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

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.

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.

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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.

Contemporary Horror Film Group

Hey Guys,

Next week our group is doing contemporary horror and we were wondering if there were any recent horror films that you’ve enjoyed that you would like us to discuss in addition to our allotted films-‘Blair Witch’, ‘Paranormal Activity’ , ‘Saw’ and the ‘Sixth Sense’?

Just let us know!

Calvin and Hobbes Make War

So I love Calvin and Hobbes, always have…and when I saw this I had to post it. It is funny how Calvins says they can’t play Peace because there aren’t enough role models…hmmm interesting…then he goes on and calls himself the American defender of liberty and democracy (i have heard that one before) and then naturally Hobbes would have to be the evil godless (because if you don’t believe in god you’re automatically evil) communist oppressor, i love how godless communist and oppressor go hand in hand. And then finally in the end they both die anyway…nuclear warfare anyone? To quote Plato (well technically General McArthur): “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” That is all.

P.S. citation- http://all-thats-interesting.tumblr.com/post/499738698/calvin-and-hobbes-on-war

don’t want to go and get sued or something

The French Are Sick!

Just thought I would share with you a couple of French movies that I’ve seen recently that I absolutely loved. A couple of people told me they didn’t find Rec very scary, which I some what feel is also mild, but these movies will not disappoint. These movies I feel aren’t too deep, but will definitely scare and shock you guys.

High Tension

I feel this is the most mild of the movies. It’s a fairly simple plot that revolves around a man terrorizing a family in a remote house.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yrbfbvqg1o4

Inside

When I first heard the plot of this movie I was extremely hesitant to watch it and after the first twenty minutes I was hesitant to finish it. The plot of this movies follows a woman on the night before she is suppose to go into labor, where she is visited by an extremely creepy woman who wants to cut the woman’s baby out with a pair of scissors.

Martyrs

This movie I feel is the most interesting of the three and also the most shocking. I wont give away too much of the plot here because I feel knowing less will make the movie better. This movie though is extremely gritty and graphic, but has a pretty open ended finale, which I found very interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNM9kKo4JNU

All of these movies are extremely graphic and if you don’t have a strong stomach when it comes to horror movies I recommend you don’t watch them.

For Today’s Discussion: Nuclear War

Those “Bull”headed Americans…

After the presentation on Thursday, I was inspired to ask my Ukrainian born mother if she too remembered encountering any pro-communist, anti-American cartoons while she was growing up. She seemed a little dazed by the question, as if she had never even considered before that there were such cartoons. Of course I forgot the name of the cartoon we watched in class and therefore had no hard evidence to present to her. However, I continued to press on. Did she really not remember any propaganda filled cartoons filled with innocent looking, communist dancing/singing happy go lucky creatures facing some horrible, gun blasting, cruel American soldier looking monsters? She affirmed that she did not.
Three possibilities occurred to me. A: My mother really never watched such cartoons. Considering that TV time was limited and my mother was a scholastic over achiever, this is definitely possible. B: My mother has Americanized herself to a point that she actually has forgotten certain memorable animated features of her youth – also possible. Or, C: Russian filmmakers/cartoonists were exceptionally gifted at hiding their true intentions and thus able to make the common public believe that they were in fact watching an innocent cartoon and not partaking in a political ploy to control the masses. For the benefit of this blog entry, I decided to go with C. A & B really don’t leave much to talk about.
Naturally, even my mother had to agree that there was strong political backlash against America during the Cold War years. There were military parades throughout the Soviet Union, sending a message out to the world of “Don’t mess. We got guns.” Stalin would regularly entertain passionate monologues spurring anti-American sentiments on the radio. Americans were usually perceived as ungrateful, uneducated, and ignorant. However, all this did not surprise me. I wanted the real dirty stuff – the cartoons!
In my quest for animated truth, I stumbled upon possibly the most blatantly anti-American media item I have ever encountered.

So for those of you who will not watch the full 10 minute cartoon, though I STRONGLY suggest you do since it’s really actually funny, this animated feature tells a most remarkable tale. The story itself is based on a poem by Sergei Mihalkov, a Russian author of children’s literature. Basically, an old rich American woman dies. Her intense greediness and impracticalness leads her to leave a million dollars to her bulldog. (Leona Helmsley anyone?!!!) This dog essentially buys his way into power and becomes a member of Congress. The moral of the story is that in America money can buy everything and government officials don’t require a very high intelligence.
So after my initial crack up at the cartoon, I began to ponder if people took this stuff seriously. Ok, sometimes I too feel certain Congressmen aren’t the brightest of people. After all, my favorite quote is Mark Twain’s “Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” But deep down I have respect for the system. However, Russians during the cold war era probably did not. Thus, cartoons such as this one must have left them with a very odd impression of Americans. While back home, we were thinking communists were anti-family, anti-business, etc…, they were thinking we were rich, lazy, and mentally handicapped. We thought we were fighting dangerous villains and they thought they were arguing with developmentally challenged Westerners. No wonder nobody won!

P.S. Before I end off, I would like to let you all know that I found the cartoon we watched in class and showed it to my mother. She had in fact never watched it. Moreover, the dark people we thought were Americans she actually identified as Germans. America was depicted in one scene but very briefly.

Brainwashing and Terrorism

So I chose to write about brainwashing and its affect on the advancement of terrorism, at least in this day and age. I had seen these extremely troubling videos, which are posted below, a few months ago and well, they were just ridiculously shocking. They reminded me of both the Timothy Melley article, “Brainwashed! Conspiracy Theory and Ideology in the Postwar United States,” as well as The Machurian Candidate. The videos that follow offer a new type of brainwashing that is going on. In Melley’s article, he touches on the effects of brainwashing in the same way it is portrayed in The Manchurian Candidate. He writes about how those brainwashed lose their free will, or as Edward Hunter states, “[brainwashing could literally] change a mind radically so that its owner becomes a living puppet-a human robot.” The same idea is shown in The Manchurian Candidate where we are given Staff Sergeant Raymond Shaw, who when everytime he sees a queen of diamonds playing card it triggers in him brainwashed orders, in his case, assassinations. The difference between that style of brainwashing and now is that these days the brainwashee still has to an extent some free will, however as Meerloo in the Melley articles states, “the panic of the ‘brainwashee…is the total confusion he suffers about all concepts.” Melley goes further stating that “brainwashing could ultimately cause ‘great confusion…in the mind of every observer, friend or foe. In the eend no one knows how to distinguish truth from falsehood,” which I feel is what’s happening today. These children, as you will see in the video, are being raised and almost programmed to eat, sleep, and live this ideology of hate. There is still no escape, but it all stems from this misconception of the truth, this misinformation being funneled into their brain from the beginning of life. Instead of there being triggers behind their actions, instead they are fueled by misunderstandings, and misallocation of resources. There is this growing confusion over what is right and wrong. The brainwashee only knows the world they are thrown into, and anything otherwise is wrong.

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

These were the first videos I saw. They show two young children who were brainwashed to not only hate Jews and other infidels, but call for their genocide. It is so scary just the thought that there are some misguided extremist groups raising their children to be terrorist, to be mini-Hitler’s. One can only imagine what this could mean for our future. What is to come? What can we do? We have a saying here in America that “children are our future,” now what kind of future are we supposed to have when there is so much hate?

This video deals with even more ways that these children are being brainwashed. Not only are they getting it from their parents and those around them, but now there are cartoon characters being created to teach these kids how to hate. What kind of cartoon character tells children about eating Jews? About killing infidels? It fills me with so many emotions; it is coming to a point where hearing about a suicide bomb is normal, where I secretly look around my surroundings when I am at a well known or crowded place. Even sadder though is the way these extremist make the rest of the Islamic faith look. It is not fair to those who follow the true teachings of the Quran, not this hate-filled attack on all those who are different from them. Not only is this fear felt within in our country, but within the Middle Eastern countries as well. I watched a play, Aftermath, last year which dealt with Iraqi refugees fleeing from the Iraq war and government. The play was amazing, and I would recommend watching it. Ben Brantley wrote a review for it in the New York Times here: http://theater.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/theater/reviews/16after.html.
null take a look.