Sunday, July 18, 2010

Heroine > Villain

I don't root for the killer. When I was 6 years-old, I clutched my pillow tight hoping that pretty Ginny girl would kill that mean sack head guy. I clearly recall pumping my fist, yelling "YES!" when Laurie skewered Michael with a knitting needle (I was pretty paralyzed with fear that she might die when we got to the coat hanger). Years later as a (physical) grown-up, I was just as excited to watch Sidney lay the smack down on a myriad of Ghostfaces.

As far as I'm concerned, there is far too much hero worship going on for sadistic villains. I admire those who step up and end those reigns of terror (for however short-lived that may be) and wanted to honor them. I saw this awesome set of pop-artish vector posters done for superheroes somewhere (No, I can NOT vague it up anymore) and the idea for these ladies was immediate. I hope to do more and did start Laurie Strode last night but I'm kinda spent on them at the moment. The ebbs and flows are my routine with every artistic endeavor but Stretch's chainsaw really took it outta me!

For now, here are four of my most favoritest heroines of all the times!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tiffany. Necrosis. Some Ranting. Sorta Review. Whatever.

From 6 followers to 12 13 since my last post? Oh yeah, who's a rock star?! I'm honored to have each and every one of you here; Some of which have blogs I'll even read!... Well, except YOU. I did some checking and you're kind of a jerk but by all means, keep following me. As a token of my appreciation, I felt I should share something of interest to you all and since horror films are the common denominator here what better way to follow up this astounding achievement than with a post about pop singer Tiffany!

What? I've clarified that this wasn't a horror blog, like, all over the place.

Tiff demonstrating some of that mad crazy hand dancing for me in 2006

Actually, she still qualifies under my original intent as I've decided to review her screen debut, NECROSIS aka BLOOD SNOW aka ICE OF THE DEAD aka NO MATTER WHAT YA CALL IT, IT'S STILL POO… FYI, I've loved this woman continuously since 1987. While her prominent figure in the header should clue most of you in, I felt the need to state this as you may be inclined to think the contrary from this point on.

This was fast becoming a maniacal rant about the grave disappointment her acting endeavors are turning out to be and my inability to understand why she feels it so necessary to piss me off and not follow my meticulously detailed career path so I thought it best to start off simple with a review. I've yet to do an actual review so it felt like time but mostly because every time I typed MEGA-PIRANHA I spit at the screen and I'm plum outta Clorox wipes.


Right. The review…

A group of friends head to the mountains for some wintry R&R but their chosen locale shares a bit of history with The Donner Party legend and from that it's pretty easy to surmise that there won't be a lot of rest or relaxation for anyone involved.

All of the pieces are present and accounted for: A strong legend to jump off from, secluded location with looming weather hazards, foreboding locals, elements of the supernatural, paranoia and a mix of characters at various stages in their lives ensuring potential conflict. Necrosis manages the peculiar feat of incorporating all of those elements yet not succeeding with any of them. Well, the location is nice and there are a handful of shots that reflect this.

As with many low-budget indies, the technical shortcomings are plentiful; Edits are either choppy or linger unnecessarily and the sound is too often looped. However, these faults could easily be forgiven were any other intended aspects accomplished. The films greatest failure is in its soulless facade. The dialogue is flat and stock and the actors do little to breathe any life into it. Not that they've much to work with but seriously, there are some professionals here turning out low-rent work. There are moments where you can almost see their thought process…

ACTOR/ESS: 'Recite dialogue, drink from cup, pause, frown, hit mark, wait for cue, speak again.'

There is little organic going on here and that is the most glaring issue of which there are many. The Esses fair slightly better. During the more intimate and dramatic moments Tiffany comes closest to conveying genuine emotion even while having the most limited screen time. Sadly, me thinks she might've peaked here. Not that Mega—erm, the movie I dare not directly address, would benefit from the Strasberg Method but dayum Tiff that was rough! She is not without potential but I fear it's not going to be realized considering her lackadaisical approach to everything in her career. Okay, that was bitter and personal and I apologize… I'll save it for a later date.

I'll be sure to render my final verdict once MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID hits SyFy next year. Co-Starring Deborah Gibson. I'm not even kidding. The pop rivalry everyone asked for… Twenty years too late.

Hmm. My guess is Debbie will be playing Gatoroid?

