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November 2011

October 2011

How To Survive a Horror Movie 2011

If you find yourself in a horror movie, there are a number of clues and tips you can use to stay alive. Every Halloween, we here at CultureGeek Manor try to help you out, based on the Darwinian rules of horror movies as first explored in the scholarly work of The Film Professor. To wit: Those who survive get to procreate. And that's fun.

So, without further ado: here's this year's list of ways to survive a horror movie. Happy Halloween!


1. If the house you're living in tells you to "GO AWAY," do it.

2. If you're a virgin, stay that way.

3. If a killer with a knife is chasing you around the house, do not go upstairs. Go out the front door.

4. For the love of God, turn on the lights.

5. Never split up.

6. Never stoop over to see if the killer is dead. He's just waiting.

7. Never get naked in front of a window.

8. Avoid the following geographical locations, even on a bet: Amityville, Elm Street, Crystal Lake, Transylvania, remote islands, lover's lanes, secluded mountain resorts and all small towns in the state of Maine.

9. Never pick up hitchhikers.

10. If a small town off the highway seems deserted, it's probably for a very good reason.

11. If your speedometer starts turning backward, trade the car.

12. Don't dig up strange-looking objects in the woods.

13. Never bury pets or loved ones in old Native American burial grounds. I mean, duh.

14. Don't try to solve puzzles that open doorways to Hell. Speaking of "duh."

15. Find out what your parents were up to when they were younger. You never know if they burned up a serial killer, had a mysterious "other child," are not your real parents, let a disabled child die while having sex, or opened up a doorway to Hell.

16. Ask yourself seriously, "Do I really want to float?"

17. If there is a knock on the door in the middle of the night, but no one appears at the peephole, do not open the door and step outside to see who's there.

18. Never turn your back to a door or press your ear against it to hear what's going on in there.

19. Don't assume it's your naked boyfriend/girlfriend under the sheet.

20. Never mess with DNA for any reason.

21. No sex in graveyards!

22. Keep the car filled with gas, tuned up, and for God's sake keep the keys with you.

23. On Halloween, there is no such thing as coincidence.

24. For that matter, there is no such thing as coincidence.

25. Never stay overnight in the old house at the end of town that's supposed to be haunted. Let them think you're chicken. Even if the prize is one million dollars. It's not worth it.

26. Pig's blood does not make for a good practical joke.

27. The guy conducting the "insomnia study" in the spooky old mansion that no one will approach after dark is not telling you the truth.

28. Watch out for the guy with an accent purchasing the abandoned abbey next door on the night shift.

29. If you're alone in the house and something calls out your name, leave through the nearest exit.

30. If there is no exit, make one.

31. When you've shot the monster six times to no effect, throwing the gun at it isn't likely to help.

32. Do not answer distress calls from deserted planets that never see daylight.

33. Don't touch the TV that calls your name.

34. When the power goes out, do not go into the basement armed only with a candle to see if the fuse is out.

35. Reasons to consider moving out of that great house that was such a bargain: bleeding walls, disembodied voices, too many flies, a room in the basement painted red that wasn't on the blueprints, phone service that seems to come and go, windows that look like eyes, next-door neighbors chanting in the middle of the night, a history of horrible murders, secret passages behind the bookcases, and all the women in town loooove to do housework.

36. In fact, when these things start happening, just set fire to the house. It always ends that way anyway and you'll save time.

37. There is no good reason why anyone's eyes should glow red.

38. The crank caller breathing heavily into the phone is already in your house.

39. Children speaking in deep, scary voices should be listened to. And possibly shot, depending on your movie's rating.

40. Oh yes, there IS a boogeyman.

41. If a kid says, "I see dead people," believe him.

42. If you just ripped your phone out of the wall and it rings anyway, don't answer it.

43. Clothing to avoid: high heels, dangling earrings, ancient amulets you don't understand, scarves of any kind. No capes!

