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My upcoming blogathon adventure

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Rambo II: This Time It's Not Rambo 1



So I've never been particularly inclined to look at any Sylvester Stallone movies, and with good reason. After all the guy's got a reputation for making terrible action movies and not being really hard to understand. While I can sympathize with the reasons why he has that distinct voice (his lower jaw is partially paralyzed) I just don't think he's really that good an actor, as I found out today in my action cinema class when we had to watch Rambo: First Blood Part II.

I had low expectations even before going in, but the whole movie was pretty bad even by the standards I was setting. Half the time it was impossible to understand the dialogue, and not just Stallone's. The rest of the cast was okay but really we were obviously supposed to be following his character of Rambo despite him having no real depth or personality. He was just a guy with a lot of weapons and not much motivation.

It was also insanely jarring how inconsistent the action was. In the insanely contrived scene where Rambo's female partner gets killed, she is shot multiple times and dies soon after, and yet the same people cannot shoot a man standing at exactly the same range and every bit as visible. This is a cliché that has often been mercilessly parodied, commonly known as the "Stormtrooper effect" (so named for its infamous use in the Star Wars franchise, which ironically could have gotten around the problem if they'd just stated that the force was protecting the heroes). This was apparently quite popular in the 80's but that doesn't make it any less frustrating, especially when the bad guys are supposedly trained soldiers.

None of the characters ever seemed to have much in the way of depth at all, certainly not enough for me to care about any of them. The bad guys had no real motivation, Rambo is just a maniac with a gun, and did that one POW even get a name? If he did I don't remember it being brought up. Also I swear that guy got shot at least twice during the climax despite being okay at the end.

Come to think of it that's another thing, none of these POW's we're supposed to be concerned for have any personality at all. There's no real reason we should be concerned for their safety because we don't know any of them. They're just a bunch of shirtless guys and so when one or two get shot there isn't much emotion to be felt.


The only character I really had any interest in was Co (Julia Nickson). She was actually an interesting character and a strong female character in one of these films. She got to wield a machine gun for a while, a few action scenes, and even got to save Rambo's life. This film had an actual action girl in it, so how do the filmmakers mess it up? By killing her off way too early and forcing us to spend the rest of the film with a bunch of uninteresting shirtless men of course. I think I get what they were trying to go for, making the bad guys seem more ruthless and giving Rambo more motivation (as if the torture scene earlier and him being left for dead by his own people wasn't enough) but it was a lame and horrendously contrived scene that came straight out of nowhere and made the conversation immediately before completely pointless.

Now I'll confess, I still haven't seen the first Rambo film, but this one is a waste of time. Even the action scenes couldn't keep me going. I understand Sylvester Stallone has a physical deformity that inhibits his speech, but even if I could understand what he was saying I don't think he'd be a very good actor.


When it comes to action movie stars, I'll take Schwarzenegger any day. His action movies are fun and sometimes actually have a point to them. Stallone on the other hand is a guy I don't feel particularly inclined to see any more of. I've been told that Rocky is alright but beyond that I'm certainly not (willingly) checking out any more of the Rambo films or any of his later work. Rambo: First Blood Part II is a dull, pointless, and boring action movie that I would strongly recommend avoiding at all costs.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Thursday Movie Picks Meme: Vampire Movies


This week, the theme for Wanderer's Thursday Movie Picks Meme is Vampire movies. This is an interesting challenge, since I'll confess I've never been a huge fan of them myself. I've often considered them to be a bit overrated as a horror monster (and the whole Twilight craze certainly didn't help), but they can be done well when put into the right hands. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was still a pretty awesome show with some great vampires in it (though it probably helped that there were other monsters as well). I'll also confess I still have yet to actually see any of the Dracula films.

Let's begin:

Nosferatu (1922)


About what I was saying earlier about not having seen any of the Dracula films, let me rephrase. I haven't actually seen any of the authorized films. The first adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel was one that was made without permission as part of the short-lived German expressionist period. In fact it was almost lost forever because Stoker's wife was so angry about the unauthorized production that she sued the filmmakers and demanded all copies be destroyed. The only reason it survives today is because one copy managed to stay hidden and wasn't found again until long after. By modern standards it can come off as a bit cheesy (Count Orlok looks kinda silly nowadays and not very intimidating), but as far as I'm aware this was basically the first vampire film.

Vampires (1998)


Have you ever wondered what The Lost Boys might look like if you made it for adults and mixed in elements of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and old westerns? No? Well, too bad because that's what John Carpenter gave us in the late 90's... and it's a lot of fun. The vampires here are treated a bit different from your standard ones in that they do have act somewhat like zombies (being bit even once by one in this continuity causes you to transform into one yourself) and a lot of the traditional elements such as crosses and garlic don't work. The only solid way to kill one is to expose it to sunlight (staking them in the heard does work, but it's not as reliable a method).

Underworld (2005)


We've got two on this list where the vampire is the antagonist. Let's bring up one where the vampire is the hero. Underworld isn't the greatest of vampire films but it is an enjoyable little action flick with some exciting stunts and chase scenes. Kate Beckinsale makes a pretty good heroine and it's always good to see a tough girl who can kick butt. It's hardly a masterpiece but if you can keep an open mind it is a little bit of fun.

Cosmic Horror Cast-A-Thon


Last week I started the Cosmic Horror Cast-A-Thon in which I invited fellow bloggers to come and put together a team of investigators to save the world. Unfortunately nobody's responded yet and we've only got nine days left before the Old Ones awaken leaving madness and terror in their wake. In a desperate bid to help prevent that, I'd better get my team together.


So first I'm supposed to pick and Old One to pit my team against. I'm going to take the most obvious one and save the other, perhaps more interesting ones for other contributors to tackle.


Old One: Cthulhu

 


Investigative Team

Jack Crow (Vampires, 1998)- Team Leader/muscle


If there is a tough guy who has any idea how to deal with the paranormal, it's Jack Crow. He's got a pile of guns and gadgets specifically designed for taking out vampires. While this might not be effective against the Old Ones, he is resourceful enough to find weaknesses his team could take advantage of weaknesses, not to mention he should be able to hold his own against an army of cultists. Seeing as they have a habit of quietly murdering anyone who finds out too much about Cthulhu, someone who can keep your back is a valuable asset to the team. In addition to all that, he's also got leadership skills and knows how to keep people organized under pressure.

