Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mouse of Usher

AMC's Website Runs Better Movies Than Its Cable Channel

It's been a long time since the acronym "AMC" represented "American Movie Classics" in TV channel listings. The phrase that usually comes to my mind when I see those letters strung together is "Any More Channels?" Since the late '90s, right around the time Rupert Murdoch acquired the network and started breaking the films up for commercials, there's been little about AMC that's been "classic" (unless you're talking "classic Swayze," in which case the channel's ceaseless airing of Road House might qualify). Sure, you can still sometimes catch an old talkie from the '30s or '40s during the Cialis hours of the day, AMC's attempt to wrest Neilsen shares away from The Price is Right and Matlock, but when a channel's running movies like Chain Reaction in prime evening timeslots, it's clearly headed back down the mountain of cultural relevance.

Fortunately someone forgot to tell that to the people that run the channel's horror dept. Despite its obvious decline in just about every other realm, AMC continues to be the only fairly reliable resource for decent horror on widespread basic cable (the descriptor "decent" automatically disqualifies 97% of what airs on the Sci-Fi Channel). Between its weekly Fear Friday block and the annual weeklong Fearfest (not to mention the Horror Hacker blog), the channel continues to cater quite well to the horror crowd. Yeah, the movies are edited and riddled with commercials, but pretty soon we'll all be seeing ads on our toilet paper; that's capitalism. At least the cinematic toilet paper on AMC's roll more often than not stars Adrienne Barbeau.

And, with the recent launch of their 2008 Fearfest promo site, AMC's actually taken their TP into two-ply territory, making a handful of good oldies available for instant online viewing. And we're not talking about The Lawnmower Man or Bloody Murder 2, here. The initial wave of online Fearfest flicks actually includes some movies worth watching, especially if you're a Vincent Price fan or can't get enough of Lance Henrikson's hair.

AMC's also sponsoring a contest to award $4,000 to one aspiring horror filmmaker, but be warned: the final round guest judge is Rob Zombie, so unless your one-minute movie submission happens to be The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or a classic slasher film remade into a crappy, self-indulgent after-school special, you might be better off waiting for AMC to sponsor a Road House fest (which should kick-off right around November 1).