Thursday, June 14, 2012

bring on the moon spiders (first movie thing)

so from now on, or basically whenever I feel like it, I’ll be posting reflections/’critiques’ on the movies I watch as I’m watching them. because for one, this blog needs to be a home for something other than these boring-ass writing updates. gives people a reason to check back every so often.

plus, I’d like to DO something productive with all of my movie-watching binging beyond filing them onto the life-list and talking about them to myself, so I’ll start documenting them here, more or less just thoughts as I have them, probably without much reason or substance, in REAL TRUE BLOG STYLE (yay). maybe (hopefully) they will be

also I love movies so much I feel like I should dedicate a higher percentage of my time to writing about them. or writing them.

there will be spoilers, almost always probably, so if those kinda things bother you then please feel free to ignore these posts.

so today it’s last year’s Apollo 18, one of those horror faux documentaries that have become so popular in the wake of paranormal activity. this one’s about the moon mission in the 70’s that NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT BECAUSE EVERYONE DIED. tagline: “there’s a reason we’ve never gone back to the moon.” (all of the astronauts have boring astronaut names like walker and Anderson and scott and were not distinguishable to me, so forgive me for not referring to them by name.)

the only spoiler here is that the monsters are moonrock spiders.

pg-13 horror convention: “what the hell was that?”
r horror convention: “what the FUCK?”

astronaut says bring it/'what the hell was that?'

Apollo 18 subscribes to the ghosthunting-style pg-13 convention. one figures, that, when dealing with a movie that supplies so little blood and gore, it’s best to just play it safe and keep with the pg-13 rating, because why bother? you’ll get more, younger crowds this way. if you’re gonna go for the r and you’re funded by the Weinstein bros, you’d sure as fuck better be going all out.

I saw this dvd in the library and picked it up because I’d never heard of it and was curious to know what kind of evil lurked on the moon. as it turns out, it’s tiny little rock spiders with mysterious infective powers. at first this kind of disappointed me. insects and giant bugs and the like are just about the least inventive of all monsters. I was hoping for colossal moonmen or gods. instead: rock spiders. oh well.

if you’re an astronaut and get questionably infected then you basically just turn into a zombie.

there’s one scene that got me: when one astronaut (Anderson, I think, he was one of the important ones) is checking out the infected one sleeping in his bunk, looking at the state of his infection, when the sleeping guy suddenly grabbed his arm all crazy-eyed. I knew enough to know that that was going to happen, but it still got me.

next scene, the tables are turned, and its our uninfected astronaut who’s being watched. apparently, just about the scariest thing in horror convention ever is standing over someone else while they’re sleeping. we saw it in time-lapse in paranormal activity, now we’re seeing it in Apollo 18. after which the infected guy claims that they’re “everywhere” (classic insane-person claim) and starts bashing out the cameras in their spacepod.

oh! another cool scene was when Anderson (?) was trying to escape in the dead cosmonaut’s ship, and he entered orbit, and all of the little rock monsters previously on the floor of his shuttle rose around his chair via lack of gravity and attacked him. screams over the radio. lost ‘em.

communications are incredibly unreliable in space. think about it this way: you are communicating with someone who is actually hundreds of thousands of miles away. how can you even possibly believe that it’s even reliable? it’s not. it’s not reliable. and whoever’s on the other end, you know they’re lying to you. you know.

apparently, whenst exploring in space astronauts are equipped with these flashbulb thingies that provide a bright burst of light that lasts for about half a second and illuminates about three feet in front of the wielder and have a ~1.5 second recharge time. great for suspense building: [soundtrack of breathing] rocks, then rocks, then rocks, then rocks, then rocks, then GAUNT DEAD COSMONAUT. but. WHAT A USELESS TOOL. these are about a hundred times less useful than a flashlight and if this film is to be believed than nasa is doing an exceptionally poor job at preparing our astronauts to face the unknowns of the moon. scold.

as I said, the monsters in this movie are tiny little rock spiders who live at the bottom of craters. one of the coolest scenes in the movie is when we see these spiders (via flashbulb thingies, of course, low-budget) coming up from the bottom of a crater; it looks like the ground is bubbling.

also impressive were the numbers of camera filters that apparently come pre-installed on the moon and in the spacecraft for observation of the astronauts. so many different grains and colors and staticky effects, framerates, etc. technology must have been so inconsistent back in those days. we can go from grainy hyper close-up to about 14 fps view of astronauts walking moonsurface in the same scene. and yet there is a question in the faq’s on imdb asking if this movie is irl for real.

remember this is supposed to be film circa 1974.  they’re clearly trying to get away with as much as possible in order to keep our modern audience entertained while also staying moderately faithful (or so I imagine) to the film ‘quality’ around in the 70’s.  the really brief pre-space part of the movie was pretty good at doing that, but then it just sorta gave up.

I liked that Yes was in the soundtrack, ‘closer to the edge’ era (how timely!). they often sing of moons and would probably see this movie as pure fact. also a lot of times in creature horror movies there’s the tiny, generative specimen (here, the lil rock spider guys) that we see early, and then later on there’s the huge, fully-developed version that comes chasing after us. here, it’s just the small ones crawling around. they don’t grow into anything; there is no uber-rockguy, and I appreciated that.

“we’ll let your family know you died a hero,” says the department of defense. fairly stupid, to tell one of their own that they wouldn’t be bringing him back to earth, that he was a security risk for being “infected.” at least lie and tell the guy you’re coming for him, give him some comfort as he goes.

and there’s the question, “do you think you can pilot that thing?”

the answer: not if you’re being attacked by rock spiders. collision.

their bodies were never recovered.

(there were definitely ten minutes of credits, too much for a faux documentary.)

(let me know what you think about this kind of thing; I’ll know whether to pursue or give up the ghost.)

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Check out the 28th issue of the Safety Pin Review, rippled around South Korea.

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