Friday, 26 August 2011

The Birthday Post: Why Jaws is the Best Film Ever


‘Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’.’

As you may know, (because I keep mentioning it) me and Jaws are the same age. Well, to be accurate, Jaws is a couple of months older, but apparently it’s only me that’s counting that, Jaws has yet to express an opinion so probably isn’t bothered. Anyway, as it’s my stupid 36th birthday tomorrow I thought it would be nice (and also might distract me from the horror of the event a bit) to celebrate Jaws and why it’s The Greatest Movie Ever.


I’m sure that there is a complex and intricate criteria for determining the Greatest Movie Ever. A lot of learned people are probably involved and it probably takes into account a great many elements of the filmmaking process, the artistic merits of the finished product and box office results. Or it’s a pubic phone in on Channel Four. Either way, it’s nearly always Citizen Kane.


Now, while Orson Welles’ masterwork may well be a incomparable example of filmmaking genius, I prefer to judge my Greatest Film Ever on a different criteria, I prefer to consider how often I can quote any given movie in my daily life. Hence, Jaws is the Greatest Film Ever, followed closely by Ghostbusters.


Jaws is distinctly quotable, it is choc full of memorable lines that can lend gravitas and drama to any otherwise prosaic occasion. Here are a few of my favourites and some potential uses.



‘Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’.’
I use this all the time as a precursor to the introduction of my opinion in any discussion (see above).


‘I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten.’
Obviously good in any bartering situation, but this generally also works quite well as a confusion tactic when someone asks to you to do anything.

‘This was no boat accident!’
An incredulous rebuff perfect of pointing out the mistakes or incorrect assumptions of others.



‘Ha, ha - they're all gonna die’
Ideal for expressing derision at other peoples’ stupidity.


‘You have city hands’
First and foremost this can be used at any time of physical contact to inject an air of vague unease into the situation. Being introduced to someone new can be a wholly new and exciting experience by saying this on shaking hands, friends’ new partners, business associates or clients, even medical professionals, you can immediately disquiet them for the rest of the meeting by throwing a little Quint in there. Also, depending on what intonation you choose to employ, it can operate on a dual level as the recipient can never be sure if you are coming on to them in a uniquely disturbing way or subtly disparaging them. It can also operate as in inarguable closer in any argument.


‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat’
The classic! Variations can be used in any situation as an expression of how ill-equipped you are to deal with a particular task at hand.



‘For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.’
Ah, the multipurpose quote. Can be utilised to highlight how great and indispensable you are, it can also be used as qualifier when you are endeavouring summation of an argument or opinion or even a sales pitch. Furthermore, with the right sarcastic delivery, is also suitable for the illumination of extortionate prices of miscellaneous goods and products.
I have also used this in reference to our kittens so many times, particularly when I’m obliged to help out with claw trimming.


‘Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women.’
There is never a situation where this toast is inappropriate. I used it at my mother’s last wedding. And at my own.
‘That’s some bad hat, Harry.’
Perfect for deriding anyone’s sartorial choices, or just choices or opinions full stop.

Obviously there are lots of reasons why Jaws is the best film ever, it’s phenomenally awesome being just one, but its quotability has got to rank up there, more people should be using Jaws quotes in everyday conversation. In fact, I positively demand it!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Things That Scare My Husband

My husband has many admirable qualities; he’s intelligent and well versed in a myriad of interesting subjects, he’s well read, he’s hysterically funny, he’s thoughtful and kind and loving and tells me I’m beautiful countless times each day even when I’m quite patently not, like first thing in the morning, or when I’m full of cold or when I’m yelling furiously out the window at whatever has annoyed me at any given time. He’s also a diehard horror fan and zombie expert and you’d want him on your team come the zombocalyse. These are all, indeed, admirable qualities. However, he is also inclined to a certain skittishness that, while endearing, is still slightly less than entirely admirable. My husband is easily startled by certain things, rather like a small bunny on a motorway. In fact, in certain circumstances, I’m essentially married to Shaggy from Scooby Doo.


So, because I’m an awesome and supportive wife, let’s have a look at some of the things that scare my husband.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)



The Blair Witch Project’s simple brilliance took the horror world by storm way back in 1999. It took my husband by storm a little later than that, probably somewhere around 2001. It has been sporadically terrifying him ever since. His fear on the Blair Witch front can largely be seen as twofold – scary ghost witches and nature. The truth is we’re not country people, hiking, camping, even gardening, are things that happen to other people, other people who are clearly mad. We are definitely soft city folk, we like comfort and convenience and indoor plumbing. Immersing oneself in sundry flora and fauna is stuff best left to David Bellamy, or that pigtailed kid from Little House on the Prairie, it’s not for the likes of us. Needless to say the very premise of The Blair Witch Project is immediately the stuff of pure, primal horror in our house. For my husband, The Blair Witch is a nightmare from the outset in terms of location but beyond that, once the fledging filmmakers get lost and the spooky noises and flickering shadows start kicking off, he generally dissolves into the couch displaying all the spinal fortitude of a particularly cowardly mollusc. The enduring problem for him with The Blair Witch Project is the corner-staring screamy ending, it leaves him bereft and bewildered searching for answers that just aren’t there, like a small child who’s just been punched by Santa.



I always want The Blair Witch Project to end like an episode of Scooby Doo where we get to find out that the Blair Witch is really Mr. Jenkins the disgruntled owner of the local mill, I think this ending would help my husband to have the kind of closure he needs.

Paranormal Activity (2007)



I never liked Paranormal Activity. It sold itself to me as the scariest movie ever ever EVER and then was decidedly lacking. I wasn’t scared, I was annoyed, partly I was annoyed for not being scared, but mainly I was annoyed because even I, and I’m quite frankly lovely, like Anne Diamond, not only didn’t care if hideous things happened to the ghastly lead characters, but was actually actively encouraging of horrible things happening to them. My husband on the other hand was scared. While I was feeling downright let down by the whole cinematic event he was balancing on a razor edge of fear. Even early in the film, as Katie and the bafflingly named Micah are barely even entertaining the possibility that their home has a demonic squatter, my husband was already braced to the point of pulling several muscles for the night vision terrors that lay ahead. Paranormal Activity clearly plays on our most basic fears, the childlike certainty that monsters lurk in the shadows of our rooms and that every nocturnal sound is something evil closing in on us. I myself am a big fan of sleeping so even I can understand the unsettling building dread of having the sanctity of your sleepy time bower destroyed. My husband, on the other hand, finds the whole thing to be an exercise primordial terror; the expectation, the jump scares, the sinister sounds, demons, just generally, and thee eternal standing and staring. The last one there may be a little bit my fault, I do have a tendency for apparently creepy eyes open sleeping and sometimes, more alarmingly, singing - this has probably damaged him immeasurably.


Personally I found the scariest thing about Paranormal Activity to be the ghastly lead couple and their ghastly relationship, my husband would beg to differ, when he comes out from behind the couch.

Exorcist III (1990)


I think The Exorcist III is highly underrated, I think it suffers partly from the enormity and awesomeness of The Exorcist, but also from the fact that it has the number 3 attached to it. In most cases when the number 3 is attached to something it’s usually a bit rubbish – the obvious exception to this rule being Shark Attack 3 Megalodon, but for my money The Exorcist III is pretty snazzy; it has some great character actors, some brilliant dialogue and is, quite frankly more than a little bit scary.

Now while the whole concept makes my husband a little uneasy, it is that one bit that truly terrifies him. We all know ‘the bit’. ‘That bit’ makes him squeal like a small child. ‘That bit’ it is often used as a measuring scale in our little family to determine how scary something actually is. In testament to how enduringly terrifying ‘that bit’ is to him, we had never actually watched it together until just a few months ago, we hadn’t particularly not watched it because he was scared of it, but rather because he was frightened that ‘that bit’ would let him down and not be nearly as scary as his childhood self remembered it. Turns out he needn’t have worried, girlish shrieks still rang about our house at the moment in question and there was a moment after where he did momentarily debate having be accompany him to the bathroom, just in case.




I’d like to point out that this post was entirely my husband’s idea and that I’m really not pointing and laughing at him behind his back. Honestly. I do all my pointing and laughing to his face.


