HE SAID: Horror Movies

October 28, 2009

Initially, I was going to concentrate on how vampires are all of a sudden dominating our society.  However, besides a brief watching of True Blood: Season 1 I really don’t have much experience with the current vampire craze.  While I have an odd infatuation with Kristen Stewart, I haven’t watched a scene or read a word of the Twilight Series, nor seen any of The Vampire Diaries, and even refuse to admit last year’s Lost Boys 2 exists.  So, ultimately I decided it would be a bit unfair of me to crap on vampires.  However, I have seen quite of a few of this generation’s so called “horror” movies, and have decided they absolutely suck.

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The Hostel Series, Saw (I-XVI), Paranormal Activity (I admit I haven’t seen this yet, and maybe it will end up being good, but my guess is it will not live up to the hype), Orphan, The Strangers, Sex and the City, every Halloween since the first couple, yada effing yada, the list goes on.

They all have more or less the same formula: show a bit of skin (and by skin I mean nipple) and have one or more incredibly messed up individual who torture the protaginists.  Here’s the thing, torture does not equal horror.  Watching some guy saw off his own ankle, or seeing an achilles tendon being plucked ou is NOT horror.  It is gore, and it is gross, and sometimes I turn away from the screen, but only because the vodka soda’s from the night before are starting to creep back up.

Then there are the Blair Witch type movies (which is what I think Paranormal Activity is going for), these seemingly ‘real’ pictures of horror.  I still remember how many morons though the original Blair Witch Project was based on a true story.  So many counselors came back from seeing that and were shitting their pants at the thought of sleeping in cabins in the woods.  What a bunch if “p” words.  I, along with the couple friends I saw it with, were literally chuckling at how dumb and awful the movie was.  Believe me, I’m not sitting here on my high horse claiming I’m a tough guy that can’t get scared, I’m sitting here on my high horse claiming today’s horror movies suck.

I can get scared.  I watched some of The Shining on TV just the other night, and when the wind howled a bit when going to sleep later on, I’m pretty sure I was a bit more on edge than usual.  I saw the original Halloween in a hotel room by myself, and definitely tossed and turned until about 4 in the morning (give me a break, I was 12 at the time).  When I walked up the stairs from the famous Exorcist scene, I shuddered and almost hershey squirted.

Maybe this speaks to what I alluded to last week when discussing Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich, directors today too often rely simply on special effects, and what gets lost is the actual movie making.  Maybe I’ll do an actual psychological study one day, but I’m pretty sure if you sat a 13 year old down in front of Saw V, and then a week later made the same kid watch The Shining…he’d have a lot more nightmares about Jack Torrance and REDRUM than he would Jigsaw.


SHE SAID: Horror Movies

October 28, 2009

horror-moviesHorror Movies … I think the last one I saw was Scream 2 and we got the last two seats in the theater, which meant I was more uncomfortable about having to look directly above me at the screen than by anything in the movie.  Before that, my horror movie memories are of Nightmare on Elm Street and The Exorcist.

Someone who will remain nameless thought it would be a good idea to show Nightmare on Elm Street to me at seven years old.  And because I was unable to separate what I saw on the television from reality, I spent years hating showers and taking really fast ones when absolutely necessary.  I was also legitimately petrified that I was going to end up sucked into my bed with a geyser of blood being the end result.  For years.

I watched The Exorcist at a friend’s birthday party and when I got home, my parents were headed out for dinner.  I spent the entire night beyond terrified of demon possession and kept hearing footsteps in the house which were, in reality, my own heartbeat.

Two pretty impressive reactions to horror movies, but I was also under 15 and in one case still trying to get my parents to admit that Santa didn’t exist.

Are we supposed to have that severe of a reaction to a horror movie in our twenties and thirties?  We know the mechanics behind movie making, we know the virgin lives and the whore dies, that the “blood” is dye, perhaps even the mechanics of story structure enough that we can determine the bad guy early on.  So, yeah, they don’t keep me up for days in a row anymore.  I don’t think that I, at 31, am the target audience for these movies.

