Saturday, February 25, 2012

How soon is too soon to start studying the nineties? a decade of cultural failure?

Let's look at this for a moment: brought to you by BuzzFeed, 48 Pictures that Perfectly Capture the 90's.

These pictures are a lot of things--they are funny. They are dorky. They are very, very accurate in capturing the decade none of us could ever forget, because we grew up there.

Besides this--quirky, kind of silly, mismatched, weird--there aren't a lot of adjectives that come to mind when you imagine the 90's. There are a lot of nouns, mostly proper nouns--Lisa Frank! Will Smith! Full House!--but it doesn't seem to have the same niche in our cultural consciousness as many other decades from the 21st century. 1990 was more than 20 years ago, but you aren't going to see anybody throwing 90's themed parties.

It's kind of an indescribable era--one can tell, one can feel, if you will, when something is "90's," but it's nearly impossible to explain why. It was a strange transitional period between the so-bad-it's-good style and media from the 80's, but not quite the shiny tech-laced era we spent the past ten years in. For this reason, as well as others, I contend that the 1990's was a decade of cultural failure.

People will protest this statement--Krista, they will say, what about Rugrats? What about Madonna? And they are correct! There are a variety of good things that came out of the nineties. Let's take a look:

  • Children's television
    • The nineties is characterized by television, namely animated shows on Nickelodeon, and animated Disney films, that were aimed at children but have the vitality to still be enjoyable to those same children today, as they become adults. Finding the balance between subtle adult humor and plots and characters that children would also enjoy was a masterful accomplishment of the decade.
  • Surrealist Music: 

What is happening in any of these? Who knows? What caused the nineties to contain this surrealism? Who knows?

  • Some good movies.
    • Pulp Fiction.
  • Good rap music
    • And for all the good rap, there is some ridiculously bad rap, too. Exhibit A: 
I'm not talking about things that are so-bad-they're-good, because people's opinions on that differ, and to be fair, the nineties is full of things like that. Even so, the quantity of so-bad-it's-good media and fashion in the nineties doesn't nearly reach that of the eighties, and much of it is good for the novelty and the nostalgia, but how much can you actually take? I'm not saying I don't love Saved by the Bell because of how ridiculous it is, and I'm not contending that I didn't watch every episode of Full House when it was on reruns on ABC family--but they aren't quite ridiculous enough to enjoy the way you can enjoy slasher-boom films of the eighties. The Backstreet Boys and NSync are over the top and crazy, but can they even aspire to the over-the-top craziness of their boy-band predecessors like Drop Dead Fred or, more subtly, Tears for Fears? Nineties fashion is hideous, but can it be rocked the way hideous eighties fashion can? 
These women know how crazy they are.
These women think they are normal. 
Further evidence:
Molly Ringwald looks great, and almost elegant! And young!

Candace Cameron, on the other hand, looks sad and old. 
Something that's really significant about the nineties is that the way we see it today is very much characterized by nostalgia--not any sort of longing nostalgia, just a sort of reflective, laughing nostalgia at how ridiculous we were. How ridiculous we just were, less than twenty years ago.

Before I make my next point, let's not rule out that perhaps there is nostalgia for many decades like this, that I can't relate to because I wasn't there. I do desperately wish that I were alive in the eighties, or the fifties, or the twenties...but I can't feel it like I can with the nineties.

Even so! It seems like we have a lot of nostalgia for the nineties, and not a lot else. The reason there is so much nostalgia, and it is so plentiful, is because we didn't actually take anything from the decade. Sitcoms have been drastically changed since then, children's television isn't anywhere near as good, we moved away from the terrible fashion as much as possible, pop has changed entirely. The only thing we really got from the nineties is...

Oh, right. That.
My friends, hipsters came from the nineties.

You know this. I know this. Fred Armisen knows this. For all the Lisa Frank, for all the cheesy, cheesy movies and fluffy rap, all the good natured, value preachin' sitcoms, we took the sad music and strange clothing from Seattle. 

I mean no disrespect to grunge, don't get me wrong. I love grunge, I really do. And I'm sure Seattle is great. 
Let's break it down a bit.

