Sunday, October 28, 2012

15 Nights of Fright - Horror Comedy Double Feature

Every night from now until Halloween Matt will be reviewing another of his 15 favorite horror films in a segment called 15 Nights of Frights. Slashers, monsters, aliens, and ghosts will all come out to play in the next two weeks and one day. So, find a safe place and leave the lights on while Matt gives his thoughts on all things frightening. Above The Film presents Ginger Geek Blog's 15 Nights of Fright.

Note: Sorry for the delay again, folks. A router problem rendered my computer offline for a time and I was unable to post in a timely manner. Thanks for the patience. Due to missing a few nights, the remaining nights will consist mostly of Double Features and a Triple Feature on Halloween.

Tonight's Frights:

The Lost Boys (1987)
"The one thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach: all the damn vampires." That line truly does set the tone of this 80s-riffic vampire comedy that marked the second time Corey Feldman squared off against Keifer Sutherland in their careers. (At least until my script for "Ballistic: Corey vs. Keifer" gets greenlit.)  Anyway, the film is the story of a gang of vampires that have turned a small California surf-town into their hunting ground, but their time is limited because they may finally have met their match.

Really? Yeah, I would have bet on the vampires too.

The film that united The Two Coreys is also the only one I can actually watch with them in it. For anyone who hasn't seen this movie I will warn you now, this movie is so very based in the 80s that I am convinced all the DVDs come with a can of Bold Hold. The hair, the music, the lingo, it's all there and none of it has stood the test of time, but it doesn't make the film any less enjoyable. In fact, the sequel, The Lost Boys: The Tribe, proves that an updated version of this story honestly doesn't work, and it's really the 80's charm that helps The Lost Boys remain a favorite of mine. The film does an excellent job of blending the elements of a horror film with Micheal's induction into the vampire clan and his steady realization of what is happening to him with the comedic elements of 3 bumbling teenagers trying to wage a war against something they can't possibly stand against. The vampires attack on the surf-nazi gang was one of the few I remember haunting my childhood. While most of the film focuses on Micheal's reaction to the attack, the quick glimpses of the vampires' animalistic slaughter of their prey, blood splashing, skulls being ripped open, and bodies being thrown into a bonfire are truly more effective to scar and terrorize than a full scene of violence could have been. The fact that a large portion of the film surrounding this scene is rather tame and mostly comedic lends to the shock value of it all. You are lulled into a comedy film, and then quickly learn just how dangerous Jack Bauer, Bill S. Preston, and friends are.

Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
Remember when it seemed like zombies became the big nerd obsession for about the past decade? Remember how these days the over-saturation of the concept honestly killed all possible attraction to the topic? Well, you can blame Shaun Of The Dead as one of the reasons for this. I can't blame Shaun Of The Dead, though, it can't help how popular it got. I remember seeing this movie before a lot of people I knew saw it and feeling so cool to have this little gem for myself, but it didn't last long. The story is of two unlikely heroes attempting to save themselves and those they love when an unexpected zombie outbreak occurs.

Sorry boys, not this time.

While the zombie train was already rolling the films tended to lean toward military strategy and the horror of human reaction when they are faced with the end of the world. SotD instead asked the question we'd all been answering for ourselves: what would we, the regular jagoffs, do when faced with a zombie outbreak? Who would we try to rescue, and where would we go as a stronghold? The comedy of SotD is in the ridiculousness of how poorly all of their plans and attempted actions go, as well some of the classic dry British humor. What I find truly brilliant is the fact that almost half of the dialogue in the film is said at least twice through out the film, in different contexts, and fits with both scenarios it is used in. Truly I have seen this film numerous times in the eight years it has existed, and am only now getting to a point where I'm not finding new jokes that are very subtly woven into the script.

So why include this wonderful comedy on a list of horror films? Well, the zombie outbreak setting helps that a bit, and with a zombie outbreak comes a good chunk of gore. There is plenty of blood and guts in this film, and even though it's a comedy it doesn't mean it doesn't forget that it's supposed to be a horror film as well. Impalings, flesh eating, blood, and plenty of zombie kills, but one bit sticks out in my mind. I remember the first time I saw this movie, there was a scene that hit me just like the surf-nazi slaughter above, and that is the disemboweling and dismemberment of David.

In the third act of Shaun Of The Dead the character of David, the yuppy best-friend of Shaun's girlfriend Liz, attempts to shoot Shaun in a fit of jealous rage and fear. He then quickly attempts to leave the tavern they have barricaded themselves in (that is currently surrounded by the walking dead) and is yelled into logical thinking by his shrill-voiced girlfriend. Just as David is about to apologize for his douchiness, and do the only decent thing in his life, a slew of arms burst through the bay window behind him and pull him out of the bar. While Shaun, Liz, and Diane try to pull him back into the bar the zombies tear into his stomach and begin feasting on his intestines while David is still alive. Suddenly, like a Crash Test Dummy action figure from the 90s, all of David's limbs and head detach and he is very much dead. This death actually upset me a lot the first time I saw it, wondering why the film felt it needed this graphic of a death scene when it never got this bad before or after it. Well, I have a theory about that I will have to save until I do one of my film-nerd critique posts. Be on the lookout for that.

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