It’s interesting to think, as a culture, what we deem scary. We have a diverse collection of nightmarish creatures with which we’re fascinated. They star in our favorite horror movies, and gentler versions of their faces get stuck to the windows of suburban houses the entire month of October in celebration of Halloween. Plucking these beings – ghosts, vampires, werewolves and the like – from various cultures and myths, we embrace them and re-invent them as our own, simultaneously fearing and worshipping horror creations that may be remarkably different from the original version of the entity in question. It’s a bizarre practice, if you think about it, and one that may not be as prominent in other cultures. It might make us wonder: What is horror? What can we learn about ourselves through the monsters we create? Continue reading “A Tale of Two Mummies: The Mummy in 1932 and 1999”
Amidst rapt excitement about the incredibly unique albeit troubling film Alien Covenant, I neglected all of the film’s predecessors – which was fine, for awhile. But now that I’ve rambled incessantly about why I think the recently released Alien Covenant is such an excellent movie, perhaps it’s time to return to the film’s roots and take a look at the original Alien, and the one after that, and the one after that, and so on, and so forth. Frankly, I’ve been meaning to write about the original Alien for a long time, but every time I’m faced with a highly-respected genre classic that’s stood (at least some) test of time, I get a wee bit intimidated, and this is especially true when we move into Science Fiction territory, which is far from my area of expertise. But a couple of days ago, Michael and I hunkered down to watch Alien and Aliens, and I was mesmerized all over again (since I’ve seen them both before). One wonderful thing about being me is that I have a horrible memory, especially for a lot of film. While this could be detrimental to my performance on the imminent PhD candidacy test I keep writing about (for which I have to read and recall over 100 books) it really comes in handy when I re-watch a film. More often than not, I’m surprised by certain plot twists and character actions all over again! It’s fantastic! With that in mind, I think it’s time to pay homage to Ridley Scott’s classic Alien and discuss why the film is so freakin’ fantastic. Continue reading “An Alien Franchise Tribute, Part One: The Genre-Defining Original”
With Michael Miller
So yesterday, Michael and I spent a fair bit of time flexing our creative muscles and writing a The Shining Meets the Ghostbusters, a mashup that mixes the relatively dark Kubrick version of King’s canonical horror story with the beyond famous, original Ghostbusters franchise (although the new female Ghostbusters gang will likely be featured in later series installments). In other words, the blog has a new feature: genre mash-up fan fiction. Our version of The Shining, with the intervention of The Ghostbusters, has a bit more levity than the original. And Michael’s masterful knowledge of The Ghostbusters, creativity, and quick wit helped animate and bring them to life. We hope you enjoy. We had a lot of fun with this, so there’s likely more fan fiction to come….
Existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (you know, that German philosopher with one hell of a curly mustache) once theorized that all of life and human activity rests on the will to power. Though I am no expert on Nietzsche, this seems to suggest that each individual’s desire to hold power, feel a sense of power, etc. – in a variety of contexts – governs much human activity. Moreover, we can look at, say, a movie, and understand character actions and motivations at least partially through this context. Famous theorist Michel Foucault suggests much the same thing when he says that “power is everywhere, diffused and embodied in discourse, knowledge, and regimes of truth.” While Foucault examines power on a more sociological level, his viewpoints converge with Nietzsche on the influence and the prevalence – indeed, the omnipresence – of power. And while there are many elements of Alien Covenant to discuss (I saw it tonight) power seems of critical importance. Continue reading ““To Serve in Heaven or Reign in Hell”: The Will to Power in Alien Covenant”
When it comes to the found footage genre, it seems like everyone has an opinion, and they’re not all favorable. Personally, I love the genre’s faux-authenticity (how’s that for an oxymoron?) and I don’t hold films that fall under the found footage umbrella up to unreasonable expectations. CGI’d specters and ostentatious sound effects are necessarily off-limits, forcing the filmmaker to work within certain parameters. What’s trickier, still, is any attempt to work within the found footage genre while somehow also making the film seem unique and original. It’s hard to emulate The Blair Witch Project, for example, and still deviate from it enough to produce something that critics will deem “innovative.” With those observations in mind, I’m going to give the recently released Phoenix Forgotten my seal of approval. It has been, and will continue to be, lambasted for not being scary enough (and perhaps too imitative of similar predecessors), but as I’ll suggest below, that’s a fairly shallow bit of criticism that doesn’t take into account both how intriguing the film is and how chillingly it concludes. Continue reading “Phoenix Forgotten and the Found Footage Phenomenon”
So…final papers continue to be imminent, and I continue to break for a frequent, intense, scene by scene examination of The Shining, my all-time favorite horror film directed by the one and only Stanley Kubrick. My intent, when I started writing, was to write a couple posts. But, this is segment number four in the series, and Jack isn’t even (completely) crazy yet. As such, I think I’ll continue. If you’d like to read my first three blog posts, which cover about the first half hour of the movie, you can check out the first, second, or third!
After a three-week writing hiatus, apparently, I need to make up for lost time. Despite writing a considerably long piece on key scenes from The Shining last night, I feel pressed to continue my analysis tonight, at the expense of working on final papers. I should mention, right now, when it comes to grad school, I’m operating under the dangerous dictum that “it always gets done, eventually,” which I’m hoping doesn’t backfire horrendously. And anyway, my Thursday afternoon class is cancelled, which means that tonight is practically a weekend for me – the perfect time to write about horror. I can’t explain why I enjoy looking so carefully at the most unsettling – albeit sometimes most unrealistic – elements of life, only that I do. And in that vein, I’ll pick up where I left off yesterday, and continue to compile a sort of cinematic, scene-by-scene “close reading,” of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, my favorite horror movie of all time, and one of my favorite movies of all time, period. (Ironically, it’s competing with The Sound of Music and Goodwill Hunting for that title). If you haven’t read the first or second segment of my analysis, consider doing so before you read on. Continue reading “A Tribute to The Shining: Let’s Not Overlook Anything – Part 3”