Sunday, August 31, 2014

Versus - Carrie

High school is Hell. And the further down the ladder you are, the more like Hell it becomes."
~ Stephen King

I was one of several Carrie Whites' in my high school. There's always at least one: a drab little Nothing Girl with shapeless clothes and a face full of angry red zits, shuffling through the halls with her head down and her eyes on the floor. She's the Ugly Girl, the one the boys make dog barking noises at when she walks by, the one the girls decide is both a butch dyke and a total whore, depending on what day of the week it is. She clutches her books close to her chest in a death grip, because she knows how easily they can be knocked from her arms to scatter across the floor, and how it takes forever to pick them up while everyone laughs at her. She's the girl who never uses her locker, because it always has graffiti scrawled on it: bitch, slut, skank, etc. She's the girl who always and without fail bleeds through her clothes every single time she gets her period, so that everyone at school can point and laugh at the spreading stain on her ass. She learns to carry an extra sweater around, preferably in a dark color, so she can tie it around her waist if need be. She is made fun of for not looking like everyone else. If she tries to dress nicer, copy the styles of her classmates, she is slammed viciously back down for daring to attempt to fit in. She eats her lunch alone, spends a lot of time hiding in the bathroom stalls and sits at the front of the school bus, away from the noisy boys at the back. If she has to walk home, she'll hide in the library until most everyone is gone, thereby lessening the chance of being followed home by Mean Girls who throw things and threaten to "kick her ass."

It's a lonely existence. Some girls don't make it out alive. Those of us who do face years of crippling self doubt, low self esteem and depression. Being forced to walk into an environment filled with people who hate you and want nothing more than to tear you down 8 hours a day, five days a week is like walking naked into a maximum security prison and being raped, viciously and repeatedly, over and over and over again every single day for years. And, much like rape victims, you're constantly being told that it must be something you are doing wrong to be bringing all of this negative attention upon yourself. If you'd just ignore it, it would go away. They'll get bored and leave you alone if only you would stop showing them how much it hurts you. 
There's really no constructive way to cope with bullying - or at least there wasn't back in the 70s and 80s when it was happening to me. Bullying wasn't an acknowledged issue back then. It was dismissed as "well that's just the way kids are." Even my teachers would tell me: "Well, you'd better learn how to deal with it." So most of us retreated into fantasy worlds to buoy ourselves, creating visions in which we were the triumphant lost princesses, the victorious Cinderellas, the objects of admiration and envy. All of the girls wanted to be our friends, all of the boys worshipped us. Even the unattainable crushes we secretly pined for eventually came to realize that they loved us, and went out of their ways to win us. I also found an outlet in horror movies. I never wanted to be the Final Girl, the one who destroys the monster at the end. I wanted to be the one that the monsters saw as an equal. I wanted to be Freddy Krueger's girlfriend, Jason Voorhees little sister, Pinhead's best buddy. I understood their rage, and I wanted to believe that they would recognize me as Different; not someone to be killed, but someone to be protected. I didn't want to stop the monster - I wanted to be the monster. 

Carrie was a very important movie, shedding light on the reality of bullying and giving us a total horror movie role reversal. It was one of the first horror movies that made us want to see death, justified multiple murder, a complete and therapeutic slaughter of everyone and everything that heretofore had been deemed normal and acceptable. It gave us an opportunity to watch the sacrificial lamb turn around and execute the wolf pack in an explosion of absolute white hot rage. 

So I'm just a tad prejudiced when it comes to the tale of Carrie White, be it book, movie or remake. For me, it's not the way the story is told so much as the tale itself. 

Well, unless it's the 2002 version, starring Angela Bettis. No disrespect to Angela, whose starring role in May was a better version of Carrie than Carrie 2002 could ever be, but 2002's Carrie was just absolute, unwatchable shit. We'll be ignoring that one.

Year released: 1976
Directed by: Brian De Palma (The Untouchables, and that shit bomb of a movie called The Black Dahlia)
Starring: Sissy Spacek, Steven Speilberg's first wife, Piper Laurie, Vincent Vega, The Greatest American Hero and that chick who played the stepmom on Eight Is Enough. 

The Good:

This movie deserves respect. It is iconic. It paved the way for many movies to come including the aforementioned May, Ginger Snaps, Let The Right One In, The Craft and Suspiria. It's a very realistic portrayal of the small town high school society of the 70s, boasting great performances and creating a solid foundation upon which people like John Carpenter, Rob Zombie and Joe Dante would continue to build and establish the next generation of horror.

