Watching a Film from Birth to Death: The Grand Experiment of Tusk

Tusk is a monster movie in all sorts of ways, cobbling together tones and plot elements and influences into a creature that demands attention even as it occasionally rips at the seams. Reviewers were quite polarized into adoration and loathing, with a few hearty souls lingering near the middle to say things like ‘the most disturbing movie I’ve seen’ (I must assume these people are young yet, as I laugh and clutch my copy of Naked Lunch and laugh some more). As to myself, I couldn’t help being fascinated with the film as a sort of modern Portrait of the Artist.

Continue reading

Trauma Isn’t Sexy: Fanservice in Neon Genesis Evangelion vs Rebuild

classy as ever

To start, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking the Evangelion franchise has been anything less than a roaring beast of pandering fanservice of various natures since the show made it big in the 90s. Rei is arguably one of the progenitors of moe as a fetish, after all, and you could probably crush a prison population under the weight of all those cheesecake figurines (because when I came through the other side of EoE’s crushing malaise of loneliness and tentative hope for humanity, I know my first thought was, ‘sure I watched Asuka implicitly being cannibalized, but how can I more effectively stare at a miniaturized version of her ass?’). And let us not delve into that strip pachinko game.

The key separator, of course, is that all of that is spinoff material. Like the Star Wars Christmas Special or that time 4Kids made their own Yu-Gi-Oh movie, it’s an act of fringe cash grabbing that can be easily ignored in favor of the central media work that brought the fanbase together. But nothing is sacred and no work remains untouched, so we have remakes to contend with.

And lest this be construed as an exercise in handwringing and the transposing of moralities (though one can hardly say that Japan is more sexually liberated than the US so much as it’s differently neurotic), they’re within full rights to make sexy statues of 14 year old girls (it’s almost never Misato, the actually sexually confident adult, but that’s another rant) – though the common ‘age of consent is 13’ assumption is an oversimplified assumption (in truth it varies from region to region, making the national average effectively 18, BUT there are places where 13 is the age of consent BUT only regarding other 13 to 17 year olds BUT there’s no laws against non-physical ogling by older people hence the theoretically non-sexual student escorts BUT….you see my point). And let it never be said that I’m above prurient interest in two dimensional collections of lines (certainly I’ve voiced a fair appreciation for Akio Ohtori and Sayo Yamamoto’s Fujiko Mine in the process of writing about them).

But this isn’t directly about sex or sexualized merchandise or the particular hangups that lead to emphasizing the sexual appeal of girlish innocence over adults with full sexual agency. That is a master thesis, or a very hefty book, and I’m nowhere near versed enough to write it.  Instead, we’re going to talk about the use of nudity in the original Evangelion versus Rebuild, and why the latter proves not only uncomfortable but nigh counter to the original work.

Continue reading

Unsung Brilliance – The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Or as I like to call it, “the better (far better, so much superior) Cabin in the Woods.”

Yeah, that’s right. And I’m not taking it back, either

Made on a shoestring budget, released in 2006 to the festival circuit and then quietly shuffled into a small DVD release, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is the crème of the modern cult film crop. It’s inches from falling flat on its face in every direction (some sets were scouted in the middle of shooting, the reliance on The Famous Cameos is an eternal temptation for mugging, and the whole thing falls apart if the two leads don’t work), which makes the lean, brilliant efficacy of the film all the more breathtaking. By all rights it deserves to be the crown jewel of the meta-horror subgenre, and a top contender in horror comedy. Let me show you why.

Continue reading

The Consulting Analyst – Silent Hill 4

Once upon a time there were only three Silent Hill games, and everything was well (I tell a lie, of course, because the fandom has been utterly implacable since James Sunderland strutted his time upon the stage if not before then). Then Silent Hill 4: The Room was released, a game so markedly different from the previous entries that there’s still a persistent urban legend that it wasn’t intended as a SH game at all. Pretty much from the word go, there was nothing the poor thing could do right: from reasoned gameplay complaints like the frankly inexcusable amount of backtracking or the shoddily implemented limited inventory to histrionics about the story daring to explore new narrative choices, the fandom shredding was immediate and brutal.

It was begrudgingly drawn into the fold of acceptability once there were American SH games to band against, but it’s continued to hold a weird position. Aside of some really dedicated slash shippers it tends to be the ‘oh yeah, that one’ game, occasionally nodded to for its narrative and passed over in favor of raging against the new games or lauding the old ones. I myself have a fondness for it that’s strangled by a fair amount of emotional detachment. (If you’d like to check the game out for yourself, there’s a good Let’s Play here).

Then I realized I might be on to something there.

Continue reading