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Horror Movie of the Week #4 (?) -- TCM ('74) [for matt]
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 07.29.2004 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did not say an audience member would look at Leatherface in a bright light, but simply that Hooper's style reflects that he, himself, does. I would almost call it self-infatuated filmmaking, in many scenes.
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
I did not say an audience member would look at Leatherface in a bright light, but simply that Hooper's style reflects that he, himself, does. I would almost call it self-infatuated filmmaking, in many scenes.




I understand what you are talking about, but in what way does Hooper's filmmaking lead you to this conclusion? I definitely didn't get the same impression because if Hooper filmed Leatherface in such a way, then this would be evident on screen and I didn't notice it present in any scenes.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think his obsession with detailed images of Leatherface, which possess no scare or asthetic value, are an indicator. I would almost use the example of him swinging his chainsaw in the sunset, as an example. The fade to credits directly afterwards could be taken as haunting, a signiture scar of the villian. I took it as though Hooper was rather obsessed with his doings, as if he, himself, was aroused by each sway. I find it good for a director to be intrigued by his characters, make no mistake, but not entirely fixated by.
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
I think his obsession with detailed images of Leatherface, which possess no scare or asthetic value, are an indicator. I would almost use the example of him swinging his chainsaw in the sunset, as an example. The fade to credits directly afterwards could be taken as haunting, a signiture scar of the villian. I took it as though Hooper was rather obsessed with his doings, as if he, himself, was aroused by each sway. I find it good for a director to be intrigued by his characters, make no mistake, but not entirely fixated by.




With the detailed images of Leatherface, I thought of them to be a further indicator of how the portrait of him was so pathetic, terrifying, and even tragic to a point. The swinging of the chainsaw was a perfect last shot to the film, I didn't notice the fixation on Hooper's part by concluding with an image like this. Nothing from what I can tell anyways is present in this scene that displays Hooper's obsession. And I am not sure if you think this or not, but if you are counting the many times that he is swings the saw as proof of this, then I disagree. It's not like the shot of Leatherface going crazy went on forever, it never dragged or became to much IMO. I also think that Leatherface was given appropriate amount of screen time, and he wasn't exploited or overused in any way.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
We can debate whether TCM satisfies that goal, but I'm more interested in exploring whether that goal, when separated from a larger context, has inherent value. Thoughts?





I love this topic, because ever since I've become a lover of movies, I've put great stock in escapism, the ability for a film to offer an escape from reality for a few hours. Of course it can do so while addressing relevant issues and with complexity, but there is great value in a horror movie simply scaring us, a comedy simply tickling us, a drama simply making us weep, etc.; I think there is a bit of catharsis in that, in ridding one's mind and simply allowing ourselves to be enjoyed by straightforward genre exercise. I think we can agree that the goal certainly takes skill to achieve, regardless of its value: to absolutely make us laugh uninhibitedly, to make us really terrified, a filmmaker must know what he or she is doing. Genre exercises for the sake of genre exercises - Femme Fatale, Bon Voyage, I'm Not Scared, Anchorman, and similar movies that have no real heft except to amuse and thrill us - when they really have a fondness and an enthusiasm for the style they're attempting, can be brilliant despite their lack of depth or complexity.



I remember what you said, Eric, about the difference between Kill Bill Volume 1 and Volume 2: the second volume may be deeper, but is it really deeper? Does it have the same rush of adrenaline as Tarantino's first exercise, which is mostly just a blend of styles to awe the audience? That, to me, is a prime example of a movie aiming for a modest goal, achieving it splendidly, and being an outstanding movie in the process.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
I think his obsession with detailed images of Leatherface, which possess no scare or asthetic value, are an indicator. I would almost use the example of him swinging his chainsaw in the sunset, as an example. The fade to credits directly afterwards could be taken as haunting, a signiture scar of the villian. I took it as though Hooper was rather obsessed with his doings, as if he, himself, was aroused by each sway. I find it good for a director to be intrigued by his characters, make no mistake, but not entirely fixated by.




I think you're reading something into the movie and the way Hooper and cinematographer Pearl choose their imagery that isn't necessarily there. The most effective aspect of TCM for me was the anti-Hollywood non-ending, which provides the viewer with no resolution and no relief. The narrative's abrupt cessation, with Leatherface as the final image, is meant to suggest "He's still out there," or, metaphorically, that the horrors of the world leave their indelible imprint on the psyches of the survivors. What has been seen cannot be unseen, to paraphrase Lady Macbeth. The final image on TCM is intended, it seems to me, to sum up the theme of the movie, rather than fixate on one single element.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="the night watchman"]
Danny Baldwin wrote:
The most effective aspect of TCM for me was the anti-Hollywood non-ending, which provides the viewer with no resolution and no relief.


Then again, how much more Hollywood could you be by actually letting her get away?
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:


Then again, how much more Hollywood could you be by actually letting her get away?




She gets away, sure, but do you think that's a happy Hollywood ending? Her friends are dead, and she's probably so traumatized and screwed up by the experience that she'll wind in a mental institution, if she doesn't blow her brains out like the girl at the beginning of the TCM remake. I don't think the ending is meant give us any relief or reassurance by letting her get away. Besides, it all ties into the film's faux "true story" presentation. Somebody had to live to tell about it, right?
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
Then again, how much more Hollywood could you be by actually letting her get away?




