Monday, December 31, 2012

HE’S MUCH TOO SOPHISTICATED FOR THE STANDARD TESTS: A COMPARISON BETWEEN FRANKENSTEIN & THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

Advancements in technology, science, and medicine should be something that society welcomes with open arms. Unfortunately, those that are devoutly religious have a difficult time accepting these advancements, as it would cause them to rethink their faith. The battle between science and religion is extremely complicated and long lasting. Luckily the battle hasn’t been entirely one sided. Over the course of time, the way in which society views science and scientists has greatly evolved. One of the quickest ways we can see this shift is by focusing on the media outlets of the time. When it comes to analyzing how society treated scientists/(wo)men of science, there is no need to look any further than 1931’s Frankenstein and 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs. Henry Frankenstein and Dr. Hannibal Lecter are two of the most iconic men of science in cinematic history. While one is regarded as a ‘mad scientist’ the other is regarded as one of the most criminally intelligent men to walk the planet. The major difference between the two of these men is the way in which society treated them. The 1930s was a time where the word of God reigned supreme over science whereas the 1990s were a turning point for respect for those with intellect. Both Frankenstein and The Silence of the Lambs are considered to be one of the most important films of their respective eras, which leads us to safely assume that both films truly captured the essence of society’s mindset during their times.

The 1930s may have been a high time for great minds like Albert Einstein, but it was also a time of recovery for America. Finally picking up their britches after enduring The Great Depression, movies became a hot ticket to help distract and entertain society. This was also a time when prayer was still mandated in schools and the theory of evolution was more often avoided than taught. To put it simply, after surviving one of the largest financial tragedies of all time, people were more focused on their faith than of their scientific advancements. Witness Henry Frankenstein. Henry Frankenstein was written to be a brilliant scientist who had been conducting less-than-ordinary experiments on the re-animation of lifeless corpses. After small successes with experiments on animals, he made an attempt to reanimate a living human being composed of body parts he had been collecting from graveyards/gallows. Although he finds success with his monster, he is met with hostility from all of those around him. His hours spent in his laboratory causes tension between himself and his family/friends. Henry Frankenstein has officially played God and will now suffer the consequences in doing so. His creature is met with high hostility and is treated much like the lepers were in biblical times. Had Henry Frankenstein chosen a different livelihood, perhaps one outside of the scientific nature, he would not have been greeted with such turmoil.

Despite being solely responsible for the destructive monster ravishing throughout his community, the creature receives all of the blame and demise while Henry Frankenstein walks away seemingly untouched. This could be due to audiences in the early 30’s not wanting to see a courtroom drama in their monster movies, but it could also be argued that it was simply because the 1930s were a time where the ‘sin’ was punished rather than the sinner. Regardless, Henry Frankenstein was a man of science and the entire moral of Frankenstein is that playing God or playing with science would do nothing more than cause turmoil in ones life. The only way to avoid such consequences would be to act as all faithful citizens had been taught and to avoid any and all forms of questioning.

On an entirely different side of the coin, fast-forward nearly sixty years to 1991 when American audiences were met with one of the most treasured doctors of all time. Anthony Hopkins infamously played Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of The Lambs; with a little over sixteen minutes of screen time, Dr. Hannibal Lecter became one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. Unlike Henry Frankenstein, Dr. Hannibal Lecter was a man of intellectual science. A brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter is quite possibly the greatest anti-hero to ever grace the silver screen. While Americans have given criminals the death penalty for far less than the crimes committed by Dr. Lecter, his intelligence is of such a remarkable level, he has often been utilized while in prison to help the American government profile and capture other serial killers. The 1990s were a start of a more progressive and respectful era when it comes to intelligence or scientific discovery. Rather than treating individuals with high levels of intelligence like outcasts, the 1990s brought an air of respect. Dr. Lecter was in jail for his crimes, but his intelligence prevented him from criminal punishment. Dr. Frederick Chilton may have said it best in the film with, “Oh, he's a monster. Pure psychopath. So rare to capture one alive. From a research point of view, Lecter is our most prized asset.” What was it about Dr. Hannibal Lecter that made us want to treat him with kindness?

It is important to note the setting of both The Silence of the Lambs as well as Frankenstein. Henry Frankenstein is ridiculed for science in a somewhat foreign environment of castles and personal laboratories, whereas the setting for The Silence of the Lambs was far more modern and realistic for audiences. Kendall Phillips says in his book Projected Fears, “With Silence, the horrors that had moved from Transylvania to the Gothic suburbs of Halloween emerged into the complicated and politically tense world of reality,” (Pag 153). There it is. The location and time period heavily influence Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s treatment. It’s much easier to see coming from the viewpoint of the new millennium’s audience, but the 1990s was the start of the “politically correct” movement. No longer were we allowed to speculate and judge individuals on their differences but rather were forced to develop a sense of understanding and tolerance for those different. In addition, religion was no longer the center of all existence. In the sixty years between Frankenstein and The Silence of the Lambs, tolerance of all religions (not just the Catholic/Christian religions that were the major focus in the 1930s) was in effect meaning science had a chance to flourish as its own entity against (what many believed to be) the word of God. Strangely enough, the binds that have been loosened upon Dr. Lecter by society seem to also be what drives his more dangerous personality traits. “He is an entity of pure consuming desire, a ravenous id, unleashed from the bonds of morality or obligation,” (Phillips 158). With Dr. Hannibal Lecter free of all moral constraints set upon him religion, he was free to evolve as intelligently as humanly possible, but also as immoral. It still influences the idea that those with more science than religion in their are going to grow up to be menaces to society, but the growing requirement of tolerance causes us to be intrigued by these individuals instead of terrified. That’s one of the most universally perplexing things about Hannibal Lecter.

For all intents and purposes, anyone that comes in contact with Dr. Lecter should be absolutely horrified by his presence and want him to sizzle in the electric chair, but everyone from doctors, federal agents, and even senators find his intelligence to be one of the greatest assets to society. Towards the end of the film, Hannibal Lecter goes as far as killing one of the guards assigned to watch him and arranges his corpse above his jail cell in an extremely symbolic manner. With his entrails removed and bed sheets hoisting his lifeless body above the ground, it would appear that Hannibal Lecter had arranged this man to resemble the angel Gabriel, the messenger from the bible. Hannibal used the very religion he didn’t believe in to send a message to those trying to understand him. It would appear that only those of true intellect would ever understand where he was going, but unfortunately for those around him, they were all walking a life of faith and therefore would never understand the message he was trying to send. Despite his anti-moral behavior, his intelligence is what prevails and keeps him alive and desired. Science and religion play a major role in just about every political decision made on Capitol Hill. While many would like to believe that the decisions are made with the best interests of the citizens in mind, the fact of the matter is that our elected officials make decisions based on their own personal morals and agendas. In America, our media outlets often reflect the way society as a whole views a topic and horror films are no exception. By examining both 1931’s Frankenstein and 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, film goers can get a better look on the way the people of the time handled and valued science.

