Posts Tagged ‘Scream

01
Oct
12

Mutants, Monsters and Madmen-NOW AVAILABLE!

Last year, you guys may remember that I spent the entire month of October watching and talking about assorted scary movies, chronologically tracing the evolution of horror films from the 1920s up until the present day. I really enjoyed that little project and I think a lot of you did too. And now, as Halloween approaches again, I’m ready to launch the next stage of that project, my new eBook Reel to Reel: Mutants, Monsters and Madmen.

This eBook collects the 35 essays I wrote last year, plus five brand-new ones written just for this collection. Over the course of this book, I look at how the things that scare us have grown and evolved over the last century, dishing on some of the greatest, most influential and most memorable scary movies ever made. This eBook, available now for a mere $2.99, is hopefully going to be the first in a series, in which I’ll tackle different cinematic topics the same way.

If you read the essays last year, check this one out and enjoy the new ones. If you haven’t read any of them, dive in now for the first time. And tell all of your horror movie-loving friends about it as well! After all, the reason I decided to write this book in the first place is because I wanted to read a book like this one, but I just couldn’t find one. The market is out there, friends. Help us find each other.

(And lest I forget, thanks to Heather Petit Keller for the cover design!)

You can get the book now in the following online stores:

Amazon.com (for your Kindle or Kindle app)
Smashwords.com (for every other eBook reader)

And in case you’re wondering, the movies covered in this book include:

*The Golem (1920)
*Nosferatu (1922)
*The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
*Dracula (1931)
*Frankenstein (1931)
*The Mummy (1932)
*Freaks (1932)
*Cat People (1942)
*The Fly (1958)
*Peeping Tom (1960)
*Psycho (1960)
*Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Terror (1962-New in this edition!)
*Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
*The Haunting (1963)
*The Birds (1963-New in this edition!)
*Wait Until Dark (1967)
*Night of the Living Dead (1968)
*Last House on the Left (1972)
*The Exorcist (1973)
*The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
*Jaws (1975)
*Carrie (1976)
*Suspiria (1977)
*Halloween (1978)
*Alien (1979)
*The Shining (1980)
*Friday the 13th (1980)
*The Evil Dead (1981)
*Poltergeist (1982)
*The Thing (1982)
*A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
*Return of the Living Dead (1985)
*Hellraiser (1987-New to this edition!)
*Child’s Play (1988-New to this edition!)
*Misery (1990)
*Scream (1996)
*Ringu (1998)
*The Blair Witch Project (1999)
*Saw (2004)
*The Cabin in the Woods (2012-New to this edition!)

10
Feb
12

What I’m Reading in 2012

Annually, I keep a running tally of all the books, graphic novels, and short stories I read. This list includes re-reads, as well as audiobooks I listen to over the course of the year, but I don’t include individual short stories if I read all of them as part of a collection. In related news, I really overthink the hell out of this stuff. And should the book be something I review online, I’ll provide a link so you can see my thoughts.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, here’s what I’ve read thus far in 2012:

