Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have A Bloody Good Holiday......Or Else!

                                                Happy Holidays from Fascination with Fear!


Hope Christmas isn't too much of a headache for you!


*Sunday Bloody Sunday will return in the New Year.  May it be a bloody good one!  ~ Cheers!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Bloody Sunday: 100 Weeks Of Bloody Good Gore

To celebrate the monumental occasion of the 100th Sunday Bloody Sunday  post, I've chosen a selection of my favorite plasma-infused scenes, most of which have appeared already at some point in the series.

Enjoy ~


Angel Heart

Cabin Fever

Evil Dead 2

Flowers of Flesh and Blood

Friday the 13th


Haute Tension



Hostel 2

Inside (À l'intérieur)


Red State





The House by the Cemetery

The Descent

The Shining

True Blood

The Walking Dead

Wrong Turn

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Yellow Wallpaper: The Horror In Our Own Minds

What do you see?
Recently I checked out a new trailer (see below) for an upcoming film called The Yellow Wallpaper, which looks entirely intriguing and creepy.  This set me off on a quest to find the source material, a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Easily purchased on my Kindle for ZERO dollars (please do note that tons of classic novels and short stories are F...R...double E! on Kindle), I finished it in around twenty minutes. 

Written in 1892, it is a stark foray into mental illness.  The movie trailer makes it out to be a horror story, and in fact it does have elements of terror in it, but it's mostly due to the frightening realism with which Gilman portrays her main character's descent into madness.  Back in the 19th century and well into the 20th, women who had any kind of anxiety or depression were thought to be not only a nuisance, but a problem to tuck away and ignore. In particular what is now readily recognized and diagnosed as post-partum depression.

The Yellow Wallpaper tells the story of an unnamed woman who with her physician husband John, rents a house in the country for the summer to recuperate from what he calls a 'nervous condition'.  In fact, it is hinted that there is a baby in the picture, so it's safe to assume she is indeed going through post-partum depression.  Instead of simply acknowledging the problem, John feels it is best for his wife to do absolutely nothing but rest.  He drags her to said house and stuffs her in an attic room, with nothing to stimulate her except the patterns in the wallpaper.

If it sounds cruel, it is.  But unintentionally.  Back in those times it was standard procedure to prescribe bed rest and complete so-called relaxation to ward off those nervous troubles. John even goes as far as to lock her in the room so she can't have any access to the rest of the house. He works out of the house a lot, leaving her alone, so he fears her wandering and keeps her stowed away for her own safety. She has also been told she is not allowed to write (apparently her previous profession or hobby) so she hides her journal from him and writes when she is confined to the room with no interruptions.  Unfortunately as I mentioned, she has no stimulation of any kind, and while at first finds the faded yellow wallpaper ugly and strange, as time goes by she begins to see shapes and patterns.  Eventually she has decided there is a woman hiding behind the paper waiting for someone to help release her. The ease with which this happens is probably the most terrifying element of the story.  It's not like suddenly she's off her's a gradual decline that you almost don't see coming.

The story is told in first person and moves quickly even as it seems nothing is truly happening.  The woman's inner voices convince her there is something at work in the paper - behind the paper - and just when you think she is getting better or that the summer will end and her husband will move her out of that house...she descends even further into madness. 

I was entirely impressed with the story and can't wait to see what they do with it on film.  That being said, books always have their own degree of unattainable palpable fear.  It's your mind at work, formulating the story in your head and planting pictures to go along with it.  I'm always glad to have read the source material before seeing a film, if for no other reason than to have the story unspoiled.  In most cases the book is usually far superior to the movie, but I'm always hopeful.   Rarely does a short story grab me like this one did. I'm more of a full-length novel girl in reality.

The poor woman in The Yellow Wallpaper might have been able to have been saved had her husband's ridiculous methods been ignored and she just have been allowed out of the house to walk the gardens regularly and travel to see family members she talked about. Mental illness has been largely ignored on all counts, writing it off and sliding it under the rug.  Horror films oft display it in a negative manner, making the knife-wielding maniac bat-shit crazy. It's really a shame, and does it a terrible disservice.  The book is written with what I would call a feminist angle, making it quite obvious that is it basically John's fault that she isn't any better and that perhaps a little more caring and a lot more acceptance she might have gotten through her breakdown with a bit more ease and dignity.  Calling her "hysterical" and "nervous" when in fact she is sad and despondent is an injustice.  Thankfully times have changed as far as treating mental illness, but it's safe to say the stigma remains. 

Even though the story was written in 1892, it wears the years well and translates to become effective at any period in time.  Hopefully the film will be able to wrap its head around the real root of the story, the woman's subtle slide into psychosis, and not just try to freak us out with jump scares and filler.  I do know they add a bit of back story to it, which I will reserve judgement on until I see the movie.  The last film I can recall that handles mental illness/depression well was the largely ignored (except in certain horror-loving circles) Let's Scare Jessica To Death.  Maybe we can add The Yellow Wallpaper to its ranks. I'm hoping.
For now, check out the trailer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Red State: Shooting Its Way To The Rapture And Beyond

Some people say Kevin Smith's latest film is not horror.  I can somewhat see their point.  But I also see an awful lot of horrifying things within Red State as well.  To speak frankly, I guess I first have to express my overwhelming despair that there are people in this world that are closed-minded and self-righteous enough to actually act just like the bible-thumping assholes shown in this movie.  The film makes its point quite disturbingly, ravaging the screen with painful homophobic barbs and rampant gunfire - yet we are captivated and cannot look away, even as it disgusts us.

I have, just as any free American does, the right to speak freely and the right to religion.  I can make semi-knowledgeable statements about religion validly because I grew up with it all around me.  My grandfather was a Methodist minister for over thirty five years. He left a cushy management position with an electric company back in 1970 because he truly believed he had a calling.  I'm not saying he "spoke" to God or anything of the sort, I'm simply saying the man felt an uncontrollable compulsion to quit his 22-year old job and become a minister.  He was the fairest, most decent man I've ever known, with hope in his heart and love for everyone he met.  He never looked down on anyone, never judged anyone, and made friends where ever he went. People respected him, as he respected others.  If you weren't religious, that never meant he couldn't like you, nor that the pearly gates weren't opened for your kind.
So it's fairly safe to say there is no way in hell he would have condemned anyone for their beliefs or their manner of living.  Hence, I was raised in a similar fashion.  Yes, over the years I have become a jaded, cynical, sarcastic bitch - but at my core I am fair and unprejudiced.
Red State had me feeling just about as dirty and contaminated by hatred as I've ever felt. 

The film starts with local teen Travis (Michael Angarano, otherwise known as Kristen Stewart's Ex) and his mother driving past a demonstration by the Five Points Church in Randomtown, USA. Church members are protesting the funeral of a gay teen who was murdered.  Can someone explain to me why people feel compelled to do this?

Soon after, Travis and two of his horny friends, Jared (Kyle Gallner, who always seems to get killed in horror films) and Billy Ray (Nicholas Braun, and yes seriously - Billy Ray),  have set up a rendezvous with a woman one of them has met on the internet.  On the way to the woman's residence, they accidentally sideswipe Sheriff Wynan's (Stephen Root, a.k.a. True Blood's Eddie the gay vampire) car.  They quickly speed off without realizing the sheriff has been up to some clandestine business of his own.  When two male heads pop up from the seat, we learn the married sheriff has some volatile secrets.  Sweating nervously, he heads off to the station and sends his deputy out to locate the car that bumped bumpers with his.

Meanwhile, the boys arrive at the internet date's trailer and there is a promise of sex for all three of them - possibly at the same time.  Sarah (the incomparable Melissa Leo) hastily hands them off some beer and within moments they are falling down drunk.  Well, falling down drugged is more like it. 

Jared groggily wakes up and quickly realizes he is trapped in a cage at the Five Points Church.  The cage is covered by a blanket but he is able to listen as Pastor Abin Cooper (the outstanding and Oscar-worthy Michael Parks) delivers a hellfire and brimstone sermon condemning blatant sexuality and a sinful life, with an extra heaping dose of hatred for the homosexual lifestyle. It is soon apparent that they have not only kidnapped Jared and probably his two friends, but they have abducted a gay man and have vile, murderous plans for him.  He's been nailed to a cross and wrapped in what looks like a year's worth of Saran Wrap.  As the congregation looks on dreamily while they chant the Lord's "good word", the hostage is shot dead. Bam!

