The Matrix Syndrome. I propose that as both the name for Dan Brown’s next Robert Langdon thriller and as the condition he now writes under. Or with. Or is expressing symptoms of. Not that it’s hurting his sales or his celebrity, of course. Or, as many would have it, his infamy. Remember how the first Matrix so wowed us to such a degree that the second and third paled in comparison? That’s how it is for Brown now, I think: everything he does falls under the long shadow of (the success of) The Da Vinci Code, which, much like Foucault’s Pendulum, trod and retrod that fun old Holy Blood, Holy Grail territory. However, unlike the Eco, Dan Brown’s novel was actually engaging. And it took over the world every bit as much as Harry Potter, as Fifty Shades. Maybe even more, in that it became a point for people to argue, and take ideological sides over. And that it was built like a hybrid of a crossword and chutes & ladders definitely didn’t hurt, as that allowed it to showcase the frenetic pacing Brown does as well anybody, and had already been doing for a few books. All his work, it’s got that same pacing, those same sudden reversals, the betrayals, the twists and turns and little hidden lectures, the showing-off of obscure, kind of intrinsically cool facts, but none of those other books have sparked our imagination as much as Da Vinci Code, right? Neither did Matrix 2 or 3 reel in the same . . . → → →
It’s becoming real. August. More soon.
Man, check this out: My students’ most recent project suite on @stephengjones72‘s fantastic novel, Demon Theory: gbdh.sadiron.com/demon-theory-p… — Chuck Rybak (@ChuckRybak) April 23, 2013
Mixer Publishing‘s letting me run all the tabs/genres this issue. Featuring a cool introduction by Brian Evenson. Seven stories in seven days, complete with story notes and an afterword.
coming 1.7.14 from Samhain In the ten years since zombies killed the world, Jory Gray has found exactly one person who matters. Her name is Linse. But when he wakes to find her gone, to join the church, his world falls apart all over again. Jory’s suicide mission to save her will lead him deep into the restricted zone, into the bowels of the military, the underbelly of the church, and, worse, it will give him a glimpse into a past that’s supposed to be ten years dead, a past still contained in a document that never should have existed: The Gospel of Z
Awards Stitches completely owns: best death-by-umbrella ever, in the history of whatever best cat-murder in a long, long time (to specify, this is the death of a cat, not Gage 2.0) best ‘bet I can extract your intestines and make them into a balloon-dog’-scene best high-heel-to-throat And, Stitches, he deserves some nominations, too. He camps it up with the best of them. And the whole set-up of this, it’s slasher-by-numbers. There’s the inciting prank, the necessary interval of time, for all the pranksters to grow into proper victims, and then there’s the big party. Seriously. Remember in Scream, or Cherry Falls, how there’s a lot of story before the party? A lot of set-up? Not so here. They’re handing out invitations nearly immediately, and then it’s a quick fast-forward to the ‘parents are gone/invite everybody over night. Which is also, conveniently, a return to the scene of the crime. And somebody’s birthday. It’s a perfect storm for slashers, I mean. If Stitches hadn’t risen, then some other slasher would have. And Stitches makes all the necessary obeisances to its predeccessors: Stitches quips like Freddy Krueger, he looms just out of frame like Michael, and he’s just as unkillable as Jason. All in all, man, if you like slashers, then this is definitely quality stuff. Highly recommended. So hoping there’ll be a sequel.
