MOVIE REVIEW: DREDD vs JUDGE DREDD???!!!!

Mostly on the impetus of some strongly positive reviews from podcasts I’ve listened to, I managed to catch the film DREDD, at one of the last theaters it was still playing at in my area. Left to my own impetus, I would have waited to rent it free at the library.

Having just seen it I can say that would have been the right decision. I didn’t like the film, and perhaps more accurately I didn’t enjoy the film.

The dictionary defines vile as morally debased, depraved or despicable; and that’s the word that came to mind while watching DREDD.

I understand violence and action, I am very much a child of the cinema of Sam Peckinpah and John Woo. But Action and violence must always be rooted in some moral underpinning, some moral compass, it must be part of a larger tapestry of a story to have some resonance or meaning or point. It must have heroes.

A violent film devoid of any of that, for me has always been the true definition of pornography. It is NATURAL BORN KILLERS or SIN CITY or insert garbage film here. It is an ugly video game.

That’s what DREDD was to me in the summation, an ugly, rudderless video game. Part of this wave of movies that is about Police launching paramilitary style raids in civilian centers and killing indiscriminately.

I like JUDGE DREDD in the comic book format, his stories are short and pithy, and the world and violence he dispenses more cartoony and satiric. He is something not to take too seriously, and is often slightly buffoonish. However, this film is a very ugly and graphic portrayal, and none of it sat well with me.

In many ways our fictional heroes and films define us, I know they certainly defined me growing up. We are socialized into what is acceptable by the codes of our heroes. DREDD is a film where the title character engages in police brutality/torture, mass murder and maiming, and all of it done with a seeming arbitrariness and lack of reflection, that makes both character and film… soulless.

And also because so much of the history of film has to do with reinforcing and creating stereotypes, I’m also very aware of color coded films. Films where any substantive male Black characters are presented villainized and when possible denigrated. Films with Black faces, but White messages. ‘Police Brutality against Blacks is acceptable and humorous’ to go by the giggling in some parts of the audience during scenes in DREDD, and the emasculation of the only substantive Black Man in the film by having him get beat up by the White men and women around him.

If his treatment was counterpointed by actively, strong Black Male characters in the film that would have made his treatment a story point, but devoid of any strong positive Black male images in the film, the treatment of the sole substantive Black Male character becomes a focal point. It becomes a message.

It becomes a new age Minstrel show. Black faces and White messages. And it is sad that there are always actors of color hungry enough to take such roles and debase themselves to make certain people through their fiction feel less threatened in the facts of their lives.

We are socialized by these messages. There is no stronger socialization tool for our young (and if you don’t think the young will be seeing this movie on DVD and TV you are mistaken). Movies make a billion dollars worldwide because they speak to people. They can move and shape people.

But we must always be wary of the language they speak to us in, and what they shape us to be.

So for that reason, and the lack of a hero, the lack of any real story, the indiscriminate meat grinder killing of bystanders, and the general seamy atmosphere, DREDD is a movie I did not hate, but I did not like. It was an unsatisfying meal, and one I will not be trying again.

I much prefer the Stallone JUDGE DREDD to be honest, yes it has the awful Rob Schneider in it, but him aside, I like Stallone’s Dredd, and I like some of the scenes in that movie a lot. My favorite being the Judge’s walk into the cursed Earth. There’s a heart to the goofy Stallone JUDGE DREDD movie that I will take over the heartless nature of this new DREDD movie.

So, final grade: C-. A technically well done movie, but a morally bankrupt one. Rent it if you’re curious and can get it from your local library for free, but not worth buying.

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The Annotated Sword 1-24 by Luna Brothers or how these issues kicked my ass!

Okay, you know how I was championing the collected edition of the Luna Brother’s GIRLS. Brilliant book by the way, proudly displayed on my bookshelf.

