2007-10-04 : A dawning realization


May, including the cast/crew commentary
The Descent, including the makings-of and the interviews
The Devil's Rejects, including the bloopers and outtakes
Masters of Horror:
"Sick Girls"
"Deer Woman"
"Pick Me Up"
"Incident On and Off a Mountain Road"
"H.P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch-House"
"Dance of the Dead"

Preliminary conclusion:

The makers of horror movies have the most fun.


1. On 2007-10-05, Sean M. said:

I have no idea what you're talking about. Is that dissent?


2. On 2007-10-05, Vincent said:

I don't know!

There's this outtake from The Devil's Rejects where there are two people in horrifying I've-been-tortured-to-death makeup slumped on the floor of a motel bathroom. The maid comes in and snarls because the lights won't turn on and opens the window shades and then opens the bathroom door - and the two actors burst into song and mug for the camera.

It's funny. The on-screen of the movie is apalling. But the more I watch horror flicks and the more carefully I watch them, backed up by interviews, outtakes and commentary, the more it seems that off-screen the actors, the writers, the directors, the effects people - the more it seems that they're having the most fun.

It really came out in the supplemental material for The Descent. Here he's talking about the process of cutting the movie for studio distribution, and it's clearly a series of frustrating and painful compromises. But here he's talking about directing and shooting and working with the actors and adapting the script to their input and his face just lights up.

Yes, part of it is plain old enjoying what you do for a living. That's cool. But I think that I'm seeing evidence that there's something fun, innately, about creating horror in particular.


3. On 2007-10-06, Mark Woodhouse said:

You may be on to something. I've known a fair number of horror film aficionados over the years - not your typical Fangoria gorehounds, but guys - they're almost all guys - who are sincerely obsessed with the genre. They can reel off bizarre details about stuff that happened on the set of some no-budget Portuguese vampire movie in 1974.

And they're the most cheerful, well-adjusted, non-hipster, just plain fun film nuts out there. Nobody else even comes close. Forry Ackerman is not all that atypical.


4. On 2007-10-09, Judd said:

I am reminded of the time we were reading Titus Andronicus in a college Shakespeare class.  We laughed a whole lot, made a bunch of jokes that we otherwise wouldn't have.

When we were talking about the play for the last time, we noticed this and talked about it.  I think people go to humor when the material being watched/created/read/whatever is really grim and disturbing.  All of those bad feelings have to go somewhere and humor's a great choice.


5. On 2007-10-09, Vincent said:

There's uncomfortable laughter, and on the other hand there's this more free laughter too.

But: I watched a documentary about the Boston stand up comedy scene in the eighties, and lord how grim and unfunny comedy is behind the scenes. Also, porn. It's a symmetry that horror is fun.

Is it also related that emergency room residents are the funniest people I know?


6. On 2007-10-09, Vincent said:

And, am I really saying: I wish it weren't too late to change careers?


7. On 2007-10-09, Ben Lehman said:

Change careers? Why? Game design seems pretty well suited...


8. On 2007-10-09, Vincent said:

If only game design were my career!


9. On 2007-10-11, Matt Wilson said:

Oh, game design is your career.

Because I say so.


10. On 2007-10-13, Sean M. said:

Oh. On the face of it I'd totally agree. I'd add to your accounts H.R.Geiger making spooky things for girls he wanted to bone.

I'm going to throw out one idea, and that is, at its heart, horror has very innocent ideas - There are bad things, and I hope they won't get me - with the possible addition of: If we team together, maybe we can stop it! - Wheras humour I usually see coming from some combination of a cynical or pessimistic viewpoint.

My expiereinces with porn is that people's opinions on sex suck so trying to make a movie out of it will suck as well. Unless you're covered in mud and have a gas mask on. Than you will have loads of fun and make bus change.


11. On 2007-10-15, Christoph said:

Hi Vincent

Do the people who make horror movies seem to be friendlier than those in the Boston stand up comedy scene?


12. On 2007-10-15, Vincent said:

They do. I don't know any of either personally, but from what I've seen they really, really, really do.


13. On 2007-10-15, Vincent said:

Hey by the way, Sean, are you the Sean M I used to work with in the pits of hell?


14. On 2007-10-15, Christoph said:

For what it's worth, I have a similar impression along the lines of extreme metal and pop-rock of the slightly rebellious type, judging people on and off the scene from the vantage point of a guy in the audience. Although here it could be related to completely different things, such as average age (slightly older in the extreme metal scene) and the fact that I've a small preference towards the first kind of music.


15. On 2007-10-18, Darcy said:

I'd dissent to the degree that what you're seeing is likely a subset of a larger phenomenon.

Namely, during my tenure in live theatre, you'd see this kind of whacked-out how-silly-are-we behaviour.  It is fun, and it's also a survival mechanism.

You're locked up with these people for 16+ hour days.  Often, you're on the road to boot.  You're damn right you find the funny.  And if you can't find it, you fabricate it.


16. On 2007-12-08, John Kim said:

I want to confirm with Darcy.  My best friend from high school wrote and directed one of the films in this years After Dark Horrorfest (Nightmare Man).  I went to the fest premiere party and showings with him. There is a lot of crazy stuff that went on during the filming, but that was in part because it was a horrendous strain.

Point being: yes, it is a field where you have some really intense times where people do wacky stuff.  Horror films are the only genre where you have commercial low-budget productions, because they aren't sold on star actors.  In practice, movie making is basically four groups: (1) big studio films; (2) small commercial horror films; (3) non-commercial films like documentaries, shorts, etc.; and (4) porn of various types.  So you can get these real entrepeneurial ventures which make money but are still unconventional and wacky.


17. On 2007-12-31, Philip Eisner said:

Horror is the most fun.  If your movie is good, it scares the shit out of people, which is good.  If your movie is not, it is, at least, funny.  Whereas, comedies and dramas that fail are merely boring.


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