1. A Tale of Sand (2011), Jim Henson & Jerry Juhl, B+*
2. Who’s Who: The Resurrection of the Doctor, Martin Beland and the Staff of The Guardian (2011), B-
3. Age of Bronze Vol. 3: Betrayal (2008), Part One, Eric Shanower, A-*
4. Locke and Key Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom (2011), Joe Hill, A
5. Hogfather (1996), Terry Pratchett, B+
6. Scream Deconstructed (2011), Scott Kessinger, A-
7. In the Peanut Gallery With Mystery Science Theater 3000 (2011), Rob Weiner (Ed.), B
8. Eats, Shoots and Leaves (2003), Lynne Truss, A
9. My Seinfeld Year (2012), Fred Stoller, B
10. Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals (2011), Mary Jo Pehl, B-
11. A Princess of Mars (1917) Edgar Rice Burroughs, A
12. Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella (2011), Mira Grant, A-
13. Sloppy Seconds (2012), Tucker Max, B
14. Killing Mr. Griffin (1978), Lois Duncan, B
15. The Crucible (1952), Arthur Miller, A•
16. Hilarity Ensues (2012), Tucker Max, B+
17. All-Star Superman (2008), Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely, A+*
18. Ruby of Ragnoor (2012), Brad Guitar, B+*
19. What If? Classic Vol. 3 (2005), Gary Friedrich, Don Glut, Marv Wolfman, Steven Grant, Peter Gillis & Tom DeFalco, B*
20. Atomic Robo Vol. 1: Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne (2008), Brian Clevinger, A-*
21. Atomic Robo Vol. 2: Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War (2009), Brian Clevinger, A-*
22. Atomic Robo Vol. 3: Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time (2009′ Brian Clevinger, A*
23. The Gods of Mars (1918), Edgar Rice Burroughs, B+
24. Sum: 40 Tales From the Afterlives (2009), David Eagleman, A-
25. The Nightly News (2007), Jonathan Hickman, A*
26. John Carter: A Princess of Mars (2011), Roger Langridge & Felipe Andrade, B-*
27. Warlord of Mars (1919), Edgar Rice Burroughs, A-
28. The Princess Bride: 30th Anniversary Edition (2003), William Goldman, A
29. Raise Your Glass,: Stuck in the Twilight Saga (2012), Keith Helinski, B
30. Clue: The Musical (1993), Peter DePietro, B•
31. How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months (2011), John Locke, C
32. Forrest Gump (1986), Winston Groom, B
33. The Reporter (2012), Scott Sigler & Mur Lafferty, B+
34. Tales From Development Hell (2012), David Hughes, B+
35. Lamb (2002), Christopher Moore, A
36. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997), J.K. Rowling, A-
37. Buy the RV, We Start Tomorrow: The AV Club’s Guide to Breaking Bad (2010), Donna Murray & Neal Goldman, B
38. Coffee: It’s What’s For Dinner (2011), Dave Kellet, A*
39. Sacre Bleu (2012), Christopher Moore, B
40. Pax Romana (2007), Jonathan Hickman, B-*
41. Paradox (2012), Christos Gage, B- *
42. Avengers Forever (1999), Kurt Busiek, A*
43. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), J.K. Rowling, B+
44. Transhuman (2008), Jonathan Hickman, A-*
45. The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012), Stephen King, B+
46. Atomic Robo Vol. 4: Atomic Robo and Other Strangeness (2010), Scott Wegener, A*
47. Atomic Robo Vol. 5: Atomic Robo and the Flying Fists of Science (2011), Scott Wegener, A-*
48. Misery Loves Sherman (2012), Chris Eliopoulos, B*
49. The Atlantis Chronicles (1990), Peter David, A*
50. Aquaman: Time and Tide (1996), Peter David, B+*
51. Pantheon (1999), Bill Willingham, A-*
52. Atomic Robo Vol. 6: Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X (2012), Scott Wegener, A+*
53. Marvels: Eye of the Camera (2010), Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern, A-*
54. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), J.K. Rowling, A-
55. “They’re Made Out of Meat” (1991), Terry Bisson, B
56. Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? (2012), Brian Cronin, B+
57. The Comic Book History of Comics (2012), Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey, A-*
58. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2010), Seth Graham-Smith, B+
59. Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile (2002), Bill Willingham, A-*
60. JLA Vol. 1: New World Order (1997), Grant Morrision, A-*
61. Star Trek: The Next Generation-Ghosts (2010), Zander Cannon, B*
62. Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage (1993), David Michelinie, J.M. DeMatties, Tom DeFalco, B+*
63. The Hollywood Walk of Shame (1993), Bruce Nash & Allan Zullo, C+
64. The All-Pro (2011), Scott Sigler, B+^
65. Our Valued Customers (2012), Tim Chamberlain, B*
66. Batman: Earth One (2012), Geoff Johns, A*
67. The Infinity Gauntlet (1993), Jim Starlin, A+*
68. F in Exams (2011), Richard Benson, A-
69. F For Effort (2012), Richard Benson, B
70. Blackout (2012), Mira Grant, B+
71. The Monolith (2012), Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, A*
72. Locke and Key Vol. 5: Clockworks (2012), Joe Hill, A*
73. Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 1 (2009), Larry Hama, B-*
74. What If? Classic Vol. 4 (2007), Bill Mantlo, Don Glut, Peter Gillis, Steve Skeates, Tony Isabella, Mike W. Barr, Steven Grant, Mark Gruenwald & Ralph Macchio, B*
75. Firestarter (1981), Stephen King, B+
76. “Don’t Tell Jack” (2001), Neil Gaiman, A-
77. Rising Stars Compendium (2004), J. Michael Straczynski, A*
78. Fahrenheit 451 (1951), Ray Bradbury, A+
79. Morning Glories Vol. 1: For a Better Future (2011), Nick Spencer, A
80. Fool Moon (2001), Jim Butcher, B
81. The Maze Runner (2009), James Dashner, B+
82. The Scorch Trials (2010), James Dashner, B
83. The Death Cure (2011), James Dashner, B
84. Action Philosophers (2009), Fred Van Lente, B+*
85. Fraggle Rock Vol. 1 (2010), B*
86. License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold and Silver (2011), Rick Harrison, B-
87. The MVP (2012), Scott Sigler, A-
88. Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astronomy Zombies (2009), Michael Adams, B+
89. Upside Down: A Vampire Tale (2012) Jess Smart Smiley, B*
90. Trick ‘r Treat (2009), Marc Andreyko, B*
91. Madman 20th Anniversary Monster (2012), Mike Allred, B*
92. Texts From Dog (2012), October Jones, B
93. The Complete Omaha the Cat Dancer Vol. 1 (2005), Kate Worley & Reed Waller, B*
94. Superman: Earth One Vol. 2 (2012), J. Michael Straczynski & Shane Davis, A*
95. Tremors of the Buried Moon (2011), J.C. Rogers, B*
96. The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West Vol. 1 (2012), Tom Hutchinson, B+*
97. Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking (2012), Charles M. Schulz, A-*
98. Archie Classics Series Vol. 1: Christmas Classics (2011), B
99. Marvel Zombies (2006), Robert Kirkman, B+*
100. Marvel Zombies 2 (2008), Robert Kirkman, A*
101. Marvel Zombies 3 (2009), Fred Van Lente, B-*
102. Marvel Zombies 4 (2009), Fred Van Lente, C*
103. Marvel Zombies Return (2009), B+*
*-Denotes graphic novel or comic strip collection
•-Denotes stage play
^-Denotes audiobook
“”-Denotes short story