44. Never break quarantine.

45. People wearing hockey masks, ski masks or any Halloween costume that covers the face should be avoided.

46. Don't back up. Look where you're going.

47. The crazy old guy everybody laughs at knows what he's talking about.

48. Leprechauns and genies really don't want to grant you three wishes.

49. The deal with the devil isn't worth it and the monkey's paw is not your friend.

50. Elevators going up and down by themselves have something wrong with them that a maintenance man can't fix.

51. Do not attempt to kill your spouse for her inheritance/life insurance/to marry your secretary. You will not get the results you seek.

52. The killer is one of your friends.

53. Reasons you are probably toast: you're a mayor, sheriff, high school principal or some other person of authority who doesn't believe in the monster; a lawyer, politician, CEO of a polluting corporation or similar sleazeball; a cop, doctor or similar adult trying to help the teenagers; you are obsessed with sex and/or drugs; your breasts are bigger than your brain; you bullied the hero; your name does not appear among the first three in the credits.

54. Never try to open the locked door.

55. Don't go in the water.

56. Pay attention to dogs, cats, horses and other creatures more intelligent than you. If they're nervous, scram. P.S. If the rats in the sewer are running, that's your cue to run faster.

57. When using a mater transporter, triple-check the pod for flies. Then check again.

58. Don't mess with the gypsies.

59. Never repeat any names while staring into the bathroom mirror.

60. If the price of that really neat knickknack includes "a favor," you don't want it.

61. Never take anything from a clown in a sewer. Duh.

62. If you're part of an elite military team on a secret mission, kill your teammates now. There's only going to be one left at the end, it might as well be you.

63. Screaming does nothing but annoy the dogs.

64. That quaint harvest ritual? If you aren't part of the coven, you don't want to be around for it.

65. If your intake doctor is John Glover, your shrink is David Warner or your priest is Max von Sydow, you're already in Hell.

66. There is a good reason why the town is not on the map.

67. Those kids aren't Amish.

68. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don't care how crazy they are.

69. Never say the following sentences:

  • Trust me.
  • It could be worse.
  • I think we've lost them.
  • I know where we are.
  • I have a plan.
  • Hey, watch this!

70. You need a bigger boat.

71. Aim for the head.

72. Don't watch the videotape.

73. Don't pick on the miserable geek or the ugly, unpopular girl. You'll get yours.

74. Skip the shortcut.

75. You won't be right back.

76. The aliens are not friendly.

And finally...

77. No, it's not your imagination.


Film Festival Comes to Edwardsville

Film fans may have to *gasp* cross the moat and venture into the land of dragons to attend part of the Stella Artois St. Louis International Film Festival this year.

The festival will cross the river for the first time to premiere several screenings in the restored Wildey Theater in downtown Edwardsville - including one actually shot in Alton. Here's the highlights:

Joint Body, directed by Brian Jun. Marc Pellegrino of TV's Lost stars as a parolee abandoned by his ex-wife and barred from seeing his young daughter, who forms a relationship with a troubled woman (Alicia Witt) after he saves her from an assailant. Filmed in Alton! Screening: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11.

Chico and Rita, directed by Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando. An adult animated film set in pre-revolution Cuba that chronicles a 1948 love affair between a young piano player and a beautiful singer. "Gorgeous and sexy," it is presented in English at 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11.

A Cat in Paris, directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol of France. An animated family movie follows a "hand-drawn caper" set in the alleys of Paris. Screening: 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12.

The Last Mountain, directed by Bill Haney. A documentary on the battle between Applachian residents and the representatives of Big Coal, it will be shown with Among Giants (an environmental activist's tree-sitting protest) and Timber, a "comic" documentary about conservation of natural resources. Screening: 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12.

Kurt Cobain About a Son, directed by Edwardsville native A.J. Schnack. It's a meditation on the late musician based on 25 hours of audiotaped interviews. Screening: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12.

Confidence Man: The Hugh DeNeal Story, directed by Robert Streit. This documentary follows a talented artist from small-town gigs to national touring to the Kennedy Center to... Leavenworth Penitentiary. (Oops.) The 8 p.m. screening is followed by a concert by DeNeal himself!

The Interrupters, director Steve James of Hoop Dreams. This documentary follows three "Violence Interrupters," former criminals and gang members who now fight violence on the streets of Chicago. One of the Interrupters will be present with the director at the festival. Screening: 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13.

YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip, directed by Evans. It is described as "a celebration of the American spirit in the face of adversity, this thought-provoking, inspiring and sometimes hilarious documentary tells the stories of the creative individuals, groups and businesses that are tackling the greatest environmental threats in history." Screening: 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13.

Undefeated, directed by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, follows three underprivileged student athletes from inner-city Memphis set against the backdrop of a high school football season. Screening: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13.

This is a small sampling of the 400-plus films and documentaries screened in the film festival. Other venues include the Tivoli Theatre, Plaza Frontenac, Webster University and Washington University, with many others. For full schedules and venue information, check out the festival site at

At the Wildey, individual tickets are $12 each or $10 for Cinema St. Louis members and students with valid ID. Tickets for the Confidence Man screening and concert are $15. For more information, check out the Wildey Theater site at

Men, Women and the Walking Dead

For a show I enjoy so much, THE WALKING DEAD is really hacking me off.

The taut premiere of season two was a boulder between the eyes as our alleged heroes survive a herd attack and search the woods for a lost little girl. The scene where two men come across a zombie and must gut it to find out if it’s eaten the girl is the most grossifying thing I’ve seen on network television.

Even more scary is the woman trapped in an RV bathroom trying to hide from a zombie, eventually dispatching it with a screwdriver to the eye.

I have not been turned off by the significant changes from the comic book. The comic is the most emotionally vicious story currently in print, and filled with real, three-dimensional characters that belie their spare, black-and-white art. I felt the TV show was true to the spirit of the comic, if not the letter, and adored them both equally.

But on the convention circuit these past few weeks, a fan pointed something out to me that I had not noticed: Unlike the comic, on TV, the women never carry guns.

In the comic, everyone is armed. Yes, shooting a zombie tends to draw more zombies, so you have to be judicious in their use. But still everyone is armed, including the children. The hero's seven-year-old son (who looks about eleven on TV) gets a quick lesson in rifle shooting, and it comes in handy.

Now, I get why AMC might insist that children do not get guns in the TV show. Never mind the end of the world, watch the parents’ groups sue the hell out of them when some kid (who shouldn’t be watching this show anyway) picks up a pistol and shoots a trick-or-treater.

But the issue of women and guns comes to a head in the season premiere. Andrea, who just proved her mettle by dispatching the zombie with a goddamn screwdriver, has her gun confiscated by the older Dale because HE’S not comfortable with her having the gun her father gave her.

And then when they go in search of the little girl, three men are carrying. Despite Andrea’s wish to carry, she is not deemed “trained” enough to carry. At least she gets the chance to call Dale on his overly paternalistic attitude toward her. While I might disagree with her suicidal bent, she’s the only voice so far for women who make their own damn choices and don’t blindly follow the men.

I have no doubt that equal opportunity and women’s rights would take a bit of a ding in the post-apocalypse. But it is the attitude of the showrunners that irks me, this “natural” order falling into place that the women deal with the children, supplies, food and laundry, and the men handle the hunting, protection and – of course – leadership responsibilities.

Even in the confrontation over Andrea’s gun, she calls on the second-in-command – a man – to arbitrate. When he rules against her, she stomps off.

Personally, I’d have decked them both and taken my goddamn gun. I’d rather be out there on my own and armed than following these sexist numbnuts who think I’m too girlified to know when it’s a good time to shoot a zombie.

Finally someone handed Laurie a gun – the only one who truly shouldn’t have one, as she’s pretty helpless – but it was too little, too late. Andrea’s belated show of strength was jarring because the women had fallen into such a passive state that any self-determination beyond suicide seemed out of place.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s still incredibly powerful television and a fine example of character-driven horror. Nor do I think that every piece of genre fiction needs to be a billboard for equal rights in every denomination. Frankly, if it was from a lesser comic book, I might not even have noticed; I mean, we’re not talking about SUPERNATURAL-level misogyny here. That’s like comparing a hangnail to a gunshot wound.

I just expect better of a series based on a comic book that took human beings and made them equal in the eyes of God and zombies. Because when the shit goes down, everyone better grab a gun – man or woman.