by Shane “Broken Brain” Hnetka
When you spend a month writing about horror films from around the world, you’re likely to discover things you never knew. Here are a bunch of things I learned while researching my month-long daily Dog Blog column, Around the World in 31 Days of Horror.
1.) POP CULTURE RULES THE WORLD The United States’ greatest weapon isn’t its missiles, armies or giant economy — it’s the film industry. Hollywood’s influence on the entire globe is frightening. More than a few countries enforce movie theatre quotas — in which theatres are forced to play local movies — in an effort to lessen the American onslaught. Even then, the U.S.’ juggernaut is inescapable. When Egypt remakes Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein, you know you have a powerful weapon on your hands.
2.) GOVERNMENTS LOVE FILM The vast majority of nations support their film industries through tax rebates and funding. That said, a few do impose regulations on what can be made or shown. Some of the laws sound a lot like the meddling, censorious and stoopid rules the U.S. imposed on films from 1935 to the ’60s (no sex, no swearing, no mixed-race relationships, no drugs, no making fun of the clergy and no “willful offense to any nation, race or creed”, whatever that meant). South Korea, for example, almost destroyed its film industry in the 1970s by banning anything its boneheaded censors deemed pro-communist or anti-South Korean. The result: lame propaganda that nobody watched. Once South Korea got over that, things started to take off.
3.) AS MUCH AS I THOUGHT I KNEW ABOUT WORLD CINEMA… I’ve only scratched the surface. Even with a focus limited to horror movies, there’s so much information to absorb that my brain couldn’t take it and a lot of incorrect information ended up in my posts. For example: the largest film industry in the world is India — I incorrectly labeled it as number two, but it overshadows the U.S. in total productions. In terms of the total number of movies, the following countries led the industry between 2005-2009: India is followed by Nigeria, the U.S., Japan, China, France, Russia, Germany, Spain and Italy. Canada makes the list at number 16.
(The largest markets by box office are the U.S./Canada combined, then China, Japan, the U.K., France, India, Germany, South Korea, Russia and Australia.)
Hollywood isn’t even the centre of the U.S. industry — New York, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and non-Hollywood California all see more film productions. And Walt Disney is the only studio still headquartered in Hollywood.
There are countries with film industries of which I barely scratched the surface. Before I wrote this column, my must-see movie list was just under 1000 films. After Around The World In 31 Days Of Horror, that number has probably doubled. I could (and will) spend years watching and learning about foreign films, and that is so awesome. I don’t just have to watch the latest idiot flick from Hollywood.
And you don’t, either.
Shane Hnetka wrote about movies on Dog Blog (www.prairiedogmag.com) every day in October. He’s reeeally looking forward to returning to his much more manageable Sunday Matinee column.