Sunday, April 25, 2010

The One You Might Have Saved.

Arbogast from Arbogast on Film started a little blog-a-thon on his blog about horror film characters he would have saved from death. He asked his readers and/or fellow bloggers to come up with their own personal choices. Just who would you have saved? The best friend of the final girl? The token black character? The slut? The jock asshole? It could be anyone, even if they perhaps didn't deserve to be saved. All you had to do was explain why you thought so. This is the second round of this blog-a-thon, from what I understand, and several people have even picked characters outside of the horror genre. So here's my first shot at it. I decided to choose three that instantly came to mind:

Carrie White (Carrie, 1976)

Poor Carrie White. Brought up by an abusive Christian zealot of a mother. That fact alone screwed her up royally to start with and led to her being a shy, social outcast at school. But the retardation of her social development was the least of her worries as her budding telekinetic powers awakened to maturity along with her own sexual maturity. Being a victim all of her life, when her classmates fool her into thinking she has finally become accepted, only to turn on her in a down-pour of pig blood, was the final straw. For a moment she was truly happy, and even though you knew what was coming, you feel happy for her too, just for that brief moment. Those who deserved to be punished for treating her as they did die along with the innocent, and then Carrie has a final confrontation with the evil bitch of a mother who has brought all of this pain upon her. They both die and nobody really wins. I wanted Carrie to overcome, but she never had a chance. Nobody was brave enough to really stand beside her when she needed it. Just sad.

Ben (Night of the Living Dead, 1968)

Ben is a survivor. His cool head and rational mind keep him always thinking and making good moves. When he's suddenly thrust into a semi-leadership role among the doomed group of people held up in a farm house, as the living dead surround them, he's ready. He knows that eventually the zombies will get in and he needs to get out. It's the break-down of the group that eventually gets him killed. Loudmouthed bigot, Harry, divides the group. He wants to hide in the cellar. Ben knows it's a death trap. The eventual final clash between Ben and Harry forces Ben into that very death trap, but death does not come in the form of a reanimated corpse, but rednecks mistaking him for one of the very zombies Ben was trying to escape. I hated to see him die. Really, if he had gone out on his own, abandoning the others, he most likely could have survived, but his humanity bound him to the group, even if one of them didn't want him around. It's a sad irony.

John Baxter (Don't Look Now, 1973)

The viewer connects with the pain John Baxter feels right from the opening scenes, as he pulls the body of his accidentally drowned daughter from a pond. That pain stays with him and drives his obsession with finding the little figure in the red raincoat he's been seeing, who may be the ghost of his daughter. His pursuit of this figure takes over his life. The warnings are ignored as he searches the dark alleys and canals of Venice. Can he reconcile his despair if only he could see his daughter for one last time? We never get to know. All we do know is that his despair and obsession blinds him and leads him to a horrible fate. The warning signs were there, but we understand why he ignored them, and it makes the film quite tragic and heart-breaking. Would we have done anything different if in his shoes? I wish he could have seen the warnings. But his rational mind both dismissed the apparently supernatural messages while at the same time it allowed him to believe he may find his daughter, even though there was no rational reason to do so. People are like that. That truth strikes a chord with us.

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