The Rating System

Here at the 31 Flavors I employ a patented algorithm to determine the precise objective value of each movie I watch in the most important categories to bring you, the consumer, everything you need to know before pulling the trigger on that next Fandango purchase or Netflix queue addition.  It’s science.

Clearly, that’s horse shit. The most scientific thing in my life is the busted TI-81 entombed for all time in my parents’ attic. But I do have a lot of friends (many imaginary) who ask me to recommend movies in keeping with the Halloween season, and not everyone digs grisly decapitations and J-horror so I have to tailor my suggestions accordingly. There are obviously tons of important elements that can add up to a 31 Flavors movie experience, even if the movie isn’t scary at all. For the sake of brevity and fun I’ve boiled them all down to four categories: Gore, Scares, Quality and the elusive “Nicability”. Each movie I watch gets a rating from zero to four cones (are we getting the ice cream/”I scream” thing yet?) for each category.

Gore: Pretty self-explanatory, yeah? Whether it gushes, spews, explodes, melts, or drips: if it’s gross, it’ll do well here. A lot of great scary movies net a fat zero for gore because they’re meant to be suspenseful or thrilling or funny or anything but gory. An example might be something like Bubba Ho-tep – touching, funny, eerie and even a little startling at times, but nary a drop of blood to be seen. It’s still an excellent choice for the season but there are those afficionados who measure movie quality in sheer gallons of fake blood so this is for them.

Scares: I don’t find gore particularly scary and I think most would agree. A movie like Zombieland racks up tons of gross-out moments what with the blood-vomiting undead and explosive headshots, but there isn’t much to really startle an audience. A movie like The Ring, on the other hand, makes its money on its ability to make a viewer jump out of his or her seat, pee his or her pants, or just be unable to sleep without checking under the bed. (I will never forgive the makers of Gremlins for the many nights I slept with the lights on after I saw that thing as a kid.)

Quality: For my money, this is the most important category and I’ll be putting the most thought and emphasis here. Whether it’s scary or not, gory or not, creepy or not, it doesn’t matter to me as long as we’re dealing with quality merchandise. If the creative team set out to accomplish a worthwhile artistic goal and succeeded, that’s a movie I want to watch. Something like Rear Window, while not particularly scary and not gory at all, is so excellently crafted it’s bound to please anyone who sees it, and it fits in my definition of a Halloween appropriate movie so it would get all four cones. Stuff like that is the best way to enjoy the season.

Nicability: For most scary movie fans the first three categories are all that matter, but there’s more to the season. There are myriad additional categories you could make a case for – suspense, creepiness, inclusion of dolls – but I’m eschewing all those in favor of something far more practical. Many of us have additional audience members to account for. When in the company of those that might not thrill at seeing the inside of some poor schmuck’s abdomen, the Nicability rating is your salvation. Something that gets four cones here – Manhattan Murder Mystery, for example – isn’t going to give anyone nightmares, but it’s a nice way to get into the season. A gory movie can still net a few cones here, as long as the splatter isn’t the primary focus. Shaun of the Dead is a great example: it’s pretty gruesome at times but the emphasis is on the humor and the relationships. Maybe a few moments require a “let me know when it’s safe to look”, but by and large it’s passable fare for most anyone.

These are just my thoughts. I’m sure I’m missing out on the sine qua non of what makes a scary movie, so if you’ve made it this far, won’t you please let me know what I’ve forgotten? I urge you to be as passionate and vitriolic as possible: I have far too much self-esteem.

3 Responses to “The Rating System”

  1. It's your mother :-) Says:

    This is a cool site. Your creativity with words and images is impressive. Love the cone ratings. Go you!

  2. I like this place, but I LOVE the first comment on this post.

  3. Hahaha! Ma, the meatloaf!

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