Never let it be said that Sarah Michelle Gellar does not have good taste, her reaction to the Vogue cover featuring Kim Kardashian and Kanye West prompted the Buffy the Vampire Slayer star to lash out and Kim took a metaphorical stake from “Buffy.” Somewhat disappointingly the slayer does not use wooden stakes these days to dispatch the undead, she uses Twitter, and sadly Kimye did not explode into a puff of dust and ash.
I’ve been a fan of the horror genre ever since I got permission to stay up and watch The Birds on television at the ripe old age of ten. After getting scared so badly that after the film had finished I locked myself into the bathroom and refused to come out, I knew that anything that could affect me that much had to be a winner.
My father was completely puzzled at my bizarre behaviour, obviously forgetting all the nightmares I’d had when I was younger that had him and my mother galloping into my bedroom after my screams had disturbed their slumber. He and my mother were good parents who always explained that things in movies were not real but my Boeing 767 imagination knew otherwise and all the scary things I’d watched would visit me on a nightly basis.
I started sneaking down around midnight on the weekends to watch the local TV stations Hammer Horror Fest that they aired each weekend. *Local station? Huh! The closest station was one state away in Oklahoma. The home of The Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting with Gailard Sartain as Mazeppa Pomazoidi who did skits between commercial breaks and featured, among other guests, a young Gary Busey. Although I did not discover Mazeepa’s “madhouse” till much later, his show made me laugh and cringe at the same time.*
Films were not the only medium that I adored in the horror mode. I found great collections of short stories and anthologies of stories that scared the living crap out of me. One such story was H. Russell Wakefield‘s 1928 short story The Red Lodge. It’s the story of a city fellow and his wife who move to the country and rent this riverside home and it scared me silly. This book gave me an aversion to looking out windows by means of opening the shut curtains. Combined with my Twilight Zone experience with Bill Shatner and the occupants of Red Lodge, it’s a wonder that I can look out windows at all.
I have fond memories (and sometimes still have nightmares) about those Saturday night “creature features” and the books that helped me develop an insatiable taste for all things abnormal, scary and freakish; in other words horror.
I also remember rolling about the floor in hysterical laughter at a mates house while watching a Roger Corman-ish type film where these radioactive giant frog/men things that came out of a contaminated lake and killed local bikini clad beauties. *At one point in the film, one of these frog things shoves his hand through a plate-glass window trying to grab a mannikin, it’s arm gets cut off and what are supposed to be maggots fall out of his stump. The fact that is was obviously rice, made the scene funnier. Come to think of it, this might have been a Corman flick, I just cannot remember the title of it to verify if it is or not.*
I guess I am a lot more forgiving about horror films that other people feel derisory about. I’ve had a life long love affair with these creative geniuses and “not-so-creative” geniuses who make the films that make you want to scream; either in fear or frustration. Because, damn it, they’ve tried.
I know that horror films are the burgeoning directors first port of call when he or she is just starting out. I also know that a lot of “unknown” actors will be in the thing and that a lot of ex-stars might make the odd cameo, but…
I can still remember laughing and screaming in equal measure at Evil Dead at the drive-in. Evil Dead 2 was even better! The eye scene had us laughing, screaming and gagging all at the same time. I’ve seen other films that can equal that reaction, but not too many.
Still, I am most forgiving when it comes to films “copying” other more successful films, which in all likelihood are homages. Too many folks will poop all over a new horror film because it “borrows” from other films. But honestly? When was the last time you saw something so blazingly original that you couldn’t find a comparable film anywhere?
For me, it was The Grudge. That was the first film that I had seen in years that was: a) Great, b)original, and c) scared the crap out of me. Of course, I am talking about the American re-make with Sarah Michelle Gellar directed by Takeshi Shimzu. I only found out later that this was his fourth version of a film that he’d made over and over. So in essence the film was not “original” at all. It borrowed from the earlier versions of the film and Shimzu just kept “tweaking” the scenes until they were scary as hell.
I’ve written a few reviews recently that some people have not necessarily agreed with and that is great. Variety is the spice of life and we all have opinions (a childhood friend once told me, “Opinions are like arseholes, everybody has one.” Another friend quickly added on, “And some are bigger than others.)
Back to the reviews, I never go into a horror film (or any film for that matter) with a “preconceived” idea of what I am going to watch. I concentrate on suspending my disbelief and try to get carried away with the film’s story. Often, unless it is so glaringly obvious that a 5-year-old could spot it, I don’t even notice a lot of “copying” from other films. I just sit down popcorn on hand and coke to the side and watch.
Sometimes I am so disappointed that I will pan a film I have just seen, but not often. It has to be really bad for me to do that and some are that bad, no argument, but I will not judge a film too harshly if the overall story is good, the acting passable and the plot twist (if any) is memorable. Ghostquake is one such dreadful film and I hated it.
Other times, I will find a film that is so blazingly original that it blows my mind. After I watch it repeatedly, I’ll then write about it and ponder why the creativity gods are so fickle and only allow this kind of brilliance to shine once in a great while. The best recent example I can think of was the plot twist in Orphan (thanks GaryLee828 for reminding me of the great film) and of course The Orphanage.