R.J. Macready (The Thing, 1982)- Co-Leader/Pilot


Another tough guy with leadership skills, which could very well come in handy if anything were to happen to Jack Crow. To add to that he's also a qualified helicopter pilot, which means he has the additional benefit of being able to get his team where they need to go efficiently. Let's not forget that he has experience in dealing with otherworldly horrors himself, and seeing as the last thing he faced was one that turned his colleagues against each other through sheer paranoia, Cthulhu should seem like a cakewalk at least in theory. 

Ellen Ripley (Alien, 1979)- Expert


Let me sum it up as simply as possible: she doesn't give up. She fought the same horrifying monsters three times in a row and even suicide couldn't stop her from coming back to face them again. That's how determined she is when faced with these nameless otherworldly beings. Now when confronted with something terrifying enough to make the Xenomorphs seem friendly, why wouldn't she be want to do something about it? Heck, if anyone's going to live long enough to make a brave last stand against Cthulhu it's going to be her, and... well... let's just say she's got better odds than most.

Juno (The Descent, 2005)- Explorer


So before we can face Cthulhu, the team will have to navigate the lost city of R'lyeh. That would seem straight forward enough if not for the fact the place is filled to the brim with non-euclidean geometry. It just so happens that Juno is an experienced cave diver, a profession that requires one to be able to navigate tunnels of shapes and sizes that are not always predictable. Naturally, if anyone can figure out how to handle the unpredictable nature of structures that defy physics with out-of-the-box-thinking, it's her.

Stevie Wayne (The Fog, 1980)- Coordinator


Well, we already have leadership for the front, but what about in the back. After all, with a mess like this that could take our investigators around the world, somebody's got to co-ordinate everything. That's where Stevie Wayne comes in. Based out of her lighthouse she can keep track of the team's progress and also listen out for any updates that could give the investigators clues about how to find Cthulhu and stop him from destroying the world.

Theo (The Haunting, 1963)- Psychic


If she is indeed a psychic, as is suggested but not confirmed in The Haunting, she would be a valuable asset to the team. She could observe things nobody else could because of her abilities, such as the thoughts and dreams of others around her and perhaps even take the time to observe how people seem to be affected psychologically by the rising of Cthulhu even before he actually awakens. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ms. 45 and the Urban Vigilantes



This is a film that I might never have heard of if not for a chance mention in one of my textbooks and one I might have forgotten about if not for my innate curiosity and an unprecedented intrigue that came with learning about a major trend in 1970's action films, specifically the "urban vigilante" idea, also known as an "urban western". Typically the way these films work is they combine the classical western hero with the street and back alley settings prevalent in film noir and gangster pictures of the 1940's and 1950's.

Usually the way they work is that you have an anti-hero protagonist who is torn between two worlds. Much as the classical western hero is caught between the "civilized" world and the "savage" wilderness, the urban western hero (or in this case, heroine) is in between both the law and the crooks. They're typically civilians, as is the case for this film along with other films such as the Death Wish series featuring Charles Bronson. Other times they are rogue cops, a role made famous by Dirty Harry, or even crooks themselves as seen with Snake Plissken in Escape From New York.

In any case, they are a character who sees themselves as above the law. They find the police are too much of a hindrance for justice, and decide to take matters into their own hands. Dirty Harry continues to pursue Scorpio long after he is taken off the case and Snake Plissken screws over the ungrateful President by destroying the tape he was supposed to retrieve for him (and that was in the first movie, don't get me started on what he does in Escape From L.A.). There are even echoes of this phenomenon in more contemporary works such as Christopher Nolan's Batman films.

The movie we watched in class was Dirty Harry, and a lot of the focus was on that along with Death Wish. Escape From New York was one I only later concluded fit into the "urban vigilante" trend based on what I'd learned. One thing it didn't take me long to notice was that the vigilante character was usually a man, so naturally when the chapter on the urban vigilante films in my textbook referred to one with a female lead I became curious. That was my introduction to Ms. 45, also known as Angel of Vengeance. I eventually decided to pursue this movie and found a copy last week. I had some time during the weekend to watch it and it turned out also to be quite fitting for Halloween.

Thana (Zoë Lund) is a seamstress who happens to be mute. She happens to be living in 1980's Manhattan, a world where it is not easy being a woman, and even harder being a woman who can't talk. While walking home from work one day, she is helplessly abducted by a street punk (Abel Ferrara, the movie's director) who sexually assaults her. The experience of it happening once already leaves the poor heroine severely traumatized, but after getting home she encounters another punk trying to rob her apartment who also tries to rape her. This time Thana snaps and murders her attacker.

From then on, things are no longer the same. Thana starts to grow paranoid of every man she sees and the trauma of her experiences begin to bleed into her job as she starts to slip up more frequently. Most notably, she takes the gun off the punk she murders and begins carrying it around with her. Numerous men try to sexually harass her and subsequently meet their ends at the barrel of a 45 caliber pistol.

It's really a shame that Zoë Lund's career was cut short so early (she only went on to do five other features before dying of a drug overdose in 1999) because if this role was anything to go by she had extraordinary talent. She never so much as utters a single line at any point in the film, meaning she has to rely more or less purely on facial expression and body language to convey the emotions that come with her character's downward spiral. The fact that the emotion is purely visual makes her character stand out all the more from the rest of the cast (all of whom do talk). It gives her a lot more depth than it would to have her speak, but at the same time adds an enigmatic quality as we never learn her full backstory or why she has this disability.

I also liked the fact that unlike many other films both then and now Thana isn't glamorized or oversexualized, at least not as much. For most of the movie she looks like a very average young woman except when she is trying to make herself attractive to men in order to get close enough to kill them. By making her look like an everyday person, it makes the story of a civilian trying to take the law into her own hands all the more meaningful.


The rest of the cast is also pretty good. The interactions between Thana and the other characters are definitely believable, something not easy to pull off when you have to pretend your lead actress can't actually talk. There are two other major characters she interacts with: her landlady Mrs. Nasone and her boss Albert (Albert Sinkys), both of whom come into conflict with her over the changes in personality that come with her choice to become a vigilante while she simultaneously tries to keep them from finding out what she does during the night. She also has an emotional relationship with the other seamstresses, who are more or less the closest thing she has to friends and the only ones who really give her any kind of comfort.

Naturally for a film like this there's plenty of action to be found. Zoë Lund gets several scenes to herself where she gets to be tough and show off her newfound skills with a pistol. Even when she isn't pulling out her gun the film still manages to create tension. Knowing the protagonist just about every scene where she interacts with a man builds up a sense of tension because you know how paranoid she is and how she is very easily provoked into murder. Then of course there's the incredibly tense climax which I won't spoil for you.

I would strongly recommend Ms. 45 as a dark action film. It is an effective spin on the whole idea of the "urban vigilante", with a strong and indeed very memorable action heroine and plenty of tension. It's also a good movie to see in October, since while not an outright horror story it can be disturbing and even features a sub-plot surrounding a Halloween party. It was worth the thirty dollars I spent on it, and now I'm glad I kept up with the readings for that one course since otherwise I'd never have found out about this film. I don't know how easy it will be to find, but if you get the chance it is worth checking out


Saturday, 18 October 2014

October 2014 Blindspot Challenge: Re-Animator



I was supposed to do Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds for this month, but unfortunately I had some problems with the DVD. I got partway into the movie and suddenly it froze and began skipping. I couldn't move on without missing some crucial parts to the film and it seemed extremely unlikely that I would be able to find another copy before the end of the month (and even if I was, I can't be sure I'd have another opportunity to see it). Fortunately, I had a few other horror films in my drawer that could go in its place for October's, and one in particular struck me due to its source material.

I therefore have a confession to make. Despite being a huge H.P. Lovecraft fan and my endorsements of the HPLHS adaptations of his stories, I had never seen the cult classic Re-Animator before now. For that matter I have not actually seen any of Stuart Gordon's other Lovecraft adaptations such as Dagon, From Beyond, or the TV treatment of The Dreams in the Witch-House he did for Masters of Horror. I haven't even gotten around to reading the original Lovecraft serial on which this particular film was based, making this the first time with any of his work I've seen the movie before reading the story.

Herbert West–Reanimator as Lovecraft wrote it was supposedly a parody of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley's classic tale (which surprisingly enough, I have read not seen any film adaptations of, unless you count Young Frankenstein) was about a man who tries to scientifically engineer a process to revive the dead. The creature that results from these experiments is a grotesque entity that causes him to immediately regret his hard work. Lovecraft's story takes that concept up several notches by having a scientist reanimate multiple corpses. 

Though Lovecraft himself was not particularly fond of the story (he mainly wrote it for the money and had a lot of frustrating restrictions imposed on him), it does have something of a following with his fans. Maybe it's just because it's a little bit different from his usual horror, but whatever the case may be this is often one that fans will bring up. Naturally it appealed to Stuart Gordon, who given the path of his directorial career is clearly fond of Lovecraft's writing.

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), is a brilliant but eccentric medical student based out of an institution in Switzerland, but he gets fired after he is caught performing unorthodox experiments on one of the staff. He moves to America and enrolls at Miskatonic University where he continues to develop his peculiar experiments after moving in with classmate Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott). There he continues to experiment with a fluid he has developed capable of reanimating dead tissue. Things become difficult when Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson) voices opposition to West's experiments. Also thrown into the mix are Halsey's daughter Megan, who is engaged to Dan and gets mixed up in all of West's experiments, and a jerk by the name of Carl Hill (David Gale) who has made a career out of stealing credit for other people's accomplishments.

The whole thing has sort of a b-movie atmosphere, which has a strange kind of charm to it and actually does somewhat fit in with the original story (which was allegedly a parody of Frankenstein). The plot does get over the top and crazy at times, but when the film needs to it can be disturbing. You can naturally expect a lot of gore from a movie about reanimating corpses, and oddly enough the excessive amount of blood does make the appearances of the resurrected human cadavers a bit more disturbing.

Re-Animator is certainly an interesting experience for any major horror fan. It is a bit campy and over the top but it will keep you on the edge of your seat as you are taken through a bizarre sequence of events. It might seem a bit slow at first but once the bodies start rising it'll be a blast, and there is even a bit of emotion to be found in all of this. The main characters are rather likable but Herbert West himself is an especially interesting figure in the way he is driven by the passion of his discovery. I'm sorry I wasn't able to do The Birds as I originally planned, but this one worked alright as a substitute. Give it a watch, you won't regret it.

Friday, 17 October 2014

How Spectacle Conveys Narrative


There has always been a delicate relationship between narrative and spectacle on film. Many Hollywood movies struggle to balance a compelling story with special effects to create a spectacle. Some of the earliest films, such as those of Méliès, were made as almost pure spectacle. Later films would prefer to focus on telling a story. Sometimes, as is shown with the famous “biplane scene” in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest, the spectacle is used as a driving force for the narrative.


While this scene is clearly meant to be a visual spectacle, it is created in such a way as to stand out in the mind of the viewer because it is an extremely pivotal moment in the story. The scene marks the beginning of several drastic changes, including the general tone of the narrative and in the character of Roger himself. This is set up through the scene’s deviation from the film’s previously established patterns.

This famous scene happens roughly at the mid-point in the film. The build up is simple enough: Roger is led to an isolated crossroads in the middle of open mid-western farmland. He has been told at this location he will be able to meet the man he has been confused with, George Kaplan, whom the audience already knows does not exist.

Instead of finding the agent, he is attacked by an unseen pilot in a biplane. A chase ensues in which Roger desperately tries to evade his attackers. The plane attempts to shoot him, run him down, and pour crop-dust all over him. Finally, Thornhill sees a passing gas truck, stands in front, and falls under it as soon as it stops. The plane crashes into the back of the truck and explodes, creating a spectacle of destruction.

This scene is a very famous cinematic moment that no doubt served as an influence on later action films such as Clint Eastwood’s The Gauntlet. Even the helicopter chase scene in From Russia With Love clearly took a few cues from this iconic sequence. Why is it such a great scene? Why did Alfred Hitchcock make the choices he did when putting this sequence of events together? That's what we will be discussing in this article.


As far as narrative goes, there is only one obvious function filled by this scene—giving Roger a reason to suspect he cannot trust Eve, the woman who sent him to this location. This end could have been accomplished by a much shorter scene. For instance, instead of a plane, Roger could have encountered a man he thinks is Kaplan who ties to kill him. A simple chase scene would have sufficed The scene as it was presented could have ended with Roger simply evading the plane instead of causing it to explode.

