Barbequing the Sacred Cows

Barbequing the Sacred Cows

Hello again, Brothers and Sisters of the Psychotronic Video World! The other day, Wes and I were discussing possible article topics — it’s been a while since my last solid post, and I figured it was time I put up something good. Wes asked me to write something profoundly personal — to express my soul. I immediately knew exactly what to do — an article I’ve been wanting to write for some time, but have been nervous about doing, because I know that it will make a lot of people angry.

You see readers, I am an Outsider.  I didn’t grow up with horror the way most horror fans of my generation did; while they were raised on a steady VHS diet of Freddy, Jason and Michael, I was watching Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man.  I had my first legal beer before I watched my first slasher.  As such, there’s a lingo to the horror community that I had to learn well after everyone else there had, and a set of assumptions and beliefs that don’t come natural to me.  This is actually a big part of why I enjoy writing for the Blood Sprayer — Wes is a horror fan, yes, but he’s a musician first and foremost, and I think that informs that attitude he takes towards horror and to the site. We don’t adhere to the Horror Orthodoxy.

Yes, I said Orthodoxy.  There’s certain attitudes and beliefs within the horror fandom community that are taken for granted as “correct” — and if you disagree, you are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.  Don’t believe me? Stroll on down to your local horror convention and say, “I didn’t like the original DAWN OF THE DEAD,” see how long you remain standing.  Naturally, as one might assume from what you’ve read so far in this editorial, I don’t really adhere to these beliefs, and as such have never truly felt welcome or at home in the fandom — don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some great people, such as the staff of this website, through horror — but outside of the Blood Sprayer, I don’t really feel like there’s a place for me in the fandom.

This editorial, from hereon out, will be me expressing my distaste for some of the “sacred cows” of the horror community.  If you are going to get your panties in a wad about my opinions, I invite you to take a flying leap into a pigsty.  I began writing about movies as a form of self-therapy; this editorial is an extension thereof.

Lets All Drink the Marinara

Italian horror.  Everyone loves Italian horror.  Hell, we’ve had two Italian Horror weeks here at the Blood Sprayer, so it must be the best stuff out there, right?

I don’t get Italian Horror.

I mean, yes, I like the moody Gothicism of Mario Bava, and there’s a certain oozy itch that only Fulci can truly scratch.  But the way Italian horror is fetishized is something I really don’t understand.  It’s treated like it’s the only European horror cinema since the fall of the Weimar Republic.  And I mean, I’ve tried to fall in love with Italian horror.  I really have.  But Dario Argento makes me first glaze over then leaves me irritable and bitchy.  I’ve tried watching DEEP RED, OPERA and PHENOMENA at least a dozen times.  And I just can’t do it.  Maybe it’s just that I have a low tolerance for surrealism, but I feel like Argento expends so much effort on the visuals that every other aspect of the films suffer.

Personally, I find Spanish horror to be far more enjoyable, but it seems like most horror fans are largely unaware of it.  I’d asked Wes if he had any idea why Italian horror is so intensely fetishized, and his best guess was that Chas Balun’s enthusiastic writings on the subject in Fangoria and Gorezone likely played a large part in making people more aware of Italian horror, while also emphasizing its positive aspects.  I’ve never read Gorezone and I’ve never been impressed enough with Fangoria to bother with it much.

So tell me, Brothers and Sisters, are you fans of Italian horror? What draws you to it? Did you find it through Balun’s writing, or another source?

All They Want To Do Is Eat Your Brains

Zombies.  Zombies are everywhere these days.  We’ve got zombies in the movies, in the comic books, on TV, zombie charity walks, zombie pin-ups, zombies in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, zombie hardcore pornography, zombie toys, zombie sex toys, there will be zombies in my goddamn breakfast Hot Pockets sometime next week at the rate we’re going.

I’m fed up with zombies.  Over-fucking-exposed.

The zombie subgenre has, at this point, become a zombie itself — a mindless, shambling parody of its former glory, bereft of humanity or understanding, driven by a darker power — these days, most likely that darker power is a desire for maximum profit for minimum investment.  I’d go so far as to say that zombies have ceased to be horror any longer.  Think about it — most zombie movies these days are hybrids; we’ve got the zombie-comedies (or “zomedies,” a portmanteau that makes me cringe a little) such as SHAUN OF THE DEAD, FIDO and ZOMBIELAND; the zombie-action-shoot-’em-ups, like the RESIDENT EVIL series; even THE WALKING DEAD is more of a drama with zombies.

