Thursday, October 9, 2014

Horror Movies We'd Like to Forget

We love scary movies, but there are some we'd prefer to block out.

Heath Holland: The Blair Witch Project (1999, dir. Eduardo Sanchez/Daniel Myrick) is a horror movie that I'd like to forget, and not because I thought it was a terrible film or because it messed me up. On the contrary, the idea of presenting a horror story using "found footage" was fresh and novel at the time and I was glad to have seen it, even if it wasn't particularly scary to me. Looking back, the marketing behind the film was genius, with it being ambiguous as to whether or not it was an actual documentary or if the whole thing had been staged. My movie friends and I would sit around in the days leading up to the release and speculate about what exactly we were going to see. Did real people die on camera? They wouldn't show that in a movie...would they? Even though it had been done before (particularly the year prior with The Last Broadcast, which none of us had seen), the idea was new and creepy. The reason I wish I could forget The Blair Witch Project is that Hollywood learned all the wrong lessons from the success of the little film and realized that they could stick four teenagers in any setting (the woods, an airplane, Wal-Mart on a Black Friday), give them video cameras, then edit whatever improvised content resulted into a movie that a bunch of people would pay to see. Film studios continue to crank out found footage movies each year with tiny budgets and plots, and now the term "found footage" describes an entire sub-genre instead of a handful of unique films. A rare few of these movies are pretty good; most are not. I wish I could forget The Blair Witch Project ever happened. I wish the film industry would, too.
Mike: The Exorcist (1974; dir: William Friedkin) There are dozens of horror movies that are so bad, such a waste of time, that I’d like to have a do-over. But if I can only pick one movie that I’d like to forget, I’m going to go with The Exorcist.

I’ve mentioned before that The Exorcist is one of my favorite horror films of all time and the single scariest movie I’ve ever seen. My buddy and colleague Adam Thas and I watched it for the first time together when we were probably 12 or 13, and I remember we laughed a lot during that first viewing, being annoying too-cool-for-school kids, making fun of the effects and performances and anything else that made us uncomfortable. Looking back on it, that was a complete defense mechanism. That was the first and last time I ever laughed at The Exorcist, because deep down that movie shook me.

I grew up in a Catholic household. My family was not super-religious, but we were religious enough. Enough that The Exorcist felt very real and dangerous to me.

So why would I want to forget it? Because I want that experience again. Twenty five years of watching scary movies on a regular basis has desensitized me. I rarely get scared anymore, and I certainly don’t get affected by them the way that The Exorcist messed me up when I was little. Granted, at 36 years old, I doubt seeing The Exorcist for the first time would rock me the way it did when I was younger. I’m obviously a different person now, but I’d give anything for the chance to be scared shitless like that again. I’ll never forget how The Exorcist made me feel when I first saw it, but I’d sure love to try.

Adam Thas: Silent Night Deadly Night 2 (1987, dir Lee Harry) With so many bad, terrible, and just plain awful horror movies out there, Silent Night Deadly Night 2 easily takes the cake as one that I would care to forget. Let’s say you are really into the Silent Night Deadly Night movies and rent parts One and Two. After you watch the first one, you begin watching the second, and you realize that a huge chunk of the movie is the brother of the original killer in the first movie, retelling what happened in the first movie. The movie is so damned uninspired that at least 1/3rd of the running time is made up of clips from the first movie! As I am lying on my death bed, so many years from now, wishing that I had just one more minute on this earth, I’m going to think about those 88 minutes that Silent Night Deadly Night 2 stole from me.