Simpler alternatives would have served the same narrative function and advanced the story but not have had the same impact on Roger’s character. Up until this point, Roger has been doing little more than attempting to run away from the villains, hoping to eventually find the man he is being confused for. After this scene, Roger starts to gain control over his situation, pursuing the antagonists himself and setting in motion the events that ultimately allow him to become Kaplan.

As a result, Roger becomes much more daring in the second half of the film. While in the first half, he simply runs away from the villains, the biplane scene marks the point where he realizes he must take more drastic measures to survive such as standing on a road in front of a moving truck and falling under it. The fact that the plane explodes shows how much of a risk he was taking. He could have easily been injured or even killed by the blast.

This scene is just the first of many creative and unusual methods Roger uses to get out of dangerous situations; he no longer simply runs away. The biplane scene marks the point in which Roger decides he is no longer going to tolerate the antagonists pursuing him and instead of simply trying to evade them instead decides to stand up for himself. As the film progresses, Roger goes on to do even more dangerous stunts, culminating in the climactic scene of him and Eve climbing down Mt. Rushmore’s face.

If the biplane scene had ended with him simply evading his attackers instead of outwitting them, Roger’s personality would not have changed from the first half of the film. His later actions would confuse the viewer. If Hitchcock had ended the biplane scene with Roger simply hitching a ride with a passing motorist and getting away from the airplane, he would simply be running away again, instead of taking a stand as is set up by this sequence. This change in character is vital to concluding the narrative. Without this particular scene the shift from an urban mystery to an espionage thriller would have been completely unexplained.

There is a very good reason Hitchcock would have wanted his scene to be a spectacle. Most of the film is extremely chaotic. Even before Thornhill is abducted, people are running around, pushing and shoving each other. One of the few calm moments of the film happens when Roger sneaks onto a train and meets Eve. Because this scene is so calm, it puts the viewer into a false sense of security. It seems as though Roger is safe from any danger. Him being attacked in such an unusual manner compared to earlier in the film is Hitchcock’s way of reminding the viewer that he is in fact still in trouble.

In addition, this scene also marks a very drastic change in tone to the overall narrative. The biplane scene marks a specific change in the tone of the story. The first half sees Roger trying to run from the antagonists, while the middle transitions the viewer into the events set off by this scene. The scene with the biplane marks the beginning of the second half, in which the narrative changes from being a chase film to more closely resembling an espionage thriller. This scene begins the transition and in turn leads directly into the final episode where Roger actually becomes a spy.

Another aspect that is worth noting is the jarring change of environment. The exotic locations used in older Hollywood films have often been used as a source of spectacle, but in this case Hitchcock opts for exactly the opposite. Instead of utilizing an impressive landscape, he chooses mid-western monotonous, flat, open fields . The spectacle is instead in the chase between Roger and the plane itself. The reason Hitchcock does not opt to include a more attractive environment is because he wants the viewers to focus purely on the central action.


Up until this point, the action has been set in populated urban environments. Roger has been pursued on foot through city streets, but here he is alone in the middle of open farmland. There are fewer places to hide, and almost no other people beyond the occasional passing motorist. The choice to use a biplane adds a layer of tension. The confrontation is obviously an unfair fight, thus alerting the viewer that Roger could be killed and creating a great sense of relief when he escapes.

Like the rest of the film, Hitchcock avoids crosscutting between Roger and the pilot chasing him, allowing the sudden arrival of the plane to startle the viewer. However, this remains the only scene in the movie where the antagonists are kept anonymous as they are never clearly visible inside the plane. This scene also marks the only point in the movie where Roger is directly responsible for anyone dying (you could argue that Mr. Townsend might not have had a knife in his back had Roger not tried to talk to him, but even that wasn't entirely his fault). By not allowing him or the audience to see the pilots, it eliminates the emotional repercussions that would otherwise come from him killing one, possibly two people.


North by Northwest has many memorable scenes, but Hitchcock has specifically crafted this particular moment so that it burns itself into the mind of the viewer. This scene is a pivotal moment in the film that marks a drastic shift in narrative tone and the main character’s role in the overall story. By creating this particular scene as a visual spectacle, Hitchcock forces the viewer to recognize these changes as they happen.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Why Can't Science Fiction Get Space Right?

I've previously discussed how science fiction often tends to botch up the whole science part with regards to terminology. There's a lot of things to know if you want to write good science fiction. Among other things, you should know what a galaxy is and you will need to be able to recognize the difference between a black hole and a wormhole. Trust me, you do not want to get those two very different things mixed up.

Still, there's a lot of things science fiction gets wrong and I think it's time to address some of these further facts. Let's begin with one of the most obvious problems, and that is the lack of microgravity. We've all seen so many films that feature this it would be far easier to list the films that actually do take the time to depict weightlessness. Unlike many errors, however, there actually is a practical reason for this particular one to be invoked. After all, science fiction movies are generally shot on Earth. It takes time and money to be able to produce convincing weightless effects. When you have a great director and a ginormous budget (as was the case for 2001: A Space Odyssey) you can produce some amazing effects, but otherwise the strings will be visible.


However, very rarely does this issue ever actually get addressed, and when it is, it's usually in little more than a character offhandedly mentioning "artificial gravity". No explanation is given for how this future technology is supposed to work. At present, there's really only two known ways artificial gravity could be generated, and neither one is usually shown to be at play. The first and less feasible option would be to have the ship moving at constant acceleration, which can temporarily create its own gravity (something like in the launch sequence from Conquest of Space). The second and far more plausible method would be to construct a centrifuge, like in 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Contrary to popular believe, there is in fact gravity in outer space. In fact, gravity is more or less the primary force that prevents all matter from being torn apart by the expansion of the universe itself. Ryan Stone was not so much floating as she was falling around the Earth's curvature. Gravity is also what keeps the moon in orbit around the Earth, the Earth in the orbit of the sun, and the sun in our galaxy. Putting it quite simply anything that contains matter exerts a gravitational force of some kind, the strength of which corresponds to the object's mass.

Now for an extremely frustrating one that very few movies ever seem to be able to get right. Space is a vacuum. We've all seen plenty of science fiction stories that involve great big space battles with lasers. Star Wars is especially guilty of this and it is really annoying. SOUND CANNOT TRAVEL THROUGH SPACE! There is no way that is possible. It's frustrating how few movies actually pay attention to this detail: Destination Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Gravity being among the few exceptions.


While we're on the subject of Star Wars, I think it's worth bringing up how asteroid fields actually work compared to what we see in the movies. In The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo tries to evade a number of pursuing Imperial ships by flying into an asteroid belt, leading C-3PO to claim "the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1". Actually it's not. Real asteroid fields are ridiculously easy to navigate. Generally there is a huge distance between the asteroids, so the only way you could crash into one is if you are an idiot or if your intention was to crash into one.


So here are yet more scientific concepts that science fiction can't seem to get right. For a genre called science fiction there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of... you know... science. No where is that clearer than in science fiction films about outer space, where the most basic facts are tossed out the window. Why is it that there seems to only be three major films that actually show space as silent that are each released decades apart (Destination Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Gravity)?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Announcing the Cosmic Horror Cast-A-Thon


And this is just an approximation of what Azathoth might look like.

Long ago, the Old Ones ruled the domain we now control blindly. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. There are many ancient tomes that describe the wrath of these forgotten monstrosities, most famously the Necronomicon of the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. These are beings so far above our capability to understand that we may not even glance upon them without being driven to pure and utter madness.

Now strange things are occurring. Men and women across the globe have reported strange dreams of non-euclidean horrors. Strange things have been seen and there is an odd break of madness in the air. It seems that the Old Ones are once again awakening, ready to claim the world that was once theirs. Humanity is doomed, and there is no chance that we can stop them, but perhaps we can delay the inevitable.

That's where you come in. Your job is to put together a team of investigators who may be able to find a way to prevent the end of all things for now, and you only have so much time to do it. At the top of the page, there is currently a clock that will time how long until the Old Ones awaken. You have until that clock reaches zero at One O'Clock in the morning of October 31. Good luck my dear friend. You're going to need it.

Rules

  1. Choose an Old One you wish to prevent from destroying out world. For those of you not familiar with Lovecraft, I'll provide a list below with some information on each and what little information is known about them.
  2. Select a group of horror movie characters you believe are cut out for the task of fighting the Old Ones. They don't have to actually be from a cosmic horror story, but they should have experience dealing with "horror" in some sense of the word. Because of the unpredictable nature of what we are dealing with, there is no limit on how many characters you can have in your party.
  3. With each character you choose, provide a few words explaining why you chose that character and what you think they can contribute to the investigation.
  4. There are no limits on how many players can go against a specific Old One, but if even one is not pursued by a single player, than you can say goodbye to everything you hold dear.


Old Ones

These are the Old Ones that we shall be facing against. Not much is known about any of them, but if any victory is to be accomplished, than all of them must be faced, though whether you'll have any form of success is another matter.

Azathoth


Not much is known about Azathoth, the mindless Daemon-Sultan who is said to writhe at the center of all existence. Supposedly he created all in the universe and will ultimately destroy it. For now he is kept under control by the mysterious piping and drumming of some mysterious creatures. Few have even so much as glimpsed his realm, and those who have are never the same. Only one first-hand account exists of a visit to his domain, written by a paranoid schizophrenic held at 1001, Queen St. West, Toronto. Though she was reluctant to go into detail, what she described was utter horror.

Cthulhu


Arguably the weakest of the Old Ones, though no less horrifying. Cthulhu is said to reside in the sunken city of R'lyeh, but one day when the stars are right he shall rise form the depths. Of all the monstrosities you may have to face, this is by far the simplest, but do not be fooled. Cthulhu is a force to be reckoned with, and even if you survive, so does the cult...

Ghatanothoa

This one might be the most difficult of all the Old Ones to face against on account of one particular fact that necessitated the omission of his image. It is said that any foolish being who dares to look at the form of Ghatanothoa will endure a fate worse than death. Their body will harden into a mummy-like form while their internal organs are perfectly preserved within. Until such a time as the brain is destroyed, the victim will remain in this state, fully conscious and aware of everything around them.

Nyarlathotep


Out of all the Old Ones, Nyarlathotep is the one who probably has the best understanding of humanity, but that doesn't mean you should try to reason with him. This is a sick, twisted maniacal figure, who loves to bend mankind to his own will. Worse still, he comes in many different forms. He has a massive variety of human avatars and thousands of others. Whatever you do never summon one particular avatar, a monstrous creature with a three-lobed eye known simply as "The Haunter in the Dark".

Shub-Niggurath


Ia Shub-Niggurath, the legendary "Black Ram of the Woods" or "Goat with a Thousand Young". Not much is known about her beyond rumors, although there are stories of strange creatures that are said to worship her. Ordinarily she is not someone you want to have anything to do with, nor are any of her thousand young.

Yog-Sothoth


Yog-Sothoth knows the gate, Yog-Sothoth is the gate, Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. He may be the most powerful being in the known universe (with only Azathoth for competition), Yog-Sothoth is a being who exists outside of space and time, he sees all and knows all that happens in the universe. This would not even be the first time he has tried to clear humanity from the Earth. Attempting to destroy him is futile, the best you can do is survive.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Infected by the Apocalypse



At first glance, John Carpenter's movies The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and In The Mouth of Madness seem unrelated outside of sharing the same director.  There is no story connection between them, or characters that cross from one film to the next. However, John Carpenter himself would eventually label these three movies as his "Apocalypse Trilogy". The connecting force is not one of story, but rather theme in that all three films deal with the end of the world.

All three films are horror stories that have been labelled as "Lovecraftian" due to their common themes of humanity facing its end at the hands of an otherworldly force beyond our capability to understand. In keeping to Lovecraft's ideas, the movies follow the rationale that mankind is a tiny, insignificant part of a vast cosmos that is at best indifferent to us. These are horrors beyond our control, beyond our understanding, and which could easily wipe us from existence. We can never truly defeat them, the best we can do is contain or delay it.

The theme that really seems to run through these movies, however, is one of infection. Though only The Thing features a literal virus (at least insofar as it infects on a cellular level), the horror is always treated like one, something that needs to be contained and prevented from spreading. The catch is that unlike a regular virus, this is not one that can be treated. Instead, the fear comes from a transformation that happens as a result exposure to the "infection". It becomes something to be avoided, which becomes increasingly difficult as the "virus" spreads to more people.


With The Thing, the concern comes from an alien organism that is capable of perfectly replicating the cells of any living thing that touches it. Its noted that, at least as far as anyone can tell, one cell of the Thing is all it takes to infect a human. That cell divides and begins assimilating other cells, which in turn divide and assimilate other cells, and so on until it has taken every part of your body. Once you are infected, there is no way to cure it. The trouble is that when you're in Antarctica and the only habitable environment is a tiny research station, it's going to be harder to avoid the people who are infected, especially when you don't know for sure who has been assimilated, who has not, and who is technically still human but in the process of being assimilated.

