Saturday, September 19, 2020

Have a Heart!

Films: My Bloody Valentine (2009)
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on the new internet machine.

It’s not too long into the remake of My Bloody Valentine that you figure out this was a movie made for 3D. We learn about a mine collapse in 1997 in a small mining town. Six men are trapped, but when the rescue team arrives at the scene, there is only one man, a comatose Harry Warden (Richard John Walters), still alive. The other five men clearly didn’t die in the cave-in. They were brutally murdered by Warden with a pick axe specifically to conserve oxygen.

One year later, Warden wakes up from his coma and slaughters most of the hospital staff, leaving a calling card of a human heart in a candy heart. He then heads back to the mine where a group of young people are having a party (this is very much the plot of the original film). It’s here that we learn this was a 3D movie. One partygoer plays a prank and then is killed by Harry Warden hitting him in the head with his pick. The victim’s eye is what comes out of the screen at us. It’s a good taste of what is to come.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Know the Traditions

Films: Trick ‘r Treat
Format: DVD from Manteno Public Library through interlibrary loan on the new portable.

Why are so many horror movies anthologies? I think the reason is that it’s easy enough to work out a shock ending or a couple of good scares in a few minutes without needing the audience to invest too much in the actual story. It’s the same reason that roller coasters don’t go on for 10 minutes. It’s possible to create something that gives the audience a quick thrill and then moves on. This is the downfall of a lot of horror anthologies. It’s the strength of Trick ‘r Treat, though, for a lot of reasons.

What I mean is that most anthologies give us a framing story that appears at the start and end, and usually between the individual stories as well. That’s not the case with Trick ‘r Treat. While there are long pieces of the film that do follow a particular story, all of the stories are intertwined in minor ways. We see something in the first story, and then see it from a different perspective in the next. We see the main character of one story in the background of another. So, all of the stories are tied in the sense that they take place I the same town and on the same night, but are also completely individual. As usual, I’ll break these stories down individually.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Visit the World's Largest Ball of Twine Next Time

Films: Tourist Trap
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on the new internet machine.

As I inch closer to finishing my Oscar project, at least for now, I’m finding myself returning more and more to reviewing horror movies. They are, after all, my first love, and 10+ years of stretching myself to other genres should get a little payoff. Movies like Tourist Trap are a part of the reason this shift appeals to me. Tourist Trap is so weird that it deserves to be talked about. It is simultaneously right in line with other horror movies and also so utterly unlike anything else that it can’t help but be interesting.

We start with Woody (Keith McDermott), who is clearly having car trouble. He’s walking down a country road with a tire, at least. Eventually, he comes to a house and goes in to investigate and try to get some help. What he finds instead are some weird mannequins. Soon enough, he is assaulted by items being hurled at him, and the mannequins themselves seem to come to life. Eventually, Woody is impaled by a flying pipe and its time to meet our other potential victims.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Tied to the Land

Films: Mudbound
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on the new internet machine.

I have started to watch Mudbound a couple of times before but have never really gotten anywhere with it. Now, at a point where I have fewer than a dozen movies on my Oscars list, I can’t continue to avoid it. That’s especially the case when of the 11 movies I have left, nine are missing, exist only in archives on the West Coast, or are only partially available at best. I wasn’t looking forward to this. It’s a hard movie to watch in the best of cases, and it’s not one I figured I would enjoy much. This is a movie about racism and evil.

As much as I would love to tell you that Mudbound is a story about a Black sharecropper family living on the land of white farmers, that would only be the basics of the story. This is a story about privilege. How is this so? Because it’s a story about a poor white family on a farm in Mississippi during and after World War II working a hardscrabble farm. There’s nothing about these people that scream privilege, but compared with the sharecroppers on their land, the privilege is real and palpable in every frame.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Get Your Papers in Order

Films: Orphan
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on the new portable.

Orphan came recommended to me by a friend. It’s a movie I have known about in a vague sense for some time, mostly because in the minds of a lot of people, it gets confused with The Orphanage from a year or two before this one. I frequently had to explain to people that no, I was not talking about the movie where some people adopted a strange and disturbing child, but a Spanish-language movie that involved a haunted orphanage. So, in a sense, I kind of avoided Orphan because I was tired of having explain that it wasn’t the movie I was talking about.

Anyway, Orphan is classified as a horror movie for the same reasons that something like The Silence of the Lambs, Hard Candy, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Fear are classified as horror movies. All of these movies take place more or less in the real world with plots that could legitimately happen in that real world, but that are horrific. It’s what I would typically call a “thriller” more than anything else, but since it’s the sort of film that frequently gets put on lists of horror movies, well, here we are.