A scary thing happened on the way to the Movie Forums - Horrorcrammers

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Victim of The Night
Oddly enough, I actually felt sympathy for Franklin. Sure, he can come off as a weirdo at times, but really, I think it's more a case that the other characters are kinda just dicks to him and treat him as an outcast in their group to an extent, so I think much of his behavior in the film is more out of anxiousness than anything. As someone with anxiety myself, I often talk and repeat myself a lot around my friends and I suppose that can come off as annoying, so his behavior in the film is certainly valid.

Interestingly enough, in fact, when I streamed the film to a group of friends in a Discord server last summer, they all noticed the other characters' treatment of Franklin as well, cheered when the other three characters died, but were bummed out when Franklin died.
And ya know, I kinda get that. I think it was Hooper's intent that we feel sympathy for Franklin. Because the guy who made this masterpiece of whatever the f*ck it is, had it dialed in, just like George Miller did when he made Mad Max. Because, while Franklin is an ashole, there is, built into all people with empathy, I'm sure, the sense that some of his asholery is built in due to the challenges he faces every day from his disability. So it makes perfect sense that people would fee badly when he died, as I did myself. And if anything, this absolutely proves the point that he was depicted properly, not exploitatively. He was a disabled guy, who was an ashole, but at least in part if not mostly as a result of his disability, so you feel empathy when he dies, which totally fits with the pathos of the movie.
Proving that Hooper knew exactly what he was doing and executed it perfectly while also actually being progressive rather than exploitative in his treatment of a disabled character.
I feel like we've sussed this all the way out and come to the right conclusion.



Victim of The Night
I consider myself a fan of the film, but I always sort of check out during the grandpa scene. I seem to be in the minority in that I don't find the silliness adds to the tension and the terrible old man mask doesn't help. I find gramps' presence more jarring than Franklin's.
You and I will, rare as it is, disagree on this one. I find that scene not silly at all, like no silliness present, but disturbing as f*ck. It's so f*cked up when they're trying to put the hammer in his hand and trying to help him hit her in the head like the cattle in the abattoir they all lost they're jobs in... I find that shit haunting.



Victim of The Night
Also, when Family Guy does a much better job with its portrayal of an unlikeable handicapped character than you did, then you just know you messed up:


2 decades later? Sure.



Victim of The Night
I don't know. Whenever I hear Franklin go on his little rant to himself about he basically got coaxed into coming, I always think, "Yeah, that's right. They were pretty thoughtless about what the logistics and consequences of them might be for you to go on this trip that you probably had misgivings about." I think Franklin had the right to be salty. Granted, I also like it in stories where people become really irritable towards each other under stressful situations, at least younger people.
And I also agree with this. Which to me just further outlines how strong the idea was to have this character. I mean, we're having a really extensive and fairly deep conversation around a character that some are trying to write off as nothing more than misplaced exploitation.
I feel like that case is dying on the vine in light of more and more insightful opinions like this one being offered.
It makes the character more complex. It makes the dynamics of the groups more intense. It creates a tension within the group of what will ultimately be victims.
None of that is exploitation, it's actually good writing.



Victim of The Night
I stumbled onto MoE as part of a double feature with Carnival of Souls over a decade ago. So I've always linked those two in my mind. One person I showed MoE to a couple years ago said it really reminded them of Night of the Seagulls. The only Blind Dead movie I've seen is the Ghost Galleon, so I don't have great hopes there.

Shudder has a movie called The Child in its description references "for fans of Messiah of Evil." Upon watching it, I realized I had watched it once already before (during the pandemic), so I turned it off, but now realize, I couldn't remember a damn thing about it, so I should probably rewatch it. My only recollection was, it had that ethereal, dream-like 70's horror vibe; which is actually different than MoE. MoE is kind of more Lovecraftian, which is probably why it's hard to find a similar movie. City of the Living Dead, kind of strikes me as that dreamy, ethereal version of it, that's, well, a lot more bloody. Kind of. Or maybe it's the American sensibility trying to do a Euro type of movie (the directors say Antonioni. That, I raise my eyebrow to); but Superstition (1982) falls under that category, and yet I wouldn't say that that's in the same undefinable category as Messiah of Evil.

I've bought a DVD of Lemora due to your praise of it, but I am saving it for a Halloween group watch, and that's backlisted so much it probably won't be this year.

I'm looking as well.
I guess other possibilities (probably leaning into the ethereal horror and folk tale movies) -
Wesele (1973) (this one I did see during a Martin Scorsese present's Polish Cinema thing years ago). I will at least recommend it, but it's more folk tale and not really horror.

