Archive for March, 2009

27
Mar
09

Huh?!?

Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro to Star in Three Stooges Movie

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/25/nyuk-nyukhuh-sean-penn-joins-three-stooges-movie/?ref=movies

18
Mar
09

Attack of/on the Nuclear Family

Les Diaboliques

Les Diaboliques

I’ve finished my goal of seeing horror movies that I should have seen a long time ago.

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – Interesting concept of dream and reality blending together, so that something as comforting as sleep can suddenly transform into a danger. However, I wasn’t so scared or amused by Freddy. Some intriguing play with gender in that the men, including Johnny Depp, were for the most part utterly useless, falling asleep, getting killed, and/or standing by, while the female heroine attempts to defeat Freddy.

2. The Hills Have Eyes (1977) – Like Night of the Living Dead (1968), this is an assault on the nuclear family by the ultimate nuclear family (literally nuclear, since these cannibal freaks live inside a military installation). A former police officer, the father of the “normal” family stands for law and order, relying on guns and encouraging the adherence to rigid gender roles by the rest of his brood. These gender disparities become prevalent as the women either die or emotionally break down as the situation progresses (although the teenage daughter does have her moments of clarity, like Susan in NoLD). The men actively fight the killers to differing results, but the point is that they fight. Even the family dogs reflect this: the female Beauty dies, but the male Beast not only lives but seeks revenge on his mate and helps his masters defeat the cannibals! A young woman from the cannibal group rebels against her “family” though and saves the “normal” family’s baby, breaking the gender stereotypes promoted by the “normal” family. Overall frightening because it’s a scenario within the realm of possibility, although one beyond comprehension.

3. Les Diaboliques (1955) – This French movie, starring Simone Signoret, was very creepy. I figured out the twist about halfway through, but that didn’t devalue the satisfaction of the film, as well as its strong acting, subtle storytelling and direction, and atmosphere. I haven’t seen the Sharon Stone remake, but do I really want to?

09
Mar
09

My Horror Experiment

Leatherface in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"

Leatherface in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"

I have to confess: I’m not very familiar with horror films at all. I don’t know what held me back. Of course, in some instances, I was too young to see the original release. But maybe I’m just not into the blood and gore or the jump moments. My favorite horror movie is “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), which is definitely creepy and is very groundbreaking in terms of its independent production, social context, and vast influence. It was because of this last factor that I thought I needed to check out some of its descendents, especially the ones everyone else seems to have seen. So, using Netflix, I’m in the process of doing just that. Selections were made based on film titles that keeping coming up and/or personal interest (I tend to prefer plots that are more urban legend-driven). I have also gone back and watched other films that are beloved by people my age, such as “The Princess Bride” (1987) and “The Goonies” (1985), and quite frankly, I just didn’t get the appeal of those. It’s interesting to note that all of the films to follow have some form of franchise and/or remakes.

 

 

·         “Halloween” (1978) – Jamie Lee Curtis battles killer Michael Myers. The fright factor here resides in the fact that everyone has either babysat or knows someone who has babysat, so this can happen to anyone. It is funny though that none of these actors actually look like teenagers. The Special Features confirmed that Michael’s mask is a distorted William Shatner mask.

·         “Friday the 13th” (1980) – A very young Kevin Bacon is part of a group of Camp Crystal Lake counselors plucked off by Jason… or is it his mother in this one? I don’t know – I didn’t see any hockey masks, so I was a bit puzzled in relation to what I was expecting.

·         “The Exorcist” (1973) – I had tried to watch this before and could only get as far as the spinal tap because of the gore (Of course, I would be scared off by a medical procedure). The religious aspects and direction make the creepiness more visceral than the actual gore. Frightening because it could be in the realm of possibility.

·         “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) – I really enjoyed this one. Like “Night of the Living Dead,” the horror is a reflection of its turbulent times in which anything can happen for no apparent or just reason. Also, with “Night of the Living Dead” and “Halloween,” you have a teenage girl suffering and attempting to survive. Unlike these two films though, Sally doesn’t necessarily fit into the virginal horror stereotype – she’s not exactly being punished for her sexual experience as the horror genre supposedly follows.

Coming soon: “Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) and “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977)