Mini-Rant: Horror and the Oscars

Before I get underway on this mini-rant, let me make something perfectly clear.  Twilight is NOT, I repeat NOT a horror film.  I’m frankly not convinced that Edward is in fact a vampire and not just suffering from the disease called “horrible-douchy-emoism”.  Regardless, when people sparkle in a movie and nothing actually scary happens, it is absolutely NOT a horror film.With that said, last night, the venerable Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to devote a portion of their broadcast to horror films in the form of a montage of famous and influential horror films.    You would think that someone like me would be thrilled by this and on first glance, I was.  Then things started to go wrong.

I'm too emo to like acting...or Oscars...or smiling...

First off, I know that there are 13-year-old girls everywhere who went crazy over seeing those two, even though Kristin Stewart still looked and sounded like she’d recently had a lobotomy, but could a sistah get some Wes Craven up in this joint?  Or how about bringing out Jackie Earl Haley and Robert Englund together? That would be timely and make all of us horror fans drool slightly.  Or maybe the director/cast of Paranormal Activity, a film that in this past year did amazing things within the realm of low-budget horror and honestly should have been nominated for sound editing, in my opinion?  Or, really, how about just anyone who actually has ANYTHING to do with horror films?   Because, again, no matter how much you think sparkly vampires staring chastely at each other is horror, it just fucking isn’t.

So, strike one, Academy.  But, ok, that’s fine, you need to give the screaming girls what they want, and that is Team Jacob.  Let’s move on to the montage.  It was…meh.  Seriously meh.  The whole thing just felt like it was made by people who don’t know horror – the only movies featured were the most stereotypical/popular/hollywood (which is not always best – sometimes, but not always) films.  It was like Horror for Dummies or Disney’s “It’s a horror world afterall”.  There were about 10 Nightmare on Elm Street clips, which, while I love the movie, seems a bit overkill, especially when one of them is obviously just there because “oh wait! that’s a young Johnny Depp”.

Be glad he got better hair and some acting lessons and move along.

Yes, folks, he was in the original Nightmare; he was scrawny, dorky, and pretty much sucked at acting.   There was very little time devoted to any classic horrors, except for about 20 seconds where they very quickly flashed through the classic movie monsters as if to say “oh, yeah, and this genre has been around for a while!”  Then there was the random addition of crappy recent films that have famous people (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was a travesty and the same can be said for Sleepy Hollow), and films that, as much as they’re popular, famous films, seriously aren’t horror films (a la Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, and Twilight…and, honestly, I’ve always felt a bit weird about calling Sixth Sense horror…yes, he sees dead people and the girl puking in the tent is a good jump moment, but it’s really just more of a thrilling mystery).   Not to mention the fact that horror is kind of known for awesome music and they insisted on just playing different parts of Psycho, mixed with a little Halloween and then some Young Frankenstein…which is, oh wait, NOT A HORROR FILM.  It’s a fucking spoof of a horror film.  Please – PLEASE – just because a film has a word or character who relates to a horror trope does NOT mean that it will be a horror film.

The tree rape in the first Evil Dead is still the best scene but...this will do 🙂

SOOO much seemed to be missing.  What about (as much as I really do hate him) some Cronenburg or how about Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive? Remember him?  He did all those hobbit movies…he also started by making a deliciously gory and hilarious horror film.  Look it up.  Where were the zombies?  Really?  I don’t recall seeing a single zombie. Seriously, ever hear of George Romero28 Days Later?  Or, better, 2009’s amazingly awesome zombie-nazi-horror-com, Dead Snow?   Or actually, featuring any of 2009’s horror films (as I think it was frankly a pretty good year for horror) besides one clip of Paranormal Activity?  Or how about anything that makes the genre look like the incredibly diverse, in-depth, influential, culturally relevant genre it is instead of a collection of people in scary make-up and blood?

