Sunday, December 21, 2008

Help Me. I Am In Hell.


I am sorry. I am so sorry.

Horror is being stolen from us! Seriously! Look at the genre, and look in the direction it’s going. Vampires? Bloody Twilight. Yeah, you see where I’m going with this? Wait, Saw, you say? It’s pantomime. It’s a form of pornography. What was the last good horror film you saw? For me, I recently purchased The Hamiltons, and whilst it was good, it was a form of teen-horror, and I just don’t think that’s a viable form for the genre.

I rented out Hatchet, the tagline reading: “It's not a remake, it's not a sequel, and it's not based on a Japanese one. Old school American horror.” Firstly, it was crap. Recycling old plots and cliches into something that was derivative and almost like the bastard child of Friday the 13th and CRAP. Secondly, since when has making awesomely terrifying horror films become a spiteful game between America and Japan? Asian extreme cinema is some of the most horrifying stuff put to film! Audition (Ôdishon)? Ju-On? Ringu? We’re siphoning ideas from some talented creators, and I just wish we had the know-how to do something amazing. Call backs to “old school American horror” are all well and good, but what are these call backs? Remakes of The Hills Have Eyes? Texas Chainsaw Massacre? They tried to revitalise the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises (together, Freddy Vs Jason, remember?) but that didn’t do what they wanted it to do, so look what we’ve got to look forward to now. A remake of Friday the 13th. And if you've seen the trailer, you'll know that Jason runs. He runs! Serial killers don’t run. They teleport. They shimmy through reality and end up in front of you no matter how fast you run or how far you fall over ahead of them. That is horror. Making these horrors viable, giving them the ability to run? Ruins horror for me.

Zombies don’t run fast. 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead were good watches, but give me the original Romero over Snyder Dawn any day. Oh, and the new Nightmare on Elm Street. With Billy Bob Thornton over the legend of horror that is Robert Englund (phwoar, check out that sexy IMDB)? Hell, I’ll watch the remake, but withour Mister Englund? I'll be sorely disappointed. If I'm not, I'll share that fact with all of you in 2010...

Vampires used to be dirty little bastards, Near Dark for instance (a vampire film quite well known for not even mentioning vampires), or The Lost Boys as an example. Why do we have Twilight? And why is it popular? Because it's a pandering piece of crap targeted at the susceptible market of "tweener" girls, who claim to buck the trends but therefore support another one. Oh, so individual, oh, such liars. The first horror film I ever saw? It has to be a toss up between Nosferatu (I was small. It haunted me) or The House on Haunted Hill (I’m not sure which, but they are the ones that stuck to my brain like a scab refusing to fall off). First time I saw House I was scarred (SCARRED!) by the scene with the basement, the blind/deaf/mute housekeeper and the tapping on the wall... Think about it, I was 6 or 7, and my dad puts that on. Thanks, terror. Vincent Price is for the win, all right, but this is the stuff that put me on the path I’m on now with Psychotronik. I love the classics. I hate seeing potential wasted.

Right, so I should probably say, I’m not the kind of person who knows intimate details about Bill Gaines or Ed Wood, and I’m sure they’re all swell folk, they did their jobs well (though, Plan 9… eh…) and we owe b-movie horror and horror-in-comics to them in some way or another (Bill Gaines ran EC Comics, after all, and we all know how that ended up… well, I say all of us, I mean those of us in “the know”) but we need to be the people pioneering the genre. Not Psychotronik, not just us, but I’m talking about all of you, all of you who want to write horror stories, don’t look back at what’s come before, look forward. Don’t go for the cheap scare, the exposed bone, the torn flesh, go for the scare, the terror. That’s why America is jealous, I think, of Asian cinema. Because they’re scared. And they can’t recreate it. They don’t have the right frame of mind for it. Remakes of Asian cinema are rubbish, I think we can all agree. The Grudge? I remember having a running joke with my friends about that ghost-in-the-bag. Think about it from a sideways perspective, stop thinking “this should be scary” and just watch. It’s pretty friggin’ hilarious. Anyways, before I go off track once again, we need to pioneer the genre. We can’t just let it stagnate, and we can’t patronise the viewer. Twilight… crap, I don’t want to see it because vampires sparkle. Vampires. Do. Not. Sparkle. But I kind of do want to see it, because this is how the genre evolves. “Old school American horror” should be good. It should take what made the genre so aggressively pioneering and keep it modern, reinvent itself. I’m sick of traps designed to kill, to punish, to teach. I’m sick of blood spraying into someone’s face unnecessarily; where's the foreplay? And talking of foreplay, I'm sick of blatant, overt sexual horror. It's for pre-pubescent kids who want to have a cute little bit of masturbation whilst seeing red. Hostel is gore porn. Saw is gore porn. We need more than pornography for this genre to survive. We need pioneers. So get to it.


Brandon said...

I agree that fast zombies are a bit of sacrilege. Sure if they bite you it's your ass but at least if you can just push them down you have a sporting chance of escape.

Some of the best horror movies have definitely been the low-budget idea driven film. Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, Blair Witch Project... okay, Blair Witch could have used more effects but it was mostly scary because the first week after it came out people didn't know if it was REAL or not. Brilliant marketing innovation but after that you were just left with a weak ending.

I think that while we are seeing a renaissance in strong television programming, everything else from movies to music to even comics have gone into this self-referential remixing and remaking phase that isn't putting out much of anything that's original. Is it as we absorb the huge amount of info the digital age has made possible we've gone into review and rehash mode and we'll see an explosion of new tangential ideas and approaches in the new decade, or have we really finally run out of ideas as a culture? Will it not end until we are all running around making documentaries about each other?

Charlie Wilkins said...

Totally, TV is pioneering itself, but all other mediums, right now, are masturbatory, falling back on obvious, used tropes and cliches, trying to find that niche that once made money and failing irritatingly.

Maybe we've actually reached that point of "there are no more new ideas", and I know there are only, what, seven stories in existence, but suddenly, there are no more spins. No more differentials. We are used up, and we need time to recharge.