Galactic Glossary

Below is a cosmic collection of superstellar semantics that every Space Jockey cinemaphile should have in his or her lexicon of lip-ready language! (Try to say that three times, fast!)  In most cases, these terms are in reviews, articles, and other content found here on Space Jockey Reviews.

  • Cinéma Vérité – (French translation: “truthful cinema”)  Cinéma vérité is a documentary-style, fly-on-the-wall approach to filmmaking.  The technique is observational, meant to record ultra-realistic, staged events–characters act in natural ways, unaware of the camera and/or are influenced by the camera to be natural, by the less formal presence of the camera itself.  Cinéma vérité may include what is also known as the, sometimes annoying, “shaky cam” effect.  This further gives the film an ad hoc feel, suggesting that it is an unprepared, unrehearsed filming of reality.  Found footage films famously employ Cinéma vérité, with good reason.  However, the technique has become so popular and common, that it is often sadly used in ways that it are little more than annoying, distracting, and without purpose.  Yes, that last sentence is my opinion, but I had to throw it in there anyway!
  • Coup de Grace – Deathblow: the blow that kills (usually mercifully).  However, in cinema, in the case of monsters and serial killers, it is usually done without mercy, with a most well-deserved force of vengeance.
  • Double Tap – Administering more than one deathblow to the monster, serial killer, or other murderous character in a horror, sci-fi, or fantasy film.  In other words, it’s the rarely-performed act of making double damn sure the %$#@!& is really dead, before you walk away.  After all, we know they always come back to kill you, after a single tap; why don’t they know that in the movies?  (Oh well, what would horror movies be like without a few stupid victims?)  For the best double-tapping scene ever (accompanied by the most intelligent words ever spoken by a double tapper), see the movie Farmhouse.  For a full review of Farmhouse (including details about the double tap), click here.
  • Engineers – According to the the movie Prometheus and the Alien mythos in general, Engineers are the creators (and potential destroyers) of life on earth—and perhaps elsewhere in the universe, as well.  In Prometheus, the Engineers had been on LV-223, 2,000 years earlier, engineering biological weapons (xenomorphs) to exterminate all life on Earth.  As revealed in Prometheus, an Engineer was also the alien inside the “Space Jockey” pressure suit, aboard the now famous derelict ship in Alien (1979).  

An Engineer sacrifices himself to create life

  •  Found Footage – Movies that were made (according to the story) with footage found after the movie-makers have been killed by whatever they were filming.  In some cases, those who did the filming are only missing and likely dead (as if that’s any better).  Examples of found footage films include The Blair Witch Project, [Rec], etc.
  • Full Spectral ApparitionA ghost that appears in full, visible form!  This type is sometimes barely distinguishable from a living human being.  Below is a full spectral apparition from Grave Encounters.  Obviously, this one is quite distinguishable from a normal human!  It’s the type I hope I never see.

A Full Spectral Apparition from Grave Encounters

  • Giallo – (plural gialli) An Italian 20th century genre of literature and film, which in Italian indicates crime fiction and mystery.  In the English language it refers to a genre similar to the French fantastique genre and includes elements of horror fiction and eroticism.
  • Gothic – Of or in the style of architecture prevalent in western Europe in the 12th – 16th centuries, characterized by pointed arches, rib vaults, and flying buttresses, together with large windows and elaborate tracery.  Obviously, a gothic film includes buildings and structures with such architecture, along with all of the usual, creepy atmosphere that results.
  • Grand GuignolLe Théâtre du Grand-Guignol (French pronunciation:  [ɡʁɑ̃ ɡiɲɔl]: “The Theater of the Big Puppet”) — known as the Grand Guignol — was a theatre in the Pigalle area of Paris (at 20 bis, rue Chaptal).  From its opening in 1897 until its closing in 1962, it specialized in naturalistic horror shows.  Its name is often used as a general term for graphic, amoral horror entertainment, a genre popular from Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre (for instance Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and Webster’s The White Devil) to today’s splatter films.  Below is an original Grand Guignol poster from the period.  (The information about Grand Guignol is from Wikipedia).

  • Intelligent Haunting – According to Grave Encounters (reviewed here on Space Jockey Reviews), an intelligent haunting is a spirit that interacts and has intention, also, as reported, causing people to be pushed, scratched, or thrown.  To see the full review of Grave Encounters, click here.
  • J-Horror – (Japanese Horror) The unique brand of Japanese horror, blending Japanese folk tales with cinema pop culture.  J-Horror is heavy on suspense and psychological elements, emphasizing a slow buildup of tension and dread.  J-Horror frequently uses ghosts and poltergeists, including the now-famous dark-haired ghost women, dripping and convulsing out of wells, TV screens, and even the sea (as in Dream Cruise).  Notable examples of J-Horror include Ringu (The Ring) and Ju-on (The Grudge).  Below are screen shots of a typical J-Horror ghost woman.  Both are of Sadako from The Ring.  For a full review of the J-Horror film Dream Cruise, click here.

Sadako – The J-Horror Ghost Woman from The Ring

Sadako crawls from a TV (in The Ring).

  • Mockumentary – A pseudo-documentary employing cinéma vérité, realism, and often shaky cam effects.  In most cases (particularly with horror films), the mockumentary is also made from found footage, and those who filmed it are missing or dead.  An example of a mockumentary is Grave Encounters, reviewed here on Space Jockey Reviews.  To see the full review, click here.
  • Residual Haunting – A haunting that is, according to Grave Encounters (reviewed here on Space Jockey Reviews), like an echo from the past, continuing to loop over and over again.  To see the full review of Grave Encounters, click here.
  • Slasher – A horror film in which the killer uses one or more of various weapons with a cutting edge (most often a knife).  The “slashing” results in copious amounts of gratuitous blood loss and death.

THIS LIST IS A WORK IN PROGRESS.  CHECK BACK LATER FOR UPDATES!

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