Tag Archives: Death

Greatest Halloween Films of All Time #4 The Silence of the Lambs

“Well, Clarice – have the lambs stopped screaming? “

Believe it or not Anthony Hopkins is in this 2 hour movie for only 16 minutes. Only 16 minutes of Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter. A slight bit over one eighth of the film. But he seems to be in every scene. And what makes him so creepy is how oddly polite he is, even when being horrifically evil his demeanor is always calm and somehow considerate. What is so frightening about Lecter is that he isn’t easily placed in a box. He isn’t the devil who is evil for the sake of evil, all the violence he commits in the film is directed with the goal of achieving freedom (not that this makes it forgivable, but it isn’t evil for evil’s sake). He’s not a psychopath (like the other serial killer in this film) who acts in an irrational manner he’s quite rational in everything he does. He’s not a sociopath as he seems to have great empathy for Clarice, wanting to help silence her inner demons (although he replaced the screaming of the lambs in her mind, so I’m not sure if that’s a step forward). As Clarice says “They don’t have a name for what he is” because something as self-contradictory as Lecter doesn’t, probably can’t exist, but the fact that we can’t wrap our minds around the layers of contradictions that define Lecter is what makes him so disturbing. (Harris did a great disservice to his character with the back-story that tried to explain Hannibal in “Hannibal Rising.” He was far more horrifying when we couldn’t understand him).

I remember seeing this movie when it first came to VHS (just spelling those letters seems so long ago) at the time it was the most disturbing thing I had ever seen…it’s sad that re-watching it now it comes off as tame compared to some of the movies that come out now (which is a sad statement about how Hollywood has degraded into just cheap thrills).

There are no more supernatural monsters in this list…why? Because the supernatural in many ways is comforting, it allows an excuse for the terrible things they do, they’re just that way…but human beings being that perverse…that’s so much more frightening. We may not ever see the likes of Hannibal the Cannibal in real life, but there are sadly just a few too many in the vein of Buffalo Bill for comfort and that’s what makes this movie so terrifying an evil we can’t understand and one we can understand all too well…

…and that’s also why we like Clarice she is willing to both stare in to the abyss, let it stare into her, and not become the monster she fights…


Up tomorrow…well, we all go a little mad sometimes… followed of course by the single greatest Halloween movie ever made. The one movie that no Halloween is complete without…

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Best movies for Halloween #25 Flatliners

Flatliners“Philosophy failed. Religion failed. Now it’s up to the physical sciences.”

Like most scientists in horror films the characters of Flatliners think that science can reveal everything, damn the consequences…
…and be it a sci fi or horror movie that always works really well.

The movie posters had the rather cheesy catch phrase “Some lines shouldn’t be crossed.” (Terrible pun). But this goes to the heart of an the issue of should science have boundaries. And as so many horror stories came out of the Romantic era it will always be tied to the Romantic’s distrust of the arrogance of science to find all answers. And they’re not entirely wrong. The history of science, while a great story of the progress and advancement of the human race, has these dark side notes of human experimentation and only considering the consequence of one’s actions only after the fact (Oppenheimer…”I am become death…”). We see it in Frankenstein. We saw it in The Island of Dr. Moreau. We saw it throughout the X-files, Fringe, Outer Limits, Fringe, and the Twilight Zone and a dozen other stories, movies and TV shows. They’re cautionary tales to remind people that science has always been and always will be a double edged sword that when misused or misunderstood can do far more damage than good. And the idea of killing yourself to scientifically see what’s on the other side of death does seem to be one of those lines science shouldn’t be so eager to go past.

In this case how would you like all of your worst sins and things your regret come back not just as memories but as tangible, physical things to torment and torture. I assume for many of us this would be a nightmare…more so for the highly flawed characters of this movie.

Now, somewhere between being a cool vampire and being the most deadly force in the history of counter-terrorism, Kieffer Sutherland played the rather arrogant and guilt-ridden character of Nelson. This character was the driving force behind these experiments of Flatliners, Nelson, is also the one most tied to death. He claims he has no fear of what is on the other side and it is just pure curiosity on his part, but he is also suffering from the buried guilt of having killed someone in his youth. In fact you find that the only other character so interested in the experiments is Julia Robert’s character, who also lost someone to death, shows that their desire to know about death isn’t curiosity, it is very much the fear of not knowing what death it.