Suspense is key in a scary movie.  Cape Fear, The Shining.  Those were both suspenseful and terrifying – not because the scenes were scary, but because of the blanks that the mind was able to fill.  Not to sound like my mother, but viewers don’t need to see every thrust and bead of sweat in order to comprehend attraction between two characters.  It’s the same with horror.  We don’t need to see the blood spurting and the amputations in order to be scared.  And frankly, it dates a movie because within a few months or at most, years, the audience will be laughing at the dated special effects.

I’m horribly out of date as far as appreciation for the genre in writing this.  It’s akin to me writing a post about Oasis, a band I haven’t listened to since high school.  And while I’m aware that it’s not the most respected of genres, I don’t think having titles like Halloween H20: 20 years later is helping.  I am really hoping that there aren’t 20 Halloween movies.  I don’t care how good the first one was.  Anything beyond three is stretching it, and even three is stretching it.

But I will say that I am one of those people who likes being scared.  And not because of some child getting killed or some woman being raped on screen (both of which I think are cheap scares), but because of the suspense, the unknown that, when successfully conveyed is fun.  When you’re safely curled up on your couch.  With another warm body.  And a big bowl of popcorn.


SHE SAID: Karaoke

October 26, 2009

I don’t know how it happened, but I ended up at a dive bar with an elaborate karaoke set up on Saturday night.  It wasn’t the karaoke that lead us there, and it wasn’t the karaoke that kept us there, but it is what I remember from the night.

There were the obvious characters at the bar who are all worthy of mention.  One man was, coincidentally enough, wearing exactly what my friend is planning on her son wearing when he dresses up as a pirate for Halloween.  Only he wasn’t dressing up.

Another was a weathered guy in a Yankees T-shirt (the first sign we weren’t going to be friends), and it wasn’t so much what he was wearing, but more that he insisted on following me around for a large part of the evening claiming to have sung with Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Poison.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he hadn’t, but he kept warning me that when he went up, he was going to blow me away.  His name was Seven, another dubious claim, and I never did get to hear his singing.

Then there was the requisite birthday party of mid-thirties women who were well on their way to hammered and the main partakers in the Karaoke.

Add to this picture a few scattered, worn looking regulars and you have the scene.

The astounding thing about Karaoke is the song choice and the amazing surprises that come your way when you think you’ve stereo-typed someone.

I expected Madonna and Alanis Morisette from the women … and they delivered, complete with some raunchy dance moves (Shoop – Salt ‘n Peppa) accompanied by some self-conscious giggling.

I expected Johnny Cash from the worn looking, mullet donning man.  No go.  Instead was some obscure love song, so genuinely delivered that it made up for the terrible rendition of a terrible song (You Oughta Know).  And all of a sudden, karaoke stopped being such a joke and started to become something else.

Hokey and super lame, I know, but there is something so heart wrenching about a person up on stage singing their heart out with eyes closed not giving a rat’s arse about who is listening, but doing it for the sake of doing it and not to impress some girl or make friends laugh.  And maybe I’m making something beautiful out of a drunk loner who doesn’t even remember that he was at a karaoke bar, much less singing.  And I realize that this possibility is very likely, but I like to think in spite of the drunk, repressed women and the group I was with (also drunk and repressed), a moment of beauty occurred.  Or a few.


HE SAID: Karaoke

October 26, 2009

Most of you think I’m probably about to rip Nifer a new one for taking a seemingly fun and drunken night out and turning it into some sort of introspective look at drunken culture. However, I have to admit it, I get it. I see her point, I just hadn’t thought about it in that light before. That being said, I still think you might have been reading a bit too much into JP’s Karaoke scene. While I agree that there is something a bit depressing about CERTAIN karaoke performances, most karaokeing falls into three categories: self-serving, entertaining, and downright shitty.

The issue with self-serving people is that they are not singing to entertain the crowd; instead they are simply trying to wow you with their singing prowess. Believe you me, I am not at a Karaoke bar on a Friday night to see some choir couple gush into each other’s eyes while belting out “I Got You Babe.” If you have a great voice, by all means use it…just make sure you’re not obviously trying to show off, do your best to make sure your performance falls into…

Entertaining. These performances are what makes a karaoke night fun. Some people get up there with great voices, sing a fun song (note: Only the Good Die Young does not qualify as a good karaoke song, and hasn’t since the Wall was still up), and really get the crowd into it. Others get up there with a relatively crappy voice, but still manage to be entertaining. This latter category, I’m proud to say, is the one I fall into.

I have actually only performed actual karaoke twice. First time I was with a few guys on Spring Break down in Turks & Caicos. While my song selection was somewhat cheesy – “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” – the fact that my buddy and me performed the whole Top Gun scene leading up to the song really revved up the crowd and we didn’t buy a drink the rest of the night (that last part is probably a lie, but I like to remember it that way).

The second time was here in Stowe, and I wasn’t even inebriated. I just felt like having a good time. Even if that good time meant singing “Keep on Lovin’ You” by REO Speedwagon. People clapped and sang along, so I felt somewhat accomplished. Finally, this isn’t really karaoke, but I am not ashamed to admit that this is me. I promise, if you click on the link, you will be entertained.

The last category is perhaps the most painful. These people suck at singing (and many times think they are good), pick lame songs, and don’t engage with the crowd at all. These folks are probably up there singing something along the lines of “Like A Prayer” because they either A. think it’s cool or B. lost their virginity to it while in the back of their Mom’s Buick Skylark in 1989. Often times these people will cause such discomfort amongst fellow bar patrons, a cigarette break or bathroom run is the only hope of respite. But then again, I look at this guy and am completely confounded. He is awful, I want to break a bottle of Bud over his head, but yet I can’t look away, and have a feeling I’d probably be cheering him if I was there…


HE SAID: Marry/Fuck/Toss

October 23, 2009

It’s Friday.  Well, unless Daphne is reading this, in which case it’s early Saturday.

And Friday afternoons were sort of made for games or at least a little humor because otherwise you drive yourself mad looking at a ticking second hand, or in this day and age, a blinking semi-colon.

Of course, if you’re Jeremy, you’re in the steam room right now contemplating which movie character to somehow work into your next paper.

I digress.

Jeremy’s three are:

1. Lucy, from Seventh Heaven

2. Blossom, from Blossom

3. DJ Tanner, from Full House

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Um, Nifer this is more twisted than my cartoon game.  I really don’t know where to go here, but since I have the power, I’m changing my portion of the game to Play House/Necking out on Rocky Point/Toss…just so this blog doesn’t force me to sign up for the National Sex Registry.

This selection is actually quite easy…I’m playing house with Blossom.  For two reasons.  Reason #1 is obvious – she is a Hebrew, like myself.  Reason #2 has more to do with the negatives of playing house with DJ Tanner.  Basically I could not put up with Danny Tanner as my father in law, Joey Gladstone making shitty jokes, or simply having Kimmy Gibler being part of my life.  So, I’ll do some heaving petting/necking with DJ.

Lucy is getting tossed.  Originally it was because her bangs were overkill, then I noticed all my suitors have bangs.  But I’m going to offer up a mercy kill here, albeit a bit different than yours (readers – see below).  Where yours was for the rest of mankind, I’m tossin Lucy for her own good.  There is no way she’d grow up normal with a sister as hot as Jessica Biel.  She’d have a plethora of mental health issues, and most likely end up a miserable adult anyway.


SHE SAID: Marry/Fuck/Toss

October 23, 2009

I really miss cliff sex marriage.  So after hearing one of my favorite songs from my childhood (Every Rose Has It’s Thorn by Poison), I decided I’ll let Nifer choose from three icons of the era.  Note, you will not be choosing from the following three people now, but rather who they were in there hay day.  First up, Bret Michales of the aforementioned Poison; just think of the way he’d serenade you to sleep.  Next up, drummer of Motley Crew Tommy Lee. I promise I’ve never seen it,  but apparently there is a homemade porn of him and Pamela on a boat, and rumor has it he might be good for the eff portion of the game; but really, never seen that clip on the internet, ever.  Finally,  I don’t see how you can play this game without Axl, a man who needs no explanation.

