I’ll admit that when it comes to horror and science fiction I’m like a gambling addict in a casino. I know ninety nine percent of the time I’m going to lose, bu I continue to waste my time and money because every so often the bells ring and the lights flash. Ignorance of the long history of facts gives me hope that in all the losing I might enjoy a win. So often is the case that “hope” and “addiction” live in the same house of crazy over there on Denial Boulevard. I should also confess that it is seldom that I will pony up the ten dollars to see a horror/Sci-Fi movie in a theater. I may be a “junkie” to this crap, but I am not without some measure of intelligence. After all, disappointment stings less when you paid a buck at Redbox instead of fourteen for Imax…or perhaps that’s just an addicts rationalization.
So my expectations are already pretty darn low. Then exactly what could possibly occur that would compel me want to knife the people in the face who are responsible for these film tragedies? Well, let me tell you what I’m not talking about before I share what inspires me to riot. I am not talking about films whose concept I don’t like from the “get go.” I know many people hate found footage and camcorder film making. I respect that even if I don’t agree, but if you hated Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity then my suggestion is just stop going to films of this type. It’s the same with sequels. Many people believe that sequels always suck. That may be true, so don’t view anything with a II but you most certainly deserve to suffer if you’re sitting in a III, IV, or V. These aren’t examples of justified bitching, these are indicators that you are a martyr with masochistic tendencies.
The kind of anger I am referring to is of the justified type. Films that start with a great concept, even if its been done before, have within their grasp a decent story line and then go right ahead and screw the entire thing up…after lying to me with a great marketing trailer. In other words these were films that could have received an “A” but went ahead and blew the final exam. The cause, which is most frustrating, is that some writer or director thinks they are being smart and creative when in fact they are just insulting their audience. At the root of the problem is usually one or all of the following: A narcissistic ego – “Look at how much smarter I am than the idiots watching my film.” A political agenda – “I want to spend the next 120 minutes showing you why people who don’t think like me should be punished.” Or ignorance of the precepts of the genre – “Character development? In a horror film? I thought we just needed to kill people.”
I, as usual, have my stand outs in the “knife you in the face” category. I am certain there are more and I invite you to share yours in the comment section. Interestingly, most of these movies I not only wanted to give a “A” but possibly could have given an “A” except for the work of the idiot who screwed it up…and who deserves to be knifed in the face.
1. If you’re not green than your mean – The Day the Earth Stands Still was a remake of the original semi-political film of the same name. With the advent of special effects, a decent cast including Kathy Bates, and an already interesting story line this film should have been an A. Unfortunately, it was little more than an environmental piece with the clear message that flowers are more important than humans. I love nature, animals, clean water and air but this was probably the most insulting film I have ever watched. The alien who intends to destroy us is the good guy and justified as a sympathetic character because we continue to drive SUVs? This story had every social cliche/agenda one could ever hope for ad nauseam. Evil government, uncaring police and military, dead soldier/father who was just an army engineer (so unlike infantry he didn’t deserve to die) , inter-racial marriage (not that I care but exactly what was the point?). I found the ending to be absurd. Yes we survived and have a chance to amend our ways. Of course survival is relative since it really was a delayed death sentence. Do you know why? Because that e-bomb just ended the use of anything that requires electricity. Do you know what that means? Most everyone is going to die anyway because we no longer know how to hunt, fish, farm or build shelter by hand. At the end Mom was so happy – we’ll see how she feels three weeks later when her and her kid are starving and without fresh water.
2. Look I’m a pretty red alien – I don’t know what the hell they were thinking when they made Skyline. It’s an alien invasion movie dudes – just follow the script and you’ll be fine. It was going so well too at first. People were being harvested, there was that cool hypnosis thing, and generally you knew the world was screwed…and then comes the last ten minutes. There is the “romantic” kiss as we float up to our impending death within the space ship. Okay corny but I can’t give it a pass until…WTF! The guy mutates into some kind of red alien Saviour. I don’t know after that what occurred. There were a few minutes of other stuff but I was too busy beating my head against the wall to pay attention to any of it.
3. I know let’s give it a really unhappy ending that isn’t required. I read Stephen King’s “The Mist” a long time ago. It was a great story and the cliff hanger ending was fine with me. I looked forward to the movie version and again up until the last five minutes loved it. Not exactly the same as the book, but movies never are and the changes all felt okay to me. In the book, we only know the survivors are, at the end, making their way to Hartford because they caught a piece of a radio message. Not good enough for Stevie though, nope he had to deliver an ending that barely made sense to me…in short “it’s better to kill your loved ones than let them die.” What? And then of course we find that if Mr. Humane had just held on to hope (or refrained from murder) for a few more seconds everyone would have lived. I don’t believe humans give up hope so easily. But as a father I don’t believe Dad’s would ever stop trying to save their child. The book was about strength and surviving the madness – the movie was about quitting. I’ve heard Mr. King’s reasoning for his new ending, it’s crap and I won’t reprint it here. I am a huge fan of King’s work, but I have no interest in his politics and of late that stuff has started to pollute his work…too bad.
4. I really just feel like ruining my reputation – George Romero is my damn hero for creating a much loved Zombie genre. I would like to pretend that he never wrote and directed Survival of the Dead…because it sucked. Watching this ridiculous version from the master felt as it would if Michael Jordan decided to come out of retirement at 85 and rejoin the Bulls. I can’t even begin to count off the bad plot elements, the poor script, the terrible acting and the unrealistic story ending. I hated it most because it made me wonder if Romero actually was the brain behind Night of the Living Dead. It was a matter of expectations. I expect Michael Bay films to have that cool mechanical sound, JJ Abrams to include blue lights…and F’in Romero to produce a great zombie movie!
5. The continued defamation of vampires – Daybreakers was one of those films that filled me with anticipation. The vamps looked like a return to the soulless blood thirsty creature we know and love. The concept of a world after the Vampire Apocalypse was intriguing and there seemed a thought provoking consideration of what happens when the humans run dry. Of course they screwed the pooch on this one. I don’t remember all the details. I became numb fairly early in the movie when I realized the vamps really could have been anyone as the film was just more of the same tired themes. It had all the makings to be a dark and edgy film but opted for something far less.
6. Yeah sucks for you, but I don’t even care – If I had stopped watching the Devil Inside after the first five minutes I would rate this as an “A.” Unfortunately I followed it all the way through and took the full does of disappointment. I love these exorcism films enough to watch even the really crappy foreign one’s on NetFlix. This film, visually, did indeed have some creepy moments in it with the requisite body twisting, dude eating in the dark kitchen, the evident and spooky slow demise of the characters, and a priest trying to drown a baby during baptism. The problem was that I never cared about the characters. Also my logic alert flag went up pretty damn early. How is a priest going to exorcise a demon when said priest is also defying the church? I’m not saying the church is the conduit to God…that’s what they are saying. So if a priest is aware of his need to be “pure” then how does one think they are getting away with working both ends of the room? There were hints that one of the priests had attempted suicide….a pretty large Catholic sin, I’ve heard, so again, are you just asking to be possessed? Regardless I didn’t really like or dislike the characters because I didn’t get a chance to know any of them, so their misfortune was just an “event.” But that was just one of two big problems. The second and more unforgivable issue was the ending…which wasn’t an ending at all. I think it would be more accurate to say that somewhere around ninety three minutes after the movie began it stopped.
So that is my short list. I think at least one person involved with each of these projects rightly deserves to be knifed* in the face, but I will settle for them just finding a new way to make a living. My apologies if my anger ruined my usual light hearted approach to horror…but hey this stuff needed to be said. Next week I will return with a more upbeat piece on either the best psychos, the best vampire movies, or the best horror film twists. I haven’t decided which I will finish first so we’ll have to rely on vacation inspiration and see. If you want some actual detailed, honest, and trustworthy reviews (as opposed to my more vague rantings) then I suggest you visit fellow bloggers; Alohamisterhand , Antifilmschool, or Fisterroboto.
* knifing in the face is a felony and unkind. The author speaks in jest and does not promote violent behavior. In other words it’s hyperbole and you should get psychological assistance if you feel the desire to do such or the little voices in your head are telling you it’s a good idea.