Man, I got the year right for The Ruins anyway, back when. And this is another non-review, yeah. Specifically, one with spoilers. Anyway, yeah, Scott Smith pretty much proves that it’s not always a bad idea to let the author be the one to make that book-to-screen jump. He nails it, I mean. I guess there’s something to be said for knowing the material. Not here to say Good job though. Not only that anyway. Just because the end of the movie version of the The Ruins doesn’t quite work, I don’t think. Not saying a (UK-) The Descent ending would have been in order, but, c’mon: just because this is a crawling, leafy slasher, that doesn’t mean it’s not a slasher, right? Which is to say the real narrative escalation happens in the last frames: “What, Michael’s not laying there dead anymore?” Something along those lines, which suggests that what’s happened is that Michael’s scurried out of that world on-screen, has maybe found a way into ours. That’s what The Ruins needed. Says the back-seat driver, yeah. The armchair quarterback. But surely somebody must have at least suggested this, right? It just seems so obvious — and here comes the spoilage: at the end, when the Greeks finally bumble out to the these ruins to save the day, instead of just having them look up this vine-swaddled pyramid, the whole movie about to happen again, just starring them now, why not escalate, why not just keep the camera in one place as they walk across that salted earth, so that we can see these unharmless red flowers opening behind them? Watching them, tracking them. The idea, the certainty, being that Amy, our Marilyn Burns here, when she split out of there, she was inadvertently — selfishly (Spock would never do this, though, yes, 28 Weeks Later definitely would/does) — playing some hybrid of Johnny Appleseed and Typhoid Mary. Which is to say that this vine, this ancient, bloody, hungry, unstoppable vine, it’s finally, after all these years, broken through its salt-barrier, outwitted its generations of Mayan guards. And now there’s not enough salt in the world to hold it back. All that’s left is for it to take root way up the Borneo, wait for the anaconda population there to get a taste for its sticky sweet fruit. Or some could even drift out to Skull Island; it’d fit right in with the citizens there.
Just three four FIVE fast things, as I’m spending most of the day being properly foolish:
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 :
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.
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?
Everytime I search Amazon, I always end up falling into this maze of lists, each opening to more and more. And I find some cool stuff in there, thought I’d take a stab at a couple myself.
And yeah, that Slasher 101 one really should be a ‘guide,’ but I clicked on making one of those and, man, they’re set up to let somebody write a real and true article. Which, for someone addicted to lists, isn’t nearly as fun. Granted, you don’t get as many characters/words to play with in Listmania, but that kind of keeps me from burning too much time on them too, time which I specifically, right now, need (started another novel yesterday, kind of).
The best place to hide from an axe-weilding maniac is with your back pressed up against a wooden door you’re pretty sure is both solid and impenetrable. This is because that maniac who’s after you, his first strike with the axe will nearly always be from two to six inches from the left side of your face, thus allowing you both to know exactly where she or he is, and thus escape into the next room, and getting the maniac’s axe caught in the door long enough for you to make that escape. As for why these maniacs strike the door to the left of your head instead of your right, there’s at least two theories:
Been trying to figure out what scenes/images from horror movies have become so indelibly imprinted on pop-culture that even people who don’t watch horror kind of have to know them, or at least of them. Which is to say I can’t just pick the coolest or best horror clips–the ones that imprinted me once upon a time. I mean, that’d be Freddy’s long arms from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, kid-Jason at the end of FRIDAY THE 13th, Gage cutting grandpa’s Achille’s in PET SEMETERY, John Carpenter’s spider-head thing in THE THING, how Michael was just suddenly gone at the end of HALLOWEEN, the girl in SIXTH SENSE’s tent, the floating nurse-nun in EXORCIST III, the scuttler in THE GRUDGE’s attic, the kill scene in IRREVERSIBLE, the end of DARKNESS, etc. But the whole movie audience isn’t cued into those so much, I don’t think. And no, I’m not doing best kill-scenes here either, or best gore or fight scenes or a top horror list (here, here and everywhere). Just the stuff that changed us. Or that I think might have:
well, okay, Pinhead’s maybe not a true and classic slasher. but he’s got the look, anyway, and has been pretty vital to this project we call horror. was going to synch some music up with this, but have no clue how, without going the Flash-route. anyway, the bigger version’s here.
as to why I killed two hours of my afternoon making this: