An enlightening, humanitarian and humanitarian work that exposes the legends of films

This week on Shudder, the horror-centric subscription streaming service available via Amazon Prime, episode four (from the second five-episode season) of damn movies drops. The episode covers the 1988 horror film Voodoo Wes Craven snake and rainbowand deals with, among other strange events during filming, the fact that screenwriter Richard Maxwell at one point thought he was possessed by some kind of Haitian demon, and had to leave production. But crucially, what the show doesn’t do – directed, edited, and written by Jay Chill – is pretend that Maxwell is actually It was possessed. What Do do, in this and all other episodes of both seasons, is to explore how strange but explainable events – and sometimes terrible tragedies – can plague a particular film industry, and how they can cause these myths around them, thus perpetuating a kind of mystical conspiratorial form of critical thinking. .

The first season of damn movies, which aired on Shudder in 2020 at the start of the COVID pandemic, focused heavily on “damned” horror movies. Covered this season ExorcistAnd omenAnd evil soulAnd the crowAnd The Twilight Zone: The Movie. As Shell explained on an episode of Film Junk, the ultra-private movie podcast he co-hosted with Sean Dwyer and Frank Knezic, there was an intentional arc to arrange these re-arranged episodes due to Shudder owning the broadcast rights ExorcistHowever, the show’s philosophy wasn’t much clearer from the start. the address damn movies It looks like he’s dumped some people, thinking he’s taking the idea of ​​curses seriously, but all you have to do to find out where Shale comes from is to watch evil soul episode. This remains my favorite of the two seasons, and details the belief that the film was muddled by, among other reasons, the tragic early deaths of Heather O’Rourke and Dominic Dunn. One reason some claim evil soul It was damned that in the famous climax scene in which Jubeth Williams is shown swimming panicked amidst a group full of skeletons, those skeletons were real, not models (not an unusual practice), and thus brought the wrath of the dead, I think, onto the film. . O’Rourke died of a rare disease, and Dunn’s stalker was killed. In the episode, regarding these sad deaths, Craig Reardon, one of the film’s special effects makeup artists, said, “The idea of ​​getting a little [real skeletons] on set evil soul And killing two beautiful girls is a very pernicious idea. It’s an insult to the memory of a very cute little girl, Heather O’Rourke, and it’s even worse: Dominic Dunn was strangled to death by her boyfriend, who had an affair with a skeleton. “

In the second season, it appears that due to the success of the first season, Shudder allowed Shel to branch out and cover films outside the horror genre. While the horror is still represented here – an episode about rosemary baby It’s already aired, and the final episode will take a look at, for me, unforgivable cannibal holocaust – We also get explorations wizard of oz And Andrei Tarkovsky stalking. These last two are my favorites this season so far. Cheel has a special sense of humor that he injects into the episodes at times (there’s a cut in the a city ​​coats Poster in the first season that killed me), and in the poster wizard of oz He brought on comedian Greg Turkington, who plays the internet-famous “Greg Turkington” character. In the cinema In the cinema co-hosted by Tim Heidecker. On this show, Torkington’s version of himself was a cine-ignorant, naive film connoisseur, knowing much less than he thought he knew and in bad taste. In this episode of damn moviesAppears to praise haters under the rainbow, the 1981 comedy Chevy Chase that attempted to perpetuate the myth that the actors who played the Munchkins in Victor Fleming’s classic 1939 film went wild in their hotel during production. This, among many other legends surrounding Geese, was debunked throughout the episode, with the exception of Torkington. The choice to bring Turkington seems to have baffled some, to the point where they believe Shell thought Torkington was up to the mark. But the assumption of course is that the viewer will get the joke, and understand that Torkington represents everyone who has promoted this kind of nonsense over the past several decades.

The Geese The episode ends with a long clip about Judy Garland, her life and career after that movie. There is, of course, a lot of sadness in that story, and Shell reveals it with great sensitivity. His ability to include this and the Torkington section in one 40-minute episode, and make it all work, is perhaps his greatest gift. But he also knows when to walk away from that kind of cynical juxtaposition. The best episode of season two, so far, is the one it’s all about stalkingA movie, as anyone who’s seen it knows, has something to do with it wizard of oz. In this episode, Schell brilliantly describes the way the film was made, its approximation to not being made, and the horrific circumstances that may have led to the early deaths of Tarkovsky and two of the film’s lead actors. However, it is also a tribute to the classics of cinema, one of the masterpieces of science fiction. I told stories all season long damn movies Often tragic, sometimes even infuriating. But it is also enlightening, humane and humane.

Bill Ryan has also written for The Bulwark, RogerEbert.com, and Oscilloscope Laboratories Musings blog. You can read his in-depth archive of film and literary criticism on his blog The Kind of Face You Hate, and you can find him on Twitter: Tweet embed

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