Halloween (1978): The Horror of Framing, and Identification

A Frame is a single image of film or video. “Framing” consists of the composition of the subjects (people ,objects) within that image. Based on where the camera and the subjects have been placed,  we know where we are, as the audience, and that can make all the difference in a person views a film.

I have friends who dislike Horror movies. I know! Sacrilege, right? But I get it. I don’t pressure them to watch them, because I understand that such movies aren’t for everyone, but I often wonder what it is about such movies that they dislike, especially when they are unable to articulate this for me. I know for some of them, its the feelings of tension and anxiety that such films produce. But I also think at least part of that anxiety has to do with the nature of the visual media itself. The camera is often a stand-in for the audience. We see what the camera sees, and visual media is carefully composed to manipulate our emotions about what we see. Some people will find it very off putting, not just watching a scene, and being helpless to stop it, but based on how the images are framed, feel as if they are actually participating in the violence. 

I was watching the original 1978  Halloween, and comparing it to the new sequel that came out last year. I was thinking about why the new sequel is so effective, at being scary, whereas none of the other sequels and remakes, outside of  were scary for me, at all.

At least part of the reason the new sequel works is it successfully replicates the framing of the first film in ways that the others do not. This framing has the effect of making the audience a participant in the action. If you remember the opening scene from the original film, we see the suburban setting as if we, the audience, were operating the camera, as Michael stabs his sister to death. Afterwards, the camera switches the viewpoint to that of his parents, we pull back when his parents pull off his mask, as he stands on the front lawn. This is an example of the audience as not just onlookers, which is the viewpoint from which most films are told, but as participants in the actions onscreen. We are not meant to simply watch, but see through Michael’s eyes, as we participate in the killing. That we see the murder from Michael’s point of view can make some members of the audience feel complicit in the act.

After this opening, the camera neatly switches between Laurie Strode’s, and Michael’s, point of view. It is Laurie’s decisions that control the plot, but she and her friends are the ones being acted upon by Michael. The movie is framed in a classic Protagonist/Antagonist plot, of two (relatively) evenly matched adversaries, who play cat and mouse throughout the movie. Part of the movie’s tension is who is going to survive, and the camera shows this by switching between both their points of view. Switching between these two different points of view is a way to keep the audience off balance.

First, let’s have a discussion of camera techniques and film vocabulary, since I am operating under the assumption that a lot of my readers have never really given a whole lot of thought to the idea that what a camera is doing, doesn’t just tell the audience how to feel, or think, but often focuses the movie’s primary themes, and character dynamics.

It is the  composition of the characters, within the Frame, which tells the audience who is of primary importance in the story, and how the audience should feel about what is happening to them.The Director, and Cinematographer are the ones who decide where the camera is going to stand, what it’s going to be doing, and what that image looks like through the viewfinder (the colors, lighting, and depth of field). One of the things that makes horror movies so unsettling is that camera viewpoints can switch at any moment. The camera can be anyone at any time. One of the side effects is that the viewer is not given time to become complacent, or to feel comfortable.

Sometimes we see the world through Michael’s eyes, experiencing the emotionlessness of this character. The way the images are framed, give us a sense of Michael’s height and power, as the camera is often placed slightly above, or at head height during his scenes. When in Michael’s point of view, the camera is always a distant, and unemotional, observer, that moves slowly, and steadily, giving him a sense of relentless implacability. He is framed as a powerful machine, a thing  which cannot be stopped. This is the same camera effect that was used in James Cameron’s The Terminator, to convey that same sense of relentlessness, whenever we see the world through the Terminator’s eyes.

In other scenes, we see the events through Laurie Strode’s eyes, experiencing her terror, vulnerability, and bravery. The camera, from Laurie’s point of view, is handheld, and so it trembles in an uncertain manner, peering slowly around corners, and hedges, through doorways, and closets. In many of her scenes, the camera is below the eye-line, as it angles up towards a sound or image. She is framed as small, timid, and helpless in comparison to Michael.

In the newest Halloween, this is masterfully done by James Carpenter, the director of the original film. In  Michael’s scenes, the camera moves slowly and steadily, contrasted against busy, or frenetic settings, at head height. Laurie, whose mindset is now very different after the trauma of the first movie, doesn’t get a lot of viewpoint scenes, but when she does she is shown, unlike in the first film, as to be equally matched with him, as the camera is at head height for her, too, until the end of the film, when Michael, now in a vulnerable position, is placed below head height, looking upward, towards Laurie and her daughter. The two of them, having turned the tables on him, look down on him from their position of  power.

No discussion of framing would be complete without mention of the film in which it was made especially famous, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 Psycho, where we watch the death of the primary character, Marion Crane, from the point of view of her killer, in the infamous “shower scene”. Hitchcock is rightfully lauded for this particular camera technique, as it had never been done in that way before, and it rightfully shocked audiences. I think at least part of that shock is that Hitchcock makes the audience feel complicit in Marion Crane’s murder, as we see it from the point of view of her killer, Norman Bates. But that’s not what makes Psycho groundbreaking. It is the switch from Marion’s point of view, earlier in the film, to a sudden shift to the killer’s, that sets it apart. Marion goes from being the Subject, to being an Object, from the person who commits the acts that determine the plot, at the beginning of the film, and the person with whom we identify, to the person who is now being acted upon. At the beginning of the film, Marion is the Subject, from whose viewpoint we see the world, but while she is killed, she becomes the Object, and WE become her killer. For some people, the sudden shift from one protagonist to another, was simply too much.

What Hitchcock did in this scene is switch Framing. Based on the framing, the audience is meant to think, or feel, a certain way about, or towards, a character, and we, as the audience, had become comfortable with the idea of Marion Crane as the primary character. You’re meant to be as uncomfortable during the shower scene, as with Michael’s murder of his sister, as your eyes are forced to see your victim, and you cannot look away.

In Hitchcock’s scene the camera is initially placed inside the shower with Marion, as she looks outward and sees a shadow. We do not see Marion, in those instances, (she is “out of frame”), because we are seeing things from her point of view. Then the camera is turned, and placed outside the shower, facing Marion. We don’t see her killer now, because we are now in the killers viewpoint. This makes this scene much more intimate than if it was “framed” another way. For example, if the camera had been placed to see both subjects, at the same time, “Framing” both of them within the image, in such an enclosed space, it would have to be placed further away from them, which would have had the effect of placing us, the audience, at an emotional remove, and the scene would feel less immediate.

By placing the camera as the point of view of either character, and switching back and forth between them, we become a part of the scene in an unexpected way. We become each character, rather than an omnipotent third party, who are just watching a murder, as would have happened if the camera were placed at a distance. The moment becomes not just more intimate, but more visceral, than if the camera, or characters, had been placed elsewhere.

Most movies are framed in such a way as to make the audience a third but invisible onlooker, which is sometimes called the “god perspective”, or the “omnipresent watcher”. If the camera is close to the scene, such as when two people are having a conversation, and both of them are seen within the frame, (a medium shot) we feel like a third invisible observer, in the scene with them. If the camera is even further away (a wide shot) than we may feel like we are not part of that scene at all. We might feel like we are spying on the two subjects from afar. If the camera is placed within the scene, switching from the view of one character to another, (the medium closeup, the over the shoulder shot), than we become each character. Where the characters are placed in the scene is an  indication of the level of intimacy between them, and  between them and us.

