Saturday, April 26, 2014
After a title sequence reminiscent of a crime film from Italy we end up smack dab in the middle of a bank heist that the Foot is leading. A cop is shot and killed, then the Exterminator shows up and neutralizes the situation. The Exterminator also ends up being a babe, and his sister. She vows her revenge, and after an investigation ends up leading her to a doctor on a mysterious island, she finds she has a lot to deal with.
Ninjas, wizards,Angus Scrimm, and deadly babes are just some of the obstacles she will have to face, along with the two other ladies she enlisted, as she joins a tournament that can only be described as Mortal Kombat with more scantily clad woman.
I had a ton of fun with this beast. I felt that same excitement I felt in my bedroom as a child watching late night TV such as UP All Night, Monstervision, and late night Cinemax. It has everything I want in a B film. Lasers, babes, rubber suits, sexy ladies fighting a gorilla, blood, and more babes.
The music is great, the whole time it reminded me of a John Carpenter action opus such as Escape From New York, or Big Trouble in Little China. This all made sense, as at the end I saw Alan Howarth's name in the credits under music.
The disc itself isn't what I would call fully loaded, but it does have a commentary, trailers, a slideshow, and my favorite extra. A menu where you can go to any moment of the soundtrack and hear the awesome that Alan Howarth has brought forth.
The film starts, and you instantly know that you are in the hands of lovers of the slasher genre. The opening credits are an homage, pretty much to the point of theft, of the early Friday the 13th Films. The font, the title card, the music. It bleeds Jason.
Once the film actually starts we are greeted with an intro that had me feeling like I was watching a Soul Asylum video, or at least some nineties alternative rock special on 120 Minutes. A quick montage of the park including scenes of roller coasters and games. Was I watching the sequel of Adventureland? Only with more blood? One could hope.
The basic story is that the park is on its last leg, and needs some financial help stat. It is closing, and it looks like nothing is gonna change that. The employees convince the manager to let them throw a party in honor of the park. The girls use their breasticles to sway him their way. Of course it quickly becomes a place where teens can drink, smoke, fuck, and take drugs. Growing up in the eighties, I instantly know this means these kids are on the verge of death. Sure enough not long after the first few pulls off a bottle, or thrusts into a vagina, the killers show up to save the morals of the American teen. Or just because they are sick, or there may be more to it. I will save that for your viewing pleasure.
At its core Scream Park is another slasher film similar to the thousands that saturated the market in the eighties. It is also an homage to those movies, and as a lover of those films no matter how over saturated. I always welcome a good slasher into my life. They may be simple, but it is generally a good way to kill a couple hours.
Doug Bradley of Hellraiser fame has a small, albeit important role. The effects are brutal, effective, and fun. Just the way I want them in a slash 'em up fest. The Blood flows, the tops come off(at least one of the), and it captures that sleazy eighties feel pretty fantastically. The Killers are pretty effective, and the music fits perfect.
This is not a genre changing film. It really has nothing new to offer, but if you aren't interested in changing the world just yet, and just want a fun throwback to a time where all you needed was a couple of creative kills, a girl who will take her top off, and buckets of karo syrup.....have I got a film for you.
The DVD comes with few special features. Nothing to blow your mind, but if you're too intoxicated to get up and switch the disc there is a commentary track, some trailers, and a blooper reel.
Friday, April 25, 2014
Complete list of Posts from 2 Extremes.
- Welcome to 2 Extremes
- 2 Extremes: Contest from APEP
- 2 Extremes: Turtle Soup Will Send You To The Docto...
- 2 Extremes: The Johnny Five Tapes Are Full of Carn...
- 2 Extremes: Eraserhead Actually- From the Diary of..
- 2 Extrmes: My Little Centipede- Bride of VonKlinge..
- 2 Extremes: The Tin Man in the Radiator- A VonKlin...
- 2 Extremes: Kweeny Takes On 2 Girls, 1 Essay
- 2 Extremes: The Moon, The Dead World- Attack of th...
- 2 Extremes: A Tale of Two Foxes- Watched in the Ba...
- 2 Extremes: Out for Pizza, Then I am Going To Take...
