The Top 5 Films to See Us Through Sandy (aka Hurricane Horror)

Posted on October 29, 2012 by Ben 3 Comments

by Annie Riordan

So here I am in Providence, Rhode Island, living at the bottom of a hill in a sub-basement on the banks of a large fishing pond and butted up against a steep incline littered with splintery trees leaning at precarious angles. And here comes Hurricane Sandy, aka Frankenstorm, aka Superstorm, aka We Are So Fucked. My kitchen table is loaded down with bottled water, packs of batteries, candles and a pumpkin that I have yet to carve. The power has already gone out once and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t go out again. Best case scenario: I am inconvenienced for a couple of days, unable to shower or eat hot food. Worst Case Scenario: I open a public swimming pool in my living room at the end of the week. Really Worstest Case Scenario: one of those leany trees out back smashes through my window and skewers my head like a toothpick in a martini olive.

Still, all of the above scenarios pale in comparisons to the ones listed below. And I need to hurry up and finish this article before the power blows out again. I’m in it for the long haul, but things could be worse. Much worse.

#1 The Mist

I might wake up Wednesday morning, stupidly thinking that the worst is over, and see a huge wall of mist rolling across the fishing pond and obliterating everything in its path. I might have time to make it to the Stop & Shop around the corner, just in time to watch the mist roll in and swallow the small township I live in, ripping a hole into a dimension filled with giant spiders, gargantuan hornet-bat-things and whatever the hell this elephantine tentacled thing is. Hmmm, wait until the neighbors go insane and demand a blood sacrifice, or venture outside and be torn apart like fresh bread by a freakish monster with a segmented thorax? Yeah, fuck that. I’m heading for the pharmacy and ODing on Ambien.

#2 Burning Bright

I might wake up tomorrow morning mid-storm and find myself boarded up and locked in with a 600 pound half starved Siberian tiger roaming around the apartment. And me fresh out of hamburger.

#3 Identity

The highest winds and heaviest rains are due to hit tonight. There are 24 units in this apartment complex, all of them occupied. But what if this entire building turns out to be my own mind, all of the apartments within just sections of my memories, all of the neighbors just different personalities housed within my brain? Seriously, some of my neighbors are scary as hell. If I find out any of them are from Florida, or share the same birthday as me, I’m nailing myself shut in the closet crawlspace until this shit blows over.

#4 Jurassic Park

Power outage is a given right now. It’s gonna happen, we just don’t know when. But when it does, Imma pulling the blinds and keeping as still as possible. I seriously just about shit myself when a goddamned doe wandered out of the woods this weekend and took a peek in our window. What the fuck am I gonna do if a mutherfucking T-Rex saunters up and squints at the snack-sized stupid white girl waving her plastic flashlight around like a dork? Sightseeing is discouraged during hurricanes for a reason.

#5 Storm of the Century

Imagine. The biggest hurricane of the century and you’re right in its path, stranded on an island and cut off from the world for the duration. You’ve got enough to worry about already, but noooooo. An ancient demonic man-monster picks precisely this time to come ashore and demand you hand over your firstborn. Thank god I never had kids. Also thank god that neither this miniseries nor Hurricane Sandy involved Mick Garris in any way shape or form. That would have been too horrifying to endure.

So, while the storm rages outside today and tonight, blowing your Halloween decorations over to the next county and turning your patio furniture into tangled bundles of rags, just remember: it could be worse. Good luck, fellow East Coasters. Keep safe. Stay out of the mist, keep clear of the ‘raptor fences and do not use raw meat as an after-bath splash. Just in case.

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  • zak says:

    Wow. I can imagine what it would be like to watch The Mist with that storm going on outside. Nerves of steel! It’s weird, when one is already unsettled, how the range of what seems plausible expands – those things actually could be out there! Given the heroic sense of duty that must have motivated you to crank out this article even with Sandy swirling about you, the least an appreciative reader like me can do is offer a comprehensive, if disjointed, reply.

