Horror icons are sparse in the 21st century for a very simple reason. Horror used to be adults scaring children. Now it’s all about creepy children scaring adults, and adults don’t scare the way kids do. Hence, a decent slasher flick gets forgotten after four or five years, regardless of how many sequels it has (witness the interminable Saw franchise of torture-porn).
Two of the most enduring figures in terror are Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, of the Nightmare on Elm St. and Friday the 13th franchises. Both are bogeymen; mythical killers of young folks, in familiar settings. Therein lies the key to their longevity and appeal. Continue reading →
I have a confession to make. Though I consider myself quite the erudite film scholar, in many ways I have no cause to place myself above the average lumpen moviegoer.
I confuse the name ZaSu Pitts with Zuzu Petals, a minor character from the execrable Andrew Dice Clay comedy The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.
I am inexplicably incensed at the sight of the cover of the film Metropia, and Audrey Tautou’s picture on the front of Amélie. To date, I have not seen Amélie, even though it’s from a director I like, thanks to its coy, nauseatingly precious cover shot.
I haven’t seen Precious, except on YouTube, because apparently I laugh at the wrong things.
I can’t stand whispering in movies any more than I can in the theater. A notable exception would be 1982’s Poltergeist. M. Night Shyamalan has abused whispering so much his actors should be forced to use air horns.
I’ve never seen Avatar. Any movie that uses a default computer font for its title isn’t worth a billion dollar budget, let alone my attention. Continue reading →
I used to call myself a horror-movie buff in the 1990s, so I’ve heard all the grievances about “scream queens” and “final girls”. And, you know, those complaints worked; now every female protagonist in movies is an unstoppable “badass”. I saw the recent space drama Gravity, and I was mystified why so many people disliked it. Then I looked into the details; modern audiences rejected a Sandra Bullock who freaks out and cries when things go sour. Never mind that it’s part of a character arc; females must always be steely and in control.
Well, like so many aspects of modern film, that’s boring. Another victim of political correctness in movies is the Girl Who Can Scream. The scolds among us will suggest that men get a perverse satisfaction out of seeing women in jeopardy, but that’s only the perverts. For the rest of us, it’s a human fire alarm, when it’s done right. It signals that things are really, really bad. They even used to put it in the trailers.