I absolutely love this shot of Carrie, which occurs just as she's finishing her destruction of the gymnasium, descending the stage stairs and preparing to exit the school for the last time. She casts a last look around, as if in regret, and she almost seems to be thinking: "It didn't have to be this way. It could have been beautiful. But they left me no choice." For me, it's the saddest scene in the movie.

The Bad:

It hasn't aged well. And it's mostly a build up to the final fifteen minutes. Very little of Carrie's growing powers are displayed until she unleashes them at the prom. A slamming window here, a cracked mirror there, but all very underwhelming stuff. Unless you've read the book beforehand, the telekinetic eruption that takes place at the climax almost comes as a surprise. And the scene itself takes about five minutes total. Then it's over. 

The character of Carrie herself isn't really explored. We know she's an outcast, we know her mother is crazy, but the movie shows us very little of her molding and shaping over the years. Carrie has been physically and mentally abused for years, cowed by her mother's religious mania. Her very conception was the breaking point of her mother's sanity and her telekinetic powers - which have been in evidence since she was a baby - seen as the very manifestation of guilt and sin. 

Similarly, the character of Sue Snell isn't very convincingly drawn either. The scene in which she asks her boyfriend to take Carrie to the prom is very misleading, displaying none of the altruism that King went to great pains to describe in the book. We hear Sue ask Tommy to do it, then cut to a scene of Tommy reluctantly agreeing, followed by Sue smiling a small, almost mischievous smile. Is she in on the joke? It's hard to tell, unless - again - you've read the book. 

Year released: 2013
Directed by: Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry)
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Portia Doubleday, that kid who was just in The Fault In Our Stars and Gabriella Wilde. 

Oh, wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold 
Twice by an Angel, who at last, in sight 
Of both my parents, all in flames ascended...
Typically, this movie was doomed to be slammed. You can't remake a classic and expect to be welcomed with open arms. Carrie needed a remake, or an updating, or a re-imagining, or whatever you want to call it. Some remakes really are unnecessary - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for example: the original remains timeless and accessible. But Carrie needed an updating for the 21st century. 1976 seems centuries past now, and if you want to reach your intended target of bullied girls who see Facebook pages spring up dedicated to their ruination, you simply have to update your fairy tale to modern times.

The Good:

The casting of Chloe Grace Moretz was also frowned upon. Some said she was "too pretty" to be Carrie and that her torment was not believable due to this fact. Obviously, anyone who believes such bullshit has never been bullied themselves. Pretty girls are bullied every damn day - that's part of the power that bullying holds over its targets: it can make swans truly believe they are ugly ducklings.

It was also nice to see Carrie finally played by an actual teenager. Moretz was 15 when she did this movie, whereas Spacek was 26.

The relationship between Carrie and her mother Margaret is also finally expanded upon. There are moments of genuine affection and love between daughter and mother on display here, and a real feeling that Margaret wants only to protect her daughter from the cruel world, like any normal mom would. Her mental illness isn't as all-consuming here and, indeed, it just makes the moments when we see Carrie being abused by Margaret all the more difficult to bear.

It was no fault of the 1976 version that the destruction of the town following the prom wasn't depicted - there simply wasn't enough money in the budget. This film gets its funds and uses them to finally and at long last deliver the Biblical proportionate leveling of the town by Carrie. Hallelujah. It was also much more satisfying to see Carrie so utterly enraged, gesticulating and expressing her fury through motion, whereas Spacek simply stood stock still in a bug eyed trance, and you couldn't tell whether or not her classmates were aware of the fact that she was the one directing the mayhem. You're sure here - there's no mistaking that everyone realizes, too late, that Carrie is doing this to them.

The Bad:

It does indeed, in this day and age, seem difficult to believe that Carrie would know nothing of menstruation. It was more likely back in the 70s, considering the small town, the lack of internet and the New England archetypes. But when the local library offers Wifi, surely she would have eventually stumbled across a Kotex ad or two, at the very least?

Gabrielle Wilde cannot act.
At least, she couldn't in this film.
Maybe she's improved since.
But she sucked as Sue Snell.

And The Winner Is:

Every bullied girl who ever sought out Carrie, from the 70s to the present. This story was for them and them alone, and the incarnation of choice doesn't make a damn bit of difference. This was never "just" a horror movie, or a 70s movie, or a single set piece for a single moment in time. Carrie was never meant to be a Zeitgeist. She's the elemental manifestation of every girl who has ever been made to feel like she didn't matter and never would. Carrie herself, as a representative for every tormented teenage girl, wins for existing at all as an example and an outlet for the frustration and loneliness within us all.

So there.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mediatrix, 2011

I find it difficult to pray, although in these apocalyptically depressing times, it is the most common piece of advice I’m given upon expressing my fear, sorrow and outrage at the current state of the world and my questionable place within it. But praying to an invisible entity makes me feel silly, and ultimately hollow. Let’s face it: the Christian deities aren’t exactly approachable. God is all big and old and stern an’ shit, lounging around Heaven in a white bathrobe and letting bad things happen. Jesus is okay, but he’s kinda preachy and he looks like that guy who hangs around the abandoned grocery store, roots through the trash and yells at you if you get too close to his cart. And is it just me, or do all of the angels seem really cranky, always throwing sinners into fiery pits and swinging swords around willy nilly? Out of all of them, only The Virgin Mary seems like she’d be cool to shoot the shit with. She’s always peacefully smiling and serene, never complaining, always rockin’ the blue babushka. And you just gotta respect a bitch who got knocked up at age fourteen and never once tried to get on a Reality TV show.
Cory Udler
Director Cory Udler also seems to have noticed the Virgin’s penchant for hipness, and has given it a cool twist in his new film Mediatrix, based on the totally true life and times of uptight matron and terminal Wisconsin whackjob Mary Ann Van Hoof, who saw The Virgin Mary in her furniture and preached of a time when the faithful would leave Earth in a UFO to be with Jesus and some such shit. Udler wisely ditches the admittedly rather dull tale of the dairy farmer’s wife in the KMart muumuu’s and updated the tale to modern times, giving us a Van Hoof (here called Van Hook) covered in tattoos, pickling her internal organs and fucking greasy, scummy guys in her mom’s linen closet for cigarette money.
Mary’s mother isn’t too thrilled about the path her daughter has chosen to follow and frequently reminds Mary that she was a born healer, chosen by God to deliver the Word and prepare the Way. The truth is that Mary really IS chosen, and truly DOES have the power to communicate with the Blessed Virgin. But you know, getting raped by an incredibly foul and obese priest at a young age can totally sour one’s outlook on religion later in life. Tired of her mother’s constant nagging, Mary agrees to return to her “congregation” and there sees a chance to make some real money, instead of the odd twenty that the goon from the gas station throws her after a sloppy game of Slide the Salami up the Skin Chimney.
Mary sees a prime opportunity for both riches and revenge when she realizes that the ditzy little dumbbell who comes to see her for guidance is married to the pedophiliac slob who raped her all those years ago. Insinuating herself into their home and their lives, Mary soon takes over, convincing sweet little wifey that she’s the real Born Again deal and buying Father Earnest Porknine’s silence with sex, all the while plotting against them both. It’s just a matter of time, this she knows, for the Virgin Mary tells her so. You see, the Virgin hangs out with Mary all the time. It’s a constant slumber party in Van Hook’s bedroom. Dressed in knee highs and little skirts that have a dangerous habit of riding up and giving us a good look at their panties, Mary and Virg are getting their smoke on, drinking like Irish mourners, giggling obscenely and planning for the Day Of Reckoning with the help of the Father’s former henchmen whom Mary has brought around to her side, simply by spreading her legs. It’s either a really small town, or that bitch’s pussy is made of pure honey and high quality velvet (I ain’t talkin’ that cheapshit velour either), because NOBODY EVER turns her down.
OMG that's my quote!!!
For roughly the first five minutes of film time, I was really, really worried, afraid that Mediatrix was going to hurt worse than planting my clit down on a hamburger grill. It looks cheap. It acts cheap. Oh wait, it IS cheap. And as a standard rule, cheap films always work better when those who make them do so with a self-deprecating sense of humor. Mediatrix is fucking hysterical. It’s nasty, messy, crude, blasphemous and trashy. If you left it out on your kitchen counter, it would grow black mold and leave a permanent stain on the faux marble finish. It leaves a raunchy taste in your mouth, not unlike the guy you just blew who has never eaten anything other than broccoli his whole entire life and has the unfortunate affliction of premature ejaculation. It smells like old bologna and yellow sweat stains on a Wal-Mart wifebeater. It is the definition of that stage that milk reaches, when it’s left out too long and not only has gone sour but is also on the verge of becoming jelly. It’s a form of grossness that I never previously knew existed outside of an equatorial outhouse.
Mediatrix is fun, if your idea of fun is pissing in the holy water fount before Sunday services. It’s over-the-top ridiculous and delusional and made me laugh out loud more than once, if only because the scenes between Mary and the Virgin seemed so natural and unscripted and reminded me very much of what it’s like to hang out with my own girlfriends. It’s also not as far fetched as it may sound, and presents a scathing comment on blind allegiance and willful ignorance in the name of God. But hey, what if God – as Joan Osborne once so tritely opined – was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?
I think this film answers that very question. And the thought of a trashy, whorey, chain-smoking, hard drinking, coke-snorting, self-fingering Saint makes me smile, and feel a little better about my place in the world.

