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Notes from the back row

Hall-o-frickin-ween!

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It’s that time of year again. Bloody zombies walk the streets, ghosts appear in showers, Hollywood condones gruesome, gory torture (so long as they can make a buck) and so do I. Horror movies, one of the oldest genres, are never more fun than this time of year, so you might as well go get your tickets to the B-Grade Horror Fest at Millennium Place right now and check out at least a dozen short films from Whistler’s finest and a few from afar as well. There are still lots of matinee tickets available and word on the street is that perennial runner-up Scott Johnston is poised to blow some minds. Last year his epic SpaceMare featured an evil death-egg-crapping chicken-man and an alien with a vagina for a face. Yee haw.

If you like your horror a little more glossy, the good old Village 8 is offering up Saw 3 , proving that a good idea can still be milked almost to death and put back on the big screen year after year.

While things have been pretty hush hush on what the third installment of Jigsaw’s mayhem will contain, director Darren Lynn Bousman (who did Saw2 ) says to expect, “More twists, more turns, more violence, more scares.” The film reportedly takes a deeper look at the relationship between Jigsaw and his apprentice, Amanda, and is a more emotionally intense movie because he is dying and she must keep him alive for one last test while also preparing to carry on his work after he’s gone.

The filmmakers are also pushing their “deeper” themes — loss of control and survival of the fittest — but everyone knows the truth; people are coming out for mind-bending traps and more gore than they’ve ever seen.

I’ve always enjoyed the Saw franchise despite the shitty acting and somewhat recycled plot. I like that they come out with a new flick each year and every picture has at least one really creepy, scary scene that makes your skin crawl — like in Saw 2 when that chick has to jump into a pit of dirty hypodermic needles and root around searching for a key. That was so killer.

The other big killer hoping to cash in on cinematic gore and Halloween horror is Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the beginning, now in its second week. It’s not much of a movie, more like the death of good horror than the beginning, but there’s plenty of gore and guts and, if you’re a bit perverse, a Chainsaw/Saw3 double bill might just be enough to put you over the edge.

While war might not be horror, it certainly is hell and in Flags of our Fathers, Clint Eastwood’s latest look at the nature of heroism and the Second World War, the hells of war are brought back home as three of the soldiers featured in that famous photo of raising that big flag at Iwo Jima return home as “heroes”, even though they were no different from anyone else on that island, except they raised a flag in front of a photographer.

While the ex-marines embark on a publicity tour full of papier mché floats and cakes modeled after their famous photo, we learn that heroes are often something we create and the goal is not always as it seems. This time it was to sell war bonds and fund the campaign.

Eastwood’s history lesson starts nice enough, and the battle scenes are well done but by the end you feel a bit exhausted and bombarded by his theme rather than enlightened to it. Eastwood is still a master but these days, I’ll take my horrors B-Grade please.

AT VILLAGE 8 Oct. 27-Nov. 2: Saw 3; Departed; Prestige; Flags of our Fathers; Texas Chainsaw Massacre Beginning; Open Season; Trailer Park Boys; Man of the Year; Jackass 2

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