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 Horrorcram XV: Let's Scare Corrierino To Death 
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Also, the low-budget Amazon curse strikes again.

The Night Before is about a woman and her teenage daughter who are taken hostage on Halloween night by a guy who wears a gas mask because . . . I don't know. Maybe by the time it was explained I'd stopped paying attention. There's a large monkey toy/thing. There's an ending that doesn't make much sense.

At one point a character is bound to a headboard by a rope that's tied to a metal cuff fastened with a padlock. The character gets hold of a pair of pliers and instead of untying the rope she tries to use the pliers to leverage the padlock off of the cuff. SIGH.

Now I'm on to a low budget comedy and yikes.


Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:06 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:

MAJOR SPOILERS for Sleepaway Camp

I'm not sure that I agree that the ending is transphobic.

Yes, it comes in the wrapping of a transphobic moment: the realization that a woman is in fact biologically male. With the loaded way that our culture regards transwomen (and the despicable use of terms like "traps"), on the surface it could be seen as a hateful moment.

But I actually don't think that transphobia is what underpins that moment. Realizing that Angela is actually male (and I'm saying that because I don't believe from what we see of the character that Angela herself actually feels like she "belongs" as a woman. It is an identity that has been forced on her in the wake of a horrible trauma) is a moment that helps us to understand just how delicate Angela's mental state has been for probably the last ten years and why the camp setting pushed her over the edge.

There are a lot of little things that to me soften that final reveal in terms of it being transphobic. To begin with (and it's been a while since I've watched it, so feel free to disagree) I feel like the way that the final line is spoken ("Oh, my god. She's a boy.") sounds more like empathy than it does disgust. It's an "Oh my" moment, not a "Eww, gross!" moment.

Then there's the way that the gay relationship of the fathers is portrayed. They are shown as being loving, and we get that sweetly domestic scene of the two men cuddling and kissing while their children watch on and giggle. Coming from a loving home with gay parents isn't at all implicated in Angela's psychology, and it would have been VERY easy for a film at that time to imply untoward things happening in that context.

I actually think that the film does a great job of showing how Angela's identity crisis pushes her over the edge. The fascination with Judy, who rejects her. Confusion over the more socially acceptable (but in reality gay) relationship with a boy.

I guess that just playing the "she has a penis!!!!" card could read as transphobic. But I feel like it's a final act that manages to use that shocking reveal and still elicit a lot of sympathy for the killer.

It's a criticism I've seen brought up enough that I felt I had to address it, even if I ultimately kind of loved the movie. I don't think the movie is hateful towards trans people, but I do think it makes itself a target for such accusations with the penis reveal and the use of misgendering as a source of trauma. But like you, I find the movie far too compassionate to really hold those things against it. I think the ending works because it's deeply empathetic (and that sound *shivers*), not just because of the visual it ends on. I've also given a pass to movies that are way more objectionable and whose objectionable qualities don't come from the same place of empathy as this.

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Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:20 pm
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Rock wrote:
It's a criticism I've seen brought up enough that I felt I had to address it, even if I ultimately kind of loved the movie. I don't think the movie is hateful towards trans people, but I do think it makes itself a target for such accusations with the penis reveal and the use of misgendering as a source of trauma. But like you, I find the movie far too compassionate to really hold those things against it. I think the ending works because it's deeply empathetic (and that sound *shivers*), not just because of the visual it ends on. I've also given a pass to movies that are way more objectionable and whose objectionable qualities don't come from the same place of empathy as this.


Well, I would feel VERY different if
Angela was actually transgender. But I think it's pretty clear that she isn't. I mean, ironically the film is making an extreme version of the argument FOR respecting transgender people and their feelings, ie, Wouldn't it really mess you up to be forced into dressing/living/presenting as a gender that wasn't your true gender?

When you layer that with the trauma of losing parents and a sibling, I don't know, "regular" killers have murdered for less.


Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:25 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:

MAJOR SPOILERS for Sleepaway Camp

I'm not sure that I agree that the ending is transphobic.

Yes, it comes in the wrapping of a transphobic moment: the realization that a woman is in fact biologically male. With the loaded way that our culture regards transwomen (and the despicable use of terms like "traps"), on the surface it could be seen as a hateful moment.

But I actually don't think that transphobia is what underpins that moment. Realizing that Angela is actually male (and I'm saying that because I don't believe from what we see of the character that Angela herself actually feels like she "belongs" as a woman. It is an identity that has been forced on her in the wake of a horrible trauma) is a moment that helps us to understand just how delicate Angela's mental state has been for probably the last ten years and why the camp setting pushed her over the edge.

There are a lot of little things that to me soften that final reveal in terms of it being transphobic. To begin with (and it's been a while since I've watched it, so feel free to disagree) I feel like the way that the final line is spoken ("Oh, my god. She's a boy.") sounds more like empathy than it does disgust. It's an "Oh my" moment, not a "Eww, gross!" moment.

Then there's the way that the gay relationship of the fathers is portrayed. They are shown as being loving, and we get that sweetly domestic scene of the two men cuddling and kissing while their children watch on and giggle. Coming from a loving home with gay parents isn't at all implicated in Angela's psychology, and it would have been VERY easy for a film at that time to imply untoward things happening in that context.

I actually think that the film does a great job of showing how Angela's identity crisis pushes her over the edge. The fascination with Judy, who rejects her. Confusion over the more socially acceptable (but in reality gay) relationship with a boy.

I guess that just playing the "she has a penis!!!!" card could read as transphobic. But I feel like it's a final act that manages to use that shocking reveal and still elicit a lot of sympathy for the killer.

That's pretty much exactly how I read it. As we know, I didn't love the movie, but I certainly felt that the shock was more related to sympathy than phobia. Honestly, the latter didn't cross my mind because of the way the moment and the whole film leading up to it is presented, and I'm struggling to superimpose that feeling on the actual content.
I think if you just straight up reverse the scene, imagine a transwoman is forced to live as a boy and finally snaps from it, it is a sympathetic moment even within the transgender community. The film is no different. Someone is forced to assume a gender-role that is not correct for them and it causes them incredible stress. If anything, as you've pointed out, the movie takes a broad and open-minded opinion on sexuality and gender-roles.


Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:49 pm
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Rock wrote:
It's a criticism I've seen brought up enough that I felt I had to address it, even if I ultimately kind of loved the movie. I don't think the movie is hateful towards trans people, but I do think it makes itself a target for such accusations with the penis reveal and the use of misgendering as a source of trauma. But like you, I find the movie far too compassionate to really hold those things against it. I think the ending works because it's deeply empathetic (and that sound *shivers*), not just because of the visual it ends on. I've also given a pass to movies that are way more objectionable and whose objectionable qualities don't come from the same place of empathy as this.

Isn't the notion that misgendering can be traumatic kind of a central point of the movement for equity for the transgender community?


Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:51 pm
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Wooley wrote:
Isn't the notion that misgendering can be traumatic kind of a central point of the movement for equity for the transgender community?

Yes, but if the implication is that it will result in the traumatized person resorting to violence, I can understand why someone might object to that, even if I think the movie comes down on the right side of things.

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Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:58 pm
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Just an FYI that Hellbent, a slightly low-budget horror centered on a gay group of friends, just got added to Amazon Prime. I think it's pretty good and I'd definitely recommend it. It's nice to see some queer representation in a horror film where gay characters are put at the forefront as protagonists and are shown as having a solid set of friendships and relationships.

They also added Experiment in Terror, which isn't a horror but is scary enough (and beautiful enough in its black and white stark shadows) to recommend to this crowd.


Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:14 am
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Hereditary was pretty freaky and very intense. One of the year's best films.

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Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:16 pm
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Horror Noire author Robin R. Means Coleman gives us a crash course in black Horror history

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Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:09 am
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I'm watching Pigs, and a man is literally romping through a field with is dog to a soundtrack of a jaunty mouth organ. How this film only has a 4.8 on the IMDb is beyond me!


Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:01 am
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MadMan wrote:
Hereditary was pretty freaky and very intense. One of the year's best films.
Er, well...

