Monday, October 30, 2006

Scarier, Schmarier

Okay, I was going to post this on the sidebar, but it went way long. You know how most people feel about "I Love the '80s" on VH1? That's me and the original "100 Scariest Movie Moments" show on Bravo, and I'm jazzed that it's playing all week in time for Halloween.

There's a lot to love about it, given that in the end it's merely a countdown show. First off, the mix of films included -- new/old, foreign/domestic, cult/mainstream -- is particularly admirable. Second, and maybe most important, the talking heads are a fantastic grouping of not only the usual pop cultural commenters (from the yummy Eric Christian Olsen to the regrettable Coors Light Twins) and one-hit-wonder horror stars (A Nightmare on Elm Street's Heather Langenkamp), but also some of the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable horror minds in the business: from George Romero to Guillermo Del Toro. Oh, and also John Landis, who got in the door because he directed An American Werewolf in London, but who may not even like horror movies, given his tendency to snidely rag on certain movies on the countdown. It's pretty hilarious, actually. Generally, when I reference the special, I do so in one of two contexts: the reason why I like Rob Zombie, or the reason why I like Eli Roth. The reason's the same for both: I don't like the movies they end up making, but I find their respect and enthusiasm for their chosen genre to be extremely likeable, and that's nowhere more evident than in the Bravo special. Plus, yeah, Roth's kind of cute, whatever.

So the idea this year was to add a second two-hour special, Even Scarier Movie Moments, both to pick up the stragglers they never mentioned originally and to include newer movies from the last three years or so. But this little two-part addendum makes me a bit sad because of how not up to par it is with the rest of the series. I know all they really wanted to do was find a way to gush over the Saw franchise and Jenna Fischer's husband, but the whole enterprise seemed like an excuse to jack off over Hostel and Slither, and that made me uneasy. Yes, we all love Jenna now, and we wish her connection to director/husband James Gunn had been known in 2003 so she could have commented on the original list, but enough to jury-rig a new special out of scrap metal? I'm not going to bitch about the rankings -- Hostel placed #1 -- because...what, it's the number one horror movie of horror movies we left off the original list? Ooh, prestigious! I will say, however, that two of the scarier moments of my film-watching life were still left off: the behind-the-dumpster scene in Mulholland Dr. (if The Game made the original list -- it did, #44 -- it's a crime not to include Mulholland), and any number of the jumps and starts in Dead Calm, the first movie ever to make me hide my face behind a pillow.

The biggest gripes on the new list: The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Open Water. Not scary! Neither was 2001: A Space Odyssey, really. The rest of the modern movies placed because torture is so hot right now, though I was glad to see The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and the Dawn of the Dead remake show up. The biggest void was not having as wide an array of talking heads on this new special. Romero and Stephen King and John Carpenter and Wes Craven brought a gravitas that, try as he might, Rider Strong just can't provide. Not to mention that turning Eli Roth's wide-eyed enthusiasm inward to his own movies is FAR less endearing. Oh, and also: if you're going to include as dubious a selection as Fear on the list, at least get the damn right to show clips and not just still photos? I'd love to hear that behind-the-scenes conversation: "Well, it's not really scary, and we don't have the rights to show clips from it...but fuck it. No one cares about Robert Blake's scene in Lost Highway anyway."

This grumpy aside was brought to you by the ghost of Halloween past. Hopefully you can catch the first five parts of the countdown on Bravo this week. Then pop in a DVD of the Office instead of watching the addendum. You won't be sorry.

1 comment:

Dinah said...

Gravitas or no gravitas, I'm just happy whenever Rider Strong shows up anywhere. Talk about a time machine.