Do you like to see people cut into bits? Are you crazy? Why do you want to watch such reprehensible garbage?
These are some typical responses I get when I tell people I like horror movies. They're so low-brow, that to enjoy them surely I must be a simple idjit or a raving psychopath myself. Add to that, slashers are certainly the lowest rung on the genre's ladder. Even horrormeister John Carpenter admits,
"If you direct my kind of pictures, you are kind of a ghettoized guy anyway. Horror directors are a little above pornographers. Just a hair." (Fangoria, June 2000)
I'll admit that sometimes these movies can be a little hard to defend. So what, if anything, is admirable about these movies? What do I get out of them?
Like I said in yesterday's post, I like scary stuff. When I was a kid, lying in bed I wondered if Jason Voorhees could climb up the outside of our house and get in my second storey window. This speculation would keep me awake for hours, and would give me quite a little adrenaline rush- I hated the butterflies in my stomach and also looked forward to getting them. For me, that feeling is still the big draw to these movies. While I can ferociously admire the work of Tom Savini and company, I'm not a gorehound. While people obviously will die during the course of a slasher, I personally don't get off on watching people be slaughtered or tortured. In fact, that's a major misconception about the genre- prolonged agony of the victims is usually scarce in these movies. Death generally comes quickly, if bloody.
These are the movies that got furthest under my skin and terrified me- more than Christopher Lee did as Dracula, more than any of Boris Karloff's thousand faces ever could. On a side note, however, a whole "new" genre is doing a decent job of getting under my skin: these new-fangled "J-Horror" flicks (that's Japanese horror to the uninformed among us). These movies have shown me that ghosts can be scary. Really, really scary. I've always thought seeing a ghost would be sweet, and I used to be disappointed when I'd go somewhere supposedly haunted and come out seeing squat (note, I said used to be). If a ghost is badly behaved, after all, it's just because it's become lost on its journey to the other side, right? Isn't that what the little lady in Poltergeist told Craig T Nelson? Help a brotha ghost out, he'll be gone quicker than Bette Midler's sitcom. That image of ghosts- that just as every hooker has a heart of gold, every ghost has a heart like Casper- was shattered when the weird kid in The Ring turned to Naomi Watts and said, "You didn't help her, did you?". What the fuck?! Samara was pure evil? Oh. Oh no. That's not playing by the rules. That's not cool at all.
So where was I? Oh yeah, professing my love. You see, as much as I enjoy the well-made slashers (yes, there is such a thing), the ones that might even provide a fright or two, I also enjoy the so-bad-they're-funny ones. Like any other genre, horror has its classics and its crap. As Halloween is to Halloween 5, Citizen Kane is to Glitter.
So let's shut up and talk about 'em now, shall we?