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Friday, April 3, 2009

First MonstersHD, Now FEARnet??

Folks, we as horror fans need to stand up and get angry. It's time to do something. The loss of Monsters HD was a crippling blow to anyone who enjoys watching uncut horror flicks on TV--and now comes the enraging news that Time Warner Cable has dropped the FEARnet on-demand service from its lineup.

FEARnet.com reported the news last night, and it was brought to my attention by colleague and FEARnet.com writer Scott Weinberg. Apparently, Time Warner must feel that there is not enough support for a 24/7 on-demand horror film provider, but clearly we know this isn't so. And they need to know this.

If you've had FEARnet dropped from your service and you're pissed off, or even if you have a different provider and you're still pissed off, call this number: 1-877-FEAR-247. FEARnet will connect you with your cable operator, so you can voice your complaint.

Let me remind you that this is how it started with Monsters HD last year, first getting dropped by one provider at a time, until it ultimately closed its doors, depriving horror fans of a superb source of entertainment. I would not be surprised if FEARnet is headed in the exact same direction, if nothing is done to alter this course. And then all we'll have is ChillerTV, so for God's sake people, we need to do something.

I'm baffled as to where this lack of confidence in the concept of a horror channel is coming from. In my experience, horror has a much stronger mainstream following than science fiction, and yet the Sci-Fi Channel has been going strong for many years. Hell, there's even an Encore Westerns channel. Horror fans, unite and speak up!


Gryphon said...

Actually, I am pretty sure SciFi has a MUCH broader audience than the horror genre, even though I personally have little interest in it. Part of the reason may be that it deals more often in wish fulfillment fantasies. Anyway, I know a lot of avid fans of the SciFi channel. More than I can account for. Blech, but oh well.

That said, I don't bother with horror movies much anymore (certainly not the current ones), as much as I appreciate the genre, because most of it is predictable, unchallenging tripe and a waste of my time. What little I saw of FEARnet didn't impress me. The invasive bugs and banners on the screen pretty much ruined even the few good movies they were showing.

Viva Netflix! I don't need cable. I do my own programming.

B-Sol said...

While I would agree in the book world that sci-fi trumps horror, horror movies tend to attract much larger audience than sci-fi--unless you're talking about the mondo summer blockbusters that are more action than sci-fi anyway.

Gryphon said...

Books and TV both lend themselves better to a serial format than films, despite sequel-mania. With movies you are less likely to get a continuation than you are more of the same. Sci-fi fans are usually some form of Trekkie - all you have to do is create characters (boy, they get into the characters - how much horror based slash fiction do you see?) that can be put through endless plot lines. (There's also the imaginary technology porn element, but that doesn't mainstream as well as having characters who are, I don't want to say "good," but strong in the sense that fans can project their own fantasies on them.) Again, I don't personally see the appeal. The SciFi channel shows movies, but they also have a lot of reruns of TV shows and original series. Those have the potential of drawing viewers back to the same well.

The horror films you speak of tend to do big opening weekends, but I don't see much staying power - not that I've made a formal study. Since horror is a genre that addresses death, it isn't surprising that horror series have always tended to the omnibus format, and the unevenness that goes with that territory. Without returning characters, it's harder to place a hook that will keep audiences coming back consistently. If you have to rely on movies for your programming, you could be in trouble confining yourself to one genre. Especially given the fact that most of FEARnet's programming is readily available on DVD, without the irritating bugs and banners. I was surprised and impressed to see 'Repulsion' turning up on TV - but the film, which relies heavily on atmosphere (as many horror films do), seemed to be under assault by the stupid graphics and noises at the bottom of the screen whose job it is to divert the viewers' attention. This is a godawful way to see a movie, so excuse me for not mourning the passing of FEARnet. Good riddance, in fact.

As much as I tend to dislike westerns, I can see a western oriented channel having stronger market potential. Western aficionados are notoriously unconcerned with quality, as long as the elements are in place. (Maybe some horror fans will watch just any piece of crap, as long as it's in the genre, but many, like myself, are picky.) There were also a tremendous number of programmers churned out before the genre hit the skids, as well as a great many serials and TV series. (Successful horror series on TV are truly an aberration.) I'm definitely not the audience for this stuff, but I acknowledge that there is one. Like sci-fi, westerns invite the fans to project a certain fantasy, but this is a different kind of fantasy, more cultural/historical than personal/aspirational. Still, these are fantasies that can be recycled endlessly without weakening the elements those audiences are looking for in the first place.

Horror is about sensation and emotion - with emphasis on the former. Sequels and remakes abound, but are much more subject to the law of diminishing returns. (I sure don't bother with them.) I just don't see it lending itself as well to the forms that tend traditionally to work for TV - but I don't see that as a bad thing, either.

FEARnet's demise, again, is no big loss to me. The few movies I want to see get a better presentation on DVD - but most of those films were hackneyed junk I wouldn't waste my time on, anyway.

Halloween Costumes said...

This is sad. All of the shows on TV are all turning into the same thing. You have doctor shows, cop shows and reality shows. It is always good to have more choices.

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