Category Archives: Lessons From Horror Movies
A group nature hike turns deadly when the animals turn into rage machines. Contending with the crazed beasts requires group unity, but ego and pride make that impossible.
This is a man-f*cked-up-the-environment-and-nature-strikes-back movie. It’s a warning for aerosol can spraying heathens to get their lives together:
This motion picture dramatizes what COULD happen
in the near future IF we continue to do nothing to
stop this damage to Nature’s protective shield
for life on this planet.
Here’s the film logic behind the disaster: thanks to the hole in the ozone layer, the levels of ultra violet radiation are rising and driving the animals mad. (I asked a scientist about this possibility and she’d never heard of such a thing.)
It’s also important to note that the animals don’t attack each other. Rather, different groups coordinate to attack the human intruders. This movie reminds me of The Warriors in a way – as the hikers try to make their way through the mountain, they encounter animal “gangs” – the wolves, the mountain lions, etc.
People in the valley are having a tough time too. There’s a rat attack that is sure to have your skin crawling.
The hiking group is diverse in a way that would please the director of diversity at Apple: a former NFL player referred to as “the cripple”, a Native American (who senses danger before the others), the ranger, an asshole business executive, a mother and her pre-teen son, a new couple, a bitter couple, a professor and a blonde news anchorwoman. Even without the extra radiation, the hiking trip sounds like a bad idea. The original plan was to spend two weeks hiking and camping with no weapons and limited food.
Paul, the business executive, is played by Leslie Neilson. Be warned: he’s not playing a comedic character. He’s the guy who immediately strikes up a conversation with the Native American and starts throwing “kemosabi” around. It’s all jokes until the animals start hunting them down.
Convinced he’s the smartest man around, Paul challenges the guide’s leadership. The group splits in two. Guess who becomes more vicious than the wolves? Once he is in charge, Paul gets to act out his Lord Of The Flies fantasies.
The other faction is much more cooperative. There are moments of bravery and self-sacrifice. The animals pick a few off from each group, but they don’t have to worry about a human villain.
Heavy drama mixed with savage animal attacks – this movie is a winner.
*The racist is a sexist, trust me on this.
*Dogs are just pretending to be goofy and lovable – they hate you. They really,
really hate you.
*House cats are indifferent to your existence no matter the UV levels.
My mom visited recently and took over the remote. She loves horror movies but between cable, Netflix and Hulu she kept getting “duds” – poorly acted films that had decent cover art. Even the movies that were good quality-wise bored her because the plots ran out of gas.
When the conversation turned to our faves, I asked what horror films she would recommend to folks. Here is her list:
1) The Hellraiser Series
Mom: The first three movies are the strongest; the rest of them are okay. Everything but the last one. That was trash.
2) The Woman In Black
Mom: This had it all: story, atmosphere, that harry potter boy. It’s not just a haunted house; it’s haunted people.
3) The Abominable Dr. Phibes & Dr. Phibes Rises Again
Mom: This is how you do “horror” comedy right. It’s a simple premise, a bad guy motivated by his undying love. Dr. Phibes is a sympathetic character-even when he does really nasty things. It feels good to root for him. Plus, it’s not the same type of murder over and over again.
So, like, there’s this kid – Clare – who has a really horrible life. She gets bullied all the time by the popular clique at school and her dad is like a junk man who crawls through others people garbage. And, OMG, he does it outside of her school! That’s so embarrassing. Clare is an artist – just like her mother was. That kinda scares her because she doesn’t want to follow in her mother footsteps into an early grave.
One day, Clare’s dad finds this weird oriental music box in the garbage and decides to give it to her as a gift. Clare takes Chinese and paid enough attention in class to understand most of what’s written on the box. However, she can’t figure out that fine print… Whatevs! The mean girls are being mean on social media and Clare wishes that her main antagonist would just rot. And she does! That unexplained death that occurs later can’t be related to the wish can it? Can it?
I had fun at Wish Upon. It is not and never pretended to be a gory, bloody thrill ride. The goriest thing about the movie is the poster. Clare is a kid – so it’s a given that she’s going to make some bad decisions. I’m just happy that most teens in current movies are smart enough not to hang out in cemeteries.
Also, the movie hinted a teeny bit at some ideas that I wish (ha!) they had explored fully. What if the box isn’t granting wishes, but transporting Clare to another part of the multiverse where the life she wants already exists? Or, what if, as the box is passed from person to person in a community it creates it’s own ground-hog day type of scenario? What if people are dying and un-dying over and over again depending on who gets the box or what they wish for?
