[tw I guess for descriptions of movie violence and sexual violence]
The relationship between vulgar humor and repulsive horror is particularly close. It’s no accident that after helping pioneer the slasher movie with the 1974 sorority house thriller “Black Christmas,” the Canadian director Bob Clark went on to make “Porky’s,” the dirty godfather of the raunchy teenage sex comedy. While the past few decades have made these movies seem far less shocking than they once were, these commercial genres still trade on shock.
And the pacing is similar. Just look at audiences watching them. They start relaxed, then become increasingly tense as the action builds, and then after the big reveal, be it a joke or a kill, the viewers’ anxiety dissipates audibly with either a laugh or a gasp. At scary movies the first thing audiences typically do after screaming is laugh at themselves. While explicit material may turn off some, others become more alert."
I totally made basically this horror-grossout comedy argument in a paper one time.
V/H/S is exactly horror’s best offering in ages, it is exactly where horror is and should be. This is New American Horror. But there are caveats. And there are feminist concerns.
The film features five vignetted found footage horror shorts (with multiple directors) woven into a (found footage) narrative about a bunch of dudes who make gonzo porn for cash. They pick up a burglary gig, tasked with liberating a stash of videotapes from an old man’s house. These five shorts are what they find. […]
So I read the beginning of this and got really excited and decided to watch V/H/S before I read the rest because I didn’t want to spoil it for myself. Which was a good life choice because you spend most of the shorts kind of confused and anxious and trying to figure out what exactly is happening, and I don’t think I ever guessed. (Well sort of during the “kids go to the lake” short, but that was the weakest one.) It was pretty great. I want to talk about a lot but I’m too tired to form intelligent sentences.
Actually disagree with some parts of this post on how the rape-revenge formula works, but love this part, totally get the Krug repulsion-appeal.
I saw Slumber Party Massacre at the Women In Horror Recognition Month screening at the Toronto Underground Cinema. It was put on by Rue Morgue, which is a Toronto-based horror magazine, and most of the audience were still dudes (some of whom cheered a little too much in the wrong way at the lady from the roller derby league that co-sponsored the night, and one of whom dominated the Skype Q&A with the director with questions about that time she worked on Taxi Driver rather than any questions about her career as a writer or director or about the film we’d just seen).
However, the movie was great. After the movie, the director (Amy Holden Jones) talked about how she got the requisite Roger Corman naked girls scene over with really early - and kind of shot it indifferently, with the girls in the shower after a basketball game. In the scene, they are talking about sports, but mostly about how they want to bone the athletes, which I thought was pretty funny. Yeah, dudes, you are going to look at naked girls, but they will be talking about dudes’ asses in baseball pants.
Also great: the first person to die is a cute telephone repair girl that two of the boys flirt with. Right after she shuts them down, they walk away and she gets pulled into her van by the killer, who has a giant kind of phallic drill? She screams and bangs on the door as she watches the high school boys walk away, but they don’t look back. The male gaze is not all that useful when you’re actually in peril.
The rest of the movie continued to be great and funny and sort of quietly feminist. It manages to feature a younger sister makeover scene, a pizza guy with his eyes drilled out, people mostly acting sensible but it not really helping, and the final girl basically just coming at the killer with a giant machete. And symbolically castrating him by cutting off the end of his drill, which I was the only one who laughed at.
It’s become a Halloweentradition around The A.V. Club to ask a horror-movie aficionado to program a 24-hour horror-film marathon that readers can re-create at home. This year, we turned to Edgar Wright, one of the minds behind the classic TV series Spaced (where he worked with co-creators Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson); director of Hot Fuzz!, the zombie comedy Shaun Of The Dead (both co-written with Pegg and co-starring Nick Frost), and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World; and most recently, the executive producer of Joe Cornish’s alien-assault movie Attack The Block. Anyone who’s seen Spaced, Shaun Of The Dead, or “Don’t,” Wright’s contribution to the trailers featured in Grindhouse, knows that he has a deep knowledge of and affection for horror, and the 15 films he selected—organized around Shakespeare’s seven ages of man—did not disappoint.
seriously, wright kills it.
It is just a great list and I read through it eagerly and found some new stuff for my list, seriously a perfect mix of classics with more obscure weird stuff and of artsy horror mixed with more trashy stuff, but it gave me the sads when he was all “women won’t want to watch this” or whatever, which he joked about more than once in the article. What a weird stereotype. Lots of women like horror movies! I like horror movies! More than my boyfriend! Often I have to talk him into horror movies, if I can get him to go to them with me at all. I recently went to a screening of Daughters of Darkness (highly recommended and you could argue vaguely feminist, BTW) that was preceded by a discussion of how much these two British dudes love horror movies, and do you know what? There were lots of women there. The audience was at least half women, if not more, and a lot of them hadn’t been dragged by boyfriends, I could tell because they were with other women! Because they like horror movies!
I don’t want to go all negative on an otherwise pretty great interview, but the random sexist jokes were really alienating to me.
I have to admit, of all the new season TV shows I’ve watched the one I am most into is American Horror Story. It’s just so deeply, profoundly, utterly batshit, and kind of a delightful, compulsively watchable, mess. So far there have been three episodes and they have featured several murders (2 shootings, a stabbing, a drowning, someone getting cut in half with an ax, a girl getting hit in the head with a shovel, people being burned alive, mean ginger twins getting killed), some very sinister illegal abortions, a suicide attempt, a scene where a woman has sex with a ghost in a gimp suit, a lot of fetuses in jars, the attempted poisoning of a child, a girl getting her face scratched up by a creepy basement monster, a ghost maid who looks like a sexy young woman to men and like Ruth from Six Feet Under with a glass eye to everyone else, some animal parts getting sewn together, and an attempted rape. It’s one of those really intense camp horror things where the prospect seems to be to make people politically, sexually, and just viscerally uncomfortable in every way. I think it succeeds where a lot of TV horror fails because it’s on FX and so unafraid to go for the gross-out factor. Horror needs to be a bit vulgar to be effective.
I feel like if this hadn’t happened during the whole “going totally batshit in front of the press” period in Tom Cruise’s career people would have been much more excited about it. I didn’t think of it as a big critical or commerical successs, but looking back, it was still the 4th highest grossing movie of 2005 and it had a 73 on metacritic, so maybe I was just the only person who didn’t see it, but I really don’t remember anyone talking about War of the Worlds.
HOWEVER, it was actually pretty great! It wasn’t perfect - Tim Robbins was not great, and the storyline with the son being rebellious and wanting to fight the giant alien death robots doesn’t totally work - but there’s more good than bad. Dakota Fanning is basically perfect, the alien death robots are genuinely scary, the apocalypse seems genuinely awful, the pacing is tight, and the movie never really betrays the core story of one guy trying to do the best for his family. There’s enough genuine darkness and hard moral choices to keep it from feeling like 2012. Was Tom Cruise the best casting choice? No, not really, I think it would’ve worked better with someone more everyman - Bruce Willis maybe? (I just saw Die Hard 4, so I have Willis on the brain.) But he’s not that bad, under the circumstances. And ultimately, it’s Spielberg, making a movie about aliens and families. He gets a lot out of switching between seeing things through the little girl’s eyes to the dad who is just trying to protect her from the horror of what’s going on.
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