Genre Busters

There are some films which can be hard to peg to a specific genre. Take Alien – one of my favorite movies. It can be classified as science fiction with it’s future setting, space frigate and alien life form. But it’s also possibly the scariest movie I’ve ever seen. I recall my old co-worker MT commenting how the later movies had, “cool CGI” which wasn’t all that scary but the original had, “a slimy puppet which scared the CRAP out of me!” So, which is it; science fiction or horror? I classify it as a horror – truly scary – even with its obvious science fiction setting.

Then there are movies which are classified as one genre but seem to not be as advertised. In the nineties no movie better epitomized this quandary than Fargo. Just about every video store I went into looking for it labelled Fargo as a comedy. What? Guy has his wife kidnapped by two criminals to get the ransom money from his rich father-in-law only to have it all backfire with death and mayhem…and Steve Buscemi in a wood chipper. (A misnomer if I’ve ever heard one as anyone or anything tossed into one of those things isn’t very chipper about the whole experience.) Sure, it had its quirky moments, and it really wasn’t a drama, it wasn’t a mystery (we knew who was behind everything from the start), it had really just two elements of suspense (the parking deck shooting and Frances McDormand confronting the bad guys), and almost no real action. So it was kind of a genre-busting film. Maybe that’s why all the critics loved it.

I recently saw Zombieland, which is oft categorized as a comedy. Sure, I was rolling at many moments in this movie. And I absolutely LOVED Bill Murray’s cameo. But I just can’t really agree with the comedy label. I mean, zombie apocalypse has taken over the world with incredible violence and gore, our four survivors are alone and desperate for survival, they have lost all family and friends – some dead, others possibly zombies which they’ll have to kill to survive. How awful. And, to top it all off, THERE’S NOT A TWINKIE TO BE FOUND ON EARTH!



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