I've been thinking about horror movies a lot lately, to the point where if I had the time and opportunity I'd be camped out on the couch marathon-watching all sorts of crap featuring monsters, mad scientists and maniacs while inhaling boxes of Count Chocula. Part of it is because of the season, part of it because I'm doing some thinking about some upcoming scripts that are horror-oriented, and part of it is because we subscribed to Netflix recently.
After years of not having cable or broadcast television and the DVR and a variety of instant choices -- and not going to see movies in the theater since sometime around 2004 or so -- I haven't been on top of much of anything, movie-wise, horror or otherwise. I don't really follow Hollywood goings-on via the computer, a lack of time, a lack of interest, as well as a lack of knowing where to get the best information. Since I wasn't watching anything, there really seemed to be no reason to find out what was coming out. And to be honest, I'm one of those boring old duds who doesn't get excited about what I do see trailers for. Movies I would have seen in the past don't knock me out, things I'd see out of curiosity like Tintin, look like garbage. I don't care about torture horror movies, not a big fan of CGI horror or horror with a big budget (which is an essay in itself I don't have time to write -- as a general rule, I think horror films should lean towards cheap/un-slick production, use as many "real" effects as possible, and when it comes to the actors, cast as many anonymous folks as possible, eschewing big-names who bring distraction and expectations into a movie -- unless the movie works smartly against those expectations). I'm generally as bored with re-imaginings and remakes and re-contextualizings as I am in superhero comics. I just want a good story, some characters who aren't all douchebags, and something creepy or scary or dreadful rather than simply loud and violent and confusing. Any deeper meaning is a bonus. Dawn of the Dead as consumerist commentary? Okay, whatever, if it doesn't work as a zombie romp than all the smartypants critical theory subtext games in the world don't mean jack. I just want a good horror movie, first and foremost. Or a watchable bad one, even. At least give me something I haven't seen before. As with martial arts movies, I just want to be knocked out by something and not bored to tears. You'd think that wouldn't be so hard to to, but everyone agrees that most everything everyone makes is lousy (what those things are and why they're lousy varies, of course), so obviously there's a trick to it or something not many people have figured out. Or care to figure out.
I like almost all kinds of horror movies although my head's usually geared towards the 30's-40's (Universal/Lewton/poverty row outfits), the 70's-80's (grindhouse/drive-in/VHS onslaught) and Asian offerings. I'm interested in recent stuff, because while I realize there's been a horror boom going on, I haven't seen much of anything (horror or otherwise) since the 90's. I've been turned off by most of what I had seen in the 90's on up -- I don't love the slasher stuff and I generally avoid the torture stuff, I won't go near sparkly vampires or Wes Craven-affiliated anything, and as I mentioned before pretty much avoid remakes. Not because they're remakes in and of themselves, but because everyone seems to go the same route with them judging from the trailers and word of mouth -- take the old story and throw a ton of CGI effects at it and cut the footage up more violently and haphazardly than the movie's victims. True, you can't judge everything from trailers, like they say you can't judge a book from it's cover, but I don't have to eat shit to know it's not for me, I can smell it just fineto know to stay away from it (this analogy is not guaranteed by law to actually be worth anything). Anyway, I tend to prefer the supernatural or super-normal (to quote the old radio show Lights Out) in horror movies, although I'm not unwilling to watch the maniac with a weapon and a grudge hoo-ha. I just generally don't get super-excited by someone with a cutlery collection attacking people as if they know they're in a movie and have to stage shit cleverly. Unless it's clever, and fun, or crazy, like Dr. Phibes or Theater of Blood or some of the less sloppy and -infuriating giallos.
Anyway, this is a long-winded attempt to just say, hey, I feel like bullshitting about horror movies and not annoying my wife with it, she's got enough on her hands. I am trying to watch something here and there when time allows, in the past month I watched The Mummy's Ghost (Universal, 40's, not good), revisited Waxworks (80's, not good but dopey, amiable fun) and Tobe Hooper's The Fun House, which I've been curious about despite it's reputation. It was on the cover of Fangoria magazine back in the day and I never got around to it. It was duller and worse than I'd expected, I almost fell asleep and nothing in it rose to any occasion, even as exploitation. A tedious, nothing film.
Curious as to what folks are watching for Halloween, what they like, don't like, think is overpraised, under-praised, and what they'd recommend from the past decade that I might check out. I already know I want to watch the original Let The Right One In, maybe Drag Me To Hell because I like Raimi's early stuff, maybe The Devil's Backbone or whatever that was called, despite my feeling that del Toro makes seriously uneven films. If you want to know more about where my head's at, I think people who defend Romero's Day of the Dead as brilliant are crazy, that Savini's remake of NOTLD is vastly underrated, Fulci is a hack, Romero isn't as good as some folks say, Tobe Hooper kind of stinks, Carpenter can't direct action and lost it before some say he lost it, Wes Craven generally stinks (I like The Hills Have Eyes, he did that one, right?), Argento's film's usually make me crazy in a bad way, I like Bava, I prefer Amicus to Hammer, I think Dracula is an important but not-very-good film I think Phantasm 2 is perfectly fine and 3 and 4 are terrible, I didn't like Ginger Snaps even though I was supposed to and am some kind of moron for not liking it according to the internet, I like most of Cronenberg's movies, I thought The Ring wasn't very good but had some great scenes and a sense of dread -- neither of which the American remake had in the least bit, I loved The Shining and couldn't watch more than the first part of the tv-movie version, hated Nightbreed, thought Hellraiser was okay, never understood why some folks consider Pumpkinhead a classic, didn't like American Werewolf in London, I like slow zombies but don't mind running zombies, I didn't like Return of the Living Dead when I first saw it but eventually came to love it, I don't hate the sequel like everyone else does, and I don't like the third one like everyone else seems to, some films I used to like a great deal that I don't think hold up so well on repeated viewings include Nightmare on Elm Street, Silence of the Lambs and The Howling, I like everything about The Blair Witch Project except for 95% of the actual movie, I haven't seen The Walking Dead but am curious despite not enjoying what I read of the comic, I hated the Tales from the Crypt TV show, I like werewolves and zombies and ghosts and monsters but am not into vampire stuff or the fans of vampire stuff (especially post-Anne Rice), my favorite way to see horror movies is in an old theater with an appreciative audience, I can sit through almost anything to completion even if I can't stand it, except my friends got me to give up on The Mangler while we were watching it because it was just so dull and terrible, I cannot believe there are sequels to The Mangler.
Whew. Anyway, that's off my fanboy chest after bubbling up for a few weeks. Now I can go back to work, free and somewhat refreshed after all that rambling. Feel free to chime in with any comments, suggestions, mild insults regarding my stupid opinions. Just remember that's all they are, opinions. Although the Mangler is crap. I bet even the editor didn't sit through it.