Death and sleaze guidelines
Herein, we describe our particular approach to indexing and ratings.
Death and sleaze by indexing
Every time a movie character dies or does something sleazy (explicitly or otherwise), we categorize it into a “death by” or “sleaze by”. As part of this obsessiveness, we’ve developed some guidelines which help drive the categorization:
- "Just bodies" are not deaths. Imagine a morgue with 30 bodies on slabs. We know they're dead but we have no indication of how they died or who these people really are - they're more set dressing than actual characters. We don't count these as deaths, nor any other scene where it's "just bodies" (random crime scene footage, scary skeletons or corpses in a cave, etc.).
- Deaths are final, sleaze is not. Once someone is dead, that’s it... we shouldn’t see ‘em moving around again. If they’re resurrected, become undead, or turn into an evil beastie and wander around a bit more, the death wasn’t “final” and isn’t counted or categorized. Contrarily, sleaze can happen as often as necessary: if someone takes five different showers, that’s five specific sleazes.
- Be specific but not too specific. Very narrow categories like “Death by 5-inch knife”, “Death by hunting knife” or “Death by toothed knife” aren’t entirely useful – those should all be classified as simply “Death by knife”. Exceptions include differently named items (”Death by switchblade” and “Death by machete”), or of unique interest (”Death by butter knife” might be OK, but it’ll probably only ever be used once). “Death by werewolf” is also OK (as are “vampire”, “midget”, “chupacabra”, “scarecrow”, etc.) but “Death by bear” should be accompanied by the more generic “Death by animal”.
Modifiers can tweak any death or sleaze to indicate specific conditions and are always placed in parenthesis, such as "Death by axe (insurance)". To ease categorization, only one modifier is allowed per usage - instead of "Death by axe (insurance, offscreen)", we use "Death by axe (insurance)" and "Death by axe (offscreen)". Only use the modifiers defined below, and only when necessary.
- Death by _____ (insurance): This didn't cause the death, but happened afterwards as a bit of insurance that the character would stay dead. Decapitating someone with an axe, then throwing their head in a fire, would be "Death by axe", "Death by decapitation" and "Death by fire (insurance)". Insurance should only be used when there is no doubt the character is already dead or soon will be.
- Death by _____ (offscreen): The death occurred entirely offscreen. We may see a shot of the character screaming about his impending doom, but if the scene changes and we never see that character again, the implication is they died offscreen. No part of the act of death has been filmed.
- Sleaze by _____ (unfulfilled): Nudity or sleaze was implied, but never actually occurred. If the intent of a shower scene is to see someone nude (as opposed to, say, getting clean), then not seeing nudity would mean "Sleaze by shower (unfulfilled)". On the other hand, "Sleaze by mini-skirt" is generally meant to tease with the possibility of a panty shot, but rarely "pays off". In situations like that, you would not use unfulfilled.
Rating films for others
We use a 4-star rating system, where each star is a positive response to the following questions.
- Was there an emotional or memorable moment?
- Did we physically cry, smile, or laugh aloud? Did the soundtrack hit just the right notes, creating a more impressive and emotive scene? Did something happen that we talked about afterward, or became synonymous with the movie in our memory, or were we just jaded for most of the proceedings?
- Were we enthralled for a respectable period of time?
- This doesn’t necessarily have to be intellectual attachment: an action movie that doesn’t let up, well-done suspense, or even visual beauty could keep one’s eyes glued to the screen. Hell, some incredibly bad movies keep us enthralled by sheer ineptitude. Our stars can never be unearned: if we’re enthralled for the first half, but the remainder is a letdown, the film has still done enough to earn this criterion.
- Would we gladly watch this movie again?
- In most cases, our exploration of a film requires us to watch it multiple times. This star determines if we would happily and willingly watch it yet again, when measured against limited time and an infinite number of movies still unseen. This question only applies to watching it alone: we don’t consider sitting down with a friend who hasn’t seen it, or catching it on TV because “there’s nothing better on”, adequate justification.
- Would we “stake our reputation” on a recommendation?
- Would we suggest this film to anyone, be they a trusted or well-loved film critic, our most cynical acquaintance, or anyone else we’d hate to waste the ever-lessening free time of? This star is one of the toughest for us to give: we consider a movie with this star a “must-see”, regardless of your existing likes or dislikes.
For example, Morbus is a huge fan of monster movies. In a personal rating system, he’d probably give most non-American Godzilla movies 3 or 4 stars, then Buddy Christ to the Godzilla figure that’s been sitting near his TV since 1987. Based on the above criteria however, most would fall to 1 or 2 stars (memorable moment and/or would watch again), Cloverfield would make 3, but only The Host would earn a complete 4 stars.