.

Way to Go: Sarah

Sarah does a few things that make me shout angrily. First off, she abandons the group, chocolate eclair in MITTENED hand and decides the time is ripe to do a little window shopping on the creepy nighttime streets of Chicago.

Due to this, she gets herself into a spot of trouble.After meeting the bad guys face to face, Sarah's spots her Dad's building and makes a run for it. Hoping to ambush her parents at their swanky soiree, she instead somehow picks a vacant and under construction floor instead. Upon exiting this derelict cavern, Sarah calls out, "Mom? Dad?......" Ummmm yes your parents are definitely on this floor, because why wouldn't they be? This is obviously the happening place to be.

Now, instead of saying 'oops let me try another floor,' Sarah sticks around a little too long and gets caught by one of the bad guys. In such a dire situation, Sarah makes the only logical decision she can think of. SHE GOES OUT THE FRICKIN WINDOW OF A SKYSCRAPER.

As if that wasn't bad enough, she then slides further down and starts ambling her way across windows!!!

I just can't even deal with this decision making. I can't!

Way to Go: Graydon

Apparently Sarah isn't the only one capable of making the worst decisions in the world. Bad guy Graydon who after his brilliant plan of hoisting Sarah up by a rope fails, decides the best way to save her and the Playboy Magazine is by going out the window after her!! You know because you can do so much then--like, pick her up and throw her back up into the window and....OH RIGHT you can't. You can't do anything now either because you're stuck on the outside of a fucking sky scraper.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Random Creepy Sh*t!

I'm not allowed to swear in my blog titles anymore because my Mom put my blog on her newspaper's website. Sigh, nepotism. Hopefully a swear with an asterisk in the middle will be OK for any people that do not approve of swear words in blog titles. However, when you're dealing with creepy shit, you really just have to throw caution to the wind and deal with it, am I right?

So listen. I like to think I have a fairly high threshold as far as being scared of things goes. Well OK as far as being scared of things in movies. Wait--who am I kidding? I'm afraid of almost everything. I think I just confused the fact that I'm not squeamish about gore with being courageous in real life. Drats! OK OK, starting over.

I am really, really good at seeing something that other people would deem as being 'normal' and then making a fuss about how creepy it is. I can take your average say--piece of lettuce and say WHOA this is scary because whenever I bit into a thick piece of lettuce I imagine a disgusting, toxic, mutant slug monster will be inside of it.

So that's why I'm treating you on this Tuesday to a list of random creepy shit. Shit that is creepier than your average creepy shit. And creepy shit that in turn makes me pee a little in fright and uncomfortable-ness.

Puppet Hands

Fuck puppet hands. I've probably talked about this before but in this current state of our world, I find it necessary to once again hammer home the danger of puppet hands. Puppet hands are gross. Puppet hands are usually small and shiny and resemble human hands. Which is VERY upsetting when said puppet is not a human but a duck or something...... not that I speak from experience or anything..............OK OK once I received a duck marionette as a gift and it had gross shiny mini puppet hands and I was so distraught I threw it in my closet and never looked back. Terrible thing....puppet hands.


Whoever decided that aquatic mammals with very large mouths were something that you should go on a boat and view, is not my friend. I do not like water and things in the water that decide the moment when you least expect it, is the right moment to pop out and terrify you. Yes, sharks may be my number one water fear, but whales come in a close second. Probably because they are really big, and I get really creeped out when something is bigger than it should be. I think it's a perception thing. I once had a picture book of a girl who went on a fishing boat with her dad and saw a whale. In the illustration the whale tale was like....way too big for a whale to ever have. Which in turn, made the whale into a kind of gigantic sea monster. Except the whole point of the book is 'ohh look at the whales and their majestic life force of happiness and peace'. Fuck. That. Whales can suck it.

Long Fingernails on (Evil) Men

Despite the fact that evil men are usually creepy---I have a really hard time adjusting my creepiness meter when an evil man also has very long, very gross fingernails. It's like getting punched in the stomach and then punched in the face. I should point out that I'm not creeped out by evil women with long fingernails not because I'm sexist but because it's not uncommon for women to have long fingernails. What IS uncommon is for you to buy a box of cereal at the convenience store down the street and to pass the cashier money and then notice his uncommonly long fingernails. Very upsetting. Which therefore caused me to add the (Evil) in parentheses because I've recently decided that all men with long fingernails should be avoided. Lest you end up like this.

Cat Hairballs and the Hairball Wheeze

Cat hairballs are one of the great mysteries of our time. Personally, I think the name should be changed to poop-balls because they look like a piece of poop. The first time it happened, I was dismayed to find that my sweet cat had defied me once more by pooping in my room but then as I cleaned it, I realized it was just a disgusting mass of fur, shaped to mimic a piece of a poop because cats are devious like that.

Almost as frightening, is the noise a cat makes when it's forming the hairball. Not the regurgitating noise mind you...this is the hairball wheeze and it usually happens at least a full day before the hairball ever makes it's appearance. The noise is not all too different from how it would sound if a lost and frightened old man climbed through your bedroom window and then had an asthma attack.

It's not something you want to experience in the middle of the night, when your alone, sad, and vulnerable.

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Favorite Montage Songs

A good montage is like a good sandwich. It's comforting, delicious, and goes unusually well with bad/good TV like Full House.  Or maybe that's just what a good montage is to ME. Yeah, that sounds about right.

I've never been one for conventional greatness. Sure, it's fun to impress others with your seemingly endless supply of IMDB trivia knowledge and your unfaltering obsession with Citizen Kane and blah blah my cinematic knowledge is vaster than yours because I know things man.... but deep down--it's not what we all crave.

Take me for example. I show no fear in proudly confessing the movies and TV shows that make my heart sing. Movies with great montages are like little reminders of the good ol' days. A time when movies didn't require any sense of cinematic intrigue. They just made you feel good. And BONUS--these montages and their accompanying tunes provided the perfect soundtrack for doing the dishes.

So here is a short compilation of some of my very favori-test movie montages.

Most Popular Girl

Teen Witch

I'm not convinced there is anything better than Teen Witch. While the movie is filled with amazing songs (I like Boys), classic lines, and good old fashioned cheesy goodness--it's this montage that always pops into my head when I'm getting ready for work, vacuuming, or brushing my cat. Simply put--this is an everyday kind of montage... you know?

Rock Until You Drop

The Monster Squad

God, I love the Monster Squad. Did I ever tell you how strangely obsessed I was with this as a kid? Keep in my mind, I was terrified of horror movies and anything even remotely scary yet for some reason I would just need to watch this. Probably because of the insanely hip soundtrack. Or because my life goal at the time was to be a sexy vampire mistress...who knows. The point is--this song makes for really great kitchen dancing. And also I get a weird sense of accomplishment from watching Rudy make silver bullets in metal shop.


I just love montages that really stick it to all the disbelievers in the movie. Nothing says 'I told you so' like a montage that proves that our main characters are the very thing they set out to be. Take that---mean guy. In your face asshole person...I got a MONTAGE biotch. I'm fairly certain that's the exact inner monologue running through the Ghostbusters' heads.

Line Up

Ace Ventura Pet Detective

Until very recently (like 5 minutes ago) I totally thought the song that played during the great ring hunt of  94' was 'Dude Looks Like a Lady' and I was like whoa guys whoa---if only we paid attention to what those lyrical geniuses were telling us, we would have solved the movie!! But then I was like oh wait...Dude Looks Like a Lady is the montage from Mrs. Doubtfire that details how well Robin Williams fit into his role as a fake woman. Drats!

Sisters Are Doin' For Themselves

The First Wives Club

I suppose it's time to admit that I have a guilty pleasure for all movies that star Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn. Which basically means that The First Wives Club is about the best thing that could ever happen to me. What's more empowering than this song? Does anyone else like to sing this to themselves when they're doing something totally pointless like taking a trek to the mailbox, or carrying 3 grocery bags to the door? I guess I'm the only one who truly dreams big.

Draggin' the Line

Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead

I just can't help but feel a real sense of admiration for Sue Ellen during this montage in DTMBD. She's 18 and she's already made a sucessful career for herself simply by using street smarts and her good fashion sense! Aside from being the #1 indication of whether or not someone is cool---this movie also reaffirms the point that you don't need college in order to have a great career. Just fake a resume and watch how easy it is to climb the corporate ladder!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Am I Right?

Looks like..........