Sunday, May 9, 2010

Modern Horror Heroes/Heroines: Where have they gone wrong?

Hi everyone.

I just posted this on Facebook yesterday and got some really great comments from other people involved in the horror field. I think it's an interesting subject. Where have all our beloved horror role models gone? "Tawlk amongst yaselves!"

Here's the article:
"Having just completed the amazing documentary on the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Never Sleep Again, it really struck me that there's something...different about horror films these days. What I loved about the horror films of yesteryear was that a lot of the characters really shaped me to be the person who I am today. Where are all the positive role models for kids in these films these days?

Last week, before viewing Never Sleep Again, I took in a screening of the Nightmare on Elm Street remake. I was actually genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed it, but there was something missing. The characters, while thankfully non-annoying like the last year's abysmal Friday the 13th remake, just didn't quite click with me the way a lot of their 80's counterparts did. Why is that?

The characters in the new Nightmare were decent, but where was that special something that actors like Heather Langenkamp, Adrienne King, Linda Blair, Amy Steel, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lisa Wilcox, Johnny Depp, etc. brought to the plate back in the 70's and 80's? Even if the characters weren't the most dimensional, they still brought a certain charm that's absent these days. There was a pure innocence about all of them that's gone now. Is anyone innocent anymore?

Perhaps because I've never been much of a wild child, I can relate to these almost puritanical characters more. Still, even the "loose" or "wild" characters in these films used to be interesting and resemble humans. Now, whenever a character is wild, you know it, because they'll probably start screaming, take their top off, drink heavily, and utter lines like "I'm so wasted right now!"
See: Friday the 13th (2009)

I hate trying to sound so deep, but is this a good thing for society? I remember that many people, throughout my life, thought that just because I liked horror films, I must worship the mythic boogeymen that inhabit such films like Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers, but that just wasn't true. It was always the heroes and heroines that kept me watching. I wanted them to face their demons and be victorious.

I know it must sound stupid, but some of the my most important life lessons came from horror films. Through watching these films, I discovered how to take care of myself, stay strong, go for my dreams, and never give up in front of adversity. My heroes were never that of larger than life caped crusaders like Batman, but rather normal, everyday characters like Nancy Thompson, Alice Johnson, Laurie Strode, Tommy Jarvis, Ginny Field, Alice Hardy, and others who found themselves trapped with no choice but to fight back.

Look at the recent horror films Sorority Row and Jennifer's Body. While both films failed miserably at the box office, which I felt was a shame, neither film featured many relatable characters. To be perfectly blunt, both films were littered with bitches. The films were so bitchy, in fact, that they morphed into comedies, which I do believe was the intention. These films seem to be sending up our culture. What T.V. shows are most popular? The Hills, Real Housewives, Jersey Shore, and other likeminded "reality" shows! All about nosy, overprivileged goobers who I'm sure most of us would secretly love to see impaled on some sort of sharp object. We almost celebrate catty mean boys and girls in our society. There's no need for most of the tabloid darlings to be famous, but they are. They are famous for being annoying, cruel, useless, or just plain idiotic.

I think one of the best moments in recent cinema history was seeing socialite Paris Hilton impaled with a pole through her head in the spooky, entertaining, and overlooked House of Wax remake from back in '05. It was an oddly brilliant casting choice and provided a certain palpable electric response in the audience I saw the film with and told me that most of us are fed up with these kinds of goofy "celebrities." It hurts me to see talented actors passed over for Barbie and Ken dolls who are about as exciting as a wet Happy Meal container. Maybe if we had real people in our films again, we'd start seeing real horror making a comeback.

I felt a bit strange after Never Sleep Again was over. I couldn't believe how big an impact these films had on my life and developing my character. Believe it or not, these films, just like the original horrific Grimm Brothers fairy tales, actually do carry important values for teenagers and young people and they have the power to move and teach us. The best ones show that teens are more than just body count fodder. Even the victims have some sort of personality that makes them likeable.

Is this a sign of the times? Are we just...not likeable as people anymore?

The best horror films of the past few years have all had relatively likeable characters. I related to the people in Drag Me To Hell, The Descent, and Orphan even if they didn't always make the best choices and possessed certain moral ambiguities. They were still real people with personalities. More films should be made with real heroes and heroines. If you build it, they will come!

Sorry, for the rant, but I feel like I need to get this off my chest."

Yes, children, if you build it they will come and so will Kevin Costner.

Well, Kevin might be a little busy, but I just had to sneak him in here somewhere.

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