the net guide for creative
DOWSE Guide to the
by Tony Lee editor of
The A-Z Guide To Visual Media
Action - when something is happening and the noise alone keeps you awake.
Actor/Actress - the people you pay to look at. See: Star, Superstar
Adventure - when the noise alone is keeping you awake, but you really don't mind.
Alien - not from around here. See: Extraterrestrial
Alternative Version - same movie, different soundtrack. See: Remake, Sequel
Android - when he or she looks kinda familiar? See: Clone.
Anti-hero - kills people in the movies, but you like him anyway. See: Hero
Art House - talking, or non-talking?
Atmosphere - rain or shine. Go outside and look up.
Auteur - a director whose movies are all the same. See: Genre
Breath-taking - respiration. Consult medical journals if in doubt.
Black Comedy - not that funny, is it?
Blaxploitation - young or old, not always so gifted, but certainly black.
'B' Movie - often better than the main feature.
Certificate (UK only) -
U - suitable for no-one in particular.
PG - suitable for all except psychotics and censors.
12 - they didn't get away with it. See: Cut
15 - surprisingly, they got away with it!
18 - the only bits the censor will let you see.
18R - the only naughty bits the censor will let you see.
Civilisation - can I eat it? ...when do we eat? ...where are you having lunch?
Clone - you'll never know the difference.
Concept Artist - person on the set with long hair... who could draw pictures.
Comedy - there are only two jokes... ha-ha and peculiar. See: Humour
Cops - wear uniforms or cheap suits, and they're good news or bad news...
depending on your current activity and criminal record.
Credits - long boring list of names shown after the film. See: Titles
Critic - someone who gets paid to watch films, then complain about their job.
Cult Film -when you're the only one you liked it.
Cut - huh, what just happened?
Cynic - someone who throws up in your popcorn.
Design - the way things look on the screen, and not the director's fault at all.
Disaster Movie - there are two types:
a) terribly boring film that didn't make any money for the studio.
b) spectacular adventure that made a huge fortune for the studio.
Documentary - it looks realistic to me! See: News, Docu-drama
Docu-drama - it was a true story, until the lawyers heard about it.
Epic - the studio nearly went bankrupt, again! See: Saga
Extraterrestrial - they come in two varieties:
1. Spielbergian - nice, bland, good with kids.
2. Other - what on earth is that? ...where did it come from?
Why does it smell so bad... and what's it want with little Johnny?
Exploitation - same film you saw last week, remade by others for less money.
Fantasy - when you can't believe it!
Feelgood - not recommended for diabetics, or the chronically depressed.
Femme Fatale - bad girl Brenda drags nice guy Eddie down to her level.
Film Noir - when you can't see what's the hell's going on.
Flawless - a movie with faults that you're prepared to overlook.
Folklore - before cinema and television, we had to make do with campfires.
Futuristic - it can't happen here, can it?
Gangs - unofficial youth opportunities for amusement and profit. See: Gangsters.
Gangsters - successful former gang members who turned from vandalism to vice.
Genre - peculiar to type. (French films in general, accent optional.)
Ghost - "I heard you woz dead!"
Gimmicks - when they made you pay to see it, anyway.
Guest Star - an American or European you've never heard of.
Happy Ending - when the hero or heroine survives, sunset optional.
Heaven - a place where nothing ever happens. (thank you, 'Talking Heads')
Hell - you don't wanna go there. See: War
Hero - tall, handsome, muscular, twinkly-eyed, dimple-chinned, very rich... Freak!
Heroine - single, white, blue-eyed blonde with perfect hair/skin/figure... Bitch!
Homage - the same old story, but you liked it anyway. See: Remake
Humour - there are two varieties:
1. Loss of dignity. See: Slapstick
2. Mistaken identity.
Horror - when you can't bear to look!
In-Jokes - what's so funny? ...why is everyone laughing?
Insane - when the villain talks too much.
Inspired By - when the writer didn't get paid.
Invaders - they want your world, your women, and (perhaps) your brain to chew on.
Inventive - the same old story with a different camera angle.
Invisibility - "Who said that?"
Mad Doctor - "My work has always been for the benefit of mankind...
until that fire destroyed my laboratory!" See: Scientist.
Mafia - serious politicians, carrying guns. See: Politician
Magic - how did they do that?