MST3K of the Day - Track of the Moon Beast

"She gets up off the ground saying 'What happened?' a LOT."
Track of the Moon Beast

Year filmed: 1972
Years spent sitting on a shelf: 4
Year it was finally released direct to TV: 1976.

Directed by: Dick Ashe
Starring: SuperPaul, Johnny Longbow - Master of Stews, a photograph of the full moon, the original Smashing Pumpkins and Donna Leigh Drake as Kathy, the California Lady from New York City.

"It's a hard room to clash with, but she manages to do it."
24 year old lizard loving loser Paul gets hit in the face with a meteorite. His brand new 47 year old girlfriend Kathy shoves it further into his skull with a tissue and then photographs his ass, causing him to transform into a giant lizard man who is driven to kill old ugly guys. Neither folk music nor homemade chicken stew can cure him, but Kathy bravely manages to fend off Paul's murderous intentions with a hideous wardrobe from Hooker Casual. Then he dies. The end.

"Zombies? Oh, wow!"
Believe it or not, Donna Leigh Drake - who played the stoned looking Kathy - actually popped up in 1985's cult classic Return of the Living Dead as "police dispatcher" - a role perfectly suited for her bland, expressionless demeanor and lifeless line deliveries.

Chase Cordell, who played Super Paul, did a lot of 70s TV shows.

Greg Sala, who played Johnny LongBone, did nothing else for the rest of his life and - for all anyone knows - is still living quietly in New Mexico, making stews out of Velveeta and hair.

The script for this movie was written over a single weekend.
Who's surprised?


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pervert Alert

IMPORTANT: Many of you know that swimming is my greatest joy. Last weekend a man took away a small piece of the comfort and freedom I feel in my own skin. 
On Sunday, August 24th, I fell asleep on a nude beach in Block Island with a friend. We awoke to find a man sitting 5 feet away staring at us, masturbating. We quickly dressed while he continued and finished himself. He got up and triumphantly walked away, arms stretched in the air, Victory. Anger swelled inside, we gathered our things and watched him frolic in the water, rinsing off. Again, celebrating victoriously.

We chased him down the beach, when we got close, he picked up a board to intimidate us. I took out my camera and let it roll while we confronted him. What you can't hear, is the moment I turned the camera off, he told us he had been masturbating watching us and talked about our tattoos, then he laughed.

I hope a few things come from me sharing this; This video and story must go Viral - in lieu of commenting, please Repost, blast this man all over the internet.
It reaches enough people that he can be identified
Lastly, I hope it gives others the courage to speak out, this is unacceptable.

Thanks in advance  S
 — at Block Island R.I.

And my personal footnote: You, sir, are a walking mound of shit. What the fuck is wrong with guys like you? You think you're funny? Clever? Are you proud of yourself? Wow, what a big man you are, grunting like a pig while you yank on that uncooked macaroni shell of yours, then run away like a cowardly little bitch when you're caught. Ooooooh. I'm impressed. I'm willing to bet you couldn't get laid in a kennel, you ambulatory glob of lard. Does your mommy know you do shit like this? I hope your friends - if you have any that aren't inflatable - see this. I hope your employer - if you even have one - sees this. You are everything that is wrong with this world, you animated case of ass cancer. You are as useless as that pathetic little cock of yours. 

Alien Abduction (2014)

You could do a lot worse when scrolling through the endless list of abysmally shitty free horror movies currently streaming on Netflix. The remake of The Fog comes to mind. The Haunting In Connecticut 2. Fucking Sharknado. But if you're really bored and desperate for something to watch that doesn't suck the proverbial cock all the way down to the hairy root, give Alien Abduction a shot.

It's pretty straightforward: whitebread suburban family decides to go camping in the Spooky mountain region of North Carolina from which a metric assload of people have mysteriously disappeared over the last kathousabillion years. Great idea, dad! Allow me to pack my too tight skirt and my dangerously high heeled shoes in order to ensure my stumbling and falling and therefore giving whatever hockey masked, machete wielding inbred cornpone yabbo ample time to catch up to me!

Except, it's not a madman stalking the woods.
It's... ALIENS!!!

