Kryptic Army Mission: Sept. 2021 – Integration!

Back on Sept. 2nd, 1963, George Wallace, the Governor of the state of Alabama, attempted to forcibly halt the integration of public schools by surrounding the building with state troopers. Thankfully it was only temporary and soon schools in Alabama were the first to be integrated with both colored and white students. Wallace stated that he wasn’t racist but claimed Blacks were inclined to “atrocious acts”. Hate to say this, but I think all races have participated in that. Just asked the “witches” that were burned at the stake, or innocent people tortured to death by the church because they didn’t follow their religion.

Later on in his life, Wallace had a change of heart and apologized for his past beliefs, publicly asking for forgiveness from Black people. Of his acts of trying to stop segregation by blocking the school doors, he stated, “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.”

We’d like to say that we’ve all learned since then and have gotten past that. But have we?

The integration of filmmakers that are not only Black, but Asian, Spanish, or any of the minority races out there working in the film industry, seem to struggle a bit harder than most for some reason. Our goal this month is to help put the spotlight on these filmmakers, to really prove that for us horror fans, we accept and encourage the integration of those races.

We are going to break up the mission a little bit as well. As usual, you will need to find two horror films that you have not seen before. But for one film, you need to find a director that is non-Caucasian. Could be African American, Jamaican, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Mexican, or any other non-white race. For the second film, you need to find one of the same but instead of a director, they need to be one of the lead actors. Really is easier than you think. Just think of an actor, such as Wesley Snipes, and see if he made any horror films. Or say Danny Trejo. He’s probably made a couple horror films … this week alone!

The goal here is to show that as fans of horror movies, we are not prejudice in the genre that we love, and that we embrace the different cultures they bring to the screen for us to enjoy, no matter where they are from or the color of their skin. Might take a little research, but I know you are up for the challenge, soldier.

You will have until 11:59pm on September 30th to find, watch, and then report back here. Have Fun!

13 thoughts on “Kryptic Army Mission: Sept. 2021 – Integration!

  1. Against all odds, this turned out a tough mission to get through, Jon. My expectations, about both films, were off. Each viewing in its own way, more painful than I anticipated. And on their own terms, I both wished for these two films to be better.

    IT HUNGERS (2019)
    Lead Actress: Stormi Maya Alvarado
    Ethnicity: Afro-Latina

    It Hungers looks and feels somewhat like your random mid-era Charles Band-directed Full Moon movie (think releases like: Blood Dolls, Hideous! and Head of the Family).

    So, if you fancy those aesthetics? With the added dubious bonus of a clueless creepy clown creature minion brute running around? And an isolated mansion-in-the-woods setting? And a medieval-masked immortal landlord? And a voluptuous female servant who likes to breast-feed dolls? And a lead actress bold enough to decide for herself what a gratuitous shower scene should look like? Then be my guest, and let this film satisfy your hunger for it.

    Narrative-wise, though, it’s rigged together in a much more hotchpotch manner. The actual film itself, only runs around 60 minutes. Yet still, they managed to stretch things to about 80 minutes. The way they managed that, uhm, is rather unorthodox (you’ll have to sit through the whole film, end credits included, to be able figuring all that out). Color me fairly flabbergasted that they decided to release this as the final cut.

    Stormi Maya put on several hats for this film (executive producer, story idea, etc). One can only congratulate her on having completed the film project. I’m also glad she was NOT the editor on this film. And as for looking forward to her next independent feature film project, it might benefit from having it penned by someone who can actually complete an 82-pages (or so) script (my best guess as to what went wrong in that department). Good luck, girl!

    HONEYMOON aka LUNA DE MIEL (2015)
    Director: Diego Cohen
    Nationality: Mexican

    As a torture horror effort made this late in the game, it falls a couple of twists short in the plot department to be any better than average. But I’m betting for fans of this particular subgenre, that won’t matter much. Jorge is a solitary man, living in Mexico City, on his own, in a big house. His efforts to get acquainted with Isabel from down the street seem futile. Soon enough, Jorge kidnaps her, during her morning jogging routine, to hold her captive in a basement room.

    Honeymoon is not along the American lines of Saw (2004), Hostel (2005) or Captivity (2007). Instead, it rubs off that “every day” vibe, as in UK efforts like Broken (2006) and Mum & Dad (2008). Let’s just call it “loving domestic cruelties” of the more raw and realistic kind. In those terms, both performances of Héctor Kotsifakis and Paulina Ahmed are adequate. But I’m not too sure about all the realism in which certain scenes play out. Cohen also served as co-producer and editor, which on this film looks like things worked out well.

