November 2011

Hellraiser

Still Pretty Good!

There have been some incredible, innovative horror movies made in the past ten or fifteen years (along with plenty of forgettable ones and some truly godawful ones), so it's a little too easy to forget how bad the vast majority of horror movies used to be. A movie like “Hellraiser,” which I would now grade as a B, got a solid A from me when I first saw it.

 

Why? Because the mythology of the cenobites (in Clive Barker's mythos, a race of beings that can grant ultimate pleasure and ultimate pain in the same moment, making them “angels to some, demons to others”) is a creative and very welcome departure from the more typical semi-Christian pseudo-theology of so many horror movies. Barker's conception of horror is more poetic. The actual meaning of the word “cenobite” is “a monk who lives in a community” as opposed to a hermit. I'm not sure what this says about the movie, if anything, but there is something vaguely monastic about Pinhead and his brethren, despite their hedonistic nature.

House of Leaves

The Youtube Version

“House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski is the strangest, artsiest, most convoluted and most irritatingly pseudo-intellectual horror novel I have ever read. It is also the scariest. I don't know how Danielewski pulled that off, considering that his massive avant-garde horror epic has so many pretentious qualities, from its hundreds of footnotes to its secret codes to its story-within-a-story plot structure. But it's true. The book is just permeated with raw fear. I read it, was irritated by it, kept reading it, and was in awe of it.

The Evil Dead

"Why Have You Disturbed Our Ancient Slumber?"

I'm one of those people who thinks the original “Evil Dead” was a lot better than either of the so-called sequels. Evil Dead 2 is technically a “retcon” or “retroactive continuity” sequel, meaning it's not really a sequel at all because it disregards what happened in the first movie. Army of Darkness is a straightforward sequel to Evil Dead 2, but neither of them is really a sequel to the original Evil Dead.

The Descent 2

Mediocre Sequel to a Great Horror Movie

 

“The Descent 2” is not a bad horror movie by the usual standards, it is only a bad movie in comparison to “The Descent.” Unfortunately that still means they shouldn't have made it, but still you can't really say they did a bad job- just a mediocre one.

 

The movie picks up right where the first one ended- the theatrical version, that is, not the alternative ending on the DVD. I thought the original ending was a clever variation on the usual horror-movie fake-out, where you think the main character has escaped only to find out otherwise at the last moment. “The Descent” changed that very tired cliché into a commentary on the psychological trauma the main character would have suffered, so she really does get away but is so damaged she keeps seeing the Crawlers anyway.