Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tortureporn and a Barrel of Laughs

What do the above three hotties have in common? Maybe more than you think. I recently saw the term "Tortureporn" in an issue of Entertainment Weekly. It refers to the Hostels and Saws of the world. Then, a friend dropped the term in conversation and assured me that yes, this is the hot new word that the kids are using to describe that genre of film -- so in demand these days -- of really bad s#%t happening to trapped people.

Are people actually getting off on it? I hope not. Those ain't folks I want to know. But the inclusion of the word "porn" may not be far from the mark. It reminded me of a paper I wrote in college. I wrote about Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy, focusing on Evil Dead II as a synthesis of film genre -- as the perfect "horror comedy."

It was far more intellectual than I usually get, and I certainly don't give much credence to genre studies in general (labels are for squares, man!), but my paper led me to the conclusion that horror and comedy are basically the same thing. At least, they work with nearly identical devices. Comedy creates tension, playing off expectations to elicit physical relief (laughter). Horror creates tension, playing off suspense to elicit physical relief (screams or jumps). Evil Dead is unique in how well it does these simultaneously.

So horror and comedy, I decided, were definable as genres by virtue of the audiences' physical reactions to them. And think of all those people who just laugh during scary horror movies. But there's one more genre that fits the "defined by physical reaction" bill. Pornography creates tension, playing off arousal to elicit physical relief (I think you get this one). And think of all those people who just laugh during porn. Some even scream and can't watch. Bottom line: horror, comedy, and porn are the same thing. They toy with audiences in the same way, and it's why Hung Wankenstein is probably the ultimate film. It's a fine line between a laugh, a scream, and an orgasm. Come on, tell the truth... haven't you ever done all three at the same time?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Like a Colander With No Holes

Will somebody please explain to me the purpose of a Transformer that does not transform? I went to the giant Toys R Us at Times Square today, and the big ground floor Transformers display had several dozen toys, of which, to my count, five actually changed form. What is going on?


The highly-unanticipated trailer for Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf is online. I can hardly contain my non-enthusiasm. I guess it's nice to see that Ray Winstone beefed up and turned his keg into a six-pack before donning the motion capture sensors for the mov... oh, wait, he's still fat.

I guess this is Zemeckis's new thing -- CG motion capture photo-realistic movies. I've never seen the point. Making something that looks like Tom Hanks or Angelina Jolie is possibly an impressive technical feat, but what's the point? It's the dog that stands on its nose at the county fair -- neat, but why? What are you trying to tell me that wouldn't be best left to the actors themselves, or to a stylistically enhanced, imaginatively painted CG canvas (rather than a literal depiction)? Zemeckis has always been one for showing off movie magic with no apparent depth. I could have made an independent feature with the money and talent he spent on changing the color of Bill Clinton's ties in the archival footage in Contact.

And accurate representations of actors, apparently, does not extend to accurate representations of the oldest narrative in Western literature. Grendel looks curiously like a muddy zombie, by way of the recent Mummy flicks. Angelina, listed on IMDb as "Grendel's Mother," looks her usual hot self, but WTF? Isn't Grendel's Mother supposed to be the most wretched of subterranean Hellspawn? The most rank and vile of monsters? From her lines, I actually thought she might be a sexed-up version of the Dragon, but even so, that's taking quite a liberty. I'm all for reinvention and adaptation (John Gardner's Grendel is a monsterpiece and you know I love Crichton's Eaters of the Dead), but this obvious Hollywood coat of gloss on what is one of the most tried and true and simply beautiful epics has already lost my vote. At least they did their research and got Angie's early Anglo-Saxon stilettos right (below). Stilettos? Come on, Bob Z. Sheesh.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Thrilla Near Manila

Thanks to my friend A. Mo for sending this to me. This is one of the strangest and most wondrous things I've ever seen. Inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines have put on a little talent show:

Friday, July 6, 2007

For That Ill Grill

I know -- it happens to you often. You're on North Main street in Dayton, Ohio, on your way to a Wright Brothers black tie memorial ball. Suddenly you realize, "S%#*!!! I forgot my oral bling!" Look no further. There is help:Another window boasts that they "buy scrap gold." So those of you with an excess of precious metal, please, think of the Dayton children without gold teeth and grillz. They need it more than you.