–Updated August 5, 2012

30
Dec
11

Choosing the year’s best movies…

Exactly one year ago today, I sat down in an effort to compile my personal list of the best movies of 2010, only to discover, to my horror, that I hadn’t seen nearly enough 2010 releases to come up with any kind of comprehensive list. Undaunted, I decided to spent the next month gorging myself on on 2010 movies via Netflix and borrowing DVDs from people. Ultimately, I managed to create such a list, although it wasn’t posted until February 1 of this year.

I’ve come to realize that, while there’s a natural urge to categorize things at the end of the year, I don’t get out to the movies nearly often enough. I used to — back in the day my pal Jason and I could knock out two or three movies in a weekend, but that was before I had a blog. These days, not so much. I’ve seen a total of 36 films with a 2011 release date, 10 of which would typically be disqualified from a list like this because they were either made for television or direct-to-DVD (although I would put things like All Star Superman and Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension right up there with the most entertaining films of the year, head-to-head with any movie that got to theaters).

If I had the sort of life that allowed me to take in most movies as they were released, it would be more logical of me to try to compile a list like this, but sadly, I’m not a professional reviewer, although I’ve often wished I was. In this day and age I see movies in the theater, typically, when it’s something I have a burning desire to see that won’t wait for DVD or on those rare occasions when I’m hanging out with friends and we need something to do, something that has happened less and less often thanks to the work and family obligations that seem to hold us all back these days.

So, like last year, I’m going to frontload my NetFlix queue with 2011 releases (now that so many of them are available), then come back in a month or so to let you know what I decided were my favorites of the year. In the meantime, here are the movies I’ve already seen, ranked by how much I enjoyed them. The first few shouldn’t surprise anybody…

 

  1. The Muppets
  2. Super 8
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  4. Captain America: The First Avenger
  5. All-Star Superman (Direct-to-DVD)
  6. Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (TV Movie)
  7. X-Men: First Class
  8. Attack the Block
  9. Thor
  10. Batman: Year One (Direct-to-DVD)
  11. Source Code
  12. The Captains
  13. Green Lantern
  14. Cars 2
  15. Scream 4
  16. Still Screaming (Direct-to-DVD Documentary)
  17. Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas (TV Movie)
  18. The Hangover Part II
  19. Limitless
  20. Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (Direct-to-DVD)
  21. Scream: The Inside Story (Direct-to-DVD Documentary)
  22. Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (Direct-to-DVD)
  23. Contagion
  24. Battle: Los Angeles
  25. Tower Heist
  26. Paul
  27. Cowboys and Aliens
  28. Miller’s Tale (TV Documentary)
  29. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Ties
  30. Quarantine 2: Terminal
  31. Sucker Punch
  32. Unknown
  33. A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner (TV Movie)
  34. Red Riding Hood
  35. Your Highness
  36. The Green Hornet

 

30
Oct
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 243: Icons of Horror

It’s time for the official Showcase Halloween episode! This year, Blake and Erin get together to talk about horror movies… their favorites, the earliest ones they’ve seen, movies they hate, the icons that make horror what it is today, and those characters that could potentially join the ranks of Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees in the future. In the picks, Blake gives us a New 52 Pick, Superman #2 and a Halloween pick, Casper’s Scare School #1! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 243: Icons of Horror

28
Oct
11

Story Structure Day 32: Scream (1996)

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Kevin Williamson

Cast: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, Jamie Kennedy, Drew Barrymore, Liev Schrieber, Henry Winkler, Roger L. Jackson, W. Earl Brown

Plot: At home alone, a girl named Casey (Drew Barrymore) gets phone calls from a mysterious stranger (voiced by Roger L. Jackson). Although friendly and flirtatious at first, the caller starts to get angry and violent, finally revealing that he’s outside her house and he’s got her boyfriend taped to a chair. He forces her to play a sadistic horror movie trivia game for her boyfriend’s life, but she gets a question wrong (it’s a question that you, dear reader, should be able to answer correctly if you’ve been paying attention to this little experiment) and Steve is slashed. Casey tries to run, but is caught by a cloaked figure in a Ghost-faced mask who stabs her and leaves her dangling in the trees for her parents to find.

