Friday, June 11, 2010

I Know Who Spammed Me

A few weeks back, my email spammed a whole lot of people: friends, family, former employers, offices I had once applied to work in, renters on Craig's List, etc. While there may indeed be some people on that list welcoming a message about where to find top quality Viagra, I personally felt as though someone had stolen a piece of my identity, crawling around my inbox and mailing those who knew me with a poorly worded advertisement for something I’m not selling.

In modern banking terms, identity theft in a crime and nowhere is this more evident, frightening, or plain gross than horror cinema. Examine:


It's one thing to find someone else has been using your credit card, but feeling your body host an entirely different (usually evil) entity seems to violate just about every tenant of natural law. Pity The Exorcist's Regan, a mere teenager taken hostage by the cruel, kinky, and weak stomached demon Pazuzu. Similarly, entire towns seem to face a similar short term squatter menace in Wes Craven's Shocker, the Denzel Washington ripoff (face it) Fallen, and the weirdly experimental ninth installment of Friday the 13th

Complicated Disease

It’s not MY fault! The werewolf that bit me made me tear off my clothing and attack local loiterers! It’s an excuse used by a very unfortunate constituent of the lycanthropic population and really, how can you not sympathize with young Ginger Snaps, the confused Wolfman, and very tormented David in An American Werewolf In London? Yes, they all get to indulge their inner animal with a frolic in the nude, but as anybody who recognizes the name Rick Baker knows, those transformations just can’t be a scratch on the belly.

Bait & Switch

Perhaps the most physically complex and real estate-demanding identity theft can be seen in the four films (and assumedly counting) sci-fi series Invasion of the Body Snatchers, wherein imperialistic aliens harvest human-sized pods to grow replacement people that can continue your existence in monotone conformity. Those suffering from high blood pressure may see some benefits, but losing that emotion and individual spark means surrendering that quality that makes us human, for better and worse. Then again, the 2007 remake (shortened to The Invasion to best not confuse modern moviegoers) starred a plastic-faced Nicole Kidman as the feeling man’s last hope. So maybe the ability to show emotion doesn’t have so much weight after all.

Replacement Parts

And that leads us to another form of alternate you-ness that puts a whole lot of pressure on Ms. Kidman, the pop culture landmark The Stepford Wives. Based on the novel by Ira Levin, this satirical thriller of sexual politics in suburbia was made into one great film and another that challenges the English language to find words base enough to reflect a proper insult. The tale of Stepford is arguably the wrongest of all of these identity crimes because not only does it involve (spoilers) the murder/genocide of thinking women; it also means that after said strong women are dead, their names, faces, and bodies continue to be used in chauvinistic ways that would have made their living counterparts burn their bras in horror. 

Baby Swap ‘n Such

Due to the mysteries of human life and black and white limitations of ultrasounds, no woman can ever really know what’s brewing inside her uterus. Still, a consenting soon-to-be-mom generally assumes one guarantee: the child is a product of her and an identifiable male partner. Like any rule, there are always exceptions and one needs to look no further than the Rosemary’s Baby‘s Upper West Side, where poor Mia Farrow learns too late that her drunken night of lovemaking wasn’t exactly with the man in her wedding photo. A similar discovery befalls the illustrious Thorn family in 1976’s The Omen, when U.S. ambassador Gregory Peck trades his stillborn son for what he’s told is another innocent newborn. The next five years are then devoted to raising the antichrist. Hey, not everybody’s kid can be an honor student, but sometimes, it’s good to know what’s growing inside your home.

Species Conversion

As someone with a history of self-identifying as a morning person, I can’t imagine anything more horrifying than the biological constraints of vampirisim (well, maybe carrying Satan’s fetus but there are prenatal drugs for that). Aside from completely rearranging my natural schedule, the whole “loss of soul” thing is a viable reason to Just Say No to that handsome midnight caller with an unnatural ivory skin tone. One could make the same argument for zombiism, the disease to which no man or woman is immune. Looking past the obvious fear of being eaten, it’s the blankening of identity that makes this the horror genre’s favorite go-to monster. The idea that your mother could become your murderer is scary; that you would have no restraint at responding by hunting your own child is truly disturbing.

Recasted Sequels

In most cases, it’s the actor’s choice whether or not to reprise his or her role in a (usually) successful film’s followup, so it’s hard to ever feel sorry or concerned for the departing star. Still, it’s sometimes a lot to ask audiences to suddenly shift all sympathy to a replacement actor. Patricia Arquette’s Kristen backflipped her way through A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 only to morph into The Dream Master’s Tuesday Knight, a chain smoker who would probably cough up a lung before reaching the squatting position. Julianne Moore had the thankless task of inhabiting a newly redheaded Clarice Starling following Oscar winner Jodie Foster’s decline in Hannibal, and while Moore makes a believable FBI agent, it’s a jarringly confident makeover for our West Virginian brunette.

So how comfortable are you now in your own skin, and if given the choice, is it that bad to bid it adieu?


  1. Sorry about the e-mail snafu. That happened to me through my work e-mail account a few weeks ago. I was apparently e-mailing clients the wonders of buying a pre-paid cell phone. It was the definition of good times.

  2. Grrr. Much worse when it involves work. But hey, I know a lot of people who really love their pre-paid cell phone plans!

  3. I think the films you chose I either haven't seen but want to or haven't seen in so long that I cannot properly be their pimp.

    Who hacks emails to spam anyway? Is there big money in this sort of crime?

  4. I don't know! Maybe whoever did it just really wanted to share the wonders of Viagra with the people I know. I like to assume the best in people.