Hiding behind a small cat. Probably watching some scary ghosts

Other things that scare my husband include:

Clowns

Spiders

Escalators

Mushrooms

More from my husband’s grab-bag of miscellaneous fears later.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Guest Post: 5 Excellent Evil Clowns

There are a lot of awesome things about blogging about horror, I mean seriously, it is awesome, but the most awesome thing about being part of this community is definitely the people I’ve been lucky enough to ‘meet’. It’s just the best. Everyday I am inspired, enthralled, moved, informed, cheered up and given a damn blummin’ good laugh by all your comments and posts, and the support I have had recently from so many of you when I’ve been a bit down with my silly foot and with my whole inability to get a better job and all that has been just amazing. I don’t even have words to express how grateful I am for all of that and to say how brilliant you all are. Because of all this I am naturally, therefore, always thrilled when I get emails relating to my blog and from people I’ve been lucky enough to ‘meet’ here. So when I got an email recently from lovely Ross Tipograph from the fabulous Star Costumes I was very excited and rapidly became even more excited when Ross very kindly agreed to write a guest post for me. And he wrote it about evil clowns which just makes it even more awesome. So, ladies and gentleman, please be upstanding (or cower in a corner, both are valid responses) for Ross Tipograph’s Excellent Evil Clowns:



Clowns have such a bad rap. It’s funny how they started out in culture as harbingers of joy because these days, they’re connected more with hiding in dark corners and waiting to kill than with making balloon animals. The horror genre is notorious for exploiting how freakish they can be. It’s up to us to call out five perpetrators of this crime.

5 Excellent Evil Clowns

PENNYWISE from Stephen King’s It



Tim Curry is nearly unrecognizable as the subject of so many children’s nightmares, including mine. He’s a shapeshifter, adapted from the shapeshifting creature from King’s delirious novel, but mostly he’s a clown in a white jumpsuit and razor fangs that bleed. His eyes may be the scariest part – when he’s at his peak of fury, they glow a deathly blue, weirdly magnetic, which makes them all the more terrifying. He stalks a group of small-town kids, and then, even worse, continues stalking as they become adults. BEST MOMENT: Stretching his arm out of a photo album…

TOY CLOWN from Poltergeist



The clown here is such a supporting “character,” he’s almost difficult to include – but he truly makes an impression. He’s up there with the sliding kitchen chair and the horribly menacing hurricane trees outside the little boy’s window; all parts compose the pseudo-ridiculous Spielberg ‘80s classic. The closet full of violent sucking wind that consumes poor Carol Anne, is nothing in comparison to the toy that comes alive from under the bed. BEST MOMENT: …Under the bed.

KILLJOY from Killjoy


Here’s one you’ve never heard of, unless you scanned the outrageous box cover in Blockbuster one day – like me, and then rented it. When I was twelve. A couple of friends and I got it out of morbid curiosity and watched in one afternoon: it’s an “urban horror,” a sadly condescending sub-genre name for a horror movie tailored for African-American audiences, in which a tiny clown doll comes to life and stalks those around him for no apparent reason. But he is scary as hell – what the movie lacks in everything else, it makes up for in this creature’s make-up. Director of Killjoy, wherever you are, you’re being praised right here. BEST MOMENT: All.

ZEEBO from Are You Afraid of the Dark?


The children’s horror anthology from 1991 made an unforgettable mark on its tiny viewers for creativity and imagination. Nothing compares to Zeebo, the ever-chuckling gangster in clown’s clothing, a myth invented in the very first episode ever of this classic series. The myth, of course, is reality, and the clown brings torment to a very unfortunate victim. He breaks into the boy’s home, screws with his microwave, leaves dark messages on the walls… BEST MOMENT: Leaving smokey cigar butts in his trail. This is a children’s show.

KILLER KLOWNS from Killer Klowns from Outer Space


 
Now these are just bizarre. This campy late-‘80s sci-fi midnight movie boasts creature make-up that’s not exactly scary as it is ugly. The most memorable part of this movie, where the alien Klowns hi-jack ice cream trucks and kill people with cotton candy missiles, is the grotesque faces of the villains. They giggle and shake and destroy you with sugary goodness. You’ll have a good time, but you’ll have no idea what the hell you’re watching. BEST MOMENT: The Klowns lure our protagonists into a demonized funhouse tent for the finale.


When he’s not reviewing movies, Ross is writing about Halloween costumes.

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