Reed Alexander’s Mental Vomit
The following are explanations of the things I reference in my reviews. From reading this list it should be easier to understand some of the obscure comments I make when I’m spewing my mental garbage all over a movie review.
The 30 minute rule: If nothing significant to the direct plot happens in the first 30 minutes, I stop watching and write my review based on what I watched. I don’t care if this sounds unfair. I’m not waiting for something interesting to happen for a full fucking half an hour.
Bad Ghost, No Vengeance!: This is a plot that has come up far more times than should have required a title. This usually surrounds a vengeful spirit who, more often than not, kills people completely unrelated to the person who actually wronged it, often up to and including the characters trying to help it get justice. This can occasionally be substituted by a malicious spirit that is simply bad at getting the killing done efficiently.
Bad Even for Porno: Acting quality comes in many levels. For horror, the acting you’d expect is well below par for most other kinds of cinema. But it could be worse. The levels from bad to good are Porno, Student Film, Horror, Independent Movie, Hollywood, Oscars.
Band Wagon Movie: A plot that is currently popular in the main stream and every hack and their uncle are now trying to cash in by making a rehash of the same concept. See also Shaky Camera… First fucking thing that comes to mind? ZOMBIES! Jesus fucking Christ, does everyone have to do zombies these days?!
Black guy dies first: It’s usually the black guy but this extends to any minority. Being a minority in a horror movie is almost certainly a death sentence for your character. That’s bad enough but far too often minority characters are the first to die. This is just sad bullshit the industry has been rehashing over the past 50 fucking years. It still counts if an undeveloped white character dies if a developed minority character dies next.
Child’s Play is in Effect: This means that the writer/director of a movie has completely fucking missed the whole god damn point of having a small creature (under 2 foot) as the primary antagonist. The classic which I coin the phrase from is, of course, “Child’s Play,” but could be any movie with a small antagonist such as “Puppet Masters,” “Ghoulies,” and “Basket Case.” Because of their size, the antagonist has to play the stealth game, the long game, be cunning in their murder. They can’t just outright go head first at their victim, because, you know, they could get punted across the room like a fucking football. In a review, if I state ‘Child’s Play is in Effect,’ the director or the writer likely fucking forgot this fact.
Cookie Cutter Plot: Again this isn’t my term but I mention it enough where I should probably clarify what it means. The Plot or Story isn’t just similar or borrowed from another well established movie in the same genre, it’s flat out fucking stolen. I’m okay with remakes and thematic ripoffs that are specifically paying homage to the original or the classic. I’m okay with a cut and paste setting or theme that is given a new spin. I’m NOT okay with is actually flat out stealing someone else idea and trying to make it your own. Take your K-Mar Gobot and go somewhere the fuck else with that shit.
“Gladiator” Moments: Completely fucking irrelevant, esoteric, moments that don’t seem connected to anything in the plot. These are typically added to pad the movie and make it seem more artsy. You know, like those scenes from the movie “Gladiator” with purple clouds and falling flower petals.
Good-Bad Movie V. Bad-Bad Movies: Good movies are undeniable. They just got that extra something. Whatever it is that makes them good, we love them and appreciate them for just being in the world. So why aren’t bad movies that simple? Why can’t we just say “That fucking sucked,” and move on. The reason is because sometimes bad movies are actually pretty fucking good, often even inexplicably so. You may have heard it as ‘A movie that’s so bad, it’s good,’ but whether its Good-Bad, or Bad-Bad, there are two kinds of each. Those that are intentionally made bad, and those which were intended on being good and just sucked (then out of those, those that are good and those that are bad). Among them is the rare gem, a unicorn if you will, movies like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” that are so bad, they’re actually a stroke of fucking genius.
McGuffin with Legs (McGuffin: Item used to drive the plot): Usually a small child, occasionally a small animal, the McGuffin with Legs is a ‘character’ (frequently undeveloped) that serves no other purpose than to drive the plot along. Think of the remake of “War of the Worlds.” Tom Cruise spends a lot of the movie chasing after his daughter who is constantly being placed in danger beyond all logic and comprehension. She’s not really a character, she’s a McGuffin… with legs.
Riff (Riffing, to ‘Riff’’): This is not my word, but I realized a lot of my followers might not be familiar with the term. It means to make fun of a movie as a member of the audience.
Scooby-Doo Effect: When the really interesting demon/mythose creature/monster/alien winds up just being a normal person. Whether it’s supposed to be a demon, or a monster, or some tentacle beast from another plain, it’s actually just a normal guy. You know, like in Scooby-Doo, when they pull off the monster’s mask to reveal Old Man Withers. There a dozen movies that ruin perfectly good horror like this. “The Tall Man” is one, “Hide and Seek” is another. This is usually presented as a twist, and almost always a lame one.