The next day we encounter Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), one of Casey’s classmates, who is having trouble dealing with the upcoming one-year anniversary of her mother’s death at the hands of a man named Cotton Weary (Live Schrieber). At school the next day, Sidney’s friend Tatum (Rose McGowan) tells her about the murders, and the media descends upon the campus. Sidney and Tatum’s boyfriends, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) are overly enthused about the killings, while their film buff buddy Randy (Jamie Kennedy) mocks their cavalier attitude. That night, the killer calls Sidney, claiming to be outside her house. She is saved when Billy arrives, but when he drops a cell phone, she thinks he’s the killer (remember, kids, this was before every person on the planet had four phones in their pants). Tatum’s brother Dewey (David Arquette), a police deputy, arrives and arrests Billy. As Sidney leaves the police station, she is accosted by Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox), a TV reporter who built her career with a hurtful expose about the murder of Sidney’s mother. Sidney punches Gail and goes to Tatum’s house for the night, since her father is out of town. (What is it with horror movie parents who leave town when their kids are being stalked by murderers? Craven pulled this in Nightmare on Elm Street as well.) The next day, Gail and Sidney are confronted again, Gail espousing her theory that Cotton is innocent of Maureen Prescott’s murder, and further suggesting the new killer is related to her case. Billy, meanwhile, is released from jail when an examination of his phone records proves he didn’t call Sidney that night. As she broods, the killer attacks her at school. She escapes, but Principal Himbry (Henry Winkler) cancels all classes until further notice. Unfortunately, Ghostface doesn’t obey school hours – Himbry is his next victim.

Gleeful over the school cancellations, Stu throws a horror movie party at his house. Just about everybody is there, including Gail and Dewey, watching the place in the news van through a camera they hid in the living room. Tatum goes to the garage for more beer, and winds up encountering – and being killed by – Ghostface. Billy and Sid retreat to Stu’s parents room (again, where are the parents?) and she confesses she’s terrified of turning into a “bad seed” like her mother, who was having an affair with Cotton. As they “make up,” downstairs Randy schools the crowd (and the audience) on the rules of surviving a horror movie:

  1. Never have sex.
  2. Never drink or do drugs.
  3. Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances say, “I’ll be right back.”

Naturally, all the rules are being broken all over the place.

The party empties out as the kids discover Himbry’s death, and Randy is left alone. Upstairs, the killer strikes, stabbing Billy and coming after Sid. She tries to run, but he seems to be everywhere, and she winds up climbing onto the roof and falling to the ground. She flees to the news van, where she and Gail’s cameraman (W. Earl Brown) watch the killer creep up on Randy… then run when he hears Sid screaming 30 seconds earlier. The camera is on a delay – one that turns out deadly for the Kenny the Cameraman. Sidney returns to the house, where Dewey staggers out, a knife in his back. Randy and Stu appear, both accusing the other of being the killer, and Sid locks them out of the house, where Billy is staggering around, bloody but alive. He opens the door, lets Randy in, tosses out a Psycho quote and shoots the film geek. Stu comes in through the side entrance with a voice-changer, and Sid finally realizes the game: Billy and Stu have both been killing, taking turns slaughtering their friends. Billy admits it’s all been a revenge game – Sid’s mother had an affair with Billy’s father, which is why Billy murdered Maureen and framed Cotton, and why he’s targeting Sid now. Stu produces Sidney’s father, tied up, who they’re planning to frame for their crimes, leaving the two of them as the heroic survivors, but they’ve got to injure each other first to make it convincing. Billy stabs Stu too deep, though, and he begins dying of blood loss. Gail arrives with a gun, but she’s forgotten to turn the safety off, allowing Billy to disarm her and knock her out. While the killers are distracted, Sid vanishes. She leaps out wearing the mask, stabs Billy with an umbrella, and then battles Stu, finally smashing his head with a TV showing the finale of Halloween. Gail, Randy and Dewey turn out to be alive, but Billy pops up and attacks again. Gail takes him down, though. This time, she remembers to turn the safety off.

Thoughts: Believe it or not, this is the first film on this entire list that I saw when it was actually a new movie. Like I said waaaaaaaay back in the introduction, I never really watched scary movies when I was a kid. In college, my buddy Jason got me to give them a try, and this was one of the earliest. As such, I didn’t quite know all of the tropes and jokes this film is crammed with. But it shows you just how powerful these elements of storytelling have become that I still got enough of them to not only understand this movie, but really enjoy it.

Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven really did usher in a new era of movies here. After Scream, cinemas were deluged with a new wave of  teen horror films and slasher flicks that tried to imitate the rapid fire dialogue and self-referential nature of the movie while completely missing the heart. What they didn’t seem to get is that the filmmakers were doing the greatest kind of parody: the kind made by people who genuinely love that which they lampoon and, at the same time, create a masterful example. The film is full of references to other horror movies (including Wes Craven’s own back catalogue), and contains a now-legendary discussion about the “rules of horror movies” that we’ve been discussing in this project all along. Whether it was Craven or Williamson who’s responsible, the movie is packed with comments about Nightmare on Elm Street, including a Wes Craven cameo wearing a Freddy Krueger mask. Then of course, there’s the greatest Nightmare reference of all: Skeet Ulrich really looks like a young Johnny Depp in this flick.

