Stupid Tuesday questions, Sam Neill edition

I do not like horror movies.  At all.

I believe I may have mentioned this fact about myself a time or two in the past.

I can almost tolerate a relatively straightforward slasher film, a la the “Scream” franchise.  I don’t enjoy the suspenseful moments, but the actual violence doesn’t unnerve me all that much.  While definitely not what I’d choose to watch given my druthers, movies of that ilk won’t send me into paroxysms of visceral terror or condemn me to weeks of random nightmares.  (Having just typed that, it occurs to me that I would probably react very badly indeed to the so-called “torture porn” genre, the very existence of which makes me genuinely sad for humanity.)

On the other hand, your supernatural horror flicks will send me right over the edge. Throw in any kind of eerie, malign presence behind the violence and you can rest assured that I will find the result intensely, unbearably unpleasant.  I once had a conversation in which I stated, quite sincerely, that I doubted there was money in the world sufficient to get me to sit through “Hellraiser.”  And it’s true!  If you said “Russell, we will hand you a cashier’s check for [astounding sum of money] if you sit, open-eyed and with fingers out of your ears, through that movie from opening to closing credits,” I genuinely doubt I could do it.

So I have no earthly idea how I ended up in that movie theater watching “Event Horizon.”

The very best explanation I can come up with is that I had no real idea what I was getting into.  I went to the movies with a friend I had at the time (whose name, I am shocked to discover, I cannot even remember any longer), and have no recollection of how it was decided that we’d see that one.  Perhaps I just thought it was a straightforward sci-fi adventure.  I dunno.

The first clue that I was in for a very unpleasant experience indeed came pretty early in the film, when I was treated to the sight of a flayed body drifting through an abandoned passageway in zero gravity, mouth frozen in a noiseless scream.  “Oh, dear,” thought I.  And then it got much, much worse.  As it was subsequently described by yet another friend who found it endlessly hilarious when I told him I’d subjected myself to it, I had just bought a ticket to see “Hellraiser” on a spaceship.

What I don’t understand when I think back to that miserable evening is why I didn’t just leave.  Lord knows I’ve walked out of movies for less.  [Confidential to RW: I’m still sorry about that one time!]  But no.  No.  Instead I just burrowed deeper and deeper into my seat, hoping to drown out the various different horrific sound effects with my own whimpering.  My friend, a truly nice guy who seemed both surprised and dismayed by my escalating distress and whose own enjoyment of the movie must have been significantly marred by same, never suggested that we call it quits, either.  It baffles me that I didn’t just say “Sorry, Friend Whose Name I No Longer Remember, but this is the pits.  I’ll meet you outside when this is over.  Please don’t tell me how it ends.”

No.  I sat through the whole damn thing, though I can’t really say that I “saw” it, given that my arms were firmly pressed over my orbits for probably the last 75% of its run time, with occasional peeks that I immediately regretted.  “Event Horizon,” the movie seared into my memory as my single worst cinematic experience ever.

So that’s this week’s Question — what was your worst movie/concert/theater-going experience?  While technically you could answer with examples that were merely of low quality, the spirit of the Question is more about offerings that were utterly unsuited to you in particular.  (For all I know, “Event Horizon” may be considered a masterpiece by discerning viewers, even though I’d rather get hit in the face with a frying pan than see it again.)  What did you go to see that, midway through, had you wondering how the hell you’d ended up there?

[Epilogue: Searching for images to add to this post has given me the howling fantods all over again.]

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120 thoughts on “Stupid Tuesday questions, Sam Neill edition

  1. Low Quality version:

    A very poorly miscast production of Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. Septimus Hodge is 22 at the start of the play, not in his 40s!!!!! I walked out of this one.

