The History of Horror Movies (Cross Talk EP 38)

Horror movies represent a particularly special blend of storytelling and emotional triggers.

Some argue that horror movies are meant to reveal our deepest fears, others suggest they serve as morality tales about what is acceptable in society and the consqeuences of going against the natural order, still others believe that they serve as a mirror of their time. Whatever the case the telling of terrifying stories is something which has long been part of our collective cultural experience, and as horror movies became a more common format in cinema, so too did they evolve over time.

In this very special episode of Cross Talk, Chris and I take some time to give a somewhat concise overview of the history of the horror genre, all the way from the 1920s through to present day – landing the plane with Get Out, It Comes at Night,  The Killing of a Sacred Deer, IT, Better Watch Out, and a few others!

We make some obvious associations, like the birth of the slasher in the 1960s, and the over-saturation of the theme in the 1980s, the importance of the atomic age and how films of the 1950s all had a twinge of the absurd, which paved the way for cross-over genre films in later decades.

Of particular note is the importance of social issues and their place within the oeuvre of George A. Romero and other landmark directors, including the eponymous Alfred Hitchcock, who helped take horror from the realm of fear of the unknown and the mythological, and thrust it into the everyday.

And one of my favourite highlights – the first commercially successful and critically acclaimed Marvel movie is also a horror movie.

As it turns out,  I actually have a lot to say about the genre, and while my personal collection of films is closer to 2000 then 1000 at this point, I have almost 150 titles then could be classified at horror movies. Chris is a self-admitted horror fan, but it seems that we both know enough to provide a good overview of the genre, and hopefully share some theories you haven’t heard before!

This is the history of Horror movies, this is episode thirty eight of Cross Talk.

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Were you surprised by our thoughts on the genre overall? Did you learn anything interesting? Was our feedback on Alien vs Aliens too on the nose? I was personally surprised how many remakes came out in the 2000s and found it really valuable to learn how the 1940s was the period when genre sharing started to become more common.

Sharing is caring creative cuties, hopefully you’ve got some examples that we’ve never even considered, so comment below! And of course we’d love to hear from you in general, so please comment with your favourite horror picks, what you’ve pulled from each of these decades, and why you think horror reflects the current times best.

Until next time, please like and share the content! And subscribe to the mailing list if you haven’t yet. I’ll be sharing some insights on a new Brent Cobb album!

Tim!

Smokin’ Astroturf (Cracked)

On the more morbid side of things, I’ve been thinking about mortality quite a bit this past week. But with good reason my friends. It just seems like the music industry has been taking hit after hit over 2015. We saw the passing of Scott Weiland, Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, B.B. King, and not even a month in 2016, and David Bowie leaves us too.

It’s hard not to ponder life, death, and what comes after, especially after a major player in the music scene lost his battle with cancer on Sunday. Someone who represented the arts and anachronisms of today well before we smartened up, rather well.

I was fortunate enough to find a copy of his 25th and last album, Blackstar, when I heard the news on Monday. And so I’ve decided to review David Bowie’s last gift to the world all throughout this week, in anticipation of my Melodic Monday post about it next week.

The only way to properly send off a music legend, and someone who I always associate with the positive side of 1980s pop culture. The movie Labyrinth.

He was a shining star in that movie.

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It’s moments like these, that my mind starts to race. As it should. Because I wonder if I’m living my life to the best of my ability. There is a reason there are so many quotes and memes about the importance of following your dreams and a life half lived.

Because mortality is a real concern for everyone. No matter who you are, you will one day die. We all have that in common. Rockstars and actors are no different, their deaths are just more exposed and common knowledge.

So not to hammer the point to much, but I’ve been thinking about mortality, and my life, what to do with it. Ways I want to better myself, increase my knowledge, life experiences I need to have before I leave the mortal coil, etc.

*Which is kind of a hint for what I will be writing about in tomorrow’s Timely Thursday post, dear readers.*

What does this have to do with Wisdom Wednesday though, Tim, you ask? Well I had to decide what kind of wisdom to impart on you art makers, art shakers, and art takers without giving you something contrived. But it hit me pretty hard once I did a little digging.

Life is tough, but people love their numerically themed instructional blog posts, and I know of a place on the internet that gives wisdom, is a hell of a lot of fun, and can be incredibly inspiring, not unlike the musical heroes we lost this year.

I think I might have eluded to an interest in satire before, right? And an interest in comic books?