Friday, December 21, 2012

SEXIEST ANIMALS IN HORROR MOVIES

Horror fans are a bunch of weirdos, but you're the greatest weirdos I've ever known.  Since I've been pummeled by the treacherous Battle Royale style game of survival called "Senior Year of College", I haven't had much time to sit down and blog, let alone think about writing topics that aren't going to give me credit hours.  This evening I decided to let YOU, the reader decide what I should blog about.  I posted on the official Day of the Woman facebook page for blog topics and guaranteed to write about the first five (and any of the consecutive entries I found interesting).  I'm a woman of my word, so this will be an ongoing series of delightful fun.  Our first entry comes from Bloody-Disgusting's own music critic, Jonathan Barkan. At what I hope was an attempt to be a smartass, the first suggestion was "sexiest animals in horror".  After much thought and some horrifying realizations, I've actually got a list. Seriously, Jon? REALLY?!

 SPLICE: There was a far more NSFW image I could have used of Dren, but I didn't want to spoil any parts of the film for those who haven't had it.  A breathtakingly gorgeous hybrid of different animals spliced with human DNA, Dren made audience members everywhere slowly question their sexual desires and made the Sexy Stud from Clerks II look a little less creepy with his feelings on inter-species erotica, hey.  A subpar film, but definitely a sexy, sexy creature of science. Sometimes, playing God makes some lovely products.

CAT PEOPLE: Going for the 1982 remake with German goddess Nastassja Kinski would have been far too easy to showcase, and her big name often overshadows the grace that was Simone Simon in the original film.  French starlet, Simone Simon was the woman who truly personified the popular desire to have "a lady in the street, but a freak in the bed".  I think that if women aspired to be more like panthers and less like cougars, the dating world would be a bit more interesting.  She brings an entirely new meaning to "faster, pussycat" in the best ways possible.  Meow indeed.  

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE: I'll probably catch some slack for this one considering this animal is really just the product of some poor victims being sewn together by connecting their digestive tracts, but the fact that it's an animal made of humans permanently going ass-to-mouth makes them the kinkiest of any of the animals on this list.  I won't knock someone's hustle and if people are cool with going Downtown Julie Brown or tasting the pink starfish, be my guest, but always remember that in the process, you're one person away from being a voluntary human centipede. Enjoy.

SLITHER: This animal is geared a little more towards the women, well, I guess men too if this is the sort of thing that tickles your fancy.  Despite the adverse side effects of letting one of these buggers in your no-no zone, the folks behind this film could have made a killing in slithering slug shaped sex toys.  I'll even let you keep the prototype name and allow you to go all instagram and make a profit without even notifying me.  Seriously, think about it. A permanently lubricated slithering phallic object? Men would be rendered obsolete.

ANACONDA: A wise sage once spoke, "my anaconda don't want none unless you got buns hun," and I personally choose to live my life with this mantra.  The nice part about an anacoda is that it's an equal opportunity sexy monster.  Not only is the snake shaped like a mountain sized pork sword, but it's got a vagina for a mouth.  Seriously, LOOK AT THAT PICTURE. Take the fangs out and you've got a breathing fleshlight. Escaping the fact that this thing could deep throat a small Himalayan village, an anaconda could be a pretty awesome night out.  Just be warned, the bite is pretty poisonous, you might want to stock up on some serious penicillin. Jon, I'm really starting to hate you for making me do this list. I digress...

Five is going to have to be sufficient because making this list makes me feel really disgusting and I would much rather swallow lawn darts than try to sexualize any more horror movie animals.  Luckily, the rest of the suggestions for posts were a bit less ridiculous.  Again, thanks Jon for this strange idea!

Don't forget to like Day of the Woman on facebook 
so you can help control what you see here!

Monday, December 10, 2012

SIX HOURS OF MY LIFE I WILL NEVER GET BACK: THINGS I LEARNED FROM WATCHING THE HOSTEL TRILOGY IN A SINGLE SITTING

There are moments in my life where I make extremely unwise decisions and I will be the last to admit it when I've made a mistake.  However, this is an instance where I will scream from the rooftops how much of an idiot I am.  I'm one of those horror nerds that likes to watch franchises all at once.  When it's Halloween, I'm that asshole that stays inside all day to watch every single Halloween film ever made in a row.  Thanks to the wonderful feature of FEARnet and a hell of a chest cold, my dumbass thought it would be wise to watch all three HOSTEL films, one right after another.  This is the part where my Sassy Gay Friend should pop in and ask me to "look at my life, look at my choices," because this was definitely one of my more idiotic decisions.  I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I hated HOSTEL when it first came out. I really, really hated it. Now before anyone makes a comment about me being a girl or not being able to handle the gore, you can take those stupid comments and put them in your pocket.  I love me some gore, but it needs to have a purpose and it needs to have motivation behind it.  I felt the original HOSTEL was  nothing more than gratuitous violence that rested solely on gross-out factor and provided little to no storyline credibility.  Hoping that maybe Eli Roth could retain some of his Cabin Fever glory in the sequel, I watched that.  I'll be honest, I turned it off about a half hour into  it. I just couldn't do it.  One would think that after that I'd be done with it all but little miss "glass-half-full" over here thought that maybe seeing them all at once would be the better choice.  Boy, was I wrong.  Just like any messy breakup, instead of being upset about all of the wasted time it's important to understand and appreciate the things you learned from the experience.  I submit for approval, the life lessons learned from enduring the HOSTEL trilogy in one sitting.
HOSTEL
Strong concepts can't save a weak movie: If there's one thing I won't deny Eli Roth, it's that he did create a Hell of a creepy concept.  The idea that there are people willing to pay a large sum of money to be a part of a league of violent killers with a penchant for torturing innocent tourists sounds like TAKEN on Walter White strength meth.  Having an interesting idea isn't all a film needs to be successful.  There is little to no tension in the film and all of the violence and killing feels entirely unmotivated.  Now, I understand that half of the charm comes from the "random acts of killing" but this just didn't click right with me.  There just wasn't a fluidity between the storyline and the actions within it. For shame, pussycat.   

Decent acting also cannot save a weak movie: As an actor myself, I am a very picky critic when it comes to acting in a horror film.  I don't think anyone in this film is deserving of any awards for their performances anytime soon, but Jay Hernandez is pretty damn convincing.  At least all of the actors were on the same page with their mediocrity, which gave some sense of continuity within a film that had none elsewhere.  Despite having actors that seemed very committed to the direction they had been given, the film still felt extremely flat and void of any sort of depth.  This could possibly be the terrible writing given for the women in this film.  Can screenwriters please start consulting women before they try to write for them? Eli Roth may have a hell of a female fanbase, but it is blatantly apparent the man has absolutely no clue how to write women.

Your special FX are bad, and you should feel bad: I don't do eye trauma, I don't. It's quite possibly the greatest kryptonite I have.  Upon my first viewing of HOSTEL I distinctly remember having to cover my face and I barely made it through the scene. Upon revisiting, I have no idea what I was so scared of.  One of the most well known scenes from the film has quite possibly the WORST special FX I have ever seen.  When she's screaming in the chair before Paxton cuts off the eye, YOU CAN SEE HER CLOSED EYELID UNDER THE PROSTHETIC. Come on, guys. Get your shit together. That's just basic FX makeup 101. The Achilles tendon cut is pretty good, but the eye scene is one of the worst makeup jobs I've seen in a very long time. Howard Berger, you're better than this.

