Monday, December 15, 2008
#119: Horror Business
Written and Directed by Christopher P. Garetano
For some of my friends, this is all they'll need to know about the 2005 documentary Horror Business: as it opens, we join American Movie's Mark Borchardt as he begins filming a new movie, Scare Me. In case you're worried that Borchardt may not be the same well of hilarity that he was years ago, he immediately reminds you of his awesomeness by saying into the telephone, "Dan, dude, it's Mark. Thanks for being in my movie tomorrow. Are you down for that, or is your life in another direction?"
For those who need a little more description, the subject matter of Horror Business is quite literally about the business of making horror movies, and more specifically, independent horror movies. When I say "independent" here, I'm not even talking about lower budget stuff put out by studios like Miramax or those Rob Zombie movies... I'm talking about people making homemade flicks in the same way that George Romero or Herschell Gordon Lewis did when they began. I'm talking about the kind of movies that run the risk of emptying someone's bank account and destroying someone's life, yet they still get made.
I've mentioned before that I thought the most interesting layer of American Movie is the underlying element where, if you're paying attention, you go beyond laughing at Borchardt and his wacky cast of characters and realize that no matter how comical all of this shit seems, this guy really is pursuing a dream. Whether you think it's successful or garbage is beside the point.
If you go see some opening band at some club in your town and you think they suck, that's fine. But at least they tried, you know? Laugh as derisively as you want, but have you really put forth the effort into the things you wanted to do? Maybe you wanted to be an astronaut when you grew up... but did you at least try going to Space Camp, for fuck's sake? There are millions of people out there who might say, "Mark Borchardt? Dude is no Steven Spielberg." You know what? Fuck Steven Spielberg.
Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of crap among the good discussed in Horror Business. I may never want to sit through a movie like the ones Ron Atkins makes in Horror Business (they actually look quite terrible), but he's not hurting me one bit by continuing to do what he does. Plus, there's something awesome about scenes like the one from his Dark Night of the Soul where a man in a skull mask attacks his victim and calls him a "dick-lickin' punk."
For every bit of junk documented in Chris Garetano's movie, there are hints of real talent that Hollywood should look into, like David Stagnari, who seems to make the most of his tiny budgets in films like Catharsis. Maybe, however, Hollywood doesn't even deserve a fresh voice when they keep remaking classics like The Omen or Texas Chain Saw Massacre. One of the interview subjects in Horror Business puts things into perspective as he complains about the studio system and celebrity, saying he hates, "How they complain, how they gotta have a certain kind of water, they gotta have this in their trailer.... shut the fuck up and be in a movie!"
Ultimately, I think I was hoping that Horror Business would be a little more informative about the industry and about how the people in this film maintain a living. Instead, it's more of a "power of positive thinking" piece for the independent filmmaker looking for a reason to keep going.
For more on Horror Business:
- Movie information at IMDB.
- Buy the DVD from the doc's official site.
The Horror Business trailer: