Letters

Letters 10-27-2014

Paging Doctor Dan: The doctor’s promise to repeal Obamacare reminds me of the frantic restaurant owner hurrying to install an exhaust fan after the kitchen burns down. He voted 51 times to replace the ACA law; a colossal waste of money and time. It’s here to stay and he has nothing to replace it.

Evolution Is Real Science: Breathtaking inanity. That was the term used by Judge John Jones III in his elegant evisceration of creationist arguments attempting to equate it to evolutionary theory in his landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education decision in 2005.

U.S. No Global Police: Steven Tuttle in the October 13 issue is correct: our military, under the leadership of the President (not the Congress) is charged with protecting the country, its citizens, and its borders. It is not charged with  performing military missions in other places in the world just because they have something we want (oil), or we don’t like their form of government, or we want to force them to live by the UN or our rules.

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?: I walk the [Grand Traverse] Commons frequently and sometimes I include the loop up to the cistern just to go and see how the art on the cistern has evolved. Granted there is the occasional gross image or word but generally there is a flurry of color.

NMEAC Snubbed: Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region’s oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization. Preserving the environment through citizen action and education is our mission.

Vote, Everyone: Election Day on November 4 is fast approaching, and now is the time to make a commitment to vote. You may be getting sick of the political ads on TV, but instead, be grateful that you live in a free country with open elections. Take the time to learn about the candidates by contacting your county parties and doing research.

Do Fluoride Research: Hydrofluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6, is a byproduct from the production of fertilizer. This liquid, not environmentally safe, is scrubbed from the chimney of the fertilizer plant, put into containers, and shipped. Now it is a ‘product’ added to the public drinking water.

Meet The Homeless: As someone who volunteers for a Traverse City organization that works with homeless people, I am appalled at what is happening at the meetings regarding the homeless shelter. The people fighting this shelter need to get to know some homeless families. They have the wrong idea about who the homeless are.

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

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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