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Sunday, Oct 15, 2006


As part of a month long celebration of all things scary, SE&L will use its regular Monday/Thursday commentary pieces as a platform to discuss a few of horror’s most influential and important filmmakers. This time around, the Good vs. Evil aesthetic of Brazil’s Jose Mojica Marins.


There probably isn’t a more unique filmmaker in the genre of horror than Jose Mojica Marins. This Brazilian eccentric, a true multimedia giant in his homeland, crosses all boundaries with his films, his television work, his books, and his comics. Over the course of his nearly five decades in the limelight, he has directed dozens of movies, acting in several more, and has turned his unique approach to terror into a solid cottage industry. He’s even dabbled in art, costume and set design, special effects, and has composed the music for his films. Having created a national sensation with his first horror effort (the first true horror film in Brazil’s cinematic legacy) and its seminal character Zé Do Caixão (or as he is called in America, Coffin Joe), Marins has made Zé and his ideology into the closest thing to a god that South American cinema has ever seen.


He is either loved or hated in his mother country, viewed as a truly gifted artist or merely the man-incarnation of the onscreen demon he portrays. Theologians attack his anti-religion stance and the heretical simply don’t buy his pagan leanings. In retrospect, Marins has devised a kind of career self-fulfilling prophecy, a character so associated with him that, through osmosis or karma, he has literally become Coffin Joe. He even has taken to wearing the outrageously long and sharpened fingernails of the fictional entity and styling his beard, hair, and eyebrows after same.


True, living in a country divided by conservative censorship (the likes of which kept Awakening of the Beast from ever being shown in theaters) and intense sexuality (nude beaches, Carnivale, the obsession with plastic surgery and beauty) makes for a truly schizophrenic sensibility. And Coffin Joe is so successful because he rides the balance between both brilliantly. This is especially true in the few films we in the West have been able to view. All throughout At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964), This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse (1967) The Strange World of Coffin Joe (1968) Awakening of the Beast (1970) The Black Exorcism of Coffin Joe (1974) and Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind (1978), Marins weaves his distinct ideas about dread into a magnificent phantasm of fear and faith. 


While he may be many things—philosopher, writer, scholar—Marins is first and foremost a filmmaker, one who draws inspiration directly from the history of the macabre. Marins does not work in the usual terror trademarks of monsters and the supernatural, nor is he only interested in death and dismemberment. His thematic palette revolves around ethical and religious principles, in the universal rhetoric of absolute good versus true evil. In the world of Marin’s Coffin Joe, there is only God and Satan. Ghosts and demons are a manifestation of the will of either or both. Man is the only corruptible being; there are no zombie blood drinkers or human wolves, and all slaughter is based in the sacred or the sacrilegious.


Taken at its fundamentalist foundation, Marins then develops an entire element, in this case the alter ego of Coffin Joe, who flaunts wickedness in the name of good and the desire to perfect man’s place in the hierarchy between heaven and hell. Coffin Joe terrorizes people because he confronts their belief system, challenges the powerful entity of the church, and dares to undermine conformity with his self-absorbed, autonomous mindset. Yes, he does relish the devil and his works of earthly pleasure, but the ultimate goal for Joe is man’s superiority over both God and Satan: the creation of a superbeing whose immortality will challenge the authority of the spirits. We don’t just get blood and guts, killings, or deformed beasts. We get theological discussion and battles between the primal forces of morality and sin. In fact, this is the main narrative theme that connects almost every movie this maverick has ever made. It is a testament to Marins’ ability behind the camera, as well as the bravura performance he gives before it, that these treatises somehow turn into terrifying works of horror.


Marins is also a maverick cinematic visionary, one of the few pure film artists working in the realm of the supernatural. Unencumbered by the world of films in Brazil and admittedly a complete student of the Hollywood/American motion picture ideal, Marins implicitly understands the camera’s ability to tell a story. He is obsessed with the visuals’ important place in the creation of dread and suspense. From the handwritten animated credit sequences that seem to suggest the calligraphy of a long banned book of evil, to the old-fashioned gothic garb Coffin Joe wears as an undertaker, we have striking images that immediately suggest the sinister and unnatural. Then include the fever dream depictions of hell and hallucinations (brought to broad life in vivid, virulent color), the sinister set pieces, the wild juxtaposition of metaphors, and you have a singular, specific voice - an over-the-top talent that rivals Fellini or Joderowsky.


