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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

The Onion Axes Smart Questions About Horror

The Onion’s AV Club writers (Noel Murray, Scott Tobias and Nathan Rabin) do a political reading of some horror films you may or may not have thought twice about, including the best of Showtime’s MASTERS OF HORROR series, Joe Dante’s “Homecoming.”
In What Monster Could Have Done This? Horror Movies For Left Wingers, Horror Movies For Right Wingers, the critics write that this genre is often a “better gauge of what’s making the country anxious than opinion polls are.”
Both DEATHDREAM (1974) and HOMECOMING (Showtime, 2005) carry echoes of H.H. Monro’s short story “The Monkey’s Paw,” in which traumatized soldiers, more dead than alive, come marching home from foreign wars–to the horror of the homeland.

The essay mentions Abel Ferrara’s surprisingly effective 1993 remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, set on a military base. The most chilling moment: when pod person Meg Tilly reminds her still-human stepdaughter that no one cares about the alien takeover because “There’s no one like you left.”
Paranoid yet? Another remake is due in 2007. INVASION stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The director is Oliver Hirshbiegel, who’s best known for making DOWNFALL, the about living and working in the dead heart of the Third Reich in the last days of Nazi Germany. The most chilling moment: when Goebbels refuses to agreea surrender to British and American forces, even though it will mean sparing civilian lives. No, he says, the very young and the very old should be prepared to die in the streets. “It’s their own fault. The people gave us the mandate.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon