The Slasher Flick: A Disturbing Trend
Something that my wife and I find very disturbing lately is the dramatic increase in the number of slasher-genre horror movies that have come out in the last 18 months. Since the first “SAW” movie was released (which I personally believe was a catalyst for the new resurgence in gore movies) there has been a steady flow of grisly flicks including names like Saw II, Saw III (obviously), Hannibal Rising, The Grudge 2, Hostel (I and II), The Hills Have Eyes, See No Evil, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Dead Silence, The Abandoned and more. I could go on and on but you get the idea.
Neither my wife or myself are fans of the Horror genre, especially the slasher type movie. The thought that people out there derive enjoyment and pleasure from watching other people get cut up, chopped up, minced up, burned, raped, tortured and God knows what else is sickening to us and a depressing indicator of society these days as we appear to be sinking ever further in to depravity and a general disregard for human life.
Now a horror fan could be forgiven for reading this and thinking that I am a religious, sanctimonious prude but hear me out as this could not be further from the truth. I thoroughly enjoy suspense thrillers such as the original Silence of the Lambs, The Exorcist, the original Omen movies and more. Although there was violence and the occasional shocking content in these movies, the story itself is what drives the movie forward and makes it suspenseful and therefore enjoyable. Leaving the mind to think what might happen is far more effective than having it shoved in your face.
It strikes me that this latest batch of so-called horror movies seem to exist solely for the benefit of demonstrating the latest advancements in CGI and special-FX purely so that the director and producer can show us just how real, lifelike and gruesome they can bring their sick imaginings to life. The sad part being (in my opinion) that there is most definitely a market out there for this stuff and what’s more it is growing. Weak plots, non-existant stories and amazing special effects have become a vehicle to serve up this feast of nastiness at an ever increasing rate.
The Beef: The Slasher Flick IN OUR HOMES & OUTSIDE OUR PARENTAL CONTROL
As with all things movie related though, it is usually the marketing machine behind a movie that drives its visibility forward and ensures its success. And this means advertising, and lots of it.
Now, I have no problem with advertising executives getting their movies promoted to the appropriate target audience but herein lies the problem. Who exactly do these execs believe their target audience is? You would think that we are talking about post-watershed advertising during related viewing, where viewers have tuned in to watch something of this ilk and would expect to see such advertisements. However, more and more often lately the advertising is being slipped well below the traditional watershed of 9pm/9:30pm and instead during peak family viewing time, namely popular evening shows that have absolutely nothing to do with carving people up.
This blog rant cannot be substantiated unless I provide examples. Allow me to give you some examples that have ‘horrifed’ my wife and I lately, and these are a but a tiny portion of an ever-increasing, upward-spiralling trend that needs to be stopped!
1. While watching Friends on TBS we were shocked to note that Hostel 2 was advertised during one of the breaks. Also The Grudge 2 was advertised during another episode. There was another too but its name escapes me.
2. Sci-Fi Channel: Someone in a decision-making position at The Sci-Fi channel has clearly decided that if you like Sci-Fi, you must obviously like slasher horror movies too. I can clearly see the correlation can’t you? Not. While watching shows like Stargate SG1 and Star Trek:Enterprise we have been subjected to R-rated promos for just about every new slasher flick that has come out in the last 12 months.
And last but not least: although not a horror/slasher movie promo, this last example is even more indicative of the R-rated advertising trend during PG and PG-13 rated shows.
3. While watching Ice Age on FX with our 8 year old son early one evening, we were even more shocked to see promos for the police drama The Shield full of guns and violence. Ice Age is rated PG for “mild peril” I hasten to add.
Indeed, it has got so bad recently that we simply mute the volume and bring up the cable menu to cover the screen during advertising breaks simply so that our son can be in the same room as us before he goes to bed at 9pm.
Now I will counter those people right away that come out with statements along the lines of “Well you have a brain, a finger, and free choice, simply turn off the TV or change the channel!” Well my friends, there’s the problem right there! How can you prepare for a slasher promo instantly appearing on your screen during a show that should never even see such a thing and at a time of the day when such things were never previously shown, until recently?
The very nature of advertising on TV here in the United States is that as much as possible must be crammed in to the small alloted time space. So, one second you can be watching Chandler joking with Joey during an episode of Friends and the next second you’re seeing some guy being tortured on a rack.
The manner in which slasher movies are promo’d is also typical these days and worthy of a discussion all its own. Namely; dozens of dark, disturbing and frightening images and sounds bombarded at you in a disjointed fashion and at a rapid rate, playing on the human subconscious mind and the way in which it can recall imagery that it only sees for a fleeting second.
Channel and Advertising Execs: Do Something
I would like to make a call to all channel chiefs (especially Sci-Fi and TBS) and to the advertising executives that allow this to happen. You are violating our home with your misplaced, mis-timed advertising and it needs to stop. Recognize your audience and show some common sense. Put a stop to R-rated advertising during family viewing times!
I’m very interested to hear what others have to say about this, especially parents who care about what their children get to see and don’t see, such as myself.