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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Happy Halloween

I’m drinking a beer called Vampire Slayer (brewed by Clown Shoes). This isn’t a review, I’m just letting you know that I have a dark, flavor rich beer and you should get some yourself.

No, really I’m just here to say, Happy Halloween. We’ve spent a lot of time together, you and I and it’s been a hell of a ride. There were conventions and philosophizing on fear and beer and apple picking and more philosophizing. And, now, it’s drawing to a close. Soon, people will be slapping pictures of hand-turkeys on the walls and throwing cornucopias everywhere and eating way too much food. The time of reveling in horror and monsters and goblins and scary things is drawing to a close.

I’m a little sad, but mostly relieved. I can talk about other things now. I can review beers that don’t taste like pumpkins. I can watch movies that aren’t just boobs, blood and bad guys. I can pontificate on politics or work or Sprint’s terrible service.

But, just one more time, I’m going to watch a horror movie, drink a Halloween themed-beer  and relax for the last night before….

 

 

NANOWRIMO.

 

See you tomorrow.

And have a Happy Halloween!

-D-

 

PS If you need some spooky fun, check this out. It’s an audio dramatization of my story, The Song and Dance Man. Thumbs up.

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Rock and Shock (The Prequel)

I know I’ve already talked about this once already, but I cannot stress enough how excited I am about Rock and Shock. Pinhead and Michael Myers and Jason and Candyman are all going to be in the same room together at the same time. And I will do my best not to call them that to their faces.

It’ll also be interesting to be in a place where I’m not the biggest horror freak. There be hundreds of other people there, all of them either on my level or more so. I will blend in and fit in with the crowd and that will be nice.

Horror, both in movies and in books, has been a driving force in my writing. It’s what helped me decide that I want to be a writer. It helped me decide what I want to write about. It gave me focus for something that needs to be focused in order to be useful.

It’s important to me in a way that other genres, that I also love, are not. It fuels my creative drive and that is a vital, important thing and Rock and Shock is a way to actually meet the people who make that genre possible.

There will be giddy squealing, is what I’m saying.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Portrait of a Slasher Movie

The slasher movie is, by far, one of the subgenres of horror that most sticks to a formula. And here is the formula:

Pre-Credits Kill+Character Introduction+Cat Scare*+Minor Character Killed Off+Pointless Drama/Comedic Scene+Secondary Character Killed+Hero(ine) and Killer Meet-Up+Hero(ine) Triumphs+One Last Scare=Slasher Movie

This is, for the most part, how every slasher movie plays out. You have the pre-credit sequence kill, which is either part of the back story or is set in modern day and sets off the chain of events. This is where you’ll see characters defiling graves or having sex when they should have been paying attention or telling stories around a campfire about the killer. If this is a sequel, this is where you’ll most likely see a character from the previous movie get killed off (see Friday the 13th Part 2 or Scream 3).

Then comes the cast introduction. During this point you’ll see a barrage of cliches come at you. Don’t worry! Most will be dead in 90 minutes. This is also the point where you’ll meet an ancillary character. Now, the ancillary character can fulfill numerous roles. They’re the Red Herring: “Who’s that?” “Oh that’s crazy Bob, he lives in the woods where we’ll be camping!” The Red Herring will show up lurking, here and there, through-out the movie and then will end up dead at the three-quarter mark.

There’s the Small Town Sheriff. He will say, in one form or another, “Those damn kids!” before the movie is over. Though he’s going to be an asshole throughout the entire movie, he’ll most likely show up toward the middle or end and seem like he’s going to do something to affect the outcome and give the audience false hope. He’s actually going to be murder fodder and everyone’s hopes are dashed.

There’s the Doomsayer. He (or she) is an old and crusty oldtimer who knows more than everyone else, but will be completely dismissed as being either old, crazy or both. The Doomsayer can also play the part of The Red Herring. It’s a toss-up to whether the Doomsayer will show up beyond the Introduction.

Then there’s the Cat Scare. The Cat Scare is when a character hears a noise, goes to investigate and finds a cat. It is almost ALWAYS a cat. And it’s always a cat that has somehow ended up in a cupboard. I have owned numerous cats, but they rarely ended up in cupboards.

Right after the cat scare, Minor Character death. The Doomsayer is a good choice for this, but sometimes it’s the gas station attendant or the lonely hitchhiker or any person who is not one of the fresh young teens.

Then you have the pointless drama and light-hearted comedy to trick you into thinking that that this movie is more than nubile young people being offed with chainsaws.

This is when the secondary characters start dying, one by one and, depending on how many characters there are, depends on how long this process will take.

After all the non-essential personnel are removed, the hero or, more frequently, the heroine meets up with the monster. If the monster is masked, this is where he’ll be de-masked. If the killer is actually the boyfriend, long lost-brother or the mother of a deformed little boy who drowned in the lake, this is where the shocking twist is revealed.

After the Killer is dispatched, the Hero(ine) and her/his Boyfriend/Girlfriend walk away from the body. Then the body moves, or the little boy comes out of the lake or the second killer steps out of the shadows or the Hero(ine) turns around with a crazy look in her eyes and you know SHE’S the killer now. This is the Final Scare. It can be either followed with a re-assuring shot of the Hero(ine) waking up or a freeze-frame of the Final Scare.

Bam. You don’t ever need to watch a slasher movie ever again. Because you just did. All of them.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: The Prequel

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s descent into madness. I hope I never have to do that again. But it did give you a little taste of what to expect in the coming days.

For the next 31 days, I plan to post more Spoooky Beer Reviews, horror movie reviews, and my occasional over-philosophizing about the horror genre, both in books and in film. I plan to blog from Rock and Shock. I plan to even blog about things that aren’t directly related to Halloween, just to mix it up a little bit.

In the end, I hope that you and I will know each other better  and grow closer together.

And that you’ll buy my book.

-D-

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Movie Review: Dark Knight Rises

If you didn’t see my earlier entry, let me recap here:

I really love the Batman movies. The ones by Christopher Nolan. I’ve been watching them repeatedly since Batman Begins came out seven years ago. I’ve obsessed over them and in no gentle way.

Partly this has to do with the fact that I grew up with the best cartoon Batman ever and partly it has to do with the general awesomeness of what Nolan accomplished with all three movies.

With the newest movie, Nolan has tied it all up, neat and tight. From beginning to end it’s a thoroughly satisfying narrative. He has managed to tell a story with all three movies in a way few directors could (Peter Jackson cheated by doing all three at once and using a single unified source. George Lucas uses plot holes to shore up a cliched story-arc.) They’re not perfect. I will not defend them to the death. There are gaps in logic and weird puns and stumbling lines and some oddly terrible actors hiding amidst stellar performances.

Speaking of which, Anne Hathaway surprised me. I’ve never had much of an opinion about her or her acting, but she took a character I could care less about and made me care. She was funny and bad-ass and stole almost every scene she was in.

But then, in general, The Dark Knight Rises  manages to hit all the right notes. And here and there, they hearken back to the two earlier movies without hitting the audience with a sledgehammer. There are mirrored lines and motivations and scenes that vibrate along those sympathetic wave lengths that make you turn to the person next to you and say, “Remember from Batman Begins when that thing with the thing happened?”

And at the end, satisfaction, because it feels like this was how it was always going to end.  It doesn’t feel contrived or forced. It’s a natural outcome of events as dictated by the actions of the characters.

And it was the best ending for a series I’ve been following for seven years.

Godspeed Batman.

-D-

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Movie Review: Antichrist (Part 2)

I finished watching Antichrist and, as promised, here’s the second and last part of my review.

After I finished watching it, I needed a hug. It’s an emotionally draining movie; filled with disturbing images and grotesque elements. It depicted vile things and at the end, I wasn’t entirely sure what I had seen. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again and I doubt I’ll ever be able to recommend it to anyone.

In spite of that and because of that, I’m more than willing to say that this is one of the best horror movies to be made in the last fifteen years. It went to the very limited of my comfort zones and stayed there for the duration of the movie. At no point was I ever relaxed or settling back down. It ratcheted up the tension and kept it here and didn’t allow for a moment of respite.

It’s  moments like this that I long for when I watch horror movies. I want to be uncomfortable. I want to be on edge. I want to be swept up in a tide of relentless energy.

It’s movies like Antichrist that give me hope that the genre will not be completely lost in a sea of senseless sequels and gratuitous violence. There is hope that people can go to the movies and experience true fear. Because if we cannot be scared in a theater, that leaves us precious few options.

-D-

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Movie Review: Antichrist (Part 1)

It is very rare that a movie scares me anymore. I’m not bragging. It just means I’ve seen too many scary movies. I know how it’s going to end. I know which characters are going to die at which points. I know where the monster will appear and what its name is. It’s all about knowing the tropes and the cliches and the very nature of the genre.

And as I’ve stated many times, fear is about not knowing. It’s about being surprised. It’s about not knowing what’s around the corner.

What’s great, truly great, about modern movies is there are no restrictions. Back in ye olden days, the good guys one, the bad guys died. Some secondary characters bit the dust, but you knew Bruce Strongchin and Betty Blondhairs would be ok in the end. As time went on and 70’s horror lost its sense of right and wrong, the hero stopped being safe. Movies started being shocking again. This was especially true in all those thousands of cult and Satan movies.

Movies could show more and more violence, so they showed more and more violence. And we got inured to violence and shock and horror and yawn. Horror has so much freedom now. It can go places and show things and tell stories that it couldn’t have told in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. So what does it do with this freedom?

Torture porn and the human centipede. Modern horror makers, for the most part, seem to feel the necessity to top themselves in an unwinnable attempt to be the most shocking and forget that the best way to scare is to show less and draw out the tension on a razor’s edge.

All this is leading to Antichrist. I’m not done watching it. I got so excited and so bursting with nervous energy that I had to stop in the middle and start writing about it. It made me uneasy. It made me scared and upset and worried and freaked out and oh, there’s no jump scares and there’s no psycho in the woods; it’s all just upsetting imagery and freaky visuals and a tight script and two actors falling deeper and deeper into madness inducing fear.

This is what the freedom allows. It’s not about being able to show every aspect of a decapitation from every angle in excruciating slow motion. It’s about being able to upset the audience. It’s about making people uncomfortable. That’s what good horror does. It’s uncomfortable and uneasy and it makes you squirm and when it’s done you let out that tension in one shaky release of breath.

I have to get back to my movie.

Part 2 tomorrow.

-D-

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