Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh...the Horror!

     I'm sick of people who don't like horror movies.
     Or rather, I'm sick of people giving me crap because I enjoy horror movies.
     It seems a widespread  notion that if you like horror movies, then you don't have any taste in films, or that you don't particularly like movies that are devoid of exploding heads or gratuitous blood-letting.
    This perception is completely inaccurate.
    First of all, my list of top 5 movies of all time doesn't even include any horror films, (although my top 10 would), and most of them would be categorized as "drama." But, that's a list for another time.
    What I find more frightening than horror films is the large amount of people who have to have happy endings to their movies, in order to enjoy them. I mean, really. Do you truly need to have your movies all tied up in a nice package with a pretty bow on them? This is the type of movie-goer that I personally abhor, as well as an example of the type of movie that isn't worth my time.
    How did I get this way? How did I come under the sway of the dark side of cinema?
    Easy. When I was a kid, I was deathly afraid of the dark.Seriously. Scared to death.
    One definite experience I remember was seeing the end of the movie "Aliens" on TV late one night, and being scarred forever by the sight of the android Bishop being impaled and torn apart by the alien. This, (amongst other things), haunted me forever.
    And then, somehow, somewhere in 5th or 6th grade I started reading Stephen King books, and other writers of that ilk - and then I slowly made the transition to celluloid. I distinctly remember watching horror movies throughout college rabidly, (as well as films like "Magnolia" and "Fight Club" that actually changed the way I looked at films).
    Now....why? Why do I like horror movies?
    Well, let's face it.....Life is hard. We all deal with random stuff that comes up in our everyday lives that simultaneously disappoints us, depresses us, or hurts us, etc. Not only the standard life stressors like money, job security, or dealing with ignorant people are difficult - sometimes there are huge things like a car accident, cancer, other health problems, etc. The horrors of everyday living are sometimes much more frightening than anything a horror film can show us....
    So, sometimes it's nice to see people who are having a worse day than you are. I mean, when was the last time I was chased down a dark hallway by a deformed madman with a chainsaw?
    See? It's a way of re-aligning your perspective.
    Also, it's nice to know exactly what you're going to get. If I watch a slasher flick, then I can expect an ever-increasing body count in the next 90 minutes or so; no deep thinking required. And after a long 12-hour shift in the E.R., all I want to do is turn my brain off, make a drink, and enjoy something that doesn't require a large amount of thought.....(This is also my reason for watching "South Park" after work - because absurdity can be refreshing)....
    And now, people are going to disagree with me on this.... But....
Horror movies are art.
    Yes. Just like real art and music, horror movies can be dissected  by genre and appreciated in certain ways.
    Now, there are crappy horror movies, (just like there are crappy artists and crappy musicians). But sometimes you have to understand the genrefication of these films.
     Here's a crash-course:
1. Zombie Film
This requires no explanation.

2. Slasher Film
a'la John Carpenter's "Halloween", or any movie about a psychopath going around killing innocent victims, (usually young beautiful college-age students).

3. Supernatural/Sci-Fi Horror Film
Your standard ghost/alien movie.

4. Campy Horror Film
This is a strange mixture of comedy and horror that includes all the Evil Dead movies and such classics as Peter Jackson's "Dead Alive"

And finally, I personally think there's another category-
5. Art-House Horror Film
This would be a horror film that, (oftentimes in the hands of a good director), can transcend the horror stereotype and actually require deeper thinking. I feel "28 Days Later" is a perfect example of this. What's scarier than blood-thirsty zombies? Why human nature and British soldiers intent on continuing the human race by any means necessary, of course.

Having said that, my top 5 Horror Films are:
1. Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later"
2. John Carpenter's "The Thing"
3. George A. Romero's "Day of the Dead"
4. David Cronenberg's "Scanners"
5. Dario Argento's "Suspiria"

    If you've never seen John Carpenter's "The Thing", then you're really missing out on a classic that feeds off the paranoia of the characters and the viewer.
    As for David Cronenberg's "Scanners", it's another great tale of science gone wrong, (of course "Videodrome" nearly made the list at 6th place....),  from a fantastic Canadian director, who continues to make high-quality movies, (i.e. "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises").
    And though George A. Romero's filmography is a bit spotty, no one makes a zombie film like him. I personally have the slight preference for "Day of the Dead" over "Dawn of the Dead", (and it's inherent samples that have been used by Gorillaz).
    And of course, Dario Argento's "Suspiria" is still just as creepy and obsessively bloody as it was back in 1977. Almost all slasher flicks owe a huge debt to this Italian director.
    I couldn't really say anything more about "28 Days Later", but suffice to say that Danny Boyle has certainly made a name for himself as a director who has a knack for making great films in nearly any genre.
    So give us horror-lovers a break. If you have to have a happy ending and no blood in your entertainment, then fine. Sure, it's not your cup of tea, but keep it to yourself - and I will do my utmost to not make fun of you for your truly terrible taste in films.
 Song of the Week:
           The Arcade Fire's "No Cars Go"

       And truly the Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible" will be on my top ten albums list forever. But this song is beautiful, and some how feels hopeful..... Epic? Yes..... Anthemic? Yes....... Perfect?


Unknown said...

Regarding "Neon Bible", (and perhaps this would have been a better comment on the previous post) it truly is a great album, but is it better than "Funeral"? To me "Funeral" was the best album of the 00's, though "Neon Bible" was in the top 20, if not top 10, for me.

I'd love to see your top album lists, though I wouldn't blame you for not wanting to devote blog space to it. It would be fun to compare "best" lists sometime.

Bryan said...

Hmmm..... Well, is it better than "Funeral"? Good question.
Well, I did buy "Funeral" first, long before "Neon Bible" came out... So it definitely hooked me enough to buy a follow-up album by them. But for some reason "Funeral" has a lot of really good stand-out tracks, but I tend to like the over-all feel better on "Neon Bible"...
I think this'll be one of those subjective things, where I end up disagreeing with the majority of which album is better.
But in that case, I would say I like "Neon Bible" more because it feels a bit darker, (with lyrical content), than "Funeral" (oddly enough with the name....). But it could just be me. I just gravitate towards the second album more, I guess..

And actually, my top 5 albums would be a great blog idea. I think I'll save that for another month or two, though. And, yes, comparison of both our top album lists would be a lot of fun! I promise you I'll get a blog up on that some time in the next month or so.

BrianV said...

Not a horror movie buff by any means, but Liesl and like to watch a traditional cheesy slasher movie around Halloween.

Night of the Living Dead, The Birds, The Shining, Halloween, all classic horror films we enjoy.

Then there's the silly ones like Shaun of the Dead (great) and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (not so great). Not that the other's I listed aren't somewhat silly too.

Haven't really gotten into any of the real bloody ones--although we sure did enjoy both Kill Bills, but those aren't exactly Horror.

Anyway, props to good horror films. Yes, film is art and shouldn't be taken literally in many cases.