Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween 2019!!!

Yes, I post this song every year. I will continue to do so for the rest of my time on Earth. Nothing sets the Autumnal mood for me like this song, and this album (digipak version). My, how I miss Peter Steele and the boys.


31 Days of Horror:

10/01: House of 1000 Corpses/31
10/02: Lords of Chaos
10/03: Creepshow Ep 2/Tales from the Crypt Ssn 1, Ep 1
10/04: IT Chapter 2, AHS 1984 Ep. 3
10/05: Bliss/VFW
10/06: Halloween III: Season of the Witch/Night of the Creeps/The Fog
10/07: Halloween 2018
10/08: Hell House, LLC
10/09: Dance of the Dead (Tobe Hooper; Masters of Horror Ssn 1 Ep 3)
10/10: Creepshow Episode 3
10/11: Jenifer (Dario Argento; Masters of Horror Ssn 1 Ep 4)
10/12: Poltergeist/Phenomena
10/13: AHS 1984 Ep 4/In the Tall Grass
10/14: Invasion of the Body Snatchers ('78)
10/15: Rabid (2019)
10/16: Wounds
10/17: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
10/18: Creepshow Episode 4
10/19: Ed Wood/AHS 1984 Ep. 5
10/20: Sinister/Sinister 2
10/21: Uncanny Annie
10/22: Scream
10/23: Simpsons 666: Treehouse of Horror
10/24: Jennifer's Body
10/25: Belzebuth/The Lighthouse/Halloween
10/26: Murder Party
10/27: AHS 1984 Ep. 6/Arsenic and Old Lace/The Fair Haired Child (Masters of Horror Ssn 1 Ep 9)
10/28: May
10/29: The Exorcist (Theatrical Cut)
10/30: Nightmare Cinema

I felt considerably saddened two nights ago when, for the second time in the last ten years, I watched William Friedkin's The Exorcist and felt nothing in the way of the fear that the film used to evoke in me. If you chart my experiences with Friedkin's masterpiece, there was my awareness of it as a kid; I'm certain I saw parts of it as a child, but I don't think I saw the entire film until somewhere in the early to mid-90s. I don't really remember that viewing, other than as an introduction. My critical faculties for film, in general, were burgeoning at the time, but still largely unsophisticated. Then, in the early 00s, I watched it with a friend, stoned out of my mind in a darkened room, and felt a very real fear that bordered on dread. This feeling stayed with me for at least a day afterward and inspired my oft-repeated axiom, "I don't believe in the Devil, except for three days after I watch The Exorcist."

This used to be exactly true.

I watched the film again in 2004 with the same friend and a few other fellows, all stoned, lights out, in the living room of the house some friends and I used to rent in the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. I remember that viewing best because I was so freaked out during it I didn't want to get up and go to the restroom, which was about three feet beyond the television.

Fast forward to somewhere around 2009-2010. Living in Los Angeles now, I invited a few friends over to watch the Director's Cut of The Exorcist, the version I had never seen that contained the freaky and much-hyped Spider-walk sequence. After having talked it up for quite some time to everyone present, this was the first viewing where the film really did not affect me almost at all, certainly not the way it had in the past. That brooding, sustained fear is what I look for in 'scary movies.' I chalked this up to the Director's Cut potentially having different pacing.

After my viewing of the Theatrical Cut again two nights ago, I now find that it's not the film, it's me.

Most Horror films use jump scares, because they're fun and easy. Some use gore or disturbing premises and images to achieve their desired effect. FEW can create the air of menace I'm talking about here. The Exorcist - which although it appears no longer affects me I still consider the scariest movie ever made - definitely does it the best. The original Blair Witch Project also does this and has the advantage of real human fear being captured on film in places (no, I am not suggesting the marketing that the film was real is true. But BWP was partially shot with the three actors operating under false pretenses, and long before the hype of that film began, I read an article that talked about how the directors followed the actors through the woods for several days, employing a magnet to disrupt their compass and actually preying on them by making the strange noises in the middle of the night and, at one point, actually running up and attacking the tent while the actors were inside freaking out). More recently, during its original theatrical run, I was surprised to find James Wan's Insidious had some genuinely scary scenes - the baby monitor and the ghost that walks through the wall, in particular. In fact, several of Wan's franchise films have great moments of sustained fear - think of the two sisters reacting to the dark corner or the handclaps in The Conjuring - but the films usually also take a misstep along the way that neutralizes the overall effect. This year, as part of 31 Days of Horror, I was pleasantly surprised to find Hell House, LLC has some very real fear-inducing moments, and nary a misstep afterward. But off the top of my head, that's all I can think of (always looking for suggestions). They say familiarity breeds contempt, but I've never agreed with that. However, perhaps at this point, I've had the maximum number of viewings one can have with a legitimately fear-producing film before it loses its power. Not to mention, if you add all the lampooning of key scenes from The Exorcist in comedy sketches and pop culture, I'm afraid I may lay this one to rest.


Playlist from the last few days:

Type O Negative - Dead Again
Type O Negative - Life is Killing Me
The Obsessed - Lunar Womb
Boy Harsher - Careful
Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Billy Idol - Greatest Hits
Blut Aus Nord - Hallucinogen
Deth Crux - Mutant Flesh
Deth Crux - Pears of Anguish  EP
Fields of the Nephilim - The Nephilim
The Sisters of Mercy - Floodland
Ministry - Psalm 69
Black Pumas - Eponymous
The Dead Milkmen - The King in Yellow
The Misfits - American Psycho

Card of the Day:

Is this banging my head against the wall or the edict I should move beyond my frustrations and continue to work toward my goal? Number two, always. 

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