26 October 2015

October 26th

The Walking Dead 5.13: "Forget" directed by David Boyd
Sasha's reaction to the party is exactly the same as what I would have had. When the world is still in such disarray, it's maddening to see people worrying about the same pointless garbage they used worry about before the apocalypse (e.g., pasta makers). In fact, I'd say that if there is one advantage to the end of the world, it's the chance to ditch all of society's idiotic bullshit.

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) directed by Wes Craven
Freddy vs. Jason XVI: A Parent's Nightmare 
Robert Englund as Freddy
14 Oct 1994
Wes Craven's best film. Yes, Part 1 is iconic. It was powerful enough to change our culture. It's the reason New Nightmare even exists. But, it's rough around the edges; the ending -- being the result of a fight between Craven and Shaye -- is not satisfying. New Nightmare feels like it is exactly the movie Craven wanted to make, and he has much worthwhile to say in it.

This is a horror movie for parents. All of Heather's nightmares involve Dylan either disappearing or in immediate danger from Freddy. All of my worst nightmares since becoming a parent are similar. But it's not just the supernatural that scares Heather (or me). What if there were something wrong with your child and you hadn't a clue on how to fix it? Worse, what if it's your fault? What if the stress in your life is affecting him? Or, what if you passed on a mental illness to your child? The little one is depending on you to fix things, but what if that can't be done or you don't have it in you?

Your child is the most important thing in the entire universe in a way that I don't believe the childless can comprehend. For this reason alone, I'm not surprised New Nightmare was the lowest-grossing Elm Street movie and that it is now only spoken of dismissively as merely a warm-up to Scream. The teenage audience that makes up the bulk of ticket sales for slasher movies cannot identify with this movie in the slightest. Myself, I caught this on opening day at the theater when I was 17. While I enjoyed the movie back then, my admiration of it has consistently grown every time I've watched it. This time, I'm the parent of a child who is the same age that Miko Hughes was during filming. Shortly after I started the film -- luckily right before Freddy's hand attacks the SFX crew, so when I paused it was on Heather's face on not a claw stabbing a chest -- my daughter wandered downstairs and told me she was too scared to sleep. Life and art, forever intertwined. Needless to say, the film affected me quite a bit this time out.

Nosferatu (1922)
This is a horror movie about the importance of horror stories. I greatly enjoy the premise of this movie: there's an ancient evil that thrives on the killing of innocents. The only way to stop this entity -- temporarily -- is to capture it in a story that it finds appealing. Once that story dies -- by becoming "too familiar, or too watered down by people trying to make it easier to sell, or it's labeled a threat to society and just plain banned" -- the entity escapes. This is an incredible perspective. What societies enjoy horror stories? Peaceful societies. If your country is involved in a civil war, you tend not to be going to the cinema to watch people get slashed to ribbons. Once you've gotten things under control -- you've captured the evil and contained it temporarily -- you're able to relax and enjoy darker stories.

New Nightmare (1994)
Why enjoy those darker stories in times of peace? Dylan gives us the answer in the movie. When Heather stops reading "Hansel and Gretel," telling him "this is too violent.  I don't know why you like these stupid old tales," Dylan insists she finishes. When she does not, he tells her the end of the story from memory. At the end of the movie, Dylan uses this story as a way to defeat Freddy. Dark stories, as Dylan says, are important. They get us thinking about what we might do should the same thing happen to us. They keep us strong and aware and prepared for the less-than-pleasant situations life puts us into. Horror is important and perhaps even vital to our ability to deal with our own existence.

It's been five years since the remake that didn't impress anyone and 12 years since Freddy vs. Jason. Freddy's mostly assuredly dead again. Has some other story captured his evil? I can't think of any monster from the past decade that could qualify on anywhere near the same level as Freddy. Perhaps The Walking Dead? Though not about a single character, the show has immense cross-cultural appeal (it's not something only horror nerds watch or read). The more I think about it, the more I think this is correct: fear of the zombie horde has captured this entity at the moment. Though, I'm fairly sure we're nearing the end of that cycle as well. What will be next? Or will he be free?

Favorite Character
Heather Langenkamp: the character of Wes Craven tells her in the film, "it was you who gave Nancy her strength." I think the real Craven believed this, too (take a listen to the commentary track for Part 1 sometime). I believe it as well.

Favorite Sin
Taking your child somewhere and forgetting their favorite stuffed toy. I can't count how many times I've done this. Dylan's reaction is calmer than my own daughter's when this has happened.

Favorite Kill
Rex (the stuffed dinosaur), who sacrifices himself to Freddy's claw to protect Dylan. Stuffed animals -- we call them "buddies" in our house -- have a near-magical power to children that they take very seriously. I'm confident my daughter's Ele would do the same for her.

Freddy's Mood
Darker, more evil.

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