Roth has absolutely no idea what people really talk like: There is this weird trend going on with filmmakers and having absolutely no idea what teenagers/young 20-somethings actually sound like. HOSTEL doesn't have any lines that are particularly memorable, but Roth slam jams some sarcastic rudeness and tries to play it off as "this is how kids today talk" but the thing is, they don't. They don't talk like how he thinks they do, at all. At 22, I think I'd know. His entire script of dialogue feels entirely forced and trying way too hard to be edgy.  It feels like that kid in the back of everyone's fiction writing class that just HAD to push the envelope if for any other reason than pushing the envelope.  My friends and I have a fair share of conversations that would make even Lisa Lampanelli blush, but Eli Roth must be compensating for something with the amount of dick references he's got sprinkled throughout...It was laughable in a bad way and really hurt the overall atmosphere of the film.  It's okay to be funny, but it's another thing for every single sentence out of someone's mouth to be worthy of upvotes on internet forums.  Good Example of Young Adult Dialogue: Adam Green's FROZEN

HOSTEL II
Eli Roth still has no idea how to write women: There is a reason that Eli Roth hasn't settled down yet, he has no idea what women are all about. Instead of focusing on frat boys like in the first film, Hostel II focuses on three art students who are the stockiest stock characters that ever stock charactered.  I still can't determine if it's because Eli Roth really, truly doesn't understand women, or if he's just a lazy fucking writer.  Two hours of hearing from whiny drunk blonde, overly angsty 'unique' brunette, and desperate wannabe. Heather Matarazzo must have been in a bind for cash, because this was so beneath her.

No one has any idea how much blood is in the human body: One of the misogynist scenes in horror history is the "Elizabeth Bathory" scene and with good reason. It may be (technically speaking) the best shot of the film, but Heather Matarazzo probably has about 3 liters of blood in her entire body, and there is no way she would be spilling this much all over this woman. I was so pissed off watching this scene, and the most misunderstood use of human blood since Johnny Depp's beddeath in Nightmare on Elm Street didn't help the case.

Apparently casting isn't important:  When I'm thinking of terrifying villains, I of course think immediately of Roger Bart.  Um. What? Roger Bart?! THE STRAIGHT NATHAN LANE?! A VILLAIN?! Eli Roth, I know you're not the best at casting (see Rider Strong in Cabin Fever) but this is ridiculous. This man has made a career as a character actor.  I'm all for giving actors opportunities out of type, but casting Roger Bart as a villain is about as convincing as casting Michael Cera as a heartthrob.  Every time he was on screen I was dumbfounded as to how THIS was their best option. Seriously? I just look at him and start singing showtunes.

Gimmicks can be used without reason: I'm sorry. What in the actual fuck was the purpose of putting these little desensitized hellions outside of being 'shocking' or 'edgy'?  Every time these little buggers came on screen I didn't know whether to laugh or scream in frustration.  It's one thing when killer kids have a purpose, but these kids served absolutely no purpose to the film at all. If the scenes including these kids were cut, the film would have lost absolutely nothing, if anything, the film could have benefited from keeping these ridiculously purposeless scenes on the cutting room floor.



HOSTEL III

Weird shit for no reason is a great distraction: Look at this mask. I'm serious. Look at it.  The entire premise of the third installment feels like the series had a baby with the rich people form Rat Race and are now betting in Vegas on the parameters of the deaths of these innocent people.  I kind of dig this concept, but what the hell was the point of this? It's aesthetically impressive, yes, but really distracting. I didn't care about the death scene, all I wanted was a better look at her mask work, which I think was the point all along. This film is garbage, here's a cool mask as a consolation prize.

Sluts are dumb: I am not using the word in an attempt to slut shame, I am using it because that is the stock character all of the women in this film fall into. They're all either escorts or sexually active which is HOLY SHIT SO TABOO in today's modern world.  So when this poor lass is covered with bugs and sweet stuff on her mouth, the slut wouldn't know any better than to close her mouth, would she? Of course not, because for a woman to have any sort of intelligence in any of these films is just too unrealistic. Did I mention she was dressed up like a cheerleader as well? Oh yeah, that happened too.

Victor learned a lot while he was in Europe: One of the more interesting casting choices was Kip Pardue as the villain.  I found it to be a really interesting choice and Pardue really delivered.  Taking the Elite Hunting Club out of their dreary European chambers and into the glamorous world of Las Vegas almost made it a little creepier for me (as an American) to think that this was going on in a place I'd actually visited instead of a location I'll probably avoid like the plague.  It seems that once the film got out of the hands of Eli Roth, things started to improve a little. I mean, a half step up from garbage is still trash, but this could have been a lot worse than it was.

I just saved you six miserable hours. 
You can thank me later.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

BEN & HARRY: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MAJOR MEN OF NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

In 1961, a director out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was making his debut with an independent horror film by the title of Night of the Living Dead. Made on a budget of only one hundred and fourteen thousand dollars, George A. Romero’s first installment in his monumental and iconic “Living Dead” series, completely changed the face of the modern horror film and introduced audiences into the basis for the most popular subgenre of horror cinema. Romero’s slow moving, reanimated, undead humans surviving off of eating the flesh of the living became a staple for the modern zombie film and changed the face of undead monsters forever. Night of the Living Dead follows a group of people seeking refuge in an abandoned farmhouse amidst what would appear to be an epidemic where the recently deceased were reanimating, then attacking and eating the flesh of the living. An exposition on the true horrors of humanity as well as introducing a monster that had never been seen before, Night of the Living Dead is one of the most influential horror movies of all time.

Although George A. Romero consistently claims that his casting of Duane Johnson as the African-American protagonist “Ben” was solely based on the actor’s merit and wonderful audition, it would be giving the director a great disservice by not focusing on the importance of a leading African-American character as the main source of salvation, especially in 1968. At this time in America, society was slowly losing grasp on the hopeful ideals of a utopian society in the wake of the Vietnam War. The civil rights movement was growing in full force, but Americans were still hesitant to view African-American citizens on the same plane as their Caucasian counterparts. Ben single-handedly revolutionized the position of African Americans in the horror genre, and potentially, cinema as a whole. As a calm, collected, strong, and cool-headed hero overcoming an attack of not only monsters but also the hysterical antics of the white people surrounding him, Ben was one of the most prominent figures of African Americans in films portraying something outside of a parody or stereotype. Ben does the unthinkable for an African-American man at this time. Ben knocks a frantic white woman out cold, shoots a white man, acts as the voice of reason in the state of chaos, and stands as what would have been the sole survivor (if he hadn’t been mistaken for a ghoul and shot by a white militia). While it may be uncomfortable to address these issues in 2012 with an increasingly more welcoming attitude towards minority groups, the importance of Ben’s position cannot be ignored.

Throughout the course of the film, Harry Cooper is the antitheses of Ben’s character. Harry is distrusting, frantic, stubborn, selfish, and white. Harry was a strong symbol for the “old school” view of most of America at this time. A racist white man hiding out in the basement, Harry was a coward that used bullying and threatening actions as a means to achieve his wants. The older generations in 1968 were living amongst a growing youth of flower children fighting back the government and welcoming change at every turn. The old school disposition was hesitant to follow suit with their younger counterparts, and Harry Cooper is a shining beacon of that mentality.

One scene in particular, is the altercation between Ben and the Caucasian antagonist of the film, fellow refugee Harry Cooper. After a botched attempt for the two young adults trying to escape the ghouls by vehicle, Ben finds himself trapped outside the house after failing to save them. Harry Cooper and his family are the only ones inside the locked house, and Ben remains on the front porch trying to get in while fighting off the horde of the undead. Harry could easily open the door, but he stands hesitant in the opening of the cellar door with the option of either aiding in Ben’s safety, or letting him die. Ben frantically pummels himself into the doorway until finally kicking the door open. At a moment of change in character, Harry Cooper runs to the door to help Ben barricade it shut. Once the door is nailed shut, Ben immediately turns on Harry and begins to punch him numerous times before throwing him into an armchair and threatening to throw him to the ghouls.
 This scene may have appeared to be nothing more than a cowardly man locking out another, but when analyzed further, it represents society’s attitudes towards change as a whole. Most of the initial shots of Harry show him in shadowed lighting while Ben is almost always in full light. It was as if Ben was the white light and Harry was left in the darkness. Harry and his family represent the traditional standards for the American family as set up by the ruling white class. The Cooper family remains within the home, a place of comfort, safety, and white familiarity. Outside of the confines of the home contained a world of potential danger, the unknown, and an African American man. When Ben kicks the door in, he’s a personification of the new changes that were happening to society whether or not the ruling white class was prepared for it. Ben is reality. He was a force to be reckoned with and his advancements weren’t going to be stopped.

Following Ben’s initial emergence, Harry is seen hiding in the doorway to the cellar. Harry had the choice between helping to keep out the monsters outside, or running even further downstairs into the cellar. The cellar would have solidified Harry’s desire for familiarity, but he reluctantly helps Ben nail the door shut. It can be interpreted that Harry had a change of heart when deciding to nail the door shut, but it could also be analyzed that his only motivation for barricading the door was to further protect himself and keep out the unknown. However, when Ben and Harry both nail the door closed, it symbolized that regardless of differences, the two were going to have to work together in order for things to move smoothly and to keep themselves protected. Once order was restored and Ben began to hit Harry, he was literally giving the old school mentality a reality slap. The terrors of the societal changes happening in 1968 were difficult for many of the older generations to handle and it wasn’t until the changes were forced upon them that they began to try and accept them. These cultural advancements needed to come with a heavy hand otherwise these changes wouldn’t have come at all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

JOSHUA HOFFINE JOINS FORCES WITH VISCERA FILM FESTIVAL

Joshua Hoffine is the man behind the lens of some of the most horrific photographs in recent history.  Taking inspirations from his grotesquely gorgeous photography from childhood nightmares, skinned corpses, H.P. Lovecraft, Jack the Ripper, and supernatural urban legends, Hoffine has recently teamed up with the Viscera Film Festival to create an aura all its own. 


FROM THE PRESS RELEASE: Viscera’s Founder and Chief Officer of Operations, Shannon Lark, explains: “We went with Hoffine's work to represent the Viscera Film Festival this year because his photography captures an eerie beauty, conjuring a nostalgic feeling of horror that hits the human psyche with memories of childhood fears and reminds us of how deeply moving and vital the genre is for humans to express and share.
The Viscera Organization's festivals exploit the terrifying, the thrilling, and the fantastic with a vivid landscape of genre films by women. Hoffine's depiction of the body, the soul, and the monstrosity of the imagination completely resonates with the mind blowing work by female filmmakers who participate in the Viscera Film Festival.”
And what about that ghoulish woman lying among roses? “Persephone was a nature goddess who became Queen of the Underworld after being abducted by Hades. The myth of her abduction represents her role as the personification of vegetation – which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth in autumn.  When she is in the Underworld we experience winter.  And when she visits the world she brings with her spring, flowers, and the resurrection of life. As both a Goddess of Spring, and the Queen of the Underworld – she exemplifies the tension between life and death,” Hoffine states. “As for Viscera, I proudly support emerging women filmmakers in the horror genre.”
About the Viscera Film Festival and Viscera Organization:

The Viscera Film Festival was created in 2007 by Shannon Lark to encourage and promote the work of women horror filmmakers. The fest has grown each year, morphing into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with an ever-expanding, dynamic staff of men and women who eat, sleep, and breathe genre cinema. Beginning as a touring festival, Viscera has become a highly anticipated genre event in Los Angeles, complete with red carpet (what we affectionately refer to as the “Bloody Carpet”), celebrity guests, and a raucous after-party. 2012 marked the third annual Bloody Carpet event in Los Angeles at the Egyptian Theatre. Viscera’s tentacles have encircled the globe and films programmed at the festival have screened all over the world. 
The call for submissions for Viscera’s 2013 festival is open through February 28, 2013 (culminating in Women in Horror Month), accepting digital submissions only. Unlike most festivals, Viscera does not charge submission fees. Filmmakers interested in submitting should head to the Submissions tab of the main website, www.viscerafilmfestival.com.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

STRANGE KIDS CLUB RELEASES ART PRINTS FOR FAMOUS HORROR SEQUELS (that should have happened)

Artwork by Nathan Thomas Milliner. 18″x24″ digital print. Hand numbered. Edition of 100.
As much as we'd all like to think that each and every horror film is made with the hopes of moving forward a storyline, or giving new life to the world of the film.  Unfortunately, most of the time, it's all about making money.  There's a reason we keep seeing Wrong Turn 525600 being made while incredible films more deserving of advancements in plot are left to sit and collect dust.  Luckily, Rondal Scott and the folks over at Strange Kids Club have found a fantastic way to give our little fanhearts something we've always dreamed of, but also given a way for you to hold on to a piece of would-be horror history.

Strange Kids Club is very excited to announce their latest project, kicking off this October with the release of its collector’s art print series based on horror sequels that don’t, but certainly should, exist. The series will include three prints, each brought to life by a different artist. The first poster in the series, “The Burning 2” by artist Nathan Thomas Milliner was unveiled this morning and will be made available for purchase on Strange Kids Club today, Thursday, October 4th at 9:30am.


Click the poster above or right HERE to get your hands on your copy, today!


PLEASE NOTE: These posters will be on pre-order, so please allow approximately 5 to 6 weeks for poster to ship. Actual shipping transit time (once your order has been shipped) will vary based on your location.

Monday, October 1, 2012

WILL HD BE THE DEATH OF PRACTICAL FX?

Before I continue any further with this article, let it be known that I am in no way an AV expert, nor have I ever claimed to be one.  I DO NOT KNOW THE PROPER TERMINOLOGY FOR ANY OF THIS HD/LCD/FPS/OPP NONSENSE.  I do, however, know when something looks like garbage. This article is a reflection of an opinion gathered by my own personal experiences. 
 
In the wake of the uproar tied to The Hobbit's release trailer in 48fps (frames per second), fans and critics have been in a constant debate on whether or not this sort of filmmaking is necessary.  Some are claiming that this is the way of the future, that we need to bite our tongues and accept the fact that sooner or later, all films are going to be in this clearer than the naked-eye format, while others are finding it difficult to watch with a jarring clarity.  48fps is dramatically quicker than what our eyes are used to and while the picture quality in still frames look monumentally better, the clarity does not come without a price. Even if the film is shot in the more standard "cinematical" format, film companies are upgrading to a higher picture quality.  While the picture quality is undoubtedly gorgeous, it enhances flaws just as dramatically as it does perfections.  Wrinkles that we wouldn't see in person are now glaring at us in the face, and hairs beneath pores are now seen on an insanely large scale. Without going into the details about these enhancements making everything look like a Daytime Soap Opera, I'm concentrating on the one thing that will affect the world of horror movies more than any other film genre.  Practical FX. 

