Monday, November 28, 2011

2011: THE YEAR HORROR WENT TO TELEVISION?

As the changing seasonal winds begin to blow throughout my Midwestern campus, I find myself reflecting about the year 2011.  As a proud survivor of TWO raptures and someone who managed to choose a school other than Penn State, I was lucky enough to ultimately deem this year as satisfying.  While my personal life has been decently satisfying, I fear that the world of the horror genre may be signaling a drastic change.  2011 was undoubtedly the year of unoriginality.  A whopping amount of the horror films that were released this year were sequels, remakes, reboots, or films heavily inspired by already beloved ones.  Obviously there were some "little indie films that could", (Hobo with a Shotgun, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) but as a whole, this year was a little more than lackluster for quality horror films.  To contrast to this, television shows within the horror genre EXPLODED with creativity and entertaining themes. 

Previously mentioned on this blog, Ryan Murphy's sensational hit American Horror Story has completely taken the horror television genre by the collar and threatened it for its lunch money.  AHS is the combined effort of every staple within the genre and shaken all together like a bottle of glitter at a Ke$ha concert.  As a horror fanatic (and I huge Ryan Murphy fangirl) I feel it is my duty as a genre fan to try and expose everyone I know to this masterpiece, and pray that it continues on to earn the viewership it deserves.

Back for its fourth season is everyone's favorite Vampire series, True Blood.  I'll admit...I stopped watching the show halfway through the train wreck that was season three.  My hopes were crushed and I found myself unable to pay attention any longer to the ridiculous storylines and unbelievable character arcs.  A friend of mine is a complete and total diehard fan of the series and assured me that season four was more than making up for season three.  Against my better judgement, I gave the show another chance.  You know something, I'm so very glad that I did.  Season four packs a hell of a punch and Anna Paquin is as cute as ever.  Luckily for fangbangers everywhere, season four was powerful enough for HBO to renew the show for a fifth season to come out this summer. 

Earlier this October, AMC finally brought back the most talked about show of 2010, The Walking Dead.  Even after the very public firing of Frank Darabount, the season premiere, "What Lies Ahead" broke the record for the most watched cable drama in basic cable history, attaining 7.3 million viewers.  Not too shabby for a season opener, eh?  What excites me even more is that the episode was directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton...A WOMAN. Holla. Anyway, TWD has been bringing in the audiences with record numbers and although hitting a bit of a low spot throughout the middle of the season, last nights' mid-finale (directed by another woman, Michelle MacLaren) more than made up for it.  I am thirsting for it to be February just to find out how the rest of the season is going to go.  Last night really hit me in the gut, but it's exactly the jump start the season needed.  Is it a shock that the best two episodes of the season were directed by women? Not. One. Bit.

To put it bluntly, horror movies this year were less than stellar and horror television shows seem to be paving the way for genre fanatics everywhere.  Horror filmmakers everywhere should take a page from the book of these shows.  Remakes and sequels don't have to be the status quo, your audiences are THIRSTING for originality and characters they actually care about.  Quit slacking off and relying on jump scares and CGI and focus on what they teach you the first day of film school...the storyline matters. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

THINGS I'D RATHER DO THAN SEE THE NEWEST TWILIGHT MOVIE

In a little less than an hour, twi-hards across the world will be shoveling their sparkly vampire loving bodies into movie theatres to sit through the latest installment of The Twatlight Saga.  Now, I am obviously not going to be one of those individuals.  Instead, I find myself writing a paper for class and allowing myself to be distracted by tumblr and wonderful conversation with Zach Shildwachter formally of Z For Zombies and currently a contributor to The Blood Sprayer and brains behind Awkward Creations.  Since Zach and I are both self proclaimed rock stars and far too cool for Twatlight, we compiled a list of things we would much rather do than sit through that crap. 
JUMP IN FRONT OF A TRAIN
STEP IN FRONT OF A BUS
PUKE MY GUTS OUT
STAB MY EYES OUT
EAT A LIVE ANIMAL
HANG MYSELF
 BLEND A BABY
WATCH NASCAR
LAY ON A PUBLIC BATHROOM FLOOR
KISS AN OLD WOMAN
HAVE MY SKIN RIPPED OFF
BE EATEN ALIVE
SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST
BE ATTACKED BY CATS
POUR ACID IN MY EYES

See, there you have it, a list of things that would totally be better than shelling out the money to see if a constipated teenager decides to go for necrophilia or inter-species erotica.  I just saved you nine bucks.

