Poster Picks (and Bonus Movie Review): Cloverfield

I haven’t done a two-fer like this since my Runaways review, but I was inspired by my recent re-viewing of Cloverfield as part of my month-long Halloween movie marathon.

So, first, the poster. I’ve decided to go with the initial teaser poster, which had no text on it beyond the movie release date. That’s right, it didn’t even have the movie title on it at first. But, honestly, when you use imagery like this poster uses? You’re just going to attract even more attention by the fact that all you’ve included is the release date. Brilliant bit of marketing, no?

So, no text, no name, no tagline. Only a minimally written date in a nice white font, with dots as separators. Obviously, we’ve got to figure some things out based on what we do have. Let’s start with the primary focus of the poster: a headless Statue of Liberty. Not just headless though. From the exposed, jagged remains of the support frame, the torn copper, and the plume of debris and smoke, it’s obvious that Lady Liberty’s head was removed rather violently. By something very large.

And that very large something has headed into Manhattan. See the wave pattern in the water, leading from the Statue of Liberty toward the destruction within the city? Something has moved from the harbor into the streets…and it is hell-bent on taking down Manhattan. Look at the wreckage of the buildings that were in its way when it came ashore. Look at the plumes of smoke rising from the heart of the city. Look at the helicopters hovering overhead, so incredibly tiny in comparison with the surrounding damage.

Whatever has done all this is large enough that those dinky little choppers aren’t going to do much else besides probably annoy the hell out of it.

Not much else there though, eh?

Not so fast. There are conspiracy theories about “hidden images” in the Cloverfield posters. First, there’s the attacking sea turtle head:

See it? It’s the cloud shape to the right of Lady Liberty’s torch. It seriously looks either like an angry sea turtle…or a peener monster. Personally, I don’t want to think about either attacking the Statue of Liberty…

Next on the list? The smoke cloud monster:

Now, this one is a little more convincing and impressive if it’s true. Take the original poster, duplicate it, flip it horizontally and line up the edges…and voila! See the face? It actually kind of does look like what’s ultimately revealed as the Cloverfield monster. Or any other monster from any other J.J. Abrams movie. The man’s about as original as a Xerox machine.

Which brings me to…

Bonus Movie Review

I hadn’t seen Cloverfield since I went to see it in the theater. I did remember liking it enough that when I saw a used copy for sale for a couple bucks, I went ahead and picked it up (looking back, however, I was probably remembering the fun I had with the friends I went with rather than the actual movie). However, even more vivid was my memory of nearly hurling from the unrelenting shaky cam action. Not even The Blair Witch Project made me feel quite as queasy as Cloverfield did. Every time I thought about watching the DVD, that memory would drown out all others and I would simply put it back on my shelf.

I am pleased to report that the shaky cam was almost unnoticeable to me on the small screen.

More noticeable to me on this second viewing, however, is how truly unoriginal and lazy J.J. Abrams is as a filmmaker. Admittedly, my opinion of him is forever tarnished by the hot mess he ladled into my lap in 2009 with his Trek abomination. That was when I first decided that he was lazy. He could have made an original science fiction film. Instead, he usurped the name of a globally revered science fiction franchise, had some hack writers throw together a script that isn’t even worthy of being pulped into Communist-grade toilet paper, and smeared his Star Wars-loving paws all over a legacy that is so beyond his reach, it’s pathetic.

Why people wouldn’t let me space him for his crimes, I still don’t understand.

But I digress.

Back to Cloverfield. Most people have probably heard it described by genre fans as “Blair Witch Meets Godzilla.” That’s pretty accurate as descriptions go. Although I think a real match-up of the Blair Witch versus Godzilla would not only be awesome, it would be far more original than this movie. It’s fairly derivative as “monster attacking the city” movies go. The only “inventive” addition made here is the Barf-O-Rama shaky cam “found footage” aspect, which wasn’t really all that new by this point anyway.

What’s most troubling, however, and what makes me label Abrams as lazy, is the fact that there are several scenes in this movie that tap directly into a pre-programmed societal fear that was developed on September 11, 2001. New York under attack. Buildings toppled in the middle of the City That Never Sleeps. Plumes of smoke and debris roaring through the heart of Manhattan. Survivors trying to escape by foot on bridges leading off the island.

Some of the scenes from Cloverfield are almost frame-for-frame images that we witnessed on auto-repeat on all the 24-hour news channels that were covering that awful day in 2001. For Abrams and his band of filmmakers to tap into the still raw emotions of that day for what otherwise would have been just another cheesy monster movie (with CGI that has not aged well at all in some areas) feels cheap…and lazy.

I know that great horror often taps into our darkest fears and exploits them. This, however…I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too critical because I hate Abrams so very much. Although I do remember feeling displeased by these scenes the first time I saw the movie as well. Back in the halcyon days in which I still had hope that Abrams wouldn’t punch Trek fans in the collective naughty bits with a power converter from Tosche station while blaring Beastie Boys the whole time.

Douchey hipster tool.

All that aside, though, is this a good monster movie? Meh. There are far better ones. Far more original ones. At best, it’s brainless background fodder for when you want to watch something that’s not going to require any form of activity from you beyond blinking occasionally. I know that there were a bunch of Web sites out there, giving clues about what the monster was…tapping into the new way of presenting a movie as a holistic “new media” experience. Something that Abrams would try again with his Trek movie…only this time it wasn’t for free. “Hey, fans, does none of this make any sense to you? Well, that’s because you have to go buy the accompanying comic book! Then it probably still won’t make sense…but we’ll be that much richer!”

Okay, now I’m just making myself angry…

Scream 4 Me

I always had a thing for ya, Sid!

WARNING: Original trilogy spoilers ahead. No Scream 4 spoilers though.

Do you know the last time I went to the theater to see a movie, denizens? No? Let me give you a hint.

Yep. Haven’t been to see a movie since that stupid blue alien movie. I get the sneaking suspicion, at least based on the movies that I have rented from Netflix in between then and now, that I really haven’t missed anything. I’ve pretty much given up on renting movies, actually. Right now? I’m learning what I missed at Cook County Hospital and those wacky doctors in the ER. By the time I’m finished, I think I just might be able to fake my way as a doctor.

(Yeah, and a few more episodes of EastEnders and someone might actually mistake me for a Brit…pbbt.)

