Posts Tagged ‘horror’

by Andrew Mooney

Antichrist (2009) – Lars Von Trier (Dir.), Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, 

I will never look at Ents the same way ever again.

I will never look at Ents the same way ever again.

When I began this humble blog in twenty-aught-twelve Anno Domini ACDC Esquire, I decided I needed to expand my cinematic repertoire with a little more Film. That’s ‘Film’ with a capital ‘F’ for ‘Fucking Pretentious’. How appropriate was it, then, when my first course of many was the Lars Von Trier delight: Melancholia. And by delight I mean, “Bizarre dreamy fog of boobs and sadness”. Since that fateful day, locked in my room, my pajamas practically melting into my epidermis to become some kind of magical hangover-bark, I slogged my way through that 2.5 hour epic of wanton women and Kiefer Sutherland wearing glasses in severe not-torturing-people-to-save-the-world mode. It was a thing. Since then, I have also joked and jested about reaching into the Netflix Roulette jar and plucking out one of the more ‘rapey’ affairs, my main target and fear: Antichrist. Well, the fates of ordained it, the planets have aligned and chance has punched me in the dick once more, for, on that Halloween night in twenty-aught-thirteen in the year of our iPad, I drew the rapiest of the rapey. SPOILERS: it isn’t the lady who gets raped this time.

Before we begin, let me say, in these last few years wandering the sordid display of cinematic gems on display in the Flix of Net, I have grown a good deal. I have shifted from a wide-eyed moronic 23 year-old, practically still soaking in amniotic fluid (that metaphor is terrifyingly apt for this movie) to a fully grown Critique (it’s in French because it’s, you know, fancy ‘n’ shit) who grandly opines, tying the disparate threads of auteur imagination into a bundle of throbbing and mesmerizing humanity, a web of such intellectual and emotional gravity that would murder even Sandra Bullock. With that said, I would like begin with a simple statement of journalistic integrity:

EEEWEWWWWEEWWWWEEEWWWWEEWWWWW AAHA AHA AHHA MAKE IT STOP, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP, MOMMY!

Just be aware there are SPOILERS in this bad boy. But then again, this movie has been out for almost 5 years. Deal with it.

Dafoe don't give no fucks about no chestnuts

Dafoe don’t give no fucks about no chestnuts

What is Antichrist? Is it a horror film? Is it smut? Is it Lars Von Trier’s wet nightmare? Is it the weirdest and least catchy Charlotte Gainsbourg music video ever made? Is it Willem Dafoe atoning for playing the stupidest incarnation of the Green Goblin ever known to man? Who the fucking fuck knows? Because Lars Von Trier sure as shit doesn’t. We begin, as you do, in super slow motion sex between a middle aged couple in the shower. And, as you do, you see full penetration. Then, while the aria peaks and both Mr. and Mrs. blow their so-called wads, their baby does its best impression of the kid from Ghostbusters 2 and tries walking out on the window ledge. Stupid baby. Much like Orlando Bloom’s career after the final Pirates of the Caribbean, the kid falls to its death. THAT’S IN THE FIRST FIVE FUCKING MINUTES. Granted, every movie could begin this way, apropos of nothing, and I’d be happy. Love Actually? Well, before the Hugh Grant gives his speech about Heathrow kissing, HOW ABOUT SOME FULL PENETRATION BABY SUICIDE. But it’s to classical music, so, you know, fancy ‘n’ shit. Wouldn’t Legally Blonde have benefitted from the terrifying countenance of Willem Dafoe’s vinegar strokes as a child hits the pavement face-first, skateboarder-style, before breaking into its overly pink beginning number? What about Monster’s Inc.? First we have to see the monsters in the real world before we can see the monsters in the their own world. And by monster, I am, of course, talking about Dafoe’s thrusting peen.

Well, after that, Gainsbourg, only credited as ‘Her’ in the credits (if you watch that far) has a mental breakdown. Dafoe (say his name like a bird call: will-em da-FOOOOOE) plays the eponymous ‘He’, a therapist who is, apparently, perturbed by NOTHING. Seriously, the entirety of Tim Burton’s Halloween Town could parade through his underpants and he’d be like, “Hmm, interesting. Where does it go on your pyramid?” THAT FUCKING PYRAMID. Anyhoo, Gainsbourg spends a majority of the film kicking, screaming, sobbing, wilting, walking in slow motion in the woods, mood-swinging, masturbating, leg-drilling, chasing her husband down like the dog he is and calling him a bastard for leaving after he painstakingly dragged his wound half-corpse of a body into a fox hole to hide. You know, like all woman. Dafoe, on the other hand, seems to have not read any of the script past that day of filming and is consistently horrified by what’s coming next…but sticks around because…well, fuck it, contract probably. That expressive half-mutant mug of his wears a look of half-interested bemusement the entire length of the film.

"I IMMEDIATELY REGRET THIS DECISION!"

“I IMMEDIATELY REGRET THIS DECISION!”

Anyways, after realizing that neither hospital nor home will cure the beleaguered Her, Him decides to take her to the place she fears, the completely-subtly-named and not-at-all-ironic “Eden” out in the middle of nowhere. Here, Dafoe envisions snowballing fragments of insanity, from a still-born deer hanging out of another deer’s vagina to a rather erudite fox covered in a mixture of amniotic sludge and gore (I assume he’s played by James Earl Jones because that would be AMAZING). Meanwhile, Gainsbourg goes from “understandably upset” to “genital mutilation” in fewer steps than one would expect. Everything about the movie is fairly surreal, with slow motion images of Dafoe getting rained on by chestnuts and random shots of hands coming out of tree roots as Dafoe’s flexing buttocks rhythmically ram his randy and rowdy spouse after she sprinted into nature to begin servicing herself with the fury of teen girl dry humping a cardboard cut out of Justin Bieber. I think the film piqued when Gainsbourg slams her husband in the dick with a 2×4 and then proceeds to jerk him off until he comes blood (I told you there were spoilers). I wish I was making that up. I think, at that very moment, my testicles decided “you know, this just ain’t worth it anymore” and crawled back into my lower abdomen, thus destroying any chance of actually growing any chest hair. Oh yes, then she cuts off her clitoris with a pair of rusty scissors. I can foresee this becoming a family holiday favorite. It just isn’t Christmas until someone is in the corner curled in the fetal position.

I wish I could take a brillo pad to my brain and scour that shit right off. I think it will be a couple of days before I can have sex without envisaging sanguine ejaculations or babies falling out of windows. I have seen horror movies aplenty. I am affected by precisely none of them. The Conjuring? Yeah, freaky until bitch-face-mc-witch-a-lot appears and you’re reminded this is just a silly excuse for a haunted house ride. The Shining? Granted, there is very little more terrifying than Shelley Duvall’s explosive fucking eyeballs…but the rest of it wasn’t particularly perturbing. This movie, however…I had to start icing my genitals just from sympathetic pain. Perhaps its effectiveness is tied directly to its quality.

"Bitch, what you say about my mama?" ~ Text from the Urbanized version of Bambi

“Bitch, what you say about my mama?” ~ Text from the Urbanized version of Bambi

It’s from Lars Von Trier, and Lars Von Trier is a Director with a capital D. Incidentally, that D stands for “Dear God, You’re an Asshole”. He is the genius, nay, the sadistic auteur responsible for this clit-rip-fest of a horror film. He’s also crazy (no, really, he was committed). He is, on the other hand, extremely talented and skilled. Every art form has a craft and a vision. While his vision is something so demented I would encourage a visit to the ophthalmologist, he’s insanely adept at filming things. This was the guy who came up with Dogme 95…95 rules for making movies, essentially stripping filmmaking to its essential parts. That’s like writing a novel without being allowed to use metaphors or more than two adjectives. Sure, it’s boring as a day old turd, but it requires thought and skill. There is no moment in Antichrist where you lose the awareness of the fact that this is a movie made by a Director. Shots and techniques run the gamut of modern technology, cutting back and forth through styles faster than Tim Gunn’s wit can cut through a Project Runway prep room. We’re given juxtaposition, simplicity, overt symbolism, metaphor, slow motion, black and white, disconnected soundtrack, sound-mixing tricks and treats…everything. It’s as though the man is simply content to wave his dong at the filmmaking community while spitting a raspberry at their unimpressed faces; he has to dip it in whipped cream and personally dick-wich each and every one of them. Both Gainsbourg and Dafoe give shockingly believable performances even though a good deal of that is screaming in each others’ faces while attempting to reach orgasm. Both actors draw you in with harshly naturalistic portrayals of a couple trying to come back from the brink of insanity. So, when Her drives off the crazy-bitch cliff with the zeal of a dick-punching Thelma and Louise, one can only watch with a gaping jaw and allow the ensuring chaos roll over you.

What is the movie about? Why did Von Trier make it? I haven’t been able to deduce anything close to an answer. Does he hate women? Does he see himself as the woman? Initially it certainly seems as though the film sympathizes with her plight and Dafoe’s maddening need to calm and logic his way through the emotions turns him into something of an antagonist. But then satanic texts appear, Gainsbourg goes into full Witches of Eastwick mode and all semblance of sympathy goes the way of the drill she uses to attach a 30lb weight to her husband’s shin to stop him from running away. It’s amusing to note that when Von Trier submitted this film to Cannes before it was released, they didn’t give it an award but rather an Anti-award (see what they did there? Those pretentious hilarious pricks). Cannes is a festival celebrating humanistic values and they seemed to believe this film portrayed nothing of the sort. I believe it was at this point that Von Trier said something along the lines of “Hitler wasn’t so bad.” So, yes, asshole to completion. However, as much of a throbbing dong as he is, he’s still one of the most talented filmmakers out there. I almost wish Spielberg or Del Toro could tame the beast and lock him up Marquis De Sade-style, forcing him to craft the basics of their at least mildly human visions.

He's my spirit animal.

He’s my spirit animal.

In the end, Antichrist is a confusing mess of a movie. On the one hand, it is supremely made and shockingly far more coherent than the slop that was the latter half of Melancholia. But what can be said for a movie where a wife is driven to murderous rage by the elements of nature to the point that we cheer when her husband chokes her to death? It is an exhausting quagmire of a movie, one that requires patience and endurance to complete. However, what is the reward once we do so? A flood of women a la some kind of documentary about Auschwitz, flooding down the hills and flocking to their about to be Vader funeral-ed comrade-in-vag? Dafoe limping into the sunset smiling at the previously aborted woodland creatures who are now so happy the bitch is dead that it looks as though they might break into a rendition of Bambi?

Note to self: get Lars Von Trier to direct the remake of Bambi. It begins with Bambi’s mom getting rammed in the shower and ends with Thumper looking into the camera and declaring “CHAOS REIGNS” before having rage-sex with Flower.

