Saturday, December 27, 2008


Have you ever misjudged a movie? Not the "oh, this'll suck... this sucks... no it doesn't, it rules"-variety, but rather the sneaking feeling that your assumptions about what kind of movie you're watching were about as wrong as the little voice whispering "House of the dead can't be bad, it has zombies." Surprises like these are either good or bad, it's undeniably plesant when it's the former, and a special sort of pluck-your-eyebrows-while-visiting-a-hobo-dentist pain is associated with the latter. In short, it's a game of russian roulette with Two-Face, and this time, I just so happened to come up with somewhat of a positive result.

Bug is a 2006 horror movie directed by William Friedkin, director of The French Connection and The Exorcist. From the trailers and the ever-lying back of the cover, I got the impression this was your standard monster insect movie. I mean, guy and girl, running from abusive ex-boyfriend of said girl, barricade themselves against an army of bugs, sorta like Arachnophobia, I think, seeing as I haven't seen it due to my tendencies towards the titular phobia.

I had allready started pondering on if the bugs in this movie was a representation of repressed and/or twisted undesirable urges a la Birds, or just a vengeful avatar of Mother Earth and/or god. Turns out the answer was not going to be quite as simple as that, mostly because the question had been changed rather radically.

I have this pet theory that no matter how obvious, in-your-face screaming and drooling a horror movie monster is, some people will inevitably be convinced the that the monster is, in fact, not real, and either an halucination, projection of the protagonists desire to killmaimstabmurder, a comatose or dying dream or something along those lines, alternatively just a dream, if you feel unimaginative. The thing with bug is that the question does get rather in your face, because we, the audience are not really given any actual evidence for the monster, or rather, titular bug's existance.

Granted, the two main characters does see the bugs, but we don't, and this drives the uncertanity on further. Of course, about the time that the main characters start raving about the Bildenburg meeting and "The Man" implanting tracking bug eggs into his teeth, it becomes painfully obvious he's off his rocker, although I think the slow transformation from "white trash breeding ground" to "Room full of Crazy" might also be a good indication you're heading off the map in that respect.

The movie is somewhat underrated on IMDB, although I have long since stopped relying on that site as my sole provider of movie quality determiner. Not to seem snobby or anything, but I've more and more started to rely on my own impressions of a movie rather than the reviews. Sure, I might step into a few beartraps, but walking your own path certainly has its charms. More on that later though, the bottom line is that Bug is a worthwhile movie to check out, not so much if you're in the mood for a monster slasher, but definitely not without its eww-moments.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas special: Procrastination no more

Aye, merry gentlemen, and ladies as it may be, it is time to finish what I planned so way too many days ago. It's western horror comics time. There aren't all that many, but I'll give 'em a mention.

First of, we have a zombie comic. The Walking Dead is... well about zombies, you know, those good ole' meat-eating thingies, aim for the head'n all. When it comes to classification, TWDs zombies are very Romero, which just happens to be my favorite type of zombies, also, the characters are fairly likeable, in the respect that you actually think "Aww, no" when they get munched, or chopped to bits by survivors who handeled the crisis less fortunately than the protagonist. While on the topic of the protagonist, Rick Grimes is somewhat unique in that there's not many heroes of stories such as these who actually has a complete set of close family that follows him on his journey. It's a welcome break from the lone survivor being forced into a leader role. Also, despite waking up from a coma 28 days later-style, Rick is not annoyingly genre blind with the whole zombie thing. Any story that skips the annoying "ohmygodwhat'shappeningherewhyisheattackingme?"-part in favor of the more interesting parts, namely postapocalyptic zombie-slaying nihilism, wins a large gold star in my book.

While on the topic of zombies, I can't say I liked Marvel Zombies all that much. Sure, they're zombies, rotting and all, but superpowered, talking, scheming zombies isn't quite the same fun. I read it up untill the point where the titular zombies killed and ate Galactus. It just doesn't do it for me when the zombies build an elaborate death ray and then eat said near-god-like entity to absorb his powers of space travel, or dimension travel, I can't remember, 'twas traveling anyway. Superhero fans may like this one, but I didn't, not even counting the Army of Darkness part, if anything it just made it feel like more of a crossover fanfic. Then again, I do like Kingdom Hearts.

Moving on to our friends on the web, I'm currently reading a new and promising series called Crow Scare, the series is about a crow, a big, big crow. May not seem scary, but when it's on the size of a school bus, has teeth in its huge mean-spirited maw and a meanstreak an English mile wide. Aye, fear the King Crow. The intro text tells us that if you kill the King Crow's life-mate, it'll come for you, and to survive, you have to face it mano a corvus to hope surviving. Hasn't gotten too far yet, but it does seem to be an "innocent man versus a merciless force of nature/horror"-thing.

That's all for today folks, merry Christmas, yuletime, or whatever else you might celebrate.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nuevo Cinema Paradiso

This is a blog post somewhat different than your typical Slowzombies blog entry. Why? Because it's not about a horror movie, neither is it about a horror novel, short story, manga or anything else faintly horror-related. I was planning to write about my horror comic favorites again, well and nice on a roll after yesterday's post. However, plans were to be changed. Today I got the chance to watch Cinema Paradiso one more time, and as I discovered, I loved that movie more than I remembered.

For those of you that haven't seen it, Cinema Paradiso is an italian film from 1988. It's about Salvatore 'Toto' Di Vida, a middle-aged film director who looks back on the memories of his childhood as a young'un in a Sicilian village. Here, he quickly befriends the local projectionist, Alfredo, who teaches him the art of running the cinema. When the cinema burns down and Alfredo is rendered blind, Toto takes up the mantle of the projectionist. As Toto nears the end of his teens, he falls in love with the bankers daughter Elena, but is forced to forfeit his love to pursue his goals.

This might sound a bit boring for the average horror movie fan, but if you, like me, are fascinated by the art of cinema, both in producing and projecting, this movie will pull you in. There's profound love towards the social setting that the old-fashioned cinemas used to be, with more than a hint of sadness over the demise of the old cinema. In Cinema Paradiso, and the days of ye olde, or at least so I'm lead to believe, cinemas weren't merely places to sit down, shut up and watch the goddamn movie, but a place to gather, to be together while maintaining a certain level of privacy, really letting yourself get pulled into the action, shouting, cheering or yelping in fright as the situation requires.

The father-son-esque relationship between Toto and Alfredo is also interesting. Having lost his father in the second world war, Toto seeks a fatherly figure, and Alfredo recognizes Toto as a scion, someone who can take over when he's unable to continue his work. Ironically, Alfredo also recognizes a great talent in the young Toto, a potential to create truly great art, and he does to a certain degree manipulate Toto to leave the little Sicilian village behind. In the directors cut, he even goes so far as to sabotage the relationship between Toto and Elena so that Toto could leave for the big city truly without intention to return or pine for it. To what degree this was the right thing to do to ensure Toto could make truly stellar art, certainly can be debated, but I'm not getting into that yet.

Also, the music is quite awesome, especiallt he main theme is tearjerking to the max. There's few songs that hold the nostalgic sadness to it that this one does, and combined with the idyllic visuals, there's quite a possibility that a tear or two will be shed over this movie. Also, in closing, I would recomend watching the Directors Cut version if you have the time, it's 55 minutes longer, but you'll get the whole story much better this way, and a longer trip to to the idyllic cinema days of olde' surely won't hurt. I know I don't mind, there's a scene in the movie where a man has chained himself to the cinema seat and flat out refuses to leave, so there he sits while reenacting the movie down to the lines. I can identify with that guy because Cinema Paradiso makes me want to watch it as many times as he evidently has watched the rolling movie.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Let's talk manga

I realize my title is misleading even as I type it. However, the little part of my brain most often busying itself with throwing bisected bits of scripts around at some point shieked that calling this entry "Let's talk japanese cartoons and animated TV series that are somehow related to the horror aspect" would be more disasterous than painting myself flamboyantly pink and pub crawl through Manchester on the night of the championship final. So, strictly speaking unnecesary explanations aside, let's get to it.

You can say what you want about the Japanese, but they do have their way with horror. Maybe it's because it's different from our own, and thus manages to scare the bejeezus out of people who allready have become cynical and chronically unscared by machete-wielding, chainsaw-juggling, ichor-drooling and generally hypen-overusing unstoppable murderers. It could also be that JHorror has an overload of creepy ghost girls that us western people found scary way before the latest japophile craze, and you could say that our friends in the east really have perfected the creepy ghost girl formula. Of course, horror from Japan isn't exclusively about symbols of innocence lost wanting to murder you because you preformed some seemingly innocent tasks like watching a videotape or moving in somewhere. Jhorror also excells in an isolated atmosphere, pushing and keeping you down while plucking an eery sonata on your nerves. For those wondering, I was thinking about Silent Hill when writing that sentance.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, because I intend to talk, or write if you nitpick, to write about my favorite horror manga/anime. I used to be big on manga and anime in general, but my interest faded a little after a while. Still, I do appriciate the comics that can scare me shitless, so why not cover the eastern chills today, and the other ones tomorrow, or later as it might well turn out.

First out, we have a couple that is not exactly the scariest horror, but has some horror elements after all. Hellsing is a vampire manga, easily one of the most enjoyable modern vampire stories I've read. It's so ridiculously over the top one can't but enjoy, I mean, we have the main character, who is Count Dracula himself but goes by the name of Alucard. This prime prince of darkness fights for the forces of good, in this case represented by a super-secret secret service in the UK, against a revived third reich of mad-with-power nazi officers, werewolves and a a crapload of zombies, or ghouls as it might be, also, he occasionally clashes with a catholic super-priest wielding supersized knives. Funnily enough, while doing so,the longcoat-wearing uber-badass bloodsucker does occasionally invoke methods that makes one wonder exactly who we are to be rooting for. Unless you have some sort of phobia for glasses, seeing as most major characters wear a pair of round spectacles for some reason. Might be a fetish, but considering the second main character is a rather... uh... well shaped sorta-vampire in a very minimal police uniform at some point wielding two massive anti-air cannons, against nazi zeppelins no less, I'm not making this up, one could speculate his quote is spent. One could also argue that said police officer calling earlier mentioned dark prince "master" is also adding to the quota, but I won't go there, except I just did.

