Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why Getting in Trouble is the next cult horror hit

Guys, I am watching Glee right now. Why do I do this to myself. It's so over the top. It tries way to hard. It lays it on so thick. Does it know how ridiculous it is?
It made a funny joke about that teacher/shoe guys hair tonight, but everything else about it just makes me upset.

So I decided to do what I've been doing lately when I'm upset about something. Watch Getting in Trouble.

Getting in Trouble is, arguably, one of the lowest quality horror movies ever made. One camera, no special lighting, written in exactly five days, performed by unprofessional teenage actors.

My best friend and I created this movie. It is our child. I love it to death. It is possibly the pride and joy of my entire high school career.

The creation of this film was inspired by a,) the advent of my obsession with slasher movies and, b)the subsequent summer nights my dear friend and i spent watching the slasher movies available to watch instantly on netflix. Most instrumentally, one called The Majorettes, one called Stupid Teenagers Must Die, and a third called Demon Summer. 

And these movies were terrible. The latter two were made just as we ended up making GiT: they were clearly produced on a budget of less than a thousand dollars, by some twenty somethings or even old teenagers, who were bored one summer and had a camera and a stolen copy of Final Cut and decided that instead of just hanging out with their friends, they'd make a movie.
Or something.
Majorettes is a different story. This movie had a budget of 85 thousand according to IMDB, and that isn't a lot, but it's something. Enough to hire like one writer. This movie is ridiculous. Demon Summer and Stupid Teenagers at least kind of know what they're doing: they credit themselves as having no budget, and a tagline for Teenagers on IMDB is "intentionally bad acting."

However, even in the realm of self-satire, these guys did a pretty bad job. I don't remember Demon Summer very well, except that the writing was clearly based off of the experiences of the kids who wrote it, and Teenagers seemed to have been based off of slasher movie stereotypes I didn't know existed--for instance, over the top geeks who end up sort of being bad guys or something, a lesbian couple who just starts having sex whenever the movie gets slow, and a kind of over complex plot.

The main idea of that rant is that Zoe (my best friend,) and I said to ourselves, "we can do better than those guys." And in some ways, considering our budget, ($35 dollars, including paying for pizza and costumes,) and our one camera, I think we did pretty fantastically.

Another big inciting force was that the house where Zoe lived at the time was immensely creepy. We didn't really use that to our advantage, but it was still inspirational.

All right, thats enough back story. On to the topic.

Cult Horror. All of the aforementioned films can fall into this category. Movies that have no quality, nearly no content, that are made only for genre fans. (Cult Horror Films: from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman to Zombies of Mora Tau says " the word cult suggests a small group of loyal fans, so a cult horror film would be one made strictly for the horror audience, the audience that will literally watch anything as long as it's a horror flick.") Unfortunately for a lot of indie film makers, a vast majority of horror falls into this category. But i'm talking extreme cult horror. Like, if you wore a t-shirt with a quote from one of these movies, you'd have to go to some sort of hard core horror convention in Manitoba to have somebody recognize it. Movies like The Evil Dead, Stupid Teenagers, Night of the Living Dead, I Spit on your Grave, Troll 2, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Children at Play anything MST3K reviews...there are a lot. They are really bad. Maybe even movies that aren't good enough to have a really loyal fan following.
But they are important. I love them. They synthesize what has been done in horror movies before, stop taking any of it seriously, subtract anything any production studio wants them to do, adds some very racy stuff, and end up having a huge influence on film for the rest of forever.
Horror film gets a lot of these because violence upsets mainstream people, so it's difficult (or it used to be) to make a horror that was palatable to a mainstream audience. Also, because special effects can be as simple as ketchup (or chocolate syrup, if you're amazing like Hitchcock,) and the characters are meant to be annoying, you don't need a ton of money to make them. Horror fans are also some of the most loyal folks in the world. You make it, they'll eat it up again and again, and back in the day, they even used to pay money for it.

And I'm not delusional. I read the feedback on Netflix. I know that most of these fans only like movies like this because they smoke a lot of marijuana. But still. It's an audience, and producers keep making the films.

