Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review to a Kills.

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she enters middle age, assesses the paths in  her life that brought her to the present, looks at her family, takes a deep breath, and rates the Friday the 13th franchise from best to worst.
My list is, of course, very subjective. I’ll just get right to it. Life is short and I’m holding in a pee.
Friday the 13th (1980)
This film rates first because it is the purest in its intents and purposes. Camp counselors. Serial killer. Wooded seclusion. Echoplex. It’s like cooking in that sometimes, the dish with the least ingredients tastes the best. And I love the quiet, unpolished, even snuff-like aesthetics of ‘70s horror films. While I don’t love that a poor snake gave his life for this film (Sean Cunningham should be thankful that he didn’t film in Italy), and while I don’t really care much for Alice (sorry), the other characters are likeable and relatable, and the death of Annie—who I just love, who advocated for children in that jeep and still bought the farm at Pamela Voorhees’ hands—really gives you the sense that this film could go anywhere.
Jason Lives (1986)
This film gets the second spot because I love it so much, and it has the most nostalgia attached to it. I was the same age as those children at the camp,  I was actually going to summer camp in the creepy woods of Pocatello, Idaho in the summer of 1986, and while Jason Lives was not technically the first of the series to feature children (sleeping children can be glimpsed in the opener to the first film), it is the first to make them integral to the plot. We fade out the Tommy subplot (which I have always hated) and bring back Jason, and we get the coolest final girl since Amy Steel. I couldn’t stand Jennifer Cooke in “V: The Series,” but I absolutely love her here. Plus this film has the Alice Cooper song, the shish-kabob motorcycle, paintball kills, the greatest score of the series, and Horschak. What more do you want? Geez.
The Final Chapter (1984)
I am a huge Joseph Zito fan. I love The Prowler. He has an amazing “waste nothing” approach to horror, and you definitely feel that in this one. The Tommy subplot is introduced, but we don’t quite yet know that it’s going to be A Thing, so okay, we get a kid who is into masks and FX and I’m way on board with all of that, plus he has a really nice family, and even the horned-up kids in the party house are nice, and it’s all nicety nice-nice. While progressive in its direction, it retains the feel of an early Friday film, not yet fettered by gimmicks and all the crapola that came later on. And Crispin Glover has some great moments in it. I heart him.
Part 2 (1981)
If you take away Amy Steel, this would still be a good entry, but just not as good. It rips off at least three films that I can think of, and I can see why Steve Daskawisz was brought in to replace Warrington Gillette. But this film has its redeeming moments. First of all, they don’t let the brotha or the Asian sista speak at all (well, not beyond the brotha wrapping up a board game or laughing at a joke), but at least they get to live along with Stu Charno, who is one of my favorite character actors, ever. And even the physically challenged guy gets an equal-opportunity kill, which amps up the terror factor and leaves you thinking that if Jason’s going to off a dude in a wheelchair (who was about to get laid!), then who knows what else he’s capable of? This film was also preceded by that beautiful “countdown trailer,” my favorite of the series.
Part 3 (1982)
On paper, this should be my third favorite. It’s got disco, it’s got the first appearance of The Mask, it’s got Shelley, who I love, and it’s got Tracie Savage, who went on to anchor our Channel 4 News. Even better, it’s got Tracie Savage getting “Bacon-ated” while reading a Fango. But it’s got one of my least-favorite final girls, a terrible subplot featuring her first encounter with Jason (blech), her dopey boyfriend, who looks like a narc dressed for brunch, two inexplicable subplots—one involving a stoner couple (WTF are they even ON THIS JOURNEY?!!), and another involving motorcycling Solid Gold dancers in a barn—and an ending obviously tacked on after the producers watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. No. Just … no.
Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
I was just starting high school when this came out, and it had me from the trailer. But that song. That glorious boner-inducing song by Metropolis … THAT is why this film gets the #6 spot. And there’s no wait you can fight, so show some respect, and try to survive … I know, right?!! @#$%!!! Anyway, this film also features one of my favorite death scenes, in which Julian boxes himself into total exhaustion before Jason takes him out of his misery with one hell of an uppercut. Unfortunately, this film also features the scene I make fun of the most out of any other in the franchise—when that SAME brotha gets a massive chub over getting to New York City. He goobers himself up into such a lather that he sounds like one of the Three Stooges. Yes, we get it, you’re in New York City. Shaddup. And while we’re at stupid scenes (and there are many in this film), how about Jason in the sewer morphing from the Toxic Avenger into a child model? For real?! Did they never see the first Friday? And why are we treating Rennie like she’s a special-needs child? I feel like I’m watching pt. 7, just without the telekinesis. Fuhgeddaboudit.
Friday the 13th: The Series (1987)
Yes, I know. Jason was never in this. It doesn’t count. But I’m gonna make it count anyway, because Frank Mancuso, Jr. created it, and Paramount Television distributed it, and enough veterans of the franchise took a pit stop in Vendredi’s Antiques that I might as well. Plus Robey. Okay? Many of the series’ episodes were better and scarier than some of the films in the franchise. And Jason wasn’t in A New Beginning, either, but we still see that one included in all the TV marathons.  
Jason X (2001)
I may be the only one in the world who likes this film (and its score). But I don’t give a damn, as it features my favorite director of all time, two badass heroines in Rowan and Kay-Em, and a nice package of innovative kills that you wouldn’t see anywhere else but in space. Yes, I thought the trend of sending many of our horror heroes into space was lame (which is mostly why this gets the 8th spot), but this one sort of worked. Kind of? Just a little? Well, fine. Look at it this way: there could’ve been a machete-wielding killing machine out there in the Mir space station. I mean, we still kiss Alien’s ass, and when’s the last time the news reported a creature killing all the passengers of a cargo spaceship? Wait, where you going? 
The New Blood (1988)
I just can’t get it up for this one. I know so many people love it, and the director is a really nice guy who talked to my husband for quite a while about filmmaking, plus there’s something really exciting about giving Jason a true formidable match in the final girl. It’s just not Tina. Tell me you can’t make a drinking game out of this one. Go ahead, try not to tip it back every time Tina runs out of the room in dramatics. She’s a pitiful character and the most tolerable in a film in which no one is likeable.  Like, not even a little bit. If you like Tina, it’s because you either feel sorry for her or you wish you had her powers, or (like me) you really like the actress who plays her, Lar-Park Lincoln. But seriously? If I were Tina, I would’ve wrapped that shit up in 30 minutes, Carrie White-style, starting with her doctor. But then I guess we wouldn’t have a film. And that would be bad how?
A New Beginning (1985)
I should love the hell out of this film. It has Suicide and Spider from the ROTLD films, Dudley from Different Strokes, good kills, a Blue Mask (I love little variations like that), poppin’ and lockin,’ great boobies and chocolate bars. And you know what? I don’t even dislike this film because Jason’s not in it. I dislike this film because Jason’s not in it—and neither is Tom Atkins, or homicidal Halloween masks, or a catchy Silver Shamrock jingle, or all the other things that I love about Halloween 3: Season of the Witch despite Michael Myers not being in that film. This film looks as if the life has been sucked right out of it, and hearing about what a miserable experience it was to make this film explains it all. I have about as much fun watching it as I believe the cast and crew had making it. And who kills a brotha on the toilet? It’s “no” time!
Jason Goes to Hell (1993)
I saw this one just after I graduated from high school, and I remember leaving the cinema looking and feeling as if I had just sucked on a lemon for two hours waiting for it to turn into Country Time. Jason’s got a sister? Whaa? Didn’t we already see this film oh wait this one is different because metaphysics. But at least the Laurie Strode-as-Michael-Myers’-sister twist was something you could buy, considering that in the first Halloween, Myers killed his older sister, then spent the rest of the film clocking some chick called Laurie. Why? Because she saves her babysitting money? Because she has access to hot friends? Because she understands that fate is like a natural element, like earth, air, fire and water? No, it’s because he needs to finish what he started with Judith, duh. So when we find out that Laurie and Michael are related, we don’t automatically think it’s caca. However, we’re nine films in when Jason intersects with half-sister Diana Kimble (yeah, we get it. Dianadana Kimmeble.), so introducing a sibling at that point just seems stupid and lazy. Just two years prior, Freddy was reconnecting with his long-lost daughter, and I didn’t care for that reunion, either. But then, like Freddy, Jason starts possessing people, which makes you wonder why he didn’t just use that ability in part 5. Or in part 7. Or in all the other films. You know why Freddy pulled Jason’s mask into the ground at the end of 9? Because bitch stole his look.
Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)
Man, I hate this film so much. No Kane Hodder (but to be fair, no Richard Brooker, no CJ Graham, or any other Jason that I loved in the series) means no true matchup. You’ve just got one titan (Freddy) versus Hodder’s Manhattan double, who really isn’t all that bad. He’s just not iconic. Yes, we wanted to see this fight for so long, but you know we all really wanted to see Hodder versus Englund. So fine, we don’t get what we wanted, but look at what we do get in return: a recycled kill from Jason Lives (just with a mattress), Destiny’s Child and other annoying people I really couldn’t give a puck about, and Jason and Freddy duking it out for villain supremacy amidst elaborate sets and fi-yah! And then that ending. Is Jason dragging along Freddy’s head like a trophy, or is he saving Freddy’s head for regeneration? I mean, Freddy is winking in that ending. I don’t think it’s because he’s happy he got his ass kicked. Or maybe he’s winking because he’s planning to Lovecraft his way through the next installment? Who the hell knows?  And, since it’s now 12 years later and no new films, who the hell cares?
Friday the 13th (2009)
What, they remade it? Oh sorry, I wasn’t aware.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Nineteen Ninety-No.

So here we are, back in the nostalgia again, this time the Nineties. Thanks to the Millennials, we get to revisit everything that made me take refuge in basement raves until the lights came on and I was forced out into the real world to get a job and start becoming the "fiscally conservative-socially liberal" no-fun butt boil I am today. Today I am Camie 4.0, Wife and Mother Edition, teetering on the edge of nostalgia wallow for the Nineties, with my ass sticking out into the 2010s, struggling to keep from falling into the trap.

I'm gonna make it, world! Yeah!
After graduating from high school in the early 90s, I dove into my baby adulthood with zeal. Hanging out late into the night with my DJ friend at KUCI, the college radio station of my future alma mater, I dug into the crates for Shoegaze, challenged the FCC and heard crazy stories direct from some pretty big-deal rap artists of the time, who would stumble in at 3 a.m. to schlep around with whoever was in the station (mostly, us). When we weren't at the station, we were at the raves, hiding in the bathrooms pre-show until our hookups gave us the all-clear. A five-dollar cover was serious stuff for an 18-year-old at the time.

My twenties were a mess, as they're meant to be. I spent most of my money on Depeche Mode, Fangoria and Empire, bourgeoisie crap at the mall, and brownie sundaes at Norms. And I was a major brat. I snuck into the orchestra section at Phantom and threw Cheerios at people. I snuck into U2's Pop tour with a camera between my legs and then less than 15 minutes later, chucked it into the crowd and loudly declared the concert a toilet of musical diarrhea, stomping back to the car with my equally shitty girlfriends to go drinking on Sunset before the band laid into their third horrible song. An accelerated student since first grade (GATE, honors, AP, etc.), I failed the first year of college because I was too busy playing Mortal Kombat in the cafeteria. Or sneaking into Magic Mountain with my friend Rami (Christ, did I ever pay for anything?).

But mostly, I snuck into films. Problem was, there weren't any films worth sneaking into before Scream came out. And when it did, I lost my shit. I'm serious, I saw it at least 20 times from Christmas 1996 until they finally pulled it out of cinemas in late 1997. And like the fool I was, I thought everything after Scream would be just as rad. I went to all the shitegeist that followed: The Faculty. Disturbing BehaviorI Know What You Did Last Summer. Urban Legend. Urban Outfitters. I was hungry for that great Scream experience. I wouldn't get it again until Halloween: H20 in 1998, the year I discovered Asian horror—and Ringu.

I look back on The Blair Witch Project—which rounded out the decade and (for me) didn't come close to delivering on its promise—as the film that shut down the teen horror ensembles (or, as I like to call them, "Dawson's Shriek") and ushered in the two letters that, when paired with the most unlucky number, stir primal fear into the hearts of horror lovers everywhere: PG-13. But how can you say that—silly rabbit—when Blair Witch was an "R"? Well, because it was a big-ol' cussfest, duh. Samuel L. Jackson would've been proud of that script.

Thanks to Blair Witch, the studios figured out that they could put even more asses (i.e., under-seventeens) in seats by making horror films that, well, implied horror. So we got The Haunting, a modest hit that got everyone raiding the coffers for more films to CGI I mean remake. Somehow, out of all of that, we got Dark Castle and the fun R-rated William Castle remakes, but the studio diverted from its original purpose two Castles and one Castle-ite film later (Ghost Ship, with that opening scene I heart), while the PG-13s survive and thrive.

I have only ever truly loved ONE PG-13 film: Drag Me to Hell (2009). What about Poltergeist (1982)? PG. What about The Watcher In the Woods (1980)? PG. Drag Me to Hell is like that potato ice cream I had in Idaho in 1985: it's so good, but like, how?!!

Obviously, Sam Raimi is how. But he can't make every PG-13 horror film. Otherwise, I'd beg him to go back and remake all the other films that assaulted our senses in the Nineties. Starting with Urban Outfitters.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cam's Labyrinth.

Me running out of shits to give in 1982.
In the Eighties, back when moms in good neighborhoods still marked their children's heights on the wall, kids measured their maturity in horror films. If they weren't chanting time-honored recess classics such as "I Know You Are But What Am I, Infinity" and discussing the latest glow-in-the-dark whatever, they were one-upping each other with stories of who saw what that weekend, and what was coming out in the next.

Now, you'd think I would've won at least one of those contests, but no; when you're a kid, the currency lies in what you saw, where. I spent most of my weekends at home, so I saw a crapload of things, but in my bedroom, on my VCR.

 Sure, I was lucky enough to see some horror films during their original run: Dawn of the Dead, Phantasm, Halloween immediately come to mind. But I was a tiny child back then, we were at the drive-in, and my parents were stoned until at least 1981, so while I get a score of 420 on the Tommy Chong scale for effort, that scale means nothing on 1984 playgrounds.

Hey you, last good film Romero made, how ya doin?
What horror films had I seen in the cinema by that point? Silent Scream and Children of the Corn. The former was the last horror film my parents ever took me to, probably because they were sobering up by that point and realized their taste in horror was better when they were high. And I saw the latter with my cousins, who were older and could drive.

By 1985, my parents had more little mouths to feed, and the days of horror at the drive-in gradually phased into Saturday afternoon matinee fantasy fare such as ET, The Neverending Story, Annie, and Ghostbusters. They would not allow me to watch A Nightmare On Elm Street, which was the big film everyone on the playground was still talking about a year after its release. What a total loser, huh?

But what my parents didn't know, however, was that I had already seen it. When you have little ones tugging at your Chic jeans, you sure as hell can't keep tabs on the older ones as much as you'd like. I cradled my ANOES and other rentals like a baby as I walked home from the mom n' pop, picking up the pace as fast as I could without dropping the stack. I couldn't wait to get home. And just as I still do today, I prepared my viewing space with the steadfastness of a man preparing a good wank after the wife's left the house. Snacks, check. Pillows scattered all over my bedroom floor, check. Locked door, check. And then, I slid the tape into the VCR and waited for the magic.

That creepy WARNING message at the start, that gorgeous Media Home Entertainment intro leading into the dark and foreboding New Line ident. These features on the VHS are as much an integral part of  watching ANOES as the film itself. I may be old, but no kid today is going to experience that kind of pleasure—the buildup—that only VHS can offer. Put in a DVD, and you might go straight to the good stuff, but chances are, you'll get a menu, and if you're like me, you go straight to the Special Features.

The Read Scare.
What made these films so palatible to me as a child? Well, for a start, they were a lot less scarier than my reality. My dad was heavy into the Worldwide Church of God cult by 1985, and we were subsequently no longer allowed to observe holidays—which meant no more Halloween, aka my Christmas. From my last blog entry, you'll also remember that I was forced to go to church two times a week. My parents did not go; my dad probably figured that his subscription to Plain Truth, a publication of the Worldwide Church of God, was enough.

Plus, Freddy Krueger was no match for the Night Stalker, who was killing people for real in Southern California that summer. Add to that me getting teased at school for everything we've suddenly decided is so cool now, and you can see that these films provided a wonderful escape for a kid who just wanted to get through the day with her soul intact.

So while the other kids around me felt "grown up" just by watching horror films, I was using horror films to shield me from a life that was getting far too grown up by the day. Just seeing that YouTube clip takes me back to the most wonderful part of my childhood. The good feelings are stirred. The healing is once again fulfilled.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Electric Dreams.

I started developing at twelve. My best girlfriend at the time was six months older and still light as a feather, flat as a board, but she had a long, lean figure, clear olive skin and a gorgeous face, and I burned with envy every day as she scorched up the halls of 6th grade. I was the exact opposite: short, not flat, cursed with acne and glasses, and growing out a bad home Jheri curl that I had begged for (and miraculously gotten) in 1983 (thanks, Thriller's Ola Ray). My milkshake was not bringing the boys to the yard, which was fine in 1987; Hellraiser came out that year and I had better things to do. I didn't envy my friend because she was strikingly beautiful (well, perhaps I did a little), but rather, because she could still walk around and be twelve, while my boobs were practically busting (yep) me out of childhood and into a womanhood that I didn't need or want. By the end of the school year, she turned into a total tit (yep) and ditched the friendship for a better version of me: a short, curvy, pretty Latina Oreo with that Cybill Shepherd Moonlighting bob all the betches wanted.

I spent a lot of time in my bedroom watching VHS. Had it been possible to spend 1987 to 1990 in that bedroom, I would've. My parents were in their Thirtysomething period, and my younger sisters and I were forced to go to church twice a week: Sunday morning for service, and Thursday nights for youth group. A van would pick us up, and presumably, my parents used these times to create more kids for me to look after. Sweet.

The van was driven by a kindly old man, and his wife and two young grandsons were usually in tow. Also in the van were three young Mexican sisters, who I became friendly with, and who attended services as part of the church's charity outreach.  I didn't mind church too much, mostly because I had a screaming crush (of course it was unrequited, duh) with a boy called Josh, who looked a lot like Doug from the '90s cartoon. He was very cute, a smartass with kind blue eyes and a strong sense of purpose. The leader of our youth fellowship was the pastor's daughter, a squat, bossy girl with glasses and a standard-issue Mary Lou Retton haircut. I got on her good side very early on, and we became good twice-a-week friends. My favorite book in the Bible was the Book of Revelation, for obvious reasons. It remains the scariest thing I've ever read to this day.

I spent every weekend in the summer of 1987 in the Inland Empire, which was going through a Metal phase (just before Freestyle hit). This was a wonderful time for me. My cousin, another mulatta who had just moved there from Orange County, was right in the thick of it, wearing black and all the candy you see on a kid just playing with the Dark Side: spikes, gloves, dis, dat. Her look was more Metal Madonna than Jersey For Serious, but she was also developing, and it was in that hormonal intersection where we bonded. But, she had something else. She had cable.

Now, for all you Millennials out there, not everyone had cable in 1987. I sure as hell didn't. My cousin and I would stay up late and wear out the remote, and one night, we stumbled upon the most glorious thing ever.

Scrambled Playboy.

For the rest of the summer, my cousin and I took turns looking out for her parents while we worked the cable box like a Rubik's cube, trying to uncover the wonderful mysteries. The Playboy Channel was just fun back then, and whenever the stars aligned, we could get a great picture for up to 45 minutes at a time. I was fascinated by these beautiful women frolicking in the balmy sunshine, bodies baked golden by Bain Du Soleil and big frosted hair brought to you by Sun-In. They were nude and had the best '80s boobs, and they were deliriously happy about everything, and I wanted that feeling so hard. I think my cousin did, too, because we were freebasing boobs in no time. Electric Blue. Emmanuelle. Silly '80s entries such as Hamburger: The Motion Picture, and the like.

By the time that summer ended and I was entering junior high, I was a little more comfortable with what was happening to me, but I couldn't reconcile my very-adult education with the twice-a-week Bible scene, and I began to question everything (notably, the delicious irony of forcing me to go to church, wrapped around a creamy hypocrisy center). 

When I started high school in 1989, I stopped going to church altogether.

The 1990s rocked me in many ways. I graduated college, explored sexuality in every aspect, spent my paychecks on Depeche Mode concerts and craploads of movies, and got into all sorts of mayhem with my group of girlfriends. And my relationship with my parents, which is good now, began to rear its inevitable ugly head.

The church I went to as a kid relocated from place to place, popping up like a parochial whack-a-mole until it ultimately shut down. My local newspaper told a wider, sadder story. That gentle van driver? He murdered his wife and grandsons a few years after I stopped going, shooting them in their heads as they slept before killing himself. Josh became a youth pastor and died the way he lived; caring for others. In 1995, a man he took in and was counseling ordered him into a bedroom and shot him there, execution style. I took the news of his death pretty hard. Evie joined a gang and got pregnant, her story of redemption making headlines in a popular magazine. And last I heard of the three Mexican sisters, one of them had been beaten to death by a live-in boyfriend. Another had been shot. I hope neither is true.

Now before I close this on a downer, I want to go back to that scrambled Playboy. I think it saved me. I know, right? But look, those boobies introduced me to the Other. Another consideration. Option C. I can still love God and have lust, whether it comes in Carnal or Celluloid. Many of you don't believe; I do and we're all cool with each other, because our common denominator thrives on addition. And I was never good at dividing. Breast wishes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Event Horizon.

I'm watching you read this. Btw, thanks.
The last horror film I went to that screamed "event" viewing was The Blair Witch Project (1999). For me, this film is less remarkable for its content and more memorable for the hype that preceded it months earlier. Although we were nearing the end of not only a decade but an entire century, the Internet was still an exciting mystery to most, a wild new frontier whose purpose in western society would be apparent in the future, though not so clearly defined in that moment. The Blair Witch Project seized upon this vulnerability and exploited it to such success that GeoCitizens everywhere were convinced that the film's three actors, portraying campers, were actually missing people in real life. The fourth wall effectively toppled over, its levies irreparable ever since.

While I was pretty confident that the three "missing" campers were probably safely serving coffee somewhere in Maryland, waiting for their big breaks to happen, I was admittedly swept up in the machine. I spent considerable time on the film's website, pouring over bios, reading up on their last whereabouts, poking through the evidence and replaying the infamous found footage. It didn't hurt that the names of the campers, and the actors who played them, were one in the same. Today, I mostly remember hurling into a toilet at what was then AMC The Block at Orange—deeply disappointed, sick to my stomach and swearing that I would never, ever again see The Blair Witch Project.

I did eventually see it again when it hit DVD, to see if the shaky camera scenes were any less debilitating at home (they weren't). And to show that I was dead serious about being finished with anything Blair Witch, I attended a sneak preview of Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, which Fangoria hosted in Pasadena immediately following their Weekend of Horrors. The only horrors at that showing, I presume, were the faces of the organizers when the audience (myself included) laughed.

But it was at that aforementioned Weekend of Horrors where I met the director of another event movie—and, inarguably, one of the greatest films of all time—The Exorcist. Like the total nerd that I am, I based all of my questions to William Friedkin around the DVD commentary for the 25th Anniversary Edition, and spooged all over the (then) soon-to-be-released "Version You've Never Seen" DVD, and he was gracious and lovely and even charming in his responses, quite the opposite of the man I had prepared myself to meet, a composite of stories I'd read or heard of his mythos on set and elsewhere.

I wasn't even a blip on the radar when The Exorcist came out, but one of my favorite anythings about this movie—or in cinema, really—is the spectacle that surrounded its release in 1973. I could watch the audience reactions for this film all day, any day, until the end of the Internets, and then I'd probably just pull out that anniversary edition and watch the BBC documentary Fear of God. Now, I'm about to make one of those "duh" statements; particularly, that the Internet was not around in 1973, but that's just the point. Back then, "www" was what the Volkswagen logo looked like on a Saturday night in the garage after a few Budweisers. If you wanted to know if a movie was worth seeing—if it was an event—you simply drove past your local walk-in to see the long queues, looked up the weekend Box Office takes in the newspaper, or turned on the TV to see if Brinkley or Cronkite were covering it. And when the cinemas unwrapped The Exorcist one day after Christmas in 1973, everybody was.

So, what's the next big event horror film? Your guess is as good as mine. I mean, the studios are either remaking the shit out of everything right now, or they're bastardizing films from other countries (you know that U.S. remake of Dead Snow is practically writing itself), or they're making sequels of films that they'll eventually remake in 20 years' time (how about a remake of Sinister? Anyone? Bueller?). We don't have anything as new and exciting as the Internet to get behind (sure, the commercial rise of the mobile phone brought us One Missed Call out of Japan, and later, the interactive App from the Netherlands). And even as Ringu was becoming event viewing for the Japanese in 1998, the DVD was beginning its descent on VHS, the format upon which the entire crux of Miike's film is based. Social media has now also made a dent with Unfollowed, but I didn't see anyone from the Neutrogena set forming a line outside my neighborhood cineplex to see it.

I can say, without a doubt, that the next big event film (in general) will be the latest Star Wars installment. Which makes me think that perhaps our future Big Horror Event lies somewhere in our past. There's been talk of another Halloween, and (thankfully) not the Rob Zombie incarnation. But I'd much rather see a return to the Friday franchise—with Kane Hodder. Or another Evil Dead film (yes, I know about the STARZ thing), with Bruce Campbell. Sure, neither series carries the critical and theological weight of The Exorcist, but both have possessed the public in their own ways, and maybe when it comes to resurrecting the Big Horror Event, it's better the devil you know.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Going Green.

When it comes to remakes, I'm pretty much against them. Sure, there are the usual suspects that we give a pass to, like The Fly, The Thing, The Schlemmylammadingdong. My favorite remake is Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Oh my Godot, I love that film. Look, you put Donald Sutherland in just about anything and I'm going to love it. Plus Leonard Nimoy, plus two strong actresses I've always enjoyed watching (Brooke Adams from Shock Waves and The Dead Zone, Veronica Cartwright in Everything Else). And my good gravy, a young Jeff Goldblum. So hot.

But, speaking of so hot, what about films like Eli Roth's upcoming The Green Inferno? If The Remake is widely considered by purists to be the redheaded stepchild of horror cinema, what then do we think of its hip older sibling, the "Homage"? Now, this subgenre plays fast and loose with the rules. "We're not really a remake of anything; we're an homage." Yes, but you're surely capitalizing on what was before, and isn't that what remakes do? An homage can be even less dishonest than a remake if it isn't done right (Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses and Roth's original homage, Cabin Fever, were not my cuppas), but I can think of two, Zombie's The Devil's Rejects and  Ti West's The House of the Devil, that were awesome. Hobo With A Shotgun didn't bore me entirely.

Alrighty, so what have we got here? We've got the name itself, The Green Inferno, whose origins I won't bore you with, because you already know. We've got a jungle. We've got Heart Of Darkness meets The Most Dangerous Game meets Eat Drink Man Woman. All winding down to the inevitable movable feast. Okay. So, what is the point? 

Omigod indigenous peoples, I paid hells a lot for this hair.
Well, for me personally, I think the point is what we have now which we did not have before. For one thing? No found footage. And that would blow my mind if I wasn't already way over that motif to the point where I expect better these days. But what I'm really interested in is seeing how Roth interprets Cannibal Holocaust for a new generation entirely raised and reliant on technology, a demographic that operates in memes, speaks in texts and is generally considered to have a crippling sense of self-entitlement. The kids in The Green Inferno think they're doing alright outta sight, sitting in that little plane headed off to save the rainforests and the people dwelling within them. Reminds me of a constable whose search for a missing child in Summerisle became a one-man mission to save the entire island. Wonder what became of him.

And I love this. I could argue that while we carry on about The Green Inferno's comparisons to Cannibal Holocaust, we could also point to films like The Wicker Man as inspiration. Or even Straw Dogs or I Spit On Your Grave in the sense that an idyllic retreat could prove to be anything but. Wherever you go, there you are. Add to that the arrogance of youth, which is not unlike that of religion when both are activated by a deep sense of well meaning. These kids in The Green Inferno think they're going into the rainforest to help, but A) the help is very one-sided, unsolicited and subjective; and B) they do help, just not in the way they expect or want.

I had a chance to see The Green Inferno last year, but I was 39 and knocked up, and my doctor gave me the whole is-it-worth-your-baby spiel (which also kept me out of all the Halloween theme park mazes). No, it wasn't worth my baby, but I think it's sometimes worth revisiting the old familiar ideas and running them through a new filter; in this case, the 99 Percenters. Is this deliberate? I don't know; I'm really just speculating. Or maybe I am just projecting in the hope that the new guard of horror isn't simply disguising their homages as remakes, and then defending their timely relevance out of convenience.

Monday, July 27, 2015


Axe Naomie Harris if she wants to be defined by her color.
Every once in a while, a random Twitter username pops up in my "Suggests," or someone has retweeted something someone said, and I'll see it. "@BlackGirlGeek or @BrownSugarHorrorChick" or some other moniker that says, "hey everyone, I'm a novelty, a black girl who likes horror, but please don't define me because I'm not just about being a black girl who likes horror, which is what I am. Follow me!"

And then like me, you take the bait. And if you're a woman like me (can I still be girl at 40? If I can, I'll take it), and black, and into horror, you get lumped into all these other bullshit tweets that generate into more and more "black girl horror fan / geek / nerd" types following you, or suggestions to follow more of the same. So, how to deal with that ...

Well, you follow, and then you engage, and then you quickly figure out that these bitches are #1- not true horror fans but posers, #2- keeping tabs on their "competition" (i.e., you), #3- using horror to promote themselves as some sort of novelty act, and #4- as stupid as ants marching into Borax, and as unbearable as a silent fart in a crowded elevator.

So, what started this rant (and I'm sorry, but I've had this shit on dock for ages)? An interaction with a Twit who I reached out to who could simply NOT TAKE THE GODDAMNED COMPLIMENT because she was either too stupid, or too full of herself. Uh, hello? I just gave you a #SO (shout-out) and likened you to one of the sexiest, iconic, most bad-assed sistas of horror in like EVER. I mean, how many have we fucking got? Um, Marsha Hunt, Pam Grier and Marki Bey. Boom.

What followed was a lengthy exchange that left me emotionally and physically exhausted. Does this idiot even KNOW that I'm giving her props? Because she's sure branding herself as someone who knows many shits and gives them when it comes to horror films. And when I feel like I have to explain things to you, that's when I pull the plug and finish the goddamned bath. Bishbegone.

Now, do I think I know everything? Well, yes. Yes I do. I'm kidding. No, I don't. But that's what I like about me, and that's what I seek in others. Authenticity. I'm not professing to be the queen of shit, and I sure as hell don't want to be defined by my COLOR. Not on any terms. Do I think other women in horror have the right to be the "queen" of this and that? Hell yeah. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Ivonna Cadaver, the Next Generation of Horror. Pam Grier, the queen who kept the lights on at AIP. Linnea Quigley, and so on and so forth. These women EARNED their titles, and no one's defining them by the color of their skin. Can you fucking imagine how stupid "Elvira, White Mistress of the Dark" would sound? Ugh, I just can't anymore. And yes, Pam Grier was in a film called Black Mama, White Mama, but she transcended Blaxploitation to become an award-nominated actress. That's the point. THE POINT. Rawr!

And let me go back to point number 3. Now, this one is important, because when someone in horror (and, let me add, sci-fi, also trending at the mo) builds their entire social media identity around their skin color, it's for one thing and one thing only: to point out the "specialness" of their novelty and exploit the shit out of it for their own personal Twitter fame. I HATE THIS. I grew up in the Seventies and Eighties. Being black was for real real back then, kids. Not for play play. But this is 2015. We are allowed to be black, white, etc. and not have it be stamped on our foreheads like some badge of exception. The first thing people see when they see me is my color, so why would I have to trot it out every mother-effing day when I shart out a tweet? My mom is white and Mexican; should I make every horror tweet about that, too? And there's something particularly un-Christ-like about turning every tweet about blacks and horror into a victimization I am quite confident these ladies enjoy perpetuating.

