Posts Tagged ‘movies’

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Bare Hands, Crucifix, Holy Water

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Reviewed by: Pontifex Aureus

You can look at a starry sky and enjoy the pure sight of it; you can marvel at its dark beauty, its mystery, but what are you looking at really? Beyond the veil of sky lies infinite space and each point of twinkling light is really a blazing orb of fire. You can watch The Exorcist and simply enjoy the masochist pleasures of a masterfully crafted horror film, but what is the film really showing us? It won’t tell us, it only suggests; there’s no hand-holding here. Two different people can see the same film and arrive at two different conclusions. Or the same person can watch the film twice and arrive at different conclusions each time. For the careful viewer, The Exorcist is rich with meaning and delves deeper than a casual glance would suggest.

 

In the district of Georgetown, an evil entity slowly encroaches on the lives of the community members as it takes possession of a young girl named Reagan. Drawn into this supernatural conflict are the girl’s mother, a young priest suffering from a crisis of faith, and an elder priest experienced in the rites of exorcism. Together they must perform the dangerous exorcism ritual and directly engage evil face to face, in order to save the girl.

Reagan Possessed Ms MacNeil and the Cross

The Exorcist wrote the book on possession movies in a style that has since been imitated countless times. But beyond the rather straightforward plot, at its heart, The Exorcist is a solemn meditation on the battle between good and evil. This is made clear right away in the opening scene, as the elderly priest, Father Merrin, stands face to face with a statue of the demon Pazuzu, foreshadowing the battle to come—a battle with evil personified.

Kinderman and the Stairs Pazuzu Pukes

It is this personification of evil that gives The Exorcist its power to scare. Everyday experience tells us that evil comes from within ourselves, by doing evil things, but The Exorcist shows us evil as a thing, as an elemental force of nature, divorced from human deeds. This evil is a concrete absolute, a concept that some people refer to as the Devil. The real genius of The Exorcist is that it is able to make that concept feel real by injecting it into a very realistic-feeling situation. The film carries itself with the sober matter-of-factness of a documentary and defies the conventional Hollywood formula. There is no one clear protagonist, there is no steady escalation of action (it’s rather slow actually), and even the climax is blasphemously anti-climactic as the titular exorcist dies quietly off-screen of natural causes, cheating the audience of the promised showdown. What kind of movie does that? It doesn’t conform to set patterns, it isn’t easily explained, and it delights in shattering your expectations. It feels more like real life, doesn’t it? That’s what makes the “Evil-with-a-capital-E” of this film so threatening, because it is intruding in what is otherwise a pretty mundane portrayal of what the real world looks and feels like, as if to say “this sort of thing really happens and it could happen again”.

Merrin Arrives Merrin and Karras

In fact, this Evil takes slow possession of the film itself in much the same way it takes possession of Reagan. At first it is only hinted at, heard, but not seen. Then, briefly, we begin to see images—a demonic face forcing its way into the narrative through dreams. By the third act, the evil force has seized total control of the story, forcing the narrative into Reagan’s room, where it remains for most of the rest of the film. This invasion is felt by the audience as well, as this alien Other forces its way into their viewing experience.

 

As sharply as evil is illuminated in this film, it takes a rather ambiguous look at the forces of good. The film seems to suggest that faith is the weapon of choice against evil, but then why does the tone of the film remain so relentlessly bleak? And though the forces of good ultimately win the day, the demon is never properly exorcised; it takes an act of self-sacrifice to finally get rid of the demon. Victory is achieved at such a steep price that it hardly feels like victory at all. And if Pazuzu and Father Merrin symbolize opposite extremes on the scale of good and evil, then why make Father Merrin so frail and old? It is my interpretation that the film’s message is that goodness, unlike evil, must be maintained through faith. Evil is an ocean wave crashing against the flood-wall of goodness. The waves are always strong and in endless supply, but the flood-wall will weather and break if it is not carefully maintained. Others have interpreted this differently however, seeing the priests’ Pyrrhic victory as evidence that faith does not work, but rather action, with the intervention of the younger priest, Father Karras, prevailing where Father Merrin’s prayers did not. It’s hard to tell exactly what The Exorcist is telling us, it remains as it has always been: a dark, enigmatic, poignant, and utterly compelling parable of unknowable mystery and ominous profundity.

 

 

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Kicks, Bare Hands, Cane, Knife, Teeth, Towel Rod

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Reviewed by: Pontifex Aureus

In essence, Cronos is a vampire movie. It’s a very different kind of vampire movie, but a vampire movie nonetheless, and while it can be considered a horror movie, I prefer to think of it as a dark fantasy movie. That’s because Cronos is not scary—not one little bit. But don’t let that bother you, because while it may not be scary, it is original, it is highly imaginative, it is rich with devilish imagery and possesses a thoroughly human character. These characteristics are hallmarks of all high-quality dark fantasy.