For example, an extreme closeup of a woman, with the camera panning, (when the camera moves up and down, or from side to side), along her body, places us in the scene with her, as we look at her body. (This is what feminists are referring to when talking about “The Male Gaze”.) Sometimes the scene is meant to be sexually evocative, as the character is may act aware that we are there, and appears to be responding to our presence in the scene with her. But if the camera is across the room, while focusing on her body and legs, then we are no longer in the scene with her, but spying on her from a distance. The character doesn’t know we are there, and acts as if she is alone, which makes us voyeurs, in what appears to be a private moment, such as the scene when Marion Crane first gets into the shower. She is unaware of the camera, and she has not given consent to look at  her, and so, she is as unaware of our presence, as she is of the killer’s.

Contrast that scene, with the opening scene, from the 1976 version of Carrie. The camera is in the shower with Carrie, in extreme closeup. Closer than the Marion Crane scene in Psycho. This is framed as a deeply intimate moment, that we are intruding on, but not participating in. Carrie is supposed to be alone, as she does not react to the camera, and is unaware of its presence. But the scene isn’t without emotion, as shots of her legs, torso, and body, are interspersed with extreme closeups of her face, with its tranquil expression. She is separated from the other girls in the room, and we are intruding on Carrie’s private moment. She is one of the last girls still in the shower, because it is the only place she can find respite from her  bullying classmates. She is enjoying this quiet solitude, before she must re-enter a painful world. Here, we are voyeurs of a different sort, as we are meant to identify with Carrie in this scene. If we were not meant to identify with her, she would be objectified, by not having extreme close ups of her face, a perspective that emphasizes her emotions, and  humanizes her.

Framing can mean the difference between objectification, and identification for an audience.  In Carrie, we are meant to identify with her. It is her classmates, who appear at  a distance, framed as a raucous  mob of water nymphs, scantily clad, and in slow motion,  who are being objectified. In a sense, that is how Carries sees them, as happy, frolicking, young women, whose faces all blend together, and that’s something that will be shown explicitly, minutes later, during the tampon throwing scene, and during the Prom scene, when Carrie thinks they are all laughing at her. She does not differentiate them. They are all the same face to her, and the audience. Focusing the camera on Carrie’s solemn facial expression, during her shower scene, is in contrast to her classmates. We are shown her feelings, and her personhood. We are meant to be sympathetic to her, not her classmates, and for some people it may be difficult to watch a film where one is made to identify with the victim of bullying.

Let’s use another example of framing, in a different film. The 2011, It Follows. Halloween and It Follows, have the same basic plot, where young women are relentlessly stalked by silent creatures that want to kill them. Both movies frame the characters in such a way that we kow they are the protagonists, both films revolve around killing that involves sexual activity, and both involve the survival, at the end of the movie, of a Final Girl.

In It Follows, Jay is being pursued by a monster that can take the form of someone she knows, after she is infected by a virus that allows her to see it. In Halloween, we go where Michael goes, and see what he sees. We are the monster. In It Follows, we mostly don’t see the world from the monster’s viewpoint, except at the opening of the film. For the rest of the movie, we are almost always looking towards the monster, and seeing the world through either Jay’s eyes, or as third impersonal observer. We don’t spend the movie walking in the monster’s footsteps, so we are not meant to identify with It, and hence, the monster is the less important character. Unlike Halloween, in It Follows, Jay is constantly being watched by the other characters in the film, and also the audience, as we observe Jay during some of her most private moments, or we see the monster (always at a distance) from Jay’s viewpoint. Jay is the movie’s focus, and everything revolves around her. This is not like Halloween, where you have two separate, matching, adversaries. The monster has no identity of its own, and is given no point of view. Any identity we see, is given to it by Jay, and everything we see of it, is from Jay’s mind. 

Michael (who is often the audience stand-in) often watches Laurie and her friends from a distance. The camera’s distance from Michael’s victims creates a feeling of emotional detachment in the audience, while closeups indicate intimacy. We don’t get closeups of their faces, because Michael isn’t interested in them as people, only as objects, upon which he acts. We are not meant to identify with Laurie’s friends. However, as a third observer, we do get lots of closeups of Laurie’s face. We are meant to feel what she feels because, the closer a camera is to a character’s face, the more intimate the moment, and some audience members might have trouble with that level of both intimacy, and tension.

Such movies, which are framed from the point of view of the killers, as if the viewers were either ineffectual observers, or participants in the scenes, means the audience is meant to feel the tension and anxiety of the victim, or the excitement, or detachment, of the killer. I’ve never felt the latter, but there are those who watch such movies who find the physical power of such characters, thrilling. I’ve also heard people who don’t like horror movies, accuse those who do, of getting just such a thrill, and that was how I came to the conclusion that some of them were being affected by how  horror movies use framing.That they are uncomfortable with feeling so close.

Perhaps, especially for those who perceive themselves as “good” people, who would never harm anyone, horror movies might be especially stressful, in this regard. Seeing horror scenes from the killer’s relentless point of view is distressing, just as much as being a stand in for the helpless and vulnerable victim, or being an invisible voyeur to violent acts.

NOTE: This post has been heavily edited, to make more sense, than when I first wrote it.

Gay And Lesbian Horror Movies

There was a time that whenever members of the LGBTQ community appeared in mainstream Horror movies, they were treated as comedy relief, horribly killed, as a means to punish them for being gay, or as villains (Sleepaway Camp, Silence of the Lambs, Dressed to Kill), so to get Horror movies where they’re treated as no different than the other characters, they are the primary characters, or sometimes get to be heroic, is still something of a novelty. Here are 8 Horror movies, where gay, lesbian, or transgender characters get to be primary leads, get to save the day, or experience the uncanny, without that being a reflection on their sexuality.

Spiral (2019)

Malik and Aaron are a same sex couple that move to the countryside, along with Aaron’s daughter, and encounter strange neighbors, and mysterious ritual. If you like movies like The Wicker Man, Hereditary, and Midsommar, then give this movie a try on Halloween night. I haven’t finished this movie yet, (its not boring, I was just tired), but the trailer looks pretty good. his movie is airing on the Shudder app, through Amazon.

Hellbent (2004)

This probably isn’t the first gay slasher, but it is the first one that’s been treated as a typical slasher film, except all the primary characters present in such films have been replaced by gay characters, right down to a Final Guy. Eddie, and his friends, encounter a serial killer during West Hollywood’s annual Halloween Carnival. I’m still not a fan of the production values on this, as it looks murky and too dark, but the plot and characters are taken as seriously as if this were a movie about straight characters. This is currently on the HERE TV app.

Haute Tension (2003)

This is one of those movies about an interesting little twist. When the girl she has fallen in love with is kidnapped by a serial killer after they visit her parent’s house, Marie has to go on the defense to rescue her. This film is very gory, and pretty serious. The twist ending may be problematic for some viewers, but if you like gory Horror movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Halloween, then is worth a try. The American title to this French film was Switchblade Sisters, so you may find it streaming under that name. Its also available on the IMDB app, through Amazon Prime.

What Keeps You Alive

This movie is about a lesbian couple that violently hash out their issues during their stay in the countryside. You can tell this by the amount of blood seen in this trailer. I haven’t seen this one yet, but it looks pretty chilling and has been on my radar for at least a year This is now streaming on Netflix, if any of you are interested.

