Every time horror-minded folks get together, someone sparks a discussion about whether zombies, vampires and werewolves are headed the way of the dodo. Are the familiar tropes too tired, too used up? We’re pretty saturated on these monsters, but I have to say, it’s for a good reason. When handled well, they are unstoppable.
Nikki Hopeman’s first novel, Habeas Corpse, has been described by Michael Arnzen as “DEXTER meets Deadite”. Theo Walker isn’t your normal zombie, and Habeas Corpse isn’t your normal zombie novel. As a general rule, I hate sentient zombies. I like my zombies to be mindless and hungry. Theo, though, is as close to a normal guy as you can get. He goes to work as a forensic technician, comes home where he lives with his folks, and plays Call of Duty in zombie mode to relax. The only catch is that he’s been dead for twelve years. A series of gruesome murders piques his attention, and he must use a rather…unusual…psychic skill to solve them.
The book touches on stereotypes and prejudice, and the troubles that any minority has to deal with. Hopeman’s attention to detail of all things forensic make Theo’s adventures seem very real. She explores, without being heavy handed, what it means to live your life. There are explorations on what makes someone human, and what humanity is worth. And the book has some perfect gross outs. One scene in particular turned my stomach in ways that make me want to give the author a high five.
If you’re maxed out on zombies, check this one out. It’s reminiscent of Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lingqvist going for a playful romp with CSI. Go on and meet Theo. He’s very excited to meet you.
To celebrate Halloween, I went to see Nosferatu at one of our local theaters. I have seen this one before, but I’d never seen it like this. A live band performed a new score for the film. It was fantastic! The Andrew Alden Ensemble performed the score, and it was way better than just catching the movie on DVD. Having musicians in the room infused the performance with emotion and a new kind of excitement. Apparently the original score was lost, and subsequent re-creations have all been reverse engineered from the 1922 film.
I can appreciate this movie for what it is—groundbreaking, the first time audiences really saw vampires. The imagery is top notch, and it’s neat to see a movie that’s almost 100 years old. The point-of-view shots are great, some of the shadow play that they do with Count Orlock’s twisted figure is awesome. That said, the pacing really doesn’t work for me. I respect it, and I think everyone should check it out (preferably with the live music). But I don’t especially enjoy it, and I feel guilty about that.
Every instance you’ve ever seen about a vampire being killed by the sun hearkens back to this movie. In Dracula, the sun only weakens him. They made the change to death by sunlight so they could say their movie was different from Dracula. It makes you wonder about some of these legends we horror fans hold so dear. One little twist in one movie has altered vampire cannon. It becomes easy, when seen through that lens, to see how people with tuberculosis could have been thought of as vampires in early New England.
Even though I missed a movie (I was so good for so long) this film wraps up my 31 days of terror. Over the weekend I’ll throw together a list of my TOP 50 horror movies for everyone to pick apart and dissect. Thanks for hanging with me this October, and we’ll do this again next year! (Though the list of horror movies I haven’t seen and want to see gets smaller and smaller.) In the queue for next year: Dracula 1931, Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 5: The Return of Leatherface, and Prom Night.
I’m a day behind We may have a final movie on Friday to round out the 31 days of horror.
Both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB gave this one pretty low scores and I’m not entirely sure why. It wasn’t breathtaking or mind blowing, it wasn’t the scariest thing I’ve seen this month, but I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the film.
The year is 1921 and England is reeling from the 1-2 punch of the Spanish flu and WWI. Florence has made a name for herself debunking hoaxes, and she is called to a boys’ school where a kiddo died—scared to death by a ghost. Is the school haunted? Is Flo going nuts? Is someone out to get her? Florence is an interesting character because she begins the movie so focused and so adamant in her beliefs. It’s fascinating to watch her beliefs change, and watch her cope with the changes. Also–Bran Stark is in it.
The dramatic conclusion isn’t ground breaking or particularly unique, and it wasn’t as clean as one might like, but its heart is in the right place. This is a BBC film, and is handled with great dignity. The setting, the time and the place, reminded me of Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others and Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. No matter what’s going on on screen, war is the real villain, and its weight is present in every scene.
Spoilers, yo. In high school English, I learned about the three types of conflict. Man v. Man. Man v. Self. And Man v. Nature. Horror movies take a decidedly “green” turn when they pit man against the environment, usually in the form of many paying for the sins of pollution. These have been around since nuclear blasts woke Godzilla from his slumber in the Pacific, since genetically altered piranha took to the Lost River water park.
The Bay is directed by Academy Award winner Barry Levinson. It’s a found footage film about how dumping agricultural waste into Chesapeake Bay has unforeseen consequences which come to a head on the 4th of July. Dread Central gave it 4/5 bloody knives, and Rotten Tomatoes has it at 77% on the tomatometer. Sadly, only 44% of audiences liked it. I was a part of that other 56%. We’re all burned out on found footage movies. This one is marginally clever—after the outbreak the cdc/military/whoever confiscated all the cameras, phones, and footage. There was a government leak, and a reporter who was there has cobbled them all together into this documentary. Here’s the thing. They always have some clever excuse to hang on to the cameras. I used to say I didn’t mind found footage, that I even liked it, but this month’s 3 found footage films didn’t crank my motor. I’m tired of it.
This movie featured the sleazy mayor, the plucky girl reporter, the doctor bravely standing in the face of infection, the oceanologists, the pair of deputies, and the wealthy couple with a newborn. The infection starts with boils and gets much worse. Too often the characters tell us what’s scary and why, not giving us a chance to feel it with them. Found footage films are locked into a certain formula, and by now we know what that formula is. I wonder if I would feel different about this one if I hadn’t watched Rec 2 last night. Filmmakers took the environmentalist message and really beat viewers over the head with it. There was a lot of repetition of sound bites and images.