Hoo hoo ha ha! It's my favorite time of year! Welcome, all you newcomers! In the words of Flounder, oh boy is this great!
I thought I'd do a little roundup for the new folks, go over the nuts and bolts.
If you click here you will see the Horrorthon Score blog (the link is also conveniently located in our links sidebar on top of the main blog here, just beneath the now huge list of contributors). I've made a post for everybody's individual list of movies viewed and a scorekeeping post on top. I'll go in and add titles and numbers as the reviews pop up ( and please let me know of I make a mistake, as I'm not infallible). You can scroll down to see the scores and lists from the previous few years.
Horrorthon began in 2000 as a contest between JPX and Johnny Sweatpants, who are brothers. I maintain that only a pair of brothers would be nutty and competitive enough to start such a thing, but who am I to judge when I jumped in so readily four years later?
In 2003, a year before I joined, the reviews started as one-paragraph capsules the boys would email back and forth to 1) warn each other about horrible movies that must be skipped, 2) tempt one another with news of good deaths, a decent amount of skin or, occasionally, a good movie, and 3) as proof that the movies had actually been viewed, since as lifelong siblings they had a healthy mistrust of each other.
In 2004 I joined in the contest, which reached a fever pitch that year that has yet to be matched. Not counting that year, the highest Horrorthon scores in its history are in the 60's, but in 2004 all three participants scored more than 90. Crazy.
Since we started the blog in 2005, it's become more a forum for chatter about movies, celebrities both loved and despised, strange technology, our common disregard for organized religion, keeping in touch with each other -- basically a place for flexing our weird and personal artistic brain muscles. In this light I am sooo amped to have so many new players joining us, and remind you to please not be put off by any competitive elements you might see. At its heart the contest is about the numbers, but these days that's mostly to provide an impetus for fun and good writing.
While required for scoring purposes, the review requirements should be considered as friendly and inviting as the player should want. A couple of sentences is fine, providing a brief plot description and your opinion of the whole affair.
Format for the reviews is pretty basic: the movie title is the title of the post, the post starts with the year the movie was made, then your rating out of five stars, then whatever you want to say about it.
Mr. Sweatpants (who in his earlier blog incarnation was known as Summerisle) put together this scale in the pre-blog days, and although we always talk about amending his movie examples, we still haven't. Here it is yet again:
***** -- A horror masterpiece. Absolutely essential viewing. (Wickerman, The Omen, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, The Ring, JU-ON, Dawn of the Dead)
****1/2 -- Brilliant (Halloween 2, Exorcist, the Shining, Hellraiser, Evil Dead, Suspiria, The Others, Inner Senses, The Eye, Kairo )
**** -- Excellent (Blair Witch 2, the Craft, Phantasm, Poltergeist, Evil Dead II, Race with the Devil)
***1/2 -- Great, fun, worth watching (Candyman, Elm St.1, Friday the 13th 4, Return of the Living Dead)
*** -- Good, watchable, no real surprises though (Friday the 13th part VI, Elm St.2-4, )
**1/2 -- No big deal if you miss it, barely adequate (I Know What you did Last Summer, Bride of Chucky)
** -- Pretty lame (Scream 3, Leprechaun, Pumpkinhead, Motel Hell, Gothika)
*1/2 -- Really bad (Martin, Last House on the Left)
* -- God-awful, virtually unwatchable - save for the absolute bottom (Shocker, Return to Horror High, Return of the Killer Tomatoes)
It's generally understood that 3 stars is the base level for something worth one's viewing time. If you want to check out the reviews of years past, check the blog archives for October and November for 2005 and 2006.
There aren't many. The contest starts at midnight, right after October 1st begins (which as I write this has already happened on the East Coast and in Belgium -- oooooohhh, I so excited!) The contest ends midnight on October 31st -- but, if you start a movie before midnight that night you can use the little bit of November to finish it off.
As of this year, we're imposing a deadline of November 15th to get all the reviews in to count for your score, which the veterans among us will, I think, all agree is a good idea. Once the buzz of October has past it's hard to keep typing.
Also as of this year, we're limiting the number of movies you can watch with under an hour of running time to five. Watching short movies is a time-honored strategy for getting your numbers up, but before last year there weren't really that many coming in at less than 60 minutes. Then the Masters of Horror series titles came out on dvd, all of which clocking in at an hour exactly. Even the cheapest stuff you find out there will be pushing 80 minutes, so this rule isn't too much of a hassle.
FINALLY, WHAT MAKES A HORROR MOVIE?
I refer you again to the Horrorthon Score blog, where the full lists of all movies viewed for the past two years can be seen. That might help. Anything that imdb or Netflix tags as "horror" also counts. But basically, it's any movie designed to have some kind of scary thrill. There's a fair amount of spillover between horror and genres of action, sci-fi, thriller, suspense and comedy. We're going with a loose definition of things this year to be encompassing, so go ahead and use your judgement.
(Of the genres I just listed, I'd say that maybe comedy is the one to best avoid, as it sort of subverts scary. But not always. Shaun of the Dead counts because it's actually pretty scary, but in my opinion outright parodies like the Scary Movie titles wouldn't. A lot of the crappy movies that have shown up on Mystery Science Theater 3000 count, but watching them with the MST3K commentary would defeat the purpose. Again, in my opinion.)
Most of all, don't be afraid to experiment. We've never disqualified a movie after the fact, and I don't really see that happening in the future. The point here is to have fun.
What am I saying? The point is to CRUSH YOUR OPPONENTS!!!
I love October.