horror films

it seems to me that i have sort of gotten away from the original intent of this blog, which was to blog about writing; the merits of different types of writing, the mechanics of it, the good writing i come across as well as the bad stuff, and finally, to blog about my own writing progress. this blog has become increasingly political, and while it is meant to be a political blog, i wanted it to be more of a balance.

so now i'm going to blog about horror movies for a bit. i love horror movies. the way a horror movie is written and structured, is probably the simplest formula there is. you get a bunch of pretty teens, you throw in some sexual suggestion, you add a derranged killer or killers, and then you kill them off one by one until a female (usually) or a male is left standing. this is, of course, just one formula. lately, since hollywood doesn't seem to have an original bone left in its body, north america has been flooded with the remakes of the japenese horror formula (the ring, the grudge, pulse). while entertaining, i still prefer the whole mass murderer american type of fiction, because it makes the viewer, if done right, feel ugly and repulsed. these types of horror movies are usually very simple, and they cut to the chase.

horror movies, for me, pose the easiest type of entertainment. with dramas, i expect insight, i expect sublime writing, i expect intelligence (eg: syriana, oldboy, undertow) and this is usually a tall order to fill. with horror movies, however, i am never expecting much, so i am usually pleasantly surprised. is that a bad thing? i don't really think so. it's kind of like watching the vancouver canucks play: i don't expect them to get to the stanley cup, or even win a playoff round. all i want is to watch an entertaining game, win or lose, and that's usually what i get. however, sometimes there are horror movies that have stunningly smart writing, like hostel. people freaked out over the violence to the point where they didn't notice the subtle underlying comments about the united states' superiority complex, torture, and nazis.

my favorite mass murder horror franchise has been the friday 13th movies. they're never scary, but they're just silly and ultimately, satisfying, because you can laugh at it more than anything. however, i have been enjoying the texas chainsaw massacre franchise more and more lately. there have been some really poor sequals over the years, and a remake a couple of years ago starting jessica biel was just okay. what hurt that version was the focus on outright gore and misanthropy, rather than the whole demented/creep factor. there's a problem with movies these days where the visual takes over the cerebral. but not all movies are like that; there are still film makers who believe in the cerebral, that understand that great writing, and great dialogue, can still enthral and audience. just take the recently released half nelson, for example.

anyway, i often find myself going back to the original texas chainsaw massacre, which is ultimately still incredibly creepy and disturbing. it isn't an all out blood fest like modern horror movies; instead, it relies of little dialogue, and it comes across as very subdued, giving the violence a snuff film quality. this makes the movie completely disturbing. as if a cross-dresser butchering teenagers and wearing their faces wasn't disturbing enough already.

the original texas chainsaw massacre was filmed with such poor quality, and the writing, let's face it, seemed pretty non-existant. still, because of this, and because of the marketing of the day which basically marketed the movie as a true story, you really do end up forgetting that you're watching a movie and it really does come across as a snuff film. the violence in the movie happens so quickly and it's often brief, so by the end of the movie, you're left wondering what it was that you just saw. which for a horror movie, is the ultimate compliment.

the first video is a trailer of the original movie. the second is a trailer of a prequel that will be coming out shortly. comparing and contrasting the two styles just shows how much movie making and marketing has changed over the years. (warning: disturbing images.)