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Monday, October 13, 2008

American Horror? Boo!

I was gonna talk about this in my Weekend B.O. post today, but decided to give it a post of it's own....since Halloween is near.

Over the weekend I saw two...ummm...supposed "horror films". I have always been a fan of the genre since the very first film that I saw as a babe, which was totally inappropriate for my young eyes "Willard". My father and his various family members used to watch all of the oldies too--The Mummy, Frankenstein, anything with Zombies etc., and tho I was deathly afraid of the dark and everything that might be in it, I was fascinated by all of them, including goulie weirdo Vincent Price.

The shift in horror went from monsters to the supernatural, i.e. "The Exorcist" and "The Omen", which had the practically the whole nation in the willies. It expanded out to a different horror, one of realism, like "Jaws" and if you want to stretch it a bit, movies like "Earthquake" and "The Towering Inferno". There were movies about bug, frog, and giant rat invasions. Then there was some totally off the wall, WTF fantasy/horror, like "Phantasm" and "The Evil Dead".

Then came...the slasher flicks, and to me this was the beginning of the end for the classic horror genre, and anything original associated with it. You see, I don't consider films like the "Halloween" "Friday The 13th" (or any of that ilk) horror. The same goes for the "Saw" and "Hostel" series. In my opinion (which is what this whole blog is about, and was never meant to be a film class) those movies are just bloody, murderous, cheap, and kinda sick--requiring absolutely no creativity on the part of anyone involved. Just take a faceless, seemingly immortal character (cause they never really seem to die) add some dumb ass mofos, gallons of blood/slicing/ and/or torture, and viola! Instant crappy, modern day "horror" flick.

But I seriously digress. I saw "Quarantine" this weekend, as well as God help me, "Somebody Help Me" with Omarion and Marques Huston.

I'll start with the latter....if you take the time, energy, and money it takes to do a slasher film involving Blacks as the main characters why A) do you make ALL of their friends non-black and B) keep the same exact, paint by numbers, formulaic, stupid teenagers storyline as a million other nondescript ones we've seen and are bored by? Why even bother? While looking at the credits, I saw that a couple of people I know worked on this movie. They never brought it up...I wonder why? (not really)

The second, "Quarantine" almost, but not quite, brought me back to my younger days. It was almost good, having moments of suspense, just enough smartness, and best of all, Zombie- like folks. But something was off that prevented it from being satisfying---I looked at the credits at the end and saw a bunch of Spanish names and wondered if it was a remake of a Spanish film.

Well lo and behold, I looked it up on the internets and it was--a remake of a Spanish film called "Rec" which I watched last night, and recommend alot more than "Quarantine"--it is way creepier, and the pacing is far superior. I don't know why, but Americans never seem to get it right when it comes to remaking foreign films, especially horror. The Japanese "Ring"-like movies have been done to death and back--and they are never as good as the originals--but the original Japanese and their American brethren films are really just about style and imagery over any real substance.

I am becoming a HUGE fan of the Latin/Spanish directors. They have the visuals, as well as the substance and depth packed into their work. They are well written, with absorbing characters, and completely draw you in the film and keep you there. And isn't the most effective horror film one that sinks into your psyche with the story and visuals, and makes you think about both days after seeing it? Isn't that the stuff that makes us nervous when we hear creaking, or see a shadow? You can tell these dudes are thinking about every aspect of their films.

If you're looking for some genuine Halloween scares, I say dump the "Saw" BS and check out the new Spanish breed. "The Devil's Backbone", which was on Comcast On Demand all month, is probably the most beautiful ghost story I've ever seen, by far. It was directed by Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth), whom Sergio and I are huge fans of. You can find "Rec", the original Quarantine on-line and on Netflix. Do yourself a favor--if you like horror, real horror, you'll love these two flicks--I guarantee they're better than anything you've seen in the past few years. Also, check out the good folks over at

director del toro, above


clnmike said...

The Evil Dead was my ish!!

Your right there is a big difference between horror movies and slasher flicks, and movies that i prefer to catagorize as torture movies like Saw and Hostel.

Torture movies get off on shock as opposed to playing mind games.

But I would say that I prefer the Slasher genre now a days.

When done right they can do a number on your mind because it can be very much real.

I dont buy into the horror genre because of the supernatural effect, that requires too much "suspension of disbelief".

You dont have to suspend jack with slasher flicks I guy running around stabbing people is very much reality, hell Texas Chain Saw was based on reality.

The problem is that no one is doing the slasher genre right, so your right there is a lack of creativity in it as everyone jumps for the easy buck.

Marvalus said...

Is that Michael Jackson!?

Horror movies these days don't even get my time...they are just not worth it...give me Halloween from back in the day and some good old fashioned Jason...I guarantee you some sleeping with the lights on...

Anonymous said...

First off... That picture of MJ is crazy. Where did you get that? That's what's up.

Black people don't need to do horror pictures... Period.

About the folk you know who worked on the film: Everyone needs a paycheck.

Horror movies remind me more of dry comedy than anything else. It isn't meant to be funny yet they come off looking silly that you have to laugh.

Did you like Pan's Labyrinth?

Some how I'd prefer watching a horror flick in a foreign language than those that are produced by American studios with American directors. One of many things that foreign directors/production houses get right.

Ehav Ever said...

One of my favorite horror films was the Chinese version of the Eye. That movie had everyone jumping in the theater where I saw it. Grown men were jumping out of their seats on that one. My friend's wife screamed for about 10 seconds when the first ghost appeared.

I also think some of the best horror are the ones where they keep it simple. I liked Something Wicked This Way Comes when I was a kid. I think another element of good horror is when the main characters feel alone, like no one understands the situation or that no one can help them.

Tha Connoisseur said...

Awwww, you don't like Saw? I must say that it is a guilty pleasure of mine.

Like cinemike - I was scared crapless of The Evil Dead! When my older brother and I were younger, he had posters in his room of a lot of old horror movies. I still say that it was to keep me out of his room, for fear that the zombie on paper might come to life and kill my

Anonymous said...

I actually saw REC this weekend (a friend of mine had the DVD of it) and I think it's terrific. A neat, tight (only 75 minutes long) tense fright fest. Why bother seeing Quarantine, when you can see the original and no doubt better film?

And I agree with IW, these new Latino filmmakers like Del Toro, Irratitu, Curzon, those guys who made The Orphanage (and now there's this new Spanish horror flick Shiver that a friend of mine thinks is knockout) are hitting it out of the ballpark. What's up with black filmmakers? Why can't they get this "ish" together? Take a look at REC. It takes place on one location in an apartmant building, made on a very small limited budget and it's a smart, exciting nerve racking little horror that delivers. All I kept think was why can't a black filmmakers make something like this?

Anonymous said...

Scary movies aren't allowed in this house nor is Halloween, my husband just has something against evil spirits and the idea of them. Before I married him I was a fan, because they never scared me. The only movie to scare the crap out of me was the Exorcist...

Invisible Woman said...

@clnmike: i was ok with maybe the first too slashers, yes kinda creepy, but after 25 years of the same formula, the shine has worn off a LONG time ago. Still love The Evil Dead!

@ms. m: that is a mask of mike, but you know he's really gonna look like that in 10 years!

@UT: isn't that mask of mike funny? i found it while googling halloween, i think. as for pan's labyrinth--i think i liked the visual more than the story, but "the devil's backbone" had both in great measures--i highly reccommend it. what did you think of PL?

Invisible Woman said...

@ehav: i keep meaning to see the eye--now i really will

and you're right, that isolation factor helps up the creepiness level...

@Tha Connoisseur: can i call you TC in the comments? I did like the first Saw, don't get me wrong, but it's just overkill now. hmmm...i think that might be a pun, lol.

@sergio: rec is terrific, and i had the same thought you did while watching it. "tales from the hood" just doesn't cut it for me!

@MGV: I have a friend like that too...but truth be told, you aren't missing very much anyway, except for the Latin directors sergio and i have been talking about