Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Fifth of Blood - Part 1

What Do All Part 5's in Horror Series Have in Common?

Five days ago a few friends and I went to the locally-deemed “ghettoplex” movie theater near my campus to check out the latest installment in the Saw series. To sum up my review as usual, for being the fifth installment it wasn’t a bad movie. While the first hour was cursed with late-installment cliches (bad acting/one-liners) the last half hour near-fully redeemed itself. My main problem was that like Saw 2, the film detracted from how the torture devices were structured - they weren’t individually based, but communal. Something about having a group of characters in a house and embarking on a journey towards new Jigsaw technologies just didn’t do it for me, and the same thing happened in Saw 5. Five individuals go through another house (or warehouse I should say) and have to deal with the traps as a group. My opinion is that its just creepier when its one or two people trying to overcome the circumstances. And it only works with two people when its a battle to the death (e.g. opening scene in Saw 4). Regardless, the movie didn’t fair out as horribly as one might think. So I ask myself, “Why is this?” Part one of this article will go through the other “fifth films” in horror franchises leading to part two's conclusions and theories.

First up we have...

Friday the 13th Part V - A New Beginning

Slashes: 2.5/4

I group the movies comprising Friday the 13th into three groups. I deem one through three as The Same Cakes since they’re pretty much all the same movie, yet with different “frosting.” Four through six I deem The Farley’s since theyre all continuations of story lines involving a boy named Tommy (yes, i know its a clever name). And seven through ten I deem as The Leftovers since they’re just a bunch of random attempts to redeem the series, and just like leftover food they get worse through time.

Friday the 13th part five is where Tommy is granted leave from a mental institution on the basis that he must enter a halfway house. Regretfully Corey Feldman doesn’t completely reprise his role, but he does make a great cameo in the introduction. Although I haven’t seen this film in about two years, looking back at wikipedia’s plot summary does make me appreciate the movie. First off, it has a Scream-type of quality in that Jason is a real person for the majority of the film. Secondly, this film kicks off the “new” Jason through the incarnation of Jason’s spirit into Tommy’s body. Yet the killer known as Jason is never reassigned the new alias of Tommy - which could have been kind of cute.

What’s the point? Well, Friday the 13th V involves a new person adopting the Jason persona and thats pretty rad.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 - The Dream Child

Slashes: 3/4

I tried developing some sort of categorical system to group these films into, but its clear that the goal of producer Robert Shayne was to find anybody from the previous installments that was willing to be in another sequel. As I’m writing this I realize I need to rewatch this film so I will do that before I go on.


Damn, I had completely forgotten how much I enjoyed number five. This is one of the greatest late-term sequels of any horror series. That comic book sequence, man that is some badass shit! And for some reason I always vividly remember the scene when Alice’s friend arrives at the mental institution, having been scared to death of it when I was around twelve years old. Why this movie has a 4.6 on imdb is beyond me, though I’ll easily attribute it to being like a good wine that gets better with age. And how about the inclusion of some M.C. Escher inspired set pieces?! Damn! And by the way, this fact ain't on imdb so please check the website for my soon-to-be-infamous addition to Nightmare on Elm Street 5 trivia! For anyone who wants an autograph of mine leave your address in the comment sections.

Anyway, the movie involves Alice from the previous Nightmare movie (I don’t have the slightest clue what it was about) having just graduated high school, getting pregnant sometime before this. She starts having nightmares about the child, naming him Jacob after encountering a child in her dreams who is actually the creepy looking kid Dr. Grant scares in Jurassic Park. Side note: it must suck to be a child who’s sole acting quality is to look like an adolescent serial killer. And holy shit, even if you think the movie sucks stay tuned in for the credits playing a great song by Doctor Ice entitled Word Up Doc! Back to the movie though, bottom line Freddy is defeated, yet she has a kid who could be cursed with Freddy’s spirit...

What’s the point? Well, the potential for a new Freddy reincarnated into Alice’s baby seems to be the next move.

Halloween 6 - The Curse of Michael Meyers

Slashes: 3.5/4

I know what you’re thinking, Halloween six is not number five. Well no shit sherlock, but Halloween three has absolutely nothing to do with Michael Meyers so the true Halloween five is actually The Curse of Michael Meyers.

