Writers: “Weird Fiction” Via Movie “The Void”

6 04 2017

First the trailer:

 

Now the review:

If Stuart Gordon’s “From Beyond” and John Carpenter’s “The Thing” were to have a baby in the hospital from “Hellraiser II”,  that baby would grow up short of its potential and  be “The Void”. I don’t mean that in an insulting way, but if you like your body horror with a dash of Weird, then “The Void” is for you.

Describing the plot is difficult because much of the backstory is revealed as the plot unfolds. Two rural guys shoot people dead, one flees and is picked up by a sheriff and taken to the local hospital. This hospital is closing soon due to a recent fire. Which killed the child the sheriff had with his ex-wife the ER nurse. Speaking of preggers, a country teen is about to give birth and her grandpa is there for support.  A kindly doctor, another nurse, a trainee, and another patient are introduced. A state trooper arrives.

Then within fifteen minutes of film time, there is a three-way guns out stand-off, four of these characters are dead and one has mutated into part Grizzly Bear, part butt polyp. Lovecraftian hijinks ensue. In a place beyond time and space, pacing is a problem in “The Void”.

There are magic tomes. There is a sub-basement where none existed before. There are strikingly-clad anonymous cultists. There are double-crosses and mistaken motives.

The plot holds together. The magic system is kept as simple as possible. The actors do great work with an occasionally awkward dialogue.  However, the effects rule this movie. The undead polyp creatures are all practical effects and they are gooshy. Gourmets of  horror movies will see “homages” to “Hellraiser II”, “The Thing”, “The Fly”, “From Beyond”, “In The Mouth Of Madness” and probably more.

Was there anything fresh? It’s a hell of a thing to note, but frankly, cutting pieces off your face doesn’t have the shock it once had.

First time script writers and directors here, they kept to the tried and comfortable, yet kept out of the actors way, so the performances were quite good. Someone once said you can tell if a horror was written by guys in his 20s, because those horrors will have churning uteruses, and that’s because guys in their 20s are just finding out how gross pregnancy can be. And man do uteruses churn in “The Void”! It’s all within the theme of birth and fate, but still dudes, there’s a reason why men have a waiting room.

Wait for “The Void” on Netflix.

Now the writing blather:

Note that I noted “homages”. I do not understand “homages”. An artist’s job is to swipe ideas and before using them, file off the serial numbers. Filing off serial numbers is an art. If a reader can immediately recognize a reference, the writer has only mimicked, and not made the most of the reader’s time.

That said, what is “Weird Horror” or “Weird Fiction”, and what can we do about it?

Here’s Wikipedia.

You will notice in Wikipedia that Lovecraft’s definition is essentially “spooky stories where spooks can get you anywhere”. Noted editor S.T. Joshi’s academic sub-categories have diluted that dread further until it has become watery Red Bull.

The problem is that back in the 1930’s, the Weird creatures invented by Mr. Weird himself H.P. Lovecraft, those creatures were unfathomable. Now they make Cthulhu plushtoys. Non-Christian monsters are the norm now.

For me,  “Weird” contains these elements:

  1. Unknown forces existing outside our dimensions (“beyond Time and Space”).
  2. The questioning of reality itself (are we in a movie? Is that crazy guy actually shaping reality?)
  3. The interrogation of how consciousness fits within reality, especially within flesh.

For me, the goal is to create nausea, not just polypy-squid nausea. Existential nausea is the feeling you get when you consider that not only will existence go on without you, it has been without you for longer than you can comprehend both before and after, in a place that is the briefest flash in existence, if indeed “existence” actually has objective substance. Hold me.

The use of a nameless cult who know The Truth, or a scientist finding The Secret, or an artist who can shape The Universe, is how we get the reader to connect with nausea. The POV character has one assumption peeled away (like the real purpose of mission), then another (that his mission is safe), leaving to fall away the rules of society, of perception, of nature, of value, then finally, of comprehension.

If you want to learn more about “Weird”, try the movies mentioned above, especially “From Beyond” and “In The Mouth Of Madness”. Also try:

  • “Resolution”, like “ITMoM”
  • “Absentia”, for critters beyond T&S

In fiction, try:

  • Any H.P. Lovecraft, especially “The Whisperer In Darkness” and “The Color Out Of Space”. They would be standard Doctor Who fare now, but that tells you something.
  • “The Grin In The Dark”, as much as he bumbles in this book, Ramsey Campbell has some really cool ideas about the development of consciousness.

Do not try “The Weird”, a compendium by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer. I love this book, but their definition spreads so far afield as to be nearly meaningless.  Read it for entertainment.

These brief lists are of media which provokes that feeling I described.

Are there books or movies that make you wonder if you are safe at all, or sane, or even exist?  TELL ME.





It’s “The Battle Royale Office Space In The Woods” With The Belko Experiment

26 03 2017

Have a look at this:

You’d think this movie a twist on the manga and movie “Battle Royale”, and on the surface you’d be correct. Instead of BR’s high school students being kidnapped and stranded on a deserted island, TBE has office workers in South America trapped in their curiously well-fortified office building. Both purposes are for all participants to kill each other until one remains alive.

The movie is written by James Gunn (Dawn of the Dead! Guardians of the Galaxy!) and directed by Greg McLean (aussiesplatter classic Wolf Creek). Actors are mainly from TV, including John McGinley (who always does great villains), the President from “Scandal”, the big guy from “ER”, and a lot of actual South Americans, even though it was shot in NY state though set in Bogota.

In BR, the government selects a class at random each year. In TBE, we are never really told why the voice demands the massacre, except for a vague monologue by a disfigured white guy at the end of the movie.

However, deeper down, TBE owes much more to “The Cabin In The Woods”, Joss Whedons’ satirical ode to American horror tropes. As mentioned, a faceless corporation maintains the high-tech murder site and watches using omnicient security cameras. Both movie feature a pot-smoking slacker who turns the corporate technology against its masters.

What actually happens? Trailer says it all. The tension is evenly paced. Characters are believable, even slightly sympathetic. The cool boss becomes lethally practical, friendships are betrayed, old scores are settled.

What didn’t work? The pothead in “Cabin In The Woods” was sharp and rebellious where TBE’s stoner bordered on hysteria, yet somehow overcomes qualms to literally pick through the remains of his co-workers, and that just did not convince. Also, the director of “Wold Creek” must have wanted some practical effects gore, but the prosthetics here are more ambitious, and the camera lingered too long on skulls looking more deflated than shattered.

Overall, it was a taut, entertaining thought experiment at 1 1/2 hours long. Have a look at it when it hits streaming or cable.





What Makes “Logan” Good?

24 03 2017

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2017/03/21/film-crit-hulk-smash-storytelling-vs.-movie-essence





My Stomach Is Full Of Eels And It’s “A Cure For Wellness”!

3 03 2017

Bless this digusting, bloated and atmospheric mess. Let’s be upfront: this movie does not fully work. For a horror movie centered on existential dread and psychosis, it has a few too many moving parts. Now, it’s definitely a beautiful and haunting mess. Bojan Bazelli creates indelible images just by using the movie’s limited palettes of […]

via “A Cure For Wellness” — Long Pale Road





Some Intriguing Horror Prose Reviews

12 02 2017

Prior to launching Horror Novel Reviews some four or five years ago I knew a slew of amazing authors. Talents like Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Dan Simmons, Robert McCammon, Joe Lansdale and Dean Koontz are kind of hard to miss. But what of the “little guys” – you know, the authors just beginning to hit […]

via The 10 Greatest Horror Authors I Discovered Through Horror Novel Reviews — Horror Novel Reviews





Horror: This Is An Excellent Trailer

8 02 2017

It Comes At Night is a 2017 American horror film, written and directed by Trey Edward Shults (Krisha). It stars Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough, Christopher Abbott, Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Carmen Ejogo. A man learns that the evil stalking his family home may be only a prelude to horrors that come from within. Secure within a desolate home […]

via It Comes At Night (2017) — HORRORPEDIA





Writers: Finished My First Draft

7 02 2017

Felt a lot like this!

recipe-image-legacy-id-1043451_11

This will be my fourth novel of 50K + words. What did I learn this go-around?

That Rachael Aron is right when she says “Write the fun parts first.” The writing was more enjoyable, smoother, and went faster than in past efforts.

That preparation does make a more enjoyable experience. Having files with descriptions, photos, maps, of key characters and locations helps to improvise in the rough spots.

Having a critique of the first third of the novel while writing the rest helped me finish. My writers’ group is enthusiastic about what they read and that enthusiasm carried me forward. They found parts that needed fixing and finding problems early kept them from becoming deeply entrenched and tougher to fix later.

Paying attention to this book helped me launch an appealing protagonist and create solid story beats.

So what’s the body count? One molester who pours molten silver on his genitals. An aspiring satanist embalmed alive overnight. A rock star whose soul is trapped in his LP’s entire pressing run. A possessed scientist shot dead. And a big surprise for the protagonist.

There are 143 of you visiting through WordPress. One visits regularly from Ireland, HI! Another sometimes visits from South Africa, HEY THERE! Another from India, WASSUP! Another from Pakistan, HOWDY!

You seem to like the writing articles and links, so I’ll keep up with those. If something weird pops up in the news, you seem to like those articles too, so I’ll post the ones that catch me.

I really appreciate you all stopping by. If you’d like to introduce yourself and leave a link, I’d love to get to know you.





Fifteen-Horror-Movies-For-2017 Suckage

28 12 2016

Thirteen of fifteen are either reboots or sequels.
WTF.
Looking forward to two. Intrigued by a third.
The only ones I’m looking forward to: “Alien: Covenant” and that’s because Ridley Scott’s onboard. Neither of the writers give me hope (one exec produced/wrote for TVs “Heroes” and “Smallville” , the other wrote the last Bond movies and “Penny Dreadful”), because their work screams “QUIRKY ACTION ONE NOTE ADVENTURE SO MARKETABLE!”
And “Kong” because giant ape.
Not “IT”, as it has director of “Mama”, who got better performances from the CGI than the talented human cast, and the writer of goddam “Annabelle” (and “Annabelle 2” also on the list).
“Leatherface”? “Friday the 13th”? No, no. Could you conceive of anyone bringing any fresh nuance to “It kills horny teens. Go with it”?

