The ENG3940H Fear, Anxiety, and Paranoia Film Festival

Welcome to the First ever ENG3940H Cinema of Fear, Anxiety and Paranoia Film Festival. Below are most of the student videos we watched together during our last class session. The videos are part of a final project which also includes a lengthy written reflection on the process of making the videos and their connections to the assigned films, readings and the broader themes of the course. Enjoy.

THE FILMS:

H1N1X: Christy, Yelena, and Alesia pay tribute to 70’s paranoia films with this dark and suspenseful comment on the recent Swine Flu scare.

The Spud Diamond: Miriam and Lisa put Psycho, Marathon Man, Night of the Living Dead, and your childhood in a blender to create this nail biter.

Manchurian Mean Girls: In reimagining of the Spring Lake Ladies Garden Club/brainwashing demonstration scene from The Manchurian Candidate, Maria, Alice, Chamandeep, and Jenny put the 1962 classic into dialogue with Mean Girls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7JHSsOXdHE

Final Cut: Nick and John speak to the anxiety and fear inspired by their final project in this tense and rapidly paced homage to horror films of the last three decades.

NOTLD: A faithful shot-for-shot recreation of the graveyard scene at the beginning of Night of the Living Dead by Elisabeth, Minhaj and Gilbert. Blooper reel included.

Exorcist Revisited: Whitney, Ravendra, Stephen and Giomar’s dramatic take on the famous exorcism scene in the The Exorcist. The spirit of William Friedkin compels you!

Three Days of the Condor – Elevator Scene (Sweded): Taking a page from Todd Haynes’ on casting, Vik, Jhaneel, Jahn and Daniel reenact shot-for-shot a famous scene from Three Days of the Condor. Starring Max Von Sydow and friends.

Andrew’s Parannoying Activity: Andrew considers the ghost’s needs in a parody of Paranormal Activity.

Vestige: Alan’s homage to Memento with a protagonist whose memory problem is slightly different than Leonard Shelby’s.

And, unfortunately, the Warner Music Group Doesn’t want you to see Scary Stuff, a mashup by Tamara because they don’t seem to get fair use. We’ll see if we can get it to post eventually.

George Romero on Zombies & Horror Stuffs

Just like Andrew, I know this class is over, but it’s fun to see that what we’ve talked about in class pops up in real life! This morning I was catching up on my Time magazine subs and there was a 10 Questions segment with George Romero spurred on by the release of his new movie Survival of the Dead. The very first question in the interview was about the depiction of race in Night of the Living Dead and from there the Q&A covered a nice range of Romero’s interests, regrets, and views on all things horror related. The article gives us a glimpse into Romero as person more than just a director.

I like his view on how modern horror movies are mean-spirited. Romero says that these movies don’t make us laugh and don’t critique society (in the ways that his movies do). I find his opinions about modern movies true– Still, Night is itself cruel in the fact that no one outlasts the night. But now it seems, maybe he did know that Night’s low budget and acting would ultimately make viewers laugh, and with that it’ll ultimately become a highly entertaining movie for future generations!

You can see the video version of the interview on Time’s website too. He seems like a really cool guy. I was also amused by the clincher, where he compares zombies to a pesky insect. http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,88423337001_1992485,00.html

Human Centipede

I know class is over and everything, but I just saw the movie Human Centipede and thought I would share my thoughts. That movie was ridiculous… It doesn’t have the best plot or anything but ill post a link where you can read it, but the movie has such a twisted idea behind it that it will surely mess with people’s mind…and stomachs. This is one of the few movies that I actually felt compelled to look away or want to shut the film off. If your looking for a movie to shock yourself and friends this movie will not disappoint.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Centipede_(First_Sequence)

Why Hitchcock Films Rock

As I am now finishing off the assignment part of the blog, I have decided to discuss what makes a film great. Perhaps, there is no better director than Alfred Hitchcock to learn an answer to this question, and as we have just watched a selection of his more famous films, I decided to look up what makes Hitchcock films great. I came upon this interesting website
Techniques
that discusses some of Hitchcocks in making a great film. I do recommend going to this website to check it out, but I will discuss some of techniques listed as well. I have also decided that I will use Rear Window as the basis of my discussion (only one exception), because as of now it is my favorite Hitchcock film (this is very subject to change, as my favorite Beatles song does from time to time)

Frame for Emotion- This is in my opinion one of things Ive noticed this term that Hitchcock did better than the rest. What make us connect to the film, is so much how we connect on an emotional level to the characters.
Its almost like shes kissing me!
Its almost like shes kissing me!

Camera is not a camera- The genius behind Rear Window is that we too are trapped in the wheelchair, we are bounded to the room, and see what Jimmy Stewart sees. It has a certain feel to it, as we see evrything through his eyes.
It feels like were looking through our window
It feels like were looking through our window

Dialouge Means Nothing & Point of View Editing- Throughout Rear Window, the most important things being said, are said through watching Stewart’s eyes, his reaction to his surroundings made the film much more tense.
Montage- (Here I will discuss Psycho because I think its the law that when discussing a Hitchcock montage you must discuss “The Shower Scene”)
One if the great things about this scene is the fact that we never see the knife hit her, however, beacuse of the quickc uts and pacing of the scene, an even higher sense of violence is felt. I like the quote this page attributes to Hitchcock, that this montage effect is “transferring the menace from the screen into the mind of the audience.”
Suspense is Information-
In Rear Window we are not certain if the neighbor actually murdered his wife until the very end. The film keeps jerking us into defferent directions, as to whether there has been a murder, or that Stewart is being paranoid. We are definately guided into thinking a murder has taken place, but the authorites do not know this. It adds so much to the film, that we have certain unconfirmed beliefs that are not confirmed until the end of the film.
Murderer or Innocent Neighobor? wait till end of film to confirm your suspisions.
Murderer or Innocent Neighobor? wait till end of film to confirm your suspisions

Suprise and Twist-
We all love the suprise/twist ending and with the nighbor coming over to try to silence Stewart and ironically breaking both of his legs, we were given one. The suprise ending is improtant in films as since we tend to have short memories, the ending of the film is what gives us the lasting appeal ( I think M Night Shymelan only like this technique).
As were are all now amatueur filmmakers, we can learn from the genius of Hitchcock to make our films great.

SCARY STUFF

Hey Guys,

So for my video I was inspired to make a little mock scary movie trailer. I compiled a bunch of scary movie scenes to create my own little rendition of the typical scary movie. The film follows the trail of 3 friends and “a little boy” as they deal with Leatherface and zombies! The point of it is that movies, especially scary movies, have certain elements in common with one another. There are certain aspects of a scary film we can usually expect to see, such as running, and intense screaming women, etc… Throughout the class, I kept noticing this and therefore thought it will be funny to mash some of these movies together. I hope it makes you laugh 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nc9pNEMdoM

Btw youtube blocked this for copyright reasons so you could only watch it while logged into our account

Vestige- A Homage To Memento

This is my video, it is a homage to Memento (parts of the volume are lower than other parts for some reason so make sure your computer volume is loud).
-Alan

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Q9v4mvYpuPM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Manchurian Mean Girls

Hi everyone,

This is the video that my group (Maria, Jenny, Cham, and myself) put together! I hope you enjoy the subtle, maybe not too subtle, undertones of brainwashing that we mashed together with the Ladies’ Garden Society from “Manchurian Candidate” and a table scene from “Mean Girls.”

The only emotion that doesn’t deceive is anxiety

[kml_flashembed movie="http://vimeo.com/1458200" width="400" height="302" wmode="transparent" /]The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema

Slavoj Žižek presents his ideas or analyses of films of directors such as Hitchcock, Kieslowski, Tarkovsky, Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Cappola and others in The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. When I watched it I thought this would be a great supplementary material for this class because it offers a different perspective on a number of movies we have seen for this class. In this blog entry I will focus solely on the insights I found fascinating on Hitchcock as a director and his films, however, I would definitely recommend this Guide.
So before I begin I want to emphasize that Žižek uses psychoanalysis as his approach to this movies and some might think that he is seeing sexual themes or underlying motifs where there is not. While I will not argue for the Guide as a whole, I do want to highlight that Hitchcock created his films during the period when Freud and psychoanalysis was growing and given more focus in the U.S. Therefore, it is very likely that Hitchcock used these ideas in his films and intended for the viewer if not identify them, then at least subconsciously experience the effects.
In The Birds the son is split between his possessive mother and the intrusive girl. So the violent attacks of the birds of maternal superego, of the maternal figure trying to prevent sexual relations. The birds are raw incestuous energy. Žižek comments on the first attack that happens and explains that when a fantasy object, something imagined, an object from inner space enters our ordinary reality, the texture of reality is twisted, distorted and that is exactly how desire inscribes itself into reality – by distorting it. At the vocal level, anxiety is silence. For example, when the mother finds the dead neighbor, she runs out of the house with her mouth open, trying to scream but no sound is made. This action is much more effective in eliciting anxiety in the viewer as opposed to her running out, screaming at the top of her lungs. This feeling of the sound stuck in her, the implication of a sound but lack of it is unsettling.
In Psycho, events which take place in the mother’s house are at three levels as if they reproduce the three levels of human subjectivity. Ground floor is ego – Norman behaves there as a normal son; up is the superego, maternal superego because the dead mother is the figure of the superego; and down is the id – the reservoir of the illicit drives. We can see how very interconnected the id and the superego are when Norman carries his mother from the second floor to the basement. Žižek mentions a few things about the scene of Norman cleaning the bathroom after the murder: besides the length, the care and the meticulousness with which it is done and the spectator’s identification with it tells us about the satisfaction we find in work or in a job well done.
According to Žižek, the true tragedy of Vertigo is that it’s a story about two people who, each in his or her own way, get caught in their own game of appearances. For both of them, appearances win over reality. Žižek comments that “the first part, with Madeline suicide, is not as unsettling as it could have been because it’s really a terrifying clause but in this very loss, the ideal survives. The ideal of the fatal woman possesses you totally. What ultimately this fascinating image of the fatal woman stands for is death. The fascination of beauty is always the veil which covers up a nightmare. When you come to close, you see shit, decay… The ultimate abyss is not a physical abyss but the abyss of the death of another person.” In the second part of Vertigo, Scotty attempts to make his fantasy come true. “We have a perfect name for fantasy realized, it’s called nightmare.” This turn of fantasy into reality is always sustained by extreme violence. In order for Scotty to want her, to lover her, he has to mortify her, change her into a dead woman.

In conclusion, the overall sentiment that Hitchcock films evoke is that “it’s not that simply something horrible happens in reality, something worse can happen, which undermines the very fabric of what we experience as reality.”
I hope this brief glance at Slavoj Žižek’s ideas on Hitchcock films peaks your interest, I truly enjoyed watching The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sFqfbrsZbw" width="480" height="385" wmode="transparent" /]

Horror and Comedy in One!

I have recently read an interesting blog post by someone with the username Poppascotch on the website horror-movies.ca.  The post talks about how close the horror and comedy genre is in producing the same effect.  This interests me a lot because in my experience I’ve felt that all the horror comedies I have seen have failed to produce both feelings of fear and moments that make me laugh.  You can read the article at the link below.

http://www.horror-movies.ca/horror_17640.html

The article says that horror and comedy both have similar ways to induce a response from the viewer.  It says that in horror the viewer is set up by such things as a person going to investigate a dark house and it creates a feeling of fear that results in a scare.  In comedy a character is set up with a ridiculous situation that the viewer knows must end in a laugh.  After reading this I can see how horror and comedy work in similar ways, but the question still is for me can they work at the same time?

My answer is no.

I feel that the horror comedies I have seen throughout the year can either be scary or funny.  For example one of the most obvious horror comedies Scary Movie, was not scary at all; in my opinion it was funny either.  One movie I did find very funny was Shaun of the Dead.  This movie works great with the inducing laughs, but lacks in the horror department.  I don’t feel that in this movie I ever felt the anxiety or fear that other films such as Martyrs have created.

I hated this film...

One thing I have experienced while watching horror films is that there are scenes in which a joke is said that has made me laugh.  One example of this is The Last House On The Left, both the original and the remake.  In the original film the police are there as almost a small comic relief and in the remake the father says jokes that I found funny.  These films do not consider themselves horror comedy whatsoever, but still had moments that make the viewer laugh.  I feel this works because there is not an equal blend of comedy and horror; there is a ratio of one laugh to every ten scares.  I feel this works similar to a lot of action films, where there are little jokes said in between all the action.