Grunge came about as a reaction to a lot of bad things that were going on in the 90's. Current events of the decade are marked by domestic bombings and civil war--Columbine, the Oklahoma City Boming, the Rwandan Genocide all happened in the nineties. Our military attention switched from Soviet Russia to the Middle East, where we began fighting a culture that we understood even less. Politics are marred by sex scandals and economic problems, resulting in a mistrust of authority. So what does it say about our improvement as a society that the cultural reaction to these negative things is what endured into the millenium? Forget how obnoxious we may find hipsters to be, their cultural basis is sad, and that says some sad things about us.

QED, the nineties was a decade of cultural failure.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


In case you all didn't know, I am a nerd girl.
True life: I'm a nerd girl. Confessions of a Nerd Girl. Hello, my name is Krista, and I am a female nerd.
This is a part of myself that I've been dealing with for some time now, but it's time to share it with the world. I should be proud.
That's right. I'm a dork. I read tons of very culty and strange webcomics. I am excited by video game themed crafts. I listen to They Might Be Giants, Pride, Predjudice, and Zombies is at the top of my reading list, and I can quote Firefly in my sleep.

And I am very, very excited for all the incredibly quirky, campy, nerdy movies that are hitting theaters this summer.

So it's time for a little SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW. No better way to cure the winter blues, right?

(Nerdy) Summer Movie Preview--2012--Filmpocalypse
This April, the movie I am most excited about ever is happening. The Cabin in The Woods. Watch the trailer: 

As far as I can tell from that video, this is a self aware slasher movie (my favorite genre) but it's also somehow also a science fiction movie, has something to do with terrifying government surveillance, zombies (?) a monster in the lake (?) and a curse that happens in the pagan-esque chamber that is apparently in the basement (???)

There really is no way to explain what is happening there. It seems to have all the elements of a good old fashioned cabin-in-the-woods slasher, which it better, considering the title: a group of very stereotypical and unbearable teenagers, a small remote house, a keg, some aspect of zombie or mind control film (a la Evil Dead) and a very creepy gas station with a horrifying hillbilly. 

Side note: creepy gas stations are the only fear I believe I obtained directly from Slasher movies. I drive past about a million run-down convenience stores on my way home from college to get to a Cumberland Farms or a Hess Express, no matter how much I need to use the bathroom or how hungry my car is. Go figure. 

I would be happy enough with a meta-teens in the woods horror film, but this turns that completely on it's head. 

The traditional slasher trailer is about surprise--you begin thinking it's about happy teenagers, at some point, we realize they're getting killed. We aren't surprised by that, we know the tricks. Thus, the traditional meta-trailer: we see the happy teens, we predict the killer, soon after comes some aspect of comedy or a line of dialogue about the self awareness of the film, and we know it's a trailer for the next Scream or Scary Movie (which, unfortunately, is also gracing the screens this April). 

This trailer even turns that convention on it's head--fairly quickly we go through the steps--happy teens, going to a cabin in the woods, dialogue too obvious to believe that we're supposed to take this seriously. And then, without warning--some sort of electrical matrix fence? Girl kissing a deer head? Scary masked men?

And, as if it could get more perfect--Joss Whedon wrote it. The brilliant, nerd-god, Joss Whedon. 

SPEAKING of Joss Whedon....

Drumroll, please--
To a certain degree, the excitement of this movie coming out goes without saying.

Normally, I'm opposed to contrived sequels, but this, (along with another movie on this list,) is a bit of an exception. Instead of being a sequel it's like the last clue in a crazy filmic treasure hunt, where the first five clues were wonderful in and of themselves.

It took me a long time to gain appreciation for comic book and super hero films, but in a lot of ways they are just like slasher films. The cult following and the campy-ness that they are allowed charms me in the same way that those qualities in horror do. Superhero movies have the character development that the more low-quality slasher movies tend to let slip, and of course, character development is my favorite part of any film. The Avengers will have characters that we've already seen develop, that we, the insane, culty, nerdy audience, will know very well at the beginning of the movie, whether from the earlier films, or from the comics (and the cartoon, which I enjoy.) This leaves room for an entire new level of character development as well as relationship development between the different heroes, which seems to be the focus of the film.

