October 07, 2008

Sherman's Annual October Movie Marathon

Well it's that time of year again: October. Time for the annual October Movie Marathon, where I attempt to watch, at the very least, 31 horror movies. This ranges from the outright terror of “The Exorcist” to the total schlock of “The Unnameable II.”

The important thing to remember about the October Movie Marathon is that we welcome all comers. I'll be watching anything and everything under the sun as long as it was made with the intent to scare, lock you in an uncomfortable level of suspense, shock you with gore or make just you squirm.

“Why?” you may ask? Because I love movies, goddamn it! I love them to the point where, when a genre is overly criticized, I want to come to it's defense... and horror movies have long been the bane of existence to critics and overtly zealous Christians. They have good reason, don't misread. There are a lot of severely bad and exploitative horror films out there -- but you can say that about any genre. Horror movies have the potential to be hauntingly beautiful, such as Guillermo Del Torro's "Devil's Backbone," or downright frightening, like "The Exorcist."

The problem with horror movies is the same basic problem with all movies, only more so: they are extremely subjective. What scares me is not the same thing that scares you, or vice versa. Sadly, another problem is the over-commercialization of the genre. Long gone are the days with interesting ideas, characters you genuinely feel for, monsters that are actually original, and the greatest loss of all -- the absence of subtext!

For the most part, the best horror movies are not about what you think they're about. Rather, there's an underlying film behind it. You can have a truly horrifying movie with strong social commentary, just look at "Candyman" or the original "Wicker Man." More than that most horror movies deal with the two things that scare us the most: death... and sex. Take the 1939 “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” or “Candyman,” “Hellraiser,” “Dracula” in any of incarnations -- the list seems endless. The genre has been so co-opted that the sex has been used as “sexy” as opposed to “uncomfortably sexy”, such as in sex scene from “Don't Look Now.” These sex scenes used to be a statement about our innate fear and uneasiness with the openness of the subject. Oh sure, we're advanced and far more open, but you cannot tell me the topic no longer taboo. Sure we can joke about it, but as for talking seriously about sex -- we're a long way from that. But that's one reason why I love horror movies, they use sex as a way to make you queasy as opposed to aroused; they actually pervert your perversions... awesome.

Then there are the slasher films -- these are hit and miss as well. Jason, Micheal, Freddy and a few other low budget rip-offs are dead, but there's still another string of rip-offs going strong. Why? Simple: it's what you could call our “Gladiator complex.” We enjoy watching pretty stupid people get, not just killed, but slaughtered. Does this make us bad people? No, not really. These people are so unreal it's not even funny. A five-year-old could write better characters. Yet, it's a way to work out our frustrations on our fellow man... to watch them be brutally beaten in a sleeping bag against a tree.

And let us not forget the truly great thing about horror movies: besides being wonderful social commentary about race, sex and socio-economic issues, they're also terrific indicators of the times in which they're made. Go back and watch horror movies from 20-30 years ago. You may not be scared by some of them -- they were made in a different era, with their own set of phobias, stresses, world policy issues and views on the opposite sex or, once again, sex in general. The original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” in comparison to today, is not really all that gory, partly due to it being so low budget, but also because Toby Hooper knew the audience was already over-saturated with images of violence from news footage of the Vietnam War. Society's mind was so conditioned to think violently that all Hooper would have to do would be to suggest the act and the audience's imagination would take them to a place he wouldn't even think of.

By and large, horror movies -- along with westerns -- are on the decline. Mainly because I believe filmmakers have forgotten the potential for imagery the genre holds: Frankenstein's monster in his cell, kneeling and reaching towards the light; the scene from “Creature From the Black Lagoon” where The Creature is swimming underneath Julie Adams and there's this moment of breathtaking empathy of the creature; any scene from “Nosferatu,” the original or Werner Herzog's remake; the same for Del Torro's “Devils Backbone” or Ingmar Bergman's “Hour of the Wolf”; Lee Remick falling off the railing in Richard Donner's “Omen" or, hell... Patrick Troughton becoming priest-ka-bob during a storm after trying to warn Gregory Peck. All this, and I haven't even touched Hitchcock yet.

In summation, this marathon is a classic one and is very dear to my heart. There will be the ones I watch every year: “Evil Dead”, “Sorority House Massacre II,” “Re-Animator” and others. Then there will be those I've never seen, such as “Saw,” “Hostel” and “John Carpenter's Vampires.” There will be some crapter-pieces, to be sure, but there should also be some gems to be unearthed. All in all, it should be interesting. Here's hoping that decapitations, topless sorority girls, monsters, characters we care about and awesome ideas will be abound.

Probably not so much on those last two, but hey... on the whole decapitation and topless sorority girls thing, rest assured it's a done deal.

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,

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October 01, 2008

Help! We've been swallowed by the Internet!

A combination of relocation, schedule shifts and cosmic radiation storms have paralyzed the workings of the ThreeGeek Machine.

Things should even out in a few days, if you'll be kind enough to bare with us. October holds some interesting movie and game releases... and those guys at DC are still trying to kill Batman. Believe me, you'll be hearing about that.

That's right, now that my work schedule is deflating, you'll definitely be getting more yap from me -- suckers!

-Thad out

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