Wednesday, June 28, 2006

MLM: Final Destination 

It’s something I’ve talked about before: The killer in slasher films as anthropomorphized death, a relentless force of pursuit and punishment given physical form and supplied with a back story straight out of urban legend. And these killers always obey rules. Freddy only attacks kids in their nightmares. Jason (for the most part) sticks to Camp Crystal Lake. Michael Myers has it in for Jamie Lee Curtis. The Tall Man from Phantasm pretty much just wants you to stay out of his mortuary. Even Norman Bates can be avoided, provided you aren’t blonde or just choose not to stop at his out-of-the-way hotel. Oh, and don’t pick up hitchhikers in Texas.

They’re containable threats, in other words. Dangerous but not too dangerous, and safely locked away in the realm of Not My Problem.

But what if death itself were after you? Not a grim reaper, not a ghoul in a hockey mask, but the actual force of nature, coming to collect what it’s owed? It’s no longer Not Your Problem; it’s Everyone’s Problem, and now yours specifically. Good luck fighting the inevitable.

This is the compelling idea that drives Final Destination, a film that could be called the last word in the slasher genre.

A class of high schoolers boards a plane to go to Paris. They take off… almost. One of the more spectacularly filmed sequences in recent movies is given to show us just what dying in an airplane crash/explosion would be like, and we’re left wondering – well, holy shit, where do we go from here?


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

MLM: Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead 

Day of the Dead begins when the end of the world has already come and gone. No longer are we on the verge of civilization’s collapse, getting a good long look at what awaits us over the cliff’s edge as we did in Dawn; it’s all said and done now. What was last night’s great big party has become this morning’s hangover, and it’s a doozy.

Day is claustrophobic. It traps us in a bunker with a small group of scientists and the soldiers meant to protect them, placed there to seek a solution to the zombie problem by a government that likely no longer exists. The desperation and close quarters has not been kind to their sanity, and inevitable factionalism results. Dr. Logan, the head scientist, wiles away his time studying the physiology of the undead and conditioning his favorite pet zombie, “Bub,” in the mannerisms of the living. Captain Rhodes, de facto leader of the soldiers, is interested only in enforcing draconian order. Why? We can hardly say, and neither can anyone in that bunker – everyone seems perpetually on the edge of admitting that their mission is lost. Their survival instinct prevents them from going over.

The dissolution happens about as you’d imagine, and the legions of dead on the ground above finally get inside the bunker. Even the handful of protagonists who escape at the end – via helicopter, of course, just like our protagonists at the beginning of Dawn – have no idea what they’re escaping to. The tone of the escape is oddly optimistic, but we know better. A world choked with the hungry dead means there is no escape, only a change in scenery. Same shit, different pile.


Debauchery, Sam & Max style. 

Sam & Max first came to my attention back in 1993, when their adventure game from LucasArts came out. For years now there's been hints and rumors at a sequel, but now it looks like one is actually coming along. This excites me to no end.

The site, happily, also has a system for creating your own Sam & Max strip. Behold my genius:

No, we can't all be as funny as me. But we can still try.

Make one and link it up in the comments.

Monday, June 05, 2006

MLM: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead 

“They’re coming to get you, Barbra.” – Most over-quoted horror movie line of all time.

It’s such a murderously simple concept: Trap a bunch of people in a house, keep them confronting each other with few distractions, and watch the whole situation implode. But horror fans, being detail fetishists, disregard what purpose the zombies serve and instead just fixate on the zombies themselves. This is how we end up with completely inane debates about whether fast or slow zombies are the “real” ones, or if it’s “right” to have zombies that think. You know, the important things.

But Night of the Living Dead was a pure experience. Though there are hints and insinuations that the problems of the handful of people trapped in the farmhouse were the same as everyone else in the world, it ultimately doesn’t matter. What matters is surviving the night. Though the various people trapped in the house come from different social spheres, the zombies act as equalizers; with the living dead pounding at the door, rich man and poor man alike are just so much walking meat.


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