Shock Totem #10 (Jan 2016)
- Closing for Submissions
- Shock Totem Returns!
- Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 8
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 7
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 6
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 5
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 4
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 3
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 2
Like what you've read here or in the magazine? Please consider donating.
Hey, let’s look at five cool horror movie scenes! (Beware of spoilers.) Let’s goooooooo!
Shaun of the Dead is awesome. That’s not my opinion. It’s a fact. It starts as a parody and slowly transforms into an honest-to-God kick-ass zombie movie in its own right. The most kick-ass scene? Shaun being forced to kill his own mom. The way this scene plays out is so hardcore and emotional that you forget you were laughing your guts out only minutes before. This was one of the most surprising sucker punches in recent horror memory, and earns a spot on this list.
KICK-ASS LEVEL: YOUR MOM
4. The Mist
The Mist is my dad’s favorite movie ever, and he says it’s all because of the ending. He calls it “wish fulfillment,” which I guess means he REALLY wants to see some giant monsters while out on a drive with me on a foggy day. For once, I agree with my old man, as the ending of this movie is KICK-ASS! But what happens at the end of the drive is what makes it so nuts. Out of gas and hope, our hero decides to play Russian roulette with his son and fellow survivors. Except he’s the only one who gets to pull the trigger. And he forgot to take any of the bullets out of the gun. And pretty much everyone else was sleeping. Then, immediately after he kills everyone, he’s saved! Yay! Life finds a way!
KICK-ASS LEVEL: DAD’S WISH FULFILLMENT
28 Days Later is probably one of the best “zombies that aren’t really zombies” movies ever, and it’s hard to pick just one scene that stands out. After days of solitary meditation (when that didn’t work I just asked my mom) I realized it was the empty London segment that sticks in my head. The pure loneliness of the sequence instills the entire movie with a sense of terrible hopelessness and illustrates a world where Jim has already missed the conflict…all he has to do is survive the apocalypse that already happened while he was out cold. I couldn’t find a clip of this scene anywhere, so enjoy this song about Thanksgiving. The number 28 features prominently at the eight-second mark.
KICK-ASS LEVEL: 28 (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
2. Troll Hunter
Troll Hunter is a “found footage” movie. I get why so many people hate them. Once my mom “found” some “footage” of mine when she put in what she thought was Police Academy II on VHS player. She would later refer to that Mother’s Day as “unfortunate.” You know what isn’t unfortunate? Troll Hunter, that’s what. This movie is paced ridiculously well, with a constantly escalating sense of danger and epicocity. The climax comes when our heroes confront a troll literally the size of a mountain, and the scale is truly frightening. I haven’t seen anything so big since the last time I had to pee. Wait. I apologize for that metaphor, but since Honey, I Shrunk the Kids didn’t make this list, I had to improvise.
KICK-ASS LEVEL: MOUNTAIN
The Cabin In the Woods. Lots of people loved this movie. Then lots of people decided it’s way cooler to not love stuff, and they began calling it overrated. I fall in the first camp, because it KICKS ASS. Even detractors will admit the last twenty minutes are awesome in the purest sense of the word. I mean, come on. Pretty much ALL the monsters EVER appear and proceed to throw the murder party of the millennium. Unicorn murder? It’s there. Clown fetish? You’re covered. KICK. ASS.
KICK-ASS LEVEL: KITCHEN SINK
I’m just gonna come out and say it. When I first heard of the Bloop—which is a sound so bass-y and loud that some sciencey people claim it can only come from a creature many times larger than a blue whale—I instantly knew its source: my girlfriend.
You know you would!
Fooled you! I’ve never had one of those before. What, your sister? The one working at the movie theater? Pffft! Fooled you again! I was only using her for free movie tickets. BWA HA HA HA HA HA! But seriously, she handed those out like candy. How else could I have seen Agent Cody Banks 2 so many times? I’VE ALREADY TOLD YOU, I’M NOT MADE OF MONEY!
Not like me.
More like me.
