Friday, October 14, 2011

Halloween Festival of Lists: FOURTEEN Pet Peeves of Horror

 There are a lot of frequent fliers in horror.  By that I mean trends that seem to never end.  In most of the following cases, it really doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the movies, but it certainly does mean less originality.  I think I'm becoming more and more disillusioned with the horror genre.  I'm desensitized to most of the violence, am not easily scared anymore, and am just dying for a good ghost story.  So I guess what I'm saying is...can someone out there look under the nearest rock and find some damn imagination?

That being said, here are fourteen complaints.

1) 3D:  I really thought the 3D fad would end.  Unfortunately it just keeps on trucking.  I'm so dead tired of things flying out of the screen at me and having to wear those stupid glasses that give me a headache and fall off because they are too damn big for my head.  And I actually sat through Piranha 3D, I really did.  I did not, however, sit through Shark Night 3D.  And it's most likely that I won't be in the theater for the upcoming remakes that are all being done in 3D:  Halloween 3D, The Gate 3D, and perhaps most unforgivably- The Birds 3D.
It is highly likely though, that you'll find me in a dark movie house when Argento's Dracula 3D comes out.  Two factors influence this decision: I love vampires and I love Argento.  I'm bound to be disappointed but hey, it's my call.

2) Shaky Cam/Found Footage - Ever since The Blair Witch Project, movie producers/directors/writers have been cashing in on the found footage sub-genre.  Linked closely with it is the infamous shaky cam, a technique (can we call it that?) which has DPs or actors holding a hand-held camera to achieve a realistic effect that makes it seem like they are gathering footage as they are walking through the haunted house, abandoned factory, creepy woods, etc.  This is something that I don't really care if I ever see again.  It's overused and quite frankly, nausea inducing.  When I saw Paranormal Activity in the theater I literally had to dry-swallow a Dramamine just to get through it.  I then got sick again at The Last Exorcism - it was my own stupidity not to have realized it was made the same way.  .Rec and Quarantine didn't make me quite as ill, but I watched them on my flat-screen, so no doubt that's why.  The trend continues with the sequels of the above films and with films like Apollo 18.  Even A Horrible Way to Die was waaay too shaky cam for me.

3) Can we stop killing off big stars just to pull the Psycho card?  I'm tired of it.  It was neat in the first Scream, but then got tedious, as in that film's three sequels, most recently (SPOILER ALERT!) in Scream 4 when Anna Paquin was killed off by Kristen Bell.  Also of note was Christopher Lee in the fairly awful film The Resident.  Guess he might have been rather lucky, there.

4) Glaringly loud music:  What was up with that ridiculous screaming screech in the score for Insidious?  Wow, is that what demons sound like?  Much of that score was really good - mysteriously dark and very worthy of purchase off iTunes.  But with headphones on, you can literally totally blow out your eardrums when that shriek shows up unannounced!  Equally as annoying are movies with banging bass, howling women, rap, or thrash metal.  What purpose does that serve?

5) Torture Porn:  Since movies like Hostel and Captivity came out in the mid-to-late 2000's, we've been rather bombarded with nasty, graphic deaths in horror.  Seems each film is trying to outdo the last.  Each Saw film takes the carnage a bit further.  Many remakes appear to add to the gruesome effects, trying to one-up their predecessors.  The re-do of I Spit on Your Grave would be a fine example of that.  And films like The Human Centipede and A Serbian Film strike out at the audience, punishing them with as much disgusting content as possible in order to be "different" or extreme.  I'm not impressed with this at all.  It's tiring.  After all, did we really need to see three people connected ass to mouth?  I don't think I ever wondered what that would be like, I really don't.

6) Boobs do not an interesting movie make.  I do realize that the horror genre is legendary for having at least a little bit of nudity in the majority of films.  But films like the aforementioned Piranha 3D - and the upcoming Piranha 3DD (really??) just utterly baffle me.  It is so pointless, except for guys watching the films in their basement with their funky blow up dolls...yeah, whatever.  A little bit of breastages I can deal with.  A total tit-fest I can do without.  Nudity does not equal plot.  And yes, I realize all you men are bitching at me right now.  Whatever.

7) Based on a true story:  This type of film can be intriguing, I'll give you that. Plots that mirror true-life events can give great insight to the crimes and stories themselves, but it has been so overused.  Movies like The Haunting in Connecticut and the forthcoming The Haunting in Georgia....what will it take to NOT have a Haunting in each of the fifty states?  The Girl Next Door (and its less-grimy counterpart An American Crime) were based on a story about a teen in Indiana who was tortured and killed by a demented woman and some neighborhood children.  Did we need to see exactly how that happened? It's true though, that films like that are like a car wreck.  We can't not watch.  But it's getting pretty old.  Also in the 'believe-it-or-not' category is the "true story" The Rite. One of the worst films I have seen all year, and it starred Anthony Hopkins.  Who'd have thought that could happen?

