Showing posts from December, 2020

MAY ?? - The Changeling

              By 1980, horror audiences had had seen splatter-fests, chainsaw-wielding rednecks, rape-revenge flicks, Satanically-possessed adolescents, and the dawn of the slasher. Surely no one could be scared by a cute little haunted house picture. And surely me, all the way in 2020, am above such juvenile frights. Right? Absolutely not; this movie fucking scared me.             Part of the late-‘70s early-‘80s haunted house boom, The Changeling , like the aesthetically similar Don’t Look Now , opens with tragedy. Composer John Russell loses his wife and daughter in a freak car accident. Overcome with grief, John yeets to Seattle to serve as a guest lecturer at the University of Washington. His friends put him in touch with the local historical society who rent him a ridiculously lavish mansion which has been unoccupied for twelve years. It comes with furniture, a piano, and of course a ghost.             Kept awake by mysterious sounds and doors that open on their own, John discove

MAY ?? - Eve's Bayou

Just pretend it's still May. What's time, anyway? Do you really know what day it is?              One week in my American horror film class, we watched two groundbreaking movies from the ‘90s, Silence of the Lambs and Candyman . Released within a year of each other, neither are my favorite but they’re both undoubtedly influential. Silence of the Lambs cleaned up at the Oscars, while attracting justifiable criticism in its stereotypical and grotesque depiction of a trans serial killer. Candyman , based on a short story by Hellraiser auteur Clive Barker, was the rare horror movie to have an urban setting and a Black villain, the iconic Tony Todd. Both feature Kasi Lemmons as the Black best friend.             In Silence of the Lambs , Lemmons goes jogging with Jodi Foster and gives her a pep talk. In Candyman , she voices anxieties around Cabrini Green and her white friend and coworker’s willingness to just barge in and start interviewing residents, and is brutally murdered

Bad Movie Diaries: Mom's Got a Date With a Vampire

Would you date this vampire?              Though Disney’s cinematic output was having the opposite of a renaissance when I was a kid, their brand remained strong enough that my parents associated them with quality entertainment, and so all through elementary school I watched a whole lot of Disney Channel. With the exception of stone-cold classics like Kim Possible , I can’t say I loved any of the shows – it was just that they were on and they were safe. But the movies, the DCOMs that is, were something else.             As trash made-for-TV movies go, DCOMs have a special place in my heart. The very first DCOM, Under Wraps , was released the year I was born. The early 2000s were a heyday for the genre, as Disney pumped out something like ten a year. Cheaply made, they mostly fit into easy, recognizable templates, sports movies and family dramas and of course Halloween movies like Under Wraps , and then there were a few infamously batshit ones, featuring teenage boys turning into merm

Bad Movie Diaries: Good Girls and Bad Girls in I Know Who Killed Me (2007)

  Look ma, I'm just like Dario Argento             Like most bad movies, I Know Who Killed Me is constructed from the hacked-off pieces of other, better movies. Argento lighting. De Palma split screen. Doppelgangers from Lynch and   granddaddy Hitchcock and great-granddaddy Bergman. And like most bad movies, I Know Who Killed Me reveals that there is more to these great filmmakers than style-for-style’s-sake, that contrary to popular belief it is not that easy to make a Lynch film or a giallo, at least a good one. In these stylish movies, the style informs the substance; in their poor imitations, the style replaces substance. Let me explain. What does the color blue mean in Blue Velvet ? It is not too easy to say. It recalls the cheeseball Bobby Vinton song that gives the film its name, a piece of boomer nostalgia laced with unmistakable menace. Blue is associated with the night, with underworld cool, with the otherworldly. In Lynchworld, a blue rose stands for something that

Bad Movie Diaries: Throwing a Hissy in Glitter (2001)

  Name a worse love story than Glitter, I'll wait             At the beginning of December, journalist and podcaster Sarah Marshall took to Twitter to make the following observation:   Her followers wracked their collective brains to add Fargo and Hidden Figures to the list, along with The Adams Family and Adams Family Values , but only if we count “being a hot goth” as an important job. And that’s it! Marshall went on to lay out the rules of the Marshall Test:             These do not appear to be very stringent criteria, and yet a movie that passes the Marshall Test is extremely elusive. While movies that star women doing important jobs are increasingly common, the real obstacle to passing the Marshall Test is the insidious ubiquity of a shitty archetype: the Boyfriend Whomst Throws a Hissy. And no movie depicts this archetype in its purest form quite like Glitter (2001).             I’ve long believed that, to figure out what stories have seeped deepest into our c