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Critical opinion in the horror genre

By Adam Lippe

lindablair_wideweb__470x3300What you’ll find from genre fans is forgiveness for the limitations and sloppiness of most horror movies, and no acknowledgment of the glass ceiling in slasher movies. Which would you prefer? Someone who tries to take the genre seriously and criticizes a movie for its shortcomings and doesn’t lend a curve to horror movies? Or someone who gives something a lot of slack because they like the genre? You have to face the fact that there are more bad horror movies made every year than any other genre, other than porn. Most of them are cheap cash in sequels or retreads. Horror fans who argue the quality of the various Friday the 13th movies don’t seem to realize that it’s like debating the quality of the taste of urine samples. “Mmm, you know this one has a little bit of a dry aftertaste that I prefer.” Whether or not some of them have more small moments of amusement than others isn’t relevant to the fact that as movies, they are consistently poor and repetitive. That’s the differentiation you see in fans vs. critics, the willingness to overlook that which is insultingly stupid.

Do you trust someone who treats horror movies within the same guidelines that they treat other movies, or one who believes that a horror movie is better than other movies, and therefore is nearly infallible to criticism and anyone else who looks too closely at it, is close-minded?

For instance, The Exorcist is more likely to be taken seriously than Freddy vs. Jason because it is a better made film in a more traditional sense that can be appreciated by critics for its perceived accomplishments, rather than Fvs.J which is shoddy by most standards. No doubt that an accredited critic is not going to give a chance to Leprechaun 4: In Space, but when it’s a big ticket film The Exorcist, it would seem they would treat it as a “real film.”

1 comment on “Critical opinion in the horror genre”

  1. Adam, you make some very interesting points here. I definitely agree that at least 90% of the horror films released each year are crap. This creates a problem for me, because horror is my favorite film genre; I like (and want) to be scared. I do tend to cut the genre a great deal of slack because I’m so entertained by it, though.

    Having said that, I won’t bother to listen to the opinion on the worthiness of a horror film from someone who prefers something like “Saw V” over “The Blair Witch Project.” I must form my own opinion, and I’m willing to admit that, yes, “Friday the 13th Part VI” is way below the standards of a praiseworthy film, yet it is something I enjoy watching.

    It’s not easy sifting through a pile of garbage to find a small gem, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to continue trying. I suppose I’m a glutton for punishment. Oh, well…

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By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.