Category Archives: Love & Horror

Tuesday Terror: Midsommar (2019)

midsommar-freedomtear

Midsommar

Midsommar (aka How To Lose A Guy ‪In 9 Days) is about recognizing and letting go of bad relationships . . . while observing rituals in an isolated Swedish village. The relationships are truly awful and the villagers are sadistic murders (who wear the most angelic white).

Christian and Dani should have broken up a year ago. Honestly, they probably should have never gotten together. She is an emotional drain on him and he can’t even come close to giving her the support that she needs. He is with her out of guilt and she clings to him because he’s all she has left.

Or, at least that what is given to us as Christian’s motivation but I don’t believe that. He strikes me as the kind of person who will never break up with someone because he doesn’t want to be seen as the “bad guy”. He’d rather treat someone bad enough (inattentive, boring as hell, perhaps emotionally abusive) so that they will break up with him; nothing will be his fault. In any case, the relationship is a triple slow motion train wreck.

While the emphasis is on the couple, all of Christian’s relationships are terrible. That group of guys he hangs out with – I believe they all go to the same college – are no more than familiar acquaintances. They are supposed to be close: he complains about Dani to them, this trip to Swedish countryside was originally a “boys only” trip, etc. Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find more jealousy than friendship. This is how the villagers are able to dispatch them one by one without any of the others becoming too concerned about the disappearances.

Outsiders allowed to observe an isolated tribe or village (usually folks of color) is an old school Hollywood plot. The explorers typically think of themselves as superior to those they are studying; there is usually more than a hint of danger and savagery.

Our happy, drug-sharing Swedish villagers don’t inspire terror at all. At least, not at first. They wear white, dance and have many feasts. The young people leave the village and even go to college. When the curtain is drawn back revealing the first bits of brutality, Christian and company can’t imagine that they themselves could be in trouble. Arrogance keeps them from recognizing that death creeps around every corner of the barn and hides under welcoming smiles.

josh

This is personified in Josh, the scholar without any sense of self preservation. As someone who has been studying European Midsommar rituals, why didn’t he get any inkling that something was up? Like the scientist in a sci-fi movie, he has no qualms watching others die in his pursuit of additional knowledge. If you want to do a deeper dive into the Josh character, Mary Kay McBrayer has an essay on Graveyard Shift Sisters that explores Midsommar and stereotypes.

In the end, Christian and Dani have to come to terms with their relationship. When she realizes her situation with Christian is unbearable, she does the reasonable thing and frees them both.

Now, when I’m out in about, my eye can’t help but notice couples that have that “Midsommar” look – one of them looks anxious, the other resentful. I want to pass them a note: “Break up before it’s too late!” They are one festival away from disaster.

Tips:
-Don’t ignore horrifying screams – even if you aren’t sure where they are coming from.
-End bad relationships before they end you.

Love & Horror: Ben White and Jenny Templeton

Two strangers meet, face dire consequences together and discover they share a bond stronger than the situation trying to destroy them. If you end up saving mankind on your first date, it’s a good bet that other domestic issues will be a breeze.

No, Ben, seriously. Your sister is a werewolf.

Movie:  Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf | Trailer
Characters: Ben White and Jenny Templeton (played by Reb Brown and Annie McEnroe)

Synopsis: After discovering the truth about his sister, Ben teams up with  Jenny and the mysterious Stefan (Christopher Lee) to track down the werewolf cult responsible for her transormation.

Why I Like Them: Ben and Jenny are nice people who find themselves united by a common cause – finding out how Karen got mixed up with a bunch of werewolves. From the moment they meet at her funeral, they are down for each other and down for whatever. Showdown with werewolves in the cemetery? Hop on a flight to Transylvania at a moments notice? Interrupt the festivities of a 10,000 year old werewolf queen? Down. For. Whatever.

Through it all, Ben is a perfect gentleman. It’s Jenny who sets the tone when she insists on sharing a room with him in Transylvania. Also, she can shine a flashlight like nobody else:

Movie Worth Watching? Do you see the title of this movie? It’s a big, glamorous mess–part punk rock concert/part werewolf orgy/part festival in a small Transylvanian village. Along with the lovebirds mentioned above, it features Christopher Lee, Marsha Hunt, and Sybil Danning. Peep parts of the concert/werewolf festivities below.

