I’ve seen a lot of horror movies since I started getting into the genre around the age of 16. Like a lot of horror fans, I feel like I’ve become somewhat jaded over the years. Once you see enough of these things, you can see the Matrix a little bit and know when a scare is coming — if you can tell the difference between an impending jump scare and a legit one, you’ve got the super scardar. And yet, there are still the scenes that scared us when we started out and even though they’re fewer and farther between these days, the new films that still give us the willies or come out of nowhere to spook us. I figured with Halloween still in the air — and inspired by awesome horror blogger Stacie Ponder doing something similar over on her excellent Final Girl blog — I’d run down the ten movies that scared me over the years. I’m sure there’s more out there in the world, but these are the ones that came to mind, either because they entered my life at just the right time, scared me for a moment or created an atmosphere that still ooks me out to this day. So, in no particular order, here’s the ten movies the still spook me in no particular order. Consider yourself warned, spoilers abound after the jump!
One of the hallmarks of the geek community is comparing things we love and seeing how they stack up. Of course, the problem with doing this is that we wind up comparing things that don’t even match up. Back when The Dark Knight came out the big question was whether it was better than Iron Man and I thought it was incredibly annoying. It’s like comparing Die Hard to The Usual Suspects, they’re both somewhat dramatic action films, but that’s where the comparisons end. One’s a balls-out auctioner while the other is a really serious, more cerebral outing…with punching and costumes.
The same thing happened this year when people started comparing The Avengers to The Dark Knight Rises and I thought it was an equally foolish comparison. However, while watching Avengers for the second time at the drive-in last night I realized a few things about the two movies that made me like one over the other and, seeing as how this is the internet, I figured I’d share them with whoever will read them.
Right off the bat (heh, PUN!), Avengers is more fun and a more enjoyable watching experience. It’s the perfect movie to check out on a Saturday or Sunday. It also has a lot of great moments that made me geek out, but I realized something while watching Avengers again. The moments in that movie that I dug the most (Iron Man reflecting his blasts off of Cap’s shield, Hulk sucker punching Thor after a team up) were great moments that reminded me of ideas from comics, but those same kind of things in Dark Knight Rises reminded me of specific moments from Batman comics. This is obviously completely subjective, but I can’t separate those very personal moments of awesomeness form my childhood, so why not embrace them? It doesn’t discount anything from Avengers, but just gives DKR a leg up in my book.
I know a lot of people thought DKR was bleak and sad, but I actually found it really uplifting. The character of John Blake completely embodies the never-give-up attitude that’s kept humanity alive for all these centuries. That same attitude is something Batman had to rediscover and use to his advantage to save the city he loves. There’s some of that in Avengers, but I never really thought they’d be in trouble. That wasn’t going to happen, but with rumors swirling that Batman would die in this flick and Christopher Nolan being an incredibly ballsy filmmaker, there was a small part of me that thought it might happen and even that it should have happened. I left Avengers feeling pumped up and fueled by geek-love, but I actually felt good about humanity after watching Rises.
So, Dark Knight Rises has the leg up in my mind, but that doesn’t mean I like Avengers any less. They’re both hallmarks of filmmaking that should be appreciated by all kinds of audiences. It’s amazing the kind of things that can come from comic book source material.
So, as some of you know, my job recently moved into NYC. As a result I’ve got a couple hours on the train every day to get to work, which means I’ve got time for reading and watching movies. It’s nice to have something to do, but it also means I’m watching a movie in pieces instead of all at once. The first movie I watched like this was Lords of Dogtown.
Man, this was a rad movie. It took a while to watch the whole thing, but the great thing about the movie is that, even watching it that way, it was still crazy fun, engaging as hell and hit me in the guts at the end.
LOD is a biopic about a group of kids who were skating back in the 70s and went on to become a pretty big deal in the skateboarding world. It stars Emile Hirsch, some other kids who I hadn’t heard of but were AWESOME, Rebecca De Mornay as Hirsch’s strung-out mom, Heath Ledger as the surf and skate shop owner and Ethan from Lost as De Mornay’s one-time boyfriend.
The kids start off just skating in their neighborhood, join up with Ledger’s skate crew, getting big in the skate world then getting drawn on to bigger companies to skate for.
The crazy thing about the movie is that, I recognized Ledger early in the movie when he was surfing and then didn’t realize it was him as the surf shop owner because he really gives himself up to the character. I really thought it was another guy because he puts on this great Cali-dude voice. Ledger’s character isn’t the center of attention by any means, but he’s the character I felt for the most. He helps them out, sponsors their team, gets them into the game and then everyone bails on him for bigger and better (or, well, less and close-to-nothing).
So, on to the actual stars of the movie. I really like all these kids, even when they’re being unlikable (a true testament to their abilities). Hirsch really shines as the troubled kid from a bad place who slowly slips into what appears to be the life of a gangster after walking away from pro skating.
I realize I’m not capturing how much I liked this movie or how good it really is, but I think what I liked about the movie is that it was real and, even though it kind of followed the biopic pattern of small time guys getting big and then burning out, there’s a huge glimmer of hope at the end of the flick, well, for most of the characters. And, as a plus, unlike most biopics, everyone isn’t dead at the very end.
Seriously, if you’ve ever liked Emile Hirsch or Heath Ledger in a flick or have any interest in skating or 70s period pieces or just damn good acting, you should definitely check Lords of Dogtown out. I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary it was based on Dogtown and Z-Boys.