There is an appropriate amount you’re allowed to like horror movies

Like I said, we're shaking things up on this blog. That means more essay-type stuff while I'm working towards the unquestionable impending awesomeness that shall be the Reader's movie podcast. Now, before I get all wordy up in here, hella props to Dan J who dropped me a line with a few suggestions for that aforementioned dose of audio awesome we're working on. You don't know the squee-inducing joy of receiving a comment about this stuff that isn't from someone I share DNA or history with. Thanks, Dan!

But we're not here to talk about Dan. We're here to talk about your friend whose hard-on for horror movies occasionally worries you.

I promise you that if you are a movie enthusiast, one of your buddies loves shitty horror films way, way too much for your liking. There came a moment in your friendship when he emphatically described his enjoyment of a flick featuring dismemberment and torture that gave you pause, that made your "oh, hell-no" eyes disagree with your mouth's affirmation that "yeah, it was cool." Now, in some cases this is some debauched flick with no redeemable value that takes itself way too seriously (cough, Eli Roth, cough) and in some cases this is a relatively innocuous monster or slasher flick that's only half-hearted in its moral depravity. While it is far more troubling to deal with the dude who all these years later talks about seeking out the Faces of Death series and what a let down they were, it is at least marginally disconcerting that you have linked yourself to a person willing to spend top dollar to see Darkness Falls IN THE THEATER. Now, it's not my position that these fellas are bound to play murderball with kittens as ammo or are simply biding their time until they've finished "Serial Killing for Dummies." Many of them are fine, fine people. Some will pee on your corpse, but many of them are perfectly harmless humans. They just like crap, and I have the damnedest time relating to them.

I tend to get pinned by "Guy who has seen every Platinum Dunes remake" just about every time I find myself in a social gathering, which is blessedly not very often. Inevitably, small talk kicks over the rock beneath which my movie critic status is hidden, and we are suddenly forced into the "What did you think of (Insert Movie Here)" Game, wherein I am destined to either deny the very principles I use to guide me as a reviewer or verbally urinate on someone's favorite recent movie. I can generally handle the pretentious batch that call movies "films" and aren't content unless they somehow weave in their appreciation for Gaspar Noe and their personal affinity for foreign classics even Criterion won't pimp. I can play the "name obscure arthouse director and movie" shuffle with a smile on my face. I just have nothing for the crown princes of darkness who want my opinion of whatever exorcist ripoff is passing through multiplexes like a kidney stone.

I like horror movies. I really do. I just only like good ones. It's pretty safe to say that the batting average of horror is so wretched, it would be in the 9th spot in our genre lineup. Yeah, that's right, horror movies have the same success rate as a pitcher's batting average. They are so unoriginal it's mind-boggling. They make romantic comedies look positively spontaneous at times. And the ones that are original often try to simply push the boundaries of the gore and shock, which are the areas that are least inspiring and interesting. There are a whole bunch of folks (see the two paragraphs before this one) who will argue about the artistic and imaginative value of pushing the boundaries of taste. I respect that position. They're just wrong. I shouldn't say they're always wrong, but they're wrong a lot. See, if you push the boundaries of taste, it should be with purpose. I haven't seen A Serbian Film, arguably the most depraved thing I've ever encountered and I've only read the wikipedia write up of the plot, but I can at least tolerate it's gob-smacking perversion because it is linked to a metaphor regarding the plight of that country's people. Most often, horror movies that are vulgar are doing so because they delight that one friend of ours, because media attention still follows envelope pushing without merit, and because that's what they consider original.

All this was what came to mind when I remembered Scream 4 is coming out this weekend. Yay? The problem is that this is a film that falls in no-man's land; horror purists will hate it because nobody flosses with anyone's small intestine while raping a dog and mainstream audiences will find it too dated and targeted towards a horror crowd. The original was brilliant. Inspired and clever, it was not just the meta-awareness of it, it was that it did both things well. It was scary with the slasher elements and fun with the fun elements. It was meta while being a part of the genre, which is what the bulk of those who want to be meta never understand. It's not enough to comment on the genre you're a part of, you have to also commit yourself to being a big part of the genre (see Dead, Shaun of the). It's not that too much time has passed for the Scream franchise, it's that the horror movie genre has sputtered in the last 15 years or so, leaving very little new to comment on. Sure, there's going to be a bunch of remake jokes and technology references, but those don't just apply to horror. See, unless you're horror-movie-guy, the last two decades have given you a few docu-style glimmers of hope in the genre and that's it.

I can think of but one reason to see Scream 4 if you're not the friend in your group that everyone is secretly concerned has a basement that is high on the police's "places to see" list.

On this, at least, me and guy-who-always-asks-me-about-shitty-horror-movies can agree.

Follow me on Twitter for far shorter insight like this.

entered on 04/13/11 at 10:41 PM | read comments »

Cutting Room for April 13

  • It’s fitting that a movie with “thief” in the title is about to be part of a crime, as Alfred Hitchcock’s classic To Catch a Thief is getting remade. Although we don’t know as of now who will replace Grace Kelly and Cary Grant — thank goodness those two are so easily replaceable — we do know that the script will be written by Josh Stolberg. So no worries there; you definitely want the guy who last wrote Piranha 3D to pen your Hitchcock remake.

  • Don’t laugh until I’m done. Keanu Reeves wants to star in Man of Tai Chi, which is a kung-fu movie. He wants to play the bad guy (who, given the title, will presumably be called “the villain of tai chi”). The thought of Reeves as an imposing baddie in a martial arts movie is snicker worthy, but here’s where waiting to laugh pays off: He’s directing it. You may now chortle freely.

  • The following joke is not mine, and while I don’t know who initially said it, repeating it is vital. Dish Network bought Blockbuster this week for $320 million. Now the joke: Actually, they only paid $20 million, the rest were late fees. Oooh, bankruptcy burn!

  • On a disturbing and sad note, Lindsay Lohan’s name is now only linked to roles based on true stories of horribly broken women. The latest rumor has her playing Manson family victim Sharon Tate. It’s easy to use her as a punch line, but it’s kind of unsettling to watch someone who seems to be auditioning for her final role as a human sacrifice to some unseen pop culture deity who thirsts for the blood of starlets.

Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added sarcasm. Send any relevant information to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Check out Ryan on the radio on CD 105.9 (Fridays at around 7:30 a.m.), on his blog at and on Twitter (

entered on 04/12/11 at 10:28 PM | read comments »

Did you miss me?

I feel like this particular blog post is like running into an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend (or, if you're lucky...both) months after a mutual breakup. I have this overwhelming urge to thrust my hands deep in my pockets to avoid nervous gestures (I get really handsy when I'm worked up) and a desire to look down at the ground and mumble questions you'd ask of a total stranger and not of someone you have seen naked ("Hey, how's things?" or "How have you been?"). But let's do this...let's talk for a minute about what happened with our relationship, you and me.

See, we shared something special. For about 3 years, we talked every single day. I poured my heart and soul all over these interwebs, all in the name of love. Whatever you told me you liked, I'd try to give you more. If you showed even the slightest indication that you had a passing affinity for a particular column or subject matter, I would bend over backwards to incorporate it. But the truth is, this was killing me. It just wasn't working.

It's not you.

Okay, it's totally you. See, I never seemed to really reach you. When we moved in together to this new place (our spiffy website built just for us), you all but stopped communicating with me. I mean, you used to at least comment every once and awhile. But the soul-crushing, overwhelming silence became unbearable. I couldn't even provoke a reaction of anger no matter how hard I tried. You weren't even laughing at Wicker Man clips with me anymore.

Yeah, you stopped laughing at THAT. I was in anguish. Am I unlovable? Am I disinteresting? Oh, I....NOT FUNNY? I was all the worst parts of a Michael Cera movie, as the last month was all self-doubt and insecurity. It was me trying to figure out how to get us back to the good times. I couldn't go back to what it was, as I was spending hours upon hours a day trying to make you smile all for nothing. I realized that the fundamental foundation of this relationship was broken and would likely never be fixed. So I walked away from us, realizing that this relationship, this blog of holy matrimony we shared...was over.

It's time for something new.

This is me, down on one knee, proposing to you the greatest change to our relationship ever. Will you...dear, dear Reader readers...will you podcast with me?

Enough relationship allegory, the story goes like this: The humor on the site wasn't coming off well enough, I didn't have enough of my own sources to serve as a place you'd come to find out breaking news, the exchanges and forums weren't getting populated, and traffic had stagnated. I had no clue what the next step was. Then it hit me: I have so much fun doing Steve King's morning show on CD105.9 every Friday at 7:30 am, why not do more of that? I love actually TALKING about movies more than anything and there's just so much more that can be done with that format. Yes, I'm still going to do some light blogging to keep things rolling along, but I'm going to keep that to just a few times a week and only stuff that's actually interesting instead of just loading up this site with crap nobody reads.

So that's the big news: I'm back, but things are going to be different. My buddy Matt and I will be regaling you sometime within the next month or so with a movie-based podcast that's going to feature a lot of the columns that used to be featured here plus a few new ones we're dreaming up. If there are things you want us to cover, ideas for segments you'd like to propose, or really any feedback of any kind you'd like to offer, please comment below. If not, you can shoot an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), and I'd be happy to chat there. We're going to do this up right, I promise. I'm really excited about it.

I hope that this is as exciting for you as it is for me. I really want to take this relationship to the next level. And by that, I mean I'm taking my shirt off.

entered on 04/12/11 at 09:55 PM | read comments »

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The epic conclusion to the most epic of epics.


The Babadook

A terrifying tale of an ooky pop-up book and motherly love.


The Tale of Princess Kaguya

A water-colored take on a Japanese folktale that is prettier than it is interesting.


The Theory of Everything

"Out of this world" performances buoy a sub-par script.


Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Half of what promises to be an epic conclusion to a fabulous series.



A delirously fun satirical send up of artistic pretension. 


The Overnighters

"The Grapes of Wrath" in documentary form set in North Dakota.



If this was humanity's last hope, give up.


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