CFP: Hello Traveler: Essays on 12 Monkeys

SUCCESS! Mc Farland Publishers have expressed an interest in publishing a collection of academic essays on 12 Monkeys (which I will edit). If you are interesting in contributing an abstract, please see the CFP below. Any questions, please let me know!!

deadline for submissions: 

November 3, 2017

full name / name of organization: 

Racheal Harris – Australian Catholic University

contact email:

armyofthetwelve@gmail.com

What does it mean to travel through time?

What is the impact on the individual and how widely do the repercussions of individual actions in the past ripple into an ever uncertain future?

What is the importance of a single moment or a single person’s actions when we consider them as a momentary player in history?

Can one person really save, or damn, the world?

These are but some of the questions asked by the syfy series 12 Monkeys.

Time travelling from the year 2043 to 2015 the mission of James Cole is, on the surface, a simple one: in order to save the world, he must prevent the spread of a biological plague. Willing to stop at nothing in order to achieve this end, Cole shows little compunction about killing those he feels are responsible for the outbreak. Cole is, at this point, acting under the assumption that success in his mission will unmake his current self and in doing so, he will reset the course of the future. Time, however, has other ideas and as Cole soon learns, time and fate are intimately connected; rather than being tangible elements of the natural world which can be bent and broken, time and fate are in fact conscious players in the unfolding story of humanity.

Moving back and forth through time, the unfolding and interlocking narratives of 12 Monkeys’ ensemble cast of characters has revealed itself to be not only complex, but a meticulously orchestrated meditation on time travel, destiny and fate. It initially received a mixed reception from the viewing audience, who expressed confusion over its’ relationship to the Terry Gilliam film released almost ten years prior. In the unfolding seasons however, the reception of audiences and critics alike has undergone a sharp turn. Now boasting over 95% approval on Rotten Tomatoes the series has developed a devoted following as it approaches its final season, in which the cycle of James Cole and his fellow travelers will be completed.

The aim of this collection will be to consider the various ways in which 12 Monkeys uses time and the time travel narrative in order to explore human nature, concepts related to cause and effect, and what it really means to try and influence or dramatically alter the fate of humankind.

Possible approaches may include, but are not limited to:

Call for Papers, edited collection of the Syfy series 12 Monkeys

– issues associated with time travel and paradoxes

– use of symbolism within the series

– religious overtones throughout the narrative

– comparisons between the series and the film

– psychoanalytic criticism

– character relationship dynamics

– representations of time travel

– comparisons between 12 Monkeys and other ‘change the past to save the future’ narratives

– the impact of time travel on the individual

– concepts of good and evil

– depictions of morality

– new-historic criticism

12 Monkeys in relation to wider science fiction cannon

– Eternal recurrence

– fandoms

– how characters continue in fandom after the end of a series

– death, rebirth and resurrection

– current fears around germ warfare and/or modern-day plagues

I encourage abstracts which examine the series from a broad range of disciplines and welcome contributions from researchers at any stage in their academic journey.

McFarland Publisher has expressed an interest in this project.

Completed essays will need to be in the range of 6,000 – 8,000 words.

Timeline:

The deadline for submission of abstract 3 November 2017

Successful candidates notified by 4 December 2017

Initial drafts by 1 February 2018

Revisions and final drafts to be completed by 1 May 2018

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Candyman (1992)

Don’t let that face fool you. This guy wants to f*ck your shit up. 

face

For some of you reading this, Candyman no doubt exists in the back of your fuzzy adolescent memories somewhere, maybe next door to Bloody Mary. After this film came out, truth or dare certainly got a lot more frightening at sleep-overs and the several sequels provided hours of fun for the whole family… okay, maybe not quite the whole family. For those of you with no memory, Candyman is rather like Bloody Mary in that he is one of those supernatural killers who can only be summoned by saying his name 5 times into a mirror.  Bloody Mary is a very similar figure (but you only say her name 3 times) as any devoted Supernatural fan will remember.