Ever since films fell in love with the quick and cheap process of using CGI effects, the incredible art form of practical effects in films have taken a back seat.  Blood and guts have gone digital, and movie monsters look faker than your sister's prom date.  People have become so absorbed with their new fangled hi-def flat screens, that we're globbering up enhanced films quicker than they're coming out.  That's not to say that I'm not for the progression of film quality, because I'm completely for it.  However, comma, enhancements aren't always for the best.  Have you ever looked at your skin under one of those 15x mirrors?  Suddenly you're spending hours prodding pores, plucking hairs, and applying more makeup. HD and higher FPS formatting do somewhat of a similar thing when it comes to film.  It takes something that already looks pretty good, and enhances absolutely EVERYTHING.  I mean EVERYTHING.  It's nearly impossible to hide imperfections in these formats because we ourselves cannot see these imperfections with our naked eye.  It's only after things are enhanced that we think "Christ, do I really look like that?"  For practical effects, this is a death sentence.

As someone who only recently stepped into the HD scene, I've never really noticed the issue.  This past May was the first time I've ever owned a flat screen TV, and it was also the first time I've ever had a blu-ray player.  Call me behind the times all you want, I prefer "broke-ass college student," if I may.  Moving on, the past week I have been finally able to experience Netflix Instant Watch (again, broke college kid) on a 52 inch LCD flatscreen with amazeballs picture quality.  Forgive my ignorance, but as I am not an AV girl, I'm just going to refer to the hyper-realistic clarity as "super HD".  I first watched Pontypool in "super HD" and it was a walk in the park.  The only real special effects were vomiting blood and I didn't have any gripes with it.  Looking at a man's five o' clock shadow in HD however, a little strange to get used to.  Simply out of pure boredom, I watched the final installment of the SAW franchise.  I was curious to see how such an effects driven film was going to do in such a HD setting, and my worst fears were realized.  I commend the people behind SAW 3D for the amount of practical effects used in the film.  Seriously, there were a butt load of practical kills and I was pleasantly surprised to notice.  I never noticed them when I saw the film in theaters, probably because the theater didn't look like this.  It's a theater. It looked cinematical and in a completely different format.  When I watched the film again in "super HD", everything looked so...fake.  Everything looked completely unrealistic and the already over the top kills weren't scary, they were distracting.  The worst was by far the "skin grafted onto the car leather" scene, but every single practical kill looked horribly amateur.

At first I thought it was a fault of the FX artist, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized...it's not.  It is absolutely, 100% not the FX artist's problem that their work looks fake in HD.  Now, before anyone starts to badger me about this, let me explain.  You see, these clarity enhancements make pictures crisper than what our eye can see naturally.   The visual enhancements are done in post-production, after the FX have already been completed and shot.  How can we hold an artist accountable for something completely out of their control?  It would be insane to blame an FX artist for bad coloring when it's physically impossible for them to see their work any clearer than what their eye can give them.  If the FX look fake, filmmakers are going to opt for CGI.  Not only is CGI much cheaper, but if practical FX look as tacky as CGI, filmmakers are just going to go for the cheaper route.  This is a tragedy.  An honest to goodness tragedy.  The only real practical FX that seems to break the mold is The Thing, but that film defies all logic and reason on its own.  Again, let me restate that I'm not against the progression of visual quality, but maybe, just maybe we don't need to get this clear with EVERY film.  In the same sense that we're never going to have a need for What To Expect When You're Expecting 3-D, I don't think we need horror requiring practical FX in 48fps or in ridiculously high picture quality.  It could always just be my special eyes, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. I've already heard people telling me that this issue can be fixed by changing a setting on the television, but even after making this change, the HD still made some practical FX look like muff cabbage.  Tell me what you think and comment below!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WOMAN OF THE WEEK: REBEKAH MCKENDRY

When it comes to women in horror, it doesn't get much more impressive than Rebekah McKendry.  As the current Director of Marketing for Fangoria magazine, Rebekah McKendry is living proof that bad-ass horror fans come in all forms, vagina included.  Rebekah wasn't always the horror professional.  Before she hit it big with Fangoria, McKendry taught film and English at a high school just outside of Washington, D.C.  Unfortunately, teaching wasn't for her and she sought out to find her true calling.  After moving to New York City, Rebekah found herself working for the New York Horror Film festival.  She would meet many staff members of Fangoria in this process and began to work part-time for Fangoria Radio as a researcher.  Working her way through a number of different positions including writing and assistant producing, she became the Director of Marketing.  As the DM, she works with cross promotions, sponsorships, advertising, conventions, fan relations, and merchandising, just to name a handful of her responsibilities.


With a B.A. in Film, Masters in Media Education, Masters in Film, and in progress for a PhD in Media and Film, (that makes her soon to be Dr. McKendry for those playing at home) Rebekah has more than proven her street cred as a film guru.  Her personal musings can be found on her blog on the Fangoria site is called Bekah’s Confessions, and she's contributed to many books as well.  This past April, Rebekah McKendry had been selected as a new host of the popular horror web show INSIDE HORROR, joining the ranks of current hosts Elric Kane and Staci Lane.  As a producer, writer, director, and show host, Rebekah McKendry has achieved what just about every little horror girl has always dreamed of.  She has found a way to work within the medium that she loves, and is respected for it.  Rebekah McKendry is a force to be reckoned with and one of the queens of the horror journalism world.  No one does it like Rebekah McKendry and she has truly paved the way for female horror writers/journalists to come.  
We at Day of the Woman salute you.  


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TERRIBLE POSTER TUESDAY: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3-D

Texas Chainsaw massacre superfans are a breed unlike any other in the world of horror fandoms.  Seriously, those that belong to "The Saw Is Family" way of life fit right in with the Buffy shippers and Whovians.  I have been trying my hardest to keep myself as free from knowledge about this remake/reimaging/reboot/rewhatever so I can give it a fair view when it releases, but I cannot prevent the furious littering of superfan tirades from appearing on my social networking news-feeds.  Ladies and germs, this is how I was introduced to this absolutely treacherous advertisement.  The worst part about this poster is the fact it exists alongside this absolutely beautiful poster.  It's painfully obvious that whoever in charge of marketing only wanted to dish out the cash for one of the advertisements.  While one poster was brilliant and enticing to look at, the other was a rehashing of a poster we've seen about ten million times before it.  To put it simply, this is painfully generic and not worth a bead of ass sweat on the taint of the TCM franchise. 

The complete and utter lack of originality is first and foremost the most offensive aspect of the entire poster.  The solid color background, bright red font, and half shown image of someone from the chest down facing away from the camera wielding a weapon has been done more times than a "shoot them in the head" line in a zombie film.  Not only that, but the dramatic lighting that somehow reflects in the wrong part of the weapon in comparison to where it shadows the person holding it is another trend that needs to quickly end.  It's absolutely infuriating to try and have hope for a remake when it is already setting the tone that it will follow the same path as all of the horror movie remakes that have come before it.  Amateur, generic, and disappointing.  The man with the chainsaw appears to be more of a rough and tumble lumberjack than Leatherface, a very edited Leatherface.  Seriously, this image has gone through more filters than a girl with an acne problem on instagram. Everything looks unnatural and a bit too staged for my liking. 

Let's take a side step for a quick second and discuss that God forsaken font.  My god.  This font is to horror movies what Helvetica is to hipsters.  WHY?!  Why must every. single. horror. movie. poster. use. the. same. damn. red. font?! WE GET IT. IT'S A HORROR MOVIE. THE RED SYMBOLIZES BLOOD. WAH WAH WAH. Show some damn creativity!  Show me something that isn't in all caps, show me something in green, show me anything than this damn font in red lettering in all caps!  It wouldn't be nearly as bad if the film didn't use the same font as the SAW franchise, you know, because the word "saw" is in "chainsaw" and that makes it all the more obvious that the graphic designer is ripping off another film.  Coming from the same producers or not, using the exact same font is incredibly lazy.  Now some may try to write it off as a "strategy" to elicit the same emotion by viewing it as audiences would see with the SAW posters, but I don't buy that. It's lazy marketing. Lazy. Lazy. Lazy.

Plastered in tiny font and quite ill-placed is "Buzz. Kill."  Presumably, this is the tagline.  The amount of face in my palm is unmeasurable.  When I read this tagline, my only response is one similar to Peter Griffin on Family Guy whenever he is forced to listen through anything from Buzz Killington.  I know that the audiences of today tend to be a bit stupid (I mean, they'd have to be to crank out that much money for Twilight and only a fraction of it for DREDD) but don't insult the fine folk.  Everyone has at least HEARD of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Don't insult our intelligence, and please don't take tagline advice from people who write jokes for Laffy Taffy candy wrappers.

Despite popular belief, I've noticed that it's pretty easy to judge a film by it's poster.  There are always exceptions, but the rule of thumb tends to be that a shitty poster will accompany a shitty film.  Now, I am going to go into this film expecting less than I would from a four year old not whining in a grocery store, but this poster did not change my already preconceived opinion.  If anything, I'm now going to be heading into that theatre even more weary as I originally intended. Damn it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

ZOMBIE, ILLINOIS: SCOTT KENEMORE RETURNS WITH HIS BEST NOVEL YET.

No stranger to Day of the Woman, zombie expert, Scott Kenemore is at it again with his second zombie novel centered around a midwest outbreak.  Scott Kenemore is the author of the Zen of Zombie-series of humor/satire books, and the novel Zombie, Ohio.  A graduate of Kenyon College and Columbia University, Scott is a proud member of the Zombie Research Society and the Horror Writers Association.  When he's not writing,  Scott is a Chicago Drummer and is the drummer for the musical band The Blissters.  Scott has discussed zombies on the Fox News Channel, National Public Radio, Martha Stewart Living Radio, The Alan Colmes Show and other esteemed news outlets.  His books have been written about in the Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Hartford Courant, Indianapolis Star, Cleveland Plain Dealer, USA TODAY, Rue Morgue Magazine, Fangoria, Gawker.com, BoingBoing.netAOL News, and the New York Times “City Room” blog.  He's even such the zombie expert that he's been been asked to discuss zombies and horror-writing at conventions like Comic-Con International, Spooky Empire, and ZomBcon.

Zombie, Ohio was the first zombie novel that we had seen from him after his Zen of Zombie satirical book series, but Zombie, Illinois has taken his writing skills to an entirely new level.  The novel has three narrators-- a twenty-something Latina rock drummer in an all girl band, a thirty-something male political news reporter, and a sixty-something African American pastor. Zombie, Illinois follows these three characters as they interact with one another, fight zombies, and negotiate the difficulties of the first 24 hours of a zombie outbreak in Chicago, Chicagoland, and greater Illinois. Many of the themes and locales are drawn from Scott Kenemore's own experiences (being a drummer in Chicago bands, working in the media, and working for six years with community-improvement organizations in African American neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side).   

The most interesting thing about Kenemore's writing style is his ability to generate very different voices for each of his characters, while still maintaining his own style of writing.  Obviously the language between a girl in a band called "Strawberry Brite Vagina Dentata" is going to be far more vulgar than an African American pastor working in the slums of the South Side of Chicago.  Somehow, he manages to retain a sense of fluidity and the book flows seamlessly between the three different perspectives.  The characters are likable from very different corners of perspective, and everything feels very...real.  One of the easiest mistakes to make with a zombie novel is losing touch with reality, which is something Kenemore never does.  He has produced a zombie novel that is able to frighten, thrill, and entertain without ever becoming campy.  

Any Chicago native (or anyone who has ever visited Chicago) will be sure to enjoy all of the little homages that the book throws to us Windy City dwellers.  Kenemore has written a novel about zombies, yes, but the underlying exposition on the beating heart of Chicago is thrown right in our faces.  He has truly captured what it means to be a Chicagoan and what makes us different than any other city on the planet.  "West Coast, East Coast, how about NO COAST." He really did his homework with mentions of cities outside of Chicago, including a little nod to my overzealous religious city of Zion, Illinois just north of Chicago.  

The fact that Kenemore doesn't receive as much praise or notoriety as say, a certain zombie author with a very famous filmmaking daddy, is incredibly frustrating.  Kenemore has tapped into the human condition, underground issues in society, and of course, the zombie phenomena. The world in which is characters reside is one that is very, very convincing.  While reading Zombie, Illinois, it never once feels out of the ordinary and everything resembles how a zombie apocalypse would actually happen.  To put it simply, Zombie, Illinois is one of the most entertaining and realistic zombie outbreak novels in a very long time. 


You can purchase Zombie, Illinois on Amazon 
HERE 
or 
You can try to win one of the two copies I've got for giveaway by sending me an email 
at BRITTNAHJADE@GMAIL.COM with 
"I LOVE CHICAGO ZOMBIES" in the title

Monday, September 17, 2012

PITTSBURGH'S SCAREHOUSE PREMIERES WEBSERIES SCARE U!

Natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are no stranger to the premiere haunted attraction, The ScareHouse.  Named "one of America's Scariest Halloween Attractions" by the Travel Channel, The ScareHouse was also ranked as one of the country's Top 3 Haunted Houses by Haunted Attraction Magazine and HauntedHouseRatings.com. The ScareHouse was recently voted as the #1 haunted house in the world by Tophaunts.com - featured in the pages of USA TODAY, Fangoria, Money, Funworld, and Pittsburgh magazines - profiled online by AOL, Forbes, Univision, Yahoo, and many other websites - and featured in two national television shows airing on Travel Channel: "America Haunts" and "America's Scariest Halloween Attractions."  Offering three haunts for just one price: The Forsaken, Pittsburgh Zombies, and theirnewest attraction: Creepo's Christmas in 3-D. "Pittsburgh's Ultimate Haunted House" is located just minutes from downtown and open on select dates from late September through mid November. (The ScareHouse FB Page)  If you're not impressed by this resume yet, you're not reading the same reviews I am.  

In the wake of the success of this spookhouse, The ScareHouse has started their very own websires, SCARE U.  Hosted by Dr. Margee Kerr, Scare U dives into the scientific explanations as to why specific things frighten us. Dr. Margee Kerr holds a doctorate degree in sociology, and has been studied the science of fear for many years.  Since 2008, she has shared her findings with The ScareHouse. In the Scare U series, she invites us to go deeper into fear, discovering how our brains and bodies are reacting to the things that scare us.  The series premiered with a common fear of many horror folks, creepy clowns. The 8 part series of Scare U will come out each Wednesday from now until Halloween. The series will explore fears ranging from zombies, dolls, phobias, and much more, featuring terrifying footage from both the ScareHouse and popular movies and TV shows. The first episode was extremely well done and I cannot wait for the rest of the series. It feels like one of those specials you'd see on The Discovery Channel, but far more entertaining, and much more unsettling.  It's a shame it's only an 8 part series, because I would watch this year wrong.  Hell, I'd watch this as an actual television series. 

