Saturday, July 19, 2014

Materialistic Psychos, Weird Westerns, Rock Band battling The Devil and Deadly Space Aliens infect Portland this week.




The Funhouse Lounge (2432 SE 11th Ave in Portland) presents as parody stage version of the satirical cult film, American Psycho.  This dark and twisted tale of self-centered, materialistic, soulless killer runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 pm through August 9.  Tickets for the Thursday performances are $10 in advance, $13 at the door.  Weekend performances are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.  For more information, check out The Funhouse Lounge website or the event’s Facebook page. 

Please note, this show contains strong language, violence and partial nudity, and no one under 18 years of age will be permitted into the performance.




On July 18th, The Hollywood Theatre presents a digital restoration of El Topo, Anejandro Jodorowsky’s 1970 masterpiece, through Tuesday, July 22..  Check out episode 348 of The Horror Etc. podcast, where Ted and guest Luis from Suspect Video discuss this midnight movie classic.  The film shows at 9:45 pm (except on Sunday, July 20, when the screening starts at 9:15 pm).  Check the link for more information.



Eugene horror fans can check out the restored version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre through Thursday, July 24, at the Bijou Metro.  The film screens at 9 pm.  Check out the link for more information.



Also at the Bijou Metro in Eugene, OR, is the classic summer blockbuster Jaws.  Yes, it’s not really a horror film, but it’s DAMN SCARY at times and kept people out of the water for a long time after it’s release.  The film shows at 1 pm on Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20.  Check the link for more information.




Tonight, Saturday, July 19th, The Hollywood Theatre presents the metal/horror classic Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (AKA Edge of Hell).  As the rock band Triton records new music in an isolated farmhouse, you’ll never guess what happens.  Oh wait, you will, because you know this story.  Horrifying demons are awakened, the band is possessed and, as you might guess, mayhem ensues.  Only the band’s leader (Jon-Miki Thor) can stop the nightmare in a battle against the Devil!  Heavy metal musician/star Thor will be in attendance for a Q & A and a screening of a short Thor video concert.  But, sadly, director John Fasano has cancelled his appearance, due to illness.  We here at The Shadow Over Portland hope all is well and for a speedy recovery.  But the show will go on, starting at 6:45 pm.  You’ll find more information at this link.



On July 22, The Grindhouse Film Festival presents a 35mm screening of the 80's low budget monster flick, The Deadly Spawn.  Oh YES!  This grade-Z flick has blood, gore, bare breasted MILFs, and one of the most AWESOME movie monsters of the time.  Seriously, if you haven't seen this film, don't miss it.  And if you have seen it on video, well damn, it's on the big screen!  You HAVE to see it!!  I will see you there, so look for the guy in the kilt and horror tee.  The movie starts at 7:30 pm at The Hollywood Theatre and, as expected, some great 35mm trailers will play before the movie.  Oh yeah, did I mention the film will be in GLORIOUS 35mm?  Get more information at the link.



Alejandro Jodorowsky midnight movie madness returns to The Hollywood Theatre July 25, with a digital restoration of The Holy Mountain.  I’m not going into plot for this one, as I feel any summery I give just won’t make much sense.  Just check out the link if you want to know more.  And expect an update with show times when the theater releases them.




Also on July 25, Gateway Park (located at NE 106th and Halsey) will screen Young Frankenstein, as part of Portland’s Summer Free for All: Movies in the Park series.  The show starts with entertainment by local musicians and free popcorn, and the movie starts at dusk.  You are reminded to bring extra layers and/or blankets, as summer can still be chilly in the Northwest when the sun goes down.  Also, dogs must be leashed, no smoking within 200 feet of the event, and no alcohol at the event.  Yeah, that might seem harsh, but it’s a kid friendly event and a great way to re-enact the drive in experience, sans a car.  Check out the link for more details.



Sharknado 2: The Second One will be screened at The Twilight Room in Portland on Wednesday, July 30, at 9 pm.  I was able to get a screening of the first one at this site and we brought the bar DOWN.  Yell and shout advice to the screen, indulge in some great pub food and it appears that Fish Brewing Company will be sponsoring the event.  Vicious Circle Amber Ale pints will be only $3.50, with free pint glass donated by the brewry.   And, given this label…



Can you think of a better beer to celebrate the screening of Sharknado 2?  I’ll keep posting updates, but beer specials or not, it will be a GREAT TIME!  Swing on by if you can!!  For more information on The Twilight Room, and directions to the pub, check out the official website.  

Please note, this is a 21 and older event.



I’m still working on a Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda screening location on Saturday, August 2, and will post information as soon as I find a location.



On Thursday, July 31, The Summer Free for All: Movies in the Park series continues with a screening of The Goonies, at Brooklyn Park (SE 10th and Haig) in Portland.   I’ll admit, this is not a horror film, but it has some scary moments and is a great way to introduce young ones to spooky movies.  Remember, this is a kid friendly event, so no smoking within 200 feet and no alcoholic beverages.  Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed.  The fun starts at 6:30 pm with performances by local musicians and free popcorn, with the movie starting at dusk.  Visit the link for more information.



On Friday, August 1, the restored version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre comes to the SIFF Cinema in Seattle, WA, at least according to several schedules I’ve found online.  The screenings are through Sunday, August 3, at 10 pm.  For more information, and to buy tickets, check out the link.





If you’re wondering how well your skills will prepare you for the upcoming zombie apocalypse, head to the Pats Racing Complex in Canby, OR, on August 2.  You’ll find lots of undead opponents willing to prove your strategy wrong as The Zombie Run invades the Northwest.  Yep, no weapons (let’s face it, you’re going to run out of ammo at some point), just your two feet propelling you through an obstacle course full of flesh eating Walkers.  Even Daryl might not make it to the end without his crossbow.  You’ll find more information, like fees, starting times and how to participate as either a human or a zombie, at the link.  




On Thursday, August 7, The Summer Free for All: Movies in the Park presents the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, screening at Elizabeth Caruthers Park (3508 SW Moody) in Portland.  Wait, that’s not a horror film, you might say.  But I remember it as a kid friendly version of Saw, with annoying brats meeting some horrific comeuppance.  Oh, and the boat ride with the PETA freak out moment of my childhood nightmares.  Yeah, it’s gonna be great for the youngsters, and a nostalgic trip for the rest of us.  

Remember, this is a kid friendly event, so no smoking within 200 feet and no alcoholic beverages.  Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed.  Visit the link for more information.




Okay, Washington state, you might have thought you were safe, but The Zombie Run is coming to Straddleling ORV Park in McCleary on August 9.  Find out if you can outrun a horde of flesh eating zombies, and sign up now (as the price for entry increases 14 days from June 26).  Click on the link for more information and to sign up-.




On Wednesday, August 13, The Summer Free for All: Movies in the Park screens a classic scary movie, the original The Wizard of Oz, at Washington Park (at the Rose Garden Amphitheater).  Come on, all us horror fans remember hiding our eyes as the Wicked Witch and her Flying Monkeys came on the scene when we were young.  Now, you can see it on a big screen and introduce any youngsters you might know to the terror of Oz.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer evening (well, maybe the next post will trump this one).  Remember, the event starts at 6:30 pm, with performances by local musicians and free popcorn, and the film starts at dusk.  

Also, as this is a kid friendly event, you can’t be smoking within 200 feet of the event and no alcoholic beverages are allowed.  Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed.  Visit the link for more information.




On Friday, August 15, The Summer Free for All: Movies in the Park offers up a screening of Pacific Rim at Wellington Park (NE 66 and Mason) in Portland.  Yes, this is how I want my local tax dollars spend, on a free screening of a movie where giant robots punch giant monsters in the face!  And, if you have the same enthusiasm as I, you will deal with the minor stipulations like no alcoholic beverages, no smoking within 200 feet of the event, and all dogs must be on a leash.  It’s a small price to pay for watching giant monsters get beat over the head by giant robots using cargo ships as a bludgeon.  YES!!!!  Oh, and live musicians and free popcorn starting at 6:30 pm.  Yeah, that’s cool, but I will not be able to wait for dusk when the movie begins!  Visit the link for more information.




On August 16th, the Fremont Almost Free Outdoor Cinema in Seattle, WA, will screen the horror/comedy classic, Ghostbusters.  Yep, you have to buy tickets for this one.  For more information, including the screening location and ticket information, visit the link.


Or you can spend the evening of August 16 with The Goonies.  The West Seattle Outdoor Theater will screen this Northwest classic at 4410 California Ave SW.  For more information, visit the link.




Yes, you can’t keep The Goonies down, as The Summer Free for All: Movies in the Park presents a second screening of the (filmed in the Northwest) classic at Essex Park (SE 79th and Center) in Portland on Wednesday, August 20.  It's not a horror film, but scary fun for the entire family, and you can catch free performances by local musicians, and popcorn, starting at 6:30 pm.  Remember, no smoking within 200 feet of the event, no alcoholic beverages and dogs must be on a leash.  The film starts at dusk.  Visit the link for more information.




On Saturday, August 23, The Clinton Street Theater presents the Portland premiere of Drifter, Corvallis director Joe Sherlock horror ride full of “blood, guts and hot chicks.”  Well, that’s hard to resist, especially as Sherlock and members of his cast and crew will be present for a Q & A after the show.  The film starts at 4 pm.  You can find more information at the link.




On Saturday, August 23, head for the Lake Union Park in Seattle, WA, for a screening of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, followed by Chocolat.  Yeah, scare the little ones, than stay for the romance.  The films are presented are part of Chocolate: The Exhibition at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry.  The films are free, and you can find more information at the link.


Ghostbusters aren't afraid of no Seattle ghosts, as the film plays at Magnsuson Park on August 28.  The pre-show events start at 7 pm, with a $5 admission fee.  The screening of the film, starting at dusk, is free.  Check out the link for more information.



The Rose City Comic Con comes to the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on September 20th and 21st, and scheduled guests include Buffy’s Big Bad, The Glorificus herself, Clare Kramer.  Also. Wes Studi, the badass villain Hanover from Deep Rising, will be there as well as well.  Check out the link for more information on guests, events, panels and more. 




Don't feel left out, Seattle horror fans.  On October 3 and 4, grab your boomsticks and get to the Renton Civic Theatre and catch Evil Dead: The Musical.  As expected, you can purchase splatter zone tickets.  Oh, you know you want to be there!  Shows start at 7 and 10:15 pm, and be sure to wear something you don't mind getting sticky and icky!!!  Get more information at the link.




On October 4, at 7 pm, celebrate the start of the countdown to the 20th Anniversary of The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhuthon in 2015 by attending The Best of the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival at The Hollywood Theatre.  This one night event will feature shorts from the Festival’s past 19 years, as well as a sneak peak at next October’s event, and one very special feature film.  Little else has been announced, but you know I’ll post information as soon as it becomes available, or you can join the event’s Facebook page and get updates right away.



The undead invade The Clinton Street Theater on October 11 and 12, as Zompire: The Undead Film Festival returns!  No word on any of the movies, shorts or events at this time, but like the event page on Facebook for updates.  Or just keep reading The Shadow Over Portland!






Give me some Halloween sugar, baby!  More undead action hits the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR, on October 17 and 18, as Evil Dead The Musical returns!  And of course, there’s a Splatter Zone!!  And you know that’s where you want to be sitting as the Deadite blood flows!!!  Tickets are on sale now at the official website.  If you haven’t seen this production, don’t miss it!



If Ms. Kramer’s visit to Portland this September isn’t enough to satisfy your Buffy sweet tooth, get to the Wizard World Portland Comic Con on Jan 23 to 25, 2015, as Eliza Dushku (Faith from BTVS and Angel) is scheduled to be present for signings and such.  Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead), Ksenia Solo (Lost Girl) and Alan Tudyk (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and Firefly) are also scheduled to appear, along with other guests.  I’ll do my best to keep you up to date with as much information as I can post, or you can follow the link.




And on October 2nd to 4th, 2015, The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhu con returns to The Hollywood Theatre for a 20th Anniversary bash!  Yes, the stars will be ALIGNED!!!  More information as it becomes available, or check out the official website.  But I’d plan on a bit of a wait for news on this one, folks.


Well, that’s all for this week.  If I missed something, or you have a horror event in the Pacific Northwest you want to promote, send me an email at shadowoverportland@live.com and I’ll included in a future post.  And remember, if you attend any of the events listed here, let the organizers know you read about it at The Shadow Over Portland!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why horror fans should have plenty to fear from a new Universal Monster shared universe



When Marvel succeeded with a shared universe for heroes (at least the ones not under control from other studios), no one was surprised when DC decided to dive in head first with Superman v. Batman.  The countless characters turning up in this upcoming blockbuster promises to be a rather messy start to a shared universe franchise, but even more surprising for horror fans is that Universal appears to be following suit.


Yeah, here we go again.

According to Deadline. Com, Universal Pictures is planning to build a shared universe for their classic monsters, starting with the 2016 reboot of The Mummy.  While the idea sounds good on paper, a few of the details of the studio’s plan, as well as some speculation on my part, makes this idea seem like a classic failure in line with Van Helsing. 

Let’s start with the obvious problem.  Universal has pegged Alex Kurtzman (Transformers, Star Trek and The Amazing Spider-Man) and Chris Morgan (The Fast and Furious franchise) to head the upcoming series of films.  Oh, yeah, these guys have monster movie cred, as long as your definition of “monster” is “blockbuster tent pole film.”

Looking at their credentials, this pair has generated some powerful franchises (for better or worse; I’m looking at you, Transformers!).  But I’m not sure these two have the understanding of what makes horror films work.


Yeah, everyone knows monsters drive cool cars.


Okay, I know Kurtzman is producer on Sleepy Hollow, one of my favorite shows of the past television series.  And he had his fingers in Fringe (oh, that sounds so bad), another great show.  But neither of these series are true horror franchises.  Yes, Sleepy Hollow has some horrific elements, but it’s NOT SCARY!  Let’s be frank here, the series opener has the Headless Horseman using an automatic weapon against some cops.  Cool image, and a great hook, but not scary.  The series is great, but the chills and creep out moments are few and far between.  Again, I love the series, but the show is not scary, just batshit crazy in the same way Fringe was, and that’s not what I want from the Universal Monsters.


Come on, this image is AWESOME!

Morgan’s resume is more based on The Fast and The Furious, a successful franchise for Universal.  So Kurtzman is the horror guy, Morgan is the franchise builder, so nothing can go wrong.

Except for the lack of understanding how horror works, EVERYTHING!  These two are expected to bring a blockbuster, tent pole series of films to the screen, and that’s not how the Universal Monsters work.

I just watched the original Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man for the first time in decades, and it’s great.  But the climatic monster battle doesn’t occur until the final reel of the film, and it’s short.  The fun is watching Lon Chaney Jr. looking for a way to end his curse and find everlasting peace in death.  Sure, someone traces him based on reported werewolf attacks, but these are never seen on film.  And the Frankenstein’s Monster takes a back seat to the story, which focuses more on characters than monster mayhem. 


Despite the publicity shots, this is how intense their meetings are through most of the film


But that’s not how modern cinematic universes work.  Marvel got the formula right, by following the script established in their comic book universe.  Heroes meet, clash, but come together to fight for the common good.  DC might make it work, though they’ve taken the reverse tract (mash up the heroes, then spin them off into their own movies).  But such an approach DOES NOT work for the Universal Monsters.

Look at what each monster brings to the screen.  Frankenstein’s Monster is a misunderstood being, The Wolf Man is cursed to commit violence he can not control, The Creature from the Black Lagoon is protecting his territory and looking for a mate, The Invisible Man is drunk on power, The Bride of Frankenstein is reacting to a forced marriage, and so on.

None of them are suited for a shared universe, where one battles the other with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance.  Monsters don’t work that way.  Each have their own motivations for their actions and are not suited for a superhero-styled shared universe.  It didn’t work for the misguided Van Helsing, and it won’t work for this attempted franchise.


Oh, dear god, NO!


The second problem is how the Universal Monsters suffered as The House of… series played out.  Each monster got a moment in the spotlight, only to be vanquished to make room for the next.  Too many monsters spoil the stew, as each is given less time to develop than in more simple one-meets-the-other films.  But such a formula isn’t going to drive a tent pole franchise, and I fear such an approach will lead to a quick monster mash up, rather than a delicate building of the franchise (again, the Marvel verses DC metaphor).

It could work out.  After all, The Monster Squad was a great film, though it was hampered with the new PG-13 rating.  And it did require some understanding of the previous films.  But it did hit all the right notes, and I hope Kurtzman and Morgan can pull it off.  But I really see this as more of a messed opportunity than a success, given Universal’s past attempts to take their monsters seriously.  Horror fans should expect more of a Van Helsing approach than one that gives the monsters room to come to life.  



NOOOOOOOO!  Where are Bud and Lou when I need them?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)





Before Ghostface and Leslie Vernon came along, Jason rose from the grave and started poking fun at the slasher genre.  Though Friday the 13th: Jason Lives might not fit the definition as of meta-horror as we know it today, writer/director Tom McLoughlin injects the film with a sly ability to laugh at how silly the genre is while delivering on the bloody mayhem.


By the way, the next paragraph contains spoilers for the previous two Friday the 13th films.  You have been warned.


Janson really hates unmarked spoilers.


After dispatching Jason in Part IV, than being terrorized by a Jason wanna-be in Part V, Tommy Jarvis was to put on the hockey mask for this film.  However, after negative fan reactions, and a drop in the domestic box office numbers, the producers decided to bring Jason back from the grave for Part VI. 

McLoughlin disregarded the ending in Part V (a trend other films in the series were happy to follow), and opened with Tommy (Thom Mathews) driving to Jason’s grave.  His plan is to burn the killer’s corpse and bring an end to his nightmares of Jason’s return.  Aided by Allen (Welcome Back Kotter actor Ron Pallio), Tommy exhumes Jason, but instead of simply incinerating the corpse, Tommy’s anger takes over and begins stabbing at Jason’s chest with a metal rod.

Bad move, Tommy, as an inconvenient thunderstorm sends a few bolts of lightening down the makeshift lightning rod and into Jason’s chest.  As the reanimated slasher kills Allen, Tommy runs off to the nearest police station, conveniently located at Camp Crystal Lake, to warn the cops of Jason’s return.


Today's lesson is that lightning, a metal rod and a corpse
 always leads to that "Oh CRAP, HE'S ALIVE!" moment.


I guess Tommy’s councilors weren’t too good at reintroducing their clients into normal society.  To no one’s surprise, Tommy is locked up for the night, than driven out of town by the sheriff (David Kagen).  But during this time, Jason’s been trekking back to the former Camp Crystal Lake, while killing anyone he meets on his way.  As the bodies pile up, the cops figure Tommy is behind the mayhem, motivated by his desire to prove Jason is alive.  Ah, movie psychology.

Meanwhile, Tommy finds the only occult bookstore in a three state radius and formulates a plan to put Jason to rest for good.  Aided by the sheriff’s daughter, Megan (Jennifer Cooke), the pair heads back to the former Camp Crystal Lake, dodging Jason and the cops. 

Okay, we all know how this ends.  But while the basic plot remains faithful to the formula established earlier in the series, this entry not only makes fun of the franchise, but also hints that Jason’s motivation for killing might not be as simple as making teens pay for drinking, doing drugs and having sex.


Well, there's at least one drunk, drugged sex fiend in every crowd.



To start, McLoughlin’s Jason is more menacing.  He not only kills innocent victims (like the two female councilors who are doing their job and NOT partying), but also threatens children.  While it shouldn’t be a surprise that all the kids survive, the film contains two scenes where things might have ended badly for a child had circumstances not drawn Jason’s attention away from them.  By suggesting that Jason would kill children makes him a more deadly and menacing figure than previous incarnations.  No longer the punisher of hormonal transgressions (as deemed by puritanical society), Jason is now a harbinger of death to anyone trespassing in his domain.  


I suspect the MPAA's reaction to this scene involved hysterics at some point.


Another surprise is the film’s lack of nudity.  Unlike previous entries (though, to be honest, my memories of Part V are a bit hazy), no actress takes her top off during this film.  Thought the film contains a sex scene, and one unconsummated act, the moments are more chaise than some network television shows.  Whether this was a decision on director McLoughlin’s part, or fear of incurring the wrath of the MPAA, it is a bit of a shock, coming from the franchise that started the blood and boobs trend in slasher films.

But it’s McLoughlin’s injection of humor into the script, often at the expense of the slasher genre, that might have influenced future filmmakers.  Victims comment about how horror films inform them that a masked figure in the road is never a good sign, young campers wonder what they would be IF they grew up, and, most telling, a scene when one character turns to the camera and exclaims, “Some folks have a sick idea of entertainment.”  It’s quite funny, but a surprising jab at the fans of the franchise. 


Yes, the smilie face is in the movie.  I didn't say all the jokes worked.


Perhaps these moments are not as self aware as current meta-horror films, but it’s hard not to admire McLoughlin’s daring script.  Not only did he inject a sense of humor that poked fun at a beloved genre franchise, he also had the guts to question the audience’s taste in wanting Jason brought back to the screen.  And though the box office take was low (no surprise, considering the reaction to Part V), McLoughlin’s attempt to move the series in a new direction garnered a surprising amount of favorable critical response.  Had Part VII found a filmmaker daring enough to follow in his footsteps, the franchise might not be in need of a second reboot.


He's practicing on the RV.  Up next, space stations!

Monday, July 7, 2014

A PG-13 version of At the Mountains of Madness IS NOT a bad thing





As expected, the Internet is full of opinions concerning the recent announcement that Guillermo Del Toro is willing to film his long awaited version of H. P. Lovecraft's novella, At the Mountains of Madness, in a PG-13 rated version.  As I write a horror blog with a title that’s more than a bit of a wink to one of Lovecraft's more famous stories, I figure I'll weigh in on this topic as well.

Now, I can just state that I think that a PG-13 version will be just fine, but I won't make such a blanket statement without providing evidence to support that claim.  So, here are six reasons why a PG-13 version of the tale will work as well, if not better, than an R-rated film.


1) PG-13 Horror Films Can Be Scary


This might be heresy to some, but nothing says a horror films must receive an R-rating.  It just depends on the subject matter and how it is presented.  And just because a horror film is rated R does mean the film is gory.  The Blair Witch Project was rated R due to language only. 

Had the language been toned down to a PG-13 level, the film would not have lost its impact.  The filmmakers relied more on atmosphere and the threat of the unseen (themes found in Lovecraft's writing) to scare the audience and, whether you like the film or not, it’s a great example of getting more by using less.

But let’s focus on a horror film with a PG-13 rating.  Gore Verbinski’s American remake of The Ring is one of the most atmospheric and creepy horror films in recent years.  The film contained a few graphic moments, but relies more on mood to ratchet up the sense of unease, making the more horrific moments more intense than simply dumping a bunch of gore on the floor.

If you're still not convinced, just remember that Poltergeist was rated PG, with a stuffed clown that induced nightmares in kids and a few parents.  



I'm BAAAACK!


2) An R-rating doesn't equal a scary (or even good) horror film


You might think I'm repeating myself with this one, but it's important to remember that an R-rating, and buckets of blood, does not make a horror film scary.  Or even any good.

The best way to explain this is to talk about the remake of 2008’s Prom Night, the PG-13 slasher remake.  Once the rating for this film was announced, fans of the 1980 original proclaimed the film would be a disaster without R-rated levels of gore (forgetting that the original Prom Night is not very gory and might earn a PG-13 rating today).

But, if you've seen the remake, it’s easy to realize the filmmakers could have painted the screen red with spurting blood and flung entrails, and it wouldn't have made the film any better.  Sure, a few gross out moments might make you feel a bit better about spending your time and money on an abysmally bad film, but it would still be a rotten movie.


Yep, nothing could have helped this turkey.

A horror film with graphic depictions of gore won’t make up for a bad script and poor filmmaking.  You can have both gore and scares, but once the FX crew comes in, it seems directors and studios are willing to spend more time grossing the audience out, than engrossing them with a spooky, engaging story.


3) PG-13 movies can be graphic


It might seem unlikely that a horror film could ever get a PG-13 rating, the default rating for the average studio blockbusters.  And, in a sense, the rating is more a marketing tool now, designed to give a film an adult edge, only without any real mature content.  It makes young boys and adult audience members more comfortable, assured that the film is not for kids (as a PG rating now indicates the film would be rated G were it not for the fart jokes).


In a few seconds, you'll hear the only fart-like sound in this PG rated move. 

Without going into a "When is was young,,," rant, I remember when PG movies contained blood squibs, harsh language, adult content and even brief nudity.  As movies like Jaws, Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom pushed the level of acceptable violence for the PG rating, the MPAA created the PG-13 rating in 1984.  It worked pretty well, until studios started using it as a marketing tool for their summer blockbusters.

Based on the past, a PG-13 film can go into territory darker than giant robot fights, but that might depend on how the MPAA feels that day.  And we will get to that later, but first, let's talk gore.



4) Gore is becoming more acceptable

Graphic gore is becoming commonplace on television, and the best example of this is NBC's Hannibal.  During the show's two year run, viewers have seen murder victims skinned, used as brain dead mushroom fertilizer, turned into a cello, and vertically bisected several times like a gruesome science project.  This is not a cable show, but shown on a national broadcast network and as always been given a TV-14 rating. 


TV has changed.

One can argue such moments the (rather noticeable at times) lack of blood is what allows these effects to get on the air.  Still, shows like Hannibal and The Walking Dead prove that gore is becoming acceptable to mainstream audiences, the same people that might pay to see a PG-13 horror film with similar effects. 

5) Lovecraft's story isn't gory


Early in the novella, the story’s narrator and other explorers come across the dissected remains of other party members.  While quite gruesome, it is the story's only moment of gore.  The rest of Lovecraft's tale has to do with exploring a mysterious city filled with albino penguins, Shoggoths and the origins of humanity. 

As the story relies more on atmosphere than gore, it makes no sense to push the gore in one early scene to an R-rating level.  Chances are such a moment would seem gratuitous and unwarranted, but also feel out of place with the rest of the tale (unless the script deviates from the source material). 

Handled with a bit more restrain, perhaps only showing brief glimpses of the bodies during a dimly lit search of the tent, the sequence could as intense and disturbing as the flashbulb illumination of the desecrated grave and it's contents during the opening moments of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  And it would be more suited to the atmosphere Lovecraft generates in the rest of his story.


6) The MPAA might not be a problem


Most horror fans don't have a high opinion of the MPAA, with good reason.  The organization dislikes horror films with the same intensity they reserve for nudity.  So, the chance of AtMoM getting a PG-13 rating might seem a long shot, unless you remember how the MPAA works.

As pointed out in the documentary, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, the MPAA is supported by the major Hollywood studios and tends to act favorably towards their benefactors.  So, not only will the MPAA assure studio properties are rated with the studio’s target audience in mind, the organization limits the competition by making it difficult for more adult-oriented fare to get an appropriate rating (hello, NC-17).  That’s how The Expendables 3 got a PG-13 rating (despite assumptions that the violence will be the same as an R-rated version, but without CGI blood added), yet movies like The Kings of Summer (an indie film released last year) was rated R strictly for language.


All del Toro has to do is find a way to include a scene like this in the film.
The MPAA will freak out and allow anything else to stay in, as long as Eva Green's breast is out of the picture. 

Now, back to the point.  A $120 million dollar version of AtMoM will not be an independent feature, but a studio backed film.  And, as the MPAA loathes biting the hand stuffing its wallet, del Toro should be able to get a pretty graphic scene into a PG-13 rated film.  Sure, he might have to trim a couple of frames in a few spots, but those concessions will all the MPAA to maintain the illusion of doing its job.  And it’s doubtful such excised footage will change the impact of the film, or any individual scene, in any noticeable way.





I think a PG-13 version of At the Mountains of Madness will work.  And though I’m hopeful he pulls this one off, we can’t forget that del Toro has only started discussion the project with a studio.  Between now and whatever release date gets announced, a multitude of other factors will determine whether fans get to see a big screen Lovecraft adaptation or not.  All we can do is hope the stars will align.