Doesn’t the fact that “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” exists kind of announce the fact that zombies have jumped the shark, instead of fighting it?

A lot of noise has been made about zombies as metaphor, but let’s face it; those days are long past.  When was the last time you saw a zombie movie with a deeper message than “man, it sure does suck to have your guts chewed out by a corpse”? Really, Romero was the only one ever really writing deeper meanings into his ghouls, and other than his foray into “rampant consumerism, hey?” with DAWN OF THE DEAD, his message was mostly “Man, human beings just can’t get along, can they?” writ on a larger and larger scale with each film.

So let’s just stop with the zombies, shall we? I’m fed up, a lot of people I’ve talked to in prepping this article are fed up, it’s burned out and needs to stop.

Stop Giving Wes Craven a Pass

Let’s face facts here, Brothers and Sisters.  Wes Craven has made precisely four good horror movies: THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977), A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984), THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988) and WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994).  LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT? Don’t make me laugh.  I liked it better when it was THE VIRGIN SPRING.  SCREAM? Shut your whore mouth.  Wes Craven handled the meta-fiction, tongue-in-cheek better two years earlier in NEW NIGHTMARE, and two years before that by Rolf Kanefsky with THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE!

SCREAM also represents Wes Craven’s turning his back on his past as a progressive, envelope-pushing director and making “safe” films for the PG-13 Dawson’s Creek crowd.  MY SOUL TO TAKE? CURSED? SCREAM 1-4? These are right down there with SHOCKER and SWAMP THING in terms of worthwhile viewing, Brothers and Sisters.  But if you keep going to see things like MY SOUL TO TAKE because it has Wes Craven’s name on it, you are bankrolling his lifestyle and telling him you’re perfectly happy to keep watching “safe” horror.  Is that really what you want? Then by all means, give Wes Craven a pass.

You are a Hypocrite About Remakes

Yes, you.  You are probably a hypocrite when it comes to remakes.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that Hollywood has been remaking a lot of horror films from the 1970s and 1980s lately — HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, etc.  And every time one of these remakes is announced, it seems like the horror fandom loses their goddamn shit and starts screaming bloody murder about how dare they remake such a classic film, beating their heads against the table and flinging more shit then a troupe of PCP-soaked baboons.

But funny thing I’ve noticed, Brothers and Sisters.  People only bitch about remakes when it’s a movie they watched eighty-seven trillion times on VHS by the time they were 10 years old.  No one, NO ONE, bitched when PIRANHA was remade, despite the 1978 original being the best animal-attack film to come out in the wake of JAWS.  Why’s that? Could it be because PIRANHA wasn’t constantly in your VHS player from 1995 through 1998? I think so.

Either bitch about all remakes, or none of them.

And I don’t understand bitching about remakes in the first place.  People act like every time a remake comes out, Big Bad Hollywood is kicking in the door and storming in, wearing a leather daddy get-up and a gallon of axle grease smeared across its body to sodomize their childhood.  Well guess what, people, your childhood’s innocence is safe; at no point in history has Big Bad Hollywood burned every print of a film because they’d made a remake.  Those films you loved so much that were remade? The originals are still there for you to watch any time you like, and in some instances the release of the remake gets us a shiny new re-release of the original on the home media of your choice.

Choice.

That’s the thing with remakes.  You can CHOOSE not to watch them if you prefer; lord knows if a movie doesn’t look like it will thrill me, I’m not shelling out two hours’ wages to go to the multiplex.  By all means, if you don’t want Hollywood to keep churning out tepid, toned-down remakes of films you love, STOP SEEING THEM.  Vote with your wallet, people, and hit Big Bad Hollywood where it hurts — right in the bottom line.  If we make it so that remaking horror films from the 1980s isn’t profitable, Big Bad Hollywood won’t remake horror films from the 1980s!

Except for magazine writers who were paid for their opinions, I don’t think I heard a single person express a positive outlook towards the 2010 version of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET before it’s release.  Everyone in the horror blogosphere predicted it would be terrible and a disgrace and blah-blah-biddy-blah.  And yet, it made $65M at the domestic box office.  Using my local multiplex prices as a rough guideline, that works out to around 6.7 million tickets sold.  Which tells me that a lot of people who bitched about how terrible it would be and how angry they were that it was remade went ahead and saw it anyways.

Fuck.  You.  No one, NO ONE, held a gun to your head and told you to shell out $8.50 for a ticket to go see it against your will.  YOU DID THIS TO YOU.

Torture Porn…Buhhhh!

In recent years we’ve seen a rise in films that have been derisively called “Torture Porn” or “Gorenography,” focused on hyper-explicit death and gore, typically perpetrated by all-too-human villains.  And quite frankly, it gives me the willies.

See, I am, by nature, a tightly-wound ball of neuroses, anxieties, depression and anger management issues.  Imagine Woody Allen, minus the whole stepdaughter thing, combined with Michael Douglas’ character from FALLING DOWN.  That’s me.  I live in a state of constant fear, horror and disgust of the world around me, the society I live in, the fact that everyone drives like they’ve got a baker’s dozen of Candiru having an orgy in their urethras — just the other day, I’m driving to work, and I’m nearly T-boned by a guy who suddenly crossed four lanes of traffic, no signal, moving almost perpendicular to the flow of traffic and the geometry of the thru-way because he hadn’t realized his exit was coming up.  If I’d been a little slower on the brakes I’d probably be dead right now.  This is the world I live in.  And I watch movies about werewolves and Frankensteins and Creatures from Lagoons of various colors to escape from the world I live in.

Torture Porn disgusts me deeply.

Fans of Torture Porn, I want to know what sort of utopian fantasy land you live in, where you aren’t bombarded with Man’s Inhumanity to Man every time you turn on the evening news or look at a newspaper.  Does it rain money and sloppy, drooly blowjobs there, because seriously, I get enough hatred and cruelty and misery in real life, and can’t imagine being willing to seek it out in my leisure time for entertainment.

So please, torture fans, enlighten me because I’m frightened and confused and inclined to view you as some sort of deviant criminal perverts.  What do you see in this stuff? What’s the appeal? Is this the direction the horror genre is moving in? Because if it’s going to be that kind of a party, I’m going to stick my dick in the mashed potatoes.  You can keep your SAWs, your HOSTELs, your TURISTAS.  I’ll just retreat further into my dank little hole in the ground with my zipper-up-the-back monsters and spirit-gum-and-hair-covered faces.

***

Well, now that my face is flushed, I’m breathing hard, spittle is foamed up and pooled at the corner of my mouth and my heart is racing.  I’m going to go put on THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS before you sick little monkeys cause me to stroke out and collapse.


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Bill Adcock likes long walks off short piers and eating endangered species. In addition to his work for the Blood Sprayer, his writing can also be found at his personal site, Radiation-Scarred Reviews, which he's maintained since 2008. Bill has also contributed, as of this writing, to GRINDHOUSE PURGATORY issues 2 and 3, and CINEMA SEWER issue 27.

14 Responses to “Barbequing the Sacred Cows”

  1. Interesting article and you make several good points. There’s a lot to respond, but I’ll try to be brief.

    Italian horror for me was a lot of self-discovery after Fulci’s Zombie. Some of it I like as a guilty pleasure (Bruno Mattei) while others I find irredeemable (Joe D’Amato, Ruggero Deodato). But, for Argento and Fulci, I respect because they have a striking style despite overshadowing the substance.

    While there’s examples of bad zombie media, you do have quality work like AMC’s Walking Dead and Max Brooks’ World War Z. You were dead-on with your statement about Walking Dead not even being about the zombies – which is what separates the good zombie stuff from the bad. But, this begs the question: What monsters are there left to cash grab with?

    Remakes are a sign that Hollywood is in denial of its need for fresh writing talent, to ironically paraphrase Bruce Campbell. I have yet to see a remake that impresses me. Nightmare on Elm St, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Halloween, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre do 180s and show why the originals were much more effective – the gore and violence were minimum and rhythmic in their handling.

    Fuck Wes Craven and Fuck Torture Porn.

  2. Nice article – it’s good to hear something thinking critically about what’s “canon” and what isn’t. While I grew up watching horror on TV, I also had a large lapse in my life where I abandoned it before coming back. Some thoughts –

    1) Italian horror – it took me a long while to warm up to Giallos (not so much other sleazier Italian stuff – Fulci, Deodato), but once I did I realized that it was in fact their style that I appreciated. I went in unaware of how much they relied on it at first and it really threw me. Now I’m pretty much sold on them entirely, but only because I’m willing to accept that they’re often neglecting other aspects in favor of style.

    2) Zombies – agree. I only ever liked zombies as a vehicle for post-apocalyptic stories, but since that’s largely absent from them now (Warm Bodies – seriously???) I’ve lost interest. I don’t understand the popularity of The Walking Dead either. The comic was well-done, but the writing for the show has been atrocious.

    3) Remakes – also agree. I like how everyone bitched about the US remake of Let the Right One In until it came out, brought a couple new aspects to the story, and was actually okay. The whining largely ceased. Remakes don’t destroy any aspect of the original. Ignore them if you’re worried about funds being rerouted away from original horror. Even then, I think you’re missing the point if you’re waiting for big studios to put out decent original stuff. The independent scene is doing great things – give them some attention.

    • I’m not sure how you can say ‘Let Me In’ brought in some new aspects to the story. It clearly excised one of the more important aspects, the fact that Abby/Eli was, in fact, a boy. Now, I believe Let the Right One In can be enjoyed on multiple levels and therefore, the remake wasn’t exactly offensive. But it missed out on telling a subtle but extremely affecting aspect of the story. This rendered the remake somewhat redundant. However, I do recognize the value in reaching a wider audience. Therefore, I give that remake a pass. The novel was much more disturbing and thought provoking than either adaptation. Hopefully, the remake was at least able to point some people to the revered novel.

  3. I watch horror movies for basically three reasons:

    1. To be scared. There’s noting like a horror film which can set an eerie mood. Ghost stories are probably my favorite horror films of all as they tend to employ all the tried and tested tricks. They also explore the as-yet undiscovered country of death and the afterlife.

    2. To be horrified. The OED define horror many ways, but the one I like is “the feeling excited by something shocking or frightful.” There truly is something exciting about being shocked. There seems to be a slight rush of adrenaline underneath all the repulsion. I’m a pretty empathetic person. In fact, my body actually feels pain when someone describes a painful experience to me. So, when I see a character in a film living out my worst nightmare, I tend to react viscerally. It’s fascinating to me to be able to explore how I would react to the situation being depicted. I also believe being exposing to it tends to inoculate me against the horrors of real life. This is why I will occasionally select an extreme film such as Hostel, Martyrs, or Irreversible (by the way, Saw is nowhere near as horrific as it’s made out to be).

    3. To have fun. Most horror is about having fun. This goes back to the cheesy (sans Frankenstein, of course) costumes of the Universal monsters, to the zombies, up to the modern slasher. There are all kinds of fun to be had. Whether it’s laughing at cheesy fx, or trying to figure out where or how the killer’s going to get their next kill, or getting grossed out by a spray of blood (eeewwwwww!!!!). It’s all good times.

    Now, you probably agree with most of this (except for #2)

    Italian Horror

    Sure, Italian horror gets more lip service than other forms of European horror. I think the reason for that is there are some absolute standouts. Some of the greatest horror films ever came from that region. Can you think of any Spanish horror films as effective as Suspiria, Black Sunday, or Zombie? Franco and Ossoria did some great stuff, but none of that has reached the heights of what was accomplished in Italy. But, as with any overhyped “scene” there come the endless stream of inferior followers. Genre fans tend to over consume when it comes to hyped scenes. But, I wouldn’t let that sour you to the true classics.

    Wes Craven

    I don’t think horror fans are giving Wes Craven a pass. It’s the folks outside hardcore horror circles who he’s successfully targeted who are giving him a pass. At least that’s the case with his post Scream films. I don’t think horror fans who like Last House on the Left are giving him a pass. I think either they genuinely like that film or they are interested in it as an early attempt of a horror auteur in the making. Also, lets say you are correct that Craven has only made only four good horror films (you aren’t right, because Scream is a good film). Think about that statement for a second. Four good films is a lot more than most film makers can manage.

    Remakes

    Why should we have to either like or hate all remakes? What a simple way of looking at things. I’ll like what I like and hate what I hate, thankyouverymuch. I’ve got my own philosophy on remakes that works for me quite well. Remake films with good concepts but horrible execution (I Spit on Your Grave is a great example). Other than financial reasons, why remake genre classics? This doesn’t mean it can’t be done successfully. I’d just rather Hollywood come up with fresh ideas instead of rehashing classics. That said, as a genre fan, I’m predisposed to checking out everything I can. My curiosity mixed with a dearth of horror available on the big screen sometimes leads me to making poor choices. However, I almost always wait for the DVD in these cases. You can’t accuse me of supporting the Nightmare remake (okay, maybe they made a few pennies off of my Netflix rental).

    My biggest problem with remakes is when they are positively received by the unwashed masses. I was talking to a 19 yr old girl a few months back and she was telling me how much better the Nightmare remake was from the original. A piece of me died when she spoke those words.

    Torture Porn – See #2. Also, I don’t mean to tell you to watch extreme horror. If you don’t like being disgusted then you should stay clear of a certain list of films. What I don’t condone is your judgmental attitude here. I hope you can consider there might be a perfectly valid reason for taking in such fare.

    • See, this is the sort of response I was hoping for, this sort of dialogue. I wrote this article both to vent my frustration with certain aspects of genre fandom as well as to try and address and learn why some of these aspects frustrate me so.

      Italian Horror: The problem here is that I *didn’t* find Suspiria effective. I do love Black Sunday and enjoy Zombie (please note I do comment positively on both Mario Bava and Fulci); I think Tombs of the Blind Dead (in its un-bowdlerized form) is every bit as effective as Zombie. Additionally, Paul Naschy’s string of horror films are about as fun as cinema gets — I love the fact that I get to see this man living out his dream on the screen over and over again.

      Remakes: I never say we should hate all or love all remakes. I mean, let’s face it, without remakes there’d be about forty films ever made, two thirds of them silent. And quite honestly, some of the best films to come out of Hollywood have been remakes — the 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon, for example, or John Carpenter’s reimagining of The Thing.

      My comments — particularly “Either bitch about all remakes, or none of them.” — were aimed at people who throw tantrums on message boards or blogs over the fact that films are remade. FRIGHT NIGHT was especially laden with this sort of tantrumming, as I recall.

      Also, I can absolutely commiserate in regards to washed-up masses. At my last job, I was having a conversation about horror movies with a coworker, and as he rattled off a list of his favorite horror films I kept asking him “original or remake?” and he didn’t know that any of them had “originals” or “remakes,” to the point where he didn’t know the 1978 HALLOWEEN existed, and only knew the Rob Zombie version.

      Torture Porn: YES! Exactly! I may be a condescending asshole, but I also come right out and ask to be shown reasons for enjoying HOSTEL 2. For the record, I have no issues with being disgusted — I watch far too much Cronenberg for that — but it’s Man’s Inhumanity to Man that I have trouble watching.

      That you’ve taken the time to write all this out, and explain how you approach these films (your empathy) and what you get out of them — thank you for that. I mean it. You could have easily written me off with a quick, “Fuck you, asshat” and instead took the time to respond to me intelligently, and I appreciate that.

      Wes Craven: What makes Scream a good horror film in your opinion? I’m honestly curious. Because in all honesty, it’s been a few years since I’ve watched it, and I’d like to get your opinion, because I am entirely open to the possibility that my memories of Scream are colored by my weariness with the number of tongue-in-cheek, self-referential po-mo imitators spawned in its wake.

      • One thing I don’t quite get is why you’re so disgusted with the “torture porn” movies, yet you speak positively of Nightmare.

        It has the “inhumanity to man” (but the man is now an unkillable ghost, yay) in form of a sadistic scumbag, and at least one, well, torture scene.
        How is that not the same category?

        Just like I don’t get Wes Craven who said he hated watching people get tortured when remembering Reservoir Dogs, but his own movies are full of that, plus the creepy sexual overtones typical of slashers.

        So the question is, what’s the appeal in Craven’s slashers if you hate Hostel?

        (Btw I understand how either can have “educational” values, or catharctic ones (when revenge is served), but it’s not “entertainment” for me.)

        • The supernatural element actually makes a big difference for me. I’m sure there’s at least one psych student out there who could get a Master’s Thesis over the fact that I’m too squeamish for a movie like HOSTEL, but a movie where an unkillable ghost tortures people doesn’t bother me.

          Additionally, the Nightmare series, even the darkest entries are riddled with humor (albeit gallows humor), such as Nancy’s face being licked through the phone, or the flat out farce of Johnny Depp’s bed eating him and regurgitating 400,000 gallons of blood. By contrast, in my experience movies like HOSTEL are more like one long assault on the senses, and the only humor tends to be in the form of “look at these horrible people, don’t they remind you of people you know? Don’t you wish something bad would happen to them? You’re in luck…” though I admit this principle is also in force with later slashers like HATCHET and FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009).

  4. It’s impossible to take you serious when you say that you don’t “get” Italian Horror. No-one “gets” Italian Horror – that’s exactly what makes Italo-flick so entertaining IMO 🙂

    Replace Wes Craven with Tobe Hooper and I’m in. Craven has made lots of weak and overrated movies, but at least he was able to constantly reinvent himself. You may hate Scream which is totally acceptable, but at least it was a breath of fresh air to the stale 90s horror.
    But what about Tobe Hooper? Last decent movie TCM2 1986 – everything after 1986 is crap. Yes, everything!

    Totally agree with you on zombies. It’s enough. It has to stop. How many more zomedies do we need? How many more mainstream-zombie-crap can we stand?

    I have no problem with torture porn as long as it’s entertaining and original.

    I have no problem with remakes as long as they make sense.

  5. The comment just above me? You’re correct about Tobe Hooper. I’m saying that as an obsessive fan of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The man’s “legacy” is literally grounded in that franchise’s roots, specifically that first movie. It is my favorite film of all time, BUT, Hooper is far from a legendary director outside of the notoriety of that film. I still, however, would not replace Wes Craven in this piece simply because Craven hung around the party the whole time just waiting to be seen. Hooper, aside from TCM, we all forget about. Craven, not so much.

  6. It sounds to me like you don’t really hate Italian Horror. It’s more like you hate Giallo. I can sympathize with that. Most of those films are entirely nonsensical. They are almost always style over substance. The thing that attracts me to them is that the style is so esoteric that it can be quite enthralling. You may dislike Suspiria, but I’d be surprised if it’s color scheme weren’t indelibly stamped on your psyche. Who can forget all of that red saturated film? Also, it’s just so damn unsettling how thoroughly victims are killed in that film (and Argento’s others). I really felt like I was watching something I shouldn’t be when I first watched the first kill scene in Suspira. Man! That guy killed the shit out of her! Horrifying!

    Tombs of the Blind Dead is definitely a classic but I personally wouldn’t put it on the same level as Zombie. But that’s just me. I have no problem with your point-of-view. I’m not familiar with Paul Naschy. Please, educate me.

    The story about that young one’s ignorance to Carpenter’s Halloween is utterly shocking! I’m in my thirties and I work on a college campus where I end up in lots of conversations with teenagers and twentysomethings. I’ve been shocked (the other day I met a twenty year old who had never heard The Gambler by Kenny Rogers fer Crissakes!)by people’s ignorance so many times that I’ve learned to temper my reactions. Really, it is unreasonable to expect everyone to know everything. So, I try not to judge them too harshly. However, this is a great example of what scares me the most, the current, inferior versions unjustly overshadowing the originals. John Carpenter’s The Thing kinda illustrates my paranoia. Sure, it’s a great film, but it has kinda superseded the original (even though that one is great too). I know there’s room for each of those films but it does kinda bug me that one gets more attention than the other. So, how much worse is it when Zombie’s inferior film supersedes Carpenter’s? It’s not enough to justify a backlash against ALL remakes, but it does make a little sense.