*bites tongue*

:D

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Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:58 am
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Well, ultimately I actually quite enjoyed Pigs. I hadn't understood the way that the plot combined the two lead characters.

A man named Zambrini has a herd of pigs who have acquired a taste for human flesh. Zambrini routinely raids the local cemetery to meet the needs of his animals. Along comes Lynn, a woman clearly on the run. Lynn ends up working at Zambrini's cafe and staying in a room that he has to rent. Okay, the set up is very Eaten Alive and you'd think that we'd wait and watch for Zambrini to take a knife to his new tenant.

Nope.

Instead it turns out that Lynn is seriously disturbed, and she lashes out in ways that leave corpses behind. Zambrini, taking a liking to Lynn, feeds her victims to his pigs to cover up for her. But with locals growing more and more suspicious of Zambrini, and Lynn's past catching up to her, things are set to come to a head.

I think that what I appreciated the most about Pigs were the surprisingly developed dynamics of what tend to be pretty flat characters in horror films. Zambrini and Lynn both come across as pretty sympathetic in their own ways, and Zambrini in particular as he tries to help Lynn without there ever being creepy overtones to the way that he looks out for her. Yes, there are some local yahoos--boys in trucks behaving badly--but the local sheriff is pretty level-headed (if maybe a bit ineffectual) and also reasonably sympathetic.

I also liked the subplot of Zambrini's neighbors, two elderly women who are convinced that Zambrini is stealing the bodies of the dead and actually turning them into pigs.

A few months ago I went out into my backyard and one of my neighbor's large pigs had gotten out of the pen and unexpectedly, well, "charged" isn't quite the word. But having a large pig run toward you is kind of scary. So I know that pigs can be frightening. But in this film I thought the pigs were more adorable then menacing. In a way, though, that kind of fits with the idea that the "evils" committed by the characters in the film aren't really done out of malicious intent.

The kills do look super fake, especially one scene where a person is killed by having a fake knife gently laid along his back.

Generally, I really enjoyed this movie. Some of the staging and sequences might have been goofy, but I thought that the characters and their relationship dynamics turned it into something really engaging.


Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:06 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
Well, ultimately I actually quite enjoyed Pigs. I hadn't understood the way that the plot combined the two lead characters.

A man named Zambrini has a herd of pigs who have acquired a taste for human flesh. Zambrini routinely raids the local cemetery to meet the needs of his animals. Along comes Lynn, a woman clearly on the run. Lynn ends up working at Zambrini's cafe and staying in a room that he has to rent. Okay, the set up is very Eaten Alive and you'd think that we'd wait and watch for Zambrini to take a knife to his new tenant.

Nope.

Instead it turns out that Lynn is seriously disturbed, and she lashes out in ways that leave corpses behind. Zambrini, taking a liking to Lynn, feeds her victims to his pigs to cover up for her. But with locals growing more and more suspicious of Zambrini, and Lynn's past catching up to her, things are set to come to a head.

I think that what I appreciated the most about Pigs were the surprisingly developed dynamics of what tend to be pretty flat characters in horror films. Zambrini and Lynn both come across as pretty sympathetic in their own ways, and Zambrini in particular as he tries to help Lynn without there ever being creepy overtones to the way that he looks out for her. Yes, there are some local yahoos--boys in trucks behaving badly--but the local sheriff is pretty level-headed (if maybe a bit ineffectual) and also reasonably sympathetic.

I also liked the subplot of Zambrini's neighbors, two elderly women who are convinced that Zambrini is stealing the bodies of the dead and actually turning them into pigs.

A few months ago I went out into my backyard and one of my neighbor's large pigs had gotten out of the pen and unexpectedly, well, "charged" isn't quite the word. But having a large pig run toward you is kind of scary. So I know that pigs can be frightening. But in this film I thought the pigs were more adorable then menacing. In a way, though, that kind of fits with the idea that the "evils" committed by the characters in the film aren't really done out of malicious intent.

The kills do look super fake, especially one scene where a person is killed by having a fake knife gently laid along his back.

Generally, I really enjoyed this movie. Some of the staging and sequences might have been goofy, but I thought that the characters and their relationship dynamics turned it into something really engaging.


This has been on my 'maybe one day' list for about twenty years (along with Ray Milland's 'Frogs'). I will keep this approval in mind next time I'm considering it.


Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:27 am
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crumbsroom wrote:

This has been on my 'maybe one day' list for about twenty years (along with Ray Milland's 'Frogs'). I will keep this approval in mind next time I'm considering it.


It's a pretty fast 80 minutes, and while it has that kind of vibe that I think of as "subdued", it never dragged. The film also resists overanalyzing its characters. We do, in the end, get an explanation for Lynn's behavior (which, frankly, I think is pretty easy to infer from her actions), but it's literally someone being like "So this happened in her past" and another person is like "Makes sense, anyway . . .".

Apparently this was the only feature film directed by Marc Lawrence (who plays the lead Zambrini), but he has over 200 acting credits, dating back to films like The Asphalt Jungle.

The more I think about it, the more I like the fact that so much of the runtime is taken up by the sheriff answering a phone and being like "Okay, hang on. Hey, Frank? Have you seen a guy in a yellow Mercedes? No? Alright. Sorry, sir, we haven't seen him." It's such an interesting mode for what is essentially the film's protagonist. He's not corrupt or lazy. But there just isn't actually much evidence of wrongdoing until the end of the film, so he's constantly saying common sense things like "Well, there isn't any evidence, so I can't just go over there and search his barn." He's a good dude (for example, he *MILD SPOILER*
saves Lynn from what's shaping up to be a sexual assault by a drunk local
) and not bad at his job, per se. There just isn't much for him to do. This isn't a complaint. The sort of casual "investigation" contrasted with the actual crimes was an interesting dynamic.

So, yeah. You all need to watch Pigs. Again: 80 minutes. Free on US Prime if you have it.


Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:57 pm
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Image

Found footage film about a group investigating some cattle mutilations in the Alps in 1976. It's not a spoiler to announce that they encounter some unnamed werewolf things, because there they are in the poster.

I'm not against found-footage films on principle, but I am hip to their jive so they've gotta be exceptional for me to overlook their cliches. This one is not exceptional, and suffers from all the annoying habits that I've lost patience with. Characters repeatedly explaining why the camera is still on? Check. Final survivor filming a goodbye to loved ones? Check. One hour of walking followed by 30 minutes of running? Check. Shakey cam robbing the audience of a good view of the creatures? Check.

This was recommended to me by a usually-reliable source, so maybe somebody will like it but I'm advising against it.

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Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:41 am
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The Devonsville Terror has a weird dissonance between its generally intelligent take on its premise (a witch movie where the real horror is the townspeople's backward-ass misogynistic ways) and the cheesy as hell special effects. (One amusing highlight: the dialogue refers to a character's "glistening skin", which the movie depicts with lightning effects on their hair! Nelson Muntz isn't the first person to confuse the two, apparently.) It's probably a little too light on incident
(until the finale, that pulls from Raiders of the Lost Ark of all things)
for me to give it more than a slight recommendation, but that approach actually allows you to appreciate the things the movie does well. The copy I watched looked barely better than a VHS tape, which actually added to the vibe.

I also gave The Boogeyman from the same director a rewatch. It has the same lead actress and is generally a better movie, although held back a bit with its slasher movie approach to supernatural material (unlike A Nightmare on Elm Street, the marriage of the two feels perfunctory rather than inspired). When I binged on video nasties a few years back, I found this one to be kind of a hidden gem if no lost classic, and my opinion remains roughly the same.

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Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:04 am
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Rock wrote:
The Devonsville Terror has a weird dissonance between its generally intelligent take on its premise (a witch movie where the real horror is the townspeople's backward-ass misogynistic ways) and the cheesy as hell special effects. (One amusing highlight: the dialogue refers to a character's "glistening skin", which the movie depicts with lightning effects on their hair! Nelson Muntz isn't the first person to confuse the two, apparently.) It's probably a little too light on incident
(until the finale, that pulls from Raiders of the Lost Ark of all things)
for me to give it more than a slight recommendation, but that approach actually allows you to appreciate the things the movie does well. The copy I watched looked barely better than a VHS tape, which actually added to the vibe.

