Archive for October, 2017

“I don’t like horror. I just don’t watch that stuff.”

I’ve been told that, or a slight variant of that, more than a few times over the years. Occasionally, they absolutely mean it. Interestingly, more often than not, they don’t realize that what they’re saying isn’t actually true. If you’re wondering how someone can be unaware they like or have been watching horror while saying they don’t like it, you might not realize the levels to which people can in general compartmentalize and separate some things in their own mind. Well, that and how much some people take the “reality” part of reality TV seriously.

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Well, here’s something I never thought I’d be doing. Today’s blogging and commentary duties included a last minute fill-in as a guest commentator on Peter David’s website for the weekly Freak Out Friday piece. For those unfamiliar with the regular commentary he started a while back, it’s basically a look at the week in Trump.
The first episode of The Assignment Horror Podcast. On Soundcloud now, soon to be on iTunes. We’re a little rough around the edges on the first one, but we’re still getting our rhythm as a team.

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It is perhaps one of the most unfairly maligned horror movie sequels ever made. It was the victim of a franchise creator and the creator’s fans not being on the same page when it came to the creation. Thankfully, Halloween III: Season of the Witch has been experiencing a resurgence in fandom and a new appreciation by fans over the last decade. But back in 1982, Season of the Witch unfortunately had a bit of an uphill climb with horror fans when it was entering theaters. It was meant to be a new direction for the Halloween franchise; one greatly desired by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. Fans however wanted none of it.

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“He’ll change.”

“He’ll grow into the office.”

“There are two Trumps. We’re seeing the primary and election Trump, but when if wins, then we’ll see Presidential Trump. He won’t be at all like this if he wins.”

These and other things were said by people who fall into one of three categories. They were said by the staggeringly ignorant or the wildly self-deceitful. These first two groups having in common an apparent ability to have ignored thirty-five-plus years of Donald Trump’s public words and actions. The third group knew full well who and what Donald Trump was, and the members of this third group were simply the deliberately disingenuous. Because the simple fact is that anyone who paid any attention to Donald Trump over the decades and had any functional brain cells in their head knew exactly how crass and how vulgar Donald Trump would be as President of the United States as well as how low Donald Trump would drag down the honor and dignity of that office.

Well, at least we thought we knew. Somehow, unbelievably, Donald Trump keeps managing to lower the bar beyond what even many of his critics predicted.

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“11:55, almost midnight. Enough time for one more story. One more story before 12:00, just to keep us warm. In five minutes, it will be the 21st of April. One hundred years ago on the 21st of April, out in the waters around Spivey Point, a small clipper ship drew toward land. Suddenly, out of the night, the fog rolled in. For a moment, they could see nothing, not a foot in front of them. Then, they saw a light. By God, it was a fire burning on the shore, strong enough to penetrate the swirling mist. They steered a course toward the light. But it was a campfire, like this one. The ship crashed against the rocks, the hull sheared in two, masts snapped like a twig. The wreckage sank, with all the men aboard. At the bottom of the sea, lay the Elizabeth Dane, with her crew, their lungs filled with salt water, their eyes open, staring to the darkness. And above, as suddenly as it come, the fog lifted, receded back across the ocean and never came again. But it is told by the fishermen, and their fathers and grandfathers, that when the fog returns to Antonio Bay, the men at the bottom of the sea, out in the water by Spivey Point will rise up and search for the campfire that led them to their dark, icy death. “

That is, of course, the opening to John Carpenter’s The Fog, and the late John Houseman doing one of the best versions of the traditional old man around the campfire telling ghost stories and scaring the spit out of the children type of character. Depending on how old you may be and where you grew up; that scene may have been something you actually grew up with in real life. Stories of the local spirits roaming the material plane just waiting for you to wander unknowingly into their path and become their victim were plentiful for many a generation’s upbringing. They were a part of our childhood, they were something that created the local color of a region, and they were a great deal of fun back in the day.

The local ghost story still exists even as it seems like the interconnectivity of the World Wide Web is making more and more ghost stories and paranormal urban legends less local in nature. However, even the old local stories, as much as I loved them, were originally really not quite as local as they seemed to us back then. As a matter of fact, the truth is that many of them were just variants of stories brought over from the old countries by settlers and immigrants and remade into a local legend. Some would start as stories from back in the home country, but, eventually, they would incorporate local settings and characters into their telling and end up being told by people who swore that they knew the sorry souls involved or knew the now old man or woman who knew those sorry souls way back then or witnessed it with their own eyes in their youth. Then the years of “witnesses” and “documented events” (sometimes complete with names, ranks, and serial numbers) would enter into the tale, and the story would become firmly rooted in the area you lived in.

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In online discussions, the term “mansplaining” is fast becoming nothing more than the same kind of copout in discussions that “TLDR” has long been used for. You often see it used by intellectually lazy or cowardly people who can’t defend an incorrect statement made when faced with facts and don’t have the integrity to simply say they got it wrong. But it’s also become a way to attempt to skew the argument from the very start or to attempt to create a situation where what’s being presented cannot be argued against. I’m not sure if that’s what Max Landis was attempting to do or not with his tweet, but either way it’s a shame as it undercuts a rather interesting possible discussion about the inspiration of an iconic character’s look and the occasional basic human failings when it comes to recollection of events.

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