I had a vague memory of Candyman and a number of the less than impressive sequels and so, when I saw the DVD copy of the original for sale some time ago for the bargain price of $9.99 I thought I’d pick it up and take it home for a giggle. Funny thing, unlike many other horror films from that era, Candyman turned out to still be horrific. Deeply unsettling and darkly disturbing. It was awesome.

Unlike your traditional horror film, Candyman has a (surprisingly) deep, complex and unsettling plot. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that Clive Barker wrote the short story that it is based on. For those of you who don’t know Clive Barker, go and see Nightbreed and then come back and we can discuss not only his weirdness but what the hell that movie was even about. Candyman by comparison is much easier, it follows Virginia Madsen on a quest to write her PhD thesis, which she is co-writing on urban legends. As I begin the application process for my own PhD, it seemed like a fitting time to rewatch this…. because as anyone that’s been through the PhD process will tell you, it is in itself like a horror movie.

Lets revisit the trailer:

The film has a score by Philip Glass (he was pretty big in the late 80’s/ early 90’s) which adds to the extreme unrest you’ll feel from watching. It’s often been said that music is key when it comes to films (Jaws would be another classic example) and we see the dynamic between the visual and the audio used to stunning effect here. You’d be hard pressed to find another horror film that employs sound so well. It’s certainly not a score like any normal thing you’d hear in a horror movie.

Virginia Madsen plays the title role of Helen. Helen (as discussed) is slogging it out at university, trying to get her PhD written, while kind of being locked in a passive-aggressive relationship with her Professor husband. In true 90’s Professor style, he is playing up on her and for some reason, also surrounds himself with other male academics who play at putting down Helen and her thesis like it was a sport (ah, gender and relationship dynamics in the 90’s. Bless). Helen decides she is going to go against EVERYONES good advice and investigate the urban legend of Candyman. Convinced that he is not real, she packs her big coat, film camera and a fresh pack of darts and heads off into the projects to get amongst the legends with the locals. Things quickly spiral out of control for poor Helen from there.

It’s 1992 so mobile phones didn’t exist and all the computers are DOS systems (blue screen with white block type, guys). Since people need to have something in their hands and there are no phones, everyone is smoking. The film is set in Chicago and a large portion of it takes place at Cabrini Green, in the Projects. The fact that this is a real place adds to the atmosphere of the film. Although the themes are still relevant today, the setting and the era are integral to the spookiness. We’re so technologically connected these days, that remembering how things used to be only three short decades ago, is in itself scary.

I don’t want to give too much of the story line away, so I’m just going to say that, much to the surprise of Helen, the Candyman ends up being very real and, once she summons him, he is not going to leave her (or anyone she knows) alone. Things get bloody and people start dying real fast and, before she knows it, Helen’s life has gone to Hell. Literally, figuratively and spiritually.

To some degree this is a story about redemption. So, once she has made a huge fuck-up of everything, Helen has to come back from it. It is this journey that is the most horrific and the avenue through which Virginia Madsen gives her most intense performance.

Rather than being scary, I would say that the impact of Candyman comes from the fact that you’re left with such a deep sense of despair after seeing it. This is one of those movies where everyone suffers – even the people that live. As for the people that die… well, there’s nothing good in store for those poor bastards.

Don’t believe me? I dare you to go and say ‘Candyman’ into the mirror 5 times…

Riverdale

Can we take a minute here to talk about Riverdale? Where did this show even come from? I mean last thing I heard, everyone that’s a Netflix tragic was crowing on about Stranger Things. I tune out for a moment, I look back and this strange piece of teen-angsty, murder mystery drama thing is going on. I’m confused…. about a number of things.

