Shutting the Book on Bookstores

I have to share something devastating with you. You might want to sit down for this as you may be as shocked as I am.

The Barnes and Noble at the Inner Harbor, Baltimore has closed its doors for good. I know, right!? I can hardly imagine it. What used to be a multi-level oasis of pure happiness is now an empty building full of lost hopes and dreams.

photo credit: tripadvisor

photo credit: tripadvisor

photo credit: tripadvisor

No more new book smell. No more window shopping for little gifts and trinkets. No more reading in the aisles. No more meandering through row after row of the written word.

In experiencing this heartbreak, I wonder who else might be coping with the closure of their favorite store. Who else has lost a cherished brick and mortar place of business where they could physically purchase joy in the form of art, books, or other cultural goods?

We’re all aware that as our world shrinks down to the size of a laptop, we have become increasingly geared towards technology as online storefronts replace physical ones. Ecommerce is the big buzzword. Our lives, more and more, are lived through social media rather than tangible experiences.

So, are we, as a society, eschewing tangible books for mass-produced TikTok soundbites, YouTube beauty vlogs, and online shopping? Has Amazon finally killed the bookstore? And are we going to hold Jeff Bezos accountable?

Or can the death of the bookstore be attributed to the increasing availability and convenience of ebooks and audiobooks? Did technology like the Kindle usher in the slow demise of books as we know them?

Over the last twenty years or so, I have seen bookstore after bookstore close down. At first, it was the small, independent shops… between the big box stores and Amazon, they just didn’t stand a chance. Now, apparently, even the big chains are feeling the heat of our melting society. It’s disheartening, truly. I think of the 1998 film, You’ve Got Mail, where Meg Ryan plays a boutique bookstore owner. Her little shop struggles against the competition of the corporate Fox Books company and ultimately, her bookstore fails. Barnes and Noble is like the Fox Books of the real world. The irony that we’ve come full circle in this scenario is not lost on me.

Speaking of You’ve Got Mail.  Meg Ryan’s character falls in love with the owner of the company that ruined her beloved business. What’s that about anyway?? Even if he is Tom Hanks, I just don’t get it. It’s a good movie, but that resentment should feel more realistic. And it would read more like a tragedy than a romance.

Online shopping was already a huge business.  As we continue our lives through the pandemic, more and more people turn to Amazon and other ecommerce stores for their shopping. While some small bookstores remain afloat, will they be able to survive?

Bookstores, as you might have guessed, are one of my favorite places. They live and breathe creativity. The paper, the stories, the shelves, are all embedded into the very fabric of that magical place. It would be such a shame to know them only as a memory.

 

Life With No Regrets

I know I’ve mentioned my book club a few times, but much like my family, they offer so much material! The other day, a member asked a question that I personally had a very hard time answering. Other members were ready with a quick retort – most in the affirmative, which, once again, left me shaking my head… since you know, it’s a book group.  I know you’re frothing at the bit to hear the question, so here you go. They asked, “What books do you regret reading?” I know, right!?

I felt as though they might as well ask, “What air do you regret breathing?” I was, however, in the minority. Apparently, people regret reading quite a bit.

Now, you might be thinking of those heavy books, the ones that stick with you for life. And I mean emotionally weighty—not those insanely thick, must-have-on-you-at-all-times textbooks we got in school. I mean the ones that you carry in your heart. The ones that put you in a bad way if you think too much about them. The ones where you learn about the harsh realities of the real world.

The ones where the dog dies.

Even though these books don’t make us feel warm and fuzzy inside, they have value. They teach us something. Maybe we learned about the atrocities of WWII; the holocaust, the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the Japanese concentration camps in America. As horrific as it is to accept, we learned something about humanity in all this history.

Or maybe the heavy book taking up space in your heart is fiction. Maybe the main character, the little girl you were rooting for, the girl burdened with unimaginable pain and sadness, the girl who shows compassion and strength, the girl who feels so real, dies at the end of the book. And you are heartbroken. And you are so moved by this, you are sobbing and letting tears run down your face and onto the pages. Reading can transport us into worlds where we are free to feel and express our emotions — good and bad.

How can you regret anything that makes you feel? Makes you learn. Makes you open your mind. Makes you grow.

Now you might think, “Well, what about a book you hated? One that was just bad.” Ahhh, but that wasn’t the question. This was a question of regrets. Bad writing is bad writing, but even then, regret reading? I don’t think so.

Reading, no matter what it might be, helps us to engage critically with ideas. Reading informs us in so many ways—not just by presenting facts like those heavy textbooks from a soon-to-be bygone era. It helps us to practice forming our own opinions. It gives us the gift of expanding our language, our imaginations, and even our aspirations.

No matter what the book is about, who it is written by, or what genre it falls in, reading a book is like taking a walk. By the end, you’re somewhere else. And even if we didn’t enjoy the journey, we saw something new.

So, instead of having an answer in my book club discussion, I only had another question: Can you really regret reading a book?

What Women Want

Take a look at any men’s health magazine the next time you’re in the grocery store. Notice the sheen of sweat that seems to be perpetually glistening on their skin, as if they’re in desperate need of a shower… or two. Admire the outrageously formidable, perfectly-formed pecs and cartoonishly rounded biceps. Drink in the sight of over-stimulated veins stretching across their forearms. Think ‘The Hulk’, but on steroids. This is every woman’s dream, right? Yeah, no.

This so-called ideal body type is being forced down men’s throats by other men. Just watch any superhero or action movie… the leads with biceps on top of biceps on top of biceps in some twisted homage to Popeye the Sailor Man, back muscles that you didn’t even know humans had, and abdominal muscles so defined you could count the muscle fibers. Women don’t admire the over-the-top superhero bod nearly as much as men do. It’s a power fantasy written by men for men. Being ripped isn’t appealing merely because they’re “more attractive” as a man; it’s more appealing because more strength equals more power.

Unfortunately, too many men buy into this whole idea that the sinewy, veiny, glistening body type is the only one that women desire.

Sigh…

The women I know don’t want the piles of muscles and veins. And we can do the rescuing for ourselves, thank you very much. We don’t need Johnny Protein Powder to do it for us; we’ve been doing it for years before he came along.

What do women want, you ask? Let’s start with a brain that doesn’t have its cells clogged by creatine. They want your chivalrous (note: chivalrous, not chauvinistic) actions to show how much you care for them, six-packs be damned. Rather than the models on work-out magazines, give us a man with substance.

Give us David Tennant and the Tenth Doctor’s undying affection for those he loves.  Give us Timothy Olyphant from The Crazies, who refused to flee a zombie-infected area without his wife because he was so devoted to her. Of course, I would be remiss not to mention Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. While he may have been an arrogant asshole when we first met him, his heart was in the right place.  There’s a reason why women loved Jim Halpert in The Office. It definitely wasn’t his work-out routine. Laurie from Little Women was aloof and misguided at times, but he was fiercely devoted and loved passionately. I’d take a Laurie over a Hasselhoff any day of the week.

So, men, you want to know what women want? Go ask your women friends who their fictional crushes are. I dare you. You may be surprised at their answers.

 

Game On

You may have noticed, but the world is plunging into chaos. Polar bears are on the verge of extinction, there’s a great big vortex of plastic floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and well, you know… *waving vaguely at everything.* I’m not naming names or anything, but if the world were Gotham City the supervillains would be winning right about now, and Batman and Batwoman seem to be on hiatus.

We spend so much time wondering when Clark Kent is going to fly in to save the day, complete with his underpants on the outside of his pants (go figure, obviously some human cultural norms slipped past him after he crash landed) that most of us don’t realize there are millions of gamers around the planet fighting evil, likewise in their underwear, every single day. Okay, so the evil they fight is on the screen, but honestly, what’s the difference between a modern politician and a Quake 4 demon zombie anymore? If the two were in a game of “spot the difference,” I think many people would get very, very flustered trying to work out the puzzle.

Forget Superman. What if our heroes are already here on Earth? Think about it. All comic superheroes are nerds, or at least start out that way. And I mean that with the utmost respect. Superman is a journalist in his usual civilian life. Tony Stark is a complete tech-head. And Wonder Woman, well she’s just wonderful. You could even make an argument that Deadpool himself is somewhat of geek. I mean, he’s a hardcore fan of Dragon Ball, after all.  Point is, all these superheroes started off as quirky outsiders sitting around in their pajamas before getting bitten by a nuclear spider or flung into the far reaches of space and deciding to don leotard outfits, or, you know, stay in their pajamas.

Nerds. Are. Our. Future.

No one has more practice slaying demons, dragons, and whatever other monster you can possibly think of than gamers. If aliens come to attack planet Earth, or heaven forbid, a zombie outbreak occurs, it will be gamers that will be most trained in the art of holding their nerve and planning a survival strategy.

They are our superheroes.

And slowly they are gaining more and more exposure and recognition. Gaming is now big business. American teenager Kyle Giersdorf won $3 million in New York this past July after taking the top prize in a tournament for the popular online video game Fortnite. That’s a hell of a lot better than the chump change the rest of us make. And hell, most of us aren’t even doing anything nearly as fun to earn our paycheck. Speaking of which, in the office wars, I bet most gamers would come out on top as well.

I mean, seriously, any list of gaming skills reads like the perfect CV. I know I’ve said this before, but gamers have to have some serious skills to be good at what they do. Not only do their reflexes need to be as sharp as samurai masters, but they have to stay focused and keep a cool head under pressure.  They need to be able to strategize and juggle multiple tasks at once. In addition, they need to understand and remember numerous complex backstories and be proactive in finding and exploiting glitches to the betterment of their mission or team. Don’t even get me started on stamina or mental acuity… gamers are capable of sustaining a high level of concentration and can stay on task far longer than just about any office dweller. Reliability, problem-solving, productive risk-taking… I’m telling you, they’ve got it all. Such talent surely translates into marketable skills, if not the potential for true greatness.  Come on, gamers, we’re looking at you… you are the future.

Game on.

The One With the Red Cover

I don’t know if you belong to any book or movie groups on social media, but they’re an awesome way to connect with like-minded entertainment junkies where you can delve into plot holes, critique subplots involving second string characters, and debate ad nauseum the politics of certain actors, but let me tell you, it’s seriously not as boring as that run-on sentence just made it out to be.

Sometimes, you’re given homework. Again, membership is usually a little more interesting than my descriptors would lead you to believe.  Anyway, fellow members (you know who you are) will routinely offer up puzzles to the rest of the group. Like, what was that movie that had the title with a name of a flower in it… or that book, you know, the one that came out 30 years ago with a red cover and a character named John. The responses to these vague campaigns often run the gamut. Some, like me, take it as a challenge.

Of course, there are always those who respond, why don’t you Google it? I mean, they have a point. Google is right there. Google is your friend. But then again, isn’t that the point of these niche groups? To talk, discuss, and generally obsess over whatever it is the group is patterned after? It’s the perfect place to ask those types of questions, and quite frankly, I’m not sure why the “go ask Google” people are even in those groups if they don’t want to help a fellow bibliophile or cinephile in their pursuit of a dated book or an obscure film.

And what about the people who create these intriguing side quests and then apparently drop off the face of the Earth?

Yeah, does anybody remember a book about a girl named Jane, I read it, oh, about 25 years ago, had something to do with the sea, and something bad happens. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. Anybody know it?

Then you have fifty people throwing out answers, some of which are pretty damned decent guesses and either those folks have a vast mental library or else they’re fantastic researchers… but, we’ll never know the answer to this riddle, because the original poster never comes back to say, yeah, that was it! Or no, you’re all wrong, are you crazy, of course that wasn’t it!

I mean, at least come back and give the rest of us some closure for god’s sake. I think those people need a course in manners. Hey, I remember that book! By a lady named Miss Manners of all things. Maybe I should recommend it to them.

You know what, though? This lack of rejoinder happens in any online group that has people as members, the one constant being, well, people.

Seen in a backyard gardening group: What’s this plant growing in my garden … I never planted it, it just showed up one day, fully grown. Can I eat it? Will it kill my cat!? What’s the deal?  And someone responds, because they always do, with encyclopedic detail, pictures and all, to let the would-be gardener know not only the name of the plant, but a delicious recipe their grandmother had using that very plant. Others pile on with their own identification and recipes for teas, salves, and oils. But does concerned forager and cat owner ever respond? Nope. We’re just talking to ourselves at that point.

It’s the whole being behind a keyboard rather than face-to-face thing, I think. Even though the internet connects us, there’s still an inherent disconnect.

And we still don’t know what happened with her cat.

The Ghostest with the Mostest

I’m pretty sure it’s come up before, but I’m quite the horror movie fanatic. Well nothing too crazy like a having a life-size cutout of Freddie Krueger or Michael Myers (slasher extraordinaire, not the Spy Who Shagged Me) in my living room or a lifelike replica of Pamela Voorhees’ dismembered head on a candlelit coffee table (just let me pause for a moment to say that if anyone is selling one, please be sure to send me a message with a fair price.)

With that said, I am a pretty avid fan, nonetheless. Back in the day, anything and everything was fair game in my cinematic horror world. Films like Razorback (don’t judge me!) were in the same line-up as Ghost Story for my late-night viewing. I like to think that my viewing habits have gotten more consistently sophisticated over time, but I’m not so sure. Nowadays, movies like The Cabin in the Woods (2011) share space with classics such as The Haunting of Hill House (1963) in “my stuff” on streaming media sites.

If I had to pinpoint a genre (or sub-genre, if you like) to be a personal favorite, I would have to say I lean strongly towards haunted house and general ghost-y movies.

Once in a while, Hollywood scores pretty big with a well-done ghost story, but mostly it’s a special effects game. Don’t get me wrong, I love CGI-laden movies as much as anyone, but movies that build from a slow burn make for a more realistic scare in my opinion.

M.R. James is a favorite writer and while some of his stories have been utilized for movie making, there is so much more potential there that’s left untapped.

If I were to recommend a film that is inspired by one of his works, I’d say Number 13 (2006) is a pretty good story. If you’re a fan of the shining, it’s definitely worth a look.

In the age of zombies (World War Z or Night of the Living Dead), creature features (The Descent or A Quiet Place), and others, a good ghost story is hard to come by. There have been a few wonderful adaptations of ghost stories throughout cinema, but the most popular ghost story of the last decade or so would probably go to Paranormal Activity, and that’s such a modernized “fast-food” experience in my opinion.

So, why is there a lack of really good ghost stories?  Is it because Hollywood knows its audience usually has the attention span of a jar of mayonnaise?  Or is it that people just like to see pain and anguish on a physical level because they’re sadistic voyeurs? A friend of mine who is obsessed with horror, thinks that most of Hollywood’s decisions are targeted to two basic types of horror movie audiences.

You have the mainstream movies, like Winchester or The Visit (good movie by the way!), which are intended to appeal to the casual horror movie fan. For instance, “You know what Becky, I haven’t seen a horror movie in a few years, let’s go check out this eerie ghost flick at the theater.” Versus hardcore fans of horror, where it’s all about shock value, over the top gore, sex, violence, etc. For example: “Hey Sven, have you seen Tokyo Gore Police yet? I heard they used over 50 thousand gallons of fake blood making that film, we should go check it out.”

Where are the intelligent, slow building haunted house stories? I know that Hollywood sometimes has difficulty with original material – hence all the remakes, but in this case, there is source material galore. The fact that modern day audiences have likely never read gothic horror is not so much a slight on society as it is, quite simply, teeming with potential for screenwriters.

Actors Are People Too… No, Really

I find that the amount of irony in the world is ever growing. For instance, I once knew this lady who claimed to be an animal rights activist. Closer to one of the extremist types at that. Wouldn’t you know it, turned out she also had quite the addiction to alligators. Not the animal per se, but more or less their skin. Purses, handbags, belts, and even shoes. She had quite the collection. I’m talking at least 30 plus items. All authentic alligator skins. Imported from all over. Mind you, she didn’t sport the gator leather often, it was more or less for her private collection. I didn’t really know her well, maybe met her once or twice – she was the friend of a mutual friend and you know how that goes. Anyway, at some point in time, and admittedly I don’t recall when, she was called out on her hypocritical lifestyle.  Her response was simple. Alligators aren’t animals, they are reptiles. I kid you not. Yeah, I know. But the whole point of this little backstory was to paint a little picture of the irony I’m talking about. Which brings me right into the meat of this article. Classic Hollywood and the Illustrious Oscars.

As you know, I find many things funny. To add to that humor bank, I think it’s funny that people who love movies hate the Oscars. In fact, it might surprise you to know that many people who love movies also hate the actors that play in them. If you ask these folks why, they say that they prefer “their” actors to remain nothing more than performing monkeys instead of smashing through the 4th wall, so to speak, and appearing as real, functioning members of society. Oh, not in so many words, but that’s the gist.

Maybe there is some truth to the phrase, “Never meet your heroes.” But it leads me to wonder if sometimes celebrities say, “Never meet your biggest fans.”

With that said, I typically do not watch the Oscars myself, but not because I get my feelings hurt over some famous person with an opinion, it’s just that my attention span won’t let me. I know a few guys who love sports, but a lot of them say they can’t sit through a whole baseball game or whatever game because, like me, they have the attention span of a gnat. However, they still enjoy watching the highlights after, and in fact, enjoy it even more than watching a game… all of the good stuff in short bursts.  That’s me with the Oscars. I like to see the winners and losers, the antics that took place, who wore what, who showed up with who, you know, the highlights if you will.

