Friday, December 08, 2006

Masters of Humdrum

I finally got up the patience to try the premiere episode of the second season of Showtime's Masters of Horror series. The episode, "Pelts" was Dario Argento's dreary interpretation of a minor F. Paul Wilson tale.

First off, it wasn't horror... but then, none of the first season of this series communicated any sense of horror. Instead, it was all gore and shock with no sophistication at all... but considering the fact that Argento's reputation is built on nothing else, I'm not surprised. Meat Loaf tried his best as the star of the piece, but there's a limit to what an actor can do with second-rate material that both literally and figuratively treats the actor as little more than meat.

But it got me thinking about the pathetic state of horror nowadays. Hardly any works that try to pass themselves off as horror truly convey a sense of foreboding, of dread, of alienation, of true fear that is an important part of true, legitimate horror. Shows like CSI have removed much of the shock value of gore, so pseudo-horror producers feel like they have to take gore and mayhem to the next level.

Shock is cheap, it's superficial, and it's easy. Horror is challenging, unpredictable, and complex. No wonder so many of these guys want to cinematically jump in front of you and say "boo!" rather than really giving you the creeps. And so long as there's a cinematic audience willing to put down some cash for not-so-grand guignol, filmmakers are going to keep churning out this drek, and writers are going to keep trying to pass off splatterpunk as the real thing.


Lanny said...

I'm finding some of the Japanese horror to be quite refreshing as it immediately steps away from the Western cliches at the outset due to the culture and traditions of the East.

The situations presented are unfamiliar to my western mind in the way a true horrific experience would be unfamiliar and not like something I had seen played out on the screen a hundred times.

Tredekka said...

Stephen King once said he tries to write terror, and if he can't manage that, then he writes horror, and if he can't do that, he just goes for the gross-out. Maybe the carnage we see these days is just a gross-out way to cop out on producing real terror. After all, horror isn't traditionally supposed to be popular during wartime; musicals are--so on a subconscious level, maybe the studios are keeping real horror at arm's length for commercial purposes.