The whole point of this
goofy little “Drive-In Double Feature” thing brilliant, original, captivating, thought-provoking “Drive-In Double Feature” thing was a simple one: get people talking about horror movies. Possibly introduce others to films they’d never heard of. Get people excited. This includes people who don’t normally consider themselves “horror fans”, as in the case of Megan. While she admitted to me she “didn’t know a lot about horror” movies, she was still a good sport and submitted a piece anyway. And that makes this silly compelling Double-Feature thing all the more impressive: it’s bringing people together, uniting the hardcore gorehounds and the weekend-watchers as one. If there’s one thing I want to be remembered for long after I’m dead, it’s this month-long piece. Anyway, for not being a huge follower of horror, Megan was still somehow able to get to the root of why we watch horror movies in the first place: the Hotties. Take it away, Megan!
When I was a teen girl, my film criticism hinged on one important question: Where the Hotties at? My best friends each had their favorite Hollywood dudes, which meant that I had to see every movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Orlando Bloom, Paul Walker (RIP!), Elijah Wood (my baby!) etc. (Turns out having a Regulation Hottie in your movie does not guarantee it will be any good. The heart wants what it wants.)
You can see these at the Camera Viscera drive-in, but my recommendation for watching these movies is to go to my friend Althea’s parent’s house in Aurora and watch them on her dad’s projection wall. That is the way these films are meant to be viewed. It should also be past 3 a.m., and you should be eating Little Casear’s pizza, and you should be surrounded by 3-5 teenage girls. When discussing the film’s Hotties, feel free to reference the emo boys of West Aurora High School. It should be 2006. You, yourself, should be a teenage girl.
In Robert Rodriguez’s high school spoof on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a ragtag group of teens discover that their teachers have all been taken over by malevolent aliens. It’s a pretty standard Breakfast Club ensemble—the popular girl, the outcast, the druggy. Most importantly, ELIJAH WOOD is the nerdy school newspaper photographer, which is ideal because I also worked on The Red and Blue, West Aurora High’s premier student publication, which we assembled on Microsoft Publisher every month.
An important thing to know about me at this time is that my AIM screenname was “crazee4elijah.” I had many, many pictures of him taped to my locker. Every weekend, I forced my friends to watch an Elijah Wood movie. The Faculty is pretty much his only non-Frodo role we still hold in any regard.
This movie has a lot of Hotties. It has Usher, pop star Hottie, and Jon Stewart, dad-aged Hottie. It has Josh Hartnett as a burn-out drug dealer, who I grudgingly accepted as a Hottie because the teen mags told me to.
The Faculty is really hokey and self-aware. It has a lot of one-liners that are fun to scream at each other in the cafeteria. In a pivotal scene (spoilers?) Josh Hartnett stabs an alien with a ballpoint pen full of ILLICIT DRUGS. Right before he plows that sucker in, he gets smarmy and says “Guaranteed to jack you up,” which is what he always smarms when he sells his ILLICIT DRUGS. Anyway, it turns out “Guaranteed to jack you up” is a fun thing to yell when you are a teenage girl shotgunning pixie sticks or diet cokes or Bosco Sticks or just for no reason at all.
When I first laid eyes on Cillian Murphy’s weird face, I thought, “Hmmm, yes, here is a man whose picture I could haphazardly glue to my chemistry binder.” Cillian is a scruffy, snake-faced Hottie with piercing, sociopathic blue eyes. (My teenage M.O.)
He plays Jim, who wakes up in a hospital to find London abandoned. In the 28 days since he went into a coma, a rage virus has spread through the city and beyond; infected humans are angry, violent and most importantly, fast. When Jim wakes up in the hospital bed, there is a moment where the camera pans over his naked body from above and you can see his penis. This split-second shot of a far-off, flaccid dick SCANDALIZED 16 year old me.
The infected are zombies, sure, but they aren’t the archetypal stumbling, rotting flesh version. In a way, they’re more human, stripped down to their most predatory form. Jim finds a group of survivors who are looking for a military outpost, a promised safe haven where society will be reborn. It’s not just a movie about survival; it’s a movie about humanity’s ultimate insignificance. It’s a movie about what it means to keep living when everything around you dies.
“Do you know I was thinking?” Jim asks in one scene.
“You were thinking that you’ll never hear another piece of original music ever again. You’ll never read a book that hasn’t already been written or see a film that hasn’t already been shot,” bad-ass co-survivor Selena responds.
This dystopia really stuck with teen me. The repercussions, I knew, were dire. You’ll never read another Teen Beat. You’ll never hear another Fall Out Boy album. You’ll never get to casually run into Elijah Wood after his DJ set and tell him about the dream you had in 2005 that he got hit by a car in front of your parents’ house and you had to nurse him back to health. What a grim future, indeed.
Megan Kirby lives and writes in Chicago. You can find her on twitter at @megankirb, tweeting to @woodelijah in vain.