Teaching is all about planning + improvisation. You have to plan well and provide a structure, but it's also important to roll with the vagaries of the unexpected. Today was a case for this kind of flexibility. After talking about the ambiguity that signaled the 1980s shift in horror films, we were all primed to see John Carpenter's 1982 movie The Thing. It's a heady mix of gender politics and claustrophobic masculinity and rather good monster effects for its time.
However, the disc refused to play in the dvd player or in the computer. We even tried one of the students' laptops. No go. Argh. So much for my carefully orchestrated preamble. Fortunately, I do bring a handful of other films to show brief clips from to illustrate various points (we had already watched the opening minutes of the stylish vamp classic The Hunger with Bauhaus, Deneuve, Bowie and Ann Magnuson). The students suggested watching that film instead (in part because of our now running joke about David Bowie) but it's a video transfer and stutters a lot, so I decided to go with Near Dark, which is an entertaining film with some interesting developments, but not quite on track with our trajectory.
I suppose it's just as well as we were giving short shrift to vamps over all (on the whole I'm not a big fan of vampire films) but it irks, of course. But that's the teaching life. We had a good discussion and they'll surely have more to post on-line tonight, so I ought to be sanguine.