First things first, since no one had a better name for this I’m keeping Shock Value as the title for this venture into opiniondom. I’d also like to say hi to everyone that read my first article (I’ll call this weekend mom).
So it appears that my big criteria for judging movies is the “entertain me factor” (Yes, I have been known to state the obvious), but what does that mean? Well, I’ve been thinking about that and here’s what I found. Remember, nothing is written in stone because for everything I state there is almost always an exception to the rule.
First is that I will be willing to suspend belief. The majority of movies are fictional, discounting documentaries, and therefore the plots consist of events that are meant to illicit a response from the audience. I mean I’m a fairly brave guy, but I’ve made the kids go with me to check out a noise in the basement. The times when the truth will solve a problem but a deception is funnier, rarely turns into a barrel of laughs for me. Think I Love Lucy.
Second would be the continuity of the film. If you can make me forget about a conversation where one person has sun in the background and the person with them is in the dark, then you just won. Flaws in time lines can irritate the crap out of me, so make me not realize it. Think House of 1000 Corpses, or Love Actually.
Third is plain and simple bad acting. What makes acting bad? Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it, and it can’t be unseen.
A good movie will make me overlook these situations. Now the question is what makes me overlook flaws in a movie. I don’t know, but I’ll give it a shot.
First tell me a story. It doesn’t even have to be believable, but it has to interest me. This is why I like so many of the SyFy movies, especially things like the giant or prehistoric sharks, snakes, piranha, and crocodiles. The supernatural stuff is enjoyable as well. The “B” movies have that going for them in that they have a story that is often told better because there is less to tell it with. Sometimes less effects and less talent equal a good story. I originally watched Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rrama because it had a cool name, but I got demons, possession, survival, and a touch of S & M thrown in for good measure. Mediocre effects at best, the acting is interesting and not horrible, and the girls are cute. The movie is enjoyable and I became a big fan of Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, and Michelle Bauer also. After Dark Films had an annual film festival set that was released called Horrorfest, 8 Films 2 Die For for four years and then it was called After Dark Originals which had limited budgets, relatively unknown casts (though some known names became associated with them), and new directors and writers. Some are winners but they all deserved a look. Check out Dread based on a Clive Barker story, the bully revenge flick The Final, or The Graves which was written and directed by Brian Pulido.
Second is to make it interesting. Keep me involved somehow, whether it’s by a plot device, or develop a relationship with the characters. Take Love Actually for instance, a mash-up of I don’t know how many different stories, but I had a feeling about what I wanted to happen in each one, and when they all started to fit in together I thought “how cool”. House of 1000 Corpses is another one that kept my interest no matter how disjointed it got. The Firefly family is the car wreck you can’t help but look at no matter how afraid you are of seeing a head on the shoulder of the road. It didn’t matter what anyone did as long as Baby laughed, Otis orated, Grandpa got obnoxious, and Captain Spaulding said the “F” word. Keep it entertaining applies to remakes too. King Kong has been done three times and the last two sucked (sorry Peter Jackson fans). It either went off track or the story went so far in depth on some aspects, and I got bored. The original was short and sweet, to the point, and had cool effects for its time. On the other hand Rob Zombie re-made Halloween and didn’t alter the story radically, but added a back story that, for me, enhanced the actions of the characters, even when compared to the original. It helps that I don’t hold re-makes against each other to compare, but to treat each one as an individual project and compare entertainment value. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
Give me choices about a movie so I can find a way to like it. Two examples come to mind off the top of my head. Let’s talk Godzilla first. I like Godzilla, a lot, and when the Matthew Broderick version came out I was excited, then I saw it and I was disappointed. The monster wasn’t Godzilla but a big ole iguana type lizard. I watched it again because I couldn’t believe someone could change one of my favorite monsters so drastically, but this time I liked it as a movie. Instead of naming the flick Godzilla they should have called it The Big Assed Lizard Screwing with New York. I think that probably would have gone over better. The next movie that disappointed me at first was X-Men. It had a good cast, the effects are cool, and the story was good, but the continuity was skewed, and the timeline out of whack. So when I watched it again I decided it wasn’t a good X-Men movie but it was a real good movie with X-Men in it.
Before I close this I have a request. Send some questions to me. I’d like to add a Q & A section to Shock Value. Also I’d like for you folks to give me some theme ideas for upcoming articles.
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