Serious Horror Films

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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King Prendergast
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Re: Serious Horror Films

#126 Post by King Prendergast » Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:05 pm

It seems like this thread has concentrated on higher-brow horror films like The Shining and The Exorcist as exemplars of a certain seriousness, but the "serious" scholarly work on the genre has generally been on the low end -the slasher cycle-which exhibits serious acts of transgressive identification. I would challenged the paradigm of seriousness that has been established here. see Men, Women, and Chainsaws. Carol Clover.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#127 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:10 pm

If you want to change the direction of the discussion, then change it. Don't just wag a finger and direct all inquiries to a book you read.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#128 Post by King Prendergast » Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:30 pm

Slasher films are more serious because they demand a radical destruction of the gender-identity barrier for a heterosexual male who doesn't want to be homosexually violated by the penetration of the killer. Hitchcock and DePalma do not require this. They place less demands on the established socio-sexual order. For some writers (i.e. Clover, Kristeva) these would be deemed less serious works of art because they do no transgress, they are ideologically reactionary while slashers are ideologically oppositional to a repressive patriarchy. And yes, ive come to some of these ideas by reading books.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#129 Post by ByMarkClark.com » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:25 pm

Speaking as someone who writes books about horror movies, let me venture that horror, fantasy and sci-fi films rank among our most revealing cultural artifacts. So there's something "serious" to be unearthed in a great many horror films, even those that were never meant to be taken seriously.

However, this thread seems to be aimed at horror films with serious artistic ambitions. And among that group let me add the following which have not yet been mentioned here: From the 1930s, ISLAND OF LOST SOULS; from the 40s, THE UNINVITED or anything from Lewton; from the 50s, NIGHT OF THE DEMON; from the 60s, WITCHFINDER GENERAL; and from the 70s, THE OTHER. Almost anything from George Romero can be taken as a serious attempt. And so can most of horror films which have made their way into the CC (ie, CARNIVAL OF SOULS, EYES WITHOUT A FACE, etc.).

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#130 Post by Person » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:48 pm

King Prendergast wrote:It seems like this thread has concentrated on higher-brow horror films like The Shining and The Exorcist as exemplars of a certain seriousness, but the "serious" scholarly work on the genre has generally been on the low end -the slasher cycle-which exhibits serious acts of transgressive identification. I would challenged the paradigm of seriousness that has been established here. see Men, Women, and Chainsaws. Carol Clover.
You haven't challenged it at all, though - you have merely pointed to what appears to be an out of print book ($40 for a used hardback edition at Amazon marketplace) first published in 1993 and never updated.

I have to call it when I see, Mista Prendagast - you is using lotsa high-falutin' wurds, there, buddy! Who the hell yew tryin' ta put one over on, hoss?! I sure ain't hads as much schoolin' as yew, but I seen a few gory movies in mah time!

No, I'm just playing with you. I can see how it would be possible to apply serious critical analysis methods to I Spit on Your Grave, but why would one bother? It sounds like Clover is one of those academics who gives the filmmaker far too much intellectual credit or will claim that the "subtexts are unconsciously manifested, reflecting of the milieu of the..." blah blah blah. A maniac is on the loose, kills a bunch of badly written characters and then gets defeated in the end by the sole survivor. Well, how else could the story end? With killer slashing the last victim and then... roll credits. Some slashers have actually ended that way - Black Christmas, for example. You (or Clover) are making it sound like all "slasher films" (which is a loose term) have the same plot, subtext, etc. I mean... what films are we talking about here? 80s "stalk and slash" American horror, it sounds like, ie. the Friday the 13th series, Halloween series, the Nightmare on Elm Street series and a shit-load of other cheap knock-offs that cashed in the craze. Tracing the origins of this phenomenon is pretty easy, but very illuminating. It goes back, at the very, very least, as far as Psycho, obviously, but along the way, branches off and has many twists and turns before we get to the satirical Wes Craven film, Scream, released three years after Clover's study in the phenomenon.
Slasher films are more serious because they demand a radical destruction of the gender-identity barrier for a heterosexual male who doesn't want to be homosexually violated by the penetration of the killer.
Slasher films are more serious - that what? I think that the adjective "serious" in this discussion was in the sense of perhaps 'psychological' horror films that are intelligently conceived and executed, not just hastily produced, goofy exploitation films for cheap scares and titillation, ie. Don't Look Now being the former, Hell Night being the latter.

