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Lay Back, Relax, Apathy's Back In Style
by James Shafie

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This film has that creepy kid element I've talked of before.

This film has that creepy kid element I've talked of before.
Trying too hard to reach your audience is the bane of the horror filmmaker. It's difficult to get people to like a film, especially when there are body parts flying around. So when you make a movie, maybe you try to create something that's really new, something weird and different. This is a good intentioned way of thinking, but we all know that this can pave the way to movie hell (the romantic comedy section).

Recently a slew of movies that appear to be doing this, but are really just creating what has been created before, have arrived. You know them: THE RING, THE GRUDGE, THE RED SNAPPER, etc. And by Jove, these movies get my dander up! Or some other extinct phrase that shows annoyance!

These movies have the same general theme; spirits who are pissed off and manipulate inanimate objects. Be it faucets, your house or your microwave, these ghosts make their points by making sure you will never get your deposit back on your home. This type of film has been done before, very rarely though, and it usually flops. I have never found poltergeist films to be that frightening, but apparently they are to the general public.

I do respect some movies that have Poltergeists though, like POLTERGEIST and the AMITYVILLE HORROR. However, those films WERE different. They introduced new styles and elements into film. These Asian movies seem to be very much the same. In my opinion, they are the new FRIDAY THE 13TH and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET type of flicks. The storyline is usually the same, there is sequel upon sequel upon sequel and the cinematography is almost identical. Also both rely on jump scares to gain
Hideo Nakata

Hideo Nakata
most of their horror cred.

The Orient is known for creating innovative and very strange horror movies. For some reason, these films seem as if they are trying to be mediocre American horror. And then America remakes the movie that is trying to be American! I just don't get it.

Also, you should look at the credits of these films. You'll notice Hideo Nakata directed RINGU, RINGU 2, THE RING 2 and the Japanese DARK WATER. Takashi Shimizu directed the Japanese GRUDGE, THE GRUDGE 2 the American GRUDGE and GRUDGE 2 and is right now making a third Japanese sequel. Oxide Pang Chun directed the EYE, the EYE 2 and then went straight into the EYE 10. Don't these guys get bored?!

I believe that many people in the film business forget that movies are first art, second business. I may have an idealistic and perhaps even naive perspective, but damn it film is art! It's not a passive activity that you're supposed to just kind of watch. It shouldn't be made to make the audience happy, film should be subversive! The horror genre is usually the forerunner of this standpoint, but films like the ones I have mentioned do the exact opposite. They are pure products of hackery.

I'm positive this column will be disagreed by many, horror fans and others alike, but it's what I believe. These movies don't give me anything other than frustration. I don't get scared, or irked or amused. These films make me cynical, they get me thinking about the film business and how it's full of greed and apathy. How no one seems to want to create a good movie anymore. But hey, maybe THE GRUDGE 37 will be an awesome flick. Yeah, right.

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The Lair of the Mad
Every other Tuesday

'The Lair' discusses the many aspects and qualities of the horror genre. From actors, to make-up, to music, James Shafie explores everything the "cult" genre spews up.

Other Columns
Other columns by James Shafie:

Speaking Out

Yearn For Change

Queen of Night

Too Close Enough To Touch

The Time of the Beasts

All Columns

James Shafie
James Shafie is an avid watcher of movies of all sorts, but the horror genre is closest to his heart. He loves to read and is addicted to music, mostly metal and itís thousands of sub-genres. He was once fired by Blockbuster, which we see as a strong character trait.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to James Shafie by clicking here.

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