    Scream is a good film because it achieves EXACTLY what it was trying to. It seems it’s effective skewering of horror tropes is the major focus and tends to offend horror fans. But what many of its detractors fail to realize is that it also attempts to be an effectively tense and scary horror film. If fact, I would rate the opening scene with Drew Barrymore one of the all time scariest scenes. When I first saw this film I was shocked by the brutality. The hip cast led me into a false sense of security that this wasn’t going to be a REAL horror film. So that was a pretty nice trick. It’s also a wonderful mystery. I certainly didn’t guess who the killer(s) were. Speaking of the hip cast, I remember being quite concerned that the mainstream was usurping my beloved genre. That argument could easily be made considering Scream’s aftermath. But if you just take Scream on it’s own, the cast was perfectly chosen. Almost all of them gave the film their all and came up with memorable characters. . Even Courtney Cox (whom I normally despise) played her part without lame attempts to draw attention to her. The quality cast is able to turn the film into an effective comedy. Lastly, the film was able to conjure a memorable slasher in ghostface. He’s no Michael Myers, Jason or Leatherface, but he’s good enough to sit atop the second tier. His knife alone is almost as iconic as Michael Myers’ kitchen knife or Jason’s Machete.

    Anyway, I’m glad we’re not at each other’s throats. Your response helps clarify and focus some of the ire depicted in your original article. I appreciate the discussion you’ve raised and I think you’re points are all valid. Keep up the good work!

    • I’m thinking I might need to re-watch Scream in the near future. You make a series of excellent points.

      As far as Paul Naschy goes, he was inspired to go into filmmaking by the Universal films, and decided to make his own series of monster movies, in which he would play all the monsters. The most famous of these are the Hombre Lobo movies, a series of 15 werewolf pictures, 12 of which feature more or less the same werewolf, Waldemar Daninsky…kinda? There is ZERO continuity between these films, but in all of them the guy who becomes the werewolf is named Waldemar Daninsky. My favorite of these is Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf, in which Waldemar Daninsky tries to use Dr. Jekyll’s Hyde formula to cure his lycanthropy, resulting in a Mr. Hyde with werewolf powers.

      Every one of his movies that I’ve seen has just been completely off the wall, in large part because Naschy was having so much fun with what he was doing.

      They also tend to be gory as all get-out — I think in Naschy’s sole outing playing a mummy, he crushed more people’s heads between his hands then all mummies before or since combined.

      They’re also pretty sexy. Paul Naschy’s monsters tend to get to make-out with some very pretty girls in between snapping peoples’ spines.

  7. I agree with a good few things you say but a lot seems to be purely on witness.

    Italian horror has nothing now. It used to be good back in the days. I do enjoy my old casual Argento flick but there are some terrible Argento movies out there also.
    However what I now watch in the foreign film horror genre is French, no no not like Switchblade Romance. (Yes I like Martyr’s but no that doesn’t sum up the style of film I enjoy as a whole.)
    More like stuff that actually gets you thinking not just a gore fest or a wtf?

    Yes Zombie’s are everywhere, it is unfortunate however there are some decent shows/films and games out there.(Walking Dead by Telltale, I loved Zombie Flesh Eaters but that was when I was a kid).

    I enjoyed Scream 1-4, 4 wasn’t the best but you have to remember they weren’t written by Craven and also 3 and 4 went under stupid amounts of rewrites.
    I also enjoyed the original Last House On The Left (no need for the rape scene however), haven’t seen Swamp Thing or Shocker yet though (even though I own them both).

    Which leads on to remakes.
    I’m sure you must have turned around every now and again and said ‘Why, why remake this, whats the point?’ but then don’t say it about other movies.
    I for one don’t like the fact that anything gets remade but then I will give it a chance if I believe it could be good. I gave NOES (2010) a chance, I thought it was an alright movie but it could have been so much better and they shouldn’t have added the whole pedophile aspect.
    Hypocritical of me? More than likely.

    Yes Torture Porn is just shit. Saw was a brilliant film but it should’ve been left alone as number 1.

  8. This was a very cool article to read, I was actually more involved with the concept of someone actually not watching “modern” horror film before reaching the drinking age. I just naturally assumed that the classic error of horror from the Universal days and B&W B-movies were like the gateway drug of horror fandom. Not that there is anything unsettling or obscene about that fact, just thought it was interesting. I had no choice as a kid but to only rely on the “old classic” monster films because my parents monitored everything, at least until I turned 12. At that point I was given free reign over my movie watching choices. My only real time away from horror was during the early 90’s when I moved toward other forms of human debauchery.