Prince of Darkness has a more sudden transformation that occurs from the infection. This time around, it is the green fluid (which it revealed to be alive, and the essence of Satan himself). Consuming the fluid results in almost instant death, with the corpse then being reanimated as its servant. You would think it would be easy to avoid drinking an ominous green fluid, but not when it is very good at taking you by surprise and the reanimated corpses make sure to prevent you from escaping.


With In the Mouth of Madness, it is a bit more ambiguous, and the infection is more metaphorical than literal (there is a radio broadcast at the end that refers to the "infected" but never states if they were infected with what we might think infected them). Instead, the "virus" (if you can call it that) is the popularity of Sutter Cane's writing. With every new reader Kane's power grows. Every person who reads Kane's book is driven to madness.


The point is that the infection is more than a simple virus that can be cured. When a person is infected, there is no going back. The victim of the infection is never the same once he or she is exposed. Instead, they fall under the control of a greater influence, becoming "assimilated" in a way (literally in the case of The Thing). With each infected person the power of the otherworldly force grows and becomes harder to resist.

As the thing grows, it becomes increasingly clear that the horror can never truly end, leading to the ambiguous endings of each film. In The Thing R.J. MacReady is eventually forced to face the fact that there is no way to stop the Thing that allows the remaining men to get out alive. The best thing they can do is contain the Thing, after which point a best case scenario is that they will freeze to death in the snow.

There is, however, one thing that adds a layer of unease to this grim final scene. The only other known survivor besides Mac is Childs, who had up to this point been gone long enough to have been assimilated. The one possible indication that he is human is the presence of an earring since the prequel established that the Thing couldn't replicate inorganic material, but who's to say it hasn't learned from its past errors by trying to replace objects it spits out whenever possible. Some argue that Childs is wearing a different-coloured jacket from earlier, although the lighting makes it hard to tell for sure.


Prince of Darkness sees the number of protagonists decreasing at an increasing rate as more and more people are infected by the green fluid and transformed into servants of the eldritch entity that threatens to destroy our world. What doesn't help is the fact that said entity has ensured the protagonists are unable to leave (attempting to do so results in death), making it march harder to evade their infected colleagues as they multiply.

With In the Mouth of Madness, it is a fear of insanity that comes from the popularity of Cane's writing. The book is promised to drive its readers insane. As the story progresses, characters become violent, and seemingly delusional, or is it Trent who has been the crazy one the whole time? As the infection of Cane's writing spreads, it becomes increasingly difficult to comprehend the difference between sanity and insanity.

So in each of these films, the fear comes not from the "infection" itself, but rather from the idea of being transformed by it. These are not merely stories of any old epidemics, but rather the idea of losing your humanity. The terror comes from the notion of becoming one of something else, something that is spreading rapidly. In that sense, they are not solely "cosmic horror" stories, but also stories about the fear of losing your own self to something you cannot control.




Friday, 10 October 2014

Twin Peaks is BACK!



I don't normally discuss television on this blog, but being the David Lynch fan I am, I had to share a few thoughts in light of the recent news that the cult TV series Twin Peaks is getting a revival. I first watched the show while I was in college about two years ago, and I quickly got hooked. It came as a huge shock when the series ended on its infamous cliffhanger, because I was so invested I wanted to see more. I wanted to know what happened to Cooper and all his friends.

Then one day by total chance I stumbled across an IMDB message board that led me to a Facebook page called Bring Back Twin Peaks to TV (now known as Twin Peaks Worldwide). It got me thinking about the idea of a Twin Peaks revival and where such a thing could go. Rumors were spreading for a while and certain actors were expressing interest. Finally, just a few days ago, I was on the IMDB home page and found an article announcing that a revival of Twin Peaks was in fact happening.

That's right. David Lynch and Mark Frost are actually continuing the story of Twin Peaks. This might just mean we'll finally get that long-desired closure. At the moment virtually nothing is known about what is planned for this proposed revival. All I know is that a few actors have expressed interest in returning, Lynch is on board with the project, and it's supposed to be ready by 2016. However, I believe that makes this a perfect opportunity to speculate on where the series could potentially go.

While I'm not 100% certain of who is returning, there are a few characters I can safely assume are not likely to be present in the new series. A few members of the cast have unfortunately died since the show aired. In particular, Jack Nance died in 1996 and Don S. Davis died in 2008. This means that it is unlikely we will be seeing the return of Pete Martell or Major Garland Briggs, at least not directly. In the case of Briggs, while he himself might not make an appearance, he did have a number of mysterious top secret cases that could still allow him to have an (admittedly indirect) impact on the story.


Seeing as it's been twenty-five years since the show aired, it stands to reason that there will be some changes in the cast. I would suspect it to be a mix of old familiar faces (although they will be much older now), and some new characters. There is one new character that was practically set up by the second season of Twin Peaks, and seems a logical addition to the cast. It was established at the end of Season 1 that the police secretary Lucy Moran was pregnant. The show ended before she actually gave birth but she was going to have a baby. 25 years later we could see that child, now grown up. I have a theory for where that aspect could go as well.

You see, I suspect that Lucy's child goes on to become a cop as well. I suspect that by the time this revival takes place, Sheriff Truman will have retired (though that won't stop him from being a major character) and either Andy or Hawk will have taken over the station. I can't quite decide which so I'm leaning towards the possibility that they'll both be running it together, with Lucy's daughter as their newest deputy.


Speaking of law enforcement, that leaves a few questions open about what's been going on in the FBI for the past 25 years. I suspect Gordon Cole might have retired by this point, so I'm not entirely sure if Lynch would be willing to reprise his role. He was always a lot of fun in the series so it would be nice if they could find a way to bring him back if only for one or two episodes.


The rest of the FBI cast will probably be shaken up a bit as well. I can't say I expect David Duchovny to come back as Denise Bryson. Albert Rosenfield might still be there, but there will probably be some new agents as well. I would half-expect maybe a female FBI agent being part of the new cast. It would be a nice change since despite the large number of strong female characters the series hasn't had very many women in law enforcement.

