I love language. Every aspect of it intrigues me, from dense literature thousands of years old, right down to individuals’ patterns of speech. Just like everybody, I have my own choice words, phrases and sentences that I use fairly often. Over the course of eight years of writing horror reviews, I’ve developed my own lexicon, something I like to call Fasso Lingo. Because I use these words and phrases so frequently in reviews, I’ve compiled them for you in the list below. They’re in no particular order, but I dig the Relocation Program and the GSG more than most.
Note that this list is flexible, and I’m sure I’ll add more terms to it as I continue to write reviews. So you should check back here every so often for updates. In the meantime, enjoy.
Horror Movie Relocation Program™— Why is ANTHROPOPHAGUS also known as GRIM REAPER, and as THE SAVAGE ISLAND? For one, we live in a different era, but back in the day unscrupulous distributors would slap new titles on flicks that had passed through the region. They’d then send them out on the drive-in circuit and bring in unsuspecting fans who’d either already seen the flick, or had avoided it. The other reason is the European market. Flicks would fly by all sorts of names in that era, with different translations for different countries. This was also a good way for them to foist originals under the guise of sequels, so they could dupe fans of a franchise as well.
The Horror Movie Relocation Program is film’s version of witness relocation program. Most of the examples I’ve reviewed, I found guilty of being trash, and it makes sense they would want to hide their identities under new names.
Generic Stereotype Generator™— Ever watch a horror flick where The Jock is an abusive dick with a top of the line sports car? Or The Coach is wearing a gray sweat suit and blue baseball cap? Or the… This list can go on forever. Because there is another list, even longer, of lazy screenwriters who don’t want to invest any energy into their writing, or humanity into their characters. So they go down to the writers’ version of Home Depot and buy a Generic Stereotype Generator. They feed in cardboard at one end, and out the other end comes out what critics commonly refer to as “cardboard characters.”
The GSG, for short, is one of the reasons so many people look down on horror. Far too many characters in the genre are so beyond thin that if you turned them sideways, they would disappear. When I write scripts, I always make sure to buy into my characters instead of buying a GSG, giving them individual traits even if they’re in a formula-type film. In DEADTENTION, my jock was a closeted gay who became a zombie, and the coach was eating a meatball hero while running a gym class. I defy you to find another horror film based in a high school with that combo.
In Its Own Universe™— See that chunk of land over there? That’s left field. Some flicks go so far beyond left field, then take a rocket off the planet and establish themselves as their own territory. These flicks go way past existing in a world of their own. They have their own universe. Give a flick such as TERROR VISION a look, and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.
verve— When a flick has an energy to it, and is humming along with an enthusiasm, it’s got verve. I fell into using this word early on in my reviews. I like it, so it stuck.
“I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried, folks”— A vampire dog has a flashback. A character’s life depends on him wearing holy earplugs. Text on a screen flashes the film forward and says it’s “Next Semester…Yesterday.” You come across this in a review, and you may think I’m screwing with you. But I’m just not that imaginative.
jazzed— if I’m really excited about something, this is how I express my joy.
sweet perfection— Every so often, a horror flick executes something immaculately.
failing on all cylinders— This is the exact opposite of sweet perfection. Everything that could go wrong did exactly that.
remakebootimagining— Can we please cut out the cutesy terms and just call a remake a remake?
The Quality Equator— Any range has a center at the exact middle of its two extremes. So it is with the production of a horror film. In the high range up north, you’ll find THE OMEN. In the range well south, you’ll find THE HOWLING 3: THE MARSUPIALS. I usually refer to the Quality Equator when things fall on the southern end of the range.
The Law of Annoying Characters’ Pleasing Deaths— If you root for people to die in the real world, you’re an insensitive sadist who should be caged. But if you root for certain characters in a horror flick to die, you can still consider yourself a decent human because of this phrase: It’s only a movie.
Horror is littered with characters who are beyond annoying. The first time I ever saw TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, Franklin couldn’t die soon enough for my tastes. I believe screenwriters put these characters in flicks specifically so we’ll clamor for their deaths. And when those deaths come, it’s always sweet.
Special thanks to Roger Ebert for this one. He used to allow fans to email him their movie Laws, and he’d post them in his blog. I never sent this one off to him, but I feel he’d buy it.
80s hot— When I growing up in the 1980s, women didn’t look like they do now. Huge hair, leggings and lots of colorful makeup were in style. The senior girls in my high school yearbook alone probably obliterated the ozone layer.
By the early 90s, all that had changed. I was in a club in 1994 and bumped into a girl who graduated with me, and she looked like a totally different human being. Gone were the crimped hair and rouge and eyeshadow, replaced by a stripped down looking young woman. Clearly, the times had changed.
And yet, there are some women with a certain look in horror flicks from the 80s that get my heart pumping even today. These women I refer to as 80s hot.
And before you call me a sexist dick, relax. I love all sorts of beautiful gals. But those that bring me back to memories of the 80s, they’re something special.
X Marks the Oscar— Horror is reviled by many critics and mainstream moviegoers. So it’s ironic that many of those who work in making horror films have been honored with Academy Awards, though not often for their work in the genre. From Jerry Goldsmith to John Caglione, Oscar has acknowledged some of the finest in the field. And X Chris basks in the golden glow.
The Wile E. Coyote School of Protagonists— a school of film thought in which the main characters will be brought close to, and sometimes well beyond, the point where any mortal would die, yet they survive til the end credits. If your leads are each getting $20 million in a picture that costs close to a quarter billion, they graduated from this school. If they outrun 25 foot tall dinosaurs, fall off a cliff into a spiked ravine and are saved by landing on a random handful of feathers, they graduated with honors.