So, [slasher films] "demand a radical destruction of the gender-identity barrier for a heterosexual male who doesn't want to be homosexually violated by the penetration of the killer," do they? This statement might just win you the Gobbledegook Champion of the Year award! Who is the heterosexual male - the character(s) in the film or the audience? Why would the killer "homosexually violate" this person?

This all sounds like a classic case of the dreaded "I read a book once" syndrome. I myself have fought this affliction for much of my adult life. Psychoanalysis and Cinema can be good combination (Endless Night: Cinema and Psychoanalysis, Parallel Histories a series of essays by many analysts is a fine book) but sometimes it goes so far that it becomes comically pretentious. Clover's study sounds a wee bit like the latter, though I could be wrong, but I'll be "homosexually violated" with a burning cactus if I'm going to spend $40 + $10.80 shipping to read a 1993 study of shitty 80s horror movies, bubba! :-"

Movies are meant to be FUN ! Anyone here remember FUN? Having a good time while watching a movie? Movies lend themselves so easily to this kind of high-falutin' academic analysis. "Oh, I actually wrote a crypto-Communist gay reading of that film in the feminist film journal called..." And it turns out to be something like Red Heat with Ahnold, right?! FUCK OFF! Stop taking movies so seriously and go write about the decline in education in America or something that actually warrants such intellectual devotion. So self-important, so self-satisfied. And I'll hold my hand up - have been guilty of this over-intellectualising shit. You get to the point where you realise, no movie is worth writing 5,000 words on. Watch 'em, casually chat about them, watch 'em again, but analysing them like they were the Dead Sea Scrolls? It's silly, but it obviously pays - or passes the time for some people.
Last edited by Person on Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#131 Post by foggy eyes » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:49 pm

King Prendergast wrote:Slasher films are more serious because they demand a radical destruction of the gender-identity barrier for a heterosexual male who doesn't want to be homosexually violated by the penetration of the killer. Hitchcock and DePalma do not require this.
How? Now that you've brought this up, I'm curious. What's the correlation between murder and sexual penetration (two seemingly different forms of violation)? What is a/the gender-identity barrier? (I appreciate that I could go to the library and grab the books, but my bookyip permits no time for digressions at present.)

EDIT: Didn't see Gordon/Person's (great) post in time - perhaps ignore mine in light of his.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#132 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:56 pm

King Prendergas wrote:...a heterosexual male who doesn't want to be homosexually violated by the penetration of the killer.
Oh, so that's why men don't like to be stabbed with sharp metal objects. For a moment I thought there was another reason.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#133 Post by King Prendergast » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:57 pm

Person. you are an idiot. The book can easily be purchased in paperback. It has never been out of print, on the contrary it is probably the standard text on horror since the rise of Theory. And its not just pointy-headed academics that know it, Tarantino mentioned it in just about every interview he did for Grindhouse. Know of which you speak before acting a fool again.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#134 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:02 pm

Foggy Eyes wrote:What's the correlation between murder and sexual penetration (two seemingly different forms of violation)?
Not that I actually want to give credence to the theories being floated around, but, well, want to know the etymology of the word vagina? It's Latin for a sword's sheath. I'm not joking.

I'm still pretty sure my wish not to be stabbed to death has nothing to do with gender.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#135 Post by swo17 » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:09 pm

Well I for one mainly don't want to be stabbed to death because I'm afraid that it would turn me gay.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#136 Post by aox » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:16 pm

swo17 wrote:Well I for one mainly don't want to be stabbed to death because I'm afraid that it would turn me gay.
valid concern.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#137 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:17 pm

swo17 wrote:Well I for one mainly don't want to be stabbed to death because I'm afraid that it would turn me gay.
Whereas I'm concerned I might have to start wearing dresses after.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#138 Post by King Prendergast » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:18 pm

swo17 wrote:Well I for one mainly don't want to be stabbed to death because I'm afraid that it would turn me gay.
C'mon Utah, you know you like it.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#139 Post by aox » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:20 pm

Mr_sausage wrote:
swo17 wrote:Well I for one mainly don't want to be stabbed to death because I'm afraid that it would turn me gay.
Whereas I'm concerned I might have to start wearing dresses after.
Hey now...

not all men who wear dresses are gay.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#140 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:23 pm

aox wrote:
Mr_sausage wrote:
swo17 wrote:Well I for one mainly don't want to be stabbed to death because I'm afraid that it would turn me gay.
Whereas I'm concerned I might have to start wearing dresses after.
Hey now...

not all men who wear dresses are gay.
I just assumed straight men who've been stabbed to death wear them. You know, beause of the effeminizing?

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#141 Post by aox » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:24 pm

Mr_sausage wrote:
aox wrote:
Mr_sausage wrote: Whereas I'm concerned I might have to start wearing dresses after.
Hey now...

not all men who wear dresses are gay.
I just assumed straight men who've been stabbed to death wear them. You know, beause of the effeminizing?
I see.

Point cheerfully withdrawn.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#142 Post by Person » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:39 pm

And what happens if you are stabbed with a knife... while sucking a big fat....
SpoilerShow
cigar?
Y'see? Psychoanalysis and Cinema can become a bit of a misguided mixture.

Btw, Men, Women, and Chainsaws is only available used at Amazon via their Marketplace option. I gave a link previously.

But, having said all this (and I have said more than enough) the idea that the (pathetic asshole loser) male viewer identifies with the female protagonist who is fleeing/fighting a sexually fucked up protagonist (often a supernatural being) and thus destroys the gender barrier is a fine argument. But then the obvious questions arises Professor: why make a film about mutilation, murder and mayhem to empower the modern woman? What the fuck is so noble about that? The writers and directors of those 80s horror movies had no noble agenda - they just made gory movies and ended them in the conventional "good triumphs over evil" cliché. As I said before, what is the alternative - kill the "Final Girl" ? No. The monster is killed or at least stopped in some way and the credits roll and then if the film was a hit, they went ahead and made Part II. Then Part III (in 3-D sometimes!). Then Part IV and so on. Those 80s horror films are mostly all bags of old arseholes and don't deserve such bracing intellectual analysis. Anyway, in an age of 80,000 hardcore porn websites with women's faces being covered in semen, faeces who knows what next, all this feminist horseshit is moot and has been for ages. As we now know, the hugely influential Feminism magazine, Ms., founded by Gloria Steinem in 1971, received substantial funding by the C.I.A. as part of the plot to destabalize American society. And a damn good job they made of it.

Don't get me wrong, I'd never stand in the way of another man, woman or chipmunk's fight for freedom, independence and self-reliance. I am an ethical egoist. But Feminism as a propagandised ideology wrecked the American family unit, sent waves of discord throughout the land and confused many a content young woman. Along the way, it made many women free and helped them rise to greatness, to realise their genius, surpassing men of equal standing and that was great. But the bigger picture is coming into view as the fogs of History clear. Culture and values erode easily as it they built up by hasty hands. "Obama said change is comin', though, smart guy." Oh, yeah, I had forgotten about that. Yee-ha. :(

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#143 Post by aox » Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:04 pm

Person wrote:Culture and values erode easily as it they built up by hasty hands.
What "culture" and what "values"?

