Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Horror-struck ... for all the wrong reasons

Dear me, what can the matter be with horror movies these days? I have just lately viewed 4 movies all of which managed to seriously rub my unfunny bone the wrong way.

The first offender was Sorority Row which, granted, I wasn't expecting greatness from. But nothing this bad either. Rumor Willis ... you'd have thought her parents might steer her in the direction of something a little less hapless. No, wait, last good thing Demi Moore did was St Elmo's Fire and Bruce Willis ... no, I simply can't cast my mind back that far. As for Carrie Fisher getting involved in this nonsense, I can only assume that she's back on the booze and drank the next month's rent money so needed something to fill the gap.

Next up was The Final Destination ... please not the The to distinguish it as the ultimate ... well, least said about that ... I just bloody well hope it is the final one. Was this in 3-D at the cinema? Because not even screen-popping special effects could make up for a script sounded like it had been written by an 82 yr-old Mormon Republican with a mania for over-explaining everything.

Although by now I was having serious doubts I stuck with my mini-marathon of unmoving horror movies for the remake of Nightmare On Elm Street, a movie which just should not have been remade at all because it is a classic. After watching the remake against my better judgment then, I realized it was two hours of my life that I would never get back and resolved to listen to my better judgment more carefully in future. And by the way, whose seriously messed-up idea was it to take the greatest horror-movie anti-hero of all time, Mr Freddy Krueger, and make him into something resembling an inbred redneck extra left over from Deliverance? Just leave the classics alone. Please. Thank you.

Finally, since I like to finish what I start ( well, sometimes ) I arrived at the final leg of this torturous marathon. I had hoped for better things from Drag Me To Hell but it seems even at the last hurdle life was to cheat me out of a prize. Hell is exactly where both Sam Raimi and this movie should be have been dragged to, and left there for eternity, preferrably before it had a chance to upset the finer sensibilities of horror fans like myself. Raimi's much-vaunted 'truimphant return to horror' was more of a last-gasp clutch at a straw that he has allowed to wither into mulch. Alison Lohman is no Bruce Campbell and I suspect even if she had cut off both her hands with a chainsaw and got dragged from hell to breakfast by a bunch of demented vines all singing the 'Hallelujah' chorus, I wouldn't have been able to raise much more than a bored, " Oh get on with it!"

I must come to the conclusion then that there are altogether too many horror-movie remakes these days ... Friday the 13th, Halloween, The Crazies ( okay, that one did work ), Nightmare On Elm Street ... and on and on. We need less regurgitation of what we have already digested and more assailing of our senses with fresh gore. The horror-movie makers of today also are desperately in need of a humor transplant. Does anyone know where Dr Herbert West is these days?

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Leave it alone. Robert Englund is Freddy. End of story.
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It's no use, sweetie. He's just gonna keep coming back. This is a franchise, don't you know?

Monday, 13 September 2010

Dreaming In Gore-O-Vision

Shambling brain-eaters haunt my dreams ...

I cannot surely be the only person who often dreams in horror movies ... can I? Who by slumbering night finds herself starring in her own personally-written and directed slasher flicks? Most often it's zombies. I don't know why this should be since, as my favored sub-genres of the horror genre go, zombies rank for me pretty far below vampires, werewolves, hockey mask-wearing chainsaw-wielding maniacs, and even the odd family of cannibalistic inbreeds. So why my subconscious should be dreaming up complex plots involving these unedifying bad-mannered shambling wrecks of creatures with their disgusting penchant for snacking on the brains of the still-living, I just don't know.

Oh, I have done all the proper dream analysis ... and Drs Freud and Jung, as much as I do love your psychoanalytic scribblings, did either of you really need to get so darned persnickety with our subconscious nocturnal wanderings? Now we can't just have a bad dream ( or a good dream about a bad subject - and that does make as much sense on paper as it did in my head, right? ) without it having to be all about underlying castration fears and other florid psychoses. Thank you very much indeed.

One of my zombie-influenced dreams was in fact so spectacular that I was prompted, in spite of the shambling brain-eaters not being my thing, to write it all down and file it for fleshing out at a later date into a novel proper.

Besides the zombies, I have also dreamed of a Godzilla-like monster arriving to herald the end of the world. That one was so eerily lifelike I actually awoke 99% certain that the world really had ended, until I realized it was merely that Monday feeling I was experiencing. There was also an intriguing dream-state jaunt taken to an idyllic island for a much-needed vacation, only to have it interrupted by some inconsiderate little aliens - weird and disturbingly ferocious hybrids of lizards and Snow White's diminutive friends. I don't need Drs F & J to know that one was inspired by a timely combination of the side effects of beginning a course of Vitamin B6 tablets ( B6 causes very vivid dreams ), watching 'V', and reading about Disney's experimental Perfect Town USA ( that in itself could fill an entire horror blog post - urrgh! )

And don't even get me started on the myriad variations on the theme of an insane janitor on the loose in some creepy-ass small town and me being either his next intended victim who has to avoid him or the cop who has to hunt him down. I have nothing against janitors, at least not consciously. However, apparently my subconscious finds them very suspect indeed.

On the whole I tend to rather enjoy these horror-movie dreams. They're inspiring as well as entertaining, and okay yes, occasionally I get a sniggering kick out of waking up the entire household with my " Help! I'm having a seriously bad dream!" 5am shrieking! I just wish my subconscious would get over the whole zombie thing and instead find itself something to fret about involving the infinitely sexier vampire thing.

I might have no conscious beef with janitors but my subconscious is convinced they are all Freddy Krueger...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Strong Stomach But Still Human

Growing up I enjoyed reading horror authors such as Stephen King, John Saul, and James Herbert, all of whom were deservedly renowned for paying attention to gory detail! I know I read many, many more authors in the same genre and although I can't recall their names now, I'm pretty sure that most of them probably went just as far as the abovementioned Unholy Trinity in their efforts to gross out their readership. Of course, the 80's were kind of horrific in general ... bat-wing jumpers, pineapple hairdo's, and Margaret Thatcher, does anyone really want to argue that those things were not the products of a deranged psyche? I loved horror movies too. Once upon a time, I could practically recite the script to 'The Evil Dead' by heart.
I still enjoy reading/watching horror today, in my fortieth year, with no sign of that growing-up I'm supposed to do happening yet ( thnak heaven, it's always seemed a little dreary to me, the whole 'adult' thing ), and I'm happy to say there are still many, many gorily good books and movies around to satisfy my bloodlust with! Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Bentley Little, and a host that I'm trying to get around to reading before my eyeballs really do explode. Stephen King ( " Bow to the Master!" ) has himself described Little as the 'poet laureate' of horror today and I have to say his work does remind me a good bit of the 80's slash-and-bleed style.
These dubious tastes of mine in blood 'n' gore-drenched reading and watching material are enabled by my having a particularly strong stomach for the kinds of imaginative violence it takes to produce blood 'n' gore by the bucketful, and by my being relatively unshockable. In fact, there is so little I have ever truly shrank from that fact in itself sometimes gives me pause. But not very often, and never for terribly long before the next hockey-masked psycho wielding a shiny ax comes along and distracts me from wondering what kind of human being I am that I'd have rather Edward just ripped Bella's mopey little head off from the get-go, drained every last drop of her blood, and discarded her limp carcass in a school canteen wastebucket for her giggling little friends to discover. That'd take their minds off their prom dresses.
But ... I am human after all, and in my lifetime of otherwise unshockable devouring of all things horrifically-flavored, there have been two things at which I have baulked. The one was reading James Herbert's 'The Rats' but frankly, once I read it again some years later I couldn't even recall what it was about it put me off so much first time. I can only surmise that I must have read it on On Of Those Days we all had as teenagers. The other was Wes Craven's original movie 'The Last House On The Left'. First time around that block I quit one-third of the way after realizing that even with judicious use of the fast-forward I was just never going to find it any less unreasonably distasteful a journey. This time it had nothing to do with a teenage bad-hair day either. For me, despite my lack of shockability and iron-clad stomach, there is nonetheless a line between enjoyable bloody, gory mayhem and the un-entertaining results of a director or writer just coming over all unnecessary, and this lady is not for crossing that line. I did give 'Last House' a second chance also ( the BBFC having lately decided to re-release it on an unsuspecting public after many years languishing in their video-nasty dungeon ) but, unlike Mr Herbert's work, the nausea-inducing impact of 'Last House' had not blunted with my ageing. I was still left scrambling for the Stop button and seething with a desire to find Mr Craven and just smack him around a little for taking what could have been a good horror movie and turning it into something even my strong stomach couldn't, well, stomach. Some people seem to like it though. Enough of them anyway for Hollywood to figure a remake would be profitable. I don't expect I'll tempt fate to test the strength of my stomach for a third time by watching it again though. I'll just get on with wading knee-deep through the enjoyable blood 'n' gore of all those other mayhem-makers still lurking in wait for me on the book and DVD shelves.
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Oh, just rip her head off, Edward...