Monday, January 31, 2011

Surving isn't just for the living....

Tonight: Survival of the Dead, directed by George A. Romero (2009)

First I must say: WOW... This film was disgusting!!!! But I also think the writer played it smart too. Zombie films seem to be only be about one day or week where the main characters try to live through that time. Usually everyone dies at some point and that's where it ends. This film changed that. In this film the characters try to find a place where the dead aren't walking around and a place where they continue their lives in peace. Of course that isn't how it works out and the characters have to overcome the obstacles in their way. Romero changed the idea of the zombie film by giving the living a real goal to reach. Instead of just surviving through the night they try to find a peaceful place to live. 

The story gets a little twisted when two families collide on their ideas on the undead and how they should be "treated". While one family wants to just kill them all, the other wants them to be "trained" to be like the living. The head of that family feels that it's his duty to conform brainless dead people to act like smart living people. The feud pulls the story off track a little along with one of the man's daughter. Her twin sister, who is a zombie is the first to conform to the living's ways by biting a horse. A question is brought up of why is it the twins that change what we think zombies should act? There isn't any real background on why she is the one to start the chain of events except that her and her sister are in the middle of the family feud. 

Because this film is low budget of course the effects are not going to be the greatest ever seen and it shows. The spikes of heads is clearly CGI constructed. When a zombie bites part of the face off, the skin around the bite doesn't tug like one would expect it to do. One would also suspect that there would be blood pouring out of the body since the veins are exposed which also does not happen in this film. Instead of making all the effects equally constructed, some parts are extravagant and lots got much less attention. Some of the effects go to the high extreme and many go to the low extreme.

I am so glad that the zombie week is over with, I don't like them at all. 
Next week: Werewolves. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

"They're coming to get you....again!"

Film for tonight: Night of the Living Dead (1968) Directed by George A. Romero.

Though color film was around at this point in time, I'm very pleased with Romero's usage of the black and white film. It gives the film more of a gritty and dirty appearance. This type of filming uses what is already gross (dead people eating people), and takes it to a higher extreme. Night of the Living Dead is completely gross in every way. It's a zombie movie! There are digusting, brainless people eating other people's dead, dismembered body parts. The black and white use for this film fits the story plot very well. The haunting effect of something so hideous walking around outside should be displayed in a dirty, nasty way as well. It would not have been that good if it were in color.

The film starts out with one of the main characters and her brother in a graveyard visiting her father's site. It is a genius way for the film to start out. For a story that is about the dead coming back to "life", the place where dead people are supposed to be not "living" is an awesome way to begin. Also on the other side, the film ends (spoiler!) with Ben, dead on the floor of the house in which all of the characters believed to be their haven. Beginning with dead people and ending with a dead person is a perfect way to make a zombie movie. Since the film is supposed to be all about death, it should start and end that way.

Parts of this film reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan's directing of Signs (2002). Like Signs, Romero used various methods to make the audience feel confined with the actors in the house. Romero used very close up shots on individual actors to push the audience to feel "too close for comfort". He also had the whole movie (minus the first 15 minutes) take place in a house with seven people staying together, so that there isn't any privacy between the characters and the audience. Another way Romero made the audience feel caged within the house was the camera angle used when Ben was boarding up the house. This is one of the major parts that reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan. The camera was at a low angle and pointed to Ben who was hunched near the middle of the room. Both the camera lense and Ben are surrounded by plywood. It appears as if the viewer is also hunched on the floor with wood around them. Romero places plywood close enough in front of the camera lense so that it constricts the view of the audience. He totally controls the audience so that they only see what he wants them to see.

This film kinda grossed me out and it was great! I will definitely consider buying it used from Hastings one day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"...Masquerade! Paper faces on parade! Masquerade....."

Film of the night: "Phantom of the Opera" (1925) Directed by Rupert Julian.

I found this film to be a great more intriging than Nosferatu, for they are both silent films. 

My goal for today's blog to answer the questions left on my "The Fly" blog. I got some of the same feeling about this film as I did for "The Fly", when I was watching it. I could understand how this film was to be a horror film, but I personally would not have categorized it that way. 

Compared to Nosferatu this film had: more compelling storyline, more intriguing characters, and more details in the back part of the film (many more cast members, the backdrops of the places had more detail compared to the bleak, bland places in Nosferatu, and such), etc. 

Like in "The Fly" our "monster" isn't much of a monster at all. He is very much human with human ideas and he just wants to make music and be loved. The reason everyone is so afraid of him is the deformity of his face. Because he is different from average people that gives those people the reason for hatred and fear towards the Phantom. So much so that he lives alone in a dark underground cave of a place to be away from everyone. Making the monster more human like can make the film so much more scary when people watch it. People are much more afraid of evil things when they seem very close to home. To think that there is someone living next door to you who is so different from you, can make people afraid of them. People become anxious when change or difference happens in their life. 'Tis the case for the Phantom. He just wanted to make music and love another but the people of the opera would not accept him for he was different. 

This film is completely about people being accepted for who they are not what they look. Though the Phantom had great talent of writing music, no one wanted to take the time to give him the chance.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My dinner...

So I'm BA-ROQUE right now and the soup that I took to school today did NOT fill me up..

When I returned home from school and work tonight I decided to try and make something easy that I might like to take to school for lunch. So here it is (sorry no pictures..I ate the food)

Simple Chicken Salad:
1 chicken breast [cut in strips]
a good handle or two of a salad of your choice
1-2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of canola oil [i didn't have any tonight, i used veg oil]
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar [didn't have this either, i used reg. white vinegar]

I tossed the chicken strips in the salt and pepper so that they were coated good.

Once the butter was melted in the pan I cooked the chicken in it. [I think I used too much butter in my pan, you just have to judge that for yourself.]

I removed the chicken from the heat and transferred it to a bowl in the fridge.

I laid out my salad in a bowl and made the dressing.

Mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, and oils together. For me the vinegar was a little strong. Not sure if that was because I used the regular vinegar instead. I might next time put maybe half a tablespoon in it. 

When I plated the chicken on the salad I did not use all of the breast [refrigerated it]. I also did not use all of the dressing either [refrigerated it]. But the dressing I did I just drizzled it on top of the chicken and salad.

Then....I ate it!

"...Search for the truth is the most import work in the whole world.."

Tonight's film: "The Fly" (1958), Directed by Kurt Neumann.

This film contains a lot of elements that I usually don't suspect to be a "horror" film. I personally would have put this under the genre of drama/suspense. This just goes to show that I don't know anything about horror. :)

This film took me back to the film "Frankenstein" that I had watched last week. The storyline was a long the same line of a doctor's experiment gone wrong. Though in "Frankenstein" when the experiment went wrong for the doctor it wasn't to himself as was the case in "The Fly". In both cases the "going wrong" in the experiments were brought by both doctors' carelessness. One entrusted a hunch back to bring the right brain and the other didn't vacuum seal the door behind him. Lesson to be learned from these two films: do the work yourself and triple check that you are the only one in the box.  :)

Usually when I think about Horror films, I tend to think of some kind of monster; whether human or not, that has violent ways. And when I think of those monsters they usually want to kill anything that gets in their way. Again, not the case with "The Fly". Andre's experiment went screwy and all he wanted to do was go back to his regular self. He didn't feel the need to destroy anything except for his laboratory, so that no one could copy his work again. Andre worked hard,before and after the accident, to keep his family safe from the creature he had become. 

Also when I think of Horror, what comes to my mind is that the "killer" has some kind of troubled background. Sometimes they are beaten as a child, grow up in poverty, come from another planet and want to control humans, or it's their natural instinct to suck the blood of humans, etc. Once more, not like that in "The Fly". The family the film is centered around seem to be very wealthy, during the time. They had one of those large concrete gates, a servant, and very fancy things. There wasn't any "killer" (besides the spider) that wanted to destroy people and living things. There just was a scientist who was in search of the truth.

This film also reminded me of "District 9" that came out last spring. Or maybe it should be the other way around. Both men were careless in what they were doing and from that they began (one even turned) into some other creature.

This film CREEPED me out! I can't wait to watch it again! Maybe I'll try to buy it.....

Next film: "Phantom of the Opera" (1925) *[tis another silent film..blah]

Dialect thingy...

 You should probably watch Ashley Slater's first so that you somewhat know what I am talking about

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Well, he doesn't sparkle like a princess tiara!!"

quote brought to you by: Hailey Swafford
Nostferatu (1929) Directed by F.W. Murnau has to be one of the longest movies I have seen! Though it came out just two years before the Frankenstein film, it does not have any dialogue in it, concluding from that; it's a silent film.

I am pretty sure I would have FREAKED out if I had seen this in 1929. Max Schreck (Nosferatu) was grotesquely horrifying in every way possible. Very much like Cesare from the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, both Nosferatu and Cesare's look is to the extreme and frightening to anyone who sees them. While Cesare has the dark eye makeup and the dark hair, Murnau took Nosferatu even higher by adding pointed teeth and pointed nails. 

The way Nosferatu walked and carried himself also brought me back to Cesare. The two had an eerie persona. When Nosferatu rises out of the coffin on the boat, it is an extreme use of German Expressionism. German Expressionism is many times over while Nosferatu walks on the ship, appears through his coffin, and casts shadows on the walls, etc. It can be seen in Nosferatu and even in Frankenstein that American film was starting to find their own way. They use what they already know while trying to find their place amongst it all. This film is a good representation of what early American film had to offer to the world. They explored what exactly what they could accomplish by "slight of hand" tricks of moving doors and blankets without anyone seen moving them and making Nosferatu appear "out of thin air" as a ghostly image. These two "tricks" may be extremely easy for us now with the technology we have at our hands, but during this time film itself had just come into play and no one really knew the capabilities of the camera.

Nosferatu is a very important piece of film history and I recommend that every film fanatic watch it atleast once. So much of America's film history is seen in this movie.   

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Off the path....

Since Ashley Slater [] is such a blogger and so crafty, I thought I should blog about my crafty-ness.

