Monday, February 16, 2009
I will preface this by saying that though I'm a bit of a horror movie buff, I have never sat through an entire "Friday the 13th" movie. I sat through a part of the original first movie, and was impressed with how much it had a flat, "porn" feel (I'm not saying that this was bad, as I realize that was part of the 1980s slasher-flick charm). (By "flat porn feel," I am not referring to nudity but a sort of shallowness that is only punctuated by sudden moments of horror, much as a porn movie is hollow but is punctuated by sudden moments of sex). (Furthermore, I feel that John Carpenter does the "flat porn feel" better -- or daresay, he is a complete master of this technique -- and much prefer to watch his horror movies, which are usually either really good or crappy but enjoyable in a B movie sort of way).
I have also never sat through"Coraline," as the tickets were sold out yesterday and, since I was in the area, decided to go get a haircut instead.
Eyebrows raised at how huge the opening was for "Friday 13th," and how low "Coraline's" was in comparison. This might be a retread of the "Marley & Me"/"Spirit" scenario.
What up with all of this?
I am told over and over again that it is the mass-market "broad idea" movies, TV shows, comics, and concepts that win over big. I am also told this in Robert McKee's "Story," one of the classic "how to write" books. McKee says basically that if you would like to make a living writing movies, make them with a broad appeal and do not get too esoteric. Also, that it is okay if you want to make your films esoteric & intellectual, but then perhaps get another job to supplement your meager income from your niche writing.
That said, I have no idea if the new "Friday the 13th" movie is broad in appeal or instead maybe quite intellectual. If I had to guess, I would say that the flick is probably in league with the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake, which was enjoyable, extremely gory, but not incredibly profound -- sort of forgettable, except for its "set piece" moments of exaggerated violence.
Which is all to say, in a roundabout way...what does this bode for "Watchmen"? Is the general moviegoing public not in the mood for something arty, profound, obtuse...dare I say, even "cubist?" Will this film be a big hit with the fan set, but not with the general masses? Or is this assuming too much about the film? Will it be styled in such a way so that it will have the same broad appeal as "Friday the 13th part 15"?
Also -- if these comic book/"fan appeal" movies do not have mass appeal, should we care at all? Should we not just enjoy the films anyway, secure in knowing that even if films like "Speed Racer" & "The Spirit" sort of tank, at least the cool kids understood and appreciated them? Like when I would read a short story in my high-school creative writing class about existentialist rabbits on LSD and most of the class didn't understand it but I got two really enthusiastic fans? Will these two fans grow up to be the ones who will buy by $300 limited edition maquette of LSD Bunny from Sideshow toys -- and be vocally abusive online to my detractors? Can I only hope?
(A side point refers to a conversation I had with a friend a couple of days ago: questioning whether Watchmen was a good "gateway" comic book for the new reader, or did it just skewer the idea of mainstream superheroes and make it actually harder for him or her to get into Superman, Spider-Man, etc? Or even turned some of those new readers off to graphic novels, comic books, everything?)
This all reminds me of a great post David Cross wrote after his movie "Alvin and the Chipmunks" came out. In it, he defends his appearance in a movie that might be looked down upon as mass-market piffle by some of his fans:
Anyway, I have no set opinions on any of these important issues being raised here thereupon. I'm just throwing ideas out there, like foam darts. As for my haircut yesterday, it is only by writing this post that I realize what might have unconsciously influenced my choice of hairstyle:
Well, anyway. I haveta go write my "Confessions of A Shopaholic"-style pitch now. See you soon!