Adam Riske: The Shining (1980, dir. Stanley Kubrick) Let me explain. I love The Shining. I even wrote about how much I love it way back when Room 237 (which sucks) was released. The reason I want to forget The Shining is because it's so familiar to me that it is no longer scary. I feel like I interned at the Overlook Hotel at this point. I know that movie by heart. The Shining was one of the first R-rated horror movies that my parents let me see (I was about 10 or 11 years old) and I remember in that initial viewing how taken with it I was. It was so scary and mysterious. I would trade the pleasures of many subsequent viewings if it meant I could replicate that first experience of watching The Shining. I've loved all there is to love, appreciated all there is to appreciate. Now I just want the damn thing to scare me again.
Melissa Henderson: Horror movies I'd like to forget? Hmmm... How do I even tackle this? With horror being my favourite genre, I am generally able to find something to love about almost any film I watch. The good, the great and the fantastic always stick with me, while the crap, the shit and the poop go by the way of the Human Centipede and...well, shit. That also sticks with you in a never ending cycle of horrible horribleness.

How about horror movies I'd like to kill? (All that Shark-octopus-cow-bunny-whatever-the-hell-the-gimic-is-this-month tornado hybrid bullshit). What the actual crap, people.

In this ripe ole era (era) of ADD, unless a film is thoroughly entertaining, I tend to forget it rather quickly. I even kept a list of the 100+ horror films I have watched to date this year and had to IMDb several that did not stick with me. However, I do have a constantly resurfacing clip of a film from my childhood that has apparently stuck with me, and I would like to forget the feeling of unease associated with this! It is that of a woman in a bathtub and a (maybe brownish) slug-like thing comes either out of the tap or the drain. And that's literally ALL I can remember. It has been part of my memory for at least 25ish years, and I was going to request that someone point me in the direction of this bathtub slug film. HOWEVER, having listened to today's podcast, I believe Patrick and JB have already done so. On tonight's horror menu, I now have SHIVERS as the main course. Knowing me, it might just become my new favourite. Which means it shall never be forgotten. BALLS.

Erich:  There are several ways to interpret "Horror Movies You'd Like To Forget." Here are two of them:

First, a horror movies so bad I wish I could remove it from my memory. Paranormal Activity 4 is the worst movie in a franchise that didn't have much going for it to begin with. Found footage is tough to get right. The first Paranormal Activity was a hit mostly because it got in on the fad early. The second and third movies had their charms, despite a sense of familiarity. By the unnecessary fourth entry, the ghost ship had sailed. The characters are annoying, the story is boring, and it adds nothing to a mythology that was barely fleshed out after three movies. This pick is kind of a cheat because I barely remember the movie. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like it scrubbed from my brain.

Second, a horror movie so good I'd like to forget it just to experience it fresh for the first time. Although that's not exactly the case here, because I didn't see it fresh to begin with. By the time I was old enough to see Psycho, it had been thoroughly spoiled. I have a vague memory of my dad describing the ending to me while we were driving somewhere. I don't know why he did that. Probably for the same reason he's eerily good at predicting twists in movies and unable to keep those guesses to himself lest those around him not realize how good he is at figuring out twists. Really, that just means he's good at spoiling movies, which is nothing to brag about. But I digress. I have no idea what it would be like to watch Psycho without knowing what happens to Janet Leigh in the shower, or to think Mrs. Bates is the killer. I doubt anyone has watched Psycho under those conditions since the week after it came out. And yet we all love it, because its greatness (like all great movies) doesn't hinge on the surprise twist. You can go into the movie knowing all the major beats and still be thrilled by it. I appreciate that about Psycho. I still wish I could erase it from memory and see it anew. Maybe when I'm old and senile. Fingers crossed.
Patrick: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989, dir. Dominique Othenin-Girard) and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995, dir. Joe Chappelle) I've spoken out (read: whined) about my distaste for horror movies that kill off surviving characters in the sequels, arguably as a way to demonstrate that "no one is safe" but really just because they're made by assholes with no idea what else to do for drama. Nowhere does this bum me out more than in Halloween 5 and 6, wherein (SPOILERS) Rachel is first murdered by Michael Myers in 5 and then Jamie Lloyd in Curse of Michael Myers. They're my two favorite characters in my favorite Halloween movie, and just recently I named Ellie Cornell's Rachel as one of my very favorite final girls of all time. Seeing her randomly killed off in one of the worst Halloween sequels breaks my heart. I want to forget it ever happened.