In Veracruz, Mexico, an elderly antiques dealer, Jesus Gris, and his granddaughter stumble upon a strange and ancient artifact created by a 16th century alchemist. The artifact, the Cronos Device, grants the user eternal life, as Jesus soon finds out upon accidentally triggering the insect-like machine. The price for eternity is steep however, as Jesus begins to develop a terrible craving for blood and draws the attention of an evil man who would claim the device for himself.

Jesus and Aurora Cronos Close-Up

You have to admire a vampire movie that never once uses the word “vampire”. Cronos is a wonderfully understated movie, never clobbering you over the head with its themes. It’s just as well that the film doesn’t mention vampires, since the movie is more about humans than vampires. We have three central characters: Jesus Gris, a kindly grandfather and respectable shop owner who becomes so addicted to the vitality offered by the Cronos Device that he winds up licking blood off a men’s room floor. We have Dieter de la Guardia, a ruthless businessman so against the idea of natural death that he spends his life in a germ-free room with a cabinet full of his own body parts. And lastly, there’s Angel de la Guardia, the bootlicking nephew to Dieter, who wants nothing more than for his uncle to die and leave behind a fat inheritance.

Jesus Using Cronos Nose Bleed for Dinner

In much the same way that a vampire is motivated by its desire for blood, these people are motivated by their desire for power. Each is ruled by their desire—the desire for youth and vigor, as in the case of Jesus and Dieter, or desire for wealth, as in Angel’s case. Each is a kind of power. They live wretched lives and all but Jesus are willing to kill to fulfill their desire. It’s this complex interplay of human frailty that makes Cronos such a sly winner. Keep this in mind while watching and you’ll find a rich layer of symbolism throughout the film (lots of religious subtext—Jesus Gris is phonetically similar to Jesus Cristo, the Cronos Device is concealed in an angel statue, Angel de la Guardia means literally “guardian angel”, and so on).

Perlman Broken Nose Jesus Vampire

Aside from all these subtle qualities, Cronos has several other things going for it as well. Being a Guillermo del Toro movie, it carries his visual flair for dark fantasy. The Cronos Device itself is a work of art, looking like a golden clockwork scarab, it is suitably creepy and evil-looking. There’s also the wonderfully muted performances by the whole cast, but especially by Federico Luppi in the role of Jesus Gris, as he transforms from twinkly-eyed grandpa to skin-peeling vampire without ever feeling over-the-top.

Cronos is a sumptuously dark fairy tale brought to you by the modern-day master of dark fantasy; if you’re a del Toro fan, you should find plenty to like here. Incidentally, this film also marks the first collaboration between del Toro and Ron Perlman, for you Hellboy fans out there. So if you’re looking for scares, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a visually striking, stylish, thought-provoking vampire movie, then look no further than Cronos.

by: Pontifex Aureus

The first time I went to the Josephine Theatre, I was smitten—powerfully and immediately smitten with the place. It sits at the far west end of Josephine Street, the sole sign of life in an otherwise desolate stretch of nighttime road. It is close enough to the hustle and bustle of St. Mary’s Street that I could probably hear the music coming from the White Rabbit if I tried, and it may be that this lonely street might likewise be lit up with bars and restaurants someday in the near future, but for now it is dark and solemn—befitting of, what is to me, a sacred cathedral.

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It’s an old place, classic, but not in a self-consciously retro sort of way, it’s just distinctly ‘of the past’. The Josephine opened its doors in 1947 and, as was common for the era, had a now-unthinkably huge 700+ seating capacity to accommodate all the surrounding neighborhoods. Like many other classic movie theaters, it faced a slow decline during the 70’s culminating in bankruptcy, but the Josephine was among the theaters lucky enough to be saved. Standing inside, I’m greeted with a cool-blue interior decorated with large etched-glass depictions of fairy tale characters. It’s dark, with the muted elegance of a Bogart-era nightclub. Now sporting a bar and lounge-area and a more reasonable amount of seats, the Josephine is looking a little more modern, but its old-fashioned charm still shines through.

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Tonight especially, the place has special significance. The lounge is filled with vendors and movie-goers here for the monthly Pigstagg Creature Double Feature. Since late December of 2014, David Gore of Pigstagg Records & Video, in conjunction with George Ortiz of theHorrific Film Festival, have come together to host a monthly double-feature movie event at the Josephine, celebrating classic schlock, horror, and cult movies from the old-school—absolutely nothing made past 1989. Previous showings include: Return of the Living Dead, Nightbreed, Heavy Metal, River’s Edge, The Wraith, and Trick or Treat. And while not always strictly horror, I promise all you horrorphiles out there: you will not want to miss out on this treasure-trove of cinema gold.

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(left to right) David “Pigstagg” Gore, Tony Chainsaw, and George Ortiz

The setup at the Josephine is unique; with its large, open floor-plan, you can choose the traditional route of sitting in the actual theater, or you can choose to relax in the lounge and watch the movie from the comfort of your table. Being as there is a bar in the lounge, you can easily get up, order yourself a drink, and not miss a minute of the movie. If two movies sounds like a lot to sit through, don’t worry; there is an intermission between movies, enough time to stretch your legs and perhaps check out some of the vendor’s tables in the lounge. The Pigstagg Records & Video table is there, of course, offering a range of schlocky, obscure movies for your viewing pleasure. This is a full evening of entertainment, 2 movies back to back, all for the price of $10 ($5 with costume and $5 for kids).

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This series of double-features will be running from now until November, on the last Saturday of each month. This month’s event will take place on February 28th and will feature two street-gang classics: The Warriors and The Wanderers. And don’t forget, come August, the Josephine will also be host to this year’s Horrific Film Festival, where you’ll be able to enjoy a slew of independent horror films and celebrity guest stars. If you’re a horror-lover living in San Antonio, or simply a movie-lover in general, this is where you should be in 2015. So come and join us at the Josephine and see for yourself what kind of magic this old theater still holds.

Horror friends, we are gathered here today to pay our respects to a great friend—a friend who could take a perfectly tedious day like Thursday and turn it into a holy-day for the horror faithful, a friend whose monthly morsels of the macabre eased our gore-hunger, and made all the non-Halloween-months a bit less lame; this friend, Bloodthirsty Thursdays, is gone now, but shall remain with us in our hearts.

Born on August 12, 2010, Bloodthirsty Thursdays came ripping to life at the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater with a triple-feature showing of the first three Friday the 13th movies. Unlike most new institutions, there was no gradual, word-of-mouth climb to success; the event was immediately popular, the auditorium was packed on that first day and would be packed for every event from then on. Demand was great enough that it was necessary to hold 2 showings, one at 7 and another at 10. And so it was that the second Thursday of every month would come to be known as Bloodthirsty Thursdays.

It really was a beautiful tradition, watching a horror movie on the big screen—some old favorites, some little-known gems, whatever was playing was worth the ticket price. The man behind Bloodthirsty Thursdays, Kelly Warren Hammond, would be there himself at each event to curate the evening’s proceedings, providing us with movie trivia, and sometimes handing out prizes. From all over the city, San Antonio’s horror community would gather and, for at least that day, we were among our own kind—fellow gore-hounds, thrill-seekers, gothic romantics, and horror cinephiles all drawn to the flickering flame of the silver screen, gathered before it like worshipful druids, bound together by our reverence and passion. This was the true magic of Bloodthirsty Thursdays.

And that is what I find myself missing most of all. I miss the company of my fellow San Antonio horror compatriots. Sure, some of us still meet up for informal get-togethers, but nothing can quite compare to the feeling of all of us there as a united entity, strangers no longer, for simply by being there we each knew something of the other—we love horror. When Bloodthirsty Thursdays passed away in 2014, that community of horror-lovers once again dispersed into the loosely-connected nomad population it had been.

And so, my fellow horror enthusiasts, it is with some bitterness that we must bid Bloodthirsty Thursdays a fond adieu. But rather than focus on our terrible loss, let us instead remember the good times, the many happy evenings spent in the cozy confines of a theater seat, eyes raptly glued to the screen. Shed a tear if you must and drop a handful of dirt upon the Drafthouse box-office as you pass it, and remember that something great once lived there.

As some of you may know, we here at splatterjunkie.com like to celebrate a little holiday called October 4th: Horror Independence Day—a day honoring independent horror filmmaking. Since we invented the holiday, we’re pretty much the only ones who celebrate it, so in the interest of spreading awareness, here’s a peek at what went down on the first-ever October 4th celebration.

First of all, there are four October 4th traditions: 1.) watching an indie horror movie, 2.) contributing a little cash to an independent filmmaker, 3.) the baking of a Shamble Pie, and 4.) the splatterworks display. We began the evening with an adventurous foray into baking as we created the first-ever Shamble Pie, which is basically any damn thing you want stuffed into a Filo crust.

To slightly modify Richard Nixon’s famous line: I am not a cook. I have never been a cook. I have no aspirations of being a cook in the future. The Shamble Pie emerged from the oven looking a bit like a crying slug, if you can imagine that. Biting into the thing, I was immediately relieved that it wasn’t as foul-tasting as its appearance would suggest. However, after finishing my slice, I realized that perhaps I had gone overboard with the cheese and suddenly felt the deadly onset of cheese overdose. I enjoy cheese, but my god, the flavor of it was so ferocious that it numbed my face, left me nauseous, and utterly ruined Gruyere for me, possibly forever. And so, I came to the conclusion that perhaps the baking of Shamble Pie is not the best of traditions after all, as I certainly don’t want people to associate violent disgust with October 4th.