Think you're cool? Try to guess all of the films featured above. Show off your horror gusto and leave your guesses in the comments section.

Friday, November 11, 2011

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: THE MOST ADDICTIVE SHOW ON TELEVISION

I did an article for The Blood Sprayer eons ago in which I discussed how horror themed television series are often times some of the most poorly constructed shows on T.V.  The horror genre is an acquired taste to start with and trying to implant the spooky sensations anytime other than Halloween is often under appreciated or watered down in hopes to appease the cable lineup.  However, tv mogul Ryan Murphy has once again brought a series to light that has injected an addictive substance through my veins and driving me to the brink of insanity trying to figure out just what the hell is going on.  I first found myself a "RIB" fangirl with his show Nip/Tuck.  The captivating story lines and the fact he actually gave a shit about character development had me hooked from start to finish.  As a theatre student, I'm also a total gleek and have followed the Glee series since the beginning.  While the two shows are ridiculously different in structure and content, I will admit that I am obsessed with both of them.  When it was announced that American Horror Story was going to be hitting homes across America, and penned by Ryan Murphy, I will admit I did quite the little fangirl dance.  FINALLY, RIB back to his roots of Nip/Tuck with something edgy, sexy, scary, and crazy. 
 Let me be frank, here.  What in the name of Hell have I gotten myself into?  Jesus Fucking Christ, man.  The show follows The Harmon family who moves into this gorgeous mansion for dirt cheap.  Even with this economy, any good horror fanatic knows that is just SCREAMING that it's haunted, a murder site, plagued with death, near bad neighbors, or there's something living underneath it.  Despite it all, the Harmon's purchase the house using it as a home and also as an office for Ben, the patriarch of the family to use for his psychiatric appointments.  The family is trying to get a new lease on life after Ben was caught bonking a young girl by his wife.  The Harmon family consists of Ben, his wife Vivien, and their daughter Violet.  Immediately upon moving into the home, strange things start to happen and they are visited by their peculiar neighbor, Constance.  Now, let me stress the word "peculiar" In the world of this show, many of the characters are left ambiguous as to whether they are dead or alive.  Constance is one of these characters. 
There isn't much known about the house other than the fact there were some really strange events that took place on its grounds, and it seems that anyone who dies on the property is stuck there forever.  Well, that, and there's some crazy shit living in the basement.  Quite possibly the scariest thing about this show, is that many of the ghosts don't appear to be ghosts at all.  They don't float, they aren't transparent, and you can interact with them the same way you could interact with any of the living.  Leaving the viewer in complete confusion as to which characters are actually alive.  Wise move, Murphy.  This isn't to say that there aren't plenty of ghosties that are very obviously, well, dead.  There are plenty of people haunting the property that are rotting, decaying, bleeding, ripped apart, or demonic in appearance.  Murphy has found a fantastic balance of gore as well as story.  All of the gore has its purpose and it never once feels too over zealous. 
The show manages to pay homage to plenty of horror staples both from the cinematic world as well as the real world.  There are scenes inspired by things ranging from Psycho, SAW, Candyman, Rosemary's Baby, A Nightmare on Elm Street,  and a more obvious reference to the Columbine tragedy.  Many people seem to be complaining about the obvious shot-for-shot references to things we're already familiar with, but I always find it as a sweet surprise and a clever way to remind the horror fans that the writers are developing this show with us in mind. 
 It's the character development that is easily the most redeeming factor of the show.  Like I said before, most horror television series have a tendency to suffer from a lack of good storyline and likable characters.  While Jessica Lange shines as Constance and the rest of the adult cast give absolutely compelling performances, it is in Evan Peters' portrayal as Tate Langdon that seems to have overtaken AHS fans by the throat.  Who would have thought the kid screaming "I think I'm in love with her dude" about Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass would transcend into such a heartwarmingly horrifying character.  If there's one thing I will never deny Ryan Murphy, it's that he creates some damn interesting characters.  Without giving too much away, Tate has the qualities of a person that would be universally hated and disgusted...and yet it's next to impossible not to love everything about him.  To quote Tate himself, "How sick is that?".  The relationship that he has spawned with Violet Harmon is one of the most realistic relationships I've seen on television in a very long time, and the twist to it is heartbreaking to say the least.  I won't tell you what the twist is, you'll have to watch for yourself. 
All and all, this is a damn good show.  If you like anything remotely close to anything even accidentally resembling horror, you need to be watching this. 

Special thanks to
for posting all of these images, 
and helping support my habit.

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