Mad God

Phil Tippett’s has cast us into a bizarre trek through hell without the benefit of Virgil to provide us with any description or context for understanding what we’re seeing. Instead, we’re provided with an atmospheric soundtrack by Dan Wool urging us to sit back and let the film unfold.

Tippett is best known for his stop-motion additions to The Empire Strikes Back, Jurassic Park, and RoboCop, where he brought unreal images to life using stop-motion techniques. Watching his creation, I was reminded of the 1987 french animation, Gandahar (Light Years), Heavy Metal (1981), Jan Švankmajer’s Alice(1981), and the animations of the Brothers Quay (you can get an impression of their work from this clip from Street of Crocodiles).

Below are some spoilers, which I honestly don’t think spoil anything, but read no further if you want to watch uninfluenced. It might actually be better under any influence though.

As a prelude, we see the tower of Babel rise up to spite God, only to get destroyed in a rage. Is this an opening? A prophecy of what is to come? I have no idea.

We see Tippett’s world through the lens of one of a very small number of characters referred to in the credits as ‘The Assassin.’ The Assassin descends by means of some sort of diving bell into a wasteland of senseless violence and chaos with creatures being born and torn apart with complete disinterest. Dusty, hairball men rise and are crushed in almost every scene as The Assassin follows a crumbling map to an unknown destination. He nearly makes it too, but eventually gets caught up in the lunacy as he is captured, cruelly disrobed, and taken into an operating theater for what can only be described as vivisection.

The Assassin goes no further, except in the form of a toothy worm of a baby who is whisked away and given to a ‘nanny’ to deliver to an extraction site, where it is transformed into a plate of silvery dust that appears to get spilled and scattered to somehow reforge a new world.

But, never fear, in the meantime, a second life is granted in the form of a clone Assassin (brought in by another diving bell) to pick up where his predecessor left off – just like a video game.

The new Assassin makes better time using a motorcycle and VW Thing to find and descend into what I can only describe as an inverse tower of Babel / Mohole and disappear.

Would I recommend this film? Maybe- to the right person. Someone who doesn’t mind spending time admiring surrealist art and enjoying atmospheric music – yes. To someone who wants clarity, a plot, or a tidy ending- no. I’m glad I watched it like I’m glad I ran a marathon. Neither is likely to be repeated anytime soon or without a significant amount of preparation.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/1274751517&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true

Dan Wool · Pretty Flawed

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The Role of Masks in Horror Film

The best horror films grasp the fact that there’s nothing more frightening than NOT seeing what or who is after you.

This can classically be seen in the unintentionally late reveal of the shark in Jaws. We all knew it was a shark, even a big shark, but it wasn’t until the final scenes of the film that we actually got to see the beast completely because all through the filming, the robotic prop, nicknamed Bruce, couldn’t hold up to the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean. Instead, we were teased with a dorsal fin, shadows in the water, or often no sign of the shark at all except for the erratic movements of a swimmer under attack or blood in the water. We could ‘see’ it, but not really SEE it.

A counterexample to this is how fright is disarmed when it is revealed comes from the 90s pseudo-horror Signs. In. this film the aliens are reserved for some time, building tension and suspense, but then, a video of the aliens is captured on TV and audiences everywhere stopped being afraid at all.

The slasher films, Halloween and Friday the 13th brought masked killers into the mainstream in the 70s/80s showing us that seeing a mask is not seeing a face and we’re left with the familiar, but the unknown.

Masks come in all types, from Leatherface’s homemade creations to Jason’s goalie’s mask to the latex and greasepaint of the Terrifier.

A personal accounting of the most effective masks is listed below in no definite order.

The ghostface killer from Scream. Not a bad outfit for a killer and completely necessary for the plot, but not especially frightening.

Jason (Friday the 13th part 4). Iconic. Not the first time he wore this mask (part 3), but after he came back with the mask for the second time, still bearing the mark of the axe from the previous film

Jason (Friday the 13th part 2). Simplicity

The Phantom from The town that dreaded sunset. Like Jason’s from Friday the 13th part 2, simple, but effective.

Two sentence Horror Films: Hide. The blank-faced masks worn by this short’s two killer seem to play homage to Alice, Sweet Alice(1976). But it is as much their mannerisms as their masks that make these two scary.

