Thursday, September 29, 2005

Dead Sexy. Get It? Because She's A Corpse. Now Give Me A Job Writing Headlines, USA Today.

Corpse Bride
2005, USA
Tim Burton, Mike Johnson

Tim Burton is my guilty pleasure. I’ll admit that, as guilty pleasures go, it’s not a terribly embarrassing one, especially when contrasted with my other habit of masturbating to autopsy photos of dead relatives, but I’m reticent to admit it nonetheless. See, I’m a snob when it comes to movies, mainly because I’m too poor to be a snob about anything else. I enjoy them, to a certain extent, since they keep my mind off the troubles of the world and my hands off the county morgue photo album, but they’re never good enough for me. One of my biggest complaints is the style-over-substance virus that long ago nestled in the respiratory tract of Hollywood and quickly spreads throughout the world every time the US coughs up another Matrix clone lodged in a wad of phlegm, and Tim Burton is one its most virulent carriers. He’s made some great films, but most of the time it seems as if his creative process involves tracing over Edward Gorey illustrations and letting some screenwriting hack fill in the blanks between elaborate set-pieces. Sometimes, he strikes gold, but other times there’s barely enough plot holding the visuals together, resulting in a film that’s just macabre pastel drawings caught in a cobweb spun by a tipsy spider with Down’s Syndrome. Nevertheless, I do enjoy his movies, putting me in a class alongside high school boys with the entire Type O Negative discography and twenty-something women with a credit card full of Emily gear. In the grand scheme of things that I’m embarrassed to admit, I’d put it around 3, as indicated by the following handy chart.

1. I have considerably more action figures than I do friends.
2. This is not because I have a lot of action figures.
3. I like Tim Burton films. Even Frankenweenie.
4. I like to do the autopsy photo thing.
5. While my action figures watch.

Yeah. You like it. Tell me you like it.

The Corpse Bride, however, is a film I’m not embarrassed to have enjoyed. Sure, it’s barely over an hour long, but years of watching music videos while snorting a powdered mix of Ritalin and pseudoephedrine have resulted in an attention span that’s shorter than Bridget the Midget, who incidentally is guilty pleasure #6. Also, the end is a little weak, but if you just imagine the film as a children’s fable for Little Gloomy fans, it’s forgivable. The story tells the tale of young Victor Van Dort, the son of a nouveau-riche fish baron set to be married off to Victoria Everglot in a dull Victorian village full of gray tones, guttural names, and enormous hats. Through some wily plot contrivances, Victor accidentally marries a corpse, and spends much of the movie in a colorful underworld reminiscent of the waiting room from Beetlejuice with stop motion animation. The story, mood, and morbid humor appeals to the 13 year old Misfits fan in all of us, I think, and who among us hasn’t wished in their darker moments for a dead wife. Or, I suppose more commonly, that our wife was dead, especially when she’s trying to convince you to buy her the first season of Will & Grace by stomping her feet and pouting in the middle of Best Buy. But, I can tell you from experience, dating the dead is not entirely pleasant. Sure, if you’re in the mood and she’s on the rag, it’s convenient to be able to just hollow out another orifice in some unused chunk of flesh and do your husbandly duty, but the smell never does get out of the drapes, and eventually her mother will wonder while no one’s returning her calls.

I don't know if I'm sad or proud that this is the least offensive image I could find referencing the last paragraph.

Nevertheless, there’s enough in here to keep most people happy, including my hero Christopher Lee, and some fantastic stop motion photography that would make Ray Harryhausen proud, if he hadn’t gone insane animating that shrilly annoying metal bird from Clash of the Titans. The story is surprisingly engaging, and the performances are uniformly strong, plus they’re credited up front, which is a nice change. Usually, in animated movies, they make you wait until the end to figure out who’s doing what voice, allegedly because recognizing the actor behind the animation is distracting. You know what’s more distracting? Spending all two hours of The Incredibles trying to figure out why Violet sounds so familiar, only to discover that you saw her on Late Night With Conan O’Brien promoting a book on Abraham Lincoln two years ago. It’s frustrating, and since the only way I can relieve that frustration is through 19th century silver gelatin prints of my great-uncle after a mining explosion, it’s not appreciated.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Thursday, September 29, 2005, by Lockhart Blogger Nichelle Newsletter breaks the bloggers' code of outrage concerning the new Starbucks outpost now operating on the corner of Allen and Delancey on the Lower ...
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11:06 p.m.  
Blogger Sam Kahn said...

Yeah, I liked this movie, too. The only thing that bothered me was one particular plot point. Do you mind if I post a spoiler? Let me know, I'd like to know your opinion on this detail of the movie.

2:43 a.m.  
Anonymous Je Suis said...

The bloggers' code of outrage? There's a code? Nobody ever tells me these things. Anyways, let's talk Wisconsin Death Trip. I'm assuming that one had your wife in a panic, wondering if you'd ever come back to her.

3:19 a.m.  
Anonymous Rin said...

I always think I hate Tim Burton. But then I think of his films and I actually like most of them. I mean, I hate Big Fish, and the PofA remake was fucking terrible. But most of his others are a bit watchable. I would never ever stretch to say that any of his films are worth buying to watch again. But his films are rarely dire enough for me to waste words on him.

I think I always view him in bad light simply because he's so well reguarded and yet his films don't even closely reflect the popularity he has.

PS: History of Violence wasn't open (in the UK) last night. So I went for Land of the Dead and it was one of the most diabolical films I've seen recently. I hate George Romero. Night of the Living Dead was great. All the others were awful. Ideally though, I'd just like another Alien. THAT'S how you make a horror film.

6:42 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Sam - I don't mind if you post spoilers, mainly because I've already seen the movies. Just warn people with large capital letters if you do.

