John Carpenter hit the nail on the proverbial head in 1978 with his fantastic film, Halloween. Now, without getting into every detail that makes this film and subsequent franchise stand out amongst the genre all of these years later, I am instead going to be taking a different approach with the series. Halloween, widely considered to be the absolute best that the horror genre has to offer, has a history of greatness that transcends horror fans. Yet is also has a very different legacy; a legacy of thoroughly pissing off its rabid fan base. From the atrocious ways that it treated its most beloved characters to the (god help us) Busta Rhymes starring finale, the criticisms of Halloween are ripe for the picking. Keep in mind, there are tons of great things to say about the series as well, but for now I would like to finally pick that bone I have had with the series all of these years (and hope I don’t ostracize myself from the horror community in the process!)
1978 introduced us to the ultimate horror villain, Michael Myers. After killing his older sister Judith, he is sentenced to an insane asylum. Escaping years later, he returns to Haddonfield to reunite with his family and finish the job he started, killing everybody who gets in his way. My main problem with this movie is simple and is based on an interview with John Carpenter that I read years ago in which he stated that Halloween was never intended to have a sequel. This fact is all well and good, but it forces the diehard horror fan to re-watch the original as a standalone film with this in mind. Upon doing so (many times) I call BULLSHIT! Halloween is the ultimate definition of a character build up film. The fact of the matter is that this movie is very long, and until the last 20 minutes or so, nothing happens. This reinforces the fact that the original movie was meant to be built upon. We don’t even find out that Laurie is Michael’s sister until the second film, and this fact is what drives the Myers character to kill in the original. This is not to say that John Carpenter didn’t set the bar for the genre with the film, on the contrary. The panoramic camera angles and beautiful fall suburban streets contrasted by the masked killer stalking babysitter was absolutely exquisite, yet the story itself leaves so much to be desired. Which brings me to one of my major gripes with the series, the heroine herself, Laurie Strode.
Film and Television has long used the prefix 555 for fictitious phone numbers. With phones being pivotal to society and the entertainment industry alike, this has resulted in most all of the 9,999 possible combinations of numbers to have been used and RE-USED in the media.
In that same alternate reality you call 555-0113 in hopes of reaching Agent Scully to inform her of an extra-terrestrial sighting the night before. Instead you get MR. BUrns.
BE CAREFUL. You might have wanted to call 555-5555 to reach kermit the frog.. bUT INSTEAD CONTACTED "dOCTOR HAROLD'S SEX LINE" ON THE RED GREEN TELEVISION SHOW.
ghost problems...Who You Gonna Call? the ghostbusters at 555-2368! Don't be surprised if kojak answers the phone though.
The Upper Footage (2013) follows socialites Blake Pennington, Will Erixon, Taylor Green and Devon Petrovsky on a quest to embrace everything the New York night life has to offer. Nothing is off limits to the quartet- and after scoring a generous amount of cocaine and picking up a woman known only as “Jackie”- they retreat back to Blake’s apartment, where the real party gets underway. The stage is quickly set for the audience to genuinely dislike the majority of the characters, as the dark nature of both Blake Pennington and Devon Petrovsky take over from the get-go, and the viewer is overcome with a sense of dread and uneasiness.
Back at the apartment we witness the group snorting copious amounts of drugs, and the more they consume, the more everything seems to spiral out of control. The sights are set on Jackie (whose face is pixilated throughout the feature to “protect the identity of the victim”), and she is reluctantly convinced to expose herself to the camera. The accompanying scene was omitted from the picture under the pretenses of respecting Jackie’s family, but the viewer is led to believe that either consensual or nonconsensual sexual acts began to transpire between Jackie and two of the three men.
After the footage picks back up, we see a very different scene beginning to unfold. Jackie is hunched over the toilet, vomiting and convulsing as a result of a cocaine overdose. This is laughed off at first, but as the group discovers she is no longer moving, panic sets in, and Blake, Will, Taylor, and Devon are left deciding what to do next.
First off I want to say that Horror Central absolutely loved Upper Footage! In a sub-genre that has been played upon in most every vein of the horror industry, it was a refreshing and thought provoking film that we'll never forget. I would like to send my undying gratitude Mr. Cole for taking the time to talk to the nerds here at Horror Central today, as we'd certainly love to pick your brain!
Thank you for having me.
In this industry when a film is easily compared to others like it, Upper Footage seems cut from a separate cloth all together. This got the minds at Horror Central wondering, if you could look at The Upper footage from a non-biased point of view, in your opinion, what has made the film stand out in the found-footage genre?
I would have to say because the events of the film could have happened in real life, and in some ways they actually did. The fact that we fooled the media into thinking the project was real for several years, and incorporated it with the final project, gives us something that is unique in this genre.
You mentioned that you were influenced by The Blair Witch project, one of my personal all time favorite movies. What made you want to follow in their footsteps? What was appealing to you about the found footage sub-genre?
The Blair Witch Project is one of my all time favorite movies as well. The experience I had watching when I was younger was something that I remember to this day, and I always wondered why no one really went for it since. So many found footage films have come out since, but no one really attempted to recreate the feeling of watching a film you think may actually be real, which in my opinion is the genre at its best. I always wanted to have that experience again, and figured hey if no one else is doing it why don't I?
At the same time, I knew doing what Blair Witch did in 1999 (making a website stating the events as real) simply wouldn't work in today's day and age. I thought the only way people would believe that the events of the film were real were if they would be able to do a Google search on their own and see the events and people actually show up as real on several popular websites and eventually on TV.
I love the concept of the found footage genre, but I really can't say I am a fan of many films within it. A lot of it is repetitive, but because you can make them cheap and fast they have flooded the marketplace. It's a shame because there have been some amazing found footage films that don't get the credit they deserve, such as "The Dirties", because a lot of these rushed out films give the genre a bad reputation. The genre as a whole has so much untapped potential that has yet to be explored.
When we were in distribution talks it was amazing to hear industry people talk about the genre. Movies within it are treated more like amusement park rides than actual films, with the number and placement of jump scares taking precedent over story and any over-arching themes.
“Horror movies are rehearsals for our own deaths.”