Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I made a few changes around the site. And I want to hear what you have to say about it, my good readers.

First off is the Banner. I was told that it the text wasn't creepy enough, so... I tried to ghostify it up! What do you think? Did I go overboard with the "Your Seat" part? Should I change it back to the way it was, edit this change, or keep things the way they are?

Also, you are now able to watch a trailer for most of the movies I mention (at least the trailers I link to) right above the posts, under the banner. Usually the most recently mentioned trailers will be first in line. So, now you have the option to click the outside link, or just scroll and check it here. Might be easier to watch it here if you're just looking for the trailer, and outside in a different window, if you want to keep reading while it loads.

Anyhoo, just an FYI for y'all.

See ya around!

Scary-O-Types: Part 2

Aaaaand, it's time for Part two of our scare-sorting extravaganza! (Part 1, this'a way)

If you're starting here and haven't read the first half, I've been talking about the five main ways (according to me) horror movies try to scare us viewers. We've looked at the two primary types, and now we're moving on to the three others. When I say 'primary', I mean general.

Anyhow, enough dilly-dallying. Forward!

Type C: The Psycho Attack
Psychological attack, that is. This one is a little harder to specify. It's the type of scare that troubles your mind and usually leaves a lasting impression. I would call this scariotype the most misunderstood. And I don't just mean people can't appreciate it; I mean they don't know what the heck they just saw.

The major form of this type is a sort of dementia in the landscape, scenery or certain images. These things defy reality and spit in the face of the norm. Some examples can include solid objects, like walls, pushing outward as if rubber in the shape of hands or faces. Or maybe bloody footprints will begin walking a path across the roof. Maybe the landscape will drop off into nothingness, or perhaps there will be human-like beings with unusual or distorted features (like being gray, twisted, having no arms, no face, an acid-spewing stomach-hole, and making inhumane noises -- sound familiar, horror fans?).

The Nightmare on Elm Street series does nothing but work with trippy ways to throw the viewer's sense of security out the window. The Cell was a movie that took place in the mind of a psychopath for half the time, displaying strangely-shaped and -acting people as well as other fun things. Silent Hill is another good example and it's from there that I got the description of the monstrosity above. Say "Halloo", that's it on the right (head and upper-chest). You know what? You gotta see the trailers, these are all really cool films. Elm Street, Cell, Silent Hill. In general, this type of scare is seen in such supernatural horrors.

Type D: The Gore Shot
Blood, guts, and severed limbs. Ewwwww. Probably the second most disrespected types of scaring the viewers (or rather, grossing them out), it is also the new and popular fascination of those same viewers. Movie-makers are pumping out flicks that do little more than hack people to pieces and what do the viewers do? They eat them up as though they were starving and excrete criticism. I'm not trying to defend the Gore Shot, here. It's true that this type of scare has become overly abused and nonsensical. I'm just pointing out the fact that people can't get enough of the bloodiness... which is kinda disturbing to be honest. If I go to one of those movies, I wonder if the guy next to me is an axe-murder. :(

Let's give it a nice and neat definition, shall we? The Gore Shot is the excessive use of grotesque and violent images and sounds to disgust the watcher. Common depictions of this include penetration and dismemberment of the body with deadly objects, resulting in large amounts of blood as well as exposed bones and innerds.

There, that's putting it nicely, eh? Although this has been going on for a while, movies like Saw (trailer) really popularized it to another level. Movies started getting gorier more frequently. Hostel is a good example: a movie about a place where people pay to torture other people to death for fun. Wow. Was Saw gory? Yes. Was it clever? Also yes. But the same can't be said about its copycats. For the most part, they are made for nothing more than the violence.

The Gore Shot is mostly seen in Slashers, although they've made a subcategory for the more intense ones called Splatter or Gore films. It also tends to leak into Sci-Fi horror, bringing green or yellow alien blood to the party.

Type E: The Skincrawler
Although this is a little related to the Gore Shot, it's different enough to get its own category. Simply put? Disturbing images or ideas to make your skin crawl. Maybe it'll even unnerve you enough to make you want to rub or itch your skin. Makes you shiver, gives you goosebumps, makes your skin crawl. Okay, okay! I'll tell you how. Usually it's caused by scenes of insects or other things moving around on or... under a person's skin. The movies that use this take "it get's under your skin" seriously.

