Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wishing And Hoping: Rant # 271

It's been awhile since I've had an honest to goodness rant on here.  I think it's high time that changes.
Having been a horror fan for decades, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have some expectations of the genre. I've been thinking about how unsatisfied I've been with horror as of late, and I've come up with a laundry list of things I’d love to experience in the horror genre.
So without further adieu, things I’d like to see…in a perfect (horror) world.

How about some more Michael Myers-esque scares? And no, not the Rob Zombie one. Anyone can bash in a head with a baseball hat. I want more hiding behind clotheslines and hedges. More heavy breathing (yes, I said it). Throw in some stalking for me. Some creepy theme music cues while a knife shockingly hits home.

I want filmmakers to stop using so many ridiculously stupid means of death. To me, it’s infinitely more impressive it you just use a knife well, rather than taking the time to devise elaborate ways to off someone. I know a lot of people live for movies where people get trampled by sheep or stomped to death by a pogo stick, but honestly – I just want someone to get shot or stabbed for a change. Maybe pushed off a cliff, even.

I’d like to see more cats. Dogs always get all the play in horror. Usually the cats end up on the wrong side of a serial killer’s knife, or just utilized to strike fear into the hearts of man simply by being black and crossing the road in front of our lead character’s SUV. I say, give me a cat like the one in Alien. That cat had a real role. He probably got a salary. Maybe even more than the key grip.
And by the way, QUIT KILLING CATS, dammit! Just watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo the other night...grrr!  If you've seen it you know what I mean. Not cool.

Can we have some more voodoo?  There's just not enough voodoo! It's creepier than pretty much anything else in my book.  Take The Serpent and the Rainbow.  That snake slithering out of that mummified corpse-like bride?  Yep, I'm still having nightmares about that.  How about Angel Heart? God that was a great story. From the dank alleys of Harlem to the seedy and depressing slums and back roads of New Orleans, that film embodies all the macabre aspects of one of the most feared religions. In fact, voodoo (or hoodoo, vodoun, vodou - whichever folk magic you may have) just doesn't get enough play in horror, despite how famously frightening it can be.  So, more films like the The Skeleton Key, okay?  Or maybe one comparable to The Believers.  We could use some more Santeria in horror, don't you think?

I want real ghosts. Not this slinking down the stairs all covered in blood, mouth ajar, making strange clicking noises a ‘la The Grudge. While that was all well and good (and completely over-used), I want ghosts. Like in The Others. Her hubby back from war. The gardener and kitchen staff. And you know who else. Or maybe specters more similar to The Devil’s Backbone. Yeah! Where are the freaky floating corpses? The Woman in Black (2012) was a grand start, but let's keep this specter train a rollin'!  What we need are more films like The Innocents. Or like the '89 version of The Woman in Black. Let's go old school. Can we get on this, people?

Giallo. Now I know this is asking a lot. For one, I don’t live in Italy. Two, I realize giallo saw its heyday come and go back in the 70′s. But sue me, I’m having a purist moment. I want a mystery, I want black gloves, I want gratuitous nudity, I want excessive violence, I want scattered plots, and I want knives hitting flesh. I’d like Barbara Steele but we can’t have everything we want… (I can say thank you to everyone involved with Amer, though. That was much appreciated. More, please...)

How about a few stars that look like actual humans and not Victoria Secret clones and Abercrombie and Fitch models. I want to see “real” people die horrible deaths. Even the nerds are too good looking in most films. News flash, everybody can’t look like Cerina Vincent. I’m tired of everybody appearing like they just walked off the set of The Vampire Diaries (but regardless, thank you for that cast, oh television gods).

I want quiet horror. Subtle scares and tranquil moments of trepidation.  I want Session 9.  I want Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.  I want Ghost Story. I want Lake Mungo. Get it?

Here’s a thought. How about a good old-fashioned monster movie? Something on the lines of Frankenstein? A decent Godzilla-type flick? Now I’m not saying remakes, per se, more like an original idea. Hard to come by these days. I honestly can’t think of the last really legitimate monster movie I’ve seen. Yes, you could say The Wolfman was a monster movie, but it didn’t exactly give me the chills I got from watching late night horror like Universal and Hammer were so famous for.

I’d like a movie set at a creepy, run-down carnival or theme park. No, I don’t know why I want that, but I do. I love Carnival of Souls right down to my size 8's, so something of that caliber is what I’m looking for, okay? The Funhouse is alright, but I'm looking for more subtle scares that crawl under my skin and stay there.

Is it too much to ask for a good score? I’m talking music here. The last exemplary horror score I heard was Let The Right One In by Johan Söderqvist. I realize that wasn’t really that long ago (2008) but besides that one, I’m hard pressed to find something that impresses me as much as the soundtracks of yore. Like the awesome scores for Psycho, Jaws, and Halloween – all of which rely on a few singular notes to set a terrifying scene. Or how about a gorgeous score like Candyman by the outstanding Philip Glass, or my personal favorites…Ghost Story by Philippe Sarde or Psycho II by Jerry Goldsmith. I’m tired of all these electronic, one-man scores these guys punch out in a few days.

Stop making zombie movies dammit! If you're not The Walking Dead, I'm walking, so to speak. I’m so ever-loving tired of the living dead I could puke. Now I know a lot of people feel the opposite and are dying (forgive the pun) to see what’s next after Survival of the Dead…but I say give it a rest. Put it to bed, please.  Leave the zombies up to prime time, for now.
And while we’re at it, just to show you I’m not biased, cut it out with the vampires, too.
Okay, that was a blatant lie.
Johnny, come May you'd better not disappoint me...

What happened to movies like April Fool’s Day and My Bloody Valentine? Oh yeah, the eighties ended. Well we need an authentic revival of this type of unabashed horror. The House of the Devil was a stellar start, a real throw-back to the movies from that era. I grew up watching these films, and have yet to find films that make me feel the same way I did then – sitting on my couch eating Chef Boyardee pizza and sipping Cherokee Red with my best buds while we freaked out over Jason Voorhees. Then again, maybe there’s no bringing nostalgia back once you’ve left it behind for the responsibilities of adult-hood.
 Bah! I say bring it on!

A few things we really don't need (besides half-hearted remakes)? Movies that include any of the following:  killer sharks, long haired vengeful Japanese ghosts, sparkling vampires, apocalyptic destruction, matricide, women strung up in basements, barns or attics, and/or killer kids.
One last thing. Stop making movies that make me vomit. And no, I don't mean the new Piranha 3DD coming soon to a theater near you.  Though 3D films need to go away as well, what I am talking about is the expansive catalog of 'found footage' films.  They make me sick.  No, literally.  Like, take a Dramamine sick. And haven't we really had enough of shaky cam for now?  I reject any more Blair Witch wannabes and am certain to toss any 3D DVDs out my Jeep window at a high rate of speed. Just. Stop. It. (Literally stop moving the camera.)

So, am I just not watching the right films?  Should I stay out of multi-plexes? I'm looking forward to a whole heap of movies this year...let's hope my soul isn't crushed by lack of memorable horror.


Retro-Zombie said...

Rant is accepted and agreed... where are the original ideas... so Alice in Wonderland by Burton was successful so why not make movies using all the fables. This year two snow white movies, come on. I am looking forward to Dark Shadows, I am crossing my fingers...

As for horror films, nothing is that appealing to me at least what I have seen.

Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]

James Gracey said...

I love it when you rant, Christine. The passion flowing through this post makes for damn fine readin'! I pretty much agree with all of what you've said here. I try to keep an open mind with remakes and sequels and the likes, but what I long for is a fresh approach to horror; something that will give me sleepless nights or help me 'forget' to turn the light off. Stuff like Session 9, The Woman in Black, Whistle and I'll Come to You. Stuff that lingers under your skin and ignites when you shut your eyes.
I watched The Stone Tape over the weekend - and even though it was rather dated, cheap and made for TV - it possessed the ability to utterly unnerve me. Okay, I might have watched it in a big house in the middle of nowhere, but I still find myself thinking about it (and celebrating its effectiveness). The concepts and ideas coursing through that are distinctly lacking in much of today’s horror.
I reckon it'll be interesting to see how future generations will look back at our era of cinema (much like we do with the Eighties and the copious slashers it produced). Hopefully it'll be the Session 9's and House of the Devil's that will be remembered, and not the Piranha 3DDs...

Anonymous said...

Totally agree about the killing cats thing...jesus that drives me crazy! One of the reasons I stopped watching Argento movies...

Christine Hadden said...

Jeremy: It's hard to be too hopeful about upcoming releases when we're continually disappointed. Everyone seems hopeful for Cabin in the Woods, whereas I kind of think it looks ridiculous. Guess we'll see.

James: I've not seen The Stone Tape, though I've heard nothing but good about it. I'm going to have to find this treasure online somewhere...
And I think you said it best when you said you wished for sleepless nights or something that makes you forget to turn the light off. I've come to the conclusion that it is ghost stories I enjoy the most and am the most affected by. And they are so far and few between.
I do hope that changes. Maybe the new The Woman in Black will start a trend. We can only hope.

Anon: Well, I'd never be able to stop watching Argento, but that is the joy of the FF button on the remote. I can skip right over those horrific parts...