The fear of death is often tied to the fear of being judged for your actions (it’s sad people have such a limited view of God they think he is so willing to damn you). And that is what ties each of the characters of Flatliners together. Whether what happened was their fault or not, whether it was major or minor, they felt guilty about it and in this film their guilt became a physical manifestation. Now I don’t know if the writers were intentionally going for this or it’s just an interesting parallel, but this does partially match up to the idea that when you die you review your life and you the parts that you review in most detail are the ones that you are most emotionally tied to…and there are few emotions stronger than guilt. It also seems to parallel the Buddhist idea that in the afterlife one of the things you will face is the karmic consequences of your actions and if you can’t move past these (move past the guilt) then you will be forced to live through the karmic consequences of those actions in your next life (but this may be reading too much into the screenwriter’s intent).

Whatever the actual purpose the writer and director were attempting to bring out about the nature of the afterlife, they do have a fairly clear point that the way out is not death but forgiveness.

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Finish it: Modern Society’s Infantile Obsession with Death And Why We Need to Give It Up

The Seventh Seal Death

He comes for us all.

You are going to die.

How did that sentence make you feel? When you think about it, the correct response is probably something along the lines “well, duh, no kidding”… after all, the whole human thing comes with that pesky you’re going to die thing. It’s all part and parcel of this mortal coil (I could go on but the clichés are already getting a little thick), but to reiterate you already knew that,

You are going to die.

However, I get the feeling that most of you didn’t have a completely rational response. Probably some small measure of revulsion, shock, or even, dare I say it, fear, came up while you read it.

Why do I bring this up? Well, mainly because I realized part of this whole healthcare thing is based on this absolute fear of death. So I feel for just a moment we should forget the numerous flaws Obamacare, or Hillarycare or the useless systems of Canada or Britain or any other godawful place where you wouldn’t want to receive medical treatment if you had a choice…no let’s ignore the economic flaws of these systems and focus on what drives the call for their creation and why that call is terrible.

What drives this call for more and more government control, for more universal healthcare, for constantly doing something in this field. It comes because we all seem to be afraid of coming down with something, and we all have no trust in the insurance companies to be there. But is this a legitimate fear? (And let’s just ignore that the reason why insurance was so bad was government interference in terms of HMO’s, Medicare and Medicaid). Are you likely to come down with something that will get you killed? Right now if you’re reading this, the statistics say that you should reach your 80′s. Now no offense here, but who really wants to live past their 80′s…yes we all know the occasional person in their 90′s who is still lively and active…. but let’s be honest they’re the exception not the rule…most people in their 90′s are in nursing homes or kept in that back guest room and are no exactly the best conversationalists. But the fact is that the odds are in your favor that you will not come down with something that will end your life while you are still able to live it.

But still isn’t it natural to fear death?

No. Why would you fear something you know is coming? You know that prayer, “God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” This is the ultimate thing you cannot change. Accept it.

But most don’t accept it. How do I know this? Well look at how many people set up shrines on the side of roads where family members died. How many parents become nothing but obsessed with their dead children, even to the exclusion of their living children. There are probably few things worse than to out live your own child, but I seriously doubt that you honor your child’s life by effectively ending your own. And back to those roadside shrines. I have seen them where they will put up new pictures, flowers, toys and other monuments on a WEEKLY basis. Good lord! We are talking about possibly thousands of dollars a year being spent on someone who isn’t even around any more. And this is not at a grave sight; it’s at the sight of the person’s death…talk about morbid. This is somehow not what I would call moving from grief to acceptance; it’s more like digging a trench hole fortification in grief and never leaving. And when you do that, the pursuit of happiness no longer has any meaning and thus life has no meaning–it isn’t the healthy version of “You need to fear death” from the Dark Knight Rising where they really meant you need to love living, this is hating living and only loving breathing. And make no mistake there is a difference.

And then there is the rest of society. Look at the box office. When was the last time you saw a decent Romantic Comedy? Might take you a moment to find one. When was the last time you saw a zombie movie come out? Every month? Horror movies, a genre that has never produced more than a handful of movies that could be labeled as anything but crap.

But doesn’t a fear of death, and what may or may not lie beyond, motivate us to live our lives? Carpe Diem. Seize the Day! Eat, Drink, and Be Merry for tomorrow we die! It’s a nice idea…but when did focusing on the negative ever get anyone anywhere. Again these ideas are your need to make the MOST of something, not fear the inevitable.

Lets look at what really happens when you’re obsessed with death.

When you think only about death and the fact that it might come any minute you think short term. You don’t plan, you don’t save, and you don’t expect anything because you might die any minute. Just look at any Democratic plan for this kind of short term thinking. In other words you have lost hope. People who supposedly “live in the moment” aren’t living in the moment, they’re trying to get every last thrill in before what they assume is a rather quick end. They see life as only a series of a few short thrills, a rather insignificant number of experiences to be experienced before the end; life as only a “bucket list” to be checked off and then there is nothing else.

Fountain_tree_of_life

Just accept it, you’re going to die. Make most of the time you have and don’t worry about the fact that it will end.

Now let me ask you a question. Once I ask it you will know rationally which is the correct answer, but ask yourself if you look forward to life this way? The question is, if you had before you your own personal and extensive bucket list of all the things you would want to do and were given an option between the bucket list and then death or a reasonably loving marriage, good kids, and a reasonably fulfilling career for a lifetime that was at least 80 years, which would you take? Rationally we would say we would take the longer more meaningful life because rationally we know a whole lot of good experiences are better than a few great experiences. We know that one dive out of a plane, one sight of a famous painting, one moment standing at a famous monument will not compare to years of happiness, even if those years never quite reach the momentary high of those single moments.

However, because we have no hope that we can attain that lasting true happiness, because we are afraid that death can come any moment we don’t strive for it. We make our lives a series of meaningless moments that may in of themselves constitute a momentary high, but sadly have a sum total of zero (or less).

I’m not saying that this society is nothing but a society of base hedonists (although we are close), but how many people are stuck doing a job they hate and don’t take the risks necessary to better themselves to do better. How many of us view the thing we look forward to all week is our favorite show on TV and not our friends. …. Or how many in this country are wiling to vote for the person who promises the quickest fix with the most immediate gratification over a politician who has real plans? Long-term thinking is a reflection of hope. Now does that mean someone who thinks long term should just live by themself and never engage in any of those short-term pleasures? No. Any full life has a balance of experiences.

Now you may criticize me as a hypocrite. Don’t you practice that Buddhist meditation of envisioning your death? Aren’t you focused on death more so than the rest of us? Yes to the first, no to the second. The Buddhists teach to constantly meditate on your death not to be focused on death, but to prepare your mind for the inevitable so it won’t be too shocked by the crossing over and thus will be able to make it back here as quickly as possible. …Again long-term thinking coupled with an obsession with the quality life.

But how does this obsession with death relate to politics? Only too directly. What do you think drives this call for healthcare? Think we’re talking about insurance? Something that isn’t needed for the vast majority of humanity. Yeah we all use our dental insurance on a yearly basis, and if we have glasses we use the Vision insurance…but the medical insurance. I mean honestly now, most of us can go years without going to see a doctor if we take care of ourselves. But that’s not what the argument is over, the argument is over health care, at least from the side of the people advocating for it centers around when we need a doctor not as a precautionary checkup but when we’re dying and need massive medical care! Again why we should all prefer to live, why should the thought of death push us to action? It’s going to happen to all of us. But some of these ways to die are terrible and painful! The cry goes. To which I respond so are the treatments that cost massive amounts of money (that’s partly why this is going to be so expensive) often painful in of themselves, and only buy you a few months, maybe a couple of useless years. I very much believe in fighting to live every last moment you can. But fighting for three more months in a hospitable bed isn’t life; it’s fear of death. Or worse you now see people fighting to keep brain dead husks on life support (possibly tying a soul to a useless body for years because they fear the idea of death so much…but please tell me of a better description of hell than being tied to a body you can nothing with for years perhaps decades? That certainly has nothing to do with the respecting the sanctity of life.) Nothing anything a liberal has argued in calling for universal healthcare is about the improvement of the quality of life, it’s about delaying death for as long as possible. (Because in fact basic economics tells us this will make healthcare far more inefficient and thus ruin the average person’s access to medical treatment).

The fear of death causes nothing but stupid decisions. And this culture needs to get over it.

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