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Dear Hollywood, the following things are no longer scary . . .
by Brian "Y2" Mckay

I haven't even seen "Feardotcom" yet, Hollywood's latest defecation on the horror genre. However, I am confident that it will have most or all of the cliches I'm about to harp on. Just why is it so damn hard for Hollywood to make a film that is even remotely scary on ANY level anymore, much less an intellectual one?

Movies like Feardotcom and their ilk are exactly why I cherish the few intelligent, creative, and usually low-budget pearls that are cast before the swine of the 16-24 demographic. These little movies, like The Blair Witch Project (hey, it started little, at least), Session 9, and even the original Carnival of Souls didn't have the budget for special effects, and thank God for that! These films fall into a tiny little niche known as Psychological Horror. There's a big word for some of you studio suits and music video directors who wanna be the next Hitchcock: Psychological.

psy·cho·log·i·cal - adj. - Influencing or intended to influence the mind or emotions.

Do you think the same old tired tricks you keep trotting out from year to year are really going to influence anybody's mind or emotions? Get it through your heads, the following things are officially done with.

1)Gore is not scary.

Gore is gory. Sometimes it's funny. Occasionally it's unsettling, if it’s done right. But it is not, and never has been in and of itself scary. Any moron can make a movie with fake blood and body parts scattered everywhere (and they do, year after year). But that doesn't mean that gore in and of itself will make your movie scary. When you use just the right amount to accentuate, then it’s effective. When you scatter buckets of blood and slabs of human meat everywhere, it’s just disgusting and tedious. If I want to be grossed out, I'll watch Tom Green jerk off an elephant in Freddy Got Fingered again. I don't mind a little blood and guts for emphasis, but the abattoir mentality is so 1970's. Even with a gore fest like Dawn of the Dead, I look at it as a great action flick that happens to be full of zombies, rather than a genuinely "scary" flick. Oh, and bodies dropping out of overhead compartments or closets? Not scary. Same with the damn cat trick. We can see it coming every time.

2)Guys wearing masks and wielding various implements of butchery are not scary.

Startling? At times, but only in that cheap “Peek-a-Boo” way. Genuinely disturbing or frightening? Maybe when you're a kid, but honestly, when was the last time you were really frightened by anything in the pantheon of slasher flicks, even as a teenager? Christ, nowadays we’re all cheering for these motherfuckers to kill off the cast of annoyingly stupid teen fodder, rather than feeling any genuine fear or suspense on the victims’ behalf. It rather defeats the purpose of a “Horror” movie when you want the victims to die. The same goes for mad doctor or scientist types. Anthony Hopkins is the only one who’s been able to pull this off in years, and you are not going to come even close to topping him, so try something else!

3)Little girls who talk slowly, sometimes with menacing British accents?

NOT fuckin’ scary. Ooooh, a little girl tells me I’m going to die! She’s coming for me! Well bring it, you little beotch! In fact, for the most part, kids are not scary. The only kids that ever really scared me in a horror movie were the ones I couldn’t see, right before they shook the shit out of the tent. The kid in Pet Semetary? I would have drop-kicked that giggling little punk down the stairs into Fred Gwynne’s corpse. The girls in The Shining . . . well, okay. They were kind of creepy, but only when we saw them laying there with an axe buried in their skulls. None of you bastards are Kubrick, so quit trying to rehash it.

4)Lots of garish, flashing, jarring strobe light images.

Okay, they worked in the first Alien, but that was TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO. Now all they make me want to do is start flopping around in my seat like a Japanese kid watching Pokemon after five bowls of Super-Fantastik Sugarlicious Delight cereal. In fact, fuck the strobe lights. Why don’t you try NO lights. I dare you to make a movie about some people trapped in some creepy place, and all they have to see with are cigarette lighters. Imagine all the fun you could have with tricks of light and shadow in that. Even the movie Pitch Black had way too much light in it.

5)Any kind of ghost or monster done with computerized special effects.

Every time you bastards come up with some kind of unseen, menacing presence that is halfway promising, you ALWAYS ruin it. Example: The killer in Jeepers Creepers. The movie starts out solid enough with a menacing truck from hell chasing down our obligatory teenage moron heroes. But then you made the fatal error. Why do you feel like you always have to SHOW them? Then you feel the need to EXPLAIN them. Why was Joy Ride ten times scarier than Jeepers Creepers? Because you never SAW the guy, and you never got any explanation of who he was or what his major malfunction was. All you knew is that when you saw that 18-wheeler coming, you RAN. When are you studio types going to realize that you don’t have to explain shit in order for it to be scary! Every time you try, you destroy whatever kind of suspense you might have managed to build. Nothing that you can do with computers, or that Stan Winston can throw together with some latex, is ever going to be as scary as what WE can imagine – if only you hamfisted sons of bitches would give us the chance! Even in great monster movies like Alien or The Thing, when are the monsters at their scariest? When you can't see them! Contrary to popular belief, not all of us are complete morons who need to be spoon-fed everything. Some of us like to be challenged to use our minds and draw our own conclusions, so how about throwing down the gauntlet? A big CGI ghost with twenty heads is not scary. Someone banging rocks together out in the woods at night, and leaving weird little stickmen outside of your tent for you to find in the morning – THAT’S fucking scary.

So next time you feel like green-lighting some piece of crap like Feardotcom or Thirteen Ghosts, why don’t you actually look at some of the reviews for those kinds of movies first. Not just the ones from the critics that you didn’t buy, but from the fans who post on sites like this one. We’re ALL sick of your shit. The only reason any of us go to see these movies is because we’re hoping against hope that maybe THIS time one of you bastards will get it right – but you so rarely do.


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=614
originally posted: 09/06/02 15:10:09
last updated: 09/06/02 15:15:23
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