100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Nine - "Psycho!"

What's happening, y'all. I'm too hung over to be clever this morning, so please forgive me. Goddamn tequila.

Anyway, yes it chunders on like the Juggernaut, bitch - even with this cavern in the middle of my skull where my juicy, juicy brainworks used to be.

Last night, we were so hopped up after "Return of the Living Dead" that we also broke out "The Mist" and watched it. And while I will go on about that movie when I get to it, I have to say right now that it is DEFINITELY one of the best horror movies of the past 20 years. Rent it now.

So today's movie is "Psycho," and that's the original and not the bad Gus Van Sant remake with Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates (yes, you read that shit correctly). It's a classic and a movie everyone should see, because it's just so damn incredible.

And that's all I have patience for today, fiends and neighbors. Love you all.

Psycho (1960): Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles and John Gavin.

The Skinny: I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but in truth although many people know of the movie and it’s theme music, they can’t even begin to tell you what it’s about – except for the creepy transvestite part of it. The film follows Janet Leigh as she runs from her boss after embezzling from his company. But when she spends the night at the Bates Motel, her subsequent murder leads investigators to a shocking revelation about the motel’s owner, Norman, and his loving “mother.” (See how I put “mother” in quotes there to lead you to a conclusion? Tee hee, so clever)

What’s Good: The whole damn thing. Hitchcock’s thriller not only was nominated for three Academy Awards, it was also recently chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry – an honor I think no other film on this list shares. It break down on a psychological level as a treatise on identity, violence and romance in the modern world, not to mention its take on lighting as a way to convey the emotional undertone of the scene. Plus, although there have been many memorable film crazies since “Psycho” premiered 50 years ago, Anthony Perkins’ Norman is a Freudian nightmare and Perkins plays it to the hilt: his lilting speech, tiny ticks and liquid facial expressions underscore the maniac hiding beneath his calm veneer. Hitchcock believed in this film so strongly that theaters were ordered not to seat anyone after the film had started, to preserve the ending and so that they wouldn’t miss star Leigh (who dies very early on).

What’s Bad: Honestly, there is very little to dislike about this film. It’s in black and white, which does turn some people off. Plus, it only borders on horror – it’s more a psychological thriller and a character piece than straight horror. But there are certainly elements of horror throughout, especially the infamous shower scene. Also, while Bernard Hermann’s score is instantly recognizable (even to those who have never seen it), it can be a bit jarring at times, as the sound mix puts those screaming violins right up front.

Why We Like It: For me, the best parts of the film are the scenes between Janet Leigh and Perkins, as we slowly come to realize that this nice looking young feller just ain’t quite right. And the deeper we get into Norman’s mind, the more we put our own psyches at risk as we identify him as a victim and empathize with his motivations – right up until the bitter end. The shocking revelation towards the end is bolstered by the swinging overhead lamp and the ear-splitting violins, to the point of causing honest chills no matter how many times you’ve seen it.

Memorable Stuff: Janet Leigh in a bra comes immediately to mind. Plus Norman’s earnest face as he proclaims, “a boy’s best friend is his mother!” never fails to creep me out. And the cinematography is amazing with its high-contrast black and white, and with the way Hitchcock lets shadows fall everywhere, natural or unnatural. It’s just simply a classic and one that every aspiring horror filmmaker seeks to emulate, whether conscious of that idea or not.