The last time I remember big, Hollywood movies being this dark and disturbing was the mid-’70’s.
If you’re too young to remember, that was the period after Watergate but before Jimmy Carter (and his “misery index,” melding inflation and unemployment); after Vietnam (just); between the two oil shocks and resulting energy crises; and a time of high unemployment and general economic dislocation and malaise — much like today.
About all that’s missing from today’s economic mix is inflation (at least for now).
Moviegoers who wanted to be scared out of their wits then could choose amongst “Carrie,” “The Omen,” and “The Exorcist.”
Even the PG-rated “Jaws,” one of the biggest hits of that era, was hardly tame (I know it was PG because I was 15 then and saw it with friends).
Of course, just around the corner were equally dark films like “The Deer Hunter” and “Midnight Express.”
Monster Movies & Movie Monsters
Fast forward to today.
Waiting for “Inglorious Bastards,” Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, to start last night, I was treated to previews of the following cinematic “parade of horribles”:
–“Shutter Island,” a Martin Scorcese – Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration, about a mental asylum with terrible secrets that DiCaprio apparently uncovers and wishes he hadn’t (me, too);
–“Halloween II,” featuring even more gore and violence than its predecessors, mostly inflicted on vulnerable, young women in the most graphic way(s) imaginable (did they make so many “Halloween” sequels that they simply started to re-number? I thought they were up to at least 7 by now).
–“Avatars,” perhaps the most disturbing of all, a completely creepy movie about pseudo and imaginary humans preying on the real thing, with the latter apparently in extreme and perpetual peril.
All these were just the under card for the main event: Tarantino’s re-imagining of World War II as a foreshortened affair, primarily due to the exploits of what one reviewer called “the dirty half-dozen.”
Suffice to say that Tarantino, the auteur behind “Pulp Fiction,” “Kill Bill,” and other gore-fests, doesn’t disappoint.
I don’t pretend to know whether movies help set the national mood, or are a product of it.
Either way, it would appear that there are some major league demons in the air at the moment.
If only they were all imaginary . . .