Here are some things
I hate: getting colds; assholes not getting colds; not being
able to turn invisible at will; hippies; having webbed feet;
when the utility company calls me dirty names; this guy from
junior college with Kenny G hair who pretended he liked bebop
and girls thought he was cool; the way cats can see into my
soul and hiss at me for being a bad person; and paying ten fucking
dollars to see bad movies with a bunch of teenagers. I can only
control the last one.
I don't know why
teenagers and I are the only people who see a movie its first
weekend. What pisses me off, though, is that it's way less important
to them than it is to me. They have other shit going on, like
text messages and parties and all their cool shit like rollerblades
and Garanimals, while all I've got is a pair of "Steve Garvey's
Stylin'" brand shorts from K-Mart shorts and a cell phone that
dispenses chiclets. Plus, I can't figure out where those Goddamn
kids get all that money. They wave around twenty-dollar bills
at the ticket window like there's more in their pockets while
I count out my admission in quarters and dimes as the line forms
behind me. I always hope the kid behind the counter loses track
and I can get in for $9.60. As coldhearted and shiftless as
kids are today, though, they can count change pretty fucking
With nothing but
heaping loads of shit pouring down the screens this weekend,
I took my money to the Elvis Cinema at 64th and Sheridan, where
second-run heaping loads of shit are only $3.50, and the concessions
are way cheaper too. Fuck the new releases, I want to spend
the loose change I found in the rec center locker room on popcorn
and cologne from that machine in the bathroom.
When I pay full price
for new movies I expect people in the theater to keep their
mouths shut, unless they have something really important to
say. I frequently do, like "Don't go in that abandoned house!"
The standard for manners is way lower at a discount theater.
I remember seeing a triple feature for 99 cents at the Vogue
Theater in Chula Vista, CA after being kicked out of Tijuana.
As their ad in the paper said, it was a "Festival atmosphere."
People brought blankets and fried chicken, the seats had stuffing
torn out, there was a beach ball bouncing among the patrons
and the clink of beer bottles filled the hall. The plus was
that my shoes didn't stick to the floor--so long as I kept them
placed directly on an old pair of Keds that did. The Elvis Cinema
is similar. The popcorn is stale, the soda a little flat, and
a band of pre-teens girls wouldn't shut the fuck up. But it
was all so damn cheap that it was hard to get mad. Sort of like
with Chinese toothpaste: how can you get mad about dying if
it only cost a buck and you don't have any cavities?
For my $3.50 I saw
Drag Me to Hell, a movie I suspected I blew it by not
seeing opening weekend, and it was pretty fucking good. Sam
Raimi is the director of about three-hundred-thousand movies,
including the mediocre Spiderman series, the pretty good
A Simple Plan and the simply awesome Evil Dead 2
(along with the good Evil Dead and the lousy Army
of Darkness). Drag Me To Hell is somewhere between
the first two Evil Deads. It's first and foremost meant
to be a good time at the theater.
Drag Me To Hell
declares its campy intentions right at the beginning with a
purposely overwrought and faded vignette about a Mexican boy
who stole a gypsy's necklace ad is now cursed by a demon goat.
Pretty traditional low-budget horror stuff. The opening is followed
by credits from an early 70s drive-in horror movie. The rest
looks more modern, but has the aesthetic of those old, low-budget
American International pics with a lot of wind, crashing noises,
shadows and shrill violin to punctuate the on-screen action.
Mousy Allison Lohman
is a bank employee who hopes for a promotion but has to first
prove to her boss that she can be tough. She turns down an old
woman's application for a loan extension. The old woman is a
gypsy and curses Lohman through one of her possessions--a button,
but not before losing her dentures and trying to gum the girl
is the equally mousy and sort of dead-looking Justin Long, and
he isn't as sold on the curse as she is. But he lets her see
a palm reader who warns her of the curse and its course. After
seeing a bunch of devilish goat images and shadows, and getting
knocked to the ground by something unseen, Lohman seeks a way
to get rid of the curse. First she tries sacrificing her kitten,
then through a seance involving a very cute, but foul-mouthed
goat. When that fails, she must transfer the curse to another
person by giving him or her the button.
Lohman first plans
to give the button to a coworker who wants the same promotion
as her but is sleazy and underhanded. Instead, she discovers
she can give it to the corpse of the gypsy who cursed her. She
makes a trip to the graveyard to dig the woman up and plant
the button in her mouth. Of course, as tends to happen in graveyards,
it pours rain and Lohman and the dead woman bob about for a
while in a flooded, open grave.
I love Evil Dead
2 because it turns a lot of horror-movie conventions upside
down, and is fucking funny doing it. Sam Raimi showed he knew
that horror movies are supposed to be more fun than gross or
scary. That the premises of most horror movies are silly. It
also has some recurring motifs such as the main character repeatedly
getting his head smashed, many colors of gushing ooze and blood,
and characters being lifted by invisible forces and slammed
Drag Me to Hell
was made to entertain, and happily. It's not scary or gross;
it's more cartoonish. There are gross things in it, like being
gummed, or a mouthful of embalming fluid, a bloody nose that
violently spurts like a teenager's zit and dentures that shoot
across a room. But these are all funnier in a gleeful, comic
way than they are disgusting. The movie's chills are traditional:
rattling wind, some clanging pots and creeping shadows. These
are all tools of the low budget moviemaker who couldn't afford
monsters. Raimi probably can, but he understands the value and
built-in expectations of the old techniques.
Where Evil Dead
2's motifs were the blood and head injuries, Drag Me
to Hell's seem to be mouthfuls of disgusting shit. In addition
to the embalming fluid, Lohman swallows a few bugs, blood, grave
water and a few other things. There are also many opportunities
in Drag Me To Hell for people to get lifted and slammed
comically into walls. One character who, hovering midair, does
a nice little jig over a lake of fire.
Raimi has a weak
cast. Lohman looks and acts like a softer version of that woman
on The Office that everyone used to secretly think was
hot until they found out everyone else also secretly thought
that. Long has about as much charisma as he shows in those computer
commercials. But they aren't the focus. The focus is on how
much fun, and how silly, a horror movie can be. Raimi does a
hell of a job of that. And all for just $3.50. Four Fingers
for Drag Me to Hell.
to tell Filthy Something?