Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Earth Vs. Space: Losing Gravity!?

Is NASA warning us to be ready on January 4th at 9:47 AM (PST) for a long-awaited alignment of key planets that will cause a cosmic reverbration resulting in partial weightless on Earth for up to 5 minutes? No. The expertly spoofed tweet that has been circulating the web for a couple weeks is a hoax according to Snopes. So those stories suggesting that if you jump up in the air precisely at 9:47 AM (PST), it will take 3 seconds to land as opposed to the 0.2 seconds it usually takes. Sounds utterly crazy, right?

Well, not so fast. According to the European Space Agency Earth's gravity IS being thrown off by Antartica's rapidly melting ice. Fluctuations in the gravity field have been detected as far as Canada. Researchers now fear the collapse and dissolution of the Southern polar ice cap has become irreversible and the effects (other than a 16-ft rise in sea level) are unknown. So what could happen if gravity is weakened? Could things not rooted to the Earth could fly off?  More than likely, Earth would loose some of it's atmosphere making life more difficult for anything that needs oxygen. Now THAT is scary.

And let's not even talk about the Near-Earth Object, asteroid 99942 Apophis, that is predicted to be the closest fly-by ever. It will fly between the Earth and the Moon on Friday, April 13, 2029 (just our luck), slingshot around, and may hit Earth in 2036. All the more reason to party like it's 1999 2029 and jump up in the air!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What is KRAMPUS?

In some European countries Christmas is celebrated as either Saint Nicholas Day (December 6th) or The Feast of Saint Nicholas (December 19th) and Saint Nicholas comes to town to reward all the good children. However, all the bad children have to contend with the Krampus – a horned creature, covered in black hair, with cloven hooves and a pointed tongue. He travels alongside Saint Nicholas and misbehaved children get whipped with birch branch, while bad children get hauled off to be drowned, eaten, or taken to the underworld. The Krampus origin is unclear, but festivals often include Krampages (runs) with wandering Krampus figures lingering about the festivities who are encouraged to terrify children.

In the aftermath of the Austrian Civil War, the Krampus tradition was prohibited and in the 1950s, even the government got involved and sparked debate of whether the imagery was appropriate for children. Needless to say the Krampus tradition never took off in America where St. Nicholas was reinvented into the jolly, red-suited Santa Claus we know and love today (Coca Cola is often credited for searing this image into our cultural consciousness in the 1930s). The Krampus resurgence however is underway as anti-Christmas sentiment is steadily growing in the country.

It's great timing for Michael Dougherty (director and writer of the fantastic TRICK ‘R TREAT) who plans to surprise bad Christmasgoers next year, not a lump of coal but a feature film called KRAMPUS, a twisted seasonal comedy opening December 4, 2015. Take a look at these brilliant Gif Cards and start counting the days. See the full announcement at Bloody Disgusting! (I wonder if this means that Trick 'r Treat 2 will be delayed another year?)

Further Reading:



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Babadook: Review

What The Shining did for fatherhood, The Babadook will do for motherhood. This Australian import is the first feature film from director Jennifer Kent and it examines both childhood terrors and the terror of parenting. Anguished and weary, Amelia (in a tour de force performance by Essie Davis) is struggling to cope after the death of her husband and the birth of her precocious child who is seemingly afraid of everything and yet increasingly aggressive. Then one night, a mysterious book arrives on a bookshelf and sets into motion a tug of war between mother and son, reality and nightmares, love and murder.

The deliberate pace keeps the chilling atmosphere grounded as the supernatural incidents begin to mount – and then Mr. Babadook shows up in wisps of shadows and silhouettes, appearing like German Expressionist demon straight from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. This is a beautiful film with stylish transitions, an aural soundscape (again echoing The Shining) that send primal shivers down the spine, and shadowy sets painted in every shade of blue ensuring a gloomy  and dark undercurrent. 

Everything works and it's a tense, unsettling ride and while it never crosses into full out terror, it does eschews cheap scares or geysers of blood. It falls into the same category of Insidious, a horror movie that relies on psychological terror, minimal effects, open-ended storytelling that allows the audience to use it's imagination. This ultimately is a surprisingly moving story of loss, coping, and the perils of mental health, and easily the best horror movie of 2014.