Category Archives: Entertainment

Television, movies, literature. Anything that entertains me.

The Death of the Horror Film

Image courtesy of Sourcefed.com

Image courtesy of Sourcefed.com

Any hardcore fan of the horror genre will tell you that all of the best horror movies have already been around for decades.  There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, recently made horror films just aren’t satisfying the fans.

In the above video, two die-hard horror movie fans discuss why modern horror movies are no good, and explain how they could be improved.  Many of the issues that these gentlemen have with modern horror are the same things that I find horrible about the slowly dying genre.

The following list is a breakdown of what I believe are the biggest problems with the horror film industry.  These issues (some of which are mentioned in the above YouTube video) have become synonymous with horror films and need to disappear in order to fix the genre:

1)  Cliches

As mentioned in the above clip, horror movies are packed full of cliches.  Whether it be the location (haunted houses, cemeteries, etc.), the content (possession, zombie apocalypse, etc.) or the characters (sexually promiscuous blonde, mysterious [but ultimately innocent] guy, etc.), the massive amount of cliches has made the genre stale and predictable.

Speaking of which…

2) Predictability

Horror films have become laughably predictable.  The audience knows, from literally decades of experience, exactly when a “jump scare” is going to take place.  When the music becomes either faster beating drums or higher pitched violins while a character is searching through a darkened house, we know what to expect around the next corner.

Image courtesy of Screened.com

Image courtesy of Screened.com

Even when there isn’t a scary face or an ax murderer, we know that the second our protagonist sighs in relief and turns back around, there will be something evil there.   This constant certainty makes it hard to take a film seriously, and even harder to stay interested.

3) Jump Scares

A “jump scare” is when something loud and unexpected happens in a film (or video game) that literally makes a viewer jump.  While these “scares” are frightening, they most certainly are not scary.

True horror fans want to be scared on a deep psychological level.  We want to be afraid to go into the water because of sea monsters. We want to be afraid of camping because of psychopathic lumberjacks who have had their hearts broken and now desperately crave eating campers’ hearts in order to feel full.

We do not want to be forced to jump out of our seats because of a loud sound and a cat pouncing out from around a corner.

Image courtesy of Fin6.com

Image courtesy of Fin6.com

4) Too Much Gore

For horror movies, gore should be like steak sauce.  If the movie (steak) is well made, only a dab of gore (sauce) should be needed.On the other hand, if the steak is covered in sauce, it is no longer a delicious steak, it is sauce with a little bit of steak under it.

Many of today’s horror films are actually just artificial snuff films.  They rely solely on gore to make them an uncomfortable experience, instead of a truly horrible one.

Even worse than the movies that use gore as a plot, are the ones that are actually a decent film, but overdo the blood and guts to a point that they destroy their own brilliance:

Image courtesy of Planetminecraft.com

Image courtesy of Planetminecraft.com

5) Too Much Sex

Everyone knows that grade-B horror flicks are basically just R rated pornography.  However, it is becoming more and more common for high-dollar Hollywood productions  to replace plot, dialogue and art with nudity (no way!).

This is exactly like the gore issue, only worse. Not only does excessive sex and nudity fail to make a movie better, it makes a movie almost impossible to watch with family or a group of strangers without feeling uncomfortable, or guilty.

Image courtesy of Quickmeme.com

Image courtesy of Quickmeme.com

6) The Monsters Are Dead

It is impossible to name a horror monster that has been thought-up within the last two decades that isn’t either a rip-off of a past monster, or completely lame.  The mummies, werewolves and creatures of black lagoons are all dead and gone.

Sure, there has been monsters created in the 80s and early 90s that were originally terrifying and respectable, but they have been so overdone now that they have become everything that this list has described:

The original monsters have become almost a joke to the modern public.  Classical ghouls and all of their meanings have simply become a part of popular culture.

Zombies are no longer the terrifying walking corpses they once were, and have become such an exciting part of society that some people are actually thrilled about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse.

The-Walking-Dead-Wallpaper1

Image courtesy of Manhattaninfidel.com

Werewolves, who once haunted the moors and were feared by travelers world-wide, have become teenagers in high school.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

However, perhaps the most depressing movie monster that has been destroyed by laziness and greed is the vampire.  Bram Stoker’s Dracula was so filled with imagery and symbolism that it could be read a thousand times and have a different meaning on each read.  The  legends of vampires were so frightening at one point in time that people literally dug up dead loved ones and mutilated their bodies to make sure they weren’t vampires.  So, how did this happen?:

Image courtesy of Fanpop.com

Image courtesy of Fanpop.com

The greatest horror monster of all time, who was originally an allegory for old men lusting after innocent young girls, is now a teenage sex symbol.

If the horror genre wants to bounce back, it will probably have to be done by individuals with an eye for art and a bank loan, because Hollywood sure isn’t coming to the rescue.  The problems with the horror genre are fairly well known throughout the fan-community, but as of yet, very few films have made it onto the big screen that keep the integrity and horror of the classics intact.

The “found footage” sub-genre seems to be a hopeful movement for decent horror. However, with the exception of Blair Witch,  these films are typically independent and low budget, which means that we will probably not see a “horror revival” through these films, and will just be stuck watching the classics forever.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment

“Growing Up Online.” Responses to the Documentary

Image courtesy of Mises.ca

Image courtesy of Mises.ca

 PBS’ documentary “Growing Up Online” investigates how kids raised in the “internet generation” are developing.  The film tells horror stories of cyber bullying, rampant sexuality and internet usage to cheat on high school English papers.  The interviews with terrified parents and teenagers who have made severely poor choices while surfing the web serve as a warning for those parents who would dare let their child log in.

Here is an interview with documentary film maker Rachel Dretzin:

However, as with every issue, there are two sides to the story.  Most of the teenagers interviewed love the internet culture, and have learned to use it to their advantage.  This attitude seems to be typical of people who have either grown up with the internet or have adapted to it.

In the above video, Mr. Juan Decvis, a producer who has worked for PBS, explains that he was somewhat disappointed in the documentary.  He describes that he was “appalled” by the talking-point issues that were discussed, and had hoped that the documentary would be an extensive cover of how the first generation to be born with the internet were using it in their lives.

Mr. Decvis (possible a screen-name), is not alone in his distaste in the way the documentary was presented.  Fellow WordPress blogger  Eddie Ha writes about the documentary, “as it is with everything in real life, I think the amount of experiences I had as an internet user since elementary school makes it easier for me to recognize the so-called “dangerous” marketing online, and I don’t see it as a big problem for ‘digital natives.’ “

There are many people who believe the documentary portrayed the internet accurately. Dr. Amy Tiemann, member of the CNET Blog Network, wrote an article for Cnet.com, calling the documentary “must-see TV for parents.”

Dr. Tiemann states that the documentary has many important points, and writes “If you are a parent, I can just about guarantee that your head will be spinning after watching the program, no matter how much you already know about these issues.”

Evan Skinner, who was interviewed for “Growing Up Online,” claims that she is not anti-technology.  While in the documentary she talks primarily about the dangers of posting unprofessional things online, in the video posted below, she explains that taking a “”vacation” from the internet to spend time with loved ones is important.

The issues that come with the internet can range from simply becoming apathetic about the real world, to physically threatening dangers such as cyber bullying or internet predators.  However, the internet can be very useful professionally and personally.  While the internet doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, additional knowledge about how to stay safe online and how to use the web as a tool is always becoming more available.

Above is a very entertaining and informative video about the pros and cons of the internet

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Politics and Media

“The Walking Dead” Fan Sites: A Comparison

The Walking Dead - Season 3 - Poster Art - Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Image courtesy of collider.com

As I have stated before, I am kind of a horror buff. It should be no surprise then, that I am a cult follower of AMC’s greatest  zombie infested television series, The Walking Dead (TWD).

The following is a comparison and rating of fan sites dedicated to The Walking Deadand will focus on these factors:

  • Purpose of the Site
  • Usability
  • Visual Appeal
  • Content
  • Advertising

Each of the four sites I have decided to focus on caters to Walking Dead fans in some way.  However, based on their design and content, some are better than others.  While each site has its own separate purpose, they all share the same goal of bringing attention to the series and gathering with other fans.

1) Roamersandlurkers.com

B.G.’s Rating: 5/10

Photo courtesy of "Mrs. DD" and Roamersandlurkers.com

Image courtesy of Mrs. DD of Roamersandlurkers.com

Site Purpose: To discuss TWD with other fans and to post fan fiction.

Usability: Easy to Navigate (clearly labeled sections).

Visual Appeal: Poor.  Very little images on the home page.  A LOT of text.

Content:  Perfect for its viewers.  Contains many discussion forums.

Advertising:  Not targeted at their viewers.

About the Site:

Roamersandlurkers is a forum site that focuses on fan discussion, but also offers a section on fan fiction.  The site is easily navigated and is broken up into many categories and sections.

Sections of this site discuss TWD television series, TWD comic book (which all true fans know the series comes from), TWD games and several other Walking Dead or zombie based topics.

Each section of the site has easy-to-reach subcategories (specific seasons or chapters) with many labeled posts by site members and TWD fans.  However, the lack of images (except in the “Gallery” section), videos or any color other than grey make it hard to be interested enough to click these categories, let alone stick around long enough to read the discussions.

Suggestions for Improvement:

It would be much easier to pay attention to this site if it were at all visually appealing.  With some added images or videos it could be a much more highly visited site.

Also, in order to make some money to pay the designers to improve the visual appeal, I would recommend choosing advertisers that appeal to Walking Dead fans.  During my (short) visit to the site, the only ads I saw were a Lebron James ad for powerade (not a lot of athletes on forum sites) and an ad for Ford trucks…in Spanish (no se hablan).

Perhaps some advertisements for other AMC shows or other zombie related products would help to boost Roamersandlurkers‘ viewership.

2) Walkingdeadlocations.com

B.G.’s Rating: 8/10

georgia twd

Image courtesy of Walkingdeadlocations

Site Purpose: To distribute information about the filming locations of TWD.

Usability: Easy to navigate.  Simple design with clear navigation links.

Visual Appeal: Not bad. Could use more photos on the front page.

Content: Good.  Very unique among fan sites.

Advertising: Aimed at Walking Dead fans.  Mostly ads for TWD DVDs and books.

About the Site:

Walkingdeadlocations brings a different point of view to the world of TWD fandom.  The creators of the site are Georgia residents (where TWD television series is based/filmed) who travel to various filming locations and take pictures.  The site also discusses when and where a filming will take place, how to become an extra on set and information on tours that visit TWD sets.

The site’s simple design allows for maximum eye relief, but does not feature very many photos on each page.  The simple design also makes it easy for a viewer to find the link that they are looking for, and goes even further by making their content easy to view on their “Locations Index” page.

This nifty page displays all of the locations that the site creators have visited, listed in order of when they appeared in the television series.  The site even offers links to Google Maps, so that fans can see exactly where in Georgia the scenes were filmed.

Suggestions for Improvement:

Walkingdeadlocations main purpose is to display images of TWD filming locations.  Therefore, it would be immensely beneficial to the site if the home page offered sample photos of some of the more dramatic or unique locations that the creators have been to.

3) twdfanpage.blogspot.com

B.G.’s Rating: 8/10

twd fanpage

Image courtesy of twdfanpage.blogspot.com

Site Purpose: To display information about TWD for fans.

Usability: Fairly good.  Slightly confusing on the home page.

Visual Appeal: Great.  Very exciting and colorful.  Easy to read

Content: Informative and interesting.

Advertising: None

About the Site:

Twdfanpage is a blog spot dedicated to giving fans in depth information about The Walking Dead television series.  The artwork (featured in the image above) pays homage to the graphic novel roots of TWD.

This site features many photos and videos related to TWD and offers theories for upcoming episodes/seasons.  A major bonus to this site is that it provides links to deleted scenes from the series, so that fans can have even more content. For example, this link in which ex-character Lori is a zombie: http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/08/16/walking-dead-deleted-scene-lori-zombie-season-3/.

The site,however,  is a little behind on the series, and features the (now already started) season 4 trailer:

The visual appeal of Twdfanpage is all in the images and artwork, however, that is also a part of the problem.

The first view that a visitor of the site gets is the image posted above.  The artwork is inspiring, but forces a viewer to have to scroll down in order to view the content.  Also, the date tags placed on each entry are only slightly darker than their backgrounds, making them nearly impossible to spot.

Suggestions for Improvement:

The comic book-esque art that is the only visible thing when a visitor first enters the site could be made into its own page.  This page could have links leading to different sections of the sight (images, videos, predictions, deleted content).  This would make it a less confusing experience for those technologically challenged viewers that may stumble upon the site.

4) Walkingdeadforums.com

B.G.’s Rating: 10/10

the-walking-dead-season-worldwide-150x150

Image courtesy of Walkingdeadforums.com

Site Purpose: To discuss EVERYTHING about The Walking Dead

Usability: Great.  Well displayed links and buttons.

Visual Appeal: Perfect.  Slide show, imaged background, red/black theme.

Content: Very in-depth.

Advertising: Seemingly focused at target age group: college-aged people.

About the Site:

Walkingdeadforums goes above and beyond to bring TWD fans everything they could possibly want.  The site’s easy navigation and distinguishable grids make it very pleasing to the eye, and its content leaves nothing to be desired.

Not only does Walkingdeadforums display information about the television series AND the comic books, it also brings viewers loads of TWD merchandise, quotes from other famous people about the series and much more.

The only downside to this site is in the advertising.  Although the site aims at the right crowd (college-aged people) with its advertising of Jimmy John’s sandwiches and Federal Student Aid, it also plays against itself.  This site features the evil of all evils for online readers: video advertisement with sound.  I was intrigued by an article about George Romero calling the show a “soap  opera,” ( video featured below)only to have my interest torn away by a very loud and annoying ad about a product I completely ignored.

Suggestions for Improvement:

No audio/video ads!  Other than that, I enjoy the site thoroughly and regularly.  Now enjoy this video:

Video courtesy of Walkingdeadforums.com

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment