Bring me the heads of James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich!

Growing up in the suburbs of Central Florida, I was no stranger to anger. I was no less a victim to hormones than any other adolescent. I was no less an enemy of the establishment than other youth who tried to think for themselves.

So when I was introduced to the counter culture at an early age, I knew I had found my release.

Baggy JNCO’s, Dyed hair, spiked bracelets, Doc Martens, violent tendencies… All that shit came with certain types of music that allowed me to feel represented. I began collecting what cassettes I could; Dead Kennedy’s, Black Flag, The Misfits, Biohazard, Rage Against the Machine, the works…

And then there was Metallica.

An entity at the core of the whole mess of my angst and opposition to the world. Their sardonic, intelligent, political and satyrical music resonated with me, as it had with so many other pissed off brats. It was such a testament to the energy and springtime of youth.

And as the years have passed, and as time has changed, as I have grown and learned, healed and calmed down from that pimple-faced asshole, I have but one question;

WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO YOU, METALLICA?

Here at HorrorHomework, we tend to focus on the aesthetics of horror. But this particular subject deviates from that, as it is an ugly side to American horror. A once wondrous thing has become something very… Awful.

Let us first examine early Metallica; a band from California that toured extensively across the U.S., honing its skills to the tune of rock greats like Merciful Death, The Misfits, Queen, Black Sabbath and others. Like their contemporaries (more or less) Slayer, Motorhead and others, Metallica was not only a band that represented masses of pissed off, mostly white kids. They not only represented what the rest of society wanted to hate, but they were good musicians.

So, as I grow older, and the testosterone has somewhat subsided, I tend to consider my roots. And when I see what has become of the band, I hold some kind of contempt for them.

Yes, we can go with the whole ‘but what happened to you also happened to them, they grew up Merkin.’ To you sir, I say, fuck that. A band can evolve, or grow up, or even mellow out, without asking a dedicated audience to buy in to this:

I’ve heard it all before:

– ‘Let them make whatever music they want to. They DESERVE it!’
– ‘Artists do this all the time. They are no different.’
– ‘They got too old to make music like they used to.’
– ‘Blah, blah, let’s get passive about it, blah fucking BLAH!’

I don’t see Slayer or Megadeth selling out like that. I don’t hear them growing old like that.

My one request, Metallica. My one request:

Please, do one more good album. Change it up if you must, but don’t forget your roots. You can go Prog. You can go Fantastical. Artsy. But don’t go the direction of vanity.

Otherwise, thanks for a few great albums and notsomuch for the rest. I am proud of part of your legacy.


Stake Land: a film about Vampires, Humans and the New Age

By Merkin Muffley—HorrorHomework Instructor
Vampire films seem more immortal now than ever before. The genre can’t be killed, even with bad films such as Twilight and Dracula 3000 having seen the light of day over the last decade or so.

Luckily, there are some flicks that have come out in recent years which make it easier for film freaks to separate the wheat from the chaff.

One such film is 2010’s Stake Land, directed by sophomore filmmaker Jim Mickle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLiZSQ3kUnM

The premise

Basically the film revolves around Martin (played by Connor Paolo, “Alexander”) an American teenager who is saved by the mysterious veteran vampire hunter Mister (played by film co-writer Nick Damici, “World Trade Center”), in a vampire assault which claims the lives of his whole family before his eyes.

After the attack, we find that a mass vampire epidemic has nearly destroyed North America. Martin and Mister make their ways north to Canada, to a place known as “New Eden”, where vampiric activity is nearly non-existent due to the frigid climate.

In this world, where life is rare yet disposable, our antagonists fight their way to an uncertain sanctuary in the north. Along the way, they collect comrades who share their need to survive.

Why you should watch it

Stake Land is a great movie for many reasons. First of all, it’s free of that teeny bopper vampire pageantry we have all grown to loathe. It was even produced on a relatively small budget of just $4 million, according to imdb.

Just gimme a small shot of vampire to go with my glass of estrogen.

Stake Land is a coming-of-age film set in a post-apocalyptic world where survival is the fabric of society.

There are no sexy and stylish vampires to woo the characters and audience. The film’s ever-present nocturnal blood suckers resemble zombies more than vampires. The premise doesn’t get too technical on these grounds—a breath of fresh air when compared to other vampire flicks.

They really Nailed what a vamp should look like in this one.

To compare, this film resembles a few acclaimed stories; Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead and Mad Max, directed by George Miller.

What themes do these stories have in common with one another, class? And how are they different? What do such stories accomplish when considering the human condition?

As we follow the two characters on their adventure, Mister trains Martin in the arts of killing vampires and staying alive. The two encounter all manner of people who have survived along their way, in small towns in a barren and cold landscape.

Despite the dimly lit setting and the dun-colored patrons therein, the story is rich with religious and economic undertones.

At one point, we find that many survivors have taken to religion as their cornerstone for existence, meaning that all non-believers are just as killable as vampires. The towns which Martin and Mister make their way through come equipped with trade, entertainment, prostitutes, assholes and booze—all the facets of a functional society! It’s like a Western, on those grounds.

What this story does is comment on the human condition in a very unique way.

As Martin learns to assimilate into this new way of life, he grows and matures. The survival skills he learns open the door to an old but very important concept in human history: filial piety—reverence for those who can teach.

This film was not made with the “blockbuster” philosophy of film production, thankfully. It has something to say and show the audience. It doesn’t have to prove anything. It’s just bad ass.
For extra credit, what does the class think of this film?

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