Same goes for Jamie Lloyd, seen all growns up in Curse of Michael Myers (and no longer played by Danielle Harris, who dodged a bullet when some asshole producers screwed her over and she didn't take the gig). Her murder at the hands of her uncle -- who might have fathered the baby she just had? -- is incredibly violent and mean-spirited and altogether pointless. I'm actually really glad Danielle Harris didn't come back, as it makes it easier for me to disassociate and not acknowledge the character as Jamie Lloyd. Fuck both of these fucking movies for mistreating characters I love and not making their deaths mean anything. I'm currently working my way through Scream Factory's amazing Halloween collection and I'm tempted to just skip over those entries. As we all know, my well-documented OCD won't allow for such free-spirited tomfoolery. But every part of my memory wants to remember a Halloween series that skips from Curse of Michael Myers right to H20. I'll even keep Resurrection. Michael Myers ain't no sound bite.

Erika:  I've never seen Human Centipede. After my sweet, loving husband reviewed it years ago, I asked him to tell me what it was about and had to cut him off.

I calmed myself and with grotesque fascination asked a bit more... "...something something does not speak English..." I CAN'T HEAR ANYMORE! WHAT KIND OF NIGHTMARE MOVIE IS THIS AND HOW CAN I EVER LIVE A HAPPY LIFE AGAIN?

Years later (a few weeks ago), he got to attend a screening of Tusk. I asked him to tell me what it was about... "...and he wants to turns a man into a walrus..."

Ghosts on my back. Forever.


  1. I honestly wish I could forget The Fly 2, possibly the worst, most needless sequel to a great movie ever made.

    1. If only we had The Sure Thing to watch instead!

  2. Again, Riske and I are on the same page (kind-of; I loved Room 237). My favorite horror movie forever has been The Shining. My wife as well and we make it an annual viewing every year. For the past few years I have kind of grown tired of it which I absolutely hate! I wish I could watch it again for the first time. I too was about 10 when I first saw it and until BOB and the "man from another place" came into my life, I was terrified by the images in that film more than any other. That being said, as time has passed I have come to appreciate different aspects of the film that I never payed attention to when I was young.

    Speaking of a King adapation - I would love to forget and never hear another word about "IT" the miniseries. I'm sorry, it's not scary in the least and the production value was exactly that - a miniseries made for TV movie. Horror lists always mention "Pennywise" as an iconic horror figure and unless you have a fear of clowns* then I have to disagree.

    *I think the clown horror thing is weak, F-a clown, get your balloons out of my face; but if you have Coulrophobia (I Googled that) then you get a pass.

  3. I going with Mikes theory. I would like to forget The Evil Dead just so I could have that pleasure to watch for the first time again

  4. I would like to forget about articles I've read and documentaries and shows about horror movies that I used to watch because horror movies fascinated me when I was young and I used to soak up as much information as possible about them even if they spoiled the shit out of me. Most of the big moments in horror were spoiled for me before I even got a chance to see them. I remember when the Bravo channel aired a special called the hundred scariest movie moments and had all these horror icons talking about the best horror movies and their favorite moments and i taped it and watched it so many times without realizing how many great movie i hadnt seen were getting spoiled for me.
    head spin, crucifix masturbation, pea soup vomit in exorcist, chest burster in alien, twins and blood elevator in the shining, chick with a dick in sleepsway camp, all these famous things and more were ruined for me because I had this obsessive need to know everything about horror films. Wish I could just wipe my memory and watch all the classics fresh like they were meant to be seen.

  5. I choose to forget Halloween 5 and 6 because that story should have ended with Jamie at the top of the stairs. I also forget Halloween Resurrection for pretty much the same reason - this films don't know when it's the right time to bow out.

    BTW, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 came to be when the producers wanted to add footage to the first movie for a re-release. As if the brother telling the story in flashback would fix everything. The producers were so impressed with Eric Freeman's performance (WTF?) that they expanded his story and called it a sequel.