Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hesher Xmas

Is there a more metal holiday than Halloween? With its pagan roots and shameless embrace of everything horrific and ghoulish, it's the one day of the year when the rest of the world turns into us. This is our Christmas.

Just as last year, I spent the month leading up to Halloween watching a horror movie every day of October. It's been a mix of schlocky old films from the 80's and ones released in the last few years that I've been putting off watching til now. In general, the most recent crop of horror movies I've seen has been unusually strong - We Are Still Here, The Babadook, What We Do In The Shadows, The Hallow, Unfriended, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, and Deathgasm in particular impressed me alot. I'm starting to believe that we're in the midst of a new golden age of the genre.  

Deathgasm, about a teenage death metal band that summons a demon, hits home for a lot of reasons - the main characters are all metalheads, and in addition being in a band, the protagonist spends a lot of his time playing D&D and drawing in his sketchbook, inviting the ridicule of people around him (something that happens to me to this day). The protagonist and his friends even have their own metal handshake, just as my college friends and I did. Unlike a lot of movies where the film makers love the idea of "heavy metal" but only have a superficial understanding of it (Knights of Badassdom comes to mind), Deathgasm displays its cred loudly and proudly on its sleeveless denim vest. The movie even re-enacts Immortal's infamous Call of the Wintermoon video. Things inevitably take a turn into Raimi territory, and when the monsters come out so do the chainsaws and garden tools. In essence, it's a distillation of almost all my interests. I spent nearly the entire movie hoping the film makers wouldn't fumble at the end; the resolution, alas, was a little half-baked. But the 76 minutes that preceded it are still some of the most entertaining I've seen this year.

The scariest film I've seen this month is The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer's follow up to his award winning (and just as terrifying) documentary The Act of Killing. It deals with the aftermath of the Indonesian military dicatatorship's purge of political opponents, many of whom were ethnic Chinese and non-Muslims. Living in Malaysia, at a time when the government is stoking ethnic tensions to shift attention away from its corruption and incompetence, this hits close to home both figuratively and literally. The real horror can't be dispatched with chainsaws.