Still, despite my better judgement, I’ve been tuning in every week to try and make sense of of it all and; since it seems like we’re on mid-season hiatus in Australia at the moment now seems like as good of a time as any for me to bring it up. I’m still really confused about what is going on and whether or not I like. It seems to me like someone took a cartoon and then added a dash of Twin Peaks and a dollop of Gossip Girl and gave that a stir before throwing in some 90’s heartthrobs. Leave to simmer for half a season and BAM! There’s an explosion tension driven drama, punctuated by strange episodes of product placement and some incredibly iffy costume choices.

The basic plot seems to be that Jughead is writing a novel about a murder that has taken place in sleepy little Riverdale, which just happens to be the home of Archie and his posse of pals. The victim is the richest, my popular twin in town and everyone is a suspect. Said deceased twin has a very alive sister and she is the bitch of the piece. The arrival of Veronica is a challenge to that title though, as well at to Betty and her secret love of her BFF, Archie. Archie is of course too focused on the affair he’s having with his teacher to notice that Betty is in love with him. Spending 7 minutes in heaven with Veronica soon pulls focus back to his teen lady friends though and suddenly Archie has more female attention coming his way than he knows what to do with. There’s also a token gay best friend and some super hip band girls doing the backing track to the series too, and let’s not forget ol’ Juggie, banging away on his type writer and being super pissed that he’s not getting any play – all in all, it’s just like when you were in high school … except that it isn’t – at all.

Pilot
(so, DILF’s are really a thing now. Here’s candidate no. 1: Luke Perry)

I was put onto Riverdale by a friend of mine, who was pretty excited to see Luke Perry back in action. As a hardcore Beverley Hills 90210/ Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie) fan myself, it seemed too good to be true, so I had to jump in an have a look. I’ve got to confess, I’m still a hell of a Luke Perry fan too. After seeing him in this, I can’t decide if I want to marry him or have him for my own super cool dad… he’s probably not old enough to be my dad, so maybe I’ll go with marrying him. Maybe it’s fair to say that I’ve hung in with this purely for his wise interludes. He’s a single dad, just trying to connect with his musically inclined, super sensitive teen son. He’s really bad at finding common ground, but I appreciate the ultra-hip attempt he makes. One thing that really stands out to me though, is that Archie doesn’t really look like Luke Perry. Not in any way, shape or form. Kind of makes me wonder if Luke Perry is really even his dad. I mean… he’s just so normal looking when all the kids are not.

riverdale

As is the issue with a lot of CW televisions shows, everyone is too good looking to be true. Even when they’re not quite awesome looking (like in Gossip Girl) they’re still all way too good looking to be from your high school, or mine. Plus they all have amazingly expensive wardrobes and immaculate hair and nails. I don’t know about you all, but I don’t remember having time to style my hair every morning before school and a mani/pedi combo in the afternoon with my best girlfriends? No way. Even if my allowance had covered such a thing, those Mars Bars and teen magazines weren’t going to buy themselves.

Due to the super good looking thing, one of my main bugbears with this show is the colour scheme. Specifically, the colour scheme that is happening on Archie’s head. Eyebrows can be dyed in guys… stop fooling and either make him a red head of let him go back to his glossy chestnut mane. You can’t be half in/half out – you commit to the ginger or you don’t. There’s also something distinctly Edward Cullen about Archie, I can’t quite put a finger on it, but again I think it comes down to his pale skin (I can’t way he’s not going to glitter in the sun because it always seems to be overcast in Riverdale) and his gelled hair. In any case, the world has one Edward Cullen. That’s more than enough.

Veronica… what’s going on with your eyebrows? Your dye job is impeccable and you seem to be the next iteration of Blair Waldorf (still desperately seeking Chuck Bass), but there is something about those brows that just makes you look a bit cray-cray. I get that you’re the rich girl and hence, you get to wear a cape, but I am totally not buying your rich bitch, girl kissing, uber bitch persona. You’re edgy, but you’re not edgy enough.

Betty. You’re too pure to function. I have a feeling there’s some crazy (genuine crazy) lurking under your sweater sets and blonde ponytails though – so I’m going to all it early and say you’re my favourite girl on this show. Imma be rooting for you.

