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The Reeler Blog

Rob Nelson, Horror Victim

Minneapolis City Pages critic (and thus, by affiliation, Village Voice critic) Rob Nelson goes double-barreled this week in his appreciation for the Museum of the Moving Image's forthcoming It's Only a Movie horror film series, kicking off Saturday in Astoria. Start with his more macro preview published in the Voice, where he corners the likes of Joe Dante, Eli Roth and "the great American satirist" Larry Cohen, who'll be in attendance at the museum to screen his 1974 classic It's Alive:

"I just think kids like horror," says Cohen, who co-wrote the torturous Captivity -- which is due in July and mired in a marketing controversy -- but proved his point decades ago when It's Alive grossed $39 mil (huge for the '70s). "Look at 'Hansel and Gretel': The witch is gonna fatten up these kids and then cook 'em; they shove the old lady in the stove and kill her. This stuff isn't new. People say, 'How can you make a movie about a monster baby?' I say, 'Look at ancient mythology, where people are giving birth to monsters all the time!' "

True, true -- or rather, ingenuous, at least as it compares to Roth, who's back on the Exploit Defense he drew up for Hostel: Part II ("I actually get a lot of letters through MySpace from [U.S.] soldiers in Iraq," he tells Nelson, evidently between collar fittings at the Vatican). But the real money quotes come from Nelson's extended, fascinating City Pages interview with Adam Lowenstein, the University of Pittsburgh professor, author of Shocking Representations and one of the panelists at this weekend's panel discussion, "Considering Horror":

(The films aren't) reducible either to snap judgments of responsibility -- "This is a film that handles violence responsibly" and "This is a film that handles violence irresponsibly." It's just not that easy. I wish it were that easy in certain ways, but it would make for bad, boring art. Perhaps it would make for a safer sense of the public sphere, but that sense would be illusory, too. If we don't wrestle with these ambiguities and ambivalences, both within the films and within our reactions to the films, then we risk losing our sensitivity to the world around us. I really believe that.

Lots more here and, hopefully, at this site Thursday when I preview the series on The Reeler.

Posted at June 13, 2007 2:40 PM

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