    Spirit of the Question variant:

    Marie Antoinette by Sophia Coppola. This sort of overlaps with the low quality because I don’t think she is a very good director but I was bored by everything except the brief times that Kristen Dunst was nude. I didn’t agree or like the whole idea of portraying the Court of Versailles as a bunch of American-esque suburban, rich kids whose parents were away for the weekend/forever. Politically, I am also not really on the side of the monarchy either. There are people who love Sophia Coppola and what she does, I am not one of these people.

    Knocked Up was a movie that I consented to go to because friends wanted to see it. My choice was a Goddard retrospective at BAM.

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  2. Social Media version:

    I bristle at the mawkishness of stories from Upworthy and similar sights. I really, really bristle at it but my friends seem to eat the stuff up and post upworthy and similar videos on facebook all the time.
    The head lines are loathsomely manipulative and filled with the worst forms of Internet hyperbole.*

    *I went on a rant on Internet hyperbole recently. Worst thing ever!

    ;)

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  3. Torture porn is one thing (assuming we’re talking about drawn stuff, not using actual people).
    Even the stuff where the writer has clearly been looking at
    medical drawings, and is trying really, really hard to make it look right.

    There are far worse things in this world. It is because of one of them that I am nominating Elfen Lied.

    I loved it the first time, but should I ever watch it again… It would not go well for me.

    Fiction’s great, so long as it stays conveniently fiction.

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      • Pinky,
        I didn’t mind it, so long as it was fictional.

        I’m generally rather loathe to call something porn
        without some rather damning evidence.

        Meatballs
        was written/directed by some people who clearly
        had a pedophilia fetish (to their credit, i don’t think they
        ever touched a kid) — you can tell from the costuming,
        and from some of the more accidental wordchoices.

        Raita draws pedophile pornography in his spare time.
        When he goes to draw an anime and you see intricate
        machines and little kids… yeah, he’s having fun.

        Judging by what actual torture porn looks like,
        Elfen Lied doesn’t actually focus on similar stuff —
        and the audience is supposed to find it brutal.

        I’m certain there have been video games that have
        focused on voraphiles as a part of their target audience.
        (no clue whether the creators were interested in that).

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    • Elfen Lied is brilliant. It’s also the most abyssmal take on human nature I’ve ever seen. The violence is brutal. The sexuality is far more brutal and violent than the violence. If it were live-action, it would get a hard-R, maybe an NC-17 for the violence alone. For the sexuality, it would be illegal to show it or possess a copy of it in the US. I respect what the creators were doing. They were going for audacity, definitely, but not just audacity. They were peeling back the veneer of human behaviour and revealing something awful. You have to respect a show that voices a clear point of view, and this show’ POV was that we might as well try for moment of happiness when we can, because ghastly nightmares are just around the corner.

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  4. Watching the Fairie Queen at BAM. The Fairie Queen is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with music added during the reign of Charles II. The music and singing really distract from the play, which is my favorite Shakespeare play. Its the only time I walked out of a theatre production.

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  5. I just read the Spirit of the Question answer. My tastes tend to be a bit more high culture than a lot of my friends although not to the extent NDs. What I really loathe are movies that intentionally aim for the lowest common denominator like slasher movies or where the characters are too buffoonish. My least favorite experience was watching Rob Zombie’s take on Halloween at a friend’s place. I did get a little revenge in that we put on M by Fritz Lang afterwords and the general reaction was “Damn it Lee, this is a real scary movie not a fake scary movie.”

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    • Oh, god… I know someone who once made a “really scary” haunted house.
      Humans have this funny response to extreme fear … they tend to piss themselves.
      (This is something you can easily evopsych, because it’s exactly what mice do).
      About a third of the patrons did so, during their time in the haunted house.

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  6. In the spirit of the question, I’ll offer “Inception”.

    Being a fan of “Batman Begins” and “The Prestige” (less so “The Dark Knight”), I went to see “Inception” in theaters and within ten minutes, I thought it was one of the worst movies I had ever seen. The exposition flowed like a Wikipedia article, and the film never finished exposing itself. It’s rated 8.8 on IMDB. The only other films I hate as much as “Inception” are “Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze” and “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, both on IMBD’s list of worst 100 films (at one time).

    Why do people like this movie?

    (For the record, I’m a huge “Event Horizon” fan.)

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    • Yeah, I didn’t get the Inception love either.

      Also on the J G-L tip, 500 Days of Summer. Was dragged by my wife, though I was sure I’d hate it. Actually ended up hating it slightly less than she did, because my expectations going in were pretty much met.

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    • Surely I’ve shared my opinion of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” with you, no?

      I adore that movie. That movie is amazing. I will happily watch it many times, though ideally in the presence of a certain best friend. It is the apotheosis of movies that are so bad they’re good, and also a really stunning philosophical achievement. You can, at any given moment, pause the film and declare authoritatively “It is metaphysically impossible for this film to get worse. It has reached the nadir of possible badness,” resume playing and lo, it will get even worse.

      There is so much to love. Brando completely off his rocker. Kilmer having flagrantly declined to learn a single one of his lines, and poor David Thewlis desperately feeding them to him. Fairuza Balk really, truly trying to turn in a good performance in defiance of the total shitshow she’s found herself in. Writing so hackneyed that I’ve seen better prose on the back of sugar packets.

      Marvelous.

      My beefs with “Inception” were:

      1) We were apparently meant to care about the outcome of what amounted to corporate espionage. I did not.

      2) We were apparently meant to care about Leonardo DiCaprio’s complicated relationship with Marion Cottilard. I did not.

      I am sure, for horror fans, that “Event Horizon” has much to recommend it. I would rather eat a copy on DVD than watch it again.

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      • We watched the first 60 minutes, and then decided, “Okay, if nothing happens in the next ten minutes, we’re turning this off” and literally nine minutes later Gene Hackman throws her off the ledge, so then we felt obligated to watch the rest of it.

        It was a trap. Nothing made up for the plodding, boring-ass 60 minutes of setup.

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      • “Okay, if nothing happens in the next ten minutes, we’re turning this off” and literally nine minutes later…

        Heh. Reminds me of some friends who were about to walk out of Oliver Stone’s “Alexander,” but then Rosario Dawson started taking her clothes off, so they sat back down. It was a perfectly timed hook.

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    • I think there’s something magical about the horrible experience being in a venue outside the home. It gives added weight to the wretchedness.

      Yet another friend of mine and I would amuse ourselves by comparing terrible movies that we’d actually paid money to see. Eg. “I saw ‘Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead’… in the theater!

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  7. I saw Event Horizon in the theaters and liked it. A couple years ago, I saw it on sale on the $2 DVD rack and decided to buy it. I watched the first few minutes and wondered what the heck I was thinking. I liked it, but I never wanted to see it again ever. I can just go watch Solaris instead.

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  8. I went to see Blindness on a date. Having read the book, I strongly suggested we see something else. Strongly suggested. Practically begged. It is not a date movie. It’s not a movie you want to be associated with via a date. (The book was much better, of course, but the movie was very… graphic.) She hadn’t read the book, and had decided she really wanted to see it. Any time I think of a bad movie experience, I kick myself for not deciding I was too “sick” to go on that date.

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  9. This is a tough one. I don’t think I’ve ever had a ‘bad’ performance experience* – if I don’t like something, or if it just doesn’t capture my interest, I’ll normally just fall asleep.

    I suppose also that I’m not a fan of anything 3D; the couple of movies I’ve seen invariably give me a headache. (I think I would have actually liked Gatsby in normal viewing)

    I did catch Rage Against the Machine before they broke up, and it was a decent show, but I found the tickets way overpriced for erstwhile communists that performed in front of what was just a giant (arena sized) mosh pit – and I was getting a little too old for that scene.