Happy Halloween, guys. I’m going to go weep now.

by Andrew Mooney

Children of the Corn (1984) – Fritz Kiersch (Dir.), Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, a bunch of stupid children and one or two not stupid children

Is it a reference to communism? Nope? It's just stupid.

Is it a reference to communism? Nope? It’s just stupid.

Sometimes in life, all you want to do on a Sunday, the looming specter of a fierce head cold working its infectious way throughout your mucous-making passages, is to curl up in bed with a silly movie and allow the dulcet tones of women getting stabbed in the naughty bits while people ask dumb questions like “Is that you, Connie?” as a chainsaw revs up in the shadows lull you into a restorative and peaceful sleep. Sometimes you want to tell the world, “You know what? I give up. I can’t take it anymore.” With the pressures of work and watching Species with your girlfriend’s grandfather (article forthcoming), you beg the universe to stop the Earth on its eternal celestial cycle and offer even a sliver of respite in this cataclysmic life. So, I did. I did just that. And let me just say, for all the Internet to hear, as God and that weird golden cow statue as my witnesses:

CHILDREN OF THE CORN CAN GO FUCK ITSELF

All I wanted…all I begged for was a simplistic silly horror film with enough competency to simply say goodbye as I set off on the USS Forty Winks to the land of Go-The-Fuck-To-Sleep. I could have chosen The Avengers. I could have watched Thor. Or maybe some House M.D. But NOOOOO Andrew had to be an asshole and go into the fucking Halloween section of Netflix and think to himself, “Huh, I’ve never seen Children of the Corn, that sounds fun.” I’m a goddamn idiot. This movie filled me with such abhorrent and pestilent rage that I am now in a fucking bar, my cold be damned, drinking and fuming over a keyboard. Seriously, no, like, seriously, Children of the Corn might just be the stupidest fucking movie I have ever encountered. Like, there are middleschoolers who cannot point out the US on a world map who have a higher IQ than this turd. I think I have vomited more intelligence after 10 Irish Car Bombs than that travesty that just burned its hole in my iPad Netflix app. What cruel God, what demon in control of this pitiful universe was responsible for the existence of this fecal excuse for filmic flimsiness?

Alright, background. The movie starts on an incredibly promising foot. A bunch of kids murder a diner filled with old people. Sweet. Some dude gets his hand in a meat slicer and a kid’s milkshake gets covered in gore. Awesome sauce. Great start. I wish every movie could begin this way. You know, Love Actually, But Here Is Some Good Old Patricide (which opens with a sure-to-be-iconic shot of Hugh Grant being shoved into a sausage grinder). We then precede to the obligatory Stephen King “Prescient Child” character and are offered a hilarious, yet surprisingly effective history of the children taking over the town of Gatlin for the purpose of…um…corn. I guess. And this is where the film goes downhill: the main characters. Yes, I understand that the leads in any horror film are usually cursed with the wits of a mentally dilapidated duck, but COME ON. Linda “The Chick Who Killed The Terminator” Hamilton is a woman who wants to get married. Peter “He Came to Life Out of a Sears Catalogue – Kill it – Kill It With Fire” Horton is the man she wants to marry. He is a penis. Not a dick. Not an asshole. Not a pussy or any other derogatory term we have for opening through which fluids/solids/children pass, but a penis. He is tall, erect, constantly inappropriately dressed and seems to only be able to move forward. Like a penis. Well, Johnson Trouser-Snake is driving to Seattle, or somewhere, to be a doctor. Now, we are informed of this repeatedly because he keeps stating it. However, throughout the course of the movie, meeting dead kids, or getting stabbed, or watching his wife’s face get cut, he never does anything a self-respecting MD-having penile quack would do. In fact, when he sees his wife’s face, gouged by an incensed zealot ginger (IZG), he goes, “You got one too!” and they both laugh. That didn’t happen, but this movie is so fucking stupid IT MIGHT AS WELL HAVE.

Spot the difference! One of these is a stoned creature known for eating poop and licking its own genitals...and the other is a dog.

Spot the difference! One of these is a stoned creature known for eating poop and licking its own genitals…and the other is a dog.

So, Shit-For-Brains and the Mighty Doctor Dong travel through Nebraska in the longest “Driving to a location where the rest of the movie has to happen” since Terry Gilliam forgot to turn off the camera during Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and accidentally filmed Johnny Depp yawning for 6 hours. Now, our director, Fritz Kiersch, gradually guides his two lifeless meat puppets of humans towards their inevitable clashing with a town filled with religious crazies with the urgency of slug on methadone. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he weren’t actually a human being, but just a bunch of sloths sitting on each other’s shoulders in a trench coat. And all of them are addicted to horse tranquilizers. From the lingering shots of fuck-all to the incredibly awkward extended takes of Linda Hamilton looking at things without any actual agency.

So Tweedle Dumb and soon-to-be Mrs. Tweedle Dipshit hit a child. In broad daylight. On a straight road. A child, yes, a child covered in blood. What does Dr. Dong say? “I hope that was an animal!” Yes, you must have a PhD in Human Fucking Anatomy because when did humans not classify as animals? Not only that, but he then takes twenty fucking minutes to figure out that the red stuff on the suitcase, obviously carried by the dead toddler, is blood. He seems bemused by the simplest of visual stimuli, like a child wandering into his parent’s bedroom while they’re engaged in cross-gender c. This is my impression of Dr. Dickwitch for the length of this movie:

“Huh. I’m surrounded by murderous children armed with farming implements. Let’s have a chat about religion. DEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRPPPPPP.”

Linda after she finally read the script.

Linda after she finally read the script.

It’s pretty fucking perfect. You see, this story might have been chilling on the page. While his actual literary novellas are shockingly decent (the book versions of The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, pretty much everything in Four Seasons) Stephen King has written precisely two horror books: girl has destructive mental abilities and kills many people (Carrie, Firestarter) OR child can see into the future and religious zealots try to murder everyone (The Shining, Desperation, Children of the Corn etc. etc.)…oh, and another book about alien snakes coming out of people’s anuses (what the fuck were you thinking with Dreamcatcher?). In all these years of repackaging the same worn pair of scary socks, he knows how to wrap a fucking present. We have creepy this, atmosphere that, boobies here and swearing there, add a dash of biblical verse and VOILA…you have a King novel. He ain’t perfect, but he knows what he’s doing and what the people want. Here’s the problem with this sewage system of an excuse of a movie…maybe a horde of children with weaponry is scary on the page…but when shot by a sloth-filled-coat as director and Helen Keller as your cinematographer (totally in daylight, zero usage of shadows, dynamic lighting or shot framing of any kind), you realize the reality of this tale: if children attack you…you punch them in the face BECAUSE YOU ARE AN ADULT AND HAVE ADULT STRENGTH. Por example: the ending where Dr. Derp-a-lot fights the evil ginger kid…he kicks the kid in the fucking shin and the kid goes down like a sack of potatoes. OH. THAT WAS TENSE, GUYS. WHO’S GONNA WIN IN A FIGHT? A 16-YEAR-OLD CHILD WHO ALREADY HAS ENOUGH SOCIAL DISABILITIES WITH GINGER HAIR AND A FACE SHAPED LIKE A DRIED TOMATO OR A FULLY MUSCLED 30-SOMETHING MAN?

Ultimately, the movie deviates from the original tale. Apparently, in the short story, both of the adults are murdered because, well, it’s supposed to be the story of adult hubris and the assumption of child weakness. I guess. But…in this…well…here is a rundown of what occurs in the final scenes: Linda Hamilton is going to be sacrificed on a corn crucifix because, well, why the fuck not? Also, Ginger-Face-McGee usurps Isaac, the Corn God’s prophet and sticks the little kid (an amalgam of Haley Joel Osmet’s unfortunate inhuman acting style and premature Dave Thomas-esque jowl-age). The child is then attacked by, what I have assume is the cinematic embodiment of David Lee Roth’s libido, and turns into a zombie. Then they spray the fields with Gas-o-hol which, is that even a thing? I don’t even care anymore. And then everything blows up.

Is that the end? Fuck no! Because this piece of smegma isn’t done yet. If I could sum up the entirety of this exercise in utter incompetency, I would do so by showing you this, the final scene of the film:

DO YOU SEE? DO YOU SEE? I WITNESSED AN HOUR AND A HALF OF THAT? HE PUNCHES A LITTLE GIRL IN THE FUCKING FACE AND SAYS: “Oh, what are we going to do now?” YOU ARE GOING TO DIE IN HELLFIRE YOU IDIOTIC PIECE OF HORROR MISERY.

WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE THIS MOVIE? WHY? WHY DOES IT STILL EXIST? I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!

URGE TO KILL STEPHEN KING RISING…

Now…if you will excuse me, I have to sleep the sleep of the dead. Mucous. Blech.

The World’s End (2013) – Edgar Wright (Dir.), Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan, and everybody else ever

Has a beer every been so strong that it burns a hole in a fucking sign?

Has a beer every been so strong that it burns a hole in a fucking sign?

There are those people in high school. You know the guys. Their acne runs rampant and untamed across their goof-toothed faces, their dentures held tight with more metal than a steel mill, their hair perhaps yanked back into a slick oily ponytail, emphasizing each and every pore oozing shiny fluid in a constant stream of social awkwardness. They spend their days logging out the AV room to watch entire marathons of Tarantino films; they quote both Monty Python and Star Wars in their entireties; they own each and every one of the 151 Pokemon trading cards (NO, I REFUSE TO ACCEPT THAT THERE ARE ANY MORE THAN THAT, YOU WENCHES!). Their soporific disdain for general humanity reaches a level of sociopathy known only to the uni-bomber, thereby seemingly indicating intelligence where it might not perennially reside. They are the few. They are the brave. They are the nerds.

And I was one of them.

Now, usually, these fascinating creatures of obsessive delights and questionable hygiene tend to cultivate quality middle-management and the hellishly titled ‘IT Technician’ positions, their fetishes and dorkish fancies relegated to every other Friday night when crowded about a dimly lit Dungeon Master. But, once in a while, when the stars align just so, that bubbling and roiling pot of pop-culture primodial ooze creates something different…something genius. It was from this pit of eternal virginity and ridiculously bad Sci-Fi fan fiction that Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright did crawl, two gentlemen of specific and boundless expertise. Along with their hilarious lady friend Jessica Hynes-Stevenson, they crafted perhaps the greatest and most referential sitcom of all time, Spaced. Oh 1999, a simpler time. A time of a Spice Girls movie. A time before The Phantom Menace. This trio of comedic brilliance introduced us to friends, nay, televised soulmates of all humans lucky enough to watch it, Daisy, Tim, Mike (Nick Frost), an artist who paints with his penis (Brian, oh how I love thee), a drunk land lady (Julia Deakin), a woman named ‘Twist’ and the most perfect dog ever to grace God’s green earth. (Awww, Colin). This mania of a serial nonsense, spanning references to Resident Evil, Damien Hurst, Trainspotting and an impressively long homage to Empire Strikes Back, allowed both our writer (Pegg) and our director (Wright) to cut their teeth better than a fucking orthodontic surgeon with a penchant for vampires. Eventually, once both seasons of the criminally short show (twelve episodes in all) passed the world by, their ball-blazing brilliance lost to the universe, Pegg, Frost and Wright teamed up to create the world’s first feature comedy about zombies, Shaun of the Dead.

He looks like the magician you book you your kid's birthday party and arrives with his own heroin and enough STDs to share.

He looks like the magician you book you your kid’s birthday party and arrives with his own heroin and enough STDs to share.

Since then, the Cornetto Trilogy, as it is named for their barely-edible eponymous treats omnipresent throughout all three films, has exploded into an international phenomenon. While Shaun of the Dead was a goofy musing on how the British would deal with an onslaught from the living dead (Bill Nighy says after being bitten, “Oh don’t worry, Barbara, I’ve run it under a cold tap!”), it flirted with intelligence by way of it’s exploration of adult male arrested development. Shaun is a man who must grow to fit the adult universe and leave behind his dead weight pal, the noxious and obnoxious Ed, in order to get the girl and a freaking job. Of course, as the film melts into its referential source, devolving into a mostly by-the-numbers zombie chomp fest, all of the supporting characters becoming nothing more than a human stand-ins for an oinky pal in a Luau, the comedy subsides in favor of drama and message. It’s good; it’s funny; but the men are children and the girls are women. The thesis is simple and exhaustive, rarely providing any fascinating realization. You come for the zombies; you stay for the comedy; you suffer the point.

After that, we were treated with the gut-bustingly gigglicious Hot Fuzz. Once again, it was a titter-filled juxtaposition of British mentality and quaintness against the explosive bombast and brutal violence of Michael Bay movies. Unlike Dead, which gets to the funny without delay, Hot Fuzz simmers and matures, warming its subject to a metaphorically and literally incendiary climax, fully equipped with old women getting kicked in the face, a homicidal goose, and Timothy Dalton impaling his chin on a model church steeple. Once again, you came for the laughs, you stayed for the old men pulling uzis from their bicycle baskets, you waited to get through the ‘message’. Unfortunately, Fuzz lost itself. While the buddy cop dynamic of Pegg’s impossibly competent Nick Angel and Frost’s obsessive and regressive Danny Butterman holds the focus for a majority of the runtime, its interest in adult male bonding does little to progress their already stated premise from Dead, this time the roles reversed.

"What happens in the Gents, stays in the Gents, alright?" ~ Boys, experimenting.

“What happens in the Gents, stays in the Gents, alright?” ~ Boys, experimenting.

Ah, yes, so now we come to The World’s End. It’s pretty much safe to say, this is my favorite fucking movie of the summer. There is no way I’ll accept any bullshit involving flying zombies, half-baked Men of Very Hard Things or the steaming pile of smegma that was Star Trek Into Darkness. This doesn’t just take the cake, it walks into the fucking bakery and shoves its face into every fucking cake it can find declaring, “NA NA NA NA NAH, MY CAKES, ASSHOLES“. Dear Jesus. To say I laughed would be an understatement of such absurd proportions that it is only rivaled by “This Black Death thingy. It’s bad, isn’t it?” (Don’t worry, I would have been fine. I watch House). There are lines forever more ingrained into my sorry fanboy skull (“Fuck off, you big lamp!” and “Smashy, Smashy Egg People” are going on my goddamn gravestone). It’s good. No…maybe it’s great. Now, there are people who might charge into the theater expecting some sort of comedic holy grail. You know, the perfect comedy. And those people are just as stupid as that one Nazi at the end of Last Crusade who chose poorly and turned into what we all know Sharon Stone would become once you turn off her Youth Sucking Device. You know the guy (Side note: I once had an acting class with that man, Julian Glover. He’s fucking old. He prodded me. Not in a sexual way. At least…not that I was aware. Oh god…wait…OH GOD). Now, it probably isn’t quite as testicle-tickling as the previous two installments, but what it lacks in giggle, it makes up for in messageTHAT’S RIGHT. YOU DIDN’T EXPECT THAT, YOU BASTARDS. Yes, it seems that the boys have finally grown up, put on their big-boy pants and discovered that they don’t fit anymore. The World’s End is one of the more depressing treatises on bromance I’ve witnessed in the last few years. While Judd Apatow continues to perpetuate his infinite comedic circle jerk, constantly sucking brighter stars into his celestial festival of cyclic self-abuse, Wright and Pegg use this film to ask the question: what does it mean to get stuck in the past? And how do we survive a parasitic friendship?

We have Gary King (Pegg with a dye job worse than a that old woman at the supermarket with a head of purple), the once and future, well, you get it, of his high school cronies. After an innocent inquiry from a gentleman in his support group, King decides he needs to finish a pub crawl he failed to complete back in the nubile days of yore (meaning 1992). To do so, he gathers his court of middle-aged jesters. What seems like an exercise in mild lampooning in order to up the offerings on the ‘sacrificial lamb’ menu, ultimately encourages you to actually care about these sad-sacks. Of course, there’s King, whose indefatigable abstruseness is the cause of almost everybody’s woe, as well as Frost’s recovering alcoholic, Andy. Those two are a given. Who knew that Paddy Considine (Detective Andy from Fuzz, and that guy that gets shot in the face in the third Bourne movie) would turn into the romantic lead? Also, Eddie Marsan is perhaps the most adorable dollop of corporeal pathos ever to open an account at Barclays. Even John Watson joins the fun, on break from foiling cases while Khan blows up Starfleet, to sell real estate and talk on a bluetooth.

All were shocked whenhHis 'Stop in the Name of Love' routine suddenly took a dark and homicidal turn...

All were shocked whenhHis ‘Stop in the Name of Love’ routine suddenly took a dark and homicidal turn…

Yes, we’ve all seen the trailers. The crawl quickly devolves into a eery ode to Invasion of the Body Snatchers with a peculiarly LEGO twist. While logic would dictate that those idiots should get the fuck out of the infectious town, filled with siren-spouting, hand mangling, easily-offended, unkillable blue-raspberry robots, the boys don’t. King lives up to his name, charging the gauntlet one pint at a time, his entourage doing whatever they can to drag him back to safety. It’s been six years since the Wright/Pegg/Frost band played their last gig, all of them going their own way, from duets (Pegg and Frost’s Paul) to solo pieces (Wright’s hilariously misogynistic and delightful Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), they have finally reached their acme. Pegg is on fire as King, igniting every scene like a dad covered in silly string; Frost successfully navigates the descent from depressed family man to hulking brawler; and Wright couldn’t be more on top of his game. As I once heard in a Community DVD commentary (yes, I am that fucking nerdy, alright? And yes, losing my virginity was exceedingly difficult. DEAL WITH IT), a director making a joke is like “a llama spinning a web. It’s really cool when it happens but no one expects it”. If that’s true, then Edgar Wright is the fucking Spider-Llama. Every edit is a gag. Even his mis en scene is precise and perfect enough to make Trouffaut weep with inadequacy. Together, this trio isn’t just dynamite, they’re a nuclear core of pure hilarity.

It’s a shame Ms. Hynes-Stevenson didn’t join them after her cameo in Shaun of the Dead. All of their movies suffer a distinct lack of vaginal population. It’s pretty much the boyiest clubs of boys since Boy George opened a buoy shop on Boy Bay. (They are fabulous nautical directional devices. Also terrifying and completely useless). In fact, I’m fairly sure precisely none of their movies pass the Bechdel Test. It’s a shame that boys can only talk about boys in an absence of non-penises. Le sigh.

Oh, yes, and Rosamund Pike is in this. And she kicks  a lot of Robo-booty.

Oh, yes, and Rosamund Pike is in this. And she kicks a lot of Robo-booty.

Well, while the climax, compared to Hot Fuzz, is little more than a wordy discourse basically stolen from The Day the Earth Stood Still…just with more ‘cunts’ thrown in, the magic of The World’s End is truly in the characters. It gets dark. Like really dark. Nostalgia isn’t simply a way of life for those of us too emotionally screwed up to take a leap out of the shallow end of the pool, it can be lethal. King is perhaps the most pathetic protagonist of the Wright/Pegg universe. In fact, by all definitions, he is both protagonist and antagonist, never really able to earn the title of anti-hero because there is literally nothing heroic about the man. Every choice is an extension of his brutal self-pity and solipsism, each decision dragging his friends further into the liquor-lined rings of Tartarus. Over and over we are reminded he is the King, the pointman, the Jesus to their Apostles. But King of what? His court has diminished to a band of tired middle aged John’s, none of them interested in reliving the former glory. In aging and losing the spark of youth, they’re all invited into the Collective, a world where mediocrity and homogeny aren’t simply encouraged, but essential. Wright and Pegg fear the mass of middle-aged zombism that so easily subsumes the middle class, each of their Trilogy attacking collectivism on opposing fronts. Here the assault has been perfected. The World’s End’s eventual postulation is that imperfection is human and any eradication of those mild maladies would be to fundamentally change what we are. But those errs come at a cost. And that cost is a man such as Gary King.

Finally, we have a tale of male immaturity that doesn’t simply spout, “Women are terrible and we should be able to act like a stoned bags of dicks. Just flopping about. Like a bag of dicks” (full disclosure: this is the second time I’ve incorporated the image of a bag of dicks into my work. I don’t know why. That image is just so tickling. Like…a bag of dildos…that are actually penises. I wonder if there’s a psychological meaning behind that. Huh). This is about growing up. Granted, it ensures that we know immaturity and acting like drunken louts is a cornerstone of human society, but at its core, The World’s End is a goofy cautionary tale. Growing up is terrifying. To be young is to be labeled a courier of potential, a seed shot out into the dusty earth, assumed to blossom into the grand arbor we all expect. But what if we don’t? What if that potential becomes the scars of our personal failure? What then? The pressures of adulthood aren’t simply great, they’re intoxicatingly horrifying. Gary King is the grandest example of what failure looks, tastes, sounds and smells like.

"I wonder if I'm part toaster, part Cylon? Does that make me a Toaster Toaster?" ~Existential Murder Robot is Existential.

“I wonder if I’m part toaster, part Cylon? Does that make me a Toaster Toaster?” ~Existential Murder Robot is Existential.

Finally, someone understands that childishness isn’t simply a choice. It’s a shelter. And it’s one that will always, always collapse. The question is, will you get out and make your way in time?

The Conjuring (2013) – James Wan (Dir.), Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lily Taylor, Ron Livingston, Joey King, the Children of the Corn: Female Edition, and a Creepy Fucking Doll

Worst. Santa. Ever.

Worst. Santa. Ever.

Um…guys…can you, um, switch on the lights? Please? Like…like…all of them?

Guys? Why isn’t the light switch working? *Click, click* Guys? This isn’t funny.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT. WHAT WAS THAT? Did that door open by itself? Guys, I’m being serious right now. Fucking stop it.

JESUS MARY JOSEPH AND THE OTHER ALL THE OTHER PLANETEERS, WHAT WAS THAT?

Oh. It was just a camera getting really close to my face. Get out of my way, camera. Why are you so close to me? Why are you focusing just behind my head and not on my face? And why is it so silent all of a sudden?

Wait…wait…should I look behind me? I’m gonna look…I’m gonna look behind me…right…now…

WHAT THE…?

…CONSTIPATION CURED.

(Commercial Voice) Talk to your doctor today about The Conjuring to help with your dyschezia. If you suffer from backed-up bowels The Conjuring might be for you. Side effects include: Mild Heart Failure, Spontaneous Urination, Close-Up Camera Fatigue, Acute 70s Nostalgia, Exorcist Deja Vu, and Bat-Shit Lily Tomlin Syndrome (BSLTS or BathSaLTS). If you or any loved ones suffer nychtophobia, insomnia, sciophobia, wiccaphobia, pediophobia or Vera-Farmigitis, please consult your physician before trying The Conjuring.

Oh the horror (genre). The horror…(genre). What a silly beast you are. My love for you is as undying as your supernatural antagonists and the rage you cause me is comparable to transforming me into a machete-weilding hockey-masked demon and slicing up my Netflix Account (side note: does anyone know a quick fix for “Machete in Your PS3”? I googled it, but there’s nothing helpful). It is a genre that has produced perhaps some of the greatest and certainly the most turd-ulent of cinematic terrors. On the one hand, we have The Shining. On the other…Paranormal Activity 4. In the ‘good’ category, there’s Rosemary’s Baby and in the bad there’s, well, everything else. Other than the annual Spielbergian Oscar grabs, there is no class of movies more emotionally manipulative or as formulaic. While, for the most part, the directors of these schlockfests usually depend upon cheap scares and the cinematic equivalent of ‘Gotcha’ Journalism, sometimes horror movies can be more effective than most at delving into deeper questions about the fabric and quality of humanity. While a soul-searching, uplifting drama of nauseating optimism might champion the strength of the human spirit, horror can venture equally far into the darkness. As they say, the brighter the sun, the darker the shadow. And if they don’t, they should (even though it makes no physical sense).

"WHO ATE ALL OF MY FUCKING COOKIES?" ~ Vera Farmiga, alpha.

“WHO ATE ALL OF MY FUCKING COOKIES?” ~ Vera Farmiga, alpha.

Mr. James Wan, the director of this quaint little ditty, is a fascinating fellow. His career, though short, is as storied and perhaps more grotesquely marred than Nick Nolte’s DUI record. His first film, Saw, the Rosa Parks of torture porn, if you will, transformed the terrorscape forever more, shifting mindless zero-budget BS from the hack-and-slashers of what I call the “80s Hangover”, towards the direction of the openly misogynistic (Hostel: Part II), the purely sadistic (The Human Centipede: Full Sequence) or the utterly pus-ridden and mind-melting (Saw III). Since then, he’s explored the failed career of Donnie Wahlberg as he fights dolls (Dead Silence), Kevin Bacon getting angry (Death Sentence) and the utterly bemusing and more-tonally-inconsistent-than-a-dubstep-appreciation-concert Insidious. It was that last film that clued me into a long lost talent, residing hidden below the surface of jump-scares and nonsensical scary mask design. The first act of Insidious is careful and tense, allowing shots to linger and the silence to infest. It employed Actors (with a capital A) such as stage veteran Patrick Wilson and so-deadpan-you-need-to-check-for-a-pulse Rose Byrne. There were shocks and genuinely disturbing imagery gradually seeping through each frame, growing to a throbbing and spine-tingling crescendo… And then the second half begins and subtlety is thrown to the wind, like a pair of panties captured after a Revenge of the Nerd-esque undergarment raid. We have mediums and ghostbusters and battles in the land of the spirits, not to mention an out-of-the-blue plot point that derails the story faster than you can say “Where the fuck did that creepy old lady come from?”

Now, we have the next stage of his horror opus, The Conjuring. This little ditty tells the tale of Ed and Lorraine Warren, two of the most famous real-life demonoligists this side of the River Styx, as they tackle a tormented house in the backwoods of Rhode Island (and, yes, Rhode Island has backwoods, no matter how small you think it is. Well, it’s more of a back ‘garden’, but you get the idea). Now, these two were the ones brought in to exorcise the Amityville Horror back in the day (though they couldn’t exorcise some fucking profit from the 2006 remake. BOOYAH!) and their work inspired the so-straight-forward-it-might-as-well-be-a-fucking-ruler titled A Haunting in Connecticut. You thought that stuff was scary? No? Well, neither did anyone else, BUT, and that’s a massive Kardashian-sized heiny, this is the scariest tale of them all. Or, at least, the Polanski-esque credits tell us so in the opening frames. Wilson, taking a second crack at a decent movie with Wan, is back as Ed and the delectable and inexplicably frilly-caped Vera Farmiga joins the crew as Lorraine. They hold the center of this tale, their chemistry unmistakable; and they offer a beating heart that is so often lacking in this sort of by-the-numbers ghost story nonsense. The family, on the other hand, does their best to exemplify the classic American Unit, though there’s so many of them (all female) that 1) it’s impossible to distinguish any of them, other than the one that was in White House Down and 2) they look like the Children of the Fucking Corn. I half expected them to transform into some kind of satanic Wicker Woman and cover Patrick Wilson in bees. The parental units are the targets, however. Lily Taylor, an actress who has already slogged through the supernatural sewer in 1999’s Owen-Wilson-gets-decapitated classic The Haunting, has once more drawn the short straw. Throughout the course of the film, along with Ms. Farmiga, she is dragged through metaphorical and literal hell. Meanwhile, Ron “That Guy Whose Career Stalled After Office Space Because He Only Speaks in Semi-Concerned Monotone” Livingston gets off almost scott-free as the kinda distant, mostly clueless father.

"What? Is it my hair? It's my hair isn't it. I look like a Ken doll, don't I? WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME HOW DUMB I LOOKED BEFORE WE LEFT THE HOUSE?!" ~ Patrick Wilson, oblivious.

“What? Is it my hair? It’s my hair isn’t it. I look like a Ken doll, don’t I? WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME HOW DUMB I LOOKED BEFORE WE LEFT THE HOUSE?!” ~ Patrick Wilson, oblivious.

Alright, what’s the plot? Fresh off the case of the Freakiest Demonic Doll You’ve Ever Fucking Seen, the Warrens are called in to investigate the Perron family. They’ve been plagued with night after night of knocks and claps and smashing things and closing doors and opening doors and odors of rotting meat. The Warrens show up and Farmiga immediately goes into “Pressurized Eyeballs Being Sucked From Skull” mode. Shit ain’t right. After about 10 minutes of research, they discover that a witch literally sacrificed her child to Satan and then hung herself on the property about a hundred years before. Since then, there have been suicides and murder-suicides in store for any family unlucky enough to file a mortgage on the place. At this point, Ed Warren literally says, “Well, that explains a lot.” No joke. Anyhoo, the hauntings become worse and Bathsheba (yep, actual name) possesses the poor and haggard Ms. Taylor, who then spends the latter half of the movie acting like hemophilic Beatles fan. The haunting escalates faster than a moving walkway on meth and soon they have no choice but to exorcise the spirit without the Vatican’s help.

"NO! DON'T TAKE ME BACK TO THE HAUNTING! I CAN'T TAKE ANYMORE LIAM NEESON! PLEEEEEASE!" Lily Taylor, damaged.

“NO! DON’T TAKE ME BACK TO THE HAUNTING! I CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE LIAM NEESON! PLEEEEEASE!” Lily Taylor, damaged.

To be clear, there is nothing, I mean nothing innovative about this movie. You will most likely walk from the theater muttering, “I’ve seen all that before.” But your knees are still shuddering and you still check behind every goddamn door in your darkened home before slipping into bed. It seems that this is James Wan’s attempt at pure quality rather than creative depth. Almost every frame is referential to every decent horror film for the last 30 years, most notably The Exorcist. But the references don’t plague the film. They’re subtle emotional cues that, for those that notice them, usually act as harbingers of anxiety. This movie is tense. Wan knows that he only has about three tricks in his shallow tool bag, but he knows how to use them. Where Kubrick employed color tone and long, static lingering shots, Wan keeps things close, dark and unbroken. So often he keeps the take going as long as humanly possible, no doubt orchestrating some kind of graceful choreography behind the scenes to catch us off guard at every moment. It would have been nice to see this story, set in the mid-70s, to have been filmed on actual film rather than HD digital. But, alas, such things are of the past for money-minded studios. Along with that, one of Wan’s most beloved fallbacks is his creature design. He can’t help tossing in a creepy doll here and an old-lady face there. The film is truly unnerving when the threat is only suggested, much as Spielberg discovered in Jaws. Luckily, Wan’s visual indiscretion doesn’t become apparent until closer to the end, when the witch begins popping into frame with increasingly pointless frequency, a pale imitation of a Sam Raimi prosthetic. Until you see it, though, the movie is tenser than Thanksgiving Dinner after Grandma Sally brings up ‘The Negroid Problem’.

"Quick! Get this woman a plastic surgeon!" Vera, helping.

“Quick! Get this woman a plastic surgeon!” Vera, helping.

James Wan, for all of his earlier career faults, is gradually growing into a solid delivery boy of scares. His talent may seem limited to a few predictable fall-backs, but he manages to keep his direction tight and focused. I held my hand over my eyes for a good many sections of the movie. I DON’T DO THAT. EVER. For me, most scary movies are about as unnerving as a fucking squirrel in a tutu. Usually all I do is laugh and then question the humanity of dressing up a rodent in a ballerina outfit. Wan’s skill increases dramatically with every feature, both figuratively and literally. While his next movie might be the seemingly tepid sequel to the bat-shit Insidious, the feature following is the seventh addition to the brain-explodingly brilliant Fast and Furious franchise. Perhaps there he will discover a new set of tricks, what with abs and biceps and carburetors flying about the frame, before returning to horror with a set of terror-inducing weaponry to truly create something magnificent.

Godspeed, sir. Godspeed.

American Horror Story (2011-Present) Ryan Murphy (Cr.), Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare

This show brought to you by Zero Gravity S&M! "You have to try smack harder, because of Newton's third law."

This show brought to you by Zero Gravity S&M! “You have to try smack harder, because of Newton’s third law.”

Now, I watch a lot of movies. As you may assume from this blog, I watch a metric shit ton of movies. And, like most people who’d rather crawl into their own imaginations and never deal with the world at large such as things like a ‘job’ and ‘groceries’ and ‘not the internet’ and ‘that one outstanding parking ticket that you know you should pay but can’t seem to get around to it’, I also happen to watch a good deal of television. Most of this ranges from the brilliant (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Parks and Recreation, Breaking Bad, Sherlock, Louie, Arrested Development) to the silly (New Girl, How I Met Your Mother, 24, Doctor Who) to the abjectly fucking terrible (oh Lost, how I tried to love you and how unwilling you were to be loved). It was recently suggested by my friend, heir and hetero life-mate, Mr. Alex Huntsberger, that perhaps I branch out into the realm of writing for TV. There are many movies out there. Many that need to be hunted down and shat upon like the little squealing piggies they are. Many that need to be needlessly and hyperbolically praised as the next coming of Christ…only to be hunted down and shat upon like the aforementioned sty-hogs (looking at you, Prometheus. And, no, I’m still not over it). So, I don’t really have too much time to waste on more than two hours of turdery at a time.

Thus, I have bequeathed sections of this blog to the ever-hilarious and somehow-even-more-offensive Mr. Alex to review the shit I don’t want to watch. I shall be his editor! His liege! Orson Wells with terrible makeup chewing the scenery to his silhouetted Joe Cotton typing away (suck it, I actually HAVE seen Citizen Kane)! However, before he begins unleashing the world of obscure televisions upon your supple eye-testicles, we have decided to collaborate on an adventure into the heart of TV darkness itself…American Horror Story.

Let me say this, first and foremost. I hate Glee. I hate everything about Glee (except Jane Lynch, duh. Anyone who hates Jane Lynch is Hitler. And luckily, we killed that guy). It takes phenomenal music and ‘broadway-ifies’ it. It is the id of Ryan Murphy’s rampant and insatiable inner musical theater geek allowed to run unencumbered by taste, quality, colorblind casting, copyright law and actual talent through the annals of our rich musical history and transform greats (most egregiously, The Rocky Horror Picture Show…FUCKING WHY? WHY DID WE NEED YOU TO REMAKE ROCKY HORROR?) into auto-tuned slabs of sterile hormonal bullshit. Thus, when this gentleman, Mr. Murphy, a man who spells ‘subtlety’ ‘S-U-B-OMG-CRANESHOTS-GUYS!-T-L-EVERYBODY-YELL-ALL-THE-TIME-E-T-I’M-A-HACK-Y’, decided to turn his sights onto the genre of ‘horror’, I hung my head in shame and sprinted in the opposite direction. That was until Mr. Huntsberger said, “It’s the worst fucking writing on television. It’s amazing. You’re gonna hate it.” Well, how could I pass that up?

Honestly. How could I? I adore suckling on the teat of terrible cinema. Much like when a friend sticks his nose into a carton of milk that expired back in the days of Reagan, you have to smell it as well. No, it ain’t gonna waft roses at you…but the self-induced schoedenfreude is worth the price of admission alone. How can I watch The Room, which is only two hours of mind-numbing awfulness, Transformers: The Dark of the Moon, which is three hours of batshit incongruity, or THE ENTIRE TWILIGHT SAGA (not the whole thing, but I’m rounding up) when there is this gift to all that is terrible just waiting on Netflix? It is this pungent hanging fruit, beautiful on the outside, but one glance tells you there’s nothing other than putrid rancidity waiting for you. Twelve hours of awful in season one alone. How could I pass up something so shitty?

Oh, and I forgot to mention, after I informed my good friend Jesse that I watched The Faculty for the second time, his response was, “You do know that life is finite, right?” Am I really wasting myself? Are these countless hours of horrific cinematography, painful miscasting and cry-orgasms really running out my clock?

Who fucking cares! So, without further ado, this is an emailed conversation between myself and Mr. Alex Huntsberger about the pilot of this Turd Ferguson of a show. We set out to ask each other questions and, with our answers, offer more questions for discussion:

ALEX: First question. For the love of god, WHY?

No, this isn't a model shoot, it's in the actual show. Good job, abs!

No, this isn’t a model shoot, it’s in the actual show. Good job, abs!

ANDREW: A very good question, sir, and one I pondered for a good deal of this first hour. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the episode begins with two ginger kids walking past a child with down syndrome and saying ‘I hate trees’. And then they are murdered. It would seem the grossly untalented and horrendously over-paid Mr. Ryan Murphy has decided that horror really needs his touch. It would seem that horror, to him, has always been more subtle, more precise than it ever had any right to be. And so, like some kind of Baz Lurhman descending from the rafters, he has violated the sacred art of scary movies to stitch, no staple, NAY superglue together this pastiche of utter what-the-fuckery. Absolutely none of it makes sense. There are hum-on be-ings in this played ostensibly by the mom from Friday Night Lights and I think Jerry O’Connell’s stunt double. On the one hand, Miss Britton is doing everything she can to lend realism and depth to her lines while Mr. Dylan “Orgasm Weeping” McDermott stumbles about the show like an uncle who’s had too many strawberry champagnes at a wedding. He’s just embarrassing himself and everyone else. But this show isn’t dragged down by its acting. I mean, Jessica Lange is fucking hilariously terrible as the obvious evil-bitch character (which I’m sure comes from much practice having been with Sam Shepard for so many years. Great actor and writer, but I bet he’s a tough mutherfucker) and Frances Conroy as the sometimes-young-and-sexy-boobs-everywhere-maid-sometimes-oh-god-that’s-a-face-and-not-a-whale’s-vagina is delightful. Even Denis O’Hare is doing his best at not looking like an utter tit. Side note: I feel so sorry for that guy. Did he lose a bet? Did he murder orphans in his past life? Because he, though tremendously talented, has always been relegated to the shittiest of movies and TV. Poor man. If you see him on the street, give him a hug.

Back on track. Point is this: every actor in this could have been Meryl Fucking Streep and it still would have been worse than a badger with IBS due, in totality, to the complete and utter lack of competence of its creator. Ryan Murphy wouldn’t know how to direct his way out of a paper bag even if it had been pre-torn and inscribed with detailed directions to its plethora of exits. The guy is an idiot. It seems as though, in some kind of misguided attempt to get away from the cutesiness of Glee, he has simply waltzed through the minefield of the horror genre and picked up all the elements he thought were ‘FUN’. Ugh. None of it makes any fucking sense. There is no pacing. There is no tension. It’s just stuff. Stuff. Stuff and more stuff. Like, if you took all the Double Stuff Oreos in the world, scraped out the (oddly vegan?) cream filling, regurgitated it into a pile of hydrogenated oils and then threw it at the ‘Horror’ section of a Blockbuster…this is the clustercuss you get. I think he’s trying to make the new norm of horror, but what it becomes is something akin to a Boystown drag show on Halloween. It isn’t scary. It isn’t compelling. Actually…scratch that. It is compelling. I want to see the next episode because, honestly, I really only took a tiny whiff of the rotten innards this thing has to offer. I want to see how truly turdtackular the whole thing is in the end. So, my question to you, is:

Having seen all of season one, am I missing some essential information that would piece this all together; or is it the hot tranny mess I have preconceived?

She haunts my dreams

She haunts my dreams

ALEX: Okay, Mooney, you delicious little tit-mouse. First of all, I do not know if this is the truth, but I am going to say it anyway because it needs to be said: you have never watched Glee. Again, I have no idea if this is true, but knowing that you and I both have an astounding ability to be incredibly opinionated (i.e. we be haters y’all) about things that we have never actually seen but only hate on principal. (Like the Cheesecake Factory, cuz I don’t need to actually eat in one to hate it, I just fucking know that I will hate it and, besides, I’ve already made the same mistake with White Castle because I was in bumfuck Ohio doing summerstock theatre adult theatre camp and I had fucking all else to do and thin I ended up take a five-act fucking Shakespearean shit complete with atmospheric prologue, steadily rising action, thunderous climax and watery denouement.) You don’t hate Glee because you hate Glee. You hate the idea of Glee. Until now you have never actually experienced that outright ass-spraying mayhem that is Ryan Murphy and mygodman don’t you know that if you strike him down, he will become more powerful than you can ever imagine. (I for one have also never seen Glee. However, I have watched The Glee Project, which has all of the auto-tuned, back-of-the-house belting but with added crack-like addiction of a reality tv show. It’s terrible, it’s awful and I totally watched the first season and was soooooooo happy for Damien when he got to co-win because of course they had co-winners because it’s fucking Glee where everything is made of Unicorn sphincters, which, as everyone knows, are the most delicious part of the unicorn and is considered a delicacy in certain parts of the Ukraine.) You cannot stop Ryan Murphy, Mooney, because Ryan Murphy does not give a fuck. He doesn’t give any of the fucks, he keeps them all for himself, hoarding them in his bedazzled secret lair buried under the private mall that is itself buried under Barbara Steisand’s House. (Seriously, though, that’s a real thing.) I imagine that every morning Ryan Murphy awakens, dons his leopard print speedo and does laps through an entire Olympic-sized swimming pool filled of fucks, like he’s Scrooge McDuck. He’s impenetrable Mooney. And no matter what you do, no matter how many giant wooden horses you leave at his front gate, the kingdom of Ryan Murphy shall never, ever fall.

Anyway, what were we talking about again?

Oh yes, American Fucking Horror Story. Dear god, I love this show. It is the Anti-Wire. It is a show where they have literally taken every single rule of ‘Good Television Writing’, dumped whiskey down their throats, spun them around until they threw up and then used that throw-up to do finger painting. It has absolutely no recognizably hu-mon characters, despite the vein attempts of Connie Britton, Peter Evans and Tarisa ‘the Elizabeth to Vera’s Ashley/Mary Kate” Farmiga to approximate some vague semblance of emotional verisimilitude (with Dylan McDermott doing his damnedest impersonate an oak). It doesn’t so much have a plot, aka a series of causal events, so much as it has an agglomeration of fantastical occurrences, like one of those massive pile-ups from the Blues Brothers if all the cars were driven by wizards. It has no sense of pacing, which everyone can agree is pretty much the most important aspect of any horror (because tell me what is scarier: the kid from The Shining seeing those little girls or the minutes of lead-up that’s just him riding his big wheels through the Overlook?). Instead, it plunges ever forward like a Werner Herzog in a jetpack, careening from “boo” after “boo” after scene Dylan McDermott Tearfully Masturbating until the episode runs out of time and the audience granted a brief reprieve from “Into The Void” opening credits sequence that is the inside of Ryan Murphy’s mind. (Mooney, babe, can you hyperlink that? Thanks toots)

Watch this, nerds: THIS

This show takes every stride that television as a narrative form has made in the wake of The Sopranos and runs them backward towards the Pilocene of Nickelodeon spectaculars and music-hall minstrel shows, cackling and/or weepfully masturbating the whole way home.

And yet…

I think the show’s fantastic. And I think the show’s fantastic exactly because Ryan Murphy sits upon a throne of hoarded fucks. If this show were at all attempting to resemble reality, then its lack of characters and miscast actors (Connie Britton, you poor thing) and tin-eared dialogue would make the show totally awful. It would be the 2 1/2 Men of melodrama. It’s fast, it’s easy, you don’t feel good about it but it’s there and so you’ll eat it. But instead, American Horror Story is like if 2 1/2 Men cut out the 1 1/2 men who are clearly dead weight and jumped right into Charlie Sheen’s fevered head. This show is pure Tiger Blood baby. Its Grand Guignol ambitions are not what doom the show, they’re what make it special. if this show didn’t have rubber men and sexy ghosts and basement monsters and Jessica Lange, it wouldn’t be worth watching. Hell, if it only had 1 of those things, it would be terrible.

But instead it has all of them. And it has earth, fire, wind, water and heart. (And also Dylan McDermott, who really is just terrible.) You ask if there’s anything you’re missing, I say that what you’re missing is the whole. You have to step back, unfocus your eyes, and let the glorious sail boat at the center of this all pop off the page.

We’ll get to Jessica Lange later. You say she’s terrible, I say she’s perfect. And Denis O’Hare? Mooney, you ask why he is in so much terrible television. In return, I ask you to watch this and then I will await your apology on Mr. O’Hare’s behalf. The man is not only getting paid, he is getting to have the time of his life!

It's like a buddy cop comedy! Except one of them is a mutilated vegetable and the other one is the guy with a burned face!

It’s like a buddy cop comedy! Except one of them is a mindless, accident victim vegetable and the other one is the guy with a burned face!

I’m going to cut it short here, cuz I need to go to sleep. But before I go, I will ask you one simple question:

Oh yeah? What would you do differently?

ANDREW: Differently? What would I, Andrew Mooney, do differently for this show? Well, first of all, I’d take it out back, serenade it with a sweet song and then unload two barrels of taste in the back of its fucking head. Well, obviously, after your exceedingly convincing argument for the insanity of this thing’s underbelly, (along with some delightfully colorful metaphors), it’s clear it comes down to opinion (duh). Let me correct you, good sir, I have seen exactly half of one episode of Glee and it made me want to give myself a self-lobotomy. You are right though. It’s not so much the practice that I despise, but the belief. Ryan Murphy is simply yet another prophet to the religion of banality that has infected all commercial art since the juggernaut that is Disney anointed Zac Efron as the second coming (and, usually, after meeting him, most girls will have had a second coming). Now, I’m fine, to a certain extent, for Glee to stew in its own cesspit. Just don’t go in that fucking pit. But, no, Mr. Murphy couldn’t leave well alone. Like Hitler saying, “You know, Poland might be fun to own,” Ryan has over reached. Horror has a bad enough rap without this asshole coming and pooping all over it. I mean, seriously, Sinister? Hostel Part Two? Madea’s Witness Protection? Horror just can’t get a fucking break.

So, how would I fix this horrid mess? Well, I might shock and offend my readers if I fully admit here, in front of the universe, that I didn’t care for Firefly. (I’ll wait for the screams of fury/rage/sexual pleasure from complete disappointment die down…you done? Good). Much like I don’t care for a good deal of the works of one Mr. David Lynch. (I’ll wait again…still waiting…you done? Good.) It’s the presence of camp in a genre I love and take seriously that drives me absolutely nut-balls. While Lynch has several wonderfully talented actors shifting around space like decoratively painted planks of hardwood, our good friend Mr. Joss Whedon spends so much of his air time winking at the audience, chuckling under his breath and insatiably attempting to convince us of his cleverness. Mr. Murphy subscribes to the same sense of utterly preposterous bullshittery but in a different domain. Instead of intelligence, we are offered flamboyant over-the-top dick waggling. You know, with tassels and shit.

"They're behind you!" Worst. Pantomime. Ever.

“They’re behind you!” Worst. Pantomime. Ever.

Here’s the issue: he calls it a ‘horror’ story. You know what’s difficult to pull off? A horror story. It takes pacing, development, atmosphere, coherence and skill to actually creep out, chill and frighten before you can wrap it all up in a thematic bow. Yes, it’s fucking difficult. If you look through the history of the horror genre, you’ll find that the classics, the ‘rip your eyes out with fear’ greats were all directed by legitimate artists. Rosemary’s Baby? Polanski. The Shining? Kubrick. The Thing? Carpenter (he’s very good at what he does…not much else though). So, how would I do it differently? Well, we have two routes. One, get someone who understands that sometimes a shot lasts for longer THAN A FUCKING MILLISECOND and that NOT EVERY SHOT HAS TO BE FROM A FUCKING CRANE. Honestly, was the cinematographer constantly snorting meth? Next, I would pare it down. Actually make it a horror story with scary things, basic coherence, and characters that you wouldn’t constantly wish are going to be randomly eaten by bears. But, that takes intelligence, skill, money and time. Murphy probably has one of those things (I’ll give you a clue, it’s green, papery and is usually seen being wiped through Donald Trumps taint redneck runway).

The other option is pretty easy. Just call it something else. Now, I don’t think the network would go for American Rub Our Dicks in Your Face for an Hour Story, so how about Jeff?  Just call it Jeff. You know, the weird dude at the office who always strips at the holiday party. There is nothing ‘horror’ about it. It’s about as frightening as a slutty cat outfit. I mean, it fits with the theme, but giving it a coat of voluptuous breasts just doesn’t count. From now on, I’m calling it Jeff. Deal? Deal. Alright, my turn:

Is Ryan Murphy an artist? Or is he just a crazy person with too much money?

ALEX: Mooney, Mooney, Mooney, Mooney. Taste? Taste?!!! Why for the love of God would you ever want to give this show taste? That’s like saying you would improve upon the works of John Holmes by cutting his dick off. It certainly ain’t Ryan Murphy’s ability to capture the subtle shadings of the human condition that makes this thing work; it’s the fact that he is shoving a full foot of hot and throbbing manhood up inside you and punishing your insides like it’s fucking Nuremberg. The show is not weighed down by its excesses, it is defined by them.

And you wanna know why? It is because of something in the title that you have so conveniently chosen to overlook. (Please imagine that the word ‘conveniently‘ is uttered with a kind of Glenn-Beckian-level of sarcastic incredulity.) You were too focused on the words “Horror Story” to notice the word that preceded them. And that word is American, Mooney. American. As in, America. As in the country that invented the modern ideal of excess, the place that made a star out of Snookie. You mention Stanley Kubrick? An exile. You say Roman Polanski? A Polish guy. You say John Carpenter? I say…um…

…uh…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q44qwyHlMfk

Anyways, Mooney, America is not a place that subtle. And an American Horror Story is not gonna be a tale of winding passageways and ominous wainscotting. America was founded on bloody murder, an unhealthy obsession with sex, and a belief in our god-given-right to take whatever we damn well please. We literally fought an entire fucking war because half the country thought it was okay to own other human beings. We are not the kind of people who wait; we are the kind of people who smash, grab and shoot our way out. If someone is going to tell an American Horror Story, it is not going to be a slow and rising terror. It is going to be a nonstop battering ram of screaming, mutilation and ghost sex. Ryan Murphy has not given us the story we asked for, he has given us the story we deserve. This is America, goddamnit. If a shot lasted longer than two seconds or the camera wasn’t dangling from a crane like fucking Spiderman, we might lose interest and go back to our natural pursuits: hoarding gold, posting on conspiracy theorist message boards, and knitting cheerleader outfits for our dogs.

Um...The Crow called. He's suing you. Sorry, bro.

Um…The Crow called. He’s suing you. Sorry, bro.

This brings me to the question you have laid, so elegantly, like a freshly-pressed houndstouth suit, before me: Is Ryan Murphy an artist? Or is he just a crazy person with too much money?

Oh Mooney, why the false choice? Can’t he be both? Instead of stopping at two roads diverging in a wood, can we not look at a bifurcated, diamond-encrusted, technicolor echidna penis and say that this too is art? Let us remember the words of one Pablo Picasso, who said, “Taste is the enemy of creativeness.” (Oh what, did I just quote Picasso at you? Hells yeah, bitch!)

To get real for second (Real real, son) I think that for any narrative piece of art to truly be considered a success, it need only to establish and then adhere to its own internal logic. This is something that I think both David Lynch and Joss Whedon actually do quite well; they create self-sustaining worlds, Lynch’s surreal, Whedon’s self-deflating. One those grounds, I think that American Horror Story actually does a pretty good job, the one exception being the Harmons, which is, of course, a problem as they are, like, the protagonists and shit. Maybe Vivian would actually be better without an actress like Britton, who is just so goddamn committed to playing actual hu-mans that she can never achieve the kind of sharply defined (aka cartoonish, but not necessarily in a bad way) performance that Ryan’s writing requires and that Jessica Lange delivers in spades. And perhaps Dylan McDermott took Ben’s somnambulism to heart and decided that an element of “sleep walking” should be suffused throughout his entire performance. (Plus, I think the character would honestly be better if he was always wearing that fucking hat that he wears when they first arrive at the house. At least then I would know that I am never supposed to ever be taking him seriously.)

The Harmons fail as characters because Murphy is attempting to write them as hu-mans, as pretty much regular joes with regular problems who just happen to get stuck in this crazy fucking murder house where ghosts in rubber suits engage in surprisingly unkinky sex with you and scary monsters live in the basement and Jessica Lange just exists. They are what happens when Murphy tries to engage with real failures, and it’s just awful. They are the show’s one major failing, the single tether that prevents this blimp of Boschean cray-cray from ascending to the heavens. Because they are meant to act like hu-mans they contradict the shows internal logic, or really its complete illogic. They are not fantastical, just false.

I guess this is all my (surprisingly serious) way of saying that, yes, I think that Ryan Murphy is an artist. He is simply one who should deal only in absurd abstraction, and never try to fuck with verisimilitude.

Or to put it another way, don’t piss in my face and tell me it’s raining. Instead, just piss in my face while crying into the night:  BEHOLD MY GOLDEN STREAM ALL YE, AND DESPAIR!!! NOW ON WITH THE GHOST SEX!!!

Ever yours,

Huntsy

No words necessary.

No words necessary.