The Strangers. Again, blank faces hide the feeling of the killers who torment their victims simply to watch them struggle and die. There’s something particularly creepy about being stalked by the two doll-faced girls.

Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Gruesome and curious: what was he hiding from? We’re given more information in the sequels, but in the original, we just have a freak in a mask in the middle of nowhere Texas.

Michael Myers (Halloween). The ultimate blank face, a whitewashed William Shatner mask with enlarged eyeholes. Like Leatherface, we could ask why Michael wears a mask – everyone knows who he is, but it is Halloween, so he must just enjoy the spirit of it.

Honorable mention goes to the happy faces of the Purge, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Terrifier, and the white mask from Hush (truly a shame that he didn’t keep this one on throughout the film.

References

  1. https://www.today.com/popculture/what-did-jaws-crew-name-mechanical-shark-wbna37785216
  2. https://bloody-disgusting.com/news/15292/13-days-of-f13-the-masks-of-jason-voorhees/

Inferno

The Problem:

Population control is necessary because the world’s population has grown so large that we are becoming unable to sustain ourselves and when that happens, we won’t be able to direct how population is controlled, nature will be in the driver’s seat and worldwide calamity will ensue.

In my bioethics course, we discussed the film, Inferno (2016). My assignment does not, itself, identify what topics in the film we are meant to discuss, but asks students to identify and discuss the ideas the films raise. In last week’s class, we focused on population as a problem and who is / should be tasked with solving this problem. Below is an outline with notes of the sorts of solutions we raised and what unintentional problems these solutions may initiate.

Solutions

Interestingly, Inferno and Avengers: Infinity War have the same solution. Simply eradicate half the population and there we have it, more jobs, resources, and money for the remaining half, right?

Zobrist poses an interesting metaphor, comparing the Earth’s human population to a culture of bacteria the doubles every minute. He asks us to imagine a beaker filling up with the bacteria. How long before the beaker is full will it be when the beaker is ½ full?

One minute to midnight: let’s do the math…

If, at one minute to midnight, the beaker is ½ filled with bacteria and we are trying to set the clock back by eliminating ½ of the world’s population, what time will it be then?

Yeah, two minutes before midnight.

Despite what Zobrist and his people say, this does NOT solve the problem forever.

It simply sets us back to …

two minutes to midnight.

Population Control by Limiting Births

Inferno also suggested mass population control by placing birth control medications in the water supply. Infertility would eliminate the majority of the next generation, saving us. Or would it? Would we be better off without a generation of babies being born?

public domain: obtained from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy

China’s one-child policy

Since the 1979, the one-child policy restricting the number of children allowed to a family has drastically skewed the age demographics in China, introducing a bottleneck where we would normally expect a large population of young children. This policy was modified several times until 2016, when a two-child policy officially replaced China’s one-child policy.

To enforce birth limits, the government could require the use of contraception, sterilization, and even forced abortion along with high fines. The result was that China’s birth restrictions prevented an estimated 400 million births since 1980. These results are similar to what would be expected if Zobrist’s birth control measure was implemented. On the one hand, the population of China has been limited to a linear growth pattern (rather than an exponential one), and the efficacy of these measures are evident from the change in the age demographic.

An unforeseen problem with this demographic change is what has become known as the 4-2-1 problem, where one child becomes responsible for their two aging parents and four aging grandparents. Young people are needed to take care of an aging population or else we would have a different kind of calamity where the elderly are neglected and die suffering and alone.

China’s problems extend even further because the pressure to have only one child has made apparent the preference of parents to give birth to male children. The result of this has been a 20% over-abundance of males in the population, leading to new problems where these extra men are unable to find mates in their own country.

What does this change in the sex ratio mean?            

According to a report by the National Population and Family Planning Commission, there would be 30 million more men than women in 2020 – but in fact, there were already 32million men than women in 2018. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/251129/population-in-china-by-gender/) This disparity can potentially lead to social instability, violence, and courtship-motivated emigration.

Education of Women

Source: Barro-Lee Educational Attainment Dataset (2015): PRB Data Sheet 2015

Education of women leads to the lower mortality of their children and a decrease in the number of children these women have resulting in a net reduction in population growth rate. This suggests that if we could address the education of women worldwide, there would be a significant decrease in the population over time.