Scream Queen On The Rise and Awesome Chick Of The Now Penny Drake (Zombie Strippers, The Cook) and to a lesser degree Danielle DeLuca turn in serviceable if uninspired performances. Funny (or is it sad?) when you realize their male counterparts James Kyson Lee (Heroes) and George Stults (7th Heaven) are the more seasoned actors. This includes wasted cameos from genre vets Michael Berryman and Mickey Jones. We know neither are lauded for thespian skills but man, utilize what they do bring!

I truly wanted Necrosis to succeed, independently of Tiffany. The premise felt comfortably familiar but held enormous potential. In early interviews, passionate director Jason Stephens tagged the formula as "The Big Chill meets The Shining." Who wouldn't get excited for that? This is somewhat telling of his approach because after watching Necrosis, one cannot help but wonder if Stephens has actually seen either film. Ultimately, Necrosis screams amateur from start to finish and it is unfortunate because there were mounds of material to mine from.

… Or maybe I'm just still mad at Tiffany because this really wasn't a review so much as a tirade. Watch for yourself and let me know. It's not even 80 minutes. And there's some random boobs.  

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Willies... All Ten Of 'em!

Okay, okay, I'm starting to feel the groove now. Seems the secret to my motivation is for those blog folk I enjoy to post their lists that get me going. They're fun, easy go-to's that limit tasking myself with original content… Wins all around! The latest spark comes from André over at The Horror Digest. She's prolific, entertaining and adorable as all get-out. I'd probably hate her were it not for my secret predilection for prolific, entertaining, adorable people. Oh, she's also a cat lover. I'm practically swooning!... Ye know, in that not-at-all weird gay guy crush way.

Sooo... Before it gets creepier in a way not concordant with the theme, on to the matter. She shared her Top Ten Movie Heebee-Jeebees and I had to partake. I was surprised how difficult it was to come up with ten. I've endured tons of jump scares (some legit) and many moments where I've felt uncomfortable or sickened but apparently I've not been as creeped out as much as I had assumed (or perhaps just recall). I'm quite disappointed as I think that is the best feeling one can get from a horror/suspense film. It resonates so much longer than a quick "boo!" and while intense is usually not as deeply penetrating as being disturbed. *glares at those jerks, Wolf Creek and Inside*

Guess I need to reacquaint myself with some movies. Until then, we'll just consider this my first draft. Here are the ten movie moments that filled me with a sense of squirmy unease and dammit, I just don't get enough of that! Oh, and SPOILERS ABOUND! Der.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE – Silver doors are almost never good.

We're first introduced to Leatherface when poor Kurt pops his head in for a looksee. As frightening as he was, there was something about the "SHUNK" of the metal door after bludgeoning Kurt to death that sent a chill up my spine. I'd like to think I'd be the cautious one standing at the front door telling my friends to get out of that decrepit junk heap, but if I saw that door? Lots of running and a little screaming without even seeing what's inside. It was all I could think about while Pam fumbled through the feathers and bones, and with good reason because Leatherface opening it back up to fetch her was even more terrifying. Proof that knowing what is coming can be so much worse than not.

THE SHINING – The Bigwheel of Eeee-vil!

Seriously, nothing good comes from these bike rides. I remembered getting wincey the moment little Danny hopped on, well before meeting up with his new playmates. I wasn't particularly fond of sharing a name with the little freaknik, either. It gave all my friends carte blanche to moan "Redrum" at me. Kids are dumb. Anyhow, Kubrick shot nearly every scene to convey a consistent sense of dread but that little pit in the tummy tightened every time he rode that big wheel and instilled my lifelong love/hate relationship with lengthy hallways.

BLACK CHRISTMAS – It's the moooaannaah!

Only seeing the killer's shadow, hands and eye enhanced this wonderful film's creep factor but it was those cracked out phone calls to the girls of Pi Kappa Sigma that raised my hackles (Not sure what hackles are but I know that if I have 'em, they were raised!). It wasn't so much about what he/she/it/they were saying but how it was being said; Cackling, maniacal and truly sinister. When you paid attention it was even worse. Who was Billy? What did he do to Agnes? Did he just say cunt?!

AUDITION – Where exactly does one acquire a bag o' man?

I am so, so, sooo glad I never caught ads for this film because I would have had this most gloriously chilling moment spoiled. You know things ain't quite right with Asami early on. This delicate flower is a wee bit touched and whoooaa boy are we given confirmation right proper! The extended scene of her unnaturally slumped, sitting by the phone awaiting Shigeharu's call gives the impression this might be all she does. Ever. The creepies set in instantly and intensify as you wonder what could be in that bag when the phone finally rings and WAH! THE BAG FLIPPED OVER! Successful as a willy inducer and legit jump scare.

