Thursday, June 28, 2018

Horror Movie References in Event Horizon

I just saw Event Horizon for the first time the other day. It's odd; I loved horror movies throughout my childhood and was obsessed with science fiction for a good chunk of my adolescence, but for some reason I was never into sci-fi horror. I liked my horror spooky and ghostly, like Poltergeist, and I liked my sci-fi to show me the wonders of the universe, like Contact. I didn't care for mixing the two.

As an adult I've been discovering all those wonderful dark science fiction movies I missed when I was younger. Alien being a prime example.

And speaking of Alien....

Is it a coincidence that the set-up of Event Horizon is eerily reminiscent of that classic Ridley Scott masterpiece?

In both movies the crew of a spaceship comes out of hibernation to answer a mysterious distress call.

In Alien, the crew consists of five men and two women.

In Event Horizon, we have six men and two women.

In both movies, the first victim is killed by disembowelment. (I thought about posting pictures of that, but then changed my mind because the one from Event Horizon is particularly gory and I didn't think everyone would want to see that.) 

But Event Horizon borrows imagery from more movies than just Alien. 

I couldn't find a picture of the scene where Laurence Fishburne is almost sucked through the broken window, but it reminded me a heck of a lot of a little girl getting sucked into a closet in one of my favorite horror movies. 

A few scenes later, we see the walls of the spaceship dripping blood. Again, I couldn't find a picture, but remember this iconic bloody wall scene?

And then, a little later, we have an entire room bathed in blood.

Remind you of anything?

And, of course, the whole idea of opening a portal to hell is straight out of Hellraiser. Again I ask, could all of these things be simple coincidences? I highly doubt it. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

If The Odd Couple Took Place Today

I hadn't seen The Odd Couple (1968 movie) in years, so the other day I decided to watch it with my husband and kids. It's just as hilarious as it always was (the scene in the restaurant where Felix is trying to clear his ears had us rolling!), but a few aspects of the story got me thinking.

Could The Odd Couple, as it was originally written, take place today?

The whole premise of the movie is based on the old-fashioned view of marriage where the husband goes off to work while the wife stays home and tends to the house and kids. Don't get me wrong. I am not in any way offended by the idea of traditional gender roles. In fact, my own marriage is structured in much the same way. My husband works full time and, while I have had jobs outside the home, for the most part I've been a stay-at-home mom for the majority of my adult life. And when we're both home there's sort of an understanding that I take care of things inside the house (laundry, cooking, etc.) while he deals with the outdoor issues of cutting the grass and trimming the bushes. It's all very traditional, but that's okay with us. As long as the division of labor works for both partners, there's no problem.

In The Odd Couple, that division of labor obviously did not work. But it begs the question: If the movie took place today, would Oscar and Felix have ended up divorced?

Felix says that the reason his marriage ended is because he was always going around and cleaning up after his wife. He would also go into the kitchen and recook all of her meals. Back in the sixties, that would have been a major problem. The wife's whole identity would have been wrapped up in her role as homemaker, so a husband coming in and trying to usurp her role would have come across as an attack on her character. But today? Today we would be inclined to ask why the wife couldn't go out and get a job while Felix stayed home and did the cooking and cleaning. That's obviously where his talents lie.

What about Oscar? He sums up the problems in his marriage when he describes the wife asking him when he wanted dinner. He would tell her he wasn't hungry, but then he'd wake her up at three in the morning and ask her to fix him some food. Again, in the sixties that would have been a problem. In the sixties, it was a wife's job to keep everyone in the home fed. Today? Well, today no wife in her right mind would get up in the middle of the night and fix her husband a meal. She would simply roll over and go back to sleep, leaving the husband to fend for himself. And the husband would, we certainly hope, be perfectly okay with that because he would know that he just made a ridiculous request.

I do recognize that there are pros and cons to modern society's shunning of traditional gender roles. While it gives people more freedom with regard to how they're allowed to live, it can also make it confusing when two people are just starting out in their life together and are trying to decide who is responsible for what when it comes to care of the home. However, up until the late twentieth century, people were married (no pun intended) to the notion that there were manly jobs and there were womanly jobs. If people didn't fit naturally into those roles, too bad. And in the case of Oscar and Felix, it resulted in the end of two marriages. And we have to ask: Had they been given the same freedom of choice that couples today have, could their marriages have been saved?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Beauty of the Well-Drawn Villain

A Soap Opera Staple

My mother's favorite soap opera was Guiding Light. I think she told me she started watching it with her mother when she was in fourth grade. When I was growing up, the show was a daily tradition in our home. My mom would watch it, then call my grandma and talk about everything that happened. Sometimes they would spend an hour or more just talking about "the stories."

