Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Category: film

NOIRVEMBER 016 ~ David Cronenberg’s The Fly

Is there anything more noir than the mad scientist?

The definition of hubris, they are nearly always their own downfall. And why? Drive, determination, a sense they should and can do good but eventually the world won’t let them. Physics won’t let them. And they know this. Because they are smart, but they push on anyways.

Maybe mad scientists are driven by hope. By faith. Natural breaking points of the scientific mind.

the fly jan 1987

In 1986, David Cronenberg was tasked with remaking a very pulpy old horror flick that was iconic but definitely goofy to its core. The original tale of a scientist swapping heads with a fly is a silly concept, in both ethereal thought as well as final execution, but redrafting it through the body horror lens of Cronenberg was pure genius. I’d like to believe it was producer Mel Brooks who thought to approach the Canadian master of nasty shocks.

Yes, THAT Mel Brooks.

So Cronenberg came in and the result is a movie that swerves very far away from camp and becomes a parable about the AIDS generation that’s both disgustingly ghastly and ferociously terrifying while also being a heartbreak of decimating proportions.

You can probably thank Jeff Goldblum for making Seth Brundle, Mad Scientist M.D. the perfect foil for himself in this flick. When Goldblum is charming he is world devouring and we instantly connect with Brundle. He is sweet and kooky and disastrously intelligent. He is a perfect storm for which Veronica Quiafe will fall into and we buy it in every moment because we fall there, too.

This noir is exceptional because Brundle isn’t hard boiled, Quaife isn’t a femme fatale, and the world they inhabit is one hopeful and we watch it stripped of hope.

It is all very very real, which isn’t something you’d assume would come to mind for this remake if you were there before it landed.

Teleportation technology is at Brundle’s fingertips and with it so close he has to push on. Many would slow down on the accelerator when they find true love but Brundle is the kind of scientist who was initially married to science and he was never going to divorce. He could have extremely passionate women on the side but this is his path. And that sense of being locked in is what makes everything that follows feel so locked in.

The moment the fly enters the transportation pod with Brundle we get that sense of dramatic noir where we know it’s all going to play out one way and then we have to struggle through watching Brundle try to swerve off this deadly track with no luck. And we quietly observe Quaife watch the whole journey, trapped in the boot, and we can only hope she survives the crash we know Brundle won’t.

As Brundle starts to change due to his melding with the fly, he has hope. He documents these changes and sees the positive side. The strength, the ability just to engage with such mad science. He is abuzz. We all know what happens when you meddle with the unknown. You get radiation poisoning. You destroy Japanese cities. You fall and everything about you, everything with you, all that you do it for, is strapped to you and so it falls also.

And Brundlefly, as he becomes, falls hard. His body changes in good ways that soon crest into horrific jokes on the physical form. His skin cracks, his system adjusts, and it’s never anything but destructive to him. To the man.

Through it all, Quaife loves him, and tries to help. She isn’t just out for herself, she isn’t going to walk. Love is the strongest tie that binds through noir. The second is lust. And they went from one to the other and now their fall is joined. His is to fall and hers is to watch.

Veronica comes to discover she is pregnant to Brundle and cannot be certain when they conceived. Though a dream sequence where Veronica is in a birthing suite and Cronenberg himself acting as the gynecologist produces a grotesque larvae from her loins is something that makes you certain she is in her own noir spiral, but it’s a wider angle, and it’s a slower velocity, but it’ll get her too and now she knows it.

By film’s end, we all know it’s coming. Brundlefly is done, he’s a biological wasteland of possible science turned into probable death. He tries to drag Veronica into one final teleportation, to join him, and when it goes awry he is left off even more damage, a man-fly thing shedding flesh and humanity as he melds with the telepod itself. The result a techno-organic disaster that it should have seen coming but it kept on dipping back into the inky well as if the cause of the problem would suddenly affect a solution.

Finally, the ever hopeful brain of Brundle has finally given up. He’s beaten. But he doesn’t want to drag anything or anyone else down with him. He has done enough in his quest for more and now, in his final moments and acts, he wants to do less. Less damage.

He grabs the barrel of the shotgun Veronica holds and aims it at his head and it’s hideous which only serves to make it more heart rending. He takes himself off and his noir fall ends in a wet thud.

The kicker of a noir coda is that Quaife is indeed still tethered. She is pregnant, and we don’t even need to see it play out, we know it’s not the happy ending anyone would ask for. It’s the noir of uncertainty, which can and will plague you until you die [or a sequel stars your child – shout out to Eric Stoltz].

And all because we want to rise up, we fall so low and hard. Brundlefly is an example of how drive is good but the directions we choose are more important. THE FLY is a beautiful elegy of caution, forever caution.

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NOIRVEMBER 013 ~ Gene Hackman

In the early 70s there were two titanically superb noir flicks delicately placed into new cinema canon and while neither of them immediately front as a typical noir flick you can be certain they are bleak to their modern core. And their lead actor brings the hollow games to the fore because no one in the 70s played a man downtrodden by the world and yet still marching forward like Atlas than Gene Hackman.

the french connection lobby card

In THE FRENCH CONNECTION, the role of Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle is such a great updated turn on the old pulp detective leads, as they show his flaws, his determination, and his desire for progress no matter what barriers might be placed in his way. In the way he continually trudged onward, in a manner we can see is to his own downfall, makes him a perfect noir lead, but he’s also a new breed of this sad soul archetype. And this is because of societal boundaries towards narratives.

Doyle is, to put it bluntly, a scumbag. He’s beyond the loveable scamps of old, or even the hardboiled bastards, no, Doyle is a flat out terrible human being. He’s racist, abusive, a drunk, and his moral code isn’t broken, it’s just casually cast aside, buried over time, forgotten. Noir leads often march because they see the light, or they ignore the dark, but Doyle marches into the darkness and screams into it. He screams to master it. He’s a complex guy and at this time was somewhat indicative of a new way of telling stories. You could suddenly go real deep and dark with your leads and there was little filter.

This perfect cultural storm of time and inclination brings us this NYC detective who will go to any lengths to stop the roaring drug trade pouring into his city – which is about the one redeemable aspect of the character, his ultimate goal is something good. He’s just given far too liberal a set of tools and methods to make this happen.

There is little joy to be taken in watching Doyle, and his partner Buddy ‘Cloudy’ Russo played by Roy Scheider, beating suspects and owning the streets through impact and aggression. The job is not shown to be fun because at that time it was not fun – hell, it’s probably never ‘eff you en’ to be a beat cop of any level – and so we see how the sausages were made at this time. It’s hard work and while you want Doyle to win you almost don’t want to know how he gets it done. Which is exactly how practises like these are cultivated in the first place.

