In a few short weeks the sky will once again fold in upon itself. The air will bite, the leaves will color and die, and the sun will lose a little more of its breath each day to the moon, perpetually bloated and full in anticipation of what is now, after four years without fail, an Autumn blood ritual.
Yup, it's HAIL HORROR: YEAR 5. For the fifth time in as many years I will be devoting the month of October to visiting and, in some cases, revisiting, that most visceral of film genres, horror. In what has become Hail Horror tradition I'll fail to review even half of what I see or even plan to see, but the joy is in the planning, so in the end it all shakes out.
This year feels more that a little bittersweet. Last year a few days before I was set to officially begin reviewing I received the call that my father had suffered three heart attacks in the span of about 12 hours. My relationship with my father was and is the foundation for my tastes in movies, and colors everything I see. When I wrote about it last year I mentioned how, strangely, it was horror that comforted me during the times we waited for phone calls that could deliver anything at any moment:
...That was Monday. Now it's Wednesday, and things are the same. He flat-lined yesterday, and was resuscitated. Today they're going in to see what's going on. And I've had a little time to come to grips with what's going on, and the weird thing I found myself going to the stack of horror movies sitting on top of the television cabinet...
...Maybe the real draw of horror is that at times we're compelled to wipe away the pain and terror in our lives, and one way to do that is to expose ourselves to something even more gruesome and terrifying. Maybe it's a chance to escape, to see someone handle the unknown and unexplainable so that we can better cope with our own hurdles....
This October will mark six months since my father died, and I honestly don't know how that realization will affect what films I ultimately watch or how I ultimately approach writing about those films. A few days ago I read a post from Mike Lippet over at You Talking to Me? about the extent to which we insert ourselves into what we write, and I realize that everything I write about contains in some form or another the totality of my existence. Each choice of phrase springs forth from the combination of what I've seen, read, and experiences during my 38 years on this Earth. My perception of what I watched and wrote last year could not help but be informed by the events around my father, just as this year will be done on the shadow of his absence from my life. This morning I have to take my three-year old son to an eye specialist, and the results of that will surely add as much to my perception of the films as will my frustrations at work, the intimate moments with my wife and family, and even the music playing at I gather and express my thoughts on this blog (currently The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield).
All of which goes a long way to say that my favorite month of the year is fast upon us, and we're never so much alive as in the moments when our screams are about to be ripped from our throats. Rather than go over the guidelines and archives like I tend to do every year, I'll save that for another post. I'd rather let this one stand on its own.