Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's Halloween! Where's my Silver Shamrock mask???

I’ve been lapsing in my posting, so I’m going to try to make up for it with a rather long one. Enjoy!

With Halloween lurking around the corner (a matter of hours, actually), I deemed it necessary to chime in on a heinous crime that is being enacted on this hallow-ed (I know, bad pun) day.

When I am at home on Halloween, there are a couple things I always look forward to:
1. hoarding the best candy from the giant metal bowl, so that I don’t feel so guilty for giving it to unthankful children
2. being a complete jerk to those kids (usually teenagers) who just didn’t feel like dressing up, and
3. kicking back with the TV on and watching hours upon hours of horror movies.

While the first two of that list will surely come to pass, it is unfortunate that I will really have to search around to find any good Halloween programming this year. Most cable networks, including Turner Classic Movies, AMC (Awful Movie Crap, formerly known as American Movie Classics), and ABC Family have been showing horror films throughout the month leading up to Halloween. That said, I did a bit of scanning ahead with the ol’ DVR to see what all the networks have planned for Friday. And here is the list of Halloween-related programming for 10/31/08:

Beginning at 6pm ET:

FX – House of Wax (4:30)
HIST – Haunted History of Halloween
TRAV – Halloween’s Most Extreme
BRAVO – 100 Scariest Movie Moments (marathon)
TCM – Bedlam (5)
AMC – Constantine
E! – 20 Most Horrifying Hollywood Moments
BIO – Mediums: We See Dead People
HIST-I – History’s Mysteries: Crypts, Coffins and Corpses
WE – Extreme Ghost Stories
TDIS – Alvin & The Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein
HBO2 – Ghost, then The Craft
HBOSE – The Crucible
HBOF – Ghost Trackers
MAX-E – Hills Have Eyes 2 (remake)
MMX-E – Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist
MAX-W – Rosemary’s Baby
TMC-E – The Dark (5:15)
STARZ2 – Hatchet (5:30)

ION – The Canterville Ghost (7pm - 1996)
FX – Halloween H20
HIST – Modern Marvels: Halloween Tech
TRAV – Ghost Adventures
FAM – Poltergeist
TOON – Goosebumps
TCM – The Haunted Palace (1964)
AMC – Resident Evil
E! – Doomed To Die? 13 Curses
TVLAND – marathon of Halloween episodes of classic tv
SCIFI – Ghost Hunters Live
BIO – More Haunted Houses
WE – Extreme Ghost Stories
NTOON – Are you Afraid of the Dark?
FUSE – (7pm)
ENCR1 – Silence of the Lambs
G4 – The Host
IFC – Eaten Alive (7:15pm)
RETRO – Night of the Living Dead
HBOCM – Snakes on a Plane
SHOCE – Hannibal Rising
TMCE – The Dead One (7:30)
STRZ2 – The Bone Collector (7pm)
STRZ3 – Resident Evil: Extinction

CN8 – Sometimes They Come Back (9pm)
ION – Legend of Sleepy Hollow (9pm, 1999)
FX – Ghost Ship (9pm)
HIST – Primal Fear (doc, not movie)
FOOD – Food Network Challenge: Haunted Gingerbread Houses
DIS – RL Stine’s Mostly Ghostly
TCM – Die, Monster, Die!(9:30)
AMC – House on Haunted Hill (1999)
BIO – Ghosts: Fact or Fiction
WE – Ghost Moms
TDISE – Power Rangers marathon
FUSE – Hellraiser (9pm)
ENCR1 – Child’s Play
FLIXE – The Blair Witch Project (9:45pm)
TVONE – Blacula (9pm)
MAXE – Jaws
MAXW – Fear (1996)
AMAX – Predator
WMAX – The Reaping
SHOCE – Incubus (2005)
TMCE – Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horrors
STRZ2 – 30 Days of Night
STRZ3 – Seven
STRZ5 – Grindhouse

BRAVO – The Exorcist (11pm)
TCM – The Shuttered Room (11pm)
AMC – Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007)
FUSE – Body Snatchers (11pm)
ENCR1 – Firestarter (11:30pm)
ENCR5 – Maniac Cop 2 (12:10am)
RETRO – Videodrome (11:40pm)
FLIXE – The Wicker Man (1973, 11:10pm)
TVONE – Scream, Blacula, Scream (11)
TMCE – Man’s Best Friend
STRZ3 – The Cell

There are a few things that strike me as terribly odd with this batch of programs, and I will delve into each in turn. Firstly, do you notice that I didn’t list ANYTHING from the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc.)? Well, that is because they must feel that Halloween is beneath them, so they are all sticking to their regular Friday programming schedule. Was it really so long ago that you could chill on a Halloween night and flip from channel to channel to channel and almost always land on a spook-fest of some sort? Anyway, it seems that the cable networks (and the premium networks) are trying to pick up some of the slack. Let’s move on.

Okay, we’ve got The History Channel, Travel Network, Bravo, E!, Biography, History International, WE…essentially all of the Infotainment & Gossip networks all playing some form of scary countdown or quantitative theme show that centers around something resembling the macabre. Let me ask you this, when you’re handing out candy with the lights off, do you really want some bland narrative running in the background? Where is the atmosphere in that? Come on, I’ve seen movies shown on most, if not all of those channels on normal programming days, why stop now? I’m probably going a little bit overboard on this one, because at least they are ‘trying’ to get into the spirit of the season. I’m a little biased, because I feel a lot of those ‘Top Ten’ list shows are a bunch of crapped that were actually compiled by the show’s own producers, thereby forcing the viewer what is considered the elite of the given topic. Don’t get me started with those damned VH-1 shows…moving on.