So what could possibly have lured me back to the theater? Only the opportunity to recapture an essence of my adolescence that I hold so very dear. See, if memory serves me correctly, there’s only one movie that I have seen more than twice in a theater. And, again by my admittedly wonky memory count, I do believe that I may have actually seen this four times in the theater (although I think it might have only been three…I’ll have to ask Captain Morgan the next time we get together, since he seems to hold most of my brain cells at this point in the game). It’s the horror movie that I have seen more than almost any other. In fact, I believe The Silence of the Lambs is the only movie that I have seen more…although A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween are pretty far up there, too (original versions only, of course).

The movie in question would be Scream. I love this movie so very much. I still think it’s one of the most innovative takes on the horror genre to come out of Hollywood. I love the fact that it was written by someone who obviously possessed a serious passion for horror. Kevin Williamson did something brilliant with that original screenplay…something that the horror movie industry desperately needed. He brought fresh meat to the horror altar and, in doing so, altered the genre in both wonderful and terrible ways. The slew of copycat flicks that followed (some even flowing from Williamson’s own fingers) was intriguing at first but inevitably frustrating when I realized that we were in for the long haul with Scream knockoffs. Then came the torture porn era and all bets were off as far as I was concerned. Blood and guts don’t bother me, but I cannot abide watching someone be tortured. I know. Weird, right?

I also love the characters, especially Sidney Prescott. I once wrote in a book review that very rarely did I wish a book character was real. Same bodes true for movie characters. However, I wish that Sidney was real. Minus being a lightning rod for psychos and the messy truth that if Sidney considers you a friend, you’re more than likely not going to make it to the end credits, I think she would be quite the awesome person to know. Plus, what can I say? I have a soft spot for the broken ones.

As for the original two sequels? I remember actually finding the opening of Scream 2 repulsive. What seemed so innovative and provocative an opening in the original movie (seriously, was anyone not set off-kilter by Drew freakin’ Barrymore dying before the title card?) was uncomfortable and even mildly offensive in the second. First, it had already been done (to extraordinary effect), so doing it again felt cheap; and second, placing it in such a public place felt so exploitative and…vulgar. Again, this is another of my strange proclivities. Scream 3 felt weightier and more promising to me than 2…but the ending was so anti-climactic and disappointing. I think it was because I was expecting it to go a completely different way…those damned red herring doppelgangers! However, the presence of Parker Posey was definitely a bonus, and there were a couple of genuinely chilling moments that made it worth the effort.

Of course, I own the special trilogy box set on DVD. I even owned three different copies of the original movie on VHS, including a weird double set that contained both the movie and a second copy with a director/writer commentary. I think it was some kind of failed attempt to make VHS competitive with DVDs. It was clunky and a bit redundant but it was also my first experience with a commentary track and I admittedly was hooked in by the newness of the idea.

So was it any wonder that I would make my way back to the theater to see the return of this franchise that so overwhelmingly won my heart so many years ago? True, I was irritated beyond belief when I first heard about the fourth movie. It was supposed to be a trilogy, dammit! Plus, I was incredibly surprised when I heard that Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette all signed on for the fourth movie. Hadn’t Sidney, Gale, and Dewey been through enough?

When Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson were also confirmed, I admit that hope sparked within me. It had been more than a decade since we’d paid a trip to that world. Perhaps in that time, they’d found new inspiration? A way to breathe freshness into a franchise that, the last time we saw it, limped over the finish line, beaten, bludgeoned, bloodied, but still standing?

Um. Yeah.

As a self-referential parody of the original franchise, Scream 4 is brilliant. In fact, I found myself laughing out loud several times. Honest, hearty, uncontrollable laughing. Probably not what Craven and Co. were going for though, you know, considering the fact that this was not marketed as a parody at all. And that’s a shame. Because as a straight-forward horror movie, it definitely did not cross the finish line this time. There’s no way it could, really, when it was dragged down every step by the inexorable weight of the original franchise resting completely on its shoulders.

What started out as a franchise designed to be reverent of the horror genre as a whole has now apparently been rebooted to pay obeisance mostly to its predecessors. Whether it was scenes played out in ways almost identical to those earlier movies or characters designed to fit the mold of the “Randy” or the “Tatum” or even the “Sidney” from that original film, Scream 4 spent more time evoking memories of the trilogy than it did in actually telling a new story. Sadly, however, there wasn’t really much of a “new” story to tell. And what story there was was wholly ridiculous and made me keep asking the same question: Why the fuck would any of the original characters ever go back to Woodsboro?! Go ahead, watch Scream 4 and see if you’re not asking this over and over as you watch it…I dare you. I double dog dare you!

Also by evoking memories of the original, and undeniably superior, films, all Scream 4 made me feel was a burning desire to re-watch the originals rather than continue watching this new offering. Add to this the heavily predictable nature of the story (there is no new thing under the sun or the Ghost Face mask) and…well. It was just disappointing. I will say this: There was a twist at the end that I didn’t anticipate completely and that I think had the potential to make this an amazing reintroduction to this franchise. To pull this off, however, something would have had to have happened that I honestly anticipated happening…but that didn’t.

Okay, I lied. I said I wasn’t going to include spoilers for the new Scream movie. I am. Right now. So cover your eyes for a few minutes. Or I’ll just mark the text in white so you can’t see it unless you highlight it.

So Emma Roberts, who plays Sidney’s cousin Jill , is the killer. Right here was the twist that I wasn’t completely anticipating…and I’m admittedly irritated by this. I let myself be lulled into complacency by the fact that this was Nancy Drew…and Julia Roberts’ niece. And Julia Roberts is always the good guy, right? [Insert character description here] with the heart of gold, right? So wouldn’t her goody-two-shoes, Nancy Drew niece be the same? Good job on deceptive casting here, that’s all I’m saying.

But why is Jill the killer? Because she spent her childhood listening to nonstop talk about her unlucky but also famous cousin and now she wants her 15 minutes of fame…and she’s willing to kill to get it. Willing to kill her mother (played by Laura Roslin Mary McDonnell, still suffering from a horrendously noticeable mouth droop since her BSG-era face lift). Even willing to kill her cousin. Yeah, she stabs Sidney. In places that regular people wouldn’t have survived. I have to admit, when she stabbed Sidney, I had a horrible “Oh god no” moment…same moment I felt when Sidney’s brother shot her point-blank at the end of Scream 3. Yet again I thought, “Wow, they’re really going to kill Sidney.”

Sidney Prescott, however, is a fucking cat. And she’s now down 4 of her 9 lives. Not to mention that now she’s had to kill her boyfriend, her boyfriend’s best friend, her boyfriend’s mother, her brother, and her cousin. That’s enough negative karma to haunt her through her next 30 reincarnations. Also, apparently it’s a very bad thing to have any kind of relationship with this woman. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

I never thought I would say this, but I think letting Sidney live was a mistake. She should have died in this movie. Even better? Her cousin should have gotten away with her plan. See, Jill had her two best friends killed, possibly stabbed her mom (I’d have to see the movie again to be certain on this part), stabbed her accomplice, shot her boyfriend, stabbed her cousin, then convincingly set the scene so that it looked like she’d been attacked, stabbed, and nearly slaughtered as well by the “real” killers. There’s even a wonderful Heathers-like moment involving a glass table. It was great. And ended with Jill purposely mirroring in a very unsettling and morbid way how Sidney had fallen after she was stabbed. Dewey and his deputies arrive, clear the scene, find the bodies, and then we see Jill being wheeled out on a gurney while a gaggle of reporters chase after her, asking her questions about what it feels like to be a hero, blah blah blah.

That is where the movie should have ended…with Sidney dead at the hands of a villain who is being heralded as a hero. Think about where that could have taken the franchise! Our beloved Sidney gone? And her killer now the “star” of the Woodsboro drama? Sick, twisted, and totally unexpected…everything the original movie was, only better. Just like one of the characters states at one point: The whole point of a reboot is to be better than the original.

In the end, though, Williamson wimped out. Not only did Sidney survive, all three of the original players made it through…even though Gale did get a nasty shoulder stab and Dewey was nearly bludgeoned to death by a teen wielding a bedpan. Yeah, oh that I was making that one up.

Okay, spoilers over. Disappointment, however, remains.

Truth be told, though, I’m glad I went to see this one. I have missed Sidney Prescott very much. I’m just sorry we only get together under these horrible circumstances. Seriously, how much trauma can one person go through in one lifetime? Plus, any chance to see Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox together again? Bonus times bonus to infinity. Although, Courteney Cox doesn’t look at all like herself anymore. Too much tweakage has occurred in the 11 years since the last movie and she’s now starting to look like a caricature of herself…and this absolutely breaks my heart. But it is what it is and soon every woman in Hollywood will look just like Madame.

I can’t wait. o_O

Do I think this movie should have been made? No. Do I think it’s gotten the franchise off to a promising reboot? No. Do I think they should do two more? Please, no. Had things turned out differently with Scream 4, I’d probably feel differently. As things stand, however, I don’t really see much point in continuing. This wasn’t a reinventing or reinvigorating of the franchise. It was instead an exercise in reminding its audience of how amazing the original movie was…and how each subsequent iteration fails that much more to even come close to that original greatness. I think perhaps the best bit of advice might have also been one of the better lines from what was, in the end, a rather disappointing script. It came from Sidney herself (but do forgive me, I must paraphrase): “One thing to remember when doing a reboot: Don’t fuck with the original.”

Even better? Don’t constantly bring up the original. You’re just going to remind people how unlike the original your latest sequel really is.

I will say this, however: I did enjoy the poster art. Clever, concise, and simple…even if I do find the use of the “4” as the “A” to be a little too cutesy and l33t for its own good.

The Remedy for What Ails You

Can I have some remedy?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZgJrHxWaIg&w=560&h=349]

That’s much better. I do have a soft spot in my heart for the Black Crowes. Why? There are some things that Loba needs to keep to herself. Let’s just say that their cover of “Hard to Handle” can make me smile like a fool every time I hear it. Ah, high school.

But this weekend has been all about remedies. Seems Loba is not as invincible as she would like others to think she is (although other Internet PersonalitiesTM still retain the rights to this particular claim). Seems someone decided to share germs with me. I have the usual suspects in the line-up for this crime, although I’m almost positive I know the prime suspect…even without Helen Mirren’s help.

The cold kicked into effect Tuesday evening, but being the stubborn wolf that I am, I refused to take any time off from responsibilities, either of the work or fun varieties. I detest being sick. I detest the impudence of germs thinking that they can best me, take me down, make me relinquish my duties. Plus, I hate how being sick turns me into a mouth-breathing medicine-addled moron and leaves me waking up with a grungy, phlegmy tongue that feels like I spent the previous evening licking sidewalks in Times Square.

My, that was vivid, wasn’t it, denizens?

So I dragged myself to work the rest of last week, forcing myself to wade through the growing internal maelstrom of germs and cold medicine as they did their war dance through my veins. I pulled it off relatively convincingly by popping pills, drinking copious amounts of hot tea to flush out my system, blowing my nose as discreetly but as often as I could, and going through an entire bottle of Purell. Some people didn’t even realize I was sick, which left me feeling a sense of victory that only someone who once boasted having gone 9 years in a row at school with perfect attendance could possibly appreciate.

The down side of this? Saturday morning, the germs realized that I was no longer bound by workday obligations. I was released from that routine…and they were released from my persistent resistance.

Yes, Seven, resistance is futile.

Other than walking outside to get the mail this afternoon, I haven’t left the lair since I came home Friday afternoon. More to the point, I haven’t really left the couch since I woke up Saturday morning to a renewed raspiness in my throat, a throbbing headache, and a constant pressure on my sinuses that felt like several pachyderms had packed into the space right between my eyes. Yesterday was spent medicating myself,literally and geekily. Big Trouble in Little China is a must for the healing process. That’s what ole Jack Burton says anyway. So, too, are the special features from my Scream trilogy box set. And fan fiction. Lots and lots of fan fiction. All things designed to delight my inner geek while not really requiring any real mental effort of any kind…or requiring that I remain conscious the entire time. Just what I needed.

This morning I woke up feeling a little better…and a little weirded out as well. Seems that all the cold meds decided to wreak royal havoc with my dreams last night. Or at least with the one dream that I can remember. Seems that on the rare occasion when I remember a dream, it’s only one and that’s the one that I’m having right when I wake up. This is, of course, a huge improvement over all the years I spent not being able to remember any dreams. Except for that extremely vivid one I had in high school in which I was Dr. Crusher.

Yeah. Maybe it’s better if I don’t remember my dreams.

So this dream from last night…or rather this morning involved me stuck inside a lighthouse that didn’t work, a remnant, I’m assuming, from the fanfic I read last night that was loosely based on the horror movie El Orfanato. It was storming outside, the intermittent lightning providing the only light within the structure. I was there because I was looking for someone (another remnant from the same fanfic; yeah, I know…that’s some severe stream-crossing going on there, Dr. Spengler), but the rain had forced me to take shelter.

