Thursday, 13 October 2011

Schlocktober Reviews: American Horror Story

Hey, who says Schlocktober reviews have to be about horror movies anyways?

A barely audible “I do” emerges from the back of the room*

Yeah, well sit down and shut up fuckwad, cause it’s my site and my time, so I can waste it on anything I want to, mkay? And this week we have American Horror Story, a show that on paper really shouldn’t work but somehow does.  It’s by the creators of Nip/Tuck  a show I only watched one episode of, went “meh” and never watched it again, and one of the producers of Glee, which to paraphrase my cousin I’m not interested in because I’m neither a homosexual male nor a fourteen year old girl. So when I first heard about the show and heard who was involved I was somewhat dreading it actually. Horror shows that aren’t anthologies tend to suck very hard, very quickly. (I don’t count shows like Buffy or Angel, since they’re more drama-action with supernatural stuff thrown in.) Also, pure horror shows seem to be few and far between with horror being mostly relegated to novels and movies.  Needless to say, I was a little hesitant to say the least about getting into the show, and I was only interested because the poster had a gimp suit in it and I thought if nothing else it would be good for a laugh.

I was wrong. I don’t say that very often so enjoy it while it’s there. The show is an absolute freakfest of the macabre, with some well shot scare scenes and a cast that are all excellent for what they do.  The first five minutes alone is worth seeing just as an example of how a horror medium should start that’s both quick and gets the point across. (Take note Friday the 13th remake.) Back in 1978 twin boys go into a haunted house, and are unperturbed by a local girl’s warning. ( “We got bats!”) and then proceed to wreck some shit up inside the creepy house. Until they get to the basement and we get the best draw in for a horror show. Nobody is safe, not even kids.  

We then get the opening credits, or as I like to call it, disjunction function. Cue genuinely creepy 19th century photos blistering and burning up, warping the faces of the children in the pictures. Cue various unidentifiable body parts in jars. Cue distorted, atonal music. Cue half-seen quick cuts to scenes we’re really better off not seeing. It’s like if a paranoid schizophrenic tried to make a YouTube video of all of the things he dreams about at night. Needless to say it makes that creepy video from The Ring look like something you’d show to your kids. (Okay maybe not so much to North American kids. Japan, maybe.)
Cut to present day, where the Harmon family is moving from Boston to L.A. in the hopes that it’ll help bring them all together after a miscarriage and an affair. The dad Ben is played by Dylan McDermott, and you’re starting to get Déjà vu that’s okay since he was also in a similar premise in the movie The Messengers. That movie’s such a cliché, forgettable modern horror movie that I can honestly say I don’t remember watching it. However, McDermott in this show is playing an actual character rather than clichéd horror parent #546. Imagine a combination of Californication’s Hank Moody and Nathan Fillion in his usual persona. He’s also a psychiatrist working from home. The mom is Vivienne played by Connie Brittons who I can’t really judge from other things since she was in a bunch of shows I hear were good but I never got around to watching (24, Friday Night Lights).  She’s stressed out, tired looking and generally looks like someone’s who’s had a lot of shit thrown at her over the past year and is just trying to make it one painful day at a time.  She also takes up doing some redesigning of the house, including peeling away the previous tenants’ wallpaper to find Goya-esque paintings underneath. Oh yes and the previous tenants? A guy couple who apparently decided that murder-suicide would be better than living in the L.A. valley. Can’t say I blame them, really.
The daughter is Violet, played by newcomer Tarissa Famiga and who is actually still a teenager. It might not seem like much, but that’s freaking huge in TV shows. Violet’s a freak who doesn’t fit in, smokes on school grounds, gets into fights with vapid teenage alpha bitches, and cuts herself. Despite it all, I kind of like her. Like the rest of the family she’s damaged, but you still feel somewhat sympathetic for her.
Throughout the first episode we get a montage of creepy characters who know more about the house than the rest of the family, but choose to keep certain details to themselves. We also get Frances Conroy playing the house caretaker Moira, but only kind of. I say kind of since she only appears as an old lady to everyone except Ben, who sees her as a sultry young sex kitten played by a different actress.
As for the plot of the show? Well, I can’t really say since it’s mostly plotless introductions. Story hooks in a way. The usual horror stuff starts to happen where weird hallucinatory images abound. Probably one of the more disturbing scenes in my opinion is Ben sleepwalking downstairs, lighting a fire and placing his hand near it. When Vivienne finds him she tries to wake him up, but he just looks off into the distance and asks “Am I in a dream?” The show goes to commercial and the next scene is of Vivienne during the daytime. Was it real or a dream or a hallucination? The audience doesn’t get to find out, and somehow that’s just somewhat freaky.  We also get a gimp suit jump scare in an attic, which is a sentence I never thought I’d ever actually have to write in my life. The show has some atmosphere, and it’s all done with content and lighting, without that stupid grey camera filter that most horror movies have nowadays.

Another awesome thing to watch out for is a former owner of the house who’s horribly burned and played by Denis O’Hare. You might remember him as the millennia old Russell Edginton from the Third Season of True Blood and who was probably the best part of that season. He’s subdued in this role, despite the burn prosthetics, and despite him telling a horrible story about what he did to his family but we get the sense that like everyone else he knows more than he’s letting on.

Okay, there’s a lot of stuff that’s easy to predict, such as the true nature of one of Ben’s patients or the fact that one of the characters is actually dead. But it’s the actors that sell it. Nobody’s winking at the camera and whatever camp that is thrown in is always attached to some squick. The main problem of the show is more so a danger for future episodes. The scares and freaky scenes come out almost every five minutes, and with a show like this that means there’s a lot of them. While that’s a draw in for the pilot, it also means that if the show continues on then things might start getting either overly predictable and dull, or so over to the top that the show itself becomes a pure narm fest as the show’s producers try to continually outdo themselves. It’s a very tricky, very fine line that has to be walked here and unfortunately both the producers other efforts have shown they’re as able to walk it as a DIW caught by the cops.

It’s somewhat of a staple for horror shows that the good ones always end quickly. The few that didn’t completely suck  can count on one hand, including Twin Peakes and Southern Gothic both of which only lasted less than two seasons. And there’s a good reason for that since familiarity is often the real killer in horror shows. As long as American Horror Story is only one or two seasons long it’ll be well regareded and might even achieve classic or cult status. Time’ll tell with this one.

Rating: A-. It’s a very stylish take on a traditional horror premise and legitimately creepy. There’s the real danger of going too far with this show, but it’s a very awesome opening. Also I’m taking some points off for a naked shot of Dylan McDermott’s ass and a later masturbation scene with him as the star wanker. Once again, I never thought I’d have to write that ever in my life.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Unusual Therapies

This week's challenge? To think up and write about an unusual monster, something that hasn't been seen before. I'm not sure but I think I got a brand new one. Please do enjoy. 

Dr. Karl Venn studied his patient lying on the couch a long time before he began the session. The prison guards hadn’t felt entirely comfortable about leaving him there without any restraints, but Dr. Venn assured them that the prisoner wouldn’t be any trouble. He was certain of it and somehow that made it all the worse. Just by looking at him no one would ever guess that the man sitting on his couch was Charles Lee Benton, dubbed in the press as “The Ohio Butcher” and convicted killer of at least ten people (and suspected in the murder of many more).  He was calm, listless, stared vacantly up at the ceiling. This was not the same man who had first come into his care, a man who would at the drop of a hat flip from over the top aggressive rage to a cold calculating reptilian monologue that would make Hannibal Lecter uncomfortable.  And after nearly three weeks of intense observation, Dr. Venn was certain he wasn’t faking it.  

“I took a look at some of your art,” Dr. Venn said. “I have to say it’s remarkably different from your previous drawings.”

“I ain’t interested in drawing the demon clowns no more, doc,” said Benton.

“And you’ve focused your attention on angels and unicorns now?”

Benton shrugged and fidgeted.

Venn knew he wouldn’t get anywhere with this track. He bit the tip of his pen as he made his decision to breach into Benton’s more deviant behavior. After all, Benton hadn’t just killed his victims when he’d abducted them.

“If we can get into something a little more personal Charles, can you tell me about your sex drive? Any noticeable changes or feelings you’ve had recently?”

Benton paused for a moment before he began.

“There ain’t nothin’ to tell. I haven’t had an itching for a while now.”

That was what he called his sexual feelings. A lifetime of suppressed urges fueled by an overbearing religious fanatic of a mother had helped to mold him into what he was today. It was such a textbook case that Dr. Venn was certain if there ever was a stereotypical description of a serial killer then Benton was it. But not at the moment it seemed. Dr. Venn only hesitated for a brief moment before he tried something risky.

“Charles, can we talk about what you did? Do you have any feelings for what you did to those people?”

Benton looked good and hard at the doctor before he did something no one could’ve ever expected; he began to cry. Big gulping sobs and confessions of guilt and hopes of redemption poured forth from Charles Lee Benton, a man who had practically bragged about his crimes during his trial. The man who saw himself as the prime hunter, the alpha male of the whole human race was crying like a little girl in front of him.


Later at his lab Dr. Venn looked over the prison .Assaults, murders, rapes, all of them had decreased by over 50% over the past month. He knew warden or the prison guards weren’t responsible for this, some of the reports by the staff were as baffled as he was about the trend and could offer no explanations for it. But it also seemed as if they weren’t really looking for one as well.

He tried to concentrate on the test samples, but it had been a long night and his mind began to wander back to his own problems, to his soon to be ex-wife. Damn bitch has me by the short hairs, he thought. She’s actually seeing her lawyer now. I’ll be lucky if I only lose the kids and half my money. At least he'd be able to keep this amateur lab though. He knew she'd never in a million years want it. Thank goodness for small miracles.

He looked over at the bottles of chemicals beside him. All it would take was just one small drop from one of them and it’d look like she had a heart attack. It wouldn’t be too hard to do. His wife always enjoyed a night’s drink before bed and her family did have a history of heart disease.

I should, he thought. I should really…   

The sound of a door opening and closing shook him awake.

“Who’s there?” he yelled. “Whoever’s out there …this isn’t funny…”

The faint buzzing from the halogen lights on the ceiling was his only reply. He sighed, thankful that there was nothing there but when he turned around…

It was sitting on his desk staring at him like some Lovecraftian horror. Its body was scarred and what looked like cancerous clumps grew from its folds in its body.Past its flesh that was its body were its eyes, some of the brightest blue he’d ever seen, and for some reason he couldn’t name he thought of them as the eyes of a child. It advanced towards him on hands and knees, crawling slowly to him like some mockery of a seductive lover. He stood transfixed, his muscles not responding to his mind’s commands to flee or even wince as it reached out to him with a hand that ended in gangrenous tentacles in  place of fingers. When it touched him he felt the greasy slide of its fingers caressing his arm, and it seemed to grow fatter, its pustules expanding as if it were absorbing something into itself. He felt light headed and almost retched before…before…

He stood alone in the room, his heart racing a mile a minute, but for the life of him he couldn’t say what had caused it. As he calmed himself down he felt better, somehow. As if the some weight had been lifted from his shoulders. When he thought back to his life, and his patients and his soon to be ex-wife the anger and indeed hatred he’d born her was no longer there. He started to gather up his belongings. Life was too short to waste on unanswered pointless mysteries, he figured. After he was done, he shut off the light and locked the lab door, leaving a silence in there that was only broken by a soft, faint wheezing, like the snoring of some being who’d feed and feed well that night.

Hey Assholes, Here's a Thought: Don't Fucking Burn Books

Y'know I don't really know anybody who doesn't consider book burning to be some sort of crime. I mean, I've joked about it a few times with friends, saying things like "Wow, I've never thought of burning a book before, but man after reading Twilight I'm starting to reconsider." But I never really meant it. Even just the thought of destruction of literatue on a massive scale makes me physically ill.

