One of my favorite movies of all time is The Hidden, from 1987.
This is the movie that got Kyle MacLachlan cast in Twin Peaks. It was made by the same crew that did Nightmare on Elm Street. If, by some fluke, you’ve never experienced it, allow me to make a case for why it’s probably the greatest film ever made.
Kyle MacLachlan is mysterious FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher. Michael Nouri is the L.A.P.D. detective stuck working with him, investigating a weird string of robberies and murders. You see, an extraterrestrial entity is taking over people’s bodies, and making them kill. This alien also enjoys heavy metal, Ferraris, and high-powered assault weapons. Continue reading →
Horror icons are sparse in the 21st century for a very simple reason. Horror used to be adults scaring children. Now it’s all about creepy children scaring adults, and adults don’t scare the way kids do. Hence, a decent slasher flick gets forgotten after four or five years, regardless of how many sequels it has (witness the interminable Saw franchise of torture-porn).
Two of the most enduring figures in terror are Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, of the Nightmare on Elm St. and Friday the 13th franchises. Both are bogeymen; mythical killers of young folks, in familiar settings. Therein lies the key to their longevity and appeal. Continue reading →
In a mere handful of movies, writer Clive Barker made an indelible impression on the world of horror. Hellraiser gets the bulk of the praise, with its puzzle boxes and flesh-shredding demons, but one of Barker’s lesser-known novels was equally imaginative. It was called Cabal, and in 1990 it became a movie called Nightbreed.
I have a confession to make. Though I consider myself quite the erudite film scholar, in many ways I have no cause to place myself above the average lumpen moviegoer.
I confuse the name ZaSu Pitts with Zuzu Petals, a minor character from the execrable Andrew Dice Clay comedy The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.
I am inexplicably incensed at the sight of the cover of the film Metropia, and Audrey Tautou’s picture on the front of Amélie. To date, I have not seen Amélie, even though it’s from a director I like, thanks to its coy, nauseatingly precious cover shot.
I haven’t seen Precious, except on YouTube, because apparently I laugh at the wrong things.
I can’t stand whispering in movies any more than I can in the theater. A notable exception would be 1982’s Poltergeist. M. Night Shyamalan has abused whispering so much his actors should be forced to use air horns.
I’ve never seen Avatar. Any movie that uses a default computer font for its title isn’t worth a billion dollar budget, let alone my attention. Continue reading →
Moviegoers today act like naked Kate Winslet in Titanic, coyly demanding Leonardo DiCaprio to draw her like a French girl. A preternatural relationship has been forged between audience and studio. A production falls all over itself to seduce a fandom, because that’s where the blindly loyal dollars are. If a popular intellectual property is even slightly altered for a motion picture adaptation, it’s headline news, even above mass murder and election-year chicanery.
Eventually, this film will be remade, and this scene will feature different actors, pretty much just to fuck with you.
The movie industry has become such an intellectual wasteland that the 80s era of numerical sequel-mania looks dignified by comparison. Honest promotion and word-of-mouth don’t work anymore; attention span is dead. The only way to really sell a remake is to get people steamed. Take the things viewers loved about an original film, and subvert them. Serves the suckers right anyway, for falling in love with a fictional universe. The names P.T. Barnum and J.J. Abrams aren’t similar for nothing. Continue reading →
By the age of ten, I had somehow managed to view both Alien and The Shining. These formed the blueprint of what I understood of the “horror” genre, which I’ve loved ever since. I often bought issues of Fangoria and GoreZone in junior high, because I was intrigued by the pictures’ ability to sicken me, and amazed that magazines existed in stores that were nothing more than full-color gross-out photos. The work of technical-effects masters like Rick Baker, Tom Savini and Kevin Yagher was lovingly displayed like bloody Playboy centerfolds.
The good old days, when Corey Feldman was naught but Jason’s killer.
I used to call myself a horror-movie buff in the 1990s, so I’ve heard all the grievances about “scream queens” and “final girls”. And, you know, those complaints worked; now every female protagonist in movies is an unstoppable “badass”. I saw the recent space drama Gravity, and I was mystified why so many people disliked it. Then I looked into the details; modern audiences rejected a Sandra Bullock who freaks out and cries when things go sour. Never mind that it’s part of a character arc; females must always be steely and in control.
Well, like so many aspects of modern film, that’s boring. Another victim of political correctness in movies is the Girl Who Can Scream. The scolds among us will suggest that men get a perverse satisfaction out of seeing women in jeopardy, but that’s only the perverts. For the rest of us, it’s a human fire alarm, when it’s done right. It signals that things are really, really bad. They even used to put it in the trailers.