Tag Archives: horror

V/H/S/2

MV5BODg4OTMxNDAxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjM4ODQ0OQ@@._V1__SX1859_SY847_I know what you’re thinking. Why am I reading a review about a crazy former hot werewolf when I was promised a review explaining how V/H/S maybe actually does make sense as a series?[1] Answer: I can’t[2] review things out of order, can I? And I watched that other movie in between because my girlfriend was over, and she had not even seen V/H/S, so I couldn’t very well throw her right into the middle of things, could I?

But then, a night or two later: here we are. The open question is, does V/H/S/2[3] make a damn lick of sense, and, even trickier, does it retroactively make its precedent make sense? That’s what we in the radio business call a tease[4]. First, I will say that all of the short films that tied the sequel together were as skin-crawly and engrossing as last time. (Well, one of them had a monster that should never have been shown closely and in slow movement, but that was like the last 15 seconds and did not ruin the Lovecraftian splatterfest that had gone before.) I don’t know if it’s that most horror movies are too long and the compactness packs a punch, or if it’s that the first person nature of all found footage movies makes me identify more closely with what’s going on, or what, but these stories, one and all, were genuinely disturbing.

Okay, I’m doing it for real this time. Yes, there is a small degree to which the cohesion stories about finding these houses full of screens and creepy tapes does make sense now that did not exist last time, and it even sort of works retroactively. It’s a pretty small degree, but still, if you were really here because you desperately wanted to understand the underground world of tapes of supernatural events, you would hate these movies I think for their inability to deliver. And since that’s the only way they don’t deliver, well then.

[1] Well, correction: I know what you were thinking.
[2] Well, correction: I don’t
[3] These movies are irritating as fuck to type out, b/t/w.
[4] Well, correction: they in the radio business.[5]
[5] I know what you’re thinking this time, too. And no, I really have no idea what I’m doing, much less why. You gets what you pays for.

V/H/S

MV5BMTUwODAxMzMwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTk3MTQ5Nw@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_I was so confused by the overarching “plot” of V/H/S that I watched the sequel before writing this review, in the hope that it would clear things up for me. Answer: maybe it did? But since I’m going to end up writing two reviews anyway, I may as well wait ’til then.

Anyway, there’s this group of punks with a camcorder documenting their asshole exploits and re-editing them together in exactly the sort of way that someone with a VHS camcorder would never, ever do. Then, later, they break into an old abandoned house. The IMDB summary says they were being paid to find something, but if that was actually communicated in the movie, I sure missed it. What they do find is a dead guy who was watching about 15 TV screens all hooked up to VCRs, and surrounded by piles of VHS tapes. Then, while all the other punks search the house for whatever it was they were looking for, one of them sits down to watch some of the tapes, which is the actual point of the movie, because they portray various horror short story events that are clearly set in a future beyond when anyone would be filming their exploits on a VHS camcorder. (Plausibly, I am thinking about this too much.)

The important part, though, is that the short story segments were really well done, scary, suspenseful, and affecting in the way that I always want my horror to be and it so very rarely is. So, if you wanna watch something modern and reasonably frightening (and with an adequate amount of breasts, which like being scary have also abandoned the horror scene of late), this is your movie. Just don’t try to understand anything that’s going on outside of the short stories.

Revival

51bE7-Wac9LI’ve been glaring at this screen metaphorically for a few days now, although literally for less than five minutes tops. But like, when you know the review is sitting there, unwritten, and you even know why, and it’s not a simple reason like a broken site or a boring reason like you’ve been too busy or too lazy, but instead it’s a really good reason like you know exactly what about the book you want to praise, but to do so would be a massive spoiler? That’s glare-worthy, is my point.

Because Stephen King’s latest book, Revival, does (successfully!) something I’ve never seen attempted before. But it does it at such a slow build that you’re most of the way through the story before you know what sub-genre the story is properly classified in. And I’m quite convinced that knowing in advance would kill the impact, because everything going on in the early days is a fantastic story in its own right[1], and if you’re waiting for the Big Thing, spinning your hand irritatedly and it keeps not happening, you’d end up hating the whole book, without any kind of justification.

So, y’know, it’s cool. Go read it, if you like Stephen King. If you don’t, you’re possibly wrong about that, but this is not the book I would use to convince you. Either way, first comment is a mood-destroying spoiler for the book in which I reveal the genre. So, that’s a warning about that.

[1] Family drama, religious drama, rock and roll, and carnies, for starters. King just gets small towns, and the 1950s/60s, and tragedy. Or else I’ve been tricked into thinking he has, since to be fair I’ve never really experienced any of those things myself. (Well, at least not on a brutal scale, in the latter case.)

The Walking Dead: A New Beginning

81muWBd8JoLI have been saying for years (that is, maybe four or five books ago?) that Kirkman is running out of scenarios and needs to go ahead and let this series find its ending. That whole period, though, has been devoted to the same extended storyline, which ended in pretty fine form last time. So this book, ironically named A New Beginning, is exactly what I’ve been waiting for: the chance to find out if I’ve been right or not.

And you know… I was prepared to be wrong. I really was. Months have passed, possibly short years, and the promised community is well on its way to being everything that was promised. This story could have been a coda. It could have, better, contained exactly the kind of bombshell change of status quo I no longer believed Kirkman capable of, via a plot twist I never saw coming. Instead… nope, it’s a new turn on the hamster wheel. I’ll keep reading the series, and I’ll keep being glad that the TV show has surpassed it, but I cannot really contain my disappointment, either.

He came so close to proving me wrong.

Pontypool

MV5BMTYyNzUxMzc1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDE3MDM3Mg@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_How to write a review of something that you’d prefer to say literally nothing about, and in fact regret having put genre tags down for? It’s a tricky conundrum, is what. Well, that’s not fair. It’d be very, very easy if I didn’t care whether you watched it, but the truth is that you should, because it’s a very intriguing premise and execution.

Pontypool is, aside from being a movie, a very small town in Ontario. I know this because about twenty minutes into the movie, I looked it up out of curiousity. From my ability to extrapolate Google Maps into the real world, it should have maybe one stop light that goes to flashing after sundown. Four square blocks? Big enough to have a radio station, which is relevant in that the entire course of action occurs in the local AM station, where smooth-voiced news host Grant Mazzy, um, reads and hosts the news on the morning after he has an inexplicable encounter on a foggy road during his commute. For the rest… I want to say nothing, but I can’t justify saying nothing, so I’m going to quote the opening paragraph of the movie, which is Grant broadcasting on a day recently prior to the day the movie takes place. If you can dig the quote, I reckon you will dig the movie.

Mrs. French’s cat is missing. The signs are posted all over town. “Have you seen Honey?” We’ve all seen the posters, but nobody has seen Honey the cat. Nobody. Until last Thursday morning, when Miss Colette Piscine swerved her car to miss Honey the cat as she drove across a bridge. Well this bridge, now slightly damaged, is a bit of a local treasure and even has its own fancy name; Pont de Flaque. Now Collette, that sounds like Culotte. That’s Panty in French. And Piscine means Pool. Panty pool. Flaque also means pool in French, so Colete Piscine, in French Panty Pool, drives over the Pont de Flaque, the Pont de Pool if you will, to avoid hitting Mrs. French’s cat that has been missing in Pontypool. Pontypool. Pontypool. Panty pool. Pont de Flaque. What does it mean? Well, Norman Mailer, he had an interesting theory that he used to explain the strange coincidences in the aftermath of the JFK assasination. In the wake of huge events, after them and before them, physical details they spasm for a moment; they sort of unlock and when they come back into focus they suddenly coincide in a weird way. Street names and birthdates and middle names, all kind of superfluous things appear related to each other. It’s a ripple effect. So, what does it mean? Well… it means something’s going to happen. Something big. But then, something’s always about to happen.

Rubber (2010)

MV5BMTU2Nzg2NDQ2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDk5MjMzNA@@._V1__SX1859_SY847_I find myself with more time to look at Netflix lately, he lied glibly. No, but seriously, what I mean is what I’ve always claimed: I’ll watch movies at home if there’s someone to watch them with, and lately there has been. In fact, I’ve probably missed a couple of reviews, but my commitment is returned; from here on out, new-to-me movies will happen on Netflix viewings too. (I’m streaming these days, though; I gave up on my ability to return DVDs like a year ago.)

Therefore, I watched Rubber last night. Rubber is a horror movie about a tire that rolls around the desert, killing people. No, seriously. It’s somehow a great deal more than that, though. See, there’s a monologuing sheriff, a Greek chorus of sorts, a sometimes naked French lady, and metareferentiality that goes so deep it actually turns inside out on itself. If you liked carrying around no tea for the duration of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Infocom game, or if you like absurdity for its own sake, or if you like watching things explode, this movie is for you.

If you would spend the entire movie asking why there’s a tire with motivations and psychokinetic powers in the first place, this movie will try very hard to be for you anyway. If you let it. It’s an 80 minute flick that felt like it lasted less than an hour, though, and I mean that as a compliment. So maybe give it a try?

The Walking Dead: All Out War Part Two

81hYcJq6KNLSo, I finally reached the point I’ve been anticipating for like four books? Five? Years, anyway. All Out War (part 2) does not have a part three. Storyline resolved. For all that it matters, it was resolved satisfactorily, with clever turns, expected, unexpected, and subverted. I am quite satisfied with this book.

I am far less satisfied with the fact that another book will follow it. (In fact, already has. This is the kind of behind I fall when I’m not allowed to read for two plus months.) I hope I’ll find out I’m wrong, since I know I will find out, but I really doubt that Kirkman has new stories to tell. And I can’t even comfort myself by saying of course he had to write more, this one ended so terribly. Because, nope, wind or not, this was an ending. …could have been, anyway.

Prometheus

prometheus_810Then I got to pick up a movie that I’ve long regretted missing out on, by virtue of it apparently being a recommended reference piece for the latest in quality surround sound.[1] I would never have been so obsessed with seeing Prometheus if I had not known about its connection into the Alien mythos, a series with which I am quite obsessed indeed. I find it ironic, therefore, that the huge failing of the movie is that Ridley Scott thought he could make a science fiction movie by drawing so strongly on the same elements that made Alien one of the best horror movies of all time.

See, there are these archaeologists, and they have found evidence in the records of a dozen ancient cultures that aliens were once among us. Better yet, they found a map. Off they go (courtesy of the Weyland Corporation, its Yutani partnership still in the murky future) to meet said aliens and see what can be learned from them or their remains. (After all, it’s been a while since anyone has heard from them.) And then… well, the problem I have here is that the only thing that compelled me to eschew my usual lack of non-theatrical reviews is how much I want to talk about What Went Wrong. And though I don’t plan to lay out the plot detail by detail, the broad strokes of conflict necessary to explain myself are major spoilers for the last third of the movie. Probably nobody is worried about being spoiled for a generally panned film that is also two years old? But just in case, you have been warned.

So, after various trials and tribulations that there’s no need to detail, half of the main characters are standing face to face with one of their Progenitors. They have woken him from presumed millennia of cryogenic slumber, they have a robot with enough linguistic knowledge and recent research to speak with him. This is a high level “Are you There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” moment in progress here. And then…

Let me come at it from another direction. Science fiction, at its core, is about the betterment of humanity. Depending upon the flavor, it may not always be successful, but we are always striving, seeking answers, reaching beyond ourselves in some way, whether technologically, physically, philosophically, morally, or some combination. And you cannot get more science fictional, I would posit, than going into deep space to learn the fundamental answers of our own genesis.

Horror, at its core, is about the inexplicable. Sometimes we try to impose a cause where no cause exists[2]. Sometimes we just shy away in existential or literal terror at the knowledge that there is no reason to be had. Ridley Scott’s Alien was exactly that movie. Some miners on their way home stumble across an old space beacon, accidentally wake up an egg filled with death, and the lone survivor walks away with no answers at all, just bloody destruction.

As you can see, these two genres are fundamentally at odds with each other, in their purest forms. The reason Prometheus is a failure, then, is because Scott pulled a bait-and-switch. Two-thirds of the way through a science fiction movie, the audience is suddenly faced with inexplicable horror and an ending that promises only the lack of answers, even as the film’s heroine launches into the uncertain future to continue her off-screen search for them.

Which forces me to wonder if the sequel (2016, IMDB says) will retroactively redeem some portion of this movie?

[1] I suspect this is entirely due to the waterfall scene the flick opens with.
[2] Pamela Voorhees launched a decade of schlock by pretending her murder spree was about teenage drug use and premarital sex instead of blind, flailing denial of her own senseless loss.

Hack/Slash: Dead Celebrities

hackslash_vol10I must have picked the wrong order of books or something, no way I’ve read enough graphic novels lately to get two about Cassie Hack as close together as this. Oops I guess? Weird crossover successfully dealt with, Cassie is back to her old tricks. Which are still mostly episodically dealing with jungle goddesses and revenge-seeking parapalegics and incursions from other, more rapey dimensions. Luckily, this is exactly the kind of thing I want out of my Rebellious Teenage Girl and Her Giant Deformed Sidekick literature.

The main plot, as you may have partially gleaned from the title, revolves around a recent rash of murdered celebrities. Which is only so interesting, even when tangled up with Cassie’s own fascination with, and experience of being (albeit only in limited circles), celebrity. Except for the parody portion, which was fantastic. Even if the rest of the book had been horrid, I would have been satisfied because of Lady-Gaga-by-proxy Art Projekt, whose entire career is to support her master’s thesis in sociology. And since the rest of the book was, instead of horrid, lots of cheesecake-laden fights with rampaging murderers and/or murderous rampagers, yeah: still a fun series!

The Walking Dead: All Out War Part One

Wd-cover-Vol20-dressedsmThe problem with reviewing All Out War isn’t the usual one where, oh no, the series has gone on for twenty volumes, how am I supposed to talk about what’s going on now without massive spoilers? Either I care less about spoilers than I should, or else something about these books doesn’t cause the typical problem. No, the problem with the review is the same thing that’s a strength of the book. It doesn’t really feel like a new book at all, more like just a new comic. That makes it sound like the storyline hasn’t progressed, and it definitely has. It’s just that the last few books, pretty much ever since Rick was asked to remove protectionist warlord Negan from the world, have felt a lot more like a single coherent storyline than the Walking Dead used to.

I reckon that the title reveals both a) that the plot is going as I’d anticipated and b) that they’re taking a little longer to get there than they could have. Which is fine. In a case of becoming more wishy-washy than ever, the strength of Negan’s character (which, yes, continues to compel) and the strength of the current plot are buying me enough goodwill to no longer hope it wraps up soon. Intellectually, I know that’s why Kirkman needs to wrap things up on this high note more than ever, but, screw it. If he doesn’t, I’ll cave and stick around for a while until the high points come back yet again.