Was Gelatinous Ooze Clean-Up In Aisle Three Taken? [Part 2]

Something that I have not touched on in this whole recommendation debate is the level of the recommendation. In the vast majority of cases where one person recommends or rips apart a movie, TV show, book or band directly to another person, there is most often an easily recognizable dose of either unfettered love or hatred for the subject. This includes most of the people we run into day to day, and even usually ourselves. In the case of an “it was alright” response, most listeners to that opinion are likely not to rush right out and find out why it only met with a medium response; besides, most of the recommendations that people are likely to meet in their daily lives are those of close friends or co-workers (not that they can't be both), and there comes a point where we have the people closest to us pretty much figured out in all levels of their responses to things, even when their responses seem askew to what they normally spew out as their opinions.

But we are all the terrorizers of opinion. No matter what we say in our more rational moments, we only care about our own takes on things. By and large, and probably much to the chagrin of certain GOP leaders who do not recognize that they are ultimately the same as those over whom they built up both our fears for the last several years and the sweetly karmic result of their current reputations, we are all extremists at heart. And those hearts have sleeves, and we wear our loves and hates on them proudly like we were strutting them across a catwalk in Paris. And so our pronouncements about our opinions -- and The Working Dead and I are as prone to this as anyone -- tend to be irrational and dramatic. We scream them, and we even sometimes argue them: "I loved it!" "Yeah, well, I friggin' hated it!" "Are you screwy? It was the best movie that I have ever seen!" Somewhere, and not so deep inside, Comic Book Guy lives within all of us. We are all prone at times towards proclaiming nearly anything the best or worst... EVER.

But, please, calm down everybody. Sure, in all of our travels through life, some stuff we encounter is truly sublime and some is vilely noxious. Maybe not to everyone, but we recognize it, and we shout about it. But this is only a miniscule amount of what passes through our lives. Most of our life encounters do not necessarily need to turn towards the hyperbolic. And with a little practice, a rational filmgoer can develop critical reflexes that allow himself to check the immediate impulse towards overreaction, sit back, watch the film on its own terms, and then, if one has determined to create such a system, weigh one's reaction to the film against the bulk of films they have already cataloged in their personal viewing collection. Which is one of the things I really enjoy about knowing The Working Dead, because he tends to approach things from roughly the same angle as I. Hence, the general trust between us on these things.

Back to the movie at hand, The Working Dead did not type anything to me on the level of “OMG, U have got 2 C Alien Raiders!!,” because, well, he is not a teenage girl texting cute boy news to some other idiot of like mind and technology. There was no whiff of urgency in his words, nor did he ever say it was anything like “really good.” “Good” showed up on its lonesome, and “interesting” did pop up, I believe, as well, and that was enough for me.

When someone becomes as -- hmm, "mired" is appropriate, I suppose -- in specific genres as we are, sometimes merely “good” is enough. Sure, you might point out, in a snobby manner, that we are working the horror and sci-fi veins here, so naturally, we have to get used to utter crap. But I work by a rule that I call “The 95% Rule." I have mentioned it before, and I stand by it. It works for all genres, it works for all art forms, it works for anything that mankind touches: 95% of everything is crap. And there is no genre of film that is immune to it. You! That person who loves chick flicks! Don’t come at us with your preconceived notions of horror films when you are dwelling in an equally, generally noxious genre. Sure, its prettier and cuter and the shoes are incredible, but the stories are just as vapid, the stereotypes being fed to the masses are just as dopey and, in some cases, just as offensive and possibly even more damaging than anything you will find in a slasher film. And yes, the bulk of slasher films are complete wastes of my time, and I would rather not watch any of them. Except that every once in a while -- and this is where a lifetime of fandom comes to the fore -- someone comes along and does something actually... interesting... with staid material and abused clichés. Someone behind the camera of this generally junk-filled subset of moviedom brings in some real ideas beyond the norm or has figured out how to actually make the damn thing scary, an amazingly missing ingredient in most modern horror films, I will grant you. We have traded squishiness and unease for subtlety and chills. Not that I don't enjoy a little gore in my movies, but torture, and the unwittingly homoerotic sexualizing of that torture, should be left to the professionals: the Republicans.

And even when all subtlety has been blown out the door, someone can still come along and perform a reset. Someone along the lines of a Cronenberg, whose works are simultaneously icky and disturbing but still thought-provoking. When one considers that he spent the late '70s and the whole of the '80s being considered one of the kings of gore, while still wrapping those over-the-top films with an air of clinical precision and disarming sophistication, the fact that he now vies for Oscars without ever having truly changed his habits is downright amazing. Until you consider that the reason he took his success to the next level was because he knew that the best way to continue working in essentially the same areas, but in the broad daylight, was to convince the world he is making straight dramas. I believe "thrillers" is the acceptable term. His films are still loaded with horrific imagery, savage violence and "shape of rage" philosophy, but he has brought back something that other horror technicians have traded away: subtlety. His films bubble along on a cushion of it, and he knows the right moments to reveal the shock, and the right moments to hold that shock back. He has begun to look like a newly evolved form of Hitchcock, who could be charming and suave, but also liked cat-and-mousing his audience to death and when exactly to shake them to their core.

Cronenberg, Lynch, Raimi, Cameron... these are the types you can discover inside these genres. They might move on to other, some would say, "greener" pastures, some will regress into bad habits, and some I really won't care for them once they move on from where I personally met them all those years ago. But I grew to love them digging through piles of videos in sleazy rental stores. And as I said, there is nothing better movie-wise than finding an instant classic or an undiscovered one in a genre that you love. For this particular movie-lover, who will always carry a torch for horror and science-fiction no matter how bad things seem to be, this is supreme. But the place gets so cluttered with recycled ideas, quick-buck profiteers and bimbo spoofs, that it becomes rough to even make a half-hearted attempt to carry on queuing them on Netflix. You can’t find the worthwhile without looking, but sometimes just looking really gives you a headache.

And so, the idea that there is a new science-fiction/horror film out there that one of my fellow acolytes considers, at the base level, “good” is an instant call to arms. I queued up the lamely titled Alien Raiders, and it arrived at my home two days later. It did not glow with an aura of increased expectations. It just slid out of its slipcover and into my DVD player one day after work, and I watched the film.

A film that turned out to be…

[To be concluded next time... yeah, we'll see about that...]

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