Some cable networks are following the major networks’ lead and ignoring the holiday altogether. Here’s a little rundown:

TNT – The Da Vinci Code
TMCXE – Employee of the Month
STZ1 – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
STRZ5 – The Holiday
STR6 – Daddy Day Camp

TBS – Fun With Dick and Jane
TVLAND – Police Academy
THE N – Fresh Prince of Bel-Air marathon
ENCR6 – Catch and Release
TDISE – Power Rangers marathon
STRZ6 – Next Friday

Okay, I’ll give you The Da Vinci Code, because Tom Hanks’ hair was truly frightening. And I’ll even give you Pirates of the Caribbean 3, simply because the fact that Disney let that one even see the light of day was a horrifying experience. The other programming? Well, I don’t know, maybe they are directed at the fundamentalists and hardcore Christians who think Halloween is an abomination (which is to say, they are all angry because they couldn’t , or forgot to dream up some bizarre, ritualistic, Biblical-themed holiday to usurp the celebration). I really don’t want to tread down this route, so I’ll save this discussion for another time.

Let’s take a little look at AMC. Now, as previously mentioned, the channel’s name is an acronym for American Movie Classics. Now, for everything else on the planet, in order for something to be considered a classic, it has one little criterium: it must be AT LEAST 25 years old. What is AMC showing on Halloween? Constantine (released in 2005), Resident Evil (released in 2002), House on Haunted Hill (released in 1999), and Return to House on Haunted Hill (released in 2007 – it’s basically brand-new!!!!). So, nothing they are showing on Halloween night is over 10 years old. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, these are also part of AMC’s special marathon called The Evil Eight, hosted by Rob Zombie. This is funny, primarily because none of these movies are even in Zombie’s directorial canon, and I seriously doubt he truly enjoyed them. The way these things usually work is that they have a list of movies to show, they get a host (usually someone ‘in’ the scene), give them a bit of a script (for the really bad jokes), and force them to say nice things about mediocre movies. The guest host has no real control over the situation at all. My guess is that AMC is having him on, because they may be planning to put House of 1000 Corpses or Devil’s Rejects into rotation soon, and are using him as a tool for free promotion. Yeah, I’ve got a lot of sinister theories like this.

Next up on my head-scratching list is the notable absence of certain movies/shows. Go ahead and scroll back up to see if you can spot anything missing. How about It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? Oh, someone aired that on Tuesday, so there’s no need to play it again. Okay, how about some of the tried-and-true Halloween classics, like Psycho? Not scheduled to air. ANY of the vintage Universal monster movies, i.e. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, or The Mummy? Not scheduled to air. A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th? Oh, a lot of networks ran that over the summer. Certainly we cannot go a Halloween without a HALLOWEEN marathon! I live for John Carpenter’s genre defining movie on the day in which it was set. Oh, AMC is showing a mini-marathon of Halloween, Halloween 4 and Halloween 5…IN THE MORNING, starting at 9:30am. Don’t get me wrong; watching the original Halloween over a bowl of Corn Pops does have its morbid charm, but the movie isn’t the kind of television entertainment I want to be experiencing while the sun is out. Besides, I think I spent most of my growing years with Halloween and Halloween 2 as the backdrop to MANY of my Halloweens. (Wow, that was a weird sentence.)

Has the advent of the DVD deteriorated the networks’ interest in providing new generations with the movies that we grew up with? Or are they so hell-bent on making a buck, they don’t feel that Halloween is profitable anymore? Whatever the case, I think most of these stations are missing out on an excellent programming opportunity, especially since Halloween falls on a Friday this year, which means, most people will be having all-night parties, and they will require some form of televised stimulus, if not for background noise alone. It is sad, really, that we have moved so far beyond those golden days of being able to expect favorite shows and movies to return at those special points in the year. Now, it seems that the networks are run by accountants, rather than creative individuals who take pride in their work. I suppose I will have to rely on my DVD player for proper atmosphere this Halloween.


CrazySexyMetalChick! said...

For years, I have felt the Halloween spirit waning. I'm a Christian (I know--please don't hold it against me...some of us are all right!), but I think Halloween is one of the funnest (oh wait, that's not a word is it?! I'm a Professional Writing grad--I should know this!)--most fun holidays of the year and I've seen the neglect for some time now. I am a total horror film junkie (I'm watching "The Stuff" right now) and I've also been disappointed at the lack of horror films around Halloween time each year. AMC?! Don't get me started! I used to be addicted to AMC years back...when they actually showed "classic" know, the black & white stuff. I don't even know why they still call themselves "American Movie Classics"! To me, a "classic" is a "classic" because it has stood the test of time. How can a movie become a classic in a year?! I stopped watching AMC awhile ago, when I realized they were playing things that were "in" instead of things that were "awesome" and that had been aged to perfection.
But great post...I'll undoubtedly be relying on my DVD player and Netflix for my Halloween celebration this year!

Anonymous said...

You weren't fucking around.