Archive for February 28, 2007

Reference section

February 28, 2007

In an absofuckinglutely fantastic, why-didn’t-I-think-of-doing-that post, Stacie Ponder calls out some of The Descent‘s visual homages and references to other classic horror films, including a couple even I hadn’t thought of, with oodles of photographic evidence. PLEASE go and see!

Day job follies

February 27, 2007

A couple of neato stories over at Wizard today.

First, Jenny Peters interviews 300 and Watchmen director Zack Snyder. Snyder, of course, also directed the Great Exception among the current wave of hideous ’70s-horror-classic remakes, Dawn of the Dead. Which leads us to…

Second, a six-page preview of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s The Walking Dead #35, on sale tomorrow at better comic shops everywhere. I realize there may be some genre fans reading this blog who aren’t comics readers–if you like zombie films at all, The Walking Dead comes very highly recommended by yours truly.

Quote of the day

February 27, 2007

He was leashed (a detail omitted in the log but recorded by investigators) and made to

Keep Horror NSFW: A right to be Hostel

February 26, 2007

Behold, the image that renowned political commentator Eli Roth has selected as the emblem of his next searing allegorical indictment of Bush Administration malfeasance…

Take that, Dick Cheney!

(Thanks, Jason and

New Zealand 1, Sea Monsters 0

February 23, 2007

Good lord, that’s a big-ass squid.

Fishermen from New Zealand appear to have caught the largest squid ever–it weighs half a ton and measures 39 feet long. I mean, its species is actually called “colossal squid” (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni).


(Hat tip: Jason Adams.)

Whose side am I on?

February 22, 2007

You can watch me attempt to make sense of the most recent installments of Civil War, Amazing Spider-Man, 52, Battlestar Galactica, Powers, Sock Monkey: The “Inches” Incident, and Superman at this week’s Thursday Morning Quarterback.

If I could get you to read one thing today

February 21, 2007

It would be Clive James’s essay on torture, which uses a critique of the Michael Palin character in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil as a springboard for challenging the notion that evil is really all that banal at all. Must reading.

Quote of the day

February 21, 2007

Police announced they uncovered a plastic bag stuffed with the skeletal remains of at least six newborns Sunday after searching the grounds of a Christian missionary hospital in the central Indian town of Ratlam.

“Newborn baby skeletons found in bag,” CNN

Freak show

February 19, 2007

It’s high time I linked to Monster Brains, a delightfully deep repository of monster/creature/beast illustrations. Think of Fantagraphics’ Beasts book, but online and drawing from centuries of work from all over the world rather than just the current hipster art scene, and you’ll have the idea.

While we’re giving Kubric the business for his films’ supposedly hollow moral centers…

February 18, 2007

…that’s exactly what Robert Humanick is doing with A Clockwork Orange over at The House Next Door.

Wide awake in America

February 18, 2007

Eve Tushnet continues our discussion about Eyes Wide Shut. She and I are pretty much at the “agree to disagree” point regarding whether or not EWS lives up to the “with a great big boner comes great responsibility” issue at the core of her objections, but to me that only makes her criticisms more interesting. I must say that I hate how much I’ve been centering my response to Eve’s on her personal history of sexuality-related activism, because in a way that doesn’t seem fair to me, and I don’t mean to dismiss her objections at all. But I think in the same way that saying “Sean is a horror fan” can help explain why I love the film so much, those biographical facts can help explain why narrative oversights that don’t phase me at all knock Eve right out of the movie.

Maybe I’m just arguing from a place of ignorance, I don’t know. Eve’s response to my argument that Bill and Alice’s daughter doesn’t feature in their sexual landscape is essentially “wrong!” As a childless married man, maybe I just don’t know what I’m talking about. But in reading Even on sexuality before, I’ve always thought she oversold the importance of the reproductive/”generative” aspect of sex. But to not do so is a sin, is what I believe she thinks (man, am I out of my depth in this discussion–if I’m mischaracterizing you, Eve, please say so!), so, yeah. Now, while I’m all for guilt, even for shame–both of which I maintain Bill feels in abundance; indeed they drive his confession, and as someone who’s made his share of guilt-and-shame-driven sexual confessions I can state without fear of contradiction that I’m on solid ground with that assessment–sin is entirely alien to my conception of how the world works. My guess is that that’s the page Kubrick is on, too (not to resort to the intentional fallacy, but hey, if you’re gonna do it with any director, Stan’s your man).

Anyway, go, click, read, especially (if you’re a genre fan) the part where Eve counters the notion that EWS is a dream narrative.

I simply could not resist

February 17, 2007

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

V for Vagina

Europe endless

February 16, 2007

This week’s Horror Roundtable focuses on our favorite Eurohorror films. Here’s a hint about mine.

Day job follies

February 15, 2007

My pal Andy Serwin interviews Battlestar Galactica honcho David Eick and gets some intriguing hints about both upcoming storylines and upcoming spinoffs–among other things, he confirms plans for a direct-to-DVD BSG feature film!

My other pal Ben Morse interviews New Avengers and Mighty Avengers writer Brian Michael Bendis (one of my faves). The questions regarding Bendis’ handling of Marvel’s now-bifurcated flagship title are pretty blunt, and the writer’s answers are pretty candid.

And finally, you know what time it is–time to find out what I thought of this week’s issues of Stormwatch: Post-Human Division, Justice Society of America, Astonishing X-Men, Batman, Battlestar Galactica: Zarek, The Pirates of Coney Island (technically from a couple weeks ago, but there was a mix-up with the issue), and Tales of the Unexpected in Thursday Morning Quarterback!

Eve Wide Shut

February 15, 2007

Eve Tushnet, one of my favorite bloggers in the world, has just posted a review of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. Among other things it links to my old essay arguing that the film is a horror movie with the violence replaced by sex, with which Eve agrees. However, she’s much less impressed with the movie overall than I was/am: “Deep on the outside; shallow within” is her final verdict. To counter her two specific objections, briefly:

1) “How are its protagonists changed by the end? What have their experiences cost them? I can’t think of anything.” Well, they’re not dead or divorced (yet, in the latter case, to bring up at least one post-credits possibility). But those aren’t the only options. To return to the horror framework, we can consider Bill and Alice Harford (but mostly Bill) to be this film’s “final girl.” Sure, he survived, but I challenge you to listen to the way he sobs “I’ll tell you everything,” or see the red eyes of his wife after he does so, or listen to that sadder and wiser conversation they have at the toy store in the film’s final scene, and say nothing has changed for them. (For an example of a character who truly doesn’t change, and is therefore to be considered evil, see Ziegler.)

PS: With regards to their daughter, the absence of any major plot points concerning which was a big sticking point for Eve, I just didn’t think she played a particularly relevant part in their erotic and sexual lives. Given what I know to be Eve’s political and philosophical bedrock, I can see why this might strike her as a lacuna; given my own sexual outlook, it didn’t.

2) Blockquote time:

the strictures of Hollywood stardom (maybe?) required that Kidman never get quite as naked as her female cohorts. So we see them from the front, but she’s only naked from the back. That difference reinforces the sense already invited by the movie’s ending: There are good girls and bad girls. Good girls shouldn’t be cheated on, even in your head, and you should have sex with them and display their nudity tastefully from the back. Bad girls may get killed and raped and even photographed in full-frontal, and your only responsibility is to avoid them. No guilt attaches to you if you leave them to be destroyed.

In all fairness, you do see Nic’s boobies, albeit nothing below the waist as far as the front is concerned. So let’s call that a draw. Do I think there’s supposed to be a distinction being drawn between Alice and the orgy girls in that regard? Yes, now that Eve brings it up, probably. But that fits the demented fairy-tale logic of plot and character witnessed throughout the rest of the film. If Bill is our focalizer here, it stands to reason that if the mere suggestion that his wife once wanted to fuck a sailor is enough to send him off on a long dark night of the soul, we’re not going to be seeing her bush anytime soon.

But the dichotomy is one of how Bill views the women in his life, not how we should view them. Again, I definitely don’t think we’re supposed to feel that Bill had no responsibility to the woman at the orgy (or Leelee Sobieski, for that matter) other than “to avoid them,” nor that he was untouched by guilt over what befell them thanks to his unwillingness to do anything about it. In an ideal/real world he’d have called the cops the next day, but in the dream logic of the film, he woke up, and by then it’s too late to go back and rescue characters from your nightmare.

Japan 5, Sea Monsters 0

February 14, 2007

Godzilla, avenge your people, for crying out loud. Japanese researchers have captured yet another deep-sea creature on film for the first time–Tanigia danae a seven-foot squid that uses bioluminescence to hunt and can move at speeds clocked at up to 8 feet per second, a far cry from the “slugs o’ the deep” rep our tentacled friends once had. The BBC has the scoop, while Nature has the unbelievably cool-looking footage. (Hat tip: Clive Thompson.)

And while we’re on the sea monster tip–octopus vs. shark!

And Vampyroteuthis infernalis–the vampire squid!

(Hat tips: Cookie Jill and Carnacki.)

Quote of the day

February 13, 2007

“Cascading consequences” is one of those elegant phrases that disaster planners use to refer to very bad stuff happening later on

Quote of the day

February 12, 2007

In Myanmar — formerly known as Burma — a boy who was 11 when he was recruited to the national army, had to watch as older soldiers gunned down mothers and then killed their babies. “They swung them by their legs and smashed them against a rock. I saw it,” Kim Muang Than told Human Rights Watch.

“Stolen kids turned into terrifying killers,” Ann O’Neill, CNN

A fake Loch Ness Monster is better than no Loch Ness Monster at all

February 12, 2007

Courtesy of Loren Coleman comes this clip from Incident at Loch Ness, a mockumentary written, directed, and co-starring X-Men 2 and 3 screenwriter Zak Penn. Apparently the conceit is that Penn (co-starring as himself) dupes real-life documentarian Werner Herzog (again, co-starring as himself–!!!) into making a documentary about the Loch Ness Monster that Penn secretly plans to Hollywoodize with everything from a steamy love-story angle to an animatronic Loch Ness Monster in the water; the plan goes out the window when the real Nessie attacks the crew’s boat. None of this is particularly relevant to this clip, which pretty much nails the creepy frisson of seeing a large something emerge from the depths. The gravitas and verisimilitude lent to the clip by the presence of Herzog doesn’t hurt, either.

Japan 4, Sea Monsters 0

February 11, 2007

One thing has become clear over the past year or so, and that’s that the Japanese are very, very good at capturing water monsters. First there was the giant squid, then another giant squid, then the frilled shark, and now another rarely sighted, prehistoric deep-sea creature called the goblin shark.

Plesiosaurs of the world, consider this a warning.