Thelma

I wrote about this maybe a year ago. I generally liked it, although since its kind of artsy, it is somewhat ambiguous on the outcome, as such movies tend to be. its about a young woman in her first year of college, who struggles physically and emotionally with her attraction to a young lady she meets in the school library. There’s a paranormal element involved, a la Carrie, but seems like there’s a happier ending. Its worth watching though, and is currently streaming on Hulu.

Assassination Nation (2018)

When the people in her small town of Salem start to behave erratically after someone starts hacking everyone’s phones and computers, revealing all their embarassing, and deadly, secrets, Lily has to go to the extremes to defend herself and her friends. The film stars one of the first transgender actresses to star in a slasher film, Hari Nef, as one of Lily’s friends. Assassination Nation is streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

We Are The Night (2011)

After they’ve killed all the male vampires for being greedy, a coven of female vampires, led by a woman named Louise, initiates a new member, Lena. Lena is looking for love, but when she doesn’t return Louise’s affections, she must fight to be free of the coven. This available to buy or rent on Google Play, and Youtube.

The Quiet Room (2017)

After a suicide attempt, Michael ends up in a rehab center that appears to be haunted. He ends up having to fight for his life, both physically and psychologically, if he expects to survive a fate worse fate than death. This movie has the distinction of having a gay Black man as the lead. The Quiet Room is airing on Amazon Prime.

5 Haunting Horror Movies You Haven’t Seen…Yet!

I’ve been watching horror movies since I was a little girl ,who was supposed to be asleep at 11 o’clock at night. I went through a period, with my mother, where I think we tried to watch every horror movie that got made between 1980 and 1988, before I went off to college, so I have seen a helluva lot of movies, many of which have been forgotten, unless your’e a serious horror movie fan. I admit, not everything I watched was any good, but I found something interesting in these five movies, which have stayed in my memory even though I haven’t watched some of them in decades.

 

Don’t Look in the Basement (1973)

This move was made back in 1973 so I wouldnt go in expecting it t be enlightened about mental illness. I saw this movie when I was a teenager, and there was just something about it that I found deeply disturbing. Yes, the characters are disturbed, certainly, becasue this is an asylum, but that’s not the reason why this movie has haunted me for years. I suspect its some quality of mood, or lighting, or acting that I found mesmerizing back then.

A young nurse gets a job in a remote asylum for the mentally ill, and has a great deal of difficulty doing her work, as the director of the facility seems as deeply disturbed as her patients. You can probably guess what the twist is long before the plot spirals down into a hot mess of murder and mutilation.

 

 

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things

A troupe of method actors and their despotic director head out to Coconut Grove, Florida where, as a prank, they exhume a corpse called Orville and are subsequently horrified when his similarly deceased friends emerge from their graves to play some deadly games of their own. Filmed as America experienced its post-60s comedown, director Bob Clark’s first horror feature began a truly terrifying trilogy that continued with the powerful anti-Vietnam war statement Dead Of Night and climaxed with the classic seasonal (and subsequently re-made) scarefest Black Christmas.

You can definitely tell this movie was filmed on the cheap, but this is also one of the first zombie movies I ever saw, long before ever watched Night of the Living Dead, and of course this is nearly forgotten, except by zombie movie enthusiasts like me. The acting isn’t great, and the special effects aren’t either, but the movie has such a distinctive feel, that I’ve never forgotten it, despite having not watched it in decades.

 

 

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

I haven’t seen this movie in decades but for some reason I still remember the haunted feeling I had watching this. The plot is a little fuzzy, but I think its about a woman who moves out into the country, with her boyfriend, to recover from a nervous breakdown, and encounters strange events, and possibly ghosts and vampires.

The movie is surprisingly well acted for a horror movie from the 70’s, and the cinematography looks gorgeous. The only drawback seems to be that the plot is a bit murky, but I do remember enjoying watching this on late night TV.

 

 

Psychomania (1974)

This is another movie I remember watching as a kid, late one night, when I was supposed to be asleep. I haven’t seen it in decades, but I still remember it pretty well, although it took me some time to find the title. I remember that I started off excited about the movie because, Hey! Zombie Bikers!, but by the end I recall a distinct feeling of melancholy for the bikers, and their inability to die, and at least part of that was due to this song.

I remember thinking something along the lines of how all these characters eventually became pretty jaded by the1974 lifestyle they thought was a form of true freedom, only to be trapped in a kind of hellish living afterlife.

 

 

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

This is another movie I watched late one night, without my mother’s permission, even though she was the one who told me about it! Its more of a mystery than a horror movie, but I’m going to put this here because it does have some onscreen kills. It stars a very young Jodi Foster, who was still riding on her fame from Taxi Driver, I think, which came out the same year.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this, but I think one of my mother’s objections to this movie, is the character is a serial killer ,who genuinely regrets killing people. My guess is that my Mom was opposed to kids killing adults in movies, which is understandable, but it might also have been the pedophilia from one of the characters, which she thought I was too young to be watching.

I wanted to see it because I was under the impression, at about nine years old, that Jodi seemed to be about my age, when she was, in fact, thirteen, at the time. I have observed that little girls often gravitate to movies about other little girls, and I was no different, except I gravitated to horror movies that starred little girls.

I cannot recall if she was alone because she killed her parents, but I do remember her making up various stories for the adults who investigated her situation, as to why she was alone, and killing the ones who got too nosy, as well as a man who was trying to get too cozy with her, if y’all know what I mean.

October Viewing List II

Supernatural

The final season has begun, I already wrote a short review on my other site. Check it out!

 

Little Monsters

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i am of two minds about this movie. On  the one hand, I hated, hated, hated, the lead character, Dave, who, while not as vile as trump, could definitely give him a run for his money, in the stupid, juvenile delinquent, category. Dave is a vile, foul mouthed, washed-up musician, and asshole, who is irresponsible with kids and himself, does not know how to behave like an adult,  and lies, and steals without compunction. He changes his entire outlook however, when he sees Miss Caroline, his nephew’s grade school teacher, who is, very probably, the greatest ray of sunshine to ever grace a zombie movie. I loved her. Everyone loves her.

On the other hand, hating Dave was not enough for me to quit watching this movie, because Lupita is the best thing in it, its actually pretty funny, and there’s plenty of zombies, gore, and cussin’.

Some serious shenanigans have been going on at a military base in the English countryside, and some zombies get loose, and head over to a nearby children’s amusement park, that Lupita and her class happened to be visiting that day. Yes, the children are in some danger of being eaten by the zombies, but its really not that type of film, as most of the tension comes from Miss Caroline, trying desperately to protect the children from any emotional trauma, that might come of the zombie outbreak.

To that end, Miss Caroline’s charm is turned up to fifteen, as she sings and dances her way through the zombie apocalypse, with her little banjo. The children adore her, and she manages to be successful, not just at saving the children, but winning Dave’s heart, as he attempts to become the type of man who is worthy of her attention, rather than the asshole he’s always been. So even though I hated Dave, this movie isn’t about him manipulating her into falling in love with him. Its about the redemption of a cad, as he understands that the only way to win the love of a woman as magnificent as  Miss Caroline, is to first realize he is not worthy of her as he is, and then to become a different person.

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I feel some type of way about Dave winning the girl at the end of the movie, especially when he is set up at the beginning of the movie as such a hateful piece of shit. (No, truly, for the first twenty minutes of this movie, I just wanted to set Dave’s sorry ass on fire.) When he first meets Caroline, he tries the usual lying bullcrap he has always used to manipulate women into giving him a pass, including his own sister. He is not successful at this because none of that works on Miss Caroline. She is completely immune to it. He’s gotta try something new, if he hopes to win her,  so he pretends to be a worthy person, and in the process, actually becomes a worthy person.

But I suppose the purpose in showing Dave to be such an awful person, is to show the redemptive power of Miss Caroline. One of the most interesting things about the plot is Miss Caroline is not trying to save Dave, or turn him good. She expects that he is already a good man, and simply treats him as if he is. Miss Caroline tells him that she is a Christian woman, who believes fervently in her job, loves children, and does not like cursing. She is not preachy about this. She simply behaves in a Christian manner, and I like that she is not a stereotype of a Christian, as she really is as wholesome as she appears. She loves her kids, loves her job, and will brave any danger to save her kids from harm, which she does, when she fights off a hoard of zombies, to retrieve one of her kid’s  inhalers. She is also tough as fucking nails,  because she is perfectly willing to stab one of her companions in the gut, when he makes himself a danger to her kids, and won’t stop cursing at them. He is supposed to be a role model for the children, and dammit, he’s gonna act like one!

This is the introduction of Mr. McGiggles, one of the entertainers at the park, who s every bit as awful, and foul mouthed as Dave, but since Dave is trying to mend his ways  to impress Caroline, we need a a new foil, to contrast what Dave is no longer trying to be. So McGiggles takes Dave’s place, as the unrepentant foul mouth, in the script, as Dave starts becoming a better person.

So yes, this movie is quite a journey for its characters. Dave finds himself wiling to do anything, and be anything, to live up to Miss Caroline’s example of bright humanity, and I suppose that’s a good thing, because it works. He makes a genuine change to be worthy of her love, and I’m okay with that, I guess, but getting through the first twenty minutes of this movie was really hard.

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Little Monsters is available on Hulu. I plan to watch this one again, when I can find the time.

 

 

Evil

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Here’s another show with religious themes and characters. I did not plan this. This is just sort of how it turned out, because I had no plans to watch this show, not because it wasn’t on my radar, but because I was not particularly interested. Its not a bad show, and I am probably going to watch more episodes of this, because it turned out to not be exactly what I thought it would be.

Now, I’ve only seen one episode, which was medium dark, and definitely had some tense moments in it, but not for the reasons you might think. I haven’t gotten the character names down yet either, so I looked those up. The horror springs from the character decisions, and  that you either know more, or less, than the characters in the show.

Dr. Bouchard is a forensic psychologist, who teams up with Mike Colter’s character, Father Acosta, along with a contractor played by Aasif Mandvi, who I really like, to investigate supernatural incidents. Dr. Bouchard’s job is to determine whether or not a supernatural event occurred, and Mandvi’s job is handling the technical equipment involved, if an incident occurs, so as to document Father Acosta’s claims to the church, when he requests  assistance.

In the episode I watched, a family claims that their little boy is possessed by an evil spirit of some kind. The episode follows as Bouchard and Acosta determine whether or not that’s true. Bouchard conducts therapy sessions with the little boy, which are actually pretty chilling, and Acosta manages to form a connection to the little boy, and actually  encourages him to begin prayer. When the boy attempts to drown his baby sister (Acosta saves the baby’s life with cpr), Bouchard and Acosta manage to convince his superiors that an exorcism is needed. We do not get the cliched exorcism scenes, because the parents of the little boy take matters into their own hands, so yeah, I didn’t see that end coming, at all.

At the same time, there is a secondary story involving Bouchard’s family. She has four little girls, who miss their absent father. She has been lying to the girls about where their father is. Either he is dead, or he left her, but the four girls, all of whom are really cute, believe that he is a expedition guide at Mt Everest. At the same time, her mother has given the little girls some VR toys with an odd Halloween type game the girls have been playing, that starts to take on an odd prominence in the lives of the two oldest girls.

The game starts to become more and more real, and the creature from the Halloween game (in the form of a little girl) starts to bleed into the other games, convincing the little girls to perform a seance with a virtual Ouija Board, and summon some type of virtual demon. Now, this all occurs within the game, but its still pretty frightening, because the only adult who suspects anything out of order is Mandvi, who hacks the game to put parental controls on it. Parental controls that don’t work, as the girl from the game simply invades the other games on the device. Bouchard  is a skeptic who finds that something supernatural might possibly be occurring right under her nose, in her own house. For me, this was the most frightening part of the show. ‘

One of the reasons, I was ignoring this is, I thought the show would simply be a retread of The X-Files, because Bouchard is a skeptic, and it’s Acosta’s job to believe, but the dynamic here is completely different. For one thing, it’s unlikely that there will be a “will they/won’t they”, dynamic between the two, and also because Bouchard is still possibly married, or just divorced or something. Mandvi, although I really like him, seems to be a kind of third wheel. I actually liked all the characters, though. I’m not a religious person, but I did like Acosta’s quiet faith, and I like that he’s not written as a stereotype of religious fanaticism. I like that he is Black, and a Catholic priest, because those are rare in American Pop Culture, with most Black people being associated with the Protestant religions.

The first thing that intrigues me about a show is often its premise, and I wasn’t too wowed by this one, but once I actually watch an episode of something, what keeps my butt in the seat is the characters, and these characters were intriguing enough that I’m going to watch some more episodes. I at least need to find out what happened to the doctor’s husband, why she is secretly crying in her kitchen, and when she is going to share this information with her daughters. I also need to know when or if her daughters are going to tell her that they conjured a demon into the house, through the VR that was gifted to them, by their grandma.

 

 

Watchmen

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I was not particularly enthusiastic about watching this, mostly because the movie was merely so-so for me.  I told y’all before that I didn’t find my way to comic book geekery through the usual White guy channels. I sort of meandered around, putting together my own foundation, via Horror, and Science Fiction. What that means is, I did not read the Watchmen comic books, when they were first published, although I was the right age for it, and by the time I got around to reading the books, I had already read other books by  Alan Moore that I thought were more impressive, like Swamp Thing, and Miracle Man.

So,  I was unimpressed with the movie, beyond liking the special effects, and Dr. Manhattan, and I didn’t think I was going to be into the TV series either, especially since it was written by Damon Lindhelof, because I’m still mad at him for Prometheus. But, nevertheless, I watched the first episode.

I have to warn you the first fifteen minutes are harrowing, as it deals with the Tulsa Race Massacre (because that is indeed what it was) of 1921. This is a real event, I first read about, when I was a teenager, (naturally, it was never something studied in school. I was one of those kids who, after a while,  my teachers just left alone to make up my  own curriculum.) There were a bunch of these “Race War” massacres  throughout the history of the US, like Ocoee Florida, Rosewood, Tulsa Oklahoma, and the Red Summer of 1919, and most people will not have learned about them in school. Needless to say, when you hear some yahoo going on about how there needs to be a Race War, what he really means is that he would like the opportunity to massacre some PoC again.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Summer

Genocide of the California Indians

The lynching era (1878–1939)

You have to know a little bit about these events to understand something about the alternative universe in which this story takes place. Guns for example are outlawed (even the police need special permission from their superior officers, which is some dude wearing a Panda mask, before using lethal force). There is also an offshoot of the KKK, now called by some other name, and using the Rorschach mask, along with his talking points, thanks to the diary that was mailed to the media, after Dr. Manhattan killed him.