    It should be obvious why Honeymoon was a painful watch. The physical abuse and torture increases – eventually also not only between our two main characters – interspersed with moments where things seemingly calm down. You know the drill, and in the end, there’s little surprises. Eventually, the brutality during the film’s finale – with some fine special make-up effects, I’ll admit – and its conclusion, may still deliver what you came for.

    I’ve always found little to appreciate in this subgenre. However, perhaps let’s go out on a limb here? If you’d like to see how such a “held captive” film can be done much better, then give Ate de Jong’s Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. (2014) a watch. But between Luna De Miel (2015) and La Marca Del Demonio (2020) – the latter also a movie arriving a little late in the possession/exorcism game – you can tell Cohen has some horrific chops. Let’s see what he’ll do next.

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      • Surprised that It Hungers got you interested, Jon, as I can’t exactly endorse it with a recommendation. Technically speaking, the Mexican Honeymoon is even the better accomplished film (out of the two). But these missions are all about entering the battlefields, so in that light, let’s just say both films were challenging grounds to step on, loaded with mines and shrapnel grenades. Haha.

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  2. Under The Shadow (Iranian director and actors-2016)

    Synopsis: A mother in Iran, resentful of her place in life, is left alone with her daughter when he husband is called to the war. As they try to flee the nearly deserted city as it is being bombed, they are haunted and detained by an evil djinn spirit.

    Review: A well-made film that focuses on a woman’s place in Iran society, this movie has its positives and negatives. As negatives, it moved a bit slow for my tastes. It took its time building the characters, situations and the djinn’s activities. The issue with this is none of it is particularly complicated enough to warrant so much time. There is depth to them, it’s just that their all situations we can recognize and understand easily so we don’t need so much build up. It’s obvious that the main character is jealous of her husband and resentful of her child within the first 20 minutes; so why take an hour to expound on it. I also found the main character not particularly likeable, obviously taking out her past mistakes and the way she is being punished by society for them on her spouse and child. In this way, there is a close parallel to the Babadook, which I saw as a much superior film. Finally, the movie (outside of the main character’s background story and societal issues) doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. On the positive there are several good scares, both jump scares and slow building; which is what watching horror movies is really about. We also do get to see what life is like for a woman (and people in general) in Iran giving us a deeper understanding and connection to the world. Despite my feelings toward the main character, it is obvious that the filmmaker is setting up a parallel between her haunting and her emotional state so it does work well in that context (although not nearly as well as in the Babadook). The acting, direction, lighting etc. is all professionally done so I was able to immerse myself into the movie most of the time. So while not particularly original in plot and characters and a bit slow, the movie was worth a watch for some of its horror scenes. Overall I would consider it a good watch but not a great one.

    Karen (African American director and actors-2021)

    Synopsis: An African-American couple move into a mostly white neighborhood only to find out their neighbor is not only a racist but psychotic as well and has chosen to drive them out; by force if necessary.

    Review: In all honesty this is probably more classified as a drama more than a horror movie but I personally found it more terrifying than a lot of horror movies made today. Mostly because it put me in the shoes of people who actually face this as a reality every day. This film falls in the category of what I call the “danger-next-door” category. The characters soon realize that there is a danger next door but cannot convince anyone of the situation. (Example: Fright Night) But in this case, they also often find no one cares and assumes they are to blame. This also adds another dimension of fear in my mind; sort of like Invasion of the Body Snatchers; as you never know who you can trust and who will turn on you. Overall, I felt the protagonists’ feeling of hopelessness in an unfair and uncomfortable situation and it terrified me. Things start off simply enough with their neighbor installing cameras focused on their house and odd comments she makes. It escalates into police harassment (Karen’s brother is a cop) and finally into home invasion and attempted murder. To me, the movie was well acted, well-paced, compelling and stayed with me long after the film was over. It made me think and feel strongly which the best horror movies do. I would suggest this to anyone who doesn’t need gore or high action but instead likes a compelling tale and those who aren’t turned off by movies with a strong social commentary on racism and entitlement. (Many of the situations that occur in the movie are taken directly from actual events).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really enjoyed Under the Shadow, which I think I just stumbled across on Amazon one evening. It is a great example of showing how different some society’s and cultures than what we know in our own.

      I’ve seen the trailers of Karen but not sure if I want to visit a movie that all one needs to do is turn on the news to see this stuff happening in real life. Shame really, but nothing better than exploit what is going on in the real world. And I’m not making that comment as a negative statement, since all good exploitation filmmakers did that all the time. But nice choices, Chris.

