by Burt Prelutsky
I had thought the Left had finally run out of preposterous things to say about President Bush. I mean, between Dan Rather, Chris Matthews, Charlie Sheen, Howard Dean, John Kerry, Al Gore, Helen Thomas, and the rest of the card-carrying liberal loonies, what was left to be said about the man? That he slurped his soup? That he hated John Wayne westerns? That he beat up Laura on a regular basis?
These people who would rush to defend Osama bin Laden, arguing that he must have been potty-trained too early, and defend Satan on the grounds that anyone would be justified in acting up if they’d been booted out of Heaven, can’t even bring themselves to say something nice about the way Bush dresses.
The latest attack on the president was so bizarre that when I first heard it, my immediate reaction was to laugh. It certainly sounded like a piece of dialogue that a conservative writer might stick in the mouth of a liberal character in a political satire. But I quickly realized that 34 year old writer-director Eli Roth was serious when he told Neil Cavuto that George Bush was responsible for the rash of horror movies turned out by Hollywood in recent years.
It’s easy enough to dismiss the ravings of the over-wrought Mr. Roth when he contends that when there’s horror in the world, which there is thanks to Bush’s policies, people feel the need to scream. And the one socially-acceptable place to do it, Roth explained to Cavuto, is at the local Cineplex.
Roth, whose few credits include “Cabin Fever” and “Hostel,” a couple of low budget horror flicks that will make nobody forget “Casablanca” or “Citizen Kane,” managed in just a few ill-chosen words to display his arrogance and his ignorance.
He went on in a feeble attempt to give his inane comments historical perspective by insisting there were also a spate of horror movies during the Vietnam War. Well, it’s true that between, say, ’63 and ’73, there were a bunch of them. But there were also a slew between ’23 and ’33, ’33 and ’43, and so on. What’s more, it didn’t make a smidgen of difference if a Democrat or a Republican was living in the White House.
Perhaps Mr. Roth, who wasn’t born until ’72, is unaware of a major movie star named Lon Chaney. Even President Bush wasn’t alive when Chaney was terrifying the movie-going public in such silent films as “The Unholy Three,” “The Unknown,” and “Phantom of the Opera,” all made during a time of peace and prosperity.
Some sense of the way that audiences of every era have clamored after movie chills can be indicated by the fact that “Phantom” was re-made on seven separate occasions between 1943 and 1999, not counting Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.
Once the sound era rolled around, you couldn’t stop the deluge. And it didn’t matter if the country was at peace or at war, no matter the state of the economy. Just a few of them were “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “Freaks,” “The Wolfman,” “Cat People,” “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” “The Creature From the Dark Lagoon,” “The Blob,” “The Thing,” “The Phantom of the Rue Morgue,” “Night of the Living Dead,” and “Psycho.”
But it was in the 70s and 80s that the stream of dreck reached flood level, with the likes of “Night Terrors,” “The Omen,” “The Other,” “Eaten Alive,” “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” “Scream,” “Halloween,” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” And like the creatures that often populated these turkeys, many of these movies mutated monstrous offspring, better known as sequels.The worst thing, though, about Mr. Roth’s puerile attack on the president is his obvious lack of gratitude. I mean, if he actually believes Bush is personally responsible for there being an audience for his infantile claptrap, you’d think he’d have the decency to send the man candy and flowers, instead of brickbats.
As I see it, the real problem with most of the product Hollywood churns out these days isn’t that they’re horror flicks, but that they’re just plain horrible. And for that, President Bush is entirely blameless. And if Mr. Roth really wants to find a villain, he need only stop gazing through his Viewfinder, and look in the mirror.