Well have any of you ever heard of Cracked magazine? It was this kind of awesome satirical humor magazine that came about in the late 50’s and lasted until the mid 2000’s before it finally transitioned to an exclusively online brand.

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I received my first copy on a camping trip with my grandparents in 1992, the year Batman Returns came out, and just before I had to got back to school after summer.

This was the issue I read cover to cover, over and over. I suspect it had a lot to do with developing my tastes in satire, comic books, pop culture, and human behaviour. You see, this was also around the time (within a year) that my grandpa had his stroke, almost died, and lost his ability to walk, speak, and use his right arm. He eventually gained most of his walking mobility back, but his speech has been limited for over 20 years, and he still can’t use his right arm.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. My point is it had an effect on me.

Cracked now regularly churns out blogs and vlogs – poking fun at and simultaneously addressing the hard issues of life. I’ve linked to some of my favourite numerically themed instructional blog posts.

5 Things That Have to Happen Before You Fix Your Crappy Life
6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person
8 Ways To Make Yourself A Better Person (With Ben Affleck)
4 Lifehacks For People Who Haven’t Discovered Adulthood Yet

Because comics, literature, and pop culture are all interesting forms of art, Cracked should feel right at home to most, if not all of you. And believe me when I tell you, I haven’t even shared the best stuff they churn out.

If you’re really itching for more theories, you should watch a few episodes of their YouTube channel. Start with this episode from the After Hours series.

Until tomorrow my friends, I hope your evening is grand and I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.

Tim!

Mage User VS Art Producer (Artist As Genius)

Are you ready?

For this week’s instalment of Stimulating Sundays, I’m going to write about the fantasy genre and provide a relationship between it and the development of creative ability between family members, dear readers.

The story I’m about to weave could very well be rather complex or overly simplistic, the only way to know is to stick with me and see this through. I have no doubt that you will get there.

I also know that by the end of it, when all is writ and your minds are full, not only will you be satisfied with the results; you will be just a tad more knowledgeable and considerate about the subject we’re covering this evening.

That’s right, this is part 2 of last week’s entry on assumptions.

When I think of fantasy, I cannot help but stop to ponder the Vertigo comics title Fables – I was first introduced to these stories by my mom (who never reads comics) back in either the summer of 2004 or 2005, I can’t remember which, but that isn’t super important for the purpose of this point.

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It does provide a cool anecdote about the length this series has been in my mind though.

If you haven’t read the title before, I would highly recommend the series because it takes characters from the public domain of folklore and mythology and gives them a fun new twist. Regardless if you loved these kinds or stories or not growing up, one of two things will happen when you invest some time in the series (or possibly both). First, you will get reacquainted with familiar characters and have a grand time. Alternatively, you’ll enjoy the stories and the artwork, thus gaining an appreciation for their source material. Or as I said, both things.

So what does this have to do with artist families you ask? I’m getting there, I promise.

Now that I’ve got you thinking about magic, castles, princesses, and morality tales, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to bring up the concept of classes within the form. As we know, fantasy is a genre of fiction that uses magic and the supernatural to help tell a story or which features it in the theme.

The classes of fantasy are pretty straightforward, comprising fighter, magician, rogue, cleric, and ranger, with several variations thereof, as well as specific classes that exist in certain worlds. If you want a more detailed list – check out TV Tropes for more info. Just don’t get stuck there.

Great, so for the purpose of the remainder of this post, let’s assume that artists represent the magician class of a fantasy story, okay?

Which also helps because magic is central to the universe these characters inhabit.

Well, there are a number of reasons why people become magicians, and while most of the time it has to do with natural ability, authors recognize that said ability doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It takes significant time and/or another type of sacrifice in order to gain the experience needed to wield that ability.

Just look at this handful of resources I found about the topic. They all suggest different reasons for why creativity abounds in certain individuals, but the conclusions that nurture plays a role in the development of artists in truth throughout.

  1. Is creative ability determined by our DNA?
  2. Is Art Hereditary? The Mounts, A Family of Painters
  3. What Makes a Family of Artists
  4. Decoding Creativity – It’s In the Genes!
  5. Are some people born creative?

And just for fun, an article for you to check out and for us to come back to regarding artistic spaces. Cleanliness versus mess.

Article number 5 raises an excellent point about why creativity exists

But while creativity may appear to be a spontaneous burst of new ideas, it is really the art of deriving the new from the old – the relentless reassembly of information we already possess.

So for the sake of argument, maybe magicians exist in fantasy because that material needs to be assembled and reassembled, to be used in a way that it takes form and has function. Whether aesthetic or practical. It’s potentially an obvious association, but one that helps to tie back into creativity and why it continues to persist in our genetics.

We need people to exist who help us innovate and evolve. Who move us onward and upwards. As culture shifts, we need pioneers who can help define the way and take problems head on.

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Environments that produce generations of artists can provide that role, but the parents/predecessors need to be especially cognizant of their stake in the process.

I think we will also discover that out of opportunity do artists find ways to exist. For example, my loving childhood home of convention and specific moral qualities allowed not only myself to pursue the arts but both of my younger brothers. But that’s a theory for another day.

What do you think of that theory folks? That creativity harnesses from the created world and furthers the creative cycle?

Tim!

 

Morality Tales, A Whoo Ooh (Learn Lessons from TV)

I have this theory that there are some TV shows which do a fantastic job of providing you with comedy, while also giving excellent insight into human behaviour and telling morality tales. Sort of like grownup versions of Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

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Okay before we move on, did you click on that picture yet? Please look just to the left of Heath Ledger at the woman in the mid ground of characters in the distance. Yeah, that’s Lena Headey, of Game of Thrones fame, before she really took off! Crazy right?

Anyway, I’m losing focus here, need to regroup and make a point. Because in the game of thrones, you either win or you die.

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Sorry, I’m done now. I promise.

Where were we? Right, morality tales.

Truth be told, I think most comedy is fully capable of this particular kind of story, and in fact, a vast majority of those television shows labelled as “comedy” are often perfect examples to use if you want a bite-sized point to be made for you and driven home before a pizza delivery is ordered, made, and at your doorstep. And yes, I do have a specific example in mind.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of those shows that covers that off concepts and principles quite well, and surprisingly often. Sure, it succumbs to the tropes of western comedy, but it’s the subtleties that make us appreciate individual stories. Plus people don’t like dramatic change, which I think I’ve covered before.

Bonus points to the first subscriber who can point it out in the comments section!

What is funny to me (funny interesting, not funny haha), is that I am sometimes surprised by the show and it’s clever use of genre and format to come up with interesting satire of the culture it exists in. And dare I say it, troll the audience.

I mention this because the show is in it’s third season, so you would think I am fairly comfortable with this tactic by now. Especially being a huge fan of shows like Community, The IT Crowd, The Office (British and American), and Archer.

A particularly great example of the show’s brilliance came up just today!

I happened to rewatch the episode Halloween II of Brooklyn Nine-Nine this afternoon while I was helping my girlfriend assemble a table and chairs for her apartment.

I read this review after watching the episode, AND in preparation for my post, and I have to argue that the other author missed the mark of Halloween II.

This episode of B99 does indeed have a lesson at the end of it, and while I may not have noticed it the first time around when I watched a few months ago, I was finally greeted with a clever commentary on assumptions once I let my guard down and simply listened to the characters.

This is the synopsis of the episode as per Wikipedia.

Eager to engage in another bet following last year’s, Peralta and Holt raise the stakes, and Jake enlists a repeat offender to help snag the captain’s watch before midnight, or he will have to do five weekends of free overtime. Meanwhile, Amy and Rosa are upset when Terry doesn’t punish Gina for skipping out on her duties at the precinct to attend dance practice. It is revealed that Gina has been secretly going back to college which has caused her to miss dance rehearsals.

And here is my commentary –

Jake Peralta assumes he has the drop on Captain Holt when he does his second annual halloween prank wager, this time much larger than the previous year. He is sadly bested by Holt, who has been preparing for a year and led Peralta into a trap, with the aid of the squad. The other assumption comes from Sergeant Terry Jeffords, when he first assumes that Gina has a good reason to step out of work, and then a second time when he learns that Gina has been negligent but doesn’t understand it’s because she has been going to school and got kicked out of the dance troupe she founded.

Terry tells Gina at one point, before getting the whole story, that “she has a baditude,” which is funny of course, but also really smart of the writers. The audience also has a baditude, thinking they know how the episode is going to unfurl, but in reality they’ve made some bad assumptions, and that just isn’t true!

What do you think? Is my theory off the mark?

I’ve written about the polarizing concept of “handedness” being hereditary, and possibility of genetics of motivation as well, but I don’t think I have tackled art and DNA just yet dear readers. This week’s Stimulating Sunday post is part I of another post on assumptions.

So stay tuned, and I hope I’ve given you something to think on.

Tim!