|08-12-2004, 05:47 AM||#1|
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Florida, USA
Man, I wished I had posted this a few days ago when I first saw it. But I was busy posting stories on BLOODRAYNE and then that monster Fantasia 2004 deal. Then it was ALIENS VS. PREDATOR and unfortunately, the passing of Fay Wray. So, I just decided to let it slip. Now that everyone has picked it up though, I would be remiss in not finally writing something on it.
The story was first brought to my attention via the alt.horror newsgroup, where some of you might see me post under the handle "loucyphre." It was there that The White Lady linked to a story in The Guardian that makes me just shake my head in amused pity. That link is dead last time I checked and I only include it here to give credit where credit's due. But the BBC has picked it up so it will be forever remembered. Uh, yay.
Scientists at King's College, London have come up with a mathamatical formula to describe what it has taken artists from every conceivable field a lifetime to figure out - what makes the perfect scary movie? They studied several horror films over a two week period, among them SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (the original, of course). The formula they came up with goes as follows:
(es+u+cs+t) squared +s+ (tl+f)/2 + (a+dr+fs)/n
+ sin x - 1.
es = escalating music
u = the unknown
cs = chase scenes
t = sense of being trapped
s = shock
tl = true life
f = fantasy
a = character is alone
dr = in the dark
fs = film setting
n = number of people
sin = blood and guts
1 = stereotypes
I don't know what to take more notice of - the humor in having "blood and guts" as a mathimatical variable or that they are so contemptuous of horror films that they deem stereotypes a neccesity.
They named Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING as a perfect example of the horror film. Hard to argue as the film scarred me for at least afew years as a kid. What they fail to recognize is that the film went through multiple reshoots and second thoughts. THE SHINING was also met with decidedly mixed results upon its release in 1980. Also, on a purely personal level. While the scares do resonate, I now find THE SHINING to be a bit too muted and overlong. The film is scary when it moves but it tends to slow to a lumbering crawl at times.
The PG-rated JAWS was also found to have the perfect level of gore. "Steven Spielberg reached the optimum level perfectly allowing the viewer to see just enough blood to be scared of the Great White Shark, but not so much that it repulsed us," the study says.
Like all great scientific breakthroughs, the study was put together by Sky TV to launch a season of horror films.
I'm sorry but I just can't help but think studies like this are ridiculous. How many times have you been asked, "What makes a film scary?" The answer changes with every person, doesn't it? Of course it does. Fear is a very primal emotion and it affects people in different ways. You may as well ask for a watershed formula on humor or sexual appeal.
I have enormous respect for science, even if I admittedly find it very hard to wrap my head around. However, I can't help but feel sorry for those who have such an unwavering critical eye that they can't truly appreciate certain things for what they are.
IT'S ART, PEOPLE! Art has no boundries, art has no all-encompassing appeal. Art has no laws, because a truly great artist bends the rules or breaks them entirely. By introducing a formula, you are trying to throw structure onto a field in which the structure is forever changing. It's what keeps us going back. If the same thing were repeated over and over again, we would look for something new. Hell, we already have. It's why we're here - being bored with mainstream entertainment is a surefire way to investigate lesser known, infinitely more interesting possibilities.
For all their scientific study, the folks at King's College can't see the forest for the trees.
Come up with a mathimatical forumla for longwinded B.S. in our FORUMS!
Scott W. Davis
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