So I spent much of October 2016 watching horror movies and writing glib little reviews about them. It was an exercise in writing that I gave myself (initially much more ambitious than what transpired, but that explanation will come later), and it has been a lot of fun writing them. To keep my chops up, I took live notes and, about halfway through, just wrote the reviews/recaps live, editing lightly afterwards for punctuation, grammar, and basic sentence structure. Besides that, everything that you’ve read was written on-the-spot with very little editing afterwards. Since I like to think I’m pretty funny, this project was focused on making fun of bad horror movies, and sometimes I even looked at these movies as if they actually were worth a damn.
It’s been a mixed bag, these reviews, but the writing of them was informative and helpful in practicing how to write in an active voice with purpose and economy. I eventually dropped the long, rambling introductions that framed each recap, excising that approach to the Conclusions section, and stripped away a lot of the analysis and film theory that I initially started the project on. Instead, it became a humorous (you tell me) synthesizing of plots, characters, and the general shape of the films I watched. Horror is an easy genre to poke fun at and make light of, and that’s exactly why I chose the genre for this endeavor; it’s easy to chuckle over poorly acted scenes of idiotic plots that largely mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. If nothing else, I picked up on the pattern of horror movies: Young People are Jerks and act Foolishly Against Tradition; Death Follows Swiftly. It’s kind of a no-brainer genre in that way.
I liked the ephemeral quality of horror movies, both in creation and spirit: many horror films are just cheap, quickly produced cash-ins while the iron’s hot in a style or genre, but even in this commercial pursuit there were artists, writers, and (especially) special effect teams that put their heart and soul into making these transient products. While you have low-rent garbage like Intruder or (God help me) The Final Terror, you also have interesting low-budget, independently produced product like Tourist Trap, Sleepaway Camp, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And even if these movies only existed because the filmmakers saw a golden goose to squeeze, they made these films with as much pluck, spirit, and ingenuity as their means allowed. Although it’s easy to make fun from the cheap seats in the back, when it’s your work being presented on-screen, it’s the culmination of thousands of hours of hard work, effort, and sheer confidence that brought them into reality.
As a flim-flam educator, it’s my responsibility to impress upon people the importance of creativity and ingenuity, and the horror genre as a whole is representative of this. Nowhere else will you find the most bizarre, off-the-wall, seemingly career suicide ideas as the ones that are encouraged and nurtured in this genre. It’s brave to make a movie that depicts the wholesale slaughter of the innocent at a demented pervert’s hands; hell, it’s admirable, from an artistic point of view. While the world continues to consume and enjoy the silliest fancies and delights of superheroes flying around to spectacularly save the world and escapist romantic comedies that depict the unbelievably well-to-do griping humorously at their slight romantic foibles, only the horror (and, to be fair, sometimes the sci-fi) genre dares to peel away the artifice of the tin gods that we’ve constructed on-screen to show a brutal, unpleasant reality that’s (sadly) far more commonplace than the skirt-wearing, model-beautiful flibbertigibbet magazine editor harrumphing over her latest romantic entanglement.
That is to say: although it’s fun to make sport of these sorts of movies, the people who were involved in actually making them have far more guts and temerity than most in the creative arts. If I made a movie, it’d be such light, quirky fluff that you’d swear it was made out of cotton candy. Never mind brutal dismemberment and violent torture; the worst any character would suffer in my movies would be of middle-class ennui and, at most, existential despair. No horror director, I: and I admire the hell of out those who are able to surmount such a difficult hill.
However, I also really enjoyed tearing into these movies: like my comedic heroes, the brains over at MST3K and Rifftrax, watching and making snarky comments about movies is perhaps the most fun a nerd can have. Thanks to my vast, vast (vast!) reservoir of 20th century pop culture knowledge, watching movies and making fun of them is one of the better things I’m good at. Besides that, I pick up on patterns pretty quickly, so I seem like a real smart-ass when I can call the entire transpiring of a movie within the first 10 minutes having never seen it before. But it’s all in good fun: as mentioned previously, I hold people who work on these movies in high regard, and they are artists, no matter what I think of the end product. It’s just good stupid fun cracking jokes at movies. I’m not the one making the films, just the guy sitting in a room on a computer writing snarky comments about them.
So, my initial project was to watch and write about a different horror movie every single day during October 2016. In this I failed spectacularly, clocking only 18 review-recaps over 31 days. However, halfway through the month, I experienced a massive disruption in my life, where I went through a bad breakup . Still, this blog gave me a lot of stability during this turbulent time (you can kind of see where the schism took place, looking back on the chronology of posts; I stopped writing for a week and a half, and afterwards the tone of the blog shifted heavily towards the glib and mean). Now having finished the “31 Days of Horror” concept that only added up to 18, I still want to write the blog, but really don’t want to keep watching horror movies. No offense, but (ironically) it’s not really my genre.
I also want to keep writing funny (or as funny as I get), so I’m going to keep writing this blog, but re-brand it. It’ll still be a movie blog, but I’m going to change the title to something more generic (“Reelin’ In The Years” is an early contender for a re-brand title because I’d be watching nostalgia-related fare for my generation, but mostly because I love Steely Dan). Most likely it’ll become a thematic blog; I’ll re-brand it and change the title as the themes and focus evolve. I’ll even go simple enough to call it “Mike Gray’s Film Blog,” but for now I think I’ll stick with the seasonal approach. I don’t know. Something, I’m sure.
Anyway, thanks for reading this blog up to this point, whoever you are; It’s not exactly popular. But I do love writing and watching movies, and writing while watching movies, and writing about watching movies, and especially being snarky about said movies. I actually have a lot of ideas for the blog and how to structure it, but I also have to learn a lot more about WordPress and how to structure the page, as well. Anyway. The blog will continue as a humorous movie blog, but the focus will probably shift to….something. We’ll see what I write next about. But based on seasonal shift, I’ll probably do a Christmas movie-themed run next. So tune in next time for more fun with genre pictures. I’ll be watching and writing for you beautiful, sexy, vivacious, incredible people out there in Internet Land.