As far as other new characters goes, it would make sense for there to have been a few changes of staff at the Double R Diner. This means we might be seeing some new waitresses in the cast. I also suspect there might be some new criminals (though it would be nice to see a Canadian character who doesn't turn out to be evil for once). It also stands to reason that we'll be seeing some new residents in Twin Peaks with some new storylines but beyond that I could not begin to speculate.

I think it is also fair to expect that we will be seeing more of the Black Lodge. I'm not sure if it would look precisely the same, but presumably it will still have the distorted otherworldly vibe that made it such a memorable part of the original show. It would be nice to see Michael J. Anderson return as the strange "Man From Another Place", but I'd be open to seeing some new characters in here. Frank Silva died in 1995, but I would imagine BOB would still be part of the story. Several people have proposed the explanation that BOB takes on the form of his most recent host, meaning that in this case he could now be played by Ray Wise (Leland Palmer).


Adding a few more levels of curiosity, there are a few characters that died during the run of the show that I'm not sure we've heard the last of. Laura Palmer will likely return through the Black Lodge (in fact one of the main arguments for a revival happening right now was that she herself said "I'll see you again in 25 years" near the end of season 2). Also, it is worth mentioning that Sheryl Lee might just be the only actress on the show to have been killed off twice. She's already played two separate characters so what's to stop her doing a third? Admittedly if that did happen, the big question would be if she gets murdered again. It would be a nice change if she could actually survive for once.


There are a few other characters who could still come back despite having the slight problem of being dead. Ray Wise has expressed interest before, so he might still be able to show up in the black lodge as Leland Palmer (although there is also the theory that he could be cast as BOB). Apparently Walter Olkewitz is interested in returning as Jaques Renault, probably also through the Black Lodge. The show itself alluded the possibility that we haven't seen the last of Josie Packard, who in a haunting final shot is revealed to apparently be trapped in a wooden knob. This plot thread remains unresolved in the existing series, but I do think it could be addressed in this revival.

There was also the issue of Benjamin Horne. In the series 2 finale, Horne was stuck on the head and collapsed with blood on his face, but it was not clear if he was dead or just unconscious. Assuming he was unconscious and got medical aid, it would make sense that he is still running the Great Northern Hotel 25 years later. Perhaps his quest for redemption paid off and business is going even better for him now. Bobby Briggs was also starting to get into business and put his drug life behind him so maybe he's made some good progress, too.

Assuming Ben Horne died, then perhaps it is Audrey who has inherited the Great Northern Hotel. As a teenager, Audrey was always a little bit mischievous and did have a certain fondness for causing trouble, but she could have grown out of it by now. Alternatively, perhaps that just grew into a different kind of trouble and she's becoming much like her father was at the start of the series. She could be involved in a bunch of illegal and shady business.

Then again, she was very close to Agent Cooper, so perhaps she's in the middle, trying to be righteous as inspired by Cooper but also being clever like her dad. Yet another crazy idea for Audrey could eliminate the Great Northern Hotel entirely: seeing as she was very close to Cooper, maybe she was eventually inspired to pursue a career in law enforcement and herself join the FBI. Perhaps she became an FBI Agent hoping she could eventually find out what happened to Cooper after he suddenly started acting all weird.


But of course there is obviously one question everybody wants answered: what happened to Dale Cooper? The answer is quite simple. I still don't know. In the Season 2 finale, Cooper was apparently released from the Black Lodge, only for it to be revealed that he was actually possessed by BOB which in turn hinted at a less than pleasant fate for Annie. The movie Fire Walk With Me had a surreal moment when Annie shows up in Laura Palmer's bed covered in blood, and tells her "The Good Dale" is still trapped in the Lodge (we also see Cooper and Laura together there at the very end). This would imply that BOB is still running around in his body while the "real" Cooper we have come to know and love is still in the Black Lodge.


That seems a straight forward enough explanation for what happened at the end, but we still don't know what went on outside the Black Lodge. Obviously there is good reason to be concerned about the fact that a very likable and trustworthy man has been possessed by an evil entity bent on committing acts of violent murder. The big question is therefore whether there is any way Sheriff Truman could have found out what was going on and rescued Cooper from the lodge. Unfortunately if 25 years have passed, that means BOB could have done a lot of damage undetected. I just hope Cooper finds his way out.

I should clarify that this is all pure speculation. I have virtually nothing to go on as to how this revival will play out. I'm not even sure if this project is simply a one-off season meant to provide closure to his beloved series or if Lynch is actually trying to go all out and get it moving again (sort of like what happened with Doctor Who, only this time involving the original creators). Either way, we should be in for an exciting experience as we finally get to revisit his beloved fictional town.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

eXistenZ: The ORIGINAL Inception


Back in 2010 Christopher Nolan came out with his critically acclaimed Oscar-nominated film Inception, which explored the idea of a sophisticated technology that made it possible for a group of people to enter one person's dream. Naturally it messes with the heads of everyone involved, especially given the job was to plant an idea in a person's head. Really, when you get down to it, the whole movie was essentially a backwards heist film (a group of characters devising an elaborate plan to infiltrate a seemingly impenetrable location and get past all the security systems to put something into a safe).

There's no doubting that its ideas were used well. The whole backwards heist plot was wrapped up in a mind-boggling structure wherein the characters had to enter multiple levels of dreams. Over time it becomes a bit harder to tell dream from reality, and in the end we are left to question if what we are seeing is real or if the characters are still in the dream. There are some serious questions of reality, and it is very effective in its delivery, but the idea of exploring different levels of a virtual world and being left unsure of whether you ever left it is hardly anything new.

Imagine, for example, that Inception was made in 1999 on a lower budget. Replace the dreams with video games. Instead of a heist film, perhaps make it more of an action thriller. Put David Cronenberg in charge and you've got the basic setup for eXistenZ, a surreal film in which we experience a video game within a video game in another video game. In all of the strange experiences the characters go through, a few serious and perhaps ultimately unanswerable questions are raised. Do we truly have free will? What is reality? What is illusion? Is there a true reality or only illusion?

The whole movie begins in what seems to be reality, but early on there's plenty of clues that what we are seeing is not what it appears to be. One of the first clues is the appearance of the "gristle gun", smuggled into a demonstration of a new video game by a would-be assassin. This particular device becomes something of a strange motif throughout the movie, but as we find out later on, it was built by Jude Law's character of Ted Piker within the world of a video game. How could something from a video game make it into reality before that game was even played? The only logical answer is that what we think is "reality" is in fact part of the same video game.