In our world, the police and the KKK clashed in Tulsa, and the KKK won, but in that universe, they lost, and The Reconstruction after the Civil War continued, in which Black people got political power, and the police have been fighting a decades long battle with these KKK offshoots. The police now need to wear masks to protect their identities, and families. In this universe, the police are the good guys, who are besieged by that world’s version of the Alt-Right, and some of these things are  fallout from the events that happened in the comic books, which were set in the 80’s.

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So, Dr. Manhattan still exists, and lives in exile on Mars, Ozymandias is supposedly  dead, (but I don’t think so), and because of the events he engineered in the book, involving a giant squid attacking  Earth, we get regular squid falls, for which cities need sirens to warn people. Quite frankly, I was more weirded out by the  squid rain, than anything else shown in the episode, because that’s just funky. My mind kept going back to the logistics of regular falls of squid. How to clean that up? Does it smell real bad? This is actually relevant to the rest of the season’s plot though, as it involves alternate dimensions, (which is where the squid come from), and  time travel.

The presidents of this world, often have consecutive, multiple runs, in political office. Robert Redford is the president in this universe, and has been for almost thirty years, where he has instituted reparations to the survivors of  the massacre in Tulsa, called Red-forations. Silk Spectre  is still alive, and played by Jean Smart. Vietnam is the fifty first state, ( as a result of Dr. Manhattan’s invasion during that war),  and Louis Gossett Jr. plays a man named Will Reeves, one of the few survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, now an old, and  disabled, man. That’s not even most of the weird shit in this show, like a character, named Looking Glass who, when he puts his silver mask on, can tell when people are lying!

An interesting note is that Will Reeves was watching a movie about the real life Bass Reeves, who was the first Black Deputy Marshall, and the character upon which the Lone Ranger was based. The movie he is watching was in the style of the Lone Ranger TV series of this universe, only it has the actual Black character in it. Another interesting theme is the recurring Oklahoma musical. One of the characters loves the play, and we get some songs, and even a little snippet of the movie, which stars an all Black cast in that universe. So the racial and sexism issues, that exist in this universe, didn’t  happen in that one, at least not in the same way, and the US looks fully integrated with Black TV shows, and Pop culture, which everyone just watches, and its no big deal, and that, too,  is probably part of the fallout of what happened in Tulsa.

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Regina King is Sister Night, a former cop, (and bakery owner), from Vietnam, who gets called back into action by some friends on the local police force, after a cop gets murdered by a member of an organization the cops thought might have been extinct. Most of the episode is just introducing us to this weird universe, and these characters, so outside of that intense opening, things calm down to the end, when Sister finds her mentor, from the police force, has been lynched, and Will Reeves is there, impossibly claiming to have done the deed. So yeah, I’m  already intrigued by the mystery of who he is, why he may or may not have done this, and what was the  secret, that got her mentor lynched. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, even though I, initially, had no concrete plans to watch it.

 

*  _____________________________________ *

 

So, I’m in the process of cutting the cord, as we say in the US, and I no longer have access to these shows on TV.  I’ll just have to try to remember when they air, and catch them on their apps. The Watchmen airs on HBO, every Sunday night, and I’ll just have to remember that, and watch it later in the week, so my timing on some shows is going to be a bit off, as far as reviews, but what I can do, is finish off some of my long form posts, and review the season finales, when they occur.

I’m also going to post some articles to Medium. com, (which will not be posted here, but I’ll let you know when I do), so head over there, if you can, follow me, and give me some claps. I think we get paid there, according to how many people like your writing. I’ve managed to amass quite a following, which always surprises, and delights me, since I  don’t really think of writing as a way to be liked. I write because I have a lot of thoughts in my head, and I’m shit at keeping a journal.

But hey! I will be surprised and delighted if you guys also follow me on Medium, where I intend to do, at least, one post a month.

 

Have Some Spooky Mini Movies

Hi there!!

Have a small selection of short movies for Halloween. Most of these aren’t too serious or scary, so you should be able to sleep after watching them.

Right?!

 

Alien Anthology

This is one of the serous ones however. If you are  a fan of the Alien movies, these shorts based on that universe, have been released on Youtube, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Alien movie. They have some beautiful production values and hte acting is acceptable.

The surviving crew of a damaged deep-space harvester have minutes to reach the emergency evacuation shuttle. A motion sensor is their only navigation tool leading them to safety while a creature in the shadows terrorizes the crew. However, the greatest threat might have been hiding in plain sight all along.

 

 

We Summoned A Demon

Here is the first of our “summoning” movies. For some reason, all kinds of wacky stories can be made out of this topic. This one has a lot of goop in it., and a demon that likes to play.

 

 

The Summoning

This was one of my favorite “summoning” movies, because its so cute, and disgusting. I guess one of the bigger dangers is summoning the wrong type of demon. This is one of a series of cartoons from a show called Cartoon Hangover called Go! Cartoons, all of which can be found on Youtube.

 

 

 

The Graveyard Shift

This is one of my favorites. It starts off pretty scary, and you think its going to go one way, but…

 

 

Fright Lite

If you were one of those kids (or even an adult) who needed a Nite Lite, I’m sure short will resonate with you.

 

 

 

Amy

A little girl is afraid of the wolf living with her in the house.

This one looks really cute at first but then takes a slightly darker turn.

 

 

 

Behind You

I found the work of Brian Coldrick to be deeply disturbing. Check out his book, with a lot more of these frightening images.

 

 

The Return of the Monster

I liked this one a lot.

Favorite Characters of 2018

These are not indicative of my favorite movies of 2018, although I did enjoy all these films. I’ve seen a lot of “best of” movie lists, and people might expect me to make a movie or TV show list, but I’m not going that route. Instead I’ve decided to list my top ten favorite characters of the year. Characters who were so good, that they made flawed movies good, or good movies, better.

 

Domino – Deapool 2

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My number one spot is reserved for the most fun character I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. Deadpool 2 is not a great movie. The action is occasionally incoherent, and the humor, just like in the first film, is sometimes hit or miss, but the movie is fun as Hell, and excelled in its depiction of Domino. I know a lot of people had  reservations about her character. They didn’t know the actress, Zayzie Beetz, the character was a White woman in the comic books, and no one understood exactly what her superpowers were.

But she turned out to be the BEST character in the entire movie. I loved her so much! She’s just the coolest, baddest, bitch in a superhero movie since we first saw Black Widow. She literally has no worries, striding effortlessly through every action scene, in the serene knowledge that whatever happens, it will work out in her favor, and she’ll come out on top.

There’s also the added element of her being so supportive of Wade without feeling like she’s a sidekick. She and Deadpool are partners, who carry the action together. Actually, she could probably do the whole movie without Wade, because she’s far more competent than him. She knows how to handle things on her own, and often does, but one of the running jokes is her verbal support of Deadpool. She is always telling him he’s doing great, or doing a good job, or he’s got this, at odd moments during the action scenes, which I found both hilarious, and kinda sweet.

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Domino  serves the same purpose for Black women that the appearance of Luke Cage did for Black men. She’s essentially  “bulletproof”. For too many of us, our introduction to “strong” Black women, in movies and  TV, is through witnessing their endurance of pain. So I liked watching this calm and collected, carefree, and bulletproof Black woman,  knowing for an absolute certainty that she will never come to harm.

I am here for it, and I want more of it. So a solo movie looks like a good idea.

 

Killmonger – Black Panther

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So much has been  written, analyzed, and dissected about this character, that its ridiculous. Killmonger so struck a cord among Black filmgoers,  that there was an entire industry dedicated to arguing his talking points and philosophy, with people being for and against him. (And then there were those people who just wanted him.) He is, hands down,  the most compelling villain in the entirety of the MCU. This is T’Chaka’s , and N’Jobu’s story as told through their children, who have to work through the sins of their fathers.

I absolutely hated this character, but I also loved to hate him, he’s just so good and relatable. His talking points are spot on, he’s as cool as the Black Panther, and he has a sympathetic backstory that is personally tied to T’Challa’s, which is how you create a great villain.  This is the first movie I ever watched where it was the villain who had me in tears, such as when he meets his father in the afterlife, and when he references the Igbo Landing just before his death.

https://blackpast.org/aah/igbo-landing-mass-suicide-1803

But, one of the primary reasons I ultimately couldn’t  support this character was because of his disregard for Black women, where he is perfectly willing to use them for his own ends, and  bullying and/or killing them when it was expedient. (Plus, he threatened my baby-girl, Shuri.)

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Laurie Strode – Halloween (2018)

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I’m a big fan of the original film, and I was dismayed over the years to see the legacy of that film sullied by directors and actors who simply didn’t understand it, although I have been willing to sit through all the ones that starred Laurie Strode. As one of Michael Myers original victims, she was the one that got away, and that alone is a good enough reason to make a sequel.

Jettisoning all of the movies in-between, this new version of Halloween picks up the aftermath of Laurie’s life, in the wake of Michael’s attack. The movie isn’t just about Laurie being a bad-ass, or a pistol packing mama, although that was pretty cool. Its about the failed relationships, the loss of her child, the paranoia, anxiety, and hyper vigilance she displays throughout the film. This movie is about surviving trauma, and it argues that Laurie never actually escaped, and that Michael has been a part of her life ever since. I thought the movie was effective, not just in making Michael scary again, but in its examination of the effect of  trauma on the life of his primary victim.

https://www.voa.org/understanding-ptsd?gclid=CjwKCAiAyMHhBRBIEiwAkGN6fEGjHJs8HUQAlI0gmMUJdnm7PwPmlLG4RvLDs_ASDtEGDRLkD86JHxoC3nUQAvD_BwE

 

 

 

Miles Morales – Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

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This character being on the list was a surprise because I’ve only read a few of the Miles Morales comic books, and I wasn’t expecting to like this movie as much as I did.  I can’t speak to how close a depiction this guy is to the comic book version, but I liked him a lot. His Afro-Latino heritage isn’t slept, and while there are some misunderstandings between him and his father, he has a loving and supportive relationship with his parents.

Miles is just a very wholesome character, and its that  wholesomeness that allows the other characters to step outside the restrictions they’ve placed on their lives, because of previous traumas. One of the most interesting moments in the movie was hearing how all of the Spider-People have the death of some loved one, in their origin story, that has caused them to shut themselves off from people. Through their mentorship and friendship with Miles, they are able to open themselves up to do what they encourage Miles to do throughout the movie, which is “take a leap of faith”. 

Once again, this is how you write a character, who is central to the story, without being ALL of the story. There is just enough about the other characters for us to get to know and like them, while keeping Miles at the center of the narrative, as the character around which their emotional arcs revolve. The results not just in character growth for Miles, through their actions, but character growth for them too.

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Spiderman – Peter Parker – Avengers: Infinity War

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Remember when I said I wasn’t watching not one more damn Spiderman movie. Well, I hadn’t reckoned with Tom Holland when I said that. OMG!!! He is so adorkable! I  had to admit to myself that I like him more than I liked Tobey Maguire, although I don’t think Spiderman Homecoming is better than Maguire’s Spiderman 2. I’m not that far gone yet, but I might be, after the sequel.

 

Jack Jack – The Incredibles 2

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In the first Incredibles movie, we learned that Jack Jack, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible’s infant son, has shapeshifting superpowers. In fact, he may be one of the most powerful Supers (as superheroes are called in that universe) alive. In Incredibles 2, Jack Jack gets to take center stage, next to Mrs. Incredible, and it’s absolutely hilarious. I loved watching him interact and bond with Edna and his dad, and beating the shit out a local raccoon, but most hilariously, throughout all of this, he still retains a bubbly demeanor. he’s such a good baby! (Except when he wants a cookie.)

 

Venom – (Venom)

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Okay, Venom is, by all accounts, not a great movie, except none of the audience for this movie cares not one damn bit about any of that. I know I didn’t. People don’t always  go to the theater to see Lawrence of Arabia, or Taxi Driver. They don’t always want depth. Sometimes  people choose a movie because they just know they’re gonna have a helluva lot of fun. Its about the interaction between Tom Hardy as, pretty much, himself, and Tom Hardy as Venom. Its also one of the funniest superhero movies , next to Deadpool, because Venom, the character, is hilarious and gets some of the movie’s best lines.

 

Lando Calrissian – Solo – 

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I watched this movie on Netflix, and don’t remember one damn thing about it, other than the scenes that directly involve Lando. When the original Star Wars came out, my Mom immediately fell in love with Lando Calrissian, who was played by Billy Dee Williams, and because she loved him, I liked him more than a little bit too. It doesn’t hurt that he was one of the smoothest, coolest, characters in Empire Strikes Back, and Donald Glover seems to have completely captured that same vibe. Outside of Chewbacca and Lando, Solo isn’t really worth watching, though. Now, if Lando can only get his own movie, I would beg the studio to take my money!

 

 

Grey – Upgrade – Logan Marshall Green

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Its not so much that I liked this character, so much as I liked this movie. I expected to like the movie, because I was intrigued by the trailer, and I got what I expected. The movie is too stark to call it fun, but it was definitely worth watching, with an unexpectedly bittersweet ending. I think part of the reason I was so excited about this movie is because I was excited about the movie Venom, and Logan Marshall-Green is a dead ringer for Tom Hardy.

I was impatient to see Venom, and some of that feeling transferred itself to this movie, which shares much of the same themes as Venom. These men’s bodies have been invaded by an outside entity, and the two halves have to come to an accord about sharing the same body. Green totally sells the action scenes too, although I don’t know if he’s as method as Hardy, his body language is superb and kind of awesome to watch.

More Scary Mini-Movies

Hey, have some more short films involving horror and the supernatural.

 

Looking Glass

This one was a favorite of mine, mostly for its simple black and white style of animation, which is really very effective, and a  mirrorverse story is always gonna be especially creepy.

 

A Scary Short

I didn’t know whether to laugh at this or cry.  It’s not exactly scary, so much as it is the main character being deeply stupid, so  this will have you yelling at your computer screen. So yeah, this  definitely classifies as  a kind of  horror/comedy.

 

 

Mimic

Oh, this one is really creepy. I kept wondering if I’d posted this before though. If so, please forgive me because this is a really effective little movie.

 

 

Umbra

This isn’t scary in the “gotcha” kind of way, but in the slowness and surreality of dreams type of way. I loved this very simplistic animation here, which  worked very well for this odd little story.

 

 

Peripheral

Here’s something suitably bleak for Halloween.

 

 

 

The Passenger

More horror comedy. I can always be caught up by a good laugh, and a good scare, and I simply could not stop laughing at this.

 

 

Hambuster

This one is a repost from last year, because it’s one of my all-time favorites. Its gory,  disgusting, and utterly ridiculous!

October Is Here!

I love October! Its what many of us Octoberites call Halloween month, the weather has changed, which is an especially good thing for those of us suffering from Summer allergies, or who just hate any temperatures above 80 degrees, and I get to knit lots of hats, sweaters, and scarves without looking weird.

Its also time for me to focus on Scary Movie Stuff (which is the technical term, probably). Of course I do this all year long, but I have the excuse now to drop everything else I’m writing and focus on things like the scariest short movies, and reviews of my favorite scary films.

So here we go, and I’m going to start the month off with my top five  favorite scary short films right now. There will be more of these as I fall down that rabbit hole of short, scary films on YouTube.

 

Tinglewood

This is a very effective, straight horror story with genuine emotional depth. It’s  about a family that goes camping, and ends with a fight for survival, when they meet with the unexpected.

 

 

 

Mannequin

I think I told you guys about my fear of inanimate objects coming  to life. This film worked for me just fine.

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

This isn’t scary so much as tragic, but I loved the style in which it was done. It’s been Gorgeously filmed, Backwards!

 

 

 

The Monster Under My Bed

This one startsed  off pretty scary. I too have that monster under the bed fear sometimes, but ultimately this turned out to be deeply cute.

 

 

 

Battleground

About twenty or so years ago, this video was in an anthology show of Stephen King stories based on his book, Nightmares and Dreamscapes. This specific story however is from his very first anthology, written in the 70’s, called Night Shift, and it’s also one of my favorite short stories, written long before the movie Toy Story. It’s both funny and deeply terrifying.

 

 

As an added bonus here are some  of the scariest movies to watch this month:

 

The Ritual

I talked about this movie in one of my short reviews. It’s still available on Netflix. It’s a lot deeper than it looks.

 

Radius

Although I was somewhat disappointed in the ending of this movie, I did get really caught up in this movie’s premise. It’s about two people, a man and a woman, who can’t be separated from each other for a certain distance. They have to remain in each other’s radius, or everyone else in their radius will die. The movie spends the first third with them figuring out what’s going on, the second third of the movie is spent putting them in intense and inevitable situations where they will be separated, as they try to solve the mystery of what happened to them and why.  I thought the final third of the movie was rather anti-climatic, but makes sense given the setup of the first part of the movie. This is also available on Netflix, and is for those of you who like suspense, but not a lot of gore.

 

The Monster

I thought this was a pretty terrifying premis especially since the monster is never explained. Which means of course that the monster isn’t really the focus of this movie, and is a symbol of something else.

A mother and daughter are fleeing an abusive relationship, I think, and their car breaks down on a deserted road, and they are menaced by a monster. This is pretty straightforward but the plot is complicated by the antagonistic relationship between the mother and daughter, which I found just as compelling as the danger provided by the monster.

Theres quite a bit of for in this one, and those of you who don’t like to watch children in danger, take warning. This movie is  free for Amazon Prime subscribers.

 

Seoul Station

If you’ve seen the Korean zombie movie, Train to Busan, then this is the animated prequel. It chronicles particularly of how the zombie plague in the second movie began and stars a different cast of characters. I discussed this in one of my mini-reviews. Like the live action film, it’s basically one long chase scene, but entirely animated. This is the first time I’ve ever encountered an animated zombie film, and it is a very intense film that is not for children.

This is also available through Amazon Prime’s Shudder subscription. Shudder has a monthly cost of 5.00. I got it as a gift for  my Mom because she absolutely loves horror movies.

 

 

 

 

New and Interesting Trailers 6/2018

HI!

Here, have some trailers! I thought these looked really good. I was already on the hook to see some of these movies and shows,  but a couple of them got me really interested in seeing something that was not necessarily on my radar. There are a couple that I’m cautiously excited about, but I’m going to approach them with an open mind.

 

Luke Cage Season 2

So Alfre Woodard appears to be tearing it up, in a season which is focusing a lot more on women. Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are kicking ass, and then there’s Bushmaster. I don’t know a whole lot about Bushmaster (as he wasn’t in any of the Luke Cage books I read), so he will be something of a surprise for me, but I am really excited for this season.

From the interviews I’ve seen, Cheo Hodari Coker knows Ryan Coogler, and the two of them tend to work parallel to each other. This show wasn’t slacking in its representation of women of color last season, but the influence of Black Panther can be seen in how it allows the Black women to be heroes and villains, rather than merely eye candy. So, despite the presence of Danny Rand, (who I’m still not feeling too good about), I’m really looking forward to this season.

 

 

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

This is one of the funniest Marvel trailers I’ve seen in awhile. I’m really liking this, although it took me a minute to wrap my head around the animation, as I was expecting something a little more traditional. But I’m glad to see Spider- Gwen, and an adult Peter Parker. I think I posted this trailer here before, too, which shows my enthusiasm for this movie.

I’m a big fan of Peter Parker, (and I was one of the people who lobbied that he should be Asian in the new movie), but I’m also in love with Miles Morales, too, who is from the Ultimate Spiderman line of comic books.

 

Christopher Robin

I am so much in love with this trailer and with Winnie the Pooh. The adventures of Pooh, and his friends, were one of the primary literary staples of my girlhood. I remember my Mom used to read the adventure books to me, and we watched the cartoons on TV. I loved Pooh so much, I think I’m the reason that my youngest brother, (I was 3 when he was born), is named after him, (and if you can picture a 6 ft. tall, muscular, forty something, Black firefighter, named Pooh…)

This trailer got me all up in my feels, and I have no shame in admitting that I plan to see this, multiple times, if possible.

 

 

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

I really enjoyed the original trilogy of Lisbeth Salander, and I’m excited for this new movie. I probably still won’t read the book though, although I did read the first two. I like this  new actor, although it’s hard to top the original.

 

 

Halloween

I’m not sure what I feel about this new version. I did like the Rob Zombie movies okay (the second less than the first). Apparently, this movie picks up exactly where the first movie left off, and Michael isn’t actually Laurie’s brother, and she has a granddaughter who thinks she’s insane, and all the other movies will be ignored, (with Carpenter’s blessing). But it looks pretty good, and I like Laurie’s “Born Again Hard” attitude, and gun.

 

 

The Predator

I had no idea there was a whole damn mythology behind The Predator movies, (even though I’ve seen all of them, and only been impressed by maybe a couple of them). I read a couple of the comic books, and watched the movies, and I really enjoyed both, but apparently  made no effort to put all this shit together. The Predators even have a special name, that I’ve never heard of! The first trailer didnt make me especially enthused about the movie, but I am highly enthused now that I’ve watched the mythology video, and seen this new trailer, which looks fucking awesome. (Yeah, if I’m cussing, I’m very excited.)

 

*Predator Mythology 

The Yautja (Predators Explained)

 

Bumblebee

While Bumblebee is one of my favorite Transformers characters, I’m not especially enthused about this movie for two reasons. The first is because the very first shot in this trailer is of a White woman’s ass, and I am thoroughly sick and damn tired of looking at White women’s asses (any women’s asses really) in movies, unless its actually a four legged animal. The second is because it is a Transformers movie.

A couple of things in its favor  is that there is a different director attached to this movie, and it’s about Bumblebee, and he’s a bit more kid oriented. Unfortunately, it does look like the same plot as the first Transformer film, and I even though I liked that film, I really don’t want to pay for the same movie twice.

Geeking Out About : Scary Vampires

Vampires have never been scary for modern people. Many of the ravenous creatures on this  list are, I suspect,  an offshoot of zombies and perfect for Halloween viewing. These guys are not cute and cuddly. They don’t twinkle. You will not be taking long walks in the moonlight with them. They’re not interested in sex. They don’t care if you’re beautiful. We’re  going to bring back  sexy some other time, because its almost Halloween and you guys need some good vampire recs for the big day.