So I have two projects going and I thought I would share them with everyone.

1. Ellie the Elephant

Now everyone knows (or atleast now everyone knows) how much I have rebelled against my mother and sister when it comes to knitting. I'm sorry I have failed you all....I knit. I am making me an elephant. It all started when Hailey decided to make a super cute sock monkey. In our household of you want something that can be made, make it yourself. So mom taught me to knit and now I'm making an elephant. At the moment I am only at row 7 so she doesn't quite look like an elephant. [side note- Betsy is sleeping on the couch next to me, making a quiet yipping noise. must be dreaming of something!] Back to the knitting. It's just a grey circle, type thing. When she is done, she will be sooo cute!!

2. Duffle Bag

I was given a VeraBradley-type duffle bag for christmas one year and the zipper broke so I can't close it. My friend Brandy and I found a pattern to make the same type duffle bag at Hobby Lobby with the 99 cent deal going on. This adventure started on Saturday and it definitely was an adventure. It started back at Hobby Lobby to get the fabric to make it. It required fabric for the bag and a contrast color as well. It also requires a whole lotta bias tape and some piping stuff to go around the edge. Neither of which we could find in the colors we wanted there. Off to Wal-Mart. Nothing there either. Then off to some hole-in-the-wall fabric store which had NOTHING we needed. Well off to the house to cut our fabric since that was the first thing we needed to do anyways. Everything was going smoothly UNTIL I cut out my second to last piece. Brandy had already cut out everything and I had one piece left. That's when it all went wrong. The pattern had us cutting out our contrast for part of the bag! We were under the impression that the whole bag would be of one fabric and the contrast would be the contrast! So now we have a problem. The way our contrast is laid out, we are blinded by it and can hardly see the "bag" part of the bag. What to do..What to do.
Brilliance! add another pocket on it. The pattern already called for one pocket on one side of the bag, why not add another! 
So now we have everything cut out including the padding that goes in the middle and added a pocket to the pattern to tone everything down...

Hopefully everything else will go just fine with the bags...  :)

My Bag:

Brandy's Bag:

..And hopefully I won't pick up anymore projects!

"...For now I know what it feels like to be God."

The first of the two films for this week is Frankenstein, directed by James Whale in 1931. 
This classic horror film has what I believe to be underlining themes that are seen in the Horror genre. The main character Dr. Frankenstein is considered to be a lunatic and on the verge of insanity; for anyone who creates such a "monster" must be insane. It has an uncontrollable God-complex and wants to breathe life into such things that no longer have life in them. At one point, when the monster comes to life, Frankenstein states to everyone in the room that he "knows what it feels like to be God". He gives up everything to further persue this experiment, that everyone knows no one should continue. Only trouble can come from trying to awake the dead, for example: vampires. 

From what I can tell, to have a good horror film you have to have some kind of crazy monster. Now the "monster" of the film doesn't have to be some kind of creature from the black lagoon but Frankenstein has one of those types. The Monster, as called in the film, is constructed together by other dead people and a brain from a criminal. If that doesn't just scream out "insane killer", then I don't know what does. Obviously Dr. Frankenstein didn't transfer and vocal cords because, The Monster can't say a single word. It adds suspense and tension when the antagonist of the film never says a single word, it's hard to get a read on what they are thinking in their mind. Boris did a great job of adding that suspense. It was hard to read whether he was really wanting to kill people or just trying to reach out despite the brain he had. Maybe his brain and his heart came from two different people. :) 

Also to make a good horror film, the way you film is important. It either needs to be extra gritty and dirty or extremely dark. Either way it has to be extreme, for the characters themselves are extreme. This film uses the dark extreme aspect. Every place the film takes you is lighted very poorly and abstract. The lab that Frankenstein uses is twisted like his own mind. The whole place is made of brick that spirals around and around, making anyone watching it uneasy. The whole place is as mad as the Doc. 

I also saw throughout Frankenstein the classic film "M". When The Monster meets with Maria everything in that scene yelled out at me. Though we see the antagonist in this film, The Monster walks up to Maria just like how M walked up the little girl. In "M", M gave the little girl a balloon while in Frankenstein was given a flower by Maria. Two arbitrary objects given by/to characters that are represented in other films too. 

I will give this film a 3 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed watching it very much and excited about the other films ill be watching.

Next film: Nosferatu....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The beginning..

So once again school has started back. But this is the last time that school will start back for me, for I shall graduate in May...I me..

This semester I am taking:
College Geometry
Complex Analysis
Film as Literature and
Horror Film as an Independent Study

I know what you are thinking; there is waaay too much English going on there..Well, what can you do. :)

So this semester, this blog page will serve as my "homework" page for my independent study.
Every week I will post 2 or 3 blogs about the horror films I have watched and the books that I read.

There maybe some references to my Film as Literature class on here as well. Some of the movies will be used and some of the books for my Film as Lit class are on the movies I watch for my Horror class.

So you are welcomed to join me on this adventure I am about to embark upon (for I have never watched a Horror film in my LIFE) and explore the characters, scene, story line, and such that make up the genre called: Horror.