Horror. Worldview. Faith.

Here We Go Again…

Here We Go Again…

Jan 24, 2014

After a year and a half hiatus, The Blackest Eyes is crawling back into the world of horror film reviews and commentary. The site will continue to provide reviews from a diverse group of folks – such a Baptist and Lutheran pastor, a college professor, and a stay-at-home mom – but will be a bit more intentional in thinking through the films from the standpoint of worldview. The reason the team at The Blackest Eyes enjoys horror films is because we believe they have something to say to us beyond just a good, gory kill scene (as great as those are!). So, we hope you will bookmark us, subscribe to our feed, and start enjoying the world of horror from the viewpoint of The Blackest Eyes.

Philip Meade

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The Loss of Netflix Horror Films

The Loss of Netflix Horror Films

Sep 18, 2011

Take a look at the helpful link below.  Danny has compiled a list of horror films that will be going bye-bye in 2012 when Starz content will no longer be available on Netflix streaming.

http://www.nerdbloggers.com/nerdbloggers/2011/9/14/list-horror-films-that-will-be-removed-from-netflix.html

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Is The Walking Dead on AMC the Worst Thing to Happen to Horror?

Is The Walking Dead on AMC the Worst Thing to Happen to Horror?

Dec 11, 2010

commentary by hallo
__________________

The title of this commentary was meant to be worded in such a way to quickly grab the attention of die-hard horror fans.  If you have visited The Blackest Eyes before, you know that all of us who are team members love The Walking Dead on AMC.  I cannot remember a television series I was more impressed with (except perhaps the late, great Dangermouse episodes).  So, let’s make clear from the start that I do not want The Walking Dead to go anywhere, and judging from the incredible numbers of the first six episodes, it isn’t.

Having said that, something is a bit “off” with this AMC phenomenon.  During a podcast a couple of months ago, a reader asked if we thought The Walking Dead would bring about a bunch of low budget, poorly filmed zombie rip-offs in order to cash in the success.  We weren’t too worried about such a thing happening because zombies to not have quite the same appeal as vampires.  Having said that, I am beyond blown-away by the interest and public love of a television series that is brutal, bloody, dark, and at times extremely gross.  People should be repulsed by what they are seeing.  But they aren’t.  They are loving it.

I am listening to folks who hate horror, hate anything scary, and hate the concept of being scared tell me how much they love The Walking Dead.  I am listening to mom’s who keep up with all the latest gossip from the watered-down world of soap operas tell me how much they love it.  I am listening to men who have no idea who George Romero is tell me how much they love it.  What does this mean for the world of horror?  Are these folks going to take a look, many for the first time, at what the world of horror movies has to offer?   Are we going to be forced to add “mother-baby” rooms at next year’s horror conventions because of the massive number of zombie lovers out there?  Is Andrew Lincoln going to become the face of the man who ruined horror for the real fans?  Is this the equivalent of Metallica cutting their hair?

The answer to the last two questions is “yes and no.”  Let me explain.  I have yet to hear a single negative review of The Walking Dead from any of my friends who love horror movies.  I am sure that I could search forums and find some negative comments, but among my circle of friends and acquaintances, all I have heard is positive.  There is no doubt that the approval rating of TWD among horror fans is extraordinarily high.  If TWD continues to enjoy the huge, cross-demographic success it has already enjoyed, we will begin to see a backlash among die hard fans in 2011.  This has already happened with the series Twilight.  Among the many teenagers who I see every week, a good many of them will groan when Twilight is mentioned and these are the same students who memorized every line of the movies just a year ago.  Due to the continued success and wide-spread popularity of the series, it is no longer “cool” to like the series quite as much as they once did (although they all still secretly love it).  This will happen with TWD.  I’m sorry, but true horror fans who have been watching eyeballs getting eaten for decades and loving every last second of it will not stand for homemaker Sue giving this series the big “two thumbs up.”  Even if everything is perfect, that means something must be wrong.

I suspect at the end of the day many horror fans would have wished for a different scenario.  One where TWD is not near as successful, but enjoys a cult following.  One where the series barely survives two years of production and maybe squeaks out three.  And even though they are sad to see the series die, they secretly are happy for the DVD’s to be released so that they can enjoy the greatness of the series, a greatness that is only appreciated by a select few, from the comfort of their Iphone or Android device.