So you can imagine my utter horror when I woke up and per my usual routine click over to, intending to find another 'top 10 list of shit that isn't really important but is somewhat interesting.' Instead I find this little turd nugget of an article. Go ahead, read through it. I'll wait.

The article's by a guy in Australia who actually works in a library and I'm willing to take him at his word. What I'm not willing to take is the bullshit he tries to spew out that this isn't as bad as you'd think. He tries to spin it around, to make it seem like this practice of destroying books is, if not a good
thing, then at least inevitable. Time marches on, and the new digital age that is upon us is replacing the old media. Why should libraries be immune to the new fad?

Well, I'll tell you why and *spoiler alert * it's a pretty fucking simple answer that's also somewhat obvious: You Shouldn't Destroy Books Because You Are Fucking Libraries. It's your job, your duty as libraries and librarians to preserve knowledge. Let me say that again, just in case you're too fucking brain dead to get it the first time: Your job. is to. PRESERVE KNOWLEDGE.

To be fair, the article's author does talk about how books are being preserved on microfilm and digitization, and how libraries are already at full capacity and don't have anymore room for books. And that most hardcore library users are students and university teachers who only come for the various academic and scientific journals that the library keeps. These are all valid points, and I can actually understand and sympathize with the plight of an understaffed, low budget building. Hell, I spent one of my university terms as a volunteer at the local archives, so I have somewhat of an idea of the tremendous effort it takes organize and categorize a literal labyrinthe of reading materials.

However, that doesn't excuse the fact that libraries in question don't seem to be doing anything to ensure that the books they can no longer store are preserved in some fashion or another. When the logical question of why the books aren't just given away, there's some bullshit reasoning that it would take more effort to give books away then sell them for pulp. That somehow, by removing the whole library identification part of the book takes way too much time and effort. If they just gave them away, the article says, it creates a huge hassle since people inevitably return the books to the library. Oh, but not to worry, a lot of the books are being transferred to a digital medium.

You might be asking, well if the books are preserved on microfilm or digitized why's this guy getting so upset? Well, I can tell you with 100 % certainty that a lot of stuff being destroyed will be gone completely, without a copy, digital or otherwise, to be preserved. Remember when I was talking about my time at the archives? I saw first-hand what a fucking ardous and lengthy process it was to copy materials onto micro-film. There was always of back-log of materials that needed to be processed through and there was never enough time to go through the whole lot of it. Add in the fact that libraries are under pressure to make room for the "important stuff" like the aforementioned journals, and that they're understaffed,  and you're going to see a lot of material that is being completely and utterly destroyed, with absolutely no traces of it left in any sort of medium, digital, microfilm or otherwise. It's not some sci-fi cliched barbarian horde of mutants or neo-totalitarian government that's destroying books, but in this case simple economics and bureaucratic apathy.

So what's my solution to all of this? Well, it took me all of a minute to think of it, but I think the root problem of it is this: libraries are underfunded, cash strapped and don't want the hassle of giving books away. That's why they sell the books for pulp. Therefore I've got two solutions for ya libraries. The first is to organize some pledge drives. I know in the article it said that nobody wants to fund libraries anymore, like it's aux passe or some shit, but just present if you present it in a way that makes it clear that lack of funding is literally killing books, then I'm sure people can throw in a little money. Everybody's strapped for cash in this economy, but nobody wants to see books destroyed because of it.

The second solution is to buy a stamp. Yep, you heard me. I know you're fucking familiar with stamps and stamping. The stamp will read thusly in big red letters: Available for private ownership. (Or something to that effect. I don't know the legalese but just put something on there that  And you can use that to simply stamp any of the books you're going to dispose of or sell for pulp. If your staff doesn't have the time then set it up so that volunteers can do it. I'm certain that somebody'll do it for free, rather than going through the brain bleach inducing thought of books being destroyed.

Okay, alright to be fair I'm sure that there's probably a few ways you punch holes in the solutions above, but at least it's a start. Maybe somebody else has a better plan, and if so please let me know about it. Hell, let the whole world know about it. Because this whole practice has to stop. To paraphrase Craig Ferguson: It's the triumph of brute force and cynicism over intellect and romanticism. If there's any librarian or anybody all who's associated with a library who's involved in this practice that's reading this I have to say six words. You just didn't try, did you? You didn't even try to come up with a solution other than burning or destroying books. You just went along with a shrug and maybe tried to come up with some bullshit justifications to your actions like in the Cracked article. You're supposed to preserve knowledge, remember and if you can't do it using your own facility at least fucking make sure somebody else can do it at their own means. Instead, you just didn't care.  

Friday, 7 October 2011

Schlocktober Review: Friday the 13th Remake

Oh Michael Bay. Purveyor of modern schlock and mediocre at best summer blockbuster fare. I would compare his directing style to Ed Wood or Uwe Boll, but Bay has the audacity to actually make money on his piece of crap films. His production company Platinum Dunes has their greasy handprints all over this movie as well as other recent horror remakes such as the new Amityville Horror, Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and TCM: The Beginning cause everybody was so looking forward to seeing Leatherface’s origin story).  To be fair Friday the 13TH isn’t directed by Bay as that particular “honor” goes to Marcus Nispel who directed some other crap remakes, but his dark presence is felt throughout. Nispel isn’t a strong enough director to add anything particularly new or flashy to the movie, and the writers, all four of them if that’s to be believed, only had a few interesting things to add. So through default I get to blame Bay for this, as everyone else is too incompetent to truly be held accountable.

So why am I acting like Mr. McGrumpy pants when all Bay is doing is remaking some dumb slasher series? (At least he isn’t going after quality horror movies series like…ummm…uhhh…Hellraiser? Yeah, sure, let’s go with that).  Well let’s find out in a snark by snark synopsis.