———

This is tough.  Well done, Jeremy.  They are all so similar that I’m finding myself having to actually think about this one.

I’m going to say, for the sake of the game, that Bret Michaels is pre-Rock of Love Bret Michaels.  Back when glam rock was dominating the charts and I was begging my parents for both the Chipmunks Christmas Album and Def Leppard’s album.  Now, while this demonstrates that glam metal fans clearly have no taste in music, it also shows that even the worst music fan can turn the boat around.  Thankfully, my problem was diagnosed and treated early.

I’m going to marry Tommy Lee.  This is coming from the belief (with no basis in fact) that the guy has to have a good sense of humor based on some of his choices in women, tattoos, etc.

I’m going to sleep with Axl just to say that I did.  But this is at his height.  Before he did the braided dreads thing and tried to fit into his old leather pants and make a comeback.

And that leaves Bret Michaels.  Because I just can’t get over Rock of Love.  Even if I try to pretend we’re going back to the time before … I can’t go back. And, if this tossing takes place before he does that, then it’s really an altruistic action, because I’m sparing America and whatever other countries are suffering through that programming.  So, it’s a GOOD thing.  A humane act of kindness.  A mercy killing … for the rest of us.


HE SAID: Retiring

October 20, 2009

A few months ago in this space, I wrote about how I thought Brett Favre should just retire.  In fact, I felt so strongly about it I posted twice.  However, I wasn’t really referring to his skill level so much as the way he would wait until the day before the season started and thus acting like a complete dbag in the process.  Today I’d like to focus my attention to some people in the limelight that might want to consider hanging it up, for good, because while these people used to be relevant, they simply suck now.  Some of these names might surprise you, if I’ve offended anyone, feel free to explain why you oppose my opinion.

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#1. Al Pacino – Yeah, that’s right, I said, I think that Michael effing Corleone (possibly one of the best characters of all time) should give up acting.  Why? Simple, Pacino hasn’t made a relevant movie in a decade (The Insider & Any Given Sunday), hasn’t been in a decent movie since 2002 (Insomnia), and for lack of a better phrase – sucks at acting now.  He has become a complete and utter charicature of himself.  He overacts, he plays the same over-the-top jackass in every movie, and I’m simply tired of him yelling at me when he doesn’t have to.

#2. Rivers Cuomo/Weezer – For those that don’t know me, even writing down the name Rivers was painful.  They were my second favorite band all through high school and college, and the Blue Album & Pinkerton will forever remain two of my favorite albums of all time.  That being said, they haven’t made a great album since Pinkerton.  And while I’ll agree that it is incredibly hard to live up to amazing debuts, other albums should at least have songs that make you think, “wow, they still have it.”  There have been some catchy tunes on each album since, but they lost me at “I Am the Greatest Man that Ever Lived.”  Maybe the album coming out Tuesday will negate this paragraph, though based on a couple early songs I highly doubt it.

And for those who wish to put Pearl Jam in this same category, just to spite me, I concede the fact that no album after the first three have been as good.  However, on each I can point to at least two or three songs that would stand up against any from the first few.  And besides, their newest album rocks out like it’s 1994.

#3. Michael Bay & Roland Emmerich – While each of you have a couple of exceptions, for the most part, your movies suck. I mean, really, really suck.  Anyone with a bankroll and some access too good CGI computer can do what you do.  The worst part is, you are making me hate some actors I used to love.  John Cusack, what the eff are you doing starring in 2012?  Shouldn’t you be professing your love in an angst ridden way to some attractive, yet slightly unknown actress?  The answer is “yes, yes you effing should.”  But instead you are making this trash, all for a big fat paycheck.

I could keep this list going on forever (Nicolas Cage, Axl Rose, Jon Bon Jovi, Cameron Diaz), and maybe one day I will.  But for now it’s time to watch the Angels beat the Yankees.