- 2 Extremes: Tromeric Tells a Tale of Two Babies
Thanks to everyone that entered.
It has been a fun ride. Stay tuned for more reviews coming soon, and you know another theme week is in the cards.
When I first decided to do 2 Extremes I had no intent of having any connections between the films, but as I got reports back on what films the contributors had chosen, I saw a pattern. They were comparing two films that seemed completely different on the surface, but finding commonalities deep down. I realized this was brilliant, and as I received everyone's entries I was proven right. I of course decided to go a more juvenile(no pun intended) route. I wanted to torture myself, as that was the original plan, but what inappropriate double feature could also be a bad joke?
A Serbian Film was always at the top of my list to be one of the features. I was blown away by it the first time I saw it. I had heard it was shocking, but knew little about it. I watched and was blown away, not just by the extreme nature of the film, but by how beautiful it was.
Baby Geniuses on the other hand, was something that I had used as a tool to torture myself. I find the talking baby thing to be insanely unnerving. I have always been a connoisseur of talking animal films, but babies creep me the fuck out. I however get a twisted sense of enjoyment out of these, as I did with Teletubbies in high school. Sometimes it is fun to make yourself uncomfortable.I picked part two, as it is even creepier and less enjoyable than the first.
Back to the evening in question. Once I decided on this sick and twisted tale, I had to figure out which order to watch them in. Initially I as going to go with ASF first, and wash my sins away with Super Babies, but I am a man who likes to push himself, so I decided to start off easy, and end painfully. Or so I thought.
I started up Superbabies and instantly regretted my decision. I was not exactly in a sober state of mind, and within minutes I was so creeped out I almost had to turn it off. The way the babies mouths move when they talk is the stuff of nightmares, and Jon Voight's accent made me feel like I was watching an Uwe Boll movie. Once I got past that, and was able to let myself get lost in the world.It was kind of a fun ride. I admit for how awful of a film it is as far as anything technically goes, it has a bit of surreal charm. Not to say by the end I wasn't ready for some lighter fare, so I popped in A Serbian Film and laid back for my tenth or eleventh time viewing.
A Serbian Film opens with hardcore action as Milo's son finds one of his dads old porno tapes. That was a bit of a shock after 80 minutes of ninja toddlers, but it didn't take me long to get back in my much more comfortable world. A world of horror and despair, a world I understand much more than talking babies. ASF has already earned its own place in history, so I won't spend too much time dissecting it. It in some ways is a classic tale of a man willing to do anything to support his family, and make a better world for himself. Even if that means making a few sacrifices to cement his future. Sure in this anything includes infant rape, torture, murder, and psychotropic drugs, but you get the idea.
In the end of this double feature I definitely walked away a different man. It was a cleansing of sorts, granted that is one of the reasons I have been drawn to horror my whole life. You can watch this horrific shit, and feel dirty, uncomfortable, and awful during it, but afterwards you feel so fresh and so clean. Sure I mostly picked these two films for the shock value, but ended up accomplishing everything I intended with 2 Extremes. It was shocking, painful, uncomfortable, and fun.
Thank you Toddler James Bond, Mary Jane, Mr. Bushmill, and the Artist of Fuck for a memorable evening.
When I Eric first asked me to take part in the "2 Extremes" event for the G&G blog I thought I had a good idea in doing a post on two very different Surf Flicks; the 80s Troma release "Surf Nazis Must Die" and the early 90s kiddie flick "Surf Ninjas"! But then after watching both these turds back to back a few Saturdays ago I couldn't think of anything interesting to say about either of them besides that Gail Neely (Eleanor "Mama" Washington in Surf Nazis) was way better then that movie deserved and should have been featured in her own film franchise! And the subject of "Surf Ninjas" I found it extremely unrealistic that the kid was always on his Sega Game Gear because everyone knows those things had such a SHITY battery life!
So with those two movies out, it was back to the old drawing board and I decided on writing about two films I saw a week apart at the movie theater when I was 9 years old . . . "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" & the Seagal flick "Out For Justice"!
