Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pardon? Merci. Je suis le Grande Zombie.

France. The land of romance, yes. The land of fine cuisine, but of course. The land of haute couture, undoubtedly. The land of bright new hope for horror, actually, surprisingly, yes.


Traditionally, when I thought of horror's European summer home, Italy has always been the flourishing hot house of festering delights.We have Dario Argento with his bouyant breasts and buckets of blood set to a back drop of heavy symbolism. We have Lucio Fulci that taught us that zombies can hold their own against sharks and that a doorframe can cause some serious eye trauma. We have Mario Bava, the grandfather of Italian horror, without whom we would never had had the decades of delights we gained from Hammer Horror films or his son, Lamberto's masterpiece, Demons. Let's also not forget Ruggero Deodato, who will always be held aloft for his gut wrenching symphony of carnage, Cannibal Holocaust. Some point in the last ten years, the Gauls north of the border have managed to coax all that is dark and disturbing to take residence in the seedier parts of Paris and back roads of the secluded French countryside.

My most recent foray into French horror was with La Horde. Being that I now live on the other side of the Atlantic, I came somewhat late to the party that started in 2009. Despite my tardiness and my belly ALMOST full to bursting with the over-saturation of those lovable, cannibalistic undead shamblers we affectionately call zombies, La Horde still managed to entice a spark of excitement.

No subtitled La Horde trailer could be found...and I am a lazy geek girl.

The plot follows an unofficial unit of Parisian police officers embarking on a swift hit of vengeance on a Nigerian drug dealer they hold accountable for a fallen colleague. Confined to the crumbling corridors of a condemned tower block in an equally decaying quarter of Paris, the unit find what should have been a swift and brutal take down, inevitably becomes an irreversible failure that leaves two of it's team barely alive.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT fuck with this man.

Their capture by the hands of their prey quickly becomes the least of their problems as the growing epidemic of undead that is amassing outside is dropped right in the centre of the cramped apartment both police and gangsters are holed up in. Realising the only chance of survival is to forge an uneasy coalition, both sides of the law battle through the apartment block in hopes of finding a way past the infected and into some sort of secluded safety.

La Horde Ouessem
I was originally only going to post one picture of "Ouessem", but how can you chose between this one and the one above? The man, and his moustache are legendary.

La Horde delivers beautifully with an unsettling cocktail of paranoia, anger and frustration that fuels some of the most breath-takingly honest violence I have seen in a film of any genre. Every swing of an axe, shot of a gun and pounding of fist is brimming with conviction and passion; every spat word and hateful glare is guided to the very core, without question. It's an incredible piece of cinema that focuses on the human element, making it a character driven piece rather than just another effects movie centered on seeing how far they can push the "gross out" envelope, and yet the creature design, especially the sound design for the zombies, was nothing short of delicious.

La Horde Adewale
Your choice: forget this man has killed a few of your comrades and is an incredibly dangerous drug dealer in order to have him on your side to face the growing horde.....or face the horde on your own. Seriously, it's a no-brainer.

Maybe after watching this delight I will be able to coach myself into watching the handful of other franco-horror films that I have been too damned sissy to sit down and watch. Merci bien, La Horde, vous est Le Grande Zombie.

La Horde Le jamb....
The has to go...

P.S. Whilst looking for the trailer to entice others to watch La Horde, I found the english dubbed version for those that for some reason, don't like subtitles. I didn't know whether to give myself a hernia laughing or feel a deep rooted english speaking person shame. Observe:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mark of Cain

I am far from impressed with this deal that we've been handed in the 21st century. Sure, I could wear a silver jumpsuit and coif my hair high into a cotton candy coloured beehive whilst wearing mirrored, bug eyed goggles, and most of the other people in the po-dunk town I live in would probably not blink all that hard. What does bring me grief is that fact that I still haven't been given a meal replacement pill or a personal jetpack that actually works for longer than five minutes without blowing up or there isn't actually a reliable teleportation device that won't scramble my molecules into oblivion or I don't live in a bubble high in the ozone to be waited on hand and foot by a voluptuous robot slave and, like where in the hell is the uprising of intelligent great apes, aliens or robots? Okay, maybe those are just minor grievances in comparison to the body bag packed to bursting point with the rotting parts of my real beefs with life in the 21st century. I could bust out all of my personal politics, but in all seriousness, who would really want to read that on a blog that's only purpose is to indulge my life long obsession with one of the most looked down upon genres of ...well...anything....ever?