So the Bloop. It all began back in 1997 when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (who I can only assume are the scientists that astronomers stuff into lockers at some zany Science High School) stuck some microphones into the Pacific Ocean. Why would they do this? Hoping to listen in on some sweet, sweet whale lovin’, you say? Probably! That was my first guess, too. Unfortunately for the oceanic peeping toms, they only managed to capture a powerful sound blasting from the depths. What made the sound so special was the fact it was picked up by two different microphones—3,000 miles apart.
Think about that for a second. A sound so loud it traveled 3,000 miles. That’s like having to wear earplugs in Los Angeles because those Coldplay assholes won’t turn down the volume at their concert in New York.
Some of the more boring, cynical scientists who’ve lost their sense of wonder say that it might have been ice cracking and falling into the sea, but since the Bloop sounds nothing like overzealous cries of “Icebergs: 1, Titanic: 0!” I don’t think that’s the case.
So what is it?
Apparently, it’s Cthulhu. IRL. I don’t know about you, but filling my hear-sound organs with the cries of an ancient alien/god from the blackest depths of the Pacific Ocean is not my idea of LOLZ. You go ahead and try. Tell me how it works out.
Here are a handful of links from around the Internet that we found interesting this past week.
I’m sorry, zombie friend, but I didn’t quite catch that. One of the funniest things I saw this week was a Bad Lip Reading of The Walking (and Talking) Dead.
Zombies aren’t creepy. Children are creepy. Nothing exhibits this better than this very cool, very strange Reddit conversation about the creepiest thing your young child has ever said to you .
And after you’ve been chilled by little Jimmy’s prophecy of your death, or sweet Molly’s insistence that SOMEBODY IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU, you can finish freaking yourself out by looking at these hyper-realistic dolls…of you.
Knock yourselves dead, darlings. See something cool that should be in the roundup? Drop me an email, or leave a post on our forum. Let’s while away our time in the dark.
UNUSUAL EVENT of NOTE: The Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
If you aren’t familiar with the tale of the Mothman, that’s okay. He doesn’t get as much high-profile attention as his fellow cryptids Bigfoot and Nessie. He doesn’t have the ancient cache of the Yeti or the sheer persistence of the Chupacabra. Nonetheless, every year around this time, thousands flock back to this river town to pay homage to the creature, its legacy and place in Point Pleasant history.
And to eat fried foods.
The tale of the Mothman is a fairly brief and simple one. The people of Point Pleasant saw this strange creature for about a year starting in November of 1966. Two couples reported to police that they saw, and were subsequently chased by, a “flying man with ten foot wings”. More people saw it over the next few weeks. In December of 1967, the Silver Bridge collapsed, killing nearly fifty people. After that horrible accident, the Mothman sightings ceased, causing speculation that the creature and the incident were somehow connected.
The legend of the monster has grown over the years, and in 2002, the town held the first Mothman Festival, which has also flourished in the decade since. Like the 12-foot statue of Mothman erected that first year, the whole thing is very much bigger than life.
I attended again this year, as I have a number of times in the last few years. I certainly encourage you to check it out if you have the opportunity. It is definitely family-friendly and takes on the atmosphere of just about any festival in small town USA. It just has a little bit of a twist to it. They crown a Miss Mothman at a pageant on Friday, have a karaoke contest, and show movies (including The Mothman Prophecies, staring Richard Gere).
Other activities? Wander through the Mothman Museum, which features various artifacts from the sightings, props from the movie and headlines from the local paper; Take a hayride out to the locations of famous sightings; participate in the Mothman 5k; or visit vendor’s alley for Mothman t-shirts, comic books, buttons, mugs, or just about anything else with the Mothman on it.
This year, if you showed up on Sunday at noon, you got the opportunity to see a sneak preview of the Mothman play. If you missed it here, you’ll have to wait for the touring company to come to your town.
The food is also tinged with the specter of Mothman as well. There are some amazing festival delicacies that I’ve had a hard time saying no to. Mothman Pancakes, anyone?