REC – What is tha--OHMYHOLYHELL!

Another case of knowing that something is coming but that knowledge helps out zippo! You're one of two survivors of an insane virus that has turned everyone else into raving, bloodthirsty maniacs. You're also trapped in an apartment building with them as the military has the place locked down. You've managed to reach the attic apartment with your cameraman when it is fast apparent that this might not be the salvation you so desperately seek. Oh, and you're now in complete darkness. Frantically scrambling through evidence indicating this is where all the horror is stemming from, you hear a noise. It's not from your guy. It's not another survivor. It's something that has clawed free from a Hell dimension and you are officially fucked. Go ahead, poop yourself, no one will ever know. 

28 DAYS LATER – Wait, they run now?!

Sure, they aren't technically zombies but at the time of seeing this, it was touted as a zombie film so imagine my shock and terror when they began to run! Um, they're not supposed to do that. I know now the Infected are their own sub-genre but not necessarily one I welcome as they've cut a good portion of the populations chances of survival by demanding athletic prowess. Them sprinting en masse in shadow only freaked me out more. The gutteral howling, pièce de résistance. I know they're not zombies but couldn't they lumber? I like lumbering. 

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET – Dancing on the ceiling

Horrifying, disturbing and single-handedly ruined my bed time experiences for years to come. I saw this way too young, when death scenes I had seen before it were still heavily shadowed and over quickly. I almost didn't include it because I felt it too intense for willy qualification until looking over at my goosebumps while thinking about it. It hit all the buttons and suddenly everything that followed had me on edge.

MARTYRS – Well, isn't she just darling?

Martyrs was almost booted to the side with Wolf Creek and Inside but I found it too thought-provoking to toss. Not that those films didn't make me think and I uneasily consider myself a big fan of both but the brutal intensity gave me no time to be creeped out. Martyrs, while a big WTF?! itself, allowed the creepy unease to settle in when Anna meets another prisoner locked away for who knows how long. The woman is emaciated, scarred, disfigured and has a metal blindfold bolted to her head with a matching chastity belt I do NOT want to know how is fastened. Disturbing on many levels, it is incredibly creepy not only from her appearance but from having no idea what she may do.

THE SENTINEL – Daaad, company is coming go put on some pants!

I've still only seen about half of this movie. It alternately freaked and bored me. However, the scene where Alison sneaks through her apartment to reveal a silhouette behind the door was creepy in itself but as the form rushess across the screen to reveal itself as an old man in underwear brought on both heebees and jeebees. He stands at the other end of the room, waiting in darkness for her to approach and then does the zombie lurch, revealing his milky white eyes. It's all good but something about the way he quickly skitters from behind the door makes it so much more effective than had he slowly clambered out.

THE FUNHOUSE – She's just not that into you.

This is a film that doesn't hold up for me. It's mind-numbingly slow and has one of the worst Final Girl's in the history of ever. However, when I was a kid this was a scene that seared itself deep into the psyche and still remains effective. When Liz awakens from her fall through the trap door, we find her in a tunnel with a giant exhaust fan at the end. Before she can crawl toward freedom, the Carny Freak appears. Shadowed, he is no less terrifying than when he reveals his monstrous mug. Liz pleading, begging and then trying to trade on her feminine wiles make you pity her, hoping she might be given reprieve and you can't help but wonder if she might have had she not stabbed the monster 'cause he seemed like he was kinda diggin' on her... Ye know, before pulling her head first into the big fan.

Friday, July 2, 2010

20 Actresses... Plus 10.

I saw that Final Girl was being Stacie Ponder again and resurrected a long dormant meme and I got all stupid-like about it. Mostly because it meant I had an actual topic to post after a few dry weeks and even better, a super easy one; Which is what kinda had me excited about it. I'm all about quick and easy these days.

Yes, I mean that exactly how you think.

20 Actresses? Pfft. Lemme rattle 'em off to you in quick succession. Would you like that in order of overall preference, emotional connection, range of talent, level of obsession, alphabetically… Wait. I'm sub-categorizing again; The blight upon my concise and structured methods! All right, the blight on my paltry attempts to be concise and structured.