Fortunately, no one else was foolhardy enough to try eating the crying slug and so the other guests were spared my fate. Fortifying myself with strong drink, I rejoined the others in the living room where we were preparing to engage in the traditional watching of an indie horror movie. While we were at the Alamo City Comic Con (coverage on that soon) we were able to get ahold of a movie called Sanitarium, featuring direction from San Antonio local, Bryan Ortiz. Since we had purchased the movie directly from their booth, we considered that as our financial contribution to independent filmmaking, thereby fulfilling the donation tradition. I would tell you more about the movie, buy you’ll just have to wait for our review to come out 😉

After watching the movie and having ordered more palatable food, we went outside to enjoy the splatterworks spectacular. For those of you that don’t know, a splatterwork is simply a firework with a blood-pack wrapped around it; it’s our own bloody take on fireworks. I could tell you about our splatterworks display, but why not just watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnGCVkXdopU

And so, the first October 4th celebration came to pass, a small and humble affair, but one that we hope will be carried on in the years to come, by ourselves and perhaps by others. We love October 4th because we love indie horror, because it adds a little bit of awesome to the beginning of the month, and most of all because it gives people a reason to come together and bask in the glory of the macabre one more time per year. So if you love indie horror or just can’t wait for Halloween and want to start the party early, then please, join us in celebration next year when October 4th comes creeping by again.

Our First Video!

Posted: September 30, 2014 in News
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Hello fellow horror fiends, some of you may have noticed that our poor Video Dungeon has been empty and neglected for some time now, but no longer! We have just posted our first video, a How-to on making a simple Splatterwork for the upcoming Fourth of October celebration.

So go ahead and head over to our Video Dungeon or simply look it up on You Tube under the splatterjunkie channel.

Happy Fourth of October! And if any one out there is inspired to celebrate our new holiday, please send pictures of your October Fourth Festivities to splatterjunkie@gmail.com and we will post them on the site.

For those of you who missed our post on October Fourth, here’s the link:

https://splatterjunkie.com/2014/09/15/october-4th-celebrating-horror-independence/

One of our greatest goals here at splatterjunkie.com is to quantify gore in order to make comparisons between movies. One way we have done this is with our Gore Quotient, which is a measure of the proportion of screen-area that is occupied by blood throughout a given movie. With the Gore Quotient, we are able to quantitatively tell if one movie is bloodier than another movie and by how much.

What we can’t tell at the moment is if a given movie is bloodier than average or not. We don’t know what the average amount of bloodiness is for a horror movie and we can’t calculate this average without calculating many more Gore Quotients. How many more Gore Quotients? Well, using IMDB’s advanced search feature, we looked up the total amount of feature film and direct-to-video horror releases between the years 1890 and 2014. The number we came up with was 18,480. That’s 18,480 total horror movies made worldwide since 1890.

Normally, to calculate an average, you would add up all your numbers and then divide by the amount of numbers, but 18,480 is way too much to sort through. So instead of dealing with all those movies, we simply take a representative sample from which we can determine what is true of the larger population of horror movies. Our total population is 18,480 and using the wonderful sample-size calculator at http://www.macorr.com, we were able to determine that a representative sample with a 95% confidence level and a 5% confidence interval would consist of 376 movies.

That means that we would need to calculate Gore Quotients for 376 movies in order to calculate the overall average amount of bloodiness amongst all horror movies. With a sample size of 376, we could be 95% sure that the average we get from the sample is true of the whole population of 18,480. Once we have this representative sample, calculating the average bloodiness would only be the beginning; we could perform all manner of statistical tests with our data and we could be 95% sure that our findings would be true of all horror movies.

For example, if we wanted to see how many horror movies feature most of their kills in the last 30 minutes, we could look at our Kill Graph data, determine how many movies meet that criteria, and then calculate the percentage. Let’s say that we find that 40% of our 376-movie sample (with confidence level 95% and confidence interval 5%) features movies where most of the kills occur in the last 30 minutes, then that means we can be 95% sure that between 35% and 45% of all horror movies have most of their kills in the last 30 minutes. Granted, there’s a lot of room for error between 35% and 45%, but our accuracy will steadily improve as our sample of movies grows. Long-term, we’re aiming for a confidence interval of 2%, which would decrease our error substantially. For that level of accuracy, we would need a sample size of 2,125 movies.

We’re not there yet, but one day we’ll reach our first goal of 376 movies reviewed and then we can get really get our statistics on. We are working toward a total understanding of gore, both to satisfy the curiosity of the average horror-junkie and to advance the study and knowledge of horror movies as a legitimate research area. That’s something you won’t find at any other horror review site. We are splatterjunkie.com, spread the word–Horror Through Math!