TRUE HORROR

Fear doesn’t come easy these days.

Lost in the cacophony of direct-to-video dreck and exploitative and derivative muck that fills the horror landscape these days are the rare moments when true horror can be seen. Gore is not horror. Jump scares are not horror. Horror, at it’s base level, challenges our sense of security, not by appealing to our internal revulsion or ability to be startled, but rather from forcing us to confront ideas, visuals and moments that threaten us at the most core level. Fear is subjective, and almost impossible to quantify. The classic film, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was, especially for the time, a groundbreaking assault on the audience. Shocking images and jump scares were employed but not depended upon the way modern horror does. It made us question the creepy gas station attendant, the friendly hitchkiker, the road trip, the good ol’ country home. Much like the works of Stephen King, pure horror is often achieved by subverting the things we feel safe with, turning them away from the iconography of our happiness and security, and forcing them into the areas of our subconscious that we have saved for those creeping terrors that activate our basic need to survive. Fight or flight.

But this is a dying art. Modern “Torture Porn”(i.e. SAW, HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, etc.) along with the proliferation of the jump scare, has led a largely jaded and cynical movie-going public into the incorrect belief that revulsion and panic are synonymous with fear. While they can certainly function as corollaries to fear, unskilled directors and horror producers use these techniques to a fault, missing the essence of what was truly great about this genre to begin with. To know too much of what’s happening in a story as an audience is to diffuse questions we have that accent the fear that creeps to us from the silver screen. Michael Myers wasn’t scary because he had a big knife or a scary mask. It was because we didn’t understand him. Fear is usually born from ignorance, and horror masters of the past knew how to exploit this to great effect. Michael Myer’s was scary because e didn’t understand him, didn’t know where he would come from next, and never knew if he was really done coming for us. This was further enhanced by subverting our sense of safety, in this case, small town living, or of being safe under the care of a guardian.

True horror is rare these days. But every once in while, the essence of horror and what drives us to it can be found in all it’s glory, hiding in the tall grass, just waiting to surprise us from the most unlikely of sources. Which brings us to Resident Evil. A staple of the survival horror genre, the series has arguably been slipping further and further from the classification “survival horror” immediately following the original. Which still great, Resident Evil 2 was a departure from horror and focused more on action and puzzles to entertain. Resident Evil 4 moved the series even further away, using the horror elements simply to facilitate the action of the game. “Resi 5”, as fans are want to call it, was barely survival horror and “Resi 6” was just……well, not that great and seemed to mark a low point in the series.

Which is what makes the fact that Resident Evil 7 is, by all accounts, the most frightening piece of horror media to come out in the last decade, so surprising. Taking cues from such genre classics as TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE RING, MOTEL HELL and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD(just to name a few), this game has everything we want from horror, employing tropes such as the disturbed family, the lost loved one and even “found footage” to maximum effect. We don’t spoil or discuss the plot specifics of games on this site, but we can say, you play as Ethan, a man looking for his lost wife in the backwood swaps of Louisiana at the infamous Baker estate, known for it’s bloody and mysterious past. Done in first-person, this game throws you right into the chaos from the outset, and manages to consistently ratchet up the intensity and difficulty, keeping you in a perpetual state of tension and fear. Resources are scarce, the imagery disturbing without being overtly gory, and the pacing is pure rollercoaster. It never let’s up. Look for a full spoiler review in the coming months. But for now, just get your ass to the local Gamestop and get a copy NOW.

And KEEP IT CULT

SAVING FRAMES AND KILLING ANIMALS

Every year, Games Done Quick, in conjunction with Twitch TV, sponsor two events which showcase the current record holding runs by competitive speed-run enthusiasts. Translation, twice a year we get a chance to watch our favorite old games get glitched up, bugged out and utterly demolished by speed runners, guys who try to make it to the end of the game in the least amount of time. Retro classics have programming bugs and skips the developers never intended which the runners exploit to ensure the shortest time possible. Running Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time in less than half an hour? No PROBLEM!! These guys measure frame loss, which is to say they worry about losing time in terms of 1/24ths of a second. That’s pretty hardcore even for a gamer. Over the period of a week, Twitch TV, a live streaming site for speed runnners and their rabid fan base(yes indeed, and they are legion), works with various other sponsors to raise money for a just cause, Doctors Without Borders and Prevent Cancer for example. During this week, people donate for various prizes and to have the speed runners try to hit certain criteria during runs. Maybe have the filename be the name of your just born baby girl? The most common donation relates to the Super Metroid speedrun that is a staple of the events, where at the end of the game the runner can choose to either save or, for the sake of saving time, let the animals die. People spend anywhere between $25,000 and $50,00 in total to sway the outcome of this vote. Sometimes the money causes the anmals doom, sometimes they are spared. Nerdy as f***, yes, but the money goes to a good cause and people have a blast.

Sporting different titles, Awesome Games Done Quick, or AGDQ is generally held in January of each year and Summer Games Done Quick, or SGDQ is held in July. For nerds, it’s like the NBA Finals of competitive video gaming, while admittedly more of an exhibition. Not always, as is the case when four runners try to race to the finish from the start screen of Megaman 2 on NES. It is shockingly more fun and watchable than one might expect. And it’s happening right now!! Livestreams are available at Twitch TV and on YouTube. You’ll either move right on or be hooked in an instant, depending on how much nostalgia you have for retro gaming. For us at Facecon.org, we are currently glued to the livestream and will come up for air on Sunday when the event is finished. Gotta go watch someone run Silent Hill 4!

GRAND JUNCTION CHAPTER TO START NEW WEEKLY SCREENING SCHEDULE

Well, the time has come for us of the Grand Junction chapter of the Face Eaters to start up our own weekly screening time so we may indulge our need to watch cult flicks/retro TV whilst playing Magic and scarfing snacks. We will regularly meet every Sunday from noon to four pm and any and all are welcome. Bring friends! We will look forward to seeing you there! Find us on Facebook and PM one of the Grand Junction Eaters or Patrick K. for details. And, per usual,

KEEP IT CULT