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a sense of joy and then a panic
a sense of joy and then a panic
Oh, and while I'm at it: Godzilla --

-- was not as good as Cloverfield or Pacific Rim.  By a long-shot, in my opinion.  The trailer is a lot better than the movie - there's an apocalyptic solemnity in the trailer that's quite convincing, but lacking in the movie, which feels like a throwback to the 1990s' style of fluffy blockbuster without any of the humor or star power.  I really didn't understand what was going on with the plot, even though I suspect it was very simple - the movie rushed through its clumsily-delivered explanations.

The audience didn't take it too seriously either - everyone could not help laughing when Ken Watanabe ominously intoned, "Gojira," and everyone clapped for Godzilla's power move kill shot at the end.  It was the kind of movie that had L. suggesting that Godzilla should have just gone ahead and done a little salute at the end.  It was corny.

What I love about Pacific Rim is that it's scary, and it builds its world extremely well.  I bought the world of Pacific Rim as a world in which these gigantic monsters keep popping up and destroying cities, for years and years on end, and humanity has more or less altered to live with it.  The indie movie Monsters is the best example of this sort of creativity, but Pacific Rim has a bold, neon, all-in shamelessness in its world-building that I loved.  (Also, Raleigh and Mako ugh I can't)  I mean, for God's sake, the entire Ron Perlman character. Godzilla has none of that. Godzilla is bland - camo-toned and humorless and flat.

And what I love about Cloverfield is its sincere, hysterical emotion.  You hate those stupid yuppies but damn if they don't seem like real people.  Damn if this doesn't seem like what would actually fucking happen if you were living in New York City and a monster attacked.  What struck me about Godzilla was how utterly calm everyone seemed to be.  The military, the civilians - it was almost like people had to be reminded to run, to scream, to act scared.  Bryan Cranston was the only person who seemed to be articulating his emotions, and as a result actually looked a little out-of-place.

In other words, Godzilla didn't seem to believe in itself.  Which is too bad.

I will say, though, I would love to watch a giant monster movie compilation set to Iggy Azalea's "Change Your Life" ("pop out your past life and I'll renovate your future/ yeah I love your hustle baby, just let me add a little bit of muscle, baby").  Seriously, something like this set to "Change Your Life"?  Would be amazing.

iggy muscle
I saw two horror movies back to back recently - Contracted and Alyce Kills (both on Netflix).  They're both like Girls episodes gone bloody, which is always interesting to me since we know how much I like the whole women-in-horror thing.  I told a friend who doesn't like horror movies the plot line of The Descent this evening and she came away saying, "I will never watch that because I can't handle gore, but it sounds intriguing."  Which of course it is!  I have come up with a new crazy theory about how watching and writing horror has made me a stronger person, but I think it needs to be fleshed out before I show it to the world.

Contracted is about sexually transmitted diseases. Alyce Kills is about being obsessed with your best friend, I guess.  The main characters of both movies are lesbians in their 20s living in some L.A.-like city, working as a waitress (Samantha from Contracted) or a menial office worker of some kind (Alyce from Alyce Kills).  Both are surrounded by an infuriating cast of realistically - sometimes absurdly - obnoxious characters.

Neither of the two are especially sympathetic, but both are - at least at first - at the mercy of larger forces, both supernatural and societal.  Samantha is a nail-biting bundle of nerves who's recently broken up with too-cool-for-school Nikki and living with her ridiculous mother, whose inability to accept that Samantha is a lesbian is perfectly mirrored by her inability to see that Samantha has contracted some terrible, terrible illness.  Samantha is not over Nikki and wants desperately to get back with her, but meanwhile she's being harassed by dweeb-leech Riley.  She's sleepwalking (nightmaring, really) through life.  Then she goes to a party and has her drink spiked by a dude no one seems to know named B.J., who we previously saw engaging in necrophilia.  B.J. rapes her.  Samantha thinks she's got a bad cold... then a bad stomach bug... then a bad STD.  But come on, people: her eyes are bleeding, her hair and nails are falling out... Samantha's turning dead, and no one seems to be all that alarmed.  The movie is an allegory about a lot of things, but I came away thinking mostly about invisibility, intense helplessness, and apathy.  Samantha definitely has an external locus of control, and unfortunately the world just doesn't give a shit about her - until, of course, she's become a full-on zombie.