But you quietly urge Doyle to do just one more thing, terrible as it might be, if it’ll just get him to that shining light of victory. You lean forward, you allow, right up until you realise it’s not going to work. There’s only ever one outcome from this behaviour.

You see it plastered across the car chase, both what you see and how we now know it was made. It’s a reckless pursuit of something grander and even when it works you are left wondering what could have been the outcome had it not. And in that moment of blunder, would it all have been worth it? You know a single beat ‘no’ is the only answer. But you watch the chase, and you laud it, and it’s amazing. And, well, it does look pretty damn fine, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t love a fast car?

But is it amazing when a cop shoots a criminal in the back? Is that the moment you maybe start to turn away from Doyle? But do you condemn as you turn? Are we complicit in his noir downfall, or are we actually exhibiting the exact model that leads to societal downfall? We turn, but we allow. What else would Doyle do if he’s given rights to such barbarity by absence of reprimand or example? Or is this the necessary roughness needed to protect society from growing ill will and action? The poster tagline says Doyle is bad news-but a good cop. Do we hand off the responsibility of civil protection and then also hand across the right to complain when that job makes people sell their souls. It’s a set of super grey questions to ask which is the whole point of the flick. How far are we expected to go, and how far will we let others go for us? Never forget that we are at fault for helping Doyle fall, and all because we want to live in the good life his actions might possibly provide.

If he were successful in his goal. But the 70s were a great time in cinema to show us that the people promising you it’ll get better, the people promising you it’s worth the means to justify the end, are a bunch of bastards. And the bastards all quietly die on the inside, back when we thought people cared about that sort of demise. A flickering of the soul, a blackening of our hopes. All for the greater good.

Weren’t we all wrong?

Doyle is, and in the final sequence we see just how wrong when he chases drug kingpin Charnier into an old warehouse. Anyone half-familiar with cinema narrative structure knows this is the set up for the final reel showdown where the hero catches the villain, or perhaps is forced into killing him to end the madness. But this is not just noir it’s 70s cinema noir which means you have no idea what you are going to get.

Doyle is tracking this fiend when he sees a figure move, though can’t quite make out whom it is. He does the only heroic thing his dna understands and he opens fire. The figure is taken down but upon closer inspection we discover it is not Charnier, it is another federal agent. Doyle barely pauses, this should be cause for a broken career, no less a broken man, but Doyle processes it quickly and then moves on. He hasn’t caught his man so he needs to continue. It’s horrible in the most literal sense and it’s indicative of how black Doyle is on the inside. This friendly fire crime that’s cost another man his life doesn’t bother Doyle at all, he knows to do what he does he has to press forward.

Buy Doyle’s kind of forward is also very steeply downward.

Popeye Doyle is a bombastic noir lead, someone completely complicit in his every step down the path whereas 3 years later Hackman would play an entirely different noir man as Harry Caul in THE CONVERSATION. Caul is someone who has no idea the noir spiral is winding around him and he only feels it once it pulls tight, and it’s too late.

the-conversation-lobby-card

Francis Ford Coppola was hot off THE GODFATHER which swept some Oscars and is easily one of the best flicks of all time and while he was following that flick up with a sequel that some believe to be even better [I don’t] and just as many tout as the greatest sequel of all time [it’s gotta be right up there with DAY OF THE DEAD and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and ALIENS and THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY] Coppola isn’t a guy who has ever wanted to be a one trick pony. Whereas most directors steer into the skid of the genre they initially dominate – and you get Scorsese’s crime flicks and Carpenter’s horror flicks – Coppola is the sort of guy who seems to engineer his career like he’s mapping his own professional noir as we see him go from being a master of the craft, a pioneer and innovator, to someone who is off the radar and disrespectfully forgotten, or ignored.

But before Coppola erased himself from history, he crafted a tale where someone was recording history and it led to their downfall. And now THE CONVERSATION stands as one of the finest pieces of quiet cinema you’ll find anywhere and you won’t quickly forget how Harry Caul’s world and mind are dismantled. Even though this team deliver a film you can instantly tell was destined to fail. Well, by that I mean it was destined to gain a lower gross and project a smaller tone so it so rarely gets held up against Coppola’s GODFATHER flicks or APOCALYPSE NOW. But it equally holds its own in that field.

It all begins with a simple task, record a couple walking and talking in the park. It’s mundane and even if it goes pear shaped you’d assume it’ll spill into a domestic problem. In a word: manageable.

So Harry Caul takes the job because he’s the best there is at what he does and what he does is peep on people and record their sound. He’s an aural kind of guy. But he doesn’t hear the thunder coming.

The fascinating thing about THE CONVERSATION is that from this initial premise, the story unfolds that what Caul thinks he’s listening to is not that, and it instead leads to the death of another man and a cover up whereby Caul can’t out the offenders. In the end, he’s left to stew in the belief he’s being kept under surveillance himself, his one true fear which we see early on that he safeguards against at all costs.

The narrative is thin because this was never about an epic governmental take down, this is the study of one man imploding. We watch Caul listen and relisten to one line from the conversation he stole and he’s peering into its abyss trying to work out what is down there. Suitably, he comes nowhere near cracking the code but watching how intently he draws focus and must prevail shows you how he gets led down in the end. He’s unilaterally afraid and yet has singular vision. A quality blindside – and it must be really high quality to work – completely takes him off the map.

You get the feeling if Coppola could have dropped another 45 minutes of Caul scrutinising the tape he would have. Because it’s that perfect vision of him not letting go and getting himself dragged down through tenacity and curiosity.

The story resolves with Caul hearing a playback of his own saxophone playing and realising he’s been tapped. He tears his apartment apart and there’s really no greater metaphor for noir.

The film closes on Caul alone, playing his sax, which is where the device most likely resides. He is utterly doomed to the bound and repressed life he has built himself.

NOIRVEMBER 011 ~ Blade Runner

I first watched BLADE RUNNER before I was a teen. And while I loved it there’s no way I got so much of what makes it astoundingly great. I had no idea what film noir was and so I missed out on pretty much exactly why the aesthetic of the flick is so brilliant. I understood the brutal beauty of the skyline, the hard cool stench of the smoky streets, but I didn’t get the thick vein of homage running through it that causes the masterful juxtaposition of it all.

blade runner lobby card

This is a firm sci fi flick and yet it’s filmed, shot, and put together like an old film noir of the finest kind. Young Ryan did not have that knowledge but Aged Weary Creaking Ryan gets it, and the love for this flick grew exponentially. Because the balls to put a Vangelis score against what we can only imagine was Ridley Scott thinking he saw a vision of Beijing’s future and he actually did see that future and then have the language change to meet the sci fi parameters of this android populated Philip K Dick story and then infuse it with all of the film noir style tips has gotta be one of the wildest mash ups of all time at the time this debuted on the big screen.

Putting a close-cropped Harrison Ford into a nice dirty coat, having him eat on the streets and know the lingo, those Venetian blinds. This flick looks like it was made in the 40s, of both the 20th and the 21st Century. It’s a bold undertaking. And it paid off. Eventually. Obviously the earliest 80s people didn’t know what to initially make of it but sharper minds prevailed and we got the classic we know and love and revere today. And no doubt will tomorrow also.

But for today, I want to look at the plain noir aspects of the flick, of which there are a few.

I love that Rick Deckard, everyone’s favourite Replicant hunter, spends pretty well the whole flick getting his ass kicked. Deckard succeeds not because he’s a beast but because he refuses to succumb to beasts, despite them pounding him down repeatedly. But go back and watch THE BIG SLEEP and watch Bogart get slapped around there, too. It’s not the fight in you so much as the resilience. Because they won’t wear you down physically but you’ll wear them down mentally. It’s refreshing to see a sci fi hero just get handed around into a few beatings.

By the end, it becomes ludicrously fascinating because the final showdown doesn’t come off as one for the good guys through any skillset of Deckard’s except for his propensity to take a pasting and keep on ticking. He literally just waits out Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty until he shuts down of his own volition. It’s an intriguing low key and passive way to end the hero’s journey. Perhaps this unconventionality is why it flopped; it was up against E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL and everyone could understand that kind of structure and tone.

Deckard spends the flick hunting these Replicants – itself something we can never gel as actually being the right thing to do because of the moral and ethical quandary it raises in regards to sentience and thus right to life – but we follow Deckard because it’s Ford with the best haircut he’ll ever have in his life and these robots are violent. Though Deckard is also violent. It’s as murky as the real world. But through all his hunting, Deckard is pretty useless except for his hard-headedness. And it’s this in the end that saves him but also goes a great length to showing us why he’s wrong. Why our ‘hero’ is anything but one.

Rutger Hauer delivers the ‘tears in rain’ soliloquy and it’s still as haunting and captivating today as it was all the way back then. Through this final dialogue, despite having watched Hauer break Deckard’s fingers and act like most big bad level bosses are supposed to, from all that we get a speech about the beauty of the universe and it’s something we can understand. Something we can comprehend, we yearn for, and we mourn its passing in what might feel like empathy on our best days when we want to self-congratulate but really, when you are honest with yourself, you frown for the fact you’ve never seen something as beautiful as what is described. You’ve never even comprehended it. Because you’ve been too busy just standing back up from life’s beatings. We are all Deckard and when we finally land that killing blow to the man/system/whole goddamn world, we instantly see why it was wrong and why nobody else does it, at least not with any frequency.

BLADE RUNNER is a noir and it’s Roy Batty’s fall from the majesty of space into the very real and human surface world of our everyday existence. Suddenly the fact this flick represents our future is sad and crushing, we are all walking into the dystopia of man and we are doing so little about it. Climate change, mining, space junk, all these chickens are going to come home to roost and all we have is one gargantuan nest made out of our regrets and our fears, all of which we failed to ever act responsibly upon. An emotionless walking computer can learn to see it but we are blind eternally.

With the blinking passing of Roy Batty, we see the noir of mankind writ large, atop a grimy rooftop in the rain. Because that’s how we’ll all go, unclean, afraid we might fall, and looking up and hoping/wishing for the more we know we deserved.

However, depending on your leaning on the flick, there’s more noir to share around. You see, Deckard might be a replicant also. Ridley Scott certainly believes him to be – I won’t say intended him to be one because that implies external intent, whereas Scott’s side of the story just is, and we can still choose to buy it or not. And if Deckard is a replicant, well, that means his life is a lie, his clock is ticking, and he’s just going to wind down to the middle of the end in exactly the same way Batty did right in front of him. Deckard has already seen his own demise and has only to wait. It makes his silence as Batty powers down all the more weighted. That’s worse than being locked up in a cell awaiting sentence, it’s standing on the gallows and not being given a time nor any reprieve and so stand you will continue to do.

The final sequence of the flick shows Deckard and Rachael escaping with each other. Deckard is willing to go forward with Rachael even though he knows she’s a Replicant and her clock is ticking, albeit a little longer than Batty’s. Deckard is willing to take that heartbreak of knowing a finite time and then having to say goodbye to her. And if you take on board that he’s a replicant then it’s doubly as sad. Either way, those two are escaping down and they won’t reach the bottom so much as they will just stop the descent and become a barnacle on the side of the final journey.

BLADE RUNNER has stood the test of time because it is not your standard action/adventure fare. It’s thematically weighted and leaves us with post-viewing questions and for me the meatier the movie then the more I get out of it through hours/days/months/years of discussion. The only thing I never discuss and merely state is, the story is a downer. Hell, it’s the downfall of man. That’s a big concept to see lost in time like tears in rain.

NOIRVEMBER 009 ~ Joseph Gordon-Levitt

It makes sense Joseph Gordon-Levitt would fill the role of the modern noir archetype. While every other leading man has been busy feeding chicken fillets and carb paste into his pecs, JGL has been off to the side amassing a wildly erratic and hugely high quality body of work. When you see him on the bill, you know you’re going to get some effort. And you know his character won’t have the red carpet laid out for him in every respect, JGL is the pure everyman in every superb sense of the word and that’s why he’s noir to the marrow in his bones.

JGL can take a hit and keep moving through sheer force of will.

jgl

If you think about noir leading men, they are so rarely the action hero type. They might get in a lotta scraps but they’d be batting under .400 easy as to their success rate. Your noir man isn’t about being a dazzling icon, or about spending their time pumping iron, they are about grit. JGL has grit in spades and we never saw it coming, which makes it all the more visceral when it sparks on screen.

Launching into our cultural hivemind as a child star, JGL had the decks stacked against him. A goofy sitcom, a very specific pony-tailed look, I’ll be honest in thinking we might never see the kid again. But we did, in a little high school noir film called BRICK and it was the sort of performance, and flick, and script, and event that completely erases everything you had considered about a person and puts you in the palm of their hand. It’s a hard boiled high school romance from Rian Johnson, with a nuanced language created for these streets alone, and the tone of the piece was incredibly sombre. From there, JGL could do anything and you had to follow him just to know.

Now, who knew what would actually happen. He went from sappy sitcom to 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, which while endlessly viewable in that 90s melange of teen flick safety isn’t exactly high art. BRICK was high art and from there JGL would solidify himself as an icon in a new place, a place between the blockbuster stars and the pretty boys. Which becomes interesting because he is himself capable of carrying some very big flicks and he is a handsome dude in the old school sense. But it begins to feel like he is purposefully choosing his place in the world so he gets to dabble in some fascinating narrative machines, many which would be considered unconventional and certainly not safe but that means you always get a sense he’s drawing from a place of art not commerce, something we don’t see enough of in Hollywood.

Post-BRICK, I tracked JGL to THE LOOKOUT [purely because of Scott Frank’s involvement as writer/director] and I was completely won over. This subdued heist flick is all about tone and JGL plays a guy who has suffered brain trauma and is impacted for it. It’s a small performance, he’s not out to make this problem flashy, and the whole flick matches that idea. Play the low key, make the audience sit forward and pay attention. It’s one of those modern crime flicks that slipped past the radar but seems to get enough of a run with the people who matter that it is not lost. And while it’s not exactly a true noir, I do consider its downbeat end to be worthy of mention here because it showcases that different and flexible attitude to noir. JGL’s character doesn’t end up dead or in a cell, but his injured mind/body is a cell, and the guilt and isolation he starts with are still present and might well forever be. He is, for all real intents and purposes, still trapped in a cell and it’s his own mind.

His next real notable for me is the clincher when proving JGL’s versatility, and it’s one of his finest noir roles. [500] DAYS OF SUMMER is an amazing flick. It’s supremely heartfelt, it’s real in its hyper-unreality of love, and it’s the finest romance-comedy flick of the past ten years, hands down. And it’s in this real and wild depiction of love that it shows the real noir in the world as we process heartbreak and its infinite darkness. The love between JGL and Zooey Deschanel’s character is all the more bleak because it’s only 500 days, you could fit at least two score of these types of heartbreaks in your life if you were un/lucky. You could near endlessly find the girl, fall deeply into her, have her snuff your heart, and be spat out in time for the next and you know you’d do it again. And the final moment confirms this as we are offered a moment of hope, JGL meets the new girl, the next girl, and why that might be [probably should be] affirming, and yet all I can think is that he’s just signing up for another 500 day stint of ventricle tenderising before the bastard is ripped out again.

Which is all his fault because he runs headfirst into the field despite being told it’s poisonous. He knows with Summer that she doesn’t want anything serious and yet he pursues anyway, because he’s his own problem. In fact, he’s a straight up dick. He’s moody, rude, and pretty damn stupid. In order to get those little highs, those blissful romantic moments we all strive for, he’s willing to hand his heart across to get stomped. Because he knows the memory of the best time will defib him back in time for the next time. He is rotationally setting himself up for failure, and pretending he doesn’t know it each time.

Love is the ultimate destroyer because it’s always about betrayal.

I weigh in on INCEPTION being a noir in that way we follow the determined downfall of one man, but that man isn’t JGL, it’s equally impressive ‘actor’ [not star or pec stand] Leonardo DiCaprio’s show. But JGL holds an important role that acts as a bridge to the next flick I wanna mention and it’s this: JGL is the muscle of INCEPTION. Not Tom Hardy, the brick bat also on this crew, no, Hardy is the weapons guy, and JGL is the ass kicker. Now, JGL is my size [so those who know me understand why this role of muscle is fantastic]. JGL isn’t physically intimidating…well, not if you just take his actual dimensions as they are. But when you add in the way he holds himself, the certainty with which he moves and acts, when you measure how big he feels, suddenly the numbers go up. You believe JGL can kick anyone’s ass through sheer force of determination and drive and it doesn’t break the narrative or the world at all. It is this mettle that makes JGL shine as a noir lead and INCEPTION was the ultimate proof that he can do anything needed to drive a narrative engine into the water and still gun the pedal down.

Which is what he does in LOOPER, acting as Bruce Willis’ younger self and you start to believe that he most certainly would grow up to be that grizzled old bastard who could walk through stone. This is also doubly fitting because before Willis was the hardened action star, with the engine block head, and the weary eyes, he was a rom-com tv show star who didn’t look like he could stand over his own shadow [hyperbole klaxon: love you, Bruce].

By the time we hit LOOPER, there was no doubt in my mind at all that JGL could be the guy waiting when you travel back in time and he’d shoot you down before you’d taken a full breath of air from the past. JGL was walking diamond by this stage and so nothing in this flick seems out of his range, right up to the final dusty denouement that breaks your heart in its inevitability.

Noir has found a vessel in Joseph Gordon-Levitt because you hate to see him end in a ditch but you know he’ll put himself there time and again if it’s in the better interest of just one other person. He is that man and we are all the better for having the opportunity to see him operate.

JGL Addendum

I also love his music so why not treat yourself:

NOIRVEMBER 005 ~ John Carpenter’s The Thing

Imagine for a moment if John Carpenter’s THE THING had a happy ending. Or if it’s hero lead was a true action star, always right, and able to uppercut any and all problems. Hot damn, that would be one boring ass rote flick.

Imagine if THE THING was only a horror movie. A slasher flick. If it wasn’t about anything – though, yes, some slasher flicks are about something. Gah, what a shitty world that would be.

jc's the thing

I’m thankful I grew up in a world where John Carpenter made a remake of THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD and he made it as a paranoid sci fi SFX driven noir. I’m also thankful I got to literally ‘grow up’ in this world because for some reason the monkeys at the parenting button fell asleep one night and I got to watch this flick at a disturbingly young age. And I loved it beyond belief. I was the only kid in primary school able to work in quotes from Carpenter interviews in Fangoria when it came time to roundtable about our favourite flicks. But I digress:

Consider Macready. Our bearded lead [I’m reticent to apply the ‘hero’ label here] played to perfection by a be-goggled Kurt Russell. Now consider him more closely, forget the crazy hat, the gigantic fur coat, c’mon, he’s in Antarctica, strip all that away and who do you have?

Macready’s personal scene where we peek at the cards he holds so close to his chest is a phenomenally deft display of characterisation as he plays chess against his computer while sipping some J&B whiskey. Because of course he’s a loner and he likes his tipple. And when the machine beats him, he calls her a bitch and pours his drink into her, frying her circuits. Because of course he’s compulsive and bitter. And alone. And shunning the one ‘female’ in the entire flick.

If there was ever a hardboiled lead -this time solid frozen – then it is Macready. He isn’t infallible, he gets his ass kicked, a lot, but he constantly gets back up and he’s willing to do the difficult things, even when they make him look batguano insane.

With him set up, amidst a cast of other kooks, we then unleash the alien force that’ll tear them apart [literally]. With the case afoot, people start dying and we follow Macready as he struggles to stay alive and solve the case. But in a case like this, what if there’s no solution? What if there’s only harm minimisation?

And that’s the biggest problem with a noir world [real problem, not narrative/genre problem], sometimes you can’t solve a problem. Sometimes someone has no ‘good’ setting. In crime, this is amped up and played as true but when you escalate this viewpoint into a malevolent force of alien nature that’s planning to assimilate the entire world and destroy us all, you make the stakes higher [perhaps the highest without going intergalactic] and yet Carpenter chooses to still play it all small.

One of the finest scenes in the flick is set on and around a couch. Carpenter doesn’t ever lose that human thread to the movie that connects to us on the deepest level. Because at the end of the flick, with the battle ‘won,’ I always considered Macready to have saved the world when in actuality he’s no doubt saved the galaxy/universe. Left unchecked, the thing would’ve just kept on going [we can only presume] and he’s halted its path. For now. But we consider it a human victory because of the job Carpenter does. This isn’t ray guns and V-necked horseshit. This is noir.

And I should unpack one quick thing I said above, the solution is only for now. Macready is making a sacrifice for a W that is most likely not going to last. It’s certainly easily undone, by someone with a misplaced electric blanket, or an oil drill. I mean, if we told climate change deniers that they’re eventually going to thaw out our ripped apart demise then maybe we’d finally make some much needed world change.

But Macready makes this sacrifice and the flick ends on what should be a happy note, a win, but instead we get two men staring at each other across the snow and no matter how you run it, it’s the saddest ending ever because Macready might actually be the thing at this point, or Keith David’s Childs might be, or they might both be, or neither of them is. Roll those dice, look at the dual display, and no matter what you’ve got it’s heartbreaking and all for completely different reasons. Impending painful doom, a wasted opportunity to find salvation; it comes down to basic mistrust and the greater good. No man is willing to risk saving themselves lest they save the other and he turn out to already be turned. It’s so terrible in its poignant perfection.

The ultimate down ending sends us off with “Let’s sit around here for a while…see what happens.” and then the flick ends because we really don’t want to see what happens. It’s too much – despite when a Dark Horse Comics miniseries thought otherwise as it showed us both men rescued and the narrative cycle begun anew.

No, there is no second chance, Macready does this right, he does it til the end, there is no more. Poor bastard.

CRIME FACTORY 17 Out Now – FLETCH

Crime Factory is a superb online crime mag you have to get down on.
CF 17 just went live. Do it.

Front-Issue17-KINDLE-229x300
I wrote an article in it about FLETCH the movie and the way it mashes up crime and comedy in this perfect weird blend.

T’was truly a blast to write and I think you’d dig it.
No, not you, the one in the back. “You, there! Why don’t you ever comment or share the link? You are here every week, I assume you have reasons, yes? Oh, no. Oh…well then, good day, sir.”

GONE GIRL – A Study in How To Investigate 21st Century Film Noir

GONE GIRL really blew my hair back and here’s exactly why.

SPOILERS — natch.

All I knew about the flick was that the wife goes missing. Boom, that’s it. So imagine my pleasure when I’m presented with this LAW & ORDER style examination of the case, the details, the suspect, the cops, and it’s done in this beautifully intense and exhaustive way that made me love the depth of Fincher’s ZODIAC.

I’m right into this case, it’s fitting into the same headspace I’m currently listen to SERIAL with, and generally reading nice long true crime articles. This flick is doing good things. Then halfway through it gets very good. The twist hits (spoilers, right, we covered that already) – the wife is alive. It’s an intricate frame up. Now I’m really digging it. We follow the wife, we see her things go south, and all the while Affleck is rocking the homefront and showing what an oaf he is by us discovering his affair. It’s a dick move, no doubt, but a dick is not a murderer and yet society really trashes him for it. So did my wife, in our post-game analysis driving home, so make of that what you will.

So now we have this cool twisted story, maybe as intricate as something James Patterson would write, a top shelf John Grisham, yeah? Just good old fashioned narrative engine with all the bells and whistles dingling and dangling.

But all of the above means I would have enjoyed the movie. It’s totally solid, enjoyable, dare I say safe. But I truly loved this flick, and why?

GONE GIRL is film noir and I barely even realised it at first. I mean, it’s clear we have a femme in the house, this wife is koo-koo-kachoo, she’s the problem, she’s nuts, and yet whip smart and razor sharp. She concocts a slick plan but it’s how she reacts and rolls with it all as it unfolds that captivated me.

Once the wife calls up Barney (I’m butchering names, you all know who I mean), things take this crazy turn. We’ve gone from conniving wife scorned to cold blooded killer very quickly. Or so it seems for us. We only just discovered her ways, but she’s actually been like this for years. So then it should make more sense and be in character.

But then I started wondering why the flick levelled up like that, the box cutter is particularly gratuitous, but it’s that scene that sells it all for me. The third act of any film noir sees the plan go awry and people scramble to get back on track. Usually, violence ensues. Taking the flick as some sort of CSI: Affleck meant the box cutter was out of place, but as a film noir, man, that’s just femmes being femmes, right? She should be capable of anything before the light ends.

By the final moments, I’m seeing that real noir ending coming, the sinker tied to our lead, him slowly disappearing down and down. There is nothing he can do. It’s perfect, and so hidden. As I walked out I had to slow clap Fincher in my head for using two crime genres to hide each other and leave me thoroughly impressed.

Though, I thought that final reel, all the aftermath, would have worked much better interspersed in the credits and dropped thus more obliquely, and experimentally. But I guess Fincher isn’t the hungry young gun he once was.

Now, GONE GIRL suddenly stands next to BODY HEAT and THE LAST SEDUCTION as one of my favourite modern noirs. I did not see that coming, and a noir ambush is always welcome in my media.

 

What To Do Next

There’s always that moment where you stop and wonder to yourself, “Huh, what’s next?”
You’ve just wrapped a script and it’s off to the editor/artist brainhive, or your pitch is off to the publisher and you have to wait for a greenlight, and you know there’s nothing ‘next’ that needs your immediate glance.
So, what’re you going to work on? What’re you going to dream up?
I mean, there’s always revisions to do, snark to drop on twitter, fractions of something in your future in ideas and lines and fun, there is always ‘something’ to do but some days you gotta start prepping the materials for the next gig.
There’s lots of ways to break new ideas into your headspace but here’s something to consider.
Widen your scope. Stretch yourself. Be bold.
You just did a crime book, try a romance book. You’re waiting for art on that sci fi horror book, try some slice of life on the side.
I got thinking about this idea when I was considering the chronology of some of my favourite creative minds. Let’s have a look at the progression of genius. Because you don’t need to limit yourself, and maybe you don’t know how well you’re going to tell that steampunk bromance.

JOEL and ETHAN COEN

I love the Coen Brothers. So many of their films sit high atop my must see lists and I find it inspirational to look over their career path and see how insanely headstrong they quite clearly are. Look at the fact they never pander, they don’t make Oscar Bait – though I’m sure it seems that way these days but cast back to a time where they were the kooky uncles of quality cult cinema.

Look at how they would conquer a genre and then move onto another genre straight after it. It never felt like the Coen Brothers were colouring by numbers, they were telling stories they absolutely had to tell. Genre be damned. Audience demand be damned. Never let it be said they phoned it in, these guys delve right into their narratives like it’s Scrooge McDuck’s money bin.

The Coen Brothers started with a simple bang, a crime story. BLOOD SIMPLE put them on the map with this visceral noir punch. Brutality, death, terrible people. This was a huge stake to drive into the ground as a debut.

So, how did they follow it up? With a slapstick gonzo trip about babies, and a mythical bikie bounty hunter, and how far we’ll go for true love. While RAISING ARIZONA is centred around a crime, it is miles away from BLOOD SIMPLE.

It’s such an incredibly bold move to just go from this black crime flick to something that’s bright and innovative and zany. Consider this, Quentin Tarantino debuted with RESERVOIR DOGS, a darkly comedic straight crime flick. How did he follow this up? He made the darkly comedic straight crime flick PULP FICTION.

It’s natural to want to replicate success, and feed the beast, but sometimes you gotta follow your heart.

Now, the Coen Brothers followed RAISING ARIZONA with MILLER’S CROSSING which is a little closer in heart to their debut. But whereas BLOOD SIMPLE was very new wave, MILLER’S CROSSING is very much more classical. This is Dashiell Hammett opposed to Gold Medal paperback pulp – both crime, each different.

From here, we can see the common vein in Coen flicks – besides vomiting fat men – is crime. But the crime is always tinted with very different lenses, and even genres. The Coen Brothers like to study flawed people, which nearly always strays to crimes of various levels, but the way they attack these narratives changes so often in fantastic ways.

Look at BARTON FINK, there are certainly crimes committed but it isn’t a crime flick. This is a deconstruction of a creative mind breaking in its own heartbreaking way. Then they roll into THE HUDSUCKER PROXY – a flick whose title alone tells you these guys just don’t care – and the farcical approach to this flick is genius but almost defies definition.

It would take over a decade before the Coen Brothers would tell another story close in tone and theme to BLOOD SIMPLE as they allowed people to end up in woodchippers, and wives to be kidnapped. And with FARGO they finally cracked the code and were allowed into the winner’s circle. They became touted as something we’d known they’d been for years – genius.

They dial it back with THE BIG LEBOWSKI – the sort of tonal fall from grace that saw them once more shunned at the Oscars, despite making the flick that would now have the deepest and most avid fanbase. You’d think once the brothers got into the Oscar Auditorium they’d scramble to stay there? Nope. And not for some time.

O, BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? is kind of genre insanity in that it’s a loose adaptation of a classic text via the film tropes of the 20s. It’s Clooney looking weird and acting weirder. It’s so well put together and yet those who came for/from FARGO or even THE BIG LEBOWSKI were going to have no idea what would hit them. A film with layers, that’s aged well, but not the sort of surefire follow up to anything. Because what the Coens want to do is explore genres, which they then show with their next two outings.

THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE is straight up James M Cain (you can see them slowly go through all their favourite crime authors in good time) and in doing so it’s staying so close to the original tone of those flicks from the 50s that you know it turned some people away, but no doubt lured in the purists, who they have to have shunned by that final scene. It’s like they didn’t want anyone in particular to be the core for this flick, and yet the people they’d get, the few, would be there for life.

And as for INTOLERABLE CRUELTY, well now we can just see they want to play in genres that are about as close to box office poison as you can get without trying to replicate the magic of a GREASE2/TEEN WITCH double bill.

I guess we can all forget THE LADYKILLERS – which is a shame because a Coen/Hanks jam should’ve been better, but I guess all this navel gazing genre crushing fun leads us to…

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN – a film so far removed from the past five outings – count ’em, FIVE – that it’s like they were putting that cattle gun to the past decade and wiping it out. And it worked. Everyone forgot THE CAREERKILLERS and the golden siblings were back. This is nowhere near their best flick, and it certainly didn’t deserve to beat THERE WILL BE BLOOD, but it’s straddling that line of tight storytelling, brutal Coenesque world views, and commercial appeal without asking for it that this was the revival they needed/deserved. FARGO worked, so did this, the data shows the formula, and so then they instead stay true to heart and make…

BURN AFTER READING – because apparently every BLOOD SIMPLE needs a RAISING ARIZONA, in the same way THE BIG LEBOWSKI clearly cleanses the palette after FARGO. They go deep and dark, and then they become bioluminescent. It’s a wonderful skill, but I get their agent – trying to skim from profits and not street cred – hates it. This flick is another genre mess. Crime, yes, but totally wacky and weird and Malkoviched out.

The brothers sink really deep again for A SERIOUS MAN, a flick more towards BARTON FINK in that it defies genre or audience expectation or dollar drive. And you could never foresee this flick leading them towards TRUE GRIT, a Western, a remake of a classic, an adaptation of a classic. Or by now, maybe we should see that coming. Maybe we should know when we are in the weird calm before the bombastic storm. Because this is what the brothers do, they defy you to guess their next step. I guarantee no one saw INSIDE LLEWELYN DAVIS coming.

