Directed by Paul Fox, The Dark Hours is a haunting tour de force. It’s the type of film you watch while curled up all alone on the couch with a thick cup of hot chocolate on a cold Canadian night. It’s a film you just get lost in, hypnotized by the slow pace, atmospheric score, and eerie, original, non-linear storytelling. The film oozes with atmosphere and is superbly well cast and acted.
The story revolves around forensic psychiatrist Samantha Goodman (Kate Greenhouse) and her troubled relationships with her low income husband, parasitic sister, very stupid party crasher (Dov Tiefenbach) and her terrifying patient, Harlan Payne (Aidan Devine), a tall bearded epileptic charismatic gay ax murderer. Greenhouse is uncannily believable in the part, reminding me of every hyper-educated woman I have ever known. There’s a familiarity about all of the characters. We learn just enough about each of them to know the type and recognize them as people we’ve fleetingly known. Dov Tiefenbach (who Friday the 13th fans will remember from Jason X) gives one of the most fascinating performances I have ever witnessed.
Slasher fans may be disappointed by the film’s slow pace and artsy ambiguous narrative structure and some viewers feel confused or even cheated by the time it ends. Aside from one gratuitously disgusting scene involving a finger, and a stylishly bloody scene involving a nail, the film is much more a psychological thriller than a splatter film, and unfolds like a group therapy session.
But there is evil in this movie. Not of the demonic otherworldly variety, but the darkness of human nature.
I previously blogged about how Rob Zombie’s Michael Myers was largely inspired by Henry Lee Lucas and to a lesser extent Otis Toole. It’s interesting to note that Lucas had an IQ of 87 and Toole had an IQ of 75. Averaging the IQ’s of the two men who inspired the character gives an IQ of roughly 80, which sounds believable. An IQ of 80 implies Myers was brighter than about 10% of Americans, but duller than 90%. Historically IQ was measured in children by dividing one’s mental age by one’s chronological age and then multiplying by 100 to remove the decimal point. So an IQ of 80 implies that 10 year old Myers had the mental ability of an 8 year old (8/10 = 0.8 * 100 = 80). Nothing 10 year old Myers did seemed beyond the mental capacity of an average 8 year old.
Now it’s likely that he got older his IQ deteriorated because schizophrenia is known to cause acute drops in IQ. Rob Zombie said this about the mental state of Myers in RZ Halloween II:
I love the fact that he’s carrying this mask around; this mask is significant to him because he’s had it since he was a little kid. And it’s deteriorating. And in a way, we can literally make the connection between the mask and his state of mind. As the mask deteriorates, so does he. His brain is rotting away and in the sequel he’s becoming more and more insane.
Despite his deteriorating mental state, it’s unlikely that Myers’ IQ ever sunk too low, because he hallucinates his mother telling him that his psychiatrist (who wrote a book about him), got rich off of their pain. It takes a certain amount of intelligence to know when you’re being exploited and Myers, even at his most demented, still exceeded that threshold. As Zombie explained in the director’s commentary of part 2, that scene showed Myers was not quite as dumb as he appeared.
According to the book The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton, the media is one of the three most psychopathic professions, with only CEOS and lawyers ranking higher. Without getting too technical, “psychopath” is basically the scientific term for people who are born evil. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with “sociopath” but should not be confused with “psychotic”, which refers to people who are severely delusional.
Despite the fact that Lindsay Lohan is an addict in a very vulnerable emotional state, the media (including the blogosphere) is flooding the public with every negative story they can dream up. Headlines abound about her docuseries on OWN being cancelled (not true, the network is running all 8 episodes it ordered and there were never any plans to produce more) and about her tanking ratings. While the ratings have been disappointing, most episodes have been above what OWN used to achieve in that time slot, They are even trying to claim her recent guest appearance on Two Broke Girls was a ratings disaster. Instead of gushing about the fact that Lindsay’s docuseries is OWN’s highest rated docuseries among the coveted young women demographic, they are cooking up any headline they can to portray her as a loser. Even though there’s some truth to these stories, the media spins it in a way that amplifies the negative even though they know she’s a vulnerable addict who can relapse at anytime and has probably already done so.
