The Horror (of Having Rented It, or Bought a Ticket)

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

For every brilliant horror film, there is an equal and opposite
film, a mistake, an error, an aberration, an abomination. Here follows
my short list of horror cinema’s most incalculably misconceived
efforts. I do not include any of the usual attacks on Ed Wood because
his delightfully campy inflections transcend the limits of his technique.
Nor do I include films that are merely unconvincing because of their
special effects as were many monster movies of an earlier time.
These films bring a third O to BOO!

“The
Horror of Party Beach” (1964)

Recoil
in laughter from Del Tenney’s vision of the apocalypse in which
sea monsters, zoned-out on radioactive waste, devour the surfers
and their girlfriends.

“Astro-Zombies”
(1969)

I
cannot remember the director’s name. And it is just as well; for
this humorless narrative drones endlessly on about a CIA plot to
employ a zombie created by some Space Agency. There is an unhappy
marriage, a gun-wielding girl in a bikini (not altogether disappointing),
and some spies who remind me of Ping, Pang, and Pong from “Turandot.”

“The
Stepford Wives” (1975)

I
know we’re all supposed to love Bryan Forbes’s feminist parable
of oppressed women living as brainless clones with evil men. But
even William Goldman’s screenplay based on Ira Levin’s novel cannot
save this film from the horror of its own political expediency.
All the men associated with this film imagined it would help them
seduce their “liberated” girlfriends. Oh, my apologies. I thought
everyone knew this classic male strategy.

“Ilsa,
She Wolf of the SS” (1974)

Director
Don Edmonds should do the catering for Abraham Foxman’s birthday
parties. I was forced by my coterie of LA leftists to watch this
ridiculous portrait of Nazi savagery. A voice-over portentously
reminds us that the film is based on the actual Ilsa Koch of Buchenwald.
Sex and violence and more violence and yet more cannot retrieve
from failure this laughable propaganda styled a horror film in which
the horror is “real.” Nazis? Enough already. Give us a break. If
I am told one more time how horrible the Germans were, I will send
an army of Astro-Zombies into the nearest Museum of Tolerance.

“The
Exorcist II: The Heretic” (1978)

Again,
the director’s name escapes me. I only wish I could expunge from
my memory this dreadful betrayal of the original. The plot goes
something like this: Richard Burton flies on a giant locust from
Georgetown to North Africa where James Earl Jones spits a globule
of red evil at him. Linda Blair makes an appearance. Some doctors
recommend therapy. Where are the Nazis when you need them?

But
here is the moment I’ve been waiting for:

“Blair
Witch 2: The Book of Shadows” (2000 and closing soon)

Considering
how fundamentally the first film changed American horror cinema,
one might reasonably expect a clever and sensitive sequel. But this
film is a disaster in every respect. Its attempt to be inclusive
by replacing the first film’s realistic homogeneity with several
“types” of characters fails as certainly as its conventional plot
structure, its unimaginative photography, its plodding exposition,
its annoying soundtrack (with a cover of the MASH theme by Marilyn
Manson), its imprecise evocation of details from the first film,
and its almost complete dereliction from the plot summaries listed
for months on its own website. That this film was made at all is
the only thing frightening about it. The market is already punishing
the film-makers for this heinous assault on the intellects of loyal
fans. I hope the BW2 cast and crew have a Happy Halloween because
they are going to be forgotten by Christmas.

November
2, 2000

Scott
Wilkerson is curator of the Ward Library at the Mises
Institute
.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare