Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Man, I love Halloween.

Halloween is the one time of year where the world looks the way I want it to. Most of the TV stations show nothing but cheesy monster movies (I'm watching AMC's Halloween marathon as I write this), all the stores got hokey trick-or-treat merchandise, tombstones and Jack-o-Lanterns decorate all the houses, and there's a certain macabre gleefulness everywhere you go. Even the squares get into it and I always love how gleefully inventive people get with this stuff.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and Halloween events run all through the month. Last week I attended a showing of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, hosted by legendary drag queen Peaches Christ. Actual Halloween parties start about a week early. Last week I was a Hemlock on Polk following my second viewing of Zombieland and there was a parade of constumed hipsters wandering by our window, giggling and ignoring the pushy homeless people.

I love living in a city that embraces the weirdness of Halloween so thoroughly. Last night I went to Death Guild's annual Gothic Halloween party, dressed as a demon priest. There were burlesque dancers and acrobats and a ton of awesome costumes, ranging from the inventive to the tasteless. I have some photos to share with you guys.

I've got spirit gum residue stuck to my head, a mild hangover, and I'm going out to do it all over again tonight. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009



I've been working on a post about Zombieland all month. just ate it right as I was about to post it.

Go see it. Fuck you, blogger.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gateways to Geekery: Slasher Films

The Onion's AV Club website runs a regular feature called Gateways to Geekery, which provides a primer on various nerdy topics for the neophyte enthusiast. They did an excellent write-up of George Romero's work and they recently posted a great guide to slasher films. It's got a good selected viewing list, some pointed criticisms against slasher film detractors, and was clearly written by someone who shared our demented affection for this stuff. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trick Or Treat

Wow. Christmas came early for me this year.

I really, really loved Trick or Treat. I've been hearing about this movie for years through the interwebs. Like Midnight Meat Train there was a whole bunch of drama around its distribution and it's been sitting on a shelf for a long time. It's chillingly effective on the small screen and I really wish it had a chance to shine in theaters. Still, it's too good not to develop a following.

Trick or Treat is a Tales from the Crypt-style anthology film. All the tales take place over the course of a small town Halloween night. The tales are linked by "Sam", a creepy little boy in a burlap-sack mask who threads through the stories, sometimes as an observer and sometimes as a participant. As an embodiment of the nastiness at the heart of the holiday and he could easily become another horror icon.

The stories run the gamut from psychos to supernatural menaces, from deadly vampires to revenge from beyond the grave. The stories all employ familiar EC-style tropes but all the stories have little twists and turns that caught me by surprise. I didn't predict the ending to Anna Paquin's tale, which I'd originally written off as uninspiring and cliche. I did figure out the nasty little secret Brian Cox's curmudgeonly old Scrooge was toting around, but that didn't stop me from getting a big gleeful kick out of it.

It's not perfect. During one scene in the movie Sam appears in a traditional slasher role. It turned the character from a creepy watcher to an almost laughable Chucky-esque stalker. In addition, Sam gets unmasked during the fight. The face underneath the mask is decidedly unimpressive and laughable.

That's pretty much all I got for the negatives. There's too much stuff to like in this movie. I'm giving this my full and hearty recommendation, as opposed to my lukewarm meh-it's-mediocre-but-it's-horror-and-I-have-no-ability-to-be-discerning recommendation. Have fun with this one.

I may have to get a Sam tattoo.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Jennifer's Body

Man, Diablo Cody is running out of goodwill.

I really, really liked Juno, quirky hipster dialogue and all. I liked Juno and her little coterie and underneath the razzle-dazzle verbal sparring Diablo Cody created characters I actually cared about, with an ear toward teenager's real insecurities. After years of non-characters in teenage horror movies I was looking forward to an Oscar winning genre fan's take on the genre.

Plus, y'know, Megan Fox. Man, I'm only human.

The movie is...meh, okay. There's a lot to like about it, there's nothing really wrong with it, but there's just something missing. It feels like it straddles some gray area between black comedy, teenage drama, and Evil Dead-style gorefest. I'm a big fan of crossing genres and ideas, but this one felt like it was missing it's center.

Also, Megan Fox is pretty unlikeable. Granted she's the bad guy, but she's supposed to be seductive and enticing and possessed of a beauty that intimidates, like your very presence taints the ground she walks on and the air she breathes. From the beginning of movie all the way to the end, Jennifer is an unlikeable pile of shit. It's hard not to see her through the prism of her public persona, but she's not particularly seductive. She comes off as unpleasantly cocky and entitled. The movie would be a lot better if her character was more balanced.

Diablo Cody haters will have plenty to hate. Her quirky dialogue, charming-ish in Juno is a bit over-the-top and unrestrained, particularly in the beginning.
There's a lot of god-awful, unnatural quips and turns of phrases that no actor can deliver well.

The best stuff in the movie takes place in the club scene early in the film, where the stereotypical big-city hipster band. The notion of a band so desperate for success they'd turn to the black arts is kinda hilarious. I liked them in all their petty villainies.

The movie, like Juno, centers around a quirky outsider and her sweet shy boyfriend. I liked Needy, the girl living in Jennifer's shadow, and her goofy-charming drummer boyfriend. They're sweet and confused and I bought into 'em completely. I wanted to transport these characters into something more cliched and have them bring a bit more life to it.

Okay, that's all I got. Oh, and the movie has the best kissing scene I've ever seen. Go check it out.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Nightmare on Elm Street trailer

Oh. Man.

I'm generally a fan of the Platinum Dunes remake series. Sure, they're a little too formulaic and polished to really capture the gritty nastiness of the originals, but they're clearly made with some degree of reverence to the legacies that spawn them.

Freddy, more than other monsters, succeeds or fails based on the actor who plays him. Jackie Earle Haley is a pretty good fit. From the limited dialogue he has in the trailer, it sounds like he's playing Freddy Krueger with a speech impediment. This adds a certain creepy weakness to the character, the kind of personality tic you'd expect from a child murdering pervert janitor. He seems less confident, less obviously malicious, and more creepily evil. The trailer starts with a powerful man chasing a scared Freddy into the boiler room and we get the sense that he's a damaged and weak man, preying on kids, and the Elm street parents are a little too eager to see justice done. Maybe I'm wishful thinking here, but I really hope that the death of Freddy Krueger isn't as cut-and-dry as it was in the original.

The Platinum Dunes monsters have mostly been confined to the real world. This has worked well in Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th but it may work against them for the Elm Street remake. Given the flair and visual artistry of the previous entries, there isn't a lot of razzle-dazzle in the trailer. The dream sequences look brightly lit and barren and vaguely post-apocalyptic. The film makers have a lot of nods to the original, particularly with the bathtubs and the levitating bodies and the corpses dragged down hallways, but I'm hoping that the dream sequences keep that disjointed, creepy vibe from the originals.

Bottom line: looking forward to it.