The real stand out for me overall though is actually Jug. When he first showed up on screen with his knitted crown beanie it was all I could do not to roll my eyes, but I have to confess he’s really grown on me. Since the little romance he is trying to kick off with Betty began I’ve found that I’ve begun to root for him. He’s not the snide and bitter guy he pretends to be in the early episodes, he’s actually deeply intelligent, lonely and misunderstood. I guess spending your formative years in the shadow of you best buddy will do that to you. I’m hoping hard that Juggie is really going to come into his own in the back end of the season. That would be nice… and really, I think that him losing the knit crown beanie is too much to hope for.

cute
(too cutie patootie)

and here’s another DILF…

skeet

Skeet Ulrich popping up as old man Jughead blew my mind a little bit. I know he’s been around in the odd television show or movie, but I’ve always remembered him best for one role and that was as Billy in Scream. I was never a hardcore Skeet fan after that movie, but look, I think we can all agree that if we’d been Sidney, we totally would have lost our virginity to him as well. Anyway, in the current era he has shown up in Riverdale as the once best-friend/business partner of Luke Perry and together they’re DILF-ing it off for all the ladies my age. Luke Perry is your classic nice guy, while Skeet is more of the bad boy (read: alcoholic gang member/biker). I don’t know which way it’s going to go between them. Feels to me like Luke Perry is too nice. Maybe I’ll also hang around just to get to the bottom of that plot point.

Having read back and considered what I have seen so far, I still feel less certain about Riverdale than I did about 12 Monkeys (which has officially become ‘a thing’, but we’ll talk about that later). I don’t know if I am going to push on. I have until the end of the month to decide. I guess we’ll wait and see what happens. It’s easy to forget that there is a murder at the heart of this drama. That it is, is a real problem.

Pilot: 12 Monkeys

It’s been a while since we did one of these and I’m feeling nostalgic, so today we return to premier/pilot episodes and we’re going to look at the SyFy series 12 Monkeys. When I first came across the serial adaptation of this story I was surprised because of all the wonderful films that could have been chosen, this just felt like a weird choice to me. Then again, it’s just another in a long line of serial adaptations that have been gracing our screens lately… Shooter (WTF is that show even about?), Lethal Weapon (I love you Damon Waynes but the jury is still out on this one) and Fargo (can’t stomach Kirsten Dunst, will probably never watch this) to name a few. Personally, I’d like to see Jumper adapted for television because that movie had potential, despite the wooden acting, and the novel was pretty damned impressive as well. But I digress…

I’ll preface by saying that I was not a fan of the film adaptation by Terry Gilliam. I’m not sure what it was that put me off, Gilliam’s trippy directing or Brad Pitt’s over-hype, but it certainly wasn’t the concept. I know I watched it more than once, wanting to love it, but I just never quite got over the line; much as I loved the scene with Madeline Stowe holding Bruce Willis as he bleeds out in front of a strange little boy who turns out to be young Cole.

Unlike other serials which we have discussed in previous posts, I haven’t seen this whole series and am not writing this in retrospect and with full knowledge of how the plot line will develop. As a result, I can’t really tell you too much about the plot, apart from what I know from the movie and what I have divined from the initial installment of the series – obviously. That is that a strange man named Cole comes from the future in order to try and prevent the release of virus that will wipe out the vast majority of humanity. Unlike your typical time travel film though, Cole jumps back and forth between 2043 and any date in the past. In the pilot episode he spends most of his time in 2013 and 2015 respectively, but the nature of the film plot was that he can jump into any time (sometimes by accident) so I guess that’s going to carry across here. Rather than time travel, jumping or looping this practice is called ‘splintering.’ I believe that has to do with the fact that as minor changes happen Cole doesn’t change or doesn’t perceive that he has changed and that his present time also remains relatively static. I am unsure of the last though, as this is the first episode, so we will have to watch and see. In any case, it’s another example of one of the time travel paradoxes that we see so often in time travel themed shows.

castWe break the past the future follows… but does it?