First off, there is something about this movie that is truly amazing. I have yet to see the producer’s cut, but I am willing to marry any woman who buys it for me off ebay. Supposedly it makes sense! That’s the problem with six, you feel like it could be more coherent but its just terribly assembled.

The basic premise is that Tommy, from the first Halloween, has returned and is now sporting a pretty advanced spy system in order to monitor the Meyer's house. This is along with developing an in depth research project dedicated to finding the origin of the Meyer’s curse. This whole movie is like an extremely bloody episode of Dawson’s Creek considering all of the drama and plot twists. There is suddenly a new mysterious insignia on Michael, the man in black is revealed as Dr. Wynn from the FIRST movie, and so on. Regretfully though, the ending sucks.

But hey, wikipedia thankfully has the alternate ending synopsis which makes me want to see it all the more so. And what do we find out?! That Michael originally ditched his outfit and adopts the clothing of the Man in Black!

What’s the point? Well, Micheal has gone through a transformation.

So let me recap

Friday the 13th pt. 5: Tommy becomes new Jason
A Nightmare on Elm Street pt. 5: Baby could be new Freddy
Halloween pt. 5: Micheal adopts a new persona

and Saw 5?

Officer Mark Hoffman is the new Jigsaw!

Conclusion: Number fives in horror series all seem to introduce new killers. But...the fun doesn’t end there and in part two of this research project I’ll theorize as to why this is. Check back!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Modern Day JFK

"I can't believe they killed him because he wanted to change our time, in our country" - Jim Garrison, JFK

No longer will do we have a leader who is the butt of all jokes, a man who will be remembered for the funny things he said, the wrong things he did and terrible choices made. After a 45 year hiatus we have now obtained a true hero of the times. Not since the days of the Kennedies or Martin Luther King have we had a political, intellectual figure to admire. It is a shame that some people are middle-aged now, never having experienced anyone to fulfill this role. But I guess its better late than never, and while I have the honor of being 22 years old during this time, everyone can share the privilege of being home to the country that bred this man. Of course I also get the additional bragging rights of being present at the place where this historic event took place.

With November being right after scary month I figured a political movie might be the best choice to kick start the month. This was my second time seeing the movie and given the political circumstances it took on new meaning. As happened the first time, I was pretty much convinced of the conspiracy come the end. Though while I initially viewed this movie about three years ago, roughly one year ago I saw a History Channel special that aimed to refute the claims made. And so after seeing the refute I was back to being skeptical of the conspiracy.

Now I am back to the other side of the fence, believing the corruption and power that government can have over its people. Thinking to myself that while the History Channel made good arguments, they condensed a 43 minute refute against a 206 minute argument. I don't remember much from the History Channel special, but I do know that a hefty portion of the it was spent on the magic bullet theory, to which I say, Yes, given the position of the seats and where the car was located it could be possible that a single bullet did the damage. BUT, I still argue that the history channel had never disputed the claims of the Mr. X portion - the most shocking moment of the film, and admittingly the most questionable (the video I have attached). Considering I have never read the two books JFK was based on, I can only have faith that Oliver Stone didn't fabricate the entire story. The point being that this fifteen minutes of explanation is one of the most intense monologues ever. Yes, the History Channel made good counter-arguments, but when weighed against the amount of material within the movie I'm still not convinced. This is not to say that I am 100% swayed; its just that if I HAD to choose sides I'd have to go on Oliver Stone's.

It is for this reason that I am now frightened about what is going on. Everyone has heard Iraq being compared to Vietnam, and just like the Vietnam lead to the creation of Eisenhower's Military-Industrial complex and the vast amount of profit to be gained from war, so does Iraq. Last time I checked America had spent $450 billion dollars on the war and I don't think it takes a genius to understand that some of that money is profiting the CEOs of Lockheed and Martin, Beoing, Raytheon, United Technologies, and numerous other defense contractors. The current administration having changed its story for the Iraq war between WMD's, stability and democracy all seems to be avoiding that the general public understands the true intentions - oil and middle-east positioning. Not to mention that I'm sure that should McCain have maintained our occupancy it wouldn't be more than five years before a McDonald's, Starbucks and Wal-Mart began popping up all over the country, along with the vast amount of political positions dedicated to those who supported the devastating decisions.

This all brings me to the quote at the top of the page - notice a parallel? When I heard this spoken in the film I became freaked out, so weird was the connotation between a movie made over ten years ago, discussing events from over 40 years ago and how they tied into modern times. Everyone has heard of Obama being deemed the Kennedy of our time, and thus I can't help but feel nervous. His "change" ideology is almost an exact replica of what the people say about the Kennedy administration's. Thus, it all begs the question as to what would prevent all those who are benefiting from this war to not follow in the same footsteps?

I do not think this will happen. I do not hope this will happen. But the argument presented by Stone does make me nervous, skeptical and hesitant against those who possess the will and money to make such situations capable of happening. For all those holding esteemed positions, whether politically or militarily, I hope they have the strength to be responsible with the ramifications of their decisions and support.

Yet the focus I am more directed towards is the people like Willie O'Keefe, who possess an unsupported animosity towards the liberal ideals of others. His claims against Kennedy saying he caused more violence in the streets due to the equality given to African Americans is completed unfounded. I find this no different than the hundreds of closet-case racists who try to fallaciously speak that it is the blacks fault for their horrendous socio-economic positions, that welfare and affirmative action is unfair, or the ABSURD declaration that there is a difference between blacks and "n-words." The amount of education these people possess compared to ignorance they have is shocking. How people can overlook that this minority gained equality, or at least began to, only FORTY-FIVE years ago is appalling. These people seem to overlook how through being situated into specific areas local governments created the modern day ghettos, how their education is shit compared to whites, that to this day there is STILL NO EQUAL INTEGRATION! Although Barack is president and thus has made a major stride compared to half a decade ago it remains that when I go back to my home town the mall is dominantly white, along with the restaurants, library, pool - the suburbs are white, the ghettos are black! Why do people believe this is a conscious choice? Why would anyone willingly adhere to an awful class status?

The fact remains that hate is bread out of ignorance. When two people debate at a party and one gets upset is it wrong to assume that the person who is angry is the one who has no evidence or foundation for their claims? For instance, when people claimed Obama would lead to socialism, he is a terrorist, he believes in the preaching of Wright and thus is ultra liberal completely fail to defend these claims! In college, numerous students will have teachers that profess ultra liberal ideals, does that mean they adopt the same principles? No. This was a great election because for once people were able to see through the bold, controversial claims, people were able to see that THE EVIDENCE DID NOT SUPPORT THE ARGUMENT. Yet people refuse to admit the truth and are forced into feeling frustration manifesting itself into fear and hate. Why people find it difficult to change their values, beliefs and ideologies is beyond me. An open mind is the one of the greatest traits a person can possess. I myself have been raised from an extremely conservative background. Every single one of my family members with the exception of my grandmother and uncle is right-winged. It was when I took Sociology 101 during my first semester of college that I realized how much I actually disagree with the political upbringing I have had. 

So I hope everyone can avoid the Willie O'Keefe mentality. Yet as this film has shown, whether it be 1968 or 2008, ignorant, irrational claims will continue to plague our culture no matter how positive the change is or can be.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Seymour Eights

The Five Best Lines from One of the Greatest Roles

Only Philip Seymour Hoffman could manage to develop one of the best characters of all time within 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

1.  I don't wait for old people, I don't wait for old people.

2.  I'm going to let you have this time to place your bet before I finish lighting this cigarette and when I finish lighting I'm going to roll - fuck you.

3.  You hear that I just said, "Fuck you" to the man, Jesus Christ.

4.  Da fuck ::laughs:: Oh man, you play that game? Shit.

5.  Hard six, that's a hard six old timer. That's not bad for me, that's not bad for me is it sister sledgeeee?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Scary Movie Month Ranking

And the winner is...
Results for the 3rd Annual Scary Movie Month

1.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Slashes: 4/4 
Best Moment: When the strange man approaches the car in an erratic fashion Philip Kaufman employs a realist approach, utilizing a long uninterrupted take.  As they get to the intersection a group of people run perpendicular to the road, they turn and see that the man is now dead with a handheld camera in the car.  Amazing!
Scariest Moment: When Matthew and Elizabeth are walking down the hallway they pass a door with a horrific man staring at them through it.  This is not addressed by the characters, and it occurs so early in film (before anything else really happens) that it helps push for a very creepy tension.

2. Jacob's Ladder
Slashes: 4/4 (changed)
Best Moment: Thinking to myself in a facetious manner that this whole film was probably about acid flashbacks, and then finding out I was right.
Scariest Moment: The scene at the party where the club music is playing and his girlfriend starts getting pounded by the stranger turns into some sort of monster.  The birds flying, the flashing lights, goddamn I was on edge.

3.  The Thing from Another World

Slashes: 4/4
Best Moment: When the men form a circle around the alien object, discovering its in the shape of a saucer!  
Scariest Moment: None, but considering I still give it 4/4 just goes to show how amazing the rest of the movie was.

4.  The Omen

Slashes: 4/4
Best Moment: When the priest is running through the forest after his discussion with Robert.  After freaking me out with his erratic demeanor it was perfect.
Scariest Moment: Obviously when the nanny hangs herself.  

5.  The Blob

Slashes: 3.5/4
Best Moment: When the best friend buys condoms at the drug store and the priest approaches him.  
Scariest Moment: The movie theater scene. Utilizing strobe lights to help take away the cheesy functioning of the blob made it perfect.

6. Joy Ride 
Slashes: 3.5/4
Best/Scariest Moment: See Entry Below.

7. The Fly 
Slashes: 3.5/4
Best Moment: When Seth Brundle goes into the bathroom and starts pulling out his finger nails/pukes up mucus/ear falls off/other thingy falls off.
Scariest Moment: The attempt to teleport the orangoutang.

8.  Tales from the Crypt

Slashes: 3.5/4
Best Moment: The entire story of the old man.  I forgot how good simple, short moral stories can be.  Add this with some quality horror and you got some kick ass shit.
Scariest Moment: The very Saw-esque razor blade basement scene (but considering the man was British it was better than most Saw scenes).

9.  The Innocents
Slashes: 3/4
Best Moment: When the young boy responds to the startled Miss Giddens: "It was only the wind, my dear."
Scariest Moment: When Giddens sees the man through the window.

10.  Scanners

Slashes: 3/4
Best Moment: When the head explodes.
Scariest: When the head explodes!

11.  Funny Games - 1997

Slashes: 3/4
Best Moment: The opening credits.  For being such a realist film these credits really caught me out of nowhere.  The death metal, 1970s exploitation type of approach was a great kick start in contrast to the classical music that introduced the film.
Scariest: When Hanneke holds the long take for about 10 minutes revealing the boy to have been shot.

12. Opera 
Slashes: 3/4
Best/Scariest Moment: See Entry Below

13. In the Mouth of Madness 
Slashes: 3/4
Best Moment: When they enter the small town.  I have an immense weak spot for any situation that involves outsiders entering a small town (whether it be Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps, or horror films I get excited poop feelings).
Scariest Moment: The old man on the bicycle.  
14.  Company of Wolves 
Slashes: 3/4
Best Moment: Any of the stories the grandma told.
Scariest Moment: Waiting for some type of pedophilia to occur.

15. The Brood 
Slashes: 2.5/4
Best Moment: When the weird, small people kill the teacher.  
Scariest Moment: When the weird, small people kill the ex-husband. 

16. The Strangers
Slashes: 2/4
Best Moment: Mama Tried scene (see entry below)
Scariest Moment: Seeing the masked person for the first time (see entry below)

17. Salem's Lot 
Slashes: 2/4
Best Moment: When the husband catches his wife cheating.
 Scariest Moment: Dropping off the coffin.

18. Session 9 
Slashes: 1.5/4
Best/Scariest Moment: See Entry Below

19. Ghost Story 
Slashes: 1.5/4
Best Moment: The opening scene.
Scariest Moment: None

20.  Martin 
Slashes: 1/4
Best/Scariest Moment: See Entry below

21. Prom Night 
Fuck you!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And that was that

Scary Movie Month is officially over, and all I have left is to finish Funny Games before I'm back to the pretentious foreign dramas and Keanu Reeves love stories. I can easily say this was not only the best SMM, but the best movie viewing month I've ever had, period. With the exception of one or two I had the longest streak of quality films. Because of this I have become a new man - I am now slowly but surely falling in love with the sci-fi/thriller films of the 1950/60s, I want to complete David Cronenberg's filmography, I want to try new vegetables, and I want to replace my orange halloween lights with a mini christmas tree.
Hopefully by tomorrow I will have my SMM Rankings posted up.