I have to admit, I came to the Mothman Festival for the first time with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. I was fully prepared to come, laugh a little, and then have the story of it for years to come. It turned out that I had more fun than I had anticipated. The town was full of nice people having fun and bonding over the legend of this strange creature.
Who is this irresistible creature who has an insatiable love for the dead?
Earlier today, in an attempt to see if one forum member was using two accounts, I tried to figure out how to look up IP addresses through the admin panel of our forum. I could only figure out how to check the IPs of those currently logged in, so since Mercedes was the only one on the forum besides guests, I checked hers.
(It was all for research purposes, I assure you. I was fully clothed—aside from shirt, pants, and underwear.)
But here’s what I found odd. Accompanying her IP info, which was pinging from Maryland, was this image:
Weird, eh? So I did a little investigating. (Again, for research purposes only.) Upon further inspection, it appears that Mercedes lives under a plot on the western side of the Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, Maryland.
Here is a more detailed image:
Can’t say I’m surprised, really. In fact, a lot of things about her are much clearer now. It definitely explains the smell. But we wouldn’t trade her in for anything.
As the sagacious Violent J once said: “Cemetery lady, my cemetery girl. Cemetery baby, I want you in my world.”
Dear Darth Maul,
I’ve missed you horribly.
It’s been over a decade now since I last saw you falling into oblivion and out of my life. Who was I kidding? I knew I wouldn’t see you again. The guy from
Moulin Rouge! Big Fish cut you in two. There’s no coming back from that.
Life went on, as it does. I
bought new toys made new friends. Got and got over the clap girlfriends. Some were even Star Wars fans. But not one of them understood my sense of loss.
Flash forward to the other night. I’d heard a lot of buzz for this movie Insidious. You know, the latest horror offering from James Wan, the guy responsible for giving us films like the original Saw and Dead Silence. Did you see those, Darth Maul? Call me and we can
duel with our lightsabers discuss their artistic merit. But really what got me in the theater was—I heard you were in it. Everyone’s been saying so.
They were wrong.
The messy tousles of hair, those teeth, those beady eyes…that’s not you.
So you passed on the role. Hey, I get it. Obviously you saw the flaws in the second act, most notably the part where the story shudders to a complete halt in order to sell the audience on a pretty far-fetched if not completely laughable concept in order to “explain” the paranormal happenings. Maybe you just didn’t like the way it ended, which I hear a lot of people didn’t. I see how it can be divisive, and to be honest, that’s why I LIKED it.
James Wan definitely took risks with the direction the film plays out. He tried some things where other filmmakers would have opted to play it safe, and you have to respect that whether you agree with the results or not.
The biggest risk was the way he handled the role you let go to a muppet.
It felt the whole time that Wan was winking at the audience, deliberately tipping his hand, saturating us with visuals of the terrible denizens from “The Further,” and, in the current world of the whole “less is more” philosophy when it comes to movie monsters, it was refreshing to get a good look at what lays in wait amid the shadows.
There was a lot of stuff to like in this movie, Darth Maul, and I bet you’re kicking yourself right about now. You didn’t count on Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne delivering actual emotion and weight as the distraught parents of a comatose child who seems to have become a ghost magnet. You didn’t count on the scares being genuine. And most of all, you didn’t figure in how the guys from the Paranormal Activity franchise would influence the feel of the film.
That’s the best part.
See, that’s the thing about Insidious. It’s not a gotcha! kind of scary movie. The scary stuff is already in the shot, and you just haven’t noticed yet. Long shots just seem to wander—from the living room, down the hallway—wait, what was that in the corner just standing there, is that AHH IT IS!!!
And that’s scary. These monsters don’t have to find you. They wait like a hellish nightmare version of Where’s Waldo? for you to find them. Terrifying.
Darth Maul, I still miss you, and I hope next time James Wan calls, you’ll at least consider picking up the phone.
And fire your agent. (I’ll be your agent. Call me.)