On the other hand, the success of TWD fits in perfectly with what I, and the rest of my team members, have been saying for a year now on The Blackest Eyes.  Mainly, that horror movies tell a story unlike any other genre that is important for human relationships and that more correctly understands the spiritual relationship between good and evil, human against human.  Everyone is a sucker for a good story and TWD delivers in a big way.  And that remains the singular difference between those of us who live and breathe horror movies and those who might be along for a short ride while the story is still good.  We will still be here when the train stops at “the story now sucks” station; everyone else will get off.

Case in point.  Two team members recently reviewed Piranha 3-D, myself and Danny.  I found the film to be somewhat of a disappointment, especially with the excitement I was taking into it.  Danny, on the other hand, gave the film a rather positive review.  Why?  Well, at the end of the day it certainly wasn’t for it’s great dialogue, story, or emotional attachment.  It was because Danny is a gore-hound and the movie will ultimately only appeal to those who truly love horror for all it is about.  You see, even though my love of horror is foundationally grounded in the undertones of the genre, I also love the visual impact of the medium.  Kill scenes, gore, and graphic content of the horror genre fit in with my appreciation for what it has to say.  The two must work together.  TWD is doing this beautifully!  Yes, I am blown away by the story, by the human relationships, by the weight of what they are doing.  But I am also appreciative of how that is in parallel with body parts being hung around people’s necks, flesh being torn from the skin, and people sawing their own hands off to escape.  Whereas my wife can look away from all of those aspects of TWD and still love the series, I cannot.  (Interestingly enough, she is growing more accustomed to keeping her eyes open during the gore scenes, which will be a discussion for another time).

So, one of two things can be said.  It can be said that The Walking Dead is so good that it appeals to a great number of people who otherwise would never look at the kind of images they are watching.  Or, it can be said that The Walking Dead is so awful that it appeals to a great number of people who otherwise would never look at the kind of images they are watching.  For those of you who feel like it is option number 2, I feel your pain and I appreciate you.  At this point, I would be in the option 1 category.  But only time will tell if this incredible new hit series really is the worst thing to happen to horror.

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Four Reasons AMC’s The Walking Dead will flop (and two reasons it wont)

Four Reasons AMC’s The Walking Dead will flop (and two reasons it wont)

Oct 20, 2010

Danny has written this commentary concerning AMC’s The Walking Dead.  It was originally published at his website NerdBloggers.com and is reprinted here with minor revisions.

Between Nerdbloggers.com and my podcasting on The Body Count, I’ve made no secret of my love affair with The Walking Dead comics.  As far as extended-run, non-super hero comics go, I think it is the best series of all time.  The psychology, the pathos, the existentialism, and, to be sure, the action and gore, all put the series high up the ladder.  In fact, I’d say that the first 60 issues are as good as any long story arc ever seen in the comic world.  And now we are on the cusp of having all that goodness turned into a well-budgeted television series made by talented people who have kept creator Robert Kirkman close and involved.  It should be a no-brainer that The Walking Dead on AMC will blow our socks off like a close-up shotgun blast, right?  Not so fast.  I can see a number of reasons that The Walking Dead could come and go quickly, and, unfortunately, some of the risks are related directly to what makes the comics so good in the first place.

