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(Catch the end of the article for the rest of the comic...Does this tip ruin the joke? Maybe a little. It's kind of like explaining the joke after you've said it. I'm just making it worse, aren't I?)

When I was a young lad, I often caught horror films edited for television. Sure, the violence was toned down, the language replaced with terrible dubs, and the nudity thoroughly censored, but several films still held their ground despite the dilution. Much of the tension the director intended was present still, even with the cut-aways and bleeps. It wasn't always the editing that did the fear wrong, it was the commercial breaks.

Looking back on it, I should be rather thankful for commercial breaks as a child. They allowed the tension to cool and my heart to slow back down to a reasonable pace. Commercial breaks often found reasonable times to suspend the suspense. Many found the time right before or right after a killing. Of course, in the case of Michael Myers, there were several commercial breaks between his lumbering strolls across the screen, but I digress.

The trauma-reducing effect of commercial breaks when I was younger have lost their luster as I've aged. No longer does Chucky haunt my nightmares, nor Voorhees lurk in unseen shadows. Now, commercial breaks are more than a nuisance, they are horror film killers.

The streaming age has made commercial-saturated television obselete. The ability to watch commercial-less horror has helped retain the tension so carefully designed (in some cases) by the director. But sadly, as television gasps for air, the streaming services are considering ignoring history to be doomed to repeat it.

Netflix is trying a brief test in some markets with commercials before and/or after shows. From what we hear, these commercials are limited to what equate to previews for other movies or shows on Netflix. This seems less like a commercial and more like going to the movie theater and experiencing a trailer curtailed by a stinger as the credits roll.

But this is a slippery slope. The appeal of streaming services is three-fold: 1. The financial benefit of the internet outweighs the cost of television. 2. Streaming services provide an entirely personal experience (you only watch what you want to when you want to, not whatever happens to be on). 3. In most cases, they are commercial-less.

If you begin to take these benefits away out of greed, you will find greed has left you wanting. While Netflix has by no means pushed any limits thus far, it is concerning that it is even testing such a concept, especially considering the increase in commercials on services such as Hulu and the poor poor poor man's streaming service, YouTube.

Horror does not have to suffer the blow of a commercial in today's world. These streaming service giants can play chicken all they want, but they will lose to the online generation every time.

© 2020 Sickle and Efrit | Dalton Vanhooser & Kyle Hagan