Sunday, October 30, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 442: The Bump In The Night

Horror movies just get no respect. From the early days of film they've been outliers, considered at worst pandering to the lowest common denominator and at best a grubby way to make a lot of money.

Like all kids, I was fascinated by monsters and sitting in theatres watching Dracula and Frankenstein gave me a chance to prove I was all grown up and wasn't no fraidy cat. 

And then one afternoon, as a fully formed adult I bought a ticket to see "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" on the strength of the audacity of its title alone and realized that Horror in the hands of a master filmmaker has the power to both shatter the psyche and renew it.

What makes so many Horror fans so rabid? They've faced a fear and walk out of the theatre empowered and emboldened by that. All of us remember what it was like to leap off the high diving board for the first time, take on the looping roller-coaster, or finally get up the nerve to talk to that hot girl or guy we're smitten with. The high of those accomplishments is exciting and ultimately life affirming.

But in polite society. Horror still sits on the lowest rung of the film ladder. When I took on the job of writing the "Friday the 13th" series, a lot of my friends thought I must've been desperate for work. And virtually all of the established writers, directors and actors I tried to convince to come aboard refused to sully their careers by having that title on their resumes.

But, as Alyse Wax's recent book about the series "Curious Goods" reveals, the brave band of brothers and sisters who did also felt Horror helped them find their artistic voice.

And yet, the show business desire to be accepted in polite society continues with endless essays on films like "The Witch" demanding that audiences embrace "respectable" Horror films like it or "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" instead of whatever Eli Roth or the folks on "The Walking Dead" are rolling out this week.

After all, wasn't last Sunday's premiere of Season 7 of TV's Zombie drama just the ickiest ever? And look at all those Youtube selfies of audiences being traumatized! How awful to treat people that way!


That's the point.

That's why they come in droves.

To paraphrase a well-known politician. "When Horror goes low Audiences go High".

I saw "The Witch" and yeah, the kids and the goat are great. Except those scenes don't build to anything truly frightening and ultimately you're watching Masterpiece Theatre with more suspense and less brocade. 

And while the brocade's better in "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", once the literary irony wears off there's not much worth watching.

Horror is not about suspense. And it's not about torture porn or gratuitous gore either.

It's about that bump in the night. The moment when something so out of the ordinary happens that logic evaporates, you're in Tiger Country and the rules you've always lived by no longer apply.

It's about being scared.

And one of the best places to see examples of this are the multitude of Youtube horror short channels like "2SentenceHorror" or "Fuck You Zombie".

You will be frightened.

And it's Halloween weekend, so...

Enjoy Your Sunday.

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