Zombies haven't been scary since the 60's.

Another thing I thought about while watching both The Last House On The Left movies, is the way they put in the few laughs.  In the original the laughs are throughout the film and in between each seen or horror.  I feel this was done because at the time of its release the subject matter of a teenager being raped was very intense and these comedic scenes were there to lessen the shock.  This is exactly what I felt it did, but towards the end of the film the comedy stops and the film makes the viewer totally forget that there were ever moments they could think of laughing.  The remake takes a different approach where they give some jokes in the beginning of the film, but once the horror starts the comedy ceases altogether.  This I feel makes for a very different experience then the original and a much more horrifying one.

See she's laughing a bit... right?

So all in all what I’m trying to say is that I do not feel the horror comedy genre is very effective at all.  The one exception I have to this is when the film has very subtle and dark comedy, one that doesn’t really have the viewer laugh out loud or have the HAHA moment.  One example of this is the film featured in the article American Werewolf in London, which creates some scares and some what I’ll call giggle moments…yes, giggle moments.  Another one that did this for me was the film we watched in class Doctor Strangelove, but I can’t really consider that a horror comedy.  Well these are my opinions on the horror comedy genre; let me know how you guys feel!

He'll laugh... but then eat you.

Original zombies have lost their luster

I’m taking it way back to the middle of the semester when we had our zombie category. I’ve been waiting to make an argument about how zombies aren’t respected anymore.  They’ve been the butt of all the jokes and they simply aren’t the same zombies from Night of the Living Dead, etc. To further prove my point, and without using too much of the movies Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, here is a classic clip about horny zombies from the well known show Saturday Night Live:

zombies from Amber J on Vimeo.

Zombies have needs too!

The next thing I found were humorous books about zombies. Not only are they making fun of zombies but the authors seem like they’re saying that zombies are so cliche and that they’ve figured them all out and now everyone could survive a zombie attack. The books were found from http://www.thinkgeek.com/

This first book I found really caught my attention. I remember that scene from Shaun of the Dead where they tried to act like zombies to get into the bar.

Here’s some of the description of the actual book:

“Remember that scene in that zombie movie where the people survive by adopting the mannerisms and speech patterns of the zombie horde? They walk right through the undead and nobody even notices them. Totally the best idea ever, right?”

This second book is pretty self-explanatory. I guess humans have finally figured the zombies out. Now if only people in funny zombie movies could whip this out when in need…

Here’s their Top 10 lessons from their book description:

Top 10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack

  1. Organize before they rise!
  2. They feel no fear, why should you?
  3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
  4. Blades don’t need reloading.
  5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
  6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
  7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
  8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
  9. No place is safe, only safer.
  10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.

The last thing I noticed were all the different ways zombies are made fun of, especially on the internet.  I can pretty much guarantee you that there are more sites making fun of zombies than there are praising them.

Here are some of funny pictures I found on http://dailyzombie.com/comic-archive/

The original zombies have just lost their appeal. They’re so easy to make fun of and, in my opinion, could be easily taken care of in movies except all the humans work against each other, thus allowing the zombies to take over the human race.  Also, the original zombies have been overshadowed by the enhanced zombies that we see more often today (the more physically fit ones that can run, especially). I foresee that in another 10 years, those enhanced zombies will be the only type of zombies you’ll see in movies except for when they make parody movies that make fun of original zombies.

IS CHUCKY REAL?

Throughout the semester we have analyzed the various ways fear, anxiety and paranoia are invoked in our minds. We learned that while for some such feelings are triggered by complex psychological scenarios, others can get scared by mere images full of blood and gore. We tried to understand what makes us humans so fascinated with violence and torture of our own species. I consider myself a rather compassionate and humane being, yet I cannot explain the rush of excitement that fills me when I watch another sequel of SAW. I reassure myself that it is mere curiosity, because I could never enjoy such a horrific image if I knew it was real.
But what about young kids who do not yet understand the thin line between reality and fiction? Should they be protected from seeing such movies on TV? Censorship based on age is a big topic in America, as scientists continue to argue whether it really desensitizes kids and makes them more cruel. When I was a kid we played war and pretended to kill each other as a joke. Has media taken it to another level? Or is it all about responsible parenting and the right explanation can prevent a child from drawing the wrong conclusion from what he sees.