Back in the Spring of 1991 I was a full-blown Ninja Turtles addict; if there was turtle product on the market there was a good chance I had it! I would play with all the toys, watch all the cartoons, reads the comics, and eat those barely edible Turtle Pies on a daily basis! As you can probably imagine I was eagerly excited about the second Turtles film coming out and since it was a few days right before my birthday, my Uncle Bob agreed to take me to go see it that opening weekend. In a cruel twist of fate all shows were sold out and we ended up seeing the Albert Brooks film "Defending Your Life" instead of going home. Nothing against "Defending" cause it's actually a cool little flick but at the time all the jokes went way over my head and went home that night very disappointed! A week later my Uncle made it up to me by taking me to see the Turtles film, right off the bat I noticed a lot had changed in the year since the original flick came out! For one my favorite character Casey Jones was Missing in Action, April was played by some new lady (though way Hotter) , and maybe worse of all the Turtles barely even used the weapons they were each best known for over the course of the movie! Those complaints aside, I absolutely fell in love with the second Turtles film and would consider it the peak of my Turtles Fandom because by the time the third film in the series came out I was interested in going to see in it's theater run at all and didn't watch it until it came out on VHS. There's a lot of factors that go into my dwindling interest into the Turtles. For one the cartoon and toy line had lost a lot of steam by 1993, but also for me it's the movie that I saw the following week after "Turtles 2" that changed my perception of what an Action film was!
That film was "Out For Justice", and I have my Uncle to thank for taking me to my first R rated film in the theaters! At the time I had no clue who Steven Seagal was, but O.F.J. was just about the perfect introduction one can have to Man with the Ponytail and to this day I consider it one of the most absurd movies ever made! Seagal stars as New York Cop "Gino Felino", early in the film Gino's partner "Bobby" is killed in cold blood in front of his family by a crazed crackhead named "Richie" played brilliantly by actor William Forsythe who really steals the show in this movie with his unpredictable antics!
The movie more or less is a cat a mouse chase around New York city with Gino hunting Richie and his Crew everywhere from a low rent bar, a butcher shop, chop shop, a whore house, etc . . . So what make this movie so absurd? Well for one look at this ridiculous outfit that Gino sports for a good portion of the film early on . . .
It's pretty hard to take him seriously looking like that!
Also even though it was his partner that was murdered, there is no way the police department would allow just one cop to go looking for the murderer, the whole force would want to be involved in catching this prick!
One of the most hilarious scenes in the movie (or any movie for that matter!) is when Gino takes down a whole bar that is owned by Richie's brother Vinny .
Is that not the best thing ever? All these years later I still wonder who's Hot Dog that was!
So would I recommend these two films as a double feature?
Even though one movie is ratted PG and the other R, both films are extremely cartoonish in the way they handle their violence. For example in the video of the bar fight I shared above from Out For Justice features one character named "Tattoos" getting most of his teeth knocked out by a cue ball only to be completely fine about an hour later relaxing at Richie's hideout! I could totally see the Turtles and Gino crossing paths in NYC! Like all great crossovers they would fight due to a misunderstanding early on, but later team up to take down the bad guys and then go out for a pizza later to celebrate!
Hey Gino . . . I found Richie!
Tom runs Shit Movie Fest which is a Blog and Facebook Page based off a monthly "Bad Movie Party" he does with his friends in Philadelphia! The first SMF Party was no different than what him and his friend Chris were doing since they met in High School back in the 90s when they would watch a few movies and trash them, but over time SMF has continued to grow in both attendance and support from friends new and old!
Thursday, April 24, 2014
I am once again honored to be allowed to write a post for the regular readers of Guts and Grog. Blog themes are almost always fun, but Tromeric seems to push the boundaries with great ideas like “Horror With Training Wheels” and now “Two Extremes”. The original idea for my post was to watch Disney’s The Fox and the Hound followed by Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, and come up with five things the two have in common, other than talking foxes. Impossible, you say? Let’s find out…
For the first part of my double-feature, I decided to watch The Fox and the Hound, thinking I’d breeze through it, but paying attention, looking for any kind of themes it may have in common with Antichrist. It had been probably close to 30 years since I’d seen it. I remember watching it as a kid and liking it. For those of us old enough to remember such, I even had one of those story books with the 45 in the back that you could put on your record player and listen to as you read along. I had forgotten all about it until certain phrases in the movie brought back memories. Still, my recollection of the events of the movie were sparse at best, and I honestly had no idea how it ended. I assumed it would be a heartfelt tale of how two animals, who were known as natural enemies, could be friends when they put their differences aside. What I’d completely forgotten is that while Disney has always been an Evil Empire, it was also staffed by a group of sadistic bastards who seemed intent on creating films whose sole purpose was to crush childhood spirit, completely traumatize, and leave all of us subjected to them at a young impressionable age, heartless, broken adults.
