Jun 202011
 

Yup. We're boned.

June 20, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, the American horror movie is dead. Sure, we’ll occasionally get a self-aware gore-fest like Feast or Hatchet, but all in all, it’s like we just stopped caring.

Recently, Mary and I sat down and, in order to tune out of the world for a bit, decided to just watch a bunch of horror movies. It would be mindless fun. We ended up watching, among other films, Dead Snow and Le Horde. Do you know what I learned?

America has mostly lost its nerve when it comes to horror. Both of these films did GREAT things with their respective genres. Both had the same set-up as any zombie movie: motley group is trapped in the middle of a zombie invasion. One had students battling Nazi zombies, and the other had cops grudgingly teaming up with gangsters to fight against the undead.


Zombie Feast by ~AlbertoArribas on deviantART

Le Brains! Le Brains!

Both movies had subtitles. For a lot of people, this is a deal-breaker. Personally, I think it makes movies more interesting. And if you’re too lazy to read subtitles and enjoy a foreign movie, don’t complain when the inevitable American remake sucks.

I don’t know why, but for me, good dialogue is key to a good movie. If the dialogue doesn’t sound right, the movie is going to suffer for it, and it’s very hard to write good lines. Dog Soldiers, what I would argue is one of the best horror movies of the last twenty years, had incredible lines for all its characters. Contrast that with, say, Twilight’s stammered and redundant lines of what I can only assume are a monkey bashing a keyboard until words appear on the screen.

Since I speak neither Norwegian nor French, it would be unfair to judge the movies based on what I read as I watched them. However, the delivery and the emotion in Le Horde made it feel like any number of action films. These were hard-boiled cops and ruthless Nigerian gangsters. These were not a scrappy bunch of survivors. They were packing and they were more than willing to kill each other, and their performances and delivery showed it.


Zombie Nazi’s by ~Nyxx666 on deviantART

Earn Your Level In Badass

There’s nothing worse than a static character. Going back to Twilight, Bella does not change in any way throughout the series (not counting finally turning into a glittering faerie in the last book). In Dead Snow, we get our group of medical students. While several are killed off pretty quickly, those that make it past the initial attacks move on past their jerk attitudes. In one case, a hemophobe (yeah, someone with a blood phobia in medical school) really earns his stripes when he goes from jerk boyfriend to one-man army complete with Evil Dead tribute.

Gore and some spoilers below.

Likewise, it would be hard to see how any of the already-tough-as-nails characters in Le Horde could get any better. They’ve already waged war on each other, teamed up to fight fast-as-frak undead. They’ve turned on each other again. They meet an old man who thinks he’s still in the Pacific War and just happens to have some really big gear for them.

Then, as things go from bad to worse, one of the cops puts on one of the greatest Last Stands I’ve seen in a movie. It’s totally unrealistic, but what makes it awesome is the sheer scale of it. Plus, he looks like a 19th century French pugilist.

Was It Worth It?

Both movies reached their impressive crescendos by the time the credits rolled. Dead Snow was a comedy and made no apologies for it. It took too long to get to the meat of the story, though. The zombies don’t really show up until the halfway mark, though they make a few stealth kills, but once they do, everything moves FAST. Sure, the exposition of what is going on lasts for what seems like an hour of one guy talking about local Norwegian history, but once we get all that nasty back-story out of the way, we get to what we really came to see. It’s Sin City-like in its cartoony violence, but that’s really the only way to approach it. If we hadn’t spent so much time watching these students just hang out, it might have been a much more enjoyable movie, but for what it was, it’s a good way to spend an hour and a half.

Le Horde, on the other hand, didn’t really stop for anything. It starts with an illegal raid, some C4, and guns going off, an execution, everything. It looks to be a gritty, in-your-face crime drama/action film. Then, at the fourteen-minute mark, we get one of the creepiest intros to the undead I recall seeing. Five minutes later, we’re watching Paris burn. No explanation for where the plague came from. Nothing. Okay, next crisis. While there’s something to be said for the slow, Romero-style zombies, Le Horde actually makes the fast variety seem creepy and not just gory.


Horror movie night by ~KINOKO19 on deviantART

There are very few American movies that leave me wanting more. Let the Right One In, Sherlock (miniseries), as well as these two films are leaving me more and more disillusioned in American entertainment. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of shows I enjoy watching, but they include things like No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, shows that show more multiculturalism than our country is generally known for.

Anyone have any movie or television show suggestions?

No links today. I have to clean the remains of a taco-making party in the kitchen, but links for Wednesday!

Jun 102011
 

It's scarier when you consider that this image was taken before digital cameras... BUT IT"S ON THE INTERNET! OOOOOOH!

June 10, 2011

Texas and Arizona have been neck to neck in a fight to both dumb down and destroy the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Now, Tennessee has thrown its hat into the ring, and we are in for a great fight, folks.

The state just passed a law that would make it illegal to distribute images that might “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone. Let that sink in for a moment. Any image that is may disturb someone is now illegal. This includes a fine and jail time.

Can you hear the First Amendment dying like Lohan’s career?

This is an update to a current law to makes it illegal to contact someone with the intent of causing emotional harm. Most of you can already see the problem with the logic of the update.

What constitutes a disturbing image to you? Me? I watch a lot of scary movies. Many of them contain gore. Blood and monsters and rusty things in flesh may be gory, but I don’t classify them as emotionally disturbing. How about this?


Bed by *Hoffine on deviantART

Too tame? Maybe, but I have a friend who has a son who is afraid of a duck sock puppet. Putting an image of THAT on the internet is now illegal.

Of course, you could make the argument that law probably means that purposefully transmitting images to a particular person with the intent of causing emotional harm is the punishable offense, not just posing an image ANYONE could find disturbing. That makes a little more sense, but then the question becomes this…

How do you enforce that? How do you figure out intent or police THE INTERNET?

I mean, there are some really sick people out there. Look at this:


Reunited -seriously scary 3 by ~steelgohst on deviantART

And it being Tennessee, I’m going to assume that what they find disturbing is anything that might offend the Right Wing base. See, laws like this are usually passed by people who cannot handle either something that contradicts their point of view or wish to silence the opposition. It’s very Middle East, you know.

If a Christian wishes to never see any demonic images or anything non-Christian, do we prosecute people who display heavy metal covers? Could a radical Muslim ask that images of American military action be taken down because they offend him? Could I, if I moved to Tennessee, ask that no one circulate any images of Glenn Beck since they remind me of the awful damage he has done to this country?

My guess would be “no.”

They might find an image like this intimidating…


Gay Rights by =digitalgrace on deviantART

…But the rest of us would just see something to root for.

The whole “free choice” thing is really the spanner in the works here. And, if you think about, it’s a law that keeps people from being offended. There’s such a thing as libel and death threats which have actual repercussions in the real world, but if you’re not mature enough to see an image and either look away, debate someone over its merit in a battle of wits, or otherwise engage the thing in front of you in any way shape or form, and if your last recourse is asking Big Brother to take the image down for you, you have one of two problems.

You are either so incompetent you cannot operate a web browser, or you have the emotional maturity of a five-year old.

You can’t possibly be a non-tech savvy five-year old. Those don’t exist anymore.


the slender man by ~Kreatur-im-Spiegel on deviantART

Now let’s cleanse that gore and blood with some good ol’ fashioned links. They’re good for ya!

  • I have not watched The Human Centipede, nor do I have any desire to view it at any point in my life. However, the teaser for the sequel does something really smart. It takes all the controversy from the first (the gore, the body horror, and the false claim of medical accuracy) and turns it into a spot that would have made 1950′s horror directors proud. I remember the trailer for Psycho had Hitchcock walking through the Bates residence. Not that I think Human Centipede 2 will be anywhere near Hitchcock’s level, but the trailer’s a nice throwback.
  • In the last gasps of air for Beck’s show, Becky Boy is throwing everything out. He’s warning against the coming Progressive-led Apocalypse and urging his viewers to be like the city of Joplin and not accept any FEMA aid so the government sees we can take care of ourselves… Except Joplin DID accept FEMA aid. It’s like Beck’s not even trying with his lies any more.
  • This… this is perhaps the greatest story of the week. Amidst all the crap going on, I couldn’t stop laughing at this story. it’s a victory for the American people, a victory against banks that think they can take whatever they want, and a true example of poetic justice. See you Monday, kids!

Sep 132010
 
 September 13, 2010  Posted by at 12:01 am September Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  No Responses »

...and then you can pretend you matter.

September 13, 2010

Writing is a lonely job. I’m updating my resume to reflect recent jobs and see that, in most cases, I rarely have to interact with others. Even my current job, filled with phone calls galore, usually finds me sitting alone as I work on something. My job at the university allowed me to interact with people on a daily basis, but a full-time writer doesn’t have that luxury.

Our jobs demand focus and attention.

We are keyboard monkeys.

How do you develop the discipline needed to sit and work with nothing and no one reminded you that you have a deadline?


Alone by *loLO-o on deviantART

Personally, I find that looking at your bank account once in a while is a good push to write faster and finish on time without checking Facebook. It’s depressing, yes, but it gets the job. Think of it as a financial splash of cold water to the privates. As much as some people think that “writing” isn’t a job, that you can get any intern to do it for you, it’s a difficult profession. And yes, we deserve to be paid more than minimum wage for the right services.

Another motivator is music. I like to keep a good mix of various genres and artists on as I type. When I start getting used to punk cabaret, the playlist switches to classic rock. At least for me, the noise helps me focus. I may not be singing along since it would make typing difficult as I sing one thing and write another, but the combination of different types of music keeps me alert since I don’t get accustomed to it. That’s also why I try not to listen to the same playlist too much, or I put it on shuffle.

As weird as it sounds, just continually telling yourself to write one more sentence, go through one more page of edits, or do one more anything, helps. Say it out loud. Actually say, “Come on. You can do one more.”


voice by ~lizjaa on deviantART

Hearing your voice, or any voice, is a powerful motivator. It’s even a reminder that you’re not a robot. I’ve gone some days without saying anything until the evening. No phone calls. Didn’t see anyone. No reason to talk. Speaking felt and sounded weird, like I’d just woken up.

It’s easy to get lost in the work. It’s even easier to forgot you’re a person.

And I’m not trying to be poetic here. I’m serious. If you’re underpaid, isolated, or writing something micromanaged by your boss, you really do feel like an office tool. The isolation is the one you can control, though. Keep things interesting. Use music. Go outside. Meet friends for lunch. If you can interact with others do it.

The deadline’s not going anywhere.


peace by ~Barbusz on deviantART

Now let’s distract ourselves with some links…

Jun 172010
 

June 17, 2010

A lot of things will hopefully go down in the next couple of weeks, one of which I hope will involve me getting a full-time teaching position. If that’s the case, Randomology.org may suffer because of lack of time, so starting next week, I’m going to try something a little different. I’ll run shorter articles, maybe 300-400 words, six days a week and include 4-5 links to stories at the bottom. Not only will this make writing the website a lot faster, but I’ll get stories out that would otherwise get left behind.

Trust me, I have a lot of links and images I never get to put on here.

For this week at least, regular schedule will continue. I’ll see how this goes over tomorrow.

Fasten your seatbelts. It’s link time.

  • Megan Fox will be in the new issue of Interview magazine and she will be in a little bob cut. And she will be making out with herself. Sort of. It’s a mannequin designed to look like her. Still, if you’ll settle for that, check out the link.
  • That trailer a few DvB’s ago for a Mortal Kombat movie is looking more and more like a real teaser for a movie. The trailer for the new Mortal Kombat game finally came out and it looks nothing like the Saw-like gore-fest in the live-action clip. Here’s hoping the movie is as awesome as the new game also looks.
  • Anyone who saw Minority Report remembers those awesome computer interfaces that reacted to touch and movement. Check out how they were designed and why you can expect to have your very own hyper-futuristic computer in just a few short years.
  • Growing up in Mexico, I remember seeing a lot of playground that were rusted, or neglected, or otherwise unsafe. I didn’t care! They were fun! Danger equals fun! THESE playgrounds, however, would give most kids nightmares for a year.
  • I’m ashamed to admit it took me a good five minutes to figure out what was wrong with this house. How long will it take you?
  • Maxim generally runs quotes from the interviews with their models and try to appeal in the manly man in all of us with titillating snippets. Problem is… sometimes they objectify the women much more than they probably intend. However, some clever folks at Reddit have changed this and, well, “fixed” a photo to make it more appealing to THINKING men. Take that, chauvinism!
  • Ozzy Osbourne has done a lot in his life, from fronting one of the greatest rock bands of all time to showing us a family far more dysfunctional than our own. However, now Ozzy’s blood may help science learn how the body reacts to substance abuse.
  • And finally, a little encouragement for any girls thinking of batting for the other team, courtesy of the BBC. See you tomorrow!