Six Damn Fine Degrees #105: (Don’t Fear) The Shape

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

Warning: oversimplification ahead. In horror films where the threat is personified in one primary antagonist, you tend to get one of two types of bad guys. Type 1: the characters. They are defined quite clearly, they have motivations and a personality. They may be driven by a dark, dramatic backstory, but to some extent this background is less important than how they behave in the present of the stories they’re in. Especially in the horror films of the ’80s, they have a signature style. They quip. They’re the Freddy Krugers and the Pennywises, the Chuckies and the Pinheads.

And you know what? I don’t think I’ve ever found any of these particularly scary.

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: To serve mankind

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

Recently, Matt’s been exploring another set of virtual lands – though while Little Orpheus is gorgeous to look at (and listen to), there’s something about its lack of variety and challenge that makes it difficult to truly appreciate the craft in this one.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #104: They Live! (1988)

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

They are among us. An alien race, seeking to control us via finance, politics and the media. They are visible only to those who can See. They are everywhere. In the police force, on our newscasts, among our colleagues, and perhaps even in our beds. Some of us humans enable them, perhaps because they believe they can never beat them, because they are intimidated, or because it is in their own self-interest to do so. That is the plot of They Live! (1988).

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I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: In Cold Blood, in more ways than one

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

This has been a relatively quiet week at A Damn Fine Cup of Culture, but we did have a tribute to the wonderful Toby Jones in Friday’s instalment of Six Damn Fine Degrees. Jones lost the Battle of the Capotes in the mid-Noughties, and his Infamous was pretty much overshadowed by Capote, which came out the year before, but that’s all the more reason to give Jones his due here.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Halloween (1978)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Psycho never scared me. I think the main reason for this is that I came to it too late: by the time I saw Norman Bates dressed as his mother, stab-stab-stabbing his way through various cast members, I’d seen all the quotes, echoes, parodies. (You can’t be a teenager watching several seasons worth of The Simpsons without seeing an average of 17.3 parodies of Psycho. It’s a scientific fact.) To some extent, I ended up watching the film and feeling that, meh, it’s all been done before – which is unfair and inaccurate, because so often and in so many ways, Psycho did it first. I still enjoy the film for the sheer craftsmanship that Hitchcock and his collaborators put into the film, and for the impish glee with which they establish the female lead – only to kill her off. But no, Psycho never scared me.

Halloween, though? Halloween scared the living daylights out of me.

Halloween
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