Thursday, October 9, 2014

TSMR Double-Feature: Evil Dead and The Thing

I've been informed that my recent TSMRs have been rather spoiler-heavy.  I'll admit, they've taken a play-by-play, MST3K approach - which is a style I really enjoy, because it reflects my thought process (and occasionally speech) while I'm watching movies.

I'm totally that guy.  I just need robots.
As much as I'd like to make my posts completely spoiler-free, I don't want my posts to become little more than a synopsis with commentary and overarching things that worked or did not work.  Instead, I'll attempt to make my posts spoiler-light.

Evil Dead
First up, Evil Dead, which I watched yesterday while I was home sick.  What better movie to watch when one is ill: when I'm really sick, I kind of feel like I'm possessed, so a movie about demonic possession is actually pretty fitting.

This movie is a prime example of the blood and gore subgenre of horror: constant bleeding, oozing, dismembering, and disintegrating.  Though there are funny moments in the movie, I think Sam Raimi was attempting to make a legitimately scary independent film.  Of course, after making this movie, he obviously figured out the concept could be better if they added humor and got rid of Bruce Campbell's unibrow.

Don't worry, Bruce - I still love you, unibrow and all
Five people: couple 1 (Ash & Linda), couple 2, and fifth wheel (Ash's sister), head up to an old cabin for a fun weekend of listening to demonic texts on a tape recorder.  That might not be what they originally intended to do, but they didn't really seem to have a plan otherwise, so when they found a strange book and tape recorder in the basement, they were thrilled to have a fun group activity.

And if that gets boring, here's another fun activity to try
On the recording, they learn that the strange book is apparently bound in human flesh and inked in human blood, and that it apparently has the power to raise demons.  Ash's sister gets pissed off and doesn't want to listen anymore.  But the male member of couple 2, who also enjoys scaring people and pointing guns at them for fun, decides to skip over all the exposition and go straight to the demon-raising.  Ash's sister stomps off to her room, couple 2 goes to their room, where they seem to spend the whole time just getting undressed by the window, and Ash & Linda have some cute exchanges over a necklace Ash bought for Linda.

But the action picks up again when Ash's sister decides to investigate a strange noise outside - because it's a horror movie, and that's what people do in horror movies - and instead gets attacked and assaulted by the trees.  Yes, that kind of assaulted.  That scene in particular is probably what resulted in this movie getting banned in multiple countries.

Of course, it could have been the aforementioned dismemberment.

Ash's sister decides it's time to leave, but she and Ash discover that the bridge (the only way to and from the cabin) has been destroyed.  They're stuck there for the night, and that's when the real fun begins.

I have two complaints about the film (and don't get me wrong, I do enjoy this movie, but not as much as Evil Dead 2): 1. In many shots, the camera is obviously in someone's hand, because it's shaky - not Blair Witch Project shaky, but enough to be distracting. 2. There's not a lot of story beyond group of kids, book, recording, crazy sh*t happens.

Evil Dead 2 doesn't have either of these issues - look for a blog post about Evil Dead 2 in the near future.

The Thing
I don't think I would ever be able to pick a favorite horror movie, but I could probably make a top 5 list.  And among those 5 would be The Thing.  I can seriously watch this movie again and again.

The film begins with a spaceship crashing to Earth.  Next, we see Antarctica 1982, and a lone dog running across the snow, a helicopter chasing it.  The dog happens upon a US research station and seeks refuge among the people there, but the two men in the helicopter seem to want nothing more than the dog dead, even firing at it while a group of US workers are standing around.  One man blows himself up while attempting to throw a grenade.  The other one accidentally shoots one of the men in the group, and another man from the US group shoots and kills the shooter.

With two dead Norwegians on their hands, Doctor Copper decides to do some investigating to determine what caused these men to go crazy.  He asks MacReady, helicopter pilot and most-trusted man in the whole group, to fly him to the Norwegian base.  In the meantime, Clark, the resident dog lover welcomes the dog in, allowing it to wander around for much of the day.  At the Norwegian camp, they find the rest of the Norwegians dead, some of which appear self-inflicted, and a body that appears human, except for the fact it has two heads.

And this isn't even the weirdest thing you'll see
The characters learn pretty quickly that the dog is no dog - it's a creature that is able to absorb and imitate other living creatures perfectly.  Which means, it could not only become a dog, it could easily become one of the people at the base.

The great thing about the movie is that, while the monster is important, what is more interesting is how quickly the characters begin to question and distrust each other.  And the viewer goes through the same thing.  Who is a "thing" and who is real?

The movie doesn't bother giving a lot of background on the group, other than establishing basic personalities and some job titles of the characters.  Mac, Copper, and Clark have already been mentioned above.  Other than them, we have:

Garry, the leader who seems to receive nothing but disdain from his subordinates
Bennings, the annoying guy who gets shot
Palmer, the pothead/least-trusted helicopter pilot ever
Windows, the radio guy
Blair, the biologist/closet computer programmer, who figures out the whole "Thing" thing
Childs, or Mr. "Voodoo Bullsh*t"
Norris, the geologist, who figures out the age of the ice the ship crashed into
Nauls, the cook and Stevie Wonder fan
Fuchs, a more junior biologist and Mac's biggest fan

Honestly, I don't think we ever learn what research they're doing, or what they spend their day doing besides drinking, getting high, and watching reruns of gameshows.  But somehow, the movie works and the only thing you wonder while watching is what the heck is going to happen next.  In fact, without knowing a lot about the characters, it makes it harder for you to figure out who is a "thing" and who is not.  You have no basis for comparison, no past experience with their behavior to determine what is normal for that character.

You'll walk away from the movie with lots of great one-liners.  And if you need an excuse to watch the movie again, there are some great drinking games out there.

Any recommendations for the next movie I should watch?  Let me know!

Doubly yours,

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