Thursday, June 24, 2010

my hand just can't reach for the light

As much as I still loathe the slipshod execution of Step Up!--that's not likely to change, any time soon, either--I do give props where due: this post on the Prim Perfect blog details yet another loss of revenue for the Labs that never had to happen, and exactly how tragic the Lab's execution of copyright infringers still is.

We do need a better system for ending copyright infringement. And Linden Labs needs to back their claim and state positively that it will follow its own guidelines and ban avatars found to be infringing content; ban suspicious viewers that are known offenders; and delete the infringing content itself. And all of this should have gone into action long before now.

I will never thank Mark Kingdon for any of the ham-handed strategies he tried to 'save' the company he was put in charge of; but I do agree that Miss Grace McDunnough is right in her recent blog post on Philip Linden's return as "temporary" CEO. Second Life needed some kind of change; short of setting Kingdon on fire and chanting "BURN, you bastard, BURNNN..."'ll have to do. And now, as she says, he needs to stride forward and find someone to solve all those pesky bureaucratic issues he's not equipped to deal with.

[17:40] Emilly Orr: Hi, Drummer. Let me know if I can help with any Solace Beach questions.
[17:40] Drummer Somerset: ty
[17:40] Emilly's Google Translator: Drummer Somerset:Company

Wait, now Google Translator is sponsoring out translations? What the hell?

More of the top ten list; this time, the last five.

#5 is The Haunting:

In 1963, Robert Wise acquired the rights to The Haunting of Hill House, one of Shirley Jackson's more well-known works, even at the time. He made a few changes to the layout, so to speak, and then proceeded to film over one hundred minutes of black and white film that still unnerves to this day. Eleanor, the lead character, is the prototypical Lost Girl, trying her best to crawl away from her broken past and start her life. Let's just say that doesn't work out as planned.

But she does have the adventure she so desperately longed for; and in her bruised and battered hard, it doesn't so much matter if it's good or bad; she just wanted something to happen. Needed something to happen.

Be careful what you wish for.

It's available on Netflix to rent, and on Amazon to purchase.

Or you could buy the original book by Shirley Jackson, published in 1959. It still packs a punch on its own.

#4 is 1984's Children of the Corn:

Forget the nine billion sequels, most ranging from bad to unwatchable, and the recent remake, which was utter dreck--we're talking the original film, with Peter Horton and a very young Linda Hamilton.

And yes, it's dated, and yes, it's an odd concept to begin with, but be serious for a moment: how many films will give you a dread fear of corn?

And everyone stole this concept. Pick any backwoods thriller post-1985; if it had a cornfield, it's because someone saw this film. And it's not like it's even a silly concept; for those of you who've never done this, you'll just have to trust me, but for anyone reading who's walked out into a big cornfield? You know what I mean.

It's that thick green hush, when you're standing surrounded by corn. You can no longer see the road; sometimes, you can't hear cars. All you hear is corn leaves, whispering; all you hear is cornsilk's soft sussurance on the breeze. If there is one.

If there isn't, it's even worse; then it's thick, and muggy, and the smell of earth and corn is heavy on the air. Insect drones cover up most modern sounds; it is extremely easy to get disoriented in a cornfield and walk out significantly past where you walked in.

Add to that "He Who Walks Behind the Rows", a group of children who decided--on their own--that adults had to be punished for the sake the corn...and the skewed Biblical overtones, and you have the town that EVERYONE is trying to forget, in the hopes that whatever went bad there will eventually just die off and wither on the stalk.

So to speak.

It's available on Amazon for purchase, Netflix for rental, or you can go the fun route and get the RiffTrax version.

#3 is Identity:

Oh, there is so much fun to be had with this one. It's another one where the plot is intense and deranged and hard to figure out and then one thing, just one thing happens...and suddenly you're watching an entirely different movie.

Splash of gore, splash of disturbing on the character side of things, but for the most part, this is a set piece. The action rarely lifts from the motel, and even when characters try to leave, they learn they can't. Only later do we know why.

Brilliantly played, brilliantly written, and Jon Cusack, as expected, is amazing in it.

It's available on Netflix for rental and Amazon for sale.

#2 is Scream:

Scream took every single slasher film ever made and broke it down into its component parts...and then made its heroine savvy to all of them. The audience knew what was going to happen all the way through--any serious slasher fan knew the rules as well. And the film did not hold back, driving us along those well-worn paths, but the end outcomes were wonderfully skewed.

I'm not so much talking about the sequels; most sequels suffer simply because they're sequels. But the original is a strong and vibrant thing, and it makes no apologies. It is a slasher film, pure and simple. People will die, and do die. But the rules are adhered to...most of the time.

Also, fun drinking game: watch the film and catch the references to other movies.

#1 is, has to be, Saw:

Saw was revolutionary at the time, in that it made horror personal again. I'm not sure if that will make sense to anyone who's not a hard-core horror fan, but horror had spread out into a lot of areas, and it seemed like movies were centering on entire groups of folks, and some entire towns, going under to whatever dark force inhabited the woods/the skies/the earth/other planets.

In the first Saw film, most of the action takes place in one single room, with tour-de-force performances turned in by Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell. Leigh has another tie to the film, which is even more interesting--director James Wan sketched out the plot, and Leigh decided he could make that into a screenplay. And here we are today, six films later.

Actually, that's a stunning point as well--Saw was, and remains, an amazingly visceral horror film. Saw II was okay, but it jarred, a bit, because a character is given Jigsaw's test a second time. Saw III and Saw IV most viewers thought were barely tolerable, and cheapened the entire process; and then Saw V arrived, and nearly blinded us with the revelation that of course the previous two movies didn't make sense, because it wasn't Jigsaw behind the tests.

It's one of the few cases where--at least in the first five films--everything retains internal coherence. That is rare in horror films, believe me.

I'm also offering up the concept film behind the first Saw; the one that got them funded for a full movie:

Back when Adam was named David, and took the place of Amanda (Shawnee Smith).

So those are my ten, these five and the five from yesterday. They're not a complete list of my favorites--that would likely toss in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Bad Dreams, In Dreams, April Fool's Day, and more than one Stephen King miniseries as well--but these are a good, solid, dependable list of the unnerving, the gleefully bad, and the incredibly well-made that I keep coming back to, year after year.

Enjoy? If that's the right word...

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