So the movie starts off with a black and white scene intercut with the credits where some unnamed bimbo is being stalked by a middle aged lady wielding an axe. It’s revealed that she’s Jason Voorhees’ mom, and she’s taking revenge against the councillors who let her son die at camp. The bimbo finds a nearby machete and out of desperation cuts off Voorhees’ mom’s head. It’s a nice little throwback to Friday the 13th  Part One, and it shows that at least someone on the production team actually saw the first movie. Of course since it’s a Bay production the next shot is of a young Jason picking up his mom’s locket and running off and I have to face palm because logic’s been thrown out the window. If Jason is showing up as a child, then does that mean he’s still alive? It doesn’t really look like he drowned, but the movie ‘s too dark to tell. If he’s alive then why the fuck does Pamela Voorhees (yep that’s her name from the originals although I don't think it ever gets mentioned in this one) go on a killing rampage? If he is dead then why then how the hell did he grow into that giant undead killing machine that we all know and love? I know it showed a kid Jason at the end of the first movie, but that was implied to be a dream by the final girl. Goddammit, remakes are supposed to clear up confusing aspects of the original, not pointless highlight them without bothering to provide an explanation.

After that we’re introduced to a bunch of characters so lacking in personality I’m not going to bother listing their given names. Instead I’ll call them all meatbags and add a number in the order of their deaths. They’re about to head off on a weekend camping trip near Camp Crystal Lake. Before one of the characters is the sister of Jared Padelecki, so I’ll call her Pad sister. Padelecki warns her to stay safe in a brief scene clearly meant to provide context for his arrival later in the movie. As you can guess the meatbags talk about weed, beer and pussy and provide shitty dialogue that doesn’t endear them at all. Meatbag 1 provides some exposition, explaining Jason’s backstory. Which might’ve been necessary if we hadn’t  just seen it five minutes before, thus proving the movie has no faith in the audience and just assumes we’re all retarded. Also, how the fuck does Meatbag 1 know that Jason’s still around? The bimbo didn’t see him before she ran off, and we haven’t seen anything else to show that. I guess he must be psychic, like the final girl from Friday the 13th Part 7, but if that were true then he might’ve had some warning about what was going to happen to them.

Anyways, Meatbag 1 is goes off into the woods to find some legendary marijuana patch (cause we all know that Jason Voorhees loves himself some reefer) and some of the other characters proceed to fuck. And yes, we do get to see some titties, though by the look of it they’re more plastic then the movie’s DVD case.  Meatbags 3 and Pad’s sister take a leisurely stroll in the creepy woods and find a shack, where they see Jason’s bed from when he was a child and the locket from six minutes ago that shows that Pad’s sister looks like Jason’s mom. What could it mean I wonder? They also discover Jason’s shrine, a nice call back to the second film and it’s genuinely kind of creepy. Although most shrines usually are.

As you can tell the sex and stupidity of these characters attracts the Voorhees and he proceeds to off them. I hae to give the movie credit in that the death scenes are usually well done, and don’t just involve his classic machete or axe. Though Meatbag 1 meets his maker in the classic sharp knife to the head, Meatbag 2 is dragged out of her tent, trapped in her sleeping bag and roasted alive over the camp fire and Meatbag 4 gets his leg caught in a bear trap which, I’ll admit did make me wince a little. The kills so far are somewhat clever for a Friday the 13th film.

Over at the shack Jason apparently teleports back and attacks from below, punching his machete  through the floor and managing to get Meatbag 3’s foot sliced before he drags him through the floor. Pad’s sister promptly gets the fuck out of there and meeting up with Meatbag 4 tries to get him out of the bear trap, but then Jason shows up and promptly axes that plan. As well as Meatbag 4’s face. (Okay, fine that joke sucked but at least somebody’s trying to provide some comedy bits since the movie sure as fuck isn’t trying to.)

A quick glance over at the time tells that we’re only twenty minutes into an hour and forty five minute film, and then we get the title. Yep, that was two prologues for a slasher flick. Why do I get the feeling that this movie is simultaneously trying too hard and not hard enough at the same time? Le sigh.  

We then get introduced to our new round of the meatbags who’re set to do the same partying as the first group except this time they’re doing it at a cabin. It’s been a few weeks since the first meatbag killing and Padalecki is looking for his sister when he comes across this new batch. One of the meatbags actually manages to differentiate himself by being a complete douche and trying to get Padalecki to move out of the way as he’s trying to convince a convenience store clerk to put up some flyers of his missing sister. Seriously douchebags like this only exist in fictional constructs such a horror remakes or a list of Michael Bay’s fans. Zing!

Padalecki drives off on his motorcycle only to be stopped by cop who tells him that they’ve already looked for his sister. He posits that she just ran off with her boyfriend. And they’re friends as well apparently. And nobody’s heard from them in weeks. He then implies that they’re probably all dead anyways. How…what…wha…? I know cops are supposed to be useless in slasher flicks but do they have to be retarded? Unconvinced, Padalecki continues his search and the movie intercuts between that and the meatbags’ party. Douchebag proves to live up that name I just gave him by being anal retentive about his cabin and being a dick to his girlfriend for no reason.  Even the stupid antics of the two comic relief characters (coincidentally the black guy and the Asian guy, cause nothing says comedy bits better than non-Caucasian people am I right?) isn’t enough to make these scenes memorable.

Padalecki drives around and meets with people that look like slightly less inbred members of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies and he’s told by the first one that his sister’s probably dead. Hmmm, two characters saying she’s dead within ten minutes of one another? Who wants to bet that she’s still alive and being held captive by Jason due to her resemblance to his mom? Anybody?... No?

Anyways we also meet up with some hick and his woodchopper and the only difference between the two is that one is unfairly labeled for their deviant uses in horror movies and the other’s a wood chipper. Only one of them will show up in the climax to provide Jason’s death. Author’s note:  As I’m writing this part I haven’t actually seen the end yet,  I just know shitty horror movie set-ups when I see them.

