What Comes Next: Rare Exports

You can read my review of this here, and Fremont’s here.  If you’re not familiar with my What Comes Next series, you can read about it here.

Due to the nature of these posts, there will be spoilers.

Description from Netflix:
In the frozen beauty of Finland, local reindeer herders race against the clock to capture an ancient evil: Santa Claus.  A single dad and his son are caught up in the chaos as scientists dig for artifacts.  What they find endangers the entire village.

When we last left our favorite reindeer herders, they had destroyed the 50-foot horned entity known as Santa Claus, rendering all of his naked old-man minions harmless.  Where they were once fueled by the love of gingerbread and child abduction, they had suddenly become a gaggle of wandering, confused elderly folk.  But, due to the forward-thinking Pietari – with the help of his abducted friends he used as bait – all of these old men were now confined in an electric fence.

Naturally, these former reindeer herders decided the next logical step was human trafficking.  “We’ve got all these naked old men.  Let’s train them to be Santa and sell ‘em.”  Can’t find a flaw in their logic.

They arrived at the price of $85K per Santa, using a sophisticated system of pricing (“If dozens of reindeer are worth $85K, a single old man dressed as Santa is worth that same amount”).  I doubt they’d be able to get that much.  Actually, I doubt they’d be able to get much at all.  Here’s why:

They’re selling old men.  I’m not sure what their business strategy is, but I doubt they’re sending these old men out on loan.  They are being purchased.  But who is buying them?  They’re being purchased to play Santa Claus.  Are stores buying them?  Are individuals buying them, then loaning them out to stores?  For the sake of argument, let’s say stores are buying them and reusing them every year.  What do they do after Christmas?  Outside of sitting quietly and allowing children to tell them what they want (while creepily stroking the children’s hair), these Santas have no discernible skills.  They have no way to make money.  Which means the stores will either allow their Santa – the guy they just spent $85K on – to go homeless, or to house/feed them for the entire year, just for the purpose of playing Santa for a few weeks every year.  Combine the cost of housing and feeding a man for an entire year with the initial investment of $85K, and you’re spending an awful lot on a mall Santa every year.

Let’s say that it costs $900/month for an apartment and $100/week on food (which are both less than the American average).  That’s $16K per year on your Santa.  And that’s without factoring in medical costs (which these old men are sure to have quite a few of).  When you can slap a beard on a local fella and pay him peanuts, why would you pay that kind of money for a Santa?  They could charge $5 per Santa and it still wouldn’t be worth it.

However, it appears as though they were able to unload all of the Santas at $85K a piece, seeing as how the movie ends with them putting labels on boxes and shipping them out.  Someone ordered those Santas.  I don’t know why, but they did.

And then there’s this.  It took these converted reindeer herders a year to turn confused old men into serviceable Santas.  They had talked about how the lack of a reindeer herd that year would bankrupt them.  How did they survive for a year with no income?  Beyond supporting themselves, they had to care for 198 old men.  If they were just barely hanging on as it was, how did they suddenly have the money and resources to take care of an additional 198 people?

The movie assumes that they made it that year (seeing as how we see them the next year and everything seems to be going fine), but it’s worth pointing out the ridiculousness of it.

In a logical world, they would not have been able to sell those Santas.  The figurative wolves at their doors would have taken everything, while the literal wolves at their doors would have picked their frozen bones clean.

In this world, they make a cool $16.8 million by selling confused old men to a world full of suckers.  Seeing as how they don’t have a ton of stuff to spend money on in their current village (pig heads aren’t overly expensive), they all move to Helsinki and spend a ton of money on hookers and blow, until they find themselves broke and wrangling reindeer again a decade or so.

Or perhaps they live happily every after.  Maybe there are no hookers and blow in Helsinki.  As near as I can tell, there are no women at all in Finland.  And, according to Charles De Mar, you can get just as high on pure snow as you can on coke, and snow is everywhere in Finland.

Most likely, they managed their money wisely and lived a life of luxury for a time, before eventually being arrested for human trafficking and spending the rest of their days in prison.

Merry Christmas!

What Comes Next: Deadheads

In this series, I take a look at what happens to characters after the credits roll.
Beware of spoilers.  There will be spoilers.

You can read about the origin of this series here, and my original review of this movie here.

When we left Mike & Ellie, all seemed well with the world.  Ellie’s dad was talked out of killing Mike (for those keeping score, he is 50% on killing Mike for his career), and the couple was back together and happy, without the threat of immediate death hanging over their heads.

