Time And Money Well Spent
by Dan Greene
I haven’t talked about movies in a while, and that’s okay. Sometimes I get sick of myself, you know? Weren’t you starting to get a little sick of it too?
But I haven’t run into any wasps lately, and I haven’t had my ass kicked while wearing any kind of costume lately, so movies it is. I actually had a pretty good weekend for it too.
Saturday afternoon found me at a certain video store whose name I won’t mention. You know what one. I was checking out their used movies and ended up buying three; one of which was a genuine find because it’s supposed to be Lucio Fulci’s best.
First off, I grabbed Wolf Creek. I haven’t seen this one yet but I’m looking forward to it. It’s supposed to have a gritty, realistic feel to the action. One review said it was boring for the first hour, but another review mentioned the strong character development. I generally don’t find character development to be boring; if it pulls you in and helps you identify with the characters, it’s going to keep you pulled in as they die off. Then you can say to yourself, “Gee, too bad Jimmy died, I thought Jimmy was going to make it.”
It’s supposed to be pretty gory too, but I’ll have to wait and see for myself. I might as well stop talking about this movie now, because as stated, I still haven’t seen the damn thing. I’ll let you all know what I think in a couple of weeks… try not to lose sleep before then.
The next movie I picked up, which was the first one I actually watched on Saturday, was the remake of The Omen. Most of what I’d heard about that movie was fairly positive, and I have to say they did an alright job. It was a pretty faithful remake… and hey, on that topic, what is it with us and remakes? Most people have some kind of complicated views about them, or at least, I can’t figure out the logic behind my own view. If the remake is too different, then they weren’t faithful to the original and the work suffers. If the remake is too similar, people wonder what the point was of remaking the damn thing to begin with (money of course, but people still wonder about it). Remakes really are a mixed blessing. If it wasn’t for remakes there would be a lot less horror movies coming out, but at the same time, a lot of those remakes suck. What to do?
I liked the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but to this day I get pissed that they showed Leatherface’s real face. He was all deformed and shit, and that kind of somewhat gives you a piece of motive, or a look into his perspective. And that sucks because TCM is all about chaos, unimaginably panicked confusion. We don't need no perspective.
Anyway, after The Omen I watched Zombie, because it was late and I didn’t want to fall asleep halfway through something I hadn’t seen. And Zombie is a great movie. There’s a fight between a zombie and a shark. Yes I know I mentioned it a million times before, and I’ll mention it a million times again. Another reason to fall asleep watching Zombie: I have it on VHS. When my DVD player stops it goes back to the menu; depending on the movie, the menu might have sound effects. That’s why I don’t fall asleep watching Amityville, because I’ll wake up at three or four in the morning to the sound of a demon telling me to GET OUT.
Sunday night was mostly a great night, with one minor setback. I found out that my DVD player doesn’t want to play one of the movies I bought, and that really sucks. My DVD player is a finicky little bastard when it wants to be. The movie it wouldn’t play? Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond. That obviously sucks more than usual for me, because you know what other Fulci movie I like, right? Zombie! Fulci has a good list of horror movies to his credit, including The House By The Cemetery and City Of The Living Dead (I didn’t forget you, Courtney, It’s coming soon). The Beyond is considered by many to be his best, for everything from plot to special effects.
But you see, the situation was not all bad. First of all, I have another DVD player upstairs, so, you know, my biggest inconvenience is moving my body upstairs or moving the player downstairs. Another thing is that I bought it used but I don’t think anyone had rented it. It’s in fucking pristine condition, man. AND, I paid less than five bucks for it. So, ultimately, I don’t give a shit that my hella cool, less than five dollar, good as new copy of a horror classic doesn’t play in my living room. I can deal with problems like that.
And nothing is for no reason either! When I realized that we couldn’t watch The Beyond, I started looking for something else. I was just about to mention Wolf Creek to my wife when she came across a horror classic on TV that was just about to start. One that I’d never seen in its entirety and had always felt like a bit of a goof for missing.
The Thing. John Carpenter, 1982. A remake itself, loosely based on The Thing From Another World (I’ve never seen that but I think I’ll try to track it down).
Man oh man, what a movie. I know the story, I’ve seen bits and pieces over the years, I know all about it. But that’s not the same as watching it and I was as impressed by this movie as anything Carpenter has done. The special effects aren’t bad at all, but what really grabbed me was the atmosphere and suspense. The buildup.
Not a lot of character development here, just little hints here and there about the people. The beauty is that you don’t need much, because you’re just watching this group of people go from cold to confused to apprehensive to bat shit crazy paranoid, and so on. The setting was just about perfect for the average human viewer as well. I mean, there are a million “middle of nowhere” setting possibilities. A lot of people figure that space is the best of these settings, because it’s almost impossible to imagine the distances involved; it’s also unfamiliar to anyone who hasn’t been there. But you know what? That’s two unknowns for the viewer to deal with. And it gets old fast… remember Jason X? It’s not the worst in the series, but fucking space? C’mon.
But the Antarctic. That’s a good setting. Most of us have felt cold, walked on ice and so on, and at least the Antarctic is on this fucking planet. It’s like the movie is set as far away from civilization as you could reasonably expect. That made a big difference to me.
The downside of watching The Thing on a Sunday night on TV was that I fell asleep before I saw the end (damn back pills). But I am so happy for seeing most of it, finally, that I don’t even care. At one point in the first hour, I noticed that my wife and I were both sitting ahead on the couch, elbows on our knees, waiting to see what’s going to happen next. That shit doesn’t happen to me very often. If it makes me sit up then it must be good. And the best part of all is that I now have an excuse to go buy it.