This demonstrates that the media is full of psychopaths. Even though they are intelligent enough to know that all this negative press is potentially devastating to Lindsay’s recovery, they continue to unleash it because negative stories about Lindsay Lohan drive traffic to their websites and they feel no remorse for the harm they are doing to a human being. Such cold blooded opportunism is the defining trait of psychopathy. As Oprah told Lindsay in the docuseries, the vultures are waiting to pick your bones, and if I were you, I wouldn’t let them have my bones.
Oprah knows of what she speaks. The same vultures came for Oprah when she started her network a few years ago. Eager to see the world’s most successful woman fall flat on her face, the public was bombarded with headlines about OWN’s disastrous ratings, but instead of letting the vultures have her bones, Oprah pulled herself up by her bootstraps and turned OWN into a success. I hope Lindsay can find the fortitude to do the same with her own life. That’s why when Lindsay publicly claimed Oprah has become a great mentor to her, I think there’s some truth to that. Hopefully Oprah has advised Lindsay not to read the negative press. For if there is one ideology Oprah has preached for years, it’s that what you focus on expands.
Rosie O’Donnell went on twitter yesterday to say “The Lindsay Lohan show is a tragedy – on every level. I hope one day she gets sober for real and watches these episodes – n sees what we all do.” Lindsay’s docuseries is television and its best and especially enjoyable for someone with my dark sensibilities, but Rosie O’Donnel is an extremely sensitive depression prone person who likely struggles to handle a show so raw. Back in 1999 she was so traumatized by the Columbine school shooting that she transformed her wildly popular syndicated talk show into a polarizing anti-gun platform, alienating many conservative Americans and getting into a brutal televised confrontation with pro-gun actor Tom Sellek.
It’s interesting that Rosie did not attack Oprah in her comments about Lindsay’s docuseries. As many will recall, Rosie O’Donnell also had a show on Oprah’s OWN network from 2011-2012. The show was actually very good, especially once Rosie abandoned the comedy and engaged in deep conversations but it did poorly in the ratings. This was mostly because back in early 2012, very few people were watching OWN (ratings are much higher today) and Rosie had a mediocre time slot (weeknights at 7 pm), but it was also because Rosie’s obsession with gay topics was uncomfortable, even for gay viewers, and especially for the older middle class women who so loved her syndicated show and were tuning in to the OWN show for the same wholesome family entertainment. It seemed Rosie was trying to overcompensate for not being visibly gay in her syndicated talk show by being hyper-gay in the OWN talk show. I also don’t think there’s a huge audience for the type of in-depth intelligent conversation that Rosie was so good at which is why you don’t see much of it on commercial television.
Sadly Rosie’s talk show on OWN had to be cancelled because the ratings were nowhere near high enough to justify the eight figure salary Rosie was receiving, especially for a new network that was struggling at the time. In fact had Rosie’s talk show not been cancelled, the network would have likely collapsed. After the cancellation, many were expecting Rosie to badmouth Oprah as she had badmouthed Barbara Walters (Rosie had a brief gig co-hosting the View back in 2006-2007) in Rosie’s dark memoir Celebrity Detox and other shows. But so far that hasn’t happened, probably because Rosie’s show on OWN was cancelled for business reasons (low ratings) while Rosie quit The View for personal reasons, despite delivering the show record ratings and really putting it on the map as a cultural force.
Recently I blogged about how the Friday the 13th series could be continued. My idea was to ignore the 2009 remake and pick up the story after part 4, by having parts 5 through 11 be explained as dream or hallucination by Tommy Jarvis. This would make sense because Tommy was clearly descending into madness at the end of part 4 so it makes sense that he would hallucinate, and the events of parts 5 through 11 were so incredible that they seem outside of the film’s reality. Some fans told me they would be unhappy to see parts 5 through 11 dismissed, but I think they would get over it because the real glory days of the series were the early 1980s, before Jason became a zombified body-hopping caricature of himself.