A good friend of mine has told me about how this could set a precedent for other films, to have films take place in the same universe and then perhaps conclude in a massive film which combines the different story lines, which, though I am not educated enough on the subject to get into right now, sounds like an awesome direction for Hollywood to go in right now. Joss Whedon directed this movie, which was a brilliant move on Marvel's part. Those people know their fanbase.

Another note on this film: Robert Downey Jr. is in it. SO. Even if superheros aren't your thing, Robert Downey Jr. probably is.

In the new grand tradition of totally insane movie titles comes Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. 

As previously discussed here on the blog, there seems to be a new trend of having films with titles that communicate immediately that the film is going to be amazing for one of two possible reasons: it will legitimately kick some nerdy movie ass, or will be so completely nonsensical and crazy that it can become a cult classic for his accidental hilarity. Nerdy ass-kicking movies and accidentally hilarious cult classics are two favorite genres of many, many people, most of whom reside inside of the internet.

Unfortunately, not a lot of information is out right now about this film, but come on. Abraham Lincoln slaying vampires. Produced by Tim Burton, hero of dark and strange films, and social commentary. Starring the stunningly beautiful Mary Elizabeth Winstead, my personal celebrity crush.
Three great things that go great together, killing an annoying cultural icon. 
Definitely seeing this one at midnight if at all possible. By myself. Like a creep. A history/horror/nerd creep.

As a side note, Rock of Ages is also coming out this month. This is the only musical I've ever seen on Broadway. I convinced my family to go, because they would know all the songs and they served drinks in the audience. The lead singer of White Snake came on the microphone at the beginning and said only dicks took out their phones during shows. 
The movie is going to either be horrible or amazing. Most likely, horrible in an amazing way. But I'm excited.

This deserves even more than a drumroll. We need the intro to the Rocky theme for this one. 

Please only listen to the first ten seconds. Ok, we're good.

I just watched Batman Begins last week, and I saw The Dark Knight in theaters, and I love them both so much. Christopher Nolan may very well be my favorite mainstream director right now. He should be, and I believe, is, at the forefront of the progression of modern cinema. The man is a genius. His dedication to being as real as possible in his films, and avoiding CGI at all costs, is immensely admirable, and shows through not only in the special effects but also in the overall tone of the movies. Not to mention how intense it is that in Dark Knight, they actually flip an 18 wheeler, they actually blow up a hospital shaped building. It creates a situation where there is no room for gratuitous explosions, which makes all of his blockbusters stand out from other action films. Nolan is also one of the pioneers of the emerging action/romance genre, which is a very important aspect of current cinema, and has taken the idea of a mind-blowing twist at the end of every movie to a new level. 

It is only fitting that Nolan, with all of his dedication to realism, directs the Batman films, with the hero who is really only human. Perhaps it is also the realistic, non-supernatural aspects of the Batman franchise that allow it to be so successful and iconic, and represent cultural ills so well! Batman Begins has some serious undertones of mistrust in the government, very appropriate for 2005, smack in the middle of the Bush administration. The Dark Knight is all about terrorism that we cannot understand, and how properly to fight it (I think, I should look into it more). And here we have the stunningly beautiful Cat Woman, translating the shouts from Occupy Wall Street into whispers to Christian Bale. Lately I've been helping out with some high school English classes, and that's the example I use when I need to explain to them why knowing the political and social events surrounding a story is an important part of understanding literature--"You know sexy Anne Hathaway in the Dark Knight Rises trailer? She's talking about Occupy Wall Street! Doesn't that make the movie more interesting?"

Speaking of sexy characters in Batman, in this we have, as always Christian Bale. 

Forgive me for the side note, but this man deserves some attention. Christian Bale has, in his life, has played Demetrius from A Midsummer Night's Dream, (my favorite Shakespeare,) Patrick Bateman, everyone's favorite serial killer, Howl from Howl's Moving Castle, possibly the most dreamy anime character I have ever encountered, the awesome guy from The Prestige, John Connor in The Terminator, Thomas, the adorable friend of John Smith in Pochahontas, JESUS, in a made for TV Jesus movie, and Batman. The guy is Jesus and Batman. Seriously. 

Aside from the inhumanly attractive Bale, we also have Joseph Gordon Levitt, possibly the only one who can match Bale in attractiveness. These superhero movies are certainly playing to the ladies. Not that they need to. Even if we go for the hearthrobs, but we stay for the realistic special effects, sociopolitical commentary, character development, and cultural satire. 

In conclusion: I'm going to the movies every day this summer. Yes, it is certainly a good time to be a nerd girl.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sidney Prescott?

Writing about slasher movies and writing slasher movies again is like breathing again. I miss it so much.

That said, I've had some thoughts lately! Time for sharing!

They mostly revolve around this lady:

One Miss Sidney Prescott. I might venture to say, my favorite survivorgirl?

But here's what I'm thinking--judging (and I mean JUDGING) by the following things:

-All of her outfits in Scream 3
-Her perpetual singleness
-Her traumatic experience with men
-Her job in Scream 3 working as a councilor for women in crises over the phone,
-Her haircut,

So I'm thinking that perhaps, Sidney is being set up to be a lesbian.

Please don't misunderstand--I don't think all lesbians have short hair and wear sort of androgynous khaki pants (?) and are ultra-feminists, or fit any mold for that matter, but I know how movies work, and if there's a lesbian, it's likely that she's going to have some level of cliche to her, which Sidney certainly seems to. Perhaps it'll be a Dumbledore scenario, or perhaps it'll  be openly addressed in the next installment, whatever that is.

Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part--I think it would be a fantastic aspect to add to Scream 5 (please god, please please let this happen) or the reboot of the Scream franchise (It's too soon. Shut it down. Shut. it. down). Perhaps it's time to comment on the real seriousness of Sidney's loosing her virginity to a serial killer (and perhaps having her only sexual experience be with a serial killer, which is entirely possible with the rest of the plot,) and the fact that the world/God is beginning to accept homosexuality so it's no longer a "sin" that can be punished in a slasher movie situation.

Of course, this thought, along with some jokes about a script I'm working on with my BFF, led me to think about lesbianism in slasher movies in general. has it ever been addressed in a popular movie?

The only instance I could think of in my viewing experience is the lesbians in Stupid Teenagers Must Die.

Let's talk about Stupid Teenagers for a second. It's thought of as a decent parody of bad slasher movies, with "all the normal stereotypes!" This is the movie that originally inspired me and my aforementioned BFF to write slasher movies. The rest is history.

Anyways, one of the stereotypes Stupid Teenagers throws in there is this pair of lesbians who are constantly having sex. Which is all well and good for them, being edgy, whatever--but lesbians are simply not a slasher movie stereotype, at least not from the pool of slasher films that I've been watching. From some very superficial internet research, it seems that the most common slasher film that contains lesbians is the misnomered horror porn, such as Zombie Strippers, etc. (disregarding a few films that are specifically lesbian horror films, such as Femme Fatal)These are different from slasher films. Very different. Really, I think they're based on the misconception of what horror films are.

This begs the question, of course, as to whether or not it would be relevant to address Sydney's apparent sexuality in another Scream film. Even though it isn't a hot button issue in the realm of slasher film, it is a hot button issue in the real world, and current events are addressed in the Scream films (technology and fame in Scream 4 for instance).

Thoughts? Rebuttals? 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It would be wrong to write that Halloween post and then not do a Christmas post. So here we go!!

Guys, watch this trailer:

I'll give it a moment to sink in.

There's this trend with movies right now, where, when you hear the title or see the trailer, you realize immediately that it's going to be a fantastic film for one of two completely opposite reasons: it's either going to be legitimately epic, well done, thoughtful, and entertaining, or it's going to be so entirely off the handle ridiculous that it will still be thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

This movie...may have been both of those things?

Let's talk about it.

