Archive for the Scott’s Horror Corner Category

Freaks (Scott’s Horror Corner)

Posted in Scott's Horror Corner, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by splatterpictures

Can a full grown woman truly love a midget?

 

FreaksPosterThis is the question posed by the 1932 movie ‘Freaks’. The movie is about a young trapeze artist named Cleopatra who, upon learning of the sizable inheritance he posesses, seduces a sideshow midget named Hans to marry her. In reality, she’s infatuated with the strong man, Hercules. Hercules and Cleopatra are the normal folks in this carnival. Hans leaves his also-tiny current love interest to date someone outside of the ‘freaks’ he associates with.

 

It tends to be classified as a horror movie, though I believe that’s a debatable fact. There’s a lot to discuss here regarding the morals and ethics of what’s going on in this movie, but not a lot of horror to be found. That said, it is considered a cult classic in the genre. Cult classics generally become cult because their audience is low and they are weird. Well, the latter speaks for itself and the former means this movie bombed where it wasn’t banned. In fact, it bombed so hard that director Tod Browning, who directed Bela Lugosi in Dracula, effectively had his career ended by this movie. The movie was banned for 30 years in the United Kingdom. It wasn’t until the 1960’s and 70’s when it was rediscovered and received some success at midnight showings . Nowadays, it still pops up on the more eclectic movie channels.

 

So what was so horrible about it? Truly, it was just the fact that they used real sideshow performers as their actors. Characters like the Human Torso (a man with no limbs), the pinheads (people who suffer from a disease called microcephaley), and conjoined twins were simply too weird for audiences. Perhaps society felt bad staring, or maybe they rejected the idea of a movie that exploited them. The movie itself paints a really sweet picture of these ‘freaks’ as it were….casting aside the ending, of course.

 

‘Freaks’ has a lot of small side stories alongside Cleopatra’s conniving ways. We get to see the bearded lady have a baby, for example. The pinheads frolic in a field along with a midget and a man with no legs. Typing it out makes it sound a little weirder than the actual experience I received watching it, on second thought. The conjoined twins find love with two different men. As the second man announces his engagement to the other soon-to-be-husband he quips “You’ll have to come visit us sometime!”.

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There are many memorable scenes in the movie, if only for the spectacle of what the body can adapt to. The aforementioned Human Torso lights a cigarette using only his mouth, for example. Then there are the iconic (maybe that’s not the right word) scenes which stick with you for horrific reasons or

otherwise. The scene that’s often quoted from this movie takes place before the wedding of Cleopatra to Hans. All of the freaks gather together and have a huge party with lots of drinking. Midway through the festivities, one of the midgets jumps up on the table and pours some liquor into a huge glass. He beings to chant:

“We accept her, we accept her, one of us, one of us, gooble gobble, gooble gobble!”

The rest of the freaks join in, as he gleefully moves from freak to freak, offering them a drink from this glass. Of course, when he finally gets to Cleopatra, she goes crazy, cursing them, calling them terrible names and then throwing the drink at them. It doesn’t endear her anymore that she had poisoned poor Hans earlier in the night.

 

The freaks find out about her treachery in the creepiest way possible, namely staring at her from under wagons. The climax comes in the middle of a thunderstorm and has some pretty creepy imagery which probably was what earned it the horror genre tag. I’ll save her comeuppance for your own viewing pleasure.

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Sideshows barely exist anymore. A lot of the acts from the old sideshows would probably be getting special care in homes or at institutions today. So, is it ok to watch this movie? Knowing that these people were being exploited? Or, in the case of this movie, is it ok because these people were not portrayed as anything but a well-knit family? Granted, a well-knit, vindictive family, but still.

 

For some, such as Schlitze, one of the pinheads, the spotlight was what kept them happy. He (despite wearing dresses, Schlitze was a he) was institutionalized after his caretaker died. The hospital deemed the best care for him would be to stay in the sideshow as it was the only thing that kept him happy. When he died, he was interred in an unmarked grave in California. In recent years, a message board took up funds and had a small marker placed with her name, date of birth and death. I won’t say much about whether the movie is right or wrong, but if it weren’t for ‘Freaks’, no one would know Schlitze was buried there.

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Dark Night of the ScareCrow (Scott’s Horror Corner)

Posted in Scott's Horror Corner, Updates with tags , , on January 22, 2013 by splatterpictures

MV5BMTY2ODE4MTE1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDA4OTk2Mw@@._V1._SY317_CR5,0,214,317_Not to be confused with its sequel Dark Knight and the Scarecrow….okay that’s a lie, I’m just trying to keep your attention, because honestly, I saw this movie as a kid and I thought “What a terrifying movie!” and subsequently “This would be great for SplatterPictures” and now, I say “Well, it is probably good for the site in its own special way…”

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Speaking of special, the basic plot of this movie is that there is a mentally handicapped man who makes friends with a young girl. They sit in fields and sing songs, all the while the mailman watches menacingly through binoculars. Kinda weird, but it’s understandable since apparently they routinely beat the hell out of him, per his conversation with a flannel wearing companion. One day, the girl sneaks through a hole in a fence and gets massacred by a guard dog. Of course, in lieu of actual action or reactions, we get GNOME REACTIONS.

The Horror...The Horror.

The Horror…The Horror.

He drops off the girls’ body to her Mom, saying his catchphrase “Bubba didn’t do it!” to less than warm fanfare, then takes off running. The two man gang is now a small militia chasing after him. His kindly mom has him play ‘the hiding game’ which is, she puts him up on a scarecrow stake dressed as a scarecrow. They find him, light him up, and ol’ flannel has a victory beer.

About that time, the CB Radio informs us that they called off the search because the girl is fine and Bubba saved her life. WHOOPS! The mailman puts a pitchfork in the dead Bubba’s arm and hey, nobody is the wiser. At the trial, they get off free, and leave the courtroom to throngs of well wishers! You’ve never seen a happier bunch of murderers in your life!

His young friend climbs out her window and goes looking for him, Bubba’s mom tries to inform her that he’s died but she insists he’s still playing ‘the hiding game’. Meanwhile, our motley crew of pro killers is back to everyday life. Mailman is peeking at the mail, mechanic guy is injuring himself working on cars, and flannel is placing his hands in a woodchipper. You might be thinking “ohhh man, he’s going in the woodchipper!” but instead it turns out there’s a SCARECROW IN HIS FIELD! HE DIDN’T PUT UP ANY SCARECROW!

Flannel’s having himself a midnight beer, coping with unexplained scarecrows when his threshing machine is turned on! He climbs up into the hayloft to look for the culprit and of course, he gets ghost pushed into the thresher. In lieu of blood we get HARD CUT to ketchup on the mailman’s plate.

Whoever decided on the implication of violence via cuts is a true genius. Truly. As you can tell by now, this is sort of like Final Destination if death was a handicapped 30 year old man. Murder Inc. decides to check out the thresher and figure out that someone did this to their flannel wearing buddy. Mailman has a package for Bubba’s mom, they quote some scripture back and forth before she I believe calls him a pedophile. It would certainly explain the binoculars.

I find that constantly repeating “I’m not going to hurt you” isn’t as effective as the person saying it might hope. The mailman does not, as he confronts the girl who says Bubba is still alive. Likely story!

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Turns out hat guy did not die from a heart attack, but later in the night, he gets spooked on his farm and hides himself in a grain silo. Of course, the door gets locked on him and he gets buried alive. I suppose he died the way he lived. Covered in corn.

Mailman and the mechanic dig up Bubba’s body and well, there it is. Go figure. Mailman quickly figures it out..it’s the 8 year old girl scaring these men and pushing them around. As mechanic guy closes the casket on Bubba, Mailman also decides it’s probably easier to just hit his friend with the shovel and bury him alive so that….uh…I’m really not sure why he decided to kill him. I guess killing is sort of like Lay’s potato chips.

Mailman decides it’s time to do some drunk driving and nearly runs over the young girl who’s walking in the middle of the road. She runs off and he decides it would be far more effective to chase after her in his mail jeep, which he promptly crashes off-road. He finds her next to a tractor, which turns on and chases him. Much like the tractor, he has no real movement ability beyond straight ahead and manages barely to stay ahead of this machine traveling at its lowest speed. He ends up running head-on into a pitchfork held by, you guessed it, a scarecrow.

In all honesty, the movie is not so bad, it just has one of those scripts that is limiting. It’s hard to be taken too seriously when you write Gomer Pyle in as every bad guy. It’s quite well acted and lemme tell you, the ending is STILL creepy.

Un-debatable: Handicapped ghost-haunted scarecrows are the SCARIEST scarecrows.

UN-debatable: Handicapped ghost-haunted scarecrows are the SCARIEST scarecrows.

The Gift of Re-Imagination – Halloween‏ (Scott’s Horror Corner)

Posted in Scott's Horror Corner, Updates with tags , , , on January 12, 2013 by splatterpictures

You ever look in the mirror and think to yourself, “I wonder what would’ve happened if I had asked Shelly out back in High School?”, or “What if I had horribly murdered my parents, but also had let my hair grow out long and luxuriously?”. Well apparently somebody did. OVER AND OVER. As you are probably well aware, every single thing you have ever loved is being re-imagined (a term that Rob Zombie used liberally while building up his new Halloween remake). My intentions were not to be a cranky old man writing about this, but then I thought it may not be as much fun. So prepare for some crankyness as I take a look at your favourite horror movies, ran through the minds of some of the greatest luminaries of our day!

Halloween

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If you’ve read my earlier stuff here at Splatter Pictures you’ve seen me talk about my Dr. Loomis man-crush as well as my thoughts on why Halloween was such a great film. The original Halloween. I followed everything on the re-make with great interest. I read a lot of comments on websites to the effect of “best horror movie ever! 11/10” and so I was definitely interested. Zombie did The Devil’s Rejects shortly before taking on Halloween and a lot of people touted that as the re-birth of horror, or something to that effect.

So, how did Halloween turn out? I know some people love it. And the number one thing I see when reading the positive reviews on this movie are that people liked Michael Myers back story. I did not. The original Halloween backstory – kid in clown costume kills sister. That’s it. That’s the set up. Michael Myers was evil. He wasn’t troubled. I don’t want to go “Awww, poor guy! Why don’t we go get some ice cream champ and cheer you up?”. It’s a horror movie. I want to be scared. In Zombie’s movie, the scares come from the graphic nature of everything. We’re supposed to be scared at how brutal this chubby kid is because his dad was a jerk. In Carpenter’s movie, we’re scared because we don’t know what Myers is. All we know is that this old guy from the psych ward is saying that he’s been looking at walls for a decade or two, and is ready to kill.

Speaking of the old guy from the psych ward, Malcolm McDowell plays Samuel Loomis in the re-make. I want to stress that I think McDowell is great. It’s obvious that he’s the best part of the movie, and he hams up the heavy-handed monologues that come with the character. He is the best possible replacement for Donald Pleasance, and I don’t think he at all fell short in the role. With that said, I definitely feel the role fell short of him. Loomis is no longer Ahab chasing the whale, or at least not exactly. Maybe if Ahab’s last words were “From hell’s heart I hug at thee, Michael!”. In this iteration, they happen to be best buds, almost. Loomis is portrayed as a father-figure to Michael, up to when he starts killing everybody. At that point, he sort of does a Donald Pleasance impersonation until he reveals

that he feels bad that he couldn’t fix Michael. I don’t think this is particularly bad in and of itself, it is an interesting twist on the story and adds a new dynamic. I do feel it undercuts what Michael Myers is though. You know. Pure evil.

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You know what would make this a better movie? Calling him Jacob Dyers and the movie could be Dalloween. Halloween was a very good movie. Rob Zombie could totally make a new franchise with a gigantic bearded slasher who once knew how to love, but now only knows how to kill. I’d maybe even think it was ok. If you decide to take on a movie that, to some, is beloved it’s going to draw comparisons and the comparisons are absolutely fair. This movie made Michael Myers not scary. This movie made Dr. Loomis seem like a sentimental fool. This movie made Laurie Strode into a police siren. I’ve had people tell me to like it (and other remakes) for what it is, and I can’t do that because it says that it’s Halloween, but it plays like something completely different. There are stories out there to be told. I just wish some people would try and tell them.

Paranoia Agent (Scott’s Horror Corner!)

Posted in Scott's Horror Corner, Updates with tags , , on January 8, 2013 by splatterpictures

paranoia-agent-502d1773c0dd5If I were to use one word to describe Paranoia Agent, without a doubt, it would be ‘uncomfortable’. It reminded me of when I would go see a ‘kids’ movie. Beetlejuice is a good example. A movie with a lot of humour built in for kids, but has some imagery in it that probably haunts those same kids into adulthood; I still remember being creeped out when Alec Baldwin’s jaw falls off, among other things. As adults, we inherently are a bit harder to scare. It takes more work to move the brain around and loosen it up, and Satoshi Kon used most of his media-making career trying to make people shift in their seats.

 

Paranoia Agent was an anime that ran in 2004. The story revolves around Tsukiko, a girl under great duress. She successfully created a hit character named Maromi, a small pink dog, and her company is constantly looking to her for the next big hit. As pressure builds, she’s attacked one night on her way home. The assailant is a young man on rollerblades wielding a gold bat; ‘Shonen Bat’ he’s called. As Tsukiko is laid up in the hospital, an investigation is launched looking for her attacker. The legend of Shonen Bat grows, and suddenly more and more attacks are reported. Through Tsukiko’s attacker, we’re introduced to many colourful characters, each with their own stressful situation which he ‘helps’ them with.

 

The plot sounds rather straight-forward, but if you’ve ever seen a Satoshi Kon film, you know that nothing is that simple. The lines of reality are constantly being blurred. It’s not the uncertainty you feel upon viewing that is so unnerving about the series, it’s really how relatable and real the characters are before he tears them down in front of you. This is most evident in episodes such as “Double Lips” and “Fear of a Direct Hit”.

 

Kon mostly stuck to movies during his career, but regarding Paranoia Agent, he wanted to make something that’s mood was inconsistent. He felt that with his movies, he was maintaining one method and ‘feel’ throughout. He certainly succeeded in mixing things up. There are episodes like the above that are both chilling and a little heart breaking, but there are also episodes that are comical; albeit rather dark comedy. Then, there are also some that are downright weird. That episode would be “The Holy Warrior” which is an interrogation that takes place inside of a video game. Since I’m listing episodes, the one that encompasses all of those above emotions would be “Happy Family Planning”. As far as episodic media goes, it’s one of my favourite single episodes of any show.

 

If there’s any place it falters, it may be in the ending, but that is really up to individual tastes. Personally, I had a bit of an ‘Akira’ moment, wherein my eyebrow raised as I tried to figure out exactly what it was

that was happening. Of course, I suppose that would be a fitting conclusion to a show that is constantly trying to make you look at it funny. I mentioned in my review of ‘Monster’ a week or so back that a lot of anime suffers from episodic requirements and adaptation from manga. Paranoia Agent runs only 13 episodes and there is little to no filler or catching up in the series.

 

The first thing that drew my attention to the show was the opening. I had no idea what the hell was going on and obviously it stayed that way throughout the entire series.

 

 

Satoshi Kon unfortunately passed away in 2010 from cancer. Without a doubt he was one of the pioneers who tried to expand anime beyond the formulaic archetype of such shows, ie. Bleach, Naruto, One Piece. It’s refreshing to see things that aren’t built with the sole purpose of being a commercial success, or exploited as such later on. Kon has a lot of terrific movies such as Perfect Blue and Paprika that are in the same style as Paranoia Agent. It’s a shame that animation isn’t given a fair shake alongside live-action in North America, because this show and all of Kon’s work deserves more recognition than it gets. Thankfully, the full series is available on DVD, unthankfully, it’s apparently been out of print for some time and is ranging somewhere between 100 to 600 (?!) dollars. I suggest having a look around YouTube until they release a nice thin box-set.