Y2K, 9/11, war and a a horrid recession, a major escape we had this decade was in the form of film, notorious for thriving during National crisis. Leading up to New Year’s Eve where we’ll ring in 2010, Bloody Disgusting will be looking back at the entire decade year by year through the eyes of various staff writers. Check back each day for a profound reflection from Ryan Daley, David Harley, Tex, BC and yours truly. Inside you’ll find Ryan Daley’s look back at the year 2000. Please share your memories for each year below, there are so many stories to be told!
Which makes it even harder to explain the gran guignol excesses of Final Destination, what I consider to be one of the more influential horror movies of the past 10 years. I was simultaneously shocked and amused by the vast amount of carnage, much of it mean-spirited and primarily directed at innocent characters. Although horror movies that glorify the villain aren’t uncommon, Final Destination pared that concept down to its very core. In FD there was no villain, no hooded man with a scythe, no crazy ex-wrestler out to waste some teens. There is only death. Sudden, gruesome, unavoidable death. With its brutally elaborate kill scenes and gleeful sense of exploitation, Final Destination represented the first stirrings of the grue wave movement that would spawn later movies like Saw and Hostel. American horror cinema hasn’t looked back since.
Back in 2000 I was living in a dinky studio apartment near the university, taking film classes at night. One lonely Friday evening, I called a weed dealer for a house call, only to have him camp at my apartment for two hours because I happened to be watching Pitch Black right when he showed up. He walked in as the space transport Hunter-Gratzner, carrying murderous convict Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), was burning through the atmosphere of an unidentified desert planet. And the weed guy couldn’t tear himself away. His phone rang every 5 minutes for about an hour, but after I cracked open a package of Chewy Chips Ahoy, he finally just switched it off. It pains me to imagine how many people had to go without doobage that night, all due to the captivating, mind-numbing power of Pitch Black.
In the case of Takashi Miike’s Audition, it was the burlap sack that got me. I think that 30-second hallway scene sums up everything that is awesome about horror. I rented a copy soon after its DVD release, and I watched it alone. Considering its infamous reputation, I was completely surprised to find myself watching a relationship drama, at least for the 45 minutes. Middle-aged widower meets cute model-type at fake audition, love ensues. But soon after the halfway mark, Miike’s movie blew my mind as it suddenly transformed into a gut-wrenching, eye-stabbing torture flick. The previously mentioned “burlap sack” scene merely serves as the tipping point to a grisly finale that haunted me for months.
When I read Bret Easton Ellis‘ novel American Psycho, it was like a kick in the nuts. It took my breath away. It made me want to barf on the sidewalk. Some chapters left me with brief bouts of diarrhea. To this day American Psycho remains the most offensive book I’ve ever read. Everybody has their line, and I suppose mine was crossed when a starving rat was jammed into a helpless vagina. Cruelly sadistic to the point of unforgivable, unforgettable perversion, Ellis’ exercise in calculated deviance follows self-absorbed yuppie Patrick Bateman through his daily routine of facial moisturizers and bloody murder. The final third of Ellis’ sick novel invites the reader to share Bateman’s lust for pain through several abhorrently-detailed torture scenes that stretch on for page after page after page. I sensed there was a satire buried somewhere under all the ugliness, but frankly, I just didn’t get it.
I watched Mary Harron‘s film adaptation very reluctantly, but thankfully, she turned me around. With the help of a sardonic script and a charismatic central performance by Christian Bale, I was finally able to get a sense of what Ellis was going for in his novel. As a yuppie businessman living in the 1980s, Patrick Bateman knows his status will be determined by how well he blends in with his peers and co-workers. But by constantly focusing on being the same as everyone else, he denies a deep inner self that can only be expressed through ravenous acts of violence. Or maybe it’s all in his head. Either way, the movie was about a billion times better than the book would ever hope to be.
Back in the late 90s, I thought Robert Zemeckis was a hell of a director. But that was before he sold his soul to cartoons. As a rock-hard fan of Contact and Forrest Gump, I was curious about the what he would bring to the table as the man behind What Lies Beneath, an old-fashioned Hollywood horror flick. In terms of tone and structure, I thought that Zemeckis’ film bore a striking similarity to 1988’s Lady in White, another rare success in the world of PG-13 horror. With its increasingly tense set-pieces, What Lies Beneath served as a textbook example of how to successfully sustain suspense through an entire feature-length film. With every passing scene, it became more and more obvious that Zemeckis knew exactly what he was doing. I’ll probably catch hell for saying this, but I’ve always wanted to see what he would do with the Suspiria remake.
And who can forget the one-two punch of Winona Ryder and Kim Basinger attempting to choke out their respective careers with Lost Souls and Bless the Child? Both films were studio releases with respectable budgets, and both films currently rank on Rotten Tomatoes’ Worst of the Worst List. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that these movies are greenlit by people who are sober.
Also Worth Remembering: Ginger Snaps, Anatomy, The Cell, The Gift, Versus