We're talking by-the-book, anal probing, grey skinned, manhole-sized-eyeballed aliens in zoomy spaceships, stork-walking around just out of sight and making eerie dental drill noises. Their motives are never explained, but they're definitely the Bad Guys, making cameras go wonky and spit static, turning people's eyeballs into egg whites and snapping people's spines with their levitating laser beams...which seems counterproductive, but whatever.

Fans of The Blair Witch Project will see - and perhaps be outraged - by the myriad similarities, references, nods, homages and parallels, including a climactic moment when a crying child, lost in the woods, turns the camera on himself and gives us a quick synopsis. But fuck it, I've seen worse. At least the acting is decent. And although there is indeed a banjo-playin', plaid flannel wearing good ol' boy up in dem dere woods who don't 'preeshyate no city folk trespassing' on his territ'tree, at least he turns out to be a good guy.

He's also not bad looking for a white trash ginger redneck with a third grade education and a standard issue wardrobe of cast off Duck Dynasty camouflage prints. God knows if I were to fuck off into the North Carolina Yeehaw Mountain range of Southernmost Bumblefuck, I'd run into some walleyed moose fucker with lethal halitosis and hairy man-boobs. I'd like to believe I'd encounter a Sensitive Mountain Man like Sean (played by Jeff Bowser) but let's be real. Life doesn't work that way.

The Myth
The Reality


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Milk Carton Movies - River's Edge, 1986

River's Edge

Year released: 1986
Directed by: Tim Hunter, who has recently been directing episodes of such TV shows as Hannibal, Breaking Bad, Sons Of Anarchy, American Horror Story and Dexter.
Starring: Dennis Hopper, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Roebuck, Crispin Glover, Ione Skye and Joshua John Miller.
Plot: Based on the 1981 murder of a Milpitas girl at the hands of a teenage classmate with characters drawn from the memories of Neil Jimenez's Sacramento school years, River's Edge was..."arguably, was the first grimly honest portrait of what would soon come to be called "Generation X." 

Opening just minutes after the murder around which the entire movie revolves has been committed, River's Edge is not a courtroom drama or a whodunnit. We learn the victim's name - Jamie - but that's all we learn about her. She could be anyone. And she may be the first in a string of victims for a burgeoning serial killer.
Daniel Roebuck plays her killer, an overweight, dead eyed kid named Samson Tollet, called John by his friends. (Tollet...Toilet...John. Get it?) After murdering Jamie and leaving her naked body fully exposed on the river's edge, he drifts off to school and casually tells his friends what he's done. Nobody believes him, and don't seem particularly curious, even when Jamie fails to show up for school. 

Layne is the self-proclaimed leader of the group of pot smoking metalhead teens. He's the only one with a car and he's easily able to procure free pot off of Feck (Dennis Hopper), a crazy ex-biker who never leaves the house and never answers the door without drawing a gun. 

"Do you think this car runs on God's own methane?"
Layne is played by Crispin Glover, who does an excellent job portraying the hyper skinny, drug addled, tweaker freak mental fur ball, probably because he washyper skinny, drug addled, tweaker freak mental fur ball at the time. Layne is all too eager to cover up John's crime because it makes him feel like he's in a movie, like Chuck Norris or something. He sloppily attempts to hide the body and shut everyone up, but hey - Keanu Reeves is in this movie too.

I've always said that the only decent acting job Keanu Reeves ever did was in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, because he played himself: a spazzy, irreverent surfer dude. River's Edge was made three years earlier, and yet Reeves looks much older in this film. Permanently stoned and totally detached, he's perfectly at home as Matt, the kid whose mom smokes more pot than he does, whose little brother Tim (Joshua John Miller) is a wannabe criminal and whose little sister he dotes upon fervently. Seeing something of his kid sister in Jamie, he is the one who finally calls the cops and gets the movie going.

We thought going in that Feck was the real psycho. He lives with his life sized sex doll, mumbles incoherently and makes no secret of the fact that he once killed a girl as well. Layne is sure that John will be safe with Feck, but Feck ends up becoming the moral compass of the film and sees John for what he really is: a full blown psychopath.

And then there's the girls, Maggie and Clarissa, each representing the two kinds of stoner girls that existed in the 1980s. Maggie (Roxana Zal) is the tomboyish, sexless stoner girl who is "okay" but not really seen as anything other than one of the guys. Clarissa (Ione Skye) is the sexy one, the loose one, the girl most likely to fuck the band members at the next thrash show, the girl that Layne pretends is his but whom he's never touched. All the boys want her but nobody dares to try and claim her. 

I was definitely the Maggie girl back in the 80s. 

Of all the movies about disassociated youth that came out in the late 80s, early 90s, this is the only one that came close to capturing the reality of the X generation. I used this film to clean out my brain after sitting through the treacly bullshit that was 1992's Singles. Ugh.

River's Edge also featured an awesomely bleak thrash and death metal soundtrack which I picked up on cassette the day after seeing it. Slayer, Fates Warning and my personal favorite by Hallow's Eve:

Versus - A Nightmare On Elm Street

Once upon a time, I was an eight year old girl. Painfully shy, in no hurry to grow up, still obsessed with horses and fairy tales. Boys were still icky and the subject of sex was as alien to me as quantum physics. All I cared about was memorizing the state capitals for an upcoming test and rushing home after school to watch my favorite TV show Three's Company. Oh, and working the lunch line in the school cafeteria. That was a huge deal. Kids chosen to work the lunch line got to leave class fifteen minutes early, don hair nets and aprons and take their places behind the steaming steel pots of slop soon to be spooned out onto plastic trays to the entire school to shove down their throats. I don't know why it was considered such an honor to work the lunch line, but when you're 8 years old, it seems like a Pretty Big Deal. Faux responsibility and pseudo authority and all that.


There I was one day in my pink dress shielded by a plastic apron, long hair in carefully braided pigtails, the poster child for Innocence Uncorrupted. Hard to believe, I know, but 1978 was a whole different world. I had taken my position at the end of the line serving cartons of milk and juice, a little away from everyone else because the refrigerator was in the back corner. I had already been given the Don't Talk To Strangers talk by my mom, and Officer Friendly, who still visited grammar school classes back then. Don't get into a car, don't accept candy, don't go with anyone even if he says he's a policeman, etc. But the guy who approached me that day wasn't a stranger, and he didn't ask me to go anywhere. He was just the school janitor, a skinny, slightly grubby looking guy always pushing a mop or a broom, saying Hi to all the kids in the hallway. But he didn't say Hi to me that day. He just stared at me, unsmiling, lips slightly parted, as if I were a painting in a museum. He had come slightly around the counter that separated me from the lunch line.

"You're so beautiful." he told me. "Really, you are such a beautiful girl. I've never seen a prettier girl than you."

I said Thank You as any polite little girl should, but I suddenly felt sick. I didn't know why at the time. I didn't like the way he kept staring at me. It made my stomach feel heavy. I'd been called pretty before, but this felt different. He wouldn't stop saying it. Wouldn't stop staring. Wouldn't smile. Then he reached out, fingers seeking to enclose my hand in his. I snatched my hand away instinctively before he could touch me. He stopped and went away and I breathed a sigh of relief, but as well as sick, I also felt guilty now. What had I done wrong to make him act that way? Had I hurt his feelings by not letting him hold my hand? Would he tell on me? Was I bad? I tried to forget about it, but obviously I never did. He hadn't touched me, hadn't hurt me and had never bothered me again, but still the memory of his creepiness haunted me.

Six years later, A Nightmare On Elm Street came out. I was 14, socially withdrawn and very much a horror fan already. I immediately identified with Elm Street, although I couldn't describe why at the time. I wasn't at my most articulate at age 14 and couldn't have said why exactly the premise of Elm Street found that one little shadow hidden in my soul and turned a light on it. I didn't have nightmares, but I had memories I couldn't escape, dark, disturbing memories that had metastasized over the years into something viscous and corrosive. Nothing had happened to me, but the idea that something could have had remained, and the threat grew as I matured and developed and met more aggressive predators. The Janitor had become the Spirit of Perverts to Come, looming over them all. That day in the cafeteria was the day I realized that I was not safe, that the world was not safe, and I would never feel safe again.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Year released: 1984
Directed by: Wes Craven
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, Johnny Depp and Ronee Blakley.

The Good:

Nothing like this had ever been done before. This was a serious evolutionary step in the horror genre in general and the slasher sub genre in particular. Freddy had a personality, not something that the masked and silent killers of slashers past had ever been allowed to possess before. Freddy's presence somehow made him much more threatening than if he had been totally silent, expressionless and emotionless. His humor made him more sadistic. This guy wasn't interested in simply killing you as quickly and efficiently as possible. He wanted foreplay. Fear, torture, head games, maybe even rape. He wanted to make it last as long as possible. And his preference for the girls was obvious. He toyed with them longer, saved his witticisms for them alone, flirted with them, then made sure they got every last inch of his knives, making them scream before finally exploding in a fury of blood. It's the ultimate death orgasm.