I also gave The Boogeyman from the same director a rewatch. It has the same lead actress and is generally a better movie, although held back a bit with its slasher movie approach to supernatural material (unlike A Nightmare on Elm Street, the marriage of the two feels perfunctory rather than inspired). When I binged on video nasties a few years back, I found this one to be kind of a hidden gem if no lost classic, and my opinion remains roughly the same.

Did you notice that both films were written by the lead actress (the director's wife)? I thought the depiction of the men in Devonsville Terror was unique enough to make it worth a recommendation.
Although I was a bit disappointed
to learn that the girl was actually a witch, because that only served to prove the men right all along. But I'm not one to complain about some sweet witchcraft effects either,
so it's fine.
Also, Donald Pleasence gave zero shits about his performance in that one. It appears that he spent all of 5 hours on set, tops. All of his screentime occurs in that same room. :P

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Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:06 pm
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So I had a double feature of snow-bound horror films yesterday which included Cold Ground and Black Mountain Side and the latter was definitely the better of the two. A group of scientists in northernmost Canada find an ancient structure/monument of some kind and the situation at home base starts to deteriorate as some sort of virus appears to be spreading among the men. This one has some nice tension throughout and is very Lovecraft-y and may or may not include a talking deer.

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Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:21 pm
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:heart: Happy Valentine's Day, crammers. :heart:

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Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:32 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
So I had a double feature of snow-bound horror films yesterday which included Cold Ground and Black Mountain Side and the latter was definitely the better of the two. A group of scientists in northernmost Canada find an ancient structure/monument of some kind and the situation at home base starts to deteriorate as some sort of virus appears to be spreading among the men. This one has some nice tension throughout and is very Lovecraft-y and may or may not include a talking deer.


Did you find the end killed the mood a little? It was so intriguing before that stuff in the forest happened.


Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:14 am
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Charles wrote:

Did you find the end killed the mood a little? It was so intriguing before that stuff in the forest happened.

That stuff in the forest happens to be right up my personal alley so it didn't bother me but I will concede that it does change the tone a bit, so I'd understand if it was a dealbreaker for some. Also that final shot will probably annoy a few people, but the journey was interesting enough that I didn't mind it.

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Fri Feb 15, 2019 10:34 am
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Wooley wrote:
That's pretty much exactly how I read it. As we know, I didn't love the movie, but I certainly felt that the shock was more related to sympathy than phobia. Honestly, the latter didn't cross my mind because of the way the moment and the whole film leading up to it is presented, and I'm struggling to superimpose that feeling on the actual content.
I think if you just straight up reverse the scene, imagine a transwoman is forced to live as a boy and finally snaps from it, it is a sympathetic moment even within the transgender community. The film is no different. Someone is forced to assume a gender-role that is not correct for them and it causes them incredible stress. If anything, as you've pointed out, the movie takes a broad and open-minded opinion on sexuality and gender-roles.


If we're being honest, the 80s were homophobic and no one even really knew that transgenderism was a thing.

Horror, like humor, involves finding that which is out of place (e.g., elegant kitty falls off the kitchen counter or innocent child falls off of a cliff).

We might say that a film like "Sleeping with the Enemy" is man-phobic or that Lord of the Rings is "Orc-phobic" - with regard to the latter, see below.

https://boundingintocomics.com/2018/11/ ... imination/

Film villains have tended to be English or German or Muslim, so there is question mark hanging there.

With regard to the film in question,

It is not like our character was born with a "trans-brain" as some people call it or a "subjective certainty of having been born in the wrong body." Rather, this was a cis-gender kid who was horrible abused by his mother. Our character is abused, made into something he is not, either by birth or by metrics of our modern sensibilities. He is not what he should be. He is not what he is expected to be. That's a big difference.


Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:03 am
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