Selective Viewing

An exploration of film, video and other media by Kate Blair

Category: genre

Sex, love, and violence: the allure of the vampire film

OLLA

The vampire genre is one of the classic strands of horror, reaching from the silent era to the present. These movies cover a wide spectrum of styles, from comedy-camp to blood-soaked gorefest. While almost all horror genres have gotten the arthouse treatment at some point, vampire films seem to lend themselves particularly well to stylized direction. Vampires films are the dreams of humanity, directly transcribed to the screen.

Vampires are in the middle of a pop-culture heyday, with the Twilight series recently in theaters and HBO’s TrueBlood, which just finished its 7-season run. Everyone likes a vampire flick. Vampires are sexy. They live forever without aging, as many people wish they could. Their human source of sustenance makes their morality indeterminate. Subsisting solely on blood makes them gaunt, like heroine-addicted rock stars. All the variables in vampire lore make these not-quite-human but not-entirely-inhuman creatures a perfect metaphor for many different themes. These five vampire movies make the most of what the genre has to offer and really give viewers something to chew over, so to speak.  Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

B-Movie Television: the Feminist Frontier (Part 2)

CONDEMNED-WOMEN

A completely unrelated, but relevant B-movie poster of a movie I haven’t actually seen (dir. Lew Landers, 1938)

I ended my last post by saying that commercial cinema is failing women. Allow me to reiterate: As it exists now, the film industry is a betting game, and studios just don’t seem to be banking on women in creative roles, despite the fact that we still make up about half of the audience. Why not? There are many reasons. However, in my last post I argued the disparity may have something to do with attributing so much of a film’s worth to just one individual. In an ideal world, this recognition wouldn’t hold anyone back. But when producers need to make a return on investment, it may be pure sexism that guides their decision to fund one project over another.

In a now roughly 4-year-old article, the often contentious (I mean that as a compliment) Manohla Dargis bemoaned the lack of women in the industry. In the article, she notes how a box office failure doesn’t necessarily spell out the end for a male director. But for a woman, it can potentially wreck a career. Studios appear to be more forgiving to male directors – male auteurs, rather – who have a vision. However, the Hollywood machine doesn’t grant visionary women the same benefit of the doubt.  Read the rest of this entry »

Cinema and television: the auteur question (part 1)

Cinema and television fight to the death

television set

Picture of mid-century TV set from Kitschy Living blog

The introduction of television into the home decades ago instilled fear in the hearts of movie critics and industry professionals alike. Since then, they argue, cinema has been dying for a long time, slowly singing its swan song over the years. This kind of threat to one of the largest commercial and artistic industries in the U.S. has, not surprisingly, invoked vitriolic criticism of television through the years. Television and cinema – the two visual narrative mediums are similar enough that it seems as though there can only be one. At the very least, one of them must be dominant. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, homo sapiens eliminated the neanderthal. Years from now, will one of these art forms also be extinct? Cinema or television – which one will be left standing? Read the rest of this entry »