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10+ Horror Discoveries

Here are the ten best old-to-the-world, new-to-me horror movies I’ve watched so far this year:

10) Society (1989): Beneath the TV-quality production values, beneath the hairstyles and outfits that scream “late ’80s,” Society is a devastating gross-out satire. In fact, it feels even better-tailored to a post-Occupy America than to the socioeconomic climate into which it was released. I’ll never hear the word “shunt” again without a shudder.

9) Slither (2006): Here’s another movie that plays with gore like Jackson Pollock with dripping paint. It’s more or less a Night of the Creeps remake, but shifted from a college campus to a small, rural town, and with the added bonus of Michael Rooker at his most intimidating/squidlike.

8) Cube (1997): In the middle of this movie’s titular cube is a room with a lethal, sound-sensitive trap. And the scene in which five intrepid prisoners sneak through it made my knuckles the whitest they’ve been all year. This is existential horror done right on next to no budget: tense as hell, and very cruel.

7) Demon Seed (1977): Infamous as the “computer sexually assaults Julie Christie” movie, this is… that movie, and exactly as icky as its premise suggests. Plenty claustrophobic, too, as the amoral Proteus—speaking in the chilly voice of Robert Vaughn—closes in around his prey, wielding her locked house as a weapon.

6) Planet of the Vampires (1965): One of the many blueprints for Alien, this Bava space odyssey focuses less on plot and more on style, with impressive results. It’s a near-ballet of bold colors and production design, gradually descending into a morass of dread.

5) Lost Highway (1997): I actually found this a tad disappointing compared to other Lynch, but his movies tend to grow on repeat viewings, so I know I’ll return to it sooner or later. In the meantime, the performances of Roberts Blake and Loggia are enough to pull this noir-horror Möbius strip onto my list.

4) Suicide Club (2002): I still can’t make heads or tails of Sion Sono’s J-horror police procedural, but that’s much of its charm. Sometimes it’s a digital conspiracy thriller; occasionally it morphs into a rock musical or, at its best, a darker-than-dark absurdist comedy. Always mystifying and incredibly bloody.

3) Parents (1989): This was certainly my greatest surprise. I’d never heard a peep about Bob Balaban’s weird suburban fantasia before watching it, but I was instantly drawn in, disturbed, and enraptured by its child’s POV and nightmarish ambience. Career-best work by Randy Quaid as the father, too.

2) The Phantom Carriage (1921): I expected Victor Sjöström’s moral fable to be “good,” but it’s actually gonna-be-watching-this-for-years great. Shot like a series of grim Scandinavian woodcuts, it mines life mistakes for all their inherent horror, and ends with one hell of an emotional sucker punch. Plus it inspired the “Heeere’s Johnny!” shot in The Shining.

1) Tales from the Crypt (1972): This Amicus anthology is everything I want from a horror movie and more. It starts out creepy (with a killer Santa Claus!) and rises from there; it has an ace British cast, from Ralph Richardson to Joan Collins; and it has a few of the most morbidly ironic endings I’ve ever seen. A few of the stories here are still giving me chills.

And a few more… Signs (2002) is tremendously atmospheric, and preys on a childhood fear of mine; The Hitcher (1986) proves that Rutger Hauer can, if he so chooses, be the scariest man alive; Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) is painfully uneven, but worth it for the Dante, Miller, and wraparound segments; Frankenhooker (1990) is gleeful, trashy fun; and finally I have no excuse for The Final Destination (2009) and Final Destination 5 (2011). They’re just ridiculously watchable.

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Our Fat-shaming Society: They Don’t Give a Shit About Your Health

For the past three weeks I have not been allowed to go to work (it’s a very long and stupid story; the gist of it is I show up to work every morning and get sent home). Now, the school year (I work in a school cafeteria) ends this Friday but ever since all of this started I’ve been stressed out, depressed and pretty despondent. Which results in me eating more and exercising less. I can feel my body reacting negatively to this; my back and sciatic nerve are aching and my breath becomes labored easier. My job was something very active and helped me maintain a somewhat active lifestyle; I got lots of exercise at work. Now that that’s gone I have to motivate myself to exercise. Today I did that; I got up, did stretches, went on a power-walk, and rode the exercise bike for about ten minutes. These are all good things; I know that exercise is good for my body and my health and I love my body and want to treat it well.

What I really want to talk about is the sense of mild panic I experience when doing any kind of exercise outside, in the open, in view of people.  It’s especially frustrating to me, since I’ve never really struggled too much with loving and accepting myself and not giving a shit what others think, to be experiencing these feelings. Even if nothing happens, when I see a car go by my mind runs wild with all the things that person may or may not be thinking about the fat girl on the side of the road. Why do I experience these thoughts? Because we live in a society that routinely shames fat people, regardless of what the fat person is doing. It doesn’t matter if they’re eating or working out, we’re going to make fun of them.

We’ve all seen or heard the jokes about a fat person in a gym, making a fool of themselves among the more fit people, simply by being there and being fat. It’s just HI-LARIOUS to see a fat person trying to work out. I guess the idea is that they’re so pathetic because they’ve let themselves get so fucking fat and now they’re trying to fix it; stupid fatty, if you’d have worked out all along this wouldn’t have happened. And that idea goes completely against the #1 fat-shaming bullshit excuse: We’re just worried about your health. If all the people who say they’re concerned for the health of fat people actually meant it there wouldn’t be such an atmosphere of shame and disdain that stops so many overweight people from going to the gym or to the doctor. If all the people who posited this supposed concern actually felt it, it would foster a more welcoming, safe atmosphere. I don’t feel secure just walking around the roads of the neighborhood I’ve lived in for near 9 years. I can’t imagine how some others may feel at the idea of going into a gym.

I want to treat my body well. I don’t really like exercising to begin with (outside of dancing and swimming); I do it because it’s good for my body and my health. I want to be able to exercise with freedom and without having to worry about what some asshole might think of me while I do it. I can dance in my room, I can ride the bike in the sun room, I can find a more private space of land (like the woods maybe or a barren field or some other abandoned space) to walk around in. But why the fuck should I have to hide the fact that I’m trying to be healthy?


Filed under Body, Health