Tuesday, April 24, 2007
From THE DICTIONARY OF DOCTOR LAO:
"Redneck (n): An individual who chooses a path of willful ignorance and uses this prejudice to fuel hostile and disruptive behavior to interrupt the lives of others. Rednecks are not restricted to any region of the planet, and they can flourish in both rural and urban settings."
The ritual of redneckaphobia begins, again.
There have been so many films in this genre that it’s tough to judge this one on its own merits. While watching horror is a ritual, no one ever complained about an original ritual, which this isn’t. (But that’s not a complaint.) Occultists warn about using the same ritual music too much. No matter how good it is, if you use it too much, it loses its evocative power. That may have been a problem faced by STRANGER THAN FICTION and, I think, this is a problem here. VACANCY’s merits may simply be lost in the over-familiarity we’ve gained with the genre. I can’t even recall all of the films that share this genre, but a few are:
HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES
THE HILLS HAVE EYES
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
HOUSE OF WAX (2005)
The formula is:
1. City people go to rural areas where they don’t belong.
2. Vehicular trouble, often manufactured by the evildoers, screws up the heroes.
3. Someone who appears friendly leads the heroes into a trap.
4. The heroes are terrorized by rural sadists.
5. The obvious, male hero becomes killed/disabled.
6. The heroine must take it upon herself to escape, often killing the sadists in a grand manner.
These movies all seem to be about our fear of rednecks. That may not be PC to say, but it’s true.
In the cinematic world, rednecks are primal, temper-driven figures who shun using objectivity and logic in their decision-making. They’re quick to anger, superstitious, mix their sexuality with equal parts repression and hostility, and see the initiation of force as an acceptable method of resolving problems. What’s not to fear?
Now, Hollywood could be accused of perpetuating unfair stereotypes. But are they? And if this were simply a matter of smug, liberal filmmakers making fun of “real America,” then these films would not be so successful in “real America.” Maybe these movies are just entertainment, thus explaining their box office.
But maybe these films strike a chord of emotional truth with viewers… at least they represent a concern of viewers, grounded in reality or not. The fact that they often appeal to rednecks can be seen as a function of one of several things…
a) No matter how redneck you are, there will always be someone more redneck than you. This is a very credible theory.
b) Rednecks like to decadently revel in their bad qualities, and take a strange, unconscious, vicarious delight in doing so by seeing them there atheistic city folks get punished real good.
c) Rednecks are too stupid to know that these movies are about how frightening they are to the rest of society.
So, I guess as an open note to rednecks: knock it off. Oh, and by the way, the earth is round.
And it’s not like rednecks are unfairly singled out and picked-on in horror movies. Hello? Mad scientists? There seems to be a bell curve in horror movies regarding the relationship between intelligence and evil, reassuring people to be average. Too dumb? Lunatic killers! Too smart? You’ll be a mad scientist… or, while hoping to help people, you’ll be a good scientist who creates a bad computer, robot, or virus.
About the movie –
The Human Cannonball remarked that it was (for once) about intelligent people who are put in this situation, and that was refreshing. Not just intelligent people, but intelligent people who were not teenagers. This gives the film a real lift above its sub-genre. Add to this a distinct lack of gore, and you wind up with a film that is actually scary for the right reasons. You’re not being manipulated by a moviemaker looking to make you jump at EVERYthing. The movie is about grownups, and you get treated as one.
Of course, the great granddaddy of all of these films is PSYCHO, and VACANCY acknowledges this is a celebratory way. The opening titles are what Saul Bass would have done, were he alive today. (Hell, let’s note that the film has opening titles. We see these less and less, and I miss them.) The music seems to be a riff on the urgent strings Bernard Herrman used to introduce PSYCHO. The movie takes place in California, near Bates Motel country. And the lobby of the motel has lots of statues of birds, which can only be a nod to Hitchcock.
Of course, the logic police can have a field day with this, and it I think it probably should have taken place in the late 1970’s.
The highest praise I can give the movie is that I left it with a nice sense of paranoia about most of the people I saw outside.
The mission of Art has been accomplished, again!
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
The biggest comic event of the decade, Civil War, is now coming to you in brand-new collections, compiling the entire war from start to finish! Collecting all the sold out issues and landmark moments of the event that changed the Marvel Universe forever, don’t miss these crucial additions to your Marvel library.
