Friday, October 1, 2010


 Part of the clean-up crew for horror movies. Their motto? Leave the set clean enough to eat on!

One of the folks who commented on the post on movies that get it wrong and TV personalities who rely only clich√©s for their vocabularies brought up another rich source of “foot in mouth” disease. Horror movies! Immediately, I knew I had to address this category! (And thanks, Stephonavich.)

I haven’t attended horror movies since around the age of seven or eight, and they may have changed in the many several few decades since then. But, I have a feeling from listening to the conversations of those who do attend that they’re pretty much the same. I’m hoping readers will chime in and let me know that they’ve changed for the better, and I’ll be there at the Multi-Plex tomorrow.

What I mostly remember are films where there's these college kids who don't go to Padre Island or Florida, but opt instead of the Dismal Swamp, which makes them suspect to begin with. The smart college kids seem to gravitate toward warm beaches and sunshine. Not these Mensa candidates.

They arrive at the aforementioned Dismal Swamp, located somewhere that looks a lot like the rainy season in the Badlands of North Dakota (or wherever they are), and unload the Land Rover. (Here’s hoping they brought plenty of blankets and fleece-lined jackets and mosquito repellent…) Then, five minutes into the movie, one of the girls finds a head floating in the toilet, lets out a scream, and five minutes later, all is back to normal. (How does she think that head got there? Somebody barfed and the lid fell down?) They all talk it out and decide a single unattached head swirling around with the Baby Ruths in the stool isn’t enough to make them leave. After all, they’ve put down a sizable deposit on this vacation!

Then, the killing really starts. The bad guy or monster (or whatever he prefers to be called) sees that he hasn’t scared off the kids and all they’re interested in is a kind of soap opera where “Sally likes Bobby but Vanessa does too and isn’t it terrible how Mayva can’t seem to commit to Steve and Jerry Joe just wants to go to bed with everybody and…" All of these giggling, scantily-clad coeds and their boyfriends who all look as if they spend roughly twelve hours a day in the weight room (nerds aren’t allowed on these spring break vacations), are cramping the bad guy’s style and he wants them to leave. So, he drops a hint or two. First, he leaves the head in the toilet. That doesn’t work—these are stubborn kids! There’s that deposit thing…

Then, one by one, they get killed and this causes quite a stir as you can imagine! All they have to do is jump into the Land Rover and leave, but this option never seems to come up in their ad hoc board meetings out by the campfire. No, by gum, they paid their deposit and they're not leaving! One by one, they get killed and the last one is always the blonde with the tightest hot pants. She's running like Derek Jeter stealing a base... and the bad guy runs like Brer Turtle... and he's catching her! Which brings me to…

The bad guy!
The bad guy is six-foot-nine, wears a hockey mask, is always covered with blood and breathes funny. He obviously has an asthma problem but he’s in denial as we never see him carting around an oxygen tank or even using an inhaler. He just goes on wheezing through his hockey mask. He’s obviously a victim of second-hand smoke since no one has ever seen him smoking a Marlboro.

He lives in a town smaller than Mayberry and has lived there through nineteen movies. What I can’t understand is… doesn’t the police force in this town ever attend a seminar or watch a training film? Or even see a CSI episode? Why can’t they catch this guy? He’s six-foot-nine, wears a hockey mask everywhere he goes (but, we never see him playing…), and is smeared with coed and weight-lifter’s blood. Doesn’t he have to go to the 7-11 at least occasionally for a loaf of bread or a Slurpie? I live in this town and with the first burglary I’m moving. These guys couldn't catch a cold. This has to be the “Town of Coffee Shops.” Where else could the cops be? Attending to the parking ticket crime wave?

They’re there. We always see them at the end, arriving to pick up the bodies and shake their heads at the carnage. Perhaps they should invest in a calendar and mark the spring break period and maybe do a patrol or two during this annual bloodfest?

Perhaps… and this is my cynical side coming out… perhaps, they know he’s there, rendering college kids room temperature, but they choose not to do anything, because the town’s economy is based on this happening each year! Don’t laugh—hear me out. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Every single year, a movie crew is going to descend on the town. The motels, the bed-and-breakfast joints, the restaurants, are all going to do a gold rush business. The studio is going to pay the city fathers a sum for the filming rights. They’re going to pay the guy who owns the farm they film on… and he’s the mayor! See where I’m going? Always follow the money. The local funeral home! My God! Look at the bucks this guy stands to make! Everybody knows movie stars and producers and directors and other Hollywood types are all lushes and drug addicts. Ever hear of Lindsey Lohan? The bar owners are going to get rich, the drug dealers are going to get richer, and the town prostitute is going to have her dance card filled up just on camera operators’ action. No wonder they don’t want to catch this guy! He supports the town. I’ll bet if an intrepid reporter stuck around after the last body is buried, he’d see the bad guy down at the 7-11 and the president of the Chamber of Commerce giving him free Slurpies and slapping him on the back!

By the time the movie is down to the last hot-pants-clad hottie, the audience is cheering for the bad guy. All of the college students have demonstrated that they all came from the low end of the gene pool. These folks may procreate and that's the real scary part of the movie. At any point during the festivities, all these fun-loving partiers have to do to save themselves is simply jump in the Land Rover and drive away. Do they? Ha! You know the answer to that already. Of course not. They’d lose their deposit.

And, who is always the very last one to be killed? The blondest girl. The blondest girl with the shortest hot pants. In the final scene, she’s getting chased by the bad guy and she runs faster than Secretariat. The bad guy mostly lumbers along at the rate of government reform. You realize your grandmother in her walker could spot him a city block in a race and beat him by six lengths. Yet… he’s catching her! How does this happen? It dawns on you. She’s got rabbit genes. She’s running like a rabbit—in circles. How else could he catch her?

This is why I don’t pay money to watch horror movies. Just seem like kind of a bad investment.

I’d love to hear your own take on horror films.


Hannah said...

I love horror films. I'm more of an old school, indie film, foreign horror movie fan though. Lionsgate produces 8 films to die for every year with a handful of very original films. I stopped going to the theater for horror movies becusse it's such a big risk nowadays.

if you're looking for any recommendations, let me know or check out my site this month. It's all about horror.

Les Edgerton said...

Wow, Hannah! That was quick! I was still editing this when your comment appeared! You're faster than Superman that day he tried steroids and then tried out for the University of Texas football team.

(Oh, God. I'm going to get letters and lawsuits from UT fans... I'm KIDDING, folks!)

I have to confess--I like 'em, too.

I'm definitely going to visit your site.

My favorite was The Blair Witch Project. I really admired the camera person who was apparently so dedicated they kept filming through it all...

Although, I'm pretty inured to most horror films. Takes a lot to scare me. After all, I've been married five times...

Anonymous said...

I'd have to agree. Let's not forget the propensity of these said young people to go into a dark part of the house (attics, basements, etc.) after hearing a loud noise. Oh, and usually it's a young girl and she goes alone. That's smart.

I'm still waiting for a smart horror flick.

Hannah said...

LOL! I was luck and it popped up on the top of my google reader.

There are still a few horror movies that will tap into some primal fear of mine. I'll think I've conquered them and then BAM! They sneak up on me and I get very creeped out. It is becoming more rare as I get older though.

Lynne Kelly said...

And for God's sake, don't go skinny-dipping. You'll die for sure.

I've always wondered why people hang around so long. I'd be peeling out of the driveway after the first stab.

And am I the only one who never wore sexy lingerie to a slumber party with friends? It was usually something like flannel pajamas for us.