Archive for the ‘2003’ Category

Scream and Saw: Head-to-head Horror

November 5, 2007

It’s Halloween and it’s horror movie time here at Grump Factory. (Yes, it’s past Halloween, but what are we going to talk about? Thanksgiving movies?) I’m sure you’ve noticed, since Dracula has moved into the neighborhood. :(

It recently came to me how the trend in horror movies has shifted so drastically over the past decade or so. Nowadays it’s gore, gore and MORE GORE! Not that we were ever lacking gore in horror movies, and I’m not here to say gore doesn’t have its lovely place in scary movies. But sheesh, people. There’s a reason the current crop of horror movies are called “torture porn.” It’s not even really about scaring you anymore. It’s about filming, in detail, how the killers eviscerate their victims and keep them alive until the last possible moment where they finally slash open their carcass with a giant scythe and bathe in their blood. While that example may (or may not) be over the top, I think it’s fair to say that the horror movie that kicked this particular trend into gear was Saw, now in its fourth (?!) iteration.

But it wasn’t always like this. Remember that time in the 90s when horror could be tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, post-modern and self-referential? It wasn’t so much about horror, but deconstructing horror movie cliches and subverting expectations, all the while delivering the thrills one expects from a horror film. While not the first movie to do this, Scream has arguably been the most successful of this breed.

Now to lock them in a cage together and the first one to kill the other gets the antidote to the poison!


The Legend of Zelda – Wind Waker: Haha, Nice Joke, Nintendo

July 20, 2007


Are you familiar with The Legend of Zelda? If not, then I must assume you either:

  • A) are not a gamer
  • B) do not and have never owned a Nintendo console
  • C) are some kind of horrible Madden/Halo 2 sort of gamer
  • D) have no soul
  • E) some combination of the above

I mean, really. The Legend of Zelda is, uh, legendary among gamers. It’s possibly the holiest grail outside of the Mario franchise. A new Zelda game gets announced and people’s ears perk up. A new trailer is released and the Internet is deluged with opinionated superfans speculating where it might take place in the series’ timeline (don’t even start with me about that) and Tingle groupies demand to know if their favorite fairy man-child will show up.

Zelda‘s an almost instantly relatable experience among gamers. Remember the first time you pulled the Master Sword from its pedestal in the Temple of Time and became Adult Link? How about the first time you defeated Ganon? Or the first time you met the Princess Zelda? It’s in this way that I think it’s fair to liken Zelda to the Star Wars of video games. Hell, it can practically be a cult if you want it to be.

I say all this so the uninitiated among you can understand the shitstorm that was unleashed when Nintendo revealed its plans for the first Gamecube iteration of the venerated franchise. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker would be the first in the series to have a radical graphic departure from what the series had been known for. A switch to colorful, expressive, cel-shaded graphics made the group of Zelda fans hoping for a Zelda title more in the vein of the Gamecube tech demo released earlier nearly homicidal in their rage. Cries of “Zelda? More like Celda!” rang through the Internet for months. Even now, if you put your ear to your computer, you can hear the faint echoes of the fanboys gnashing their teeth at watching their pubescent fantasies of Link being in a “like, dark and shit” Zelda game being dashed against a rock by Nintendo. At the time.


Up, Up and Straight Up My Ass – Hulk: HULK SMASH EXPECTATIONS

June 2, 2007

Cheesy 70s special effects, assemble!

I’ll put this up front: I’m much more of a Marvel person, I think, than a DC person. Not quite sure why that is. Maybe the “iconic” image DC cloaks itself with chaffs me too much. Yeah, 70+ years of history is impressive, but you still don’t really have anything on a monthly basis I’d care to read. There’s just something a little more compelling about the “real world” type of flavor Marvel has, which I admit is a strange thing to say about a universe where a giant man wants to munch on your planet and one of the most powerful superheroes communicates with squirrels. But that’s how I feel. It also has characters I feel have incredibly compelling stories to them. One of my absolute favorites as far back as I can remember has been The Incredible Hulk.

I can’t tell you why I like the Hulk so much. I’ve never really been taken in by his comic books. The biggest exposure I’ve really had to him was his syndicated mid-90s cartoon. Something about the duality of an intelligent, weak science geek and an unstoppable, baby-minded giant is appealing. LOL WISH FULFILLMENT. So imagine my interest when Marvel and Universal Studios began working on Hulk, the live action picture. Not only had they gone an intriguing route in hustling Ang Lee to direct it, but one of my biggest celebrity crushes, Jennifer Connelly, was tapped to play the tragic love interest. The only way they could’ve stopped me from rushing into the theater and ordering the ticket seller, mouth frothing, to give me a pass to see Hulk would have been to have the movie be two hours of Stan Lee shitting on the camera lens. As it turned out, it took considerably less to dampen my enthusiasm.

The movie premiered to bewildered and frustrated disappointment. I was crushed. This should’ve been awesome! Incredible, even! What went wrong? I wanted to know, but the backlash against the film kept me wary until late into its theatrical run. I took a deep breath, bought a ticket and waited patiently in the darkness of the theater for my medicine. As soon as the film started, my expectations rose again. Danny Elfman’s aural ministrations pleased my ears while experimental, cloudy, twirling imagery acted out the psychological struggle of Bruce Banner. Those guys didn’t know what they were talking about! This was really cool and artsy! Then we were informed that the projector had been malfunctioning and we were all given free vouchers to come back again. [insert wacky sound effect] It was a setback for morale, that was for sure. But this time, I was absolutely determined to see it for myself. I went again at the earliest convenience and strapped myself in for Hulk. Little did I know just what Ang Lee had planned for me. This can only mean another edition of…