Judge John Hodgman Episode 39: Slash-Friction


While Bryan was compiling a comprehensive list of the top 100 horror movies the issue arose of what shared characteristics all the movies in the genre must have.

Bryan says that the content is king and what matters most is what takes place with the characters themselves. His friend Jay, whose help was enlisted for the compilation, maintains that it’s the director’s intent for audience reaction that holds sway.

Who will be tricked and who gets treated on this thriller of a case for Judge John Hodgman!


John Hodgman's new book of fake trivia and world knowledge, THAT IS ALL, can now be pre-ordered for its release on 11/1/11. To find out when he may be visiting a city near you, see Areas of My Expertise.


Submitted by Bryan
Bryan’s current spreadsheet with his top horror films. (coming soon)

“The Blog receives no traffic (as you can see) I put it up to facilitate discussion with my friends. There is a definition of what a horror movie is and an explanation of my criteria in compiling my list”

Bryan’s horror blog

Bryan’s top 100 list, as posted on IMDB

100 Horror Movies

Submitted by Jay

These are quotes regarding the definition of a horror movie I found on some reasonably valid websites.

-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary gives the primary definition of horror as "a painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay." It stands to reason then that "horror fiction" is fiction that elicits those emotions in the reader.

Horror Writers Association

-In his 1982 anthology Prime Evil, author Douglas Winter stated, "Horror is not a genre, like the mystery or science fiction or the western. It is not a kind of fiction, meant to be confined to the ghetto of a special shelf in libraries or bookstores. Horror is an emotion." He was correct and his words have become a rallying cry for the modern horror writer.

AMCs Website

-Horror Films are unsettling films designed to frighten and panic, cause dread and alarm, and to invoke our hidden worst fears, often in a terrifying, shocking finale, while captivating and entertaining us at the same time in a cathartic experience. Horror films effectively center on the dark side of life, the forbidden, and strange and alarming events. They deal with our most primal nature and its fears: our nightmares, our vulnerability, our alienation, our revulsions, our terror of the unknown, our fear of death and dismemberment, loss of identity, or fear of sexuality.

Whatever dark, primitive, and revolting traits that simultaneously attract and repel us are featured in the horror genre. Horror films are often combined with science fiction when the menace or monster is related to a corruption of technology, or when Earth is threatened by aliens. The fantasy and supernatural film genres are not synonymous with the horror genre, although thriller films may have some relation when they focus on the revolting and horrible acts of the killer/madman. Horror films are also known as chillers, scary movies, spookfests, and the macabre.



museum-curated list of 100 horror movies

the EMP Museum in Seattle has an exhibit called Can't Look Away: The Lure of the Horror Film, which explores "horror, and how it’s expressed through cinema, biology, history, and contemporary culture."
Guest curators include Roger Corman, John Landis, and Eli Roth, and they helped pick a lit of 100 Horror Movies to See Before You Die! I couldn't find a good copy online, but here are two transcribed versions:
and a picture of the infographic in the exhibit:


After listening to these turbo nerds in the last episode, I would love to hear the good Judge decide this one nagging issue once and for all: Intellivision or Colecovision, which is the one superior home video game system?

I need you book

Dear Honorable and Venerable Judge John Hodgman
It was mention in episode #39 Slash-Friction what the origin of Dracula's blah is. I believe that the origin of blah from Dracula is from the lyrics of the theme song to My Son, The Vampire by Allen Sherman from 1964, when he sings blood with a fake Transylvanian accent so it comes out as blah. So if i can make a request of the Honorable Judge John Hodgman to send me an autographed copy of his book as promised. If I win please email me at joelriley@gmx.com.
Thank you in advance for my autographied copy of your exquisite book


To answer the judge's question regarding the origin of the vampire noise, it dates back to the original Dracula films starring Bela Lugosi. He didn't make the 'bleh' sound exactly, but it has later been morphed into the iconic noise as is the nature of language.

A lesser known fact is that Bela Lugosi was in fact extremely dyslexic. He first made the noise not to scare, but to answer the other actor's question of "Is anybody there?" for he mistook his comerade's lines for sincere curiosity. His attempt to respond "Bela" was thwarted by said dyslexia, and "blea" was the result. And an iconic sound was born. Those who counter with the argument that dyslexia does not work that way are, I contend, nothing more than secret vampires trying to preserve their misguided cultural legacy.

Linda Williams on "body genres"

Linda Williams has a theory about "body genres," which I can't quite remember now, but which revolves around the idea that the characters on the screen feel what the audience is supposed to feel: so, tearjerkers (e.g., Douglas Sirk's melodramas), horror, and pornography all rely on the fact that the characters on screen are feeling what the film wants the viewers to feel (sad, scared, horny).

Bleh, Bleh!

I contend it came from Allan Sherman's theme song for My Son the Vampire, from 1952. But. I cannot prove this.

Origins of "Bleh"

Dracula "Bleh" Origins

Origin of Bleh

I believe it is a comedic response to perhaps the most famous of dracula monsters... Bela Lugosi... "I vant to suck you blehd!" Has been over time shortened to just "Bleh!" for comedic effect and references the accent with which the word was delivered.

Now... "I vant to read you booook!"

Do I get to?

On the Origin of the Blah

While this is by no means definitive, I offer as a starting point this thread from The Straight Dope.


The two most compelling possibilities listed therein are, in my opinion,

1. "I believe that it was David Skal, in The Monster Show, who traced the current type of vampire imitation (including the "bleh") to a Lenny Bruce parody of Dracula as an aging Yiddish gent."


2. "In Allan Sherman's 'My Son, the Vampire' (the theme song to the 1952 film of the same name), he sings the word 'blood' in a cheesy faux-European accent so it sounds like "bluuuuuh!""

You can hear the song here: http://open.spotify.com/track/24HxgEkA2dE3pJnGbe5VNV. This could definitely be patient zero for the Dracula "Blah" connection.

Bluuuuuuh-dily yours,

Dracula Canon?

The central question of "What is canon in Dracula-lore?" really got my dander up in this weeks podcast.

The only canon of Dracula is


, the novel by Bram Stoker, not any work of fiction produced from it, whether a movie or other fiction. Dracula, the character, may be in the public domain, (I don't know. I don't know the specifics of copyright law surrounding the original book.) but if you're going to talk about canon with regards to Dracula, you must concede that the original novel is the only true canon.

So whether "Bluuuh..." is canon is easily discovered. Read the book.

Now, then we might get into an argument of Bram Stoker's writing, as he may have written, at some point, something to the effect of: "He made a guttural sound that chilled me to my depths," or some less hackneyed statement that reasonably could be interpreted as, "Bluuuh..."

But to not acknowledge the original novel as the last and best source is foolhardy.

Sean of the Dead

Sean of the Dead is, according to Edgar Wright, an homage.

The Simpsons

I submit to evidence, two episodes from the Simpsons: "The Sweetest Apu," the nineteenth episode of The Simpsons' thirteenth season and "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed," the sixteenth episode of The Simpsons' twenty-first season as examples of the association of "bleh" with dracula. In the former, Bart, Lisa and Maggie are wheeled in on a wagon as a shrine to Ganesh, urging Apu's wife Manjula to take him back. At some point Bart goes off the cuff and tells everyone, "Bleh, I want to suck your blood!" In the latter, when the tour group is at King David's Tomb, Homer is filming Bart walking on his hands, Ned asks Homer to show some reverence and turn off the camera. Homer asks Ned to, "say it like Dracula," at which point Ned says "Bleh! Turn off the camera."