FOLLOW THE WAR IN THESE CIVIL WAR TRADES:
CIVIL WAR TPB …$24.99
CIVIL WAR: THE ROAD TO CIVIL WAR TPB …$14.99
HEROES FOR HIRE VOL.1: CIVIL WAR TPB …$13.99
MS. MARVEL VOL. 2: CIVIL WAR PREMIERE HC …$22.99
NEW AVENGERS VOLUME 5: CIVIL WAR PREMIERE HC …$19.99
On-Sale in April
CIVIL WAR: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN TPB …$17.99
CIVIL WAR: FANTASTIC FOUR TPB …$17.99
CIVIL WAR: FRONT LINE BOOK 1 TPB …$14.99
CIVIL WAR: THUNDERBOLTS TPB …$13.99
CIVIL WAR: X-MEN TPB …$11.99
PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL: CIVIL WAR PREMIERE HC …$19.99
On-Sale in May
BLACK PANTHER: CIVIL WAR TPB …$17.99
CIVIL WAR COMPANION TPB …$13.99
CIVIL WAR: CAPTAIN AMERICA TPB …$11.99
CIVIL WAR: FRONT LINE BOOK 2 TPB …$14.99
CIVIL WAR: PETER PARKER, SPIDER-MAN TPB …$17.99
CIVIL WAR: WAR CRIMES TPB …$17.99
CIVIL WAR: WOLVERINE TPB …$17.99
CIVIL WAR: X-MEN UNIVERSE TPB …$13.99
CIVIL WAR: YOUNG AVENGERS & RUNAWAYS TPB …$11.99
On-Sale in June
CIVIL WAR: MARVEL UNIVERSE TPB …$11.99
CIVIL WAR: IRON MAN TPB …$11.99
"Wow! Without discounts, or tax this is $356.78
Great story telling, but an expensive hobby :-)"
But there are some titles that have yet to be put on the schedule, such as:
And I'm sure we haven't heard the end of this uncivil exploitation.CIVIL WAR: NOT BRAND ECCHH MASS MARKET PB …$3.99
CIVIL WAR: DEVIL DINOSAUR TABLOID …$2.99
CIVIL WAR: GHOST RIDER 2099 DIGEST…$1.99
CIVIL WAR: STAR WARS STAPLED BROCHURE…$0.99
CIVIL WAR: PETER PORKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-HAM PAMPHLET …$0.09
Monday, April 16, 2007
Last week I came up from the subway near my apartment still carrying the copy of The Man in the High Castle which I had been reading on the train and went to pick up some Chinese takeout (the wife was at her painting class). About The Man in the High Castle--I'd been wanting to read this book at least since I was in high school; I read some short stories by Philip K. Dick, though, and I guess they didn't grab me because I kept putting High Castle off. Well, as many of you know, it's a total masterpiece.
So I'm in line behind some other guy at Red Hot Szechuan, and this guy steps aside to let me give the hostess my order. When I'm done, the guy says to me, "I know someone who would appreciate this coincidence." He holds up the book HE was carrying when he walked into the joint, and it's The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. We talk a little bit while we're waiting for our food; he recommends Ubik, and I point out that it's not really a coincidence at all that we both walked into a restaurant with our Dicks hanging out (come on, you knew the pun was coming). After all, I point out that in recent weeks I'd read a comic making numerous references to Dick, seen that yet another story of his had been turned into a movie, and discovered a Web site where you can find out which phildickian reality you're living in today. He's inescapable, because the world is slowly realizing how utterly prescient he was, perhaps moreso at present than any other writer.
The strange thing about The Man in the High Castle is that it's not really science fiction; the action takes place in an alternate reality where the Axis powers won WWII, but the focus of the book is on the I Ching and the idea that a book called "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy," telling of a reality where the Allies won and England went on to conquer Europe, may be a more valid reality; by consulting the I Ching, the characters slowly realize that everything they understand to be real may be a grand fiction. Borges, eat your heart out.
Two diaries written by A.N.S. failed to sell at auction in
-The guy who wrote the Adolph Hitler diaries claimed they are fake.
-A.N.S.’s hand-writing is especially difficult to read on the months she got bombed, plastered, and/or stoned.
-The diaries were written between 1992 and 1994, when A.N.S. was married to oil billionaire J. Howard Marshall II. These are generally considered the boring “domestic bliss” years.
-The only revelation about her marriage to
-A.N.S. couldn’t stop writing about
-Because she could suddenly afford any dish she desired, many of the diary entries are obsessively centered on food.
-The pages are covered with sauce stains, gravy stains, melted ice cream stains, etc. Several pages are stuck together.
-Too much page space is spent recounting the plots to mediocre TV shows (“The Heights”, “
-A.N.S.’s frequent gushing over
-Analysts agree that the diaries hold very little monetary value, and their sentimental value is even less.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
-A t-shirt that says, “I slept with Anna Nicole Smith and all I got was this t-shirt, a child, and control over a multi-million dollar inheritance.”
-The Elmo DVD, “So Your Mommy’s Dead.”
-The legal right to give the baby a name that won’t be cruelly ridiculed by schoolmates.
-The Barney DVD, “Dads Who Make Bad Choices Need Love, Too.”
-The book, “Baby Dangling For Fun & Attention,” by Michael Jackson.
-A lifetime supply of the new baby foods from Jack Daniels.
-The Baby Einstein DVD, “Baby Keith Richards – Psychedelic Cigarettes Made from Me Dad.”
-The legal right to have the “666” birthmark on the back of Dannielynn’s head removed.
-10 cases of Rice-A-Roni, the
-Kato Kalin offers to stay in the guesthouse and baby-sit on weeknights.