End Poverty

There is a direct correlation between Fertility and Poverty: The more people in a country living on less than $2 a day, the higher the fertility rate. This suggests yet another alternative to wiping out half the world’s population.

Source: Population Reference Bureau, Population & Economic Development Linkages 1007 Data Sheet

The one thing that many of these associations fail to account for is the outsized impact of first world people on the planet.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/04/americans-have-texas-sized-carbon-footprints-heres-why/

In the end, maybe Zobrist is onto something. His attack centered on the world’s elite, the exact population that is having the largest impact on the planet.

Marjorie Prime

The 2017 film adaptation of Marjorie Prime is a near present-day science fiction tale of one family’s struggles to deal with their own memories. Specifically, the film follows the last days of an older woman with early Alzheimer’s disease. Marjorie lives alone in a beautiful home by the sea where she is kept company by a holographic impersonation of her husband, Walter.img_9368_rsc

Walter is preserved as his younger self because, in part, he lost his good looks in his later years – or, at least this is what Marjorie tells us. Unlike many science fiction narratives, these holograms (called primes) don’t come equipped with the memories or sentience of the person they imitate but must be fed memories from which to construct a consciousness. In this way, Walter’s simulacrum is the inversion of Marjorie, he starts with nothing and gains perfect knowledge of ‘himself’ as he goes.

Marjorie is never tricked by Walter Prime, in fact, there is no evidence whatsoever in the film that her faculties are actually fading. Instead, we learn about her life with her husband through her own recollections and the stories that she asks him to tell back to her in the form of reminiscences.

As the film progresses, we meet Marjorie’s daughter, Tess, who is herself struggling with her relationship with Marjorie and the less pleasant secrets she keeps her mother from remembering.

Eventually, Marjorie dies, but rather than letting her rest, Tess maintains the relationship through a second prime simulating her mother. And on the movie goes, replacing characters as they die and creating less and less well-developed primes which eventually must turn to each other to fill in the gaps they are left with.

There are several questions the film leaves without consideration including that of whether there is any value to the survivors in maintaining these illusions. Another is whether it should even be permissible to create these primes that imitate people we miss.

Who owns their own likeness and being? We never learn whether the dead ever give permission to use their likenesses after their death, or if this decision is made entirely at the discretion of the survivors. Do we carry any of these rights with us beyond the grave?

My wife and I sometimes have discussions about what we wish to have done with our remains after death. We both have a preference for ‘green burials,’ although my wife also sometimes says that she just always assumed that she would be cremated. I have a wholly irrational fear of cremation, but I also completely acknowledge that after I die, nothing matters to me anymore. Would it be permissible for my wife to always tell me that I am to be buried and then switch to the convenience of cremation once I’m gone? What point is there to maintain the rights of a dead person? Are there arguments to be made for her to forget about her promise?

Certainly, I agree that we should treat one another with respect and honor the wishes of our loved ones, but … assume that she completely intended to fulfill my wishes for my remains while I was alive, but what if she decided that it was just too much of a pain in the ass to carry out once I was gone and elected to cremate me and store my ashes in the closet? What’ are the best arguments for or against her fulfilling the promise?

She should ignore my wishes

The utilitarian believes that the goal of life is to make the most people as happy as possible and the fewest people as unhappy as possible. It’s a simple moral calculation:

(#people made happy)(amount of happiness) – (#people made unhappy)(amount of unhappiness) =  net good of doing a thing

In terms of the utilitarian, I believe that there is a real benefit to her to disregard the promise. She would reduce the burden I put on her (an increase in her happiness) and in no way violate my trust while I was around to enjoy it. In this way, my happiness is unaffected. If she was made happy to carry out my wishes, this would be different, but as it is, ignoring my wishes would be a utilitarian push at the worst.

She should heed my wishes

If there is to be justice, my wishes should matter to my wife even after I’m gone because one of the most important aspects of justice is how it reflects on society. Where rights apply to an individual, justice applies to the society as a whole. If she were to violate my wishes after I died, society would still hold her accountable to do what is just.

Arguments that don’t help

An argument from the basis of my rights (as described above) doesn’t lead us to an absolute answer because it’s debatable whether I retain any rights after I’m dead.

The absolutist’s argument might lead us anywhere. From where does absolute moral authority spring? I’m not aware of a time when the Christian God declares a ruling on this matter and because we’re ill-equipped to understand the mind of God, we’re unable to make a call without a specific rule to follow. Regardless, this argument always hangs on the words of a deity and deities may differ in their rules. Without absolute proof that one deity is true and all others are false, we’re in limbo.

Arguments that neither help nor hurt

 

The relativist might give us whatever answer we want depending on the situation. It’s how we actually live our lives choosing whatever argument supports the decision we feel is right (or right for us) at the time. As such, the relativist doesn’t put forward any new ideas, but merely chooses from other arguments that work for them. The relativist rationalizes.

In the end, once I’m gone, I’m gone and my wife is free to choose from the arguments above or concoct one of her own. So long as she convinces me that she will honor my wishes while I’m around to know about it, I’m happy. Once I’m dead, she can make whatever choice she wishes and rationalize secure in the knowledge that I truly don’t care anymore.

Devil

You know what the film is going to be about.

It’s no secret, but still, a film about the devil? Really? And the whole thing is set in an elevator?

220px-Devil_film_poster

OK, fine.

In a lesser story, five people stuck in an elevator car

doesn’t add up to much, but writers Brian Nelson and M. Night Shyamalan know that story is in the details, that dramatic potential lies in the tension and conflict between characters, half-truths and misinformation sow the seeds of red herrings and strawmen to come.

Whether you like his films or not, Shyamalan knows how to set us up.

He’s good at starting us off unbalanced.

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.02.24 PM

A door is opened to the devil by an apparent suicide from the twenty-somtethingth floor of whatever building in downtown Philly. He likes this sort of thing, so he’s in. (or is it she’s in?)

Ramirez, a security guard watching over the building from cameras, is our oracle. Like Obi Wan, he brings the mystical, providing the voiceover in the beginning and letting us know what to expect along the way.

 

When I was a child, my mother would tell me a story about how the Devil roams the Earth. Sometimes, she said, he would take human form so he could punish the damned on Earth before claiming their souls. The ones he chose would be gathered together and tortured as he hid amongst them, pretending to be one of them. I always believed my mother was telling me an old wives’ tale.

 

 

Detective Bowden is first assigned to the suicide, which all but comes with a note saying, ‘you’ll only understand what you see here by looking backward’. Then, by virtue of being in the neighborhood, he’s brought in on the call which connects him to the elevator.

Devil wants to sell us on character, and it does have a few, but only Detective Bowden is very real to us. He’s a man with a tortured past, but he seems to be holding things together fairly well – maybe even too well, we might think, for someone a mere ninety days sober after going off the deep end the past five years since the hit-and-run death of his family on Bethlehem Pike. He doesn’t let the pain show through much, but that’s because his family’s death is a plot point more than it is the basis for character development.

As for the people in the elevator, it’s hard to care. Sure, they’re riddled

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.04.14 PM

with flaws, strengths and Achilles’ heels. Physically, they’re as balanced as if they were the lead in to a bawdy joke. A giant of a security guard, a smarmy salesman, an old lady with an evil stare, a pretty woman, and a mechanic with a bit of history in Afghanistan as a Marine. They all have distinctive appearances and obvious faults, but with all of that, I didn’t really care a bit.

What breaks the film and what makes it are captured in two quotes.

 

A stressed-out Ramirez, after confessing all his religious explanation and somehow not getting sent home (Is dropping toast jelly-side down really helping here?! No, it’s ludicrous and he needed to go home or be fired. Immediately.), informs Bowden that, “we’re all here for a reason. Even you and me, the observers. We were chosen for a reason.” (something like that, I can’t find the actual quote)

From this moment, we say to ourselves, ‘oh, right. This is M. Night Shyamalan, and he see’s dead people,’ and we immediately know who the Devil is and how things are going to end.

And then there’s the devil himself, who says, “Damn. I really wanted you,” before taking off, unfulfilled. And we have our sympathy for the devil.

Body Melt

bodymelt“The first phase is hallucinogenic… the second phase is glandular… and the third phase is… BODY MELT”

 

Welcome to Vimuville. We’re happy to have you join us in the expanding world of Body Drugs! You’ll soon be part of a top notch research team in making, testing, and marketing the world’s next blockbuster pharmaceutical! –  Did I say testing? I mean … well, dosing people and watching them die.

Early work in our lab resulting in a breakthrough chemical that changed the lives of tens of users- at least two of which received reasonably positive results, transforming them from third-tier scientists into first class simpletons with gigantic muscles! We’re still working on effecting a transformation that doesn’t chemically castrate users and leave them as helium-voiced falsettos, but that’s what progress is all about!

We’re tasking you with engaging in a simple mail-order delivery system to provide the beautiful residents of Pebbles Court in the Melbourne suburb of Homesville with access to our most recent creations. Just pop them in mailboxes and let “science” do the rest!

So far, we’re convinced that our Phase I safety trial is going swimmingly. We hope that any day now we’ll find a dose low enough to produce the ultimate healthy human without those pesky side effects of hallucinations, mutations, and ghastly death!


bodyintro

Clearly Body Melt was aiming for the cult success attained by films like Dead Alive! and Bad Taste, but somehow things went wrong, dead wrong.

The first ten minutes (maybe five) of this 1993 monstrosity are  almost promising – or at least distracting enough that you might hope that the film just drags out this one scene for the whole 80 minutes. Unfortunately, you’re mistaken. There’s nothing like this in the remaining runtime. Once in a while there is something interesting or funny, but mostly you’ll wonder if mistakes were made in the cutting room and two – or maybe even three- high school film students had their homework projects unaccountably mixed into one.

If I could have been there in the making, there is one story line that I would have pushed to take over the whole plot would have been the ‘I see dead people’ hallucinations that bodymeltwomanproduced a misformed girl who haunts one of the characters, following him home and transforming back and forth between a whole woman and the melted wreck she became. It was a path that, if taken, could have made the entire film worth watching.

If only …

Watch Body Melt for free on Amazon Prime (only the best for Prime Members!) Just be sure to stop at 3:05.

 

See No Evil 2

See no evil 2 promises a gore fest right from the start with the opening credits laid over scans of blades, scalpels, saws, drills, and all manner of tools perfect for the hardworking slasher. We’re beaten over the head with the similarity between the honorable profession of slasher/ murderer and that of medical examiner.

tools fill the heart with joyous expectation of slayings to come, but also make you think: these MEs are probably pretty handy with these tools as well- this is NOT going to be a walk in the park for our friendly neighborhood vivisectionist.

As the opening credits fade away, we meet Amy and her two friends and coworkers (frankly, I can’t remember their names, but it doesn’t really matter)- one is wheelchair guy, we all remember the fate of Franklin from Texas chainsaw massacre, right? Wheelchair guy is not getting out of this alive. And nice, calm, nerdy guy. We wonder whether two people might survive this in the end. Nerdy guy can’t possibly have sex, so that’s a chip on the survival side. Hmmm.

Image result for franklin texas chainsaw massacre

Amy has her birthday tonight, and is just leaving her shift when they get a call about the murders from the first film. A bunch of bodies are getting delivered, including that of the killer.

-it won’t be any trouble, Amy, you can go off to your party.

Instead, Amy calls her friends to say she can’t get out, there’s a lot of work to do. Magically, this teleports her friends into the morgue where they’ve set up balloons and music In One room while they all hide to scare her as bodies come alive in the body-storing room. (The twenty-somethings have used their free teleport tokens now and won’t be able to escape anything quickly from here on in). The killer, of course, has a teleporter with infinite tokens and also a time turner (gift from Hermione Granger).

It’s not long before people start pairing off and having sex in rooms with the bodies. And who can blame them! All those stiffs around, there’s gunna be some action!

We all know, that’s a trip to the front of the line.

At this point we get a feel for the full scope of this morgue. It’s roughly the size of the pentagon, and just as well secured. Every door will soon be locked and there are uncountable / unaccountable cages and prison doors littered haphazardly about the complex- which, aside from the party kids, is 100% empty. Also- no cell phones allowed in, and there’s only one landline in the whole place.  I’ve included a map of the morgue so you can follow the characters around the building trying to find their way out – or at least to a room with a window. The little box in the center is where they have the party – and in an effort to save space, I truncated the maze – I mean hospital – on all sides. Be aware that we can only assume these hallways go on forever.

Image result for giant maze

-————————-

Friday the 13th part IV also starts in a morgue. Like that film, this film’s killer just can’t stay dead, and he awakens to craftily sneak about silently and swiftly shortly after the film’s sex kitten straddles him and gives him a kiss while seducing her boyfriend. He’s not into the necrophilia, but can’t resist the girl. Minutes later, our killer, Jacob goodnight (fun name-it’ll never roll of the tongue), hops up unseen and must hightail it to the breaker box to kill the lights and the. Rush back to the room to appear behind the panicked lovers (lusters?) and take down the guy in short order. Sexy girl gets away to give us hope that she might be the ‘final girl’ while her boyfriend is getting mangled behind her.

 

There are a number of killings that happen quickly to thin down the pack to a reasonable number. This is where you wonder why, with all those knives we saw in the opening credits, everyone is getting killed by bare hands. Back at the party, some story tries to creep out about why Amy is working in the MEs office rather than in med school earning an MD. – which is funny all by itself since MEs are MDs-it’s not a job you fail into.

 

From five easy steps to becoming an ME:

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree. Most pre-med students major in either biology or biochemistry. …
  2. Complete Medical School. …
  3. Complete an Anatomic Pathology Residency. …
  4. Complete a Forensic Pathology Fellowship. …
  5. Apply to Work in a Medical Examiner’s or Coroner’s Office

Really, it’s a cinch.

Amy’s back story takes a long time to develop, but eventually we learn that Amy dropped out of med school because, ‘everyone winds up here, in The end.’ Meaning: dead. So why should we ever work at anything? That’s an excellent moral. I guess it keeps people home and watching WWE, which is definitely good for the producers.

Decent gore, empty plot, a giant of a killer with the ability to be everywhere at one and keenly predict every character’s action in advance. And, spoiler alert: you can’t kill him.

I did enjoy watching this with my #FrightClub #HorrorFamily, but I can’t say I’d watch it alone – or sober.

 

Pandorum

Pandemonium, Quite literally, it is the place of all demons. Milton tells us, it is also “the High Capital, of Satan and his Peers”, built by the fallen angels at the suggestion of Mammon.

-John Martin, Satan Presiding at the Infernal Council, c. 1823–1827

1200px-Martin,_John_-_Satan_presiding_at_the_Infernal_Council_-_1824.JPG

Pandorum, the 2009 film of the same name tells us, isn’t the name of the ship, as I originally thought, but a condition of the mind. Like cabin fever, except that there never will be a Spring again, when you can leave the cabin. It’s a special sort of cabin fever when your mind snaps from the endlessness of deep space. It’s a name purposely designed to elicit images of Pandemonium, and watching the film, and it doesn’t take long before the demons appear.art-punishments-of-the-damned-florence-baptistry.jpg

Pandorum takes place in a ship called Elysium, about which little time is spent pondering this more pleasant and hopeful connotation. Elysium was launched from Earth at a moment when overpopulation has bled the planet dry and there was no hope but to turn out an ark to the stars. We later learn that Earth had an even tidier ending in a way that we know nothing about other than it left someone just long enough to send a message to say that they’re all head now.

But, we don’t know any of this in the beginning. We’re told the story through the eyes of one Corporal Bower, who wakes up from a ‘sleep’ with no memory of his past, putting him on perfectly even ground with us.

 

Finding no one aboard save one other ‘sleeping’ crew member, Bower wakes up his mate and the two of them labor to figure out where and when they are. This makes up the bulk of the film, which is an action-packed wild ride as Bower meets his co-stars, Nadia, played by Antje Traue and Mahn, played by Cung Le.
Let me take an aside to say that Cung Le looks just enough like another actor, Bolo Yeung, who played a character named Chung Li (!!) opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport to have me taking a triple take.

Looking at these photos, I think, “Maybe not.” But I’ll attribute it to the name thing rather than the fact that physically, they’re commonality is pretty much limited to them both being Asian martial artists.

