Sunday, November 25, 2012

Horror Fest VII Day Two: The Cabin in the Woods

 Oh, kiddos! I know! I sure thought that this year, of all years, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was going to make it! But it got bumped... for Moontrap. Yeah, let's just blame Moontrap for it and not my inability to stay up late any more.

 Once upon a time, believe it or not, Horror and Summer Fests were and ALL NIGHT activity. No joke. There was a time, when the Cap'n and friends were younger than they are now, when I could actually watch movies until six or seven in the morning, go to bed, wake up five hours later, and start all over. Seriously, though: I have hazy memories of watching Friday the 13th Part 2 as the sun was coming up during Summer Fest or nudging Neil and Cranpire to wake up as Shark Attack 3: Megalodon reached its absurd crescendo (and if you've seen the movie, you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about) at six thirty in the morning. That used to happen.

 But not so much any more. Now we're older than we used to be, and it's much, much harder to keep things going past midnight. Three is usually the threshold, even on a weekend, and when everybody else takes off, it's difficult to talk myself into pushing that extra mile, even for you, dear readers.

 So Cap'n Howdy is a lame-o and you aren't going to get the Halloween III: Season of the Witch write-up you were so desperately hoping for. Or the one for The Silent Scream (featuring The Boogens' Rebecca Balding). If you'd like I can repost my review of The Woman in Black and we can pretend folks stayed awake for it. Because, believe me, if they had, they wouldn't have slept at all that night. Hell, if The Boogens hadn't happened, there's a good chance V/H/S could have ruined some golden slumbers on Friday. But that's what horror movies are supposed to do, dammit! They're supposed to scare the crap out of you and keep you up all night. That and Hobo Bug Juice, but with less vomiting on the former and probably more on the latter.

 There's a reason they don't make Mountain Dew: Game Fuel Orange any more, and I'd like to think it's because someone found out we were mixing it with Wild Irish Rose and putting it in Styrofoam cups for your endurance pleasure. That's surely why nobody makes Sunkists Floats anymore - TripWIR was too much for any one human to handle.


 Where was I? Oh yes, the closing film of Horror Fest VII - Cap'n Howdy's New Nightmare, which surprisingly didn't feature a single Nightmare on Elm Street film (partly because we watched Part 4 - The Dream Master during Summerfest 4). I am here to add a few thoughts to The Cabin in the Woods, mostly to my initial write-up, which gave Four Reasons to See The Cabin in the Woods (Again), which I did.

 Tonight was actually the fourth time I've seen the film (the fifth if you count watching it with the commentary). I saw it again in theaters, and then on home video and Blu-Ray (clearly the same thing so ask no follow up questions there) and I took advantage of the "pause" button to scour the background for details. And while I still haven't found the Unicorn Tapestry (and I will!), I did see a lot of the other triggers for various monsters (including what I believe would unleash the Dismemberment Goblins, the evil doctors, and possibly the sexy witches that we'll see when The Cabin in the Woods makes its way to Skinemax).

 I guess I forgot to mention this when I did the original write-up of The Cabin in the Woods, but the very first time I saw it there was some grousing online about what the "electrical disruption" was that prevented the cave-in and how it came from "upstairs." It was a plot point people seemed to believe was abandoned or never really explained in favor of getting Marty and Dana into the facility and unleashing the monsters. However, the second time I saw the movie it was abundantly clear what happened, and there was no secretive conspiracy being used to undermine the facility from within.

 So "upstairs" is the cabin and the entire area surrounding it, and since the electrical disturbance happens after Marty disappears, it's pretty clear that the wires he was playing around with that lead him to find the elevator are what prevents the cave-in from happening. There's no reason to resolve that story downstairs because the characters it impacts don't meet Marty until it's too late, so it's entirely up to the audience to put it together. Sneaky...

 I still feel like the film is more a commentary on horror in the abstract than attributable to any single film, and that it models itself more on Scooby Doo character tropes than a particular horror film or series, but that doesn't bother me. Most of the horror theory I read in college and continue to study now begins with broad notions and pulls portions of specific films in as it suits them (for example, the idea that "Final Girls" have gender ambiguous names, which I'm sorry, but how many guys do you know named Laurie, Nancy, or Alice - Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th, the "big three" for Final Girl theory). It's okay that The Cabin in the Woods is more "about" horror in general than it is about a specific set of tropes you see over and over again. Believe me, I spent the whole weekend watching horror movies and The Cabin in the Woods meta-narrative doesn't map onto any of them, even The Mutilator.

 Still, it's a clever idea and it has something to say about audiences and our relationship to the films we watch, which puts it ten to twenty notches above, say, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, which talks a lot ABOUT horror tropes but doesn't really have anything to say about them (other than to make up a trope - the "Ahab" - that only exists in the Halloween films).

 Alas, kiddos, it's pushing 2 in the morning, and as much as I'd like to wax the philosophic about this, the Cap'n is no spring chicken anymore. I'm older, and wiser, especially enough to know better than to ever take on the McGangbang Challenge again... that took years off of my life!

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