Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Scary Monsters & Super-Creeps of the Silver Screen

Today I want to look at horror movie serial killers. I want to do so just because I’m in that mood and I can. Come and look with me if you are bored, curious, or just love horror movies and serial killers so much that you can’t resist looking at anything has even a remote connection to them.

First of all, let’s consider some of the basic qualifications required to be a horror movie serial killer. These chaps ( most are chaps, although the Alien Queen whom Ripley memorably called a bitch would qualify as one of the exceptions to that rule ) all have important traits in common: they are implacable and they are impervious. Meaning they just won’t stop and they can’t be killed. Not by drowning, burning, or dropping them from a great height, nor by shooting them repeatedly or stabbing them with sharp things. Once you have engaged these fuckers, they aren’t going away anytime soon. They also are very, very angry, and they share a florid ability for coming up with painful and excessively gory ways to take their anger out on you. Oh, and they all tend to have terrible taste in fashions. Dirty striped jumpers and boiler suits are all too common.

So, without further ado, let us look at my personal Top 10 of horror moviedom’s scary monsters and super-creeps in no particular order of nastiness or longevity.

1. Jason Voorhees ( Friday 13th, Friday 13th Part 2 et al ). Jason is the extreme example of what can happen when a kid is abused, neglected, bullied, or otherwise traumatized early in life. Poor little Jason drowned at summer camp because the smug, obnoxious teenage camp counselors were too busy drinking, smoking pot, and screwing each other’s brains out to notice that one of their junior charges was, in fact, drowning and not just fucking waving at them. Only Jason didn’t die. Well, not exactly. It’s never really explained properly. It’s a horror movie serial killer thing. Just go with it, okay? Jason grew up into a big strapping lad who took to wearing a boiler suit and a hockey mask and picking off other smug, obnoxious teenage camp counselors. He started out with a machete, but over the course of eight or ten movies ( I forget the exact number ) he branched out to use pretty much everything he could lay hands on. Every time Jason was about to kill someone he - and we, the terrified audience - would hear the frantically whispered mantra “ KillKillKillKill!” which was sooooo fucking creepy. You were at risk from Jason if you were a counselor at Camp Crystal Lake and you indulged in drinking, smoking pot, swimming nude in the lake, or having sex with Kevin Bacon. Of course, there are many of us would love to skewer Kevin Bacon through his vitals but that has nothing to do with Jason Voorhees. Moving swiftly on then…

2. Michael Myers ( Halloween, Halloween 2 et al ). Michael was the little boy who developed a weird and ultimately dangerous fetishistic obsession with sisters and babysitters, particularly if these were involved in sexual activity. Sex plays a huge role ( pun, double entendre, and all the rest fully intended ) in creating serial killers out of these guys. Michael, too, grew up to be a big strapping lad who liked to wear boiler suits and creepy-ass masks and go around doing violently stabby things to young ladies. And occasionally to his psychiatrists. The Halloween movies gave us the most memorably creepy oh-shit-the-psycho-is-in-the-house music ever. It also gave us Laurie Strode, played by the greatest Scream Queen ever, Jamie Lee Curtis, most memorably shoving a knitting needle into Michael’s eye socket. Didn’t kill him though. But thank you, John Carpenter. You are a god.

3. Freddy Krueger ( Nightmare On Elm Street, NOES Part 2 et al ). Freddy is perhaps the only example in movie history of a sadistic, perverted, child molesting serial killer to become a horror movie icon and anti-hero. Once upon a longish time ago, in a quietly nightmarish suburb of Middle America, when the courts failed to convict child-killer Freddy Krueger, the local parents and police chief took matters into their own hands. They burned Freddy alive in a basement incinerator. One can only imagine these clueless adults must never have watched a horror movie in their lives, otherwise they’d have known the shit load of trouble they were inviting in. Freddy proceeded, in best movie serial killer tradition, to come back from whatever corner of Hades these guys reside in, and to quite literally haunt the dreams of the teenage progeny of those who so cruelly cut his child-killing career short. Many people died in bloody, horrible ways and Heather Lagenkamp could never take a bubble bath again without seeing Freddy’s famous razor-fingered gloved hand popping shark fin-like out of the bubbles and trying to slice her in two. Thank you, Wes Craven, for you also are a god, and we love Freddy.

By the way, are you seeing a pattern emerging here? The fact that there is so often more than bloody one of these movies? Proves that you can’t keep a good serial killer, or a good movie franchise, down. But you would be forgiven for thinking that by Friday 13th Part 8 people might have at least thought about closing down Camp Crystal Lake and well, maybe burning the cursed place to the ground or something? Anyway, onwards and downwards into the bowels of Hell…

4. Jaws ( Jaws, Jaws 2 et al ). Bruce the Shark, as he was known during filming, is the only real-life creature to make it onto this list because, let’s face it, what’s scarier than a big, angry Great White shark snapping off your arms and legs whilst you innocently surf the waves? Jaws gave us yet more memorably creepy music as the shark menacingly stalked a nubile young swimmer, and chomped off her various vital bits, thus incurring the wrath of Roy Scheider. And making practically everyone on earth too fucking terrified to go near the water for years. Steven Spielberg is a very cruel man. Don’t be fooled by ET. The man has a twisted streak a mile wide.

5. Chucky ( Childs Play, Childs Play 2 et al ). What could be more deliciously depraved than a red-headed, freckle-faced talking doll named Chucky possessed by the angry, vengeful spirit of a serial killer? It’s a sure-fire winner with horror movie fans. For a while Chucky and the Childs Play movies received a lot of unwarranted bad press when some depressingly horrific events in real life were blamed on the movie by a society too shocked and scared to admit that some parents can manage to psychologically fuck up their own kids without any help at all from movies. But society eventually came to its senses and Chucky was allowed to return from his temporary banishment to the attic. Yay.

6. The Alien ( Alien, Aliens et al ). Big, nasty-ass bio-mechanical alien creatures with corrosive acid for blood and two vicious snapping sets of jaws. Oh, and a penchant for watching Sigourney Weaver strip to her undies in a space craft. But we can hardly blame it for that, can we? ;-) Space is a fucking dangerous place. Go there, start terra-forming planets, and next thing you know you’ve got a flattened out leathery crab-thing on you face, impregnating you ( and no, it isn’t Kevin Bacon ) and after a few hours another squirming, screeching, be-fanged alien creature will come bursting out of your chest cavity and grow into one of those big, nasty-ass acid-blood bugs. Thank heaven and all things cute and holy then for Sigourney Weaver, for she is the goddess who will single-handedly save us from this space-bug menace. “ Get away from her, you bitch!” Yes, ma’am.
Ripley. " You go, gurl!"

7. Leather Face ( The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ). Leather Face is a bit pathetic really, as scary monsters and super-creeps go. Living in that slaughterhouse with that weird family, getting pestered by stupid, doped-up, smug teenagers looking for a phone to use ’cos their ratty old campervan broke down…For fuck’s sake, do we LOOK like we have a goddamned phone here???…I’d be after them with a chainsaw too, disturbing my inbred peace like that. Pathetic or not, however, Leather Face deserves a slot on this list because anybody can dance with a chainsaw like that has to be on the list.

8. Dracula ( too many movies to list ). What would a list of movie monsters be without the ultimate monster, the King of Vampires, Count Dracula himself? It would be for shit, that’s what. Of course, Dracula is the only monster appearing on this list who also qualifies as being sexy. Unless you’re into hockey masks and machetes or child-killers with seriously messed-up faces, and if you are, please keep it to yourself, thank you. Whether he is being portrayed by Bela Lugosi, Frank Langella ( who was The Best Dracula Ever in my opinion, and no, there is nothing humble about my opinion, bitches ), or Gary Oldman, Dracula is one sexy beast and as much as we might shudder in fear at the sight of those gleaming fangs sinking into the pure white neck of some fainting maiden, we’re also kinda, sorta jealous of her. Dracula, and vampires in general, are possibly the most enduring of the ‘traditional’ horror movie scary monsters and super-creeps ( which would also include werewolves and mummies ) and we salute every director and writer who has ever treated us to these sexy, scary beings. Gods. All.

9. The Martians ( War of The Worlds ). I don’t know about you, but every time I hear that mysterious, mechanical where-the-fuck-is-it-coming-from low-grade humming sound seems to infest certain parts of the world, or see another of those creepy sink holes open up in Guatemala or wherever, my mind can’t help but go straight to, Oh shit, the Martians are here! and Jeff Wayne’s musical accompaniment starts playing in my head. Admit it, those Martians were scary, and their big-legged metal fighting machines, the Tripods, those were just wrong. It was like spiders had grown huge and were stomping on all the humans has ever stomped on them. I mean, imagine if that happened…

