The Magnificent Seven (2016)

This review was originally posted on Swampflix.com on October 22, 2016. The rating was 4/5 Stars. Image courtesy of Swampflix Editor Brandon Ledet.

EPSON MFP imageI hate Westerns. I really, really do. When I was a kid in rural East Baton Rouge Parish (and especially when we went to visit even-more-rural friends and family in St Helena), they seemed to make up the bulk of television outside of primetime; moreover, family friends who were fortunate enough to own more than ten videocassettes (which was how I defined wealth then, and, perhaps, now) still had a collection that was largely made up of Western cinema. The filmic depiction of the mythological Wild West, with its overwhelming anxiety about bandits, borderline racist depictions of native people, the uniform whiteness of the protagonists (which led me, as a child, to be unable to tell characters apart), and overall bland cinematic eye really turned me off. I can barely even stand to watch the Western episodes of The Twilight Zone, my favorite show of all time; when one comes on during Syfy’s annual marathons, it’s the cue for me to go outside and get some fresh air.

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Movie of the Month: The Funhouse (1981)

The post from which this was excerpted was originally published on Swampflix.com as part of that site’s “Movie of the Month” feature, in which one contributor makes the rest of the crew watch a movie they’ve never seen before, and the staff discusses it afterwards. For October 2016, Britnee made Brandon, Alli, and me watch The Funhouse (1981).

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This begs the question of what exactly a B-Movie is, especially with regards to the Tobe Hooper oeuvre. Is Texas Chainsaw Massacre a B-Movie? Is Poltergeist? What’s the real difference between Funhouse and those two films that makes film scholarship so dismissive of it? Chainsaw is definitely a B-Movie by every objective measure: budget (a mere $300K), cast (all virtual unknowns, with the Edwin Neal having the largest pre-Chainsaw filmography, consisting entirely of dubbing voices for the American import of Gatchaman), and overall feeling of cheapness. Instead of B-Movie fodder that is remembered for its campiness, however, Chainsaw is generally regarded as a landmark horror movie for bringing terror out of the night and into the light of day, and its legacy holds up despite seven follow up films of various quality and dubious chronology (there are three sequels, then a reboot, a prequel to the reboot, then a sequel just to the original skipping all others, and an upcoming film about Leatherface’s teenage years). It’s easier to single out Poltergeist as a more traditional “prestige” horror film; having Steven Spielberg as producer lent the movie an air of credibility that neither Chainsaw nor Funhouse before it had had (and that Lifeforce,which followed in 1985, was certainly missing; even a script by Dan “I wrote Alien” O’Bannon wasn’t enough to cover the Cannon Films stench on that one, but I digress). I think the reason that Chainsaw is so widely praised is simply that it transcended the barriers of the conventional B-horror film to become something more terrifying altogether. Chainsaw and Poltergeist are very Gothic at their core, with the latter heavily focusing on the brutishness of the wilderness outside of society and the uber-Gothic imagery of decaying homesteads with trapdoors and hidden rooms, and the latter focusing on pairing the very old-school Gothic concepts of hauntings and beings beyond human comprehension and pairing those ideas with the aesthetic of contemporary suburbanism.

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