At some point in my wonder years, I watched An American Werewolf in London, a 1981 horror movie so terrifying to me then, I don’t care to watch it now. The scene where a dead man nonchalantly jokes while his cheek dangles in bloody shreds is one I shall not forget, and when I looked up images from the movie to help write this review, I had a bit of apprehension. Some might see this as a call to censorship, but I beg to differ. Instead of censorship, it is a call for better filmmaking because if a movie made before the advent of CGI has the ability to chill me to the bone in 2020, then why is it very few past 1990 have the same effect?
Like many kids in the 1980s, my first exposure to action movies came from the muscle ripped Rambo. Overnight, adolescent males across America begged their parents for cheaply made survival knives and anything displaying a sweaty, angry man wielding a machine gun. At the time, I thought Rambo the coolest guy in the world, and then I discovered The Outlaw Josey Wales. After Wales, my life changed. Clint Eastwood’s movie adaption of a novel about a Civil War era farmer wanting revenge for the death of his family felt similar to Rambo yet had a different tone. It was a much more complex story and one I felt akin to given I spent my teen years wondering the woods around my parent’s farm learning how to hunt, fish, and be a Southern Illinois boy.
Normally I don’t review poetry. This isn’t because I have less regard for poetry than other forms of fiction but does acknowledge the fact I simply do not read poetry as much as I do fiction. As a teen, I wrote a poem on the wall of my bedroom and later submitted it to a college poetry contest that to my surprise accepted it. At the time of writing the poem, I had heartache, and it seemed the only way to express how I felt was through simple lines of verse. Anyone reading the poem might pass it up as little more than the ramblings of a teenage mind not classically trained in the ways to write poetry, but for me, it continues to resonate as something very profound, insightful, and reflective.
There’s a reason movies like The Shining and Hellraiser remain classics. Both require study, and anyone who claims to understand these films from a first time watching never took them serious to begin with. Debates about Pinhead’s origin and Stephen King’s meaning of the ‘shine’ might be with us until the end of time, but their with us because they’re just too fun not to contemplate.
Brian McArthur grew up in the American Southwest before moving to South America where he runs an organization for at-risk youth. Visit his foundation’s website, and you see beautiful images of Bolivian mountains and smiling faces celebrating life. The passion Brian has to help others also shines through in his writing. He is the author of Outrunner, a fantasy story about self-discovery.
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