Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are You A-Skeert? :-O

(As mentioned in a recently published bit, I had a few little unfinished 'stories' in the vault that I may as well close the books on. This one started in March of 2009. I think the reason I never got back to it was because I was still trying to get back the 90 minutes if cinematic brain hammering that caused me to start this in the first place.)

I recently had the misfortune of watching the 're-imagining' of the horror classic "Prom Night" and the most I can say is...I am distraught I will never get that hour and a half back. Whoever thought remaking a modestly decent piece of scary film eye candy was a good idea should be skewered by the same nasty rubber knife wielded by the lead singer of The Wonders. I wanted to give it a try...and I am so, so, so sorry I did. So, so, so, SO sorry. I am not sure what the cap on "so's" is. I may have surpassed it there.

But, then the thought hit me - does anything 'scare' us anymore?

now make this virtual face....

I recall the first horror film I watched was "Halloween" with my Mom, on the couch - probably on a Halloween night - hiding my eyes for about 3/4 of the movie. I could barely peek out for a moment knowing that man in the white mask, with the empty black eyes, was stalking...oh so slowly...his next victim. Mom shared my fear and we spent most of the evening hidden under the blanket for protection. I was creeped out for weeks! Other movies that burned an irreparable hole in my calm were "When A Stranger Calls," "Friday the 13th," and "Salem's Lot."

Oddly enough, all of these films have been're-imagined' recently. So, it seems, we are forced to recall old fears to elicit a new set of scares? I wonder...

And don't get me started on the new and insanely moronic concept of "re-imagining" movies...

Can we really be scared anymore? Heart-racing, jumping-out-of-the-seat, eye-popping, sweaty-palms scared? I know when I saw these films, I was younger and the horror genre was hitting its most creative strides. Many of the monsters and killers and settings were new, and every plot twist seemed intense because we'd never really seen it before. And after the brief late 70's to early 80's window, things started to fall off quickly. The monsters that scared us then simply became retread tires coming back year after year to bring us new forms of death and dismemberment. I guess once we see the bogeyman, put a face to a name as it were, he's not so scary after that. There were even some attempts to turn these ghouls into comedians with one-liners, wise cracks and inventive kills. What the...?

In recent years, there have been some successful attempts at 'horror' but I don't think the core reaction - the BIG scare - is there anymore. The "Scream" films, while fun and original, played on the campiness of the genre as a whole. The 'torture porn' films had a shocking impact out of the gate, but the gluttony of...well, gluttony...reduced the shine very quickly. "Saw" was original yet gory - "Saw 28" was...well...I have no idea because I can't watch them as fast as the movie studio is making them! And somewhere in between, the decision makers continue to sprinkle about more new takes on old greats - even some remakes of obscure films. I recently watched the horrible spin on "Last House On The Left" and while the original was canned cheese at best, it still made an indelible mark on the brain and reminded us that sometimes the boogeyman could be just another stranger down the street.

Mostly, I weep for the children today - one of the great thrills of my teenage years was bringing a date to a horror flick, banking on the likelihood that, as soon as the scares started popping up, she'd be squeezing my hand, hiding her head in my shoulder or essentially climbing on me in fear. This was significantly high-level touchy-feely for our adolescent I worry it may be going the way of old school terror! Grope quotients are dropping faster than Jason's re-imagined axe!

I guess I am not sure what scares us anymore. I mean, it seems as though people today seem most scared of unemployment, bankruptcy, foreclosure, lost retirement, The IRS...looks like the boogeyman has dropped down on the list of genuine frights. Maybe we have something here - the next franchise monster is a terror tag-team of an investment banker and tax collector.

As for kids, I think there is a short attention span issue today that it makes it impossible to get them to stay tuned long enough to buy into the frights. Comparing the films of my day versus the 're-imagined' droll that hits the screens now, I see many differences. The back story and building suspense is replaced with quick and elaborate yet pointless carnage - cut to the chase! Our monsters pondered, gazed and stalked you - now they run faster than Usain Bolt, making the corpse per second ratio exponentially higher. And...well...BOOBS! Get the freakin' boobs thing right - our movies had gratuitous, unnecessary-to-the-story nudity, and that was another part of the hook...and, now? Well, let me just say the afore mentioned "Prom Night" rehash was rated PG-13. WHAT? A horror film that was so tender and weak, it got a PG-13 rating? So, so sad.

Now, here is the part where I defer to you. Have you seen anything recently that scared you? Can you even be scared anymore? What was the first film you saw that did scare you and why?

** And, as a public service announcement - do yourself a favor and avoid the more recent version of "Prom Night" at all costs. Not only is it an awful bit of poo for a movie...there are no boobs!

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