There's also a 70's czech version of Beauty and the Beast (Panna a netvor, 1978) I'm curious about as well as Zulawski's The Devil (which never even got a MondoVision DVD release AFAICT), but those guesses are very blind. And in these grasps, I'm probably straying pretty far.

ETA: and let's be honest. Zulawski won't be holding that camera still. I can't imagine getting a MoE fix from him.
Well, I think MoE is more than just Lovecraftian. It has a vision and that vision is filled with doom. It definitely has a European-by-way-of-California way about it, but there is just so much in the way of visuals and dream-like sequences and nightmare outcomes, while the actual real-life Horror scenes almost seem like nightmares themselves (I refer specifically to the theater and the grocery store, both wonderful scenes) that there just aren't that many films quite like it. I feel like, if you take the artistic sensibilities in the genre at that time, and you throw in plenty of Lovecraft, and you also make it a low-budget almost art-film, and all of it is in California but is obviously informed by the Euro-Horror that's going on, you just get something special, something really unique that stands out from the rest despite low-budgets and whatever. That's how I feel about Lemora and that's definitely how I feel about MoE, and I continue to hunt for other that have some shine on them from that same spirit.



Yeah, I guess I just can't help but scratch my head when I see people cheer when Franklin dies. Like, I get why some people may find his performance unpleasant since he's clearly over-the-top, but compared to the other characters, he clearly feels like the most tragic of the bunch. Like, as for the other three victims, they act like dicks to Franklin because, idk, they view him as an outcast, I guess. Like, okay, sure. Franklin acts like a dick due to the complications he faces as a result of his paralysis and his treatment from the rest of the group. It's just a far more complex characterization and he's definitely the one I sympathize with the most in the film.



Victim of The Night
Yeah, I guess I just can't help but scratch my head when I see people cheer when Franklin dies. Like, I get why some people may find his performance unpleasant since he's clearly over-the-top, but compared to the other characters, he clearly feels like the most tragic of the bunch. Like, as for the other three victims, they act like dicks to Franklin because, idk, they view him as an outcast, I guess. Like, okay, sure. Franklin acts like a dick due to the complications he faces as a result of his paralysis and his treatment from the rest of the group. It's just a far more complex characterization and he's definitely the one I sympathize with the most in the film.
I agree with you, man. And I think that's the point. He's an ******* and he's obnoxious, and the less sophisticated audience may cheer his death just because he's gotten on their nerves so much. But I think that is only a symptom of the work Hooper did and how shitty some people are. Believe me, even on first viewing and absolutely on every subsequent viewing, I have had sympathy for Franklin. And I guarantee you Hooper intended that for all of us. He's a much more interesting figure because he has the complexity of being someone to be pitied, but then also someone you can actively dislike, and then, when it's all taken en toto, you see that he is a chubby disabled kid struggling with all the shortcomings life gives a person dealt that hand, and that's why the other characters have empathy for him, and that's why, while some people may cheer, it's actually really sad when he dies. I felt the empathy for him all the way out, even though you kinda wanna tell him to **** off.
That is what Hooper put in the movie, on purpose, I am 100% sure and that is just another reason why the film is a masterpiece.



I dunno man, you know I respect you but I feel like you're really treading water here, making phantom arguments I'm not even sure you've thought through or believe for some reason I haven't figured out yet.
"Just because something happens in reality doesn't justify the choice to use it in a film." Really? I think it absolutely does. I can't actually understand, without more contextualization from you, what that statement is even supposed to mean. Of course, if something exists in reality it can be used in art. What other point of view is there on that subject?
Not to speak for Sexington, but for myself, I remember that quote Yoda shared here once that went something like "Fiction has to make sense, because real life makes so little"; in other words, we tend to gravitate to fiction because it makes more sense than our lives, and it's difficult to justify the former with the latter, because you're comparing an artificially constructed work of art to something that's completely random (and even when works of fiction have completely random, nonsensical things happen, that's still an intentional creative choice on someone's part for whatever reason they have). It's like when The Ultimate Warrior died the day after he had just made his first appearances back in WWE (including being inducted into their Hall Of Fame), after an acrimonious seperation nearly two decades prior; like Jim Ross said, "You couldn't write something like that, because people would say you were being too 'on-the-nose'"!



