Letters

Letters 02-08-2016

Less Ageism, Please The January 4 issue of this publication proved to me that there are some sensible voices of reason in our community regarding all things “inter-generational.” I offer a word of thanks to Elizabeth Myers. I too have worked hard for what I’ve earned throughout my years in the various positions I’ve held. While I too cannot speak for each millennial, brash generalizations about a lack of work ethic don’t sit well with me...Joe Connolly, Traverse City

Now That’s an Escalation I just read the letter from Greg and his defense of the AR15. The letter started with great information but then out of nowhere his opinion went off the rails. “The government wants total gun control and then confiscation; then the elimination of all Constitutional rights.” Wait... what?! To quote the great Ron Burgundy, “Well, that escalated quickly!”

Healthy Eating and Exercise for Children Healthy foods and exercise are important for children of all ages. It is important for children because it empowers them to do their best at school and be able to do their homework and study...

Mascots and Harsh Native American Truths The letter from the Choctaw lady deserves an answer. I have had a gutful of the whining about the fate of the American Indian. The American Indians were the losers in an imperial expansion; as such, they have, overall, fared much better than a lot of such losers throughout history. Everything the lady complains about in the way of what was done by the nasty, evil Whites was being done by Indians to other Indians long before Europeans arrived...

Snyder Must Go I believe it’s time. It’s time for Governor Snyder to go. The FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the EPA Criminal Investigation Division are now investigating the Flint water crisis that poisoned thousands of people. Governor Snyder signed the legislation that established the Emergency Manager law. Since its inception it has proven to be a dismal failure...

Erosion of Public Trust Let’s look at how we’ve been experiencing global warming. Between 1979 and 2013, increases in temperature and wind speeds along with more rain-free days have combined to stretch fire seasons worldwide by 20 percent. In the U.S., the fire seasons are 78 days longer than in the 1970s...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The New Face of Horror
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The New Face of Horror

Jane Louise Boursaw - February 2nd, 2006
Brutal killings, grisly beheadings, sadistic rapes... no, it’s not the 6 o’clock news, it’s what’s playing at the local cineplex. Or are they one and the same?
Gruesome horror movies are making a comeback, and teenagers are flocking to the theaters to see them, in spite of – or maybe because of – their R ratings. What’s the appeal? Could these movies be a reflection of the
cruel reality we see on CNN and Fox News every day?
Think about it. Over the past few years, the 24/7 news channels have brought us 9/11, the BTK Killer, Natalee Holloway, child kidnappings, brutal terrorists, suicide bombers, and gruesome beheadings in Iraq. And that’s just the tip of the terrifying iceberg. Perhaps filmmakers feel compelled to make movies that reflect what’s happening in the real world. But why do we feel compelled to see these ugly events again on the big screen?
Maybe because it helps us deal with the horrifying realities in the world and provides a cathartic way to process tragedy and human loss. And since the standard plot of most horror movies includes good prevailing over evil, maybe these movies give us hope that it will happen in real life, too.

CROSSING THE LINE?
But are filmmakers crossing the line? When “Chaos” was released in 2005, movie-goers left the theater filled with despair and futility. At the end of the film, the lone survivor was the evil one who’d murdered innocent characters in a variety of sadistic ways. As the screen goes dark, we hear his satanic laughter and realize there’s no rhyme or reason for his behavior. He isn’t playing out the forces of a heinous childhood as serial killer Aileen Wuornos did in 2003’s “Monster.” Nor is he seeking revenge, as the parents did in Ingmar Bergman’s “The Virgin Spring” (1960). He’s simply killing for the sake of killing.
Roger Ebert gave “Chaos” a zero-star rating, noting that the film was “an exercise in heartless cruelty that ends with careless brutality. The movie denies not only the value of life, but the possibility of hope.”
Ebert added that he believes evil can win in fiction, as it often does in real life, “but I prefer that the artist express an attitude toward that evil. It’s not enough to record it; what do you think and feel about it? Your attitude is as detached as your hero’s. If ‘Chaos’ has a message, it is that evil reigns and will triumph. I don’t believe so.”
Steven Jay Bernheim, producer of “Chaos,” responded this way: “Real evil exists and cannot be ignored, sanitized or exploited. It needs to be shown just as it is... and if this upsets you, disquiets you, or leaves you saddened, that’s the point.”
A RETURN TO THE SLASHER MOVIES
If being upset, disquieted, and saddened is indeed the point, we’ve had plenty of opportunities lately. Recent years have brought us “The Devil’s Rejects,” about a family of redneck serial killers; “High Tension,” about two young women terrorized in the woods; “The Ring,” about folks who are literally scared to death; “The Grudge,” about a lethal curse passed around like a cold virus; and “House of 1000 Corpses,” about teenagers imprisoned by serial killers.
Coming soon are remakes of two classic movies that provided the inspiration for many horror films: “When a Stranger Calls” (Feb. 3, 2006) and “The Hills Have Eyes” (March 10, 2006). Currently in theaters are “Wolf Creek,” “Saw II,” and “Hostel” – all of which harken back to the graphic slasher movies of the 1960s and ‘70s (think “Night of the Living Dead,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “Halloween”).
For several years, filmmakers offered us a breed of movies that spoofed the horror genre, such as Kevin Williamson’s “Scream” and its two sequels. These movies winked at the horror genre, providing irony and humor, and audiences responded by laughing.
But Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Films, which has released several grisly horror movies in recent years, says he believes splatter movies are making a comeback, and this brand of horror is alluring because “it’s got touches of realism that audiences today can relate to.”
“We’re never going to outspend the competition in the marketing or production of a movie,” adds Ortenberg. “We’re not going to blow people away with the latest million-dollar special effects. What we can do as well or better than the studios, perhaps in retro fashion, is a realistic, gut-level, visceral horror movie that doesn’t rely on special effects, and audiences are responding to that.”
And they’re clearly slapping down their $7.50 to see these movies. “Saw II,” for example, had a budget of $4 million and has grossed nearly $87 million at this writing. That’s not bad for a horror movie.

HORROR THROUGH THE YEARS
The first horror movie, “Le Manoir Du Diable” (aka The Devil’s Castle) (1896), made by French filmmaker Georges Melies, was only three minutes long and contained some elements of vampire films to come. Later horror films grew out of a number of sources, including witchcraft, folk tales with devil characters, fables, myths, ghost stories, and Gothic or Victorian novels from literary giants like Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker.
Through the years, horror films have given us axe murderers, flesh-eating zombies, sadistic killers, mutant babies, possessed girls, and every other sort of ghost, vampire, monster, and alien designed to scare us out of our wits. Horror movies deal with our most primal fears: our nightmares, vulnerability, alienation, fear of death and dismemberment, loss of identity, terror of the unknown, and the horror that resides in all of us.

A MESSAGE OF HOPE
Movies have the power to change the way we think. Done well, horror movies can educate us, give us hope, help us deal with the harsh realities of life and death, and offer a cathartic experience in a world gone seemingly mad. And maybe THAT is the point. To look evil straight in the eye and know that we can survive and find goodness in the world.
The question is, how much of the evil and brutality in our world today is being perpetrated by the generation that was raised on “Elm Street” and wore “Jason” costumes for Halloween? And is this new trend of horror films going to exacerbate the evil that walks among us?

Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries, and the author of the syndicated movie column, Reel Life With Jane. Visit her online at www.ReelLifeWithJane.com or email jboursaw@charter.net.
 
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