Wednesday, 29 September 2010

20 Questions

Just to give you all a little insight into my brain on this blog I have answered 20 questions about horror below. If you want to pose any other questions then post them on my comments below or via my Twitter account.

Favourite Horror Film
I love Seven and watch it when I can but some will argue whether it is a true horror film or not. IT has also been one of my favourites for a long time. I remember watching a VHS copy as a child, recorded from satellite TV. It’s a cliché but The Shining is just about as good as any or Poltergeist since I was a child, my brother threw out his clown cuddly toy because of that film. My all time favourite, however, has to be Jaws.

Favourite Horror Director
Oh, so many. I’m a sucker for Robert Rodriguez, I must admit. Landis, Hooper, Kubrick and Hitchcock go without saying. Wes Craven has changed the face of horror on several occasions but, Guillermo Del Toro is the master for me at the moment.

Favourite Villain
Jack Torrance in The Shining. You can see his descent into the maniac and when he gets there he is truly terrifying. Nicholson looks every bit the madman as he stalks around the hotel but still keeps a witty sophistication too. Though one might argument that as much as he is the villain he is also the victim (less so in the book, maybe).

Favourite Protagonist
I think in most horror films the villain is more interesting and exciting than the hero. I think one of the major exceptions is Ripley in Alien who really steals the show so it’s her I’ll choose.

Favourite All Time Scream Queen
Janet Leigh. Anybody who starred in Psycho and conceived Jamie Lee Curtis is a winner in my book although Shelley Duvall is thoroughly convincing in The Shining.

Favourite Modern Day Scream Queen
Katherine Isabelle is often overlooked but her role in Ginger Snaps makes her worthy in itself. After her role in Planet Terror though backed up by her part in Scream I’m going to pick Rose McGowan.

First Horror You Remember Seeing
I think it was probably Critters. I remember watching it with my brother and cousin who were quite a bit older than me. Around the same time we watched some bad B-movies that my grandmother had bought. They were on VHS and came in cardboard covers instead of cases. I think I would have seen horror films before that on our Betamax but I can’t remember any of them.

Favourite Remake
I think a lot of remakes lately have been terrible. I did enjoy the Dawn of the Dead remake, even though it broke some major zombie rules but, for me, The Fly is the ultimate remake. It’s better than the original, which most aren’t.

All Time Horror Icon
Wow! There’s a lot of these. Bruce Campbell always entertains. Vincent Price doesn’t even need to be seen to be recognised, that voice is enough. Emily Booth does her bit for the girls. Then there are guys that just ooze an aura of horror from the time they show on screen. Tony Todd is good at this but there is one man who whenever you see him you just think horror and that’s Robert Englund.

If You Could Remake Any Film Which Would It Be?
Faust, a German film based on Doctor Faustus. I planned on writing a modern version whilst still at school and may still give it a shot.

Favourite TV Horror
I don’t think there is enough horror programmes on TV. My favourite is The League of Gentlemen. It isn’t a full horror but it’s has moments that get really creepy. Their Christmas special is terrifying, especially Papa Lazarou.

Favourite Horror Novel
I love Stephen King’s horror novels but my favourite Bag of Bones which gripped me from beginning to end. I enjoy reading and am very fond of King but this one I enjoyed more than any other

If You Could Adapt Any Novel Which Would It Be?
Whilst on holidays I read Duma Key and I think the scene where we first see the ship would look magical on the big screen. The image has been seared into my brain. However, I think Shaun Hutson’s Hybrid would be amazing on the big screen.

Who Past/Present Do You Think Should Be Scream Queens?
From the past; Marilyn Monroe. She had the perfect mix of sexuality and innocence to be a memorable Scream Queen. Modern Day? Gemma Arterton would have been great in some 60s British horrors.

Who Would Make a Great Horror Villain?
Dita Von Teese would make a brilliant gothic, Elizabeth Bathory type villainess. Benedict Cumberbatch would be a superb villain; he’s got a unique oddness about him and a great intensity.

Which Film Are You Most Looking Forward to Seeing?
I haven’t seen The Last Exorcism or Devil yet so they are quite high on my list. I’m intrigued to see what they have done with I Spit on Your Grave. I really can’t wait for Jovanka Vuckovic’s The Captured Bird but Black Swan has me interested more than any other. 

Favourite Quote from a Horror Film?
That’s easy “They’re heeeerrrrreeeee!” 

Which Song Would Be the Soundtrack to Your Horror Film?
There would be more terrifying than having to listen to Justin Beiber on a loop but for completely the wrong reason. Bodies by Drowning Pool is begging to be used (If it hasn’t already).

Are You a Fan of 3D?
I think it’s a fun idea but, something needs to be done about those annoying glasses you have to wear. After about half hour I get distracted by the uncomfortable glasses and start concentrating on the instead of the film. Also, 3D should add to a film not be it’s only positive point. It seems some film makers are so interested in making it 3D they forgot about the rest of the process like writing, which is a real shame.

Why Do You Love Horror So Much?
I don’t think I could pin it down to just one thing. I think it’s the emotional connection that makes it so good. A good horror drags you out of you comfort zone and the feelings pass you by because you are too busy trying not to get hurt. However, horror gives you the same feelings without physically putting you in danger. I think that’s why it’s so good and maybe a bit addictive.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Are Horror Fans Too Biased Towards Directors?

Last week I stumbled across an article on which posed an interesting question, Are Horror Fans Too Biased Toward Directors?

The article got me thinking and, for me, the answer is yes and no.

It is true that horror fans place a lot of emphasis on who is helming a project; I include myself in this statement. If you hear that a director whose previous body of work you have enjoyed is directing an up and coming film, then are you more likely to see it? Of course you are.

For example, my wife and I rented the film ‘Bug’ when it was first released on DVD. For anybody who isn’t familiar with ‘Bug’ it’s a paranoid, thriller about a war veteran who believes he is infested by bugs with the line between delusion and reality gets more distorted the closer you get to the end. It didn’t sound like mine, nor my wife’s idea of a great film but, we were swayed by the director…William Friedkin. 

Friedkin also directed The Exorcist, one of my wife’s favourite films. Truth be told I probably would still not have seen this film had it not been for him and that would be a shame because the film is actually pretty good. It starts slowly and draws you in. The performances are great and with a budget that stretches to one room and a shed load of aluminium foil.

Similarly, the name Uwe Boll sends shivers down my spin and I tend to avoid his films, subconsciously or otherwise. I know for a fact I’m not the only one that feels this.

In a perfect world we would all allow a director to “start with a blank slate” but, there comes a point when it’s like giving your girlfriend another chance after she sleeps with your best friend every time she’s drunk. There has to be a line drawn for when enough is enough before you both end up on Jerry Springer.

After one film I let it pass, after two films I forgave Boll. But after repeated offences I kicked him out and promised never to go back to him again.

One or two ‘offences’ I can overlook (Tarantino’s ‘Death Proof’ being an excellent case in point) but repeat offences breaks the bond of trust between the film maker and the viewer, sometimes beyond repair. By the same token a director with a history of rubbish films may create a stand out film that’s a must see. Boll’s next film may be a fantastical epic horror, the kind of film that comes around once in a generation and changes the genre forever, like a horror version of Citizen Kane. However, it will most likely be dross.

A question to think about on this front is; is M. Night Shyamalan a great director with one or two blips, or a rubbish director with a few lucky, shining stars?

So, certainly, the director of a film can be a massive influence on the way we view a film. However, it isn’t only horror fans who feel this way.

Quentin Tarantino is shown massive bias by the cinema going public (again, myself included). A ‘QT’ film is always eagerly anticipated but rarely does he venture into the horror genre. The same can be said of Spielberg, Scorsese, Nolan, JJ Abrahams, Rodriguez, and others.

Such is the draw of these directors, whom work mostly outside of the horror genre, that they can make or break a film before they have even shouted action.

Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s totally your own free will which makes you think like this though. Film makers and advertisers know this. How many times have you heard “From the director of…”? Or “From the man that brought you…”? Producers, those in Hollywood especially, know that a director can influence you decision making and use it as bait to lure you to the cinema. “Hey, remember you liked this guy’s last film? Well, this one must be good too right?”

So, the question is did we decide we liked certain directors and it got used against us or did we get told we liked them and went along for the ride?

I personally think the reason horror fans appear more bias toward some directors is merely because we know who the directors are. The mainstream public don’t know who directs a lot of films, mostly because they don’t care. If you just want to watch things blow up then it doesn’t matter who’s blowing them up but, with horror the suspense is everything and some directors get it right, some don’t. It’s like a comedian with timing, two people can tell the same joke and one can make it the funniest thing you have ever heard but, the other may make it as funny as genital warts. With horror if one scene loses its tension and looks a bit silly, the whole film can fall apart and look little more than a farce.

Maybe the problem is we are looking at a niche group of people and comparing them to the mainstream when we should be looking at another niche. Maybe it’s just that we horror fans are more affected by who the director of the film is than the mainstream cinema goer because we know who the director is more often. What about film fanatics in other genres, who know and care who the directors are, are they just as influenced?

Also, are we just as influenced by actors? I have watched films just because of one of the stars. If Robert Englund’s name is attached more I am are likely to watch than if Zak Effron is the star. Fright fans would surely rather watch a film with Emily Booth in than the same film starring Miley Cyrus. Yet, horror fans are willing to accept bad acting in lieu of a good story or fun time?

So, are horror fans too biased towards directors? Probably, yes. But, is it more than other knowledgeable film fans outside of mainstream cinema goers? I don’t think so.

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

An Introduction

Welcome my friends. Step into my humble, online abode.

Please, pull up a chair.

Now we’ll begin.

I have spent many weeks debating what the subject of my posts should be before settling on the on the spine-tingling world of macabre that is horror.

My wife has informed me that a good blog should start with an introduction, this is mine.

Firstly, a little bit about me. I’m 24 years old, a father to a beautiful boy, a husband to a gorgeous woman and a horror fan. I live in the outer pits of hell, where everyday is toil and the fire and brimstone is replaced by freezing winds and ice…it’s also known as the South Wales Valleys.

View from my window in the bleak midwinter - a horror of sorts.

I think I first became addicted to horror at the age of 3 when I sat with my brother to watch ‘Duel’. I know many will argue that ‘Duel’ is a thriller and not a horror film but for me the line between the two is skeletal and often fractured. I think I will post about that subject in the near future.

This blog will mostly be centred on the celluloid world of horror films (or movies for our American friends) though it shall occasionally stray into the Devil’s box (TV) and written word.

Also, some posts may occasionally stumble exhaustedly into the world of sci-fi should the subject have enough terrifying elements to make it worth while.

I would like to point out at this stage I am a horror fan but not the font of all knowledge. Some people know the genre inside and out, that isn’t me. I don’t know ALL the ‘Zombieland’ rules. I don’t know what Alfred Hitchcock ate for breakfast. I don’t know George A. Romero’s mother’s, cousin’s, dog’s name. If you want pointless facts then it is best to look elsewhere but, if you want views, news, reviews and something which may amuse, then come on in…the water’s fine.