    Now as for my love of Italian horror, that has absolutely nothing to with the reasons one should choice to like horror unless they are trippin’ off some questionable chemical substances. I love the utter absurdity of the plots, the visual wonderment of the cinematography and the fact most of the stories seem out some operatic story of lives that flow from the sane and insane as if they depend on each other to exist. The films force me to constantly question the films meaning, a question that never seems to be answered. Mostly though I find the over exaggerated nonsense of the story entertaining. Actually I apply that logic with most of the horror genres otherwise I fear I would have to rely on Sundance Film Channel and TCM for logical, dark entertainment and Soap Operas for the ridiculous.

    I am kinda on the fence about the zombie craze sweeping the planet right now. On one hand I love the fact that little kids are actually reading childrens books and watching cartoons that deal with actually re-animated corpses that eat living human beings most likely on there caravan ride to the local church house! How hilariously twisted is that!? Then on the other hands the zombie genre has gotten so over propagated in our culture that kids are now reading childrens books and watching cartoons about re-animated corpses that eat living human beings. It is conflicting.

    As for Wes Craven, I could not disagree with you more. However that is mostly because I observe the fact that I fall in that category of fan that will watch anything that man puts his name on, Simply because he gave me “Nightmare On Elm Street” franchise to enjoy endlessly and after “Scream” came out and done so well it was as if the horror genre was acceptable and more kids became horror fans and wanted to go on to make horror movies. Before that everyone was “all dark and real and organic. Wanting to make movies with meaning and feeling about the problems with society or plastic lifestyles”-boring!

    Finally the dirty little secret of horror pleasures, Torture Porn or what ever label makes it easier to digest. I like it and it scares me for realz at the same time. It is a therapeutic and somewhat safe way to look into the face of evil and feel sick unease over the scenes that unfold at the hands of the worst of humanity. Yet it also makes me double check my doors and windows, look suspiciously at the neighborhood teens walking down the street or feel pretty scared that somewhere in the world this sick shit could very well be happening to some poor soul. And I have to confess that these fears and disgust that torture porn cinema give me are the very reason I watch them. For some sadistic reason I find it thrilling to and humorous that I now feel fairly sure that my neighbor may very well be abusing and torturing his one night stands on all those late nights after going into his house and turning the music up so loud that I can sing along to the songs, two houses down. I also have similar thoughts about several others around town that mirror characters in this subgenre of horror which are ridiculous but entertaining at the same time. I get pretty much the same result from the news. I do worry that some day soon this genre will cross the line in what is acceptable horror, by ignoring the intent to highlight the potential evils that humanity offers as a caution and only set out to glorify sense torture and murder of victims as a fetish. Quite frankly I have seen a few that seemed to sexualize the graphic nature of the film while showing minimal interest in bringing focus to any real meaning.

    On the whole though I embrace all horror and all envisions of the concept mostly because I am happy that the horror genre is still alive and well. I remeber as a teen in the 80’s when government and citizen groups where trying to have it banned or legislated as demoralizing to society. There was even talk of putting it in the same category as “snuff films” or hardcore pornography. So really any horror that hits the shelves or shows on screen I celebrate. I may not get around to seeing them all but gods knows I spend enough time watching this stuff in my attempt!

  9. The only thing I disagree with in your article (which is really well done btw) is the Torture Porn part. I have watched films that some might consider Torture Porn. Some have disgusted me outright, some made me think. The ones that make me think, are the really good ones. I don’t live in a magical happy bubble where I dont see the horror in everyday life. I have many, many issues that lurk in my soul, from terrible things done in my past. The good, thoughtful Torture Porn like Martyrs, Saw, etc…I don’t watch them because I’m a pervert or because I am delusional. I watch them because they are my kind of therapy. It’s kind of like immersion therapy. I’m not exactly picking at the wound just to suffer mind you, I am doing it to learn and move past it. Not everyone heals the same way. I work through my demons when I watch these films. The world is a horrible place, and people can do horrible things to each other, and I know this better than most. Horror to me, and yes, even Torture Porn, is a place to explore that. Sometimes the only way out of the dark is to dig around inside it for the key.

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