These are the ten movie clips that are always playing in my head, the ones that I don’t feel I’d be the same me without, my cine-DNA, I suppose. But, no, these clips aren’t necessarily the most iconic from all of film. There’s no “You had me at hello” or “Make my day” or “Of all the gin joints” or “I’m walking here”-stuff. All of which is cool and great, of course (here for more like that). Just, that’s stuff I watched, not stuff that part of me’s always trying to live. If that can make any sense. And, yeah, only one of them’s as recent as 2000, looks like. I guess the stuff that’s going to be formative has to kind of hit you when you’re formativing. Makes a certain kind of sense. I guess a kind of sister-post to this would be the one I did on music, “Look What the Cat Dragged In.” ( and, these are mostly scrounged clips, so, if you notice one’s showing up dead, maybe drop a comment, let me know? thanks ) Tell me about it, stud This is probably the clip that’s ruined me the most. Looking back on just about every decision I’ve ever made, this is pretty much responsible. Come with me if you want to live Every time I write, this is exactly the moment I’m reaching for. Seriously. Every. Single. Time. I’ll make you famous I wanted both for him to make me famous and to . . . → → →
Found Footage. I love it when a term contains the conceit, just because, by accepting the term, you’ve already bought into the trick: this movie you’re watching, it’s an artifact. Which of course means that it’s real. And if a horror film can have you convinced of that before even watching—it’s a feat. Most horror on the screen strives for that. Found footage horror starts there. The analogue in fiction are those shoebox novels, that pretend to be documents and forms and snapshots recovered by a single editor and shaped very little—just a bunch of papers in a shoebox. Never mind that they’re all made-up. The fun is going into it knowing they are, and then doubt slowly creeping up on you. Film works a little differently, though. We’re not as conditioned to maintain a defensive level of interpretation between us and the text. Just because of the immediacy, I suspect. And because we think we can trust our eyes. Found footage exploits this. At the same time, everybody’s fairly tired of it, yes? Yet found footage, it just keeps on keeping on, never mind the audience’s resistance. Why? Really, I think the first is nearly always budget: you can conceivably shoot a found-footage horror movie for not very much at all. So it looks unprofessional? Of course it does. These are victims of horror, not moviemakers. And of course tied in with shooting on the cheap is pulling a Blair Witch Project at the box office, getting dollars and dollars back for every penny . . . → → →
How many grails are left now, in American horror? I mean, untouched, un-remade. Exorcist, Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, American Werewolf in London. Surely there’s another iconic one or two I’m missing, but, I mean, Jason and Freddy and Michael and Leatherface have all been updated, a new Carrie’s on the way soon, and I guess the only reason Ghostface has missed that treatment lo these seventeen years later is that the franchise is still alive. The Evil Dead, though, man. There’s rabid fan bases, there’s cult followings, and then there’s everybody who knows all of Ash’s lines by heart. If any movie was going to be allowed to stand, you’d think it’d be this one. It was likely the loyalty of Ash’s army that finally guaranteed this remake would happen, though. Loved or hated, the box office is going to be there for this one, as possibly portended by the second installment (1987) being considered already some strange species of remake (even though it’s not, in spite of that it kind of is, a little). And, of course we all know the formula for remakes by now: you redeliver all the key scenes while injecting enough strange into the proceedings that we feel like we’re on slightly unfamiliar ground. The movie doesn’t get so much ‘fixed’—nobody would ever say Sam Raimi’s hilarious and goretastic 1981 original (or the sequel) was broken—so much as repackaged with slicker production values, to appeal to a new audience. Maybe there’s just something more horrifying if the characters on-screen have haircuts . . . → → →
I haven’t been this impressed with a slasher in a good long time. I want to say since Cabin in the Woods. And before that . . . Tucker & Dale vs. Evil? Behind the Mask: Leslie Vernon? Except none of them quite play it Golden Age, either. And that’s good, don’t get me wrong. As you can tell from Demon Theory and The Last Final Girl, self-aware’s more than fine with me. Almost all the slashers to come all along after 1996 have been the children of Scream, after all, if not clones. And you can hardly ask for better parentage. But there’s been hybrids, too. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. Cry_Wolf, Kill Theory. Maybe even The Hole, if you squint just right. And there’s been straight-down-the-middle throwback slashers like Hatchet, say. And, though it prefers the ‘grindhouse’ label, still, Deathproof’s by the numbers, and hardly embarassed of its slashery goodness. And just a couple of days ago I was talking about The Mooring, which has that same throwback appeal. And that’s an appeal that’s not about nostalgia, but tone and delivery—a lack of irony coupled with a seriously low budget. This is where Madison County lives and breathes. And, before you ask, no, I have no clue why that’s got to be the name. In itself, it’s not bad, but it’s kind of evocative of a certain ‘bridges’ romance novel, eventually starring Clint Eastwood . . . Could be there’s some territorial dispute I’ll never understand. Maybe Madison County’s trying to reclaim . . . → → →