Jul 6, 2023

"Evil Dead Rise": Trans kid accidentally starts the whole horror-fest

 Evil Dead Rise (2023) tells us the origin of the Evil Dead franchise, which I'm only vaguely familiar with.  Isn't it about a zombie Apocalypse?  But I heard there was a trans character, so let's give it a look:

Scene 1: Monster POV through a scary woods and a lake.  Psych!  It's a drone, sent by a fully-clothed young adult guy, Caleb (Richard Crouchley), to scare a girl.  She goes to their beautiful A-frame cabin to check on his girlfriend Jessica, who isn't feeling well.  Correction -- dead and zombified.  She kills them both.  Hey , I thought they were main characters.

Scene 2: One day earlier.  In a graffiti-covered Halloween house or fetish club, Beth checks the results of a pregnancy test. Yep, she's preggers.  But this will never be mentioned again.  She rushes through the rain to an upscale apartment complex.

Scene 3: Inside one of the apartments: art supplies, photos of kids, a lady with dark blue nails working on a woodworking project.  Teenage boy comes in looking for his protest t-shirt.  Mom yells at another boy, Danny, to turn his music down.  A preteen girl, Kassie, is having fun snipping the heads off dolls. 

Doorbell.  It's a teenage boy, Jake (Billy Reynolds McCarthy) and a kid, inviting "Brigit" to watch horror movies.   I thought the trans character was a boy, but apparently they're a girl.  She rudely says no,  Hey, it was a perfectly nice invitation!. The preteen girl attacks her, and she runs into brother Danny's room.  They attack the preteen girl.  I can't tell if they are serious or not.

Scene 4: Another doorbell.  Mom answers.  No one there.  Then Beth from Scene 2 yells "Boo!", and Mom clobbers her.  Girl, never surprise a trained assassin!  

Plot dump: They are sisters. The building is being demolished in a month, so Mom -- El -- and the kids are out. There's someone named Jay living there.

Scene 5: Beth discusses her gig in Bangkok, and how tired she is of being mobbed by fans.  Except she's a guitar technician, not a singer.  Preteen introduces her new doll's head on a stick, used to scare off evil ghosts. Beth brought a gift for Jay: "lazy man's beer mug," with a urinal attached, har har.  Whoops, foot-in-mouth, Mom and Jay have broken up!

Scene 6:
While Beth and Mom discuss how much they love each other (like sisters, of course), the kids pick up some pizzas.  Suddenlly there's an earthquake!  Everyone hunkers down.  When it ends, there's a hole in the parking garage floor leading to an old bank vault (this 30-story building used to be bank).  Danny climbs down and finds some old safe deposit boxes, then a room full of hanging crosses and crucifixes and a burlap bag that's moving.  He stupidly opens it, and gets pelted by bugs.  Inside is a book.

Scene 7:
Beth and El discuss the lack of cell phone bars.  The kids haven't returned with the pizzas, so Gabriel (Jayden Daniels), apparently a neighbor, offers to help look for them.  But then they arrive.

Several actors in this movie are alumni of the long-running New Zealand soap Shortland Street.  But they've lost their Kiwi accents.

Scene 8: While Mom El cleans up, Beth gives the preteen a bath (and pretends that a monster is dragging her under -- too many joke "boos" in this movie).  Danny unwraps the bank vault book. It's full of pictures of eyes bleeding, scary demons, and decapitated heads continuing to speak.   He also stole some old vinyl records, apparently a recording of a Catholic conference where they unveiled one of the three "fabled volumes" of Naturum Demento, The Book of the Dead.  Um...Naturum demento means 'the nature of madness."  It is bound in human flesh, of course, and the words and pictures are made of blood.    

Next record: A man named Littleton tells us that the church rejecte the volume, so three priests translated it on the downlow. Ancient rituals and incantations, yada yada yada.  They start reading the "spiritual resurrection" passage, and the book's pages start flipping.  Danny can't turn off the phonograph!  

Meanwhile, Mom El is grabbed by something in the elevator, and splattered down the shaft.  She's dead.  Then why did we have to listen to her whole back story?  No, alive, just stuck in an elevator, being battered by whispering demons and torn apart by tentacles.

Scene 9: The lights go out.  As the family lights candles, the evil dead Mom El returns and tries to fry eggs.  She doesn't have the motor skills, of course. She talks about how much she wants to kill them, then says "It's in me. Don't let take my babies." before dying. 

The elevator and the stairs have collapsed -- they're stuck on the 9 millionth floor!  They call the hunky Gabriel from next door, and the crazy old man from down the hall, to help.  Gabriel prays.  Darn, I thought his prayer was going to turn Mom El into a screaming demon.

I'll stop there.

Beefcake: None.  Not even at the beach.

Heterosexism: No male-female romance, a welcome relief from most horror movies, where the only two people left on Earth happen to be an age-appropriate, hunkiness-appropriate male-female pair.

LGBTQ+ Representation:  This movie is getting accolades for its inclusion of a trans character: teenage Danny, the stupid kid who starts the whole zombie apocalypse, is played by trans actor Morgan Davies.  But as far as I watched, no one referred to Danny as trans.  But we identify characters as gay when no one actually says "You are gay," so why do we need someone to say "trans"?

Teenage Brigid, played by Gabrielle Echols, has a thoroughly masculine presentation -- watching the first scenes on mute, I thought she was a boy. But there's no verbal indication that the character is intended as queer.

Spoiler Alert:  Everybody dies except Beth and the preteen girl.


Jul 2, 2023

The Top Five Buffed Big Brothers of Nuclear Family Sitcoms

 Ever since Tony Dow started flexing as the hunky big brother on Leave It to Beaver (1957-63), nuclear family sitcoms have been juxtaposing shy, weird, un-athletic, intellectual, or otherwise outsider boys and their popular, athletic, muscular, and often dimwitted older brothers.  Sometimes Big Brother is deliberately cast with a bicep boy, but more often it happens organically, as little brother hits the books and big brother hits the gym.  A few recent examples come to mind. Oddly, they are all in gay-free or gay-skittish shows.  I wonder if there is a connection.

1. Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2006). Malcolm is a beset-upon genius with two older and a younger brother. Bully Reese (Justin Berfield) turned into a veritable bodybuilder with a strong gay subtext before the showrunners got scared and turned him straight.

2. Everybody Hates Chris (2005-2009). Drew (Tequan Richmond) was so beautiful that everyone, not just teenagers, dissolved into a slurry of hormones when he smiled at them.  Women only, I think: this show was extremely skittish about the g-word.

3. The Middle (2009-2018): Axl Heck (Charlie McDermott) hung around the house in his underwear all the time.  This was supposed to be a weird quirk, not a turn-on.  They didn't know the audience very well, did they? I don't remember if he liked girls or not; I was too busy looking at his "happy trail" to pay attention to the plots. (Except for the one where the sister's friend wants to come out, but doesn't get to say the g-word.)

4. The Goldbergs (2013-2023): Barry (Troy Gentile), wrestler and all-around hunk paired with the shy intellectual boy in a gay-free 1980s.

5. Young Sheldon (2017-).  Georgie Cooper (Montana Jordan) is all brawn to Sheldon's brains in a gay-free 1990s.  Unfortunately, they abandoned the muscle-building plotline to concentrate on Georgie as a teen dad.

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