Friday, November 19, 2010

I Been Caught Reading ...

Caught this today on the Yahoo! TV Blog:

"Zombies are totally the new vampires, y'all"

Uh ... n'all.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Then He's Still There ...

You know that song "Elvis is Everywhere," by Mojo Nixon (and if you don't know Mojo Nixon, then your store could use some fixin')? Well, as a child, I thought Jason was everywhere.

Yep, that Jason. The real man of my childhood nightmares, not Freddy.

If you were a child in the 70s and 80s, then summer camp was a huge part of your life. And I don't mean those day camps run by your church, where your mom dropped you off when she wanted to watch her  "stories" in peace. Yeah, I went to those, too. I think my mom was so psyched to unload me so she could wash down her Luke and Laura with an ice-cold Diet Rite that she didn't even stop the car to let me out. I still know how to tuck n' roll, TJ Hooker style!

No, I'm referring to the other camp—the one you loathed, where you hated all of the kids, and they hated you, and you were there for the duration. That camp. Of course, there were camps I wanted to go to as a child. And they were run by Bill Murray and had bitchin' girls like Kristy McNichol and Tatum O'Neil in them.

But noooo. The camp I had to go to looked very much like every camp you never wanted to go to but always saw in slasher after slashy McSlasher. You know the ones, because you went there, too. The kids were straight out of Sleepaway Camp, with The Burning thrown in for good measure. And before getting lawyered-up became every parent's favorite pasttime, the 1970s and 1980s camps were good and foresty, with splintery woods and deep, filthy water just inviting a child to go for a drown. The counselors barely gave a crap, and if you weren't wearing shoes, you might just step in it. This on top of my morbid fears that Jason Voohees might actually jump out at any second and use me for target practice. Ah, good times.

Now, I was about 11 when Jason Lives came out, and I loved it. No, not because of the rad Alice Cooper song (but hey, it's up there on my list of reasons), or because Horseshack got Kott-ered at the beginning, but because it was the first film in the F13 franchise that actually had kids in the camp. And not only that—he actively decided not to kill them! Remember when the little girl checked him with the Lord's Prayer?  

So, in my warped little-child mind, I concluded that Jason only killed adults, not kids. Completely forgetting that he 1) tried to off Dudley from Diff'rent Strokes in A New Beginning, and 2) tried to make a mask out of Corey Feldman's face in the one before that (The Final Chapter). Was I a wacky kid, or what?

Now spin on to 2010. At 35 years of age, I'm only just that much smarter than I was at 11-12, watching Friday the 13th on AMC's "Fear Friday":

Me: Uh, honey ... that says NJ. New Jersey.
John: Yeah, why?
Me: So Camp Crystal Lake is in New Jersey?!!
John: I guess, yeah.
Me: So Jason is in New Jersey?!!
John: What?
Me: He was there the whole time?!!

Yep. Apparently, Jason is in New Jersey. And yes, I'm fully aware that every fanboy and fangirl worth their Part-3 Jason mask already knows this. Let's just say I'm tardy to the party.

All I care about is, Jason was no where near Thomas Creek in Portland, Oregon. But he is in New Jersey. Maybe, between there and Manhattan, he can make it close enough to the Jersey Shore.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sharing is Caring ...

My buddy Ward (bringbackthemusic) sent this to me, and I just had to post it for anyone who—like us—could use a good laugh this week (thanks, dude!):

Extreme Fakeover: Film Edition

For my money, the most innovative, entertaining and truly frightening horror films in the past ten years have come from countries outside the U.S.

Witness the latest offering, this one from Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau:

I began featuring Somos Lo Que Hay (We Are What We Are) on my YouTube channel yesterday, and am just besotted with it. A quick glance at the Geek Forecast tells me that I'm not the only one. The film about a cannibal family who must slay together to stay together upon the death of the patriarch has been hitting the festival circuit this year, recently landing on U.S. shores at the New York Film Festival. IFC, which gave us the brilliant British miniseries Dead Set just last month, has acquired airing rights for Somos as part of their limited On Demand (pay) viewing  (air date TBA—as far as I know—but I will stay on top of it; meanwhile, the U.K. is set for a tentative release this Friday).

Now while this is all well and gravy, I am crossing everything above the waist—hoping, praying, kneeling before Zod that the film that's being called this year's Let The Right One In doesn't literally become next year's Let The Right One In.

Yep. You can hear them already. The Hollywood sniffing dogs, barking up the Right tree in 2009, they're sure to be sensing fresh meat for ... I'm gonna say it ... a U.S. remake of Somos in 2011.  You know it's bound to happen.

The thing is, we don't need these remakes. Yes, The Ring was alright. It was even better several years prior, when I saw it as Ringu. And I'm sure that Let Me In (a title that sounds more like it should be on Lifetime Television for Women than anything else) is a respectful remake of Let The Right One In, but it just does not and cannot capture the beauty, elegance and innocence of the original Swedish film. At his panel at Creation's WOH in May, Dario Argento himself lamented on how Hollywood, fueled by Box Office receipts and the Bottom Line, has forsaken creativity for commodity. And we see it with each and every remake and 3D film (that's a whole other Oprah) that comes out.  The creativity is what made the original films so great! But the creativity that makes these films so innovative and, subsequently successful, is very culture-driven. Once you take the culture out of these films, you take out the creativity, and you lose the specialness. And what remains is not innovation, but shock—a ghost girl coming out of the TV set, a child vampire in conflict with her minimalist bloodlust—for shock's sake. The Ring was not successful because it had strong, culturally relevant themes and a compelling grabber of an ending. The Ring was successful because American audiences, deprived of the original, had never before seen anyone climb out of a television set in a horror film. Hollywood: 1, Culture: 0.

Remakes have that factory-line, Unsolved Mysteries feel about them. We've been there before; what we're seeing are reenactments. Personally, whenever I see a remake, I'm reminded of how I begged for Transformers as a child and ended up with Go-Bots. Usable, but watered-down imitations of the real thing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Screams ...

With October 2010 now folded and tucked into the back of my Happy Place, I thought I would review some of my favorite happenings from said month—before someone comes along and puts a Christmas wreath on my Ghoultide joy. I mean, have you been to the shops lately? Enough already; we haven't even put one forkful of the Tryptophan stuff into our gobs yet!

Anyway, I digress ... these, by the way, are in no particular order:

AMC Fear Fest 2010

Now, I nearly gave up on this annual horror movie marathon (really, how excited can one get about the same-old lineup year after year?). But then came Frank Darabont. Mmm, boy. Beautiful, bald, and as a brilliant writer, he helped craft one of my favorite films in the NOES franchise, Dream Warriors. In his dreams, Jennifer Rubin is beautiful ... and bad!

Along with Darabont (who hosted this year's Fest to promote The Walking Dead) came a lineup that made me consider calling in sick for a week to camp out on the couch, wear Depends and call in for a steady stream of takeout (what stopped me? Well, I like how the whole job-subsidized lights, hot water and roof-over-my-head arrangement's been working out. Plus Starbucks doesn't deliver). AMC not only rolled out the F13 series up to Jason Goes to Hell (not my cuppa, but ... a girl can't complain too much), they added hilarious comic horror re-enactments, courtesy of Two Swedes Sweding, and drool-worthy interview bumpers with some of my favorites, including Alexandre Aja, (childhood crush) Kane Hodder and the Saw guys, James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Plus we got to see Halloween I, II and III in addition to the usual Fear Fest airings of 4 and 5. Well done, AMC.

Friday Night Hammer Horror, TCM

For one glorious month, Turner Classic Movies aired the cream of Hammer Horror every Friday night. My husband and I planned our entire nights around these gorgeous films, which not only hold up to this day, but are scarier and generally better than anything out at the cinema. The only thing that could have made this better was if Sir Christopher Lee himself had helped Robert Osborne introduce and close out the films. My favorite? Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. Peter Cushing was never sexier than he was as the evil Doctor. Add him and it to my long list of British loves.

