DEAD AGAIN: HORROR’S LAST GASP
From a June 2007 Post:
As reported here last week, a piece in The New York Times has declared the horror genre dead, leaving us all with no choice but to divert our love and money toward some other genre or pursuit. We won’t have any further inspiration to murder toddlers. And if we’re going to commit heinous acts in the name of Our Lord Satan, we’ll have to do so without the well-planned blueprints of Hollywood screenwriters.
This is a recognizable cycle: the studios, emboldened by the strong September and October showings of their most recent genre fare, will then place their next year’s horror crop in an earlier slot, hoping to reap the big paydays that much earlier, and start drawing interest, and thus show a stronger finish for the year, blah blah blah. So the latest sequel turns up in August, instead of September, and though it shows a weaker return than its predecessor, it still makes a dent. The suits (those damned suits…) in their infinite wisdom, consult their yes-men and plan an earlier release for the next installment to feed off the momentum of the last one.
Next thing you know, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE PREQUEL TO THE SEQUEL TO THE REMAKE, dropped into theaters in May, is bulldozed by the unstoppable PR machines driving the summer superhero and pirate blockbusters, instead of the less obtrusive films a horror flick might compete with during the Halloween lead-up season.
That’s right, kids. The modern studio system is that jacked up. Seems like a simple formula: release your scary movies closer to Halloween, and you catch more people in the mood for a good scare. Put them out in the middle of bikini season, and you do battle with the biggest stars in the world, cast in the most expensively produced –and hyped- blockbusters since… last year.
Call it the revolving door effect. There’s no college course that trains one to be a studio exec. Those guys basically fall into their jobs, and fall out just as quickly, replaced by someone determined to make as much money as possible before they too get the boot. This incompetence trickles down to you, the consumer, who must then fight the hordes of teen girls riding the Johnny Depp wave to get to the only screening that day of 28 WEEKS LATER, which by then is relegated to the auditorium with the shitty speakers and ripped seats.
From there, the numbers-crunchers who work for the entertainment section of the nation’s news rags spot a falling trend and before you can say “direct-to-video”, they’ve declared the death of a genre and moved on to the spinning of some meaningless tidbit about the Heiress Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken.
Then Halloween arrives, bringing with it the studio’s horror output, for which they now have lowered expectations, and thus are unwilling to pay for suitable advertising campaigns. One of these forgotten orphans does boffo box office anyway, re-igniting studio interest, and beginning the cycle once again.
The cool thing about this “horror is dead” business is that it just may discourage some of the hacks and weasels with no interest in originality or making quality cinema who jack into our genre for the quick buck. They move onto teen sex comedies, or maybe porn, and the true artists/fearmongers like Eli Roth and Rob Zombie keep the dark fires burning.
Speaking of Zombie, his HALLOWEEN remix is scheduled for August, pushed back from an Autumn date. While many may feel that this franchise has been a euthanasia candidate for some time, it would be a crying shame if this entry –bound to be the best since possibly the first- got buried simply because of poor planning. Can you imagine if IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE hit the multiplexes in say, April? I don’t know about you, but I would blow it off till the DVD dropped.
Dead? Maybe, maybe not. But a true horror fan knows that death is only the beginning.
- The Top 10 Horror Remakes of All Time (Short Ends and Leader) (popmatters.com)
- Top 10 horror movies for Halloween (digitaltrends.com)
- 50 Fascinating, Little-Known Facts About Horror Movies (thoughtcatalog.com)