So if parts 5 through 11 never happened, how do you realistically and credibly continue the story after Tommy so unequivocally killed Jason at the end of part 4? I had suggested that Jason could have a secret son who emerges to take over, but was told that idea was cliched and unoriginal.
So here’s another idea: Jason never died. At first this sounds ridiculous because we saw the machete sink deep into Jason’s head at the end of part 4, however what people forget is that Jason is a hydrocephalic which means that his cranium is enlarged by cerebrospinal fluid, not brain mass. This makes it possible that the machete never impaled his brain and thus never killed him.
Instead Jason was taken to the hospital and after ten years in a coma, spent another ten or more years being treated by Ginny Field (played by Amy Steel), the psychology major and heroine of Friday the 13th part 2. Ginny, now in her 50s, is a psychiatrist who also does part time therapy with Tommy Jarvis (now in his 40s) where they discuss his hallucinations and nightmares (parts 5 through 11). Ginny concludes that the reason Tommy had visions and dreams of Jason becoming an body hopping zombie is because he psychologically needs to imagine Jason as a demon to overcome the guilt he has for so badly hurting Jason.
Yes, Tommy feels guilty for what he did to Jason because even though Jason is a homicidal maniac, Jason has always been mentally handicapped so he didn’t know any better and was only trying to avenge his mother’s death. Ginny feels that Tommy can make it up to Jason by helping Jason integrate into society. Ginny feels that after years of treatment, it’s now safe to let Jason out, as long as he stays away from the woods (an obvious trigger). She arranges for Jason to move in with Tommy and work at a local grocery store pushing shopping carts.
Some of the teenagers at the grocery store figure out that their mentally disabled co-worker Jason is the infamous Camp Crystal lake mass-murderer from before they were born. They are planning a camping trip on Friday the 13th and wouldn’t it be exciting to bring along Jason himself. Jason gets into the van with the teenagers and they drive deep into the dark woods to find a remote place to set up a tent…the moon is full. Can Tommy and Ginny find them before something bad happens?
In the book A Question of Intelligence, author Daniel Seligman notes that mob leader John Gotti had a tested IQ of 110. Seligman found this figure to be quite plausible because criminals average IQ’s around 90, so an IQ of 110 was enough for Gotti to climb to the top of the crime world. Similarly, Charles Manson had a tested IQ in the 109-121 range. The people who killed for Manson probably had IQ’s around 90, but Manson being about 19-31 points higher, could easily manipulate them.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Rob Zombie was asked who his favorite non-fictional serial killer was. He replied:
I love ’em all. Not, you know, as people or anything, but they all make for great stories. I think Henry Lee Lucas is probably one of my favorites.
He and his buddy Ottis Toole were just a couple of deranged rednecks. But given his upbringing, y’know, it’s just not that surprising. Some of these guys, you think, “What would make a person do something like this?” And then you read about their upbringing and you’re like, “Oh, okay, well I guess that might do it.”
He also said:
I’ve read so many books about these guys, I start confusing their backstories. But with Henry and Ottis, I remember it was pretty horrible. Stripper moms, alcoholic dads, I think they were both forced to dress up like girls at some point. Henry killed his mom and raped her corpse, and Ottis had a thing for arson and cannibalism. They were into some really perverted stuff, like having sex with dead animals and that kinda thing.
So we can see several similarities between Zombie’s Michael Myers and Henry Lee Lucas. In addition to both being serial killers, both were deranged rednecks with stripper moms and alcoholic father (figures) and both were emasculated by a parent figure. Henry was made to dress like a girl by his mother and Michael’s mother’s boyfriend mocked Michael for seeming gay, predicting Michael would cut off his penis and change his name to “Michelle”. It’s unclear if Michael ever had sex with a dead animal, but his sister joked about him having sexual relations with the pet rat he killed.
It is tempting to conclude that a terrible parenting causes one to become a serial killer, but it could be that the children of terrible parents become serial killers for genetic reasons. If psychosis and psychopathy are genetic, then the parents of the criminally insane would be expected to manifest these same traits though to a much lesser degree, but the bad genes, and not the bad parenting, may be to blame for their kids becoming serial killers.
Although Zombie focuses a lot on Michael’s bad upbringing, he ultimately explains in the clip below that bad upbringing was not responsible for Michael’s cold, robotic, merciless nature. Michael was just born that way as Lady Gaga would say. His brain was wired differently.
Yesterday I blogged about my weird idea for a sequel to Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. An IMDB poster named “barhoumhuneiti” felt it was unrealistic and not enough about Michael Myers. Well, it’s difficult to make it about Michael Myers when he was unequivocally killed off at the end of Halloween II, but here’s another idea: Michael has an identical twin, separated at birth.
Michael’s mother (Debra) was a struggling single mom with a deadbeat boyfriend. It was hard enough raising Judith so when Michael and his identical twin were born, Debra figured she didn’t need both of them since they were exactly the same, so she gave Michael’s identical twin up for adoption. The twin was raised in a middle class loving perfect family.
When some psychologists discover that Michael had a secret identical twin who grew up in a good home they track the twin down to do some tests on him. Although the twin is a weirdo and a freak, the psychologists are disappointed he’s not yet a killer like Michael was. They want to prove that despite his good upbringing, he is just as evil and psychotic as Michael so that they can become famous for showing that nature trumps nurture (genes trump environment). They tell everyone in his small town that he is Michael Myer’s identical twin brother in the hopes that ruining his life will drive him crazy. Little by little, the twin becomes unhinged, just in time for Halloween…
I don’t know if there are any plans for another Halloween movie let alone a sequel to Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, but I think it could work. How can you continue Rob Zombie’s storyline when almost all the main characters have been killed off? Here’s how:
The perfect family is having breakfast in a beautiful mansion. They are concerned because their adopted teenaged son never comes out of his dark room and just watches horror films all day and all the classmates and teachers at a special school he attends are afraid of him. His adopted parents don’t understand how a boy with such a great upbringing could have turned into such a freak, and he just keeps getting worse.
One dark stormy night the adopted mother discovers a book her father (Dr. Loomis) was in the process of writing before he died. The book explains Loomis’ obsession with determining whether Michael Myers was just born genetically evil, or if he was driven to evil by his dysfunctional home life. To answer this question, Loomis conducted an experiment. He collected dozens of sperm samples from Michael and used them to impregnate 40 female patients at the mental hospital Michael was in. When the babies were born, he made sure that 20 of them were adopted into perfect families, and the other 20 were adopted by white trash. This allowed him to compare the effects of nature and nurture. None of the families knew they were adopting a Michael Myers child.
Upon learning that their adopted son is one of Michael Myer’s biological children, they are so creeped out that they start plotting ways to get him to live somewhere else. Overhearing their conversation, Michael’s son gets an axe from the garage and kills them. He then use’s Loomis’ unpublished book to search the country for his 39 biological siblings. Some of them are already confined to mental hospitals for strange or violent behavior, but most are not and the free ones help the institutionalized ones escape. Once all 40 of Michael’s children are together, they each put on their Michael Myer’s mask and plot to all visit Haddonfield on Halloween and kill every single person in the town.
The Friday the 13th series really lost its magic once it made the leap from a semi-realistic horror franchise to super-natural zombie saga involving possession and telekinesis. Fortunately there’s a simple solution. Make everything that happened after part 4 a dream, that occurred inside the head of Tommy Jarvis (the boy who killed Jason in part 4).
A new film can begin with Tommy (now in his mid 40s) waking up from the nightmare (parts 5 through 11). To convince himself that Jason really is dead, he visits Jason’s grave (in the pouring rain) and digs up his body (just as he did in part 6 which was a dream). He then goes ballistic, hacking up what’s left of Jason’s bones. When he finally calms down, a mysterious man appears and hacks Tommy’s head off. The following title comes crashing into the screen:
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE NEXT GENERATION
As the film unfolds it will be revealed that the man who beheaded Tommy was Jason’s unknown son who was conceived when Jason raped a camp councilor. He inherited his father’s deformity and brutality and has come to the woods of Crystal lake to avenge the brutal slaughter of both his father (Jason) and his grandmother (Pamela Voorhees)