Next up, we have a series I'm starting to rediscover. Death Note is even less directly horror-y than Hellsing, but there's enough Terrorium in it to warrant a mention here. Super-student Light Yagami finds a notebook that allows him to kill people by writing their name in it. With this supernatural implement in hand, he proceeds to murder criminals in the name of justice. The final goal of this is to "become the god of the new (crime free) world." Of course, murdering people, even if they may deserve it, is bound to attract massive negative attention, and not too long passes before the infamous master detective recluse L decides to put an end to this. Much of the series revolves around the massive battle of brains between the two, up to a certain point where it changes pace somewhat. You couldn't accuse Death Note of being too scary, although Light's arrogant zeal does jump at me as being... somewhat unnerving. Also, the idea of someone out there with the power to kill you without leaving a trace, is somewhat eerie.

Now, moving on to the few genuine horror series I've read or are still reading. When I write "horror manga" two examples instantly jump into my mind, both written by Junji Ito. First one is Uzumaki, a story about malevolent spirals infecting a middle-sized town. This wouldn't strike me as particularly eerie, hadn't it been for that the spirals pop up all over the place with maddening effect, Lovecraft-style. The first case is about a man who kills himself by throwing himself into a mega-tumbledryer, wrapping his body into a spiral. It pretty much gets freakier from there, except the scary takes a dive about midway, and it ended up motivating me to continue reading by pure curiousity alone. Still, it's pretty good to be able to bewitch a picky reader such as myself.

Next one, I could almost give a whole blog post in itself, despite it being the shortest of the series. The one-shot comic in question is Ito's The Enigma of the Amigara Fault Line. The story this time is about a series of perfectly human-shaped holes in a mountain, revealed by an earthquake. People flock to this odd landmark, feeling oddly drawn towards one hole they identify as "theirs," as it fits them perfectly, like a claustrophobic glove, if you will. Problem is, as they enter their holes, they dissapear into the mountains, and no-one is able to detect where they are going or what's happening with them. True to it's name, the short manga is an enigma. We are treated with a short dream sequence claiming that an ancient civilization made the holes for punishing particularly wicked criminals. The best mind-fuck is that this adds up somewhat, but it's still possible that it is just a dream rather than a conveniently exposition-producing vision. At any rate, claustrophobics need not apply, if enclosed spaces bother you The Enigma of the amigara Fault Line just might send you into an hysterical panick fit.

That should be all for now, trust me to blog at a later date if any other excellent horror manga should jump at me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ascension at last

So, as I wrote a few posts back, I bought myself a movie called Ascension a while ago, but I haven't had the chance, or may I also suggest guts, to see it untill just now. I don't know why I procastinated this particular movie for so long, but I guess I was preparing myself for the slow pacing I knew flicks of this particular type were bound to have, either that, or my 50,000 words OF DOOM had something to do with it. Probably a mix of the two.

I won't make this into a Slowzombies review, partially because I feel that I, like the maddened reviewer of John Carpenters Cigarette Burns can not do the movie justice with a review, I don't even think it's the kind of a movie you review. Most movies, you either like or dislike, they're either poorly done, or well-made, or somewhere in between. As you might have guessed, Ascension is a flick that is somewhat heavy on the artsy side, and I found myself drawn towards this. If this is because of my dabbling in the obscure movie business or not, I can't say.

So, the story goes, God is dead. By some unnamed incredible force, Nietzche was made right, and as a result, everything goes to hell. After the death of the Big Beardy in the Sky, his powers are spread amongst humans, making them "Prophets and Dieties." Now, it turns out that humans handle near-omnipotence very poorly, and sensless divine violence does happen. To stop this, three women set out to destroy the being responsible for destroying god, and thus bringing about the absolute end of the world. Don't ask me how that works, but that's the plan at least.

The big problem here is that this... whatever it is, has made its home on the top floor of a really tall building, and due to its presence, or some other factor, the three women are unable to use their god powers in traveling. Because... y'know, that would be too easy. Battling desperation at each step up the seemingly endless flight of stairs, the three women occasionally muse about life, god and similar topics while walking ever so slowly towards the self-inflicted apocalypse.

It's an interesting story, although the most interesting parts happens before the thing itself starts up, so you're left pondering on the implications of the backstory way past the halfway mark, while the movie continues to creep under your skin and do its thing there uninterrupted. Still, it is a bit drab for the average joe, and if you don't like long-winded artsy movies, I'd stay clear.

At any rate, Ascension definitely doesn't deserve its 4.4 IMDB score, but I won't rant about my take on said (awesome) movie sites (not so much) user base.