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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
After looking at the blog assignment, a YouTube video popped into my head. It was over a year ago that my friend sent me this clip from the 1976 satirical movie “Network.” I didn’t think too much about it then, besides finding it ironic that the clip showed a man ranting against the “Tube” while being a YouTube clip. To provide you a bit of background, the movie is about tv anchorman Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch and how he is shaken by his network for his poor ratings. He goes mad while live on camera and his ratings skyrocket. The network then gives Beale his own show where he rants and raves. In this particular segment, he speaks about his disillusionment with the media and how the television, man’s miracle invention, is filled with propaganda and lies that the public feed into without knowing any better.
Barely three minutes long, this clip touches heavily upon the topics of fear, anxiety, and paranoia that our class is based on in relation to the notion of “truth”. I have below the part of his impassioned speech that really hit home for me:
“We deal in illusions, man! None of it is true […] We’re all you know! You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here! You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you– You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even THINK like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God’s name you people are the real thing, we are the illusion!”
The words were so powerful, especially in the frenzied way Finch plays his character. With each angry word, I was filled with anxiety. We take what we see on television and other digital media, as the unspoken truth. We learn our values from television, and we just hope that we’re being taught the right things. Isn’t it worrisome that what we see impacts how we think, and if we just watched or heard something else, maybe we wouldn’t think/act a certain way?
I know this kind of diatribe against the media is nothing new. No one can trust the media because it is biased, no matter which way you cut it. From Fox to CNN, all major news channels have their own motives for getting out certain stories while minimizing others. Then again, if we choose to never watch television or connect to the world through the media, does that mean that we’re too paranoid and choose to be ignorant of the world?
In relation to the movies we’ve watched, I thought the idea of truth, how we consciously (or subconsciously) try to hide from it, and how it can destroy the best and worst of us is evident in movies like in Touch of Evil and Memento. Quinlan in Touch of Evil hides the truth and frames people for committing crimes. Yet it catches up with him and he dies for what he’s done. Then in Memento, Leonard is forever on a quest to find the truth behind his wife’s murder, yet he’s actually sabotaging his own pursuits to fulfill his own needs. Just as striking was the fact that in this YouTube clip, Beale was a man denouncing the media while he himself is a player in the arena. It was insane that right as he was on the verge of finishing his speech telling people to turn the television off in the middle of his sentence, that he should faint in the middle of his sentence!
I don’t know whether he was staged to faint, but it’s still nevertheless an eerie omen–as though the truth is too much for one man to bear alone.
Also, you can find a longer version of the movie clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qfqZ1ZIx_U&feature=related
Touch of Evil is an energizing and anxiety-inducing film without a dull moment. The criminal character Joe Grandi provided a lot of comic relief throughout the movie. I laughed at his rigorous ‘faceslappage’ of his disobedient nephew and how his hairpiece subsequently fell off. Another scene with Grandi that was shot superbly would be his last in the movie. In the moments leading up to Grandi’s murder, there were several shots where the camera is oddly angled behind a bed. Beyond the wirey bed frame, Susie Vargas is shown fast asleep in a drugged state. After being strangled, Grandi is thrown onto the frame and there is a close-up shot his gaping wide eyes and lifeless head on the frame. I jolted out of my seat after seeing that! Upon reflection, it was a nice cinematography technique.
I also enjoyed the presence and actions of leading lady Susie Vargas, played by Janet Leigh. She is undeniably beautiful, but a world apart from the femme fatale usually found in film noirs. She doesn’t bring demise to her protagonist husband and in fact, has a great deal of sensibility and righteousness. She put on a strong face when she was ‘kidnapped’ because she knows her hubby, Mike Vargas, would protect her at all costs. It was also a triumphant moment when she threw the lightbulb at the man who was peeping at her through the window (the noise of the bulb smashing to pieces gave me great satisfaction)! On the other hand, I didn’t like how Susie had to be rescued like a damsel in distress– There was surely a way she knew that the motel was suspicious to begin with and she wouldn’t have stayed there for the night? And surely she could have escaped from those moronic Grande kids, right?
(Susie in the protective arms of her husband. Image Source: http://www.eskimo.com/~noir/ftitles/touch/index.shtml)
Compared to other film noirs, Touch of Evil has absolutely zero flashbacks, everything is told in a story from beginning to end, and there is no guesswork as to the background of any of the characters. It was a refreshing experience to have the movie play and out and be caught up in straightforward drama and actions happening in the moment. Moreover, the fact that the ending isn’t entirely dark and hopeless gave me a better viewing experience.
Side note: Sorry for the posting delay, but the website was down yesterday night. I realize now that this post didn’t stick consistently to one aspect of film noir, but hopefully I brought up some good points that sparked some interest in you guys! It’ll be interesting to hear your opinions about Touch of Evil, especially about the humor presented and the portrayal of Susie Vargas.