October 10, 2010

Horror Websites Who Endorse DVDs

Seriously, how pathetic does your horror film marketing have to be for you to have to resort to using lines taken out of context from online reviewers to endorse the sleeve or slipcase of your DVD?

Ever since the overhyped and absolutely awful French "Inside", I've had a very healthy distrust of this method of using complete nobodies from the internet to recommend products. "One of the scariest movies I have ever seen in my life." Puh-leese. Give me a break!

For a start, most of the original reviews go into far greater depth than "It's two thumbs up from me!", but that'll be the only part which ever gets reprinted. One line or some exciting and alliterative words tell me nothing about the film at all.

Looking through my DVD collection, I've noticed a bit of a trend with the "Thumbs up!" business from Roger Ebert too. He may be a "real" film critic, but you'd think he could give a horror film a few words every now and then rather than just parts of his anatomy. I must have over 50 DVDs now where all it says is 'Two thumbs way up!" I can tell you where to stick those thumbs too, Roger, especially after watching the films.

Similarly, what's with all the "one of the best films of the year" nonsense? According to my collection I now have titles ranging from "one of the best" and "best in a long time" to "absolutely the best you will ever see". Depending on the date of these movies, I do of course take it all with a huge pinch of salt.

Some of the more embarrassing quotations though have always come from "Bloody Disgusting". For instance, on the back of "Hatchet", Brad Miska says, "Amongst the greatest slasher flicks of all time". Are you kidding me? I can name about 100 slasher films right now and "Hatchet", entertaining as it was, wouldn't be on that list. On "The Ruins", another great Miska quotation consisting of nothing but a short series of adjectives - "intense, disturbing and gut-wrenching" - does little to inspire confidence about what I know is on that DVD, especially as, in my opinion, it is none of those things. I'm sure if you look through your own DVDs, you'll find quite a few of these comments which will amuse you.

I suppose I shouldn't be too harsh about all this useless promotion. Most people rarely look at the sleeves anyway nowadays and just grab the latest thing whether it's good, bad or totally insipid. For a certain demographic, the words "must see" are just what they do anyway and are totally without any weight whatsoever. If you rent from Netflix, you'll never encounter an original DVD case. It's only when you are buying movies for your own collection that what's written on the back may even matter.

I have learned my lesson by believing some of the hype in the past though. When Fangoria used to tout certain movies as if they were the second-coming in plastic, I got burned a few times too. I still can't believe that I watched "Brainscan" and even more that I actually bought "Seed of Chucky" (albeit for $3 in Big Lots!).

I've seen comments on films from TV stations I've never heard of, websites that don't even exist, and newspapers that I can't ever imagine having a circulation to more than a dozen people, yet for some bizarre reason they still stick them on the DVDs. I'm pretty sure that somewhere out there there's probably some obscure title that has put my web presence as an endorsement. If you should ever see one with "Two Thumbs Up Your Arse! - Dr Blood's Video Vault" please be aware that I had nothing to do with it and you shouldn't buy that film ever!

There are a great many factors that will sell a DVD to somebody including the cover art, the content and, ultimately, the price. But recommendations from websites? You have to be joking.

No matter who you are, whether "Bloody Disgusting", "Dread Central", "Shock Till You Drop", "Ain't It Cool News", "Arrow in the Head" or just Tom, Dick or Harry (Knowles) from any number of online blogs and forums, do you really think that anyone cares what you have to say about anything now especially when the same tired old lines could be attributed to anybody at all? How can you sell out that little bit of credibility that you could have had? Was a free DVD really worth it?

I have an idea for the DVD distributors though which may change all this. Why not have the reviewers write the DVD description honestly? Now that would be an original concept. Imagine next time you pick up "Monster Venus Flytraps From Planet Lesbian" and it says, "In my opinion, this film has an amusing title but no content worth watching..." Wouldn't that be wonderful? It would save us all loads of time and we wouldn't need to blog about all the wasted hours we've spent sifting through movies which no-one in their right mind would want to watch just to find a few good ones to write about!

Well, that's my October rant over. Leave me a comment or two and let me know what you think of the skillfully designed marketing prose and pull quotes on the back of your DVDs.

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