Friday, April 30, 2010

if i die before i wake...

"I'm gonna split you in two."


Tina is having a bad dream. It's late.  She's blonde. She's alone in a rickety Venice Beach alleyway, wearing nothing but a neglligee and trapped with the object of her dread, a horribly disfigured man with knives for fingers.  “Shit."  That's all she says.  The moment is simple, comically authentic and yet so frightening in context, that I had no choice but to fall for A Nightmare on Elm Street head over feet.


A Nightmare on Elm Street is about friends. They’re remarkably well dressed and attractive without any hair extensions or pancake makeup.  They're sincere.  These kids come from white trash families and broken homes, but that's not all they have in common - they all seem to be having the exact same nightmare.  In the center of this clique is Nancy.  Nancy isn’t quite as fashion-forward as her friends. She could certainly use a hot-oil treatment and she has yet to be introduced to the subtleties of tailored tops, but that’s not her fault. Nancy’s mother can’t seem to step away from her vodka or the bronzer long enough to even make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, let alone school her in the fine art of hair conditioning!


Nancy's mother suffers from borderline personality disorder and her father isn't present.  Her deadpan expression upon seeing her best friend splayed open like a flank steak on her bedroom floor indicates a young woman who still has a lot of growing to do. As her friends begin to die off, it becomes abundantly clear that Nancy is going to have to become a whole person if she wants to survive the night!


"He's dead, honey, because Mommie killed him."


When push comes to shove, we have no control over our bodies most basic functions (ie: dreaming); this makes a great landscape for a horror movie. In sleep, we are at our most vulnerable. Wes Craven has taken the seemingly ludicrous concept of a burned child molester exacting revenge upon the children of those who scorned him and he turned out a gritty and viscerally scary film! All cinematic elements are present and working to achieve synthesis, making A Nightmare on Elm Street something to remember and talk about for years to come. A brilliant score by Charles Bernstein and an ensemble of young actors who genuinely seem to care for each other make this movie vital - without any 3D conversion, it practically pops off the screen! I think we can expect a lot of great things from Amanda Wyss!


With a story that moves at a clip and characters that are clearly defined; plus gorgeous boys in briefs and midriff tops (and the fact that Nancy's mom, Ronee Blakely, gives a camp performance to rival any Susan Hayward melodrama), I think it’s safe to say that we can add Freddy Krueger to the pantheon of movie monsters in the years to come.


I don't quite understand why people are so worked up about this movie coming to theatres this weekend.  It's been on dvd for a decade.  Save your hard-earned pennies and buy Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy instead - they dedicate a solid twenty minutes to discussing how gay Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge is/was/will always be.  That's good times, kids!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

breaking news: clarice starling edition


"The official reason I didn’t do Hannibal is I was doing another movie, Flora Plum. So I get to say, in a nice dignified way, that I wasn’t available when that movie was being shot...Clarice meant so much to Jonathan and I, she really did, and I know it sounds kind of strange to say but there was no way that either of us could really trample on her."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who's gonna drive you home tonight?


"My mother told me never to do this."


In high school, I read a lot of books about serial killers.  It was the era of Jeffrey Dahlmer and his penchant for oversized frames and fitted velour shirts worried me.  I knew that, were I of Latin descent and had I only been living in Wisconsin instead of Boston and if I was of age, I surely would have been stapled to some floor and left to rot in a vat of acid.  I can't resist a shaggy haircut and big glasses!


In my twenties, Six Feet Under had a story line that had its main gay, the perpetually-whiney David, picking up a drifter-in-need while getting some gas.  The drifter somehow forces him to do meth at  gunpoint and douses him in gasoline.  I thusly retreated back to staring at the subway floor in crowds and leaving bars the moment that anyone expressed interest.  I just wasn't born under a good sign for casual encounters with the same sex.  But you don't have to take my word for it!  Just ask C. Thomas Howell...


In 1984, C. Thomas Howell had it all!  He had been dressed to the nines in E.T.: the extra terrestrial.  He fought valiantly alongside Jennifer Grey against the evil Russians hell bent on invading his Colorado high school in Red Dawn.  Everything was coming up roses until he had to go and pick up The Hitcher (1984).


Like John Travolta after a Roland Emmerich summer pool party, C. Thomas just couldn't help himself from picking up a piece of rough trade along the interstate.  This was a weak moment that the young Mister Howell would live to regret.  It started out fine and well - lots of lingering eye contact, a stray hand on a protruding thigh...but C. Thomas soon had second thoughts when things started getting a little too kinky.  Somewhere between the next exit and getting his crotch fondled at knifepoint, C Thomas shoved his hitchhiker out the passenger door!  How rude!


"I cut off his legs... and his arms... and his head. And I'm going to do the same to you."


I feel for C. Thomas Howell. There have been plenty of almost-hookups that I had to put the kibosh on when proceedings started getting a little too weird.  Fortunately, I never came across Rutger Hauer. Rutger Hauer does not take rejection well - not one bit. One minute you’re driving up the coast thinking you may have a quick rest stop love affair, the next minute you’re being chased by a homosexual sociopath, covered in gasoline and rolling around on all fours in the sand, screaming for dear life!


Don't even get me started on poor Jennifer Jason Leigh!  Confused after the runaway success of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, she fled the Hollywood scene.  Refusing to be just another in a litany of generic starlets, Jennifer moved far away from that boulevard of broken dreams.  She got a bad haircut and was perfectly content to waiting tables and eat french fries in the desert until she found herself stuck in the middle of C. Thomas Howell's kinky role playing with Rutger.  Let this be a lesson, girls!  Add The Hitcher to the long list of films proving that it's never a good idea for a girl to get in the middle of a homosexual spat.  Not only will you wind up alone in a bar full of strangers, but you may well wind up tied between two 18-wheeler semi-trucks!


This isn't your usual slasher fare.  Exploding gas stations and helicopter crashes aside, it's an effective psychological exploration of a boy who is questioning his sexuality.  C. Thomas Howell is like Miss Janet Leigh in Psycho, driving all night on a mission.  He's leaving a life behind and heading for a fresh start in sunny California until a maniac takes him off course.  Without being overly esoteric, this entire film could very well just be a dream.  Maybe he never picked up a John on the side of the road.  Maybe he's not really gay.  Maybe it was all in his head, like Soul Man...either way, The Hitcher is definitely worth picking up.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Whatever happened to Mandy Lane?

I want to talk about Amber Heard for a minute.


First of all, she had to pretend to be dating that gay boy from The Stepfather.  This happens a lot to girls who are sickhot - straight guys are scared to talk to them and other girls automatically assume disdain so they're left with nothing but their gay besties.  This doesn't help her personal life.  It's beginning to finally take a toll on poor Amber- she's getting thinner by the day.  Her character in The Informers died of AIDS, naked on the beach.  She had to play a brunette to face off against Ms. Demi Moore Willis Kutchter in The Joneses.  Can't Amber ever catch a break?!


The real tragedy though, worse than her AIDS, more loathsome than the third act of The Joneses, is that Amber's signature role in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) has been gathering dust on the shelf for almost four years!


Amber Heard is Mandy Lane.  Mandy Lane is an oprhan.  Mandy Lane is a long-distance sprinter who still manages to maintain a solid c-cup.  Mandy Lane is one spooky chick.  On the surface, she appears to be the perfect "final girl": she abstains from snorting adderal with the other girls; she's a virgin; she's athletic and blonde...but something is amiss. Mandy goes off for a weekend in the country with some kids from school.  The girls shave their pubes and call each other fat, the boys get high and call the girls bitches - it's the usual teenage fare, until night falls and people start dying.


I have seen this movie several times over the years and I still can't decide if it's a successful feminist narrative or if the director just hates women!  Either way, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a film that deserves to be seen.  Imagine that Dawson's Creek and The Last House on the Left got together one night over a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly and wound up with a bastard love child - that's Mandy Lane!


And, for the record (disc 5):  I don't want to live in a world that makes me have to choose between Katie Cassidy and Amber Heard.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

these old broads

"I wouldn't bother to kill you except I'm so looking forward to every ounce of blood seeping out of your wretched body."


I'm only six minutes into Curtains (1983) and already a classically-trained theatre actress has pointed a gun into the camera and been restrained in a straight-jacket after assaulting a man with a letter opener.  I haven't even gotten to demonic dolls and sickle-wielding, mask-wearing midgets on ice!  My hat is off to Buzz over at campblood.org for pointing me in the direction of this obscure gem.  If you are fortunate enough to get your hands on an old vhs copy, cherish it and share with your friends.  It's really that good.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Perestroika


Friday, April 9, 2010

from apathy to entropy and empathy...

"Enjoy the little things."


I can be a stubborn monkey. I don’t moisturize my face. I always use my turn signal, even in parking lots. I have never seen Wedding Crashers or The Hangover and I never will. I don’t need to see fat guys with impossibly skinny wives. I have no desire to be the butt of countless gay-panic jokes (I get enough of that in my bedroom, thank you very much). I have a deep-seeded contempt for trust-fund brats, smirky punks who think they they’re wicked cool for accomplishing absolutely nothing. These hipster, rich kids are the death of comedy. Go ask Phyllis Diller or Paul Lynde and they’ll tell you: comedy is not being cool. Comedy is committing to something so sincerely, so wholeheartedly that it can only make the audience chuckle through its humanity. So when a horror comedy came along billing itself as the best thing since Superbad, it was an immediate pass for me.


Well, chime the bell tower because I am admitting that I was dead wrong. Zombieland (2009) is easily our generations Dawn of the Dead. Color me embarrassed!


Dawn of the Dead was more than just popcorn horror.  It was a clever satire that harkened the beginning of the end of an era.  In 1978, the mindless consumerism of mall culture was spreading through our country like a heard of ravenous flesh-eating zombies. Thirty years have gone by and we’re paying the price for all that excess. The chasm between the rich and the poor has never been more obstinate. The malls have evolved into acre-wide Wal-Mart superstores. Over the past decade, people (like my mother) have lost their jobs and houses while Julia Roberts and Carrie Bradshaw trek around the world on holiday just get away from the monotony of having it all! Something has got to give. The popular culture is equally polarizing (television only seems to care about you if you’re over sixty or under sixteen, or morbidly obese or a midget). Human to human interaction has become limited to blog comments and social networking websites. Maybe we need a zombie invasion to remind us of what’s really important.


Our protagonist (Jesse Eisenberg, always a friend to the gays) is a living, breathing example of what living in the age of entropy has done to us. He’s a grown man living alone. He eats processed food and plays video games. He’s scared of outside. A victim of apathetic parents, he longs for a family of his own - even if he doesn’t necessarily know that that means. Like 28 Days Later and The Stand before it, Zombieland continues in the tradition of zombie narratives following The Wizard of Oz formula. Jesse Eisenberg is alone, he finds a best friend in Woody Harrelson and they’re joined by two more in a quest for a third-act happy ending. They even happen upon an unlikely wizard in the middle of Beverly Drive!


Interestingly enough, unlike slasher flicks, zombie movies can have male protagonists and not be gay.  How curious!  This movie was made with remarkable attention to detail and it’s queer friendly. Zombieland understands a precept that gays have understood since Dorothy ran away from home: your friends are the family you make for yourself. Jesse Eisenberg is the Anti-Michael Cera. He’s never too cool for school. He’s never afraid to be the punch line. In short: he has a soul.


Dawn of the Dead was justifiably nihilistic.  When it comes to mindless consumerism, there is no upside. Thirty years later, things sure are a lot worse but Zombieland is ultimately hopeful. It exemplifies that companionship is tangible, not furs or diamonds. How we treat each other is more important than having a private island. Above all else, when you’re the only skinny person in a bus full of morbids who hate you because the TV people told them to hate you, you have to laugh.  Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to go update my twitter and buy a snackwrap.


P.S.  For that inevitable day when we are left to fend against the zombie hoards, be sure to pick up your Zombie-Proof Survival RV.  Someone's got to think of these things!

Monday, April 5, 2010