8) Remakes:  Well, it's obvious this trend is NEVER going to end.  The Last House on the Left, The Wicker Man, Thirteen Ghosts, The Omen, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes, The Fog, The Ring, Dark Water,  Let Me In, Children of the Corn, April Fool's Day, Prom Night, Pulse, When a Stranger Calls, Psycho, Dawn of the Dead, My Bloody Valentine, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Mother's Day, Williard,  Fright Night, One Missed Call, The Haunting, The Hitcher, Black Christmas, Halloween, The Amityville Horror, Straw Dogs, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.....  Need I go on?

9) Movies out of sequence:  What I mean here is when movies are told out of order.  I do realize it's a technique used to throw the audience off and confuse them, but I think that's part of the problem.  I don't enjoy being confused.  I prefer a film be told honestly.  One lone exception to this would be the French film, Irreversible.  Gaspar Noe's brilliant direction in this movie is the reason it works.  The story can still be confusing at times but after you finish it you want to watch it all over again to see what you missed the first time.  I'm not talking about time-travel films either, as most of the time I can tolerate those.  And flashbacks are acceptable as well.  It's films that jump back and forth in a nonlinear fashion that make me want to jump off the bridge.  Films with stories that can be so convoluted that it's hard to keep up.  Memento drove me crazy.  Mulholland Drive confused the hell out of me the first three times I saw it.  David Lynch enjoys that style immensely I think, and uses it in several of his movies (and in Twin Peaks as well).  Hell, even The Grudge messes with my head.

10) Pointless Sequels:  Most of these are just cashing in on a previous film's success.  As in Paranormal Activity.  For years the Saw franchise cornered the market on Halloween weekend...until PA came along and wiped that slate clean.  Stealing the spotlight in October 2009, it rushed out a sequel the following October and of course a third one opens next week here in the states.  Film franchises have made bad sequels (and a few good ones) by the ton over the years, and some of the most recent to capitalize are the Saw films, the Resident Evil and Underworld series', and the Final Destination franchise.  Enough already!! 

11) Stupid movie titles:  My first thought here is for a movie opening today, The Thing.  Wow, doesn't that sound wildly familiar? Um, yeah.  This year's The Thing is a prequel to the 1982 classic (remake)...wait for it.... The Thing!
What an awesome use of brain matter we have there.  You mean to tell me they couldn't think of anything else to call this film?  Hell, even 'The Thing Before' would have been more acceptable.  Also on the dumb-ass title list: A Horrible Way to Die.  I just saw this flick and have to say, no one really died an exceedingly horrible death in it.  Yeah, they were killed...but nobody got their guts eaten by zombies or had their eyes poked out with a pitchfork.  No vats of acid, no steel traps on their face, no eating alive by rabid pigs.  So WTF? 
An up and coming stupid title hitting theaters next year?  The Collection.  The brilliantly named sequel to, you guessed it... The Collector.  Stunning!

12) Comic Book Films:  I know I'm going to insult people here, but goddamn am I sick of all the flippin' comic book characters come to life on the big screen.  There are so many now it's getting boring.  In the last several years we've had Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, X-Men, Kick Ass, Green Lantern, Green Hornet, The Punisher, The Dark Knight, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Jonah Hex, Superman Returns, Watchman
Will the trend never go away?  All these heroes are going to be banging into each other on the damn street.

13) Big Names:  i.e., using the names of famous directors before the titles to sell a film.  I can see why it happens...after all, I'm pretty sure (George A Romero's) Deadtime Stories, (John Carpenter's) The Ward, and (Wes Craven's) My Soul to Keep wouldn't have done nearly as well without those names attached to them.  In the case of Deadtime Stories, well... it wouldn't have gotten made.  Cause it's certainly nothing to write home about.

14) Foreign transfers: What I mean here is all the films that have been remade here in America just to capitalize on foreign popularity.  The biggest example here is also one of the best:  Let Me In (2010).  I was SO hesitant to see this movie!  Let the Right One In (Sweden, 2008) was such a fantastic film it was hard to imagine the need to remake it for American audiences.  And to remake it so soon after the original?  Unreal. Thankfully it was truly stellar. But it was just one of tons of quick remakes, such as Quarantine - a film okay in its own right, but still inferior to the Spanish film .REC.  Upcoming remakes of foreign horror are Americanized versions of The Host (S.Korea) and The Silent House (La Casa Muda, Uruguay).  I've always found it perfectly acceptable to watch foreign films, and actually prefer the originals in their own language.  I'm not a fan of dubbing.  If it's a Spanish film, I'd rather hear them speak the language and watch their mouths coordinate with their speech...


Budd said...

I hate shaky cam so much. Don't mind seeing a little skin in movies, although it was kind of weird and out of place in the Children of the Corn remake. Let the right one in was superior to Let me in, in my opinion. Have you read the book. It is really good.

Christine Hadden said...

Agreed that LTROI was superior to Let Me In, but I was pleasantly surprised at LMI's quality.
And yes, I've read the book, it's wonderful. I'm currently reading that author's latest 'Handling the Undead'...another winner :)