Wednesday, October 24, 2018

u even podcast, bro?

One of my worst vices is listening to podcasts while playing my modded classic Nintendo when I'm supposed to be doing real work.  

I don't even know how to use any of the games except Tetris and Dr. Mario and Mario 3 and the first level of Castlevania and sometimes Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, but only when Mark comes over and neither of us know how to get past any levels so we just play until we're tired (about 6 minutes).  

But if I didn't listen to podcasts, specifically IN VOORHEES WE TRUST, I never would have known about this perfect music video about a little boy watching Friday the 13th Part Five: A New Beginning and finding himself confused by its juxtaposition of sexuality and violence.  




This music video is better than most studio released horror movies and the Friday the 13th podcast is also amazing, if you have the time.  You don't even need a nintendo, but you're always welcome to come and use mine.

Monday, October 22, 2018

sharing is caring

I hope you're all staying hydrated and doing your steps - we're in the final stretch to Halloween!  Anyway, this is Mark Gattis' History of Horror.  This is an older special, but it slaps.  Unlike Eli Roth, Mark doesn't hate gay people.  I like that in a man.



Thursday, October 18, 2018

do as i say!

There is only one ranking of the Halloween franchise that matters.


My ranking changes hourly with my moods, but as Jennifer Lopez once said: this is me now.

11.
Halloween: Red State (2018)

In a franchise that somehow managed to avoid queerness, this is the first Halloween movie that's actively homophobic.  It's not well made, it's weirdly racist and it's blatantly sponsored by the NRA.


10.
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

9.
Halloween 6: Revenge of Michael Meyers (1995)

"Fan fiction: noun:  fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc"


We were in a horror dead-zone in 1995.  This was a year before Scream came out and changed everything with regard to how people perceived and made scary movies.


I remember working at the North Shore Music Theatre.  It was my first equity gig and on one lunch break, we all went to a CVS where they had a hanging witch who sang the "H-A-double L- O" song.  That memory of 1995 Halloween is better than this movie about Halloween in 1995.


I guess this movie reflects the producers worldview (something that came through even clearer on Resurrection) in that the concern with Halloween sequels was to make things cheap and fast with no regard to the tone or character that made the original Halloween a masterpiece.  This is evidenced by the fact that they kill off Danielle Harris (not even played by Danielle Harris here) in the opening scene after she gives birth to her uncles baby(??).   This movie also doubles down on the "old white men stalking and harassing young children for apparently no reason" motif established by Dr. Loomis in parts 2-6.


It's not all trash, though.  Halloween 6 is bizarrely well-shot for a movie without a script.  It features Oscar winner, Kim Darby cleaning her house and doing laundry for about six minutes, uninterrupted.  Also it "introduces" Paul Rudd, who hadn't quite figured out how to dress as a shorter man and I respect that - he's never been more vulnerable, even when he's stealing a baby (and then kidnapping a second grader).


I've mentioned before, the climax of the the theatrical cut (now on AMC.com with all these films) is inexplicably set in one of the abandoned genetic laboratories from Jurassic Park.


8.
Halloween II (1981)

I know y'all love this one, but it does nothing for me.  It's just a chase scene in a hospital.  There's no structure beyond that - no emotional arc or sympathetic character.  Meh.  Sure, hospitals are scary - that doesn't make up for relegating our heroine to a bed for the entire movie in one of Michelle Williams leftover wigs from that gay Hugh Jackman musical where he fell in love with Zac Efron.


7.
Halloween (2007)

I love Rob Zombie.  I love his aesthetic.  I love his devotion to his wife.  He's beyond hot.  He's a vegan.  Still, this movie feels compromised.


I love the look of this Halloween and the actors and it's a lot better than the new one, but I don't think its math ever adds up with regard to Michael Myers having had a hard life at home and, therefore, turning to homicidal psychosis.  Nature, nurture, toxic white male fragility, yada yada.  In my experience, people who have the most messed up homes often wind up being the most empathetic while the people who have everything handed to them (ie: cis white men) are unable to deal and wind up going on sociopathic tirades if their lattes are prepared wrong.  That's why Mary Harron's American Psycho works so well.


The original Halloween was smart to avoid sympathizing with "the shape" for this reason.  Beyond the fact that it's gross to attribute heroic qualities to a victimizer, once we add too much "this is why he's this way" rationale to the horror franchise, they denigrates.


6.
Halloween 4 (1988)

I swear I'm not just being critical because the little girl in this movie was a monster-person to me back when I worked at FEARnet (though she was and is), but this movie isn't good and y'all are playing to think otherwise.


The best part of Halloween 4 is that it captures a very specific October energy from childhood.  Fall in New England was the best and this movie, shot in Utah, captures that fairly well.  It doesn't understand the power of words and feelings in relation to narrative storytelling and it stops to a dead halt once our characters are locked in a house together with Michael Meyers, abandoning half its characters along the way and landing at its climax with a thud.


Halloween 4 does have a scene set in a small-town pharmacy that features all the best of my childhood memories - beistles, fake blood makeup kids, the weird middle aged bald guy mask I made momma buy me and would leave hidden in her night stand until one day she finally cut it up into pieces.


Halloween 4 also has the most scary scene in the entire Halloween franchise.  Picture it:
A teenage girl goes downstairs in the morning. Her mother badgers her to eat a healthy breakfast - eggs, orange juice, it's all been laid out - the mom must have got up at 4am to start such a feast!  The teenage girl rolls her eyes, explaining that she's on a diet and that mom wouldn't want a "porker" for a daughter.  Then... Then - she takes a carton of whole milk, a tub of cream cheese and an un-toasted egg bagel and goes to town.  WHAT?!  What???  Sadistic.


5.
Halloween 3
At its best, this movie is stylish and has a great soundtrack and it's subversive with regard to the futility of the individual versus systems of capitalism.


At its worst, this movie presents GOP utopia: a schlubby middle-aged alcoholic with bad skin and anger issues somehow goes on a road trip with a young woman who inexplicably finds him irresistible. I dunno.  I guess sometimes we're attracted to people who are less than ideal because of our own insecurities and our relationships with our emotionally vacant fathers.

4.

This is the most gay-adjacent entry in the franchise, so I love it.  I like when foreign directors go ham on American iconography - that's Halloween 5.  This movie's the Batman and Robin to Halloween 4's Batman Forever.  It understands that the whole Danielle Harris storyline (Michael Meyers niece who's evil, but then she's not, she's Helen Keller) is stupid and counters it by putting her in the most ludicrous situations imaginable.  She even gets a gay best friend!  Everything is heightened and toney and bros HATE it.


Having been rebuffed in Halloween 4, Ellie Cornell is exploring her sexuality with another woman while trying to mother Danielle Harris.  Like all new lesbians in 1989, she got a perm and a rottweiler, she's all set!


Michael Myers goes swimming and he goes on a date and he drives a car in this one.  It's good.

3.
H2 (2009)
"I don't even know who I am anymore." - Laurie Strode


I love this movie and I think Rob Zombie deserves more credit for its considerable accomplishments.  If his first movie was about Michael Myers, this movie is about Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton, who's real good).


H2 accomplishes what the new Halloween and the OG Halloween 2 couldn't with regard to aftermath.  The movie picks up immediately after the events of Halloween - her in the hospital broken and bloodied, not a wig in sight.  Laurie isn't bionic, she's a girl who didn't ask to be a survivor.


She has to live with the trauma inflicted upon her every day.  How does anyone not let that define them?  This movie tries to dig into that - showing Laurie in therapy and trying in vain to move on until ultimately confronting her aggressor head on.  This is a great example of what horror movies can be in the right, thoughtful, hands.


Watch the first 25 minutes and you'll see.  This has the best use of horror movie rain - the best use of the Moody Blues - it's the best film to feature Caroline Williams and academy award winner Octavia Spencer and Margot fucking Kidder and it has the franchise best Halloween costumes.

2.

This movie honors Laurie Strode and Jamie Lee.  The newest movie turns Laurie into a hysterical gun nut who's somehow able to teleport to crime scenes and forests with her armory at a moment's notice to scream at people about Michael Myers (like Loomis in the sequels).  H20 (directed by Steve Miner, who made what's arguably the best Friday the 13th movie) respects Laurie's struggles with PTSD and the myriad of ways it impacts her family and personal development.  Also, the kids are great and it's got LL Cool J.


