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Open Water: Picking the Scab of Despair

First of all, the poster for this movie is perfection. It captures the hopelessness of the couple adrift in the deep dark sea, while god-only-knows is approaching them, unseen, from the inky depths. So many shark movies have ludicrous or misleading posters, but this one fucking nails it. Look at it, folks. Just look at it, damn you!!

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Blue Water, White Death: The Greatest Adventure

Not to take anything away from the powerful influence Jaws had on my life, but nothing can compare to Blue Water, White Death. Released five years before Jaws, this documentary feature film really sealed the deal for me in my obsession and subsequent decision to study these magnificent beasts. I wasn’t even born when this band of scientists, photographers, and all around nut jobs sailed around the world on the Terrier XIII in the quest to capture the Great White Shark on film … and introduce an unsuspecting audience to the beauty and grace of the ocean’s apex predator. 

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An Ode to Ellen Ripley, Complicated Badass

S A L T C I T Y S H I V E R S

It can be easy to dismiss big-budget movie franchises as bereft of artistic merit. I’ve seen words like “bloated” and “formulaic” tossed around, and such disparagement is not always undeserved (although the most egregious entries in franchises tend to be presented with tongue quite obviously in cheek). Still, there’s something to be said for an imaginary world capable of sustaining 40 years of multimillion dollar investments as a sort of artistic achievement in its own right – particularly when that imaginary world has been crafted with an aesthetic that is immediately identified as its “trademark.”

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From the Cosmos to the Depths: Close Encounters

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SEA MONSTER. Medieval woodcut.

n a previous post here, I wrote about the connection between cosmic horror and stories of deep-ocean terror. I focused on films like Underwater, Sea Fever, and The Beach House. These are films that use the depths of the ocean as a stand-in for the vastness of the cosmos when executing the time-worn Lovecraftian trope of “a terror from beyond.” The antagonists in these films remain either diffuse and (at least partially) metaphorical, as in Sea Fever and The Beach House, or seldom-glimpsed (Underwater). The stories are less creature features than they are tales about the human response to a threat that is, in some sense, incomprehensible or unknowable.

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Wolves of the 1980s: It’s a Jungle Out There (Part 2)

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(Content warning: discussion of sexual violence. In Part 1 of this two-part examination of werewolf movies and the 1980s, I touched on the ability of werewolf stories to express social anxieties over the years, and on the unusually large number of these stories that 1980s horror cinema produced.)

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