And true, they haven’t done horror, or war, or every genre, but you can see each project stretches them in new ways. That’s clearly a good thing when you look at the quality they produce, and that there’s no burn out on what they do. You can barely compare flicks because they’re all so different.

Whereas if you look at the godfather of ganster crime flicks, I sometimes struggle to compare because they’re all playing strings on the same harp. But let’s try, just quickly, to look at the diversity of:

MARTIN SCORSESE

You’d think Scorsese’s flicks would all be the same, and so many of them are. After some rough and tumble early indie credits, Scorsese lands on the scene with MEAN STREETS, a very street level view of crime on the streets of New York. And while he follows up with the dramatic romance of ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, he’s back into the NY filth with TAXI DRIVER. He’s tried and been shown that his dark NY crime flicks are going to work, and going to work exceptionally well. So how does he treat the news of having a guaranteed successful genre on his hands?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK might reference his useful location but it doesn’t hold the same flavour at all, even with the screen stand in of Robert De Niro yet again taking the lead. You could call this flick a mistep and not many would argue. From perfect crime to some music/romance/slice of life hybrid, the flick just didn’t register as the usual Scorsese goods and so it flopped. From there, we get nearly the whole decade of the 80s with Scorsese hiding inside the genre that works.

Sorta.

Scorsese packs a lot of crime into the 80s, but it’s skewed through different genres. RAGING BULL is certainly a step removed from the mean streets, a boxing flick with black heart, and it’s a raging success on all levels. THE KING OF COMEDY defies expectations and reflections, a genre Frankenstein’s monster that’s ultimately a failure but stands proud because it shows Scorsese was happy to play the game, but on his terms. He’d do dark people – none of this saxophone playing anymore – but he’d still be trying out new irons on the green to see how to get the ball to move.

AFTER HOURS is the black mirror version of NEW YORK, NEW YORK, and while again a flop, it’s certainly worth its place in the back catalogue. It just also marks the end of the slide for Scorsese, as he accepts a sequel, THE COLOR OF MONEY, and while it’s good enough to land him his next flick – the very personal THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, about perhaps man’s greatest crime – it all swirls inevitably towards the next flick that will define Scorsese’s name for an entire generation.

GOODFELLAS.

This flick is the obvious next step from MEAN STREETS –> TAXI DRIVER, and yet Scorsese took a decade and a half to get there. Those many years were spent looking at romance, and sporting flick as introspective downfall, to the Greatest Story Ever Told. Scorsese didn’t rest on his laurels, he didn’t go back in for the easy beat, he worked his ass off to do things that mattered to him. Maybe this is why he came back stronger and defined the genre with GOODFELLAS?

CAPE FEAR follows, then we dovetail into THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, before hitting GOODFELLAS-lite in CASINO. Scorsese knows how to game the system and he delivers one for them so he can do one for him. KUNDUN is his exploration, BRINGING IN THE DEAD, and to some lesser extent GANGS OF NEW YORK is what we expect but it’s not a carbon copy. He’s pushing niches into the crime genre he now owns. THE AVIATOR is for him, then he gives them THE DEPARTED and by this stage he’s doing the same genre but in a totally different way. It’s not the 70s anymore and this flick is the clear signifier of his growth.

SHUTTER ISLAND is such a fun pulp paperback, dropping down to HUGO which is a beast unto itself, and WOLF OF WALL STREET is something new in a myriad of ways – tone being a huge slice of it.

I know I think Scorsese just did crime flicks, with a few personal puff pieces between, but upon inspection you soon see a Coen level of differentiation.

And these are just two examples. You can look at so many creatives and see them stretch themselves constantly.

BKV did weird sci fi/travel/growth story, while doing political cape book. A masterful slice of life anthropomorphism allegory on war (PRIDE OF BAGHDAD), or the slice of life book about comic creators and what it is to create (THE ESCAPISTS). Now he’s doing romance as sci fi and dystopia sci fi as a PI commentary on social media on the side. You can see his throughline, sci fi, but it’s always something new, always pushing himself.

RICK REMENDER is currently doing a hard sci fi book, a weird school of assassins book that’s navel gazing into his teen years (and is absolutely brilliant), an underwater sci fi journey tale, and an upcoming weird looking sci fi book. This is all on the side of a mammoth Marvel event. Again, see the throughline, but see how it’s constantly different. BLACK SCIENCE might be a true sister title to FEAR AGENT but DEADLY CLASS is like nothing else.

MATT FRACTION is writing SEX CRIMINALS, to defy genre because it sounded like some warped sci fi time stopping tale but is really one of the sweetest relationship breakdown stories going. He’s also writing some crime homage to the early days of television, and a Marvel book that’s really just this lazy PI tale, and he has upcoming Odyssey meets sci fi book coming on. And all this atop a history of a talking gorilla, the greatest superspy fu comic ever, and a variety of Marvel books from wacky to straight up cape style. He’s constantly expanding his horizons, and is always better when he is.

The exception that proves the rule, for me, is ED BRUBAKER. He’s writing crime fiction, always crime fiction. He has a dash of spy in one of them now, and in the past injected capes into the mess, but otherwise, Brubaker, mostly with Sean Phillips, just rocks the mic for crime and rightfully so because he’s become a master of it.

So while looking at all this, I consider myself. What’s next?
I’ve just done this sci fi/thriller mash up, as well as an anthropomorphic/journalism/crime tale. I’ve tackled fatherhood, as well as a sci fi/Australian political/thriller mash up. I did boxing noir for my Vertigo short. So what’s next?

A PKD-sci fi/thriller about depression

An all-female Viking ghost story

An intergalactic espionage sci fi

An all ages sci fi romp

A hard sci fi journey periodical

A straight up lady kung fu bonanza

I hope an Australian warped historical thriller

And hopefully more anthropomorphic/journalism/crime, too

Maybe eventually that beach noir surf crime tale…

There’s other stuff, but let’s not prognosticate beyond our abilities.

My point is – I have a throughline, but I’m constantly poking what I can get away with. All ages, hardcore fight fu, devastating ghost tales, depression. I have a lot of sci fi, but it’s nearly always a different level of it. I’m also interested in looking into different emotions, themes. I’m not necessarily doing it perfect, the Coen Brothers are the true masters of diversification, but I know I want to knock about a bit, try lots of everything before I, hopefully, settle into mastering one or two of them very well. I’m keen to continue to ape that PKD style I dig of tone and a warped reality but I’m also excited to see what else I might do well. I have yet to do war, or cape, though I have a prison take in the works, and I’d love to try my hand at a western of sorts. All in good time, just gotta make sure I don’t get bogged down spinning the same wheels I am now.