Okay I just made it all the way through THE SWORD. All 24 issues, I have both the issues and the collected edition but I do feel you get something out of reading the letters-pages, plus I like the sense of temporality (yes I did just invent that word πŸ™‚ ) it gives to the story, the definite sense of cliffhangers and pacing, that is felt when you have to close one book and transition to the next. I think it works surprisingly well in those 22 page chunks. So my first time through I’m reading the issues as opposed to the big honking collected edition.

I have to say as good as GIRLS is, and it is very good, THE SWORD is head and shoulders better.

Well, I just finished all 24 issues, and gone through the collected edition(I love that they include the original covers to break up the chapters… take note Robert Kirkman, that’s how you’re supposed to do a collected edition!… definitely helps with the sense of temporality), over two years of story and art… my verdict?

Well first, let’s back up and be petty for a bit.

The title, brilliant title, very simple, very to the point… THE SWORD.

How can you mess that up?

Well you’d be surprised! I need to call a couple people out, while it is spelt SWORD, the W is silent, it is pronounced ‘sord’. So unless you’re effing Arnold Schwarzenegger, you don’t pronounce the damn W. When in doubt check the effing dictionary! Damn podcasters! I’m looking at you!!! You know who you are! πŸ™‚ . (Oh and don’t get all riled I love podcasters. In fact my 2010 Best of Podcast Retrospective will probably be up next posting!)

And it’s not ‘supposibly’, the word is supposedly. I swear everyone who comes from a certain close by state, that will remain nameless, pronounces it ‘supposibly’, drives me up the frigging wall.

Do you feel the hate? I Know, I’m sorry, I’m usually in such a good mood when I do these blog updates.

But I’m in really an odd place right now, after reading THE SWORD.

Okay for those who haven’t read it, all you need to know is… it is brilliant! Go buy it now!

I do highly recommend reading it, because it is one of the most brilliant works in its construction and its audacity, that you are going to find. And because they offer the original covers to denote chapter breaks, the collected edition will work brilliantly as most peoples first, and only, introduction to the work.

Check here to purchase the individual issues.

Check here to purchase the massive, bludgeon your neighbor, beautiful collected edition of THE SWORD.

Check here to purchase THE GIRLS huge, honking collected edition!.

I appreciate if you use these links as they help make a few pennies for this blog. So it’s a great way to get a great item for yourself or a loved one, and also help me continue bringing you these mad blog posts! So thanks in advance! And if you do buy via the links drop me an email, or leave a comment here saying you bought it or what you thought of it, and I’ll send you a freebie for supporting. Now back to our regularly scheduled program… πŸ™‚

So go, buy the collected edition, say uncle HT sent ya, then come back and read the rest of this. Because beyond this point there be Dragons! Spoilers abound as I give a play by play of my run through the series, to the ending, to the odd place I am right now.

You’ve been warned. Okay, without further ado…

The Annotated Sword 1-24 or how these issues kicked my ass!

#1- If you’re not familiar with the Luna Brother’s the art can at first seem simplistic, stiff. But trust me it is anything but. What you’ll get in-tuned to, almost immediately, is the brothers are masters of conveying emotion through these lines on paper. The facial expressions are amazing and convey an almost palpable sense of who these characters are. And that emotion transcends the seeming minimalism of the artwork. Also they make the art breathe, mostly Jonathan in terms of the finished art, Joshua is credited with Layout and Lettering, and they both do the story. A big part of why the artwork works is the coloring and lighting and shading and perspective and focus and variety of other effects Jonathan uses to imbue these 2 D images with life. Another part is shot selection, and the use of panels against a black background. You become that much more funneled in, due to the images of light bound by that darkness. I’ve heard cinematic used to describe the effect, it works as well as any, though sensual is perhaps more accurate. This issue introduces us to Dara Brighton, a nice introduction, a meaningful one, before all meaning leaves her life; or more accurately, before her life becomes hijacked, forfeit, to greater meanings. It’s a great first issue with a cliffhanger to set the stage, for many to come.

#2-2nd issues can often be difficult, as they are oft the exposition heavy portion of the story. The great thing you learn in this issue, and that continues throughout the series is the Luna Brothers ability to make their talking scenes as compelling and captivating as their action sequences. The silences in the hands of the Lunas are as deafening as the explosions.