This one isn't done too often, and usually it ranges from moderate to well done. Most any insect horror movie will have it to some degree. Sci-Fi horror flicks about an "infecting" alien that implants itself or some substance into a person to transform the victim usually gives the same sort of willies. The Mummy, the action/adventure/comedy/horror movie, as I like to consider it, had a pretty darn creepy use of this. But one of the best instances of the Skincrawler has got to be The Ruins. If you want to be unnerved, watch that movie because it is intense and painful (in a good way -- good if you like horror, that is). Behold the trailer and shudder!

Well, then. We are all now more educated in what sort of horror we're watching. Hopefully you'll be able to tell more accurately what aspects you like and dislike. Here's what I think of them all. Stylish Scares, Psychological Attacks, and Skincrawlers are awesome (and disturbing). The "Boo!" Effect and Gore Shots are low-brow, but without them hardly anyone would watch horror, which is a shame. Time to go and enjoy our movies with a new outlook. Huzzah!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Scary-O-Types: Part 1

Also spelled "Scariotypes" by people of the highest authority in this sort of thing (or I may have just made it up), scary-o-types are the different sorts of scares that our good ole horror films throw at us.

According to my craaazy hardcore research that I've been working on my entire life, there are about five different categories of Scare: The Stylish Scare, The "Boo!" Effect, The Psycho Attack, The Gore Shot, and The Skincrawler. The different types of movies also have a tendancy to use certain types of scares. Let's have a look-see at what the heck I'm talking about.

P.S.: In part 1, I'm going to start us off with the two main types. Part two will have the other three.

Type A: The Stylish Scare
Oho, yeah. Scaring ya... with style! This is probably one of the most respectable but overlooked types. Time to sound like a dictionary: it usually involves using a scene or the overall atmosphere of the movie to unnerve or frighten the watcher with overwhelming or subtle images. It does not resort to the "Boo!" Effect (see Type B), but is often mistaken for it because something called the Delayed "Boo!" Effect, a version of the Stylish Scare. This is done by having something scary appear on the screen without immediately drawing attention to it, leaving the watcher time to say "Oh my gawd, am I seeing this right now? WHY ISN'T THE MOVIE TELLING ME I AM??"

Another example is having something fast but gradual happening with no way of stopping it. It leaves the watcher with time to dread what is happening, helplessly. One way to do this is with a creature moving in quick but small movements, or even a large creature with long drawn out movements (which are still pretty fast considering how big it is). The Uninvited had at least one of the fast small movement scares, causing the object of terror to take longer to do its thang. Cloverfield was one that nicely mixed the giant monster with the horrific hopelessness in long movements.

Almost any sort of scary movie can have this, but it's something rarely included. Sadly. Still, I always have my eyes open for when it comes along.

Type B: The "Boo!" Effect
And now we flip right over to what is often considered the least respectable and most used type of scare. That's right, folks. It's the number one reason why many people are afraid of scary movies, the number one reason scary movies are resented, and unfortunately the type that seems to keep everyone's attention the most. It's also properly called the "cheap scare" and is probably the main cause of low reviews today, only rivaled by excessive gore (see Type D - Part 2).

Wow, sounds like a bundle of fun.

It goes a little something like this. Something suddenly appears on the screen, usually a frightening image, to make the watchers jump in their seats. The appearance draws attention to itself with a loud noise or a quick shift in the camera, and it usually follows a drawn out silence. In other words: ... ... ... BOO!

The reason people hate it so much is because the image itself is often not even that scary. The suddenness and the LOUDNESS are what catch the viewers off guard. What's worse is that for a large part of the movie, this happens at the stupidest moments. For example, the stereotypical frightened girl is alone... walking slowly into a room in her new possibly-haunted-house-or-something... no sound... then... OMYGOSH THERE'S A HAND ON HER SHOULDER, DON DON DON! "So, like the new place?" says her parent/sibling/friend. Oh wait, I just flew to the roof in fear for nothing. Thanks, movie.

Almost every single horror movie in existence uses this one by the dozen. Nay, by the two-dozen! But Slashers and Ghost Stories, oh they thrive on it.

