The House


When District 9 came out, I was geeked to see it opening weekend. My older daughters wanted to go but my wife was busy. So, finding a babysitter for my ten-year-old twins remained the only obstacle. Unsuccessful, I would not to be deterred. Why not just take them with me? Because of its "R" rating I was nervous that it might be too intense. Of course, they balked at any such notion. After some due diligence (don't judge me), I determined that D9 earned its rating based on violent content. I (correctly, it turns out) assumed that the carnage was of the sci-fi/video game variety as opposed to the more visceral gore (pun intended) presented in the Hostel/Saw genre. Nonetheless, as the movie unfolded, I kept a close watch on their reaction (like I said, don't judge me). Every fifteen minutes I'd ask if they were "doing okay." Each time, they assured me that they were. After my fifth such inquiry, one of the twins looked up a bit irritated and whispered, "Aliens aren't scary dad...sheesh."

And they really weren't scared. People and "prawns" were getting blasted right and left. Yet my youngest kids were unmoved (my oldest too, for that matter). My guess is that the subject matter seemed so far removed from their own reality that it didn't have the desired effect. That got me to thinking about what scared me as a child. As laid out in the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland, the horror icons of my youth in the late '60s and early '70s were represented by Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman (both Lon Chaney Jr AND Oliver Reed) or the creature from the Black Lagoon. In their day, I suppose they had scared a lot of adults. But as a ten-year-old they left me unfazed. In fact, I thought they were kinda cool. As it turns out, MY kids think that the title character in Ridley Scott's Alien is kinda cool too.

So WHAT did frighten me as a kid? Here's a list of "scary" moments that stayed with me for a LONG time. The employment of a naturalistic approach seems to be a common thread running through all of these examples and may illuminate my child's comment.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: No tags where found.


The 25 Scariest Moments in Non-Horror Movies

Happy Halloween, Housers! Our Editor Emeritus, Matt Zoller Seitz, is just one of the contributors to IFC's Halloween-themed (but not) Top 25. Here's the introduction:

"When you sit down to a horror film, you know, at least on a basic level, what you're getting into. Whether or not the movie delivers, what you've been promised, and what you're braced for or looking forward to, are scares. Which is why, when we look back on those truly traumatic movie memories, the titles that come to mind often are not horror films at all.

The most frightening movie moments can arrive out of nowhere, in the midst of where they shouldn't belong, catching you when you're vulnerable—which is why there are a few alleged children's films on this list. But they can also creep up on you, working a different kind of dread, which is where some of the documentaries included below fit in. Fear is a funny thing. It comes in different varieties, it can work its way on you in unanticipated, and, as our collection here proves, it definitely doesn't always stem from things that go bump in the night."

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to keithuhlich@gmail.com and to converse in the comments section.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: ifc


Unreal Estate

By Matt Zoller Seitz



Matt Zoller Seitz is a filmmaker and the founder of The House Next Door. To watch this video at The L Magazine's web site and read L Magazine film section editor Mark Asch's written introduction to it, click here.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: No tags where found.


[Editor's Note: The Conversations is a monthly feature in which Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard discuss a wide range of cinematic subjects: critical analyses of films, filmmaker overviews, and more. Readers should expect to encounter spoilers.]

Ed Howard: Claire Denis has always been a fascinating and elusive director, making strange, ambiguous movies where meanings are inscribed between the lines, in images and charged silences rather than in the minimal dialogue. Trouble Every Day is quite possibly her most challenging and unsettling film, both utterly typical of her approach—quiet, patiently paced, enigmatic in its characterization and plotting—and yet also a true outlier in her career. For one thing, in terms of genre it's a horror film, and one of the reasons I was interested in talking about it with you, Jason, is that you've previously expressed a general disinterest in horror as a genre. Of course, this is not a genre that one would have intuitively attributed to Denis based on the films she made before (1999's Billy Budd parable Beau travail) and after (2002's poetic ode to a one-night stand, Vendredi soir). And her approach to horror is very unusual and idiosyncratic, even though she does eventually deliver enough gore and viscera to sate even the most jaded Saw franchise junkie.

As Andrew O'Hehir described it, "Watching Trouble Every Day, at least if you don't know what's coming, is like biting into what looks like a juicy, delicious plum on a hot summer day and coming away with your mouth full of rotten pulp and living worms." That's a lurid image, and an appropriate one for a movie whose own most potent, unforgettable images are also gustatory. That Salon review was from the film's original US release in 2002, and it's possible that anyone seeing the film for the first time now has more of an idea about what's coming. So before rewatching the film for this conversation, I had wondered if some of the impact of Denis' film came from the element of surprise, from being taken unaware by the film's bloody sexual horror.

However, upon revisiting it I found myself as entranced as ever by its haunting imagery and slow build-up, and as repulsed and affected by its shocking outbursts of violence. I'm curious, though, since you hadn't seen the film before, both how much you knew about it beforehand and what your initial (visceral) reaction was.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: No tags where found.