Each of these two is introduced as they take their respective shots at killing Bower while he tries to persuade them that they should all be friends. Luckily, he’s persuasive enough to escape before they demonstrate that they’re both far tougher than he is and could take him out anytime they wanted.
Around the buddy-flick elements and building sexual tension (no one talks about it, but it’s there) we see that the film isn’t called Pandorum for nothing. It’s completely infested with humanoid demons who are basically hunting the protagonists for food from now on.
Just as everyone agrees to be friends and find the reactor core that can give the ship back its full power, we’re introduced to a strange, old black man who outlines the all the parts of the story that would take too long to play out otherwise in a fully realized mythos, complete with tribal etchings to give the story a context that lines up with the facts on the ground. There’s a long bit about how the shit hit the fan when one of the early crew members heard the message from Earth and decided to kill everyone. In a parallel telling, we learn that the crewmember who set this thing in motion was named Corporal Gallo. It’s possible that these two stories might be some kind of foreshadowing, but I guess we’ll never know!

We’re also told that the demons of pandorum are demons of our own making, resulting from a design tailored to accelerate mutation so that the new world colonists can rapidly adapt to their new planet. It sounds good, but accelerated mutation on this planet is exactly why no one wants to live new Chernobyl anymore and people are always raising money for the Susan G. Komen foundation. Nature may have already figured this one out and it’s something that no one with even the most elementary understanding of the mechanics of evolution would ever consider a reasonable option. So, this is a plot point we just have to accept and not think too hard about.

Action
Action.
Action.
The reactor is started, all the demons chase the heroes the entire length of the pointlessly vast spaceship.
Lieutenant Payton gets into a high-stakes fight with Corporal Gallo back in the command center which resolves when we find out that Lieutenant Payton, is actually the psychotic, Corporal Gallo, the central figure from the mythos we just learned.

Just then, Nadia and Bower rush into the bridge for the final reveal, that (11th hour spoiler alert), they’ve been on Tanis the whole time. This is all too much for Gallo, who despite the tranquilizer he just administered himself, turns aggressively against his reunited shipmates and we all succumb to trope for a final Bossfight between Payton/Gallow and Team Nadia-Bower.

Nadia, who, just an hour earlier, was a take-no-prisoners-badass, is now reduced to a damsel in distress, completely unable to handle herself against the suddenly overwhelming strength of Gallo.

The Bossfight culminates in a ricocheting shard or metal striking the glass windows of the deep space vessel and resulting in a hull breach that floods the ship and kills Gallo and all the scary monsters in one swoop.

Escape pod to the surface, and the two survivors are a modern-day Adam and Eve, forgiven their sins and allowed back to Eden. But that lasts less than a minute as we and the writers simultaneously realize that we’re one short generation time to full on incest and we’re saved from the idea as hundreds of other escape pods burst onto the water’s surface and Eden becomes the town of Edenville, population: just enough that we don’t think about incest anymore and the film that threatened a horrible conclusion now gets a completely unpredictable happy ending.

 

 

Part 3 in 3D!

There’s no doubt. Nearly everything in this film leaps off the screen in dazzling 3D. Starting with the credits. Another update is a totally Gold! disco soundtrack to fit those boogie times.

God knows why, but I watched 2 and 3 back to back on a Wednesday night, so forgive me if this review is less than my regular sub-par efforts.dlEtelJyVnlQSjQx_o_friday-the-13th-part-3-opening-credits.jpg

Like Part 2, Part 3 starts at the end of Part 2 and gives us a quick refresher and picks up later the same day when Jason has fully recovered and is off killing people for being foolish enough to live near his camp. These killings don’t appear to relate to anything at all except for the fact that we’re aware that there’s a killer on the loose again.

“Look upon this omen! And go back from whence ye came!” a new set of kids are warned by a replacement old coot armed they come across sleeping in the road.

This time is the kids aren’t camp counselors and by 35 minutes into the film the kids have already made enemies of a biker ‘gang’ of three who provide early pitchfork fodder for Jason. We’re also given a comic fool in Shelley, a prankster who is the first one to come up with the idea of a killer in a hockey mask.

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Catherine Parks as Vera

One thing I wonder about is Jason’s clothes changes. In Part 2, Jason is wearing blackened overalls and a blue flannel shirt. This time he’s got nicely pressed khakis and a plain navy Dickies button-down work shirt. The notion of Jason changing clothes – ever- is astonishing. The fact that he must also wash and iron them is beyond belief.

It’s only been one day since the last film, but Jason must have spent most of that day in the gym working on that powerful neck. And even though he takes some knocks, he’s much more resilient now – that, or maybe in the order they filmed things they didn’t realize he just got stabbed deeply in the thigh when he’s bounding over uneven terrain by the lake shore.