Craven doesn’t flinch from acknowledging the works of other horror masters, though – the key question in the first scene is a Friday the 13th reference, and The Exorcist’s Linda Blair makes an uncredited cameo as a reporter. We also see numerous Halloween references, including the kids watching that movie on the night of the party, Ghostface giving Sidney a “head tilt” oddly reminiscent of that Michael Myers gives one of his victims in the original film, naming Billy Loomis after Dr. Sam Loomis (who, in turn, was named after a character in Psycho – it’s the circle of life, people) and the highly metatextual exchange when Randy (played, remember, by Jamie Kennedy) yells at Jamie Lee Curtis that the killer is behind her… while the killer is behind him.

Randy, by the way, is a fantastic character. He’s smart, terribly funny, and full of self-referential humor before lesser filmmakers overused it to the point where it’s gotten tedious. Jamie Kennedy was great in this part – what the hell happened to him?

Anyway, back to other horror movies. The problem was, too many of the imitators took Randy’s “rules” as some sort of iron clad set of commandments, and any creativity they may have displayed evaporated. Scream, instead, used those rules as a framework, then layered a particularly clever and rich mystery on top of them. It was a really long time since a horror film succeeded by causing the audience to question who the killer was or which characters they could trust. This film works as a horror movie that brings in a nice element of comedy as well, but I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves for bringing real mystery back to horror. The fear at the end of the film, during the four-way standoff with Sidney, Randy, Billy and Stu, comes from the fact that Sidney has no idea which of these three boys she can trust (and the totally innocent Randy almost pays for it with his life).

While the body count isn’t enormous in this movie, especially compared to other slashers and gorefests like the Saw films, the kills are really very memorable. Casey’s death was shocking, as the movie was heavily promoted as a Drew Barrymore film and nobody expected her to die in the opening scene, and Tatum’s murder via garage door opener is pretty darn clever. It really makes you want to be careful never to get Kevin Williamson or Wes Craven mad at you.

Ghostface, as a character, is a great addition to the pantheon of horror movie killers. Even though seven different characters have worn the mask in four different movies (as of this writing), it’s almost as if they’re wearing a single character’s entire persona. No matter who Ghostface is, his style of attack is the same, the way he can pop out of anywhere like a damn ninja, the way he takes legitimate damage when his victims fight back but he keeps coming anyway. And the way he never talks in person makes it all the creepier, because unlike Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, you know he can talk. Get him on a phone with a voice changer and he chatters away like a talk show host. But in person, he’s the strong, silent, stabby type.

This film really has one of the great horror movie finales. Lots of movies have a sort of battle of wits in the end between the murderer and the Survivor Girl, but Halloween and Friday the 13th eliminated the pool of potential victims far too early. The great thing about this finale is that once the killer shows up at the party, there are still plenty of people around, and any one of them could be a victim or a murderer. In fact, the only thing that exonerates some of them from being a suspect is getting killed themselves. This, of course, wasn’t the case for Billy Loomis. It’s also notable that the film has a lot more survivors than we’re used to in horror movies. Not only are there two killers, but Survivor Girl Sidney is joined by survivors Gail, Dewey, and Randy. In fact, except for Randy (killed off in memorable fashion in Scream 2, not in a cheap “get ‘em in the first reel” way like I’ve said so many times I hate so much) all of the survivors of this movie have made it four movies into the franchise. That’s got to be some kind of record.

As great a movie as it is, the fact that it was so cutting edge at the time leaves it looking a little dated now. The fact that Billy even had a cell phone was enough to make him a suspect at this point. And of course, the stacks of videotapes (and the fact that Randy works in a video store) both seem kind of quaint already. Plus, y’know… landlines. Phones with cords. Wow. How did we ever live?

Tomorrow we’re going to head overseas for one more trip this month. It was a Japanese film that not only launched an American remake, but a host of imitators and a host of American remakes of imitators. Let’s take a look at Ringu.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com.

02
May
11

What I write: the important horror films

When I’m not working on fiction, I find that some of my favorite things to write are… well… analysis of other fiction. I think it’s part of the same section of my brain that works as an English teacher. I like to take stories, pick them apart, and examine which parts of them work, and don’t work, and why. True literary criticism isn’t quite the art form that it once was, of course. I’m not talking just about simple reviews, I mean a real, scholarly examination that breaks things apart and examines them, warts and all. I find I enjoy all of that.

So lately, I’ve been trying to think of ways to do that in a more organized fashion than the occasional blog post here and more in-depth than a simple review allows. And I think I’ve got a way. But to begin this project, I need to make a list.

I think I have a way to examine stories that I’ll enjoy doing, and that may even be interesting for you fine folks to read. And I’m going to start with horror movies. What I’m going to do is make myself a list of some of the most influential and/or important horror films of all time. Then I shall watch them and write about them. So I’d like you guys to help me decide, what are some “important” horror films? Which ones created great characters, are the first works of great writers or directors, or changed the way we think about horror? For the purposes of this, I’m only looking at theatrical films — no TV movies or miniseries — and while I’m not automatically disqualifying sequels, it better be damn important to crack the list. And remakes? Not gonna be easy to convince me, but go for it.