  1. They will focus on all the wrong things:  This is my number one concern.  Television, like film, is a predominantly visual medium.  The Walking Dead is loaded with visual elements that will pop on the small screen—scary imagery, a post-apocalyptic landscape populated by zombies, and gore by the bucket full.  However, none of that is the meat of the comic.  More than any other horror comic ever written, The Walking Dead is a character study.  If the production spends too much time trying to dazzle us with shiny objects and too little time exploring the layered psychological elements that power the story, the show will only appeal to people fascinated by shiny objects.  That isn’t The Walking Dead comic book readership and it isn’t the AMC viewer that comes for classic films or Mad Men and sticks around to see what this new show is all about.
  2. There will be too much gore:  Seriously.  When I heard about the project, my first thought was, “They can’t do that on television.”  It turns out “they” can.  The question is, should they?  Kirkman has been quoted as saying that AMC hasn’t flipped out over any of the gore they have seen in the dailies, and it is generally accepted that it is going to be like nothing ever seen on free television.  That’s good for me, and maybe for you, but it isn’t good for building an audience of housewives and soccer moms that will be needed to keep the ratings up.  If the show is done right, the story and characters are compelling enough to hold the attention of the Mad Men fans or anyone else that stumbles upon it while channel surfing, but not if they are so disgusted by the gore that they don’t give it a shot after the first episode.    I think the show would be better off if they gradually ramped up the gore over the first season.  The truly iconic violent images from the series tend to be toward the end of story arcs, so that shouldn’t be a problem.  If they come out with all guns blazing, it will please horror hounds, but it might backfire with the larger audience.
  3. The season will be too short to build an audience.  Despite debuting right before Sweeps, The Walking Dead is basically the length of mid-season replacement series.  This means that the show has very few episodes to expand the audience beyond the comic book and horror fans that will be with the show from day one.  We know that a second season isn’t a given, and with just six episodes worth of material to put out there, will the general audience have time to discover the show?
  4. Horror is the red-headed stepchild of series television:  This is the only reason my life in the current Nerdtopia isn’t perfect.  Sure, we get adaptations of The Game of Thrones, The Watchmen, The Walking Dead; we get great Batman and Spider-man movies (nuh-nuh-nuh-spider-man 3-I can’t hear you-nuh-nuh).  Indy comics are hitting the big screen in uncompromised glory (even if no one is actually watching them).  It is a great time to be a nerd, but, alas, not so much for the horror nerd—at least not on television.  The last horror series to be a hit on network television was…wait, there has never been a hit horror series on network television.  Buffy was a critical hit and had a great seven-year run, but it faced cancellation at the end of nearly every season.  Supernatural has experienced a similar fate though with lower highs and higher lows.  The only time we have seen any real success is with a horror/sci-fi blend: X-files,  V, Fringe.  There have been a number of good series, just not many successful ones.  “Why” is a topic for another post, but I wonder if there are enough fans of the genre to make a horror show a hit, especially when the show is epic and expensive and really needs to be a hit, not just a moderate success.

Two Reasons Not to Worry About the Above and (Why We Expect The Walking Dead to be a Huge Hit)

  1. The source material kicks all kinds of butt:  As I said in the intro, The Walking Dead is as good as it gets in the comic book world, in the horror world, in the writing world.  If the team stays on target and puts the best elements of the comic on the screen, the show will find an audience.  There is probably a great play on “the cream always rises to the top” idiom using blood or brains or something to use here, but I can’t come up with it.
  2. They are keeping Kirkman close:  All reports are that Robert Kirkman has been involved creatively in nearly every facet of the show.  No one knows better than him what makes The Walking Dead great, and his involvement should be the gris-gris that keeps the evil spirits away.

We won’t have to wait long to see which of the above scenarios plays out.  The counter on the web site tells me we have only ten days and a few odd hours to wait.  Personally, I’m an optimist.  I always see the zombie as half dead.  The worst-case scenario:  we have a great Season One box set to slide in beside Firefly on the bookshelf.

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Off to Orlando, FL

Off to Orlando, FL

Oct 7, 2010

I will be boarding a plane tomorrow morning for Orlando, FL where I will be attending the Spooky Empire Horror Convention as well as experienceing Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios.  John Carpenter, Robert Englund, and other legends will be at Spooky Empire, so The Blackest Eyes is thrilled to be a part of this event.  I will make updates and post some pictures when I arrive.  Until then, stay scared!

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Halloween Horror Nights – Warehouse Exxperience

Halloween Horror Nights – Warehouse Exxperience

Sep 21, 2010

Check out the cool interactive game Universal Studios has set up over at the Halloween Horror Nights website.  Below is the offical “Blacket Eyes” scores.  See if you can beat us.

http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/warehouse/index.html

CHAOS – 2 attempts
LEGEND – 3 attempts
DEATH – 2 attempts
SACRIFICE – 1 attempt
VENGEANCE – 1 attempt

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