My God, I knew I certainly wouldn’t get the warm and fuzzies from Antichrist, what I hadn’t anticipated was The Fox and the Hound making me want to blow my own brains out. What a fucking downer of a movie. There is more loss, betrayal, and heartbreak in its 81 minutes than young children should have to endure in a lifetime. I assumed that Todd and Copper would remain friends after all was said and done. I also assumed that while Todd didn’t necessarily bother me, Copper would be the character I would most connect with. I’m a dog person, plus Todd was the overly outgoing, adventurous one, and if left to my own devices, I’d rather not stray too often from the straight and narrow, like my boy Copper. But then, Copper goes away for the winter, and he returns as a DOUCHE. He even takes his douchebaggery to a whole new level when he straight up turns on Todd because of the train incident that leaves the older dog, Chief, injured. Of course, Chief was trying to murder Todd, but fuck if Copper seems to give a shit. Dude has turned straight up cold. Even in the end, when Todd selflessly throws himself on the back of an attacking bear, he displays courage and devotion to Copper that most of us would never be able to extend to a person who HADN’T totally betrayed us for no reason, other than we are different in some way, be it race, gender, or what, let alone someone who had once been our dearest childhood friend and done so. I’ve got to give Todd his props. Copper though, even when he got between a downed Todd and the hunter’s shotgun? Yeah, fuck that guy.
After The Fox and the Hound, the plan was to continue on to Antichrist. I put the dvd in, refreshed my adult beverage, and sat down prepared to once again have my senses assaulted. It hadn’t been as long since I’d seen Antichrist, but a year or so is almost and infinity when you watch as many movies as I do. Once it started though, I realized that I had essentially missed everything I’d seen so far, because I was still running through The Fox and the Hound in my head. That movie completely fucked me up. What a slap of real life in the face, despite the fact that it’s a kids movie. I mean, with the way movies these days hit kids over the head with equality, and celebrate diversity, it was a shocking nod to the old “non-PC” days of the past. I decided I needed more time before I jumped into a Lars Von Trier movie, as the mindset I was in certainly didn’t lend itself well to going in. By the end, of course, but going in? Not even I’m that much of a masochist.
The following night, I gave Antichrist a spin. It was basically as I’d remembered it. It starts off with a married couple getting it on, unaware that their toddler aged child had crawled out of bed and headed toward the balcony window. Of course, the child falls to his death, and from there we witness the grief that accompanies such a tragedy, although both parents deal with it in very different ways. The grief sends the mother, credited simply as “She” to the hospital, while her psychiatrist husband, “He”, buries himself in his work. His work just so happens to be the treatment of his wife. The two head to their secluded cabin in the woods, known as Eden, to attempt to repair not only their broken marriage, but their broken selves. Unfortunately, it goes from bad to worse, WAY worse, as these things tend to do.
Now, let me say this, as I’m sure anyone who’s ever stopped by my blog can attest, I’m not the most insightful person in the world. It’s part of why I enjoy reading blogs so much. I love to watch something, take away from it whatever I do, then read others interpretations. Antichrist is an examination of grief that descends to depths those of us who have never been through a tragedy, like in this case losing a child, will never understand. What makes it even more disturbing is that when He and She get to Eden, we find out there’s even more going on, as previous events, whose details are sparsely revealed, show that She was already pretty damaged before they lost the child.
Plenty of movies out there, particularly of the “extreme” nature delve into misogyny, but Antichrist presents the idea of a sort of “reverse-misogyny”, which brings about a whole new thought process when you think about a woman who is already blaming herself for what happened to her child. She, who views all women as “evil” based off of research material she read when preparing to write a thesis, let her son die. It’s hatred of herself, for being a woman, coupled with the grief and self-blame, that leads to her hospitalization. It’s the anger at Him, who she perceives as arrogant due to his treatment methods, that leads to her eventual break. It’s at that point that Antichrist goes away a bit from just a dreadful, uneasy feeling movie, to disturbing, and even at times hard to watch.
There’s more there that I feel like Lars was trying to convey, with the woods in particular, that I feel like I still don’t have a full grasp of yet. In my defense though, I seem to take something else away from it every time I watch it. Lars Von Trier isn’t going to be a director for everybody, but I can’t help but feel engaged and at times challenged by everything he does. His movies never make you feel good, but they do make you feel, and that’s not something that comes along all that often anymore.
Now that I’ve endured the two films, and have had a little time to process, let’s see if we can find five things the two have in common, other than talking foxes. Chaos Reigns, bitches.
Loss – When you get down to it, both of these movies deal heavily with loss. In Antichrist, it’s the loss of a child, and ultimately sanity. The Fox and the Hound opens with Todd losing his mother to the hunters, but doesn’t stop there. It goes on to explore the loss of innocence, in the form of Copper being groomed into a true hunting dog by his owner, and ultimately the loss of friendship, as Todd and Copper are forced to the realization that they can never truly be friends.
The Frailty of Relationship – The Fox in the Hound is all about relationships, and how we sometimes think or wish they will last forever. How many of us have had relationships come to an unexpected end? An end that we never saw coming? It hits you like a sledge hammer in the stomach. It’s a harsh life lesson we all eventually learn. Antichrist focuses on a married couple who not only watch their relationship, marriage in this case, fall apart but their very lives also.
Abandonment – The Fox and the Hound is filled with abandonment, particularly in Todd’s case. He’s initially left abandoned by his mother, who leaves him in order to save him from the hunter, which ultimately leads to her death. After being taken in by the Widow Tweed, he’s later abandoned again, this time by her, at the wild life preserve, to once again save him from the hunter. There’s also the eventual emotional abandonment of his best friend, Copper. I’m honestly surprised the movie doesn’t end with Todd splattering his fox brains all over a wall somewhere with the hunter’s shotgun.
For as much as Antichrist deals with Her, and how she’s coping with her loss and self-hatred, stop and think about how He feels. This is a man who also lost his only child, which has lead to his wife mentally checking out. There’s undoubtedly some feeling of abandonment there. Of course he loves his wife, and wants to help her get better, but I can’t help but feel like a small part of him is also afraid that if she doesn’t recover, he will be left with nothing.
Nature – Not as in “Mother Nature” so much, although that’s definitely there as well, but human nature, although I hesitate to use the word “human” as Todd and Copper are anthromorphic animals. I touched on this just a bit when I talked about relationships, but in both films we see things running their courses no matter how hard something tries to change them. The Fox and the Hound sees Copper ultimately turn on his best friend Todd because as a hound dog, it’s his nature to hunt fox, whether they be friend or not. Antichrist shows a grieving mother, hospitalized by her sadness, and a psychiatrist who is bound and determined to cure her by any means necessary. In both cases, nature wins out.
Misogyny – I already talked about misogyny being one of the main themes in Antichrist, but it’s present, although comedic and diluted in The Fox and the Hound too. It’s actually more of just a sign of the times than anything else, but the hunter, Amos Slade’s treatment of the elderly woman who takes Todd in after his mother is killed, the Widow Tweed, would be considered misogynistic by today’s standards. He never refers to her by name, only “woman”. He constantly berates her, and while he never comes out and calls her stupid, his comment s definitely imply that he feels like she is, and it’s only because she’s a woman.