“Dark Tower”? Lost interest in Stephen King. The latest SK adaptations have been really over the top bad, except for “The Mist”, which the movie improved.

So….what intrigues me?
Could it be “Insidious”? “Saw”? “Rings”? Uh-uh. Lay off the MTV movie effects.
“Resident Evil” only to see if Mila can still make those leaps.
“The Tom Cruise Action Adventure Movie thatohyeahhastheSorceressfromSucideSquadinoneshot” written by Guy Who Writes All Tom’s Movies and directed by the guiding hand of “Hawaii Five-Oh”?
“Susperia”! That must be what intrigues me! Nope. Never got into Giallo. However! The writer scribed black magic Nazi B-Movie “Blood Creek”. And the role of the mysterious ballet master is played by TILDA SWINTON. So maybe.
What movie intrigues me?
“The Bye Bye Man” is written and directed by a married couple who’ve worked in B Movies for years. Director wife almost exclusively in horror. Writer husband as actor in dozens of TV shows. These are the kind of folk who bring fresh ideas. Granted, the trailer seems to show a rehash of “Sinister”, but I have hopes here.

So, my perfect 2017 movie would have shadowy killers fighting xenomorphs until Kong gets sick of it and bashes it all with a helicopter.

At least Damon Lindelof isn’t anywhere to be seen.





IS THERE ANYONE WHO CAN JUST TELL AN ORIGINAL STORY?

16 11 2016

I do appreciate your attention, but the fact is that there are so few of you visiting me, you can’t pose a threat if you are offended. Moreover, if I were to incriminate myself, you people would not present as credible witnesses for the prosecution.

May I? Okey dokey.

Brexit and Trump and The Backlash were predicted years and years ago. Culture steers politics, and guys? We’ve been in a stultified, petrified, freeze-dried culture for years. Whazzhemean?

Give me a new idea that caught fire in popular culture in the past ten years. I’ll wait.

It’s been a decade of vampires or zombies, or Judd Apatow’s smirking half-improv movies, or self-referential fan-service reboots, or Explodey Old Action Franchises Parts 5.

We’ve been watching, listening, playing, doing the same things for how-many-years and whenever someone has something new, it either drops off the earth or is scorned as idiocy.

Example: The Juggalos. A group that considers itself a great big family of people who just want to shock people with homegrown, Halloween rap music, professional wrestling, and cheap bootie. Hah! What a buncharoobs! They won’t have that kind of vulgarity at Cocachella, and certainly not at Burning Man (that’s how we know Burning Man actually had something going, because the rich people co-opted it)!

Example: The creative paralysis called JJ Abrams. How did one man’s vision get control of not only Star Trek and Star Wars, but set the tone for all other major productions? His style of shakey-cam, blue-lit quirky action heroes can be found on every damn channel. This is like the 1970s only having George Lucas writing and directing Star Wars, Star Trek 1 – 6, and Indiana Jones, and having ILM create “Charlies Angels”, “Hart To Hart”, and “The Six Million Dollar Man” franchise.

Just as business as usual kept going in American politics with Obama (oh yes it did, guys, or did we send any bankers to Guantanamo or Iraq?), that same gritted-teeth durance went into consuming entertainment. That DC movie was not so good? Maybe they’ll get it right next time. That new group sounding like anything else on your iTunes feed? Meh, it’ll do.

It’ll keep your mind off of the war and the oligarchy and what your neighbors hung on their porch.

Pissed off about it? Grab some punk rock or angry rap, read some Bukowski, and drink a Pabst, thanks 20th Century!

We do not have a language for our values. We got comfortable and took it for granted, then leased it, and then sold it.

chuck

This is the Western World’s Premier Underground Satirist. Think On This.

 

You want to know the big difference between music of the 70s and 80s and today? The artists didn’t use it to sell commercials.

Except DEVO and they did it as a big meta-satire.

Even before the Alt-Right, there were artistic clues of seismic discontent. Micropress and self-pub starting taking all the revenue. “Bizarro”, “Weird”, and religious-themed fiction appeared en mass, and would never have gotten attention from TOR or Ballentine. None of them would have gotten shelf space if it weren’t for micropress.

Why Lovecraft? Because so desperate for a new idea that we went back almost a century.

Yet these touch our imaginations, our adrenal glands, and our amigdala. Does anything speak? Does anything touch our hearts?

Who has come forward to just tell of any broken, gutsy dumbass who made good?

IS THERE ANYONE WHO CAN TELL A STORY? NOT PREACH. JUST TELL AN ORIGINAL STORY?





How Deep A Horror Movie Can Go

27 10 2016

I would like to do something like this in a story or a video, but how? It takes “meta” in a whole different direction.

Touch Dakota Fanning’s hotter sister for more.

neon-demon








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