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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Monday, October 22, 2007

House of a Thousand Curses

I'm in a Halloween mood, so I saw the movie House of a Thousand Corpses recently. I enjoyed it, but nevermind that: I wanna talk about the ways folks who reviewed it on Netflix responded to it. Lots of gripes about this cult film, most of them revolving around excessive gore and profanity.

I wonder what kind of decision-making process led these people to add this film to their queues. "House of a Thousand Corpses! That sounds cute. It says here that it was written and directed by heavy metal musician Rob Zombie. I bet it's nice and tasteful." C'mon, people.

Anyway, what's with fussing about profanity in a flick like this? "I don't believe homicidal hillbillies would express themselves so crudely." Look, I grew up around degenerate, if not murderous, hillbillies, and they come in three basic flavors: uptight religious nuts, pottymouths, and uptight religious nuts with pottymouths.

I'm more intrigued by the folks who complain about more nuanced matters of tone and such. I'm a recent convert to horror flicks, and it's interesting to me that fans all seem to have really personal views on which films are the good ones. Is a film too goofy, too grim, too distanced, too manipulative? Too implausible, too straightforward? Too slick, too crude? I think horror films appeal, when they appeal, because they plug directly into the viewers' personal concerns. More formal considerations of narrative and technical qualities are insignificant next to the extent to which a film reflects the individual viewers' nightmares. Okay, that's hardly a fresh observation, but it seems that technical excellence, imaginative filmmaking, etc. are less important to horror fans (myself included) than correspondence to the individual viewers' dream life. Horror movies all aspire to be nightmares, but my nightmares are different from yours, which explains why, say, I prefer (even bad) movies about deranged hillbillies to (even good) movies about zombies. I never dream about zombies.

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