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Horror Survival Tip #27

Fire Is A Weapon But Fire Is Not Your Friend

Fire is often touted as a potent weapon against all manner of evil. Seen as a cleansing agent, fire has been used in attempts to vanquish the big bad in more movies than I can count. Many of these movies show fire being used successfully. The villain goes down in flames – so to speak – the survivors go home, everyone’s happy again. Yay.

Not so fast. Kill It With Fire often doesn’t work, or shouldn’t work. Fire is a dangerous element. So dangerous in fact our societies have an entire branch of civil servants dedicated to the eradication of fire. We teach fire prevention, keep fire extinguishers in our homes, and tell our children to never play with fire.

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So why is fire considered such a powerful weapon?

Lies. Lies told by movies. You have to admit, and I will as well, that fire looks cool. Explosions look cool. Volatile gases mixing with oxygen is cool. There is also an entire encyclopedia of cultural, mythic and biblical reasons everyone loves fire but I’m not opening that can of worms.

What’s the Reality? 

Reality is that fire won’t do the job against a serial killer, xenomorph, zombie horde, shark, or any number of deadly movie monsters. Allow me to explain.
  • Guy is burned to death in his boiler room. BURNED TO DEATH. What happens? He comes back more powerful than they could have possibly imagined.
  • Nancy pulls him out of the dream and sets him on fire a second time. What happens? He follows her up the stairs then goes and kills her mother, THEN goes off to make six more movies. Seriously who are we kidding.

Freddy vs. Jason

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  • After watching Jason kill his friend the drunk party guy throws a pitcher of high proof alcohol on Jason lights him up using a tiki torch. What happens? Not only does it not slow Jason down, it makes him more fearsome. The partygoers see a flaming Jason (eh..a Jason on fire) and lose their shit, scattering into the corn field. What’s more, when the beer keg cools him off his hockey mask isn’t even singed.

Alien/Aliens

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  • Captain Dallas takes a flame thrower into the access tunnels to flush out the alien. What Happens? Dallas dies pretty damn quick. The Alien clearly doesn’t give a crap about his makeshift flamethrower.

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  • Colonial Marines carry flamethrowers with them when they enter the hive in Aliens. Furthermore, the flame unit is the only one they are allowed to use. What happens? All but three marines die and that’s only due to three soldiers disobeying orders and using their guns anyway. To make matters worse, when Ripley the badass hero flames the eggs in the queens chamber she clearly feels compelled to use nearly an entire magazine of pulse rifle ammo just to be sure the eggs are dead.
  • One of the helpless victims in a last ditch effort to fend off attack sets the shark on fire. Not a great plan given shes in a boat…on the ocean, but she gets points for being bold. What happens? The shark ends up with a nasty burn scar on the right side of it’s head but is otherwise uneffected. It goes on to kill a bunch of teenagers and scare the shit out of the rest.
  • At the end of the movie Dr. Loomis detonates a room full of explosive gas in an attempt to kill Michael Myers once and for all. What happens? Well Loomis and Myers certainly go out with a boom. As if to emphasize just how unnatural the Shape is, Lori sees him coming walking out of the room completely engulfed in flames. He stumbles, falls and dies. Or so we think he dies… Halloween 4 happens and it turns out not only did the fire NOT kill Michael Myers, it didn’t even kill Dr. Loomis! Hell, he looks pretty good for a guy engulfed in a fireball.
  • Before you start screaming about how fire is the only thing that can kill The Thing let me point something out to you. Fire really doesn’t work consistently at all, throughout the entire movie. The slit-head corpse they bring back from the Norwegian Camp along with the burned dogs are the specimens Blair uses to determine their is still cellular activity. They burn Bennings, Palmer, Norris, and Windows. What happens? All of the burning seems to work until it quickly becomes apparent the situation is so hopeless. We never really know if fire is the end-all-be-all weapon against The Thing because no matter how many Things they burn more Things keep appearing. Furthermore, exploding and burning are two different things. Palmer and Blair both explode, we have no way of knowing if all those little pieces of them actually died. The only fire related death in the entire movie that we know for a fact works is Fuchs – and he most likely burned himself!

Salem’s Lot (1979)

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  • Ben Mears and Mark Petrie set fire to the Marsten house at the end of the movie in an attempt to cleans the town of the vampire horde. What happens? The wind catches the fire and sweeps over the town driving all the vampires from their hiding places. How is that a good thing? Now the vamps are homeless, pissed off and hungry. Mears and Petrie really didn’t think it through and as a result not only are they being hunted but a lot of people in their wake probably got butchered and turned who might not have otherwise.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

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  • The military blast a hole in the beast’s throat releasing a prehistoric virus that kills a whole bunch of additional people. Next they plan to set the beast on fire. What happens? Fortunately they are smart enough to realize setting fire to the beast could release the contagion worldwide (awesome science) and instead use isotopes. Moral of the story – fire would have made shit worse.

Zombies

Zombies get their own section for a couple reasons.

First, the term zombie is used very loosely today. I’m not going to be picky here, I’m just throwing them all together.  Dead, slightly dead, brain dead, undead, and dead-alive. Rage zombies aren’t really zombies but since they act and hunt like zombies it’s easier to lump them into the group as well.

Second, with such a broad group containing so many sub-classifications the examples begin to pile up quickly and I want to make it clear that use of fire against this group of monsters generally has the same effect on all of them. Or in this particular case the results could be explosive.

 

The Walking Dead

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  • There are a whole bunch of examples but let’s just go with the opening episode to season 5. Carol blows up the fuel tank as part of her master plan to free the group from Terminus, in the process setting numerous walkers on fire. What happens? The walkers don’t die. They walk right into the compound and start eating/attacking the living. Lighting zombies on fire while they are still mobile only makes them more dangerous, not to mention smell worse.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

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  • While trying to start the emergency generator in the parking garage the group is attacked by ‘fast-moving’ dead zombies. After getting boxed into the cage around the fuel station they decide to spray gas on the zombies and light them on fire. What happens? Well, the movie cheats is what happens. It works for narrative purposes but they never actually show the zombies burn long enough to stop being a threat. The fact they are fast moving zombies means they should be 10x more dangerous once set ablaze. This is an example of the divine hand of editing, otherwise the movie would have been a helluva lot shorter. A drop-kick might have been more effective. 

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  • In 28 Days Later Jim is pursued by a group of infected, Selena and Mark use molotovs to light them on fire. What happens? The infected don’t even slow down. They continue to pursue Jim until Selena and Mark blow the entire petrol station to hell. Considering the infected aren’t truly dead the fire probably would have worked, and much more quickly than if they were dead, but not until after they caught Jim. What’s worse than being attacked and infected? Being attacked by infected and set on fire all at once!

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  • In 28 Weeks Later the U.S military calls in the Air Cav to firebomb the secure zone of downtown London. What happens? They light London up like a Christmas tree and still fail to contain the damn infection. Seriously, it’s their first decision and it fails. We’re not even talking about undead zombies who could mill around for god knows how long while burning. The infected are still alive which means they would succumb to fire damage much more quickly, but once again fire fails and the world goes to hell.

Conclusion

Unless you’re a pyro or have absolutely no alternative, fire isn’t a great option when fighting the big bad. It’s a tempting option due to it’s area of effect, especially when it’s weaponized in the form of a molotov, napalm, or flame thrower. Unfortunately it’s just too unreliable in most situations and too difficult to control. Lighting the bad guy ablaze you’re just as likely to set fire to other people, items or locations you never intended.

Special note for zombie hordes – during a zombie attack fire is incredibly destructive. Once on fire the horde is likely to spread said fire to anything and everything in the area. This is how you end up with scenes in movies like this one:

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Lizeth’s Picks – Volume 1

You get a lot of interesting responses when you ask people to name some of their favorite horror movies.

Some people enjoy horror movies for their humor or satire, others for the genuine frightfulness they invoke, still others just love watching the imagination of another person(s) run wild on the screen.
Last night my wife and I got into a discussion about horror movies and which ones we consider our favorites. She grew up watching monster movies as a child. My mother-in-law apparently forced her to watch all the scary films. My wife claims it scared her for life, something she stills teases my mother-in-law about to this day.
So here are some of her favorites and why she finds them so enjoyable:

   

sci-fi horror, space epic, time travel, monster and phycological mystery 
“Fun movie, that has an interesting setting. Shows how vulnerable the human mind is when put in a hopeless situation. Humans need each other, being alone can make a person snap.”



Horror slasher movie. Serial killers and survivalists. 
“The twist, that the girl is a survivalist. Seems girly but she’s badass.”


The Blob remake 1988. Sci-fi horror monster movie. 
“I like movies that leave you scared after their over. The Blob is something so empty, without reason. It doesn’t have a voice, it doesn’t have a face, it doesn’t have a shape. And it can go anywhere. It’s not killing because it’s enjoys killing, it’s eating. It’s following its instincts.”


