Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Where Have All the Scary Movies Gone?

With a day off, I made the half-hour drive down to Virginia's hottest tourist attraction, Potomac Mills Mall, to shop for some much needed black dress shoes. On the way I, quite by accident, heard the death of WHFS (possibly more on that in another post) and then quickly found my shoes in the first store I walked into. With some extra time on my hands, I decided to take in a matinee of White Noise.

Judged as a horror movie, it gets pretty low marks. The scare factor, and even the creepy factor, are pretty much non-existent. I like the basic idea of the story; EVP is an interesting subject area and being told in film instead of a novel makes perfect sense. But, like Lady Litblitz said earlier, it has some severe plot problems. Mostly it seemed to want to be two movies at the same time. It had this urge to be poetic in ways it dealt with the loss of a loved one, but added in elements of ghostie badness that just didn't work for me. If the script stuck more solidly to one side or the other, it might have worked. As it was, it's a floundering storyline unsure about which way to go. If you've seen it, I gave up on the plot once the woman goes balcony diving. That said, I did like the cinematography. There are some pretty amazing camera shots with reflections, nice angles, and some unique use of lighting. This was put to particulary good use in the beginning to highlight the depression of Michael Keaton's character.

It reminds me a little of another movie, The Mothman Prophecies. Like White Noise, it starts with the death of a loved one and moves into a paranormal story that a good number of people believe to be true. Unfortunately Hollywood couldn't resists turning both of these into cookie-cooker projects ('s been 18 minutes since someone died...time for a car crash). I did, however, like Mothman better. Perhaps because everything isn't tied with such a nice little bow, or maybe that it all supposedly happened right over in West Virginia. Someday I'll have to go Point Pleasant and see their statue in person.



LadyLitBlitzin said...

Ah, yes, Potomac Mills, I know it well. (And try to avoid it unless I have a half day during the week like you did!)

I have mixed feelings about WHFS. Since I have lived here all my life (if you have, you understand, but I'm not sure), I had fond feelings for it -- it was how, when I was 12-13, I discovered the music that would change my life. It used to be SO good. Around 1990 it became much more corporate, what with the firing of all its original, quirky, cool DJs and hiring of subsequent Howard Stern knockoffs, and hasn't been too terribly alternative ever since. (I remember circa approx. 1995, they used a sample from a Laibach song for an ad --"WE'RE CUTTING EDGE!" -- and I was so angry because I knew they'd never actually have played the actual song, you know?) A friend of mine said in comment today: "the wages of sucking is to die." Ah well, RIP, WHFS -- some of us remember when you were REALLY cool.

Enough of that rant. I agree with you about the movie -- yeah, the balcony diving was where it completely unraveled for me. I can't even say I really understood the end either. It had cool elements but never really delivered. I think I liked Mothman too... it was creepier, better delivered, and even with the cookie cutter ending, it made more sense to me, at least.

Hebdomeros said...

I grew up in the D.C. area as well. I started listening to HFS my sophomore year in H.S., which I guess would have been '88 or '89. It was the only station playing music I really liked at the time, and as sad as it sounds it was kind of a sense of identity for me. Not many other people in my h.s. listened to them then. They exploded in popularity in '91 with the whole alternative rock thing, stayed cool for another year or two and finally sold the station to Infinity (which also owns WPGC, WJFK, 98 Rock, and on and on). At that point they started working like a top 40 station, doing market research for everything they played instead of taking chances with something a little different. I gave up on the station when they fired Aquaman and got rid of the new music show on Sunday nights. There became no difference between them and DC101, save for more annoying radio jocks.

Jen said...

HFS was a godsend to me as a teenager growing up the boonies (Eastern shore--on good days I could get the signal). I remember hearing X and the Circle Jerks and Kate Bush and thinking, "Why do all the other stations play such crap when there's this goldmine?" I went away to college, and then when I graduated and came to Baltimore, circa 94, the station was already in its downslide--endless repetitions of Counting Crows, Pearl Jam, and Seven Mary Three. It always gave me a chuckle in recent days to turn on the radio, think I had on 98 Rock, and realize it was 99.1 ("the true alternative," as they sadly boasted.")

