Sunday, December 27, 2009

That List-less Feeling...


No matter where you click on the Interweb, they are everywhere - lists, lists, lists. The Best, the Worst, the Most Memorable, the Most Influential, the Biggest Successes, the Biggest Failures, and of both the year and the decade. And there's nary a horror blogger out there who has not contributed their own, and certainly more will follow in the next few days. The Jar will not be among them...well, at least not from me, anyway.

That's certainly not because of any judgment on my part. Indeed, I've been reading many of these bloggers' contributions, and enjoying (and agreeing) with a fair share of them. For my money, you can't really do any better than Jeff Allard's picks over at Shock Til You Drop, who has also demonstrated a remarkable 97.3% track record in his years of compiling his choices (that other 2.7% is Cloverfield, Jeff, but I'm guessing I'm not the first friend to tell you that; you also deal with the know-nothing hoi polloi with far more patience than I could ever muster - please tell me what your doctor prescribes). But Jeff also admits to that nagging feeling that should keep any serious horror film aficionado from posting a Master List with full confidence.

You just can't see everything. You can't. There was a time that you could have, before the direct-to-video revolution flooded the market with product that was provocatively packaged, movies that demanded your attention with intriguing cover art and a flair for the well-turned adline. But then, we've all long known that if there's anything that the movie industry does better than anything else (including the independents), it's selling the sizzle over the steak, and it sure feels like Sturgeon's Law - Ninety percent of everything is crap - errs on the conservative side.

And here's my other dirty little secret...I don't rent. Ever. I buy. A lot. And I don't buy used. I wait until I can get factory-sealed copies of DVDs in all genres at cheaper prices by purchasing directly from dealers through their Amazon affiliation. I am cursed by words that I heard my father say to me more times than I can count - "You want it? Get it. Better to have than rent." (My father is by no measure a wealthy man.) Whereas other sons may have pestered their parents for sports paraphernalia or stuff designed to satisfy the need for speed, the Senskis raised a kid who wanted nothing more than books, comics, music and movies. They saw that as a good thing, and I'm eternally grateful they did - but it led to a lifetime of collecting that becomes a ball and chain whenever I have to move. And it means that I often get to the Direct to DVD stuff much later than other fans do...and there's still a lot that remains to be seen by Yours Truly from this last decade.


Now, theatrical releases are another matter. From 1988 to 2003, I did film criticism for a variety of media outlets, mostly radio stations. That meant seeing over 150 films in cinemas every year...and I saw damn near everything, from kiddie offerings to teen sex romps to classy Oscar fodder to, yes, Horror. Also, since 1987 I have come up with a Ten Best list of all theatrical releases, and seeing that until 2003 I have had to publicly present and defend that list, I took great care that each year's assessment only be derived after as complete an overview as possible while still living in the Midwest (I thought nothing of traveling two and a half hours or more just to see a movie in a theater). For a number of years I had to hold myself accountable to an old friend and co-host of a weekly hour-long movie review show - who continues to review on his blog with great insight, intelligence and wit. Click on that link and be better for the experience, ok? He's presently counting down the Fifty Best Films of the Decade - a truly monumental achievement.

Now, in the belief that the unexamined blog is not worth, uh, blogging, I've made a New Year's resolution to include more retro reviews on a regular basis (including a suggestion made by my colleague at Jelly-Town! that has made me laugh for the past week or so, and shall be done), as well as some other regular features to keep things as exciting and new as a romance on the Pacific Princess. You've probably figured out by now that I love extended postings on subjects that can't really be found anywhere else on the Interweb, and I love the research as much as I love the execution. It was also my intention, in true Serling / Matheson / Bloch fashion, to straddle the genres of Horror and Speculative Fiction a little more than I've done so far. The Jar is still very much in the larval stage, Gentle Readers.

So, tomorrow we'll be back with the stuff you've come to know and tolerate from this here wayside off the Information Superhighway (strangely, I miss that nomenclature). And as for that list of the Decade's Best in Horror...well, like I said at the top, you may not see it from me. No more shall I say....

2 comments:

Jeff Allard said...

We seem to live in a society that's addicted to list-making so kudos to you for not adding to the preponderance of Top Tens and Top 20s! As you say, it's impossible for anyone (anyone with a life, at least) to see everything these days (the last time I felt like I did see everything was back in the '90s when I worked at a video store and watched every new horror title that came in) so list-making is hard to do with the full confidence that you've really considered every movie out there. But people love to read them, so lists will continue - I'll probably have another of my own posted before the year is done!

Thanks for the shout-out, by the way - I wish I could share my secret to personal serenity, Senski, but it just seems to be a natural state of mind! All I can say is that my unmedicated bliss irritates my wife to no end.

Planet of Terror said...

Viva la revolucion! I've grown tired of lists. Thanks for not adding to the nonsense.