Last week my nephew, who is only 5 years old came over our house. He was very excited to show me a new game on the computer. Having the most primitive graphics, the sole effect of the game is its creativity. The premise of the game is to find various ways to release your anger by murdering your boss. The game is incredibly cruel and at time my laughter turned into shock. My nephew on the other hand, was dying from laughter. I wondered what was going through his head and how he perceives the concepts of pain and death. I was sure that he doesn’t have full understanding of what he sees on screen after he asked me if Chucky was real and began to cry asking me to stay by his side.
What do you think? How protected should our young children be? Are we overreacting or on the contrary, should we be taking this subject more seriously? While you’re at it enjoy the game, for the mature adults that we are! And if you have any piled up anger agaisnt your boss, here’s a great way to release it!
Here’s the link!
http://www.freeonlinegames.com/fighting-games/wack-your-boss.html

And here are some beautiful images!

Why Believe in Paranormal Fraud?

I don’t know if you guys are aware of TED talks, but I am a huge fan. I find the website and the talks incredibly thought stimulating, like nothing else.

I recently watched this talk (posted above), by James Randi, a former stage magician and now a paranormal skeptic ( a cool career title, huh?). Since we just had a topic of supernatural activity in contemporary horror, I found it useful in relation to some of the movies we watched and topics we discussed. However, this is a little different, since Randi is not talking about a fiction world of the movies, he is talking about real facts and real people, who actually truly believe in supernatural forces and pay their very real money to come in contact with this make-believe world. And why are there so many people around the world convinced that this works? As Andy suggests, it’s because the paranormal activity is highly publicized to please sponsors.

If you think about it, there is sense in it. We watched all these movies like The Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity and the Sixth Sense. Well, just tell me you are not a least a little nervous to go get some water in your house at night in the dark now? Ok maybe you are not like me, maybe you are more sane. But really, would you travel to the woods at night after watching Blair Witch?? And now imagine that the next day after watching this movie you see a talk show, a documentary and read a magazine article about similar supernatural occurrences.In such a case, it’s all around, from different sources, must be somewhat more credible.

This is how psychics work, psychics just like legendary Sylvia Browne. They are publicized all over the place, they are talked about, and most importantly they play on people’s feelings. Just like Randi says, they take advantage of “innocent, naive and grieving” . Unlike movies made for entertainment, these frauds are not fun, he is right. They not only convince vulnerable people that what psychics are doing is true, but they also take fairly earned money for it, for fiction. So where is the line between fiction and reality? Why is it that people are having such a hard time distinguishing this line? Can it be that such movies as Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity work not only to entertain and scare people, but also to deceive and create more room for the multi million-dollar psychic industry?

Whether you believe in supernatural or not, watch the clip, you would not regret it. (James Randi also talks about homeopathy.)

Writing Assignment: Final Project Reflection Essay

Final Project Reflection Essay

Length: 5-7pp

DUE: Anytime between Thurs., 5/13 and 12pm on Friday, 5/21 in Rm. 318 in the Annex bldg. You can hand in your paper anytime between 9am and 5pm. The office will be closed after 5pm.

The Assignment:

Write an essay in which you reflect, in detail, on the process of creating your final project as well as on the ways in which it speaks to our assigned films and the broader themes of this class.

Consider the following in composing your essay: (You don’t need to address every single one of these, but use them in composing your essay).

Why did you choose to do approach your project the way you did? Was this a group or individual decision? In either case, describe the process of coming up with your project idea and with your initial plan. What role did your teammates play in the initial planning?

Which films did you reference or address in your project? Why? Why did you choose the films you did? How does your project speak to, draw on or engage those films? What, in other words, does your project say about the films you chose to honor, mock, revise, update, etc.?

How does your project engage our readings?  How did any of the assigned readings influence your thinking about your project and how you carried it out? Which readings were especially useful? How and why? Feel free to discuss, if briefly, any specific ideas from our readings that you feel influenced you.