Lord knows I’ve yet to get deep into my Cronenberg romance book. Yet.

tl;dr version – as a creator, are you trying brand new genres, or mash ups, or takes on genres, or are you doing the same old formula every time? Expand your horizons, most of your heroes do.

RETROACTIVE HACK!

Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR has just landed and I’ve noticed, lodged between most of the logical responses, we have some people who are really down to get their hate on. But not only that, because hating is the oldest form of response, these peeps are the first ones to get their hate on. No, beyond that, they hated Nolan first, before all you other plebs were suckling at the Dark Knight Trilogy teets. These peeps are the Alpha and the Omega of Nolan hate.
And I’m fine if you don’t dig his flicks, but why the need to fit your frothy rage with a Certified Cool date stamp?
People laughing at Nolan fans – “Where’s your messiah now, Flanderssss!” – people suddenly hating all his back catalogue, and proclaiming they hated it from the start. They never liked it.
Next they won’t even admit to having seen a Nolan flick, but they hated the wiki summaries of them.
This idea that someone like Nolan – someone I’d go so far as to call a creative genius – someone who has made so many amazing and great flicks – this guy who hasn’t really made a totally bad flick (logic in The Dark Knight Rises pushed aside – that flick is enjoyable) – we have this guy and I feel like peeps were drafting their hate-tweets weeks ago in prep. If INTERSTELLAR wasn’t amazing/perfect/Nolanesque then they were ready with a cavalcade of mocking/snooty/hipster hate.
They got up in the face of all Nolan flicks, pointing out why we should have seen that this guy was a hack all along.
And to be honest, hate all you want, but this sliver of hate riles me up for this one reason:
It seems to be centred on the fact that Nolan was deemed good, maybe great, and now these peeps wanna revel in him being brought low. They want everyone to see what a fraud he is. It’s…yeah, it’s something.
Why can’t swathes of people really dig a creative without a slice of the world having to forcefully jam in and be all like “You’ve been had, he was never this good, this falter step proves it. Retroactive hack, RETROACTIVE HACK!”
Tall poppy syndrome is a killer – awareness is needed.

Though fighting internet rage with my internet rage is probably about as effective as finding a pitbull that bit a kid and kicking it with live chihuahuas strapped to my feet with their snippy little mouths and general unpleasant demeanour.

Old Man Hallowe’en

I grew up a child of horror. I was watching John Carpenter flicks….well, way before I should have been. I segued into Cronenberg and Argento phases before most segued out of their safe kid animation phases and found (what they thought were) subversive cartoons. And so, Fangoria became a word I’d use to represent my identity for my youth. I lived and breathed the 80s works of Landis and Dante and Bottin and Raimi. I was the horror kid.

And I was the horror kid mostly because that’s what was around – with two older brothers – but also because I dug the hell out of those flicks, and I dug the shocks and scares. I think back to watching AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON repeatedly, or THE EVIL DEAD, or even old slasher fare like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or schlock like Troma flicks, and I realise I liked most of them because of the craft. Look at the way Carpenter holds suspense in THE THING, or Cronenberg makes you squirm in VIDEODROME by pushing your nerves past their breaking point, or how Raimi uses that camera in THE EVIL DEAD. I followed the horror fare of auteurs because they did new and exciting things. You cannot tell me Landis tells the story the same way from AAWIL to TRADING PLACES. His camera work in the Underground as the werewolf stalks is insane. There’s nothing like that as Eddie Murphy wheels himself around in that suitcase/wheelchair.

Horror is a genre that’s always allowed innovation, and incorporated it into structure and tone and effect. But it’s also prone to cheap flicks and while Teen Ryan didn’t mind some really terrible stuff – a steady enough diet of ‘video nasties’ and slasher flicks kept me afloat – I realise the ones I still watch today are the horror flicks with craft behind them. Jason Voorhess, while a fun dalliance for the time, isn’t someone I wish to revisit because there’s nothing there for me now. And why are those thin fun horror flicks done in casa de Lindsay? Well, because I had kids. Once I had kids – these little people who gave me the sole purpose of keeping them alive – I stopped thinking how cool it is to sit and digest the myriad ways the world will eat them up. And yet that’s exactly where horror has steered into.

I came into horror with THE THING, and loved the sci fi-locked room-terror laced mash up it is, and I think I last really dug on Wes Craven’s double tap of NEW NIGHTMARE/SCREAM – deconstructions of the horror feeling, a swan song to an era. Then I completely zoned out about halfway through HOSTEL and kind of never looked back. I realised Scorsese and the Coens and Nolan and Russell were going to reinvent cinema without having to gloriously kill people slowly on screen – though maybe Scorsese is the closest to just doing real life horror but in my mind there’s a thin skin between horror and crime – while criminals are horrific, they’re…I don’t know, they feel disconnected from me. Horror is about the horrific entering my world, the suburban world, whereas criminals kill each other and cops (he said, naively).

I don’t watch anywhere near as much horror as I used to. VIDEODROME was on this week so I taped it, and will no doubt devour it soon enough, I loosely keep up with THE WALKING DEAD – but zombies will always inexplicably be my jam – and I was pointed towards and then thoroughly loved PONTYPOOL but anything else that’s just crazy people chopping up innocent peeps, or is simply gorno for the sake of it will rarely get a run with me anymore. I’m a scaredy-cat now, and while the finest of the horror cinema blend will carry on with me, everything else in the genre is dead to me. I can’t handle seeing this stuff and then having my mind think of the world my kids are going into. It’s a crazy emotional fault gap that I’m not prepared to jump across, for fear of falling into it.

So for now, my Hallowe’en consists of a little writing, some coffee, a sitcom with the wife, and no scaredy flicks for me, no thanks. I’m in this weird Old Man Hallowe’en “get off my lawn” phase I truly never saw coming.

And yet I really look forward to the kids growing up because once they get past a certain age, I know I’m going to share Scooby-Doo episodes with them, and watch stuff like THE GOONIES, and then when they are much older, I’ll get out the good horror, the top shelf stuff, and we’ll appreciate it on a craft level. And if they wanna watch 3D found footage slasher trip-hop on their own, power to them. If they are like their old man, it’ll last until they have their own kids, then they’ll truly fear what goes bump in the night and give it the wide berth it deserves.

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