Five Un-Summer Films – By Joshua Samford

 Ahh, the summer is truly upon us. Down here in Louisiana, we have many months of humid, hot, muggy, wet, moisture laden days and rainy nights to look forward to. For some, they have bright days with sunny beaches in their near future. However, none of us live in those areas, so I think we can all join together and wish the very worst on people like that. Regardless, with these summer days busteling towards us, I thought I would do something in the spirit of the season. That is, I thought I would do something completely opposite of the season upon us. I get those two things mixed up sometimes. So, rather than writing an article on how Point Break is the perfect summer film and is without a doubt also the finest motion picture to ever grace the silver screen (and believe me buddy, it most certainly is) – I thought I would switch gears and write an article to help us take our minds off the rain and the heat. Instead, I thought I’d look to the grass on the other side of the fence and focus on more winter based films. As we all know, unbearable heat sure sucks so why not combat it with frostbite inducing cold temperatures! Yay! The worst of both worlds coming right at you… but keep in mind, these films are in no special order in levels of greatness. This is all just random blathering, basically, I think of a word – I put it to paper and hope that Duane (your loyal Rogue Cinema editor) doesn’t notice that I am slowly losing my mind.

The first flick that comes into my mind when I think of desperate cold, is also one of my favorite films of all time (funny how things like that work out). Stuck in the freezing wilderness looking after a fort that is all but forgotten, several military men fight the cold and their own insanity in the late 1800s. I remember when Ravenous was released vividly. I saw the trailers and TV spots, but being that I was just a wee bit too young to make it to the theaters to see it on my own – and of course we didn’t have internet piracy in those days; I sadly had to wait until it was released on video to finally check it out. When I finally was able to rent it, I picked it up the same night as I did The Matrix – and was actually much more enthused with Ravenous. Starting with the strange, relaxing and catchy synth score – Ravenous is a beautiful monster straight from the start. Dealing with the ideas of cannibalism and it giving the person who does the eating the power of the person who is… well, ate – few films capture so many emotions at one time. Partly a dark, dark comedy and mostly a devilishly smart cannibal film; few horror films I have met have been dissapointed.

Another film that crosses my mind as being a pretty strict winter-setting, doesn’t actually feature much of a winter setting. I think it will always remain a Christmas type of flick in my mind mainly because of the ice encased snow storm where our monster is originally found. The film is The Stuff, and the plot is retarded. I’m sorry, that was offensive, mentally challenged. I must admit, The Stuff was a film I LOVED as a kid. I thought the idea behind a giant dessert attacking and killing people was absolute brilliance but sadly as I aged a little bit and re-watched the film a few years ago – childhood ideas aren’t always the best and the things we loved then don’t always translate to age-defying forms of enjoyment. I’m a big Michael Moriarty fan and I still couldn’t get into the film and I do realize that The Stuff actually does have a fairly decent fanbase – but I guess it was all the Cold War-era political spoofing that just dated the film beyond recognition for me… or it could be that it just wasn’t that good, either way, it’ll still remain a Christmas film to me regardless of what anyone thinks. It’s a shame it has nothing to do with the holiday.

Unlike The Stuff however, the next film actually has something to do with Christmas and is actually entertaining to me despite being a pretty bad flick! Silent Night, Deadly Night is the type of film that despite all the reasons you aren’t supposed to like it – you still have to admit you kind of do. Not just because it’s Plan 9 bad and there are funny lines, ha ha ha. There’s actually a soul to SNDN, a silly and quite goofy soul – but a soul none the less. With a crazy grandpa spilling his madness at a young boy who’s mother is raped and father murdered just hours later, SNDN is a laugh riot from the get go! Okay, maybe that doesn’t sound right… but I promise you, it’s hard not to have at least a little fun with it. Our leading man, who is also a deranged lunatic who seeks to kill anyone having a good time on Christmas, proves to understand that all great comedians need their own catchphrases in order to endear themselves to their audience. Git-R-Done, You Might Be A Redneck If and that classic of classics from Eddie Murphy’s golden days "suck my d***!" – our hero throws his own line out there in the form of "PUNISH!" as he launches an axe into the chest cavity of all the bad little boys and girls running around. If you’re not sold on this flick yet, you have no heart.

 The second to last film is one that many of you may be familiar with… well, some of you are probably more familiar with the remake which I am not looking to discuss – but Black Christmas is one of the best and most underrated films of the slasher age. It had that same "classic" atmosphere that made Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and films of those variety so special; but even I had not actually seen it until about two years ago. That’s coming from a kid who dieted on nothing but slasher flicks growing up. Critters, Leprechaun, Child’s Play, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp, Nightmare on Elm Street – I had seen it all, but somehow BC avoided my grasp. I had heard loads about it when I first discovered the internet, but it took years to track it down and when I finally found it; it was well worth the wait. Atmospheric, claustrophobic and a true horror film. Even though the voice that prank calls the girls throughout the film is slightly less silly than the duck voice in The New York Ripper, but still majorly silly – it works out somehow. Another highly recommended classic.

 Now here we are, speaking of classics… I guess the one film that barely needs an introduction I save for last. Really, what do I need to say for John Carpenter’s classic The Thing? Not much, by now hopefully everyone on the planet earth has seen it and respects it for the brilliant accomplishment it most certainly is – but for those who have not seen it by some grave misfortune; I am hereby begging you to get out there and give it a rent. Then, if you don’t like it, I’ll let you punch a random stranger in the groin. Trust me, you won’t be arrested, I promise.

And that ends another classic article from yours truly. Some of you are probably angry that I didn’t go on a three page diatribe about the greatness of The Thing – but c’mon, I’ve wrote several reviews for it already myself and I have to imagine just about everyone has at least heard about it. I think it’s illegal to be a film fan these days and not at least be vaguely aware of John Carpenter’s work and The Thing which is obviously one of his finest achievements. Anywho, I hope you’ve all enjoyed and I hope the summer heat doesn’t drive you mad like it apparently has me. I’m going to go take a dip in my two foot pool now and soak up some skin-cancer-inducing rays. See you all in chemo!