The Sarah of the Dead column: why I watch bad movies

Sarah constantly watches bad movies. She hates them, and herself, for doing it, but one day there might be cheese at the end of it all.

A Tale of Two Sisters

I think I’m starting to realise that as far as horror movies go, I’m part of the problem. I still watch too many bad horror movies. I watch lots of bad horror movies that I more or less know will suck before I even buy a ticket. The thing is, sometimes something you think you’ve got sized up from the outset surprises you and turns out to be an undiscovered piece of genius – or at least a fun 90 minutes.

Except that you usually need to watch five or more films that are utter dross before you hit that one good movie. Not spectacularly good odds, but good enough to make the whole pattern strangely addictive. Research done on rats would probably back me up, if I could be bothered to Google for a study on how reinforcement works to condition responses.

Anyway, while the most damage is probably done to my own psyche (and I’ve only got myself to blame) it’s also damaging to the quality of films, because if everyone follows my example and pays to watch rubbish, rubbish will continue to be made. Not to continue flogging a dead horse here, but if everyone just ignored Troll 2 instead of watching it precisely because they know it’s rubbish, the filmmakers would have to get proper jobs instead of hanging around conventions selling soundtrack CDs. I’m just saying.

Scanning the list of upcoming releases on the IMDB has just proved my point to myself. There are lots of movies I want to see, most of which will probably suck, but will nonetheless undoubtedly make money for someone, meaning that even more suckage will get produced. Case in point: remakes of both One Missed Call and A Tale of Two Sisters are scheduled for release in 2008. I will probably watch them both, despite having seen the remakes of Ring, Ju-on: The Grudge, Pulse, Dark Water, etc, and disliking them. Actually, probably in part because I saw the remakes of Ring, Ju-on: The Grudge, Pulse, Dark Water, and so on. If remakes of J-horror didn’t sell, they wouldn’t get made. But they do. And I watch them. To go back to the rats, I don’t know how many times I’d touch an electrified object before I learned to stop doing it, but it’d probably be a lot.

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(Disclaimer: the fact that Azura Skye is in the One Missed Call remake, and Arielle Kebbel is in A Tale of Two Sisters (2008) also has a lot to do with it. I am such a sucker.)

Diary of the Dead has made it onto my to-watch list, too, in spite of the fact that the zombie genre has become really, really played out again. Land of the Dead was rubbish, this probably will be too. But if zombie movies continue to sell…

This is depressing. So before things get too bleak, I’m going to make a list of things I want to see that stand a chance of being great:

The Nines. Ryan Reynolds can do very little wrong, even if this does sort of sound like it’s going to be like The Butterfly Effect. But I sort of enjoyed that the first time.

Hitman. I love video game movies. I know, I’m the only one, but House of the Dead, Doom, Postal and Resident Evil rock my world. (Shame about Silent Hill, though.)

Southland Tales. Particularly now that it’s a sensible length. The theatrical cut of Donnie Darko was way better than the director’s cut (the lesson here is that Richard Kelly just needs a damn good editor and it’ll all be gravy) so the release version of this might very well rule, despite the frosty reception at Cannes. Which seems like it was about a decade ago now anyway.

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Pathology. Milo Ventimiglia is in this, and he’s the only person in Hollywood with a wonkier face than Katie Holmes (did she properly change her name ever?) and his character in Heroes makes me want to strangle him, but the trailer looks awesome. Distressingly, there’s currently no UK release date listed and the one for the Netherlands is in May, which is way way too far in the future for my liking. I want to see this. Now now now.

Cloverfield. Well, who doesn’t want to see this?

That’s better.