And Sally's maniacal laughing in the back of the van as it drives away is Hollywood? Not a chance. It's really a devastating conclusion as it is also very ironic when you think about it: Sally went through living hell, escaped it, but at the same time did not survive. That is why the tagline is so fitting in this respect. Who will survive and what will be left of them? Sally is the only one of her friends left, who "survived" but there is nothing left. At first glance, her laughing can be interpreted as relief that she is no longer being terrorized in the clutches of the sadistic family, but it is the complete opposite with the effects that tramautized her so much that she becomes catotonic, crazed, and emotionless. There's no true relief in the end, as Night Watchman said in his post, only further despair.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
there is great value in a horror movie simply scaring us, a comedy simply tickling us, a drama simply making us weep, etc.; I think there is a bit of catharsis in that, in ridding one's mind and simply allowing ourselves to be enjoyed by straightforward genre exercise. I think we can agree that the goal certainly takes skill to achieve, regardless of its value: to absolutely make us laugh uninhibitedly, to make us really terrified, a filmmaker must know what he or she is doing.


I agree entirely, especially concerning the skill required to achieve such straightforward goals. However, I'm not convinced that technique alone justifies a genre exercise (or even that a genre exercise ever solely exists in terms of technique). I think it's valuable to examine whether there's a difference--aesthetic, psychological, moral, or ethical--between amusing an audience sans context, or terrifying an audience sans context. Thoughts?



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
I think it's valuable to examine whether there's a difference--aesthetic, psychological, moral, or ethical--between amusing an audience sans context, or terrifying an audience sans context.




Aesthetic - yes

Psychological - yes

Moral - no

Ethical - no



There's a saying that the best sadists are masochists. I think that carries over into horror as art. As a horror aficionado I can attest that I find great and equal satisfaction in both being scared and scaring others. Of course, being scared by a spooky tale or movie -- or even by one's own imagination -- is different than, say, the fear experienced when being attacked by a mugger. The latter event will almost certainly never be recalled fondly. Also, fictional scares tend to exaggerate fearful situations found in life, or, in the case of supernatural/fantastic horror fiction, function on a metaphorical level. The buffer of fiction allows an exploration of real-life fear -- mortality, pain, loss, victimization, etc. -- by rendering the fearful object or experience into something emotionally bearable or, more or less, neutral.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 07.30.2004 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:


Aesthetic - yes

Psychological - yes

Moral - no

Ethical - no



There's a saying that the best sadists are masochists. I think that carries over into horror as art. As a horror aficionado I can attest that I find great and equal satisfaction in both being scared and scaring others. Of course, being scared by a spooky tale or movie -- or even by one's own imagination -- is different than, say, the fear experienced when being attacked by a mugger. The latter event will almost certainly never be recalled fondly. Also, fictional scares tend to exaggerate fearful situations found in life, or, in the case of supernatural/fantastic horror fiction, function on a metaphorical level. The buffer of fiction allows an exploration of real-life fear -- mortality, pain, loss, victimization, etc. -- by rendering the fearful object or experience into something emotionally bearable or, more or less, neutral.


Excellent distinctions. I'm not willing to strip art entirely of its moral and ethical dimensions--surely one of the reasons art matters is because it contains such dimensions?--but essentially I agree with you. I do think, though, that something like House of 1,000 Corpses, by existing solely to drudge up negative emotions without any context beyond aesthetic, is socially undesirable. (I realize that's a subjective response to a single work; by no means is that meant to indict the entire horror genre. In fact, like Matt, I have a special fondness for expert horror, primarily for the same reasons you listed above.)



In other words, I believe that while horror has aesthetic values, those values contain many variables. Some of those variables--including certain aesthetic visions--can indeed be approached on moral and ethical grounds.



Eric
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 07.31.2004 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
There's a saying that the best sadists are masochists. I think that carries over into horror as art. As a horror aficionado I can attest that I find great and equal satisfaction in both being scared and scaring others. Of course, being scared by a spooky tale or movie -- or even by one's own imagination -- is different than, say, the fear experienced when being attacked by a mugger. The latter event will almost certainly never be recalled fondly. Also, fictional scares tend to exaggerate fearful situations found in life, or, in the case of supernatural/fantastic horror fiction, function on a metaphorical level. The buffer of fiction allows an exploration of real-life fear -- mortality, pain, loss, victimization, etc. -- by rendering the fearful object or experience into something emotionally bearable or, more or less, neutral.




You are pretty dead-on with these comments, I could not have said it better.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 07.31.2004 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
I do think, though, that something like House of 1,000 Corpses, by existing solely to drudge up negative emotions without any context beyond aesthetic, is socially undesirable.




If you count boredom as a negative emotion, then I wholly agree. Very Happy
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matt header
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PostPosted: 08.01.2004 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Some of those variables--including certain aesthetic visions--can indeed be approached on moral and ethical grounds.





Right on. Despite my love of escapist fare and good mindless fun, the best genre exercises are those that deliver the goods while building an ethical, moral, or thematic context around it. Sticking to horror and suspense, I'm thinking especially of Funny Games, which simultaneously scares the wits out of us and question why we are reacting the way we are; Macbeth by Roman Polanski, an unsettling adaptation because it delves so deeply into the horrors of human ambition and envy; Rear Window, which subtly accuses the audience of voyeurism even as Jimmy Stewart gets a kick out of it; The Exquisite Hour, which consists of horrific hallucinations a man has while lying on his deathbed; and other examples that effectively send chills running through you without resorting to outright repugnance for effect.



Although I haven't seen House of 1000 Corpses, wholly negative and dismal horror movies of its type simply terrify an audience, doing so through worthless means, namely shock value and insensitivity. The truly worthwhile horror movies terrify an audience and amuse them at the same time: as night watchman said, horror fiction addresses real life trauma or acts as a metaphor for horror in reality, but by giving us a good scare and by forcing this real-life terror into our minds and not into actual existence allows us to be amused by its scare tactics.
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