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Final Girl, Tracy Savage, as Debbie

The women of Part 3 are a little older and not so unsettling to have as the ‘hot girl’ in the film, which is to say that they are actually young adults instead of old kids. That, and 1983 fashion left a little more to the imagination than that of the earlier films.

True to form though, we have another Final Girl who puts up the last, heroic fight against Jason, theoretically killing him in the end only to descend mentally into a state of hysteria by the time the cops roll in to count the bodies.

Anything novel in this film? No. Although, we do pick up a new piece of the Friday the 13th canon and have Jason in the hockey mask by the end of this film. And I hate to say it, but for a gory slasher film, Part 3 lacks some of the overt, prurient sexiness that we see in the other films. It actually feels like it’s missing something because of that.

I told the Others and they didn’t Believe

You’re all doomed.

Friday the 13th Part 2

<Spoiler alert, this film is 36 years old, if you haven’t seen it yet, you probably aren’t going to: Pretty much everybody dies>

Released in 1981, the first thing to keep in mind is that there were no Blu Rays, or DVDs, or Netflix. Films were played in the theater and then, years down the line you could catch them on the Late Show or the Late Late Show. Even USA Up All Night was eight years down the line.

That means that when movie sequels started to become popular, it was really helpful to spend the beginning of the sequel rehashing episode 1. In Rocky II, we saw nearly all the final fight of the original, then almost as long on the drive to the hospital by a route that sees most of Philadelphia, but makes utterly no sense to anyone who knows the city.

In Friday the 13th Part 2, we get sole survivor from the original film, Alice Hardy (Adrienne King)‘s, nightmare as a reminder along with some heavy suggestion that Jason will be the killer from here on out. Not to spoil it, but Marcie isn’t long for the sequel.

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Marta Kobler as Sandy (Wow, these girls are young!)

From that point on, we get introduced to a lot of young, hot counselors who simply hate being overdressed for anything and a penchant for wandering off by themselves.

As the rest of the crew heads to town for a night of drinking before the camp kids show, “I’m going for a walk,” says the girl who lost her fu-fu dog hours ago and only occasionally remembers to worry about it. Because Victor Miller (the film’s writer) and Sean Cunningham (the Director / Producer) know the audience they’re making this for, lost dog girl, Terry, played by Kristen Baker, feels an irresistible desire to go skinny dipping in the lake. No one’s complaining.

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Kristen Baker as Terry

Meanwhile, the two couples who stayed behind are busy getting sexy because they don’t yet know Rule #1 of ‘The Rules’ described in Scream:

  • You may not survive the movie if you have sex.
  • You may not survive the movie if you drink or do drugs.
  • You may not survive the movie if you say “I’ll be right back”, “Hello?” or “Who’s there?”

Consistent with The Rules, both couples get theirs. Sandy and Jeff are impaled together in bed (fitting), Mark is killed for just thinking about getting lucky, and eventually Vickie is stabbed repeatedly after getting an eyeful of Jason’s handiwork.

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Vicky and Mark in happier times

An important thing to note in this film is that Jason is no immortal  being behind a hockey mask with a preternatural ability to know exactly where his prey is hiding and stand impervious to all attacks. Rather, he’s a bumbling oaf with a sack over his head who’s been living in a cobbled together fort built around a shrine to his mother. As  centerpiece of this shrine is mother’s cable-knit blue sweater and her severed, rotting head.

Clearly, the kid’s not all right.

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Final Girl Ginny, who totally owns Jason this whole film

Part 2 clearly gives us a ‘Final Girl,’ Ginny, who outsmarts and outfights the bumbling Jason at every turn. She loses him by hiding behind cars, outruns him in the woods, kicks him in the balls, chainsaws his arm, tricks him into believing she’s his mother by simply wearing her old sweater and talking to him like a naughty boy, and eventually lands a machete deep in his shoulder / neck that would be the death blow if not for the de rigour burst through the window scene into unverified ending. “Where’s Paul?”

There’s nothing really redeeming in this film, but it, along with the original, set the stage for B movie slashers. The storyline is thin, but does flesh out some of the background and running themes. Jason makes his first real appearance as the killer – just not with his iconic mask.

Next Up: Friday the 13th Part 3 – Did you say part 3? Like 3D!!

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