After Padalecki leaves the hick hears a noise upstairs and when he goes to check on it he reveals a mannequin under a sheet. He proceeds to caress the mannequin and tell her he’s glad he lost his virginity to it (fuck I wish I didn’t have to write that last sentence). Jason shows up to put him and the audience out of their misery and he finds his trade mark mask next to the manniquin. In the writers words they explained that one of the reasons they decided to do the remake was to re-visit iconic scenes from the first few movies. So if I understand it your big mask reveal was to reveal that it used to be owned by some hick mannequin fucker who Jason killed? Bravo, screenwriters, bravo. I’m glad to see you’re using your remake to add some real relevance to the series.
Meatbags 5 and 6 are out naked waterskiing on a lake when they get Jason’d. Meatbag 5 gets an arrow to the head and with no one at the wheel of the boat it smacks Meatbag 6 upside the head. Bleeding she sees Jason and tries to swim away from him and instead of say swimming to the other side of the lake decides that hiding underneath a dock nearby is close enough. Showing that the screenwriters are running out of creative ways to kill people Jason stabs through the dock and into her head.  I should also mention that Meatbag 6 is played by Willa Ford, who you might remember from ten years ago as a pop-singer and spank bank material in Maxim magazine. She had her one big hit in a song called “Wanna be Bad” that apparently described her acting ability. Le zing! We also get to see her tits in this movie, which would’ve been cool in high school but now doesn’t even make my actresses-whose-tits-I’d-like-to-see bucket list. And let me tell you it’s a pretty big fucking list.
Padalecki ends up at the party cabin, and since her boyfriend’s being such a douche douchebag’s girlfriend decides to help him search for his sister. They end up at Camp Crystal Lake and see Jason from afar. He can also operate electrical equipment and knows how to run a generator. They also see Jason’s carrying around body parts and as they rightly get the fuck out of there the camera swoops down to reveal that Jason has a secret base below ground, where he’s keeping Padalecki’s sister. Called it.
                If you’ll permit a small digression I have to say that what I’ve described could make a fine enough Friday the 13th movie on its own. Guy goes searching for his sister who’s being held by Jason cause she looks like his mother while some nearby meatbags party and get knocked off. Adding twenty plus minutes to establish that to provide backstory is fucking retarded because EVERYBODY ALREADY KNOWS THIS. Those who don’t can fucking Google it. We don’t need to see Jason’s mom killing people. We don’t need to see how Jason got his mask. We don’t need a second prologue to show he kills people too. Especially since they don’t do anything new or exciting with the remade material. The one new part that actually works is the survivalist aspect to Jason’s character, and since he’s shown a few elements of that in past movies they could’ve added it to the film and nobody would’ve minded. The remake material is padding to add twenty minutes to a movie that could’ve easily done without it. The only purpose here is to stroke Michael Bay’s ego because he’s now the king of horror remakes while the whole experience feels like the filmmakers are taking a giant dump in the audience’s eyes. I haven’t seen a bigger attempt at pissing off the fans since the Star Wars prequels.
Ahem, anyways, Padelecki and douche’s girlfriend head back to the party to warn them about the crazed killer in the woods. We see the usual stuff from a slasher flick: Asian guy goes to the shack for some contrived reason and gets killed, douche and Meatbag 7 go fuck where we get to see another set of tits, they don’t believe Jason’s there til he shows up and murders the fuck out of the rest of them until douch, Padelecki and douche’s now ex-girlfriend get the fuck out of there. Oh the dumb cop dies because while the characters do something smart and actually call the cops, the cops decide to continue their CLPD tradition of insane stupidity and only send one officer. To go after a crazed killer. That the locals semi-know about. Wow, if there’s anything that you can take away from these movies is that sometimes Natural Selection can still apply to our modern society. If only it would apply to screenwriters and shit producers.
After douche gets killed in a scene that doesn’t fucking go on long enough considering this is the character the audience wants tortured the most, we see Pad and ex-girlfriend running through the woods. Which is fine until we see that they’re heading to Camp Crystal Lake. Why? Because they only had so much logic to go around and it was all used up when they called the cops. They find Padelecki’s sister and free her, but then douche’s ex gets the stabbed. Awww, single tear.  Pad and sis try to run away, but then get cornered on an overturned bus and he gets his face rammed into a window. Jason decides not kill him because he’s a main character or something and tries to go after Pad sister but she beats him off.

What? No, not like that you perverts. God that’s disgusting.

Anyways to no one’s surprise they end up back at perv-hicks barn with the wood chipper and we get a darkly lit end fight. What’s that? You can’t make out anything cause it’s so dark? Well, that’s actually fortunate since what we do see is pretty poorly choreographed. The wood chipper valiantly saves the day as they wrap a chain around Jason’s neck and we see the epic battle of wood chipper versus undead slasher. Cue the next morning where they decide to throw Jason’s body off the pier and into the lake. Why the wood chipper didn’t provide a messy cremation for him is anybody’s guess. And of course we have to the next shot with Jason springing out of the water to grab one of the characters, and yes even people who haven’t seen the originals can see this coming from a mile away.

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself why do Hollywood allow these shit remakes to happen when they aren’t necessary and the franchises could easily be started up without them? Well, money dear boy, money. Horror remakes are in nowadays (at least the makers of the new The Thing have the decency to set it up as a prequel to the 1980s movie although they still retain the same title) and since everybody has a follow the fucking leader mentality that means that we get inundated with unnecessary crap. The worst part is that this isn’t even a bad horror movie, just mediocre. For a Jason movie though, that’s almost the worst thing. It’s easily the worst in the series, and I’m including Jason X in that accounting, because of its mediocrity. The Friday the 13th series always had a sort of camp mentality that made them fun to watch if you didn’t find them scary. You could easily cheer as the most annoying characters died and the movie knew they were annoying so they reserved the most gruesome deaths for them. This new one still leaves in the annoying characters but leaves out the camp part, and most important of all, the fun. 


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Schlocktober Reviews: The Mother of Tears

Hey, hey, it’s October and that means it’s fright month. A lot of studios will put out horror movies around this time of year (or wait until January to if the movie’s particularly schlocky) and I decided that I might as well watch some horror movies I’ve wanted to see for a while now and review them. Being unemployed and bored have absolutely nothing to do with this decision. Of course not. So without further ado, I give you Dario Argento’s Mother of Tears.

First up I gotta say I’m a huge fan of Dario Argento. His work in the Gallo and horror genres in the 70s and 80s, with such movies as Suspiria, Inferno and Deep Red,  is absolutely incredible and I urge anybody reading this to check them out. His style is almost surreal, and while there’s tons of gore and violence in his movies, it’s approached and shot in a way that almost makes it into art. That said, Dario does have his flaws as a director and a storyteller and a director and his main flaw is the probably the converse of what makes him so great as a visual director; the stories and plots in his movies aren’t great. Well, in all fairness, they’re absolute, often unintelligible crap with plot holes the size of Jupiter and logic leaps that would make even David Lynch ask, “What the fuck?” But that’s okay because the visuals make up for it. And seriously, if you’re watching a horror movie for the plot, you’re obviously in the wrong genre.  Surprisingly though, it’s Argento’s attempt at a plot in this movie that ultimately sinks it, especially when there’s no significant trippy visuals to back it up. It’s a complete betrayal of style and substance I’d like to say it’s like going to the supermarket to pick up some apples and only coming back with oranges, but a more apt metaphor would be going to the store, getting punched in the dick while a dog shits on your shoe. The only way to properly explain my frustration for this movie is to go over it piece by piece so you too can experience the suck.

The movie begins with a soundtrack that sounds like a bad rip-off of the Omen while a montage of images and pictures of the devil and various occult symbols that looks like it’s been scanned and pasted straight from the Satanic Bible. As the credits roll, the whole thing is presented so straight that it’d make Anton fucking LeVay blush, and that man’s been dead for nearly fifteen years now. Post opening credits we see a repair crew working on a cemetery. They must’ve been union workers though, since they accidentally open up a sealed crypt. A bishop is called in, who announces that the crypt was sealed in 1518, and sends off some urns and relics found in the crypt to be examined by a magic expert in Rome. I know Vatican II loosened things up in the Catholic Church, but I seriously still think the whole “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” thing might still mean the clergy’s not exactly friendly with Harry Potter wannabes.

At Rome, we’re introduced to the main character played by Asia Argento. Her name’s Sarah Mandy, though nobody actually says her name until the last twenty minutes of the movie so I’ll just call her Asia. Also Asia’s acting talent isn’t strong enough to lead me to believe she has any emotional range let alone can actually portray another character. You might recognize Asia from a few other movies such as playing the slutty love interest to Vin Diesel in XXX. Although if you don’t care to recall any details from that shitty movie I don’t blame you. She’s also Dario’s real life daughter and while that explains why she got the role, it also makes some scenes later on in the movie infinitely more creepy. And not in a good way.

Asia is working as an assistant at a museum where the magic expert also works. While he’s out the urn and relics arrive and because this is a horror movie that means all sense of archeological professional is flown right the fuck out the window. She and her friend decide to examine and dick around with these artifacts because the plot says so. While they’re doing that some S&M rejects from a Hellraiser flick appear from out of nowhere followed by a cackling monkey. Yes, I do realize that the previous sentence sounds like I’m on drugs but I swear to Christ this actually happens in the movie. While Asia goes off due to plot convenience the cenobite wannabes descend on Asia’s friend and proceed to tear her apart. The gore effects here are cheap and they would’ve looked bad thirty years ago. Did they get the F/X guys from Weasals Rip My Flesh to do this shit?

Anyways, Asia’s chased by the monkey and narrowly escapes it while a mysterious woman telepathically tells her to run away and get out of there. Thanks OBGYN Kenobi, I wouldn’t have figured that out. Though to be fair my response would’ve been to just punt the fucking monkey; seriously it’s barely two feet tall. But whatever. When the cops arrive to interview her about the murder they surprise! surprise! don’t believe her when she tells them what happens. We’re then introduced to Michael, the museum curator/lover interest/ obviously about to die before the climax guy.

They go back to his place and Asia says she has a hard time believing the stolen artifacts and what happened have anything to do with magic. I however have a hard time believing that the movie just cock-slapped me in the face like that. Seriously? After witnessing three freaks in bondage gear kill and mutilate your best friend in front of you for no reason as a monkey chases you around and all the while a woman with Jedi mind powers speaks inside your head  you STILL have the gall to be skeptical?  I’d rather believe in a world where magic exists then think there’s a group of people out there so detached from reality that they wear gimp masks and have a monkey fetish for no good fucking reason. Then again somebody actually wrote this piece of garbage (six people in total if you can believe it) so maybe my belief in a rational existence is ill-founded. Afterwards she and Michael fuck. Nothing more to say about that.

Oh and we’re not even twenty minutes into this piece of crap, cause apparently there’s just too much important plot points we need to witness so the movie has to rush through everything. Yippee.

Then there’s a montage of crazy shit going on in Rome while the same clichéd chanting that played in the credits plays here. There’s crowds of people going crazy and attacking each other, a man stabs himself in front of the Vatican but the cream of the crap is a woman throwing her baby off a bridge and into the river. While this may sound horrible the baby prop they use is so fake looking that you’d think they used a Cabbage Patch Doll for it. Michael goes off to see the occult expert Signor Brusca who reveals in series of black and white images the story of the Mater Lachrymarum, which is a pretty decent story of lust, black magic and betrayal. I’m left wondering why the fuck they didn’t make this the focus of the movie instead of this anemic modern day crap. Brusca also reveals that among the artifacts the gimps stole was a tunic that’s said to increase the Mother of Tears’ powers tenfold.  Don’t worry about that plot point though cause if you do remember it it just makes the climax of the movie that much more painful. As he’s leaving Michael is glared at by some skanky Italian goth chicks. Speaking of skanky Italian chicks Asia herself has been doing some digging into this whole mess by looking through old books on the occult because apparently now she believes in it despite no indication that she’s changed her mind. God I love consistency.