#3- Speaking of explosions this is where we learn what the Sword, and a young woman called Dara Brighton, picked by fickle fate to survive… can do. Phenomenal, jaw-dropping (in more ways than one) issue! The first “shout-out-loud” great cliffhanger of the series. A+.

#4- What amazes me is the Luna Brothers art. No one is going to mistake their art for Kevin Nowlan, or Art Adams, or Alex Ross or Gil Kane or JH Williams III or any of the masters of the medium, technically they are not draftsmen of that level, however what they are is masterful storytellers. I said it before it comes down to expression and shot selection, and using those two tools, they’ve created an issue that moves, and compels you to turn pages! They rivet you with just how masterfully they invest their characters into the story, and you into the characters. Add to that their ear for dialog, the naturalistic amidst the absurd. This issue is a chase, and at the end of it Dara Brighton, wielder of the sword… makes a choice that puts her at the mercy of a world that cannot understand her. B+.

#5 The thing that strikes you about this issue is just how solid and strong the storytelling is. From Dara waking up to see herself chained in a mirror, to her breakdown as the agent makes her consider her father’s culpability in her family’s murder, to the perspective shot of her leaping over the agents. Just great visual storytelling to go with a great story. A-.

#6- Dara is reunited with her fugitive friends, and a history lesson is told. Very engrossing. B+.

#7- This issue flows between riveting storytelling and laugh-out loud moments. “Girl pants”, “bus trip”. And the Luna Brothers are masters of the final page. Of that iconic last image/line that makes you go “Damn!”. I own the SWORD COLLECTED EDITION but the best way to initially read this series, and the way I’m doing it, is reading the singles with letter pages. You really need that moment between issues, to recognize that down-time, that transition. Great issue. A-.

#8- Another winner “Reached into the bowl” Great issue, but you know what I said previously about the Lunas being the masters of the last page. If this last page doesn’t make you cackle out loud, there is something wrong with you. Masterful cliffhangers. Plus that’s a fantastic cover. A-.

#9-If the ending of this issue doesn’t make you go…”Aww Sh*t!!!!” , then I repeat… There is something wrong with you. Yeah bring it!!!! Frigging awesome storytelling. Dara at the mercy of the monster that killed her sister.A+.
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#10- Woah. Like the protagonist you suddenly realize this is a lot harder than you thought it was going to be. A-.

#11- It’s a LOT! LOT!! HARDER! Man, what a throwdown, and it’s getting worse. You can almost say shes on her last… legs? Doh! It’s compulsive page turning entertainment. A-.

#12 The first year or thereabouts of the SWORD comes to an end, and the Luna Brothers could not have ended it better. Dara is 1/3rd of the way through her ordeals, and it has taken much. It primes you, as does the last page, primes the remaining two thirds with simple question… what next? Great issue. A-.

#13- Coming off the powerhouse first 12 issues, this issue was more a lull before the storm. Didn’t really captivate or emotionally resonate with me like previous issues, on first read, but still good. B.

#14- Is back on stride, as Dara and friends… storm the house of an elder god. Great “Bring it!” Cliffhanger! B+.

#15- Efffing INSANE! There are no words! Just read the audacious lunacy that is this issue! Man! They are putting this girl through a lot. A+.

#16- Dara goes toe to toe with an elder God. Nuff said. A+.

#17- Dara vs Giant Rock Elder God! More, more, more. B+/A-.

#18- What a frigging AWESOME final page! Cackling my head off like a loon. Absolutely brilliant. And just the expressions the Luna Brothers put on everyone, but especially Dara as a woman driven beyond all limits of man or god, to exact revenge. Brilliant. A-frigging +.

#19- Wow. How is it possible the Luna Brothers can follow up one of their most action packed issues, with a contemplative one, of mostly talking heads and make it one of the best issues of the run? I’m in awe, as Dara and Friends discuss the future and the past on the way to meet the last of the gods. A+.