Ok, in case you didn't catch it from the trailer, the film is about finding a monstrous Santa Clause buried deep in a hill somewhere in Finland. This is that Christmastime horror that I was talking about before--already, the story is somewhat unorthodox. It is also a premise that leaves room for so, so much badassery.

The main characters, a group of working class Finnish men living in the Arctic, originally have no vested interest in the whole Santa scheme--they are, as you saw in the trailer, upset because something--or someone--has killed all of their reindeer, which they herd for meat and fur. It is only a group of Americans and one small child who are concerned with the Santa situation.
One of these people tops my list for 'Most Badass Characters of 2011'

It is only appropriate that a Christmas film focus on a child, which is where the main quirk in this film really comes through--even though it is a Christmas movie, it is also an action film, so the typical child main character of the Christmas aspect of the film somehow manages to also become a totally competent action hero.

For the first half of the film, nobody believes the boy, Pietari, that there is an evil Santa buried in the mountain--until, of course, a creature that appears to be Santa is found in one of the illegal wolf-traps set up by Pietari's father. It is only then that people begin to believe the child, and he leads three middle aged Finnish men into battle not only with their American opposition, but with a group of bloodthirsty elves and an enormous frozen goat monster. Throughout the film, the child completes various nearly superhuman feats and gives the men instructions one would only expect from the most experienced of action heroes.
Yeah, secretly a crazy action hero. Obviously.

This is only the very, very basic premise, however--and from that, as well as from the heavy handed one-liners in the trailer, you would have trouble believing that it managed to be a quality film as opposed to a ridiculous and over the top piece of cinema.

The part that doesn't fit into the basic premise, however, is what gives the film it's depth, and it's all very surprising. The strange, epic main plot is a vessel for two thoughtful and complex themes.

Pietari's mother died long before the story we see occurs, and much of the film shows us the struggle his father has being a single father and providing a warm and parental touch to the little family's life. It is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking to see the gruff butcher try to provide for his child not only materially but emotionally, as well, particularly at Christmastime. This sub-plot revolves around the father only having gingerbread cookies for dinner for days on end--in theory, a child's dream, but a meal that ultimately is not practical or nourishing.

 And, as Pietari points out, in his adorable, tear-jerking way, they aren't as good as mother made them. Perhaps, however, this mano-y-mano relationship is what eventually allows Pietari to prove himself to his father, so that he is no longer treated like such a small child.

The other sub plot is only hinted at, because the film is mainly from the point of view of a small child. In a To Kill a Mockingbird-esque way, social and political turmoil is hinted at when the reindeer are killed, and when the men notice something strange happening on the mountain that is eventually revealed as Santa's tomb. The adults are constantly discussing the potential that Russian agents had killed their reindeer, or were working on some secret project on the mountain. Though it is never clearly explained in the film, there is a very complex undertone of the Finnish-Russian political relationship, which, as far as I can tell from the internet, is mainly stressed by border control issues, which are the focus in this film.

So, this Christmas, when you're debating between Santa Clause is Coming to Town and It's a Wonderful Life, make the unorthodox choice--pop in Rare Exports for a surprising, action-packed, touching and thoughtful holiday movie. Think of this movie as your Aunt Jill's pumpkin pie--you were really looking forward to the iconic sugar cookies and the decadent eggnog, but in the end it's the pie you go back for seconds on.

...or, you know, don't think of it that way. Maybe it's best that you don't.

Happy Holidays, everyone!! 

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is owned by CINET and Petri Jokiranta, copyright 2010. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chinatown, Roman Polanski, Noir, and a discussion of ART.

Guys, I have been a Noir fiend lately.

I keep going back to watch a slasher movie, but something else on my Instant Queue always catches my eye instead--Scarlet Street, The Third Man, The Stranger, Double Indemnity, the list goes on and on. Noir is like the slasher films of the forties and fifties. Low budget, not necessarily respected in its time, very, very genre-riffic (I just made up that word,)...all fantastic. Perhaps I will blog about the similarities and the importance of low budget movies sometime in the future.

Today, however, I'm going to write a bit about Chinatown, because I decided that I'd watched enough Noir that I'd understand it.

And I think, as much as one ever can understand Chinatown after watching it only once, I do.

Spoiler time.

A little summary for you--as far as I understand, Chinatown is a modern-noir, which is now almost forty years old, but that's fine. It's not shot in black and white, which is very important to the genre, as far as I can tell, but you've got the hard-boiled private eye with all his catchy lines, a Los Angeles that I fully believed was in the forties, the gorgeous, GORGEOUS femme fatale (Faye Dunaway ohmygoodness) and a murder for everyone to get tangled up in.

The standard plot was set up and followed very well, with various surprises around every turn. I suppose the trick to noir is that you have to know the surprises are coming, but you can't know what they are--right? Perhaps?

In any case, that's how this movie worked, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. There was also a big discussion about government corruption and capitalism which I was really invested in, but don't feel any need to get into here. The various societal commentary, the biblical allusions, the structure of Chinatown has been discussed plenty, and unless you're my film studies professor, we aren't going to get anywhere by me repeating all of it.

The thing about Chinatown that hasn't been discussed is the fact that it deals very directly with pedophilia and was directed by Roman Polanski.

This is something I've been trying to grapple with--when an artist has created something brilliant, but done something that our society considers evil, how much are we to separate the artist from his art? On one hand, we want to appreciate the art without it being colored by our perception of the artist, and examine its merits and its impact objectively. However, we also want to maybe see how the artist's moral ambiguities affected his work, and even just give an artist credit for something beautiful they've created regardless how much we disagree with their other actions or even the message they are sending in the work.

I addressed this issue in a play I wrote this year for a class in which D.W Griffiths was a character.  D.W Griffiths made the film Birth of a Nation, the first American feature-length film, which naturally had a huge impact on the ways films were made and distributed. Also, it was super racist and about the KKK.

And, unfortunately, except in very film-savvy circles, that's what he's remembered for, which is a shame, because he made plenty of other movies. Another, more common example in film is Walt Disney--made great movies, changed the way we see animation and television and mice, also was a Nazi.

Do we accept the fact that these brilliant men had flaws, and appreciate their work regardless? Or do we pretend that they didn't have those flaws at all? It's a difficult conundrum, especially when they directly address their asocietal (made up that word tooo) morals in their work, the way Griffiths did with Birth of a Nation or Disney did with Song of the South.

For those of you who don't know, Roman Polanski is largely considered to be a pedophile--in 1977, three years after Chinatown was made, he was arrested for unlawful sex with a thirteen year old girl, plead guilty, and fled to London. In Chinatown, it is revealed near the end of the film that Faye Dunaway's character was raped by her father at fifteen, which becomes a major plot point in the film.

It's fascinating to me that no one has discussed the similarities about this aspect of the film and how they connect to Roman Polanski's sex scandal in the seventies; the girl in the movie was in her early teens, raped by an older man after his wife died. Polanski's victim too was just a teenager, and his wife was killed in 1969.

However, the director is much more associated with the main character than with the character of the father--the background of Jack Nicholson's detective is that he failed to save a woman in his previous career in Chinatown and as a result, she was killed, and he became rather despondent and apathetic. This lines up fairly well with Polanski, who cites not being at home the night his wife was murdered as his biggest regret and says that it left him pessimistic and with "eternal dissatisfaction about life."

Perhaps it is out of respect for Polanski and the film that nobody has made this connection, which would be, in my opinion, the best way to deal with the situation. The crime he committed was a mistake, and the worst of his character, while this is one of the most brilliant things he created, if not the most brilliant. Hopefully, years from now, it will be looked upon as such, and hopefully someday we can look at other artists' work the same way.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween! Here is a rant for you.

It is, of course, necessary that I write a blog for Halloween.
Clearly I've been neglecting my ponderings on  horror films lately, at least in a formal written out form. Worry not, friends, there is no shortage of heated debates about slasher lore and, now, the local ghost stories here at college. And I know, that, since it is Halloween, I can no longer ignore this blog that was once so well nurtured.

