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Boot or Reboot: Fan Opinions on the New Child’s Play

Like the remake of Pet Sematary, I’d been hearing a lot of complaints about the new Child’s Play reboot.  Curious as to where all the ire was coming from, I decided to investigate fan opinions and see what was turning them off.

First, I ran a survey to see just how many horror heads were really put off by the idea of a reboot.

I’d like readers to keep in mind that the sample from the following survey was taken from horror fans specifically and does have a level of fan bias.  Questionnaires of those surveyed were strictly from individuals who were NOT going to be seeing the movie.  It should also be noted that the sample size fell short of the acceptable 300 sample size minimum and could show a poor sample size bias.  Total Sample Size: 264

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Reed Alexander’s Review of ‘The Ruins’ (2008)

Then Something Eats Your Face…

You know, I don’t know why I like this movie so much.  Maybe because it’s not just horror, but survival horror.  It has that “brink of madness, human limits tested, sense of dread” that I love so much about zombie movies (when they’re done right).  Kind of like The Road.  That wasn’t horror, but it’s just an epic long, grueling march, right into the grave. It’s just fucking brutal. *cue Nathan Explosion*

Continue reading Reed Alexander’s Review of ‘The Ruins’ (2008)

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Pet Sematary’ (2019)

And the Award for Creepiest Child Actress Goes to…

Jesus fucking Christ, Jete’ Laurence is fucking creepy. Can we take a minute to appreciate, that at no point, did she fuck this role up with a Silent Hillmoment? That speaks volumes for her talent as a little actress. Hope she carries it.

Speaking of acting, what a fantastic fucking cast. John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz, fucking forget about it. Those two alone could have carried this movie with their performance. Throw in Jete’, and it’s just acting overkill.

So the lingering question, that I’m sure has been on all you filthy mutant’s fucking minds… Is it worth the remake? Is it better? Well, no, not better, just different. Look, we can’t talk about this movie without bringing up the original, and we can’t talk about the original, without admitting to ourselves that it was kind of fucking cheese. Look, the original has a soft spot in my heart (that could be necrosis), but it was cheesy as fuck. The acting was cheese, the atmosphere was cheesy, shit, the creepy little Gage was kinda cheesy. But, that’s why we loved it. It was cheesy, creepy, and fun as all fucking hell.

This one was just more serious, and that’s where it is both better but also kind of fails to be better. Serious is good, if you can really nail it home.  Now, as mentioned before, the acting was just spectacular and really fucking drives it home. The dialog was also just fantastic and the emoting by the actors in the dialog was fucking gripping. However, it was a bit over the top. It was like everyone was just fucking crying all the damn time and it did get a bit draining.

The atmosphere, for the most part, was fucking solid. The problem is, when they breach the barrier into the Wendigo swamps, it gets really fucking cartoonish. Here’s the thing, they must have known they fucked it up too. If you saw the previews, you’ll notice the swamps look gritty, dark, and forbidding. But, when you watch the movie, they’re just fucking cartoonish. They don’t feel real, or even surreal, they just feel fake.

What pisses me off about this is how solid, real, and fucking creepy everything else feels, but then you get to the swamps and it’s like they phoned it the fuck in. Now, this isn’t the only thing they fucked up, but I can’t get into the rest outside the spoilers. Here’s the thing, I mentioned in an interview with Madness Heart Press, that the directors were little known and I was really familiar with anything under their belt. Frankly, they were too green and they made some rookie mistakes. 

So, is it better than the original? No, it’s not better or worse, it’s just different. Is it worth watching? Yeah, I highly recommend this to general audiences. There’s enough good movie here for even casual viewers to enjoy. Not a must watch by any means, but definitely worth watching if you give it a chance.

SPOILERS!!!

I’m not sure if the motivation of Victor Pascow really tracks. Also, does “black guy dies first” count if the actor gets to live on as a ghost? I mean, they gave Obssa Ahmed plenty of screen time, but why have a black actor if you just pigeon hole the guy into the same ol’ horror stereotype. And this is the second place they phoned it in. Not by killing him, but by giving him shit dialog and crappy FX. This was the second thing that felt cartoony in this movie. It’s like they didn’t even try with the FX. Worse, it was practical FX, and that’s not something a major Hollywood production has any excuse fucking up. It’s a rookie mistake, once again proving the directors just weren’t ready.

You know what I did appreciate in this remake that I feel was missing in the original? They really got solidly into the motivations of each character. While Jud from the original was just like, “Every kid should have their animal raised from the dead at least once in their life,” this Jud was like, “I wanted to make the kid happy, but it plays on your emotions, calling you back, using it against you.” Now that’s really deep stuff. Not to mention they just layer on the history with Rachel Creed’s sister. And, MY FUCKING GOD, that is jut some brutal portrayal of abuse. It got me straight up shook. Good body horror too with the FX on her sister. So, please fucking explain to me how they got that right, but fucked up Victor Pascow?

All in all, outside of its failings, it was a pretty solid movie and I’d recommend it to anyone.

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

New reviews posted Wednesday, here on Madness Heart!

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Vampires and the Beautiful Grotesque

We reach for it with trembling fingers outstretched, filled with contradictory impulses. We are repelled but captivated, our attraction stronger than our repulsion – stronger than our common sense, our decency, even our instinct for self-preservation. It’s a story as old as stories; the beautiful grotesque, the alluring monster, the object of desire that offers us sweet harm. The theme is reflected in horror fiction is multitudinous ways; many are doomed and romantic visions of the beautiful grotesque, cast as love stories or cautionary tales or (often) both. Viewed through one specific facet – the vampire story – the evolution of the beautiful grotesque over the last century can offer us a few interesting glimpses of sex, death, and aristocracy.

1897’s Dracula gave us the modern vampire, and 1922’s motion picture knockoff Dracula, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, gave us a glimpse of the DMCA-plagued future. While Bram Stoker’s masterpiece borrowed many things – many parts of the vampire legend itself, the actual person of Vlad Țepeș – Nosferatu was such a copycat that in 1929 a judge ruled that all copies of the film were to be destroyed. The ruling almost drove a stake through the heart of one of the greatest horror films of all time, but a few unlicensed and unauthorized prints of the film (which was itself, remember, a copy of Dracula) survived. I find this to be an amusing example of life imitating art; Nosferatu survived and became immortal through the same parasitism that spawned it in the first place, and which any creature of the night worth its canines would appreciate.

Stoker’s description of Count Dracula does not line up with the monster given us in Nosferatu (indeed, the genealogy of that creeping, noisome thing might lie in the folktales of Eastern Europe, but it doesn’t reside in the popular Romantic or Gothic conceptions of the vampire as expressed in works like John Polidori’s The Vampyre or Le Fanu’s Carnilla, both of which preceded Dracula). The Count is described as an old man, yes, but one with profuse hair and eyebrows and whose ruddy lips “showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years.” This description of Dracula lines up fairly closely with the Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee versions from 1931 and 1958, respectively, but what happened on Dracula’s 1922 journey to Germany that metamorphosed him into Orlok?

It’s an intriguingly German phenomenon that was repeated in Werner Herzog’s uneven 1979 film Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht. The film was conceived of as a remake of the 1922 Nosferatu rather than a direct adaption of Dracula, and while Klaus Kinski’s Count Dracula (no hiding behind “Orlok” or other changed names this time around) is a bald, toothy monstrosity, even Herzog’s Dracula is not as terrible a vision of living death as the 1922 film’s monster.

Modern iterations of the vampire have taken several forms, from the familiar vision of debauched aristocracy presented in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (a vision given a brilliant metaphorical twist through the slaveholding American South – the most parasitic, vampiristic political economy imaginable) or the Kate Beckinsale Underworld movies, to the Nosferatu-esque nightmare of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s Strain novels, but for my money the most telling modern iteration of the story can be found nestled in the foggy Pacific Northwest, in a YA horror-romance series you may have heard of called The Twilight Saga.

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In 2006, I started reading Twilight. Now, bear with me for a second here. My excuses for this behavior are threefold. First off, I’m a big old horror nerd and (like most horror nerds) a voracious, omnivorous, and opportunistic consumer of reading material. I’ll rarely turn down an excuse to sample something novel and interesting, and a soft-romance YA vampire novel was (for me, in 2006) an exercise first and foremost in novelty. I am – when it comes to horror – down for whatever. Second, circumstances were just right. I had just joined a pool of administrative assistants at a standard-issue, biz-cas cubicle labyrinth, and the other admins were ravenously gobbling up the Twilight books, and it gave me something to talk to them about. Lastly, as a purely anthropological exercise, I felt like I had to read at least the first book. After all, while my family are not Mormon, I grew up in Davis County, Utah, and am thus a product of the same basic political-theological stew that produced Stephanie Meyer (and, thus, Bella Swan).

Has the supposedly grotesque ever been so beautiful, so – forgive the pun – defanged? What is Bella’s first impression of Edward Cullen, our hundred-year-dead walking corpse, the embodiment of that which must feed on the blood of the living to perpetuate its own unnatural life?

“I stared because their faces, so different, so similar, were all devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful. They were faces you never expected to see except perhaps on the airbrushed pages of a fashion magazine. Or painted by an old master as the face of an angel. It was hard to decide who was the most beautiful – maybe the perfect blond girl, or the bronze-haired boy.”

But this is merely a vampire’s seductive glamour, right? What horrible truth lurks beneath Edward’s beauty, what skulking Orlok does our heroine eventually unmask?

“Edward in the sunlight was shocking. I couldn’t get used to it, though I’d been staring at him all afternoon. His skin, white despite the faint flush from yesterday’s hunting trip, literally sparkled, like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface.”
Much rather snarky hay has been made of the sparkly vampire presented by Meyer, but I’m curious what deeper lessons we can draw from the popularity of Twilight. After all, Meyer’s bloodless (pardon the pun) vision of pretty, polite vampires was tremendously successful, spawning four books and five films and earning Meyer more than $120 million. Her vampires are noble, yes, but not just in the pecuniary sense of the word. They don’t really have to avoid the sun, don’t drink human blood (not the good ones, at any rate), and don’t have sex until marriage. That these tepid, sickly satires of a genre I love were so popular still hurts me a bit – I rarely wish to yuck on anyone’s yum, but other than Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind books, The Twilight Saga were the worst books I’ve ever read.

They represent not the beautiful grotesque, caught in a delicious tension between death and love, sex and the grave, but rather the grotesquely beautiful – boys (and girls) so breath-taking and exquisite that the pain they cause is for us to gaze upon them and ache with longing. Theirs is not a chilling or even interesting contemplation of what lies beyond death and what we might be willing to sacrifice for a voyage into eternity. They represent a glorification of abstinence – a gross and outdated moral viewpoint almost as repellant as Twilight’s gender politics.

Perhaps the journey from creeping Orlok to a more dark-and-handsome, widow’s-peaked Dracula to a sparkling, vegetarian Edward Cullen is less the expression of a straight line than a series of unrelated lamp posts strung along a winding path in the dark, providing illumination of their immediate cultural surroundings but not necessarily suggesting a linear progression. If anything, the meteoric rise of the zombie – that more overtly rotting, clotted, grungy cousin of the vampire – suggests that our fears regarding the grave haven’t evaporated.

If anything, perhaps they have become pronounced enough – gnawing enough – that the delicious tension represented by the beautiful grotesque has become difficult to maintain without something breaking.