Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blood Will Tell

Seeing that the long lost cut scenes from the slasher favorite My Bloody Valentine (1981) are finally due to be reinstated into the film courtesy of a special edition DVD arriving next January (see the above ad, as posted by Shock Till You Drop) made me think about what a different experience it is for fans today to grow up in the era of DVD. This uncut edition of MBV is something that fans of my generation have been waiting to see for close to thirty years now, ever since reading in the pages of FANGORIA about the film's tragic truncating at the hands of the MPAA. Until this new disc was announced, I thought the most we'd ever see of MBV's deleted gore shots would be those few pics that made it into Fango at the time of MBV's original release. So to be able to lay eyes on this uncut version is a true event for legions of Gen-X gorehounds - and that's a kind of fanboy excitement that the younger fans of today will never know.

The way studios market their genre films on DVD now largely revolves around providing fans with the uncut versions of movies. Even for the lamest of PG-13 efforts an unrated DVD with scenes "too intense for theaters" is standard issue. Never mind that today's R-rated films already get away with so much more than the films of the '80s (I can't imagine how the MPAA of 1981 would've reacted to the likes of Hostel or Saw - or to The Passion of the Christ, for that matter) but no matter how graphic an R-rated film can be now, it's guaranteed that any bloodshed left behind will find its way to the DVD. Today's fans will never have to wonder what they're missing from the films they've been growing up with (well, not in terms of gore, at least). For them, there's no such thing as not being able to see all of Zack Synder's Dawn of the Dead remake or Eli Roth's true version of Cabin Fever. There aren't any 'lost' or incomplete films among the new wave of splatter pics. There's no legendary cut scenes that today's fans will have to wait decades to see, if ever. Call me nostalgic but I think there's something sad about that.

When the Friday the 13th remake is released next year, I'm guessing that it'll be a bloodier Friday to begin with than any of the previous entries in the series but on top of that, the DVD will include anything that may not have made the R-rated cut. That's a very different experience than what fans went through back in the day with the original Friday films. Imagine how it would've been to be able to see the infamous double impaling from Part 2 on home video just a few months after seeing the theatrical cut? Or the alternative ending to Friday the 13th 3-D where Dana Kimmel's character loses her head to Jason? But I have to wonder - would that have taken away some (if not all) of the mystique that we've attached to these otherwise ordinary films?

There's something about anticipation, about having something withheld, that fuels passion. My Bloody Valentine is certainly a solid movie but how much of the intense devotion that fans have for it is due to that missing material? Sometimes it's what you don't see or what you can't see that makes you a more avid fan. And never mind the question of cut footage, just having immediate access to a film can make a difference. For example, I doubt if I'd love The Boogens (1981) quite as much as I do if I had been able to own a copy for myself the same summer I saw it on HBO or The Movie Channel or where ever it was that I first watched it. It was less the film itself than it was the waiting over ten years to see it again that stoked my love for it. If it hadn't been out of reach for so long, I'd just regard it as a pedestrain monster movie and that would be that.

But when films fall between the cracks, when scenes are removed against a director's wishes - that's when interest is piqued; that's when legends are formed. And if sometimes the legend proves to outshine the actual film, that's ok. Real classics are few and far between. It's the irrational feelings we develop for a film that end up making the difference. Anything that can help a film seem larger than life is fair. Maybe that's why the films of today have such a hard time competing with the likes of My Bloody Valentine. It's not that today's films are so inferior - after all, there's a big streak of average to be found in MBV. But it just feels wrong not to love it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


At some point it may come to pass that FANGORIA's editorial staff will adopt a discerning, wait-and-see attitude before giving an unknown quantity like The Unborn their big cover shot (by the way, doesn't that whatever-it-is look like the Zuni Fetish Doll from Trilogy of Terror reborn as a creation from Carpenter's The Thing?). After all, it can't always feel great to be caught lavishing attention on the likes of Cry Wolf or Dreamcatcher but I'm grateful that they do.

I like the fact that Fango can always be counted on to pimp whatever genre film is around the corner no matter how promising or unpromising it might look (I also like the fact that even classy films can be rendered cheesy by a Fango cover, like Videodrome being accompanied by the cover blurb "TV With Guts!"). You'll never catch Rue Morgue with egg on its face from covering the likes of, say, Mirrors but I think I'd respect them a lot more if they did. I always get the feeling that the people at RM are pleased with themselves for putting out such a classy product, that they're raising the bar for genre mags or whatever. And while that may be an accomplishment to be proud of, I have more affinity for Fango. I've always liked that the tacky and the timeless have an equal chance of being on Fango's cover.

One month it could be Maximum Overdrive or Resident Evil: Extinction and the next it could be The Shining or Pan's Labyrinth. That feels right to me and more accurate to what it is to be a lifelong horror fan in that part of being a fan is getting stuck watching your share of duds. Yet often times those duds - and the occasional spectacular failure - can represent some of your fondest movie-going memories more than most classics. When you're a horror fan, shitty, disposable films (I'm looking at you, Leviathan!) can mean as much to you as the exceptional ones. And not just old shitty movies that've had a few decades to gain their following but the new ones, too. Whether it's good or bad, The Unborn has just as much chance of being important to some horror fan as Let The Right One In does.

And even if what ends up on Fango's cover is a commercial appeasement to one studio or another rather than a matter of personal taste, that's ok. After all, the people at Fango need to pay their bills and put food on the table the same as every other working chump. The real world is always pounding on the door - that's why we need that shared outlet of horror to escape to.

Monday, November 17, 2008


As you may have noticed, it's been unusually quiet here lately. I'm sorry for the lack of activity but I think Barack Obama's landslide Presidential win temporarily took the wind out of my need to write. Or more specifically, the need to write about horror. Over the next four years, peace and prosperity might return to the USA and even if that turns out to be just a case of wishful thinking, for the first time in a long time, life seems less anxious and the future doesn't look so scary.

But while at a screening of Quantum of Solace, I saw a well-timed reminder that the future is always something to fear in the form of the teaser for director Roland Emmerich's upcoming doomsday mega-spectacle 2012.

There isn't much to see here, just a monk in the Himalayas desperately ringing a church bell as a massive tidal wave crashes over the mountains and washes away everything in its path. But I like that the clip utilizes a music cue from 1980's The Shining. As the waves crash over the mountain top, it's to the same music heard in the famous teaser for Kubrick's film where the elevator doors open and unleash a torrent of blood. It might be cheesy of 2012 to appropriate this music for their purposes but I appreciate the fact that both teasers end awash in a cascade of doom.

How do I rate the prospects of 2012 as an actual movie? Pretty low, although that does nothing to diminish my desire to see it. I love movies that feed into half-assed 'real' fears (how well I remember spending the summer of '78 in mortal terror waiting for the killer bees of The Swarm to end Life As We Knew It - after all, it was all over the news how South American killer bees were on their way to North America so it wasn't just made-up crap) and worrying about the end of the world in 2012 because the Mayans said so is about as half-assed as it gets (even though, like killer bees, the Mayan calendar itself isn't just made-up crap). My concerned wife is already wringing her hands over this nonsense and I'm sure this movie will send plenty of people searching for every scrap of info that will tell them where to hide when the shit goes down in four years.

For myself, my only worry is that I'm not sure how the world is supposed to end in this movie and I'd hate to be disappointed. I'm too lazy to look up what the Mayans themselves had to say (even though the 2012 teaser encourages uninformed viewers to "Find Out The Truth" by Googling '2012') and I'm guessing the film takes its own liberties with the prophecies anyhow (because even the best prophecies can stand some juicing up).

I'm just hoping that our global end game isn't all down to an environmental issue, like the Earth shifts orbit and all Hell breaks loose. My feeling is that if the world is ending according to an ancient Mayan prophecy and there isn't aliens involved, why bother? Seriously, I'll be pissed. As end of the world cataclysms go, 2012 is supposed to be the mother of them all (sorry, Nostradamus) so why not go for the whole cosmic enchilada?

I just hope that Roland Emmerich and co. deliver something so spectacular that the forces of the universe will be pressed to come up with something better to top it and have to miss their 2012 date altogether. After all, if 2012 is good I'd like life on Earth to continue so we can see a sequel.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


The news that the unlikely duo of Steven Spielberg and Will Smith are circling a remake of Chan Wook-park's 2003 film Oldboy has left the world of fandom choking on their own ire and indignation. I mean, aside from the fact that Oldboy should never have to suffer a US remake, if it does have to happen at least let someone who might get it right do it - like David Fincher, for instance. Match the right director with the material, for crying out loud. Judging by the online feedback, that's what most people think. But not me. Let me be the first to say that I'd love to see a Spielberg/Smith Oldboy. It may end up being terrible but I'd like to see it for myself.

Talks of an Oldboy remake have been in the air for awhile but this is the first time that I actually want to see it happen. Why am I for it now? Especially with these two involved? Because I think Spielberg and Smith might be looking to prove something with it. For years, with the likes of Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, A.I. and Munich, Spielberg has been trying to counter the perception of himself as a maker of feel-good entertainment. And perhaps feeling that he made an ill-advised backstep with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Spielberg will be motivated to be even more daring with Oldboy.

And in regards to Smith, every time he's cast in anything vaguely serious the cries go out that he'll turn the role into an occasion for wisecracks and one-liners. But where this perception comes from, I'm not sure. The bottom line on Smith is that he's a great actor and he's had no problem stepping up to do the job in any film. Six Degrees of Separation, Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness - those aren't joke roles. And whether or not you liked I Am Legend, Smith's performance wasn't cribbing at all from his Independance Day/Men in Black persona.

None of this means that Spielberg and Smith will do Oldboy right but I feel that the capacity is there. I'd like to think that their mutual interest lies in a desire for a project that'll challenge themselves and people's perceptions of them. After all, this isn't an obvious fit, like Tim Burton taking on Alice in Wonderland. That's a film I already feel bored by before seeing a single frame. But whether or not Spielberg and Smith's take on Oldboy works, if nothing else I feel like it won't be run of the mill. There's a great potential to look like a fool in taking this on and I don't think anyone has sharp or as successful as Spielberg or Smith would risk looking ridiculous if they didn't think they had the goods. Or if they felt they couldn't help but come in looking second best.

That might be naive thinking on my part but what's the harm in hoping for success? If this movie does happen, with Spielberg and Smith collaborating, I'll be approaching it with boyish optimism.

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's Not Just Like A Wind That's Passing Through

History has a way of sweeping people along in its changes...

And we have to wonder: Do we define the times we live in, or do they define us?

On November 4th, we Americans will elect our next leader. We've heard all the speeches, we know what's at stake. Now only one can win.

So don't be afraid of the crowds...

Even if you're feeling a little stiff...

Get off your couch...

No matter how far you have to drive, take the time to vote...

Right here, right now - it's on. So let's just come together, by God, and BRING IT.