    Frank Darabont may be the most faithful adaptor of Stephen King. I hope he does more of these hardcore horror flicks, which seem to rein in his penchant for schmaltz, or at least channel it more appealingly.

    Burning Bright is a weird movie. A scantily clad woman trapped in her house with a tiger would seem to be a straightforward filmic situation. The way the movie is shot is consistent with the cheap thrills promised by the ads; the lead is satisfyingly ogled by the camera, perspiring copiously in tight, claustrophobic spaces as the tiger gropes after her. (this scenario is so archetypal to horror that I wonder if much of the genre isn’t largely just sublimated heterosexual male fears of sexual rejection, with the monster standing in for their own dreaded self-image). In any case, so far so good, so properly shameless. The presence of a vulnerable brother for her to protect further raises the stakes, indicating that, as usual, the heroine will be forced to bring out her own inner beast to rise up and vanquish her opponent with a vigor proportional to the ordeal she has undergone, or perhaps in the end it will prove too much for her (The idea that we now routinely expect her to rescue herself, rather than being spirited away by the traditional male knight in shining armor, would seem an important example of our progress in the wake of feminism – perhaps all the more crucial for the way it has so pervaded the very areas of our culture that would be most exploitative)

    The film I’m describing knows what it is. Unfortunately, it’s not the film I saw. For some reason, in all their glee at having an actual tiger to play with, the filmmakers altogether forgot to provide the climactic confrontation that everything was building toward, that would seem to have been the point of the whole exercise. If they wanted to be oblique, why spend an entire movie ogling a half naked woman? Perhaps in their zeal to provide “authentic” tiger footage, the filmmakers jettisoned alternate outcomes that would have required other special effects. In my frustration at having my expectations thwarted, I’m sure I was a lost cause for any of their misguidedly honorable intentions, which may be another way of saying they simply failed to pull it off. Amazing how strong the pull is of generic formula.

    As far as “oblique” goes, Identity does a better job of managing this. I remember it being a much better movie, but, unfortunately, that’s about all I remember about it, except for two things: 1) one of the most shocking roadside accidents I’ve ever seen in a movie, and 2) the thought occurring to me that conventionally rounded film characterizations like these often get in the way of more metaphysical points the filmmakers may be trying to explore. Matrix fell into the same trap. Birds didn’t.

    The best part of Jurassic Park was that centerpiece with the T-Rex, and the cat and mouse with the raptors. Spielberg seemed to recognize this, and so expanded that dark and stormy aspect into a whole movie for his sequel. The Lost World was cinematically astonishing and increasingly hallucinatory as the adrenaline rose – I think he cast Julianne Moore for her translucent skin just so he could pull off that Argento-esque sequence with her splayed against the glass. Too bad about that execrable script.

    One more point about Jurassic Park – as I understand it, the mogul was initially written as a formidable, domineering capitalist figure who gets his comeuppance in the climax, which would seem to fit better with a Frankenstein-like scenario like this. My impression is that Spielberg identified with him, which is why we get Santa Claus instead, and the final confrontation is somewhat short-circuited by this. Interestingly, it would appear that Peter Jackson fell into the same trap. In narrative terms, Jack Black is the real adversary of Kong, and the first act that paints him as a Wellesian rogue must have been some kind of therapy for the stress the still-unknown Jackson no doubt experienced during his initial efforts to finance his previous fantastical venture. I think King Kong would have gained considerable primal momentum if the filmmakers had eliminated the Brody character and made the whole film a fisticuffs between the hubristic producer and the ape over the dame.

    I’m sorry to say I haven’t seen the fifth item you mention. Stay dry.

  • zak says:

    BTW, I think that “elephantine tentacled thing” in The Mist is some kind of nod to Lovecraft. Maybe the whole film is, but especially here. I haven’t read any Lovecraft, but I always see him discussed in relation to some kind of apocalypse presided over by weird and hideous “dark gods”. The Wendigo in Pet Semetary comes to mind as another such nod by King.

  • Annie says:

    Thanks, Mr. Bagans.

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