The nightmare sequences remain aces - the boiler rooms, the steam, the grinding, gasping machinery. The sound of the razors scraping along the rusty pipes. And the razor glove itself was pure genius. Any inbred moron can pick up an axe or a machete, but to actually sit down and take the time to carefully craft a homemade glove with jointed plates and razor blade fingers? The entire opening scene in which the glove is fashioned is plainly telling us: This guy is smart. This guy is a sadist. This guy is one step ahead of you.

The Bad:

Sadly, the film hasn't aged well. It looks very dated, very 80s - and not in the retro-cool glitzy sense either. The dialogue is cheesy, much of the acting is wooden and Nancy's sucky Good Girl wardrobe makes me wince. Gawd, those little sweaters with the pressed khakis...gag. That may be a petty, personal gripe but really, it stands out like a sore thumb looking at it now.

Also, it was disappointing to see Freddy reduced to a child killer when he had always been intended to be a child molester. Any reference to his perversions was cut from the finished film due to a recent case involving the alleged molestation of several children by their preschool teachers, but it's obvious what Freddy was. The all-consuming sense of shame involved in his murder is glaringly obvious in the faces of the parents who committed the deed. Killing the man could not erase what had been done to their children, hence the alcoholism, the denial, the overprotectiveness, etc. Had he been "just" a killer, the shame would not have spread like a cancer up through the years. And indeed, I believe shame was the catalyst that brought him back in the first place.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Year released: 2010
Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Starring: Rooney Mara, Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner and Connie Britton.

I must respectfully disagree, Robert. And I know I'll get shit for this, but I liked the remake. I did not consider it a sacrilege in the vein of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I was never really against remakes per se. And the Elm Street remake, in my humble opinion, was necessary in a way. It needed updating. It's early 80s setting was not going to seem accessible to the kids of the 21st century. Sad but true - they would have taken one look at the cast and their clothes and the ridiculous "slang" (up yours with a twirling lawnmower??) and laughed their asses off. Elm Street, like it or not, was going to be remade. Therefore, it had to be updated.

The Good:

Freddy's reinstatement as an unrepentant child molester. A dirty, creepy, sniveling little child molester who works maintenance at a preschool. Who lives in the dark and spooky basement. And keeps a cache of Polaroid pictures of naked children in a box under his bed. And probably whacks off a lot. Jackie Earle Haley had just made a huge comeback in Hollywood playing Rorschach in Watchmen and earning an Academy Award Nomination for his role in the film Little Children, in which he played a convicted child molester. No one wanted to see anyone but Robert Englund play the role of Freddy Krueger, a role he had made his own. But had anyone other than Haley been chosen to replace him, I never would have given this film a chance.

Same goes for Rooney Mara, who walked into the role of Nancy - Freddy's personal favorite girl - with a visible darkness and a palpable sorrow. Nancy doesn't remember having been molested by Freddy, but her entire aura carries the stain of it. She's dark, moody, artistic and antisocial. She's wholly unwilling to dress like a girl or attract boys. She muffles her sexuality beneath bulky clothes and hides behind her hair. Part of her remembers, and it's shaped her into what she has become. Rumor has it that Rooney Mara hated doing this movie, but she seems to have carried a part of Nancy with her into The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, another remake of another film where once again she plays another victim of horrific physical and sexual abuse. But hey, she got to fuck Daniel Craig in that one, so I guess anything else would pale in comparison.

I loved the parallels drawn between the character of Freddy and the legend of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. I could write a whole separate article about that, and probably will at some point, but this particular versus article is already too fucking long, so for the time being I'll just recommend that you click THIS.

The Bad:

This scene...

Just, no.
Does not hold a candle, or even a fucking keychain flashlight, to the original scene...

And that was really the only thing I truly hated about the remake. Just that one, shitty CGI segment. It should have been left out and replaced with something original.

And the Winner Is...

Honestly, I feel the same way about these films as I felt about the original The Hills Have Eyes and its remake. Blended together, it would be a perfect film. There's things about the original that can never be improved upon and things about the remake that seem almost necessary to the story now, even thirty years later. Much as I love Jackie Earle Haley, Robert Englund will always be the only acceptable Freddy (despite the Fat Boys rap video and that godawful television series). And though Heather Langenkamp's Nancy is, was and remains an untouchable Final Girl icon, I find Mara's melancholic goth girl incarnation far more identifiable. But hey, that's just me. What the fuck do I know?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Gone Home

Alec Wildey
March 24th 1988 - August 25, 2014

My David don't you worry
This cold world is not for you
So rest your head upon me
I have strength to carry you

Please help Alec's wife and family cover the medical and funeral expenses.