There are oftentimes when I think the voters got it wrong (much like the 2016 election).  For instance, the fact that Taika Waititi received zilch for his amazing and unprecedented Valkyrie scene in Thor: Ragnarök – the process for which he CREATED because it had never been done before – was unforgivable. The fact that very few people of color ever win is atrocious. I mean, in general, the Oscars are obviously a massive ego stroke to the Hollywood crowd and nothing more, but what else is new.

Lately, actors have been using this platform as a way to advocate for social change and to give voice to specific causes. I say, good for them. I wish they’d use more of their money to promote change, but hey, at least they’re speaking out.

Some of the people in my classic Hollywood film group are very different than me. They don’t say “good for them.” They prefer Trump to someone normal, they prefer John Wayne (whom they all agree is a known racist, but hey, it was just the times in which he lived!) to Jimmy Stewart who never said a bad word about anyone and who, unlike John Wayne, willingly served our country (in case you were unaware, Wayne kept getting deferments to keep him in Hollywood).

As for an actor saying anything other than, thank you for this shiny award, oh boy… you’d think the world was coming to an end. These movie lovers claim that “real” actors, the ones with talent, that is, existed only in the classic Hollywood days, and these stars would never stoop so low as to voice an opinion about anything. Anything, I tell you!

Back in the day, actors were on contracts. The studios controlled their lives, down to who they married or dated so as to “keep face” or hide one’s true self.  It’s not surprising that most actors opted not to rock the boat. Still, you had Brando, who refused to go to the Oscars in 1973 to protest how Native Americans were being treated. The Native American woman he sent in his stead was booed. But when this is discussed in my classic Hollywood group, they rave about Brando’s choice… because Brando is Brando and they obsess over him cause, you know, he’s Brando.

Newman didn’t attend … well, just because. But hey, he’s Newman. No-one hates Newman.

After six acting nominations and two honorary Oscars, Newman finally got a win for “The Color of Money” in 1987. But he wasn’t there to accept it, telling the Associated Press, “It’s like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. Finally, she relents, and you say, ‘I’m terribly sorry. I’m tired.’”

And yes, these are more recent events, relatively speaking, but as I said, back in the day, actors were kept on a pretty tight leash. The movies were great, yeah, but the way the actors themselves were treated, meh.

Nowadays, actors have a voice, just like everyone else in the world. And they’re using that voice more readily than they have in the past. I applaud most of them when they use their platform of celebrity to give voice to a better a world.

You can read more here, if you’re so inclined.

The thing is, most of the actors using the podium are voicing opinions that enrage the conservative right, because these ideas are, well, good for the world at large and not just a select few. The people getting offended by the awards ceremony – and celebrity causes in general, believe that actors should just keep their trap shut and act, because they’re nothing more than entertainment fodder for the audience and have no real presence in the world.

The days of actors being on a leash are gone. This speaks to the good and the bad. Because the same social changes that allow actors to use the Oscar stage to speak out against human rights abuses and animal cruelty also allow James Woods to air conspiracy theories and vile tirades against women on Twitter. Of course, in the classic Hollywood film group I mentioned, the latter is applauded, and the former is reviled.

Spoiler Alert

When is a movie old enough that you can discuss it in-depth without it being considered “spoilers?” 5 years, 10 years, 75 years?

I belong to a classic Hollywood movie group and someone was discussing the film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. It’s 75 years old.  A person commented that both leads die in the end and several – not one or two, but several – people got all upset and were chastising the person for spoiling the movie.  No spoilers!  But good grief, it’s a 75-year-old film!  What about Romeo and Juliet?  People know how that one turned out. Is it a spoiler to discuss it?

A friend of mine had a fight with her boyfriend because she “ruined” Titanic. Yeah, the one with Leonardo DiCaprio… by simply saying, “it’s sad when the ship sinks in the end.” Apparently, he didn’t know the ship sank at the end. And didn’t take the news well, either. In my opinion, for movies based on history, or true stories, can you really spoil them? I hate to tell you, but Bonnie and Clyde die at the end. That airplane filled with Uruguay’s Rugby team crashes in the Andes mountains, and they start eating each other to survive. I’m sorry, did I ruin the movie? Well, it was all over the news for weeks in 1993. Not to mention, it’s a piece of history.

Let’s say it wasn’t a movie of any historical significance, then how long do you wait? Whether we like it or not, I think for newer blockbuster movies, you have about a month after the movie premieres before it will be all over social media. And that goes for t.v. shows as well. For example, the AMC’s the Walking Dead. Fantastic show from what I hear. But if you happen to miss an episode, don’t even think about logging onto Facebook or Instagram the next morning. Hell, don’t even check the news. Some of the deaths of some of the major characters were listed right on the front of Yahoo News with clickbait titles like, “Walking Dead kills off another original cast member.” I’ve never watched the show but can tell you some major plot points just because it’s impossible to avoid. Game of Thrones was another one that was spoiler heavy, and yet another show I know a lot about simply from seeing unsolicited posts online.

But yeah, back on the topic of having a short window before movie spoilers run rampant. Are you into Marvel movies? Star Wars?  Hell, people were yelling out spoilers while in line to watch some of the latest movies. That’s going a bit far, if you ask me. What can I say? People are assholes. But if you still haven’t seen that popular Marvel movie that premiered a month or two ago, and you log onto social media, that’s sort of  asking for spoilers.

Personal conversations are different. People should keep endings and major plot twists to themselves when talking to someone who might not have seen a movie yet. Unless you’re the type of person who likes spoilers, I never spill the beans on newer movies because ruining someone else’s enjoyment is just a jerk thing to do. But there should be a time limit to these things. I mean, once you hit a certain age, if you haven’t seen at least a few of the classics, that’s on you, not me. Most of my banter is pulled from old movies and books and sometimes spoilers just slip out. I can’t help it if you don’t know the bad witch dies in The Wizard of Oz or that Clarence gets his wings.

And in the case of The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, the person who discussed it in a classic movie group should be forgiven for thinking that the group’s members would have seen – or at least heard of – this 75 year old flick.

 

 

The Lesser of Two Evils

Pennywise’s lesser known cousin, Poundfoolish, never quite saw the same success as his movie star kin. Having fallen on hard times in recent years, he can be found roaming the aisles of the local grocery store, doing his utmost to intimidate the Karens and Beckys of the world,  which, as we all know, is virtually impossible.  To be fair, though, even the more popular, and arguably more frightening, Pennywise would find it a daunting task.

at least he’s social distancing

Ghosts and Gore and So Much More

I’m a pretty big fan of horror and action movies, as most of you know. But I will admit to enjoying the oft-maligned Hallmark movies. If I’m not actively watching them, I often have them just playing on the t.v. as background noise. My first dive into the Hallmark pool was with the ‘Sarah, Plain and Tall’ trilogy from way back in 1991 with the incredibly talented duo of Glenn Close and Christopher Walken. The Hallmark movies have lost a little quality and/or diversity in plot since then, but some of them are still fun.

Recently, my daughter has been successful in talking me into movies I wouldn’t ordinarily watch, like The Goldfinch, Shallow Grave, Kill Your Darlings, and Wonder Boys. I must confess, I’ve really enjoyed these and others that aren’t my usual genre. I’m expanding my movie horizons, you might say.

However, I always return to my roots when left to my own devices… horror. And I’ll admit to a little binging here lately. Hey, I like movies and I certainly have the time right about now. I tend to gravitate towards ghost stories, haunted houses, and supernatural tales for my fright fests. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like nowadays, it’s all gore, jump scares, gore, and more jump scares. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t any good mainstream horror movies, it’s just that many of the newer horror flicks have been a tad disappointing. Personally, I like smart horror movies, the stories that scare in their own right, not ones that rely solely on gimmicks to startle the audience. Being startled by a sudden overly loud sound or someone popping out of a cabinet isn’t the same as being scared, if you ask me.

A friend of mine, on the other hand, is a huge fan of the cheesy, gory style of horror movies. The gorier the better for him. And he’s not alone. To each their own, I say.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I can’t or don’t watch over the top gory movies, it’s not that gore sickens me… I just think it’s a cheap thrill. (For argument’s sake, we’ll ignore the fact that a very blood-filled ‘No-one Lives’ is one of my favorite movies.)  Films like Cannibal Holocaust, The Green Inferno, and Human Centipede are shocking and gruesome, and I guess they’re classified as horror because there really isn’t another genre box to put them in. But no matter how well written they might be (not counting Human Centipede, that movie is as stupid as it is grotesque – and not in a good way), it’s difficult for me to equate them with truly scary films such as The Orphanage, Ju-On: The Grudge, Carnival of Souls, The Haunting (1963), and the like.

I don’t want everyone to think I hate every gory movie with jump scares. In fact, some make for an entertaining afternoon. It’s just that in general, where horror movies are concerned, I usually prefer to be scared, not grossed out.

What say you, my friends? Ghosts or gore?