Alyce is different, and in some ways a relief after the excruciating passive weakness of Samantha - except that Alyce has murderous, apocalyptic tendencies.  But Alyce, to her credit, gets shit done.  When she pushes her best friend off a roof - accidentally?  again, Alyce, like Samantha, has been drinking when the great Calamity happens and the horror rabbit-hole opens up - she quickly figures out that she's going to lie to the police about having been on the roof too.  She decides she'll have sex with a drug dealer for the drugs she needs to get the ghostly visage of her best friend out of her head.  She decides she needs to kill her paralyzed best friend (who she loves, and hates, and everything in between) before the best friend can point the finger at her.  She decides to cause a terrible scene at the best friend's funeral.  She decides to start killing people who hurt the best friend.  Etc.  Alyce, if nothing else, is a very active agent in her life.  She also makes terrible - evil, really - decisions with very little regard for others.  Both Samantha and Alyce kill people, but Samantha does so out of a combination of her slow-burning frustration with existence and more importantly, the zombie disease inside her.  Alyce, like her best friend before the fall, is hovering over the precipice and cracking up, probably because she's one of those people who doesn't really consider other people to be "real."

Neither of these are much fun to watch, and neither are beautiful in any way.  My favorite scene in Alyce Kills is one where Alyce takes home a douchey stud-muffin who's been hitting on her and can't resist inflicting minor pains on him - he'll punch her off the bed, and she gets right back up, laughing.  It's perfectly uncomfortable and hysterical in a Hole-ish way.  The equivalent scene in Contracted is horrific, grotesque, and involves maggots ("my body the hand grenade," indeed).  I'm not sure I had a favorite scene in Contracted because the whole experience is so uniformly unpleasant and sad and there's not an ounce of mirth or glory in it.  But Contracted stayed with me for longer.  These are both flawed movies that certainly won't speak to everyone, but they're certainly interesting additions to women-in-horror-the-saga-continues.

On that note, one of my favorite horror-Hole songs:

I watched Norwegian Wood a few months ago (haven't read the book, I know, a thousand suns of shame).  I didn't think that I would ever be in the position of relating to the girl described as "outgoing and lively," but man, I was definitely Team Midori.  Maybe because like Midori, I've been hurt too much in the past and I just want to be happy now.  So Midori is in love with the main character, Toru Watanabe, who is depressed and attached to this suicidal girl Naoko who's off at a resort-sanitarium.  And I have no idea how it is in the book, but in the movie it comes across like he's just kind of like, man, I know Midori likes me, but I don't know what to do about it, so I'm gonna do nothing and just sit here quietly with my dark thoughts, blahrghgh. So there's this part where Midori finally tells him, "I'll wait, because I trust you, but when you take me, take only me"... fuck it, I'll just post it.

I'm reading through the Goodreads quotes from the book and they're a little eerie.  Especially this and this.  And this letter is from here (I guess this is from the book?  It almost made me cry though):

midori toru
One of the most common conversations I get into with friends who discover that I really like horror movies is this: "Why are the ghosts/demons always women?"  It's an age-old question, one that I've probably talked about already, but once you point it out to someone you can't stop noticing it.  I've even noticed it in my own writing: I'm way more likely to write a female ghost than a male one, even though when you watch those shitty ghost re-enactment shows, the ratio seems to be about 50-50.  If these little testimonials are any indication, you're just as likely to be haunted by Great-Uncle Bob as Great-Aunt Millie.*

I have a few theories that I offer when asked the aforementioned question:

  • Women are more likely to be disenfranchised with limited options in real life, so their only recourse for the plethora of wrongs done to them is supernatural vengeance (c.f. the rape-and-revenge ghost movies like Shutter and Rose Red, or even that old samurai ghost story retold in Kwaidan, as well as the occasional slow-burner like Lake Mungo or Ghost Story)

  • Women are considered closer to wilderness, savagery, evil, insanity, magic, so they are either explicitly more susceptible to the supernatural or just the quicker, lazier, easier option for the creator (c.f. a whole bunch of stuff, from Evil Dead and Infection to The Ring and Noroi and The Haunting of Hill House)

  • Women are more likely to die a violent death - this goes with #1 (c.f. Ju-On, Silent Hill, What Lies Beneath, Retribution, all them Korean Whispering Corridors movies)

Demon possession movies are an extreme version of Theory #2, because demon possession in real life tends to be colored by the perception that young women are: 1) walking potential demon vessels, because they are the weaker/fairer sex, or further from God, or natural followers, or something - I really don't know, but something about Eve?; 2) really tasty demon food, sometimes because they can potentially bear the anti-Christ; 3) more likely to give in to temptation?; 4) so sweet and innocent and virginal and protected that it's more tragic and horrifying all-around (the same reason some Christians say believers are more likely to be attacked by demons: they're a more impressive conquest); 5) NO ONE EXPECTS THE LITTLE GIRL.

If you look at movies like Emily Rose, The Exorcist, and The Last Exorcism, wherein you've got a pretty teenaged girl writhing around in her nightgown and talking dirty to stiff, straight-backed male priests - and of course, the implication that the Devil has literally invaded this girl's body - you've got to conclude that there's some psycho-sexual shit going on, like the Devil is mocking and showing off our society's sexualization of young women who are, nonetheless, still absolutely required to be good girls (a lady in the street but a freak in the bed, and all that).  Like we are so used to ogling and objectifying young women, well look at her now.  Like the most grotesque and disturbing thing we can think of, as a culture, is a wicked, furious, enraged sixteen-year-old girl - precisely because they are supposed to be pliant, happy, vulnerable, something for Liam Neeson to rescue.  The irony is that she's still all those things, of course, because as the Paranormal Activity trilogy sadly reminds us, it's the demonic spirit acting through her body.

The Conjuring is all about all this stuff, but also highlights a couple less common, but still pervasive themes:

  • Ghosts and demons and poltergeists alike attack families when the father is out of town.  Strangely, this actually does correspond to those ghost re-enactment shows.  I always assume it's because the malevolent entity thinks the father is the alpha.**  The father also tends to be the disbeliever/skeptic, compared to the histrionic mother.

  • The truly most horrifying thing we can think of is an evil mother: a mother who kills her own children.  I'm torn on whether this is seen as worse than or equally as bad as an evil father, because there are fathers-gone-rotten: Amityville, The Shining, Insidious.  I think if you look at the news media, you get the sense that child-killing mothers are worse, because maternal instinct is assumed to be stronger, and men are assumed to be violent anyway.  "Mother is God in the eyes of a child," as they say in Silent Hill, so naturally the topsy-turvy version of that Good Mother is going to be pure evil.

Put in this perspective, The Conjuring isn't really especially right-wing.  It falls right into place in a very old-fashioned, very Christian rendering of the supernatural genre.  "God brought us together for a reason," Lorraine Warren says to her husband, who admonishes the besieged family for not baptizing their daughters.  Note that it's also a very American Christianity here: the Catholic Church is no help because it's tied up in red tape, so if you want an exorcism done right you gotta do it yourself, Signs & Wonders style.  It occurred to me last night that it's really quite incredible how much American demon possession movies align with the world view of a very fringe faction of Protestantism along with other people who take exorcism and "spiritual warfare" into their own hands and are thus most likely to accidentally kill somebody in an exorcism.  The most disturbing part of the movie for me comes near the end, when the demon is breaking the possessee's bones and Lorraine says, "We are now fighting for her soul!"  This is in other exorcism movies too and I gotta say, few sentiments in horror movies seem as likely to lead to the deaths of actual people.

But I guess I've grown weary of movies like this - The Conjuring even comes complete with a creepy haunted (girl) doll that needs to be kept in a glass case, how much more retrograde can you get? - especially when even Hollywood seemed for a while to be churning out new, different types of supernatural horror movies, like Insidious, Sinister, Cabin in the Woods, Mama - not to mention the indies, like the extremely creepy and highly-recommended Lovely Molly, problematic V/H/S, Absentia, The Moth Diaries, Hollow.  I like to think that we can be more interesting.

* Speaking of Bob, David Lynch deserves credit for making one of the most frightening supernatural men ever, and one that clearly hates women, at that.
** Yeah, "malevolent entity thinks"... I know.  Can never be too careful!
So, The Dark Knight Rises - the last Nolan Batman movie (God willing).  I really liked Batman Begins, which I think I saw in theaters with Christina when neither of us knew what we were expecting - and we were both like, "I think I really kind of LIKED IT" - and have a special relationship with The Dark Knight, which I saw on my own in a shopping mall/movie theater in Surabaya after I bought a canvas bag that said "Life.  Industry.  Work.  Strength."  I saw The Dark Knight Rises last weekend in another shopping mall/movie theater in Jakarta with mixed company, and I felt frustrated and disappointed with it. 

Many people have talked about the questionable politics of The Dark Knight Rises - I particularly like Abigail Nussbaum's review (but when is that ever not true?).  Others have pointed out that these weird fascistic/Randian trends have been in Nolan's Batman movies the entire time, although I must confess I didn't really see them.  To me Batman Begins wasn't very controversial politically, and The Dark Knight was about the classic dilemmas facing public servants trying to do the right thing (I think the most interesting character in it is Dent's) as well as the personal mental collapse that takes place when you decide you can't take trying anymore (see for instance "that's it, I'm moving to Canada" on a much more mundane level, or "fuck iiiiiit" in meme terms).  In the Order vs. Chaos argument, I think a pretty compelling point was made for Chaos, even if officially Order won out.  The Dark Knight Rises, on the other hand, was really playing up the 1% vs. 99% thing, and the 99% pretty much turn out to be duped by an evil that has no motivation other than to be evil.  It actually kind of reminded me of Michael Crichton's "environmentalists are actually engineering global warming to scare us all into going with the Kyoto Protocol!" as well as of that terrible book by Glenn Beck.  The 1% don't even really commit any sins except their parties are boring.  And then there they are, being thrown out on the streets and executed by exile onto a sea of thin ice!  Even Catwoman, the "Robin Hood" character, is all "Batman, you don't owe these plebes anything, they stole all your money."  So yeah, all that: kind of sucky.

Beyond that, I didn't find the movie as much "fun" as I did its predecessors.  I had heard a lot about the explosion in the football stadium scene beforehand but it did not pack the emotional punch that it truly should have, given me and my inclinations.  I actually felt most emotional in the opening scene, during the nuclear physicist's surprise kidnapping.  I don't really know why - maybe the claustrophobia and imminent death involved for such a small pack of people?  But the police being stuck in the tunnels, then surprise!liberated and being gunned down like Theoden's Riders in The Return of the King - meh.  The random schoolbus of orphaned boys - meh.  The pit?  I did feel a twinge when Bruce Wayne makes it out at last, but it was for the cheering prisoners still in the pit, not Bruce Wayne.  This one just didn't click with me.  It felt cold and distant and unwilling to really give of itself.

On the other hand: Alfred the loyal-unto-death butler and Gordon the beleaguered police commissioner were great.  I think those two and Blake (the scrappy new cop) were really the actual soul of the movie, as far as it had a soul at all - the most human characters, at any rate.  Batman/Bruce Wayne was just kind of annoying/useless (ironically), Catwoman was like What Happens When Men Write Women #5a, or so, and Miranda Tate would have potentially been a competent character if not for the barren face heel turn.  Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow was also fun. 

If anything I sort of wished Batman was erased from this movie, and that it was just the tale of the horribly dysfunctional city that had to fend for itself - that there truly was no ubermensch to save it.  Because I'm fond of Gotham - have been since the beginning - and I was always fiercely of the belief that the League of Shadows was wrong, and Gotham should not be sacrificed as hopelessly corrupt.  Maybe that's because I come from a city that really reminds me of Gotham, sometimes ("criminals in this town used to believe in things - honor, respect!"), and Gotham being assailed by Chaos was like the Jemaah Islamiyah era here, when hotels were being blown up; and the Gotham being assailed by Quasi-Revolution is like what's happening now, with people burning suspected thieves in the street.  And let me tell you: we have no ubermensch.  What we might have, if we're lucky, is a Gordon, a couple Blakes.  We certainly have plenty of Alfreds.

ANYWAY.  Something else I realized while watching The Dark Knight Rises: I think I may be finally shifting my gaze from older men (father substitutes, all) to men my age (the "damaged" ones, but oh well).  I was way, way more attracted to Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this movie than Bruce Wayne (that scene where he's running to the hospital with the rifle!  Rarr!), and that is new.  I was talking about this with my mother, and concluded that regardless of who I actually date, my ideal type seems to be this older, married, brooding political scientist type that is clearly a doppelganger for my father.  And it's also!  A completely safe, riskless outlet for whatever feelings I might develop, because I know in my hardest of hearts that nothing real can actually happen there.  There was no possibility of anything developing.  I couldn't really get involved.  I wasn't going to get heartbroken.  Plus it let me deal with my Daddy Issues.  Sort of, anyway.  I mean, the walls I put up -- both because my father died and everything normal and happy was shattered, and probably just because of me, because I was born nuts -- were miles high.

But I think that's starting to change, and that's a good thing.
Katie is my favorite character of the Paranormal Activity franchise.  For a while I had a default icon that was called "because she looks like Katie."  She was the reasonable one (compared to her boyfriend Micah) in PA1, with a delicious darkward turn as she becomes possessed and kills Micah, as if telling him in the most ferocious terms, "see, this is what happens when you don't listen to me, dumbass."  PA2 reveals that she became possessed because her brother-in-law Dan "sicced" the demon on her - it was to save his wife and son, but still - and Dan gets his comeuppance and "Katie" gets "her" revenge when she comes to their big fancy house, demon-possessed, to kill Dan and Kristi (his wife/her sister) and take Hunter (the infant son).  In PA3, Katie is a child who gets dragged (literally) into Kristi's bad-idea-of-the-year "friendship" with the demon - she and Kristi both end up at least somewhat possessed and in the care of their evil witch grandmother Lois*.

I really love PA1, enjoy PA2 mostly for the big "Fuck U" it allows Katie to give, and am not such a fan of PA3.  I think this is because I didn't like the story that the creators (who changed from movie to movie) eventually laid out to explain what happened in PA1.  Witchcraft - especially of the matriarchal "coven" variety - in horror always sets off an alarm in my head: "this is a women-are-evil story."  That's accentuated in the Paranormal Activity franchise by the special importance given to the firstborn son, who everyone will go to extreme lengths to protect and who is apparently Blue Moon rare (girls in this family are basically throw-aways, especially if they can't be broodmares).  By contrast, Katie is sacrificed by her brother-in-law because she's nothing to him - she is an expendable, mother to no one.  Dan's teenaged daughter from a previous relationship, Ali, is the only one who says "hey, this isn't fair to Katie," and Ali is also safely tucked away on a field trip during Katie's rampage.  And while I liked the potential that Paranormal Activity had to be Katie's Good Girl Gone Bad (kind of Laura Palmer in reverse) story - even if witchcraft and a special son had to be involved - PA2 and especially PA3 show that there's nothing unique about Katie.  The same thing happens to her sister.  They get possessed and go bad because they're women (and I will note that the possession scenes always read very "rape-y" to me), the end. 

There's a perspective shift too.  In PA1, Katie and Micah are both leads, and you're in each of their headspaces; because the "paranormal activity" revolves around Katie and she's an adult, she might be more the main character than Micah.  PA2 is very decentralized - it's also very shallow in the sense that it's in no one's head in particular, and all the characters are ciphers.  In PA3, the boyfriend of Katie and Kristi's mother, Dennis, is the lead.  Katie and Kristi are children and not especially emotive ones, and their mother Julie is a non-entity.  The next closest thing to a character in PA3 is Dennis's male videography buddy.  It's interesting that in PA3 Katie and Kristi are basically there to be "creepy little girls" with incomprehensibly creepy behavior - "little girls are creepy," as my roommate says - whereas there's nothing creepy about Hunter, the baby boy in PA2, and the audience is simply meant to feel protective of him ("that poor baby boy," etc.).  PA1 sets itself apart from its sequels because we actually get to be in the headspace of the eventual-possessee, to see her as a three-dimensional human being instead of just a "creepy little girl" or a blank mother-type placeholder (in Kristi's case - who is Kristi?  God knows!). 

Men are do-ers in the Paranormal Activity franchise.  Micah is dense and foolish, but he is the macho take-charge investigator - and this trait of his is sort of mocked in PA1 as Micah bombastically insists that "no one comes into my house and fucks with my girlfriend" and Katie's just like, "you don't have power here" (his defensive reply is something along the lines of "don't tell me I have no power").  In PA2, Ali is the investigator, but she's not an actor, and she apparently wields zero influence over any other character, making her relevant only as an info-dumper.  Dan, the brother-in-law, is the only actor, and shows piss-poor decision-making - firing the maid for saging the house, ignoring video footage that he himself arranged, and ultimately transferring the demon to Katie.  Dan is actually absent during most of the movie (when the women of the house are being afflicted with paranormal activity), and it falls on him to make up for his failure to be the responsible man of the house by saving Kristi and Hunter and sacrificing Katie to the darkness.  Dennis, Katie and Kristi's would-be-dad, is neither a dolt nor an asshole, and is more of a protector for Katie and Kristi than their own mother.  He's heroic and self-sacrificing, a sensible investigator, and the good-guy foil to the human villain, the evil grandmother (there are no human villains in PA1 or PA2, and I think this does change the dynamic of a horror story - just ask Stephen King).  And of course then there's the biggest do-er of them all: the demon.  With all the marriage talk in PA3, the demon is definitely male.  But whereas the human men of Paranormal Activity all (arguably) mean well as they try to fix this situation that their women thrust them into, the human women are either corruptible to the extreme or just irrelevant, and in all cases unable to even try to protect themselves or their loved ones.  Their bodies are the battlefield for the war/pissing contest between the human men and the male demon. 

The demon always wins, and it's through the demon that the human men are killed by the women in their lives.  The visual effect is different, though: on screen, it's psycho bitches on the loose (with the only really affecting death, at least for me, being Micah's at the hands of "Katie").  It's too bad that Katie's actions at the end of PA2 probably aren't Katie's at all.  I would have preferred her to be taking revenge on Dan and Kristi - if only subconsciously, if only with the last smidgen of Katie that still existed within the bloody Katie-shell - but it was probably just the demon being demonic en route to obtaining that precious little boy. 

"Jennifer's Body" - Hole
"Arsenal" - Kidneythieves
"Climbing Up The Walls (Radiohead cover)" - Sarah Slean
"Behind Blue Eyes (The Who cover)" - Sheryl Crow

*: Fun fact - Lois is my maternal grandmother's name!  This is why one of my middle names is Louise.  Because my mother didn't like the sound of "Nadia Lois."  WITCH! 
If I could make music videos I would make one for this movie to the tune of "They're Coming To Take Me Away," Neuroticfish cover.

I think my favorite exchange (other than "murders and executions") was:

Evelyn Williams: You hate that job anyway. I don't see why you just don't quit.
Patrick Bateman: Because I want to fit in.

It was a real "YESS" moment for me.  I have friends/acquaintances for whom this would probably strike too close to home.

It's a tricky movie, though, because you know there are people out there who are like "yay Wall Street" after seeing this movie.  I mean the number of people who don't "get" what I see as the point of this scene, for example, is huge.  Patrick Bateman's world is complete artifice, shallow and insincere and color-by-numbers, where merit is determined by business card fonts and the most time seems to be spent deciding what restaurant to go to and no one knows who anyone else is, anyway.  Bateman cuts through the niceties and surface tension and just puts forth the truth of what this world is all about.  And of course if you know about predatory capitalism...

On the other hand, there's this kind of sad exchange I had with a receptionist yesterday, about New Yorkers:

Receptionist: I mean, do those people have any idea what the real world is like? 
Me: ...?
Receptionist: They have no trees, no lawns!
Me: Oh.  Well, they probably feel the same way about people here.
Taken from handful_ofdust, who had some great answers. Seriously.

Day 1- Your first horror movie: I'm sure it was some Chinese horror movie that I saw on the Indonesian RCTI channel.  Something with jiang shi - jumping vampires, most likely.  These guys.

Day 2- The last horror movie you saw in the theater: Either Insidious or Scream 4.  Both recommended, both better than I thought they'd be.

Day 3- Favorite classic horror movie: I actually don't know that many classics, but I do like The Innocents, which is a delicate, almost "lacy" creep-fest, and The Curse of Frankenstein, which IMO depicts Victor Frankenstein as the slimeball that he is. Does War of the Worlds count?  Because I enjoyed that as well.

Day 4- A horror movie you thought you'd love and didn't: This is relatively rare for me because I tend to like horror movies almost by default.  But I didn't love The Prophecy (thought I would because I like religious horror and Constantine) - mainly I just couldn't retain interest in it - and I didn't love The Quiet Family (thought I would because I love Happiness of the Katakuris, Takashi Miike's bizarro remake) - I think it was almost because it didn't live up to Happiness.  

Day 5- Favorite horror remake: Tough question.  I absolutely love Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre.  One of the first truly beautiful horror movies I saw - kind of remade what horror could be, for me.  But I also really like Happiness of the Katakuris, Alexandre Aja's The Hills Have Eyes, Jack Finney's 1978 Invasion of the Body-Snatchers (Donald Sutherland's final scream?  Scared.  The.  Shit.  Out of me.), Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead, the 2010 The Crazies, and of course, Thir13en Ghosts, which is just too much fun.

Day 6- Favorite vampire movie: Interview with the Vampire, probably.  I also really like Blade.  For some reason I don't really consider Herzog's Nosferatu to be a proper vampire movie...

Day 7- A horror movie you think no one has seen: I'm not very good with obscure movies.  I think not a lot of people have seen The Ceremony, which is the best low-budget/indie horror I've seen in a while.  Has anybody here seen Bungalow 666?  It's Indian.  Circle of Eight is a horror movie I wish no one had the opportunity to see, because it is that bad (it served as an antidote to Ju-On).  Apparently Bloody Disgusting thinks that Halloween III: Season of the Witch is obscure, and that movie rocks!  "Six more days 'til Halloween!  Halloween!  Halloween!"  Yeah, I drive people nuts with this movie.  I don't know, though - Screen Rant's list of obscure movies is hilariously sad (SuspiriaAuditionIn the Mouth of Madness?). 

Day 8 - Favorite foreign horror: Something Japanese - probably Noroi: The Curse.  It's become my favorite of its ilk.  I also really like Ringu (but so sad!) and One Missed Call (cheesy-wheezy, but has screams).  Oh God, and Retribution.  Or basically anything by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

Day 9 - Favorite supernatural horror movie: What the heck kind of question is this?  Pretty much every horror movie I love is supernatural.  Okay, how about Candyman.  There!  It's my welcome-to-grad-school movie.

Day 10 - Horror movie everyone loves but you don't: Too easy: Pan's Labyrinth.

Day 11 - Favorite horror/ comedy: Probably Shaun of the Dead.  This is the first horror movie I ever saw that actually made me ROFL.  Me and Yue were basically going nuts while watching the scene I linked to.  Runner up: Cabin Fever.  Bronze: Trick 'r Treat.  Tin: Infection (I know it looks like pure horror, but it's really absurdly funny).  And we already know I love Happiness, right?  Right.

Day 12 - Your most disturbing horror film: I agree with handful_ofdust - Martyrs is very disturbing.  Also disturbing to me were Marebito and Ju-OnMarebito is unsettling, and Ju-On just fucks me up.

Day 13 - Favorite zombie movie: Probably 28 Days Later, although I am also very fond of Pontypool and Romero's borderline brilliant Land of the Dead.

Day 14 - Favorite indie horror movie: I'm really bad at figuring out what's indie.  I'll say Lake Mungo.  Which I am VERY ANGRY that they are remaking for an "American audience."  It is Australian.

Day 15 - Favorite monster movie: Cloverfield, or Alien.

Day 16 - Horror film with a great soundtrack: I love The Hills Have Eyes' soundtrack (the 2006 one) and The Shining theme scares me the most, but for this question I'll go with Mulholland Drive.  Which, yes, counts as a damn horror movie.  I really, really love Angelo Badalamenti's scores.  This is Lost Highway's, and this is "Laura Palmer's Theme."

Day 17- Favorite 80's horror: Just a horror of the 1980s decade or horror that somehow represents the 1980s?  The Shining, probably.

Day 18 - Favorite horror movie filmed in black and white: See my answers to the classic question.

Day 19 - Best use of gore: The Descent.  I'm normally not a fan of "extreme" cinema, but it worked for The Descent, which isn't exploitative and feels realistic (the characters that manage to fight and embrace the gore are the ones with the most baggage/issues). 

Day 20 - [One of your f]avorite horror character[s]: Lim Ji-oh of Whispering Corridors.  A total BAMF of a high school girl (without being sexy), an artist, and an individualist of the Luna Lovegood variety.  I also really like Richard Dees of The Night Flier, although he's kind of a douche.

Day 21 - Best horror franchise: I'm going to go out on a slight limb (because the third one has not been released), and say RecRec 2 builds very well on its punch-in-the-face predecessor.  There's no mistaking Rec world.

Day 22 - Best death scene: I'm going to say the first death from Ringu / The Ring (honestly, I like both movies).  It scared the SHIT out of me the first time I saw it - and continues to scare me to this day - but I just love the transition from "two high school girls gossiping about boys and death curses while alone in a house at night" to "wait one of them really is cursed" to "the phone!" to "oh, it's just her mom" to "SON OF A BITCH THE TV JUST TURNED ON."  Coupled with the actual death scene, of course.  Anyway, this is what I mean.  Or Ringu, if you prefer.

Day 23 - A great quote from a horror movie: "Born in lust, turn to dust. Born in sin, come on in." - Storm of the Century

Day 24 - Horror movie character that describes you: I've always felt a little bit of kinship with Trish Jenner from Jeepers Creepers.  Slightly hysteria-prone but still able to get shit done, some anger issues, willing to sacrifice herself for family members.  Likes poli-sci majors.  Etc.  I think I also have a bit of Marlena Diamond in me, from Cloverfield.  "Sarcastic outsider," you know?  But I suspect that a quiz would call me Clarice Starling.  We have a lot of the same issues.  I think we're both deep rollers.

Day 25 - Favorite Christmas/ holiday horror movie: GremlinsGremlins until to the end of time.  But, the original Black Christmas is also wonderful.

Day 26 - Horror movie for a chicken (subtle or non-gory horror?): The Others, The Changeling, The Blair Witch Project, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Signs, Insomnia, The Skeleton Key, Paranormal Activity.  Of course, what I consider a "subtle" horror movie is usually a serial killer movie (like Zodiac, or Perfume: Story of a Murderer), and those are always gory...

Day 27- Your guilty pleasure horror movie: I have a lot of these.  Silent Hill probably takes the cake though.  I mean, you got the hate coming from horror movie aficionados, from the video game's fans... and I'm all "whatever."  I also like the Resident Evil series more than I should.  If Deep Blue Sea counts as a horror movie then that is also included.  And a lot of the After Dark Horror Fest movies - Gravedancers, etc.  Rose Red is another one that I really enjoy, even though I know it has serious plotting issues. 

Day 28- Horror film you'd like to see remade/ rebooted: Pumpkinhead deserves a reboot.  I would be willing to help.

Day 29- Worst horror movie: Well, there's a lot of dreck on SyFy, but that stuff is kind of expected to be dreck, and forgiven for it.  However, I'm not a fan of the Amityville franchise.  Partly because of the whole "hey this is fake even though we all said it was true" thing, partly because of the involvement of the Warrens, and partly because the story itself is just ridiculous.  I also really dislike 1408.  I sort of can't believe how many people think this movie is great when it reads like a bland, passionless joke of a horror movie.  

Day 30- [Three of y]our favorite all time horror movie[s]: Candyman, Noroi: The Curse, and... Kwaidan, since that was really what got me started on "good horror."
Dog Day Afternoon, another great '70s crime movie that I had never seen before.  And by another, I mean in addition to Taxi Driver - my repertoire is pretty slight in this area, unfortunately.  The IMDb tagline is "A man robs a bank to pay for his lover's operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus," which I guess is accurate, but makes the movie sound more farcical than it is.  It kind of makes me sad, how commonly-referenced and parodied this scene is, because when he starts saying "put 'em down!" I actually got a little weepy.

By the way, this is what "Attica!" is a reference to.  I highly suggest you click the link, if you don't already know.  And I wouldn't say that Dog Day Afternoon is even unfair to cops - Detective Moretti, the first hostage negotiator, is actually a sympathetic character who tries to stop the moronic cops who assume an asthmatic black hostage being released is actually one of the bank robbers and immediately start treating him as such.  And both Sonny and Travis Bickle, the criminal heroes of Dog Day Afternoon and Taxi Driver, are veterans of Vietnam.  

Yeah, I know I still haven't talked about Taxi Driver.  I guess what I can say is that this type of movie - the atmosphere, the narrative style, the "message," etc. - is not at all what I write, and something I can't spend a lot of time with before I become claustrophobic and panicky, but is something I really, genuinely admire.  The Attica scene would never happen today, and we're worse off for it.  We're so inundated with cop-centric crime narratives (even the grittier stuff you see on cable channels, it's pretty much all "woe the fractured lives of cops," so I guess hooray for Sons of Anarchy?  But even that is about alternative methods of "law enforcement," not being anti-establishment, so...), so conditioned to look at crime as a single, selfish act of law-breaking, and very quick to excuse police and military brutality as somehow "deserved," no matter what.  You see this on 24 and Law & Order: SVU.  I suppose we made the bed we'll die in. 

We'd much prefer to read stories about "police vigilantes" acting outside the law in fulfillment with some kind of higher calling of justice, destroying evil-doers - a short story in Alan Heathcock's collection Volt, "Peacekeeper," is exactly this sort of story.  There's Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil or Chaotic Neutral and it's this big cosmic struggle played out usually on the dead or missing body of a young woman.  Those are popular stories.  But that isn't really the story of police work in the U.S., just like it isn't the story of the U.S. military abroad.  The real story is a hell of a lot more banal than that. 
Low is from Duluth, Minnesota, and its anchor is husband-and-wife team Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, who sound great together.  I'm not really sure how I'd describe their sound, but I'll throw out some adjectives: ethereal, heartfelt, electronic but still homey, and harmonious. 

I owe my knowledge of this band to that lovely little horror movie The Mothman Prophecies, which is another example of horror done right.  They collaborated with Tomandandy (whom I knew of because I own the creepy-yet-triumphant score they made for the remade The Hills Have Eyes) to make the song "Half Light."  I was so enthralled by "Half Light" that I started referring to "the half-light" in passing in my stories.  When I first saw this video was when I was starting to make the mental shift to the idea of writing horror, so this video - I was particularly fixed on the "EARTHQUAKES HAPPEN PLANES CRASH PEOPLE DIE CAN'T EXPLAIN" part - is sort of my emotional and aesthetic base.

From there I got to Drums and Guns, an album of Low's that sort of received mixed reviews from long-time Low fans.  Not being a long-time Low fan, I really enjoyed it.  As the title indicates, it's kind of an anti-war album as a whole, although it's more of an overarching response to state-sponsored killing ("Murderer") and the effect of destructive violence ("Violent Past") than a rant against anything specific. 

"Violent Past."  Be warned, my mother once asked me to shut this song off because she thought it was "off-key."  I guess I'm not so sensitive, because I love it.  And this is my favorite line: "All I can do is fight, even if I know you're right."

"Murderer."  This is a fan video, not an official one.  This song is a heart-stringer, for me - "Don't act so innocent, I've seen you pound your fist into the Earth and I've read your books.  Seems that you could use another fool.  Well I'm cruel, and I look right through." 

"Breaker."  When Low makes official music videos, they look more like this.  YouTube commenter marfis78 gets it right, though: "That's exactly how they want to look you **** : the dumb folks applause while their leader can't get enough."

"Take Your Time," which I added to my post about people who despite their huge contributions to safeguard the lives of others still don't think they've done enough, is my current favorite off Drums and Guns.  My mother's obsessed with it too.  I told her "I didn't want to expose you to any more Low after your reaction to 'Violent Past.'"  I've probably listened to this song about 100 times in the past week.  I just think it's really beautiful in a really... poignant, almost painful way.  Alan Sparhawk's voice really comes through on this one.

I got two other albums recently - The Great Destroyer and C'mon.  "Monkey," off the former album, seems to actually be one of their most well-known songs, because it was in some Mickey Rourke B movie.  It is I would say one of their more accessible songs, a solid alt-rock piece:

Off C'Mon, as of now I love the folksy, lyrically bizarre "Witches", which is just asking for a nice literary horror novel to go with it: "One night I got up and told my father there were witches in my room.  He gave me a baseball bat and said here's what you do: When you have finally submitted to embarrassing capture, take out that baseball bat and show those witches some pasture."

And here's the lovely "Especially Me," which showcases Parker's voice: "Cuz if we knew where we belong, there'd be no doubt where we're from.  But as it stands, we don't have a clue.  Especially me, and probably you."

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