“I’d like to see something more romantic, you know, like An Officer and a Gentleman or something”

I’m not sure why, but the fact that this weekend saw the release of yet another pointless remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre struck me as a particularly striking example of Hollywood creative bankruptcy.   And yet, when the market rewards it, what can you do?

134 comments on this post.
  1. LeeEsq:

    During Holloween, I went to a booze and scary movies night at a friend’s house. Most of the scary movies we watched were slasher type horror movies. I brought over Fritz Lang’s M to watch. My friend’s response to the movie was “Damn it Lee, this is real scary not fake scary.” The oldest movies, with the least amount of explicit violence was also the scariest movie.

    More on point, the primary movie audience has always been teenage boys and young men with bad love lives so slasher movies and actions movies are always going to be more popular. Since special effects are cheaper now than they were in the past, its a relatively low investment for studios to produce B-movies in spades and get their money. My tastes lean more in the direction of romantic epics like Doctor Zhivago or zany but witty comedies like Airplane so I’m a bit out of luck. The LOTR movies are the closest I’m going to get to romantic epics these days.

  2. bgn:

    the primary movie audience has always been teenage boys and young men with bad love lives

    Even, say, in 1960? 1940? 1920?

  3. wjts:

    In every article I’ve read about the Les Miserables movie, I consistently misread director Tom Hooper’s name as “Tobe Hooper” and I get briefly excited about the prospect of a movie along the lines of Le Massacre à la Tronçonneuse à Montreuil-sur-Mer.

  4. James E. Powell:

    It’s not like I am averse to violence in films; my favorites include The Godfather & Apocalypse Now, and I like Tarantino. But I’ve never been a fan of the slasher movie, not sure why people like them, not sure why teens in particular would like them. Do they continue to like them as they age or is it a teenager thing?

  5. Bill Murray:

    M is a great movie, even Spielberg ripped it off

  6. Bill Murray:

    And yet, when the market rewards it, what can you do?

    realize that market failures happen all the time?

  7. Thers:

    If only we’d let citizens buy fully automatic assault rifles, we’d have fewer of these chainsaw massacres.

  8. Sherm:

    Love lifts us up where we belong….

  9. LeeEsq:

    From my theatre and film buff brother, at least since the 1930s.

  10. DrDick:

    I am with you on this. I like Tarantino, Peckinpah, and John Woo, but slasher flicks are a real turn off.

  11. scottmichael:

    “Somefink I can take the WIFE to, yaknowwhuddIMEAN?”

    Best earworm all day. Thanks for it.

  12. Fighting Words:

    Well, at least the market did not reward either of the “Atlas Shrugged” movies.

  13. efgoldman:

    Damn, I hope Les Miz stays around for at least another couple of weeks. mrs efgoldman really wants to see it, and we can’t go for a while.

  14. Halloween Jack:

    For Hollywood to be genuinely creatively bankrupt, there would have to be a dearth of creativity there, and I’m not sure that that’s ever really been the case. (See “The Black List” if you want specific examples.) It’s more a matter of asking yourself if making genuinely creative works has ever been the point of the industry, rather than whatever the public happens to want at the moment. FFS, (re)watch Barton Fink if this is unclear.

  15. greylocks:

    A lot of people like slasher trash. A lot of people like Budweiser.

    I suggest getting over it.

  16. Leeds man:

    Fuck Hollywood. I’m watching Wages of Fear right now. White knuckles in five or six languages.

  17. somethingblue:

    A nation of maniacs wielding power tools and wearing masks made of human skin is a polite nation.

    Or, if you prefer … Congress.

  18. JMG:

    The thing is, you don’t have to see the movie, but you have to see the damn ads or miss the NFL playoffs.

  19. jefft452:

    “It’s more a matter of asking yourself if making genuinely creative works has ever been the point of the industry”

    Valid point
    A lot of what I think of great movies from the 30’ and 40’s were remakes of silent era movies

    “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” – sure they do, they made cheap crap a long time ago too, but yesterday’s cheap crap fell apart a long time ago

    But it sure feels to me that Hollywood is making more remakes and sequels then the used to, I just dont know if it’s real, or just my decent into old fogeydom

  20. jeer9:

    Overpraised:

    Killer Joe: More black (and creepy sexual dark) than comic with a conclusion that lacks character consistency regarding the hit man/cop. Thomas Haden Church reprises his Wings role in convincing fashion.

    Looper: Makes Inception seem coherent; hit man returns to the past in order to kill three male children one of whom, due to excessive telekinetic powers, may turn out to be the cause of his love’s death in the present – even though killing them will not necessarily bring her back. Joseph G-L has some acting ability but spends the film imitating Willis’s smirking lack of talent (probably unavoidable given the roles and sort of amusing as a “Geez, this film is stupid” distraction but not compensatory enough). Bonus: Emily Blunt is present.

    Hyde Park on the Hudson: Only for those who believe a depiction of FDR as sexual predator (even in his wheelchair; don’t let him take you on a bucolic drive) needs to be told. Narrator/victim/lover fails to make a single interesting social observation throughout the tedium. Film would work only if she was viewed ironically rather than an object of sympathy. The Clinton soap opera from Lewinsky’s perspective – except Daisy’s not nearly as perceptive (yes, I know that doesn’t sound possible).

    Worth Seeing:

    The Sessions: The praise is not unjustified; Macy’s haircut (or lack thereof) was the only real quibble; has anyone ever seen a priest with a do like that, even in SF?

    Silver Linings Playbook: Very funny; two in a row for Russell after The Fighter. Dysfunctional families is his milieu. De Niro in good form.

    Hysteria: Vastly underappreciated comedy about the first vibrator developed in late Victorian England. Fine romantic relationship as well which explores the initial stirrings of political feminism as it clashes with medicine, psychology, and the law.

    Les Miserables: Ripe for parody at the Oscars but still emotionally powerful. “Mister, we could use a man like Victor Hugo today …”

  21. GeoX:

    Hyde Park currently has a rating of thirty-nine percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe it should be lower than that, I don’t know, but it’s certainly not HIGHLY praised.

  22. timb:

    looper is not that bad

  23. wjts:

    If my baby had had an assault rifle, I believe she never would have been taken away from me.

  24. Jeremy:

    Same here. Especially torture porn (of which, movies like Hostel and Saw seem to be fairly popular here in Japan). That sort of thing just freaks me out.

  25. Jeremy:

    As people were compiling the obligatory lists for 2012, lots of gamers as well were bemoaning the sequels and lack of new material as well.

    I’d actually like to see someone actually examine what percentage of movies (and games, tv series) are related to a prior franchise — either direct sequels or spin-offs/expansions on a universe.

  26. DrDick:

    Frankly, it makes my skin crawl.

  27. Papa Bendi:

    Probably a bit of both, from a fellow fogey. But consider that the classic Bogart version of The Maltese Falcon was the third film Warner Brothers made from that novel over a period of ten years. This has been going on a long time, I always feel like it starts becoming more objectionable when you have less use for the product overall.

  28. Kyle:

    The only way to stop chainsaw massacres is to let all citizens openly carry chainsaws at all times.

  29. Leeds man:

    I’ve read the plot. It’s one of those time travel movies to which the only proper response is to go back in time and shoot the director before it’s made. Sorry. Bugbear of mine since Star Trek.

  30. Anonymous:

    More on point, the primary movie audience has always been teenage boys and young men with bad love lives so slasher movies and actions movies are always going to be more popular

    Why is that, d’ya think?

  31. Anonymous:

    That strikes me as a pre-emptive apology for a lot of horror movies being racist, misogynist shit. Great horror films elude the all-important white boy audience when they fail to cater to said white boys’ prejudices.

  32. arguingwithsignposts:

    Great horror films elude the all-important white boy audience when they fail to cater to said white boys’ prejudices.

    Here’s an honest question: How many prominent horror films have had minority lead actor/actresses? Primarily African American, but Asian, Indian, Native American, whatever. I can’t think of any.

  33. Michael Confoy:

    Works better when Jagger sings officer with that cockney, enlisted men’s accent. Too much blood.