There’s  another montage of pointless violence and it’s revealed that Michael’s son has been kidnapped. Michael and Asia then proceed to both overact and underact respectively, though not respectfully cause if this movie obviously won’t bother to respect itself I’m sure as fuck not going to. It’s at this point that I’m starting to get the Mother of Tears angle on this, because this movie is so fucking bad I’m about to cry. Also I’m shortening Mother of Tears to MoT, both because the full name is too long to type and Mater Lachrymarum is too dignified a title for a character that does basically nothing when she’s on screen.

Anyways, a gaggle of witches fly into Rome via Italian airlines because fuck broomsticks. They then show how evil they are by being rude to their fellow passengers and tipping over their luggage. Remember how this movie is supposed to be scary? I’m not sure the filmmakers did.

Asia does some more research and she keeps running into the fact that witches traditionally run in threes. While she was looking into it she should’ve looked at how the third movie in a trilogy always sucks the most balls. I seriously owe Sophia Coppola an apology for criticizing her acting in Godfather Part 3 cause after witnessing Asia’s poor attempt at the craft I have to say Sophie’s starting to look like Oscar contender material by comparison.

Asia gets a call from Michael who’s been captured by the coven and she’s chased around by a group of Japanese goth kids/witches before she can reach him. Again these witches aren’t scary and I’ve frankly seen creepier Japanese goths chicks in real life. Asia gets trapped in a bookstore where she’s again urged on by her mysterious ghostly mentor to use the Forc- I mean, concentrate and use her magical abilities to turn herself invisible. Because logic is seriously fucking lacking in this movie it actually works, and she escapes to a train station though she’s somehow still pursued by one crazy goth chick. Like the rest of the witches this one shows fuck all powers other than to make a frowny face like she has terminal constipation, but that’s apparently enough to scare Asia and the train authorities. Personally all of these threats so far could easily be solved by the good ol’ tactic of boot to the face, but hey I didn’t write this schlock. Asia gets trapped in a bathroom stall, and the Japanese goth chick can detect her now. Asia then bashes loligoth’s face in with the stall door, which is a fate far too glorious for a character that wasn’t scary and didn’t add anything to this piece of crap movie other than to waste five minutes of our time. Oh yeah and Michael and his son are dead now because fuck you audience!

She finds out she needs to go to a convent to talk to the exorcist, Father Johanes, that Michael was trying to see and she learns that her mother was a white witch who apparently faced down and weakened MoT’s sister witch Mater Suspiriorum. It’s a this point where I’m really starting to get pissed. First of all, Mater Suspiriorum was the witch in Suspiria and we never saw any of this backstory nor any indication that it’d taken place in that movie. Second of all, it’s a well known fact that you don’t reference a good movie in you own shitty movie.  It just makes people compare the two and wish they were watching the better movie. “Fortunately” though the script writers follow another rule to a T and pull directly from Cliched Contrivance 101 the fact that Asia’s parents were killed by MoT. Oh yes, and two guesses as to who the secret voice inside her head is.

She finds out that all of the witches are coming to Rome to attend the ascension of MoT and usher in the fall of Rome. I’d rant about the stupidity of that plot point but I’m already going to be covering it in another post. Father Johanes, played by Udo Kier in a classic doing-this-for-the-money role, decides to go to his study because the plot says so and is promptly stabbed by a nun who’s gone all crazy and knife wieldy. She drags the still living Johannes in front of Asia and her new lesbian psychic friend Marta and does to Johannes face with her knife what I’d like to do to every single DVD copy of this movie. Oh yes and I just gave you about the same introduction to Marta as the movie gives. Don’t you feel special now?

Asia and Marta escape back to Rome and they end up at Marta’s place. Marta tells her that the psychic voice she’s been hearing in her head is actually, wait for it, her dead mother. Dun-dun-dun! They do a séance or some shit and dead mom tells Asia to use her powers and I’m starting to think they could’ve cut some costs to the production by replacing dead mom’s actress with a broken record. Asia’s really no better as when she actually sees the spirit of her dead mother she starts calling out “Mommy! Mommy!”like a fucking two year old who’s spilt her milk.  Our protagonist ladies and gentlemen!

Marta then shows that she’s absolutely tits useless besides being an exposition provider for the retarded members of the audience, and she promptly fucks off to fuck her lesbian assistant. Apparently seeing a priest get knifed in the face and knowing that your whole city is being overrun by goths is a huge turn on for psychic Italian lesbians. Who knew? I’d suspect this lesbian love scene was just a crass move by the producers to push the rating up to an R rating (cause the fake looking gore sure as fuck isn’t doing any favors) but that would be just cynical.

Asia goes back to her apartment only for the power to go out. She goes up the stairs and we get a jump scare of a statue sticking out of the walls. I wouldn’t even comment on this except for the fact that just a few seconds later we see a regular shot of a genuinely creepy ghost melting out of the walls a la Silent Hill 4: The Room. Hey movie, do you know what would’ve been a good jump scare? Doing it with something that’s actually scary!

