Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why It's Good to be a Horror Fan Now More Than Ever

A lot of people say they don't make horror movies like they used to, and I'd mostly agree with them.  Horror movies aren't the same these days, but that's not a bad thing.  It's easy to look back at the past and feel a sense of nostalgia and think simple things were way better than they actually were.  Nostalgia is potent.  Nostalgia is childhood.  Nostalgia is good times.  But for horror movies, then as opposed to now is a different experience.  We can talk about going to the prom or when you lost your virginity, or the first time you drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes, but horror movies are something different.  Nostalgia has been thrown out the window with this particular subject.  Here's why it's good to be a horror fan in this day and age.

It'll start off by a story about how I first obtained a shitty VHS print of "Cannibal Holocaust."  I was in high school, and I was out in a bad part of town after school one day.  One of our friends had a car, so we had access to these seedy places.  Here, bums would ask you for change and people would piss in alleyways at four o'clock in the afternoon.  A rough place, right?  So this guy with the car was big into skateboarding.  Underneath the skateboard shop he liked was a strange sub-store.  They sold bong and marijuana-related paraphernalia, and of course, they sold a ton of porno.  But what's really important was what was in that corner of that porno part of the store. 

A small wall of horror movies awaited me, ranging from Troma films, to "Faces of Death," to the lesser "Traces of Death."  This was real death. The real intense shit.  But there was also a movie that really stuck out from all of those, what ended up claiming the twenty dollars in my pocket.  It was a movie called "Cannibal Holocaust."  I didn't know anything about it, except the cover showed a tribal person impaled from the anus and out the mouth on a wooden pike.  Oh my God, it looked so real.  My friends chided me to buy it because I wouldn't put it back on the shelf.  I lied to the store clerk and said I was eighteen, when I was really sixteen.  But I got my VHS copy of "Cannibal Holocaust" and that's all that mattered. 

I watched it and was deeply disturbed by the realism of this mockumentary of a group of filmmakers studying a cannibalistic tribe and their exploits.  It really crossed morality and shocked me.  It also shocked my high school friends who I challenged to watch it.  "Cannibal Holocaust" became a small phenomenon at my high school.  I let anyone who said they'd accept the challenge of watching this film to borrow it.  The movie really was a challenge.  Watch me and see what you haven't seen before, the movie said.  It's almost like the porno part of the store.  Horror movies are a challenge for the viewer to watch the forbidden.  Dare yourself to expand your life experience.  Once you cross that path, you won't be the same.  This movie is morally wrong, don't you want to see why?  It's damn exciting. 

This feeling is missing from current horror movies for the most part.  There's isn't much of a challenge in movies these days.  The movies are safe and digestible by the general public.  PG-13 horror flicks attack the movie screen and real horror fans are left standing around with their dicks in the dirt.  But not any longer, damn it. 

Why is it better now than years before to be a horror fan?  One answer to that would be the popularity of the DVD format.  Tons of old horror movies have been released uncut and restored.  They look better than ever, and those morally wrong scenes can finally be watched.  But here's the kicker.  I don't have to enter a bad part of town and buy a film as if it were illegal contraband.  I don't have to go to a theatre with sticky floors and dirty seats to see these films.  It's all in the comfort in my own home, or for some, what they've pirated from the Internet. 

My point is a person watching horror films these days has access to banned horror movies, including "The Video Nasties Era" and ones that were known for being cut for certain gruesome scenes that were deemed too strong for the general public.  These films won't reach any mainstream theatres, but instead, our own home theatres. 

Why is it better to be a horror fan now that back in the day?  Think about the past.  Most movies would either hit the video shelves as VHS then disappear, or they'd have a brief cable run and then, alas, again, disappear.  But with DVD and Blu-ray, these films are being restored and re-released better than ever constantly.  Movies like "Frankenhooker," "Bloody Moon," "Pieces," "I Spit On Your Grave," "The Burning," "The Human Centipede," "Martyrs," and hundreds and hundreds more are constantly being put out on the market, including a fully restored version of, yes, "Cannibal Holocaust."  Sure, some of these films are great and not so great, but the viewer isn't put out too much to find these and watch them.  It's relatively easy with Netflix, Internet retailers, and companies that have the technology to restore these films.  This wouldn't happen in the 80's or the 70's.  

Why is it better to be a horror fan now?  Think about the movies that are being release these days, like the sequel to "The Human Centipede."  It was banned by the UK outright, but I guarantee you it'll be released uncut on DVD, and maybe even Blu-ray.  Hi-def nastiness easily accessible, right?  Sure, it might be morally questionable, but let the viewer decide, the viewer who buys the film or watches it on the Internet.  Fuck mainstream theatres.  If horror fans don't show up to the theatres, they'll show up on the retail market.  And for the most part, horror fans have showed up to view these morally questionable films. 

My point is if I was an adult twenty or thirty years ago, I never would've seen Lucio Fulci's "Zombie" re-mastered and in its uncut glory.  "Friday the 13th Uncut" would only be a pipe dream.  And let's not forget when Paramount said the original "My Blood Valentine" uncut didn't exist, and yet, it was finally released uncut only a year or so ago.  This wouldn't have happened back in the day.  Nostalgia's got nothing on accessibility when it comes to horror movies. 

This is a great time to be a horror movie fan simply because I can watch many movies that either became obscure, banned, or wouldn't see the light of day because there wasn't a way to get the word or the movie out to a widespread audience.  Now there is, so keep an eye out.  There's always a forgotten or cut horror movie coming out to buy in its complete and uncut glory.  Damn, it's good to be a horror fan. 

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