A few nights ago, I was in the mood to watch a horror movie that I thought was summer-y. This movie was released in March, so I guess I don’t have too good of a reason to associate it with summer. Well, except maybe for the fact that it takes place in the middle of the summer in the middle of the desert where it’s really goddamned hot. Rampaige wasn’t interested in watching this at first suggestion, but was tired enough that she allowed me to pick out five movies and she would select the one she could most tolerate. Considering one of the other choices she had to pick from was Scooby-Doo, it doesn’t surprise me that she picked this one. Also, this movie is of note because it was when I started being a fan of writer/director Alexandre Aja. By the way, super happy that there isn’t an accent in his name, because I don’t think I’ve figured out how to make those characters through WordPress yet.
Congrats on getting off that crazy island, Claire! And you even got rid of that stupid baby you gave birth to!
The film opens with a title card that talks about the testing of nuclear weapons in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. There’s then a montage that shows houses blowing up from atomic and nuclear weapons, intercut with images of deformed babies and adults, showing the viewer the effects of those tests, as well as a brief scene showing a group of researchers in the desert being attacked and killed by a really huge dude. We then see a gas station attendant inspecting a bag that was mysteriously left on his doorstep, full of valuable items like wallets, jewelry, and an earring that’s still attached to an ear. A family stops at this gas station and the attendant tells them about a “shortcut” which takes them over a spike strip, causing the family to crash. Some of the family goes looking for help while others remain with their vehicles, which is when they are attacked by deformed adults. Ted Levine, his wife, and his daughter are all killed, his granddaughter is stolen by the maniacs, but his son and other daughter are left alive. His son-in-law goes in search of the baby and finds an abandoned community whose only relatives are some of these freaky weirdos. He’s able to kill some weirdo jerks, save his baby, while his in-laws back at their vehicles kill some other freaks and we think everything is okay, but then the camera pans out and we learn that they are still being monitored by some unseen hill people.
If you’re going to breakdance, I don’t recommend doing it in a refrigerator.
Anytime there is a discussion about remakes and whether or not remakes should take place, this is the example I bring up for why I can support them. By now, we’ve seen this story of “freaks” torturing and killing people for no real reason, so there’s only so much life you can breathe into the concept. I guess the fact that there were a few bits of dialogue where the attackers were saying that these things were done TO them by the military and it’s the average person’s fault that they exist in the first place, but that’s a bit of a stretch. Maybe in the 70’s this plot was a little bit more interesting, but by the time the remake had come out, we’d seen pretty much every type of freaky weirdo imaginable. I suppose that had they literally given eyes to a bunch of hills and hills were the bad guys it would be a little bit more unique, but a movie about killer land formations would be pretty silly.
A lot of people told me how intense they thought the rape scene was, so I don’t know what it says about me that I wasn’t bothered by it.
The reason this movie was so successful was because something really clicked between director Alexandre Aja, cinematographer Maxime Alexandre, editor Baxter, composers tomandandy, and special effects makeup designer Greg Nicotero. Although this movie took place in present day, the only thing that gave this away was attempts to get cell phone reception. You could feel the heat of the desert, feel the grit of the sand, and it made you feel like you should be putting on sunblock. The music jumped back and forth between oldies, which gave you a feeling of nostalgia and made you feel like you were just at a relative’s house listening to the radio, to heavily distorted electric guitars that reverberated in your skull, making you feel as uncomfortable as some of the characters looked. Which brings us to the fucked up mind of Greg Nicotero and his grotesque creations. I think the best word to describe his makeup effects would be “swollen”, with all of his deformed creations giving viewers a sense of discomfort while also remaining believable. All of these elements were brought together with the help of Baxter, and were you to remove any single one of these elements, this movie could have been a complete failure. I feel like this movie is more of a highlight reel of some really talented individuals who were able to make names for themselves, but this was the movie where they were all able to feed off each other to create a unique vision of deformed monstrosities being a bunch of dickheads for no real reason.
Wolfman Moon Scale