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."

Friday, August 27, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty-Five - "Christine!"

You know, if it isn't one fucking thing, it's another.

Here's what I want to do in life: make my loved ones happy, and enjoy myself in the process. And - granted, I've caused some problems and I am dealing with those problems as we speak - it always seems that once things start to MAYBE feel like they MIGHT be getting SLIGHTLY SOMEWHAT BETTER in one area, something pops up in another. Like trying to kill off a cancer that just keeps coming back and somehow manages to stay one step ahead of the doctor.

It makes day-to-day living extremely difficult when your life is in constant turmoil, to say the least. It surely makes stupid things like this blog seem utterly unimportant and inconsequential.

But yet here I am doing it.

Today's movie is another of my favorites. And like so many other directors from the 80s, for a while there John Carpenter was at the top of his game. After "Halloween," he had other smash successes with "The Fog," "The Thing," and this adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. Check out The Skinny below and thanks again. Tomorrow it's another classic Cronenberg movie - 1982's "Scanners!"

One more note: don't take people for granted. Ever.

Christine (1983): Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Keith David, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul and Harry Dean Stanton.

The Skinny: Based on Stephen King's novel about a haunted 1957 Plymouth Fury, "Christine" stars Keith Gordon as geeky Artie, who falls in love with a rusted hulk of a car. As the car is slowly restored to its former glory, however, his friends and family start to believe that his obsession with "Christine" is an unnatural one. Those fears are confirmed when his enemies start to wind up dead in auto-related accidents.

What's Good: This is actually the first Stephen King novel I ever read, so I was eager for the film when it came out. And other than a few pacing problems and of course a condensed version of the complete story, this is a reasonably faithful adaptation. The two best parts of the film are Keith Gordon, who is perfect as the protagonist Artie. As he goes from Uber Geek to Mr. Cool through his association with the car, Gordon carries the transformation in subtle ways - in his posture, the roll of his eyes, the way his jaw sets in anger. And the second part for me is the way the car transforms and moves from damaged to undamaged. Today, it would be done with CGI and would look like the fucking "Transformers" when it was all said and done. But being made in the early 80s means real practical special effects, and Carpenter pulls it off perfectly with tight close-ups and reverse film techniques. In fact, I've heard tell of a new version directed by Davis Slade ("30 Days of Night," "Twilight: Eclipse") being produced by Platinum Dunes - Michael Bay's production house responsible for the recent spate of horrible remakes of classic horror films. In 3-D. Fuck me running.

What's Bad: It is a very stripped-down version of the novel that removes the idea of the car's former owner being evil and instead focuses on the car itself being the embodiment of evil. This is told in an opening scene that almost feels tacked on after the fact where an auto worker is killed by the brand new car as it rolls off the assembly line. It's a fine idea, but one that's been done several times already - in everything from B-Movies to episodes of "The Twilight Zone." It also doesn't account for Artie's personality change - in the book, LeBay - the former deceased owner - starts to possess Artie. In the film, he just gets more aggressive and pissy for no real reason other than maybe he feels really good about himself now that his car kills people for him. And like I said, there are a few pacing issues in the middle of the movie, and a few plot holes if you think too hard about it. But for the most part, it's a quality scare.

Why We Like It: It's probably my second favorite Carpenter film after "The Thing." And like I said, it holds a special place in my heart because it started my love affair with King and that has lasted over 25 years.

Memorable Stuff: My favorite scene is the first time the car shows Artie that it can regenerate. He stares into the headlights with an almost sensual look in his eyes as fenders pop out, windshields and mirrors reform and the missing hood is miraculously restored. It's a good use of camera and effects and continues Gordon's excellent performance.