Sunday, February 26, 2017

Films, comic books, and urban legends

Last week DirecTV allowed its basic subscribers the entire gamut of movie channels (HBO, Showtime, Encore, etc.). I wanted to comment on several of them of which the concepts came from some interesting original sources.

Jonah Hex (2010)

‘Jonah Hex’ was a very popular comic book about an ex-Confederate soldier turned supernatural gunslinger and classic anti-hero. This comic book character translated very well into film. It stars Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, and Megan Fox.

At the start of the film, Johah Hex was tied to a cross in the form of an “X.” X is the symbol of “mankind”; and it also loosely represents magic and spirituality. “Hex” is German for “Witch,” so in a sense he was persecuted in that scene--symbolically—as if he were a Witch. However only later did he gain magical powers.

Other great comic book characters didn’t work well in film, such as 'Swamp Thing'. Comic books have made for an excellent testing ground for new ideas, characters, and storylines.

Grindhouse (2007)

Grindhouse is a 2007 American horror film double feature co-written, produced, and directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. The double feature consists of two feature-length segments, Rodriguez's Planet Terror and Tarantino's Death Proof, and is bookended by fictional trailers for upcoming attractions (though two of the trailers, Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun, have since been made into movies), advertisements, and in-theater announcements. The film's title derives from the U.S. film industry term "grindhouse", which refers to (now mostly defunct) movie theaters specializing in B movies, often exploitation films, shown in a multiple-feature format.

This was an interesting concept for a film, although perhaps with too much gratuitous violence and gore for many. Much of it was filmed with the visual effect of a theater reel, 70s style intermission music, and  fictional film trailers. One of the trailers—‘Werewolf Women of the SS’--directed by Rob Zombie.

Beware the Slenderman (2016)

‘Beware the Slenderman’ is a two-hour HBO documentary about the 2014
“Slender Man stabbing” in Waukesha, Wisconsin where two twelve-year old girls stabbed a classmate in behest of the fictional internet urban legend of Slender Man.

This documentary was interesting and chilling, yet a bit long. I admire the courage and frankness of the parents of the accused for their choice to partake in this. At least the victim has recovered and is doing fine. I don’t think there are any major physical scars.

While viewing this, I couldn’t help but notice that this very real documentary felt almost like a parody. It was surreal, like maybe ‘Waco: The Rules of Engagement’; so horrible as to leave the viewer almost perplexed, especially since this evil was brought about by two little suburban school girls. Also, at times, the narration of the girls' interaction with Slender Man sounded more like the perception of a devotion to Satan.

I couldn’t find any real deeper meaning to it all. It was a terrible thing that happened, with very strange circumstances. That’s all it was. I don’t believe in blaming the parents or Creepypasta Wiki just because two people self-projected something onto themselves. The two girls are set to be tried as adults in March or April, and are facing a maximum of sixty-five years in prison. I just have a feeling that at the end of the day, they will end up serving perhaps twenty years.

I personally found “Mothman” a more interesting urban legend, which has at least some basis of being a real metaphysical manifestation. Slender Man apparently has a very clear point of fictional origin. Angry people can project positivity or negativity onto anything they wish to. A butter knife can become an instant deadly weapon.


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