Working on a new slasher right now, and leaning towards making it a screenplay, mainly so the form can keep it reined in for me, somewhat. Too, this time, I’m doing what I’ve never done: thinking it all through ahead of time. Which has involved a lot of re-watching, a lot of thinking. And, on the idea that reasoning from first principles (or at least memory) is somehow a pure way to get to something at least in the area of truth, I’ve been intentionall ducking Carol Clover and all the other slasher analyses out there. Just because I want to figure out what the slasher is, not simply agree with people smarter than me. And, here’s what I’ve got so far — those pieces without which a slasher isn’t really a slasher, and in no really good order :
Category Archives: movies/tv
Movies like this just make me break out my lists, look for a place to wedge this movie, so it can be that much closer to my heart. Which, I know it’s got to be an almost-empty statement by now, but, using Feast as my touchstone, and acknowledging that Leslie Vernon was the best since, and Save the Green Planet the best since Leslie Vernon, then, Severance, it’s the best since Green Planet, for me. Just did every last single thing right, I think. I mean, no, it’s not a true slasher (there’s no real red herring), but it’s pure horror-comedy fun, anyway. Nothing but good. In the extra features, the director says how the difficult thing with horror-comedy is getting the tone right — a balance, I think, of gore and whether or not the characters kind of know or act like they’re in a comedy. Severance hits that balance perfectly: funny stuff happens (the bear trap scene is about the best thing I’ve seen ever), but the characters just keep screaming and running. Unlike, say, in Decampitated, very fun its own right, but operating at a different level, with a different tone.
Jeff Stolarcyk over at Conditional Axe has some bad news: Trick R’ Treat, much like All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, has been bumped to some indefinite time later. Very sad. Now Saw 4‘ll have to do. But I trust it will, too. A very tight series so far, I think. And, just back from Resident Evil: Extinction,* and same for it: excellent; high marks for the whole . . . I guess trilogy so far, though ‘series’ might work too. I suspect ‘trilogy,’ though, just because the way RE3 ends, it’s that old slasher way of escalating to some ridiculous height all at once, story-wise, and thus making the audience just really sure that this time there’s no way the story can go on. But then of course by next season we’re ready for just any contrivance at all to please please please give us that next installment. You say an electrified bat dropped out of the sky, bit the slashed slasher on the eyeball and injected him with mutant zombie rabies just right after the credits, when we were all walking out of the theatre? Cool. Excellent. Now roll it.
What I scribbled down in my trusty notebook*, moments after finishing all of INLAND EMPIRE when I really only meant to watch thirty minutes or so:
A girl’s gotten pregnant and not by the guy she’s with. She’s haunted by ‘Krimp’ — a ‘crimp’ in the umbilical cord — and by a screwdriver to the stomach, both images of losing the baby, possibly to the violence of her jealous husband, boyfriend, whatever he is. So she, the initial, sad viewer of that television set the film dives into, escapes into her star-blonde hair, the actress persona, and, this time, instead of that second act in some way mirroring or inverting the first act, which is the usual Lynch trick, the second act provides the exposition we’ve been missing, more or less, in that it’s an embodiment (again) of all the originating character’s whims and fears &etc. Until finally that persona fades away, taking with it the serial memory of the drawing room bunnies (see: ‘fertile,’ ‘non-monogamous’) and everything else, and the girl steps into the life she now has, where, surprise, the baby unexpectedly lived, and her husband loves her, and it’s either a happy, happy ending, or it’s an especially sad ending, as it’s all a projected fantasy of that star blonde actress, who can have none of this. All punctuated by a lighthearted musical number of a dream at the end — ‘dream’ indicated of course by the one non-sequitor in the room: the lumberjack, ‘sawing logs.’ But whose dream? Lynch’s, I’d guess, he who should really be disallowed from making movies about making movies, as the indeterminancy there has no end. And evidently there were more cameos than I picked up. And what of that director’s assistant (Stanton) mentioning rabbits? That play into the bunny room somehow, making the assistant the dungeonmaster here? And the new neighbor who seems to be somehow ‘above’ all this, in that she can see through it, speak about it? No clue; another blue box. Anyway, in the end, no, not nearly as bookended as LOST HIGHWAY and not as fun to tease apart as MULHOLLAND DRIVE, but still, you can’t look away. For three hours, you can’t look away. One thing I’m very glad of: that Lynch doesn’t do horror. Because this, whatever it is, it terrifies just about all I need, thanks.
Just a couple of remakes that might have gone below the radar: Wizard of Oz and Hellraiser. And Hellraiser‘s especially interesting, as it likely tangles up everybody’s knee-jerk dislike of remakes: Barker’s (re)writing it himself. Don’t know what to think, myself. I mean, man, the original, I loved it. That and Lord of Illusions were so different from everything else being offered at the time (‘time’ meaning, yeah, that clearly delineated eight-year stretch . . . ). Not meaning to discount Nightbreed (or especially Candyman1), of course. But Illusions and Hellraiser were just a whole nother class.
Joon Hwan Jang. Which is to say I just watched Save the Green Planet. I mean, yeah, I’m a fool for Korean movies these last couple of years — not my fault, they’re just exploding, or I’m riding the wake of some explosion when everybody cool was watching Korean stuff, I don’t know — but, man, I went into this expecting something along the lines of Shaolin Soccer, with maybe some The Host mixed in. And then this hit me in a wholly different way. Easily the best I’ve seen since Leslie Vernon (which, as I’ve said, was far and away the best since Feast, which is of course that than which there can hardly be any better, or anything even close), but that was only a month or so ago, I guess, and I want to say something bigger.
A few years late weighing in here, but sometimes it takes a while for things to click. Anyway, yeah, everybody hates Star Wars 1-3. Maybe not because of what or how they are, but as compared to 4-6. And of course a lot of that’s just how nostalgia’s about the worst beer goggles out there. Not to say anything bad about 4-6, though. Far from it. I think they just have the big advantage in that they do what Vonnegut and Gaimain and about every good writer says to do, when making a story: start as close to the end as possible. Another way to say that is that all the set-up’s just really boring, in any story. We don’t need the senate minutes. And yeah, it’s cool to see all the core cast when they were young, but, too, that’s just another form of nostalgia, I think.
Man, except for re-hitting ReAnimator the other day — and maybe even including it — Behind the Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon is far and away the best horror I’ve seen all year. Best I’ve seen since Feast, really.* And Feast is that holy kind of good for me. The only time I plan on being this horror-movie happy anytime soon is come fall, when we get the sure-to-be-beautiful All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. Cannot wait for that one.** Though I do suspect I’m going to have to.
Third installments of a franchise the audience is in love with are very difficult to pull off. Nobody says Alien3 or Return of the Jedi or the third Scream are their favorites of the series, right? Even Godfather III, as good as it might be, is overshadowed by the first two. Granted, by the third installment, the success of the original and its sequel have given this latest incarnation a serious budget to work with, and all the marketing is in place, and some of the principal actors are probably even still signed on, but—for this sequel to the sequel to capture instead of divide the audience, it has to walk such a tightrope of formula and originality; it has to do what the original did and find a way of doing it which isn’t tired. This is why the two follow-ups to The Matrix, while pretty brilliant in their own right, at all levels—story continuity, effects, series escalation—still paled in comparison to the original. What The Matrix did, which just blew the audience away, was show how this reality we’d bought into was a construct. The next two installments could no longer surprise us with that, but instead had to assume it, and try to pull the carpet out in some other, more subtle way. In fact, the only ‘third’ that might have done for the audience what the original did was Friday the 13th’s, the one where Jason got his mask. Which Terminator 3, following the unapologetic slashers Terminator and Terminator 2 were, might should have paid a little attention to*. But yeah, I know: without James Cameron’s story sense, that is, with him saying the story was already told, what else could have happened, right? I mean, Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines, what it is essentially is an extension of everything Cameron laid down in the first two installments. So how could it have gone wrong?