MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN: ***NO REAL SPOILERS***
Proof you can watch too many movies: I was on the tube the other day. It was late and pretty quiet. I’d watched The Midnight Meat Train a couple of days’ before, so obviously I was somewhat concerned about general serial killer action. However the only people in my carriage was an old woman with a copy of weirdly, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and a teenage Goth who didn’t look as if s/he was possessed so much as by Satan, but My Chemical Romance. I was pretty safe I reckoned. Got to Waterloo, the doors open and……THERE’S VINNIE JONES!!!!
On a poster.
Coming out in the same week as Bond 22 aka Quantum of Solace, Midnight Meat Train may not do so well on theatrical release. I don’t *do* Bond darlink (I don’t think I’ve sat through one since I was a child and it had Roger Moore and Grace Jones in, I don’t even know the title and can’t be arsed to trail through the list on IMDB because I’m too lazy), but I had figured I would like Midnight Meat Train. After all, I was a die-hard Clive Barker enthusiast as a teenager; I must have read Imajica and Weaveworld fourteen times each between the ages of 15 and 21. And I did ultimately enjoy it – there are some good things about MMT I thought. It has a cracking opener which bookends the film rather nicely (if somewhat predictably) and some superb gore in places, even if the film does work on the basis that the human body is as pliable and easy to cut through as butter. But hey: why not?! This is horror, baby! Let’s see some hardcore and splatter-tastic DEATH.
Although being a horror fan, I’ve always been more on the “stab/slash/shining teeth then CUT” side, than actual gore. I’ve never really watched serial killer movies (bar the usual suspects, Halloween and the like), so I’ve been watching a lot of splattery movies lately for inspiration on my own Gore Horror. I’m struck with the fact that so many fall on the side of “This is a highly implausible situation, so the characters will thus behave implausibly.” Characters can change so radicallty, so quickly: our protagonist in Mifdnight Meat Train for example goes from normal to mental in nought to sixty. That doesn’t mean the gore isn’t still good or the general flow of the narrative isn’t satisfactory, but it does mean I can’t get *wholly* on board because I can’t believe in the journey of the character.
One thing I like about horror is the idea that I would behave in the same way if I was confronted with such a bad THING (whether it’s a serial killer, a monster, an alien invasion etc). Of course, I have no idea whether I would be able to create fantastic and fanciful plans, make wise cracks or cry like a baby (most likely the latter), but in my head I would be as tough and honourable as Ripley with the ability to kick ass like Arnie. When a character changes radically then, I feel like a part of the film is missing – as if I’ve blinked and someone’s switched the reels in a nanosecond.
Most of us will never meet a serial killer, never mind an alien, werewolf or other creature. Just because your character is in an implausible situation doesn’t mean they can behave implausibly. The audience still has to believe a character will do and say the things they’re doing, whether it’s a nihilistic drama, a madcap comedy or a hardcore horror. It’s not that they have to be REALISTIC either, movies are a representation of reality: if your characters’ actions have logic within your narrative and go at a steady pace that builds up (even if they turn mad or bad), then you can do anything you want. It’s when you switch them from one thing to another in the space of a few scenes that people can’t invest in that character.
So: what other Gore Horror movies can I watch that will inspire me? They don’t have to be great, they can even be horribly bad if they’ll teach me what NOT to do in this genre. Over to you…