Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011

This is my first official Best-Of list and I was all pumped for it... but then I tried listing off the horror films I saw in theatres this year and they barely took up one hand of fingers. So instead of a typical run of the mill Best Of, I'm going to do some highlights of my year in horror for y'all

1. Movies that Made it into Theatres.

Um... like I said before there wasn't a hell of a lot to choose from so let's do the Corresponding Song Titles version

Scream 4: Mo' Money, Mo' Problems
Insidious: You Can't Always Get What You Want
The Rite: Highway to Hell
Paranormal Activity 3: Thriller
The Kill List: I Shot A Man In Reno
Melancholia: It's the End of the World as We Know It

I should also mention, I really want to see Take Shelter, The Innkeepers and The Woman as soon as possible. I really do hope they make the rep theatre circuit before too long. One of my favourite lists of this end-of-the-year orgy is Lianne Spiderbaby's which can be found ici.

2. Movies I finally got around to watching on DVD.

Never Sleep Again (2010) I think this is the best horror documentary ever made. See it. Love it. And revel in the honesty and joy of the Nightmare On Elm Street series.
The Children (2010) I had been wanting to see this movie for the longest time and it finally happened when it came onto Netflix Canada.  While it's not perfect, it's definitely a visceral, fun experience.
Some of the Saw Series (2004-2010) A pleasant surprise. I haven't seen all of them yet but for what they are these films are incredibly effective. If you're the tiniest bit curious and you haven't seen them, I'd say it's definitely worth your time.
Ravenous (1999) Weird but I can't believe I hadn't seen it. So glad I finally got to.
The Elephant Man (1980) So weird. So good. So sad.

3. Career Highlights

2011 was a big year for me horror-wise. I started writing for Planet Fury (nee Pretty Scary, nee nee FanGirlTastic) and electronically got to know the wonderful and inspiring Heidi Martinuzzi. I've gotten to interview Nancy herself, Heather Langenkamp, review a bunch of movies and go to FanExpo where I was able to meet and befriend the lovely Lianne Spiderbaby. These women are so flipping cool I can't really put it into words but they have inspired me to keep writing and keep doing this if only because I love it and I believe in what the genre can be.

I was also fortunate to have an article published in the Living section of the Toronto Star about Horror and Fashion. I still have multiple copies of it, if anyone wants one.

And finally a big, huge, gigantic thank you to everyone who reads this blog. I love doing this and have loved getting to know more of the horror community through it.

All the best and have a very happy 2012.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


In actual fact, I should have saved that title for a review of Hitchcock's brilliant film, Notorious. But nay, this is a review of a film that has been doing well on end-of-the-year-best-of-horror-lists, Insidious. Every time I thought, I must watch that Insidious movie, Duran Duran's immortal Notorious would get lodged somewhere in my frontal lobe. Come, join me in my own personal hell:

Now that we've all finished watching British men try to dance, on to James Wan and Leigh Whannell's Insidious. This is the same director/writer team behind Saw with the magical pixie dust of one Oren Peli (director/producer of Paranormal Activity) sprinkled on top. Insidious is also known for being 2011's most successful film in terms of cost-to-gross ratio. Neat, huh?

As for plot it's pretty standard. It's like a less wholesome Poltergeist (i.e. Poltergeist if Tobe Hooper had, in fact, directed that movie) with a dash of Paranormal Activity thrown in for good measure. Weird things start happening to a family, one of their sons falls into a non-coma and the weird stuff escalates. Believing their home to be haunted, they move only to discover that it's not the house that is haunted, but THEM!!!

Pretty standard stuff, right?

Let's talk cast. Rose Byrne is awesomesauce. I think she's fantastic in everything she's in and I genuinely enjoy watching her. As Renai (It's fucking Renee, I loathed to my core seeing it spelled "Renai" throughout the film) she makes the most out of Whannell's sub-par dialogue ("I just want things to be different in this house. I had such a bad day. I'm scared nothing's gonna change." is equal parts exposition, lazy and poorly phrased) and creates a normal but interesting character. The problems begin when the movie shifts away from her story to everything else in the movie about half way through.

Halfway through the movie it becomes about the father and "The Further" (every time they said "The Further" all I could think of was "The Rural Juror"). The Father, Josh (Patrick Wilson) is, to paraphrase an old Friends joke, pretty but dumb. No wait, that's pretty dumb. He's such a bland, lackluster character that I really began drifting during the second half of the film. I like that the film took us to The Further and spent some time there. The problem is, I didn't find it all that interesting. It looked like a Cirque Du Soleil number that got scrapped.