Je Suis - Wisconsin Death Trip rules, or it would if it hadn't had its title co-opted by a bad nu-metal album.

Rin - Land of the Dead sucks, but you know what I hate about Alien? That everyone likes Aliens better. That makes watching the spectacular original a constant reminder of how wrong everybody is.

9:01 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

What I really want to hear about is everyone else's movie guilty pleasures, so I don't have to feel so guilty about owning The Ladies' Man.

9:09 a.m.  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

My guilty pleasure is this blog.

11:05 a.m.  
Anonymous Rin's brother Robert said...

Does it count if you're really proud of your guilty pleasures? I guess that doesn't make it a guilty pleasure really, does it?

I love all of Nic Cage's films, especially the ones where he's an action hero. He's my favourite actor after the guy who plays Tobias on Arrested Development.

I also get really turned on by the idea of breaking and resetting the nose of the girl in the Princess Diaries (2). Does that make me anti-semitic?

Things that aren't guilty pleasures:

Shit films like zombie movies. Why do people think they're good cause they're shit? They're not, they're just shit, and irony has moved on since you were 12.

12:13 p.m.  
Anonymous Rin's brother Robert said...

Oh, and Tim Burton, what the fuck's that about? Do you get a hardon for Johnny Depp's overacting and think it's a rare talent? It's men like who who make me wish I didn't hate women so much. Not in a gay way.

12:21 p.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

No, it doesn't make you anti-semitic, as long as it's for violent sexual fantasy reasons and not because her people killed Jesus.

My Tim Burton interest has nothing to do with Johnny Depp. It's because deep within me beats the heart of a 13 year old boy, which I put there after my own got clogged up with Doritos and black tar heroin residue. This particular 13 year old has never moved on from Hammer Horror films and Vincent Price/Roger Corman collaborations, and neither has Burton.

There's got to be something you're ashamed to like?

1:03 p.m.  
Anonymous Rin's brother Robert said...

I've seen every episode of Smallville and I'm looking forward to the new series. The same is true of pretty much every superhero film/tv series/cartoon ever.

2:24 p.m.  
Anonymous Rin's brother Robert said...

Including the Captain America film and umm, what was it called, with the guy in the helmet who could fly? He had some rocket pack? I love that.

2:29 p.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

It's the Rocketeer.

You like superhero TV? Even Challenge of the Superfriends? That's hardcore.

2:32 p.m.  
Anonymous Rin's brother Robert said...

I like superhero TV so much I don't find those Superhero Buddies comics a witty reference to Superfriends, I find them AN INSULT.

2:35 p.m.  
Blogger Sam Kahn said...


The point in Corpse Bride that bothered me was after the elder in the land of the dead reveals that the marriage is actually void, Depp's character agrees all too easily to go through with giving up his life to marry the Corpse Bride legally. To me, this kind of came out of nowhere. It was necessary for the third act of the film to work, but still, it felt completely unmotivated.

4:50 p.m.  
Anonymous Will said...

Al, Did you see this? Mildly funny.

Also, you are gay.

9:40 p.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Ash. It's "Ash, have you seen this". And I would venture that that's more than a little funny. That's very funny.


Sam, I don't think that part in Corpse Bride was unmotivated. I think Victor was depressed that Victoria had moved on and married someone else so quickly, and he was more than a little enamoured of the Corpse Bride, so those things combined with some very whirlwind events led him to that decision. That said, I certainly don't think that motivation was played up at all in the film. So it looks good on paper, but it didn't feel right on screen.

Also, I am gay.

11:38 p.m.  
Anonymous Will said...

Oh, sorry "Ash". You can just call me Dr. Doom from now on. I actually thought it was hilarious, but I didn't want to dissapoint.

Don't you think that this whole getting people to call you "Ash" thing is a little desperate?

Your pal,
Dr. Doom

2:45 a.m.  
Anonymous Will said...

And yes, I'm writing comments to your site at 2:45am. I'm merely a very busy man who only has time for leisure in the very late evenings.

2:48 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Dr. Doom,

No, it's not desperate trying to get people to call me Ash. It's merely a crude smokescreen to avoid inadvertantly making fun of a href="">C-Grade horror film directed by somebody I'll eventually be begging for a job from. And if you're going to be posting on this thread, you better come up with a good guilty pleasure to share with the rest of us.

Everyone else, please check out that link Dr. Doom posted.

9:08 a.m.  
Blogger Mike said...

We can't honestly say if how we got here, but this is a great blog! Thanks

6:10 p.m.  
Blogger Sam Kahn said...

That Shining trailer is pretty awesome. Great illustration of the whole dishonest movie marketing thing. It was made by an editor at PS260. They have another pretty good fake trailer for West Side Story at

12:53 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Sam, I wish trailers were as dishonest as this one. That way, I could actually be surprised by a movie again, instead of knowing exactly what to expect.

10:42 a.m.  
Blogger Talya said...

I need a dead husband (just to balance things over here) I think I would actually prefer a dead wife (but who would make me breakfast then?) Hahaha. And my guilty pleasures... Hm. I cried watching "Heidi" once. I like Gus Van Sant stuff and tought that Dogville was awesome (well except for the end) what else? .. Hm.. I absolutely adore drama films like "Il Postino". And secretly love the soundtracks, specially if there is a tango in there. There, now you know everything about me.

The Corpse Bride is not here yet, you insensitive clod!

5:21 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Hey, it's not my fault you live in a third-world movie country.

There is no shame in liking Gus Van Sant or Dogville. Heidi, however, is another matter.

9:13 a.m.  
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8:48 p.m.  
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4:36 a.m.  
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7:58 p.m.  

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