Critics' Corner: October Is Half Over. Why Aren’t We Scared Yet?

Critics' Corner: October Is Half Over. Why Aren’t We Scared Yet?

Oct 19, 2011

Grae Drake and Dave White wait patiently in the pumpkin patch for the Great Horror Movie to come along…

Grae: So this is October.

Dave: Yep. Half-deceased already. And guess what?

Grae: Oh, I know this one – nothing has been scary yet. You’re going to complain that you have not yet been sufficiently scared.

Dave: You win the guess. I rely on October to deliver the goods. But so far we’ve had a lot of Not Much. Human Centipede 2, which wasn’t scary, merely gross.

Grae: Can we finally play Human Centipede Celebrity Edition?

Dave: Yes, but with the rule that lead celebrity is someone we like and that in the scenario they get to magically not experience torturous agony. It’s a position of honor.

Grae: Okay, then I choose Chris Hemsworth.

Dave: Uh… which Hemsworth is that?

Grae: The one that was Thor.

Dave: Up-and-comers just evaporate from my brain as soon as their big summer movie is over and he complicates matters by having a look-alike actor brother.

Grae: I know. Anyway, he shows great leadership potential. So he’s my lead.

Dave: Mine is Nikki Blonsky from Hairspray, because I read a while back that she’d fallen on hard times and had gone to work in a shoe store. So the other 11 centipede humans will be a combination of casting agents who wouldn’t hire her and whoever canceled her TV show Huge.

Grae: I appreciate your brand of justice. I don’t have 11 other people. But I’m always sort of mad at Bill O’Reilly so I think he’ll be one of them.

Dave: I think if anyone could chew their way out of that situation it’d be him. He might be too much for a mad scientist to handle. So anyway, we also have The Thing already in theaters. Again, not scary, just cool monster effects. And Red State going direct to DVD and On Demand means we’re deprived a typical theatrical release for that one.

Grae: Red State is only somewhat horror-ish anyway, frankly. Now, I’m excited for Paranormal Activity 3. I know you’re not.

Dave: That’s right. The first one actually scared me. Quite a bit. The second one didn’t. I don’t have major hopes for part three, but I’m willing to be proven wrong. Or maybe we have be patient for the fifth one to come around for it to be scary again, like Fast Five or 5nal Destination or whatever it was called. And that’s fine. I can wait.

Grae: I’m going to disagree with you. I think the second one was even more interesting than the first and that their ideas are very cool. I was also pleased by the way that the sequel was a series of events taking place simultaneously while the events in the first were happening. And I love how the films condition the audience to be frightened by low-frequency humming noises and very little action, the tension of waiting for something bad to take place.

Dave: I like all your points there. And yet I was bored all the same.

Grae: The thing the readers didn’t hear just then was me sighing loudly at you. I guess I just love to watch invisible forces drag people violently out of rooms and mess with little babies.

Dave: Okay, yes, now you make sense. Baby-horror is pretty swell. Especially when the baby is too dumb to know it’s supposed to get the heck out of its paranormal activicrib and the invisible whatever takes over.

Grae: It served that baby right to be turned into ghost food.

Dave: The scant horror offerings this month make me yearn for my baby-horror favorites of ye olden times, like It’s Alive, a bizarre, low-budget, 1974 monster-baby classic. I’m not one of those movie poster-collecting film nerd people, but I bought that one at a run-down poster shop in Texas for three dollars. It felt like a major score.

Grae: Then, um, you are one of those nerds. Okay, so what else is coming out this month, horror-wise?

Dave: That’s it.

Grae: That’s it?

Dave: Yes. Well, there’s an indie that’s getting some attention, The Woman. I’ll be checking out that one before month’s end.

Grae: What’s it about?

Dave: Well, there’s this Woman, see…

Grae: You have no idea yet, do you?

Dave: No. I’ll be going in fresh.

Grae: And now I’m extremely annoyed that there isn’t a fresh crop of schlocky horror filling theater screens this month. For example, I just went to an all-night horror marathon at Los Angeles’s lovely New Beverly Cinema and I had the privilege of witnessing 1981’s Inseminoid --more baby-horror, by the way -- on a big screen. But what will the next generation enjoy when they look back to 2011? What will they screen at midnight movies of the future if Hollywood won’t produce a more substantial number of scary movies right now? This is going to be like Medicare, I can feel it. It just won’t be around when we’re old and in need.

Dave: Well, there’ll still be the good old stuff we love. Always there to be counted on. So quickly, tell me your vintage necessities.

Grae: David Cronenberg’s Shivers, because my favorite fantasy about moving to Canada is that it will be filled with slugs that turn you sexually insane, and so I like to think of that film as documentary.

Dave: I’ll add Cronenberg’s The Brood to that list.

Grae: You really do like murderous children don’t you?

Dave: If kids aren’t busy slaughtering unsuspecting adults, what’s interesting about them? Ooh, you learned to read. Big deal.

Grae: I love Sleepaway Camp. And Fulci’s Zombi series. Both of those are just crazypants. Like world-upside-down. That zombie bites a shark!

Dave: Everyone loves those movies. They’re perfect. I’ll throw in Suspiria, of course, because it’s a legitimate classic that they’re going to wreck via remake. And also 1985’s The Stuff, which is another movie from Larry Cohen, who made It’s Alive. It’s about yogurt that turns everyone into zombies when they eat it. But I think the real issue for us this month is: What should horror be doing in 2011?

Grae: Easy. It should be exploiting our national mood—or moods, there are always more than a few—and tapping into what scares us now. I do think that the Paranormal movies are hitting something deep about our collective fear that something invisible is going to take us down to hell and it’s going to do it inside our own homes. Like that post-9/11 anxiety that nowhere is safe now.

Dave: Or that our house is going to metaphorically eat us alive. Like maybe they’re really movies about the banking industry.

Grae: And I have the perfect bridge here – Adam Green.

Dave: Oh yes, thank you for bringing him up. He’s the Hatchet man.

Grae: He doesn’t get enough attention, but the Hatchet movies are old-school fun and he makes vintage horror tropes come alive in new ways. I’m a big fan.

Dave: Me too. I was bummed when Hatchet 2 got pulled from theaters. That one was extremely entertaining. I like how he pulls out the inherent humor in horror without turning it into a parody. And his films are gory but they don’t leave you feeling miserable. I get that some of the more extreme gore movies now, that that’s kind of the point. But it doesn’t always have to be the goal.

Grae: Right, there’s a constant mood of We’re All Having Fun Here. It’s like the best night out of trick-or-treating when you watch one of his movies.

Dave: Agreed. Best supplemented with too much candy.

Grae: But now, Hollywood, this is my demand: October 2012 needs less sequels and prequels and more freshly-cooked monsters of all sorts. Including babies. See how I keep your needs in mind?

Dave: I appreciate that.

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