Stay tuned for the next episode. We've got three more scares to cover! It'll be on at [later tonight/morning] (well, it's dark out anyways).

Monday, March 9, 2009

Slasher: Origins

Sounds like a bad horror-prequel, doesn't it? I guess in a way it is.

After I posted Titans of Slash, someone said to me "Ok, hold up there a sec. You start us off with Psycho then leave us hanging!" I sure as heck don't wanna do that, so let's have a look.

Although some say Slasher movies had earlier origins, there's no arguing that Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) is the one that popularized the genre. Somewhat inspired by earlier murder mystery horror, such as House On Haunted Hill (1959), Psycho must have been one of the first to portray violent murders. This movie itself inspired much of the following wave of films depicting graphic killing.

Now, about the movie itself: it was simply amazing. And I'm not just saying that because everyone else does. There's a reason why it's considered Hitchcock's greatest film.

To the edge of my seat did it take me? Yes, oh yes indeed.

What first struck me as remarkable was how old it didn't seem. You heard me right. Many movies of that time, as well as those for a long while afterward, have a certain feel to them. Maybe it's just for us looking back from the modern age, but usually you feel like your watching peopel act in older films. The cast of Psycho did not act. It lived. Particularly the lead. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates was so genuine that he stood out from the other actors (who were also very good) and seemed to be in a completely different world, a real world. The filming was smooth. The movie was more at ease (especially for one that makes you so uneasy) and natural than it's peers, adding even more to it's unreal reality.

Now, this movie doesn't tote high body-count that the slashers of today aim for. And sorry gore-lovers, but though it was considered extremely violent for it's time, it's nothing like what we see in ours (though it was still fairly brutal). That's okay, it doesn't need any of that. The suspense alone is enough. And when the violence comes, it is fast and relentless, catching you off-guard even when you know it's coming.
(Mrs. Bates is one scary mother'.)

Definitely worth the watch, even if you hate old movies. It also spawned three sequels, though I haven't seen them. It seems that all three were generously received by fans. Though they do not measure up to the original, they were considered decent enough films each on their own. Perkins came back to play Norman in each one, though they were all made many years after the original (in '83, '86, and '90).

And finally, in '98 they did a remake. A shot-for-shot remake. No, it didn't exchange punches with the original, it was just almost an exact reenactment of the '60 version. The only differences? The actors (and acting), modernization, and length. Overall, it wasn't as good as the original, but it's decent enough if it's your first time seeing any version (like it was for me). As a reviewer on IMDB going by bob the moo said, "So-so, until you compare it to the original - then it's poor." Though I enjoyed it plenty, I have to agree.

First of all, most of the scenes were longer than in the original. Not much, sometimes only by seconds. Did that add to the movie? Half the time it added a bit more character to what was already there, and in the other half it was just unnecessary drag. The modernization didn't change much; it took place in a different year, monetary amounts were different, and a few expressions were updated slightly. They tried to make it seem like a '60s movie with their filming and sadly all that accomplished was a distracting conflict of style for the viewer.

Three of the five characters of interest were portrayed by actors that seemed completely uninspired and lifeless. Anne Heche had the same neutral look on her face for most of her scenes, and Julianne Moore and Viggo Mortensen (more like Riggo Mortissen) seemed bored out of their minds. I felt like I could have gotten more life out of a blank wall in an invisible room that doesn't exist. William Macy, however, held up his character well enough. Vince Vaughn, in the leading role of Norman Bates, did a disarmingly good job. I don't know about you guys, but this was a completely different role for Vaughn than I've ever seen him do, and his acting matched the unusualness. How did he measure up to Perkins? Well, his was a different Norman Bates. Vaughn's version was more socially awkward and obviously disturbed, while Perkins' just seemed like a polite shy young man. I admit I liked Perkins' Bates better, but there was nothing wrong with Vaughn's. In fact, I'd watch the remake again if only to see Bates in that different light.

Last note of interest: I couldn't help but notice that at times, Perkins (right) reminded me a bit of Christian Bale(left). What do you think? Interestingly, Bale starred in a film called American Psycho as Patrick Bateman. We know that the name is a tribute to Psycho, but what about the actor choice? Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Jason, Have You No Heart?

