Andy is a contributing writer, occasional interviewer, surrogate Schnaars, and co-host of the Sophisticult podcast. He might not be as funny as Joe, rich as Jon, strong as Casey, adorable as Mark, or surly as Eric, but damn does he give great hugs.
The year was 1993. A pale, chubby, awkward, nerdy boy with nary a whisker in sight was visiting the Universal Studios Orlando Resort with his family. While there said boy witnessed none other than “Ghostbusters Live” and traveled down a dinosaur’s gullet in the “Back to the Future” ride, both of which that now bearded still awkward man remembers clearly. But the pièce de résistance was a Horror themed makeup show in which two hosts vying for Penn and Teller level displays of misdirection and illusion demonstrated a variety of special effect techniques.
Videodrome is one of the best critiques of cat videos before cat videos were a thing. In David Cronenberg's follow-up to “Scanners” the writer and director solidified his cinematic voice addressing similar themes with a breadth of scale and a visionary perception of the place of new technologies in the public and private. Where in his previous feature a climatic sequence represented some sort of proto-internet telepath hack, Videodrome takes for its very focus the intrusion of malicious programming in domestic spaces and a collective consciousness.
Eclipsed by countless cultural references to a certain erupting cranium, Scanners seems to have transformed from movie into punch line. With a plot that’s part 1970s conspiracy theory, man-on-the-run flick and part new age pseudo-science exploration it’s possible to think Scanners might have been forgotten to a soup of generic ripoffs, carbon copies, and pastiches. But David Cronenberg’s follow up to “The Brood” gives us our first clear indication of the social scale Cronenberg begins to tackle as a filmmaker.
The monstrous child may be one of the more persistent horror tropes of the passed 10 years. Though remakes and all sorts of paranormal/possession narratives run the day them kids are still savage. From “Let the Right One In” in 2008 and 2009’s “Grace” we’ve been treated to “Let Me In”, “Come Out and Play”, the “It’s Alive” remake, “Orphan”, “Citadel” and director Ciaràn Foy’s next effort “Sinister 2” and the upcoming “Cooties”.
We live at a time when tongue-in-cheek winks and vague meta-postmodernism are worming their way into what is most likely going to be the highest grossing film in history. When self-aware characters survive because they know how to game the “system” of the very move they inhabit. When entire franchises get a new life in the commodities shares…as long as they give us just a taste of the old days. So what does a writer/director do to surprise an audience? The answer in Patrick Brice’s found footage Creep seems to be, “make a horror film”.
“Body Horror” is often discussed as a distinct type or subgenre of Horror proper. The term implies an object that takes for its focus explicit representations of a body’s fragility or its mutability. “Body Horror” is used to describeTusk. It describes the Human Centipede franchise. It describes Cronenberg, Carpenter, or any other number of horror auteurs working in the plastic 80s when practical effects were king. It’s Society. It’s The Stuff. It’s Slither!
Those sunny chaps over at Head Trauma Productions have premiered their latest short film, Pity. Coming off the wicked and nuanced feature Dead Weight director and writer John Pata's film earned Best Noir Short at the PollyGrind Film Festival and multiple nominations from the Diabolique International Film Festival, FilmQuest, and the New Orleans Horror Film Festival.
The problem of animals in film is the persistent problem of representation and meaning in film. A dog, is a dog, is a dog, but it’s also, you know, a dog. Jonathan Burt has written extensively on animals as propaganda tools, detailing the complex ways people respond to depictions of animals opposed to depictions of humans. The problem intensifies when moving to cinematic representation as the animal has the capacity to be nearly anything within such a framework. Burt’s analysis of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” lays out these concerns with great clarity.
Reviewing something like What We Do in the Shadows is a bit like reliving the first time you saw a This is Spinal Tap and The Blair Witch Project double feature. It’s not that Co-Directors and Co-Writers Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi have reinvented some of cinema and television’s favorite popular styles. Rather, “What We Do in the Shadows” does the very important work of reminding its audience that just because something is tired, doesn’t mean it can’t still be reawakened given a new voice…and some strapping ascots.
Willa Paskin recently wrote a piece cataloging a shift in media consumption from casual social occurrence to an incremental yet intensely ravenous adoration. As I’m writing this the United States Government has all but made official the involvement of North Korea in the Sony Pictures Entertainment hacking scandal and the subsequent threats of violence should “The Interview” be released.