But, at the end of the day, Mike is still a zombie (if a very articulate one), and Ellie is not.  They seem to really love each other, so that’ll help.  But I doubt it will be enough.  After all, love or not, Mike is still a zombie, and there is no cure for that.  I suppose it could be argued that a cure could be forthcoming, given that this is set in a world in which scientists had devised a way to make zombies think and talk.  But getting a zombie to think and talk is entirely different from bringing them back to life.  Also, the man behind the articulate zombies is Ellie’s father, who hates Mike with a passion.  I doubt he’s champing at the bit to cure his daughter’s undead boyfriend.

Mike will stay a zombie, but Ellie doesn’t seem to care.

But she will.  Sooner rather than later, I would say.
It’s one thing to be excited that the love of your life is not quite as dead as was originally thought.  It’s another thing to live with a zombie for the rest of your life.  The smell alone would be enough to drive Ellie out of the house, especially on a hot summer day.  Since Mike is technically dead, he will not heal from his wounds, which is a pretty significant problem when your arm has been torn off.  Before long, flesh will begin to fall off fairly regularly, and the loss of body parts won’t be restricted to his arm.  Ellie will wake up in the morning to find Mike’s ear on the pillow beside her.  He will not age gracefully.

The fact that Mike is an articulate zombie doesn’t change the fact that he is still a zombie.  It’s not made entirely clear all of the ways the virus can be transmitted, but we know a bite will do it for sure.  All it takes is one small, accidental bite for Ellie to be turned and the zombie outbreak to start all over again.  Time to wear a mouthguard in bed, Mike.

Their ideal situation may be for Ellie to become a zombie like Mike (in a dream sequence, we saw that she would make a very lovely zombie bride).  But this virus doesn’t work that way.  If Ellie gets turned, she will just be a normal zombie.  Unless she can convince her father to kill her and treat her (a highly unlikely scenario), it’ll just be Ellie the normal person and Mike the zombie.

I don’t doubt their love.  As Mike states at the beginning of the movie, “True love never dies.”  That may be true, but perhaps true love really needs a break from the scent of decomposing flesh from time to time.

It’s unclear how many years a zombie can survive.  Stumbling around in the wild, I would say a couple years, max.  In the comfort of a house, with people who are willing to take care of you?  A bit longer than that, but I can’t believe it would be longer than 5 years, especially in the shape Mike is in by the end of the movie.  So they’re working with a short period of time.  Maybe Ellie can deal with the downside of living with a zombie for 5 years.  But I doubt it.  I give this relationship a year before it all goes south.  Sorry kids.  You really seemed to have something special.  Damn this zombie virus and the disapproving father with an itchy trigger finger.

However, Emily and Thomas get together and live happily ever after and have a beautiful life together.  Because they’re adorable.

What Comes Next: The Lords of Salem

In this series, I take a look at what happens to characters after the credits roll.
Beware of spoilers.  There will be spoilers.

You can read my original review here.

When we last left our heroine Heidi, she had met a Satanic baby with stretchy phallus arms, and ended up joining a coven of witches in a large concert hall.  As far as I know, this happens roughly twice a year in Salem, but that might not be accurate.  Wikipedia didn’t tell me, and I refused to look any harder.

As I stated in my original review, one of the problems I had with this movie is that I had no idea of the scope of these events.  What was the witches end game?  Rule the world?  Rule Salem?  Hang out in the park and offer the occasional sacrifice?  Inquiring minds want to know.

I believe their ultimate goal was world domination, but not necessarily how that sounds.  They did not want to take over the world for themselves.  Rather, they wanted to create a door for Satan to pass through, allowing for a Hell on Earth situation, with the witches being at the right hand of Satan’s rule.

But that doesn’t come easy.  You don’t start with world domination.  You have to start small and build out.
The first move would be to take over Salem.  As most of the women had already been swayed to join the witches (due to the mind-controlled doom-drones played on the radio), the men would be the first to go.  Dee Wallace & company already voiced their disdain for men when they smashed Bruce Davison’s face to pieces (“I am shattered to pieces!”).  The two Herman’s would be the next to go, as they were standing right outside the witch party when it started.  Sorry Bearded Herman.  I guess you’ll never get to sleep with Heidi now.  All that drunk-dancing to “Venus in Furs” was for naught.

Since I’m not overly educated in the work necessary to bring Satan into the world, I’m not sure what the next step would be.  Do they roll out of Salem and take over the next town, then the next, and so on?  Kind of like a snowball rolling downhill.  But with witches.

I don’t think that would be necessary.  After all, all they needed in Rosemary’s Baby was a floor full of strange old (and oddly multicultural) Satanists and a woman to be the host for the little bundle of joy.  I would assume that taking over the city of Salem would be more than enough space for the Prince of Darkness to make his arrival.

But this goes one step further.  Whether or not you believe in God and Satan (I do, but I make no assumptions about the beliefs of others), this movie lives in a world where Satan is absolutely real.  And a world in which Satan is real means a world in which God is real.  So, in this world, Satan wouldn’t just be able to come to Earth and rule just because a handful of naked ladies say he can.  And so God gets involved.

What we have next is a battle of Ultimate Good vs. Ultimate Evil (kind of like Rocky IV).  Satan comes to Earth with his demon horde.  God, in turn, responds by sending an army of angels.  And, if things get out of control, God Himself will descend upon the Earth in this ultimate battle for the planet.  The scope of this war is difficult to fathom, but it would be the largest, most destructive event this world has ever seen.  Take the size of Pacific Rim, raise it up several hundred notches, throw in a healthy dose of magic, and you have a small idea of what this would be like.  Battles making mountains.  Shockwaves felt the world over.  In a word, massive.

Or, I suppose, God could just come down and nip this whole thing in the bud before it even takes off.  That would be preferable for the state of the world, but it probably wouldn’t make for a very exciting movie.

What Comes Next: Best Friends Forever

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In case you’re not familiar with the concept of this series, take a look at my initial post.  And beware of spoilers.  Because there will be spoilers.

Before I get into the meat of the post, I’d like to point out that Harriet pushing a flaming book cart and screaming “Get away from my friend!” was the best scene of the movie, and one of my favorite scenes in any movie I’ve seen this year (although it’s not as good as the elbow-thruster scene in Pacific Rim.  Because that was insanely amazing).

When we leave Harriet and Reba in this movie, Harriet has her left arm bandaged up and in a sling, on account of the gunshot she took while saving Reba.  The only reason she survived at all was due to the knowledge (and, therefore, power) gleaned from books.
They step out of the library, and we’re treated to comic book scenes of Harriet and Reba in various moments of badassery.  It’s a terrific ending to a beautiful little film.  But what would really happen?

BFF - Comic Slingshots

Awesome comic book scenes aside, they don’t really seem like fighters.  Sure, Harriet pushed a cart of flaming books at a group of would-be-rapists and Reba ran over a hipster, but who among us hasn’t done something like that?  I call those days “Wednesdays”.

It took them two attempts to take down a group of three hipsters, when only one of them really seemed ruthless in the first place.  And yet,  after running him over, she felt terrible about it.  She cried and kept asking how she could do such a thing.  Hardly the mark of a survivor in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

And Harriet wasn’t much better.  She pushed a flaming book cart at some guys, but what would’ve happened if they didn’t scatter?  She had no back-up plan.  And, even if she did, she didn’t have the skills to do anything about it.

Beyond all that, the group of rape-minded rednecks were local law enforcement.  Law enforcement that had a mandate on checking any person on the streets for a passport (which, as far as we know, neither Harriett or Reba is carrying).  That was likely not the last band of police officers the girls would come across, and they were highly unlikely to have a cart of flaming books at their disposal the next time they crossed paths with Johnny Law.

But perhaps they have a chance.  After all, among the books (again, books = knowledge = power) scattered in the library was one titled “How to Survive a Nuclear Apocalypse”.  Perhaps they picked up some helpful hints within those pages.
And maybe their lack of a killer instinct won’t hurt them too much.  After all, it took the murder of his wife and child to turn Max into The Road Warrior.  Maybe the loss of their loved ones in the nuclear blasts flipped an internal switch.  Would Reba have dreamed of running someone over a few days before?  Absolutely not.  If she’s capable of that, maybe she is capable of doing what needs to be done to survive in the post-apocalyptic age.  Ditto for Harriet.

Still, there are a lot of “maybes” in that last paragraph.  I can’t shake the feeling that this story does not end well.  What happens when Harriet and Reba come up against a group of grizzled survivors with weapons in their hands and malice in their hearts?  They have shown that they can be crafty in dealing with enemies when they have time to plan.  What happens when they have no time for planning?

I hope they make it.  I really do.  However, I have a feeling that the image of Harriet and Reba heading off into the world at the end of the film – a scene that is supposed to be seen as two best friends heading off to make it in this new world – is more than likely the start of a very short death march.

[If, by some miracle, Brea Grant, Vera Miao or Stacey Storey is actually reading this, I want you to know that I would absolutely throw some money at Kickstarter for a Road Warrior-esque sequel to this, and would be more than willing to contribute some music to the soundtrack/score.]

What Comes Next

I have long been fascinated with the idea of what happens after a slasher movie ends. Not all slasher movies, of course. With some of them, I like to sit quietly and wonder what decisions in my life have led me to suffer through what I have just seen.

But the good ones leave me wondering what comes next. What comes after the horror?

Very few films seem to deal with this. Sure, there are sequels, but those don’t necessarily show the aftermath of the horror. In some cases (like 1981’s Halloween 2), they pick up exactly where the first movie left off. But the killer is still on the loose. Lori is in the hospital, but she has no time to process what has just happened to her, as she is currently in the process of trying to survive once again.
In a lot of other cases, we don’t see the characters from the first film at all. Our killer is off to terrorize another group of diverse, sexy co-eds. We’re never told what happened to the survivors of the previous film, likely because we’re not tuning into a sequel to see those characters. We’re there to see the killer.
In others (Friday the 13th Part II, Nightmare on Elm Street 4), we see our survivors from the previous film, only to watch them die this time around. Sadly, even a Final Girl can’t survive forever.
And finally, in others (Nightmare on Elm Street 5), we see the survivor, but it doesn’t look like anything has changed. The horror of the previous film seems to have been forgotten. “All of my friends were killed. Whatever. I totally got a boyfriend out of it.”

I find myself thinking about horror movies in real-life terms. If the events of this movie actually happened, what would the repercussions be? Would the dead be so easily forgotten? Or would their loss – as well as the terror they had to endure – leave a lasting scar?
I’m a firm believer it would be the latter.

Of all the slashers I have watched, I haven’t seen a series that captures this quite as well as Rob Zombie’s Halloween. I know they are not widely loved (personally, I liked them pretty well, but I can’t say that I love them. I find them interesting. More than anything, they just make me feel kind of dirty), but Zombie certainly tackles the psychological ramifications of surviving a slasher film in Halloween II better than any film I’ve ever seen.
When we first meet Laurie Strode in Halloween, she seems to be a normal high school girl. By the time the movie has ended, one of her best friends is dead (Laurie came across her dead body in the Myers house), and another was attacked and sliced up.
Both of their boyfriends were killed.
Laurie’s parents were murdered.
The end of the movie finds Laurie trying to escape from the Myers house as Michael is relentlessly pursuing her and stabbing at her.
That ends with Laurie sitting on Michael’s chest and shooting him – point blank – in the head.

Personally, I have never shot a human being in the head at point-blank range, but I imagine it’s not all sunshine and roses (Maniac tells me that it’s particularly gruesome, and I tend to trust Savini most of the time). And none of the other stuff Laurie endured that night sounds like a whole lot of fun, either.

Halloween II picks up a year later. Gone is the happy-go-lucky Laurie Strode from the previous film. She is an emotional wreck, trying to deal with these past events through therapy, drinking and pill-popping. Needless to say, it’s not working. She has pushed away everyone who cares about her.
About halfway through the movie, she finds out that she is Michael Myers’ sister. Already in an emotional state, this pushes her further to the edge of her sanity. By the time the movie ends with Laurie in a mental institution, we’re not the least bit surprised.

Seeing it all written out over a couple paragraphs, the journey from “normal girl” to “psych ward” seems pretty sudden. But, when watching these films, I don’t know where else it could’ve ended.

We see a little bit of this in the original Halloween series as well, but not quite as extreme, and not quite as brutal. Laurie survives the two initial attacks, and we don’t see her again until H20 (20 years after those events). We’re not sure the exact path she took, but she has changed her name (to Keri Tate), moved to California, and is the dean of a private school. She has not told anyone about who she was or where she came from. Even 20 years later, she is still haunted by the events, to the point where she thinks she sees Michael stalking her on a regular basis. (Then again, she’s dating Theo Tonin, so we can’t expect her to be very well-adjusted.)

After surviving yet another Myers attack in that film (and chopping off the head of an innocent paramedic), we find Laurie in a mental institution at the beginning of Halloween: Resurrection (a film I hesitate to even mention, because the mere thought of acknowledging its existence makes me gag a little, Starbuck or no Starbuck).

And that is where I believe most slashers would leave the survivors. Even the strongest, most well-adjusted person would be irrevocably scarred. The deaths of those who didn’t survive would not be soon forgotten. The survivors would not recover for a long time, if ever.

I thought it would be really interesting to follow up a slasher with a drama, but that would end up being box office suicide.

It is because of this odd obsession that I came up with this series, which is really more of a thought exercise than anything. I decided to name this series “What Comes Next?”, and my first post was on Mama. I’d like to thank Horror-Writers.net for picking this series up and running it on their website. If I stay true to schedule, I’ll be releasing a new article every Wednesday.

Thanks for joining me. If you have any thoughts on these (or if you have any movies you’d like to see me cover), leave comments. I’d like for these to be conversation starters.