Normally I would write a review of a horror movie, or a general overview of some Halloween movies, or a rant about fake scary movies that they play on ABC family, but I'm going in a different direction.

It doesn't make sense for me right now to review one of the approximate BILLION scary  movies that are on my list of things to watch, because the majority of them are themed with other holidays; specifically, the next movie on my list is Rare Exports, a Christmas-themed thriller, and the next is April Fools, a terrible, terrible slasher. My Netflix Instant Cue opens with New Years Evil and Graduation Day, and, before on the nonsense with Netflix, those two were quickly followed by My Bloody Valentine. Even right here on this blog I've reviewed Black Christmas and Terror Train, both of which take place in the end of December.

There are a whole slew of slasher films that take place on other holidays, specifically Christmas. And, as you probably figured out, there is a lot of controversy over these films. In fact, you may have found even yourself feeling a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of mixing the gory death of teenagers that we love so much on Halloween with the happiness and coziness of Christmas.

A little background: Halloween is considered by many to be "The Father of Slasher Movies." It was wildly successful, making $60,000,000 in about two years with a budget of $320,000. Obviously, great formula: spend relatively little money, make a lot more money, and make a great film. America at the time was ready for it, and, thus, an innumerable amount of movies were made.

The concept was so simple that hundreds (?) of eager indie film makers jumped on the opportunity. Just get yourself a fake knife, some corn syrup and food dye, some cheap, hopeful, young actors, a creepy place, and you've got yourself a film (I know, I've done it). All you need now is a plot, or a theme of some sort--and, riding on the success of Halloween, many manymanymany of the people making these movies decided on a holiday.

Christmas is maybe not the most obvious of all the holidays to choose for a movie whose action is based around the murder of "innocents," but for some reason it became very popular. Movies like Silent Night, Deadly Night, Don't Open till Christmas, Christmas Evil and Silent Night, Bloody Night didn't seem to do any better or worse than other films. Perhaps because the movie that I consider to be the "Mother" of slasher films, and just as good as Halloween, also played a part in the beginning of slasher movies. Perhaps, we can take the cynical view, and say that the producers, directors, and writers were trying to cash in on the controversy that came from making these films, which were often considered a direct assault on family structure and Christianity (don't forget about the New Right shenanigans that were happening in the eighties). Perhaps there are enough angsty people who just need to watch a slasher movie at Christmas to dispel the anger that comes from spending time with laughing children and consumerism. Maybe--and let's go with this one, for the hell of it--the juxtaposition of the violence inherent to slasher films mixed with the happiness that is considered to be inherent to Christmas creates a more shocking and therefore effective film.

The real question is, why are people so accepting for a violent movie on Halloween and so ready to scorn a movie that takes place on Christmas? Christmas Evil, made in 1984, which directly references Carpenter's film in the tagline ("You made it through Halloween, now see if you can survive Christmas"), made approximately two million dollars, with a budget of about one million, in comparison to Halloween's sixty million dollars worldwide. I'm not going to pretend that Halloween isn't a much, much better movie than Christmas Evil, or that the shock value was already wearing off at that point, but still. Fifty eight million dollars is a lot of money.

I think it's an interesting cultural phenomena that we sequester a time of year to be scared, or, rather, to let ourselves be scared. Clearly this intentional fear is part of our culture--scary movies make millions of dollars all year round, not just at Halloween. Would it be better to accept it into our every day lives, like the many hardcore horror movie enthusiasts and self-proclaimed members of the goth subculture that already do? Or, is Halloween, like horror movies, a safe place to keep it so we can live our lives pretending that death and fear are not present?

This has been a Halloween blog post.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Preview of my wall in college...what i've done instead of actually packing.

These are the pictures I've decided need to go in the frames I bought to hang on my wall in at Bennington....I tried to go for a creepy, inexplicable old picture feel, of things that happened in the past for which the explanation is lost...but with signifcant amounts of editing with the help of Picasa. Also some Battleship Potmekin references (at least that's what I was going for,) with the selective color, which all came out being orange/yellow without my realizing it.

Good way to turn important memories into art, yes?

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