Monday, July 21, 2014

The Strange Case of a Horror Fan Or Do I Actually Like Horror?

So this past Friday I went out to see the "40th Anniversary 4K restoration of The Tobe Hooper Horror Classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre™" and came to a startling realization, I don't think the movie is very good. Not only that, I've started to question weather or not I'm ACTUALLY a horror fan, since I seem to hold views that seem to contradict the standard views of the average horror fan and occasionally seem to get weird looks and sometimes arguments because of my opinions. You are welcome to your opinion there's nothing wrong with having your own thoughts on things but here's mine.
Let's start with the above mentioned film, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a film regarded by almost everyone as a classic. Now don't get me wrong I think Tobe Hooper's a pretty good director, I really liked Invaders from Mars and Lifeforce is probably my favourite vampire flick, but there's not much going on in Chainsaw.
My biggest problem with the movie is there's no suspense once Leatherface shows up. The WHOLE Sawyer clan is LOUD, there's no way any of them can sneak up on anyone. Leatherface is either squealing like a pig, hooting or gibbering or revving his signature weapon, the chainsaw. His brother, the hitch-hiker, is likewise yelling and gibbering, waving his arms all over the place like a deranged ape. Their father, the cook? He's constantly yelling at them! Even the victim characters are loud. Whether it's shouting the name of their missing friend or screaming in terror, they are at full volume all the time. Even when they're supposed to be hiding from Leatherface they are SCREAMING!
 If it's your first time watching the movie, the lead up to the first kill lacks suspense since there's no reason to worry something bad is going to happen to the characters until something bad happens to the characters. If you've seen other slasher movies before you probably can tell the characters are making bad choices, but if this is the first movie of it's kind you've ever seen there's not much tension being built up as the characters approach the house. I guess something can be said for the use of shock in the movie. That first kill is pretty surprising when it happens but then everything that follows is just shock upon shock, it gets pretty numbing pretty quickly, which is fine since the movie doesn't have a high body count. The last half of the movie becomes an endurance test of how long can you care about this constantly screaming character. Fortunately the movie's not that long so you don't have to put up with her for very long. Is that a technique to create the sense of fear in an audience, constant loud noise? There's a chase scene that seems to go on forever which, due to the darkness of the area, seems to be made up of a repetition of the same four or five shots. Terror and suspense through repetition.
On the plus side the atmosphere is great. The house the Sawyers live in looks like it would smell horrible and it's pretty claustrophobic looking. The colour scheme really accentuates the hot, humid looking Texas summer. The Sawyers look pretty terrifying and unpleasant. Sadly there's very little plot, most of characters are either not very well defined or completely unlikeable. Watching it on the big screen really seemed to bring home to me that there's not much to the movie. I almost think you could cut it in half and have a pretty great, intense short film. It must also hold a record for the number of times someone blows a raspberry.
I guess I can see why people like the movie, but I don't understand how people can LOVE the movie. I enjoyed the sequels more (parts 2 and Leatherface) and honestly found the remake more entertaining.
Another thing I've discovered is I don't really get the love for Hellraiser. Hellraiser seems to be one of those movies you always hear horror fans going on about how great it is. Yes, Pinhead and the Cenobites look pretty cool but is that really a reason to make 9 of those movies?
Like Chainsaw there's things I like in the movie but most of them seem ill defined or maybe even made up in my own head. The Frank and Angelica characters are way more interesting than the Cenobites. Over the course of the first three movies Pinhead proves he's really terrible at his job. If you're mildly intelligent you could probably get away from him. Even if you're the one who summoned him. Even if you've done it MORE THAN ONCE! Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 should probably be called Hellraiser 2: Hellraiser Too, it seemed more than half that movie was made up of reused footage from Hellraiser to bring you up to speed as to what happened in the first movie. In the Third movie Pinhead is turned into a hilarious piece of sculpture and ends up having to convince some one dumb enough to get within kill range (about 15cm) in order to bring Hell on Earth. Fortunately for the plot that dummy exists and Pinhead gets to make the most hilarious versions of Cenobites yet! One is a bartender and there's one that shoots CDs out of his chest.
Strangely I enjoyed part 4 Bloodlines or as it's more fun to call it Hellraiser 4: In Space! Pinhead almost feels like a threat in this movie. I have yet to get around to watching the other ones but I'm probably going to say part 4 is the best. I hear most people think its the worst of the first 4 to which I say, "Have you actually seen the third one?" Come to think of it, I don't think I care much for Clive Barker's work in general. I don't think I've read anything by him I've enjoyed.
Another horror staple I'm not a fan of is The Blair Witch Project. It's actually a movie that I dislike to the point I tend to discount a person's taste in things if I find out they thought the movie was scary. I told this to someone once and they responded "You've never been lost in the woods or don't have much imagination."
I told them "I've never been trapped in the antarctic with a polymorphic alien life form either, but I think The Thing is scary."
I also don't find clowns scary. I don't think Tim Curry's Pennywise is the most terrifying thing in the world, nor do I think Stephen King's IT is as terrifying a read if you're not 12 years old. I really liked it when I read it at that age.
I'm usually not interested in stories about vampires, especially stories about Sexy Vampires (with few exceptions).
I don't care for the Walking Dead comic and if I hear something is about zombies I immediately stop caring. (I spent most of the 80s and 90s watching zombie flicks.)
I have no interest in movies like Human Centipede, A Serbian Movie or any of those torture movies that just show unpleasant things happening people (usually not written in a way where you actually care about them) to make you feel sick. That's what the news is for. I've never seen nor do I have any interest in seeing Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferrox or any of the Faces of Death movies.
I thought the "twist" ending of Haute Tension was dumb to the point it made the rest of the movie (which I thought was decent) terrible.
The Silence of the Lambs is a crime movie not a horror movie.
I really liked the look of the make up on the Freddy remake compared to his original look.
I don't automatically hate a movie just because it's a remake.
I thought the novel Frankenstein was really boring and kinda dumb.
I fell asleep watching Candyman and Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, so I'm not sure how much of either I've actually seen.
Also Kane Hodder is probably my least favourite Jason Voorhees. Jason's a reanimated corpse by that point in the series, why's he breathing so heavy? Why's he breathing at all?
My favourite Dracula is Duncan Regehr.
I'm looking forward to seeing what Universal's going to do with their Marvel Cinematic Universe™ take on the Universal Monsters.
Feel free to comment if you want, I'm open to people trying to convince me I'm wrong or at least let me know what I'm not getting about some of these things.

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