Give me a list to create and I will have twenty new ones born from it before completing the original and while typing this I just thought about how to make THAT into another list I must be stopped someone help me and we're back.

Like any choice to be made, I see far too many options. Is the list about who I think are truly the most talented? Well, what about those with perhaps a more, confined range, that have struck gold in one or two roles that will forever stay with me? What about the gals that seem to have been playing the same character throughout their careers but dammit, I really love that character? Are there special conditions for body of work? Am I giving tenure? Don't you see, I just want to include everyone!... Ultimately, I'm about love.

Anyway. I've decided that since this mental defect can be used to create future lists – and I've clearly typed enough words for an acceptable entry – I'm going shut it up to go with the overall favorite approach. Those who combine some talent with a varied career, key roles, considerable presence, a lil fabulosity and that certain something I connect(ed) with… Along with an extra Top Ten To Watch! What?! I'm leaving out the ten honorable mentions! Cut me some slack, I am working with this brain.

In (mostly) no particular order:

... and ten to grow on:

Share any? Shocked by any? Name 'em all without hovering? 

Who are your 20?... No, just 20. One addendum per blog! HA!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The One I Would Save

As previously mentioned, this is not a horror blog. I feel I must repeat this so as to keep myself from veering toward what I think I not-so-secretly want it to be. I've already compiled a list of wonderfully valid reasons not to make it one  (the genre is being well cared for, my scattered brain patterns would never keep it solely horrorcentric, I have so many other things to share and, dammit, you will embrace them all!)

It's not like I could use this for general life happenings and assorted geekery and create a companion blog for all my horror needsOOH! I mean, no... bad idea. Despite intentions for this place to cater to all of my blogging whims I do hope you will understand that the scary movie gab will likely take precedent over most things. Not enough to garner any awards or let me into the cool horror blog clubs but, whatever. I'm a rebel. I don't need to be pigeonhold. *sniff* I'm my own person! (love me?)

Do you see the challenges I present to myself?

Onward! One of the many elements that inspired me to at last heave my crazy upon you (yes, someone to blame!) was Arbogast On Film's One You Might Have Saved. First posted two years ago, it prompted people to share which doomed character moved, connected with or made enough impact on them to toss a life preserver (or knife/gun/keener sense of awareness) to. It created a bit of a Blog-O-Thon Meme type thingy that still elicits passionate responses. I loved this hypothetical and immediately began to cogitate over my choices. Of course, also immediate was the realization that passing the Get Outta Death Free card to just one wasn't likely to happen. Surely Vistaprint could help with my dilemma! 

Unfortunately, my initial cap at three choices installed a manic mental revolving door, hurting my heart with each one I had to send back out to their often grisly fate. From that three begat five which begat ten until I had to step away from the topic in order to save my own life!... Or for less dramatic reasons, I forget. I let it sit for a day and when I returned to it I realized that amongst the incessant restructuring one choice remained non-negotiable. It was actually all quite simple; The less time spent roaming my head space the better. Think less, dive in and go with instinct.

So, as much as it pains me to leave Liz a 'head-on-a-stick', Tatum a victim of her own ample curves and keep Helen confined to the worst, most oblivious town ever populated by teleporting fisherman, there was, is, really only one choice: 

I still recall the day I heard the news. The teenage brother of one of my parent's friends was over, captivating me with his vast knowledge of all things horror. The second he switched topics to Freddy Krueger I asked if he'd seen the recently released Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. He launched into a wide-eyed elucidation of every detail - we really didn't give a crap about spoilers as kids, did we? - and I couldn't wait to actually see these images on screen. I wasn't allowed to see horror films in theaters yet, even though I'd probably seen every studio horror film on video up to this point, so I was enthralled. Seriously, this one girl can pull you into her dreams and does flips and there's this zappy wizard kid and this hot leather chick who fights Freddy with knives and holycrappingcrap did you just say NANCY WAS BACK?! 

Such poise, such elegance, such great conditioner. How our Nancy has grown! 

Clearly, I have just heard the most amazing thing to ever happen to the world. As he began the climactic battle, I was perched on my knees, fists clenched, leaning over a chair that had tipped about a dozen times in my exuberance by this point. Then, he said:

"She's hugging her dad and her face is like, 'what?' and she looks at her dad but he turns into Freddy and you see he totally stabbed her, man!"

