Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Bored With Torture Horror? You're Not Alone


In 1408, John Cusack doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in him.

Was it the web piracy of the HOSTEL sequel, the overexposure of director Eli Roth, market saturation of torture-porn horror, that led to the film’s underwhelming box office performance?
Among this weekend’s releases: 1408, the Stephen King adaptation starring an ideally cast John Cusack as a supernatural-debunker who dares to stay in a haunted hotel.
When 1408 comes out near the top of the heap, expect a bloodbath of Monday morning box office analysis declaring the death of slasher movies and the demand for suspense-driven terror. The next test for hard core horror is CAPTIVITY, already notorious for its Los Angeles billboard campaign. Starring Elisha Cuthbert as a fashion model in a SAW-like predicament, the movie’s been pushed to mid-July.

An early essay about Slasher Fatigue from a site called Beyond Hollywood, which has extensive coverage of Asian films.
And here’s the NY Times taking a whack at the gore slump: …
“a strong showing for “1408” curbed speculation that audiences were tiring of horror. The film, starring John Cusack as a skeptic who investigates a mysterious room at a New York hotel where suicides have taken place, sold a better-than-expected $20 million in tickets.
New installments of the gory “Saw” and “Hostel” franchises have performed poorly at the box office, fueling worries that the genre was fading. Healthy receipts for “1408,” produced by the Weinstein Company’s Dimension Films and distributed by MGM, could signal that audiences were simply shifting away from the gruesome disembowelment stories that have dominated in recent years.”

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon