Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review Haiku: The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

Why can't white people
In haunted houses, just get
The frack out of there?

Review: New York Ripper (1982)

Am I an enabler? I mean, I’m gay. I’m a feminist. I’m liberal. But I love 70s and 80s slasher movies. And in these movies, we often see malevolent male killers graphically kill … well … mostly ladies...

Were 70s/80s slasher movies part of the backlash against Feminism or were they a comment on the backlash on Feminism? Does the realm of “low art” simply reflect the attitude of the times and does that hold any value or is it simply exploitation?

Usually these questions don’t bother me any more. Since the 90s, slasher movies have become a bit more gender neutral. Sure it’s almost always a male killer, but the victims are pretty evenly distributed. We are less likely to see the boobs of the female victims and more likely to see the ass of the male victim. And most of the final girls in the post-80s movies know how to throw a punch. All of these are welcome developments.

So what, then, to make on the Fulci’s New York Ripper? I mean it has so many things that should give me a movie boner for it...

1) A killer that quacks like a Donald Duck on the phone:

2) Two awesome 70s beards (you're welcome, Jinx):

3) Headphones guy:

4) Green-screen terminal computer guy.

5) Hot Italian men in sweaters and leather jackets:
6) Hot Italian men without sweaters and leather jackets:

7) Lots of fake 80s high tech wizardry including this close-up. can you read the subliminal message? Can you?

All of that plus:
- "Sometimes I wonder how a girl like you with an IQ of 182 can be such a dummy."
- Sleazy sex scenes, like one where a high-society lady gets a foot job from two Puerto Rican strangers in a restaurant.
- Italian horror staples, like weird jazzy disco music at completely inappropriate times and long boring expository scenes.

Yes, the New York Ripper is weird and awful, which are usually a recipe for a mega-win for me in terms of movie finds. And this movie is so ridiculously weird and incredibly awful in every conceivable way that to be offended by it feels like a defeat. I demand my ironic distance! I will not be defeated by the likes of New York Ripper! You will not offend me!

But offended, I was. It reminded me of my feelings towards Showgirls.

I always get lots-o-laughs from the "I ate Doggie chow" scene. I pee a little when I see the "fish-flop" sex scene, the horrible dance numbers, and Elizabeth Berkeley doing whatever Verhoeven asked of her, hoping this piece of shit was going to make her the next Sharon Stone. And then ....

There's that rape scene. The misogynistic fly in the bad movie ointment. It rips away my precious ironic distance and makes me aware of the sleazy minds behind the trash I am mocking. And I hate myself just a little for watching it.

To put it in Showgirls terms, New York Ripper is 95% rape scene and 5% fish-flop sex scene. The lady-hatin' is just way too much. For those in the know, the misogynist piece-de-resitance is the scene of a seemingly passive bound woman getting her eye and breast sliced open. The actress is completely unable to convey her terror and the special effects are laughable. These are good things. You can get through the scene knowing it's all make believe, but then you think to yourself ... WTF Fulci?

And there is more. Like when one of our Beards buys a Blueboy magazine on the street. To a modern mind, it seems like a strange scene. He bought some gay porn. So what? It took me about 20 minutes to realize that, in Fulci’s world, buying gay porn makes you a murder suspect. Not just normal murder, but girl-hating murder. Motive? Because … wait for it … he was jealous of girls having a vageen. Something he wanted oh so bad.

New York Ripper kicks it very old school, but in the homophobic, misogynistic way, not in the fun "the two Coreys" kind of way.

Sure I laughed at the Donald Duck voice, the terrible acting, and the cheesy special effects. Sure, the 80s New York sleaze filtered through a Catholic damaged Italian horror filmmaker is perversely fascinating.

But by the time the credits roll, I felt depressed, trapped in Fulci’s Madonna-Whore complex, and thinking about all of the more enjoyable and rewarding things I could have done with my time … like counting my nose hairs, bedazzling my socks, or rubbing a cheese grater against my face.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

And if you didn't catch the Glee version, the audio of Mercedes belting it out can be found here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I've BeenTagged!

The Spooky Vegan -- delightful purveyor of delicious non-animal-murder-derived goodness and Halloween fun facts -- has tagged me!

She then immediately demanded I answer a battery of her questions. She's awfully pushy for a non-flesh eater, no? I will relent, because I completely lack the ability to say no (especially to someone as adorable as the Spooky Vegan. I mean, can she be any cuter?) As stated before, I also lack the ability to tell people what to do and these memes/awards/taggings always highlight that nagging character flaw. So unfortunately, the tagging will stop with me and I will not be passing it along.

But here are my answers to questions I'm sure you are just dying to know about me...

1. If you could get away with one illegal act in your life, what would it be and why?
I would stalk Ryan Reynolds. And since we are in total fantasy land here, he wouldn’t press charges and choose, instead, to become my love slave.

2. What is your all-time favorite Halloween costume that you've worn?
I went as Melissa Sue Anderson who played both final girl and killer in Happy Birthday to Me. My friends pretty much hated my obscure choice and made me promise to never attempt drag again.

3. What are five movies from your childhood/teen years that define you?
Bambi, Halloween, New House on the Left, Dawn of the Dead, Damien: Omen 2. They all left their own teeny traumatic tuna-style sear on my grey matter.

4. What character in a movie/book/TV show/etc. do you identify with the most and why?
If I say Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye, would you shoot me point blank in the face? I certainly hope so. It's a hard question to answer definitively, but I have to say that I was deeply affected by the character of Solly in Europa Europa. The incredible true tale of a Jewish boy having to hide his identity under Nazi rule had a lot of resonance with me, since I grew up gay in ... well ... Earth.

5. What is your favorite Halloween-related activity to do in October?
Going to Day of the Dead Celebration at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

6. What's your favorite Halloween-themed movie to watch around Halloween?
Halloween 3. Killer robots, Laser-equipped Halloween masks that melt child noggins into snakes and spiders, And the frakkin' Silver Shamrock tune. The first horror movie ever to use an annoying jingle (instead of a sense of dread or shock) to get under your skin ....

7. Who is your favorite horror movie villain/monster?
Mrs. Voorhees from Friday the 13th. I defy anyone to find a campier (no pun intended) slasher killer. OK, Angela from Sleepaway Camp (still no pun intended) might be a runner up.

8. What is one "luxury" product you can't live without?
I'm totally blanking on this one. If by luxury, you mean anything beyond food, water, clothing, and shelter, then I'd have to go with soap. Yes, that's it. Soap. Wow. I really choked on that last one.

Final Girl Nirvana

Though Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis' comedy You Again did not open to such hot reviews or box office (my boyfriend, connoisseur of chick flicks that he is ... loved it), it did present us with the following horrorgasm inducing interview clip wherein the final girls from Halloween and Alien riff about which movie is scarier. I need a cigarette...

Friday, October 1, 2010

It Gets Better: In the meantime, watch more horror movies…

This rash of reported suicides of bullied gay teenagers has got me thinking. Fucking fuming is more like it. As I sit in my protected world, far from the psychological meat grinder of public high school, I realize how lucky I was to survive.

I dealt with homophobic bullies from 5th grade until my senior year in high school. I had friends, but since I wasn’t out to them until my 20s, I repressed a lot of my anger. As a result, I was plagued by hidden obsessive thoughts of suicide and violent revenge against the bullies. Thankfully I never acted on either.

Though Dan Savage and Ellen DeGeneres are doing the right thing by letting troubled gay teens know that things do get better (and they do, TRUST ME, they do), I’d like to address those darker regions of the gay teen mind that even the most caring, responsible message cannot reach. The only way I could reach those places as a teen was HORROR.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s – the golden age of feminism, sexual and gay liberation, and the slasher movie. Slasher movies for me were a trip into the dark reaches of my own mind and a way to reconcile subconscious forces that threatened to undermine my psychological health.

The final girl was always a sex shy tomboy – a perfect avatar for my own sexual repression, self-doubt, and self-loathing. The depression part of repression.

floating on a sea of sadness...

The slasher was also a perfect avatar for my repressed primal rage and internalized homophobia. The angry, destructive part of repression.

i will cut a bitch...

Via slasher movies I could have a fully satisfying psychological experience. First, I could enjoy watching a batch of overprivileged, horny, irresponsible hetero teens get violent consequences dished out to them via chainsaw, razor blade, pitchfork, or George Foreman grill -- essentially playing out my own fantasies of violent revenge against my peers in a safe, non-destructive way.

that's mr. faggot to you...

Then, when the slasher and final girl faced off, it was a chance for me to watch the two disconnected aspects of myself face off. Would the inner wounded rage (slasher) finally kill off the weakened, depressed sense of self (final girl)?

this inner struggle is killing me...

But the slasher never wins. The final girl always manages to stop running away, face down her demon, get out of her shamed fetal position and triumph over the slasher. Symbolically, she integrates the slasher's rage, fighting fire with fire, pulling her out of her depression so she can destroy her (inner) demon.

the revolution within...

High school is not a slasher movie. It is a series of indignities that you just have to endure. I can tell you that it was the worst time of my life. The minute I graduated, my life became immeasurably better. College is better. Your twenties are better. I’ve lived long enough to report that the thirties and forties are fucking amazing.

The teenage mind is cruel and absolute. It runs on rampaging hormones, ego, and insecurity. Teens haven’t lived long enough to understand consequence or self-awareness. Most of these bullies will become miserable adults, attracting misery to themselves. They may not get a hatchet in their face, but their karmic wheel will turn.

what's the number for the glenn beck show again?

Others may even change. Some of the kids that made my teen life miserable have become good people who since apologized for their behavior.

Either way, know that they don’t matter and your life will become fabulous … so let it.

i rule!

In the meantime, focus on school, and hang out with the nerds and arty rejects in school. They’re the ones that have the kindest hearts and will be going places.

And watch more horror movies. You’ll be glad you did.

Get involved:

It Gets Better Project YouTube Channel

The Trevor Project