However, the lighthouse was next to a river instead of an ocean, nestled down low enough that the waters flowed right past one side of the structure, and the bottom level was composed of glass, allowing me to see what was floating past.

Suddenly, this enormous fish swam into view. I’m talking enormous, large enough that it was longer than the river was wide. As it came up parallel to the lighthouse, it began to swim in slow circles, looking almost like an ichthyian ouroboros. It was mesmerizing and I remember being drawn into the river, which was now suddenly inside the lighthouse. There was a calming, somewhat anthropomorphic quality to the fish that entranced me for many moments before I had this stunning epiphany that I needed to photograph the fish.

I began to slowly ease away from the fish, back to the river’s edge. A voice from behind and slightly above me caused me finally look away. It was Sara Sidle, descending the spiral staircase of the lighthouse. She was wearing her CSI vest with the stitched name tag and the reflective tape on each side, and a pair of black leather gloves. All she said was, “If you leave now, you won’t see her again.”

I stopped for a moment, looking back at the fish, still circling. But I am apparently as stubborn in lucidity as I am in reality. I climbed back onto the shore and ran as quickly as I could to get my camera.

I returned to the shore and the fish was gone. So, too, was the elusive CSI. The river was no longer flowing, instead turning to solid ice as I watched. I looked around, trying to find someone…anyone who could help me. But I was alone. I turned back to the freezing waters, and the last thing I remember before waking up was this intense need to dive beneath the ice and find the fish.

I’ve revisited this dream several times throughout the day, examining and analyzing all that I can remember. I’ve come to certain opinions about what it all means, and I’ve decided that sometimes the way my brain works scares even me.

Needless to say, today has been another one for relaxing on the couch, reading an actual book this time and watching movies that don’t involve Kurt Russell shaking the pillars of Heaven. And this evening has kicked off with watching an Encore special called Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible. I learned a few things that I didn’t already know (since it is the law that one must know the history of ILM as part of the bargain of keeping their geek cred in tact). Most interesting tidbit? Everyone keeps making a big deal about how Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern costume is all CGI. Well guess what? It’s not the first time this has occurred. Robert Downey, Jr. detested the physical Ironman costume they built for him to wear so much that the ILM crew finally told him to take it off and not worry about it…they’d take care of it. So take that, Reynolds. Take it all the way back to Canada. I also received proof that my initial opinion of J.J. Abrams as a massive douchewanger is even truer than I originally thought. Oh, and he definitely doesn’t deserve the right to have anything to do with Star Trek.

And now it’s time for dinner. Homemade pizza. Yes, my prime suspect may have shared these accursed germs with me in the first place, but said suspect has also made sure I have been well fed throughout my convalescence. Prophets know I’m awful when it comes to knowing what to make myself when I’m well. Had I been left to my own devices, I probably would have survived on tea, toast, and Twizzlers.

So there you have it, denizens. Loba has been taken down, but not out. Like the Phoenix, I shall rise (hopefully, though, someone will stop me before I turn all Dark Phoenix and try to take over the world). And thankfully, I have tomorrow off. And Spike is running an all-day CSI marathon. Bonus!

Oh, and bonus for you, too. Here’s another Black Crowes video. Hope it makes you smile even half as much as it does me…

Sept 28, 01

Two days ago, I came home to find a lovely book-shaped package tucked between the front door and the screen door. This is not an unusual discovery; one-click shopping may not be the literal death of me, but it’s certainly slowly killing my attempts at frugal living. Still, this was another of my famous used purchases from Amazon Marketplace, which cost me barely more than $5 (that’s approximately 2 pence for my English readers).

My personal indulgence this time was a book that I added to my wish list in 2001: The Making of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I added it to my list not long after I’d seen the movie in the theater. Most geeks don’t like this movie, but I’ve seen it numerous times and have yet to tire of it.

I suppose I could call it one of my guilty pleasures, but I don’t feel all that guilty about loving it as much as I do. I think it’s gorgeous and epic and magnificent. I can’t speak to its source material, since I know nothing of the video games or other bits of media bearing the same name, but the CGI alone still enraptures me in ways that new movies never seem capable of doing. I suppose this is due to a general sensory overload from the glut of BANGZOOMWOW!!!11! special effects that Hollywood keeps dumping on us. Whatever it is, I don’t think I’ve felt as awed by a CGI movie as I was the first time I saw Final Fantasy. This was a level of realism that no one had yet seen from computer graphics. Just take a look at this close-up of Dr. Aki Ross:

It’s probably disturbing how long I can stare at this screen capture, observing all the details there: skin tone and texture, wrinkles, pores, reflections, freckles, eyelashes, eyebrows…I daresay that this could very well pass as a close-up of a real person, even now. True, there were aspects of Ross and other characters that immediately gave away their CGI existence—like how the fingers always looked too rounded or how lips never matched up quite as perfectly as if a real person was speaking—but this was holistically a spectacular feat by all involved…something that each and every one of them should remain proud to have accomplished.

As I settled in to flip through this book (which is in practically perfect condition; yet another win for Amazon Marketplace), I noticed that the pages automatically flipped open to a particular spot. Tucked into the middle of the book was a slip of note card stock, the Sony Pictures logo printed at the top along with the name “Sande Scoredos.” The following note, dated “Sept 28, 01,” had been jotted down in a strong, sweeping cursive hand:

G______,
Thank you so much for helping out today with the Digital Studio SPI Overview & Tour. Your presentation was excellent and really helped us show what our facility can do.

Thank you,
Sande

The first thing that struck me was the fact that this was written less than a month after the 9/11 attacks here in NYC, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. I know it’s a bizarre and disturbing first thought to have, but I’ve been conditioned to have this exact Pavlovian response to anything pertaining to the year 2001. This note seems antithetical in relation to that time…that things so innocuous as overviews and thank you notes were still happening while the smoke still rose from our gaping wounds.

Life continues to move forward, and we do our best to keep stumbling forward as well.

Then I focused on the name imprinted on the note card: Sande Scoredos. I’d never heard the name before, but was intrigued enough by the presence of a personal note from her, stuck in a book I’d picked up online from a California Goodwill, that I immediately booted up the netbook and Googled her name.

Her accomplishments read like a history of CGI itself: Former executive director of technical training and artist development for Sony Pictures Imageworks for 12 years, she provided training and mentoring to thousands of artists throughout the worlds of animation and visual effects. She helped establish training programs at Sony Pictures Imageworks, with more than 50 courses on life drawing, sculpting, animation, effects, color and lighting, compositing, et cetera. She was involved in the visual effects development of some of Sony’s biggest titles, including all three of Sam Raimi’s Spider-man movies, which sport some pretty spectacular effects.

