Sometimes I wonder if I was born in the correct time. Even though I can’t honestly remember how I enjoyed life before the internet, fully articulated action figures, and the remote control, I do miss what the lack of technology could provide the filmmaker in me. Not saying that I pine for the days of plate-sized microphones or projecting scenery during a drive through the country. No, I am talking about the ,then, conveniences that we now find antiquated and thus, slowly removed from our cultural landscape. Yes, this article is sliding dangerously close to a “whatever happened to” rant, but since I can’t do an Andy Rooney as well as Rick or Clyde, I will do my best to avoid it.
I sorely miss the public payphone.
I know, this was a tad bit obvious, what can you do? As a person who wishes to create a truly terrifying horror film, I lament the loss of the middle-of-nowhere public phone. With cell phones becoming the standard for darn near everyone, the public phone is disappearing. So many shots and thematic elements are forever lost. Gone is the lead character trying to find a number only to find the exact page you need removed or the number auspiciously blacked-out. Missing for all is the moment where our young ing?nue is speaking to the cops; rain is covering the glass obscuring her vision of the beast slowly creeping upon the booth. Even sadder, no more can I film a cat and mouse scene, the hero barely keeping ahead of his would-be killer. There, in the distance he spies a payphone, saved! Runs up to it, slides open the door, picks up the phone… No dial tone. Someone has cut the metal cord! Fear covers his face…Wham! Killer slams his fist through the glass to slice the throat of the damn fool who thought the phone would save him… Excellent.
Sure, I know the cell phone can create some interesting moments of tension. However, with coverage becoming more and more complete, the odds of a believable environment lacking a signal are lessening. Filmmakers are poorer for it. The cell phone has added one great tension-creating device. The use of the flip screen as a poor flashlight substitution. But that is about it…
Maybe that would explain my desire to always place my horror flicks in the 70s and 80s… Or, the Old West…Which is a whole other rant unto itself.
Tune in next time where I review my first of many DVDs from the William Shatner DVD Club!