The scariest vampires for Halloween are from:

30 Days of Night (2007):

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I was supposed to do a big review of this movie but realized the plot really doesn’t have enough depth for a full review. The plot is pretty simple: Lots of people get killed. In Barrow Alaska, for thirty days of the year, the sun doesn’t rise, and some vampires get the bright idea to infest the town and eat the citizenry. They’ll get to have thirty days of complete debauchery and they mostly succeed at this plan. Sure, their leader is killed on the last day before sunrise, but it hardly matters because the vampires would’ve had to leave anyway. This is not one of those victory type movies, with a happy ending, which I found surprising, because I expected the filmmakers to change it up from the comic books, which are also pretty bleak.

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The vampires are animalistic, vicious, relentless, ravenous creatures, that  are also highly intelligent. They can plan ahead, play tricks to lure out their prey, and even have their own language, with pithy mottoes. Not that they’re especially deep thinkers, but the humans don’t  stand a chance. Crucifixes and wooden stakes don’t work on these vamps, but no fantasy, horror or scientific explanation is ever given for why or how they exist, either. Humans can be transformed by surviving a single bite and beheading is about the only thing that kills them.

I think we can all agree that any sequels should be ignored. There are two many good movies in the world, to be watching bad sequels.

Blade 2 (2002):

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I think this movie is better than the first one, because Guillermo Del Toro directed it and Guillermo is more awesome than not. Technically it’s not actually a horror movie. It’s an action movie with horror elements, and those elements are some of the most ugly and disgusting vampires ever put on film.

Actually, there are several types of vampires in the film. There’s Blade, the Day Walker; the human looking vampires, susceptible to silver and garlic; and the scientifically created vampires, which were created in an effort to make day walkers like Blade,  but have gone horribly wrong and feed on other vampires. They are immune to everything but UV rays and even the natural vampires are terrified of them. Yeah, the boogeyman has a boogeyman, too.

The science-vamps, as they rightfully should be called, (although that might be slightly misleading),  are also fast, relentless, and  utterly ravenous creatures, that are still intelligent, but only slightly more than zombies. They have mouth tentacles, leak any extra plasma from blood drinking, and still manage to be predators after they’re dead, so cutting off body parts doesn’t work either. Think The Strain, only done correctly.

I think we can all agree that, once again, the sequel should be completely ignored in favor of watching this movie several more times.

Let The Right One In/Let Me In (2008/2010):

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Let the Right One In, and it’s American counterpart Let Me In, are two of the scariest child vampire movies ever made. I think perhaps they’re the only child vampire movies ever made. You know that bulldog determinism children can display when they want something? Now couple that with the insatiable desire to feed on blood and a child’s basic level of emotional manipulation, and you have a pretty horrifying combination, and these films perfectly capture that. These are not adults in the bodies of children, the way they’re usually portrayed in film. These are actual children, who  don’t grow up mentally or emotionally, bringing a new level of horror and sadness to child vampirism.image

The movies are also great depictions of the horror of just being children, (the uncertainty of parental care, and bullying), even if they don’t live forever.

Fortunately, there are no horrible sequels to this film. Yet.

From Dusk Til Dawn (1996):

This movie starts off as a heist film that unexpectedly turns into a horror movie about halfway through. Seth and Richie Gecko stumble across a nest of Mexican vampires, (in the series they’re called Culebras), while on the run from the police, after a bank heist.  They, the hapless family they’ve  kidnapped, and the other denizens of the bar where the vampires make their nest, have to fight for their lives, when the vampires decide to stage a massacre/eat in. The vampires, led by Santanico Pandemonium, (played by a stunning Salma Hayek), are clearly the bad guys, even though the bar itself is, in the words of Obi Wan Kenobi, “a wretched hive of scum and villainy”.

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These vampires have snake venom, super strength, and forehead bumps, like on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. There’s a lot of stake action, crossbows, and sunlight burning, by the end. I need not tell you that almost none of the humans make it out alive.

And yes, you should ignore the sequels. That’s a law.

Fright Night (1985):

Charlie has a vampire problem. There’s a vampire living next door who is after his girlfriend. With the help of a fake vampire slayer from TV, portrayed wonderfully by the late, great Roddie McDowell and his crazy best friend, Evil Ed, who is played by Stephen Geoffreys, (and one of the highlights of the movie), he aims to take it down.

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On the surface, Jerry seems like your typically suave, gentleman vampire, but he’s really a horrific monster, who just wants Charlie to mind his own business. Jerry makes the list because he creates some seriously ugly vampires, who look more like land-sharks than people, but are not mindless. They can think,  act and even pretend to be their normal selves, but once they vamp-out, are utterly determined to eat you. Jerry is very close to the classic style vampire, only prettier. He can entice with his eyes or voice and turn into a giant bat like creature.

I should not have to keep reminding you to ignore the sequels. You know the rules.

Near Dark (1987):

I gave a full review for this movie some months ago. The vampires in this movie look human, don’t have fangs, are immune to bullets, but that doesn’t mean they can’t kick some ass.  The vampirism in this movie is depicted as an affliction that can be cured. They’re not the mindless eating machines of the other films, which somehow makes them worse, because they are  in full possession of their faculties, are not nice, aren’t interested in nice and probably can’t even spell nice. They’re barely nice to each other, let alone their food.

Salem’s Lot (1979):

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I saw this movie, for the first time, when I was about ten years old and Barlowe the Vampire King, scared the shit out of me. Of course, at that age, I didn’t know that he was based on the Max Schreck role,  from Nosferatu. The movie is full of images that never left me and are still effective today.

The vampires in Salem’s Lot are the full on supernatural kind. Crucifixes repel them, holy water glows in their presence, they can turn into fog, fly, and there’s lots of hissing, as these are the more animalistic vampires. The vampires created by Barlowe are also the classic sirens. They’re intelligent, fast, vicious and highly intelligent. They have the ability to enchant and entice their prey through sight and voice.

Barlowe, himself, never says a word for the entire movie, and still manages to be one of the most menacing vampires in movie history, with his pasty skin, siphon like teeth and clawed hands. He’s a total bad ass, with whom  you will not  feel any urges to swap spit under the moonlight, unless he tells you that’s what you want.

There is actually a sequel to this movie. Surprise, surprise! Need I remind you, that the most entertainment to be gotten from it, is the happiness of knowing that you watched something else, instead.

Unfortunately, most of these films are not available on Netflix, although they can be streamed through other sources and all are available on DVD.

Happy Screaming!

Halloween Means Horror

Yippeee! Woooo!

It’s October, which means it’s almost Halloween. So just as all of you out there are filling up your heads with lots and lots of Horror movies, I have decided to fill your inboxes with reviews of some of my favorites, all month long.

I have no plans to review any of the Halloween movies or even of the old classics, like Exorcist or Alien becasue those have been analyzed to death, and it would be too easy, but I will do some oldies but goodies  that just don’t get enough love.

On Halloween night, I’m going to be busy watching movies, but I will consider suggestions for good Horror movies to review.  As a general rule, I avoid slasher movies, but most Monster movies are fair game, and if it’s a classic, it will definitely get some consideration. I’ll choose one movie from among the suggestions I receive.

So Happy Octobering or Halloweening or what have you!