In the early 1950s and through the 1960s, William Castle and his counterparts in schlocky cinema had to think of gimmicks to get people in the theater to see their movies. The theater experience had to be spiced up to compete with the television, so shit like 3D was invented, and claims about movies being so intense the theater had on-call doctors to assist the faint-hearted were all the rage. In fact, a great example of this type of gimmicky horseshit can be seen in the film MATINEE. And while there’s something fun and appealing about this type of cheap marketing, it’s mostly in a “people back then were so gullible” kind of way. And yet, year after year, some marketing bum feels the need to treat us all like gullible assholes and try to pull something like this over our eyes.
What the hell am I talking about? I wish it were simply the 3D angle, one that got re-kick-started by AVATAR, but is already on the out and out. No, I’m talking about what happened at Sundance last week, with the news reporting about an audience member viewing the upcoming indie anthology horror flick V/H/S fainting within the first few minutes of the movie. And upon hearing this piece of news, I immediately call BULLSHIT. Seriously, there’s no way in hell, in this day in age, that anyone sitting down to a screening of a horror movie, could possibly see something so horrifically grotesque that they actually faint. That they’re reaction is beyond an emotional one and rears its ugly head into a physical one. Losing consciousness just by viewing something on a big screen. Bullshit.
Like all the schlock meisters of cinema’s past, this is just another form of marketing that’s rather insulting when implementing in this day in age. And why, oh why, does this type of shit always happen at screenings at movie festivals where people who watching a shitload of movies are always the one in attendance? Why it always happens when said films are looking for distribution or are just coming out. Why the f*ck aren’t people fainting every weekend when said film finally hits the big screen? I’ll tell you why. Because this is marketing bullshit at its absolute worse—and they’re playing us all like suckers for giving in and listening to the hype.
The last time I remember this happening was at an early Sundance screening of the Adam Green-produced killer baby movie GRACE. Now, GRACE is a pretty decent flick, but in no way shape or form a flick that anyone in their right minds would faint while watching. But news of it worked, the film scored a small theatrical release and went on to do well on DVD. And yet, since its release and it being viewed by thousands of people, there hasn’t been a single other report of fainting while watching it. Same goes for last year’s THE INCIDENT, which had audience members passing out at its Toronto screening / premiere… and hours before being picked up by IFC Midnight for widespread distribution.
Who are these f*cks kidding, anyway? The general public? Horror fans? Or are film distribution companies the only assholes on the planet who believe every report of fainting that happens at horror movie screenings? I don’t know, but it’s f*cking bullshit and it’s irritating as hell. When shit really happens, studios tend to keep that shit under wraps. It’s not something they want to get out in the open, like the flashy-editing that lead moviegoers all over the country to have seizures in BREAKING DAWN PART 1, or reports that many people who saw 127 HOURS had anxiety attacks during James Franco’s amputee scenes. These type of incidents happen around the country after the film was released and the studios hushed it to deter people from not seeing their films.
Maybe it’s the booze talking, but I’m sick and tired of hearing about jerkweed audience members attending screenings for brand-new horror movies at film festivals passing out because what they’re seeing is so scary / gory. Give us a break already. Every time this happens it’s obviously some marketing stunt that treats the rest of us like gullible assholes. Enough already! Invite strippers who pole dance at screenings or make like Gallagher and explode a couple of watermelons on the first few rows of the theater. I guarantee you those will make the news in some way shape or form, giving that little film enough attention.