There were a bunch of words that followed but after I forced him to repeat that heinous lie, "Yeah dude, Nancy dies!" I excused myself to go to the bathroom and cried. I didn't sob, I wasn't a blubbering mess on the floor but I sat on the edge of the tub and cried quietly for a few minutes. Washed my face, went back out and let him finish up but by that point, it was all meaningless. I no longer had any interest in seeing it.

Nancy Thompson Colby Dexter Carrington, if you please.

A few months later at a group sleepover, the movie picked was Dream Warriors. I didn't protest but the internal agony was growing by the minute. The movie began and I was enjoying it immediately. Patricia Arquette was kinda cool even before the gymnastics came into play and *GASP* Nancy. Just. Walked. In! Further proliferating my joy was the fact that all of the kids reacted positively to her appearance. The film went on and every minute was gold. The characters were cool, the kills were cool, something was always happening and the downtime for plot development was usually with Nancy so I was juuust fine. Then came the end. 

Nancy, Kristen, Kincaid and Joey were in joyful embrace because they thought it was over. For a second, so did I. Then Nancy's dumb dad had to apparate in. I bolted for the door and could hear my friend's asking where I was going but any answer would have been drowned out by their chorus of "No ways", "Oh my Gods" and one "Screw you!"

A few months later I forced myself to confront Nightmare On Elm Street: Part Crap in its entirety; Partly because I figured if I knew how she died, I could remedy this when I was making films. Long before I thought I wanted to make films, by the by. I found it ridiculous. I don't care that she was given one last swipe at him. Not for one second did I believe Nancy would fall for Freddy's ruse. No, in a just film, Nancy - who at 16 showed more courage, ingenuity and resilience than most twice her age - would have faked him out, stabbing "Daddy" with a knowing smirk as his facade dissipated. By then, Craig Wasson's junkyard exorcism would've worked it's magic and Nancy would be waving buh-bye with a triumphant smile on her face as Freddy e'sploded.  

Watching it a few years later, something else struck me, making the scene even more grim. When Nancy realizes she'd been stabbed, her expression is one of shock. She sees her father's visage give way to Freddy and it is then that she screams. However, it is not one of pain, it is a bloodcurdling cry of rage. In that moment she recognizes her defeat at the hands of her sworn enemy and it is a moment that continues to give me chills.

I don't even like looking at this! So you can imagine how tough it was to edit and load.

Some have argued that she completed her arc, she did all she could, squawk squawk white noise, but to that I reply "I hate you!" Oh. I'm sorry. No, I mean "Kill yourself!" Gah! Clearly, I need a moment...

God, I look 24 in this mirror!

All right. What I really meant was, "So what? You're wrong, poo head." Yes, that's better. I've never bought into the idea that it is okay for a character to die simply because select members of the audience haven't a clue where to take them or think it isn't logical for them to continuously evade their nemesis; A line of thinking disturbingly present among far too many horror fans when it comes to our heroines, but again, I've skidded off track. 

Why is it unbelievable Nancy could further elude Freddy's grasp when she already had for years? He seemed pretty surprised when Kristen pulled her into her dream. Why hadn't he been able to sense her presence all along? 'Cause Nancy knows stuff. Lotsa drugs, dream techniques and moving around her trademark grey streak to throw him off the trail were all very effective but deep down I think Freddy was kinda scared of finding her.

Cold comfort indeed.

Nancy wasn't the first Final Girl to win my love and devotion, nor is she my personal favorite (admittedly, it's a damn close race and on more than one occasion she shares the mantel). However, she is the greatest. She didn't merely react to the chaos in the moment, she was proactive. Her strength and determination were tempered with a genuine fear anyone would experience, no matter a teenager. Not only did she rise above it, she confronted that fear by bringing the fight directly to the bastard son of a hundred maniacs on his own turf, forcing him onto hers and ultimately defeating him with her intelligence and will. Through it all she never lost her compassion and put herself, arguably safe and Freddy-free, in harms way to help those in need.

"I'm into survival". Words Nancy once used to help poor, sweet, simple Glenn understand her determination. Words that someone woefully did not heed along the way in making Dream Warriors and it wasn't Wes Craven. While I could be thankful her untimely demise led, in part, to his giving Heather Langenkamp an excellent showcase in New Nightmare I'd rather Nancy triumphant. Instead I will continue to picture Nancy an eternal warrior, finally at peace but awaiting the moment to return to us from the "beautiful dream" Kristen sent her to.

... Ye know, before that damned Tuesday Knight screwed it all up.