Unnerving is probably as good a word as any for the way I felt at this point in the film.  I considered not watching the rest, actually, as I have no tolerance for gay-bashing bullies who take the words from the bible as well as our own legal system and twist them to suit their reprehensible agendas.  It is part of what makes me hate today's politics as well, but that's a whole other story.

But I left the movie run on.  After throwing the dead man's corpse into a trap-doored crawlspace where Jared's two friends are, they move on to Jared, stating that even though he's not gay he is a sexual deviant that found no issues with lying with a woman and two other men.  Just as they are going to execute Jared, the sheriff's deputy, Pete, arrives, thwarting their plans.

In the crawlspace below, Billy Ray manages to get free (perhaps he sang a verse or two of Achy Breaky Heart?) but cannot free Travis, so he leaves him for dead. (Some friend.)
While escaping, Billy Ray happens upon an entire room filled to the brim with guns - a virtual arsenal of firepower - and here's where we realize the Five Points Church is a little more Waco than Wacko, probably a whole lot of both. 

Eventually there is a standoff between Billy Ray and one of the Stepford goons, and as all this is going down, an ATF task force has gathered outside to take down the Heaven's Gate  Five Points congregation. 
Leading up the operation to take down the cult is Agent Joseph Keenan, played by a very non-Roseanne John Goodman.  I've always liked the guy, and it's no different here.  He's given orders by his higher ups to take down (in other words, exterminate) the entire compound so there isn't more than one story.  He clashes with another agent (Harry, played by True Blood's Kevin Alejandro) about just how to proceed with the raid and what to do with the lives inside.  There are many children in the house, and Harry has qualms about shooting them.  Likewise, inside the compound Jared has run into one of the older teens who is in the process of trying to help the children escape.  But stark confusion and alarming error soon overtake common sense and strategic technique.

Where the movie succeeds is in showing the ridiculous beliefs of the Five Points church, with all it's homophobiic judgements and bat-shit crazy ideals.  Parks is truly a revelation in the role of Abin Cooper.  (When he first started his demented speech to the congregation, I finally had to close my eyes.  I knew the voice, and well.  By god, it was Texas Ranger Earl McGraw from the film From Dusk Till Dawn and other Tarantino/Rodriguez flicks!  I had to smile.)  But make no mistake, he isn't here to make us smile or laugh in Red State.  He's here to piss us off.  Or at least he should.  With his moonstruck bunch of relatives making up the bulk of the church-goers, he teaches them hatred, disrespect, vulgarity, and prejudice.  And it shows. 

The last twenty minutes or so is an all-out circus of gunfire and retribution. Cooper's gun-crazy gang start believing that if they can't live the way they want to, maybe it's time to cash their tickets and take the ride up to heaven.  Assuming that God is on their side (because isn't that what all fucking stupid religious wackos think?), they feel they have a special link to the pearly gates.   The group of ATF agents and Cooper's congregation are temporarily stunned though, at the events of the last few moments of the film, as was I.  By the time I actually figured out what was going on, the credits were rolling.  Interesting, yet perplexing.  Somewhat humorous, even.

My question is, why do people like the Five Points Church exist? Because there sure seems to be a lot of them.  All the recent hub-bub about "The Rapture" and the world ending and hell coming to bite us in the ass just actually makes me giggle a little. I guess people don't realize how ridiculous it really is to think God is going to come down from his giant throne up in the clouds and touch each one of those obedient followers on the forehead with a shiny star-topped wand and save them because they read his book and took every word literally.  In fact, he's going to beam them up to heaven, ripping them right out of their Manolo Blahnik's and their Beemers while the rest of us doomed folks are grilling steaks in our backyards or jogging in the park.  Yeah, whatever.

I digress.  Or do I?  So what does Red State, in the end, tell us? It tells us that there will always be idiots out there who are prejudiced, insolent assholes.  And they will always try to berate and bully the minorities and people who are minding their own business.  And at times, they'll be carrying AK-47s.  But it doesn't get them to Heaven any more than any of the rest of us.  And if there truly is a God, they aren't gonna meet him any time soon.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Red State


Kingdom of the Spiders

The Shrine

The Taint

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Bloody Sunday


Joy Ride 2

Black Christmas

The Psychic

Toolbox Murders