I learned all this by reading her obituary and a tribute posted by one of her friends and mentees.

Sande Scoredos died on August 14 of this year.

I closed the netbook and looked back at the note card in my hand: 12 short lines scratched out in rollerball blue ink, each line trailing slightly upward toward the ends, the words becoming slightly less precise toward the bottom. Just a quick bit of appreciation jotted down and slipped into the pages of a book that perhaps represented to her an extraordinary peak in a professional lifetime of devotion to these computer-generated universes. Or perhaps it was merely something picked out by an assistant. Perhaps the assistant actually wrote these lines? All assumption at this point, isn’t it?

Whatever the truth, this note has preyed on my mind ever since I found it. I’m not even really sure why. The sad, simple truth is that people die every day, and I’d hate to ever imply that Scoredos’s passing has in some way affected me more simply because I could look her up on IMDb. And yet I find myself now in possession of a book given as a gift by a woman who, it would seem, helped develop, push, and improve a field of entertainment that, throughout the years, has angered, inspired, delighted, frustrated, and mesmerized me. Even without knowing her name, I knew her work well. And, whether or not she made this particular selection herself, her note was found in a book about a movie that has brought me immeasurable happiness.

People do die every day, but what they leave behind can have impacts on people’s lives in the strangest, most unexpected ways.

The Stakes Are High

First, a flashback to a post from my Angry BloggerTM days, originally titled, “imagined conversation edition”:

I went to bed relatively late last night. I had to work on something for the office, and I find that I must succumb to my creative muse, no matter what time she visits. Needless to say, it was after midnight before I finally settled down and tried to fall asleep. I was wired on enough Cafe du Monde to hold sleep at bay, but not without creative consequences. I imagined the following conversation that I would love to have with any Hollywood exec:

Me: Hey, why is it that you guys can’t come up with anything new?
Hollywood Exec: We’re coming up with new things all the time.
Me: You do realize that this year is barely halfway over and you guys have already released three movies based on old TV shows.
Exec: But we gave them all new twists!
Me: New twists that made them all lousy. What next, Mr. Ed played by a camel?
Exec: (eerie silence)
Me: That’s not something you should be writing down, by the way.
Exec: Well, we are considering a movie based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Me: That was a movie first.
Exec: Right! We’re proposing a movie based on a television show that was inspired by a movie. And we’d like to cast Kristy Swanson as Buffy. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
Me: What’s the matter, did Sarah say no?
Exec: Well…she said that she would like to broaden her acting selection.
Me: Plus, she’s busy filming Scooby Doo 3, isn’t she?
Exec:
Me: Right. Then there’s the inordinate number of books being turned into movies.
Exec: But those are often excellent adaptations of very original stories.
Me: I agree. But they aren’t original on your part. Neither are the movies based on video games, Japanese horror movies, cartoons, comic books…and sequels don’t count either.
Exec: But the sequels-
Me: Are usually to movies that were based on ideas that came from somewhere other than you! Then, of course, there’s the one original idea that is then passed among the studios like Paris Hilton’s video at a sperm bank.
Exec: Well…actually, that sounds like a great idea for a movie. Can we buy the rights to that?
Me: No.
Exec:
Me: Anyway, so which one of you guys was the first to hit on the airplane concept? Which came first: Flightplan or Red Eye?
Exec: I’m not at liberty to say, for legal reasons. Although, between you and me, we were first.
Me: Right. But the other guys got bigger star power.
Exec: Hey, it’s not always in the actor’s hands. A big portion of the success is all about the writing.
Me: My point exactly.
Exec:
Me:
Exec: Hey, how about a mockumentary movie about a blogger trying to uncover the truth about lame movie ideas?
Me: How about I hang up now and go buy stock in Amazon.com. I think a reading revolution is just on the horizon…

Obviously, I should stay away from too much caffeine before bed…

I wrote this back in 2005. I was striving to be as silly as I could be.

Now, a link: Buffy remake is going ahead and Joss Whedon responds.

No word yet on whether or not my “silly” suggestion to cast Kristy Swanson again has also come to pass.

Sigh. I might have to destroy all traces of my blog if Mr. Ed the camel ever comes to the big screen…

Bunneh!

Kind of swamped at work, and I’ve been doing fun things away from work (things that I may or may not discuss here at a later time…). Thus are my excuses for any dip in appearances here at the lair.

Mea culpa, denizens.

Here, then, is a photo apology. Here is…BUNNEH. I snapped a shot of this little guy during my Father’s Day visit to North Carolina (yes, it’s been a while…I’m quite behind in posting photos here as well, but hope to resolve this soon with some very exciting photos taken during a recent away team mission).

I think my favorite thing about this photo isn’t even part of the actual image. Instead, it’s the memory of my dad yelling to me as I stalked Bunneh with my telephoto lens, “I think there’s something wrong with that rabbit. He should have run away by now. Why is he just sitting there? Is he frothing? You know, there have been several cases of rabies reported recently in this state. You might not want to get any closer!”

I wanted so desperately to make a Holy Grail Killer Bunny comment at this point in his monologue, but sadly, my dad has never seen the movie.

“Run away! Run away! Run away!”

It's just a harmless little bunny, innit?

Poster Picks (and Bonus Movie Review): The Runaways

I don’t often review movies here at the lair beyond what I’ve been reviewing through my DVDregs project (which I haven’t forgotten about; I just prefer to spend more time reading books than watching movies). I also find that most movies that come down the Hollywood pipeline are such disappointments that I anticipate very little from the movie world anymore.

I was, however, greatly anticipating The Runaways. I’ve been a HUGE Joan Jett fan since I first heard the opening percussion and guitars of “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” And when that gorgeous, gravelly, smoke-saturated voice kicked in, my little Blackheart belonged to her. She is one of the original rocker grrls who still wails like nobody’s business, even at one notch past the half-century mark.

I didn’t learn about her early roots until much later (thank you, Interwebz!), but when I did discover The Runaways, I had another squee attack. This is the band that started the careers of Joan Jett AND Lita Ford?! Close my eyes forever, indeed.

So I began paying more attention to the cinema chat swirling around this one, and that’s when I stumbled upon the teaser poster for this movie.

What a big hot mess of sexual innuendo!

Let’s start with the tagline: “It’s 1975 and they’re about to explode.”

Okay, this could be interpreted in non-sexual ways, especially if you assume that people viewing this poster know who The Runaways were in the music world and subsequently look at this statement from a purely musical standpoint. 1975 was a year filled with some…interesting chart-topping musicians: Captain and Tenille. Glen Campbell. John Denver. K.C. & the Sunshine Band. Barry Manilow. The Carpenters. The Bee Gees. Melissa Manchester.

1975 was basically an easy listening station’s wet dream. But something was brewing under the surface on both sides of the Atlantic…something awesome and raucous and loud. The punk rock scene hit huge in ’75, with the appearance of groups like the Sex Pistols, Blondie, and the Ramones. I won’t try to ramble on anymore about punk rock since I have already pointed out that music knowledge is not one of my strong points (I only knew about these three groups because I like their music).

However, just this little bit of knowledge gives credence to the tagline’s statement that “It’s 1975 and they’re about to explode.” The Runaways were most assuredly nothing like The Carpenters. Their different-from-mainstream sound was ready to explode onto the scene and take that filthy muskrat love hostage. Plus, their arrival on the music scene meant the arrival of the girls to the predominantly boys’ club of hard rock.

Then we get to the poster’s solitary graphic: a ripe, red, luscious, dripping cherry with a lit fuse for a stem.

Again, let’s assume some Runaways knowledge. Probably their biggest hit was the song “Cherry Bomb.” It not only shows up on every Runaways compilation out there, but Jett has included her renditions on both her greatest hit CDs. So here we have the visual representation of the proverbial cherry bomb, made even more prominent by the black background.

[Loba Tangent: I love how this bright red image against the black background is so evocative of the poster for that 1975 movie cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.]

[Loba Post-Posting Tangent: I just realized, after looking at the poster on a monitor with a brighter contrast than the monitor I was previously on that the black background has the overlay of a record (you know, those crazy huge discs that artists now melt and sculpt into bowls?) ghosted into it. Nice touch!]

Then you get the names of the two principal actors, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, in a simple white sans serif, hovering above a roughly spray-painted and smudged stencil of the movie title, in matching cherry red paint. It’s amateurish but bold, which are definitely two things that could be applied to the early days of this band.

Of course, if we remove the assumption that people looking at this poster have any idea of who The Runaways were or what they meant to the music world, this poster drips with sexual innuendo (literally!), just like I originally said. Then again, with lyrics like “I’ll give ya something to live for! Have ya, grab ya til you’re sore!” there’s very little room for interpretation here. The Runaways were fiercely sexual, often referred to as “Jail Bait Rock” for obvious reasons: They were all in their teens or barely 20, with original lead singer Cherie Curie only 15 when she joined the band. Gives that “ready to explode” cherry a whole different connotation there, eh?

Sex sells, and this poster definitely sells the sexuality of this movie and this group.

Bonus Movie Review

I’ve already said a lot about the group The Runaways with my poster review. So what about the movie? I cringe a little at calling this movie a proper biopic of the entire group. It really isn’t.

The screenplay is based upon Cherie Curie’s Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway. Curie was only with the band from 1975-77, so obviously basing the script on her recollections isn’t going to give the full story. Also, it’s her memoir so it’s told from her perspective with her take on what was happening. Jett was tapped to provide additional information, to help flesh out the story (which is only appropriate since Jett was the group’s founding member with drummer Sandy West, who died in 2006 of lung cancer).

That being said, obviously the focus of this movie was Curie, with Jett playing a substantial secondary role. I was actually very surprised by this, for two reasons. One, Joan Jett is the most successful musician to come from the original line-up and she was a co-founder, so you’d think she’d be more of the focus. Two, look at the teaser poster: Kristen Stewart received billing ahead of Dakota Fanning. I took this as an indication that her role would be more substantial. I guess it really was a matter of box office pull. Stewart is the bigger name thanks to those shitty twinkly vampire movies the Twilight franchise.

I’ve never read Curie’s memoir but I can only assume that it’s a bit of a weak read based on the overall weakness of this movie’s screenplay. There’s an absence of cohesion throughout the storytelling. Also, the band members who aren’t Curie or Jett get supremely shafted in screen time as well as character development. Case in point: The biggest scene for Lita Ford is brief and tantamount to a hissy fit. Regardless of whether or not this was an accurate portrayal or just how Curie remembered this particular moment, it makes Ford one-dimensional and rather unsympathetic. Again, though, since this is from Curie’s perspective, maybe that was the ultimate goal.

Negatives of the screenplay aside, this movie’s strength resides in those two names on the poster. I still find Dakota Fanning unnerving. She’s literally the oldest young person I’ve ever seen. However, she brings a fierceness and energy to her portrayal of Cherie Curie that is incendiary. Her transformation from mousy waif from a broken home to corseted, drug-addled prima donna jail bait was almost completely believable (hindered only by the obvious and unchangeable truth that Fanning isn’t all these things, so it’s really all pretend in the end).

As for Stewart’s performance as Joan Jett? This is the kind of acting I want to see more of from Stewart. She has an ability to completely immerse herself into a role to spectacular effect. For this movie, Stewart was Joan Jett, right down to the burgeoning of those amazing sexy-growly vocals that are synonymous with Jett’s solo career.

Jett herself is on record as stating that the first time she listened to a recording of Stewart singing one of the movie’s songs, she thought the producers had made a mistake and sent her a recording of herself from those days. Whether this is movie hype hyperbole or not, both Stewart and Fanning nailed their musical impersonations, making their contributions to the movie’s soundtrack excellent additions.

Yes, I have the soundtrack already. It’s actually quite good, a substantial mix of movie Runaways and real Runaways music interspersed with songs from other punk/rock scions like Suzi Quatro (Leather Tuscadero!!), The Stooges, Sex Pistols, MC5, and David Bowie.

Regardless of screenplay flaws, this is one raucous, vulgar, in-your-face, wild ride into the true essence of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” and the brakes are out and there’s no stopping until the cliff appears ahead and we all go plummeting to our rock goddess deaths. But we’ll be so hopped up on whatever pills and booze we can get our hands on, we just won’t care.

I think the only thing that I would have loved to see more of was toward the end, when Jett began to be the dominant character and we started seeing her metamorphosis into the soon-to-be Jett of Blackhearts fame. And when Stewart appeared toward the movie’s end, wearing that fuchsia blazer with the hyper-huge shoulder pads? I squeed a little. And immediately pictured this in my mind:

I love rock-n-roll, too, Joan. Oh, yes, I do.

Of course, we don’t need a biopic on Jett. We know what happened with her post-Runaways. But I wouldn’t complain if Stewart wanted to finally stop hanging out with sparkly vampires and sink her teeth into another Jett-based role. Until then, though, I’ve added The Runaways to my wishlist and am looking forward to firing up the soundtrack for my commute home. Drive me wild…

ZomBlasphemy

How To Massacre a Horror Movie Classic In Three Easy Steps

Here, first, is a brief list of Things That Never Should Have Happened:

  • Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween.

Well, I did say it was brief.

OMGWTF.

Typically, I don’t condone real violence of any kind, but I would like to officially request that I be allowed to kick-box Rob Zombie in his outtie bits for the full 2 hours that I wasted on this piece of shit movie.

I warn you now: This post will be graphic in language and anger, and will spoil the hell out of Zombie’s remake. Why? Because I’m angry that I wasted time on what I knew in the very core of my being was going to be shit, and I want to make damn certain that none of my denizens make the same stupid mistake.

Unfortunately, I may ruin bits of John Carpenter’s original movie as well, so be forewarned. Actually, though, if you’re reading this and you haven’t seen Carpenter’s Halloween, stop right now and go watch it. I’m not kidding. I’ll still be here when you’re finished, venting and howling pointlessly.

First let’s begin with…the beginning. The opening of the 1978 version is so classic and so iconic. The clown mask. The fastest sex scene in the history of movies. The killing. The reveal. Oh, the reveal. What a brilliant moment that was, wasn’t it? How the camera that has been, up to this moment, showing us the action from the killer’s POV, changes to now show us that the killer is a tiny little boy with the most chilling, expressionless face in the history of Haddonfield. I can honestly say that I found this to be one of the most disturbing setups for a horror movie villain ever.

How does Zombie fuck it up? The same way most people from my generation fuck things up: by taking it TO THE XTREME!!!11!!!!1 We’ve got to see everything! We have to have reasons! Why and how!! We can’t be satisfied with just seeing a little boy fall into the abyss of pure darkness. We have to see what made him that way!! So what’s Zombie’s take on what made Michael Myers? He’s full-blown, over-the-top, no-holds-barred White Trash, of course.

I hate copouts like this. It’s a benchmark of lazy, unimaginative writing to fall back on something so trite and, quite frankly, stereotypical.

Also, which do you find more disturbing? The idea that Michael Myers was the product of a by-the-Hollywood-numbers dysfunctional upbringing, with his stripper mom (of course she’s a stripper!!) and her abusive, useless boyfriend, his slutty sister and houseful of predictable White Trash insanity? Or that Michael Myers was the son of a bland suburban family living in a bland suburban house in a bland suburban neighborhood, with two happily boring parents and an older sister too busy fooling around with her desperately-in-need-of-stamina boyfriend to notice that her baby brother was getting ready to step into the darkness of pure evil for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

I don’t know about you, denizens, but the latter version is way more disturbing to me.

Plus, in addition to the White Trash angle, Zombie heaps on gluttonous helpings of offensive language and over-the-top unnecessary violence, including showing Michael Myers massacre his entire fucked-up family minus his mom, who’s off stripping, and his baby sister. Yeah, Zombie decided to embrace that portion of the Halloween franchise and make Laurie Strode Michael Myers’s baby sister.

Of course, what Zombie fails to then explain is how exactly Michael Myers knows where his little sis ends up after he’s put away and his mom kills herself over the clusterfuck her family became. He also fails to explain how Myers ends up being built like a brick shit house when all he does is sit in his locked room in his locked ward, making papier-mâché masks for himself. We all have to suspend disbelief now and again, I suppose. After all, Carpenter’s Myers not only knew how to drive a car but also seemed to instinctively know how to return home, even though he’d been locked up in a mental asylum since he was a little boy. However, I feel far more amenable to suspending belief for Carpenter than I will ever feel for Zombie.

I do not understand why anyone allowed this remake to happen. I know that Zombie told Carpenter that he was doing it, and Carpenter’s response was that Zombie should make it his own story. But all Zombie did was bring FAIL to name Halloween. Carpenter’s original 1978 movie is sheer horror brilliance. Yes, it shows its age in many areas. Yes, there is this weird puritanical undertone that only virginal good girls survive horror movies (thank you, Sidney Prescott, for disproving this “rule” with such panache; now please go away and take Gale and Dewey with you).

Put all that aside and what you have is an amazing script brought to life by a director who knew that, to really scare his audience, he needed one thing. Come on, you know what word Loba’s about to write, don’t you? Let’s say it all together now…ATMOSPHERE!!

Carpenter’s vision of this story is so expertly controlled. He never takes it over the top, never makes it seem implausible (okay, the asylum breakout scene was a bit vague). He didn’t need gallons of fake blood or CGI trickery or truckloads of pedantic and patronizing exposition. Truth is, he and co-writer Debra Hill banged out the script in a very short period of time, made minimal rewrites, and filmed the original movie for about a dime more than what a Starbucks Venti latte costs today. Further evidence to support my motto that “Less Is More.”

Carpenter’s Michael was a whisper on the wind, a diaphanous demon who skirted the perimeters, always watching, only seen by us, the helpless audience, who could do nothing but scream impotently at the screen as our protagonists bounced, popped, sang, and screwed their way along (“Totally!”), until Michael deemed it their time to exit, stage left. It’s torturous bliss, done to perfection by Carpenter’s direction. Myers is there in the flutter of a curtain, the creak of a door, the shimmer of candlelight. And then…he’s gone.

There was none of this greatness in Zombie’s take on the story. If Carpenter’s Michael was a whisper, Zombie’s Michael was a freakin’ bulldozer: all rumble and destruction, no grace or tact.

Also, and this is my own personal pet peeve, when we first see him as a young boy, he speaks. Michael Myers doesn’t effing speak!

Then there’s Dr. Loomis. Donald Pleasance should be granted permission from whatever afterworld that might exist to exact unmerciful punishment against Zombie and Malcolm McDowell for this insipid, touchy-feely bastardization of the great Dr. Loomis. Dr. Loomis was fierce and scared and heartless in how he spoke of Michael to others he was trying to warn, and we didn’t need any freakin’ explanation as to why. We didn’t need to know what he saw during those 15 years that he worked with Michael. We were a smart enough audience that we could figure out on our own that it must have been some pretty fucked-up shit.

And Pleasance’s Loomis would have never…I repeat, NEVER in a bajillion years, told Michael at any point that “in a weird way, you’ve become like my best friend.”

OMGWTF!!!

You know what? Zombie should have left his original ending in which Michael killed Dr. Loomis, because this version of the character didn’t deserve to live. I don’t care how great Malcolm McDowell may be in other movies, in this he stinks. Of course, you’re only as good as the material you’re given to work with, and that’s not saying much in this instance. You’d think that someone who obviously loves McDowell as much as Zombie does (ever see his video for “Never Gonna Stop”? Red, Red Kroovy, baby…) would have given him something better to work with than a shitty hairpiece and a shittier script.

To call this remake an abomination is a gross understatement. Every time I heard Carpenter’s original Halloween theme play, I understood the true meaning of the word “sacrilege.” It’s also further proof that Hollywood respects nothing beyond the almighty dollar. If they did, they would have never let anyone remake this movie, but they would have especially been vigilant of placing such a classic in the hands of the man who directed House of 1,000 Corpses and who continues to insist on casting his wife even though she has the acting ability of a can of potted meat.

I’m actually angry at myself for renting this movie; I feel as though I’ve somehow validated the remake by doing so. It was my own stupidity though. I’ve resisted watching it for this long, but after listening to a podcast recently that said not completely unkind things about the remake, I decided that maybe I was being too critical (as I am prone to be) and perhaps I needed to learn a little lesson in leniency. Consider this post to be this horror disciple’s penance before the cock crows three times.

Burn, Zombie. Burn and take every last copy of your shitty remake with you. This is the perfect movie to explain why I hate remakes right down to my very core. Also the perfect reason why I’m not even giving the Nightmare remake a second thought. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish rinsing my brain with peroxide.

Avatar Is Like Megan Fox

Trying extremely hard to be beautiful, succeeding in an obviously fake way, and possessing no real substance beneath the pretty.

I have a nerd notebook in which I write nerd notes about nerdy things. I wrote this about Avatar. I honestly don’t even remember writing it, but it made me laugh this morning when I discovered it while looking for something else in my notes.

My apologies to Avatar and James Cameron for the harsh comparison.

What Scares You?

Happy Ides of March, denizens! Watch your back and don’t trust your BFF Brutus today. Actually, don’t ever trust someone named Brutus. It’s a weird name and sounds too much like Bluto. Don’t trust people named Bluto either. Only trust Loba.

So I’ve been having a bit of a resurgence of horror love as of late, thanks in part to my DVDregs project as well as the discovery of a new podcast (let’s see how well my denizens pay attention to their surroundings; this new podcast recently made the list under “Sounds Sweet” to the right).

I love horror movies. I love the coronary jolt, the acrid tang of fear and adrenaline. I’ve been a horror fan since I was a wee pup. Back in the day, it was all about gore for me. I was mad into slasher flicks. Freddy Krueger was my all-time favorite at the time, simply because he was all about the gore and camp, two things that when combined provide an unstoppable tsunami of entertainment for those so inclined to enjoy such a combination.

Actually, Freddy is still pretty high on my list of favorites, but I think I’m far more apt to choose the original movie over any of the sequels. That first appearance of Freddy was so very dark and grotesque and disturbing. The guy was a child killer when he was alive, which is one of the darkest of all the criminal acts one can choose for their villain…something that I think is completely glossed over in sequels, which trade in the disturbing truth of this burned boogie man for the camp of one-liners like “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” or “Better not dream and drive!”

As much as I enjoyed watching Robert Englund chew the scenery like a pit bull on steroids in all the sequels (and, really, there is no other reason to watch most of the sequels than Englund’s performances as Krueger), it’s that first appearance of Krueger that keeps pulling me back. That’s the defining Freddy movie, the one that most deserves its place in the horror pantheon.

[I’m still flipping a razor-sharp middle finger to the remake, though. I’d rather be forced to watch one of those craptacular sparkly vampire movies than have to endure watching Hollywood botch up another of my favorite horror movies a la Zombie’s Hallowhathafu.]

So what scares me now? Atmosphere. I think I pretty much pushed this idea home significantly in my Halloween posting from last year. Almost every single movie on that list was frightening because of story rather than how much red dye and corn syrup they used in the making of the film. Even the gorier picks from this list depend more heavily on clever writing than on the gore factor (okay, so Billy from Black Christmas isn’t the most eloquent obscene phone caller…I’ll give you that).

It’s atmosphere. I remember my first realization of this truth came when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I was well entrenched in my horror phase by this point thanks in part to cable television and the local Nightmare Theater movie presentation every Saturday (followed, of course, by Freddy’s Nightmares and Friday the 13th: The Series). That Halloween, the community newspaper ran a contest in which they asked their younger readers to submit a scary story that would be judged for inclusion in their special Halloween section. Prizes were involved as well, but I don’t really remember what they were.

I also don’t remember what exactly I wrote for my submission. However, it was something horribly slasherific, something trite and predictable. Something that to me, at that point in my life, possessed all the trademarks of great horror. Needless to say, I didn’t win. But to this day, I still remember the story that did win that year. It was about a harlequin mask. No blood. No gore. No death. And it was scary as hell. Why?

All together now: Atmosphere. Something like that crawls under your skin and sleeps there, not jolting you immediately, but slowly releasing its venom through your blood, where it seeps and trickles until it’s permeated through to your very core. That’s the kind of horror I find myself loving most now. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like cheap scares as well…but the cheap scares are transitory. It’s the deeper scares that stay with you, make you squirm over and over.

Know what one of my favorite examples of this type of horror in recent years is? 2008’s The Brøken. It’s all the things that instantaneous shock seekers abhor: slow, brooding, surreal, and stylish. Would I recommend this movie to most horror fans? No, not really. It’s a bit too avant-garde for a lot of people’s tastes, and there are admittedly several WTF moments in which it seems as though something integral was cut too close for editorial comfort. However, I still very much enjoyed this film.

Same with 2005’s The Skeleton Key. Again, not a movie designed to slam you with constant jumps and starts. But I found that it crawled into my brain and hung around for quite a while, bothering me with its simple premise and simply creepy ending.

I guess what I’m saying is that I very much enjoy scary films that tamper with my senses and my sensibilities. Cheap thrills are just fine, but give me a movie that’s going to leave me afraid to open a closet (stupid Ring) or make the natural settling noises of a building set my teeth on edge, and I’m one happy wolf.

That’s all I really wanted to write about. Sorry if you were expecting something a bit deeper. How about this? I promise a book review soon and possibly even another DVDregs review. Ooh, ‘citin’!