August 22, 2005


Teach it phenomenology.

I recently picked up V for Vendetta, and it was a fun little read. It was definitely clear that it predated Watchmen, as it was even more uneven and prone to staggering down sidepaths--the highlight of that kind of thing being the world-weary detective trying to get inside V's head or somesuch by going to the burnt-out remains of a concentration camp and dropping a shitload of acid, leading to a surprisingly pedestrian trip. I imagine the personal revelation it lead him to struck many a fanboy as deep, but it was pretty redundant given Evey hitting pretty much the same sort of epiphany with the less gentle hallucinogenics of repeated near-drownings and starvation.

But all in all, it was good. It does confirm that there's absolutely no way the upcoming movie's going to bear more than a passing resemblance to the comic beyond the grinning Guy Fawkes mask.

Tangent: the usage of the word "guy" apparently comes from slang-drift meandering from the effigies of the only man to go to Parliament with honest intention. Nifty.

Unrelated and tied to this post's title: I watched Dark Star the other night. That's John Carpenter's first flick, a beautifully zero-budget tale of burnt-out crew on the titular spaceship, tooling about the universe and blowing up "unstable planets" with sentient bombs who are eager and happy to explode. (It is, after all, their life's purpose, similar to the intelligent cows at Milliways who make recommendations to diners on which part of their body to eat.) The whole ship's falling apart, the captain got killed because his chair shorted out (sadly offscreen), there's some wonderfully awful folk music of the sort that's emphatically not on Best Of The Folk Music Era compilations, sideburns are out of control, and one of the dudes spends at least a third of movie chasing around the ship's mascot alien, portrayed extremely convincingly by a beachball with feethands sticking out from under it. And Bomb #20 is temporarily dissuaded from prematurely detonating while still attached to the ship by an extremely hasty crash-course in Philosophy 101.

Needless to say, it rocked.

I've always dug Carpenter's movies, up to a certain point in the chronology. In the Mouth of Madness was a great little horror flick. I never did see the two he made after that one, but did catch Vampire$, which left me stunned, and not in a good way--I couldn't believe he was responsible for it. It was pretty much just dull and lame and not very much fun, and that impression happened even before I read the novel it was laughably claimed to have been based on (by John Steakley. It kicks serious ass). Then a short while later I saw Ghosts of Mars, and have concluded that I'm pretty much completely uninterested in anything further Carpenter might do.

My guess as to what the hell happened is that he stopped doing drugs. Dark Star, being his initial student film, only shores up that theory, because everyone responsible was clearly marinating in them. It wouldn't have worked nearly as well otherwise.

posted by Gar @ 2:00 AM
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Removed previous comment because it was only half finished.

Although I enjoyed ET The Extraterrestrial, and I think that anyone who says they didn't is either lying or at the point of being jaded where they should consider calling a suicide hotline, I LOVED Carpenter's version of the thing even better.

Why do I compare the two? Well, they came out roughly at the same time and are opposite sides of the "alien stuck on Earth" story. AIDS was just entering the public consciousness, and I think a lot of the paranoia that worked so well in that film was the result of just hearing about this new scary disease that just kills people and ANYONE COULD HAVE IT.

I just have to hand it to Carpenter for timing a remake of a great classic film to coincide with another film with the complete opposite theme. And which did I like better? Hard to say, they're both great.

And Kurt Russell and John Carpenter sound like they'd both be fun to party with.
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