I know I generally write about ruins and photography but I decided I’d branch out a bit, stretch my blogosphere legs as it were. I follow a few video makers on YouTube (and one that predates it) and some of them are intellectually stimulating while others are simply bizarre. Here, I want to introduce you to some that are closer to the stimulating rather than the bizarre side of the scale but, nothing mundane.
Rob Ager made me like Stanley Kubrick movies more and I had already considered The Shining and Clockwork Orange two of my favorite movies. I also put Dr. Strangelove pretty close behind those two films.
Ager runs a site named Collative Learning where he, obsessively, looks to break down and decode the meanings hidden in Kubrick’s (and other directors) films. I found him by looking up clips of The Shining on youtube, got sucked into one of his hour long talks, and have been following him through the Overlook’s impossible spaces ever since.
Some of his theories have been touched on previously, such as the subtle (and not so subtle) narrative about the genocide of Native Americans in the Shining, but much of his work is unique in that it exposes themes that haven’t been noticed before. The impossible spaces of the Overlook Hotel, as mentioned, or the odd origins of the photo at the end of The Shining are all new insights into the film I doubt I’d have ever caught. Who knew that some guy in the 90’s making a Duke Nukem level based on the Overlook would contribute to film theory?
Even some of the things now that seem obvious, such as narrative of the credits in Taxi Driver, I wouldn’t have noticed. I mean why would I pay attention to whats going on during the credits? I do now, though, thanks to Ager.
Marble Hornets is a low budget horror series made by a pair of college students (names) which debuted back in 2009. It’s based off of a somethingawful.com story about a ‘slender man’ who distorts reality around him. You can google more about him if you’d like, I won’t spoil things here. It’s currently in its third, and final, season.
One of the unique features of this series is that they use twitter as part of the narrative. The protagonist (@marblehornets) and a mysterious rival (@totheark) often tweet about the goings on between videos and to reveal clues to puzzles to their viewers.
If you like found footage, low budget horror, campy movies, or Alternate Reality Games then you’ll probably like Marble Hornets. They have DVDs with some commentary tracks which, at least for season 1, are a bit goofy but still entertaining.
Red Letter Media
If you’re a Star Wars or Star Trek fan you might already aware of Mr. Plinkett and his multi-hour tear down of the Star Wars Prequel trilogy. If not, then you should be. It took a long time to convince myself to sit down and watch a review of a movie that was about as long as the movie itself, but after the first part I had a marathon of all three.
The premise is that a creepy, ancient film critic by the name of Mr. Plinkett point by point analyzes and destroys the inconsistent and, often terrible, writing of these movies. There’s plenty of crude humor mixed in with plenty more accurate observations about how shoddy the Star Wars prequels, and many Star Trek films, really were.
Now, I watched and generally enjoyed the Prequels when I saw them in the theater, but these reviews I enjoyed even more. Maybe it’s seeing George Lucas taken down a notch or having someone spell out exactly what felt odd or wrong about the movies but, I think it’s more Red Letter Media’s style and sense of humor that keeps me coming back.
In addition to their lengthy, in-depth, reviews they also produce a shorter series called ‘Half in the Bag’ which reviews current movies and gives recommendations. If nothing else you should give their Episode One review a shot.
Twin Perfect is a trio who do features on horror movies and games and whose major, and best to date, project is ‘The Silent Hill Experience.’ If you’ve never heard of the series, Silent Hill is a well written, well executed horror game series that even after almost ten years hasn’t been topped. I, of course, speak only of the first four games and not of the spin-offs and terrible movies. I’d go on but Twin Perfect does it much better and at much greater length. (Not related but I give Silent Hill: Shattered Memories a pass because it’s essentially a different series with the same name and managed to do some fascinating things.)
If you’re only familiar with Silent Hill through the (terrible) movie, and you enjoy the occasional video game, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not at least playing Silent Hill 2. If you’re only going to try one, try that. However, be forewarned, the HD collection that was released this summer is a horrible bug filled disaster so you’re better off buying a used PS2/Xbox/PC copy if you can find one.
There also seems be a(n) (almost) personal grudge between these three and Tom Hullett who produced most of the Silent Hill games after number four. While Hullett does certainly have some decent, and in one case good, games under his belt it’s obvious to everyone but him that he doesn’t really understand what made the original games work. Thankfully, we have Twin Perfect here to set him straight.
I’ve also enjoyed their must watch movie series which, if you’ve been out of the horror movie loop for awhile, will point you in the direction of some excellent ones.
Rantmedia has been around for a very long time when considering Internet timescales. It began in the early 2000s as a series of radio shows (even appearing on the ancient mp3.com) and eventually branched out to producing cable access shows and then film festival short movies. While they produce a lot of material the series I’ve always enjoyed the most is Patrolling. It features segments on cooking, survival gear, tinfoil brain protection (this was a parody segment), urban exploration, and some now outdated technical tips. Check out the kukri tossing segment for some interesting video cutting work.
It’s very tongue in cheek, rarely takes a dark or somber tone but is good when it does, and it strikes the right balance of informative and entertaining that even when I vehemently disagree with something presented it’s not in an infuriating sort of way.
Rantmedia as a whole is still around, and has plenty of other worthwhile features like their old time radio show inspired ‘Tales from the Afternow’, but, it seems, Sean Kennedy has mostly retired from it to pursue his scuba diving. A third season of Patrolling has been listed as in production for a few years now so I still hold out some hope for more of their brand of strange.