1.
Halloween (1978)

Duh.


Watching these movies in succession, it's clear that this is a franchise about female trauma.  The first movie was a slasher movie about babysitters that just so happened to have the alchemy of a masterpiece (music, performance and production all came together).  The Halloween sequels deal with the fallout of that one night and the only way forward for this franchise is to have these movies come from women.  It's not up to men to dictate Laurie's story.  Sorry 'bout it.


With that, I'm going to lie down.  Totally.

Monday, October 15, 2018

i only make passes at guys who wear glasses


Once upon a time, I talked about prolific queer filmmaker David DeCoteau and his particular brand of direct to DVD horror movies in the aughts.  David's a sweet man in real life and you can't help but respect how specific his work is (i.e. hundreds of films that feature shirtless straight boys right off the bus from Iowa willing to do anything on camera for their big break even if that means doing crunches while delivering wooden line readings to fifty-something character actresses in the same post-modern valley house film after film).

When I wrote about Decoteau before, I had never seen his best film.  I thought I was so cool by not paying him the respect he deserves.  I was stupid.  Thanks to Shudder and Joe Bob Briggs, that's all changed.  I will now and forever bow down before David Decoteau because I finally saw Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama!


"You gonna suck 'em all up by yourself?"



Before today, I only knew Sorority Babes as the movie that Andras Jones was in before he was in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4.  I'm happy to be enlightened.  It's much more.



This is a movie about hot guys who dress like nerds.  That is my favorite trope in media.  There was a boy on NBC's Passions who was a 6'3" twin and a runway model with 4% body fat, but they'd wet his hair and make him wear glasses and we were supposed to believe he was a mega-nerd.  Nothing in the world is hotter.  This is a whole movie of that.  It's a queer director making a film in the exploitation medium, so it's a rorschach experience - the audience dictates what they want it to be. For the average straight guy, it's got tons of boobies and gratuitous sex, so it was prominently featured in the late night cable roster, but it's very much shot from the queer lens.  The camera lingers on the male form at every opportunity and, when coupled with its overall heightened tone, that makes this film a gay horror classic.


The S&M fixation of Decoteau's later works is already firmly in place here - this movie's super porny.  I actually wouldn't have been able to handle it in my pre-teen years - it would have given me a sexual heart attack.  There's a good seven minutes of paddle spanking.


I remember there was this kid named Bard in my high school who had elderly parents who were always going away for some reason.  Junior year, he started feeling pretty cute because he did a school play and lost his baby fat and he would have these pervy parties at his house where kids would pretend to get beer drunk as an excuse to hook up with each other.  This was NOT my scene.  I remember crashing once and being mortified by how gross straight people were and I never really talked to any of those people again.  I mean, there were wolf paintings and mounted swords on the wall.  I should have called the police.


This story is relevant because Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama is about a sex party gone wrong.  From what I can ascertain from what I saw of this film while occasionally looking up from my Taco Bell, it's a movie about teenage boys who get caught watching a lesbian sorority hazing and have to go on a treasure hunt in an after-hours bowling alley haunted by a little muppet demon who grants wishes.   Legendary Scream Queen Linnea Quigley plays Jerri Blank from Strangers with Candy: the early years and she makes gay besties with Andras Jones and they have a real lesbian/gay boy dynamic that assures me they'll be friends through many breakups and hairstyles to come.  Also, she steals things from corporations, which I respect.


I love this movie.  It captures that very specific and elusive mid-late 1980s Southern California vibe that I'm obsessed with (as seen in Teen WolfOnce BittenSaved by the Bell, etc).  There should be Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama coloring books, promotional Pepsi tie-ins, a Universal Horror Nights maze and a Starz limited series based on the making of the film immediately.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

twenty years later

Happy Coming Out Day.


In honor of the occasion, I'm coming out in favor of Halloween H20.


Once upon a time, twenty years ago, I was a baby freshman in college and, even though I had known for years that I was gay as fuck (I worked in Musical Theatre since I was 12), I never had the guts to do anything about it til I met the right gorgeous sociopath.


I remember two girl friends from high school surprised me by visiting the dorm one night in Boston (pro-tip: NEVER surprise a gay boy, ever.  You may as well just scroll through his camera roll.).  We all went to Coffee Haus because it was the nineties and I told them about this boy and how he was sure to ruin me and how insanely happy I was and they did not handle it well.  I don't know what I was expecting, but that wasn't it.


Mind you, we went to an arts school.  I can only imagine how these raw moments must be for kids who don't live in major metropolitan areas and go to fancy liberal schools with ice sculpting classes.


I was upset.  I felt betrayed.  I had way too much coffee, so I did what I always did when life got too real - I went to the movies.


I saw Halloween H20 at midnight on opening night at the Coolidge Corner theatre in Boston.  I liked it, but also fell asleep (often regarded by friends as my highest praise for a film).  It came and went and I went back to my trials and tribulations.


Twenty years later, I watched it again and it's better than I remembered it being.  It's actually a low key masterpiece.  Running a tight 65 minutes (let's be honest, slasher movies should never be longer than that), this movie has it all:  Lasagna.  Halloween Decorations.  Michelle Williams natural hairline.  Masterfully disheveled school uniforms.  LL Cool J!


Jamie Lee brings grace and authenticity to adult Laurie Strode and her struggles with PTSD, it colors the entire film.  It's sad.  Laurie's life is sad.  What happened to her as a teenager screwed up her entire life.  Mind you, she's still a boss - going by an alias and running a high-end boarding school in Montecito.  She has an adorable house.  She has the most gorgeous son in the world (Josh Hartnett with the ingenue hair) and she's literally got men chasing after her.  But she still can't relax, no matter how many pills or bottles of chardonnay (sis looks amazing for a pilled out booze hound!).


Every character in H20 is there for a reason and the movie is more concerned with emotional stakes than bodycount.  It also gives Laurie a satisfying finale.  It took twenty years for Laurie to confront what happened to her in high school and be able to move on.  Having vanquished her oppressor, she can finally start living.  She can heal. Her next twenty years will be better.


Twenty years after that gross night in the coffee shop, we have a new Halloween movie coming out with Jamie Lee Curtis.  Michelle Williams is steps away from EGOTing.  Josh Hartnett is still absolutely gorgeous and became the paragon for leaving Hollywood and living happily ever after in a log cabin with your money and family in tact.  I'm almost forty and I'm no longer friends with those two girls.


A lot of people, justifiably, say that gay adolescence comes late because we're not living fully developed lives in high school because so much of our identity is covered up in being closeted.   I think that's true.  Fear and shame and internalized homophobia prevent us for engaging 100%. It's also true that, as gay people, we have tools to brush off trauma and betrayal - we have perspective.  Our own families often discard us.  The world seems to tolerate our existence at best. So we deal with it.


So much of straight culture seems built around high school and prom and having children.  Watching the senate confirmation hearings, every third line was about this how this guy was popular in high school.  Can you imagine?!  That's gotta be tough.  Life's hard for people who peak at eighteen.  I didn't peak at eighteen.  Most gay people don't.  Laurie Strode certainly didn't.

Whether it's healthy or not, I always looked to movies to make sense of real life.  This was my coping mechanism.  From movies, I learned that I can be sad like Laurie Strode, drinking away the symptoms PTSD and being useless to the people I care about, or I could be like Sidney from Scream - walking head first into crisis and coming out triumphant. 


I'm almost Laurie's age in this movie and I still don't feel like I've peaked.  I'd love to go back in time and have that conversation over again with the girls at the Coffee Haus.  I'd love to have had agency in that first relationship or to have had the balls to have been gay when I was in high school, sleeping over at drama festivals with gorgeous tall boys who maybe weren't sociopaths.  But the gag is, life didn't really start until I came out.


If there's a point to all this, it's to be be proud of who you are.  Own your narrative.  Nothing's as scary as we think it is.  If Michael Myers does show up one day, think about Matthew Shepard and the Mike Pence and those two girls laughing at you from across the table and tear the fucker apart.   Once you pull the bandaid off, it truly does get better.

xoxo