Thursday, October 27, 2005

A fear of fear?

What has happened to horror? When did the purpose of a good horror movie cease to be about scaring the living hell out of the audience? Remember the good old days when you would hear rumors of people having heart attacks in the theater because a movie was so terrifying and that became the movie that everyone just had to see? Remember when the goal of every good director was to make the audience pass out in the aisles from shock and flee the theater screaming in terror? I know that there are still authors out there sweating out this type of horror, but why isn't it making it to the screen? What happened to movies that made you grip the seat, spill the popcorn and watch them through the gaps in your fingers? What's up with this watered down PG13 shit?

There's a thread over at Shocklines about horror getting too safe. I don't know about horror novels being too safe, but horror movies have gone to hell. This PG13 pablum they're churning out is leaching all the awe and power out of the genre. I like creepy stuff. Don't get me wrong. But I like creepy scenes that eventually lead up to a moment of bone-chilling horror of the kind that makes you jump out of your seat, question whether or not you can make it through the entire movie, and stay up all night with nightmares. I like horror that makes you leave the theater with your hands shaking and your nerves rattled, nervously checking every dark corner, afraid to enter a dark room and even afraid to reach your hand into it to turn on the light. The kind that makes you sleep with a nightlight on at thirty-five! I can't remember the last time Hollywood has come close to that, but what's worse is that they aren't even trying anymore. They even came out with a PG13 slasher movie! What is the point? When did kids under thirteen ever give a damn what a movie was rated anyway? Did anyone stay away from Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, or Friday The Thirteenth because they were rated R? I was ten years old when two of those movies came out and I saw them and so did all of my friends. Did anyone stay away from Alien or An American Werewolf in London or Silence of The Lambs because they were R rated? When I was a kid seeing an R rated movie was the coolest thing you could do. I just don't see what they are gaining by neutering the genre like this. No matter how much naughty language, sex, and violence they cut out of a horror movie, Mormons and Holy Rollers still aren't going to go see them. What target consumer group are they trying to reach? Because if they are trying to reach the audience that made Silence of The Lambs and Aliens top grossing movies they are going in the wrong direction.

During a similar discussion on another messageboard someone remarked that even movies like Psycho and The Exorcist would get a PG13 today. The point is that the directors were not deliberately trying to make the most palatable, least offensive, creepy without being terrifying movie they could. They were trying to push the envelope as far as they could and they did! When those movies came out people did flee the theater screaming and pass out in their seats. That was how a director rated his success before the box office receipts were tallied. Listen to Steven Spielberg talk about the screening of Jaws. When he looked around and saw people hiding their eyes and jumping in their seats, he knew he had a hit. That movie terrified people. It made an entire generation afraid to go into the water. Now that's a fucking horror movie! This PG13 drivel is so easily forgotten that I could not even recall the plots or titles of the last four or five that I have seen. And don't give me that, "Today's youth are too jaded," crap. We just aren't trying hard enough. And Hollywood isn't trying at all. For this reason I am hereby boycotting these movies. If it has a PG13 rating it isn't getting my money. I have tried to give them the benefit of the doubt and again and again they have disappointed me. Yeah, M. Night Shammalya or however you spell his name does a pretty good job at it. So do the Japanese. The Ring and The Grudge were quite good even though I fell asleep on The Ring about five times before I finally made it through the entire thing. The Grudge, I wouldn't even call a PG13 movie because I have no idea how it managed to get that rating. It was R all the way. But all the imitators trying to capitalize on the success of these movies by polluting the screen with the theatrical equivalent of mall food can kiss my black shiny ass. I'm done with them.

4 comments:

HorrorWench said...

beautiful...

Joel Wideman said...

This can be blamed on the PG-13 rating itself, and the studios' penchant for going after the biggest audience regardless of appropriateness.
But still, I think it's better than adding profanity to childrens' movies to get a PG rating.

Anonymous said...

here in america, the war on horror is a constant struggle!

-erik

Erik Mann said...

great post, i'll come visit again soon...erik