And, frankly, in the end, it was insulting.  It basically felt like it was supposed to placate fans of genre films.  Like “ooo, look, see we’ll give you a shiny montage once every 30 years to acknowledge that you exist and then we don’t have to actually consider you an artistically worthy genre! YAY!”  It seemed patronizing and…genre-ist?  I don’t really know how else to put it.  But, seriously, Academy – you’re going to go ahead and nominate 10 films for best picture.  But instead of looking at that as an opportunity to honor films of different genres, such as horror, science fiction, and comedy (wtf, by the way, on no nod for Star Trek or The Hangover), why don’t you just go ahead and nominate double the “oscar-type” dramas and just throw a shoddily put together montage our way?

Silence of the Lambs is the only true horror to win an Oscar for Best Picture (1940's Rebecca and 2007's No Country for Old Men being the two winners which are really thrillers that somewhat touch on the genre of horror)

It’s stupid.  Seriously, it’s stupid.  Movies other than dramas can be great movies – they can be movies that speak to our generation, have great acting, are well written, and are impactful.  Just because Sandra Bullock played a benevolent white woman who saves the poor black boy doesn’t mean that the film deserves an Oscar.  How about this?  Save that extra 5 minutes of your show to let the poor team of make up artists all get to say a few words in the biggest moment of their lives, and actually look at all movies as equal instead of discriminating against some of the most popular and well executed movies of the year just because they’re not what you in your snobbery consider “elite.”  Did you know that when the novel first came into existence, it was viewed as vulgar and low-class?  If that sort of discrimination had been allowed to persist, we would have never gotten to see Precious because that book would have probably never been written.  Think about it.

So next time, save your montage, watch some genre films, and use the expansion of the best picture category to honor a more diverse group of films.  Who knows, you might actually find that even low-class genres like horror can be more intelligently written than Avatar (because, seriously, that script blew harder than Old Faithful).

**I don’t know how long this link will be up, considering I’m sure that they’re rapidly being hunted down and killed, but if you missed it, here’s the montage (although low quality)


5 Responses to “Mini-Rant: Horror and the Oscars”

  1. I like oscars but there is no denying that they got some serious issues. Let me give you an example:
    I loved Up In The Air, and I am glad Anna Kendrick and George Clooney got the nominations cos they deserved it. But why did Vera Farmiga got a nomination for Up In The Air? She did NOT do anything special, on the other hand, she was FUCKING GREAT in Orphan. So if she is to get an oscar nomination then why not for Orphan? It got great reviews all over the internet. The only reason is IT IS A FUCKING HORROR MOVIE! That’s how the academy treats horror and that pisses me off.

    And I got Paranormal Activity DVD on my hand, it’s about time I watch and review it.

    • Yup…funny isn’t it how horror is consistently one of the best selling genres in the movie world yet it is the social pariah of awards shows? It annoys me to no end…

      Have you not seen Paranormal yet?? Oh man! I will be awaiting your opinion

  2. And The Hurt Locker and Avatar for best pictures? Ah give me a break, Inglorious Basterds and District 9 was sooo much better. Although I’m glad Sandra Bullock won, I loved her acting in that movie.

    • D9 I will give you – I really loved that film and frankly think the special effects were MUCH better. I mean, when’s the last time you saw a movie where half that characters are CGI and it’s so well integrated that you don’t even notice it? For me, never – esp in Avatar, where every time a human and a Navi were in the same shot I went “Well, that looks ridiculous”

      Inglorious Basterds I honestly felt was overwritten to hell. I realize that that’s sort of Tarantino’s thing and, in his other films, I love him to death for it. But in Inglorious Basterds, I found myself wishing he cut out a lot of the scenes that I just didn’t give a crap about and either had made a shorter movie or had focused on Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz, as they were effing awesome in that movie. So…I don’t think it should have gotten best picture…honestly, having not seen Hurt Locker, I can’t comment, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the options for best picture, EVEN THOUGH THERE WERE 10 OF THEM. I might have voted for Up, b/c that movie was great 🙂

      • I dont know, Basterds just worked for me. In fact it was my favorite movie of 2009. I’m not that big of a Tarantino fan, 50:50 about him. Pulp Fiction was one of the best movies of last 2 decades, Hated Death Proof though. UP was good, yes.

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