Okay, I may be putting more thought into the movie than the folks who created it.
Anywho, here are some of my thoughts during the movie:
*Wait! Is that the heart-throb from Cruel Intentions and I Know What You Did Last Summer playing somebody’s uncool, dumpster diving dad? I’m getting old. 😦
*The cast has some color in it. Now, I’m going to be nervous for these characters. (crosses fingers whenever they appear on screen.)
*The fine print is written in ancient Chinese? In essence, it’s an ancient Chinese secret? (groan)
*Clare, you can’t beat this by yourself. You need a priest. Or a monk. Kid, find an adult!
*That song played over the end credits is catchy.
Tip #1: Read the fine print first.
Tip #2: If you are going to put your soul in jeopardy, might as well wish big!
A killer is terrorizing the sexually active students of Lamab High School. Toby, the last virgin in the land, is the only one concerned that fellow classmates are disappearing. Can she convince her friends of the danger and stay out of the clutches of the dude in goulashes?
Student Bodies (1981) is a horror parody; the grand daddy of films like Scary Movie. So, there’s traces of Carrie, Halloween, etc. Rather than a knife or an axe, ourkiller uses a garbage bag and whatever is near by (eggplant, eraser, whatever). The students and teachers all are quirky “types”. A couple of bits go on for too long but that’s the nature of these things. Everyone is a suspect – even Toby! – and the ending makes absolutely no sense. Then again, it’s not supposed to.
Though the film is awash in horny, dead teens – there’s absolutely no gore, no sex and no nudity. You see flesh, but not the nsfw kind. At one point, a man’s cheese is exposed. So how did this movie get an R rating? This scene explains it all:
I like this flick.
Tip #1: Sexual repression causes swine flu.
Tip #2: Homosexuality is the up and coming thing.
(Slightly spoilerish…but you’ve seen this already, right?)
After I saw the first trailer for Get Out, I had no intention of seeing it in the theater. I thought, “I’m not going to spend two hours watching a black guy being terrorized.” Then, it came out and the reviews made it clear that I had the wrong impression of the flick. It’s a horror satire with a few laughs here and there.
So, I finally made it out to the movies and it’s as great as all of the reviews made it out to be. For me, it was great to identify with the main character; that’s rare for me with horror movies. Having someone to root for is awesome.
Anywho, some thoughts:
1) I bet Chris didn’t bring Rose around any of his friends. She wouldn’t want that anyway–so no one could point a finger at her when she went missing. I wondered if he tried though.
2) Perhaps because Georgina-Grandma keeps admiring her new body, the real Georgina inside still catches glimpses of herself (even though she is in the sunken place). Maybe this is why real Georgina struggles to come to the surface even without the benefit of a camera flash. Real Georgina first tries to emerge when she spills the iced tea. She next struggles to come out when the tears stream down her face.
3) A think piece on class in Get Out could be interesting. (Working Class Rod and Creative Class Chris.)
4) The Armitages are the type of people who would be offended if you called them racist while they are violating you. (I imagine Rose all over twitter, alternating between anger and crying over the insult.)
And some lessons:
1) Don’t mistake desperation for love, forgive yourself/see about healing childhood trauma and always have your own ride. Always.
2) All of your skin folk definitely ain’t your kin folk.
3) Listen to your ancestors. (If you can’t hear them, that’s a whole different problem.)
I need to treat new horror movies like iOS updates – wait a week and see how it all shakes out. But, alas, I have wasted my money. Don’t waste yours.
Anyway, the lessons:
- Don’t go camping with strangers.
- Don’t go camping with people who make you feel uncomfortable.
- Don’t go into haunted woods were people have been murdered, have disappeared etc without some kind of plan for survival. Don’t treat it like you are spending the night at Jellystone. True, the plan probably won’t work, but at least have one.
- If you get hurt at the beginning of the trip, go back to town immediately. Don’t let people convince you to keep going. They aren’t your friends.
- LOUD NOISES ALONE DON’T MAKE A MOVIE SCARY!
- Don’t write sequels to movies and have new characters act as clueless/naive as previous characters.
- Don’t go camping. Play the Blair Witch Games instead.
- This is the 2nd movie I’ve seen this year with a sibling going into the woods to find a sister. I enjoyed The Forest more.
- In addition to Blair Witch, yesterday I also saw Iced (1988) and Island Claws (1980). The other two movies were more entertaining/fun.
- One character mentions the house at one time was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Blair Witch was “active” during the pre-civil war-maybe she was an accidental abolitionist? Whatevs.
Candyman Candyman Candyman Can-
Don’t worry, you have to say it 5 times for the ultimate Sugar Daddy to show up. 🙂
I’ve been thinking about Candyman lately. Quick recap: Candyman was the son of a slave who fell in love with a white woman–who’s father showed his disapproval by gathering a posse to kill him. The lynch mob cut off his hand, covered him with honey and chanted “Candyman” as the bees stung him to death. Residents of Cabrini Green housing project believe that if you call his name 5 times, he shows up and kills you.
Actually, I haven’t been thinking about Candyman so much as I’ve been thinking about Helen–the one who calls him. She’s a white grad student studying urban legends who hears about the Cabrini Green version of Candyman from older, black janitorial staff at the college. Unlike the other “call the killer in the mirror and he will kill you” stories, it’s tied to a current, unsolved murder and Helen is intrigued. Immediately, she goes into urban archeologist/explorer mode. Helen is going into Cabrini Green (interact with the actual residents) and introduce the story of Candyman to academia.
Well, Helen is naive on two fronts.
1) Turns out that someone else in academia had already done Candyman research. Lucky for the movie, this doesn’t deter her.
2) As a young, educated white woman, she thinks her status/place in society is secure–and she is untouchable.
The real horror of Candyman isn’t the murders – it’s Helen learning how easy and quickly one can lose perceived place/status/privilege.
The first reveal of this comes early on when Helen learns that the very condo/apartment building she is living in was originally built to be a Cabrini Green like housing project. Because of the location of the building, the powers that be decided to put wallpaper over the cinder block, upgrade the lighting, and charge unsuspecting yuppies and arm and a leg.
Like peeling back wallpaper, Candyman just pulls back the fancy exterior of Helen’s world/life. Over the course of the movie, she gets sucked into the criminal justice system, institutionalized and, in one way or another, loses everyone she loves. (Alas, poor Bernadette.)
Helen doesn’t feel the full brunt of these systems – their money does have some influence – but it’s still devastating. She goes from arrogantly walking into Cabrini Green feeling no one would dare touch her because they think she’s a cop* to being pursued by the cops.
What’s interesting about the movie is that her redemption comes in not giving in to despair. Though her life has been devastated (good bye marriage, potential career, freedom, etc), she’s still willing to save someone else. If this movie were made today, Helen would somehow magically get back everything she’d lost. But it wasn’t, so she doesn’t.
Helen sacrifices herself and becomes a saint of sorts. Just don’t say her name 5 times.
Lesson: In the wave of a hook, you can go from being one of “us” to being one of “them”.
What you summon in the mirror is really what you are calling forth from yourself.
*She’s actually wrong about this, too.
The goal of the government is to neutralize the threat to the state/country; unless you are standing next to a Senator or a billionaire, you are expendable.
An individual cop or soldier caught up in the madness may genuinely try to help…
However, once members of a governmental entity arrive en mass (FBI, police, army, etc), forget about it.
Disaster at work? Your corporation won’t help either. It’s probably the reason the world is falling apart.
Like Alice, you are on your own:
It’s hard for the killer to pluck you off one by one if the group stays together. No splintering off into pairs or threesomes–unless you just want to become bait. Going off by yourself is NOT a good idea.
Beware the person who wants to catch or “talk to” the monster instead of killing it. What Ms “don’t kill it” is telling you is that you are expendable. When the chips are down, she will probably err on the side of helping the thing trying to kill you.
Sharing a traumatic experience with people may make you feel closer to them. This is a lie. Do not put your life on the line for someone who wouldn’t do the same for you. Do Not Do This. Ever.*
*Warning: Kelly Rowland “acting”
Pay your respects and go home.
Grief can make people do irrational things. Adding alcohol and drugs to the mix and you may accidentally set yourself up to be haunted by an evil spirit. If you’re not ready to let a loved one go, raising the dead may seem like a good idea. Remember–what goes into the ground isn’t what comes out of the ground.
Now, if you are just going to the cemetery to hang out with your friends, that’s just an invitation to danger.
Get new friends.
Go Online. Read a book.
Books are sexy.