Because you're newest movie doesn't! The rehash of Friday the 13th was a senseless kill-fest that lacked story and character. The only substance it brought to the viewers was a different Jason Voorhees than we used to know.

Uh-oh! A negative review?

Well, not ALL negative, but yeah, sort of.

I had really high hopes for this one. I guess this is all I should have expected from it. The majority of the later Friday the 13th movies were all about the killing, less about story. The fans were fine with it, really. Youpee! Jason is killin' some dudes! That's what they were looking for. But me, I enjoy a horror more when it has a decent plot to back it up. I'll begin with the bad, then move on to the good later.

Trailers ho! (Youtube, Apple)

First of all, Vanessa of Cinema Coquette mentioned that I don't really hate on the acting in the movies I've reviewed so far. Well, she'll be delighted to know that that's just what I'm going to do in this case. Simply put, the acting was bad, or at least had no feel to it. Not horrible, per se; horrible does come along, but I reserve that word for the worst of the worst. Still, you could pick up a teen off the street or off the set of any soap opera (oho! a low-blow to the soap operas!) and have a cast mostly on-par with what we seen in this movie. "Hyuk, hyuk, I'm a teen and like sex and drugs, hyuk!" I couldn't find any inspiration to root for a character's survival. I'll pretend I'm going to find some deep meaning to this film and say that the lack of any depth meant that nobody was really there, and it was all a dream, the end.
(Hahaha! I have no need to act >:D )

The next problem was the plot. Basically, they jammed two movies into the first 30 minutes, and the rest was a third movie. They were all slightly related, but they didn't need each other. The first two were just another half-hour of sex and gore for the audience and back-story that us viewers could deduce perfectly well on our own. So what's this 'story' I keep talking about? I don't need to put it in a nutshell for you, it's already in there. Some teens go to a lake to party, one guy is looking for his missing sister, and Jason decides to kill them all for being there (that's HIS territory, punks!). He also randomly goes and kills some dude who has been living in the area for quite a while. I guess the characters in the movie are like items on clearance at your local superstore: ALL THINGS MUST GO! He got introduced as a character, so I suppose the movie makers decided they might as well kill him too. Why not, right, we're on a roll.

They had a steady formula for the movie: introduce teens, kill teens; introduce more teens, kill 'em some more. Nothing in between. You get just as much story as a McDonald's ad. And to put it simply, there wasn't much in the form of scares either. Sure he jumped out at you a few times, and maybe you jumped too, but otherwise no. Anything worth drawing out some fear was used in the commercial anyhow.
(I'm totally not right behind you.)

My goodness, I sound like a professional critic! For once we're on the same wavelength, and I think that's the scariest part about this movie! Mr. Allan Hunter puts it very nicely on Rotten Tomatoes.

"One for horror fans that everyone else can happily avoid."

"Golly, do you have anything nice to say to this poor defenseless film?" Oh, yes, that's next. Because, you see, if senseless violence in the form of a large amount of slaughtered teens is what you were looking for, then this is the movie for you! In fact, you get two whole bunches of them looking for love and marijuana, just asking to be slasher victims. And for those of you who say "that is horrible!" keep in mind that what I just said is the main reason people go to see this movie: to watch whatever creative ways the makers have put together for people to die. If looked at only from that point of view, this was a great movie. Not much else going on.

But the one thing that I personally found to be a treat in this movie is the new and improved Jason. If you've seen the old movies, you remember the slow, clumsy, indestructible brute that was Jason. Now, not only is he stab-proof, but he's cunning (traps, plans, etc), he's fast (what's scarier, a guy with a machete walking at you, or a guy with a machete RUNNING at you?), and he's agile (more stealthy then ever, with smooth deadly movements). They took a threatening dude and made him into an even more unstoppable monster. In my opinion, seeing that was the main reason to watch this movie.
(I've been exercising! Can you tell?)

Overall: Critically, it's not a good movie. I might rent it when it's in the cheap-movie isle at Blockbuster, and that'll be the end of it. But, if you're in the mood for a movie with a decent kill-count and fair variety of ways to pull off said kills, then go ahead, have a ball. Heck, you might love it. I enjoyed it fine. Still doesn't make it good.