    *except maybe being too far away from the show, which has been most of my Broadway experience, or too close to the screen, which only happens when I try to see something everyone else is (which is increasing rare – though iirc Star Trek: Into the Lens Flare was a pretty packed house even in the second week of showing, so we were way up front).

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  10. “Event Horizon” similarly fooled me, though I watched it at home. I thought it was going to be a sci-fi flick, with maybe some horror elements a la “Alien”. I did not anticipate blood orgies. Ugh.

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  11. I don’t know that I ever told my third matrix story. Saw it in IMAX and it was, seriously, excruciating.

    I had been married for 5-6 years at that point and figured “heck with it” and started making out with Maribou because, hey. Movie theater, right?

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  12. I think my wife would offer Game of Thrones.

    We watched together up to about half-way through Season 3, which she described as “an endless string of people getting things cut off”.

    (More blasphemy I know…)

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  13. As part of my job, when professors (or other patrons) complain that a movie is in bad shape, I send the DVD over to Audiovisual to get mended and then afterward I watch it to make sure it runs now. (AV treatment fixes about 80 percent of the DVDs, and costs us 2 bucks, and I watch the movie while doing something else, so the economics are good.) I’ve seen some really fun movies that way.

    However, one of the MOST popular movies at our school is The Shining…. and I feel the same way about horror movies that Russell does (possibly more so? although I don’t mind certain kinds – like Alien(etc) are just fine, because no such thing as facehuggers). The first time through, I said, “Oh, self, this is just psychological horror, and you’ve seen it before, it’ll be OK.” and it… kinda was? The second time was dreadful dreadful dreadful (the level of dreadful described in the OP). The THIRD time the movie needed mending, I had a mini-breakdown in front of my officemate and said, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA I AM NOT WATCHING THIS MOVIE AGAIN EVER WE ARE BUYING A NEW COPY.” It’s weird, because I’ve read The Shining at least twice and loved it. I enjoy horror NOVELS – even splatterpunk, just hate the movies.

    The worst moviegoing experience I ever had though, was watching a movie I quite enjoyed (Prometheus)… in IMAX 3D. I was so interested in the movie that I stubbornly ignored my IMAX-3D-induced growing headache, nausea, and vertigo … until it was almost too late. Had to rush out of the movie theatre, sat on a bench outdoors for 30 minutes until Jaybird and Fish came out at the end of the movie, and the world refused to settle down for hours afterward. Ugh.

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  14. Horror, suspense, and a fair amount of gore don’t bother me.

    But the climactic dinner-for-one scene in “Hannibal” (the one with Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling) was seriously fished up. I get the squirming ookies just thinking about it.

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  15. Count me in with the “hates horror” particularly slasher type flicks or blood and gore in general which leads me to my worst concert experience. I was taken by a friend to see Skinny Puppy. Behind, above and beside the stage were very large screens showing clips of mangled war atrocities, vivisection, and snuff films. This was one of only two concerts I walked out on. Needless to say I no longer had any interest in seeing them live again or listening to them for that matter.

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  16. I doubted there was money in the world sufficient to get me to sit through “Hellraiser.” And it’s true! If you said “Russell, we will hand you a cashier’s check for [astounding sum of money] if you sit, open-eyed and with fingers out of your ears, through that movie from opening to closing credits,” I genuinely doubt I could do it.

    Russell, Bill Gate’s check for one billion dollars will be donated to the charity(ies) of your choice.

    Now?

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  17. I’ll sit through pretty much anything.
    As far as horror flicks go, I’m immune.
    Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things was the only film that ever made me feel really, really uncomfortable (and that lingered for quite a few hours following).
    It’s the last scene as the credits are rolling that did it.

    But I’d watch it again. It’s a cool flick.

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  18. I couldn’t finish “Irreversible.”

    I’m in the middle of watching “Only God Forgives.” I can only handle 10-minute bursts before bed…seems that long cuts of Ryan Gosling staring, expressionless, in a poorly lit room/hallway/kickboxing ring put me right to sleep.

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