Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three Movies that Give Horror Hope

By Chris Dimick

Take that gun out of your mouth.
I know, I know. It has been hard out there for a horror fan recently, what with all uninspired sequels, remakes and retreaded teen horror nonsense vomiting onto the crimson screen.
Believe me,  I've walked along the ledge of a few bridges myself.

But what's always lead me safely away from a watery death is the knowledge that while the Hollywood Machine of the 2000s and 2010s has produced few spectacular horror movies, the independent horror movie scene is still dead and bleeding. That's horror code for alive and thriving!

For every Nightmare On Elm Street remake, there is a Let the Right One In. For every Saw sequel, there is a Session 9.

Below you shall find three horror movies released in the last two years that prove the genre is far from becoming a rotting zombie.
One might need to look harder nowadays to find excellent horror movies, but that doesn't mean they aren't out there -- hiding, in the woods perhaps, waiting for you to machete their limbs and insert their soul into your eye-holes.

Where mainstream horror has failed (Make another Twilight movie Hollywood, and I'll Bella your Edward) independent horror has still found a way to gross us out, make us scream/laugh, and delight in its weird randomness.

Gross Out Excellence --
The Human Centipede (2010)

Background: Shock horror is welcomed for its ability to make one scared by making one hurl. But the problem with this sub-genre is that it requires the perpetual crossing of society's lines.
In this age of torture porn films and Ultimate Fighting Championship on cable, one might think that every line has already been merrily skipped over. What more could "they" do to sick me out? The Saw and Hostel movies are f-ing torturing people!

Then came The Human Centipede (First Sequence), the 2009 underground independent hit written and directed by the strange and mysterious German freak Tom Six. The title pretty much says it all, it's about a mad scientist that, well, isn't content with nature's centipedes and decides to make his own.

Plot: A mad scientist kidnaps and mutilates a trio of tourists in order to reassemble them into a new "pet"-- a human centipede, created by stitching their mouths to each others' rectums. Can they survive!? What happens when one needs to drop off the kids at the pool?

Why it Gives Hope: How original! How creepy! How... disgusting. Just when you thought all the body horror had been done by David Cronenberg, here comes this little number about sewing people's mouths to others asses.
Its cross a line, yes, but that is not what makes this film great shock horror. It could have easily been a one brown note film. But the way Six sets up the situation, and really pulls every drop of ickiness from it in a very serious tone, the audience may squirm but they also can't look away.
It has all the gross out qualities of torture porn, but with an actual story, heart and soul. You won't feel right after watcing it... like any good horror movie should make you feel.

Comedy/Horror Excellence --
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Background: Yes, we all loved Shaun of the Dead. It was a zombie movie that made us laugh, yet still retained important plot elements not found in other horror/comedies like the later Scary Movies -- characters we cared about and a plot line worth following. 
A film can nail a parody, but what makes it watchable is a solid fresh story.  Since Shaun came out many imitators have tried to recapture comedy blood in a bottle -- here's looking at you Vampires Suck -- but didn't come close. Then came Tucker and Dale.

Plot: Two lovable West Virginian hillbillies are headed to their "fixer-upper" vacation cabin to drink some beer, do some fishin', and have a good time. But when Tucker and Dale run into a group of preppy college kids who assume from their looks that they must be in-bred, chainsaw wielding killers, Tucker and Dale's vacation takes a bloody and hilarious turn for the worse. 
The college kids start trying to kill them! Or, at least that's what it looks like from their cabin.

Why It Gives Hope: Finally a fresh take on the horror-comedy. This movie turns the tired killer inbred hillbilly cliché on its mutated ear, while digging into the deep thought of how influential perspectives and point of view are in one's interpretation of the world. 
It makes you think. It makes you laugh. It makes you cringe. The horror comedy is alive, and this film proves it. A true original.

What the Hell Was That?
I Loved It! Excellence --
Rubber (2010)

Background: There are some horror movies that are just so strange, you can't really tell if you liked them after the credits roll. At the same time, these ground-breaking films are just too bizarre and interesting not to love, if only for their creativity.
Films like Eraserhead, Suspiria, Altered States, and Silent Hill (gonna piss some off with that last inclusion, but don't pretend like it wasn't a trippy visual thrill ride).
Seems people aren't willing to take zany risks in horror anymore. What happen to the scary weird?! Thankfully, Rubber delivers it in droves.

Plot: When Robert, a tire, becomes self-aware and discovers his destructive telepathic powers, he soon sets his sights on a desert town; in particular, a mysterious young woman who becomes his obsession.

Why It Gives Hope: The movie is about a killer tire. And if you think that is weird, things just get weirder when the fourth wall is broken and live-time movie "viewers" gain a storyline of their own. This horror movie taps squarely into the absurdist movement currently sweeping through comedy and other art. It is trippy, out-of-the-box, creative, enthralling, strange, and entertaining as hell. I'm going to stop trying to describe what it is, because words don't do justice. Needs to be seen to believed. And enjoyed. Fresher than Springtime and Will Smith combined! 


See, plenty of horror to live for! Aren't you glad you holstered that Colt. Go fire up that DVD player and I'll get us some popcorn. There is life after Scream after all.

A shame on Hollywood for not mass releasing these aforementioned gems. But it's not too late. It's up to the power of the people and their DVD/streaming players to right this great wrong, and turn these films into the house-hold hits they deserve to be.

Spread the red word... you could just save a life by watching these deaths.

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