Paranormal Activity

Housereader Todd Ford sends along this essay, which he wrote for his site Cinema 100 Film Society on low-budget blockbuster Paranormal Activity. An excerpt:

"So, consider this proposition: Paranormal Activity is in one sense a nice, scary little demon-possession story about a guy who is a bit of an immature jerk sharing a haunted house with his girlfriend. And it is also an allegory representing a case study in domestic violence."

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to keithuhlich@gmail.com and to converse in the comments section.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: cinema 100 film society, paranormal activity


History for Hire

Today's link takes you to the latest interview by Collectors Weekly contributors Maribeth Keane and Jessica Lewis. Their subject this time out is movie prop supplier Jim Elyea, who's outfitted everything and everyone from Titanic to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to keithuhlich@gmail.com and to converse in the comments section.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: collectors weekly, jim elyea, titanic, transformers revenge of the fallen


Zombie 101

By Matt Zoller Seitz


"You know, I don't think I've got it in me to shoot my flatmate, my mum, and my girlfriend all in the same night," says Shaun, one of the beleaguered non-ghouls in Shaun of the Dead. That 2004 film is a send-up of zombie movies, but you know what they say about every joke containing truth. Ever since director George A. Romero released his 1968 shocker Night of the Living Dead—which reimagined zombies, the dark magic-entranced slaves of voodoo folklore, as shambling fiends that crave warm flesh and can only be offed with a head shot—the zombie genre has displaced the western as cinema's most popular and durable morality play. As the video essay "Zombie 101" demonstrates, while the genre's superficial appeal is the spectacle of torn and mangled flesh—living and dead—its deeper resonance lies in its portrait of ordinary people struggling to survive in extreme circumstances.


Matt Zoller Seitz is a filmmaker and the founder of The House Next Door. To read the rest of the written introduction, or to view this video at the web site of Moving Image Source, click here.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: No tags where found.


The Lieberman Problem

The Lieberman Problem

"I don't think we need it now," a prominent U.S. senator said in a statement yesterday regarding a public health care option, and it wasn't a Republican. Once again, "Democrat" Joe Lieberman has gone rogue. Shortly after the 2008 election, I posited a scenario under which Lieberman, who failed at almost every turn to use his chairmanship on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to hold the Bush administration accountable, would become a thorn in the side of the Obama administration. Democrats, led by the new president, refused to strip Lieberman of his title or his seat in the Democratic caucus after the Connecticut senator not only campaigned against his own party during the presidential election, but did so rather unscrupulously.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid said then that he trusted Lieberman, but this new development in the seesawing life of the so-called public option should come as no surprise: Lieberman went on record as being against a filibuster-proof majority months ago, and he's fought against his own party on key issues for years. Until now, it's been his position on foreign policy that has been most troubling (it's disturbing, if not downright dangerous, to have a politician who pals around with a hatemonger like John Hagee simply because—even though Hagee's position on Israel is based on his belief that the preservation of the Jews is integral to the coming Rapture—he supports his Zionist agenda to chair a national security congressional committee), but Lieberman's maverick-y impulses are now poised to kill what could potentially be a transformative piece of domestic legislation. According to Firedoglake, if Lieberman votes against cloture, the process by which Democrats can prevent a filibuster by Republicans, it will be the first time in American history that a member of a super-majority has joined the opposition to filibuster a bill.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: health care, joe lieberman


In the spring of 1972 I was teaching a course in the history of motion pictures at Los Angeles City College. Rick Stanton, the head of the Cinema Division, asked me to write a proposal for a course on the history of documentary film, which he hoped to add to the curriculum. I did, putting the entire sum of my knowledge of documentary film into it. The course was approved and, two days before the course began in the fall of 1972, I was hired to teach it. One slight problem. That proposal, with the entire sum of my knowledge of documentary film, was one page long.

Obviously, I was not going to be able to lecture a lot. Just as well, since the varying lengths of documentary film made standard one-hour lectures impossible. So I decided to let the students tell me what they thought of the films. I would give a little introductory material about the film, show it and then we would discuss it. It turned out to be the way to teach the course. Now, 37 years later and knowing a lot more about documentaries, I still teach it the same way—although a few years back I had students complain that I let other people talk too much. Imagine that: students wanted the teacher to talk more. I started talking more, but the focus of the class is still on what the students have to say. What all these years have given me is a front row seat on how people respond to documentaries. Not what I think about the films, or what historians and critics think about the films, but what a wide variety of people think and feel about them.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: No tags where found.


We've been getting a lot of vitriolic and spammy anonymous comments lately, so I've just instated a Registered User policy for The House. This means that you have to sign in with your Google Account or use the OpenID function to sign in with another identifying membership from WordPress, LiveJournal, TypePad, or AIM in order to leave a comment. Apologies to our courteous anonymous commenters, but more than a few bad apples have led me to adopt this stricter filter. Hope the following will lighten any disappointment.

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to keithuhlich@gmail.com and to converse in the comments section.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: house maintenance






The HouseCategories



The HouseThe Attic

More »



Site by  Docent Solutions