Love & Horror: Julia and Frank Cotton

An active fantasy life can do wonders for a relationship. Delusions, on the other hand, are a path to heartbreak. If one isn’t careful, snap back into reality, what awaits is a special, self inflicted hell. Just ask our next couple:

Julia and Frank (now skin free!)

Movie: Hellraister | Trailer
Characters: Julia Cotton and brother-in-law Frank Cotton (played by Clare Higgins and Sean Chapman)

Synopsis: A desperate housewife seduces and murders men to help an ex-lover (her brother-in-law) who has escaped hell but left his skin behind. All of the action takes place under the nose of frustrated husband Larry.  Oh, Cenobites show up.

Why I Like Them: It’s all about Julia’s complexity. Think about this: how horrible does your marriage have to be for you to take up with the skeletal remains of your ex? Yet, when her Frank goes after her husband, begs her lover to spare his life. You know, this is going to end badly. There’s no way Julia and reconstructed Frank are riding off into the sunset. He’s never been a one woman type of man–this is Julia’s delusion. Nobody gets away from the cenobites–that’s Frank’s delusion.

Movie Worth Watching? Yes, this is the movie that introduced the world to Pinhead–who went on to terrorize extreme pleasure/pain seekers in a number of sequels. The scene where Frank first comes back is just fantastic work with pre-cgi special effects. The acting is great–it’s like a serious drama with gore.

If you can’t handle flesh being ripped this way and that, perhaps you should stick with the bunny version:

(The next couple will be a happy one–promise!)

Love & Horror: John and Miriam Blaylock

‘Til death do us part is a romantic pledge that, in theory, bounds two or more souls together for their rest of their mortal journey. However, living becomes a curse without death to balance the scales and even a loving, committed relationship can take a dark turn. Such is the case of our next couple:

The charming neighbors next door will eat you alive.

The charming neighbors next door will eat you alive.

Movie: The Hunger (1983) | Trailer
Couple: John and Miriam Blaylock (played by David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve)

Plot: When age (literally) catches up to her current lover, a centuries old vampire immediately begins looking for his replacement.

Why I Like Them: The vampire Miriam has given John her gift of immortality and has promised they’ll be together forever. What she doesn’t tell him is that his physical body can only put off decomposition for so long. His soul, however, won’t be free from what turns into it’s physical prison. Watching John go through the stages and finally realizing the true cost of Miriam’s “gift” is amazing.

Miriam still loves and cares for him–and will do what she can to keep what’s left of him from harm. However, this isn’t the first time a lover’s time has expired (she had a damn collection of them) and she’s ready to replace him with Sarah (Susan Sarandon). It’s the lyrics of a sad, sad 80’s ballad being played out on screen.

Movie Worth Watching? Hell yes! Miriam is a piece of work. Also, it’s a slightly different take on vampires since they don’t have fangs. They open up the veins of the unsuspecting with daggers. And, of course, there is a sex scene between Miriam and Sarah that was considered omg! shocking! when the movie came out.

To get a taste of how John and Miriam work, check out the clip below.

Previously on Love & Horror: Steven and Evelyn Price

Love & Horror: Stephen and Evelyn Price

It’s Halloween. Last year, I highlighted some lessons from horror movies.
This year, I’m focusing on my favorite horror movie couples.

When the zombies/ghosts/werewolves/elves/etc are clawing through the door, it’s great to stand shoulder to shoulder with your sig other ready to burn/chop/slice your way to freedom or die trying. If it turns out that the one you exchanged rings with is your enemy, you’re kind of screwed.

That brings us to our first couple:

Stephen and Evelyn Price

Movie: The House On Haunted Hill (1999 remake) | Trailer
Power Couple: Stephen and Evelyn Price (played by Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen)

Plot: Stephen Price invites his wife and several strangers to spend the night in a haunted asylum. Those who don’t get spooked and make it through the night are promised a handsome reward. They soon discover that the asylum has no intention of letting them leave.

Why I Like Them: Stephen and Evelyn are both conniving, evil people. The chemistry between them is great; their banter reminds me of couples in older Hollywood movies. They would make a powerful force to reckon with–if they didn’t hate each other! The whole party is just intended as a backdrop in their deadly game. By the time they realize that the ghosts are playing…it’s a little too late.

Movie Worth Watching? – It’s not the best movie in the world, but it’s good, campy fun. This is an eat your popcorn and don’t fall into the plot holes kind of film.

Here’s a tribute to the unhappily married couple:

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