There you have it, five things that Disney’s The Fox and the Hound and Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist have in common. I’m admittedly reaching a bit there, but hey, there’s evidence that backs up every point. That just about does it for my long-winded entry for Two Extremes. Big thanks once again to Tromeric for letting me take part in another great theme here at the House of Grog. It’s always a pleasure.
|Mitch goes by the internet moniker Mister Bones. He’s a simple minded fellow, who loves comic books, horror movies, hockey, and video games. He can be found writing about such as that, and all manner of other meaningless topics over at this blog, Tales From the Batcave.|
2 Extremes is a celebration of differences among film, but it’s also a way to document surrealistic similarities that arise from comparing two things that obviously have little in common. Thanks to Guts and Grog, I got to experience a film I probably wouldn’t have set out to view otherwise - Belly isn’t exactly the sort of movie that I gravitate towards, since I’m not a fan of rap and I don’t know much about DMX or Nas or any of the other big-name stars recruited to act. But I chose Belly because of the only clear correlation between that and Torso - both of their names mean relatively the same thing.
It’s easy to pick out the differences between the two, not just physical but also thematic. Torso features a prominently white, female cast, while Belly’s ensemble is full of black men. The former is an Italian giallo, the latter an urban gangster study. Neither share any cast or crew, and there’s no immediate evidence to suggest that there should be any reason to relate one to the other.
Yet there are a number of quick similarities that arise from comparing plots.
1. Party scenes that turn violent quickly.
Torso’s villa sequences make up a significant amount of plot, so much of that movie finds our protagonist and her friends partying it up before they’re slaughtered by a masked, gloved killer in traditional giallo style. Likewise, Belly features an opening sequence where DMX and Nas infiltrate a club and steal a bunch of money, killing a couple guards in the process. In a stylish encounter later, a Jamaican drug smuggler gets his comeuppance by assassins who sneak into his home. This leads us to…
2. Masked killers.
Most of Belly’s violence is perpetrated by gangbangers who aren’t afraid to brazenly show their faces, but the aforementioned scene is one that strangely resorts to a ninja-like assassin who sports a striped mask across her face. It’s never really explained, either, giving it an aura of mystery that matches Torso’s slasher motivation throughout the film. Both movies force the viewer to question the reason behind the killings, which gives us our third similarity…
3. Philosophical reasoning behind murder.
Torso masks its gratuitous violence, nudity, and borderline-offensive lesbianism in the search for artistry within the gore. The murders are posed, colorful, and over-the-top enough that the visual aspect of them ties in well with an artist’s depiction of his subject. There is sexual fetishism behind the violence, predicated because of the killer’s past. In a correlative scenario, Belly’s street crime is a statement about urban kids growing up with their sense of right and wrong skewed; as the reverend states at the end of the film, they’re taught (or perhaps not taught) to think that killing and stealing is just the normal thing to do, and the selfishness of those before them have given them a right to think like this. In much the same way Torso recognizes the importance of childhood development, Belly tackles this in an urban setting.But for 2 Extremes week, I wasn’t satisfied with simply taking the exterior similarities of both films and highlighting them. There’s something intriguing about trying to reach for comparisons that shouldn’t really be there, so I randomly chose moments from each film: the opening title, then 7:40, then 22:10, 49:13, 67:20, 78:16, and finally the moment when the closing credits begin to roll. I put each still from both films together, with Torso on the left and Belly on the right, attempting to see if any of the moments matched up with each other. I was surprised with some of the results.
The title sequences have little in common with each other, though they both utilize bold, heavy letters. I didn’t expect much correlation between the two, especially because Torso uses a stock card instead of printing the title over an image as Belly does.
Interestingly enough, Torso’s first killing happens around this time, so we get a clear visual of the masked killer in the woods, murdering one of his victims. In Belly, we get a look at one of the main character’s girlfriend, who has turned her head away from the camera; it’s also off-centered. Put together, it’s interesting how both form two different perspectives on death: the masked killer can stare at the body he’s recently destroyed, while the girlfriend turns away from her boyfriend Tommy’s guilt.
Coincidentally, both of these stills involve blurry, interrupted imagery. In Torso’s picture, the camera is quickly moving among objects in the foreground as it traces a character in the background. In Belly, director Hype Williams intentionally juxtaposes his characters with the television screen of a soccer match. In both scenes, the object of the shot is to provide a cloudy sense of the characters on-screen; everyone is obscured because none are safe.
Two shots of prominent women from each film round out these stills. In both, the females are in dramatic situations; Torso’s main player is fearing for her life, while Belly’s character is being imprisoned for her boyfriend’s crimes. In both, there is a sense of overwhelming dread, of a situation that is unavoidable.
Despite the odd camera angles of these two stills, along with the obscurity of objects in the background, there’s not too much to compare here. Looking closely, however, a cross can be seen in both: on the left, the door’s paneling resembles the object, while the blue light in Belly’s still forms a T.
Unfortunately there are absolutely no comparisons to be drawn here.
A sense of detritus can be glimpsed at the beginning of the credits for both films. Torso’s is a dirty, grimy feeling, while Belly’s ending is a bit more uplifting, concluding with a shot of Times Square celebrating on New Year’s Eve. There is a sense of rebirth in the former, while the latter revels in the murder setting.
Am I stretching to relate a lot of these images? Of course. But comparing the stills together does give an uncanny relation to each film that would be missed without intense scrutiny - or randomness. 2 Extremes gives us the opportunity to look at film in a way that we ordinarily wouldn’t, and though there is obviously no concrete similarity between Torso or Belly, the juxtaposition between images occurring at the same time in both films allows us to understand the thematic pacing of film; there is, among all films, some connection to emotion and plot, whether one realizes it or not. Without close study, these movies are connected by title alone; but there are more interlocking connections under the surface, and it is surprisingly beautiful.
Ryne Barber writes primarily for his own horror blog, TheMoonisaDeadWorld.net, but he also does '80s horror movie reviews for Horrornews.net. His love of horror started as a child, amid the vast rows of horror VHS boxes at his father's video store. An overwhelming passion for coffee and beer keeps him fueled.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Well, here is another one of my BRIGHT ideas again, “Won't it be fun to watch back to back movies about fucked up women? Dude it will be great!”
Yeah great is the right word to use.
But in truth, watching Girl Interrupted and American Mary back to back was a fascinating experience. They have a common thread that connects them, which is probably why I put them together in my head and thought about watching them for the 2 Extremes week. It made sense to me at the time. Both are stories centered around women who have mental illness. I am kind of obsessed with stories about women and mental illness. So the natural line was drawn for me before I even knew what I was doing.
Of course the extreme part about each film isn't based on their genres. Girl Interrupted is a drama based on a memoir, while American Mary is body mod horror. When you look at them through that lens, they have nothing in common. One is about someone's real life experiences, the other, a shocking fiction about a med student pushed to become a monster. Sadly though, Mary Mason dies because of her illness, where Susanna Kaysen manages to get out of the hospital, realizing what she must do to change her life.
Their endings are very different, and Mary comes out the most tragic.
The thing I love about these two films side by side is the fact they have so many similarities compared to all their differences. While each film has variations, especially in their endings, here are some similarities to think about:
1. Both are well acted, filmed beautifully, and have amazing people behind their creations.
2. Both have female leads who in some form or another, are dealing with metal illness.
3. Both female leads make terrible choices because of their mental states.
4. Both female leads have been under-appreciated, abused and mistreated due to their gender.
5. Both are highly creative people who are just trying to get by despite their situations.
6. Both have compelling stories that even if they are not based on fact, they feel real. Their stories are relatable. Mental hospitals and body modification horror seems to somehow blend nicely under the dark light of the women who live in those worlds. And as a woman, I feel a connection to both stories. Many women suffer from mental illness, and are made to live in horrible conditions because of it.
I could probably think of more if I spent more time pondering it, but then I'd never get this article written. I will say though, Girl Interrupted has the better title name.
But because of how similar these films can be, I have a problem picking a favorite. I mean, I could break it down to shallow parts to help in the choosing, and even that falls short. One has big name actresses I adore like Wynona Rider and Angelina Jolie. But the other has the Twisted Twins and Katherine Isabelle. I could try to go deeper and pick a favorite story, but there again, I'd fail. I love both the stories. I love the terrible realistic horror that comes from watching the suffering of a bunch of women in a mental hospital in Girl Interrupted, and I love the terrible honest horror of watching a woman with dreams of being a surgeon being stripped to the bone and humiliated, then snapping in revenge like in American Mary.
What do you know, both these films are horror movies. One is just packaged differently for mainstream consumption.
I really do prefer the mental mindfuck films, no matter how they are billed. The films that sick with me are the ones that make me question my own sanity and sympathize with crazy people. Especially when the crazy people are doing things that are terribly wrong. And here are two great films that do just that.
Now I'm going to go curl up in a ball and rock back in forth...
Queenie Thayer has been an avid fan of horror all her life. She's a published author of both horror and fantasy. She currently writes for Darkmedia.com and is a Fright Meter Awards Committee Member. She also enjoys blogging, and is known in the crevices of the internet as Kweeny Todd, the Demon Blogger. There she shares her obsession with the macabre and the monstrous. She's also an aspiring filmmaker, and is trying to get her short film Red Handed off the ground.
Where to start? It really took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do for 2 extremes. I really wanted to pair something up with Eraserhead. Mostly because I wanted a good reason to watch the movie again and I thought it would be the perfect movie to double team with something light. I figured no other movie comes close in tone, subject matter, or really anything for that matter. I decided to follow it up with Wizard of Oz. Nothing says clean, good natured, family fun like Wizard of Oz. What follows is my experience and I was surprised by the results to say the least.
I kicked things off with Eraserhead. One of my all time favorites. This is a movie that pulls you into it's world and doesn't let you go. Everything about it creates a mesmerizing world you can't look away from. Even if you really want to at some points. And this time was no different. Without getting too pretentious I love the way this movie affects you, it creates this feeling of dread and uncertainty that are always just under the surface. You don't really know why , but it's there. I bring this up because it's the number one factor in what came next.
I fired up Wizard of Oz , a movie I've seen a million times, thinking I knew what I was in store for. This movie is a classic of old school Hollywood. An endlessly upbeat, positive movie with a message of overcoming odds and learning to appreciate the important things in life. On the surface this is as far from the bleak world of Lynch as possible, but as I started watching it seemed different this time. That same sense of dread carried over changing what the movie meant to me.
It all starts from the black and white scenes in Kansas. It's almost like another chapter starting in a larger story, linking the two movies. A story connected by dreams. For me Eraserhead has always been a terrible dream brought to life. Our time in Kansas feels like the bridge between the nightmare of Henry's world and the magic of Dorothy's time in Oz. The wind swept farmland a perfect counterpart to the industrial wasteland of Eraserhead. Two sides of a coin.
The switch to the garish Technicolor world of Oz is an abrupt splash of color and happiness that provides a temporary sense of comfort. One that quickly dissipates. I began to see the darkness in Oz. I'm not just talking the Witch and her terrifying monkeys. It's the little things. A "good" witch manipulating a scared little girl into murdering her enemies, an entire race of little people trapped in the middle of a conflict they can do nothing about, and it's all kicked off with a brutal death.
Even Dorothy's friends she meets along the way hinder her just as much as they help. Bringing her down with their problems and desires. All paving the yellow brick way to the Emerald City. The seemingly perfect center to the world of OZ, overseen by a great and powerful wizard. The most obvious case of things not being what they seem, as he is revealed to be nothing more than a normal man, and a conniving one at that. A man that has to be bullied and pushed into even the slightest bit of help. And in the end he reveals the way home has been in her possession from the very beginning of her increasingly pointless journey. One last fuck you from the "good" witch.
Before this I always wondered why Dorothy was so anxious to return home to the bleak dust bowl that is her Kansas home. Why leave the magic and wonder of OZ for a quiet life of poverty and hard work? After seeing OZ in a different light, looking below the surface, I understand. Something isn't right and it's only a matter of time before it continues to grow more and more sinister. I'd get the hell out of there to, with a quick "fuck off" to that piece of shit lion for good measure.
When I first started thinking about this double feature I had no idea what I was going to write. What would I have to say outside of "shit be crazy, yo!"? I never anticipated how different a movie can be with a different frame of mind. Both movies seemed to flow together like two parts of a fitful nights sleep. For me Lynch's movies have always forced me to look a little deeper, just under the surface, to begin to understand them. And applying that to a classic I've seen a million times gave me a whole new experience. A journey between two worlds of dreams and hidden meanings. The strangest part for me was that by the end of this, it didn't really seem all that extreme to watch these back to back. It made sense in some strange way, no matter what's on the surface it's all shit underneath.
- Jacob VonKlingele