Heb, did you know that the Mothman Prophecies is based somewhat on a true story? A bridge in West Virgnia did collapse back in the 60s, I believe, and there were some reports of a 7-foot mothlike man around the scene weeks beforehand. Of course, there was no Richard Gere saving Laura Linney from the river, but you gotta sell those tickets.

Hebdomeros said...

Yeah, I did. The movie's based on the book of the same name by John Keel. Just like in the movie, he was a Washington Post writer sent out to cover a wacky story and got immeshed in ....something. Who knows what really happened. I've never read the book, but I've heard him interviewed a couple of times on Art Bell's radio show. I probably should read the book someday.

We all seem to feel the same, that HFS really died long before now. Not surprising, since we're all about the same age. I even used to like 98 Rock for their metal focus, but some point along the line 98 Rock, HFS, and DC 101 all turned into the same station. It's been more than one occassion when I'd be in my car, wouldn't like the song on HFS, and switched around only to find the same damn song playing on the other two.

I do feel sorry for some of the radio jocks. Aside from the morning guys, their jocks were grossly underpaid for the market (they made about $10/hour for a four hour show). I went to college with one of their overnight guys, and he works full time for UPS to make a living. Just starting to make some big steps, and then shot down. Oh well. That's show biz.

Jen said...

I'll have to see whether they carry Keel's book at my library. I'm a big fan of the supernatural, so it'll be nice to curl up with something creepy when it gets colder.

LadyLitBlitzin said...

Yeah, I started listening to HFS in about 82, which would put me at 12. As I have said more than one time in the last 24 hours, it changed my world. And yeah, then it died, a slow, approximately decade-long death.

There are a lot of people who feel the same way we do. Trust me on that. Sigh.

Hebdomeros said...

Wow, age 12. I have no idea what I was listening to at age 12.

Scuttlebutt now is that WRNR may switch frequencies and expand their range. WRNR was set up by a number of the jocks from HFS after they were bought out, and runs much like HFS used to from what I understand. I can't get it where I am, but what little I've heard I've liked. Only problem is that they may get co-opted as well, and used as a brand name to sell another HFS style product.

Sigh. Is it any wonder I didn't stay in radio?

LadyLitBlitzin said...

Oh, okay... isn't that the one in Annapolis, where Damian is working now? That would be cool if they expanded their range and didn't get co-opted.

Terrestrial radio has sucked for a long time. I'm thinking that satellite radio is the way to go for a better quality of music, and genre-related fare. Of course there are other options -- like just listening to your own music. I generally just listen to CDs in the car these days. And if I ever get that new computer and then an iPod, there's always shuffling the playlist to get that sense of serendipity.

Yeah, I was about 12 (maybe a wee bit older), wandering around the radio dial. Not sure where I got the heads up, or if I did at all, or just ran across it.

Hebdomeros said...

Yeah, that's the station.

I like the idea of satellite radio. I haven't looked into it too much, though. Last thing I need now is an extra expense, but maybe someday. I have started exploring some of the stations available through apple's itunes. A handful are a bit progressive and seem fun.

Also read an article recently on "podcasts", in which you can use your computer to record webcasts and have it downloaded to your ipod automatically. Kind of a tivo for radio, I guess. That seems real promising, particularly if there are speficic programs you like. Progams podcasting now range from music shows to NPR feature programs to weird people just rambling on their own internet radio show.

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to say how old I was in '82 because you'd all laugh at me. With the exception of Hebdomeros, of course. I will say I didn't grow up in DC/VA/MD and thus didn't know of HFS until college, by which point it was a dime a dozen radio station. Went to one HFStival because a friend had a free ticket and felt old and prudish (while IN college). Have listened to RNR (helps to be in B'more to pick it up), and it's not amazing but it is decent. Generally, though, I just keep a cd playing round and round and round...

Speaking of ipods, what do you all think of the new cheaper version, the Ipod Shuffle?


Hebdomeros said...

Mixed feelings. I like the cheaper price, and it seems like it has plenty of memory. Not sure how I feel on the usuability, since you buttons instead of a screen menu to cycle through the songs. I'd need to play with one to see if I liked it.

I do like that apple is trying to expand, both with this and with the new macmini. We'll see if they'll pay off.