Musings from the mausoleum…

September 5, 2011

Hello to all of my acolytes who have been anxiously checking in on my good friend Mr. Fright’s website looking for some words of wisdom from The Black Saint. I must admit that I have been lax in posting here and for this I must apologize (Imagine That)! But there have been some obstacles that needed to be torn down & rebuilt in addition to some personal details that needed my undivided attention. Then I needed a vacation, so I took the creeps that call themselves my family over to Florida & proceeded to spend my next five mortgage payments while being “Entertained” by Mickey Mouse & his oh so annoying cohorts. The horror…

But now I have returned & rather than continue with my William Girdler retrospective (Which will return very soon), I thought I might just post some of my thoughts about what’s been going on in the world of horror & all it entails. There have been some things that have caught my eye as of late & made me wonder…”Why”? Things like…

Is it just me or does the trailer for the forthcoming “Thing” prequel look like a near shot for shot remake of Carpenter’s version excepth that Mac seems to be played by a woman now? I so hope I’m wrong on this account because while I worship on the altar of JC’s version, a remake of it isn’t necessary. And I’m dreading the thought of CGI replacing the (Still Outstanding) practical effects of Carpenter’s version. I noticed a scene in the remake that screamed CGI! Did you notice that I haven’t referred to Carpenters’s version as the “Original”? That’s because it isn’t. For that you would have to go back to 1951 & watch director Christian Nyby’s (Some say Howard Hawks) “The Thing From Another World”. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen this legitimately thrilling film & it’s “Carrot Man” played by James “Gunsmoke” Arness.

                                                                                                                                The Thing from Another World Poster 


Having just returned from “The Magic Kingdom” & all of it’s adjacent theme parks, one thought kept going through my mind. There are quite a few 3D rides to get really nauseous on down there (Trust me on this one). There are also some sedentary 3D films on display that don’t involve turning you upside down while spraying water in your face. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been on these rides (Though probably the last…getting too old) but I just couldn’t get over the fact that the oldest 3D exhibition there (Michael Jackson’s “Captain Eo”) had better 3D effects in it than nearly all of what Hollywood is foisting upon an unsuspecting public right now. And “Captain Eo” was produced nearly 25 years ago! The latest 3D films on display in theaters as of this writing are “Spy Kids 4D” (Don’t ask), “Fright Night” & “Shark Night 3D”. I haven’t seen “Shark Night 3D” yet but I’m dreading tomorrow because I will be seeing it then but from what I understand, the 3D is awful. “Spy Kids 4D” is being called that because in addition to some decidely mediocre 3D effects there are cards that are handed out to the audience with the numbers 1-8 printed on them. We are supposed to wait for one of these numbers to flash on the screen & then scratch that number on our cards to get a smell of whatever is being sniffed on by the characters onscreen. That’s the “4D” part. Unfortunately, everything smelled like candy to me & my son so that is just a massive amount of trees cut down to make these lousy smelling cards if you ask me. “Fright Night” surprisingly was a far better movie than I thought it would be & while the 3D was relatively effective, it really wasn’t necessary to sell the story & charge premium ticket prices to see. It would’ve been just as effective in 2D & cost a lot less. Perhaps this is why it’s failed at the box office. Too bad because it really is a good little movie. The 3D that I experienced at Disney/Epcot/Universal/MGM studios is light years better than most of what Hollywood is producing. Don’t get me wrong, every so often Hollywood gets it right: Avatar, My Bloody Valentine 3D, Pirahna 3D & especially Final Destination 5 get it right. But this happens far too slowly to continue to ask the public to pay the exorbitant prices that are charged to see mediocre 3D effects on the big screen. The “Terminator 3D” show at Universal studios in Florida is at least 20 years old & it still blows away most of the 3D effects you see coming out of Hollywood today. The “Spider-Man 3D” ride is an amazing amalgamation of story, movement, practical effects & absolutely insane 3D effects. You will believe that you’re falling from the top of a skyscraper at breakneck speed, believe me. Why can’t Hollywood replicate this type of 3D immersion? They have the money, technology, etc…and they would have an audience that is ready & willing to queue up to experience it. But it’s easier for them to “Convert” a 2D film into a 3D one (& cheaper too). Unfortunately this just doesn’t cut it much anymore nowadays. And while I’m on the subject, whatever happened to things coming out at the audience in 3D films? Personally for me, the main idea of 3D is to have objects appear to be directly in front you. Looking so real that you can reach out and touch them or think that they’re reaching out to touch you. Lately, it’s all about “Depth Perception” in Tinseltown’s 3D efforts. Which is well & good but it would be cool to have the tip of a knife float directly in front of my eyes with a droplet of blood (Seemingly) falling into my lap. I’d like to get some objects thrown at me from off of the screen looking so realistic that I’d duck for cover every so often. If you’re one of these cretins that produce this subpar 3D & you’re reading this…think about it.


 A few weeks ago a remake of a childhood favorite of mine (Yeah, I said “Childhood”. I told you I’m old) was released to theaters. This would be Troy Nixey’s “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark”. Mind you I said Troy Nixey & not Guillermo Del Toro. Since I was away when it opened I have not gotten the chance to see it as of yet but it strikes me as odd that Del Toro’s name figures so prominently in the posters & TV ad’s I’ve seen for the film. He is credited as one of the writers of the film which apparently was a childhood favorite of his as well. But I find it disconcerting that Nixey’s name is listed in a much smaller type at the bottom of the posters & not mentioned at all in the commercials I’ve seen for the film. I’ve heard good & bad things about it but I reserve all judgement until I see it for myself. I just find it unfair & a bit disheartening that Del Toro (Whom I have met & found to be an absolutely delightful man. We even traded email addresses we got along so well) seems to be getting the lion’s share of the credit for the film if one were to go by looking at a poster for it & not actually seeing the movie. This isn’t meant to slight Guillermo in any way mind you, he doesn’t design the ad campaigns for his films…does he? I just think Nixey is getting the short end of the stick here. Look at the ad below & you tell me if I’m right.


                                                                                                                              Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Poster    


Something I’ve noticed lately that’s seems to be really catching on is the “VOD” option that most cable subscribers get. “VOD” stands for Video On Demand & it’s apparent that it is beginning to catch on in a big way. Sites like VUDU & Amazon On Demand among others are giving viewers the option to watch theatrical releases (while they’re still on the big screen) in the comfort of their living rooms. Now of course the major studios haven’t joined the bandwagon yet but what’s great (For me at least) is that a lot of them are horror films from independent studios. Films like “Troll Hunter”, Strigoi”, “Kidnapped”, John Carpenter’s The Ward”, “Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil” & “Red State” among many more are available to watch in your home for about $11.00 and you generally have a 24 hour window to watch them once you purchase them. I’ve gotten a lot of flack from people who say there’s nothing like seeing a movie on the big screen with a bucket of popcorn in your hands & your friends siting alongside you. Fair enough. But at $12-15 bucks a ticket in some Manhattan venues, that just sounds silly to me. Factor in $20 dollars (At least) for a small popcorn, drink & a candy bar that’s too big to eat in one sitting anyway & you gotta ask yourself “Why”? I pay from $9-11 greenbacks and I can watch the movie as many times as I want in a 24 hour period. I don’t have any annoying people surrounding me who NEVER turn off their cell phones & I’d probably spend more money after the movie on some drinks at the bar with my buds. VOD gives us the opportunity to invite our friends over to our homes (Hell, they can even chip in a buck apiece if you like), bringing their own snacks/drinks over & watching the movie on my 46″ 3D TV (Granted, not a theater screen but big enough for sure) without any of the hassle of waiting on lines, paying ridicuous prices for food you usually throw away afterwards, sitting through 30 minutes of commercials & trailers, etc…You following me here? It’s simplicity itself & I daresay it’s brilliant. This is an idea that’s ready for the big time and once the major studios join the wagon trail…all bets are off! Even if it’s just for you, you’re paying what you would pay to see it for at a theater & you’re still saving money on snacks. Microwave some popcorn, have a couple of cans of Pepsi in the fridge & grill yourself a hot dog or two….that’s living people! Try it and see for yourselves.


 I have one last item to discuss here. One of the films that I was excited to be able to see at home on VOD a few weeks ago was “John Carpenter’s The Ward”. Apparently I was the last one among my friends to see it because they all downloaded it off of a bit torrent site on their computers. Something that I abhor (More on that another time). But when it did finally get released in NYC, it was in ONE theatre on 42nd street & I refused to travel by train to 42nd street to see a film that I could (Thanks to VOD) see at home. My beef here is with the film itself. It’s been what? Seven or Eight years since Carpenter’s last cinematic release (Ghosts Of Mars. I’m not including his two efforts for the “Masters Of Horror” series on Showtime a while back) and we get this? I’m not going to review the film for you, it’s available for rental/purchase now I believe, but it stars Amber Heard as a young woman sentenced to live her life in a sanitarium along with some other strung out young ladies. But someone, or something is killing off the girls one at a time & Amber’s gonna find out who! “The Ward” is essentially a movie than could play almost uncut on the LIFETIME channel. Despite some good performances & some effective (If tiresome) “Jump” scares, it is massively disappointing. At least it is coming from someone of Mr. Carpenter’s pedigree. He is legitametely a “Master Of Horror” whether he wants to admit it or not and to puke out something so ordinary & trivial as “The Ward’ after so long is something of a crime in my mind. I’ve wiped my ass & found scarier things on the toilet paper than what I saw while watching “The Ward”. Now to be fair, it did get some fair to decent notices from the press but ALL of them said that while they didn’t find the film terrible they expected so much more from Carpenter after so long. I hated it personally but there are moments in it that echo the filmmaker Carpenter used to be. I pray that he looks deep down inside of himself & finds that filmmaker again & sets him free to make the films he’s so beloved for by lovers of the Sci-Fi/Horror genre. You are so much better than this Mr. Carpenter…look to your past triumphs and give us something to celebrate with you once again! There are millions of fans who will be there with you when that celebration comes….believe me.

                                                                                                                                   The Ward Poster

So until next time my faithful acolytes, remember to raise your “Black Saint” banners high! And always be on the lookout for new recruits…always. If you run into a good candidate, indoctrinate them as soon as you can (Before they change their minds)! Our army is growing for sure, but slower than I would like. I might have to raise the monthly “Acolyte” fees I charge all of you to worship me. I don’t want to have to do that…but I will if I have to! That damn trip to Florida was expensive!!


The Black Saint 





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