10. Death ( Final Destination, Final Destination 2 et al ). That most implacable and impervious of foes, Death, unseen for the entire franchise but no less scary for it, started out hunting down Ali Larter and friends after they inadvertently escaped one of the most convincing on-screen depictions of an airplane blowing up and tearing itself in half that I’ve ever seen, or ever want to see again. I fucking hate flying as it is. The next installment saw the ever-lovely AJ Cook predicting a pile-up on the freeway and so temporarily saving herself and her comrades from getting unceremoniously creamed. Of course, they all spent the rest of the movie getting, well, unceremoniously creamed. Over the course of the franchise numerous hapless teens have first miraculously escaped Death’s clutches only to be later decapitated, squashed, ripped apart, and killed in just about every other vomit-making gruesome way you can think of. Death will not have its greedy clutch denied. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

So there you have it. This has been a Slightly Tipsy Afternoon Production. It is by no means a comprehensive listing of all horror movie scary monsters and super-creeps, and I both apologize and give a clutching-my-Oscar-to-my-bosom heartfelt shout-out to all those whom I forgot on my relentless climb to the top. You may disagree with some of those on my list. That is, as Britney Spears and Bobby Brown before her said, your prerogative. And I could give a shit. Especially if you think I should have included Jigsaw from the SAW movies. They dropped off my list around the fifth installment when the whole franchise stopped being the least bit entertaining and veered into pointless ‘video nasty’ territory. Feel free to complain about my omission to your local MP or congressman or whatever.

Facehugger. Not Kevin Bacon.

Chestbuster. Messy little devil.

Man in rubber suit. Not scary at all.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

" Most People Just Do It!"

May Contain A Smattering of Words of an Adult Nature!!!

One of these days I’m going to get myself a tee-shirt printed with my favorite pic of SSA Emily Prentiss and underneath that I’ll have printed her famous line: “ I’m not most people.”
And the reason for this ( other than just wanting an Emily Prentiss tee-shirt ) is that I find myself pressed to speak these very words to varying people at least two or three times in an average week.
Let me explain. Just one of the things can bug the ever-loving crap out of me in this life are people who, when asked why they want you to do something, respond by getting that deer-in-the-headlights look and stuttering, “ Well…em…I don’t know…it’s just because…most people just do it!” Whatever ‘it’ happens to be. Fill in the form. Hand out your personal PIN number. Drop and give the asker fifty. This endlessly irritating statement is most often accompanied by a smile so fake it’s a wonder it doesn’t turn the asker’s lips green, and much nervous tittering as they come to the apparently personally devastating realization that they do not, in fact, know why. They have themselves been following the orders given to them by others for so long they have stopped noticing that they haven’t a clue why they do most of the things they spend every… goddamned… day… of their lives doing.
Well, not this person.
If you’re going to ask me to do something and I don’t already know why, I’m going to ask why. And when I ask, if your reply is any variation of “ Well…em…I don’t…It’s just because…most people just do it!” ( cue nervous titter ) be warned that shit ain’t gonna fly. You will hear me say:
“ I’m not most people.”
Hence my reason for wanting the Emily tee-shirt. I get bored with repeating myself, so why not have a tee-shirt says it for me? ( And I get to have Emily Prentiss on my chest. There really is a silver lining in every cloud, Virginia! ) And it’s more polite than a tee-shirt says, “ Well, find the fuck out why before you ask me!”
It amazes me…it scares me somewhat too, and it certainly disheartens me…to realize how many people go through life blindly following orders and allowing themselves to be at the unquestioning behest of others, even when it makes no sense nor would seem to serve a productive purpose to do so. If an action performed at the behest of another - especially if the other is any nameless, faceless bureaucrat or bureaucratic organization - has no clear purpose or advantage to anyone involved, you ought to be at least mildly suspicious of it. Why does the meat-space storekeeper from whom you’ve just made a one-off cash purchase require your email address? You don’t expect to ever be in his store again. He has no need to contact you. Could it be he is intending to SPAM you? *Gasp!*
I’ll bet a lot of you reading this were thinking, “ Well, it’s probably just because…”
Two of the most dangerous words in the English language… “ just because”. Try counting up the amount of times you have done something or gone along with something “just because” you’ve thought “most people just do it”. Scared yourself there, I bet.
Now try something different. Try not just doing something because most people are doing it. Ask why you’re doing it first. Even if it’s just for one day. If nothing else you might give yourself a smile when you see that deer-in-the-headlights look and hear the nervous tittering before the spluttered, “ Well…em…I don’t…It’s just because…most people just do it!”
And remember. The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask.

Emily is not most people. And neither am I.