Friday, January 29, 2010

Movie genres that need to go!

When the latest in the sexy vampire series, Twilight, came out as a movie a couple of months ago, I groaned. Then the movie Eli came out, eliciting a longer groan. Now we have The Lovely Bones, and more groans.

OK, so maybe these movies are really great movies with great acting and outstanding production values. I haven't seen any of them, but from the descriptions I put them into genres that are overused and tired. Hollywood really has no new ideas. It never lets a commercial idea rest until it has beaten it to a bloody death with a spiked club.

These are genres that really should be retired. Hell, if they didn't pop up again and again like zombies I'd say they should DIE. And that would be our first choice of a genre that should be retired...


Night Of The Living Dead, produced on a shoestring budget in Western Pennsylvania in the late '60s was really the progenitor of many movies that came after. It was outrageously original, even if director George Romero gave his influences as the 1954 Richard Matheson novel, I Am Legend, and the EC horror comics like Tales From the Crypt. It took awhile, but his cannibalistic, slow-moving and lurching dead soon found themselves in several movies, making a whole separate horror genre. The only jolt to the whole idea was having the zombies speed up their movements, like in 28 Days Later. There really isn't much you can do with this sort of movie except show heads exploding, which all zombie movies do in copious amounts and gruesome details. Enough of this. It's old, and the whole concept has slowed down to the speed of Romero's original walking dead.


We are inundated with vampires, a genre that refuses to go away. The first vampire movie of note was the silent and moody German Nosferatu, a steal of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Instead of making the vampire a sexy seductive count, they made him an inhuman, batlike monster. Stephen King used the monster vampire instead of the sexy vampire in 'Salem's Lot, perhaps the last vampire novel I thought was good. When someone needs to come up with an idea for a horror movie many times they'll choose vampires. It's gone on since movies have been made. We had Anne Rice's Interview With A Vampire series. We had Buffy the Vampire Slayer and spin-off Angel. Now we have an HBO series, at least one network series, and the Twilight book and movie franchise. Enough. Really. Put a stake into these vampires. Send them to their eternal rest.


When I was a kid post-atomic war stories were really popular science fiction. They're still around in one form or another, especially in the movies. The latest is Eli. Denzel Washington is an outstanding actor, but think about how many other movies have had this theme. Too many. I mentioned I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, which has yet to be made into a decent movie despite three attempts I can think of: Vincent Price in The Last Man On Earth, The Omega Man with Charlton Heston, and I Am Legend with Will Smith. None of them have managed to capture the essence of what made the novel great, and so many post-apocalyptic movies have sprung up with similar themes that I say it's time to nuke these goddam movies. The best (in my opinion) was The Road Warrior, with Mel Gibson as Mad Max, made in 1981.It was the middle movie in a three-movie set, and the best of the lot. The first and third, like most post-apocalyptic movie visions, aren't worth anyone's time.


I think this genre stinks more than the rest because at least the other genres are fantasies. Often gruesome, but fantasies nevertheless. The serial killer--sometimes called mass murderer or thrill killer--is a real psychopath wandering amongst us, picking out victims. I've heard The Lovely Bones with Stanley Tucci as the killer is a good movie. Maybe a great movie, based on the response to it, but I remember guys like John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer, as people you wouldn't want to glorify in any fashion whatsoever, and yet every time one of these serial killer movies comes out who knows how many ideas it gives budding killers out there?

The most influential serial killer movie would have to be The Silence Of The Lambs from 1991. While Jodie Foster as FBI agent Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter got the attention for their character studies, the movie is about finding a killer called Buffalo Bill, who plays a minor, but extremely frightening role, right out of a nightmare. And it did give me nightmares. Let's give serial killer movies the electric chair/gas chamber/lethal injection (all at once) and be done with them once and for all.

After all, another genre, THE SLASHER MOVIE, Halloween, Friday the 13th, et al, seems to have finally cut and run. I suspect, or at least hope, the rest of these genres will soon surrender to a fickle public who will at some point find them as useless and boring as I do.

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