ANDREW: Well, this conversation must continue! All the way through the rest of this shit-show of a season and into the next! What will await for us next time on American Horror Story? More rubber suit sex? More terrible cinematography? More cry-masturbating? Tune in next time when we recap the next 3 episodes!

Carrie (1976) – Brian De Palma (Dir.), Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, John Travolta

“I just love what Carrie’s doing with that dress. Pig’s Blood? Genius. Not even Lady Gaga has thought that one up!” ~ Ryan Seacrest, as always, not getting it.

Last, and certainly not least, we have the final winner of the Hallow-Mooney Spook-tacular Watch-a-thon 2012. This little ditty of a sexual-education-film-gone-wrong is the beginning of so many things. It was the first book to bear the moniker ‘Stephen King’ below its inscription, the first of, apparently, an infinite number of tomes. It was also Sissy “Dirty Pillows” Spacek’s first big movie. In addition, it’s the greatest origin story of an X-Man ever. I wish the new Brian Singer movies had more vaginal bleeding, bitch slaps and John Travolta before losing his hair and becoming a cult leader. This is a classic for so many reasons and, with my ladyblogger Erin at my side, the libations flowed, so did the callbacks, the witticisms and the unbridled “What the fuck???”s. Yes, this movie wins several awards in my eyes, such as “Most Educational Film for Young Boys About Periods”, “Most Travolta As the Bad Guy” (eking out the uproarious Face/Off, which, in turn, wins for ‘Most Bad Guy Impaled with a Harpoon’) and, the highly coveted, ‘Most Pig’s Blood-Themed Prom’. Holy Lord. Where to begin?

Carrie. Oh, poor, sad, delirious, confused, eye-liner-challenged Carrie. Carrie White is a girl with the mother from Hell. Ironically, other than giving into men who taste supremely of bourbon, Mrs. Margaret White (a superb and frizzy Piper “Yes, She Was in the Faculty As Well, I Had No Idea!” Laurie) happens to be a fanatic of almost Paul Ryan levels of misogyny (ELECTION BURN!). Poor little Carrie White. She doesn’t get her first period until senior year of high school and the fallout is one of perplexing proportions…in that all the other girls begin pelting her with tampons and maxipads. Then the unfortunately Farah Fawcett-ed gym teacher (badass, Betty Buckley) breaks it up. This was confusing to me. Isn’t the maxi-pad pelting an accepted moon-cycle ritual, accompanied closely by the never-ending fountain of chocolate, uncontrollable crying competitions and a sacrifice of a live goat to Artemis? (My understanding of the female reproductive system is relegated to my purely abstinence-only upbringing and my British Pagan rites. I apologize, that was redundant. Everything in England is Pagan). After winning the ‘Batshit Crazy Screaming and Offering her Secreted Uterine Lining to Other Girls’ contest, Miss Carrie receives the first bitch-slap of the film and a light explodes. Interestingly, De Palma, a man not known for either horror movies or general subtlety (Scarface, anyone?), borrows from several other classics in the horror genre, both past and future. Whenever Carrie turns into an unhinged Professor X (without the gravitas or the Star Trek ties) De Palma plays the classic Psycho sound cue. Also, I believe her period, in terms of both heft and flow, was a direct reference to the scene where the Noah’s Arc sized flood of human gore rushes out of the elevator in The Sining. I might be wrong on that one.

“JAM! I FUCKING HATE JAM!” ~ Carrie, uninformed.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. Carrie is the social pariah of the school, what with her uncomfortably pale eyelashes and a disposition more nervous than Mitt Romney at a Gay Pride Parade (ANOTHER ELECTION BURN!). Due to her indiscretion and awkwardly shaped boobs in the initial scene, the rest of the girls are punished to detention with Miss Collins. From that point on, Carrie, and the rest of the school are doomed. What entails is perhaps the most straight-forward Kingian tale ever told, a whole lot of glow-in-the-dark Jesus statues, screaming, crying, lack of mascara, frizz, pig’s blood, flipping muscle cars, split-screens, impalements, people getting repeatedly slapped and general high school hijinks. Anyone who knows anything about pop culture is perfectly aware of where the tale culminates. It’s all pretty by the numbers, with a few religiously repressed flourishes here and there (DIRTY PILLOWS, DIRTY PILLOWS, DIRTY PILLOWS. I guffawed). And, though the general plot and theme of the tale were nothing new or surprising, I discovered a number of things as the film sauntered by. Firstly: the Seventies were apparently a lawless era, a wasteland of moral depravity and emotional anarchy that it would have made even Mad Max blush. We have teachers smoking in the Principal’s office. Miss Collins repeatedly slaps one of her students. No fucking joke. The girl is giving her lip, and like a pimp, Collins just backhands the shit out of her. For a moment, I thought she’d through some leopard print fur around her shoulders, take out a bejeweled cane, walk down the line, ripping out benjamins from bra-straps and telling her students they, “be some trippin’-ass hoes”. It was that level of pimpdom. Uncomfortable for everyone.

Bitch, it’s called a diffuser. Get one.

Secondly: When a horror movie, even one as thematically basic as this one, is placed in the hands of an actual film director, some odd things occur. You care about characters. Let that sink in. I know. It’s fucked up. Usually, horror film pieces of cardboard caricatures can be filed into their absurd tropes and the timing of their death is inversely proportional to the size of their mammaries. However, when Brian “I Made Kevin Costner Palatable” De Palma, who has given the world such greats as The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, and the dithyrambic insanity that was Dionysus, gets his meaty claws on a script that is actually about the horrors of high school and the active terror most girls find in their growing bodies, we end up with something worth watching. The most interesting aspect of the script, moving past the unhinged mother and slap-happy pimp queen gym teacher, one of the main ‘Mean Girls’ actually relinquishes her duties of being a Cee U Next Tuesday and reaches out to little Miss White. Up until the ending, you aren’t clear on whether the more brunette (and therefore better person, that’s just science) girl is actually setting Carrie up for further ridicule or if she really does want to give her a night to remember with her boyfriend on Carrie’s arm. I literally began freaking out when Nancy, who is unable to attend prom without a date, leaves dinner to sprint to the event. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it…but I actually cared if this girl was evil or not. That’s a big fucking deal for me. Thank you Mr. De Palma.

And then everyone dies. Some deaths are more hilarious than others. Mostly it’s just horrifying.

Hey, dude, Fabio called. He wants his pubes back.

The question that I was forced to ask once it was all said and done was simple: is this a feminist movie? It’s a bizarre catch-22 that we find. On the one hand, it’s about the unnatural act of repressing female sexuality to the point of literal ignition (we all know those all consuming flames at the end were sex fires. You can’t pull the wool over our eyes, Mr. De Palma!). That, in essence, is feminist. On the other hand, though, what is it that is so supernatural about the female form that it has the ability to break the laws of physics in almost witch-like terms? What is one of the more compelling aspects of King’s world is that he never explains why or where the telekinesis came from. Is it heaven sent? Borne of Satan? The prequel to an extremely lucrative film franchise (ignoring Wolverine)? Though it is a tale about a girl having girl problems with other girls, it is still written by a gentleman who, though empathetic, obviously sees said issues as otherish. Perhaps it is driven home by Mr. De Palma, who isn’t really known for doing anything other than have men point penises guns at other men. A remake is going to arrive in theaters fairly soon featuring the adorable and murderous Chloe “Hit Girl” Moretz and Julianne “The Dude is so Lucky” Moore. What intrigues me is that, at the helm is the totally awesome Kimberly Pierce, famous for Boys Don’t Cry and kicking ass one of my favorite documentaries of all time: This Film is Not Yet Rated. Will we be treated to a far less-70s, far more in-depth and sympathetic view of the character? Will budgetary constraints sterilize what could be a bitchin’ brutal gore fest into a tame Twilight-era snore-a-thon? Will it simply be a whorish mess, soaking up the dollar bills so Miss Collins can waltz by and slap out a wad? Who knows?

All I can say is this: if John Travolta ever suggests dumping pig’s blood on someone, don’t do it. Get in the car, clean up the cocaine, grab the adrenaline shot for the passed-out hooker and put the pedal to the metal. You can wake the girl up later. Travolta is mutherfucking crazy.

Drive! Just get away! No good can ever come of the TRAVOLTA.

Sinister (2012) – Scott Derrickson (Dir.) Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred “I Ran For President Once” Thompson, James Ransone

and

Seven Psychopaths (2012) – Martin McDonagh (Dir.), Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Harry Dean Stanton

This may, or may not, give away the ending of the movie. Thanks, poster. You dick.

Ah, the ‘multiplex’. To us film-loving types, it is a rite of passage. An act of daring. A maneuver of such dastardly elusiveness, only the most capable of cinematic scoundrels can pull it off! Well, that was back in the days of not-being-17 and wanting, nay, needing to see South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut in theaters (Damn you, Wild Wild West for your bloated ticket sales!). Nowadays, the only reason to sneak into a movie while paying for a different one would be because you’re too poor in your post-college life to afford two tickets to two movies you only kinda want to see. Never fear! I did the adult thing! I multiplexed the SHIT out of these movies!…In that I saw one, left, ate some Panera (like a fucking adult) and then paid for the other movie. I be a classy mutherfucker (P.S. my mom reads this – or, as it’s pronounced in England ‘mum’, or, on the rare occasion, ‘boodle-matron’. Just thought you should all know). So, yes, as a busy adult with busy adult things to do, I had to fit these two badboys of movie mayhem into a single afternoon. Armed with a Meg and a Huntsberger, we stormed the beaches of mediocre horror and meta-McDonagh-magic. Now, I could have written two articles…but guess what? I have shit to do. So you get one. But it’s a long one. (That’s what she said. Lucky girl.)

So, what have we here? Sinister, the not-so-awaited follow up to Insidious, and the prequel to Nefarious, which will be, in turn, a spin-off of the series: Iniquitous, Not Very Nice,  and Kind of a Dick, tells the tale of an asshole getting killed really, really slowly by always making the wrong choices (SPOILERS). His name is Ethan Hawke. Well, it’s something else in the movie…but who will ever actually remember? He writes books about murders and then goes to the places where the murders happen and…well, that stuff is boring. The interesting part is that he discovers a collection of ‘Home Movies’ made by a gentleman who could give Rob Zombie some hints on how to actually string a series of scenes together. This guy is, in fact, an ancient Babylonian deity with a penchant for Super 8 film named ‘Bughool’ or ‘Bug Drool’ or ‘Bunghole’ or ‘Not as Scary as The Ring; You’re Trying Too Hard’. This fellow eats children, like you do, and usually dines on the youngest in a family that he then murders in gloriously ritualistic fashion. If you have half a brain, you have to ask yourself, who is going to murder the incessant and egregiously penis-esque Ethan Hawke and what fun way will they do it? I won’t spoil anything…though I already have, but it is fairly amusing.

“Hmm…you’re only paying me how much? I won’t even phone it in for that price. You fuckers are getting a telegrammed performance.” ~ Ethan Hawke, his own agent.

So, after witnessing a good deal of horror movies in the last month and an unacceptable amount during my rather miniature lifespan, it’s become clear that the ‘horror’ well is running a little dry. Yes, every now and then, a delicious cup of water comes up with the bucket, glistening like gems in the light…right before that kid from The Ring turns your face into a Picasso. But, more often than not, the bucket just comes up with sludge. Sometimes you’ll find some lead in there as well, double trouble. Since most of the classic horror beasts were created in the 70s and 80s, people have been attempting to rehash the magic. And, in some cases, they literally rehash what they think is the magic, only to discover that it’s a bucket filled with turd-meat (I’m looking at you, Jason X). The only team that has perhaps come anywhere close would be that of Saw. Like it or not, the ‘Jigsaw Killer’ is now an accepted member of the collective imagination, no matter how hackneyed and painful the later installments may be. Those boys went on to make the gloriously bat-shit movie that was Insidious. Now, beginning screenwriters, you know those rules everyone tells you about structure and tone and dramatic arc? Well, eat those. Regurgitate them. Blend them. Drink them again. And then puke on a computer. That would about explain the narrative arc of that movie. However, it was surprisingly interesting, for the most part. And then, the final act, descends into a realm reserved only for the Marquis De Sade, Salvador Dali and Charlie Sheen. It was a mess of such colossal proportions that even Lindsay Lohan gave it a once over before saying, “Gurl, get it together“.

So, here we have their follow-up. Does it make more sense? Yes. Is it as interesting? No. I’ll give the boys props, Bughool, or whatever his name is, comes off as exceedingly, what’s the word I’m looking for?…It’s like evil, but more baleful. Menacing? No. It’s not ‘insidious’…oh, man, it’s going to bug me. I’ll let you know when I think of it. Anyway, as a villain, he keeps the creep factor in the land of ‘Uncles Commenting on Their 16-year-old Nieces’ Bikini Facebook Pictures’, even if his face looks like if Gene Simmons’ forgot his safeword on bondage night. if you’ve seen any of the commercials, you’ve already witnessed the ‘scary’ bits (the paused image looking at Ethan Hawke, the harem of missing children watching a Bughool movie in the attic, etc.) so the rest of it is just a dude wandering around a house with a baseball bat. What is truly rotten at the core of this otherwise outwardly delicious treat is Mr. Hawke. He does a fine job as an actor. However, his character is so utterly detestable that all you can do for the length of the movie is hope that his demise involves some sort of accident involving testicles in a blender (it doesn’t). When offered night after night of terrifying shit, he still lies to his hot British wife about the fact that they are living in the house where the last victims were hilawkwardly murdered only a few months before. It’s all in the service of him refusing to accept that he’s a shitty author whose fifteen minutes of fame are over. Perhaps the writers were attempting to create some sort of tragic figure with Ethan “I’m a Really Serious Actor, I Promise” Hawke…but he is simply another Horror-Movie-Alcoholic-Dad (TM). And we all know what happens to them. The thing plays out like a parable written by Aesop after a weekend doing heroin with Edgar Allan Poe. There are no shocking turns, no surprises. You can discern the ending within the first twenty minutes of the movie. Thus, when it all comes together in exactly the way you expect, all you can do is leave the theater with a shrug.

“Shh, mister, I can’t hear Slipknot over your loud talking!” ~ Deaf Children

Perhaps the only true moments of brilliance in this melange of mediocrity all involve the found footage (eh? Eh? It’s even in this one!). Bughool’s movies are delightfully sadistic and the true reason for this movie’s R-rating. I don’t want to give any of them away, but my favorite involves a tracking shot on a lawnmower. Each film is beautifully scored with the creepiest of tunes (in fact, the whole movie has an excellent soundtrack, keeping the events tense even if the script isn’t pulling it’s fucking weight. Lazy script. Get a job, you hippie!) and begins with a simple scene of idyllic suburban bliss before cutting to one of four unique bloodbaths. In a sense, these vignettes cut to the core of what film fundamentally is. Here, it’s a disturbing exploration of the art-form’s voyeuristic basis, going so far as to recreate the closest thing to a snuff film you can legally see. Seriously, they go to impressive lengths. It promotes the idea that this violence and these horrid acts are part of a collective evil running through our society, a need to see brutality in it’s purest form, a completely sinister…

THAT’S THE WORD I WAS LOOKING FOR! Holy shit. I’m glad I remembered it. What are the odds of that?

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, yes, Seven Psychopaths.

This is the grossest act of false advertising since McDonalds began their “Kind of Edible!” Campaign.

So, onto a better (kind of) movie. To those of you who don’t know, I have a minor love affair with writer/director Martin McDonagh. His plays The Pillowman, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Lieutenant of Inishmoore and The Cripple of Inishmaan are some of my favorite works I’ve ever read. He instills a deep sense of dark Irish humor with British violence and cynicism while managing to tie the package with the neat ribbon of pathos. His first attempt at film, Six Shooter, ended up with an exploding cow and an oscar. His second was the inconceivably hysterical and sad In Bruges, a semi-parody of another one of my favorite plays, The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter. So, basically, I’d have his babies. I know I don’t have the equipment, but I will find a way. I vow, here and now.

But then, the balloon was pierced and, instead of popping and scaring the shit of nearby babies, it just kind of wheezes. I attended a production of his new play A Behanding in Spokane in Chicago. Yes, the performance sucked…but what was at the center was a shallow, bland tale that used violence to cover up is completely surface nature. Gone was the Irish longing, the romanticism drenched in modern urban brutality, the deep roots in the art of storytelling. It was just a dude hurting two idiots. So, after seeing that and the trailer to his newest venture, I found myself nervous. Would this be a further descent into the mouth of blandness? Has Mr. McDonagh completed his path to hack-dom? Will Christopher Walken Walken the shit out of this thing?

Sam “Amateur Hat Enthusiast” Rockwell

Well…it’s complicated. I enjoyed this movie greatly, with my healthily guffawing theater friends flanking me on both sides. From the opening where we witness the incomparable Michael Stuhlbarg and the DSLicious Michael Pitt get randomly murdered by a guy wearing a parka, you know you’re in for something a little…well…screwy. And screwy it is, folks! The entire first half of flick builds up the belief that this is some kind of Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez/Pineapple Express action comedy where all the ‘psychopaths’ get into place for a final, fatal, self-fellacious showdown. But the second half is extremely not that. To some, it might disappear up its own ass. To others, something a little more subtle is going on.

Marty, Colin Farrell (and the name of the author? Hmmm. I see what you did there), is a screenwriter who’s been stuck on the same title page of a script for months. Every night he drinks and every night he does little more than piss off his shrewish and inexplicably Australian girlfriend, Abby Cornish. At the same time, Sam Rockwell steals dogs and returns them to owners for a profit. Chris Walken is, well, the most fucking Chris Walken I have ever seen. In fact, the levels of Walken-ness are so relentless that you eventually stumble from the theater with a randomly broken speech pattern and the completely shocking ability to softshoe. Woody Harrelson is a vulnerable and homicidal mob boss with a penchant for losing his temper. Tom Waits is a dude with a rabbit. There’s also a Vietnamese priest talking to a hooker. And then Harry Dean Stanton shows up in a story as a tenacious and murderous quaker. There are so many disparate elements on display that its almost impossible to predict how they’ll all slot together.

“What are you in for?” “Being in Joe Dirt, you?” “White Men Can’t Jump.” ~ Actor jail.

And then Mr. McDonagh cheats his fucking ass off. Now, that sounds bad, I know. But it isn’t. Well, unless you don’t like meta. If you don’t care for references within references within references within Leo DiCaprio making that squinty face within references, don’t see this movie. However, if you can handle a little self-reflexive media (let’s be real, unabashedly and unremittingly self-reflexive media) then you should. It’s like Adaptation with more grievous bodily harm. It’s as though, as I did, Mr. McDonagh examined his career, his body of work, and noticed a few glaring issues. First: he relies on violence far too much. He uses his flippant tone to whittle his characters down to nothing more than meat fodder. Second: his female characters have gradually evaporated from his repertoire, reduced to nothing more than whores or saints about to be butchered or simply cut from the story. Third: the love is gone. His earlier works are soaked in a dark reverence for the odd inhabitants of Gallway Bay, where he spent his childhood summers. Gradually, culminating with A Behanding in Spokane, he has lost all affection for his subject matter and that which seemed endearing parody has become ruthless ridicule. Seven Psychopaths is his literary path towards dealing and overcoming each and every one of these problems, while simultaneously engaging in them entirely.

We have Mr. Farrell, as a stand-in for McDonagh, at the center of two opposing ideologies. On one side we have the chucklicious and unhinged mind of Sam Rockwell (who I don’t think was given lines, he simply made it up as he went and the result is delightful), proposing to end their tale with the cliched and overwrought gunfight, a shower of titties and a veritable gore-bath. On the other, we have Mr. Walken, who has a strong love for the human condition. We see McDonagh’s/Farrell’s struggle with the compassion for these psychopaths and the frustration with trying to end the tale with love. How they do it is perhaps my favorite aspect of this film and terrifyingly similar to Naughty Sinister. They tell tales. Fairytales, folktales, horror stories, fables and all the rest. From the frightfully excellent Tom Waits telling his narrative of a vicious love story that hadn’t yet ended to the arc of Mr. Walken, we get some incredible links from pure sadism to touching human emotion. The movie is no conclusion and, for the most part, is surprisingly messy. And that’s fine. It has its shoot-outs, its chortlifying moments of dark comedy etc. But, like Sinister, the miniature vignettes stand out as beautiful deconstructions of their form. Sinister solely serves to study cinema as it’s seen, while Seven Psychopaths scrutinizes the skill of spinning a story.

All rabbits grow up believing that if they’re naughty, they have to spend an eternity living with Tom Waits and all of his REALLY hipstery fans.

I left Seven Psychopaths thinking hard about who I am as an artist. It takes a lot of balls to spend millions of dollars to tell the journey of a man stuck in his career’s mid-life crisis. Luckily, this guy knows how to make ’em laugh. Truly, though, the stories of a man avenging his daughter’s death, a Vietnamese priest avenging his murdered family, and Mr. Waits avenging his wife’s past are all deeply touching in their own, twisted fashion. So, in a way, Mr. McDonagh has found it again. Let’s hope, in the coming years, that he manages to dig his way out of his own ass and create something new. For now, we’ll let him wallow in his filmic colon because, you know what? His excrement is a damn side more artistic than half of Hollywood on a good day.