Current teleportation still has a few wrinkles to iron out.... (The Fly, 1986)

The horror genre has long been regarded with a massive amount of disdain. With the major exception of the Giallo subgenre, it has been viewed as a playground for the semi-literate and uneducated, for teenage boys and rednecks, for those who are "smart enough" or just the socially awkward. Now, don't get me wrong, there are MILLIONS of horror fans that fall into one, if not all of those categories, but there is also a whole army of horrorphiles that exist that, regardless of their adoration for guts and gore, are highly intelligent individuals. It is entirely possible to be a forward thinking individual with a university degree, that also enjoys huddling in the dark to bear witness to the latest gorefest that went straight to DVD.

With my devotion to horror being worn on my sleeve like a fresh-from-the-chest-cavity, still beating heart surging with undead life, I have had many "normal" people confess their secret love to genre in clandestine whispers, as if it were some filthy little exchange between two kindred souls of darkness. I always end up being "That girl to talk to about horror", because I have no shame of my love and I can conduct a conversation about that passion with a multi-syllabic fluency.....and this is what I believe has caused the vast majority of the prejudice against horror fans, let me just ramble through an example here...

Before I sat down to write a new post, I thought I would thinly veil my procrastination by surfing some of my usual sources of horror information. Check out what was happening out there and what was generating an excited buzz, maybe procrastinate further by watching a few trailers or clips and justify that procrastination as "research", after "researching" for a few hours and have my husband giving me a typically raised eyebrow that voices "you're full of shit" more than mere words could. My first port of call is, which is perfect for all of my dodging doing any real work needs. There are articles, trailers and updates galore that I can immerse myself in for hours, and actually give the impression that I am actually information gathering at the same time. As soon as that first page pops up, there is something that instantly forces a groan out of my chest.....yet another sequel to a film that had no possible opening for a sequel. I push forward, my morbid curiosity demanding I check out the details even though I have decided it's going to be a steaming pile of turd. I check out the posters, read the cast list and the snatches of comments made by the makers to tease the loyal fans, I watch the teaser and the teaser trailer ...and shock looks like it might just be alright, like looks like it might even be, dare I say it...FUN. I couldn't stop there though, I mean, I would actually have to write something if I stopped there, right? So, I went on to read through the comments left by my fellow horror fans......and there, right there in the two pages of comments, it was revealed to me why those who look down upon us, do so.

The first few comments are typical fanboy responses with a whole glut of emoticons thrown in by members with typically inspiring names such as "FreddyKrueger13", fair enough, right? I keep scanning and SHAZAM!!! There it is, the point at which I bark an obscenity loud enough to stir my beloved from his third run through of Silent Hill: Homecoming. I swear on a stack of Father Damien Karras' finest exorcising bibles that this is lifted directly from the comments, "If Chrome Skull were to have a one on one fight with The Collector who would win? Photobucket"

Notice the totally AWESOME use of the "coolguy" emoticon there to add an extra amount of je ne sais quoi to the question? The bile rose in my throat, my head hung....then I read the replies and my ire only grew. A volley between Freddy and another poster began as they went on to discuss the finer points of the battle between two fictional killers with such literacy gems as "I'm just saying cowards kill people that way. if you want to take someone out, there's but one proper way - stab them in the neck. real upclose and personal.Photobucket
and the Collector, pft, without his little traps he's nothing. hell, I'm about twice as big as him, and would have no difficulty dismembering him with my bare hands. after a dozen or so beers, of course. sober, I'm violent. drunk, I'm a fucking berserker! *roar* Photobucket"

...and also "Mabye in the sequal The Collector will be explained a little more making him more known, or they could give him a weapon to be known for like Jason and his machete or Krueger and his glove. What weapon do you think they should give The Collector that would make him better in your eyes? Photobucket"

You see that grimace on my face? That's what a tiny piece of me dying looks like.

Oh goody!! Horror fans falling into embarrassing dorky stereotypes!! (The Ring, 2002)

I'm sure the two guys locked in the conversation are top notch fellas, honestly, but it's this kind of thing that makes your standard movie goer look down on us horror lovers with a look akin to finding a particularly fragrant sludge of dog crap on their brand new pair of Nikes. To make the matter even worse, there is the new trend of branding something as an "elevated genre" to make it okay to like certain new horror films.

What IS that? Seriously, what EXACTLY does "elevated genre" mean? I've seen it used in reference to a handful of movies that have come out in the past year. Films that, without a doubt fall into the category of horror, but have a slightly political or cerebral flavour. Monsters was the last film I saw with this horrific label applied to it. Sure, it had a mild political flavour to it but, IT WAS A FRIGGEN MONSTER MOVIE PEOPLE!! Gojira, the original Godzilla movie was a political comment on nuclear weapons, in it's original form before us westerners got our hands on it and added a dubbed voice track that completely took it out of context. So, does Godzilla fall into the elevated genre slot? NO!!! ITS A FRIGGEN MONSTER MOVIE!!! It's like those who want to hide their dirty, little horror movie secret shame are making it alright for themselves by giving it this entirely wanky new name, making it sound like some kind of pretentious art house movement. It's not, it's just another horror movie, folks.

Sorry fella, no "elevated genre" status for you. (Gojira, 1954)

So back to my original gripe before I went off on multiple enraged tangents. What is so wrong with being a devotee to all things dark and gruesome? Why is it that I am looked at with the same expression as I would be if I just told a person I have a highly infectious venereal disease when I voice my preference for horror? Why is it automatically assumed that my I.Q. is at the same level as Cro-Magnon man when I declare my passion for darkness? Why are people so horrified to find that I would rather snuggle up at night and watch Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre rather than the next fetid installment in the Sex in The City franchise? Is it really that difficult to imagine a highly articulate and intelligent woman genuinely enjoying the finer points of a multinational banned, video nasty mocumentary filled to gushing brim with severed body parts, cussing and cannibalism?

Intellectuals LOVE love a good, old fashioned impaling! (Cannibal Holocaust, 1980)

I am socially outgoing woman, with a university education and level of intelligence to match and I am a horror fan, so I will never be able to answer any of these questions without a heavy bias. I just hope that one day in the not so distant future, this beloved genre of mine, is accepted as more than a novelty that most people grow out of once they stop using Clearasil, because I can't see me getting that pink spaceship fitted out with shag carpeting happening in the near future.

Friday, February 11, 2011

When there's no more room in hell....

...the lazy shall get their arse off the couch and begin to blog once more.

Yes, it's true. After much cajoling from loved ones and mortal enemies, I have hauled my ample rear back to the keyboard to get back to what I first set out to do with this dank little corner.

I could blame the carefully contained outbreak of a new and particularly futuristic strain of ebola in the western most provinces of Canada or claim that I was locked in a cupboard for the past year and a half and was forced to watch Human Centipede on repeat until I was convinced my face was sewn to the anus of another human being, but no, I will just admit to the less exciting reality of being a lazy bugger.

So as I sit here in the luxury of my living room, with the rubber suited classic "Son of Godzilla" playing in the background and my "intellectually gifted" dog, who is named after an obese, video game zombie that pukes bile on you and explodes when you shoot them, I delve back into the world that has been the seat of my passion for as long as I can remember.

Thanks Mister Dellamorta and Bucky Chainsaw Massacre for giving me the exact blend of arse kicking and encouragement to get me writing again, you guys are my blood.

Your ghastly gal pal,

Alba Dellamorta.