The entire series can be found on the ScareHouse's YouTube channel: 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

THIS FILM IS A DEADLY SIN: A REVIEW OF FAT KID MASSACRE

As of late, the horror genre seems to be overwhelmed with remakes and found footage films.  Whenever an original concept is brought to light, genre fans cling to it not necessarily because of its high quality, but simply because it's different.  A short film was recently brought to my attention with an incredibly unique premise, but unfortunately fails to deliver a quality final product.  Brought to us by BDHR Entertainment (run by the man behind Big Daddy Horror Reviews, Brandon Sites) FAT KID MASSACRE is (according to the crew) "a touching coming of age story that revolves around a former fat kid who got muscular and good looking, but who struggles with identity issues as his former friends - THE FAT KIDS - bully him on a constant basis. As a cruel prank is set into motion, a killer arrives on the scene to make sure these fat kids pay for their glutony and unhealthy lifestyle, including death by Twinkie suffociation!"  I copied this description off of their official indiegogo fanpage, spelling errors included.  Based solely off of the short film version that has been circulating the internet, I think that the writers behind this film are giving themselves a little too much credit.  This film was a borderline abomination, an insult to horror filmmaking, and stole nine minutes and twenty seconds of my life that I will never get back.

First of all, the acting by the three "fat kids" are absolutely treacherous.  Writer/Producer Brandon Sites cast himself as one of the fat kids and he looked like he was smiling with pride after delivering every single line.  His acting style reminded me of Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder, in that every time he said a line that "sounded black" he'd smile at what he presumed to be his own brilliance. The only difference, is that Brandon Sites has absolutely no concept of vocal rhythm and delivers lines reminiscent of the old women preaching "all senior citizens should have life alert" followed by an unnatural smile.  The first three seconds of the damn short show the fat kids stuffing their faces and you can see Brandon Sites trying not to smile while shoving food in his mouth.  I have nothing against writers/producers/directors acting in their films, but usually...they can actually fucking act.  To make matters worse, Brandon and the other "fat kids" are supposedly the old friends of former fat kid "Ian-The Skinny Bitch". Ian looks easily twenty years younger than all of them, which forces the believability of their friendship completely out the window.  It's unfortunate, because Ryan Sandefur, the actor playing Ian, actually plays a "bitch" quite well.  The only problem is that he's a halfway decent actor surrounded by a gaggle of guys who wouldn't have even been cast as Tree #4 in a community theatre production.

The final seven minutes of the short film is nothing more than one of the fat kids tied to a chair by a masked man who "taunts him" with weapons until finally forcefeeding him Twinkies until he dies.  For seven minutes we're given nothing but a poorly lit room with a dull build up to an unsatisfying pay off.  All the while, forced to listen to the annoying and unconvincing whines of a fat kid tied up to a chair. I can't even give them credit for having an unique kill, because we've seen the "feed the fatty to death" kill before in plenty of other films. (I'm looking at you, Se7en).  The dialogue is mind-numbingly poor and clearly forgot any sort of common sense in the process. When the fat kids are bullying the skinny bitch, one of the men states "You went behind our backs and lost all the weight".  Okay, this kid is not only about 200 pounds lighter than the lot of fat kids, but he's also built like a god damn GI Joe.  Lost weight behind your backs?  YOU WOULD HAVE NOTICED THE WEIGHT LOSS.  So unless their friend went on a three year hiatus or a stint on The Biggest Loser, the audience's suspension of disbelief just isn't strong enough to believe that.  Continuity problems aside, THE DIALOGUE HAS IMPROPER SYNTAX.  "You're just a scared, little, pathetic, kid from Georgia who amount to nothing."  I believe the word you were looking for was "amounted" not "amount".  Then again, maybe the line delivered was supposed to be "amounted" and in that case, Brandon as an actor really, really needs to work on his enunciation. I hate to say it, but he is the largest reason why this short is so terrible.  His acting is distracting, and his writing brings it down.  The camera work is rather good and the editing is very clean.  The biggest problem, is Brandon Sites.

The actual storyline is absolutely ridiculous and if this is supposed to make me want to donate my hard earned cash to fund the feature version of this film, I'd rather donate my money to Chik-Fil-A before I'd donate to this garbage. I'm not here to rip on someone's hard work, but this film is part of a trend that desperately needs to end.  I'm talking about the kickstarter/indie gogo projects undeserving of our attention.  The writer/producer has been putting on social networking sites that he sees this film as a "future cult classic". In the words of the incomparable Kristin Wiig, are you fucking serious?  I'm sorry. I'm really sorry, but are you fucking serious?  The fact that people are actually donating to this piece of trite garbage makes me want to swallow drain cleaner.  The crew has shown promises of having Scream Queens Season 2's Sierra Holmes in the feature version and I want to just shake her and ask her what in the actual hell she is doing being associated with something this unwatchable.  There are so many wonderful, terrific, well-deserving films that must resort to indiegogo or kickstarter to help aide them in getting their films made, and then there's shit like Fat Kid Massacre that's only positive use would be using the disc as a coaster.  I'm all about supporting indie films, I am one of the largest supporters of indie films, but just because you're low budget...doesn't mean I have to support you.  Money can't buy a good storyline, and it can't prevent one either.   

To Sierra Holmes, Ryan Sandefur, Kaylee Williams, Alisa Lova, Aley Kreinz, and Shawn C. Phillips, I don't care how desperate for work you are, this is something that should be scrubbed from your resumes, immediately. Normally I'd post a link for the indiegogo, but honestly, this film doesn't deserve your money. If you really want to seek it out, you can do it for yourself.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

COMA: THE SCOTT BROTHERS MANAGE TO KEEP THE CREEP

This labor day weekend, A&E will premiere the two night event of Ridley and Tony Scott's incredibly revision of 1978's COMA.  Based on the 1977 best seller of the same name written by Robin Cook, the original film was directed by Michael Crichton and was a modest hit for its time.  Flash forward to this coming Monday and Tuesday night and audiences will be given the opportunity to witness one of the final collaborative efforts of the dynamic duo of Ridley Scott and the late Tony Scott.  For those unaware, this past August, Tony Scott committed suicide and left behind an incredible legacy.  COMA is quite an entertaining mini-series and in the most respectful way possible, quite the high note for Tony Scott to go out on.  While it is absolutely in no way a perfect mini-series, they've created a rather thrilling four hour tour.  Backed up with a star studded ensemble cast, if the audience is willing to subject themselves to a very, very needed suspension of disbelief, they'll be satisfied.  The need for suspension of disbelief must be stressed, because the unfortunate issue is that the medical world and legal practices have changed drastically in the last thirty four years. 

Cult film darling, Lauren Ambrose stars as Susan Wheeler, a medical student resident at Atlanta’s Memorial Hospital.  After discovering a questionable trend occurring at the hospital, Susan Wheeler begins her search to figure out the horrifying secret of Memorial hospital.  For some reason or another, young and seemingly healthy patients undergoing routine (and relatively minor) procedures keep finding themselves comatose.  If the coma inducing trauma wasn't enough, all of these comatose individuals are then transferred to the Jefferson Institute.  It doesn't take a genius to know that these comas are happening at such a rapid rate from intentional action rather than an unfortunate outcome of the medical practice.  Determined to find out the truth, she turns herself into enemy number 1 with her constant file hacking, air duct crawling, and asking meddling questions.  Also starring Michael Weston, James Woods, Richard Dreyfuss, Geena Davis, and the incredibly horrifying Ellen Burstyn, COMA isn't monumental, but it's one of the most well developed mini-series events in a very long time.