You and I will, rare as it is, disagree on this one. I find that scene not silly at all, like no silliness present, but disturbing as f*ck. It's so f*cked up when they're trying to put the hammer in his hand and trying to help him hit her in the head like the cattle in the abattoir they all lost they're jobs in... I find that shit haunting.
Yeah that's why I acknowledged that I'm in the minority. Remember my story about the cousin that hates me because I convinced him to watch it? Pretty sure the grandpa scene was the one that disturbed him the most. So there's obviously something there, it just doesn't hit me the same for some reason.



An unlikable victim, or any victim? And do they have to be teens?

I worded it poorly. Unlikeable. I'm looking at Wooly's subversion comment through a very specific lens. This being what we might come to expect from a character with a handicap when they show up in an American horror film (most specifically a slasher). When we think of these groups of people being systematically killed off, there are usually at least one or two that are ******** that the audience is meant to dislike. Bullies, chauvanists, racists, nuisances. In instances where these films have a character who is disabled in some way, they virtually never get saddled with the above character issues. They are either used as a shortcut to sympathy or they are made morally above reproach or, in best case instances, the disability is a background detail of the character (as MKS mentioned, Mark would likely be one of these rare instances). But my memory is garbage, so I think it is very possible I just don't remember some.


But I do know I have seen a thousand horror films and my immediate expectation when I see someone in one of these films, and they are in a wheelchair, or blind, or deaf, or different in any way like this, if they are not the ultimate villain of the film (which I would obviously concede is a trope) I immediately assume they will not do many things which are controversial. They most likely will not even sully their reputations with something as morally compromised as a visible sex drive. And so by Franklin being so notorioualy unlikable, this is the trope he is subverting. Do I think this subversion is groundbreaking or a breakthrough for people with disabilities? No. Do I think there may be instances where he is not ideal as representation? Sure. But him not meeting those standards doesn't disqualify him from being a character who turns some of our expectations upside down. And that has some value, in that in paves the way for more nuanced characters or this generally marginalized and under represented group.


As for age, I didn't think of that, but it seeming clear to me now that it is entirely normal for a film to make an older, especially elderly person, unlikeable in a film where they are an inevitable victim. So there are probably a lot of exceptions to all of this



I dunno man, you know I respect you but I feel like you're really treading water here, making phantom arguments I'm not even sure you've thought through or believe for some reason I haven't figured out yet.
"Just because something happens in reality doesn't justify the choice to use it in a film." Really? I think it absolutely does. I can't actually understand, without more contextualization from you, what that statement is even supposed to mean. Of course, if something exists in reality it can be used in art. What other point of view is there on that subject?
As Stu noted, and Twain once declared,
*Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities
In that sense, it is the amateur writer that defends his work with “But this really happened,” mistaking real for realism and reality for fiction, which only have a passing similarity.

For instance, dialogue. Transcribe a conversation. Even one you enjoy. Read it back. It will not be a particularly pleasurable read, filled with the banal sloppiness, ugliness and outright cringe of amateur writing because that is what we are doing in real time, spouting off poorly thought first drafts. Even “realistic” dialogue is highly stylized for a specific effect.

This goes for characterization. To flip back your question of “have you ever met an obnoxious handicapped person,” let me ask, have you ever met an individual that acted like a racial or gay stereotype? The answer is likely yes. Would “but people are really like that” be a convincing argument and justification for the stereotype’s inclusion?

Fictional narratives are constructions made entirely by conscious choices and unconscious biases. They are a reflection of the creator, not “reality.” Even if the creator sought to craft a narrative that encompassed the nonsensical randomness, their choices would have to reflect that goal to create a narrative which encompasses that randomness. Otherwise, it will come off as bad fiction, full of plot holes and contrivance.



As for age, I didn't think of that, but it seeming clear to me now that it is entirely normal for a film to make an older, especially elderly person, unlikeable in a film where they are an inevitable victim. So there are probably a lot of exceptions to all of this
I kept my examples (of which I feel I had more than enough) limited to wheelchair bound characters.

If one were to break into the larger realm of disabilities and aging, then it becomes a significantly larger amount.

I’m having a harder time thinking of saintly handicapped characters. Duddits from Dreamcatcher?



I kept my examples (of which I feel I had more than enough) limited to wheelchair bound characters.

If one were to break into the larger realm of disabilities and aging, then it becomes a significantly larger amount.

I’m having a harder time thinking of saintly handicapped characters. Duddits from Dreamcatcher

Any disabilities (visual/audio/intellectual/mobility) would apply as far as my point was concerned. They only needed to be in an American horror film, a victim of the films villain/monster and deliberately made unlikeable. As stated, on further reflection, they should also be younger (teens or young adult). I don't think there is any question that adultswith disabilities are frequently portrayed as unlikeable.


