Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Physical Comedy

I am very grateful for the glorious weather today. To whom? Whomever. Walking through midtown was a joy.

I saw Freddy Vs. Jason the night before last. I have aged in and out of slasher flicks. I finally decided that I like the funny ones.

I have a very dry sense of humor. Extremely mechanical in nature. When you come right down to it, the body is just another machine. This means that, to me, slasher movies are a kind of cartooning.

Charles Addams was inarguably the smoothest perpetrator of dark little cartoons. But slasher movies, especially the really crass extensions of the Freddy and Jason franchises, are the same genre. They work cheap little moral equations to desensitize you to the fate of their characters, and then kill them in over the top ways.

I don't really empathize with the characters in action movies, much, anyway. I work hard to not suspend my disbelief. They are actors, after all. They are paid to take pratfalls. And no live animals were hurt during filming.

So I think it's okay when absurd things happen to effigies. Like getting eaten by a house-sized lizard, or having a flaming machete tossed through your ribcage.

Yes, awful things happen to good people. But slasher movies aren't even about the kind of accidents celebrated in the Darwin Awards... shameful tragedies that either could have been avoided with three seconds of thought, or couldn't have been avoided for all the luck in Ireland. They exhibit a kind of surplus death. Like televisions being thrown off buildings, the paper dolls in slasher flicks aren't just killed, they're really killed. I mean a flaming machete? How dead does the guy have to be for the purposes of story?

But in slasher movies, they must get really dead. There is no room for subtlety in the genre. None at all.

Actually, in regards to this, Freddy Vs. Jason was kind of a disappointment. The paper doll deaths were largely lackluster. Seeing the titular characters carve each other up was pretty doofy... they are, even in the half logic of the genre, already dead... and as the ending alludes, they can't die as long as Hollywood cares to resurrect them.

The best example of the genre that I've seen, I think, is Final Destination 2 with its Rube Goldberg deaths. Other notables include Dead Alive, Jurassic Park 3, and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

At the end of the day, I think it is very civilized that we throw our Christians to CGI lions.

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