Marins’ visual surrealism also creates breathtaking images, powerful pictures that his camera holds on until they resonate fully with the audience. Sound too is important. His movies usually contain a cacophonous chorus of music, voices, effects, screams, and dialogue to recreate the chaos when one confronts the very forces of nature and the underworld firsthand. Marins isn’t afraid to experiment, to glue glitter around ghostly images to give them an otherworldly effect, or treat his negative chemically to affect its appearance. While monochrome and color switch off within the vast majority of the visual palette offered in his films, there is also plenty of eye candy craziness. Marins knows it’s all well and good to discuss the terrors of the human heart. It is much better to see them directly, however, to understand their visceral power.


Marins also creates a truly lasting horror icon with Joe. Like Freddy Krueger, he is a three-dimensional character with a detailed backstory and plenty of individualized distinctions to make him work even outside the realm of a motion picture. Coffin Joe, Zé Do Caixão, is a complete package, a man who wears his beliefs firmly on his vest and lives them in every action/reaction to things around him. Unlike Wes Craven’s creation of the dream world boogeyman, Joe has never degenerated into a slapstick spoof spook, a stand-up comedian of cruelty. Joe is deadly serious in his beliefs and in his ways, and his abuses are all the more startling because of it. As Freddy’s deaths became more and more based around the one-liner, Zé is merely ruthless and heartless, killing for the great cause of his intellectual and moral superiority. Murder is all in the advancement of his humanistic theories. Torture is a test, not only of physical stamina, but also of character and emotional/spiritual strength.


There is also no trepidation in Coffin Joe’s actions. He is the one who inspires menace. However, deep within his mind is a subconscious cowardice, a fear of being undone by forces beyond his control. And while the movies that surround his persona can either be straightforward narratives about procreation or psychedelic dissertations on the status of society in a more permissive time, Jose Mojica Marins and his grave digging demon stand at the center, cursing God and spitting at the Devil. For Coffin Joe there is only one true ruler of the world: man. In his mind, there is only one truly superior man: himself, Zé Do Caixão.


This is why Zé is such a superior image of dread. The great theological battles are all built on the philosophical foundations of ethics. Wars between man, nature, God, and Satan make up the system under which so much of our religious morality is defined. For eons, those who challenged these belief codas were considered criminal, profane beings that didn’t understand the need for an afterlife-based dogma. After all, to admit that this world is all there is would doom everyone to a finalized death that’s really worth fearing. But if there was a greater reward on the other side, some manner of continued creation where we all go to spend our infinite soul days, then let’s protect that notion at all costs and condemn those who dare challenge it.


Jose Mojica Marins is one such deviant. He dares to look death in the face and spit on its limits. Through his character of Zé Do Caixão, or Coffin Joe, he has taken on the old-fashioned pious value ideals and argued around and against them. In man, Zé argues, is the ultimate power over nature. There is no God. Satan is a buffoon. The only true force of will in the world is the individual. Neatly wrapped up in outstanding fright films of visual magnificence and intellectual stimulation, the work of Marins proves that one of the best ways to defeat the fear of death is to challenge it head on, to tackle its twisted mysticism and to try and determine one’s own spiritual fate. The truth is, in the end, we all will pass from this realm and into something else, be it emptiness or the glowing love/hate of God’s/Satan’s grace/damnation. While his films may not save your mortal soul, they will heal and lighten your entertainment essence. That is why Jose Mojica Marins is an unheralded genius.


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Saturday, Oct 14, 2006


Alicianne Del Mar has been hired by the Nordon family to serve as nanny for their youngest, oddest child, Rosalie. Seems the girl has never truly gotten over the death of her mother and spends far too much time in the local graveyard, remembering the funeral and communicating with her “friends.” Anti-social and abrasive, Rosalie threatens everyone around her, claiming she will call upon her cemetery pals to punish those who bother or have wronged her. No one really takes her seriously (she’s just so…strange) but perhaps they should.


For you see, Rosalie has psychic powers and the ability to reanimate the dead. She’s been hanging out in the boneyard working on bringing the local residents back to life. And it’s these flesh hungry fiends that Rosalie commands to do her evil bidding. After several of the local townsfolk turn up dead, all eyes fall upon this disturbed and destructive kid. Unfortunately, she has that undead army to protect her, and when Alicianne and Len (Rosalie’s older brother) try to escape, the ambulatory, angry corpses chase the hapless duo into an abandoned lumberyard. There, it’s a final showdown between the living dead, their intended victims, and the evil mastermind behind the mayhem…The Child.


For a low budget, even lower expectations exploitation horror movie, The Child is a surprisingly effective and incredibly creepy zombie workout. The movie mingles aspects of the classic Dead films and American Gothic style horror with references to other “evil children” films like The Bad Seed and Village of the Damned. The small budget and atmospheric locations bring an aura of authenticity and naturalism that an overly produced Hollywood film cannot create. While Rosalie Cole (in the role of…Rosalie?) is a little dull (she comes across as more spoiled than scary, more amateur than menacing), the rest of the cast is first rate, selling the terror and terrorizing seriously and realistically.


There is a feeling of uneasy suspense and foreboding created, in both the sets and direction. The Nordons live in a very spooky and atmospheric house, and there’s a scene during a blackout that really heebies up the jeebies. In addition, the final showdown between little Rosalie’s living dead “friends” and our heroine/hero is also exciting and terrifying. Thankfully, there is blood and gore aplenty, especially in said climax and the scene where the groovy ghoulies slaughter an old neighbor woman. Anyone expecting a cheap, cheesy slice of drive-in style dreck should walk away from The Child with their bloodlust sated and their reanimated corpse craving satisfactorily quelled. While not up to the standards set by someone like George Romero, or even some of those pus loving Italians like Fulci, this is still a solid, claret spewing creep fest.


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Friday, Oct 13, 2006


It is safe to say that, among the movies made in that defining cinematic decade of the ‘70s, The Other is one of the best—a near-flawless example of tone and storytelling melded with wonderfully effective material and meaning. In the hands of Academy Award nominee Robert Mulligan (responsible for To Kill a Mockingbird and Summer of ‘42, among many others) and adapted by actor-turned-writer Thomas Tyron from his own best-selling novel, this paranormal period piece about psychologically unsound twins takes elements of The Bad Seed and twists them into an amazing American Gothic. It utilizes the recognizable realities of an old-fashioned family in the middle of a picturesque, pastoral setting and then scans the surfaces for the ugly underneath.


Eventually, we start to see the horrors hiding behind the antique old-world gentility, Like all great genre efforts, The Other uses a familiar foundation—in this case, a child’s reaction to death and other domestic strife—to forge a significant supernatural pathway. Tyron wants us to see the unsettled state of youth and how it can easily, and eerily, turn over to the dark side. Through an expert maintenance of atmosphere and action, along with a directorial flair that never telegraphs the tricks or overemphasizes certain elements, we wind up with a significant motion picture masterpiece, a missing link in the growing maturation of the overall genre.


This is not a rock ‘em, sock ‘em shocker however, even without its delicious third act denouement. No, like the slowly decaying portrait of Dorian Gray, Mulligan and Tyron use the idyllic backdrop of the Perry estate—all Victorian flounce and spreading countryside—and slowly begin to peel back the paint. Soon, evil is uncloaked in the secrets being stored inside—all the dead bodies, all the shattered souls, all the unspoken horrors. One of the most successful elements of The Other is its perfectly paced storytelling. Mulligan never rushes his reveal, never hurries his delicate horrors. Instead, he moves us through this summer of suffering and has us in the palm of his knotty narrative right from the start.


We are intrigued by the presence of a mother pining away in her self-imposed exile, of the fruit cellar where father died, the grouchy neighbor hinting at the devilment contained inside the twins, and the odd symbiotic siblings who seem carved out of one complete identity. Setting each one of these inherently interesting pieces inside his jaded jigsaw, Mulligan makes us care about the characters and the circumstances first. Then, once he has us hooked, he is more than capable of turning the suspense screws. A literal reflection of the personal fears onscreen, The Other is so magnificently moody that future filmmakers should study it for lessons in how to create, and control, angst and dread.


That’s because, at its heart, The Other is a film that uses calm and ease to manage corruption and evil. Its story is a symbol of both sides of the human personality, in ways both obvious (the twins) and less iconic (the mother’s madness, Ada’s affection). While it does trade on substance that is both stereotypical (the bad-seed brother) and surreal (the “game” that the boys and Ada play), this masterful horror film never once loses its amazing, frightening focus. We feel the cold hand of destiny enveloping the Perrys in its vice-like (and filled) grip. We sense the damaging truths lying just beneath the frilly lace and country quaintness. Victims make themselves known from the moment we lay eyes on them—they pretend to see beneath the surface and must pay the ultimate price for doing so.


Yet the villainy here is varied—in the eyes of a child, the lost look of a fractured mother, the acquiescing affection of an elderly grandmother. Some or all play a part in the death surrounding The Other’s often ordinary elements. When we get to the telling twists—made a little less effective because of time and familiarity, not anything inherent in the movie—we feel somewhat vindicated for our suspicions. Then The Other takes another, more mean-spirited step and, suddenly, all bets are off. The final shot fulfills all the promise only hinted at during the rest of the film, and makes us reconsider everything that came before.


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Thursday, Oct 12, 2006

Though at first glance it may not appear to be true, it really is a celebration of foreign films this weekend on your favorite movie channel. Three of the four entries discussed in this installment of Viewer Discretion Advised come from people and places outside our own broad borders. Granted, two were made by Canadians and one is an Aussie export, but the outsider mentality is still strong in this interesting creative collection. As a matter of fact, when placed up against the sole bit of America motion picture making on the schedule, us Yankees look pretty pathetic. Between terse looks at the horrors of human hostility and the ways in which stardom breeds contempt and corruption, a dopey little actioner about genetic engineering doesn’t stand much of an aesthetic chance. Perhaps it’s proof that, when it comes to exploring the extremes of cinema, international contingents have a better handle on the difference between art and artifice. For those interested in what’s cooking on those preeminent pay stations for the week of 14 October, here are the choices:


HBOThe Island

One of 2005’s biggest debacles, here was a typical high concept action movie that didn’t really live up to expectations. Godfather of the gauche epic, Michael Bay, may have thought he could fool film fans with his high tech retread of Parts: The Clonus Horror, but by casting the frequently flat Ewen McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, this sterile sci-fi film was guaranteed never to quite take off. If you can get through the cheesy first hour, filled with way too much sloppy future shock speculation and Big Brother bullshit, you may actually enjoy yourself. Heck, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night than with a superficial serving of speculative silliness. Besides, no one knows action better than Bay. Sister station Cinemax has had this flawed, bloated pseudo-blockbuster plastered all over its channels for the last couple of months. Now its time for those only privy to Home Box Office to experience this serving of entertainment entropy.(Premieres Saturday 14 October, 8:00pm EST).


PopMatters Review


CinemaxA History of Violence

*
One of last years’ best films came from one of the industry’s most unusual cinematic sources – Canadian horror hero David Cronenberg. Who would have thought that the man behind such philosophical splatter fests as Rabid, Scanners and Videodrome would take some graphic novel source material and turn out a searing crime drama featuring fascinating performances by Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, William Hurt and Maria Bello. This is a movie that’s as brutal in its emotions as it is in its title bloodshed, with secrets revealed, true selves unmasked and homespun wholesomeness soiled and sullied. Though never as flashy or flamboyant as his work in films like The Fly, eXistenZ, or his adaptation of William Burroughs’ classic novel Naked Lunch, Cronenberg’s camera is still stellar, painting a near perfect portrait of the potential evil lurching inside the heart of Middle America. Not since David Lynch’s masterful Blue Velvet has small town life seemed so sinister. (Premieres Saturday 14 October, 10:00pm EST).


PopMatters Review


StarzWolf Creek

*
Heavily hyped upon its release to theaters, this Australian horror film never quite connected with audiences. Granted, it’s gritty low budget leanings may have turned off fright fans used to the gloss of the mainstream movie macabre, and the narrative does borrow liberally from other cruel classics like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Hostel. But with its “based on true events” tagline, and gratuitous influx of gore, what should have been a sleeper hit instead just calmly came and went. As part of Starz’s 24 hour terror marathon (starting on Friday 13 October with the channel’s documentary on the slasher film) the small screen may be the perfect place for this overlooked effort. In the comfort of your own home, the intense atmosphere of dismay and eventual unrelenting violence may seem less shocking. One thing’s for sure – the Down Under tourist boards can’t be happy about the impression this film offers.  (Premieres Saturday 14 October, 9:00pm EST).


