Monday, September 03, 2007

Is nauseating the new scary?

Saturday night, the husband and I parked the kiddies with my parents and took ourselves off to the movies to see our first grown up movie in ages, the remake of Halloween. Why on earth would we spend twenty bucks on this movie, with all that's out there? Upon reflection, good question. It may surprise you to find out that I am somewhat of a horror movie aficionado, and I think that the original Halloween, is one of the best movies ever, and certainly the grandaddy of all slasher films. But my husband and I have suffered through many Halloween sequels, including the one with Busta Rhymes in space (I may be mixing 2 movies together here) and the one with Paul Rudd and the cultists (don't ask, I have no idea what was going on). So in the interest of completeness, we went to see it despite not particularly enjoying the Rob Zombie ouvre (His films, that is. Love "Dragula" and "Thunderkiss '65").

The verdict: not awful, but not great. If you haven't seen the original, start there, but this wouldn't have been an awful rental. If anything, it served to show what made the Carpenter so great, by taking those elements away. As a young 'un, I wondered what made Michael Myers such a killing machine. Zombie gives Michael a backstory, which is supposed to show how he became what he was. Since Rob Zombie never met a white trash stereotype he didn't like, it features grimy, slutty characters spewing verbal abuse. Surprisingly, it weakened the story quite a bit. Are we supposed to believe that the 10 year old Michael snapped out and massacred his family because his mommy was a stripper and no one would take him trick or treating? Were we supposed to feel sympathetic? I preferred the mysterious, robot-like Michael Myers. Much more creepy.

Michael goes off to the Sanitarium, where he grows up to be enormous and super-strong despite the fact that he's spent his life in a small cell making paper mache masks. He escapes and returns to Haddonfield Illinois, where the story then closely mirrors that of the classic. Except that instead of dread and menace, punctuated by grab-your-date shocks, we get lots of blood and gore. I just don't get it. Lots of blood and gore is gross, yes, but not scary. I'm not closing my eyes because I'm scared, it's because my stomach is churning. What makes a killing sequence scary is that mounting dread, you know it's coming but not when. And leaving the details to the imagination works. What the viewers mind can come up with on their own is probably scarier than what the director can come up with. In the new version, Myers, quickly nabs his prey, then we're treated to endless shots of stabbing or bludgeoning then blood gushing and spurting. Sickening, but in an "enough already" way, not a truly frightening way.

In general, Rob Zombie's over the top sensibility is the problem. At times, it almost seems like he's parodying the slasher genre, but he doesn't take it far enough. Like I said, he loves him the white trash, but the characters are neither entertainingly ridiculous, or sympathetic, just repugnant. Similarly, the teenage girls are sooooo crass and slutty they seem like a joke, but the long drawn out death scenes are deadly serious. It comes off disturbingly like someone's got a fetish for topless young girls getting violently murdered. If you have a passing interest in horror movies, it might provide a good scare, but there's way better out there. The revisioning was pretty pointless, and shock value substituted for actual shocks.


Kate Diamond said...

I can't handle horror movies, slasher movies, or anything remotely twisted.

The X-Files theme music used to scare me. It's sad, really.

Devon said...

I think I safely say that you should avoid this movie. It is not for you. I love dark and twisted, but this was yucky.

I usually don't find slasher movies scary, because they seem so absurd, and the blood and killing get boring rather than scary.

I find supernatural type horror movies scarier, for some reason. Ghosts, haunted houses, -gulp- Demons. To this day I've never been able to watch The Exorcist. I get the willies just thinking about it. I've read several demon type romances now, and enjoyed them. Has romance made demons unscary? For the most part, they seem to take that absolute evil, monstrousness out of the equation.

I'm not a huge believer (believe it or not) but poltergeists, ghosts, demon possession are all things I really, really don't want to have happen to me :)It's scary.