OK. So in my opinion and experience, here are some of the things that go into making a cult film.


A complete lack of subtley--Characters are bad. You know they're going to get killed, and you want them to get killed. They're horrible, they're crude, they sin, they're stupid. You find yourself wondering why they are taking their clothes of in the middle of irrelevant scenes and where all the alcohol came from. See Stupid Teenagers, The Evil Dead, The Funhouse, MST3K

Extremely stereotyped characters--You have your virgin. The rebel. The smart girl. The slut. The comic relief that's really just annoying. The misogynist jock. The goth. The nerd. The black guy. The displaced ex-boyfriend. The stupid police officer. The psychologist who used to know the killer. The stoner. The best friend.
There are so many cliches to be used, and yet we keep using the same ones. In any case, there isn't any subtlety in the characterization either: you should be able to tell immediately by looking at each character who they are in the movie.
See any horror ever made ever.

Terrible, terrible quality footage. This  can be hard to avoid when your filming with your parents old camcorder while your trespassing in an abandoned barn. But it's definitely a part of these movies. Lighting is especially bad, and scenes that should take place at night might take place during the day. Cinematography tries, but may not succeed. The continuity issues are endless. (Did you know that movies actually have people just to check this?! I bet these movies don't.) The mic shadows are plentiful. Shaky cam is used excessively, whether intentionally or not. See Evil Dead, Stupid Teenagers, Demon Summer, MST3K

Sex and drugs...sex sex, and drugs.....: As noted above, the plot just whips these things out of nowhere. But they're always there. See any horror movie ever.

Pretty terrible writing: Plot revolves entirely around the preconceived notion of what horror movies should be. Slashers include your general teenagers go away from home, do bad things, get murdered one-by-one set up, that and others may include especially incest packed locales with lots of scary hillbillies. More than any other movie, you're inclined to say, "Don't go in there!"--not because of suspense, but because it just doesn't make sense for the characters to do that. Characters may also point out very obvious things in case the events that have transpired aren't clear enough to the audience. They also likely swear a lot. Take Cabin Fever for instance (<3) where, if you are unlucky enough to watch it on the sci fi channel, you will not understand most of what the characters say because it is censored.
Don't i recognize..?: You know who starred in a cult film? Brad PittJamie Lee Curtis. About a million other people.

Quoteable quotes: Usually hilariously unrealistic things that a character says, maybe the tagline. The thing that ends up on a tee shirt. A catch phrase of the killer, perhaps, or a particularly well delivered line.


Low budget: Or no budget.
Really, really good intentions: people don't films that they won't make money off of unless they have really good intentions and a creative urge to do so. From this, you can get a LOT out of some films that may or may not need to be there: one of my big theories is, because horror represents our most base human instincts (violence and sex,) theres a ton of room to add layers of social commentary--essentially any original aspect in the film becomes a social commentary. Sometimes this is intentional and therefore way over done, like in The Happening, and sometimes it's unintentional and subtle, but effective, like having a black protagonist in Night of the Living Dead. 
Filmed in a weird setting or situation: Again, the best example i can think of here is Romero: when they did Night of the Living Dead, it was just him, some crew, and a bunch of his friends living on location for a few weeks making this movie. This also comes from the low budget, so locations are chosen more based on convenience than selected for their perfection. (so like, low budget directors are r-strategic species, and high-budget directors are k-strategic species...oh god. I promise to never talk about ecology here again.)
Ketchup bottles: Guys i love ketchup so much.

With all of this taken as truth, then Getting in Trouble, my very own brain child and my pride and joy, is right in line to be the next great cult film, as soon as my friends all get into college and move far away and aren't minors any more so maybe i can put it on the internet.

Because it deserves some recognition.


A complete lack of subtley--oh yes yes! We make it very clear what's going on here. Charity Conscience, survivor girl, constantly is saying "my parents aren't home!" Boyfriend Zane brings alcoholic chocolates (do those even exist?) and randomly decides in the middle of the movie to get naked and take a shower. Promiscuous Lotus and rebellious sleazy Donovan talk only in sexual euphamism. 

Extremely stereotyped characters--We thought of stereotypes, and then made the characters. This is emphasized by the fact that nobody is wearing normal clothes, and by names. The virginal good girl is Charity Conscience, slutty girl is named Lotus. Rebel Donovan wears a leather jacket, comedic relief Egmont wears an oversized t-shirt with a cartoon character, smart Rachel wears essentially a school uniform, jock Brad wears a school sweatshirt. The characters can only act within their stereotype. 

Terrible, terrible quality footage. We filmed this in artificial lighting overhead lighting and night vision. With a camcorder. Nuff said. 
The continuity problems are endless, and all the time in the background you can see tripods and assistant directors (myself,) and shadows of people that aren't there. The special effects are pretty  bad, the weapons are (almost? oops?) all plastic, you can't see anything in the night scenes. 
It's hilarious. It makes the movie fun and playful. 

Sex and drugs...sex sex, and drugs.....: We kind of actually fail at this category, but thats because we were filming with our friends, who were mostly under the age of fifteen. We couldn't really have nudity, we definitely couldn't have sex, we could barely imply drugs. Like i said, they constantly talk about sex, but there is no actual physical contact. Lotus does some cuddling, and at one point kisses another character (i won't give spoilers,) but the sex scene literally consists of two characters sitting multiple feet apart from each other, with "implied" sex about to happen. We do have nudity though! Full frontal..above the waist...male nudity! But it's pretty random. And a shower scene, so...
Don't judge us. We were sophomores.
Did i just justify not having an element in the movie that would have been gratuitous and lowered the quality?

Pretty terrible writing: It was very intentional to base this movie off of the formula. But it gets tiring. We came up with a big back story, and it didn't come through very much in the plot, so a deus ex machina comes in three quarters of the way through the movie and just explains everything. Characters provide helpful exposition at random times: "Your sister's dead. Now you have no one to take care of you .You were a mistake!" ..."even if you did make out with your lab partner in the janitor's closet..." "you know Lotus and Donovan dated freshmen year..." "mary jane, that girl you used to have dance class with was killed!" It's not subtle, but it's in there. There is complexity behind the weird plot holes. 

Don't i recognize..?Guess how many of our characters have played a lead in a school play since then? Three. Thats right. We are a jumping off point. 

Quoteable quotes: We have a lot of these. Jock saying "the best defense is a good offense!" is pretty fantastic, as well as "there's no way I've been hanging out with a bunch of homosexuals..." Zane's "I have to get this blood off of me!" is classic, Lotus's cherry lollipops...the list goes on. Cheesy films=quoteable quotes. 


Low budget: No budget. 
Really, really good intentions: This film is backed by brilliance. Each character has a complex back story leading to why they act the way they do, including the mysterious, totally random killer. Every rip off from every other slasher movie is a direct reference on purpose to honor our precedents. Each bit of satire is not meant to be stupid, but clever. 
Nobody else gets it, really, but it's brilliant. Pure brilliance, and I know it's there and I love it to death.
Also, a lot of unintentional things come out of our opportunistic cinematography. Donovan and Rachels' character foil and her eventual motivation is preceded by a lot of two shots of them, as well as their matching costumes (what!? why didn't we do that on purpose!?). Also the paralells to our lives now, but you all don't care about that.
Who am i kidding, only people who were in the movie will read this...
Filmed in a weird setting or situation: This movie was four months in production, from conception to premiere. We filmed from six to eleven for two nights in between doing a history project and going to dances. 

So do we qualify to be the next cult hit? I hope so. Getting in Trouble is bad enough to be mocked profusely but also good enough that it's more funny than brain melting. It's justifiable. It's art. 

And as much as i may say bad things about it, it really is a short film i would watch and enjoy. Like i said before, i love it to death, right down to our lack of ability to include background information and Donovan's dorky sneakers (Zoe's only regret.) And someday, I hope that we've all grown unrecognizeable enough to put it on the internet. 

Does anybody mind if i share the trailer? 

1 comment:

  1. I love this. You forgot a key line though. XP "Can we PLEASE, STOP talking about my innocence!?!?"

    ...Also that the bloopers reel is longer than the actual film. XD