[personal profile] chaosvizier
Another day, another blog entry with a special topic/question to be handled. Want me to talk about something specific? There's plenty of chances! Hell, take a second spot, I'm not picky.

Anyway, for today's topic, [livejournal.com profile] bending_sickle thinks I should talk about horror movies: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

First, the basics. I like movies. I like going to the theatre and watching movies. I like sitting at home and watching movies. I secretly wish the phrase "Netflix and Chill" actually meant "let's sit down on a couch together and binge-watch the hell out of something on Netflix" instead of "fucking". But that's beside the point.

Next, the caveat. I like bad movies. If it won an Academy Award for Best Picture or Best Actor or Best Screenplay or whatever, I probably A) didn't see it or B) hated it. There are a few exceptions, like those rare times when a fantasy/sci-fi film actually reaches that level (LOTR:ROTK, for example). I need action in my films. I need explosions. I want to see a ninja riding a motorcycle over a pit of sharks that are on fire while shooting laser beams at a giant bear-robot. This is what I want from my movie-watching experience.

(Side note: If such a movie exists, please tell me so I can Netflix and Chill by myself, because BOOYAH.)

And now, finally, we reach our topic: horror movies. Horror movies are usually fantasy in a sense; they may involve supernatural entities spooking our protagonists something fierce, demonic possession, a descent into a curious madness, or something. Sometimes non-fantastic horror enters the equation, like with a deranged serial killer or slasher hunting down victims. And in a few cases science fiction crosses over into horror.

Horror movies affect people in different ways. Some people don't get scared at all; the shocks and scares don't work and don't stick with them, and they find it laughable. Some people are the opposite, and can't even watch a trailer without leaving the lights on at home for the next three weeks. I probably fall in the middle; most horror movies are entertaining but don't have lasting effects, but the really well-done ones, the truly creepy ones, or those that have a particular concept that resonates... they do stick with me and keep me a bit edgy for a while.

So, what is good and what is bad? And what is ugly? Let's discuss.


By good I mean horror movies that actually work well and convey genuine creepiness, terror, or unsettling atmosphere. I'm going to apply this to me, obviously, because I can't speak for the world at large.

The following movies I found genuinely scary or creepy or horrific.

1) The Ring (Japanese or American version). Let's be frank: J-horror is fucked up. And in the realm of Japanese horror, "The Ring" ("Ringu" in Japanese) is number one. Every once in a while I still have a creepy Ring-based dream that wakes me up in a cold sweat. Don't think that the American remake is a cheap knockoff of the original; I saw that one first, and I think it might almost be worse than the original. As always, don't let sequelitis fool you; sequels suck. For similar films, see "The Grudge" ("Ju-On" in Japanese) and "Shutter" (a Korean horror film with similar methods).

2) Alien. Like I said, sometimes Science-Fiction crosses the line into horror, and the very first "Alien" movie is a prime example of this. Yes, it takes place on a spaceship exploring other planets. Yes, it features an alien, as the title very clearly explains. And yes, it is scary, as the titular beast systematically hunts down and murders the entire crew of a ship while they desperately try to protect themselves. This is atmospheric horror done well - the monster hides in shadows, is almost never seen until the end, and is relentless. Bonus points go to H.R.Giger, for his horrific design.

3) The Exorcist. This movie is 42 years old. It doesn't matter. While it doesn't contain a lot of "jump out of your seat" scares, the tale of the gradual possession of a young girl by a demonic entity is an exercise in pacing. It starts slow and simple, nothing scary, a little odd, a little strange, and gradually builds up to a confrontation that leaves no winners. The transformation of the young girl into something less than human is one of the scariest parts of this movie. When it was originally aired, it was considered one of the scariest things ever seen, and while its effects are outdated in today's cinematic world, the atmosphere remains intense.


By bad, I mean movies in the horror category that just have no effect on me. Again, my tastes and yours may differ vastly.

1) Pretty Much Any Slasher Film Ever. These movies are put into the horror category because they usually involve a mysterious murdering juggernaut that murders the other characters in a murderous display of murdertude until one of the heroes finally figures out how to turn the murderness back on the murderer. These movies are GORY, not SCARY. See Halloween, Friday the 13th, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and about a thousand others. I will grant a few exceptions - "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is a good concept, and while still not scary by my standards, is of better quality than the others. Likewise, "Scream" takes the slasher film genre and turns it sideways by mocking it while still being a slasher film. But these exceptions are few and far between.

2) Vampires, Werewolves, and their ilk. Here we have the "supernatural creature" class of movies, in which a vampire or werewolf or what not threatens people with its evil (and usually murderous) ways. These sometimes devolve into Slasher Film Horror, as above. They also sometimes devolve into Campy Horror, which is even less scary than Slasher Film Horror. As above, there are always exceptions. Stephen King's "Silver Bullet" is a well-made werewolf tale. Stephen King's "Salem's Lot" is not a bad vampire movie either. But don't let him fool you; "Firestarter" was still terrible.

3) Anything on SyFy. Sorry, SyFy, you're not scary at all. You try really hard, but no.


Most horror films have some kind of "ugly" creature in them - an alien, a demon, a monster, whatever. So that's ugly.

1) Zombies. Zombies are inherently ugly and nasty and gross. Zombie films are usually the same. Some zombie films are good, like "28 Days Later" and "Shaun of the Dead" (yes, a comedy, but still a zombie film). Most zombie films are like Vampire movies: not that scary, but fun to watch anyway. You know what's not ugly? Milla Jovovich fighting zombies in the "Resident Evil" movies. Mmmmm... Milla Jovovich.

2) Animals. What? Yes, animals. Some of the best horror movies have featured animals that have taken a step towards EEEEEEEEVIL. What was "Jaws" if not one of the greatest aquatic horror films of all time? How many people still won't go in the water because of that giant mechanical shark? How about "Cujo"? A big lovable fluffy St. Bernard transforms into a rabid killing machine, because Stephen King, that's why. What's the first thing that goes wrong in "Pet Sematary" (thanks again, Stephen King)? The cat. Oh yes, the cat. This is probably not the place to talk about "Sharknado" or "Mega-shark vs. Giant Octopus". Oh Campy Horror, you do me proud.

3) "Zombeavers". Goddammit, [livejournal.com profile] bending_sickle... just... wow. ;-)

In summary: Don't go to Japan because their ghosts will seriously fuck your shit up, I'm not even kidding.
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