Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Women In Horror Month

For those of you that don't know, February is Women in Horror Recognition Month as you can tell by the seal to your right.

This is the third February recognizing women in horror so all of Scare Tactic's posts will be WiHM related. Fear not, true believers. You'll still get the same content but with a decidedly (more so) laydee-like bent. I'm going to be talking about 4 of my favourite female horror characters and their evolution from celluloid, to audience reception to scholarly discourse. The first lady up, is the one and only Carrie White. There will also be some special events which I'll post here. So keep it in your pants, don't go upstairs and listen to what the crazy old man sez, 'cause it be Women in Horror Month!

For more information check out:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

28 Weeks after that thing that was bad happened.

I thought 28 Weeks Later was going to have as much bite as Will Smith's lyrics.(sample lyrics: Ciga-cigar right from Cuba-Cuba, I just bite it, It's for the look - I don't light it) But lo, I BE WRONG!
I remember liking it when I saw it in theatres and eventually my standard line on it was "the first 15 minutes are worth it." I said that line for so long I began to believe it. But lo AGAIN! I was also wrong. I recently picked up the DVD on the cheap and settled in one hungover evening to watch it by myself. My roommate made an appearance towards the end of the film, entering on our apartment as she often does - phone to ear. It was the first time she put her phone and asked, "what are you watching?"

The answer, dear readers, is I was watching one of the most emotionally traumatizing horror movies I can imagine. The movie does a great job of creating really likable and intelligent characters so when they brutally start dropping like flies (often in an instantaneously made decision for the greater good) but it helps the film feel brutally real. This version of London feels eerily reminiscent to that of Children of Men where decisions that affect the characters we like are made with little to no emotion.

In the 28 weeks since the first 28 days, the American military has moved in and have asserted control over the Rage virus outbreak. They are beginning to integrate civilians back into London slowly and with a lot of control. Needless to say, the Rage virus gets out again. Let's just say it's a man's fault. ANYHOOZLE, a group of the most attractive and charismatic people (army and civilian types) try to get on the last transport out of London before the military bomb the bejesus out of the UK.

It's typical stuff, right? But you've got a really amazing cast that bring this story to life and makes you care. You've got Rose Bryne (intelligent), Jeremy Renner (charming), Robert Carlyle (despicable) and Imogen Poots (naive) making up the bulk of the leads and it works. The script is clear and sharp, making the set up relatively painless and even reminds one of the American occupation of Iraq. If victory was declared, why were they still there???? The control mixed with the smugness of the American forces is horrific enough without all the zombies making a reappearance. (between you and I, I think we were a few scenes away from a zombie Guantanamo)

It's a truly worthy sequel that in some ways, I like better than the original. There, I said it. I believe it's the most under-appreciated film of the '00s. If you haven't seen it, do! Now!

And yes, those first 15 minutes are still not to be missed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stacie Ponder's Slashers 101

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this review I just want to state that I really, really dig Stacie Ponder and her blog Final Girl. It's a terrific blog and Ms Ponder is smart, funny and scarily knowledgeable about all things horror. So when she announced her mini-comic Slashers 101 I was all over that. I will say that I recommend checking out her Final Girl blog before purchasing 25 copies of this, because while I love that sense of humour, others might not. No more disclaimers, on the the show ... er... post!

Slashers 101 is like the best pamphlet/guide book I never got. The health clinic at my university would have been waaaaaay more entertaining with Slashers 101 on its shelves rather than Radon: The Silent Killer. But I digress. Ponder is a seasoned horror blogger so my expectations were high and relentless. This mini-comic had to be all things to me. Mother! Father! Sister! Brother! Friend! Lover (ew)! And as someone who spends an inordinate amount of time thinking, reading and watching horror, Slashers 101 is one of the most refreshing reads you might ever get.

Among many things, Ponder is also a comic book inker and artist. The breadth of her experience is evident in Slashers 101 with clever, simple and clean page layouts. Ponder becomes your guide and narrator through the world of Slashers (with an emphasis on North American slashers from the 70s and 80s) she includes cameos from Columbo, Dr. Loomis and the glass unicorn from Black Christmas among others. While she covers the basic sections such as history of, killers, victims, weapons and the Final Girl you've also got super sweet additions like "SlashFros" and "Dull Killers in Jeans" which keeps it from turning into an illustrated version of Carol Clover's  Men, Women and Chainsaws.

The best thing about this comic is it will appeal to relative newbies and horror fans. It's got all the information any book about horror movies will give but it references things and provides insight only hardcore fans would recognize. Show me another informative horror guide that mentions Curtains (1983) and I'll give you everything in my savings account.

The time, humour, creativity and thought that goes into something like Slashers 101 is a rarity. It's all too easy to become jaded about the supposed lack of creativity in the genre, Slashers 101 actually began to revive my faith in the slasher genre and has given me some new-old films to check out.

If you're reading this, chances are you're in the market for a copy for yourself or a loved one. And I didn't even mention the best part - it's $5!!! Or spend $10 and Ponder will sketch a request from any slasher you like. Oh, and remember how I was humming and hawing over purchasing 25 copies of this, screw that! Purchase as many as you can, support independent artists and wave your freak flag high.

Order your copy here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Trailer Review: Resident Evil 5: Retribution

I've talked about Resident Evil before and I have a real soft spot for these movies, mainly because of Milla Jovovich. I think she's the shit and no one will be able to convince me otherwise. I cut these movies a lot of slack because of her but RE: Afterlife was a huge messy disappointment. If you haven't seen it, it's essentially a big teaser trailer for this film. What was most disconcerting about that one, was it was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson who directed the first one (he wrote all of them) and couldn't get that darn movie focused enough to tell a coherent story. Yes, Milla looked great, but Afterlife felt like a big middle finger to the audience.

But here we are. It's 2012 and RE 5 is coming out in nine months. The RE series has done a nice job of playing with the Umbrella Corporation as an actual entity. A few years ago, a dear friend got me Umbrella Corporation mints in a an awesome Umbrella tin. The mints were pretty good and I still have the tin. I think they've done a good job of incoporating Umbrella as an online entity without getting bogged down in explaining and rewriting mythologies (cough, Underworld, cough).

ANYHOOZLE, Let's see... we've got a whole bunch of characters coming back. Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez. Oded Fehr.... All your favourites, AMIRITE? Well, I don't know what's going on but it's big, shiny and has a lot of pretty people kicking ass in slow motion. I think if you took out all slow-motion of of these films they would all be 45 minutes combined. But I digress. This trailer does what it should. Intrigues, pumps up and leaves you confused as to what you just saw.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Horror Movie Coolie: Jason in Friday the 13th Part 2

Happy Friday the 13th, y'all! If there was anytime to talk about the Friday the 13th series it's now. It's an interesting movie because even if you haven't seen the original, you're probably not far off in guessing what goes on in in. Earlier on in my horror movie watching career I watched the entire series when I was 11 or 12. And holy hell are they boring. They just get more and more nonsensical. And frankly, I like a little bat shit crazy with my nonsensical. (see: Nightmare on Elm Street series) But there was one moment of the whole Friday series that scared the bejesus out of me.

Hey girl.

After Alice Hardy fought off both Mrs. Voorhees and a miniature swamp-man version of Jason, Alice thinks she's safe and sound, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. Men have strange relationships with their mothers, but when they manage to come back from the dead to avenge her death you should know there's really no point in running.

Friday the 13th Part 2 opens with Alice pottering around her apartment telling her mom that she's fine. She's totally fine. She's even taking meds to combat the anxeity of being the only survivor out of all her friends. See? Fine. Totally fine.


WTF indeed.

ZOMFG !!!!!!1!!!!
I'm not endorsing Jason as a Horror Movie Coolie because he kills a Final Girl, but because this scene scared the snot out of me when I was 11. Well played, Jason, well played.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Girl With The Inappropriate Scenes

I didn't think I'd wind up writing anything about David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) but here I am, spurred on by several other reviews if nothing else. In a few reviews I kept coming across writers talking about the film as a mystery (which indeed it is) with horror supplied by a handful of graphic rape scenes. And I thought that was very interesting. Physical aggression becoming horror becoming titillating.

Before I get all too ahead of myself here's the basic plot. Daniel Craig is trying to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Christopher Plummer's niece 40 years ago. He eventually seeks help from Lisbeth Salander (that chick from the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, Rooney Mara) and they solve the mystery 2 hours and 40 minutes later. The rape scenes come about before Lisbeth joins the mystery plot. She's a ward of the state and falls into financial dependency of a loathsome man.

I knew next to nothing about the plot. I haven't read the books or seen the original Swedish film. What I did know going in was there are going to be some rape scenes. And there were going to be graphic. But daring. And there was going to be sex. And boobs. Also, there were going to be rape scenes.

My feelings about the scenes are that Mara is an impressive and brave actress, just as Fincher is an impressive and brave director. But really, the scenes and that whole subplot is a big red herring in the middle of story that doesn't fully support it. Lisbeth being a feminist hero, exacts her revenge on the perpetrator, follows up with it briefly later on in the movie but other than that, no one talks about it. It is never mentioned. Lisbeth chooses not to tell anyone and that's fine. No other characters need to know and that trait adds a lonely hearbreaking quality to the character.

But why, oh why, was I only informed about the rape scenes in the publicity. I feel like I didn't know anything about the story other than that. It doesn't help that the character and actress were fetishized to the hilt in practically every image that came out before the movie.

Hey friend, do you have an extra cardigan I could borrow? Oh, you need both of them? Oh. Okay.
What's interesting is that her (Lisabeth and Mara's) portrayal is as a sexual other. She's "different" from our other forms of beauty and sexuality. She is aggressive. For some people, unattractive. How do you combat this? By putting the actress on a real purdy cover of a magazine.

Unfortunately I couldn't find a bigger image of the cover but it says "Rooney Mara: The Girl With the Pierced Nipple".

They couldn't have come up with anything else? A woman's magazine that one would think is vaguely progressive thought/knew that people would be curious enough about a nipple ring to buy something about a relatively unknown actress. That's just lazy and insulting in my books.

Is this harsh? No. I don't think so. A feminist hero can have all the nipple rings and tattoos that she wants. My problem is that I think these images go against everything we learn about the character. I saw her as fully sexual woman but deeply protective of that sexuality. Why did the movie studio have to sell her out?