As for your examples, i didn't know a couple of them, one was Asian and at least two were older characters (I assume Creepshow). And as for Silver Bullet I didn't really know who you meant to be unlikeable. Haim is the hero and pretty much always charming and likeable.


Regarding the sainthood comment, I don't literally mean divine, but that any unpleasant personality quirks which might set the audience against them are sanded off. This was mostly in regards to Stu having issues with marginalized people being saddled with negative characteristics being a bad thing .


I think a good example of what I am talking about here is outside of the horror realm. It's was in the handling of gay characters in the BBC production of Queer as Folk, which dared to fill it's gay positive message with characters who frequently acting morally questionably. This was controversial at the time as some freaked out that it was perpetuating stereotypes of gay promiscuity and reckless behavior. But, as always, in the right hands, this can be transcended to be simply a more human and honest portrayal of elements of this culture. This is one of the reasons it was important




And then america got it's hands on it. And it thought just having a cast of openly gay characters was all that was required. It was enough for there to be just representation . But in doing so, it basically removed the important grit from the original, it's provocations that dared to make gay characters morally complicated and still worthy of recognition regardless. And as a result it made its gay characters ****ing teddy bears for easy consumption by, frankly, predominantly straight audiences. Because they didn't want to drive them away with anything that might curl the toes or challenge sympathies in middle America. Cowardly, reterogressive nonsense.And, I think this is the kind of stereotypes that needs to be bucked, more than fretting if a character who acts more questionably and might challenge the audience in liking them. Because this approach implies general society can like the gays as long as they act pristine and moral and not too sexually or irresponsibly. Thereby leaving all those who are homosexual who don't live up to these standards wondering 'but where am I' in any of this? Am I excluded from this back patting group hug?



Any disabilities (visual/audio/intellectual/mobility) would apply as far as my point was concerned. They only needed to be in an American horror film, a victim of the films villain/monster and deliberately made unlikeable. As stated, on further reflection, they should also be younger (teens or young adult). I don't think there is any question that adultswith disabilities are frequently portrayed as unlikeable.


As for your examples, i didn't know a couple of them, one was Asian and at least two were older characters (I assume Creepshow). And as for Silver Bullet I didn't really know who you meant to be unlikeable. Haim is the hero and pretty much always charming and likeable.


Regarding the sainthood comment, I don't literally mean divine, but that any unpleasant personality quirks which might set the audience against them are sanded off. This was mostly in regards to Stu having issues with marginalized people being saddled with negative characteristics being a bad thing .


I think a good example of what I am talking about here is outside of the horror realm. It's was in the handling of gay characters in the BBC production of Queer as Folk, which dared to fill it's gay positive message with characters who frequently acting morally questionably. This was controversial at the time as some freaked out that it was perpetuating stereotypes of gay promiscuity and reckless behavior. But, as always, in the right hands, this can be transcended to be simply a more human and honest portrayal of elements of this culture. This is one of the reasons it was important




And then america got it's hands on it. And it thought just having a cast of openly gay characters was all that was required. It was enough for there to be just representation . But in doing so, it basically removed the important grit from the original, it's provocations that dared to make gay characters morally complicated and still worthy of recognition regardless. And as a result it made its gay characters ****ing teddy bears for easy consumption by, frankly, predominantly straight audiences. Because they didn't want to drive them away with anything that might curl the toes or challenge sympathies in middle America. Cowardly, reterogressive nonsense.And, I think this is the kind of stereotypes that needs to be bucked, more than fretting if a character who acts more questionably and might challenge the audience in liking them. Because this approach implies general society can like the gays as long as they act pristine and moral and not too sexually or irresponsibly. Thereby leaving all those who are homosexual who don't live up to these standards wondering 'but where am I' in any of this? Am I excluded from this back patting group hug?
If people with disabilities are frequently portrayed as unlikable, then I still am not seeing the “subversion.” If Franklin were a child, I could see the subversion, but even then I’d question the inherent value of making you root against the kid in your horror film. This is already taking place in a film with a severely mentally handicapped villain, does it really need us to define its other handicap character solely by his obnoxious whining and general helplessness?

The defense of Franklin would be aligned with claiming Willie Scott being a great character because they were willing to make her a shallow, materialistic, obnoxious shrieking mess. “Haven’t you ever met women like that?” Sure. It doesn’t make them good characters nor sympathetic for the type of film that they’re in.

I’m not invested in the overall argument you’re making because I agree with you in principle. It’s foolish to relegate all portrays to be positive. It denies humanity. However, if I were going to make a film about a black drug dealer, I may want to tread lightly in HOW I explore a negative portrayal of someone marginalized and be mindful of what I’m saying with that character. Otherwise, I’m indulging in the stock, lazy stereotypes.

Franklin isn’t characterized enough to feel like anything more than a whiny, off putting hinderance to his sister. It’s a characterization that is written through a strongly able-bodies lens and it’s why audiences don’t value him. A more subversive thing to do would be to show his determination, intelligence, ingenuity, compassion alongside his dependence and frustration then still chainsaw his ass. That would punch the audience gut without forcing them to slog through an abrasive character.



Because we are talking about expectations. Generally in the role given to Frankiin, in this kind of film, playing the function he is meant to play, we would easily sympathize and root for him. It is what I expect whenever something like a slasher or Grindhouse film introduces outsider characters, generally nerds, those in wheelchairs, intellectually delayed. There is a gamut of stock characters these films employ for easy sympathy (and yes, they can sometimes lean into not ideal representation).
But Franklin does the opposite of this. It makes the audience struggle to root for him. Some even turn against him to the point of wanting him dead. But for those paying closer attention to his character, there are all sorts of reasons we do ultimately empathize with him, which have been detailed by numerous posters here.


In short, Franklin would normally be peddled for easy sympathy. Instead he is made a difficult character to root for because of his social awkwardness. But as we watch him constantly be left behind and treated like a burden, a window for empathy arises. It's a much more complicated character than you give it credit for when you just say he's annoying and perpetuates easy stereotypes.


Yes, some people probably cheer when his whining is brought to and end. I laughed at that scene when I was a child. But I don't treat these base reactions as some kind of end stop for how we unpack this character. I see them as somewhat understandable but ultimately shitty reactions.


If Franklin was nothing but his disability, I would understand what you are saying. If the burden of his wheelchair was the only reason he was in the movie, I would understand what you are saying. But because you repeatedly deny any nuance in his performance, and you are seemingly only seeing his negative attributes because you seem to refuse any possibility that there is more going on in this performance, I'm not going to agree with you when you claim him as reinforcing stereotypes about the disabled. I think it is flat out wrong (although there are probably some fair strikes you can throw at the character, but no so many you strike him out)


I think ultimately we agree in principal, and if you ever saw the light in why the actor playing the guy is doing a good job, you might start thanking me from saving you from such a not good take as you're showing.



Because we are talking about expectations. Generally in the role given to Frankiin, in this kind of film, playing the function he is meant to play, we would easily sympathize and root for him. It is what I expect whenever something like a slasher or Grindhouse film introduces outsider characters, generally nerds, those in wheelchairs, intellectually delayed. There is a gamut of stock characters these films employ for easy sympathy (and yes, they can sometimes lean into not ideal representation).
But Franklin does the opposite of this. It makes the audience struggle to root for him. Some even turn against him to the point of wanting him dead. But for those paying closer attention to his character, there are all sorts of reasons we do ultimately empathize with him, which have been detailed by numerous posters here.


In short, Franklin would normally be peddled for easy sympathy. Instead he is made a difficult character to root for because of his social awkwardness. But as we watch him constantly be left behind and treated like a burden, a window for empathy arises. It's a much more complicated character than you give it credit for when you just say he's annoying and perpetuates easy stereotypes.


Yes, some people probably cheer when his whining is brought to and end. I laughed at that scene when I was a child. But I don't treat these base reactions as some kind of end stop for how we unpack this character. I see them as somewhat understandable but ultimately shitty reactions.


If Franklin was nothing but his disability, I would understand what you are saying. If the burden of his wheelchair was the only reason he was in the movie, I would understand what you are saying. But because you repeatedly deny any nuance in his performance, and you are seemingly only seeing his negative attributes because you seem to refuse any possibility that there is more going on in this performance, I'm not going to agree with you when you claim him as reinforcing stereotypes about the disabled. I think it is flat out wrong (although there are probably some fair strikes you can throw at the character, but no so many you strike him out)


I think ultimately we agree in principal, and if you ever saw the light in why the actor playing the guy is doing a good job, you might start thanking me from saving you from such a not good take as you're showing.
How does Franklin defy stereotypes about the handicapped being a burden? Explain that to me. Is his being handicapped the only thing that keeps him out of the stereotype of whiny loser that is used exactly the same in lesser, basic slashers? If not, what else is it?

You’re claiming that I’m missing something but you’re overlooking the obvious. Blind men seeing a snake and a tree but not the elephant they’re obviously looking at.