HEART MONSTER MOVIES
fandom has altered considerably over the years, I think it's fair
to say. Not that long ago (relatively speaking), horror fans tended
to sneer at the cosplay antics and gushing geek culture that seemed
to typify science fiction conventions, instead preferring film
festivals where it was wall-to-wall movies watched by an increasing
wired and wasted audience, and where anyone dressed up as their
favourite monster – or any genre celebrity milking their
fame at $20 an autograph – would be given very short shrift.
How times have changed.
I Heart Monster Movies is a look at the modern
strand of horror fandom, shot across a handful of conventions
where monster costumes are the norm and actually watching movies,
old or new, seems at best a side show and at worst an impossibility.
In fact, some of the cosplay clad young women attending these
horror-based events cheerfully profess not to like horror films.
As such, the documentary is an interesting slice of modern horror
life, less concerned with tracing the genre's history - an impossible
task for any dingle documentary anyway – and more interested
in looking at what sort of people are into horror these days.
Because of this, it's inevitably quite scattershot. There are
interviews with celebrity guests, from Tom Savini to Linnea Quigley
to Doug Bradley and beyond, some of whom are more convincing in
their professed love of the genre they've found themselves attached
to that others, and a few who are honest enough to admit to having
no interest in the genre. And there are the fans who are, on the
whole, harmless eccentrics. Within those interviews, the film
discusses the relationship of the fans with their idols (including
a frankly terrifying story about a loaded gun), the sort of horror
films people like and the effect it has had on their lives.
In a misguided attempt at 'balance' (which a love letter film
like this doesn't need), there's also an interview with a self-professed
expert (actually just a retired teacher) who frets about the effect
of horror movies on kids and makes some wildly unsubstantiated
claims (like the fact that children cannot tell the difference
between fantasy and reality until they are nine!). It's a moment
that feels out of place and is rather a downer.
Outside the convention scene, the film looks at other aspects
of the genre with various degrees of success. The club of hearse
owners is amusing, but the Lovecraft inspired bar looks insipid,
and most of the horror-themed rock bands are just awful. The retro-glamour
photo shoot is fun though.
The documentary shows its low budget from time to time, with iffy
sound on a couple of interviews and a few wobbly shots, and I'm
not sure anyone – fan or not – will actually come
away more informed than when they went in. Bruce Campbell's Fanalysis
covers the same area in a pithier way. But the film has it's heart
in the right place, and fans who might be used to being treated
as weirdoes or potential psychopaths will no doubt appreciate
a film that supports and celebrates them and their obsessions.
IT NOW (USA)