So there you have it, the reason that I am so much more accepting of films that other folks obviously do not like because they “copy” other films. In a nutshell, I love the damned genre so much, that I love even the bad films and I will go out of my way to watch them all. Books, on the other hand, are different. I am not so forgiving there. If they are so badly written that even my overactive imagination cannot connect then they are dismissed immediately and panned.
So as I prepare to trawl through Netflix to find a horror film that I’ve not yet seen, preferably low-budget and gory, I’ll leave you with this thought. Even Sam Raimi copied himself on the first Evil Dead film; it just happens, learn to live with it.
*Oh and if that Corman-ish film sounds familiar, can you give me a title? It would be much appreciated.*
- New Evil Dead Variant Poster Gets the Red Out! (dreadcentral.com)
- Women in Horror: Barbie Wilde (colleenanderson.wordpress.com)
- Sick Nurses (2007): No Pills for These Ills (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Ghostquake: Haunted High (2012) TV Movie Rubbish (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Women in Horror Month: Nancy Kilpatrick (colleenanderson.wordpress.com)
- Imagination Knows No Bounds – Alex Laybourne Interviews Joe Mynhardt (alexlaybourne.com)
- The New York City Horror Film Festival is Now Accepting Entries for 2013 Fest! (dreadcentral.com)
- Dark Carnival Film Fest Announces its 2013 Call for Entries and a New Haunted Location (dreadcentral.com)
- Women in Horror: A.F. Stewart (colleenanderson.wordpress.com)
- Go Back to Where the Evil Dead Began with Sam Raimi’s Within the Woods (dreadcentral.com)
He’s at it again, that Joss Whedon fellow. He’s making another ‘masterpiece’ that doesn’t follow any kind of formulaic plan or career path arc. But are we surprised? No is the only obvious answer here. As Nathan Fillion himself says in the gag reel of Serenity, Joss is Boss. And we believe him.
The genius of Joss Whedon should have been made evident with the theatrical release of Buffy the Vampire Slayer film in 1992. Unfortunately the moron (that’s right I said it) of a producer decided that the workings of the then younger Whedon weren’t good enough and re-imaged the film and destroyed it.
Ultimately the woman did Joss a favour. In her wanton destruction of what could have been, she cleared the way for Joss to re-introduce the world to Buffy Summers and her ‘Scooby gang’ cast of regulars. The success of the small screen Buffy led the way for an almost inevitable spin-off series for the vanquished Angel. The rest, as they say, is history.
Both Buffy and Angel ran for several seasons. Buffy continued to enthral fans for seven seasons while Angel only managed five seasons with the fifth and last season being, arguably, the best. Joss then moved on to the fan favourite Firefly.
Unfortunately the sponsoring network’s biorhythms were really out of whack, either that or there was a ‘We hate Joss’ vendetta type thing going on, because the show got axed almost before it got started.
Dollhouse was next in line and it too fell foul of it’s sponsoring network (with a lot of help from said network, it has to be said) and once again Joss was ‘out in the cold.’
But Joss-is-boss Whedon didn’t sit there crying into his bowl of Cheerio’s. He then came up with the ‘fan-backed’ plan for Serenity. The labour of love that gave all the Firefly fans closure for the characters that they had fallen in love with. Then Joss turned to the internet.
Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and it’s small cadre of players was simply too great for words. Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer (“The hammer is my penis.”), Dr Horrible was Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser all grown up and comically evil) and Felicia Day was Penny the mutual love interest that both men wanted. Great webisodes and great fun.
Joss then stepped up to the plate and hit a Babe Ruth type home run with The Avengers Assemble. That Whedon-esque magic garnered an over one billion dollar box office return that will ensure his name conjures up images of platinum success. I won’t mention the other successful film that had Joss’s fingerprints all over it, The Cabin in the Woods, that was released in the same year as Avengers.
Now Joss has made his own ‘homage’ and re-imaging of the Bard’s Much Ado About Nothing into a ‘Bargain Basement Backyard Production’ with Whedon regulars Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, and Tom Lenk (whom I thought was going to be doomed to do Pepsi Max adverts indefinitely) and a whole lot of other very capable actors.
Looking at stills on IMDb it appears that the film will be in black and white. Nothing new there you say, Young Frankenstein and Schindler’s List were both in black and white. No what will be new, will be what Joss brings to the table in his writing and directing skills.
I am looking forward to seeing this last product of Joss’s creative output. I know that I will not be disappointed.
On a completely different note, I read that the idiot producer that ruined the first ‘Buffy’ film has allegedly dropped her plans for a Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie based on Joss’s television program. There is, it seems, a celluloid God after all. Our ‘cheer-leading’ heroine will remained unsullied and forever associated with Sarah Michelle Gellar and her loyal gang of ‘slayerettes.’
I haven’t mention the many other projects that Joss-is-boss Whedon can lay claim to, if you want to see his impressive credit’s list check out the link to IMDb or Wikipedia. Or you could just watch re-runs of his television masterpieces.
- First Photos From Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (tor.com)
- “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” Makes Its Television Debut on Tuesday, October 9, on The CW (geekinvaders.com)
- How the Internet Changed the Way We Watch Television (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Joss Whedon at Comic-Con: director returns home a god among geeks (guardian.co.uk)
- Much Ado About Whedon (talenin.com)
- ‘Dr. Horrible’ Sequel Coming Soon: Recapturing The Horror Of Joss Whedon (splashpage.mtv.com)