Here’s what I’ve got so far, in chronological order:

  1. Nosferatu (1922-Perhaps the first vampire film)
  2. Dracula (1931-First Universal monster)
  3. Frankenstein (1931-Perhaps the best-known Universal monster)
  4. Peeping Tom (1960-Considered by some to be the first slasher film)
  5. Psycho (1960-Hitchcock’s masterpiece)
  6. The Haunting (1963-Considered by some to be the greatest haunted house movie of all time)
  7. Night of the Living Dead (1968-Defined how we see zombies today)
  8. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974-Shaped the mad killer/slasher subgenre)
  9. Carrie (1976-First film adaptation of the work of Stephen King. Also his first novel, but that’s a different list.)
  10. Halloween (1978-Shaped horror films of the 80s)
  11. Alien (1979-Perfect synthesis of science fiction and horror)
  12. Friday the 13th (1980-Created a horror icon)
  13. The Thing (1982-The only remake on my list, because of its status as a locked-room mystery/monster movie, and the original is largely forgotten)
  14. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984-Created a horror icon)
  15. Scream (1996-Redefined horror films)
  16. Saw (2004-Shaped horror films of the 21st century)

So that’s all I’ve got so far. A measly 16 films! I want at least twice as many, folks, so I’m turning to you for help.What am I leaving out?

This list is, by virtue of being my list, somewhat prejudiced towards American films. I’ll certainly consider foreign films, if you can convince me one belongs on the list. And of course, a film’s inclusion in this project depends largely on my ability to find a copy on Netflix. And remember, it’s not just enough to tell me the name of a movie. Convince me. What makes it important? So hit me, guys. What movies do you believe deserve a place in this experiment?

17
Apr
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 217: SCREAMing For Your E-Mails

Blake is back this week with his review of Scream 4! How does it hold up to the films in the original trilogy? Does it hold up? Can it hold-up? His spoiler-free thoughts are inside. Then, it’s on to your e-mails, where we chat about the shutdown of Tokyopop, Brightest Day, Reign of Doomsday, the Metal Men, and recommendations for all-ages comics! In the picks, Blake loved the Captain America: The Fighting Avenger one-shot. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 217: SCREAMing For Your E-Mails

16
Apr
11

Other things I review…

I thought I’d take this opportunity to remind everyone that I actually write many, many reviews over at CX Pulp.com, if you’re interested. My comic reviews are ubiquitous, of course, but books and movies are a little different. If I read a book or watch a movie that’s not exactly current, I’ll put the review up here, but I put all reviews of new material over at CX. Here are a few of my more recent reviews you may have missed…

09
Apr
11

A Word About Scream 4…

When I first heard that Dimension Pictures was planning a fourth Scream movie, some eleven years after the trilogy ended, I was pretty skeptical. I was a big fan of the original film as a loving send-up of horror movies. It was the rare film that managed to actually be a great example of the very genre it was attempting to parody. The second movie did the same with horror sequels. The third movie… well… wasn’t as good as the first two (a fact I largely attribute to the departure of series creator Kevin Williamson as screenwriter), but I thought it had its strong points, and brought some nice, circular closure to the trilogy.

Coming back with a fourth installment over a decade later? The first thing that came to mind was, “Cash grab.” After all, the Weinstein Company — which took Dimension with it when the founders left Disney-owned Miramax — still hasn’t had the megahit it really wants. Revisiting the movie that is, arguably, the Weinsteins’ biggest success to date reeks of a studio that wants money badly.

I was slightly encouraged by the news that Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette would all be returning. I was more encouraged to hear that writer Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven were both returning as well. Cox certainly doesn’t need the money, and Craven has been known to walk away from a series when it started to suck (Nightmare on Elm Street) only to return and do one of the best installments (New Nightmare). And while I’m not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing, when Williamson said he had ideas to make Scream 4 part of a second trilogy (although he wouldn’t begin work on 5 until he saw how 4 was received) I found that particularly interesting.

But perhaps the thing that interests me the most is when Williamson said that the new movie will be a dissection of horror films of the 21st century. The original Scream, in 1996, was largely an examination of the horror films of the 80s — slasher movies with a certain set of rules and tropes. Horror movies today are a lot different than that. Many of most popular ones are usually paranormal in nature (something the Scream films have never been), lighter on the gore and heavier on the suspense — or at least an attempt at suspense, as very often such films fall short. Either that, or crappy remakes. I’m very curious as to exactly how Williamson can reconcile such films with the universe he created in the original Scream series.

The rest of the popular horror flicks are in the “Torture Porn” variety, the one that Saw made popular, that Hostel made ubiquitous, and that The Human Centipede makes so completely absurd. The Scream films were never that heavy on violence, but the over-the-top set pieces and elaborate twists and turns those movies take… well, that would fit into the Scream wheelhouse nicely, wouldn’t it?

I’m not sure what, exactly, will make me happy in a Scream 4 or in a new Scream trilogy. There are a few things I won’t be happy about, and those all focus on the three remaining characters: Campbell’s Sidney Prescott, Arquette’s Dewey Riley, and Cox’s Gale Weathers.

