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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A Few Home Truths... Or Why The "Cult Labs Forums" Is Run By A Bunch Of Jack-Booted Morons! (Part 1)

What is it with some companies? They allow their customers to join a Forum that they've set-up for the benefit of said customers, only to then censor and ban people who write things they disagree with?

I recently re-joined the Cult Labs Forums, after a two year absence. Cult Labs Forums, set-up their Forum Site about four years ago, when the new UK cult film label Shameless started-up, with a new, less-sanitised release of Lucio Fulci's THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982).

I joined the Forums, and was an enthusiastic participant. However, my short time there came to an abrupt end, when one of their competitions was being run in an unfair manner. When I dared to mention this, and ask for someone to investigate, I was promptly given a lifetime ban from their site!

I wasn't at all happy about this, and despite sending two or three e-mails to Almar Haflidason - the so-called Head Honcho at Cult Labs Forums - no one ever gave me the courtesy of a reply.

A few weeks back, I decided to re-sign up, using a different e-mail address and nickname. I felt that enough time had passed by, and that I could rejoin, and start contributing again. What happens? After about 4 weeks of being a member there, I get another lifetime ban!

What caused the issue this time around?

One of two things: they claim I "constantly stirred things up", and that I ran to a partial defence of another Blogspot Member - Kentai - a gentleman who runs his own horror and cult film blog, which you can view here at Kentai's Blog.

You see Arrow Films (who own and operate the Shameless film label, and the Cult Labs Forums) don't seem to like it when people raise questions, ask for the Forum Moderators to explain certain things, or dare to debate why Arrow or Shameless or whoever in the Forums, does something.

In their world, you either toe-the-line - which is, to say, you can never question ANYTHING that the label or website does - and must always go along with anything they do, or they take an instant dislike and give you a seemingly-automatic life ban?

Kentai recently posted an interesting review of their recent Blu-Ray release of DEMONS and DEMONS 2 (1985, 1987, Lamberto Bava) in which he questioned why Arrow had not bothered to try and sync the US English Stereo dub to the new HD master that was being used to create their release of this classic 80's gonzo horror double-bill.

When someone at the Cult Labs Forums brought this to their attention, they claimed that Kentai was an idiot, a man with an axe to grind against Arrow. I never take sides in a debate. I don't know Kentai. I've never contacted him. I've never met him, and I am unlikely to ever need to do so. As such, he is but a name of a guy who runs a blog, not unlike myself. That's all he is. I have no emotional attachment to him, or his work, and thus, I have no idea if he's a nice bloke, a nasty bloke, or a complete tool who deserves to suffer a hideously brutal death. (For what it's worth, I would make an educated guess that he is, in fact, a reasonable bloke.)

So when I said to the Arrow Moderators, that rather than simply both of you (Kentai and Arrow Films) slating one another, that Arrow openly offer up a hand of (proverbial) friendship to him, and constructively debate with him why Kentai has been critical of some Arrow films releases, I get shot down in flames! The actual conversation went like this (as taken from the Cult Labs Forums):

Stephen@CultLabs - I have no problems with anyone posting negative comments, it's his whole "f*ck you Arrow" attitude that's annoying me about his review. He's even had a dig at me in the part he added last night. But hey, if that's the way he wants to be, good luck to him.

Me - Obviously, I am unaware of the history between Arrow and Kentai, and it appears there is some history between you both. I don't know why Kentai holds that attitude, but without having an open dialogue between Arrow and him, I can't say whether that attitude is one he is right to hold, or whether he is wrong in holding it. (Apologies for that awful explanation. I can't find a better way of saying what I mean at the moment. )

With that said, I'm not that keen on your attitude, when you say "But hey, if that's the way he wants to be, good luck to him." It doesn't exactly make you out to be the more morally-righteous person. Surely it would make more sense for you / Arrow, to say to Kentai, "Ok, I gather there are issues you have with us, let's discuss them." Take the upper-hand. Offer him a hand, an invite to have constructive dialogue with yourselves, and see why he holds his "screw-you Arrow" opinion, and see if you can actively find a manner to deflate that concept, and get him to see things in a more appropriate fashion.

Proverbially-telling him "Well if that's your attitude, then so be it" is no better than his attitude towards you guys... in my opinion. You're both being closed-minded, and to be blunt, very pig-headed. Maybe it's a bloke thing?

And no, it doesn't matter to me whose fault it is. It's not about apportioning blame, it's about both sides acting in a mature fashion to solve a clear grievance. At the minute, he's acting as badly as you are, and you're acting as bad as he is.

Daemonia - I get the feeling you have this idea that the people on Cult Labs are hostile to every little criticism. You yourself seem constantly on the defensive.

Me - Not at all. I simply state what I have seen, and I have seen in the short time I've been a member here, threads shut-down, and Moderators telling members "X subject is not up for discussion", or posting polls asking for feedback, and then when they get the feedback, the feedback is completely ignored, and Arrow just does whatever it wants to do.

Thus it seems to me, that in some instances, Arrow is no better than any politician: requesting public opinion, and then totally ignoring that opinion. Seems completely crazy to me. If Arrow wants to do whatever it wants to do, then that's fine. I don't have a problem with that. But don't court feedback or information from your members or customers, and then just ignore them.

As I say, I don't know how Arrow and Shameless is run, when it comes to what films they select, what ones get remastered or whatever, and what ones they simply release as-is. I don't know about all the technical work that Arrow has to do, to get a film "up-to-scratch". I don't know how many people are involved in Arrow, what kind of effort is put-in, or anything else. As such, if it's a proverbial one-man-band operation, then I would be a lot more forgiving of errors and problems, than if it was, say, a major Hollywood Studio such as 20th Century Fox.

Irrespective, some Arrow releases do have issues - some I know of, others I don't. For the benefit of everyone, I feel that it is better that issues are discussed openly and honestly, with neither side taking pot-shots at the other, rather than simply being shut-down and told "That's not up for discussion".

(Continued - Click Here for Part 2)

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