Now, there are some great scares. I can only imagine they were way more effective on the big screen but they still made me jump on my relatively small screen. The score is one of the best I've heard in a long time. It's both a throwback nod to other scores and completely unexpected.

I think my disappointment lies with what it could have been. All the ingredients were there but nothing really stuck a landing. By the time the ending happened, I just didn't care. There is an interesting pattern to this movie. Scary things happen, then characters sit around and discuss what happened. Do I care what astral projection is? No. Stop telling me.

That's not to say Insidious is a bad movie, it's quite a bit better than a lot of horror films that have come out recently but, as you can see by the amount of ellipses in this review, my attention kept waning. There were enough ideas in this film to churn out four individual movies. I give them credit for trying to make a film that could land somewhere between The Haunting  and Poltergeist while still appeasing the current trends but I would rather see what scares these filmmakers rather than a collage of what they think will scare the masses. (FYI - What scares the masses ain't astral projection)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Trailer Review: Dario Argento's "Dracula 3D"

Oh my gentle Jesus. What motherfuckery have we here? The basic answer is horror impressario Dario Argento's first 3D foray with Dracula.

The actual answer is something that vaguely resembles the plot of Bram Stoker's Dracula but Argento has finally figured out what we all missing from the story, a praying mantis.

Now, I love me some Suspiria and a lot of his other movies of that era. I love the Mothers trilogy that began with Suspiria but on the recommendation of several respected people, I've avoided Mother of Tears (2007) like the plague. Some have suggested that Argento may have lost it in the last little while. And based on this trailer, I can't say they're wrong.

There are a couple things I want to touch on in the trailer. Firstly, Rutger Hauer (everyone's second favourite Replicant after Darryl Hannah) as Van Helsing who appears to be doing an accent on par with Kate Beckinsale's from (go figure) Van Helsing. What. The. Fuck. What is he doing? In one scene he seems to have a very Eastern European accent and the next an incredibly bland North American accent.I don't know if this is symbolism about colonization but it's crazy distracting. Like, Tyra Banks distracting.

Secondly, I feel like this trailer is made up of people walking into shot, then walking across a room. It makes the whole thing look like a stage play. A really, really boring stage play. For a man that gave us this:

walking around on a set doesn't really hack it, you dig?

All in all, this looks like a spectacular failure. One for the books. Based on this trailer it can only get more crazy or, at worst, boring. And honestly, neither of those things makes me want to see this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Micromanaging - Skip Shea's Microcinema (2011)

Skip Shea's Microcinema is a small glimpse into something much uglier and deeper than this 7 minute short film fully realizes.
This short film is a meditation on what we've all come to know as torture porn. Love it or hate it, it's become a sub-genre unto itself. Shea nicely realizes all the tropes of Torture Porn effectively and clearly then flips them nicely on their head. In a turn that resembles Saw meets Blair Witch Project meet The Wicker Man, Shea combines the genres in a one-two punch that that even the most seasoned horror fan won't see coming. The problem becomes that there is more story than time.

Tantalizing the audience with wide reaching themes of psychological terror, Microcinema leaves you wanting more. The film is brave and unrelenting. It is a breath of fresh air to a lot of the common horror tricks that are being trotted out time and again. As the saying goes, it's always better to be left wanting more than less.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Scare Tactic's First Year

That's right! Today is Scare Tactic's first birthday. I have to admit that this all started as a lark but I'm now deeply proud of this little blog. It's even on my resume.

Without too much dithering, I've been thinking about what posts I've missed. And I've missed the mother of all horror-blog-posts! Without further ado...

My Top 5 Favourite Horror Movies

5. Martyrs (2008)

Pascal Lauguier's existential nightmare is one of the most divisive movies I've ever come across. It's been the subject of debates at parties. (Okay, one party) Two girls are seeking revenge on the people who captured and tortured them as children. That journey of vengeance takes them on a twisted and surreal adventure, creating one of the most high-concept horror films around. I totally understand that it's not for everyone. But it's lovely to hear vital and impassioned debate about a new film in the horror community.

4. Black Christmas (1974)

This movie is so flipping awesome I can't stand it. It's my favourite slasher film. Granted it makes little to no sense; but it's weird, funny and hella creepy. It also has an incredibly strong female cast that includes Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder. It's a one of a kind that is forever being ripped-off. Where do you think Halloween got all those ideas?

3. Carrie (1976)

Brian DePalma's ode to womanhood. The pop cultural birth of the monstrous feminine. Throw whatever labels you want at Carrie, this is one badass horror movie. It's horror divrives from not only supernatural violence but personal violence. What viewer didn't perk up when the mean girls where sentenced to extra gym classes? DePalma helped the viewer feel like an outcast who just wanted to be left alone. It helps that it includes some of the best performances in film, let alone the genre. (Piper Laurie? Fuck yeah!) The final scare still gets me and is one of the most effective scares in any movie.

2. Rosemary's Baby (1968)

There isn't much to say that hasn't already been said about Roman Polanski's iconic Rosemary's Baby. Great performances, effective direction and some truly disturbing and troubling scenes. The film presents the audience with Rosemary's very real choice at the end. Who knows what happens after the final scene, but those closing moments caused me anxiety than any trap in Saw.

1. The Shining (1980)

If you've only ever glanced at Scare Tactic you'll know that I fucking love The Shining. It's brilliant. It's one of the best movies ever made. It's moody, evocative and impeccably shot. Like the other films on this list, The Shining deals in interpersonal horror, the horror we can inflict on each when we're in close quarters for even a brief period of time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Trailer Review: Cabin In The Woods

Well, the film I had completely forgotten about is getting not only a poster but also a trailer! Yup, we will finally be able to see Drew Goddard and Josh Whedon's horror film to end all horror films The Cabin in the Woods. The film has been sitting on the shelf since 2009, first it had a release date then they wanted to convert it to 3D and then MGM/Spyglass went bankrupt. But now there's a tailer, a poster and a release date for April 2012.

 Before I start listing off concerns, let's just talk trailer. Yes, they're skirting around being an homage. With the initial shot of the cabin... well, it's the same shot from Evil Dead. Which isn't bad. At least they're acknowledging the ultimate cabin-in-the-woods movie. There was some nice punchy Whedon-esque dialogue. Then it goes cray-cray. And I have two feelings about that... One being, way to be ambitious! That's really exciting in a horror movie these days. It's not a remake, an homage potentially, but not a remake. And thank God for that. The overall look of the movie is clean and slick, perhaps a little CGI-heavy but not offensive in my mind.

What worries me? Well, I refer to "Cloverfield" as "Suckfield" and the writer of that monstrosity is not only the co-writer but the flipping director for this. "Cloverfield" could have been an awesome monster movie but the whiny characters overtook it and made it about their inability not to be jerks. And, y'know, I'm just not that big a fan of Whedon. I like his ideas but I feel like they fall apart under the weight of their own ambition. Based on this trailer I saw parts of Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead, The Strangers and Resident Evil. I'm sure there are more in there.

Look, I'll probably shell out my hard earned coinage to see this bad boy in theatres because, like Fox Mulder, I want to believe. I want to believe there are horror movies coming out that aren't based on stupidity, regurgitation or the lowest common denominator. I'll leave this review on a note of hope and caution; to paraphrase, with great ambition comes great responsibility.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What I Saw

I realize I'm not only showing up late for the party, I'm showing up after the club has been shut down, torn down and condos built over top of the place where a party once happened.

But better late than never, right?

Um, maybe not...

In any event, I've talked about the Saw series several times before on this website. And it's an interesting beast. To be totally upfront, I've seen the first one, the second one and now the sixth one. Does this make me a Saw expert? Heavens no. But as it's one of the most successful horror franchises ever I wanted to bring up a few points about it because of my recent viewing of the sixth installment.

Firstly, why haven't I seen all of them? Well, it was a combination of broke and lazy which I like to call "brazy". The last one I saw in theatres was number 2. And what a number 2 it was. Boring, slow, and only ONE member of NKOTB. Then the rest of them rolled out over the next several Halloweens. And I couldn't really be bothered. But they kept coming and the people who loved it seemed to really love it and after doing some quick wiki searches, it seems like the makers actually tried to make an attempt to infuse the films with purpose, mystery and mythology. Maybe it wasn't always successful but hey, I haven't done any better.

One thing that jumped out to me while watching Saw VI was how good Tobin Bell is. The dialogue isn't great but it's fine. It become blatantly obvious how silly the dialogue can be when it's in the hands of less skilled actors but Bell makes it work. In VI you see his character as a man coming to terms with cancer and those scenes are down right impressive from his end.

As I seriously doubt that this franchise was supposed to run for as long as it did the filmmakers were placed in an interesting trap of their own, they were forced to create a mythology as they went. The characters whom the traps were inflicted on were never the real story, they were a means to an end to tell Jigsaw's story. Now, when you're character dies mid-way through the series, all the filmmakers can do is tell his story, through FLASHBACK! Now I tend to think of flashbacks (like voice overs) as a pretty lazy way to tell stories unless they are integral to the story (i.e. The Usual Suspects). Saw could have moved on to other story arcs but I guess the promise of the Jigsaw returning in new ways was too enticing. We're also now running into the problem of making the villain the hero of the franchise. Which again, is not the worst thing to ever happen to filmmaking, the producers etc just painted themselves into a corner.

What surprised me most, however, is that I didn't hate it. At all. Some of the traps had me hiding my eyes and were really visceral. There are some good actors in the series, and it's nice to see so many Canadian actors employed. Saw VI actually made me curious about the rest of the series more than I was before. Which is more than  I can say for the likes of Jason Takes Manhattan. At least Saw takes itself seriously, even if we don't.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Horror of Gifts

What to buy the girl that has everything? And by "everything" I mean her own free horror blog.

With everyone and their undead son putting together a gift guide full of truffle oil, gourmet salts and clothing items that rival a bi-weekly paycheck, I thought I'd put together some items that would be good the genre-loving among us.

Full disclosure, I haven't read The Horror! The Horror! but I sure as hell want to. Perfect for nerds and horror coolies alike.

The ultimate fan-fiction, Freddy vs Jason vs Ash is a must read for those who haven't already and we can only dream of what the movie could have been.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than a cheese of the month club. Fangoria is still the great magazine it always was and as an added bonus one of my favourite writers and Fright Bytes host Lianne Spiderbaby is a regular contributor.

We've got some cold months ahead of us. I use winter as the perfect excuse to save my money and stay in a lot. My favourite excuse is "Sorry friend, I have to finish the Friday the 13th series this weekend." Eventually, they just stop asking.... Here's a great list of some of the best horror DVD box sets out there.

Looking to do some redecorating but your favourite ax is in the shop? No fear! There are some amazing silkscreen prints of your favourite horror movies out there. My favourite is Room 237 by Tom Whalen.

I got this gift this year and it's still one of my favourite books and I insist everyone that comes over to my house looks at it for a full 5 minutes. Full of terrifying cautionary tales, Struwwelpeter is a messed up, sick and amazing look at what happens to rotten children.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Where Are They Now In Horror.... Felicity

I love me some Felicity. To be fair, I was only recently reminded of this fact through this New York Magazine article which makes me want to go back and watch the whooooooole series.

For those of you that didn't watch Felicity the basic premise is this: hottie Ben (Scott Speedman) writes in Felicity's high school yearbook something to the effect of "I wish I'd gotten to know you better." Felicity then takes this as an invite to drop her current university med school plans and follow him to New York. Crazy? Yes. Disturbing? Yes. But look at Ben:

In any event, Felicity then meets this other guy, Noel, who is a good guy yet significantly less attractive. There are also some other friends, some of whom invent rape stories to get attention and others who are witches. Oh, it was created by J.J. Abrams too, so there are some time traveling episodes. It's actually a fun, sweet show about a young woman trying to find herself. Also this guy's in it:

ANYWAY.... My team and I have been working around the clock to determine who in the Felicity cast has horror supremacy. The more we got into their IMDB pages the more we realized there are some serious contenders in this bunch.

Starting the lowest of the low....

Yup, Felicity herself. She gets this dishonorable distinction because she hasn't done any horror! Every actor has done at least one goofy horror-esque part (as we shall see) and this is entirely unacceptable. Sure, you're not too good to cut off all your hair but nooooooooooooooooo you'd better do Mission Impossible 3 rather than play the female lead in some J-Horror remake. For shame, Felicity, for shame.

I'm now going to lump Sean (Greg Grunberg) and Meghan (Amanda Rotundi) together because they didn't do a heck of a lot before Felicity then managed to get dumped into the JJ Abrams universe of goofiness and played reoccuring characters on Alias/Lost/Heroes and then pop up as "News Reporter" in Super 8 which for many reasons I refuse to see. So there, Sean and Meghan. You're not important enough to be the worst so you get lumped in the crappy, crappy middle. BAM!

No joke, I could not find one image of this girl smiling...
Doing a bit better is Elena (Tangi Miller). She hasn't had a big career BUT she was in Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood. I'm glad they had the opportunity to wrap up the loose ends from the first one...

Coming close to some form of legitimacy is .... Noel Crane (Scott Foley)! **Beware some spoilers in this one** He gets this for a few reasons (appearance in True Blood, a nice melange of low-budget horror) but in his role as Hollywood hack and (dun dun DUN) killer in Scream 3 he gets a lot of cred. By no means is this the "ultimate" Scream movie or even that scary but, boy, he really goes for it in this one. 1 part bat-shit crazy, 1 part convoluted Halloween plot, I have to admire his commitment because he's so very very close to the top...

But our numero uno, the best of the ok, life-time achievement in horror goes to.....
Ben-Scott!! True story, I breathed on him at an after party at TIFF this year. No biggie. But why is he #1, you ask? Because he wasone of the most important parts of the Underworld franchise and surprisingly good in The Strangers which is one of my favourite horror movies of the '00s. See, all my gratuitous picture usage of him in this post was totally justified. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Won't Someone Please Think Of The Children!

There's nothing worse than disliking a kid. You feel like a jerk. But sometimes, kids are jerks. Bigger jerks than us even. Which is where the sadistic genius of Tom Shankland's The Children (2008) comes into play. The Children works on the most base promise of bad people get punished. Unfortunately, in this case, the bad people think very highly of themselves. 

Two young families come together to celebrate the Holidays in the-middle-of-nowhere-England. Elaine's family (comprised of her husband Jonah, her "mistake" teenage daughter Cassey and two young children from her new marriage) make their way to her sister's secluded and opulent country home. Frankly, the place looks like an estate where Kate Moss could host a wedding but let's face it, some families are just richer than others. Chloe, Robbie and their two children are just that, overly rich, luxuriating in the posibility of home schooling their children and generally taking it easy. They are the poster parents that you secretly want to be but you still despise.

When one of Elaine and Robbie's children takes ill, begins acting strangely and generally frightens the other children, no one notices. Soon the other children become "infected" with the families noticing little except for British Avril Lavigne aka Cassey. She's our Final Girl and has interesting conundrum of balancing partying and saving her family from homicidal tots.

The Children, which borrows from The Village Of The Damned and The Omen, bravely forces the blame on the parents and their lack of foresight. The odd British passive aggressive violence that carries the first half of the film is done away with to fill it up with Grand Guignol-esque violence - unrepentant, grotesque and absurdly funny. The shocks come sharply and effectively. The film has a good sense of what it's saying without hitting you over the head with how awful these people are, they are simply products of a certain way of living. Only when one parent looses their partner do they actively search out their children as she has developed parenting techniques to keep them away from her. The Children exemplifies a selfish form of parenting where the parents see the children as reflections of themselves and because of that short sightedness, they fail to see when an object is going to penetrate their skull.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Top 5 Treehouse of Horror Episodes

As a child, The Simpsons' annual Treehouse of Horror episode was as important to me as going Trick or Treating. In fact, I believe there were a couple times that I cut Trick or Treating short so I could catch the marathon.

The Treehouse of Horror series was a big introduction to the world of horror movies. In fact, this is where I saw a lot of horror movies before I ever saw the real thing. Going back and looking at the episodes as an adult makes me appreciate them more. The Simpsons, in their prime, are arguably the best contemporary satirical team. Their dedication to the horror genre only makes me love them more...

Here are my 5 favourite Treehouse of Horror segments

#5 Citizen Kang
 I learned most of my politics from this episode alone. When Kang and Kodos kidnap Bob Dole and Bill Clinton and impersonate them to gain control of the country it's an all out political battle. It's also one of the most quotable Treehouse episodes with:
"Always twirling toward freedom!"
"Abortions for some, miniature American flags for everyone!"
"What about a third party candidate?" "Go ahead, throw your vote away!"

#4 Dial Z For Zombie

"Dad, you killed the Zombie Flanders!"
"He was a zombie?"
This is the ultimate zombie parody way before Shaun of the Dead made it cool. Every zombie parody you see today (and there are a lot) owes some kind of debt to this episode.

#3 Hungry Are The Damned
Never has there been a better use of space dust.
"How to Cook Humans" > "How to Cook For Humans" > "How to Cook Forty Humans" > "How to Cook For Forty Humans."

#2 Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace

"Lousy Smarch weather!"
A great satire of one of my favourite movies. There is nothing better when they parody the last minute scare with Willy getting off the bus.

#1 The Shinning
"Shh! Do you want to get sued?"
 This episode exemplifies why The Treehouse of Horror series works so well. Yes, they're making fun of horror movies but the reason it works so well is because the writers know the genre so well. With great satire comes great responsibility.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Where Are They Now in HORROR... Breaker High

Well, this is Scare Tactic's 100th post which also coincides with my horror film article in the Toronto Star and I have to say, the love I get for this little blog has a lot to do with the Where Are They Now... series. And what better show to examine than Canada's own Breaker High.

Did you know the show ran for only a year? And did you know that in that year they filmed 44 freakin' episodes?? (My favourite episode names being To Kill A Mocking-Nerd and Silence of the Lamborghini) Now for anyone who doesn't know what Breaker High is, please read the following description:

Breaker High is a television show which airs weekdays at 4:00PM on UPN. The show is about a high school cruise ship which not only teaches academics, but also gives first hand cultural experiences from around the world. The ship consistsof 500 students, but the show focuses on a group of 8. All the students come from different backgrounds and situations but they all work together as one group. The cast has great chemistry and together they just... CLICK! The situations and character development just... WORK! This show is full of drama and tons of comedy that anyone can appreciate. Overall, Breaker High is a great way to start your homework routine or take a break from life!

Never has a high school drama been described with so many exclamation points!!!!!!!! Seriously though... it was a weird time. High school was on a boat. Kids loved it. I remember watching it but possibly only because I didn't want to watch Oprah with my Mom.

But who comes out as HORROR CHAMP SUPREME??????? Let's do this!

Rachel Wilson as Tamira Goldstein who appeared as "Mother" in Saw 3D
Now, this is a tricky one... One of the leads was in one of the biggest horror franchises of the last decade but had the lowest score. (Yes, I score these. There's actually a panel involved. Do you think I'd make this stuff up off of my whims and fancies?)

But really how can I possibly give a decent placing to someone playing "Mother" in Saw 3D? I can't. I simply can't. For those of you that remember Breaker High Tamira had an oddly spelled name and was dirt poor. So dirt poor she had to pay her way attending high school on a cruise ship by doing some kind of vague work study program.

The sad thing is, she probably didn't even get killed in Saw, she just a principal actor who got a close up when she screamed. Horror fail, Rachel Wilson. You also have the most boring name.

Terri Conn as Ashley Dupree who appeared as Sandra Wilson in iMurders
Terri should be a heck of a lot higher on this list because... well... let all look at this poster for a moment:
It's a bloody mouse! And the events take place on a "Myspace-esque website". But Miss Conn was credited under another name when she did this so clearly it doesn't matter as much to her as it does to me. Therefore, she's second to last.

I also want to mention how the character she plays is one letter away from being this lady...
So close yet so very, very far.

Kyle Alisharan as Alex Pineda who appeared as Baggage Handler in Snakes on A Plane
Oh man, things are rough when you don't even have a picture up on IMDB... but luckily for you, and one .05 Google search, I found this:
He's the clean-cut handsome jock who is pretty non-date-rape-y. You know him all through high school and then he fades out of your memory until you think you see him as a baggage handler at the airport then, oh no! There are snakes on your muthaf**king plane. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Wait, where was I?

Ryan Gosling as Sean Hanlon  who appeared as some D-Bag in Stay and Murder By Numbers
I'm going to admit,  the more people love this guy the more I think he's a tool bag. I mean, he's okay. I really liked Lars and the Real Girl but this guy:

as some kind of murderous mastermind. I think not.

And look at those bangs!! That's precisely what I try to get my hair NOT to do!

Which leaves us with....

Tyler Labine as Jimmy Farrell who appeared as Dale in  Tucker and Dale vs Evil

I can't tell a lie. Tyler wins because a) this film is Canadian b) I haven't seen it and c) Cerie from 30 Rock is in it. Wins all around!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fine Young Cannibals

Every so often a movie comes along that is way more interesting then it has any right to be. It's more innovative, weird, ambitious and silly then you would expect going in. The other night I watched Ravenous (1999) which I had never seen and Evil Dead II which I've lost count of how many times I've seen.

I had no intention of linking these two films, but what do you know? They are totally connected! If you squint. And take off your glasses. And stand 20 feet away.

Ok, ok... they're both just weird. But one is awesome weird and one is "meh" weird. Ravenous is about cannibalism and the demons in Evil Dead will swallow your soul. So there is some element of digestion in both of them.... Right? Right.

Ravenous deals with a bunch of soldiers in and around the civil war. Guy Pearce is a coward and Robert Carlyle likes to eat people, there are also a gaggle of other soldiers whose main uses are to ask Guy about himself to reveal his character then be eaten by Robert. The most noticeable thing about Ravenous is the score by Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz). It's brave, that's the best thing I can say about it. It's so truly odd and disconcerting that a film score could so overtake a movie. Also, Guy Pearce can't fall. He can't. Watching him fall is like watching someone who has never seen anyone fall try to fall. It was a really special moment in my life the first time I watched the part where he falls mid-way through Ravenous. And it was still special the 2 times I rewound and watched it again.

The big problem with Ravenous is it wants to be weirder than it is. Director Antonia Bird is all set to make a dark satire but the script is waaaaay too by the book. The script is a pretty typical thriller. People die under mysterious circumstances,hero solves it, throw in a twist, hero solves that, BAM, ending. Take away the historical setting, some great casting choices and you've got every movie Monica Potter and Ashley Judd was in, ever.

Evil Dead. Oh, what can I say about you that hasn't been said already. Actually, what can I say that B-Sol over at the Vault of Horror hasn't already said? It's one of the best write-ups of one of the best horror films series. What I like about Evil Dead is it takes a simple concept and expounds on it. It also has enough shocks to warrant the laughs. What horror film fan doesn't love the voice over of "workshed". Liking Evil Dead is akin to being in the cool kids club. Well, maybe not the cool kids club but definitely the funny kids club.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ambiguously Made Duos

Ever since I started wee ol' Scare Tactic people ask me all the time: Why horror? What is horror? What's my name? Where am I??????????????

And I have to say, these questions are valid. How exactly does one define horror? I don't think any one person can define it. As I've said before, horror is subjective. What scares me may not necessarily scare you. That's part of the beauty of horror.

As horror films continually fight to gain and maintain legitimacy there are a lot of films that horror film fans would like to add to the genre (i.e. Black Swan, Se7en). So I thought we could take a look at two similar films, one rendered firmly in the horror genre and the other more ambiguously straddling the line between horror and drama/thriller. I thinking Saw and Silence of the Lambs is a good place to start.

Now Silence of the Lambs (according to IMDB anyway) is classified as a "Thriller". Thrillers are described as using suspense, tension and excitement to engage an audience. They rely on the "edge of your seat" feeling and building towards some kind of big, huge, life-changing climax. Thinking back on Silence of the Lambs it does all of those things... so does Saw if you think about it.

My initial thought  is that Saw has more graphic violence ... but then again, so does Silence of the Lambs. When Hannibal Lecter beats the security guard to death then wears his skin... yeah, that. I guess what it comes down to is that Saw trades on its violence. Let's compare posters shall we?

How delightfully intriguing and engaging.....
Wait a minute! With Saw we've got a random hand that doesn't look like it's in the best health. But this Silence of the Lambs poster... It's so... different... Let's take an even closer look...
That's Salvador Dali's The Skull. A skull made out of ladies!!!!
See? It's way classy. And Silence of the Lambs is way better than some random hand. Am I right?

Beyond the poster what about the actual films? I think that Silence of the Lambs is a far superior film, but let's keep in mind it was based on a best-selling novel, had the backing of a major studio and  had some of the most talented people in the industry involved in it. Saw, on the other hand was made for next to nothing by an independent studio that saw a short film and thought it could be extrapolated into a full length feature. I think Saw suffers from its newness. There's a lot of ideas an promise in it but ultimately it feels strung together. It relies too much on its shocks and not enough on the inherent puzzle solving which, for my money, is the most engaging part of the movie.

Silence of the Lambs was a hit right off the bat while Saw found its audience steadily through word of mouth. It didn't help its credibility that the Saw franchise churned out a new installment every Halloween until Paranormal Activity came along but even Silence of the Lambs produced some extremely sub-par offerings (Red Dragon anyone?).

So where does this leave us? I'm going to argue that Silence of the Lambs and Saw are both horror in that they are both horrific. Seriously. Silence of the Lambs, I think, is actually more messed up and shocking than Saw. Silence of the Lambs is not perceived as horror because the film company doesn't want it to be dismissed. Fair? No. True? Probably.