There are two announcements in the post, so read it all even if you you think you don’t care. And while not caring about the Summer of Blood and being enough of an Antagony & Ecstasy regular to bother with these non-review posts seems unlikely, I know a lot of people who, for good reasons of their own, generally skip over the annual tradition that has been, since 2007, this blog’s signature event.
Yes! It is Summer of Blood time, what with Memorial Day coming next weekend. The ninth edition of Summer of Blood, no less, which strikes me as a most auspicious number. Nine is the total number of Nightmare on Elm Street movies, if we count Freddy vs. Jason. There have been nine Halloween films featuring Michael Myers, instead of Gaelic black magic turning children into piles of snakes. Dario Argento directed nine good horror films before he went crazy and started making godawful crap. Nine was that Daniel Day-Lewis musical directed by Rob Marshall, and if you saw it, you know why it belongs in a conversation about horror movies. But the most holy association of all: it was the ninth entry in the enduring and genre-typifying Friday the 13th series that preceded the longest gap between movies in that franchise, making its definitive subtitle seem almost true. And it is in honor of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday that I announce this year’s theme for the Summer of Blood.
And so yeah, you read that right. “The final summer” means what you think it means: barring the unforeseen, this is going to be the last Summer of Blood. For a while. I mean, there’s always the hope of a cryogenically-frozen Summer of Blood being accidentally cracked open by idiots visiting Earth on a research trip in 2455 and thereupon turning into a cyborg zombie in outer space. But Brayton Goes to Hell was a lot easier to Photoshop in 15 minutes than Brayton X.
So this, anyway, brings me to the other announcement.
On 24 August of this year, I, lifelong resident of the Chicago metropolitan area and longtime under-employed writer, video editor, and office drone, will be entering the Ph.D. program in Communication Arts – Film at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. This development has been specifically brewing since October 2013, and probably stretches back much earlier than that, to judge from the overwhelming number of my close friends who greeted my news of “I’m applying to grad school!” with some variation on “Of course you are. Finally.”
There are pragmatic aspects to this decision, the big one of which is that next May, right about this week in fact, I’ll be wrapping up my very first year as a full-fledged grad student. And the thing that I think I’m going to want to do for a little while following that is to not write articles running into 2000 and 3000 words about the history of slasher movies. I adore the Summer of Blood. It is the thing above all things that has made this blog important to me on a level other than “fuck, if I see all these movies, I might as well vomit up some thoughts on them”. But it takes such an enormous amount out of me, and wisdom dictates that I should probably not launch immediately into that particular series right after I complete nine straight months of what I expect to be grueling, time-consuming work. And so here we are: Brayton Goes to Hell: The Final Summer. With apologies to Madison, which does not have the reputation of being Hell at all, but the second I realised that my surname and the word “Jason” sound sort of alike, I couldn’t resist.
The other pragmatic aspect of all this is that, come August, things are going to change but good around this place. I’m not giving up the blog. It has been too big a part of my life, and especially too big a part of why I’ve made this utterly daft decision to enter a 6-7 year graduate program at the innocent age of 33, for me to say “fuck this noise, I’m on to better things”. I don’t know how much blogging I’ll still be able to do, though. It won’t be daily – it’s not always exactly daily now, but it will become much less so. No matter what, I’m going to keep up with the ol’ “Every film that goes to #1 at the North American box office gets a review” rule I’ve been mostly following since 2009. And thanks to your extreme generosity, beloved readers, I have a stack of cancer fundraiser reviews that’s going to keep me busy well past my 15 August moving day. And I’ve made way too many very visible promises for a Star Wars retrospective this autumn. And, and, and. Let’s say that on the very worst weeks, I’m still going to try to post at least twice. The very best weeks, who the hell knows? I don’t even know what “the best week” entails in a grad school environment. We’ll talk about this again in August.
For now, let’s talk about the Summer of Blood itself. Going to Hell could, of course, mean spending time with movies involving the afterlife in the pits of sulfur and flame that await all sinners. But that’s boring and repetitive, and anyway, this is the finale. We need something bigger and more idiotic than that. What would Antagony & Ecstasy be without going to ludicrous extremes?
So my goal for the next ten weeks – so this can all be wrapped up before I start packing – is no less than a history of American horror cinema from beginning to end. Starting next weekend, every week will be devoted to a particular epoch in the history of the genre, and because I’ve gone and promised that I’m going to Hell, it can’t just be a little article on Saturdays. I need to suffer. And I’m going to do it with no fewer than three reviews every week; Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are the goal, but that’s subject to a little wiggling
The full schedule follows below the jump; if anybody wants to be surprised, I don’t want to ruin things for them. I hope you all follow me during this last descent into madness!
Week 2, 5/30-6/4: Horror in the 1930s
The Vampire Bat (1933)
Werewolf of London (1935)
Mad Love (1935)
Week 3, 6/6-6/11: Horror in a Post-War World
The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)
Scared to Death (1947)
The Black Castle (1952)
Week 6, 6/27-7/2: Horror Gets Mean
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The Wizard of Gore (1970)
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Week 7, 7/4-7/9: New Hollywood Horror
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
The Omen (1976)
Week 10, 7/25-7/30: 21st Century Horror
Nope! I’m going to keep the last batch of films a surprise.