Shaky Camera: A genre based on ‘Found Footage’ or ‘Home Movies’ that is represented by the protagonists ‘videotaping’ the movie, effectively by accident. See also “Band Wagon Plot.” This trend needs to die, be cremated via incinerator, stuffed in a mirrored box, placed at the bottom of a well, and the well filled with concrete…
Spoon Feeding the Antagonist: Good antagonists are clever, set up elaborate traps, or have the uncanny ability to stalk and capture their pray. Spoon fed antagonists would not be able to kill anyone if the writer or director weren’t constantly providing dues ex machina to assure the antagonist is successful. Protagonists will behave completely illogically, lose to blind luck, or will suffer from tropey interference from the plot.
Weaker Sex Syndrome: This is when the writer or director cast the female protagonist as a frantic, bumbling, ninny, whose soul purpose is to drag the plot along, usually by being utterly useless. I have no respect for writers and directors who cast women in this light.
Drag the Plot Kicking and Screaming: This means to use any of the above terrible plot and character devices because you wrote or directed yourself into a corner and are leaning on them like a crutch to get out of it…More will be added to this list as they come up.
Reed Alexander began his career as a writer in the same way many do. Between naps and breaks on his union job, he would take the time, sometimes hours, to sit at a computer and write. Originally, his first projects were meant to be graphic novels, but drawing the same character consistently was not a discipline he’d ever explored. Being broke like most writers, he couldn’t afford an artist and eventually just settled with publishing in print. It would be almost 12 years between writing his first piece and having his first story published.
As it turns out, the sort of violent niche’ that Reed was into was a hard sell to most publishers. Reed writes with the assumption most people are ultimately scum and in the worst of horrors, would devolve into absolute shit. The brutality of the world is important to his writing as it makes every glimmer of real human beauty precious. This is of course, usually right before he destroys it. Not unlike a toddler kicking over a block castle he just built.
Reed spends these days, writing (or rather shitting all over) other peoples’ art as a horror film critic. Maybe it’s because he thinks most people are shit, or maybe it’s because people turned their nose up at his work, but Reed takes a special glee in trashing film. You can find his reviews at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorReedAlexander/
Reed wouldn’t tell us his place of birth or where he spent most of his childhood. What we got were the generic detail. As a child he grew up in two port towns and this instilled in him a fondness of the ocean. It also might explain why he swears like a sailor. His youth was filled with fond memories of playing in the ocean and in the forest. This was a time before the internet and cell phones so kids still played outside, by themselves, often in the wild, with no adult supervision.
A hyper, almost animalistic childhood, lead to an awkward and unusually late coming of age. As a teenager, Reed was a bit of a spaz and had a hard time communicating with civility. So, he communicated with music, and for a short time was in a metal band doing his best to scare the crap out of his audience. A lack of civility, tendency for destructive behaviors, and overall hyperactivity, did not make Reed a model student. While he did manage to graduate, it was with an embarrassingly low GPA.
Reed would not be deterred by this. By 18 he was off in the real world trying to explore his music career. It was an absolute disaster. By 19 he was homeless, penniless, and directionless. The band was going nowhere, no one would hire him, and his only earthly possession was his dying car. At 22 he packed what clothing he had and left for Upstate NY to stay with relatives.
It would take time to turn his life around. There was a string of dead end jobs at first. This was followed by two failed attempts at college. But eventually he did graduate from SUNY at Albany with a BS in Political Science.
Reed describes himself as a sort of Atheist known as an Apatheist. To Reed, the existence or nonexistence of God is both philosophically and morally irrelevant. As he would explain it, morals are a human construct and do not exist outside of society. What we call our sense of empathy is truly just pity; a chemical function of the brain designed to help us work in groups for the safety of numbers. He goes on to explain that this can be easily overridden by desires for self-preservation. Only personal discipline can turn the chemical function of pity into empathy and prevent self-preservation from overriding our judgment.
As Reed sees it, because morals do not exist, we can choose what is moral, and in fact do so all the time. Human morals have been fluid since the dawn of civilization. We can use our history and our science to chose which morals are the best for society. The target, as he identifies it, is maximum equality both politically and socially. He could spend literally hours explaining what he calls the only fair system, which is democratic socialism.
For this reason, Reed is pro LGBTQ right, pro woman’s rights, and pro treat your fellow human equally. This would seem almost contradictory for a person who basically believes that everyone is scum, but disciplined empathy is of the highest importance to Reed.
Graduated Dean’s list at University at Albany (you won’t find him, it’s a pen name, idiot…)
Published in Artpost Magazine for his short fiction “Inside” and the short fiction “Not In My Country.”
Published by Page Publishing for his novel “Bend or Break” and his novel “The Flagellant.”
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