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Author's Note: The article you are about to read is nothing more than the author’s justification of why he has spent an estimated two hundred and fifty dollars renting horror movies he has never heard of over the last ten years masked as an informative essay seeking to explain why people continue to rent and watch shitty horror movies. In place of facts or distinguished scientific research, he has cobbled together broad societal generalizations about behavior and thought processes to prove, at least in his own mind, he is not alone in this practice of obscure, low budget ghoulish obsession. The words which follow are indulgent and at times, bordering on narcissistic. I’d advise you not to bother reading, but I wrote the thing and am absolutely positive I’m right.
So, tomorrow’s Halloween, a time for prancing about, sure, but also a time for reflection. Fifteen years ago, I was out wandering the neighborhood like a Mormon Missionary, dressed in all black with a gaudy chain and dyed red hair, telling any male who answered the door I was a burglar and any female I was N’Sync’s Joey Fatone. I hauled in a sick amount of fun size Snickers Bars that year and practically doubled my lot during the post-extravaganza sleepover thanks to a sick run of five card draw hands. Then my friends and I watched Monkey Shines, a ludicrous attempt at art so befuddlingly idiotic that the paraplegic main character giving a smoking hot blonde oral seemed not only perfectly at home but a reasonable and decent plot point. We could have rented Night Of The Living Dead or Last House On The Left or some other legit spooky story, but we chose Monkey Shines. Because, depending on mood, credible can almost be a negative adjective when it comes to horror movies.
But why? Most of the time the movies people want to see are the movies other people have already seen and endorsed. If you think about it, that’s like seventy percent of friendship. For example: I don’t hang out with people who fix up cars because I don’t know an exhaust pipe from a steering wheel, the Pep Boys from the Marx Brothers. It’s all automotive gibberish to me. I’m just out of the pit when it comes to Rusty Wallace, but turn the conversation toward comedy or hockey or pros and cons of various nipple sizes and suddenly, I’m excitedly babbling like a sorositute ordering sushi. And so it is with most genres of movies. I saw Transformers 2 even though I was absolutely positive I would hate it---just so I could say, “Yeah, I saw Transformers 2 and guess what? It fucking sucked.”
But not so with horror movies. I’ll gladly dive into the abyss without second thought if werewolves are involved. It’s that way with most people. Why? Why are most people unwilling to seek out independent dramas and comedies when they’ll drop five dollars on a horror flick they know will be ill-conceived, stupid and fraught with terrible dialogue? Well, there’s all sorts of unseen intangibles in play with the macabre most people have failed to consider. Like the experience. Horror movies are about living in the moment, just going with it. Turn off the lights, crank up the volume and let the cute girl sitting next to you turn her head toward yours when Satan conjures up some godforsaken hellspawn to bind, torture and kill the Heartland’s finest. It doesn’t matter which frightening film is on, just that it’s creepy, scary and full of over-sexed disposable characters less attractive than real actors but more attractive than you and your friends.
Let’s pretend we watched I Heart Huckabees last night. Like actually watched it and didn’t simply use it as a flimsy excuse to fool around. Here’s how it likely would have gone down. I’d have said something like, “let’s watch a movie.” You’d respond “yeah, I could go for a movie.” Then I’d say, “let’s watch I Heart Huckabees“ and you’d either immediately accept or reject said idea. Though for the purposes of this story, you clearly accepted it since I said we watched it last night. So, that’s it. That’s from A-to-B. That’s how people end up watching movies like I Heart Huckabees. But no one watches horror movies like that. You can’t just substitute The Grudge in for I Heart Huckabees in this story and maintain any sort of believability.
Let’s pretend we watched The Grudge last night. Here’s how it likely would have gone down. I’d have said something like, “let’s watch a movie.” You’d respond “oh my god, we should watch a horror movie.” Then I’d say, “yeah, I could get on board with that.” Then we’d check both OnDemand and my DVD collection and eventually settle on The Grudge. No one wakes up in the morning and says, “Sweet Jesus, I just have to watch The Grudge today. I’m really vibing Sarah Michelle Geller right now, and I need to stop my day, cancel all of my plans and watch Bill Pullman fall off a balcony. Right now.” It just doesn’t happen. You either feel like sitting through a horror movie at which point you decide on a random one or you don’t watch a horror movie because couldn’t possibly think of anything worse. Remember in Garden State when Natalie Portman makes that stupid noise and says some crap about it being a total original moment in the history of humanity? Well, I just turned to my roommate and said, “I’d be down for watching Caddyshack, Super Troopers or The Skeleton Key right now.” No one in the history of mankind has ever said that. Totally original moment.
And then there’s the whole October 31st factor. Halloween is the 2nd greatest holiday of all-time because it actually teaches children to be creative. Slutty, sure, but more importantly creative. You don’t need to go to the store to buy a costume. Just use your imagination, be funny and make sure you wear underwear. Last year, my fellow Blendcast co-host Trevor Clippert and myself went as Supermarket Sweep shoppers. We stole a shopping cart, bought matching blue shirts, taped corresponding numbers on and bought a few perishable food items. It was like five dollars and one class C misdemeanor a person. Easy as it was sleazy. And for some reason, we can all get behind this with horror movies too.
Got a great idea and a couple investors willing to put up a hundred grand? Give half of it to Robert Englund or Bruce Campbell and start shooting. Find some third-rate porn distributor to release it on DVD and chances are people will rent it because the more obnoxious, outlandish, obstreperous the premise, the better it’ll sound after a few too many bowls of marijuana. Zombies infiltrate a strip club? Do it up. The tooth fairy is haunting little kids? Sounds about right. A shady faith healer has communed with and resurrected the spirits of Cleopatra, Rasputin and Secretariat to lead an army of nineteen year old prostitute cripples on a Crusade to reclaim Jerusalem for a reformed Byzantine Empire led by The Snapple Lady? There’s your million dollar idea, bitch.
Yes, not all horror movies are disposable trash. Some of them are thought-provoking and full of genuine actors reciting well-thought-out dialogue amidst plot lines which could be described as creative, original and in-tune with the human condition. But those movies can S-my-D. Do-it-yourself special effects, inappropriate, unnecessary boob flashes, grotesque, masochistic decapitations ABC Family wouldn’t dream of showing---those are the adjectives I like with my horror. That’ll never change. And you know what, most of you feel the same way. So, grab a pretty lady, some vodka lemonade and hit up the video store for a few horror movies this weekend. Slumdog Millionaire will still be there on Monday.