COMA premieres on 
A&E: September 3rd & 4th

Monday, August 27, 2012

WHERE HAVE ALL THE SCREAM QUEENS GONE?!

The Scream Queen.  In the same respect that Sandra Bullock will forever be associated with her roles in romantic-comedies, the horror genre is well recognized as a genre that keeps reusing the same actresses over and over again.  Horror is a very peculiar genre in that it takes a very particular viewer to appreciate it.  That being said, we're a diehard group of fans and love seeing our favorite actors/actresses over and over and over again.  Witness, the Scream Queen.  A title coined for Fay Wray and perfected by Hazel Court, the scream queen of the modern era is a creature entirely their own.  Most notably, actresses like Linnea Quigley, and Jamie Lee Curtis have chosen horror as their mainstay.  More recently, scream queens tend to be actresses that make their living performing in campy B-Movies for the majority of their career.  While this isn't a bad thing in any facet, it would appear that the true, genuine scream queen is a dying breed. By definition, a scream queen is an actress that has starred in a large amount of horror films in sequence and seems to always return to said genre.  So I ask, where have all the scream queens gone?

Now I must preface this by saying that I'm completely aware of the talents of Danielle Harris, Tiffany Shepis, and Debbie Rochon.  True scream queens know they're scream queens and I don't need to justify their careers on my website.  This is more so focused to the recent splurge of self-proclaimed scream queens.  I'm sorry, but just because you screamed at a CGI monster in a push up bra in two films...you're not a scream queen (I'm looking at you Jaimie Alexander).  It is true that a good load of aspiring actors/actresses get their start in horror films, but it seems as though up and coming talent is taking advantage of that concept.  Bitches need to learn their roots and throw a bone to the genre that got them their start.  I'm not saying that actresses shouldn't do other work outside of horror films, but they need to be deserving enough to call themselves a scream queen...and that includes doing more than just a handful of horror films.  The title of "Scream Queen" isn't given out like Halloween candy, it's earned.
This leads me to quite possibly my biggest issue with the modern "scream queen".  Reality television. The acting business is NOT an easy business to get into, and I can't help but turn into a green monster whenever I see these no-talent bimbos making a name for themselves when they have absolutely zero credibility to back it up.  VH1's Scream Queens infuriated me to absolutely no end. NONE of these girls knew anything about the genre they're trying to break into. In season 2, When Freddy Krueger fell from the ceiling, a girl referred to him as "the boogeyman".  Let's be honest here, she called him the boogeyman because she had no flipping clue who he was.  Don't you dare try to tell me she was referencing the "do you believe in the boogeyman?" line from A Nightmare on Elm Street.  I understand that this is an "acting" competition first and foremost,

but at least do your research before you show up to the set.  I would bet my college tuition money that none of these girls had any clue who Tim Sullivan was. The first season's host, Shawnee Smith, didn't return for the second season and while I complained that Shawnee Smith had the same amount of presence as a turkey sandwich on the first season, I think she was more deserving of the host role than replacement host Jaime King.  The show is about becoming a HORROR actress, a Scream Queen...and I can count the amount of prominent horror films Jaime King has performed in on one hand.

The only thing keeping me somewhat sane is the talented young actress, Jodelle Ferland.  At only 17 years old, the not even legal actress has starred in more horror films than some of the women mentioned in this article combined.  What I admire most about the actress is not only her ability to perform well despite poor scripts or bad direction, but she takes just about every horror role offered to her.  While she's most easily recognized as Alessa in the Silent Hill movie, she's also the one-armed zombie Buckner child from The Cabin In The Woods, baby Carrie in the made for TV remake, a favorite of Wes Craven's more recent films, and even lent her voice for the kid-friendly horror flick, Paranorman.  I said it on twitter and I'll say it here, I'm calling it now, Jodelle Ferland is the second coming of Danielle Harris.  She made a name for herself in the horror genre as a little one, and the horror genre has been very kind to her through the years.  I hate to say it, but this little one is holding my hope for the scream queen survival in her hands.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

SHAUN RILEY OF SHAUN OF THE DEAD: QUITE POSSIBLY THE LAMEST BOYFRIEND IN HORROR HISTORY

Edgar Wright's smash zombie comedy, Shaun of the Dead, has been prevailed as the quintessential film in the subgenre.  Many critics have praised the film as one of the best horror films of the last twenty years, and with good reason.  Don't get me wrong, this film is bloody phenomenal.  The sense of humor in the dialogue is universally accepted as brilliant and Edgar Wright has consistently put out incredibly solid films since stepping into the game.  However, it's the characterizations and relationships between said characters that fans and critics alike have been going gaga over.  With Ed, quite possibly the best sidekick to a horror straight man in film history and an incredibly strong ensemble, all of the characters are ones that audiences can easily identify with.  Everyone knows someone like Ed, Shaun, Phillip, Pete, Barbara, Yvonne, Liz, David, and Dianne. 

The film is centered solely around "Average-Joe," Shaun and his friends during the zombie apocalypse.  His perseverance to save the lives of his friends, family, and the love of his life are usually accepted as admirable as well as endearing.  His determination to ensure the safety of those close to him instill in us a sense that Shaun is a really stand-up guy.  The thing is, he's not. Shaun Riley is a really shitty human being and moreso, a terrible boyfriend to the "love of his life," Liz. 

Did Shaun save his girlfriend's life? Yes. Did he try his very hardest to ensure everyone's well being? Yes. Did he do this out of the kindness of his heart? No. Let's be honest here, people. It took the zombie apocalypse for Shaun to finally get his life together and make a change.  On the most basic level, Liz asked him to do ONE thing. ONE. After years of dating she simply asked him to make a reservation for their anniversary dinner and he couldn't even do that.  Not only that, but when she called him to confirm the reservation was made, he was too busy feeling insecure in regards to a seventeen year old to actually get it done.  He's a grown man and he felt threatened by a seventeen year old.  Get it together, man.  When confronted about his inability to take his girlfriend on a real date without bringing along his best friend to a location that isn't their local bar, Liz is fit to reveal just how much of a disappointment Shaun has been over the years.  These complaints are extremely justified and are only issues due to Shaun's inability to actually do something with his life. He's a smart chap, just a giant pile of wasted potential.  The fact Liz stayed with him for as long as she did is absolutely baffling, as she should have kicked his sorry ass to the curb years ago.

Shaun is nothing but a disappointment. Don't get me wrong, he's the kind of guy I'd ask to share a drink with or ask for advice on electro music, but sure as shit wouldn't be a guy I'd date.  David said it best, Shaun is "a man whose idea of a romantic nightspot and an impenetrable fortress are the same thing."  Even throughout the film, his actions are ridiculously selfish. He keeps saying "it's about survival" but it's not. It really was about fixing his relationship the entire time and no, those things are not the same.  He doesn't take the ideas of anyone else into consideration and only goes along with anyone else's opinion if it encourages his original idea. I don't understand the fangirling. I don't. Shaun...sort of sucks.
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