Archives for posts with tag: progressivism

Scarehouse_poster

Sorority sisters, haunted houses, and nights of revenge are all typical slasher movie elements; but Killer Party this is decidedly not. A Canadian blast of cold gore porn, The Scarehouse is a story of two competing horrors: the tortures inflicted by its vindictive protagonists, on the one hand, and the vapid “21st century party monster” mentality of their bevy of victims on the other. As to which is more appalling, that is for each viewer to decide. Co-ed sadists Corey (Sarah Booth) and Elaina (Kimberly-Sue Murray) are out of prison and out for vengeance after taking the rap for a sorority prank that resulted in an involuntary manslaughter. Determined to torment their fellow sisters, the pair has designed a haunted house attraction to mask the actual torture laboratory within.

The lighting and atmosphere of the film should satisfy devotees of the genre, and genuinely homicidal psychos should also be entertained. The lead performances, particularly Booth’s, are strong; but The Scarehouse, like other torture-oriented horrors, suffers from lack of likable characters. The backstory explaining the night’s motivation is never sufficient emotional justification for the shocking degree of onscreen brutality, and serves only to ensure that even the screaming victims of the atrocities garner little audience sympathy. Occasionally humorous, The Scarehouse is more often disturbing, and this reviewer would much prefer to have seen a movie about these two characters not killing people.

2.5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Scarehouse is:

4. Homosexuality-ambivalent. From the perspective that there is no such thing as bad publicity, The Scarehouse is pro-gay for featuring homoerotic flirtation between young women; but the portrayal of the lesbian lead as a psychopath is hardly flattering.

3. Anti-Christian. Jesus freak Jaqueline (Katherine Barrell) stands for the film’s contempt for “fire and brimstone shit”. Other irreverence takes the form of the sadists’ appropriation of crucifixion symbolism: Corey has a cross tattoo on her back, while Elaina at the end can be seen wearing a crucifix.

2. Anti-drug. “You might want to stick to water.” Drinking, along with a rufie, results in the accidental death that sets the plot in motion, and drunks are also more susceptible to the torture porn treatment. One of the songs on the soundtrack also refers to alcohol poisoning.

1. Anti-feminist. Whatever The Scarehouse’s intentions, it shows something of a divided mind with regard to its array of targets. Elaina and Corey advertise no overt ideological motivation for their murder spree, but do demonstrate a distaste for traditionalism as it takes on grotesque, hypocritical forms. Jaqueline’s Christian good girl moral code is a lie, so she must be punished. Similarly, Katrina (Emily Alatalo), for “Frankensteining” herself in an exaggerated devotion to a male chauvinist’s hourglass figure ideal, must answer for her betrayal of her sorority oath to embrace woman’s “inner beauty”.

Corey and Elaina, if they are supposed to be radical feminist progressives, discredit their cause with their violent antics. The moon phases pictured on Corey’s tank top may mark her as merely a walking, talking, rampaging case of PMS. “Why does everyone think I’m a lesbian?” she wonders aloud, to which Elaina replies that “there is some truth in it”, the implication perhaps being that the political agenda of Corey and her type is motivated more by sexual frustrations than by reason or fairness. Elaina blunders through the sorts of clueless academic abstractions that cause social experimenters’ projects to fail. “You know I only have textbook theory,” she frets. “I built this place on a lot of theory, and this is a test run, so give me a frickin’ break on a few minor flaws.”

The fact that horny, drunken fraternity men appear as the gullible victims and not the perpetrators of murder and sex crimes undercuts the popular misandrist myth of an ubiquitous “rape culture” on college campuses. Women’s degradation and endangerment appears as their own doing in The Scarehouse. The sisters only degrade themselves by calling each other “cunt” and “bitch”. As women’s femininity has been eroded, their pedestal toppled by political empowerment, they no longer enjoy their previous freedom from violence and sexual mutilation at the movies. (“I am going to punch her in the box,” Corey threatens.) Just as a man can be kicked in the crotch with the utmost casualness, as has been the case for decades, “liberated” (i.e., dehumanized) women are now more apt to see their breasts removed or their eyelids ripped off on the big screen. A satirical indication of the degeneration wrought by the sexual revolution comes when the sight of the bloody and ravaged Katrina makes one character wonder if this is a “sex party”.

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Red Tails poster

Exactly the trite, pedestrian, chest-swelling exercise one would expect it to be, this George Lucas production is just another entry in the unending cycle of films spotlighting Congoid-American achievement. These movies are always the same: mighty blacks encounter and overcome race-based adversity . . . sweeping, inspiring music soars . . . The End. This time the Hollywoodized achievers are the Tuskegee airmen, the first black aviators allowed to participate in combat – in this case, appropriately enough, against those immortal bogeybots and inhuman emblems of racism, the Nazis, who, of course, are in for a “good ol’ Georgia ass-whoopin’” when they encounter the Red Tails. These valiant warriors have not only to defeat the Germans, however, but must also vanquish racism on their own side.

Bryan Cranston, slumming in a thankless cameo, plays the military bureaucrat unwilling to give the brothers a chance. Cuba Gooding turns in a puzzlingly deadpan and colorless performance as Major Stance, and Terrence Howard is safely poker-faced as Colonel Bullard. Whether the other actors in the film are capable of much is hard to say, considering the humdrum (nonde)script with which they have to work. “War is Hell. What we’re doin’ is just boring as Hell,” one of the pilots remarks with candor. Red Tails is the sort of movie that will have viewers glancing at the clock fifty minutes in and groaning that the film, far from winding down for a landing, is flabbergastingly not even half-over yet!

There are, of course, the obligatory scenes in which black romantic prowess receives its due and in which central character Lightning (David Oyelowo) enters an officers’ club, the piano abruptly falls silent, and one of the evil bigots tells him, “This is a whites only officers club. You’re off the reservation, pal.” Most obnoxious, however, is the constant glorification of war and particularly of “killin’ Jerries”. Only genocidal blacks and the most self-loathing whites will exult in the flippant depiction of so much joy in human desolation. There is, too, an indication that the Red Tails take special delight in shooting down white fighters when one alludes to a German’s “bright yellow nose”, a suggestive reference not only to his plane’s paint job but also his lack of melanin. After so many computer-generated explosions and social triumphs, however, the viewer may not find himself stirred to multicultural pride by this cinematic backfire, so much as grumpily in tune with the unwelcoming white officer in the club who dismisses Lightning, saying, “Hey. Go home,” and throws in a racial slur for good measure.

2 stars. Ideological Content Analysis points Red Tails toward the hatefully segregated Crap Only facilities and indicates that this film is:

7. Pro-miscegenation. An Italian ditz (Daniela Ruah) blows a kiss to Lightning, who then woos her for the remainder of the film.

6. Ostensibly Christian. Smokey (Ne-Yo) carries a picture of “Black Jesus.” Whether this is simply to indicate that the historical Jesus was black or is instead a satirical jab at segregation, under which blacks require not only separate facilities, but also a deity of their own, only Black Jesus can say for certain. Not all of the pilots believe in the supernatural, however. (cf. no. 1)

5. Drug-ambivalent. Easy (Nate Parker) has a drinking problem. Smoking, however, gets a free pass, with Cuba Gooding working a pipe in picture 1940s style. Lightning smokes a cigar and Smokey appears to chew tobacco.

4. Statist. “You signed up to follow orders.”

3. Anti-racist and egalitarian. Skeptical whites are repeatedly forced to come to terms with the ability of blacks and say things like, “I guess there’s more to you coloreds than I thought.” The separate but equal doctrine extends to the military and receives a critique from Colonel Bullard, who, lobbying for more expensive equipment, says, “No more hand-me-downs. If you get us new planes, we can help your boys.”

2. Pro-war. The mutual mass murder politely termed war is as usual a noble enterprise, particularly when directed against unprogressive white men and when it serves as a vehicle for civil rights at home. The war effort even receives a spiritual endorsement: “Black Jesus, we thank you for bringing Red Squadron back home to us.”

1. Black supremacist. “We are on the side of God Almighty,” Red Tails boasts. “Hallelujah, the saints are marchin’ in,” proclaims one Red Tail as he enters the fray.

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