Bribe for the listeners / readers:
If you actually subject yourself to reading all my ramblings below and leave a comment on this blog post, then I will enter your name in a random drawing for a DVD of the French slasher flick “Inside” (2007). Must be 18 years old or older to win. (That movie is a 10 out of 10, by the way. Genuinely scary!) I will announce the winner during Episode 050, which releases this Friday, April 17, 2015.
Side note to recent prize winners:
I apologize for the delay in sending out your prizes. I have them; I just haven’t been able to get to the post office, due to my banker’s hours schedule at my day job. But I will send them very soon. We are always good for our prizes!
Jay of the Dead’s Approach to the 10-Point Rating Scale
In the comments for Episode 049, my good buddy, Juan, called me out on my rating system. And to be honest, I understand why. My rating system isn’t overly intuitive, but I believe my personal twist on the 10-point rating scale makes more sense than any other system I’ve ever heard.
To me, it’s a solution for trying to quantify the quality of an artistic work, in this case, a film. How does one apply one’s subjective opinion about art to a number scale? This is how:
First things first: I rate on a scale of 0.5 to 10, halves are legal. Therefore, I guess it’s technically a 20-point rating scale, since there are 20 possible designations. Zeros are not possible in my estimation, because if someone has managed to wield the magnificent miracle of the motion picture, then that filmmaker at least gets a half point for creating moving images. It’s just my little way of showing respect for the medium.
I believe many things in life correspond with the Bell Curve, including the quality of movies. For those who are unfamiliar, the Bell Curve is a visual representation that depicts “a normal distribution,” meaning, the majority of something is average and middling, and the very poor instances or very exceptional instances are rarer outliers.
Think about it: The majority of movies you watch are OK, right? Just fine. Not too bad, not too good. Just unremarkable one way or the other. And it’s rare to see something truly fantastic or something profoundly awful. Extremes are less common.
I believe the Bell Curve for the quality of the cinema skews slightly to the right, meaning, as a genuine lover of movies, there are slightly more “acceptable” or “passable” movies than unwatchable ones. This is called a negative skew or right-modal curve (the green and yellow one depicted here). In other words, the central point of my scale (the highest, most frequently occurring point) is a 6 — not a 5.
Therefore, when I rate a movie a 6 out of 10, it’s not a 60 percent or a grade-school “D.” Far from it! A 6 out of 10 to me means it’s “a good movie” that I enjoyed and found satisfying (and think you will, too). A 6 is a decent rental. You may (or may not) mention a 6-rated movie at work the next day. You might think about it the next day, or you might forget about it altogether, but it was a good time while it lasted. This is the highest, most frequently occurring point on my slightly skewed Bell Curve.
A 6 rating is like a “B” on the grade school scale. (I realize that an “A” stands for “average,” but in the U.S., we don’t treat it that way; we consider an “A” to mean superior and exceptional.)
Examples of 6-rated horror movies: “Dead and Buried” (1981), “Broken” (2006), “Juan of the Dead” (2011), “Zombie Town” (2007) and “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” (1986).
A 6.5 out of 10 is a good rental that you enjoyed so much that you’ll even talk about it at work the next day and recommend it to your friends. You are genuinely impressed with a 6.5, and it sticks with you for a day or so after you watch it. A 6.5 is probably a movie that you’ll revisit someday in the future. A 6.5 is like a B+ to me.
Examples of 6.5-rated horror movies: “Blood Creek” (2009), “Extraterrestrial” (2014), “Annabelle” (2014), “Honeymoon” (2014), “Dance of the Dead” (2008), “Killer Mermaid” (2014), “Banshee Chapter” (2013) and “The Pyramid” (2014).
The 6 and 6.5 are good, solid, “can’t-go-wrong” rentals that are worth a $6.99 rental on Amazon, for instance.
A 5.5 is below average (what grammar schoolers might call a B- ). It’s worth watching at some point, but there’s no big rush to get around to it, and no big loss if you never do. A 5.5 is worth a $3.99 rental on Amazon.
Examples of 5.5-rated horror movies: “Creep” (2004), “Twins of Evil” (1971), “Aftershock” (2013), “Deliver Us From Evil” (2014) and “Spring” (2015).
A 5 is just merely OK. Mediocre. Nothing notable. It’s like a C grade, yet it’s still a passing grade. It’s what I call “a low-priority rental.” A 5.5 is a little disappointing, and a 5 is a full-blown disappointment. A 5 rating is worth a $1.99 Amazon rental or a Redbox rental.
Examples of 5-rated horror movies: “Apollo 18” (2011), “Stuck” (2007), “It’s in the Blood” (2012), “In Fear” (2014) and “Welcome to the Jungle” (2007).
Now, 4.5 begins the D+ range for me. Typically, movies that are rated 4.5 and below are “avoids” to me. Every once in a while, I’ll still recommend a low-priority rental on a 4.5, particularly if it’s a guilty pleasure. A 4.5 might be a stream it on Netflix or use your free movie code for a Redbox rental. And typically 4 and below are full-blown avoids.
Examples of 4.5-rated horror movies: “Crawlspace” (1986), “The Lazarus Effect” (2015), “Finders Keepers” (2015), “Zombie Death House” (1987) and “Rabid” (1977).
Examples of 4-rated horror movies: “Queen of the Damned” (2002), “Albino Farm” (2009) and “Rawhead Rex” (1987).
I pretty much hate anything from 3.5 down. Anything 3.5 and down would be an “F” to me.
“Fading of the Cries” (2011) = 3.5 (Avoid)
“The Quiet Ones” (2014) = 3 ( Avoid )
“The House Where Evil Dwells” (1982) = 2.5 ( Avoid)
“Forest of the Living Dead” (2011) = 2 ( Avoid )
“Mutantis” (2014) = 1 ( Avoid )
Now, you might have noticed that even though the half-point ratings should be equidistant from one another (0.5 apart), they’re not in my estimation. I know this is confusing. The best way I know how to explain this peculiarity to my scale is this: The distance between a 6 and a 7 is less than the distance between an 8 and a 9. Think of it like that strong-man, mallet game at the carnival: You have to hammer the platform progressively harder in order to get the weight to ascend higher toward ringing that bell at the top.
High-priority / Strong Rental Recommendation
Now let’s go into 7 and up. If I give something a 7 or a 7.5, then it’s something unique and special. This is a bizarre, nether-region of my scale where quirky movies tend to fall. Sometimes a 7.5 can merit a “Buy it!” recommendation, but usually 7 and 7.5 are just strong rentals and above-average cinematic spectacle. These are in the A-minus range. And of course, these movies are worth a $6.99 Amazon rental, as well.
Examples of 7.5-rated horror movies: “The Children” (2008), “Tusk” (2014), “Found.” (2014), “Contracted” (2013), “Husk” (2011) and “The Dead 2” (2014).
Examples of 7-rated horror movies: “Home Movie” (2008), “Splinter” (2008), “Teeth” (2007), “The Horde” (2009), “Let Me In” (2010), “The Dead” (2011), “All Hallow’s Eve” (2013) and “Lizzie Borden Took an Ax” (2014).
An 8 out of 10 is a Buy it! It’s an A. An 8.5 just barely misses the A+ designation. But 8 and up are contenders for Top 10 of the year lists. And 8 and up are almost always Buys…
Examples of 8.5-rated horror movies: “We Are What We Are” (2013), “Dead Snow” (2009) and “The Evil Dead” (1981).
Examples of 8-rated horror movies: “Pieces” (1982), “Preservation” (2015), “Animal” (2014) and “Dead Alive” (1992).
Movies that are rated 9, 9.5 and 10 are exceptional! These are the full-blown A+ range for me.
“28 Days Later…” (2002) = 10
“The Babadook” (2014) = 10
“Inside” (2007) = 10
“Maniac” (1980) = 9.5
“The Fly” (1986) = 9
“Turistas” (2006) = 9
“The Town That Dreaded Sundown” (2014) = 9
In summary, if I rate something a 6 or a 6.5. Take it to the bank: You’ll be pleased with renting that movie. At least, I was.
If something is 7 or 7.5, you should definitely check it out, because it’s special enough to be unique, but offbeat enough that I don’t want to own it or re-watch it multiple times in the future. “Teeth” is a perfect example of this…
Anything that I rate 8 and up you should see in the theater and buy it. If it’s not a buy, I will tell you. But this will only be because it has no re-watch value for one reason or another. Usually, this happens when the movie is blown (for re-watching) once you’ve seen it and know what happens. The fun is in the mystery, and once the mystery is known to the viewer, it’s much less enjoyable. But it’s a blast the first time through!
If I rate something 5 or 5.5, then it’s just mediocre, below average. Stream it on Netflix if you’re bored. Redbox rental.
Anything that’s a 4.5 or below is an avoid, unless it’s a guilty pleasure, but only watch at your own risk.
And obviously, a 10 out of 10 is a must-see every time. As a lover of cinema, you must see it before you die.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. Leave me a comment on this post, and I’ll enter your name to possibly win a DVD of “Inside” (2007).