Cole is working on the assumption that if he can kill someone in the past then this will prevent the release of the virus and hence erase him from the future (his present). Life is so crappy in that time that he seems totally okay with this option. The issue that I have with this kind of plot line is that if one believes in destiny, does it not nullify the whole reason for the mission? Destiny or fate come up a little bit in this first episode and traditionally both suggest that certain events will come to fruition in the fullness of time; that there is nothing we can do in order to prevent this certainty. Sure the heroes of these types of plots may go around killing past versions of future villains, but they are surely enough always replaced by other villains, who step into the role in order to fulfill the immutable nature of destiny. Considering that Cole comes from a time where science is smart enough to have riddled out the particulars of time travel, how have they not worked this out?

Cole and Cassie
Do you believe in fate? If I say yes, does that mean that Cole and Cassie will become my newest favourite sci-fi couple?

I feel like this time travel adventure slips into the same kind of vortex as Terminator – except Terminator is darker and Kyle Reese is more dynamic than Cole. Don’t get me wrong, I see Cole maybe growing on me, but if he came back from the future and landed in the back seat of my car right now, I just don’t know if I could respond to him in the right way. Even though he is apparently immune to paradoxes, I just wonder if that negates the actual paradox issue and even though he does that cool thing with the watch and the knife, I just don’t know if I’d be buying what he was selling. I guess the problem with all time travelers is that the nature of traveling through time makes them skittish and unreliable, dirty and disheveled. Cole is guilty of all of these things in the pilot – we will have to see if he can overcome.

pilot
Not even a paradox can hold you back. Convenient.. but I guess it is a fine line between convenience and annoyance. Time will tell what side of the line this paradox avoidance will fall on.

Neither of the presumably main characters (Cole and Cassie) in this series are known to me as actors. This is beneficial because, unlike the film, they’re not carrying with them any social expectation or any shit like that. There’s no prior work to compare this to and so it is easier to accept them in these roles. Still, I don’t know how I feel about either of them. Are two unknowns compelling enough to carry a series? I guess David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were relatively unknown when the X Files was released and look how that turned out.

syfy

The paradox watch demonstration Cole uses to discuss the relationship between past and future is kind of cool, but is it cool enough for me to come back for episode two? I don’t know. I wish there was some way of contacting future Racheal, so that I could ask her.

Sidebar: Why does everyone in the post-apocalyptic future have such good teeth? All our post-apocalyptic friends in this show, just like in Terminator, have great teeth – but no access to a good diet, clean running water or medical attention. This is a big issue for me. I feel it sets unrealistic expectations for when I finally meet my own time traveling love interest.

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

Ah, there’s nothing like a horror movie remake to get you though the holiday season, is there? Especially when it’s a remake of a weird movie that isn’t really that well-known in the scheme of things.

When I first heard of My Bloody Valentine I had no idea it actually was a remake, I just knew it was going to be a movie about some dude in a miners get up, killing people on Valentine’s Day. Seemed like a real winner to me. But then it got made in 3-D (and this was back in the time before Avatar and every other movie that annoyingly gets made into 3-D, which is to say that the standards of 3-D were shit.

In this re-imagining of the original film everything has been given a trendy update. The cast is better looking, younger and generally more photogenic. Their fashions are a lot more forward and everyone has great hair, particularly the men folk, who are not only sporting some excellent gel work, but some pretty cutesy facial hair too – I’m looking at you, Axel.

tom-ding-dong

Jensen Ackles plays Tom and this time he’s the son of a wealthy mining magnate. Clearly Tom isn’t cut out for life working miles underground and, after a night of being remiss in his duties, is inadvertantly responsible for an explosion that traps Harry Warden and a bunch of his fellow miners. Much like the first film, Harry is the only man to make it out alive and it soon becomes clear that he has only done so because he’s put a pick axe through the foreheads of his buddies so as to conserve his own air.

Again, as before, Harry ends up in a coma, only to awake on Valentine’s Day in order to slaughter the town. After going through an entire hospital ward, he heads over to the mine, where Tom and his girlfriend Sarah are having a secret party with her friends, Axel and Noreen… or Doreen – I can never remember cause she is that inessential to the plot.

One thing I will say for this version is that the set up with Harry Warden makes a bit more sense and paves the way for a smoother delivery. As before though, little is said around why Harry freaked out to begin with. Sure, surviving a mine collapse is going to mess a brother up, but would it really be reason to kill all your buddies. More than that, is there any reason really to slaughter an entire hospital nursing staff? And, perhaps more importantly, what does Valentine’s Day even have to do with anything in this version? While in the original it was the annual V-Day dance that was responsible for the mine collapse, in the remake there is little rhyme or reason around why Harry decides to start cutting out hearts, except perhaps for his dumb luck coming out of a coma on Valentine’s Day in the first place.

Back to the plot though… since we’re dressing this one up a bit, in this version Axel is the town sheriff and he is married to Sarah (Tom has been away for 10 years this time instead of 5) and they have a son and Axel is also having some kind of tawdry extra-marital affair with the girl in the picture below. No prizes for guessing what happens to her.

terror-in-the-aisles

Sarah, rather than being successful, works for her parents, stacking shelves and packing bags in their grocery… way to help out the women’s movement love, but I guess the world needs check out chicks too. Anyway, Tom returns to town after the death of his father, in order to sell the mine that has caused such distress. This in itself stresses out the locals and acts as some kind of call through the ether to Harry Warden, who uses this opportunity to return to the community to once again cut out some hearts and cause some general mischief.

triangle
(torn between the ever handsome Jensen Ackles and the never aging Kerr Smith – who will Sarah choose?)

Unlike the original, there were some parts in this one that I genuinely found scary. As mentioned above though, it was shot for 3-D and as such a lot of the camera work doesn’t carry over to the standard DVD format and certain angles and scenes are peculiar. Don’t even start me on the scene with Noreen either. I find the whole concept distressing.

Despite the advances in visual effects, I don’t think this one has the same sort of heart (tee hee) as the first one. The reduced cast makes the plot easier to follow and there is no shortage of gruesome deaths because of it; still, I have a lot of trouble focusing on this one through to the end. I think the issue that I just don’t care who lives and who dies. Ultimately, they’re all kind of jerks and it’s hard to have a successful horror film when there’s no one to root for.

With that in mind, I’d only be recommending this one if you’re feeling a bit hard up for a horror film or if you’re really into 3-D movies that you can’t actually watch in 3-D. I know a lot of Supernatural fan girls might get their knickers in a twist about me dissing Dean Winchester (and look, I’m a Dean girl), but this ain’t Dean – this is Tom and he’s a douche.

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

I can’t believe its been 5 months since my last post. I guess time flies when you’re moving across the country, starting a new job, getting settled in a new town and hosting your family for Christmas. Still, I’ve been remiss in my posting and have been looking for a reason to triumphantly return. Valentines Day seemed like as good of a reason as any.

Now, if you’re anything like me you find Valentines Day to be one of the more depressing greeting card holidays that Western Society insists on celebrating year in and year out. You can call me bitter, because I am, but reminding people that no one loves them and that they’re five seconds off being a crazy cat lady seems like a cruel and unusual punishment to inflict on an ever growing number of socially outcast freaks – much of whom have enough trouble getting through the general day to day bombardment of everyone elses love affairs on social media. With that in mind, I usually like to spend my V-Day at home, watching something that captures the spirit of the day. Last year it was From Hell, this year I thought ‘self, let’s watch My Bloody Valentine – both the original and the remake, for that extra dose of ‘loved-up goodness’ and then review them for the blog we’ve been neglecting.

This movie got the remake treatment in 2009 – as mentioned above, but we’ll be getting to that tomorrow – but for the sake of authenticity I think it’s important to revisit the original before we get side tracked by Jensen Ackles and the pitfalls of filming low-grade horror films in 3-D.

The original film is actually one of the stranger horror films I’ve seen and it times it is difficult to commit to and you have a moment of wondering if there isn’t something better you might be doing. Still, despite some damn awful acting and some questionable dialogue, it’s an amusing watch if you persist through to the end. The basic plot is thus;

valentine-bluffs

Valentine Bluffs is a small mining town that loves to make a big deal out of Valentines Day. One year (in the late 1960’s by my mathematical reckoning) there is a huge V-Day celebration planned that everyone is super keen to get to. As such, the foremen at the mine decide to cut out early and leave a group of miners below the surface, where they are trapped after an explosion. The soul survivor, Harry Warden, waits a year and then comes back and murders those responsible for leaving him and his ill-fated crew below ground to perish. Thereafter he is committed to a mental hospital and no one thinks about him again for 20 years. This is where the movies starts. Once again it is Valentines Day and this year, the townsfolk have decided that two decades of mourning is more than enough and it’s time to get the Valentine’s Day train back on track… with interesting results of course.

high-quality

In order to sate their thirst for all things romance, they decide to throw a huge dance and, almost on queue, Harry Warden makes a miraculous return – with threatening notes that warn all the old timers that he’s going to come back and kill everyone as soon as anyone dares start celebrating this dreaded holiday. Do the people listen? No, of course they don’t. Before you can say Hallmark Greeting Card there’s more crepe paper and cardboard love hearts strung up than you can poke a stick at. Suffice to say, this pisses Harry right off – and as a man good to his word, he has to start killing.

As I’ve said, although the acting in this version leaves a lot to be desired, considering the era, its actually an okay watch so long as you keep an open mind. There’s a huge cast of characters – which means a huge playing field for the killer (is it really Harry Warden slaughtering the locals? – is it not? I’m not going to ruin it for you)…. and some of the deaths are really very creative and gory (for the time).

death-by-washer

I’m really partial to death by washing machine/dryer –  particularly because it’s the smell that alerts the sheriff to the body. Nice.

It’s important to remember going into this movie that it pre-dates the heyday of slasher films, which really kicked off a few years later with A Nightmare on Elm Street. When you consider it as a forerunner to that film and all the other classics that came after it, it makes it somewhat more enjoyable to watch and you can forgive a lot of the more confusing elements of the plot. Unlike some of the later slasher films, I also have to give this one credit for having a villain that has no special powers. If we look at Freddy Kruger or the later versions of Jason Voorhees and Michael Meyers, they are in fact un-killable, which gives them a supernatural quality. In My Bloody Valentine our killer is pure flesh and blood human – and there’s a lot to be said for that fact.

forbidden-love

Oh, I guess it’s also important to mention that there is a love story element interwoven with the murder plot. Nothing lends itself to a mass slaughter quite like a love triangle – which is what we see here between Axel, Sarah and Tom. I’m not really clear on the nature or scope of their relationships, outside of the fact that Tom was with Sarah and then he left town and abandoned her. She picked up with Axel – who may or may not have been Tom’s buddy (poor form Axel) and just prior to the commencement of the film, Tom waltzes back into the piece to mess shit up. Indeed it is a tale as old as time and something to warm the cockles of the heart as we wade through the mire of discounted V-Day chocolates and wilted roses.

Overall, My Bloody Valentine is not quite as sharp as Prom Night and nowhere near as good as Halloween, but it’s a perfectly warm and fuzzy interlude for those of us who find themselves alone, yet again, on Valentines Day. Although the ensemble cast is a collection of unknown actors, with vastly differing acting abilities, they are likeable enough, while their fashion choices in particular make the film worth watching. Importantly, it’s also a timely reminder that things could be worse. Yes, we were alone but at least we didn’t end up with a pick axe through the forehead.

sidebar: for those of you who might have thought of this blog and our absence, even fleetingly over the last half year – I am sorry. We’ll be doing much better from now on and yes, I’ll be coming back around to a sci-fi focus soon.

Flashback Friday: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Well I might be four weeks late, but at least it hasn’t been 19 years between drinks and, as they say, better late than never.Now, without further ado, let us continue on then, with the final installment of the Indiana Jones franchise: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That’s right, the long awaited fourth chapter and sequel to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

cate
(this time we’ve moved on from the Germans, to the Russians! Sigh).

I remember seeing this film not long after it came out, because I was having some kind of ‘thing’ about Shia LaBeouf. It was about the time he was being touted as the next Tom Hanks and was on the cover Vanity Fair… and just about to begin the downward spiral. I still actually really rate him, but he’s certainly made some questionable career moves of late and to be honest, I haven’t seen him in anything since I saw him in Lawless (which I also rated very highly). I think that, no matter what crazy antics he gets up to though, I’ll always love him because of this video. Anyway, I saw this movie because Shia was in it and right from the word go, I was confused. I was confused then because I didn’t remember any of the original films and I am equally as confused now, because I just don’t get how anyone at any studio thought that this film, in this format was a good idea.

I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but there is something about the way that the film was shot that makes me think that some styles of film making don’t carry well over time. Coming from a franchise with this much of reputation and film makers like Spielberg and Lucas makes it even more perplexing because I have seen a lot of their normal fare and this just feels like it was phoned in. It’s not like they have a shortage of talent either – you’ve got Cate Blanchett as the villain, Shia LeBoef as Mutt and John Hurt as Ox, the insane archaeologist. There is no reason that this shouldn’t work. But it doesn’t.

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Indy is looking a little worse for wear in this episode, that’s evident from minute one and really, you have to wonder if Harrison Ford hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew by taking this one on. Thus, we are introduced to his son, Mutt (don’t even start me up on that name). Mutt, it seems, was pegged to  take over the franchise, but I think our friend Shia was equally as unhappy with how the finished product turned out and wasn’t in a hurry to get involved again. On the positive side, I guess, we are treated to the re-emergence of Marion Ravenwood, who I have been rooting for since minute one. Poor Marion, it seems she got the be the mother of Jones’ son, while he was off running around on adventures without a care in the world. Just another example of what a top bloke he is.

What really does me in about this film though, more than any of the others, is the damn ending. Not just because it’s the same as all the others, in so far as Indy not really coming out any better off- spiritually or otherwise, and not just because the special effects are shit… but because of the UFO that launches out of the ground, carrying 12 crystal aliens.

Aliens. Seriously? Come on man! When you stack this film up against the other three it’s not only inferior, it actually detracts from the entire franchise (kind of like Lost Boys: The Tribe and Lost Boys: The Thirst, both of which hurt my heart). I know that the mythology of this film is not just the product of Hollywood. I know a lot of the early discussion about the different kind of crystal skulls is based in historical fact, but still, taking the plot from history and adventure into the realm of the paranormal just feels like the wrong choice. I can see why fans of the original films hated this one. You certainly come out of it feeling like you’ve been the unwilling participant in some kind of practical joke. Speaking of the special effect too, what are they all about? I mean they don’t even come close to looking real. Overall, it kind of gives the move a comic-book feel and I don’t see why it needed that.

At least I get my happy ending I suppose – with the marriage of Jones and Marion. ‘How much of human life is lost in waiting?’ Damn it, Ox, that is the most intelligent thing that comes out of this whole film and even though it’s a highlight, I just don’t know if your wisdom is enough to redeem it.

Safe to say, I’ll not be rushing back to watch this one again. The other three, maybe, but 4?? Nope, even Shia isn’t going to get me over the line with this one… and you know, I think he’d be cool with that.

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(you do you, Harrison Ford, this ain’t the franchise for me)