Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Horror



I'm a horror movie junkie. Not all of them. There are more than a few absolute dogs floating around. They need to be semi-entertaining at the least. This means if you're going to have bad acting, incoherent story, you need to at least have massive amounts of gore. And, if it's actually scary and good, all the better. But I tend to at least try to watch them all, no matter how bad the reviews.

It seems lately that this genre tends to go one of three ways. First is the bad 'scary' movies that have no gore and are actually rated PG-13. I'm guessing they tone down the sex and violence (see original 'Friday the 13th' for proper playbook) so they can suck in all the brain dead preteens. This means the opening weekend box office take will look respectable regardless of how bad the movie is. I'm referring to movies like 'The Grudge', 'Dark Water', 'Bogeyman', 'The Fog' (don't even get me started on this one), 'Darkness Falls' and 'The Messengers' (which I haven't seen, but heard it might be the worst of the bunch). These movies basically piss me off. If you can't be original or even good, at least give me some gratuitous sex and violence. That's why I'm watching. I blame 'The Ring' for this trend, by the way. It was fairly decent and, since it was successful, spawned a whole bunch of imitators.

Second will be the 'yeah, it's stupid, but they manage to pull it off' type of movie. Usually lots of gore and blood splattered around. The story will make no sense and acting will be atrocious, of course, but it's watchable in a guilty pleasure kind of way. Think 'HellRaiser' or any of the 'Final Destination' movies, which I find myself rewatching every time I run across it on Starz. There something about how all that violence is choreographed that's quite entertaining. The kid that gets sliced into pieces by the barbed wire fence in the second one is Hollywood magic. Good luck seeing that scene on basic cable.

And finally, and most pleasantly, there are the horror flicks that are actually good, solid movies. That can stand as good film making on their own. I've seen two recently, 'The Descent' and 'Slither'. Both are gory as hell, but that's about all they have in common. 'Slither' is more of a comedy and 'The Descent' more of a character study in how much the human mind can take before it snaps and madness ensues. Oddly, the monsters they run into don't even factor into the answer. I don't want to ruin either of them for you so I'll leave it at that, but if you're a fan rent either of the two for a good time. (One note - if you do rent 'The Descent' make sure you watch the intended original ending and not the one they showed in America. The American one makes no sense and is explained by the writer/director why they changed it in an inteview also on the DVD)

Some others I would recommend. A few are older, but still maintain their gruesome appeal.

Re-animator: Still one of the most disgusting, hilarious movies I've ever seen.

Session 9: Not so much scary or gory as creepy. This one got under my skin. Just the setting is disturbing as contractors are hired to strip out hazardous asbestos material from an old mental hospital.

Evil Dead 2: Sam Raimi's Three Stooges tribute disguised as a horror flick. It makes sense when you see it.

Return of the Living Dead: Not a Romero flick, but more of a parody. See it just for what happens when they use the tried and true 'shoot it in the head to kill it' method. In this case it's a pick axe and things don't turn out as planned.

The Exorcist: Obviously.

Jacob's Ladder: I haven't seen this one in over a decade, but some scenes still haunt me. Need to rewatch this to see if it's impact remains.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The remake was actually better than I thought it would be, but it still doesn't come close to the nightmarish feel of the original.

The Thing: John Carpenter's version, not the original. Has any movie scene topped that head pulling itself off, sprouting legs and scurrying away? (Note: I put this list together last week and have since found out there are plans to remake this movie. I am outraged! OUTRAGED!!! Leave the classics alone! Doesn't anyone remember 'Psycho' or 'The Longest Yard'?)

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The birth of Freddie and a bunch of crappy sequels, but Johnny Depp exploding was worth it all.

Shaun of the Dead: I can't adequately explain this movie, but it became one of my favorites after my first viewing. Let's put it this way, I can no longer watch serious zombie movies without thinking of this one and cracking up.

Today's distraction: Fight the living dead. Or, if you're like me, pretend the zombies are all the people you hate at work. Quite therapeutic.

http://artscool.cfa.cmu.edu/~lee/deanimator.html

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