"Alec was such a sweet kid, this is one of those occasions when life makes no sense at all."
-Steven Wilson

Hi Friends,
Cycy here...
My husband Alec Wildey died in my arms at 1:39am on August 25th, 2014.

He is not suffering anymore, and joined Heaven and the angels he belongs with.
The last albums we played for him was Ghosts, by The Devin Townsend Project, Verspertine by Björk, and Deadwing, by Porcupine Tree.
The very last song he heard was Red Star, his final poem beautifully turned into music by Peter Vincent. Thank you Peter, it is such a wonderful farewell gift. (
After he passed, a content expression appeared on his face, with a shadow of a smile on his lips.
His Mum and I washed his body, dressed him in his favorite red, black and gold outfit and put his beautiful jewelry on him.
He will be buried on Thursday at 11am at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Fairport. It will be a simple graveside service, and everyone is welcome provided that you dress casually, preferably with band shirts, he would love that.
There will be no reception, no viewings, no visiting.
We will organize a Celebration of Life party in his honor in a few weeks, we will give you more details about that when the time comes.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the love and support you've shown us, he touched so many people in so many ways, it's incredible. He was, is and forever will be loved beyond measure.
Keep him in your heart, and he'll never really be gone.
His wife Cycy, his brothers Austin and Trevor, his soon-to-be sister-in-law Esther, his parents Lori and Tom, his cat Lucy.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Red Star

Alec Wildey
I've been sitting here for two hours, wondering why people say "I'm sorry" when someone is close to death, or has recently made the final transition.

I googled the word sorry, researching its origin, trying in vain to understand what it was I was feeling - precisely - and why it seemed to be the only thing I could express to others who were experiencing the same feelings.

Old English sārig ‘pained, distressed,’ from the base of the noun sore
The shortening of the root vowel has given the word an apparent connection with the unrelated sorrow.

I still can't grasp what it is about the word sorry that makes one immediately reach for it and offer it in times of grief, as if it were holy bread, capable of somehow sustaining the receiver. It's a word that seems so hugely, clumsily inadequate, but yet so perfectly all-encompassing at the same time. 

I know when I offered it earlier, what I really wanted to convey was an apology for my selfishness and short-sightedness in forgetting how short our time on earth really is, and how suddenly it can end, without warning and without time to bridge any gaps. 

I'm sorry I didn't have more time to get to know you, Alec. I'm sorry I thought you'd somehow live forever, and that there would be plenty of time to develop a deeper and more meaningful friendship with you. I'm sorry I thought for one second that you had any control over your destiny, that you could somehow "tough it out" for a few months more, that you had any power to extend your stay when your soul was ever only on lease for the short amount of time that your beautiful vessel could carry it through this life. 

I'm sorry that your time with us was so cruelly short, but I'm not sorry for the way you chose to live your 26 years. I'm sorry that so many of us choose to live our lives without purpose or beauty, choosing only to merely exist and survive, allowing the ugliness and sorrow we encounter to shape us  into embittered, frightened collections of ashes when we should have been flaming white comets all along. You chose to be a comet: short-lived, but brightly burning, lighting up everyone's sky if only for a brief time. 

I'm sorry that I ever for one moment considered ending my life out of misery, when all you wanted was more time to live and experience. I'm sorry that I often forget to appreciate the things that really matter, and fill up so much of my time with worry, fear and regret. I'm sorry for everything I've ever taken for granted, all the sights and sounds I walk past everyday and never think to look at twice, always assuming they are constants and will be there when I finally find the time to appreciate them. 

I look at pictures of you and I see an angel carved out of alabaster glass and peace. I imagine your voice must sound like a thousand wind chimes on a summer night. When I picture you, it's difficult not to imagine you surrounded by the rainbow reflection of a sun-pierced crystal. And maybe I was a little afraid to get closer, knowing you would be taken away too soon. I was afraid of your purity and light, not wanting to corrode it with my cynicism and despair. I've lost so many friends this year, souls I thought were brothers and sisters. I lost the only man I ever loved. I had no desire to cloud your leaving with my pain. You were Whole and Accepting. I was bitter and lost. And my pain now seems so trivial in comparison with your Hope.

But now it's come, and it's time for you to go, and I can't demand that you stay or make you come back. You're leaving. Not by choice but by appointment. You will be all the colors of autumn, all of the winds of winter and your journey will be a supernova of beauty and poetry. And all I can think of to say is "I'm so terribly sorry." Not because you are leaving but because we are staying, and realizing our shortcomings in the silence you will leave behind. 

Last poem by Alec Wildey