Maniac - a dangerous villain with a knife, axe, chainsaw. See: Psychopath.
Masterpiece - a very expensive film. See: Epic, Saga.
Mondo - the glory of movies for the sake of it.
Monster - what is it? ...where is it taking your...
sister/girlfriend/wife/daughter/female lab assistant.
Monster Movie - when the man in the rubber suit is the star.
Musical - all singing, all dancing... they lost the plot.
Mutant - he was the hero's best friend, until...
Mythical - unusual, yet strangely familiar.
Narrative - what it's all about. See: Plot.
News - I didn't know that! See: TV News.
Optical Effect - when you can see how they did it!
Otherwordly - no neighbours for miles around.
Out-takes - things that went wrong during filming... but accidents can be fun!
Pastiche - when the director stole another's ideas. See: Homage, Remake
Patriots - they still believe in the myth of the nation state.
Plot - there are two kinds:
1. Who killed the guest star?
2. Who killed the guest star... and why? (SF movies only.)
Politician - serious criminal, but without gun. See: Mafia, Propaganda
Post Holocaust - what happened after the end of the world.
Propaganda - "believe me when I tell you... "
Psychic - she knows things you don't.
Psychological Thriller - when the killer gets caught halfway through the movie.
Psychopath - he kills people, then eats the tasty bits. See: Serial Killer
Psychopath (Escaped) - they let him out again!
Pseudonym - it's so bad they took their real names off it.
Remake - the same old story.
Revenge - getting your own back, and then some.
Road Movie - no studio, city or town would put up with the film crew, so...
Robot - when the stuntman is ugly. See: Monster
Romance - there are two varieties:
1. Traditional - one kiss, then a wedding (violins and roses, optional)
2. Modern - eating or dancing, then sex (bed/condom, optional)
Saga - the studio nearly went bankrupt, but the producer didn't mind so much.
Science Fiction - when you don't understand it!
Scientist (Mad) - professor denied official funding who now works at home.
Sequel - the same old story with a number added.
Serial Killer - commits murder, eats the evidence, and keeps getting away with it!
Sexploitation - any excuse for girl-watching will do.
Slapstick - fat sweaty bloke meets with eagerly anticipated social disaster.
Space Opera - cops 'n' robbers or cowboys 'n' indians without gravity, or sense.
Special Effects - fireballs in slo-mo, animated toys, lashings of slime.
Spectacular - I saw this at the cinema.
Splatter Movie - lashings of ketchup and slime every five minutes. See: Violence
Stars - you have seen them before. See: Superstar
State of the Art - the best exploding head yet!
Stylish - when it doesn't quite look right. See: Inventive
Superhero - when the actor gets less screen time than the stunt double.
Supernatural - bizarre event, without explanation, often unpleasant to watch.
Super-Science - "How did he do that, then... Einstein?" See: Technology
Superstar - a name appearing before the film's title.
Surrealism - when you think you fell asleep during the film.
Sword 'n' Sorcery - when bad guys have the brains and good guys have the brawn.
(Illogically, though, the muscular hero always beats the genius villain!)
Technology - something invented since you were born.
Telepathy - when the dialogue was dubbed in later.
Time-Travel - caveman with digital watch meets smart descendent with unusual
car/phonebox/handbag and curious story to tell.
Titles - irritating list of names shown before the film starts or, really irritating list of
names shown during the opening scenes.
TV News - person in a box who tells you what's happening in the world today.
TV Version - special broadcast of your favourite movie with the best bits missing.
Twist Ending - when the killer isn't really dead.
Updated - same as before... but in colour!
Vampire - toothy star on strict diet with a penchant for the night life.
Video Nasty - a film you want to see... but can't. (UK only)
Violence - when everyone gets killed.
Ultra-Violence - when everyone gets killed, including the hero.
Wacky - when it makes no sense at all.
War - you don't wanna be in one. See: Hell
Werewolf - archetypal starving actor. Poorly groomed, ill spoken, no table manners.
Witchcraft - an explanation that you won't believe.
Zombie - terrible actor. Usually a young American/Italian/Mexican/Australian.
compiled by Tony Lee
|Famous Lines from Famous Movies
"There are two kinds of people in the
those who walk into a room and immediately turn the TV on,
and those who immediately turn it off."
- Laurence Harvey, in
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962)
directed by John Frankenheimer
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