#20- Dara lands in New York… and mayhem ensues. Absolutely great series. A-.

#21- Do you know what it is that makes these issues, this story so great. The Luna Brothers have an unerring grasp of both the naturalistic, who we are in our everyday failings and strivings to succed, and the iconic, and their ability to switch between those two poles of our existence… powers what is best about THE SWORD. Once again the last few pages made me go… OH YEAH! And that by itself deserves an A+.

#22- Ouch! That was effing harsh. I don’t even have that particular organ, and it hurt me to watch. I can’t even grade this issue, kinda painful. Double ouch.I go into the last two issues, and I who have known the world… am afraid, That’s pretty damn good storytelling.

#23- Okay. Did not see that coming at all—- brain overloading– too much data! Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Series is blowing my mind.

This is MAJOR SPOILER territory, so read only after reading the whole series.

#24- And now we come to the end. God that was fucking depressing. Talk about a crucifixtion. That’s no way for anybody to die. To go through all that pain, save the world, and then to end like that. Man you Luna Brothers are some cruel SOBs. Uhhh… so depressed, must open vein now.

Over 2 years of story… brilliant, but why oh why would the Luna Brothers let the story of Dara end so brutally, so… unfairly. I know, I know… cause life isn’t fair. Efff that!!! You save the world multiple times you should get more for it than… that. I’m on record as wanting an epilogue to this story to give Dara the happy ending she deserves. I’m looking at you Luna Brothers! I’M LOOKING AT YOU! Call me a hopefull romantic, but I like to believe in happy endings.

“When you strip everything away from the Batman, you’re left with someone who doesn’t want to see anybody die!”–from Ross and Waid’s KINGDOM COME

Unlike the above quote I understand that all life ends in death, but I guess if you strip everything away from me you’re left with someone who doesn’t want anyone to die badly. Who believes that lives of honor, should warrant a little bit of happiness or at least deaths of honor.

It is a dark end to a brilliant book. However I would like to imagine an unseen end to Dara Brighton, where she was acknowledged for her great deeds, and given a gift for those deeds. A boon.

It’s a dream… I have.

And who knows, much like David Peterson of Mouse Guard… who let famous writers and artists do a take on his characters, maybe the Lunas could do a similar one-shot epilogue issue where various creators give their take on Dara Brighton’s end or resurrection or salvation, etc.

Well that’s it for now. Luna Brothers’ are taking a break from joint work, to pursue individual projects, so nothing on the horizon (beyond possible movie talk) to followup THE SWORD. But whatever the future brings for these talented young men (have you seen them? They look like they are ten. To be that young and that talented is mind blowing!) they have left a body of work that will long be admired, enjoyed, and ultimately emulated.

The ending did not make me a happy camper, but the ride is not to be missed. THE SWORD by The Luna Brothers gets my highest recommendation… A-.

I saw this poster, and this young lady would make the perfect Dara Brighton. The combination of beauty, a certain foreboding, a certain vulnerability, and a certain resolve, all captured in a look. Her face is impossible to look away from. With lips that men in ages past built temples to. Alluring on levels that words do barely touch.

THE EXPENDABLES Movie Review or THE EFFICACY OF THE BLOOD OF HEROES

THE EXPENDABLES- When I first heard about this idea, I thought it would be a nice, fun kooky throwback to the 80s film of yore. Nothing great but just a nice teaming of some 80s icon, a nice throwaway flick.

So what did I think?

To say EXPENDABLES does not disappoint is to perhaps practice understatement to an unacceptable degree. Quite frankly it is a great movie… full stop. Sylvester Stallone, once again, proving himself to be a creative force to be reckoned with, and a damn great director.

Stallone, much as he did in 2008’s RAMBO, takes the tropes of Hollywood’s current 80s infatuation phase, to craft on to that skeleton a film that is superior to its influences. A homage indicates a film that is a calling card to something greater, THE EXPENDABLES like the aforementioned RAMBO, is not a homage. It is better than its inspirations, as Stallone ratchets the action and adrenaline up to 100, and then takes it beyond.

And more than that THE EXPENDABLES is a far less one dimensional film than those of the 80s, where the bad guys were mustache twirling villains and right and wrong were clearly delineated paths (with the exception of the Somalian Piracy issue, that the film presents in just that one dimensional way. Eschewing the larger issues that the pirates may not be the ones seizing those boats, but may instead be the companies and nations, that are launching them, and are providing the money and weapons that allow a genocidal war to continue. This vilification of easy targets, akin, but less severe than DISTRICT 9’s Nigerian Bashing).

The Generalisimo is presented, thankfully, more adeptly. While a despot, he is one placed there by forces in the form of the always impressive Eric Roberts.

And to speak on Eric Roberts for a second: I’m glad to see in films like this and THE DARK KNIGHT that he is finally getting the due he didn’t in his youth. Eric Roberts long being one of the best actors Hollywood was ignoring.

And Stallone manages to grant all these stalwarts their moments. Peppering his 80s icons with relative new guys and real life tough guys Terry Crews (Retired NFL Football Player, and has appeared in several films including GET SMART and DELIVER US FROM EVA. He brings a distinct, calming and very affable energy to the mix), Randy Couture (Wrestler and retired MMA Champion. Has starred in REDBELT and SCORPION KING among others. Like all truly dangerous guys he brings an easy, laid back presence to the screen), Steve Austin (A former champion WWF Wrestler, and has starred in NASH BRIDGES and THE LONGEST YARD. Known as Stone Cold from wrestling, he brings that intimidating presence to the EXPENDABLES with impressive results).

And not to be outdone by the new guys Stallone, Statham, Li and Rourke (who delivers the film’s central theme of sacrifice in quite a moving scene) do the heavy lifting in terms of story beats.

Giselle Itie, the stunning 28 year old Mexican actress, makes her big screen debut as the worthy reason for the Expendables to expend themselves. She captivates and I see big things ahead for her.

And Charisma Carpenter stars as Statham’s love interest, I didn’t even equate her with BUFFY until checking IMDB in prep for this review. Always attractive, there is something new in her face. Something that is not quite unlike suffering, and not quite unlike grace. She’s one of those rare people whose face only grows more… compelling with time. She is on-screen just briefly, but manages to truly burn herself into those scenes.

And returning to Icon territory, Dolph Lundgren is an actor (like many Action heroes) who has fought long for respect. I’ve always felt he has earned it, being quite a fan of the much railed against first PUNISHER movie starring him and Louis Gossett Jr.

And by all accounts his Direct To Video films, which I intend to bring you an overview of, showcase his growing skills as both actor and director.

With THE EXPENDABLES he gets his first big screen showing in decades, and captivates with it. As a man who has endured and seen and been… too much.

To a certain extent the script by Stallone, in seeming throwaway one-liners addresses each man’s very public private issues, in a self effacing way that speaks of much courage to those who can listen. From Stallone’s marriage woes, to claims of substance abuse, to subtle lights shined on, not the 80s, but today.

The fact that their defacto hangout is Rourke’s tattoo parlor, has nothing to do with the 80s and everything to do with today. It speaks to the proliferation of body art in the 21st century, the need in an empty age to wear your allegiances on your skin because all other allegiances… have failed you. They are men shorn of an inner identity seeking to find in the identification of the flesh, a needle and ink that will pierce deep enough… to identify their souls.

You can get all this out of the movie (akin to how the French looked at our stylish Black and White crime films of the post war era, and saw in them existential commentaries on fatalism and the human dilemma and ultimately coined them… Film Noir), or you can see it as just a phenomenal action movie. Or if you’re like me, you can do both.

Either way, Stallone is really pushing the envelope in terms of on-screen brutality. It is not as clearly disturbing as RAMBO, which I think is a very subversive film, that works on levels of both exhilaration and castigation.

I think one thing it gives you, that you didn’t get from the films of the 80s,where everyone died pretty, is that death is a violent and violating thing, and you don’t ever want to be shot if you can avoid it.

Because flesh wounds in Stallone’s films, more often than not, take off limbs. I think it is a truth about violence that was often missing in the throwback video-game like films of the 80s. And here that violence, of the School of Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, and since adopted in films as diverse as TAE GUK, RAMBO, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, DISTRICT 9, is in full effect here. Death not as Pekinpah or Woo’s Blood Ballets, but death as meat grinder.

That aesthetic is in full effect here in THE EXPENDABLES, done in a manner somewhere between that aforementioned exhilaration and castigation.

I’m always a little conflicted by these action sequences, and I think that conflict, that sense of horror, is the point. However in films like DISTRICT 9 and to a certain extent here, I see that violence used less as something to horrify, something to remind you life has weight, and more as just something to entertain you.

And that’s an odd and uncomfortable line for me as I get older, this violence as entertainment. I like to hold fast to this idea, old-fashioned I agree, of violence as a last resort… to save maiden’s from dragons, and the weak from the wrong.

But if we are honest this querulous occupation/obsession with the deification of the gun and the men who wield it is ingrained into the early days of our cinema and beyond. Past the Penny-Dreadfuls of the wild-west, past the cobblestoned tales of Victorian England, past the campfire myths and warrior songs, past gunfire’s birth, past the forging of iron, or the wielding of a bow, past perhaps even fire’s spark. Always the glorification of those who live by war.

All to say that we are a caustic and tragic tribe, that at its heart believes, perhaps too fervently, in the efficacy of the blood of heroes.

And for moments fleeting Stallone’s picture touches, perhaps only haphazardly on this, dark dichotomy of our age. Warriors devoid of any clean or simple or justifiable war.

It could be laid against me that I am reading too much into a simple action flick/ DIRTY DOZEN take-off (down to even the setup of the Generalisimo’s fortress), giving Stallone too much credit as a writer (the original story/script being product of Dave Callaham) but I think not. Stallone has proven himself quite an adept and manipulative writer throughout his career, and a fixer of ‘untrue’ scripts, ROCKY and FIRST BLOOD sensations of their time because they exhibit a very deep understanding of what moves us, of what… galvanizes us on an almost instinctual level. I don’t think there’s a more insightful writer/director working. He understands the human heart in a way that very few people do, and he understands the oft querulous nature— of hero. And I see his later films as a questioning of what becomes the hero, in an age where we have all (nations, and nation-states)… to some extent… embraced villainy.

But my concerns about the depiction of violence to the side, THE EXPENDABLES is a film that beneath the wall to wall action, manages to let each character shine, never an easy thing to do with a large cast, and more imbues the characters and the film, with real heart. It is an inarguably well made film, that hits all the notes, and I believe, even all the conflict it hopes for. A great film that I look forward to the director’s commentary, and making-of-specials, and adding to my DVD shelf. As well as interest in the already under preparation sequel. Highly Recommended. B+/A-.


The Expendables (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)

On Sex, Savagery and Cinema. Horror films in the 21st century!

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As any frequent sampler of this blog knows, I like movies. I also tend to listen to my share of podcasts.

And a few of those podcasts, are about movies. One in particular recently had an episode devoted at least partially to Nudity in Horror films.

I was going to reply to them specifically, but it kicked off a train of thought about horror, and sex, and cinema in general, that I wanted to share… with you. Plus it’s not just their show, seemingly many people put forward this stance that sex and nudity is… uncomfortable or uncalled for, and violence is cool.

The belief that sex and nudity, particularly in genre films… is gratuitous.

Are you guys joking?

Genre/Horror films by definition are gratuitous.

I’m going to get up on my soap box now… πŸ™‚

To say a film “by showing a woman’s boob” or “having a sex scene” is gratuitous, while ignoring the fact the very nature of the film you’re watching be it SCREAM or FRIDAY the 13th or INSIDE is about carving up women, is to have your priorities slightly askew.