So she heads back to Marta’s place cause it’s safer or maybe she just wants to get in on some of that three way lesbian action but she’s chased out of the place by the monkey again. I forgot to mention that this monkey is supposed to be MoT’s familiar, but since the movie doesn’t even bother to mention that fact and I only learned that from  Wikipedia, I guess the filmmakers must be just as forgetful as I am. Asia runs out of Marta’s place but instead of doing something useful like screaming or doing something else to let them know MoT or her gimp posse are there, she decides to call them from a nearby pay phone which does absolutely fuck all. In one of the very few gruesomely freaky scenes in the movie the cultists poke out the assistant’s eyes, break Marta’s spine and proceed to shove a long metal spike pole up her hoo-haw all while MoT proceeds to lick away Marta’s tears.
 It’s a genuinely gory moment that harkens back to Argento’s earlier good work but it’s over too soon. In one of his older flicks, this scene would’ve been drawn out more to really hammer in the gore and the characters suffering.  And that’s what we’re watching a Dario Argento film to see; stylized gore that’s so over the top that it somehow becomes a visual tour de force. Say what you will about Argento’s previous forays being misogynistic, but at least they had a way about them that almost turned the slasher flick into an art form. In his best work, the sets were always weird and strange, the camera angles were hypnotizing and the gore effects as well as the deaths themselves were so good and so well shot that they could actually make you cringe in legitimate terror and disgust upon seeing them. Looking back, this scene just makes me realize how much of cheesy gore by numbers borefest this movie really is. Le Sigh.

Asia then meets up with Michael. But wait! Those of you that’ve actually been paying attention so far will note that Michael’s already dead. True, true. But that doesn’t mean we can’t play the surprise- he’s-a-zombie-now- game.  This has been done and done better in both Suspiria and Inferno. Speaking of infernos, Asia sets Mikey on fire with the power of magic and bad CGI. Her dead mom appears to drag his spirit to hell and the cycle of half-assed computer graphics is complete. Yeah, that’ll teach you to try and rescue your kidnapped son from evil cultists!

We get a shower scene with Asia where we get to see her naked. At this point I’m not really complaining because her tits are really the best props in this movie but I’m also torn. Remember the part where her dad’s the director? Yeah. Ewww.

After pointless shower time, the movie reaches a whole new level of stupid when a news report shows that the police are after her because they suspect she’s behind the riots and violence in Rome. We now have confirmation that this movie is solely going on to just fuck with us at this point.  It’s obviously stopped trying a while ago and its only purpose now is to see how far it can fucking torture us with bullshit before the audience collectively gives it the finger.

Because the film needs more padding Asia goes to enlist the aid of some alchemists to tutor her in her powers but they have the audacity to point out the obvious plot hole that there’s no way she can be taught enough in time to confront MoT before her ascension. I really would’ve appreciated this bit of insight a lot fucking more if the screenwriters had used it to actually fix the plot hole instead of just highlighting it. Bravo movie, your laziness is truly fucking astounding. So instead Asia just reads some books which increase her magic powers. If that’s all it takes then I’m personally wondering why the fuck I don’t have magic powers then. During my misspent teenage years I was all into that occult shit, and I still own more books on magic then a fourteen year old wiccan with daddy issues. Answer me this movie; by your own logic how come the only time I can apparently turn invisible is when there’s a bunch of hot chicks in the room and I’m not drunk? Ugh, fuck this movie.

Anyways, she’s directed to MoT’s mansion and she of course wanders around in near dark while a knock off Assassin’s Creed music plays in the background. And of course the lead detective trailing her is there and they join forces. Why not? She sees a locked door with symbols on it from one of her books. She presses the symbols from top to bottom and a secret passage is revealed. I’d complain that this was a complete waste of a lead up but I’m just happy this movie’s almost over. The detective gets captured because, say it with me now, THE PLOT SAYS SO. 

She then faces off against the cult and the annoying Omen–style chanting returns. Apparently the witches have learned all of Asia’s tricks cause there’s no sign of a toilet stall door this time. She passes by some freaky orgy where some disgusting shit is going on, like a woman shoving a goat hoof into a man’s back and another woman eating a guy’s intestines through his asshole. Surprisingly the latter is an apt metaphor for what it feels like to watch this fucking movie.

We finally get to see MoT in all her glory i.e. naked on a platform, and she honestly looks like an Italian transsexual Amy Winehouse and is just about as threatening. (Too soon?) The witches capture  Asia but for some reason don’t tie her up or bind her. MoT puts on the tunic that’s supposed to boost her powers and I have to say I’ve never been more happy in my life to see a woman put some clothes on. Remember that whole sub-plot with Asia learning to use her magic powers? Yeah, fuck that part righ in the ear. She instead grabs a plot convenience pole and uses it to rip the tunic off MoT. The mansion starts collapsing around her, which makes no sense cause she’s not even dead yet, and an obelisk crashes down and kills MoT. Boo.
Asia and the cop escape and then have a good laugh, no doubt at the audience’s expense for bothering to sit through this piece of shit til the end. The ending credits roll while a crappy screamo metal band plays over the same devil images as the opening credits. Hey remember when Argento used to employ good bands like the prog rock Goblins? Well, ha-ha if you do cause  even the movie credits gets to mock you now.

Analysis? Ugh, this movie fucking sucked. Besides not holding up to the original, Mother of Tears is just a bad horror movie in general.  The characters are boring, the dialogue is boring, the witches are boring and nothing is even remotely scary. The plot is the worst offender, as some jack monkey decided that adding some lame ass Omen rip-off to an Argento movie was a good idea. The other films didn’t need plot; they had visuals to support their movie. Sadly, this piece of shit has more plot with less visuals, and it ends up suffering horribly on both accounts. 

The color scheme, something that was actually quite good and noticeable in the previous two movies is just a dull bland grey and brown that wouldn’t look out of place in a Gears of War game. The only actual color in the film is at the end, where MoT’s lair has this dull red glowlight thing going on. Apparently this was intentional, as the production team wanted to show the movie slowly going from brown to red to simulate Asia’s descent into the occult, but in actually it comes off not unlike a bad case of constipation. In the spirit of that half-assed process I’ve tried to simulate this by increasingly using the word fuck, which shows my fucking frustration with this fucking no good fucking piece of fuck-shit. Fuck this movie.

        Verdict: Since this movie takes place in the 70s (from a throw away line near the end), I'm gonna let a clip from that decade sum up my feelings for this movie.