There are lots of other little things. Allegra is a pretty strange name, perhaps one chosen to be gender-neutral so that the role could be played by either a man or a woman. Even more bizarre is when she and  Ted Piker (Jude Law) pull aside at a gas station and encounter a station attendant literally just named "Gas" (Willem Dafoe). It could be a nickname, one which could easily have been picked for someone who was never planned to be a major character, or just a name they thought fitting for a gas station attendant.

Also notice the peculiar designs of the gamepods. As Piker notes, making a fully functioning virtual reality system out of animal parts should be impossible. The products themselves look somewhat sickly, like weird molds of flesh attached to the body by what looks like an umbilical cord. It is also curious that Piker has no understanding of how the games work throughout the film, even though he is in a world where he should be surrounded by them. All this provides a handful of small clues to the reveal at the end.

Early on, an assassination attempt is made on game designer Allegra Gellar (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who flees into the countryside with Piker. Unfortunately, it turns out hiding is not as easy as one would expect. Why? Because a lot of people don't want their perceptions of reality distorted. Their position is not to hard to see, and if we were to develop virtual reality of the calibre depicted here, it would not be inconceivable that certain parties would oppose it.


Allegra and Piker go into the game of eXistenZ to find out if there's any damage, but this is where a lot of the questions begin to come up. So far we think we know how to tell the difference between this game and what seems to be reality. It all should be simple enough, but as we've seen, there are little things that hint that this reality is not actually real, at least not in the way that we understand it.

The world of eXistenZ does somewhat resemble the way a video game today might work, the only difference being that you are fully immersed as opposed to watching a picture on a screen and pressing the appropriate buttons or keys. Many of the people they interact with in this segment behave like video game characters, repeating the same lines when prompted and simply going into a "game loop" while waiting for the players to respond to their dialogue.

The two of them are cast as unidentified characters, people who have to follow an unknown plot. Piker eventually goes on to point out that he doesn't like getting dragged along through this game with no obvious plot or goal, but really what he describes isn't much different from what we would consider to be "real" life. Here, free will seems to be almost non-existent, as both Allegra and Piker find themselves doing things out of instinct without thinking simply because the game requires them to. Piker builds the gristle gun out of habit, which also curiously resembles the same weapon used in the opening scene, yet another clue that the "reality" may not in fact be real.


The two of them finally get out of eXistenZ but things get even weirder. During a brief pause session, Piker notes that "reality" suddenly feels more like a game, and there is a reason for that. When the two of them emerge after apparently finishing eXistenZ, they realise that a disease that should have only existed in the game has somehow bled into the real world and infected Allegra's pod. This should not be possible... unless what we've thought was the "real world" was in fact another part of the game. Just like Inception, they've been playing in layers. What we have seen is literally a video game within a video game.

This notion is enforced when an explosion suddenly rocks the lodge at which Allegra and Piker have been staying, and Hugo Carlaw (Callum Keith Rennie), a seemingly fictional character from her game, enters dressed in combat fatigues. Both are confused about how this is possible. The game is destroyed, but what follows seems to play out like it could be in a video game. After evacuating the two leads from a burning building, Carlaw turns on them only to be shot by Kiri Vinokur (Ian Holm). He also has the gristle gun, and his justification for having it is the same as what Carlaw had told them in Allegra's video game (My dog brought it to me).


What becomes especially curious is the way the battle plays out. There seems to be people running all over shooting at each other, and explosions everywhere, and yet our two leads are able to sit in the open unaffected. In theory, with the chaos building up as it is, they should be in danger of being hit by a stray bullet or caught in an explosion... except it's not real. All that chaos is essentially just part of the scenery, probably serving nothing more than to add to the overall atmosphere.

The game may well have been programmed so they would never hit anywhere near the players, allowing for the final confrontation in which both Piker and Vinokur are shot dead. Additionally, if this is part of the game, and there is an end goal, how much of what has happened over the course of the film was a choice made by the characters? The entire game could have been planned from the beginning to end with the players killing each other off until only one remained.

Allegra is the only one left in the end, and then she is finally left to face the truth that she isn't who she thought she was. In fact, she is exactly the opposite. She stands out in the middle of the battle scene, and suddenly finds herself wearing all this other strange equipment. The reveal is that Allegra Gellar never actually existed. The award-winning game designer was herself nothing more than a video game character, and what we thought was reality was in fact part of another game called transCendenZ.


Suddenly we are back where we started, but things are a bit different now. The game controllers are mechanical in nature, and look like something a lot more plausible than the flesh-based controllers seen throughout most of the film. Those were created purely as a stylistic choice for the game.  With her in the room are several of the actors we have encountered over the course of the film, though all of them appear to be very different people from who they were in the game.

If anything, they are the opposites of their in-game characters. The underground anti-game leader that Allegra and Piker met in eXistenZ turns out to be the game's programmer and despite being as psychotic as he was in the game "Gas" seems to be an okay guy outside of transCendenZ.  This is especially notable when the person we have known as the game designer Allegra turns out to herself be a radical who infiltrated a test of this new game with the intention of murdering its creator. She ends up shooting him and his assistant and almost firing on another player before he asks one simple question: are we still in the game?

This final scene seems slightly more realistic than before, but what seemed to be reality also seemed to make sense compared to the world of the game eXistenZ, and we now know that was all a simulation. This could very well be another part of the same video game, or perhaps an entirely different one. Really, when you get down to it, how can you be sure that what you are seeing is real? Countless philosophers have dedicated their lives to solving this problem. If it is not, what is real? Is anything real? Who can say for certain?

Such is the idea explored by eXistenZ. After playing a video game within a video game one can't really be certain if they are still in yet another game. Immersing yourself into a virtual reality makes it hard to tell just what is or isn't real, but in the end does it really matter? After all, who is to say that anything is in fact real at all. Just what exactly is "reality". These are all questions that can never truly be answered, and trying to do so will only result in disorientation and confusion.

In the end, what we have been led to think is reality was nothing more than part of the game. Everybody seemed to have a distinct personality and yet all of them in the end turned out to be just characters created for the purposes of the game. Memories were distorted and inserted. They didn't even know they were in a game the whole time until it was over. Ultimately, how do you know you are not just part of a video game yourself?


This post was written for the O Canada Blogathon hosted by Kristina at Speakeasy and Ruth of Silver Screenings