I think the argument against “gratuitous nudity” would be far more rational if it was advocating less onscreen violence against women period. (And on the phrase “gratuitous nudity”, I don’t subscribe to it. Do you think Rubens saw his nude paintings as gratuitous? He saw them as works of art. I’d be hard pressed to disagree with him. If nudity was art 400 years ago, why would it be any less art today),

But advocating less nudity, while being completely happy with the violence in a genre film, typically against women, is a suspect argument. While the anti-nude πŸ™‚ argument may be a prevalent mindset in movie going audiences today… I do not think it is a healthy one.

Women are beautiful, so if a filmmaker wants to shoot that beauty, and make it part of his drama, or his mystery, or his comedy, or his sci fi, or his ghost story… and an actress (or actor, don’t want to be sexist here) has no problem being nude, I don’t see the issue with nudity in films.

American cinema (and increasingly World cinema, as other countries adopt America’s misogynistic cinema as their own) can do with more sex and nudity, and less violence. There’s an unhealthy attitude toward sex, that I think is illustrated by conversations I’ve heard from various quarters.

Movie goers are uncomfortable watching nudity or healthy sexual situations on screen, but give them a movie about a rape or a serial killing and somehow, “that’s just good horror fun”.

It’s a bizarre stance to me. The violence should feel like the aberration, the uncomfortable part of a horror film, not the nudity, not the sex.

I like a good thriller as much as the next guy, but I think you have to be cautious about blurring the lines between hero and villain, between sympathizing with victims, and salivating over them.

The word morality is out of fashion, but I think there’s a morality inherent in everything, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Even in genre fiction. And the morality you are prepared to accept from your fictions and your facts, says much about you. It says how you came up, and for what you are prepared to fall down.

One of my favorite Thrillers is Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER. It’s everything I want a thriller to be, and at the end of the day, the monster is put down, and the damsel is rescued. And yes I read the book RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris, and Mann’s film is far superior because of the changes he made, because of its… simplistic morality.

MANHUNTER superior in every way, because it believes… in heroes.

Contrast that to the morality of these early 21st century Thrillers/Horror films, such as DEVILS REJECTS.

DEVILS REJECTS is everything I don’t want in a movie. I mean it is stunningly shot, fantastically constructed, Rob Zombie is a talented filmmaker no doubt. And I really, really wanted to like the movie, but I couldn’t. Because its morality is fundamentally at odds with my own. I do not want to see a woman get raped in real life, and I don’t want to see one get raped on the screen. In DEVILS REJECTS no one comes to save the damsel. No one comes to stop the violations. The films purpose IS the violations, it is to glorify the monsters, and for you to silently participate and condone and revel… in the crimes.

That is the reality of horror cinema in the young years of the 21st century.

And it is not for me.

And I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t seen SAW or IRREVERSIBLE or INSIDE. After seeing DEVIL’S REJECTS and the new HILLS HAVE EYES, I don’t need to see anymore of those movies.

I want there always to be someone arriving in the nick of time to save the damsel. And yes it’s an old-fashioned morality, but it’s the one that I grew up with, it’s the one that leaves me feeling good, and it’s the only one I’m willing to accept.

Horror movies for me, have always been about heroism.

And you take heroism out of the mix, and I have no interest in horror movies.

Today’s films and video games increasingly sublimate the desire for sex, with the desire for savagery. And I fear for the type of children it breeds. As if all of America and Canada and the world, is young serial killers in training.

Increasingly desensitized monkeys, being bred for the mill.

So cinema today, genre cinema, horror cinema; is about a willingness to sublimate sex to savagery. And define the wrong one of those two things… as pornographic.

Just my 2 cents.

This installments picture is from one of my favorite poster artists, and one of the greatest surrealist artists currently working, Wieslaw Walkuski. Quite similar, though not as evocative as the work of another favorite of mine, and another Polish Artist, the late, great Zdislaw Beksinski. If you can pick up any of the posters of Walkuski or the art book of Beksinski, do so. They are the best of the best.