Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Horror Movie Coolie! Clemens (Charles Dance) in Alien 3

Charles Dance may be now better known as someone on Game of Thrones (No, I haven't seen it. Yes, I have every intention of seeing it.) But I will always think of him as Clemens in Alien 3.
 And yeah, to look at him... not much, right? But he's sexy because he's kind, perceptive and damn helpful to Ripley without making a huge deal about it. The more she warms up to him, so does the audience.

Alien 3 is a tricky film. I like it though it's no Alien or Aliens, but it's a totally serviceable sci-fi flick and an interesting piece of film history as it's  David Fincher's first feature film. Even though Fincher has basically disowned the movie, it's not that bad. I imagine the reports of studio interference while he was working on it was enough to make anyone want to forget the experience, but at least it's no Alien Resurrection....

But back to Clemens, the Alien series has an interesting way of provoking then disproving Ripley's suspicions which is a massive factor in her character (see Bishop in Aliens) and Clemens is no exception. While she jumps into bed with him quite quickly she is being told not to flaunt her sexuality around the prisoners who are all rapists and murderers. Clemens shows his loyalty early on and because the film's production was bleeding money Ripley suddenly becomes more trusting. Or she's getting soft in her old age and realizes people die around her all the time so she better get while the gettin's good. (cough, Hicks, cough)

What makes Clemens a Coolie is that I totally bought it. He's thoughtful without being creepy, he's charming without being gross and he's smart without being a know-it-all. A lot of men should be reading from the Book of Clemens.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Horror Genres: Satanic

You've got to hand it to the Devil. That guy gets away with a lot. Sure he/she/it is does a lot of bad things but he/she/it doesn't give a damn because he/she/it is the Devil.

Keyser Söze, a Devil figure himself, said "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." While the Devil can make you do just about whatever he wants there needs to be a human element or vessel involved to carry forward some diabolical plot which is where humanity comes in....

For me, the Devil just makes sense. I feel like his reasons to kill and destroy the population are probably the best out of any of them. He's pissed off so he's going to fuck with God's children. (bare with me on my knowledge of the Christian faith, I was raised by lapsed Catholics) If you were cast out of Heaven and in charge of a place with a bunch of rapists and murderers, wouldn't you want to schadenfreude that shit up? If you say "no", you're lying. Stop lying.

In any event, Satanic films were booming in the 1960s and 70s with the likes of Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, Don't Look Now and the rise of counterculture. Cults, particularly after Charles Manson, were feeding into the paranoia of the time and the Devil has a way of attacking those most vulnerable; women and children. The paranoia that the United States in particular but the rest of the world felt as well during the Cold War, Watergate and Vietnam brought about the search and need for explanation of the sinister forces in the world.

One of the many reasons we watch horror movies is because we confront a threat and with a bit of luck, the threat gets neutralized. As the general public became aware of Satanic cults studios found ways to capitalize on the sensational aspect of sacrifice and a fully evil entity.

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Based on the novel by Ira Levin (who also wrote The Stepford Wives) this Polanski classic follows the pregnancy and paranoia of Rosemary Woodhouse and her smarmy husband Guy. This is one of the most quiet and most unsettling pieces of film I've ever seen. It's an incredibly well crafted and watchable film. And while I'm not the biggest Mia Farrow fan, it's worth watching for Ruth Gordon in, what I would argue to be, one of the best performances in horror.

The Omen  (1976)

I have a an incredibly fond memory of this movie. My father was so excited to show it to me (I would have been 8 or 9) that he gleefully described the scene where the photographer's head gets cut off with the glass pane then wandered around our house laughing to himself.

For a movie that is that far-fetched it feels very real and addresses the fear of the unknown as Gregory Peck knows it's not his child and must try to put his suspicions to rest. It is fraught with some extremely violent sequences interwoven with a thoughtful and well-rounded script. I always feel like the Omen never gets it's due as one of the all-time great movies. If you haven't seen it, get thee to thine local DVD store and thee can thank me later.

The Ninth Gate (1999)

Polanski and Depp. This should be right up there with the other films I've mentioned here but it ain't. I re-watched this recently and I'm torn between saying the film has little plot and spends over 90 mins trying to make it seem complicated or this plot is ridic complicated and the Polanski just didn't capture it. Either way, the silliness is only amplified by bizarre performances, an uneven plot and ending that almost made me break my TV. Sometimes potential is the biggest Devil of them all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

3 Evil Corporations and the Business They Do

Perhaps it's my tiny woman brain but I very rarely understand business. It's complex. I know there's a lot of Power Point presentations, iPad use and latte drinking but what do they really do? When global markets were crashing a few years ago CEOs were put on trial and it was revealed the disgusting amount of money they make. As I followed the stories it seemed these people were best suited to setting briefcases of money on fire.

So who's to blame for this? Some would argue the inherent faults in the capitalistic system (read: my communist university professors) but I think it has much more to do with movies. Seriously.

Movies make corporations seem sexy and full of sexy sex.... or just in the business creating zombies. Which can seem kind of cool. Who doesn't like deity-like power? And if you're at the head of these corporations, you're pretty safe. Like, in a literal safe-house safe.

I would like to take a look at some of the business practices of the most infamous businesses in movies.

The Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil)

I'd like to think that the key to good business is not murdering your entire client base, but I could be wrong. After four Resident Evil films, I've gleamed that Umbrella Corporation is a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical business that would dig on getting into weapons.

Admittedly, it does help that when shit goes wrong you already possess the nuclear devices to blow up major city and attempt a cover up. But really, why reanimation? Especially when the reanimated eat you. At least cigarette companies are willing to invest 40 odd years in their buyers. And loyalty is rare these days.

But I would actually like to know how the dead rising or unleashing uncontrollable monsters would benefit profit margins. Granted there is talk of military uses for the zombies, but really. Zombies have to be the worst soldiers ever. Based on data I've gathered from Milla Jovovich looking hot and fighting in slow motion, the Umbrella Corporation has lost an average of one outpost per year, if not more. That just seems like bad business practice. Not Goldman-Sachs bad, but still.

Weyland-Yutani (Alien series) 
Honestly, what the fuck do these guys even do?

From what I gather they spend stupid amounts of money, wipe out their own employees in an effort to capture the universe's most violent, uncontrollable being that can only breed by wiping out MORE of your population.

Over the four films, it's suggested that Weyland-Yutani is a space-exploration business that's really a front for capturing, harvesting and controlling these aliens. Why, you ask? Well, it's not explained. But statistically they've operated at a 100% failure rate over 200 years. So there's that....

CyberDyne Systems (Terminator series)
Oh, CyberDyne.... They're a pretty impotent company UNTIL they invent SkyNet, which is this super awesome robot system that controls things like nuclear missiles.

I don't even feel comfortable knowing people control missiles, let alone nuclear ones. So yeah, robots. Good call. Just make sure their switches are turned to good instead of evil. Oh, the guy who's in charge of that went for a smoke break.... that's okay...I'm sure it'll be fine....No, no.... just go live....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Exorcism 101

I think most horror fans love a good exorcism. I mean, scary is always somewhat related to reality, right? And what's scarier than something that still looks human but certainly doesn't act human? Nothing. That's the scariest thing ever.

Or it can be the worst thing ever. Last night my roommate and I watch Exorcismus (2010). It's a surprisingly well shot movie that makes an attempt to be something more than your average horror film. (cough, The Rite, cough) But seriously, when your daughter levitates three feet off the floor while unconscious and your entire family is witness to it, you call a priest and do what he says. When he says "don't let her be alone with anyone." DON'T LET HER BE ALONE WITH ANYONE.
Shocking I know. I don't believe in religion but when people levitate and start speaking different languages you can bet your last penny I'm switching over to Team Jesus.

I'm bringing up Exorcismus as a very well intentioned but very flawed film. There are, on the other hand, a great many other exorcism films that are damn good. In my opinion they are....

The Exorcist (1973)
Well, duh. I mean Chris MacNeil is all like "shit, there's something wrong with my daughter." Then after a battery of medical exams that produce no conclusive results, she calls an exorcist. They strap her to a bed and don't let her leave. Now, THAT'S an exorcism.

Beetlejuice (1988)

If there was ever an upside to exorcism it's Tim Burton's Beetlejuice.But it involves "bio-exorcism" aka getting rid of the living. Bureaucracy does exist in the afterlife, but thankfully it's still funny.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

This one is like a mix of an exorcism movie and an episode of Law & Order. Half of the film depicts the titular Emily's exorcism and the other half the trial of Father Moore who performed the exorcism. It's super creepy and an interesting examination of the psychosis involved with believing oneself to be possessed.

The Last Exorcism (2010)

I really liked this movie up until the last 10 minutes. then it just got stupid. Really stupid. Do everything in the first 80 minutes, then do the opposite of the last 10 minutes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Horror Characters We Love.... And The Bad Decisions They Make

This is a post inspired by a movie I'd heard a whole lot about and finally just saw, Eden Lake (2009). Jenny and Steve are a well-to-do attractive couple who go on a romantic weekend away only to be terrorized by a group of young'uns. Needless to say, it doesn't end well. For anyone. While watching it with friends there would always be one of us yelling at the screen for Jenny or Steve to do, or not do, something.

That's part of the joy of horror, put characters in life or death situations and you the viewer is bound to see something more that the character should do. Or because of our privileged knowledge of the plot, we know what they should not do. It doesn't mean we love these characters any less, we simply wish they knew a bit better...

 **Beware Los Spoilers**

Sarah The Descent (2005)

Who doesn't love The Descent? It's a great movie, not just a great horror movie. But man, don't you wish Sarah knew just a little bit better? When your friend and your husband keep making mopey eyes at each other, you divorce the dirt bag. When your friend says, let's go spelunking! You say, I think a spa retreat would be great considering I'm the only survivor of a car wreck that killed my only child and my dirt bag husband.

Ben The Night of The Living Dead (1968)

Who doesn't like Ben? Ben is awesome. He's reliable and really tries to be proactive but perhaps a bit too proactive when it comes to the men with guns....

David The Mist (2007)

Now The Mist is a very tricky movie. The ending has infuriated more than a fair share of its audience. David, escaping an increasingly dangerous situation in a supermarket where he and his young son have taken refuge after a mysterious mist filled with monsters descends on their town he is forced to make a truly terrifying decision. He makes the decision he believes to be best only to have it thrown back in his face. Hindsight is indeed 20/20.

Dean Corso The Ninth Gate (1999)

What the hell Johnny Depp? I'm enjoying this awesome satanic movie and then the end? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?!? All that time spent acting and character developing! WASTED! I don't care how hot Roman Polanski's wife is, your character should not be wandering through a gate, let alone nine, to meet Satan!

Wendy The Shining (1980)

Wendy, Wendy, Wendy.... I admire how much blinding love you have for your family, but for reals, you should have locked your husband in that closet a lot sooner. Also, don't let your husband make-out with sexy ghosts.