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Horror Minus Horror

Banes at 12:00AM, Oct. 19, 2017

It's time for horror talk!

I was just watching a discussion by the red letter media dudes about one of my favorite horror flicks, The Re-Animator.

They addressed something I've talked about before, and still agree with.

A horror story can be tested for its strength by looking at it WITHOUT the horror. Take out the horror element, and look at what's left. Are the characters strong? Is there conflict or some kind of tension between them? Are there interesting relationships and some kind of situation happening aside from the horror stuff?

In Re-Animator, they point out, there are interesting dynamics that could be made into a movie WITHOUT that nutty Dr. West and his zombie-creating formula. There's a young, broke but talented medical student who's dating the Dean's daughter. Another Professor and friend of the Dean is lusting after that girl too.

Boom! An interesting set of characters and a situation that takes a sharp turn into the bizarre.

In Jeepers Creepers, it's a sassy brother and sister heading home for a break from College. There is tension based on a bad breakup the sister's just had, that her brother wants to know about. She's not talking, but we see that she's dreading going home and having to explain this to her parents.

Spoiler alert - that turns out to be the least of their worries!

In Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the friends' roadtrip to a family cabin and the annoying wheelchair-bound brother provide just enough meat…if you will…to make the story feel quite real.

In the original Halloween, without an escaped Michael Myers and his driven Doctor-turned-hunter, we have a teenager who…is babysitting on Halloween night.

Er…that one may be an exception. Much as I LOVE that movie, there's not a ton going on. But generally, I think there oughtta be!

What do you think?

It's been a brutal year or so with all the shocking deaths of fairly young music legends.

RiP to Gordon Downie, Canadian rock legend, writer and activist. It's a very sad day up here. I talked about Gord and the Tragically Hip about a year ago:

take care all,
talk atcha again soon.




Ozoneocean at 4:49AM, Oct. 21, 2017

RiP to Gordon Downie

Banes at 1:31PM, Oct. 19, 2017

@thunderdavid - I hope you dig it! It might be a little odd to watch now; it's been so imitated for so long that it's gonna feel a bit standard and a bit slow moving. Still brilliant tension and music in it, though!

Banes at 1:30PM, Oct. 19, 2017

@KL - Totally! This is not a sure thing; I could accept there being many exceptions to this notion. Thanks!

thunderdavid at 9:13AM, Oct. 19, 2017

I'm going have to watch Halloween. I never have. But this discussion makes me see the movie

KimLuster at 8:28AM, Oct. 19, 2017

Excellent article! Upon first reading, my initial 'devil's-advocate' point was similar to Bravo's, that horror was sort of the point in many horror stories... Without it, you often have just normal, perhaps even otherwise boring, people we might not give two flips about! That said, I do love horror stories where we get engaged with standout character personalities before the sh!t starts hitting the fan. Remember the movie The Mangler (a Stephen King story)? We had that mill boss who was an total ass, but was also sort of a badass (that badassesness shows up when he confronts 'the monster'...), and who could forget that Rat Exterminator...?!!! So... I like both ways of going about it!! I'm a fence sitter! :D

Banes at 7:21AM, Oct. 19, 2017

thanks, you guys! Love your comments, and well said!!

mks_monsters at 4:33AM, Oct. 19, 2017

I couldn't agree more. I find character development is crucial in any story and the genre never made a difference. If anything, making the characters into people we can connect with makes the situation more profound. You understand how much they are losing and when they do die, it is a truly tragic moment. It is not just people getting killed by the monster. It is people with hopes, dreams and very precious family ties that got destroyed due to an unfortunate encounter.

bravo1102 at 2:04AM, Oct. 19, 2017

And then there are really interesting people in extraordinary situations like Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the series, Prom Night (the bookish nerd of Halloween allowed to play a dynamic popular teen. In a lot of ways I like it more than Halloween but then I love Jamie Lee Curtis) Lost Boys (The Frog Brothers!) Bram Stoker's Dracula, any pairing of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (Who is a more dynamic explorer of the the unknown than Cushing's Van Helsing?), Fright Night, Night Stalker (Karl Kolchak: the next most dynamic explorer of the unknown after Cushing's Van Helsing)

bravo1102 at 1:55AM, Oct. 19, 2017

As I've said countless times before "Ordinary people in extraordinary situations". The more extraordinary the setting the more ordinary the person you could have. Some of us loved Sean of the Dead because it was an ordinary slacker (I kept seeing Dante and Randall) Or the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer as cheerleader versus vampires, Bear versus Zombies or an S-Mart assistant manager against the Deadites. How does this ordinary person change as they meet (and hopefully overcome) this extraordinary situation? Without any subplots, just the character arc.

bravo1102 at 1:11AM, Oct. 19, 2017

Some horror movies are all about how the normal absolutely, boring non-event of a life is traumatically changed by the horror. The disruption is the point of the story without any silly subplots. It's similar with war movies. Are we there for the war movie or the stupid romantic triangle subplot? The recent Fury could easily lose about the 45 minutes of subplot with the dinner with the German family and be a much better movie. Saving Private Ryan could lose the whole breakdown scene.

plymayer at 12:16AM, Oct. 19, 2017

It's like the Andy Griffith show with out Barney. Just wasn't as scary.

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