It’s been a while since I’ve written about a whole season of a show rather than a movie, and funnily enough, the last one I wrote about was also a Netflix series. Sure, I’ve written about John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper‘s episodes of Masters of Horror, but those are pretty much short films independent of each other rather than one cohesive story told though multiple episodes. What am I saying, you know what a TV show is, you’re not an idiot (I hope).
This show has stirred up a lot of controversy with people jumping on either side of the fence and naturally so, being a show that tackles subjects like depression, suicide, and sexual assault. Some people are adamant that the show inaccurately portrays these things and their consequences and that the show is doing more harm than good, while some others feel like this show is taking a brave stance to bring these subjects to light in a time when they’re the most relevant to our current youth culture. I’m not here to tell one side or another which is right or wrong. I’m here to just, like, give my opinion, man.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past month and a half, 13 Reasons Why is the newest Netflix series to take the world by storm. In small town USA, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a girl who has just moved to town and started in Liberty High School has killed herself. Slit wrists in a bathtub. After her death, her classmates find a box of cassette tapes, each side dedicated to a person or an event that she believes led her to take her own life. The tapes make their way to Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), a quiet, smart kid who was a friend of Hannah’s. Through his eyes we get to see Hannah’s story and everything that culminated in her taking her own life.
This show is based on the book of the same name, written by Jay Asher. I haven’t read the book and I don’t intend to. I don’t care how faithful or unfaithful it is to the source material, I just care how well it holds up on its own.
We’re on to our second episode of Masters of Horror, the 2005 anthology show where famous and acclaimed horror directors get to direct one story per season. Each episode is pretty much a short movie considering they’re all around an hour long. The first episode I watched was John Carpenter’s amazing throwback to his late ’80s and early ’90s work, Cigarette Burns. For my next episode I decided to go with another director whom has made one of my favourite movies: Tobe Hooper.
Tobe Hooper may not be as prolific as John Carpenter, but he’s definitely a heavyweight in the horror genre. Hooper was responsible for the greatest horror movie ever made, his 1974 masterpiece, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hooper also helmed the cult classic sequel, the classic ’80s haunted house flick Poltergeist (although there are rumors that Steven Spielberg unofficially directed it, everything is credited to Hooper, so as far as I’m concerned he’s still the director), and the absolutely bonkers sci-fi movie, Lifeforce. Hooper’s post ’80s output has been mostly directing the occasional episode in a TV show or making direct to TV movies, so he’s definitely fallen pretty far from the spotlight in recent decades.
Dance of the Dead takes place in a semi-post-apocalyptic world after one of the combatants in World War 3 unleashed some kind of chemical or biological weather weapon. The time period is a little while after the end of war, but is a pretty different interpretation of most post-apocalyptic settings. It’s similar to the first Mad Max film (yes kids, Mad Max: Fury Road is not the only Mad Max movie) where there’s been a worldwide crisis that has destabilized a large portion of the world, but a majority of civilized society has kept on spinning. Dance of the Dead shows both sides of humanity after it’s been devastated by global war. We get to see how a portion of the population that tries to keep it’s civility interacts with the crazy, savage punks (these guys are more like the people in Mad Max: Fury Road) that have risen up out of the war torn parts of the world and are either just trying to survive or trying to drag the rest of the world down with them.
The story follows Peggy, a young woman who works in her mother’s diner who meets some of these deplorable punks and takes a liking to one of them. He convinces her to join him and his friends for a night out on the town, and as she gets thrust into an evening of stranger and darker events, she finds out more than she wants to know about the consequences of World War 3 and the twisted history of her family. (more…)
The Halloween spookiness continues here at Coffee and Illithids, and what better way is there to celebrate the scariest month of the year than by looking at some of the works of horror’s greatest writers and directors? I recently picked up a copy of the first season of Masters of Horror, an anthology show where each episode is directed by a different famous horror director, including Takashi Miike, Tobe Hooper, and Dario Argento. For my first foray into the series I decided to start with the one I was most excited to check out: John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns.
Cigarette Burns stars Norman Reedus as Kirby, a man who owns a theater and is paid to track down incredibly rare film reels for private collectors. Naturally, he’s hired to track down an incredibly rare film reel for Bellinger, a private collector of extreme cinema (played by real life adorable weirdo, Udo Kier). Kirby dives down the rabbit hole looking for the last remaining print of the infamous French horror film La Fin Absolue Du Monde, a movie so extreme, so disturbing on a fundamental level, that upon viewing it audiences are driven into a bloody, homicidal rage. This extreme reaction is not out of disgust or disdain for the film, but rather from becoming so deeply broken spiritually and emotionally that the only thing they can resort to is depraved acts of violence. Kirby begins connecting the dots and immerses himself into the culture of people who have witnessed La Fin Absolue Du Monde first hand and he begins seeing cigarette burns in real life (it’s the little circle you see in old films in the top right hand corner that signifies that a reel needs to be changed for the film to continue), and as he continues to press onward anyways, he finds himself slowly slipping into a world of madness beyond his control. (more…)
I know I set out with the intent of writing about the movies I cross off my to-watch list, but considering I rewatched Mad Max: Fury Road twice this past week, I haven’t been cracking down on that list as hard as I’d like. Also, the last two days of my life have been whisked away into the ether by the first season of Stranger Things.
Stranger Things is a Netflix original series that came out just over a week ago, with the entire first season up for streaming. If you can’t tell by the killer artwork and font that looks like it’s ripped straight off of a Stephen King or Sutter Cane novel, Stranger Things is riding aboard the ’80s horror/mystery throwback train. Stranger Things takes place in the sleepy, fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in 1984. A young boy by the name of Will disappears one night without a trace and soon after, Eleven, a girl with telekinetic and telepathic powers shows up in town. It follows a cast of interesting and dynamic characters including Will’s three best friends, Will’s mother and brother, and the Hawkins chief of police as they all try to get to the bottom of the disappearance in their own ways. As they dig deeper and follow the clues down a rabbit hole, they learn that there’s a much darker and more sinister plot going on in Hawkins than just a lost child. (more…)