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‘Possum,’ ‘Mercy Black,’ and Family Trauma in Horror

To hear Vice’s Ryan Bradford tell it, “Terrifying Family Trauma Is the New Thing in Horror.”

I would dispute that family trauma is a “new thing” in horror, something Bradford himself admits, but his main thesis holds up – namely, that 2018 was marked, in films like the excellent Hereditary and shows like Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block, Sharp Objects, and Haunting of Hill House, by stories of family trauma manifested in horrific and terrifying ways. Continue reading ‘Possum,’ ‘Mercy Black,’ and Family Trauma in Horror

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The Only One That Matters

Do you see that house? Shrouded overgrown plants like some sort of forgotten temple in the wilds of South America. You can imagine strange rites to stranger gods, swinging sex parties that devolve into cannibalistic orgies of violence. But none of that is real, all in your head. You see, that house is just that, a simple overgrown house, it doesn’t matter.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Black Mountain Side’ (2014)

Kicking off the release of “In the Shadow of the Mountains” by Reed Alexander, one of the many movies that inspired it.  Interestingly enough this movie was inspired by another fantastic work of horror fictions call “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft.

Can a movie be too intellectual to be scary?

This was a damn good movie.  It’s definitely not for everyone.  I’m not sure what kind of crowd this would appeal to but it hit all my buttons.  It was just such an intelligent movie.  The characters, step by step, logically addressed the illogical.  It’s based on Lovecraft’s “The Mountains of Madness.” It doesn’t follow the actual story of H. P. Lovecraft, but rather supposes what happened before “The Mountains of Madness” kicks off.

But can I recommend this to Lovecraft fans?  It has some of the feel of Lovecraft, but really is a lot more like John Carpenter’s The Thing in stylization.  One could argue that John Carpenter had a Lovecraftian style, but Lovecraft was more subtle, J. C. was pretty in your face.  But it doesn’t have the same brutality as J. C., so can I recommend it to fans of The Thing?

I could almost recommend this movie to fans of anthropology.  Of course the anthropological discoveries are all fake, but they go over them in such amazing detail.  The archaeology builds the mythos so deeply you can almost believe it.  It does get a little strenuous sometimes but it really pulls you into the setting.  It gives it such amazing life.

The acting is fantastic and brilliantly thought out.  When the writer and the actors connect like this, it make for the best movies.  Every reaction is in step with what makes the most sense.  The story just flows out of the actors naturally.  A little too naturally at times.  Dialog turns into needless banter occasionally, but for the most part is really solid.  And the atmosphere.  Man, isolationism is really the strongest setting for any horror.  I mean, it’s easy, but also easy to fuck up.  The wrong lighting, the wrong filters, and a set that’s supposed to feel a million miles from civilization instead feels next door to a major metropolitan area.  But this movie was so dark.  I’ve been talking about this in some of my recent reviews.  It’s dark to the point you have to turn the lights out just to see the screen.  The darkness feels alive.

So, who do I recommend this movie too?  I think it’s a must see for Horror Heads.  It’s certainly required viewing for fans of Lovecraft and J.C.  But I think the people who would be the best target audience are those ancient aliens nuts.

SPOILERS!!!

This movie promised me parasitic cephalopods!  I WANT MY FUCKING CEPHALOPODS!  What do I get instead?  A couple undulating tumors.  Now, don’t get me wrong, creepy rolling tumors are cool, but only because something is supposed to pop out of them.  The characters talk about this mutagenic infection that’s causing tumors which turn into cephalopods, but you never get to see one.  How fucking cool would that have been?  A corpse bursting into dozens of squirming octopus like critters.  That’s the kind of shit horror fans live for.  Maybe they didn’t have the budget?  It was just a disappointment.

They did have fun with the crew’s slow descent into madness.  That’s what this movie was really all about.  Though I’m not sure if slow is the right word.  It’s not fast but the curve is pretty steep.  First a dead cat, then the work crew disappear, then a guy vomits black ichor.  The next thing you know, they’re hacking off a guys arm because something is moving around under the skin, and another character is talking to some strange looking anthropomorphic dear creature from the darkness.  It starts off as a slowly building simmer that last for such a long time, but then suddenly and violently, shit hits the fan.

I don’t understand the motivations of the dear creature.  You get the feeling that it’s trying to propagate the spread of it’s cephalopod tumors, but then it’s constantly having the crew do thing counteractive to the success of the spread.  It infects a guy then has another guy kill him.  Then it doesn’t try to infect anyone else, it just starts convincing them to kill each other.  So, it doesn’t want worshipers, it doesn’t want to successfully spread the parasites.  What the fuck does it want?  It tells the crew that it’s not bound to the dig site, but it doesn’t seem interested in leaving to spread it’s infection.  So what the fuck is it doing?  Pretty much just admiring the stars and brutally murdering any dumb bastard that wanders by.

The ending is actually kinda disappointing, but it did do one thing right.  Say it with me now, in your best Morbo impersonation! “THERE WERE NO SURVIVORS!!!” I mean, if this is supposed to be the incident before “The Mountains of Madness,” then no one can survive.  Two guys effectively die from the infection, most of the rest wind up killing each other, but the last guy is what bothered me.  The last guy dies by getting stuck in a bear trap.  Really?  Is that all?  We’re just going to have it end with some guy dying of bad luck?  That’s just fucking lame.

But yes, I do recommend this movie.  It’s not just good, it’s fascinating.

If you like Reed Alexander’s Horror Review, consider stopping by Horror.Media and donating by hitting the ‘Tip’ button. You can also support Reed by sharing his reviews on Facebook and Twitter.

https://horror.media/authors/reed-alexander

New reviews posted Thursday, here on Madness Heart!

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Quasimodo: A Reflection on the Hunchback.

The day Notre Dame burned a meme began to circulate. It had a picture of Quasimodo and said something like: investigators don’t know how the fire started, but I have my ideas. Besides being a joke that was too soon, the meme was grossly inaccurate. It implied that the titular hunchback from Victor Hugo’s classic Gothic novel would want the cathedral to burn. This is far from the reality of the character. Quasimodo would’ve been horrified by the fire. The cathedral was his home. He fought off a mob to protect it. The meme also showed how Quasimodo is viewed by the general public, as a monster.

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Body Horror, Part Three: Literature of the Flesh

David Cronenberg is one of the defining visionaries of body horror. His remake of the Fly is a masterpiece of both practical special effects and the exploration (in themes and in concrete terms) of biology and dehumanization. One of Cronenberg’s movies, however, is often overlooked in a consideration of his “body horror” canon; his adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Naked Lunch itself is a difficult book to describe. It is hallucinatory, absurd, obscene, terrifying, and absolutely unique – completely unlike anything that came before or since. And amidst the drugs, weird sex, science fiction concepts, and gibberish is a fair amount of what I would describe as good old-fashioned body horror; explorations of addiction, disease, disfigurement, and mutation.

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Flash Friday: Fleas

You don’t see them hop, you see them before the bounce, and if you are fast enough, you can see them once they land. But when they jump it’s completely different. Each parasitic intruder is moving so fast they can’t be seen. It means for that fraction of a second between jump and land, they are everywhere at once. There is no space that is not filled completely with fleas. When you can’t see them it means they are in motion, looming closer to us with each unfurling of bristled legs to pop into the every-space and then back.