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#144 Post by King Prendergast » Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:12 pm

Anyway, in an age of 80,000 hardcore porn websites with women's faces being covered in semen, faeces who knows what next, all this feminist horseshit is moot and has been for ages. As we now know, the hugely influential Feminism magazine, Ms., founded by Gloria Steinem in 1971, received substantial funding by the C.I.A. as part of the plot to destabalize American society. And a damn good job they made of it.
For the post-Steinemean take on porn, see the canonical Hard-Core: Power, Pleasure, and the Frenzy of the Visible, by Linda Williams. Both porn and the slasher film are grouped under the rubric of "body genres."
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Re: Serious Horror Films

#145 Post by Person » Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:19 pm

I think I made a good point.
[W]hy make a film about mutilation, murder and mayhem to empower the modern woman? What the fuck is so noble about that? The writers and directors of those 80s horror movies had no noble agenda - they just made gory movies and ended them in the conventional "good triumphs over evil" cliché.
Picture the scene - a filmmaker in his office:

"You know, Ted, I really want to make a film that empowers the young women of 1983. A film that shows the world that women can make it on their own in a world of aggressive men. A film which shows the intelligence and creativity of women. A film that appeals to young men, too, though. I have a title, Teddy boy: Massacre of the Stupid Dumb Bitches. Get Paramount on the line, Ted, this is gonna be bigger than Nine to Five, buddy! WHOO!"

No, you see, those shitty, uninteresting 80s horror movies are an insult to the dignity of men and women when you analyse the intentions of the men who made them. I'll stick with Don't Look Now and the magnificent Julie Christie. Or... The Innocents, with Deborah Kerr. Magnificent films. Carrie is a fine film. All are far more... dignified presentations of female weakness and strength.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#146 Post by Person » Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:31 pm

King Prendergast wrote:Hard-Core: Power, Pleasure, and the Frenzy of the Visible, by Linda Williams. Both porn and the slasher film are grouped under the rubric of "body genres."
Fascinating. I hear her next book, Cookery and Motor Engineering is due in February. ;)

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#147 Post by King Prendergast » Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:10 pm

Fascinating. I hear her next book, Cookery and Motor Engineering is due in February. ;)
Your quips are offensive to women and dont even make sense.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#148 Post by brendanjc » Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:16 pm

Perhaps I should write a book about how all crime and action films boil down to latent homosexual tendencies because of the obvious symbolism behind explosions and being shot with a gun.

I'm not going to be as dismissive as Person - it is an interesting way to read slasher films, but it is also hard to justify that they warrant any sort of in-depth reading at all. Even for a film like Halloween, a widely-regarded pinnacle of the genre, there is nothing in Carpenter's other work to suggest that he intended for the aformentioned themes to be apparent at all in that picture. If you want to put stock in things like gender-identity barriers, then you think it would require a male critic to experience the film as "fear of being raped" instead of an empathetic fear of an innocent being harmed to make the argument in the first place. It seems to me that the majority of the subsequent slasher films exist simply as rehashes of the same tired plot because they were cheap to make and had solid returns, not for some deeper artistic motivation.

Edit: Also, the book is available new in paperback at Amazon. Reviews are predictably mixed.
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Re: Serious Horror Films

#149 Post by King Prendergast » Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:41 pm

Also, the book is available new in paperback at Amazon. Reviews are predictably mixed.
Yeah, if you've never even heard of Freud its probably not for you, but everyone else should get something out of it.

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Re: Serious Horror Films

#150 Post by brendanjc » Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:06 pm

King Prendergast wrote:
Also, the book is available new in paperback at Amazon. Reviews are predictably mixed.
Yeah, if you've never even heard of Freud its probably not for you, but everyone else should get something out of it.
It sounds interesting but maybe beyond me for the time being, perhaps after I've satisfied a longstanding curiousity about Freud in general I'll take a look. I took a second major in Cognitive Science in college and Freud was flat out dismissed and skimmed over as a misguided relic in the same way as pseudoscience like phrenology by all the psych professors. The only places I hear his name come up (and often) are in reference to film, particularly Hitchcock, and in the small amount of feminist academic thought I've encountered. So of course, imagine my surprise at the way his name showed up here :)

Anyway, I think this conversation may have gone a bit off track from the original topic. If we go back to our definition of "serious horror" as non-comedies with some amount of artistic value or thematic depth, then I'll submit Kairo (US: Pulse). It's far superior to the other J-horror titles usually brought up to the point that I'd be reluctant to group it with them at all, even though it shares the same sort of creepy long-haired apparitions closely associated with the genre. More importantly, I found it terrifying, an effect few films have on me.

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