The Measure of Freedom is a Horror Movie

Long time readers of this blog will recall the Phillips Theory of Democracy. Here is the back story.

In the mid-1990s I ended a 10 years Movie and Media fast by attending a foreign horror movie festival. It started as a whim, but I fell in love with several of the movies in that first festival. After that I became a mass consumer of horror films, particularly foreign horror. I became a specialist in Asian Religious Horror and wrote a lot of reviews for the San Francisco Film scene. 

In 2004 Natan Sharansky published The Case for Democracy, the Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny. One of his key ideas is that it is a necessary prerequisite for a free election that anyone can go out into the public square and say whatever they want without fear of being killed or punished for it. It that is not an option, it is not a free election and it is not a democracy. 

I like that idea, but I think it is too low a standard. After thinking about all the horror stories I had seen, and which countries produced horror and which did not, I realized that horror movies are a much more accurate measure of freedom. It is not a free country, nor a democracy is you can not make a horror movie. It is a free country if you can make one. That's the Phillips Theory of Democracy.

A horror film is a large and expensive collaborative effort to puts common fears into metaphor. They are absolutely intolerable and incompatible with tyranny. 

The case of India is the only difficult one, because it does appear to be a democracy but it has never made a horror movie. My explanation for this that Hinduism has strong elements of horror in it. A horror movie in India would in effect be too potent of a religious act for people to accept. Anyway I am not aware of any other significant exceptions even with the proliferation of video and film making technologies world wide.

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw Netflix was promoting a PRC Chinese made Horror film! The film is called Phantom of the Theatre (2016). It is about an acrobat troupe who get murdered and haunt a theater. The trailer is horror, but the film is not. Not a single scary moment, and the acrobatics were half-hearted. It was interesting to analyze for historical revisionism and such, and I liked the music, but not good enough to recommend. 

I did a bit of Googling to see if there were some other new films I might have missed. I found two PRC Chinese horror films that I had never heard of. The Lonely Spirit in an Old Building (1989) sounds like a legit horror film, I plan to watch it, but it was/is banned in China, so it does not count. I also found (Wu Zhai) The Foggy House (1994), I do not know anything about it, only 9 people claim to have watched in on IMBD.