Yes yes i know - it's a sweeping statement. But I believe that. Scary and horror movies do not harm society at large. Yes I agree that movies (what ever kind) sometime leave an indelible mark in some, but it's far and few.
It's a debate that has been going on over two decades - in terms of producing content for local TV and cinema. Remember the VHS policy on RTM announced by the former Information Minister Tok Mat over a decade ago? It completely wiped out a single genre for more than 10 years. No violence, no horror, no sex. No Fun.
It's a little weird since that was the generation that grew up watching Mariam Menado's Pontianak, P. Ramlee's Orang Minyak and SiTora and other title's like Hantu Jerangkung and Hantu Kubor. None from that generation went gaga or violent right? This is your father's generation ok? It was the time when going to a horror movie is just another night's outing. What was okay for them is now not okay for us.
Check out the ad below - it's the Straits Times - the date? September 1, 1957 - it's the first day of Independance - it's Merdeka day. Check out what premiered at the Odeon and Cathay Cinemas - right it's Dendam Pontianak starring the great Maria Menado. So, if this horror movie is good enough for the now free Malayans, why not now? Was tahyul and superstition okay in 1957 and taboo in 2008?
Now maybe you're wondering why I'm jerking around when the cinemas are full of horror movies since about sux years ago. Yes yes I know. Since Shuhaimi Baba's Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam, there's been a non-stop screening of Malay horror films - Mistik, Waris Jari Hantu, Puaka Tebing Biru, Zombie Kampung Pisang (to name just a few) and the big one - Ahmad Idham's Jangan Pandang Belakang. So what am I bitching about?
Well, unknown to many (because there has been an 'overkill' in production of such movies) there is an underground swell to once again start banning such films.
Maybe it's also the fault of local film and TV producers who have been churning out bad horror rip-offs. Imagine on TV, there's Anak Pontianak, there's Saka, there's Ghosts and there's Susuk amongst others. Including my own Bilik No. 13.
There's a claim that the violence in our society - the horrible murders, kidnappings and histeria break outs in schools - are the direct result of these TV series and movies. There is a movement out to ban such series - good ones and bad ones.
So I hope fans of local horror movies come out in numbers to write in and tell the powers that be that the horror genre is welcomed.
Whilst I hope that such freedom still exists for film directors and producers - I hope the quality and the creativity of filmmakers improve in time - so that artistic merit overwhelms content quality. Which is why I am looking forward to James Lee's Histeria.
Anyway, for those who enjoy such fare - write in to the mainstream press - tell them you like and enjoy such series or films - because the press are prone to printing only letters from self-proclaimed moral guardians, that condemn such fare.
If we lose this battle, our cinema will never win the fight against other taboos - taboos like sex and political content - genres that have not yet been touched by filmmakers.
For horror fans, enjoy the little VCD movie I did about 7 years ago entitled Histeria (sorry James). It's a cheap horror anthology based on a theater play I did entitled Hantu-Hantu Yang Saya Kenali which was staged at the national Museum about 8 years ago. It's not one of my better works, but it did star an old dear friend - the late Hani Mohsin. Someone posted it on Youtube. The lipsynching on some of the chapters is off, so bear with it. Maybe, sometime soon, I will post the best of Bilik no.13. Enjoy.
Histeria Part 1
HIsteria Part 2
Histeria Part 3
Histeria Part 4
Histeria Part 5
Histeria Part 6
Histeria Part 7
Histeria Part 8
Histeria Part 9
Histeria Part 10
Histeria Part 11