Does anyone else remember MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch? Admittedly I don’t remember it with a whole lot of special fondness. Frankly, it never really lived up to its full potential, and I always thought it peaked early with a pilot that was also its best episode ever (Charles Manson vs. Marilyn Manson). However, I do recall tuning into the show repeatedly — on purpose even — during the era when I lived in a college dorm. And I am grateful that it paved the way for shows like Robot Chicken.
Anyway, I bring it up to illustrate the concept that will be employed extensively on this blog. Basically, I watch two films that have at least some tenuous connection (e.g., same genre, same setting, same actor), and then I decide which one I liked better according to entirely arbitrary and subjective measures. That’s it. Typically this is how I entertain myself over a weekend when I have no social engagements of any kind and absolutely nothing productive to occupy my time. Unfortunately, I am frequently not entertained well, as Deathmatch often leads to me making poor viewing decisions, such as the one recapped below.
The Innkeepers vs. The Woman in Black!
Tie! And not the kind where they both walk away unscathed. Rather both died ignominiously in failure.
I’ll grant you that both movies hold your attention, but they also both suffer from unsatisfying endings. And I mean they completely tank it on the last lap.
WIB had more plot and was more interested in telling a story (which I like) while Innkeepers kept itself busy mainly just observing the characters. WIB had more drama, excitement, and set pieces. Innkeepers is probably slightly more engaging and definitely more frightening, and its director had a better sense of how to effectively orchestrate a boo moment.
Ultimately I was a lot more frustrated with Innkeepers because I loved the first two acts so much. Imagine taking the characters from Clerks and lovingly transplanting them as-is into a serious horror movie. It struck me as inspired to contrast that deadpan irreverence with the scary stuff, but all the delightful cleverness gradually seeps out of the characters until you’re left with the standard group of horror idiots, waiting around to die and refusing to leave when no real person not tethered by the requirements of the screenplay would stay.
On the other hand, I was much more than disappointed by WIB. I was livid. As the credits rolled on WIB, I almost involuntarily spit out a profoundly crude expletive, which I will not repeat here (even though I’m not usually shy about dropping bombs). Keep in mind this was in a crowded theater on its opening weekend, and I had come with a friend, who was probably mortified. I still feel bad about that over a year later.
Suffice to say, I wouldn’t watch either film a second time. But I did enjoy revisiting this article about the release of WIB and the history of Hammer Film Productions.