Zombie love movie that has a beating heart. 
“I like the idea that love can be so strong it brings a zombie back to life so he can pursue his love.”


slasher serial  killer horror . Lots of teens die. 
“Suspenseful horror movie that keeps you on your toes. You never know who the killer is, every time you think you’ll figured it out you’re wrong. It makes you jump. Even though it’s a slasher movie it’s easy to watch because it’s so entertaining, Matthew Lillard is a hoot.”


Vampire gangster mash-up that is action packed, bloody as hell and down right fun. 
“I like how even though the main characters are two criminals and a Christian family, they come together to ward off evil. It shows how humans will come together no matter their differences to defeat a common enemy.”

sci-fi horror alien invasion movie, with clowns as the creepy monsters “I like it because I don’t like clowns and the clowns are creepy. They are so ugly it’s almost funny to watch them. They used clown cliques really well. The cotton candy cocoons that harvest human blood are cool and the circus tent space ship is inviting, not threatening. Everyone loves the circus so it’s the perfect trap.”
Thanks Bonita!

Tuesday Recommendation


Today’s recommendation is Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.


Horror Slasher killer movie with an awesome ending

Released in 2006, Behind the Mask is a refreshing and intelligent deconstruction of horror movie tropes. Filmed documentary style, the movie follows an ametur film crew as they interview and document the activities of Leslie Vernon. 
Wanting to be like the great slashers in history (e.g. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger) Leslie is preparing his grand slaughter of the innocents, the event that will catapult him into the major leagues of psycho killers. 
The screenplay is very clever in it’s trope subversion, showing us why victims in horror movies never seem to be able to open doors, why they always go up staircases rather than out the front door, and why the slow-walking killer always catches the sprinting victim.

Raw Movie Recommendation Horror Movie Slasher that doesn't disappoint.

Take some time out of your day this week and give it a whirl. Whether you’ve seen it before or not it’s an enjoyable hack n slash that will leave you smiling at the end. 
P.S. In-credit sequence is awesome… 

Psycho killer 

Qu’est-ce que c’est? 

Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far far better 

Run, run, run, run, run, run, run away

You’re Next – Raw Review

You’re Next Scores Big!

This movie was better, much better than it had any right to be. Usually hack n’  slash films follow a standard formula: 
1) Setting is remote, making multiple murder easier. Check!

2) The movie opens with a random murder. Check!
3) The hero/heroine are lovers, married, involved, etc. Check!
4) The murder(s) use completely inefficient and/or complicated weapons/methods to kill the victims. Check!

Okay, so the movie is not original, has standard slasher tropes, is cast with no name actors (mostly), and had little to no publicity until it showed up on Netflix. Whats the deal? Why is it so good?
The movie is good because it’s not overly formulaic. It certainly seems that way in the beginning but quickly turns out to be a well put together thriller with a hero/heroine that is anything but a pushover. 
And the soundtrack… Oh the soundtrack is great. It serves to kick the movie up a notch higher in quality much like this soundtrack did.

Good date movie?

Sure, if your date enjoys thrillers and/or slasher films with strong female characters.

Didn’t you just say it was formulaic?

No, I said it’s…well yes…it starts off… NO! No it’s only formulaic for a little while then it gets good! 

What’s so great about the soundtrack?

Think John Carpenter. Very mood worthy and simple, but it works. 

Where can I see it?

Netflix streaming, Amazon, etc. 

You’re Next – Raw Review

You’re Next Scores Big!

This movie was better, much better than it had any right to be. Usually hack n’  slash films follow a standard formula: 
1) Setting is remote, making multiple murder easier. Check!

2) The movie opens with a random murder. Check!
3) The hero/heroine are lovers, married, involved, etc. Check!
4) The murder(s) use completely inefficient and/or complicated weapons/methods to kill the victims. Check!

Okay, so the movie is not original, has standard slasher tropes, is cast with no name actors (mostly), and had little to no publicity until it showed up on Netflix. Whats the deal? Why is it so good?
The movie is good because it’s not overly formulaic. It certainly seems that way in the beginning but quickly turns out to be a well put together thriller with a hero/heroine that is anything but a pushover. 
And the soundtrack… Oh the soundtrack is great. It serves to kick the movie up a notch higher in quality much like this soundtrack did.

Good date movie?

Sure, if your date enjoys thrillers and/or slasher films with strong female characters.

Didn’t you just say it was formulaic?

No, I said it’s…well yes…it starts off… NO! No it’s only formulaic for a little while then it gets good! 

What’s so great about the soundtrack?

Think John Carpenter. Very mood worthy and simple, but it works. 

Where can I see it?

Netflix streaming, Amazon, etc. 
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