First of all, if any of them turns out to actually be the killer (or one of the killers), I’ll be pissed. These three survivors each went through a good, solid character arc in the original trilogy. To see any of them, after so much time, revert to being a murderer would really disrespect who they were back then.

Second, if any of them are killed in the new film’s opening scene. I wouldn’t be surprised if any, or all of them were to die before the second series ended, mind you. Both 2 and 3 included the deaths of one of the survivors of the original film. Now we’ve only got three original survivors left, and if there are three more movies, I could see Williamson killing off one in each film. But I wouldn’t want to see them die in the opening scene. Again, that would feel disrespectful to characters who have been through so much. If any of them die, I want to see them go out in a big way.

I also would really want a shout out, at least a small one, to Jamie Kennedy’s character from the older films. Just because Randy Meeks was awesome.

Other than that, I don’t think I have any expectations. But I am interested in what’s coming next. So I’ll see Scream 4 next weekend with an open mind. Craven and Williamson, I think, have earned that much.

03
Feb
11

What I’m Watching in 2011

Okay, we’re over a month into the year, it’s time for me to begin my running tally of movies I’ve watched in 2011. Those of you who see this list when it’s first posted will notice a definite trend towards 2010 films. If you’ve read this post, that makes a lot more sense. At any rate, this is where I’m keeping my annual running tally of the movies I see this year, and my quick rating of them. And if I review a movie at any of the many websites where I turn out such content, I’ll throw up a link.