PopMatters Review


ShowTOOWhere the Truth Lies

*
What if the break up between Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, history’s most famous and popular entertainment duo, was driven by elements other than ego? What if there was a nasty secret between the pair, a secret shrouded in murder, and a massive cover-up? This is part of the premise for Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan’s adaptation of Rupert Holmes’ novel centering on the ominous reasons behind the split of a fictional comedy act. With Kevin Bacon assuming the Lewis role and Colin Firth essaying a real Rat Pack composite, the acting is excellent. Unfortunately, many found Egoyan’s tone at odds with the narrative’s more darkly comic elements. And some may still be put off by the film’s unrelenting reliance of sex to sell its sleaze and subtext (the movie was originally rated NC-17, before edits). Still, for a drama with a decidedly different bent, this is one of last year’s lost treasures. (Saturday 14 October, 10:00pm EST)


PopMatters Review


Seven Films, Seven Days

For October, the off title idea is simple – pick a different cable channel each and every day, and then find a film worth watching. While it sounds a little like an exercise in entertainment archeology, you’d be surprised at the broad range of potential motion picture repasts in the offing. Therefore, the third sequence of seven films featured this week includes:



14 October - Mystery Train
Jim Jarmusch’s triptych take on the King is both boldly original and oddly effecting. Besides, any film featuring Screamin’ Jay Hawkins is all right in SE&L’s book.
(Flix – 10PM EST)


15 October - Primer
Four friends develop a device which may or may not be some sort of time machine. The implications, or the lack thereof, become the basis for this fine low budget effort. 
(Movie Channel – 9:45PM EST)


16 October - Basic Instinct (Edited Version)
Another entertaining exercise in editing courtesy of those crackpots over at American Movie Classics. Only slightly better than the CGI bikini and bottoms of VH-1’s censored Showgirls.
(AMC – 8PM EST)


17 October -The Misfits
Clark Cable. Marilyn Monroe. Eli Wallach. Montgomery Clift. Arthur Miller. John Huston. Enough said.
(Encore Westerns – 8PM EST)


18 October - The Magnificent Ambersons
If you failed to catch this flawed Orson Welles masterwork when it was part of a day long celebration of star Joseph Cotton, now’s the time to take a look.
(Turner Classic Movies – 8PM EST)


19 October - Dune
David Lynch takes on one of sci fi’s most beloved novels, and delivers his own unique take of speculative fiction. Not to be missed.
(Movie Plex – 8:45PM EST)


20 October -Deep Blue Sea
Want proof that Samuel L. Jackson can elevate even the lamest cinematic premise. Along with LL. Cool J, our man Sam saves this ‘Smart Sharks in an Underwater Laboratory” lunacy.
(TNT – 11PM EST)


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Wednesday, Oct 11, 2006


As part of a month long celebration of all things scary, SE&L will use its regular Monday/Thursday commentary pieces as a platform to discuss a few of horror’s most influential and important filmmakers. This time around, the considerable career drop off of one-time horror maestro John Carpenter.


While he’s not the most historically important horror meister to fall from genre grace in recent years (that title belongs to Tobe Hooper) John Carpenter is still considered by many cinematic scholars as the best example of hit or miss moviemaking that macabre has to offer. After a sensational start with Dark Star and Assault on Precinct 13, his homage to Hitchcock, a sensational slice and dicer entitled Halloween, put him at the forefront of the fright flick community. So successful was his reinvention of the slasher film (which would later go on to dominate the latter part of the ‘70s and most of the ‘80s) that his next films were anticipated as heavily as a rock star’s next album. But when those titles finally arrived, they appeared to betray Carpenter’s considered creative start.


The Fog (1980) was the first indication that something was wrong with the newly named Post-Modern Master of Suspense. After a TV thriller entitled Someone’s Watching Me! (a starring vehicle for the director’s then significant other, actress Adrienne Barbeau) and the equally evocative Elvis biopic (featuring the filmmaker’s first collaboration with Kurt Russell) a New England ghost story that tried to mix folklore, atmosphere and gory killings just didn’t come together as a solid cinematic whole. While certain moments shined, other aspects felt silly and superficial. This concept of incompleteness continued with the director’s next two films – the action epic Escape from New York and the October 31st revist Halloween II. Though only a producer and writer on the Michael Myers misstep, it was an example of the sort of sequel that almost destroys the source material from which it was derived. With New York, the ideas were more engaging than the execution, with some of Carpenter’s more novel inventions lost inside some sloppy speculative fictionalizing.


With 1982’s The Thing, Carpenter seemed reinvigorated and ready to pile on the blood bathing. This seminal scare fest, complete with some of the ‘80s best geek show effects, proved that the fear facets of the director’s dynamic were still in place. Even after a string of genre-defying efforts – the killer car coming of age flick Christine, the intergalactic romance of Starman, the chop suey surrealism of Big Trouble in Little China – it appeared the faltering of a few years back was mostly over with. Unfortunately, the studios didn’t see it that way. Looking at the basic box office returns for his last few films (and not their noticeable artistic merits) Carpenter was set adrift. He would have to get independent financing to film his last legitimate masterpiece, 1987’s Prince of Darkness off the ground, before then slipping into a kind of befuddled b-movie bog.


Like The Fog before, They Live (1988) marked the second, and sadly, final fall from grace for the filmmaker. As a political commentary, Carpenter struck a chord that was wickedly witty and scathingly satiric. Unfortunately, he saw fit to place the perfectly pedestrian wrestler turned actor Rowdy Roddy Piper in the lead. Instead of finding a legitimate actor to imbue his alien invasion narrative with the proper combination of brains and brawn, he let the acting amateur attempt to carry the entire film on his matt flattened shoulders. It didn’t work. Soon, Carpenter was slipping further. While the effects were sensational, Memoirs of an Invisible Man was another incredible stumble. Another failed performer – in this case, a no longer ready for ANY time Chevy Chase – destroyed the quasi-clever take on the classic unseen fiend film.


It was definitely all downhill from there. Aside from the made for cable TV macabre of Body Bags, Carpenter helmed no less than five full blown failures over the last 15 years. In the Mouth of Madness was an attempt to recapture some of his Prince of Darkness pride, but it ended up being so confusing that it turned off audiences. His remake of the seminal ‘60s British horror film Village of the Damned also had its moments, but never really came together in any of the ways the original did. Escape from L.A., Vampires, and Ghosts of Mars were all good ideas (Snake Plissken returns, James Woods as a cynical beast buster, and spectral possession on an interplanetary level, respectively) but none made a major splash with fright fans. With the exception of two installments of Showtime’s weak Masters of Horror series, Carpenter hasn’t been behind the lens of a major motion picture in the last five years. 


With such a rollercoaster ride in popularity, as well as with his lax presence within the horror realm, one has to ask why Carpenter has fallen victim to such a seemingly fickle fear fanbase. Granted, his newest movies are much more anticipated than those of Tobe Hooper, or even someone still viable like Wes Craven. In addition, his resume reads rather well, with the now considered classics The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China and Prince of Darkness vying for space between cult favorites like Escape from New York. But there must be more to the lack of respect his recent efforts have received, as well as his continuing creative downward spiral than Internet arrogance and the rabid reconsideration of his canon.


Truth be told, Carpenter’s problems begin internally. He is one of the few horror directors who must also be completely hands-on in most of his movie’s production aspects. He usually composes the scores, and always takes part in the screenplay. This may be his artistic Achilles Heel. Worrying over the musical backing for a particular scene or how a character or situation will develop over the course of a film may end up spreading his aesthetic too thin, especially when you consider he must then direct the material he’s been busy overseeing. Even his heralded predecessor Hitchcock only handled one aspect of a movie’s making – the mise-en-scene. No one is complaining about his hyphenated happenstance in efforts like Halloween or Prince of Darkness. But it seems strange that grand concepts like They Live can come across so limp onscreen.


Another possible problem stems from something called the Entertainment Extremes. Carpenter’s good movies are so good, and his bad films are so horrible, that his status becomes a clear case of what the aficionados remember best. Such a lasting impression can definitely stain an overall reputation, and when viewed in this light, Carpenter’s successes are seen as several decades old. His latest run of films have all underperformed both creatively and commercially, so that when someone does consider the director, they tend to view his better days as far behind him. As the horror history books continue to be rewritten, Carpenter becomes more and more of a founding father and less of a current component of modern macabre.


It doesn’t look like things will be getting better anytime soon. The 58 year old is next scheduled to take on a project called Psychopath, which is supposedly based on a video game (strike one) and purports to be another in a long line of lame serial killer/FBI profiler films (strike two). With the messageboards already a buzz that this is a bad move for a favored filmmaker, and a Rob Zombie helmed revisit of Halloween in the works (an indirect strike three) we may be looking at the last vestiges of a once vital movie magician. No one is writing Carpenter off completely – his oeuvre is too overpacked with potential to toss it aside forever – but it does look like a once prominent personality is falling further and further down the horror hierarchy. Here’s hoping he recovers before reaching rock bottom. After all, Tobe Hooper has the utter has-been angle covered quite well.


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