Discuss the process of carrying out your project in as much detail as possible. What was the planning like? If you shot video, where did you shoot and when? Who was involved in the shoot? Why? What role did everyone play? Why did you choose the location you chose? What were some of the challenges you encountered? Did you have to deviate from your original plan? Why? How? How did that affect the end result? What happened after the footage was shot? Who did what? What was the post-production process like? Did you encounter any snags along the way?

How and to what extent does the video you turned in resemble the one you had in mind when you first started working on your project? Why do you think that is? Did you end up with something you did not expect to end up with? How might you explain that? Does it offer any insights for similar projects you might undertake in the future?

You get the idea. We will brainstorm some in class as well.

Prosthetics v. CGI

In class, we had a short debate on whether prosthetics or computer generated imagery (cgi) stirred more thrills. After thinking about this after class, I found that I could not come to a decision. Prosthetics are tangible, and subsequently realistic if done properly. CGI is intangible, and while at times may seem less realistic, the technology is constantly improving, with almost possibilities only limited by a person’s imagination.

Prior to the turn of the century, the use of prosthetics was the norm, with CGI seeming like a gimmick. It is during this time that I think prosthetics had the clear advantage in terms of generating the thrills in movie goers, which we referred to in class. To use a science fiction film as an example, I would consider the original Star Wars series to be an example of prosthetics being superior to CGI. Using early technology, George Lucas superimposed various characters into the classic film. Below is a comparison of a physical v. digital Jabba the Hutt. Rather than the character appearing realistic, it seemed cartoony and laughable. Though the original film had relied on antiquated models and prosthetics, they had had a classic feel that was damaged with these digital additions.

Computer generated Jabba the Hutt

Prosthetic Jabba the Hutt

 

CGI techniques have greatly improved since the early days. Now they are taken much more seriously, almost taking the classic “magic of the movies” out of the equation and moving it all to the computer. We see constant remakes of classic films, where directors reimagine the movies using CGI. The King Kong classic that we discussed briefly in class is one such example. Peter Jackson was able to take a claymation King Kong and transform him into a realistic CG-animated beast. This allowed for contemporary audiences to see King Kong in a shockingly realistic light, which was perhaps the same historically contextual experience that audiences had back in 1933. I feel CGI added a lot to the film, giving the movie its long lost thrills.

King Kong 1933

King Kong 2005

Tying back into the discussion on fear and anxiety, I feel that both CGI and prosthetics have their advantages and disadvantages. Right now, horror films use a combination of the two techniques in order to pull off frighteningly realistic effects. The remake of Nightmare on Elm Street uses a combination of effects to show a more realistic and gruesome depiction of Freddy Krueger. The dream sequences are able to tap into CGI technology to pull off astonishingly realistic effects that had not been available back in 1984. The audio is also digitally enhanced, bringing a supernatural quality to the character’s voice.

Freddy Krueger 1984

Freddy Krueger 2010

Finally, I believe the thrills are not generated by CGI or prosthetics in film, but rather in how they are implemented. I think it’s important to note that the remake of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” film had been rated 33/100 by Metacritic. Entertainment Weekly remarked positively on the films use of CG in crafting the character. “The new Freddy, his singed skin more icky-realistic and less latexy than before, has been molded to Haley’s already scary features: the sunken cheeks and pitted face, the mouth that leers like an open wound,” stated reviewer Owen Gleiberman. The New York Times review had a very different opinion of the CG in the film stating that, “The filmmakers’ use of computer-generated effects doesn’t help much, and makes a few of the scenes that should be horrifying look silly.” I suppose the final decision of prosthetics v. CGI is ultimately up to the movie goers.

Our Fascination with Paranormal Activity


While watching the movie paranormal activity for the second time I began to wonder why this film had as much success as it did. Watching the film the first time I felt that it was extremely boring and nothing really happened until the last half hour of the film. The second time around the film was seemed even less eventful. Despite its lack of action and fear evoking scenes, the film had a gross revenue of $192,735,402, not bad for a film made on a $15000 budget, and only released in select theaters. Its hard to believe that a film such as that could be such a hit while a film like the collector, which in my opinion was a far better horror movie, also released in select theaters and had a budget of $3,000,000, only grossed $7,712,114. Although some of Paranormal Activities success can be attributed to it being marketed as the scariest movie ever made, i believe peoples natural attraction to the unknown also plays a big role. Ghosts, spirits, demons and other types of paranormal activity have always been of interest to humans. This fascination can be seen even in children who will say things such as “maybe the ghost took it” or “the ghost did it”. What i thought really demonstrated the extent to which people not only are drawn to but believe in paranormal activity was when i saw this clip shown on CNN in which a transparent figure is seen walking across the room of Michael Jacksons mansion shortly after his death. This clip drew alot of controversy in the United Stated, many people actually believing that they had seen the ghost of Michael Jackson haunting the neverland ranch. It was later explained that the image was created by the shadow of a passing crew worker, but to calm the nerves of Americans CNN had to air a new broadcast explaining what had actually happened. I was surprised to see the amount of attention that this video had received because ghosts are something that i personally do not really believe in, and if they do exist am almost positive they would not be able to be caught on camera. After seeing the attention that this clip brought getting over 3 million views on youtube, the success of the film paranormal activity seems more reasonable. The film drew on societies existent curiosities.

SAW fans say the Doctor lives, and he does

Doctor Gordon is Alive

When I watched Saw when it came out, and again when I watched it for class, I was annoyed at the (dismal) ambiguous ending that makes us wonder, is Dr. Lawrence Gordon dead? We all know he cut off his foot, which would mean massive bleeding and makes it impossible for him to escape. Even if he didn’t die from his self-inflicted injury, Jigsaw would have been on his tail right after locking Adam in the bathroom.

After doing searches along the lines of “saw movie discussion” and “is dr. gordon alive” it was evident that there is definitely a significant amount of people wondering the same. I found several sites, from an unserious and meandering thread on Fearscene (Saw discussion; is Dr. Gordon dead?) to a concise and straighforward answer list on WikiAnswers (WikiAnswers – Is dr gordon from the saw series still alive).

However, thinking outside the box, what really makes this topic legit? Of course, a Facebook group would be necessary. I stumbled upon this amazing group, DOCTOR LAWRENCE GORDON IS ALIVE | Facebook

The group has 183 members and is very active. The latest post happened yesterday night and the earliest post was in July 2009. I haven’t watched any SAW movie after the first one so I was really intrigued by all the fan theories and discussions on this topic. On the Wall tab, one member was antagonized by the movie spoilers on this topic while another writes “I enjoy this group very much (:
I’m going to watch all the Saw movies again soon.” Many posts point out more Dr. Gordon trivia and the discussion is very focused on the film instead of meandering to other topics. The group also brings resolution to the whole debate. Under the News tab, there is a list called “The Proof.” Every instance that Dr. Gordon is mentioned in a SAW film is meticulously labeled. The most recent update states that SAW VII shows that Gordo is alive. In the group’s breaking new, they link an article where a SAW screenwriters says that the Gordon story will be explained in it’s entirety. So, mystery is solved, we’ll finally see what happened to the Doctor.

What the new SAW has in store

We mentioned in class that SAW was planned to be a franchise from the very start. What will keep people coming back to watch each one one that comes out? The latest movie SAW VI grossed $62.09 million worldwide, which is amazing considering their $11m budget, but it’s a far cry from the $164.78m of SAW III. It was smart of the producers and writers to retain viewers by playing off of expectations, even if they didn’t plan to make Dr. Gordon an essential character past the first film. This doctor mystery, along with the thrill of seeing blood and gore, kept people coming back to theaters which no doubt keeps this franchise so popular.

Overall, all these discussions are exciting due to the sheer fact that that so many people care. We know when we watch horror films, there’s a slim chance that anyone survives at the end. The viewers are detached from the characters because we have no hope in their survival. Yet this is a rare instance where people have been attached to the same character’s survival for 6 years, which is a long time to obsess over. For me, Dr. Gordon’s survival is a fleeting thought that I might remark on if I ever talked about SAW with a friend. However, to write on threads/discussions shows that people are truly engaged in the idea (or, they have a lot of time on their hands).

Supposedly SAW VII will be the last film, but with horror movies, we never really know when the franchise will end, or whether there will be spinoffs/remakes. Still, fans want their films done right, and the studio gives them what they want.