It was inevitable that I, too, would become a fan of the show. And, like my mother, I think I was also in about fourth or fifth grade when I first fell under that well-known soap opera spell. And there was one character we (my mother, my grandmother, and myself) all fell head-over-heels in love with. Roger Thorpe.

Do you remember Roger Thorpe? He was a scoundrel. I mean, he did some seriously awful things. But he had one vulnerability: his undying love for Holly, his ex-wife and the mother of his child. Yeah, I know, some of the most heinous acts he committed on the show were done to Holly. Viewers never forgot that, and neither did the characters. Still, we all secretly hoped for a reconciliation. I remember my mother saying countless times, "I think Roger could finally be good if Holly would just give him another chance."

We really wanted Roger to be good.

But he wasn't good. He had his moments, yes. A scene here and there where the audience was allowed a little glimpse of vulnerability. An entire storyline centered around his quest to turn his life around, usually for the sake of either Holly or his daughter Blake. But given enough time, he would always come back around to the dark side. It was incredibly frustrating, but it was also a mark of genius on the part of the writers. You see, they knew if they wrote a villain who was completely evil, he would come off as two-dimensional and not very realistic. But if they gave him a softer side, women would swoon for him. But the writers also knew something else. They knew that if they took Roger's softer side too far, to the point that he finally turned good and never looked back, viewers would get bored. There'd be nothing left to root for. Turning Roger Thorpe into a good guy and allowing him to live happily ever after with the love of his life would ultimately require writing him off the show altogether because he would no longer have a purpose. And, let's face it, he would lose a lot of his appeal.

The Harry Potter Character Who Broke Our Hearts

I won't beat about the bush. We all know I'm talking about Snape. 

The question of whether Snape truly qualifies as a villain is too complex for me to deal with in this post. Suffice it to say that he is presented as a villain in the first few Harry Potter books. Even when the story begins to probe deeper into his character, we still think of him as a bad guy. At first, we view all those traumatic events from his past as his motivation for turning evil. Then we get to the end and, well, if you're a Harry Potter fan, you know what happens. 

Still, it's an example of the same type of writing. What makes Snape different from Roger Thorpe is the fact that Harry Potter is not a soap opera. It is a story that has a definite beginning and a definite ending. So a character like Snape can come full circle and never go back to where he started because there's no more story to write. The pressure to keep viewers interested by having him vacillate between good and bad is not there, so he can be good and stay good. And we all love him for it.

The Latest Iteration

Are you a fan of the Marvel movies? It's okay if you're not. They're not really my favorite genre, to be honest, but there's one character I can't get enough of. If you think I'm talking about Loki, you guessed correctly.

In trying to categorize Loki, I'd say he's something of a combination of Roger and Snape. Like Snape, he is consumed by bitterness and jealousy. Like Roger, he's driven by ambition. Like Snape, his trustworthiness is constantly being called into question. Like Roger, he can never truly be good because then his character would have no further use. Like Snape, he consorts with the enemy and we wonder whose side he's really on. Like Roger, and every other soap opera villain ever written, he has a tendency to die and then come back from the dead. 

And we can't help but love him. Even when we hate him, heaven help us, we still love him. 

If you have a favorite character whom you "love to hate", let me know in a comment. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Indie Book of the Month: June 2018

Moral Panic by K. M. Ecke.

This is a book that will make you think twice next time you want to use the internet. The author actually has a warning at the beginning that if you are easily frightened by conspiracy theories, this may not be the book for you. I brushed it off as I do most warnings. I'm not generally squeamish about...well...anything really. But I have to say, this story gave me pause. I admit I'm not a tech geek, so can't speak to the realism of Ecke's portrayal of computer technology, but to a layman it felt pretty real. Think about all the times you did an internet search while signed in to your Google account. Every time you "liked" something on Facebook. Every time you did just about anything on your home computer that remembers your search history and all of your personal information. What if someone was actively monitoring that activity? And what if that someone had a personal vendetta against you? It sounds paranoid, and it probably is, but this book made it all seem just a little bit too real. And, honestly, in this age of hacking and identity theft, maybe a little paranoia can be a good thing.

Definitely check this book out. It is available on Amazon.