Saturday, 21 February 2009

Happiness In Slavery

I might stand corrected.

I love horror films, I think we've established that from the rant I posted last December, but really... I just want them to work. I want us to stop cannibalising old plots and films, I want us to move forward, and do something brilliant.

I want horror to be special again.

But I might stand corrected with a few of my points from the previous blog (Help Me. I Am In Hell) due to the fact that I've seen parts of the new Friday the 13th. And the thing is... it doesn't look bad. It looks... awful... but that's because in this day and age we can't take masked serial killers seriously.

I mean honestly, in Saw, Jigsaw, our villain/anti-hero, wears a pig mask and has a clown puppet called Billy. Those aren't scary (well they were in the first film, the scene with Cary Ewes in the parking garage and Jigsaw crawling out of the back seat... guh, and when the director does that irritating quick IN-YOUR-FACE cut/cut/cut shoot style...), they're funny. If you turn off the sound (ignoring the sultry tones of Tobin Bell) you've got this clown puppet yapping away. Horrifying-- Not.But we don't have masked serial killers walking the streets. No urban myths and legends really have those kind of terrifying figures (Obviously ignoring the Hook Man legend, but even then, he doesn't wear a mask, he wears a hook. Go figure) that instill fear.

Anonymity should be scary.

Films like When A Stranger Calls are scary because we don't know who the hell is doing what, and by the end of the film, we still don't. He's, like Michael Myers before him in Halloween, a "Shape", ethereal, ghostly, but when he strikes... he strikes hard and vicious. To be honest, the sequences without actually seeing the "Prank Caller" in When A Stranger Calls are the scariest. When we actually see him, he's a human being, and he's just there. Real. It looses something. Faceless serial killers are the best, in that we don't know who they are, or why they're doing what they're doing. Why is Jason killing? Because he nearly drowned and, oh, because of one the funniest quotes of the film: "Kill for mother!" Thank you Pamela Voorhees. And thank you, shades of Psycho (another film that brilliant in it's anonymity, and not diluted by the eventual reveal of "Mother" Bates)!

I don't like knowing why the killer is killing. Certain films work like that, "discovery horror", as I've just decided to call it, where-in the story is moved forward by a mystery, but others, not so much. I'm going out on a limb and declaring the remake of House Of Wax as "discovery horror", as we eventually discover the history of the Wax Town, the twins, etc, but what really matters is how fucking horrifying a lot of the murders are. How happy was I when Paris Hilton got skewered by a phallic symbol? Tres. One of the weaker murders, sure, but some of the events in that film were really bloody scary. The guy at the piano, his mate finding him, prodding his cheek and then-- oh, if you've seen the film, you know what I'm talking about. God. And Elisha Cuthbert's fingers!! Shit. That was a scary-ish film!

So Friday the 13th. I was a bit fanboy-ish outraged at the idea of Jason running. But now, thinking about it, so what? So what if he runs? That doesn't matter, does it? I mean, I may prefer my slow moving serial killers, Michael Myers, aka The Shape, the classic Voorhees... but fast moving can be scary too, in different ways. Freddy Kruger of Nightmare on Elm Street fame jumps around like a freaking ADD afflicted twelve year old, and he's terrifying, the "ugly clown", that glove, the close ups on his massacred face... scary as. The zombies in the remake of Dawn of the Dead and in 28 Days Later (one of the greatest British films ever made) too, are scary in a different way. They will get you. And there's no fun in that. I like zombies that loiter about and then won't stop till they eventually find you, moving in herds, never stopping, slowly but surely catching up with you. In Dawn of the Dead, they just... ran... and it was disappointing. Where was the suspense? Where was the horror?

But Jason Voorhees runs in Friday the 13th. And I don't know, really, I don't mind. I've not seen the entire film, I want to, sure, but I've not got round to it. As long as he doesn't, I don't know, dance about, I think I can be ok with it. So whilst I'm not a big fan of nu-horror, shallow and dilute as it is, I think I can abide it.

(Cross-posted here)


  1. ok horror is never special... I mean you know what happened to the cast of Exorcist and Poltergeist? Friday the 13th is a retread of lame scripts from the 80s. Don't get me started on Hellraiser and Nightmare on Elm Street...

    The problem with horror is you have a genre that's limited by it's subject matter. You do all the movies about monsters, villains, and apparitions and then you do them again!

    Lions and tigers and bears oh my! Oh wait wrong genre. Point being, horror is a limited scope of a genre that chases its tail... What happens when the dog actually catches its tail? He chases it again!

    Anyway, cool blog Bro. Keep it up.

  2. I have to disagree! I may be disheartened by the current state of the genre, but horror was always at it's best when it was... scary. Not bloody. Not gory. Not full of gratuitous bone shots! Yes, there's the odd bloody exception, but the original Halloween was brilliant! And the cast? Donald Pleasence! Jamie Lee Curtis! The director?! John Carpenter! All legends! Psycho was directed by Hitchcock! These people are famous in circles you follow or you don't. Night of the Demon director Jacques Tourneur was named to me today as someone's favourite director.

    These films can be special. They have been. They push the limits of technology (The Thing!) and expectation, but right now, we've hit a lull, and I think that right now, you're right, horror ISN'T special. But to say it's NEVER special is to put the genre in a box it doesn't deserve to be.

    Now, who am I talking to? :D