The Return of Elvira's Movie Macabre

The Mistress of the Dark. That's not a self-proclaimed title; that's a fact. Elvira rules over girls my age. I grew up with Elvira, watching her on my local Channel 9 station in the early 80s, then seeing her in the early 90s as she performed at Knott's Halloween Haunt every year (bring her BACK, Knott's!). It's a steady diet of classic B-grade horror, witty one-liners and the blood of young virgin males that keeps her looking so beautiful and vibrant. Okay, I'm probably not right about the last one—at least I don't think that's blood they're shedding while tuning in on Saturday nights. Click for TV listings and watch!

Hollywood Gothique

Oh, Hollywood Gothique. How you make me so deliriously happy with your endless stream of information, of goings-ons and must-sees. This site has a permanent link to the right of this blog, and it deserves it because it is just so damn good. The Evil Dead is playing November 19th at The Art Theatre of Long Beach. See what just happened there? Just Hollywood Gothique doing what it does best: keeping all us Horror nerds happy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Zombies Don't Sparkle.

It seems as if everything is coming up zombies these days. I and all of my YouTube friends have gone completely ape-schiesse over the embarrassment of riches spilling forth from our TV sets of late: turn on IFC, you get Dead Set, switch over to AMC, you get The Walking Dead. And advertisers virtually rolled over and played dead for all of us horror geeks and our dead-sposable cash in the month of October alone. Dig on all those zombie adverts—StarburstGEICO, Toyota ... I mean, I never thought Toyotas were cool (my opinion forever shaped by me getting sick in our appropriately vomit-green '79 Corolla on the way back from Idaho in '83—not even a sweet AMC Pacer for this motion-sick mini-dweeb).

So, us zombiephiles are finally getting our Night, Dawn and Day in the sun. And while I bask in all the rotting corpses on my screen, I wonder if the zombie—my old reliable, the "comfort food" of my horror fridge—will become mainstream to the height of girlish Glee—if so, a scream and not a song cover will be emanating from my tired, old-lady throat.

In a desperate attempt at a preemptive strike, I'll just put it out there now. Zombies don't sparkle. They don't run, and they don't sparkle.

Sure, zombies might have angst. But just a little. Like Bub in Day, if you will. Or, in a more recent example, Fido. But they don't know it. And short of Zombie Honeymoon (an angst-riddled, star-crossed-zombie-in-love film that I actually really liked), Return of the Living Dead 3 (which I love), or even the pretty-good Irish zombie film Boy Eats Girl, I can't think of any other instance in which we need to have the living and the undead fall in love these days, ala Twilight. And yes, I know there was also My Boyfriend's Back, but that was played for laughs. And that's really where any living/undead-a deux should be relegated—to the RomZomCom file, IF we even still need to have one. I've only tolerated this subgenre because its films, for the most part, have played the horror aspects very, very straight. Which is the only way you're going to sell the "rom" and "com" to this zombie-loving girl.

The aforementioned films that do feature undead boy-live girl or, in ROTLD 3's case, drop-dead-gorgeous undead girl-live boy, have plots in which the couples were already in love before the ish hit the naf. In Twilight (which I actually did see ... look, if  your wack-ass cable company offers you one-cent On Demand rentals for one month, you're gonna watch every damn thing they've got. Which is how I also ended up renting Mama Mia.), the entire relationship between that chick from Adventureland and the dude from Goblet of Fire is predicated on a fascination with death. He's dead, she's dead inside, the weather is dead. Dead, dead, dead, Sparkle! Jazz hands.

No! Not for my zombies. They're dead; they don't sparkle. When zombies aren't fueling on flesh, they're decomposing. That is it. The studios are starting to get the memo that we all wrote on zombies; that is, they're badass. Unfortunately, the film industry tends to feed off of its cash cows until there is nothing left, and vampires are among the latest staples getting drained. So while I'm happy to see zombies walk amok, I'm ... cautious.

There are tons of zombie survival guides out there, but no suit survival guides for zombies.  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Scam Awards and Other Red Herrings ...

Horror has become like high school ... once again, the popular people who made your life suck are the ones who get to run the dance, while the fringe who really would've made it fun hide out in the back, under the bleachers in a stoner Narnia. Better music, better company, and if you went to my high school, better food at the Del Taco just across the street.