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    • Thanks for putting these two titles on my radar, Chris. Sounded both like films I’d be interested in to check out (much more than the, ahum, so-so titles I managed to randomly picked myself this month). Just glimpsed at both the Karen and Under The Shadow trailers, and indeed, they look good.

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  3. I was getting worried about finding a couple of movies for my own mission and then realized I had already watched one that counted! So here goes.

    Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) – Even though the later sequels became more and more far-fetched, they would always get me on the twist. Never saw it coming. Watching Spiral, I picked out who the killer was inside of 20 minutes. Plus, as much as I like Chris Rock, he does not belong in this kind of movie, especially in the starring role. In the behind-the-scenes, he kept saying picture the movie Seven except with Eddie Murphy. That is what he wanted to do. Right. Got it. But it wouldn’t have worked, or would have been an entirely different movie. That is exactly what Spiral is. I don’t see myself anxiously awaiting the next entry.

    Black Box (2020) – first feature film by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, starring Mamoudou Athie as a man suffering from memory loss after a car accident. He goes to Phylicia Rashad, a doctor working on breakthroughs on the mind, for help. You’ll have to watch the rest to find out. And it is well worth seeing.

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  4. This was an interesting mission, I have to admit, and I applaud any opportunity to give directors and performers of color a chance. Well done, sir.

    Now, whether I actually mined any gold from them thar hills? That’s another story.

    EVE’S BAYOU (1997)
    d. Kasi Lemons, Kasi (USA)

    Most genre fans will recognize Lemons’ name from her onscreen role as Virginia Madsen’s doomed pal from Candyman. I found this title on not one, but TWO online lists of “best horror films by Black directors,” so even though I might question its place within the genre, the Internet clearly knows better. Granted, there is some psychic action with two rival fortune tellers having visions of tragedy befalling a Louisiana family headed by affluent local doctor Samuel L. Jackson and his devoted wife Lynn Whitfield. And there are a few mysterious goings-on and a couple corpses by the final reel, so I suppose it qualifies on some level. That said, while I found it to be a fine film (Roger Ebert gave it four stars), anyone looking for a true chiller thriller ought to move on down the line.

    KINDRED (2020)
    d. Joe Marcantonio (UK)

    A young Black woman, Charlotte (Tamara Lawrence), eager for she and her boyfriend to get the hell out from under his overbearing mother’s (Fiona Shaw) thumb, finds herself pregnant, widowed, and imprisoned in short succession. The remainder of the film sees Charlotte being stymied at every turn as she attempts to flee the remote English mansion, with literally everyone in the household and the town seemingly conspiring to keep her trapped until the baby arrives. Not only that, she feels as though she is being slowly drugged by things in her tea and food. You’d be forgiven if you said that it sounds a little like Rosemary’s Baby, because it absolutely does, minus any supernatural bent. Still a decent watch though.

    BELOVED (1998)
    d. Jonathan Demme (USA)

    Having already found myself making excuses for the inclusion of Eve’s Bayou, I could barely bring myself to mention this adaptation of Toni Morrison’s acclaimed novel starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. But, truth be told, it was a fascinating experience watching a film with all manner of genre trappings (poltergeists whipping the family dog around to the point where its eye pops out, ghosts of dead children haunting the house, the grown-up version of a dead infant shows up on the doorstep and seduces her way into her former family) that absolutely refuses to give into the horrors. Much like the narrator in Crimson Peak says, “This is not a ghost story. It’s a story with a ghost in it.” Which would have been much easier to take if it hadn’t also been three hours long.

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    • Jon, here’s that movie I was telling you about. I actually watched in 10 years ago… for another one of the Army Missions! (KRYPTIC ARMY MARCH 2011 ASSIGNMENT: INSECT INVADERS)

      Bugged (1997)
      d. Ronald K. Armstrong (USA)

      Produced under the Troma umbrella, this enthusiastically low budget creepy crawler flick has more going for it than you would expect. For starters, it knows its limitations and when it runs up against them, it knows to embrace the cheesiness with both barrels. Secondly, it’s one of the very few horror efforts with an all African-American cast. The rudimentary plotline focuses on a pest extermination service which, following a fender bender, inadvertently scoops up an experimental enhancement drug and dumps it into their spray canisters. Before you know it, the little six-legged terrors are no longer so little, and now come equipped with exaggerated munchy faces and cartoon voices. There’s also some amusing byplay between sexy poet Priscilla K. Basque and lead bugkiller Armstrong (who also wrote, produced, directed, edited…and probably baked cookies for the crew as well). While not a great movie, if you’re in the right mood, it can be a lot of fun.

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