  34. Anonymous:

    Night Of The Living Dead

  35. BigHank53:

    I’d say it’s still worth seeing with the gaping plot holes, even if it’s just for the novelty of a science fiction film that doesn’t have exploding planets but does feature some character development.

    Also, have there been any decent time-travel movies other than 12 Monkeys?

  36. sparks:

    I need that expanded on. What ’30s movies were analogous to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saw, etc.? Even in the precode era, I don’t see any sort of connection. The only possible examples I can think of are some Westerns.

  37. John:

    Primer.

  38. sparks:

    Um, not really. Remakes of silents were often not successful, and limitations of early sound made those films much less like late silents. What the ’30s/’40s brought was a number of films based on plays and books not suitable for silent films, i.e. dialog-driven.

  39. jeer9:

    56 on Metacritic and Ebert, fairly reliable, gave it an 88.

  40. timb:

    What Hank said

  41. Orange Man In Ohio:

    Fallen? Denzel Washington. I am struggling to think of others though.

  42. Orange Man In Ohio:

    Goddam sticky name cookies

  43. spencer:

    Mine as well. I’m always a bit wary of people who say they’re fans of the genre. I don’t get how people like that shit. I really don’t.

  44. Leeds man:

    Depends what you mean by decent. Déjà Vu wasn’t a great movie, but the time travel aspect could be unraveled coherently with a bit of effort (IIRC).

    And I liked Time Bandits!

  45. BigHank53:

    Likewise. I don’t know why some people find the things appealing, and I don’t want to.

  46. John:

    What I don’t really get about this is that I can’t imagine very much of the box office for “Texas Chainsaw 3D” is due to the use of the franchise. My basic understanding of the economics of slasher movies is that basically any slasher movie will make decent bank, because teenagers will basically go see whatever shitty slasher movie is in the theaters.

    So what’s the point of going back to the well of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” pseudo-franchise? Are there really people who are going to see it because of the association with the original?

  47. Leeds man:

    I don’t know about the 30s, but when I was a boy, we exchanged Mars Attacks cards, and some very graphic American Civil War cards. Cinema took a while to catch up to the tastes of nasty little boys.

  48. fd2:

    Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight

  49. fd2:

    Also, do you consider I Am Legend a horror film? I’m not entirely certain whether I do or not, hence why I ask.

  50. UberMitch:

    If you make being a maniac wielding power tools and wearing a mask made of human skin a crime, only criminals will maniacally wield power tools and wear masks made of human skin.

  51. Scott Lemieux:

    ‘horrible, wasn’t it?

  52. Warren Terra:

    The book is a horror story, and the movie’s fairly horrible (at least the second half, and at least if you know the purported source material), but I’d agree that it’s not so mucha horror film as it’s a sci-fi action thriller.

  53. AR:

    I think the analogy is not slasher/horror per say, but”B” or “C” movies that are the analogy i.e. cheap stuff to put people in seats. Before TV came along you actually had a lot more of that kind of movies. Think of all the old short films, sitcom style series, serials, remakes, etc. Before movies and radio, stage plays had the same type of variation, it was after new mass-media came along that plays had to cater to a different customer base. Once TV came to dominate, movies had to go after the type of audience that would be less inclined to stay home and watch TV with the family. To one degree or another that is still the case.

  54. AR:

    It was a sub-genre of Blaxploitation; the most famous example in the mainstream was “Blacula” and “Scream Blacula, Scream.”

    Also, the male lead in Robert Rodriguez’s half of “Grindhouse” was Hispanic, as was one of the leads in Tarantino’s half.

  55. Leeds man:

    Oh, Lord. The film turned the meaning of “Legend” 180 degrees. But it is Will Smith, Inc.

  56. LosGatosCA:

    Ralph Richardson is God!

  57. Linnaeus:

    I’m with you on this. Never liked slasher movies.

  58. Warren Terra:

    Is Snakes On A Plane a horror film? It’s a Creature film, and those are usually Horror …

    Also Deep Blue Sea had Sam Jackson as its most bankable name (infamously dead at the start of the film), and LL Cool J is on the credits (I dunno how far his character makes it).

  59. Warren Terra:

    Are we certain there won’t be a Part III?

  60. dl:

    Leprechaun: In the Hood.

  61. Lancelot Link:

    This is possibly the best time-travel movie ever.

  62. Lancelot Link:

    Zítra vstanu a opařím se čajem (Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea).
    It’s a Czech black comedy from 1977. There is an online video at veoh.com, if you can’t find a better copy.

  63. Walt:

    Wallace Beery movies — wrestling pictures. What do you need, a road map?

  64. Informant:

    My recollection is that LL Cool J is actually one of the few characters to survive to the end of the film.

  65. Humanities Grad:

    Your recollection is correct.

    I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve seen that one, and his character actually makes frequent references to “the brother” always dying early in those sorts of situations….

  66. LeeEsq:

    OTOH, the primary lead in most horror movies has been a young woman rather than a young man. This is kind of sexist in itself because its usually been a very virginal young woman but still.

  67. LeeEsq:

    Yeah this. Its not that teenage boys in the 1930s and 1940s watched the same type of movies as teenage boys in the present do but that the made up the main audience. There were lots of dumb adventure and action movies from the time that were popular with the audience.

  68. Brian Rogers:

    +1

  69. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    But–3-D!!

  70. arguingwithsignposts:

    Good one. And thanks for the other contributions in the thread. IIRC, NOTLD was somewhat groundbreaking at the time for its use of a black man as the heroic male lead.

  71. arguingwithsignposts:

    Yeah, that was my thought too.

  72. arguingwithsignposts:

    This is also true, and why I was also casting about for female minority leads. There seems to be more movies where there is a couple who survive until nearly the end, and then the male lead gets caught/killed/whatever. The subgenre of “torture porn” breaks the pattern in some ways, with males surviving occasionally.

  73. Ken:

    Cabin in the Woods. Not as an example of the young female lead, but as the reason the young virgin is the final girl.

  74. Ken:

    Well worth re-watching. In fact it’s kind of required. So are notebooks and graph paper.

  75. BigHank53:

    Primer lost me, but not for technical reasons. There’s the scene towards the end, where it’s obvious that something very bad is definitely happening to the lead characters’ brains, and their response is basically to shrug it off. I’m willing to suspend disbelief, but don’t ask me to bring a crane.

    Full technical marks, though.

  76. BigHank53:

    For whatever reason, I can never think of Time Bandits as a time-travel film, even though it’s the biggest plot device. Some of the best quotes ever, though:

    “Oh, Winston: you are so mercifully untouched by the ravages of intelligence.”

  77. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I’ve actually heard that quite a lot women watch horror. I consider myself a bit of an aficionado myself.

    I’m not into either torture porn or slasher flicks. I’m much more into stuff like “The Ring” or “The Descent” or “Martyrs” or the remake of “The Hills Have Eyes,” which was pretty amazing.

  78. John:

    In the same vein, were’t J-Lo and Ice Cube the leads in Anaconda?

  79. John:

    +1

  80. John:

    The thing about bad things happening to your brain is that they’re happening to your brain. That might affect your ability to respond rationally.

  81. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    I’m pretty sure that prior to actually conducting market research in the 1940s and discovering that the gender mix of the movie audience (at that time) was about 50:50, Hollywood had assumed for decades that its audience skewed female.

  82. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    I don’t think this is correct, either as a matter of fact or as a matter of Hollywood assumptions (the latter of which is actually more important to understanding film production esp. in the earlier period). I do know that Hollywood didn’t actually social-scientifically study its audience until the 1940s. And I’m pretty sure that before they did so they (rightly or wrongly) assumed that their audience skewed female. I think I remember reading this somewhere in one of the University of California decade-by-decade History of American Cinema series (perhaps the one on the 1940s), but I can’t come up with a cite off the top of my head.

  83. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Not a remake, but a sequel to the original. According to the AV Club it’s a big improvement on the truly terrible Texas Chainsaw flicks of recent years, in part because it is closer in spirit to the original, but it’s still, at best, mediocre. I’m certainly not going to see it.

  84. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    From a recent LA Times piece on a Clara Bow film series (just the first thing on this issue that popped up on Teh Google):

    Unlike today, where Hollywood mostly caters to boys and young men, “the whole star system was created for female audiences,” noted Jan-Christopher Horak, head of the [UCLA Film and Television Archive].

    “Empirically, more young women went to the movies than young men, and once they had families, they made the decision and they catered to that audience,” said Horak. “If you look at the ratio between male and female stars, it is almost the opposite of what it is now. “

  85. Joe:

    Because Hollywood in the 1930s, e.g., didn’t put forth the same old thing over and over again? There are lots of movies out there. There’s a niche out there for this sort of thing. If you want something romantic, yeah, they have that too. Heck, there is even a movie with romance AND fracking.

  86. max:

    “I’d like to see something more romantic, you know, like An Officer and a Gentleman or something”

    ‘Well, honey, why don’t we compromise? Let’s go see An Officer and a Chainsaw!’ — Beltway Democrat

    max
    ['In which Richard Gere hacks up Debra Winger because his instructor demanded proof of manliness.']

  87. L2P:

    Donnie Darko is pretty good -better than Looper by a long shot.

    The first Terminator is pretty good. Most of the plotholes are created by the other movies. If you ignore them, it holds together pretty well.

    Peggy Sue Got Married is pretty good, if not very science fictiony.

  88. Leeds man:

    Wasn’t such a bad film, but I saw no reason for the parrot to die. That was just cold.

  89. Hob:

    Actually, the lead in Goddam Sticky Name Cookies was Italian.

  90. Hob:

    What do you have against concealed carry? Typical liberal fascist.

  91. bob mcmanus:

    Google Stephen King “the three types of terror”. #1 is the grossout. He says it is the least scary, but that is before he was hit by the truck. Which would you prefer personally, the creepy thing you can’t see, the giant spider, or have your eye sliced with a razor? The first two are scarey because of the possibilty of the third. Horror is not suspense or terror. Horror is disgusting.

    Body horror (Wiki entry), ala Cronenberg, is entirely legitimate. It is not supposed to make you comfortable, and there is usually no relief.

  92. bob mcmanus:

    Matter of taste

    Time after Time
    Somewhere in Time
    Back to the Future
    Warlock
    Versus
    The Girl Who Leaped Thru Time
    Bill & Ted
    Just Visiting
    The Jacket (Brody & Knightley)
    Midnight in Paris

  93. Tucker (the other one):

    La Jetee? (Cheating, I know.)

  94. Joe:

    I liked Silver Linings Playbook overall & the parents (including the lesser known mom) were very good but it did have a Hollywood-ization quality of the material. Early on, we really saw the guy’s mental anguish & a serious look at mental illness and family dynamics is good stuff. In time, however, you are rooting for the two leads as if it is some cute romantic comedy.

  95. NBarnes:

    +1

  96. NBarnes:

    Reference Alien. One gross-out scene that rivals anything we make today lends context to all of the other creepy-thing-you-can’t-see scenes.

    But I’m biased, because Alien is my Favorite Movie Evar.

  97. NBarnes:

    I say this mostly with respect to games, but it goes for movies as well.

    The number of bad, derivative, phoned-in games that get released is totally irrelevant. What’s important is how many good games get released. Bad content is inevitable. Thus it always was. But we actually live in a true golden age of games (and movies). There are more good games and moves released than one human can possibly take in. How can that qualify as anything but a golden age?

  98. NBarnes:

    Driving Mrs. Chainsaw?

  99. Murc:

    Ebert hasn’t been reliable for years as he’s slowly turned into an old curmudgeon who rapidly loses patience with any movie that doesn’t cater to his biases and heaps praise on any movie that does.

    I stopped taking him seriously when he declared that video games cannot be art. That was so jaw-droppingly wrong that it makes everything else he says suspect.

  100. Murc:

    So I’m completely alone in my irrational love for Timecop, then?

  101. Leeds man:

    I Am A Fugitive From A Chainsaw Gang. Slasher social commentary.

  102. Murc:

    The number of bad, derivative, phoned-in games that get released is totally irrelevant. What’s important is how many good games get released.

    Untrue. Derivative, shitty content can crowd out better content even if there’s a lot of good content still floating around. And if the shitty content establishes itself as the face of a genre, it can cause the entire genre to become something serious creators ignore.

    There’s a discussion about horror movies upthread. Part of the reason it is so hard to get a good horror movie made by top talent is that directors, actors, and studios regard the entire genre as a wasteland mostly inhabited by torture porn or bad b-movies.

    I would prefer the genres I like to be represented by their best materiel, rather than their worst, to ensure that further good materiel gets made. How many actual quality games don’t get made because EA spends a huge chunk of change raping Modern Warfare’s corpse every year? How many people regard THAT as the face of the FPS genre, rather than, say, Bioshock?

  103. Bill Murray:

    were those the names of the Anaconda?

  104. jeer9:

    And your go-to critic is …?

  105. Bill Murray:

    aren’t you supposed to drop your haitches?

  106. Bill Murray:

    When Harry Met A Chainsaw

  107. Hogan:

    A Chainsaw to Remember

  108. Bill Murray:

    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, presented by Stihl

  109. Joe:

    To toss it out there, though I didn’t see it, Oliver Stone was on Chris Hayes yesterday & argued Hollywood was pretty conservative overall.

  110. Joe:

    IS pretty conservative.

  111. Warren Terra:

    The Saw-Chain Redemption

    (OK, it’s not “Chain-Saw”. But it’s the same syllables).

  112. herr doktor bimler:

    The Sticky Fingers of Time.
    Slaughterhouse 5.

  113. Marc McKenzie:

    “Bad content is inevitable. Thus it always was. But we actually live in a true golden age of games (and movies). There are more good games and moves released than one human can possibly take in. How can that qualify as anything but a golden age?”

    Yup. It’s Sturgeon’s Law, of course. There has, and always will be, garbage. But there will always be the good stuff. Whenever someone moans about nothing original being released (when it comes to games), my first thought is, “Well, did you even _try_ to look, or you only went for the latest COD game?”

    There is good stuff out there, but the thing I’ve found is that you often have to discover it yourself.

  114. Jon C:

    This. It opened well and coherently (I didn’t entirely buy Bradley Cooper as bipolar, but YMMV). Then the genre confusion set in, until at the end all I could think of was that segment in “American Pie” where the bros run confusedly from watching their buddy’s lacrosse game to watching their buddy singing a duet in a chorus competition in order to melt the girl’s heart.

  115. BigHank53:

    Chainsaw and Louise
    It’s a Chainsaw Life
    Miracle on Chainsaw Street

  116. Warren Terra:

    Chainsawtown
    Big Trouble With Little Chainsaw
    The Chainsaw Here

  117. Warren Terra:

    Oh, and because it’s traditional in this round: Bring Me The Chainsaw Of Alfredo Garcia

  118. catclub:

    We named the smart shark Nom Nom Chompsky at our house.

  119. herr doktor bimler:

    “Motel Hell” offers romance, organic food and a chainsaw duel.

  120. AR:

    I am not disagreeing with you. My point is the teenage boy domination of the box office came after a new mass-media (TV) came to dominate America, which would peg the change to the 1950′s and ’60′s, which also happened to be when the studio star system started to really break down and when demographic marketing research started to come into play.

  121. Bill Murray:

    that jerky sounded fantastic

  122. Bill Murray:

    The Chainsaw Story
    Adam’s Chainsaw
    Bringing Up Chainsaw
    His Chainsaw Friday
    Arsenic and Old Chainsaw

  123. Gabriel Ratchet:

    When I was younger, during the first post-Halloween/Friday the 13th wave of slasher films, I used to rather enjoy them. Possibly because I was part of the young, maladjusted young man demographic mentioned above. I actually found them oddly cheering, in that I might have been depressed and socially awkward, but hey, at least I wasn’t hanging from a meathook getting disemboweled by a maniac, and as opposed to, say, romantic comedies, which just drove home how depressed I was.

    There’s also something about seeing them in a theatre, which I think fosters a sense of group bravado (no one wants to be the scaredy-cat who walks out) that adds to the enjoyment, if it is enjoyment.

    Now that I’m older, however, and do most of my movie watching via dvd, I find I’ve lost my taste for them. While I’d hesitate to claim that I’m any less maladjusted than I was as a teenager, I now find watching slasher films by myself kind of sad and creepy rather than exciting, as though I were an incipient serial killer — or at least that any neighbors listenin in might think I am (I’ve half-joked that anyone who owns the complete Saw series blu-ray box set should probably be on some sort of watch list).

  124. Michael Drake:

    Vanilla Ice feels that the remake “seems to have drifted away from the original story.”

  125. Ed:

    I’m pretty sure that prior to actually conducting market research in the 1940s and discovering that the gender mix of the movie audience (at that time) was about 50:50, Hollywood had assumed for decades that its audience skewed female.

    Yes. The generic target viewer then was a slightly older woman. The golden age was also, not coincidentally, a golden age for female stars. They still had shorter shelf lives than the male stars – the cutoff age for your average female star was 35, today it’s about 40 — but it’s been pretty much downhill for the ladies ever since, an outlier like Julia Roberts notwithstanding.

  126. ajay:

    More on point, the primary movie audience has always been teenage boys and young men with bad love lives

    Not entirely true. Movies are targeted at frequent viewers – the 10% of the population who buy 50% of the tickets. Most of them are in the 25-39 bracket. And the split of tickets sold is exactly 50:50 male and female.

    This is another Invisible Woman thing, I think. You see the same thing in fiction publishing. The publishers know perfectly well who’s buying their books, but the outsiders don’t. 80% of novels are bought by women. 60% of science fiction novels are bought by women – but you ask an outsider “what’s a typical SF fan” and they’re going to say “male teenager, pimples, lives at home”. In reality it’s more likely to be a 40 year old woman.

    http://www.mpaa.org/resources/5bec4ac9-a95e-443b-987b-bff6fb5455a9.pdf

  127. Halloween Jack:

    King’s accident injuries were relatively not gross, since most of them were internal. (See the last Dark Tower book for a good description.)

    And it’s not that there are three types of terror; he distinguishes between terror, horror and the gross-out in his nonfiction book about horror, Danse Macabre. Terror is when you hear the scratching of something huge from behind a closed door, trying to get in; horror is when the door pops open and it’s a twelve-foot-high cockroach; the gross-out is when the cockroach bites your head off. He’s also quite clear that even though terror is the finest of the three, he has no problem stepping down to horror or even the gross-out in his own work. (As you might remember from Dark Tower VII and the birth of Mordred Deschain.)

  128. Halloween Jack:

    grr arg forgot to close tag

  129. Halloween Jack:

    I’ll just leave this here.

  130. Halloween Jack:

    Ebert’s always had strong opinions, some of which I disagree with quite a lot–see his review of Blue Velvet, for example–but writing off his reviews of movies because he’s wrong about videogames is like writing off a chef because he’s wrong about football.

  131. Halloween Jack:

    You know what really hurts videogames, and a lot of nerd fandoms in general? Using rape as a metaphor for poorly-done product. Stop it, please.

  132. Cody:

    Your analogy is faulty I feel.

    Ebert is an art critic. His medium of art is movies.

    It’s more like writing off a chef because he’s wrong about dessert.

    Sure, maybe you only order dinner from him and it’s five-star. But it sure raises a lot of questions when he recommends the doughnut holes for dessert….

  133. sparks:

    I thought we were talking about slasher flicks. Now it’s action/adventure? As explained above, the audience was very different – there were a lot more women going to the theater then (the ’20s-’30s, I mean, since that’s where I specialize). There were adventure films, and action was generally gangster films and Westerns.

  134. sparks:

    Yes, IB is mostly correct, but the studios knew their audience skewed female before WWII by surveying and theater owner reports. That became less so when TV came to the fore. When the drive-in came to be a force in the ’50s, the films were tailored to teenage tastes by the indies cashing in on the trend they saw.

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