[Note: about seven years ago I had the idea to start a blog that would review horror movies from the viewer’s standpoint. In other words, I wanted to talk about the audience reaction, theatre condition, popcorn flavor as much as the movie. Many moons ago there was a photocopied Zine out of New York City that did this same thing and I wanted to capture its flavor. Well, the idea didn’t fly, but there’s no reason to let these reviews die, so I’m reprinting them. Dated, but at least there was no Cronachan to scare everyone.
Over the years the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA, has become my favorite place to watch any kind of movie, be it horror movie or otherwise. So last Sunday night I went there with my wife to see the latest Edgar Wright Horror Comedy, The World’s End. The Colonial is a little art theater, the kind which used to dot the maps around college campuses. It’s also a single screen, another rarity in the 21st century. I love the place: not only did the manager sell us the tickets, but he served us popcorn too.
The World’s End forms a trilogy with the director’s Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. Five men journey back to their hometown in England to do the “Miracle Mile”, i.e., have a pint of beer from each of 12 pubs in the village of Newton Haven. They’ve tried it once before, over 20 years ago. However, they’d just graduated school and never made it to the last one, “The World’s End”. The ring leader of the band, Gary, decides to reunite the crew for one last time. This time, they’re going to succeed. However, everyone but Gary has moved on with their lives. Gary has refused to grow-up.
Doesn’t sound like a horror-comedy, does it? I’ll let one thing slip: at the half-way point, it turns into an alien invasion movie. And then we’re back into splatter comedy territory.
It was a Sunday night and the colonial didn’t have much of a crowd. Those who did show were in the 45-60 age range. So when the violence started, everyone was quiet. Contrast this to the crowd at The Italian Splatterfest show who hooted and applauded at the gore. I didn’t even hear much laughter for World’s End.
When you have an unresponsive audience, it’s like watching the flick on a dull Saturday matinée. Or at home with you 55-inch Sony. Audience reaction is a delicate thing: too much and you want to leave the theater. My favorite audience participation moment happened thirty years ago when I saw Hell Night with all of 8 couples, two who were talking to the screen. Too little audience feed-back and you’re put to sleep, too much and it’s Rocky Horror time.
Dracula (1931) is playing at the Colonial this Sunday. It will be fun to see the audience response from an old vampire movie.