28 September 2014

September 28th

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) directed by Tobe Hooper
"If I have any more fun today, I don't think I can take it!" The universe was screaming at Franklin that day to turn around and go home. Pam reads him a very bad horoscope. A passing truck makes him fall down a hill while peeing. A crazy hitchhiker mysteriously burns a picture of Franklin, slashes him with a straight razor, and writes an arcane symbol on the side of the van in blood. A gas station owner directly tells them not to go and strongly suggests that the locals don't like trespassers. Once Franklin enters the house, he discovers a weirdly arranged pile of bones and feathers on the floor, and a mobile made of bones hanging directly over his head. This all makes Crazy Ralph shouting "You're all doomed!" in Friday the 13th looked like chopped liver.

On one level, this is comforting to us in the audience. Those dumb kids ignored all the warnings! What did they expect would happen? The Cabin in the Woods has this take as well, telling us that the kids are choosing their fate. But, on another level, it adds to the fear the movie creates. Would we alter our travel plans in real life if those things had happened to us? What if we're not paying proper attention to signs like this in our own lives? What if that flock of crows bursting out of the trees as you turn down a side road to take a scenic detour was a warning? What if that bum who cursed at you when you refused to give him change is something worse that just a bum? We often like to think that if we could just listen closely enough to what life / the universe / the stars / our intuition / God is trying to tell us, we could figure out what lies on the path before us. I think that's a terrifying thought if true, as it makes everything that happens to us completely our responsibility. That's a heavy weight.

On a completely different subject, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre could be seen as a pro-vegetarian film. As I see it, vegetarians -- at least, the moral ones, not necessarily the "for health reasons" ones -- extend their empathy further than us omnivores. Some will even tell you that killing cows for food is just as bad as murdering a person. Perhaps they have a point. Why do us meat-eaters draw the lines that we do? I won't eat dog meat or monkey meat, but I find the very intelligent pig to be quite tasty. What the cannibalistic Sawyers are doing is just adding one more meat to their internal good-to-eat list. Why is that wrong, but it's OK for me to eat pigs?

There's also an implication that participating in the slaughterhouse industry desensitized the family. Decades of slamming a sledgehammer into cows' heads must have an effect on a person. After a while, and it's clear by the decor of the house, the Sawyers had no problem killing any kind of animal at all. A vegan might argue that once you're OK with killing animals, moving on to killing people isn't a great leap. And, they also might have a point there. Serial killers almost always start by killing animals first.

I think I'll go make myself a bacon sandwich, just the same.

The Walking Dead 4.01: "30 Days Without an Accident" (2013) directed by Greg Nicotero
I can't say I was terribly excited to start watching this show again once season 4 appeared on Netflix. Outside of the fantastic first episode of season 1, The Walking Dead has mostly been a long chain of disappointments. I'm not expecting anything different for this year, though this premiere episode was a pretty good start. In fact, the scene in which the zombies fall through the rotted ceiling of the grocery store is one of the best zombie set pieces I've ever seen. I especially loved the first zombie to fall through whose entrails get tangled up in the broken ceiling, causing him to dangle like a flesh chandelier. I suspect this was 80% of the season's zombie budget, though, and we'll not being seeing anything so flashy until perhaps the finale.

It was nice to see the colony in the prison farming and, in general, being more practical about their survival (they've finally learned to poke zombies through the fence!). Hopefully, the Governor attacks in his tank as he did in the comic on this more settled prison later in the season.

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