What I’m Watching in 2011

  1. How to Train Your Dragon (2010), B+
  2. Infestation (2009), B+
  3. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), A
  4. True Grit (2010), A+
  5. Shutter Island (2010), B-
  6. Robin Hood (2010), C
  7. Easy A (2010), A-
  8. Splice (2009), D-
  9. Dinner For Schmucks (2010), B-
  10. Buried (2010), B+
  11. The Social Network (2010), A
  12. Repo Men (2010), C
  13. Logan’s Run (1976), B
  14. Exam (2008), A
  15. The Town (2010), A
  16. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010), B
  17. Fame (2009), B-
  18. Back to the Future (1985), A+
  19. Superman (1978), A+
  20. Cop Out (2010), D
  21. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010), C
  22. All-Star Superman (2011), A
  23. The Crucible (1996), A
  24. Unknown (2011), C+
  25. Legion (2010), C-
  26. The Book of Eli (2010), C+
  27. Mulholland Drive (2001), B
  28. A Bug’s Life (1998), B
  29. Battle: Los Angeles (2011), B
  30. RED (2010), B+
  31. Frozen (2010), B
  32. Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (2011), B+
  33. A Beautiful Mind (2002), A
  34. Machete (2010), D
  35. Monsters (2010), C
  36. Let Me In (2010), B
  37. Limitless (2011), B+
  38. Devil (2010), C+
  39. 30 Days of Night: Dark Days (2010), C-
  40. Scream (1996), A
  41. Scream 2 (1997), B
  42. Scream 3 (2000), B-
  43. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), A+
  44. Love and Other Drugs (2010), B+
  45. Moon (2009), A
  46. Fight Club (1999), B
  47. Megamind (2010), B
  48. Scream 4 (2011), B+
  49. The Experiment (2010), B
  50. It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010), A-
  51. The King’s Speech (2010), A
  52. Lottery Ticket (2010), C
  53. Mary Poppins (1964), A
  54. Ghostbusters 2 (1989), B+
  55. Wall•E (2008), A
  56. The Other Guys (2010), D
  57. Akira (1988), B
  58. The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story (2009), A
  59. The Phantom Tollbooth (1970), A
  60. The Last Unicorn (1982), B+
  61. Chicken Little (2005), B
  62. The Fighter (2010), B
  63. Saw: The Final Chapter (2010), B-
  64. Memento (2000), A
  65. The Untouchables (1987), A
  66. Thor (2011), A
  67. Firebreather (2010), B-
  68. Bookwars (2000), B-
  69. Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010), A
  70. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), C
  71. Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) (2010), B+
  72. Die Hard (1988), A
  73. The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993), B+
  74. The Princess Bride (1987), A+
  75. Holes (2003), B+
  76. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), B+
  77. Skyline (2010), D
  78. The Last Airbender (2010), C-
  79. The Last Starfighter (1984), A
  80. Duck Soup (1933), A+
  81. The Hangover Part II (2011), B
  82. Piranha (2010), C+
  83. UHF (1989), B
  84. Spaceballs (1987), B
  85. The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920), B+
  86. Labyrinth (1986), A
  87. The Green Hornet (2011), D+
  88. Series 7: The Contenders (2001), B+
  89. 127 Hours (2010), B+
  90. Saludos Amigos (1942), B
  91. The Three Caballeros (1944), B+
  92. X-Men: First Class (2011), A-
  93. The Last Man on Earth (1964), B
  94. The Vampire’s Night Orgy (1973), F
  95. Chloe (2009), B
  96. Nosferatu (1922), A
  97. The Virginity Hit (2010), B
  98. The Color of Magic (2008), B
  99. Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011), B+
  100. Vanishing on 7th Street (2010), C+
  101. Green Lantern: First Flight (2009), A-
  102. Rubber (2010), C+
  103. Walt and El Grupo (2008), B
  104. Super 8 (2011), A
  105. Big Fish (2003), A+
  106. Black Death (2010), B
  107. Battle Royale (2001), B+
  108. The Faculty (1998), B-
  109. Green Lantern (2011), B-
  110. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), B-
  111. Synecdoche, New York (2008), C
  112. The Phantom of the Opera (1925), A
  113. Fright Night (1985), B
  114. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), A
  115. The Fugitive (1993), A
  116. Cars (2006), B+
  117. Cars 2 (2011), B+
  118. After.Life (2009), C
  119. Zapped! (1982), D
  120. James and the Giant Peach (1996), B
  121. Young Frankenstein (1974), A
  122. The Addams Family (1991), B+
  123. The Great Muppet Caper (1981), B
  124. A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner (2011), D
  125. Dracula (1931), B
  126. Death Note (2006), B
  127. Tales From the Script (2009), B+
  128. Unthinkable (2010), B+
  129. The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2007), A-
  130. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), B
  131. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), B-
  132. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), B+
  133. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), B+
  134. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2008), B-
  135. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), B+
  136. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010), A
  137. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011), A
  138. Frankenstein (1931), A
  139. The Mummy (1932), B
  140. Be Kind, Rewind (2008), B
  141. 25th Hour (2002), B
  142. The Incredibles (2004), A+
  143. Zodiac (2007), A
  144. Rec (2007), B+
  145. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), A
  146. Miller’s Tale (2011), B+
  147. Freaks (1932), B
  148. Red Riding Hood (2011), D
  149. Battle Royale II (2003), C
  150. Cowboys and Aliens (2011), C+
  151. Ernest Goes to Camp (1987), B
  152. Ernest Goes to Jail (1990), C+
  153. The Beginning of the End (1957), F; MST3K Riff, B
  154. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), F; MST3K Riff, B+
  155. Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (2011), A-
  156. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), A
  157. Cat People (1942), B
  158. Curse of the Cat People (1944), C-
  159. Sucker Punch (2011), D
  160. The Fly (1958), A
  161. Peeping Tom (1960), B
  162. Best Worst Movie (2009), A
  163. Troll 2 (1990), F
  164. Psycho (1960), A
  165. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), A
  166. Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011), B
  167. Super (2010), B+
  168. The Haunting (1963), B
  169. Night of the Living Dead (1968), A
  170. The Last House on the Left (1972), C-
  171. Suicide Girls Must Die (2011), C-
  172. Wait Until Dark (1967), A
  173. The Exorcist (1973), A
  174. Gamera (1965), C; MST3K Riff, A
  175. Gamera Vs. Barugon (1966), D; MST3K Riff, B+
  176. Gamera Vs. Gaos (1967), D; MST3K Riff, B
  177. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), C+
  178. Jaws (1975), A
  179. Carrie (1976), B+
  180. Suspiria (1977), D+
  181. Gamera Vs. Guiron (1969), D; MST3K Riff, B+
  182. Contagion (2011), C+
  183. Halloween (1978), A
  184. Alien (1979), A
  185. The Shining (1980), C+
  186. Friday the 13th (1980), B
  187. The Evil Dead (1981), B+
  188. The Thing (1982), A
  189. Poltergeist (1982), B+
  190. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), B
  191. Return of the Living Dead (1985), C-
  192. Misery (1990), A
  193. Ringu (1998), B+
  194. The Blair Witch Project (1999), B
  195. Saw (2004), A
  196. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), B+
  197. The Creeping Terror (1964), F; MST3K riff, B+
  198. Mad Monster Party (1967), B
  199. Zombiemania (2008), B
  200. Tower Heist (2011), B-
  201. Scream: The Inside Story (2011), B
  202. Still Screaming (2011), A
  203. Your Highness (2011), D
  204. Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008), B-
  205. The Cannonball Run (1981), B
  206. Batman: Year One (2011), A-
  207. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), A-
  208. Up (2009), A+
  209. The Muppets (2011), A
  210. Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas (2011), B
  211. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), F; Cinematic Titanic Riff, B
  212. Christmas and A Christmas Carol (2009), D
  213. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972), F; RiffTrax, A
  214. The Great Gatsby (1974), A
  215. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), B+
  216. Tom and Huck (1995), Bl
  217. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), A
  218. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999), B
  219. Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) (2005), A
  220. Scrooged (1988), A-
  221. The Magic Christmas Tree (1964), F; RiffTrax B+
  222. It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002), B
  223. The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), B
  224. Miracle on 34th Street (1947), A+
  225. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), A+
  226. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), A
  227. A Christmas Story (1983), A
  228. Love, Actually (2002), A
  229. Source Code, (2011), B+
  230. Paul, (2011), C+
  231. Tron: Legacy (2010), B+
  232. Attack the Block (2011), B+l
  233. The Captains (2011), A
  234. Gnomeo and Juliet (2011), B
  235. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011), C

Last Updated on January 1, 2012.




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