In conclusion, I just want eight hours of sleep. And for these idiots to leave me alone. Go forth and segregate, and get loads of followers based on your one act, and I'll just stay in my little corner of Twitter and lose friends and alienate people. This is how I feel. Which is more than the bullshit you're gonna get somewhere else.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Killer Mommy.

Hot mama.
I'll just get right to it. One of the reasons why I loved the late Betsy Palmer was because unlike other horror legends, or modern pretenders to the throne, she never acted as if she always loved being Mrs. Voorhees. I dig that kind of honesty, I do. Because she went on to embrace the character and the fans who came along with it, and you knew that shit was real by the time she passed.

Many of her contemporaries not only like to carry on as if they always loved being so-and-so in blankety-blank; they're horror "geeks" who came out as "fans" of their films once they got the news that it was cool to do so, and they could profit at the conventions.

Bleh. Give me Ms. Palmer any day of the week, the woman whose decision to play the original Serial Mom was apparently guided by the need for a new car; the feisty middle-aged broad who reminded me a lot like my dear Nana, another beautiful, feisty broad who passed away in 1992. Now, my Nana never killed anyone, but she could've, and she had a mouth on her like Betsy, and a bitchin' rattail and was never without a Corona in her hand. Those two ladies could be ki-ki-kickin' it in Heaven right now for all I know. Wouldn't that be rad?

Anyway, Ms. Palmer had a blazing filmography before the Jason films, and I'm sure that by the time F13 rolled around she was probably wondering where the hell that all went. But you know what makes us horror nuts so great? The fact that we love our heroes so goddamned much that we acknowledge what came before, and we honor that as much as we honor what we call "the good stuff." Didn't she turn down Freddy Vs. Jason because she thought she wasn't getting paid enough? See? The woman knew her worth. You go, mama. And we all know that film sucked donkeys anyway. Maybe she was clairvoyant as well.

So yeah, there you go. Not much of a tribute, I know, but it's how I feel. I'm so sad. I remember seeing Friday the 13th at the drive-in as a child, and she made a real impression. Who loved their son so much that they would track down and kill Annie the sweet, adorable camp cook even after she carried on about how much she loved kids? I mean, that's crazy love. But there you go. Like the inimitable Betsy Palmer, Mrs. Voorhees took her position early on, and when she died, we knew her devotion to us and the franchise was clear. Like crystal.

Friday, March 6, 2015

America's Butt Munch.

The S is for Suckage, and the U is for Up yours.
No, not me. The 405. Where am I? Sitting right in the middle of it. If you live in Southern California, you know I'm in hell right now. On one hand, you have the drivers. Everyone thinks their agenda is so much more goddamned important than yours. And isn't it? I mean, that Xbox 360 isn't going to play itself, War Games. On the other hand, you have the road itself, which naturally sucks, but then you throw in all the goodies from Caltrans: "Carmageddon," "Carpocalypse," whatever name the media conjures up to make what is essentially shitty road construction sound awesomely epic when it's so ... not. Next they'll stream Tiesto into all of our cars, funnel us into a Del Taco drive-thru, charge a convenience fee and call it "Carchella." Hashtag fun, vocal fry.

So, it's been a while since I've written anything, mostly because the only free time I have is when I'm sitting in a car. The rest of my time is spent feeding a baby, changing a baby, soothing a baby and teaching him how to destroy my enemies when he grows up. Perpetually assholey barista at my local Starbucks, be warned. The enemy of my enemy is my son.

As this is a horror blog, I should probably throw something horror-y in it. Well, as it happens, I am working on a new script, titled She Swallows, and it's based on my favorite guilty pleasure this side of an empty Pepperidge Farm cake box: the Real Housewives franchise. I love it. I love to watch it, talk about it, listen to (hilarious) podcasts that recap it, and so on and so forth. Why? Hell, I don't know, pregnancy hormones? Postpartum repression? Anyway, I'm going to make my housewives eat each other. Out. Kidding. Unless my script gets optioned by Vivid, and listen, I like that whole roof-over-my-head thing too much to judge. But really, what do you think? Cannibal housewives. I'm making "eat the rich" a real thing, y'all. Now, I know it's been said that we should "write what (we) know," but I never do what I'm told; otherwise, I'd be writing about green tea fraps and the lyrics to J.J. Fad's Supersonic.

Or I could write about traffic. Coming soon, from the writer of She Swallows ... It Blows.