Now, I could bring up several examples of Senior Moments that occurred in the past two months alone, but I'll blanket one (the so-called "Indie Horror Film Festival") and call out another -- The Spike TV Scream Awards.

The former, which started out as a legitimate launching pad for the indie filmmaker with mainstream potential, has tasted Hollywood blood and is now bent on satiating the need by doing things back-assward and putting the mainstream cart before the indie horse. Or, the indie dark horse, if you will. As a result, true independent filmmakers are being shut out of choice festival slots in favor of proven seat-fillers with marquee names. That is, unless they've taken their beautifully "vintage" (read: non-HD) feature and cut it down to a 15-minute short in the hope of seeing it get shoehorned between two "independent" feature films with more hype, more budg, and all the other trimmings that typically come with a turkey dressed by a big studio's independent imprint. Let's just say "The Evil Dead" would never make it into one of these jive festivals today if Raimi, Tapert and Campbell were just three random guys out of Michigan. No, it would not. But I'll bet you two of spades, jack of diamonds, jack of clubs that these same organizers would tell you that "The Evil Dead" rates as one of their favorite films. That is, if you asked them in 2010, not 1981.

"Paranormal Activity" was the breakout film of the horror circuit a few years back, accepted by Screamfest after being rejected by several festivals. And although it was even less than my cup of tea (more like a flat soda left out overnight on the coffee table), I do concede that its success was hardly of the overnight variety, making it 1) the last time a truly independent film was picked up by a big horror festival, and 2) the last time horror film festivals ever took a chance on a truly independent film before they put on their Franchi$e Potential glasses (3D goggles typically worn by suits).

The latter, The Spike TV Scream Awards, is a star-studded turd by nature, but thanks to shows like these (and the nominees contained within them), I fear that eventually, all the sparkly vampires, A-listers, Sci-Fi refugees, 31 Flavors and Hit Girls will cause Horror to fold unto itself until it resembles a genre Chalupa of more crappy remakes (there have been some exceptions ... a broken clock is right twice a day), more PG-13 "horror" with a revolving door of CW starlets (the last PG-13 horror flick I watched and will probably ever again love was "Drag Me to Hell" ... Raimi did for PG-13 what your mom used to do with your food -- that is, hide the veggies in with the good stuff so that you wouldn't notice).

Sure, "The Walking Dead" got some love, and "Tron" got a nod, but the list of nominees went over in my house much like the list of candidates in them Midterms. Choices, yes, but most of them cack. And while I can't wait to see "Tron," it's NOT HORROR. And neither is "Green Lantern." Or "Avatar." Or "Lost." Or ... you get it (and if you didn't, they threw a bone to the wrong geezer: Stan Lee over George Romero in a horror awards show?!!). Yes, they gave it up to Sigourney Weaver, who I loooove. But really, was Jamie Lee Curtis busy that night? I mean, she was in Halloween, Prom Night, Terror Train, Prom Train, Terrorween, Hallow Night--you name it. She IS the genre. And no Elvira, who brought back "Movie Macabre" last month? Two golden opportunities, missed. Curtis and Elvira, I mean.

Ironically, to get people to watch a horror awards show, the suits also figured they ought to throw in the Geek Squad's company kitchen sink -- because apparently, just keeping it HORROR was not going to be enough. And subsequently, including ACTUAL genre fans was not going to be enough as well. Scratch that -- actual genre fans, the Narnia-dwelling stoners who would make the party fun by spiking the punch, were basically persona non invited. Instead, we got to see people in the audience who would never go anywhere that didn't offer up a swag bag and a sweet, sweet afterparty at the Standard. I'm sure there were some true fans in the audience, but they didn't get much face time. Nope, that time went to hot chicks with foam Freddy fingers and a lush who some people still think is the older brother from "Mr. Belvedere."

If we can't keep it real in the genre, then we might as well fold and forget about independent horror film festivals and horror awards shows. What has always made Horror so appealing to me was that it was the accepting genre because it was the rejected genre. It was the genre that--like me in high school--nobody cared about. Now the popular kids are taking Horror to the dance, and I'm looking for cover under the bleachers. Anyone know where I can find a Del Taco?