Sunday, September 26, 2010

The State of The Genre: Horror (by Dave Machado)

Tis the season to be jolly! Fall has officially begun and it is time for my favorite season of all to begin, Halloween! I love Fall for many things (cool air, falling leaves, fresh apples) but nothing beats the joy of watching lots of horror movies for a month and half. Sure, horror movies can be enjoyed year round, but there is just something about the the Fall that makes it much more enjoyable. After all, Fall is the season of death as we see the joys of summer fade and the leaves start to drop from the trees, slowly being drained of their color. I felt what better time than now to take a look at my favorite genre of movies and see what recent gems are worth seeking out this Halloween season.

2010 has not been a banner year by any means for horror movies. I can think of only a handful of horror movies that received a major release this year and most have been a disappointment. The saddest part is that most of these major releases were not even original ideas. We had new iterations of The Crazies, Nightmare on Elm St., The Wolfman, and Piranha. Out of these, I'd say The Crazies and Piranha 3D succeeded in being fantastic movies in their own right but still, as great as they were, they were not original. This is the single thing that has been lacking most in horror movies (and movies in general) for the past few years. As of right now, the latest Nightmare on Elm St. is actually my least favorite movie if 2010. Please keep in mind I also saw Sex and The City 2 in the theater. This fact is actually the scariest part of my movie going experience this year. 

Luckily, I also saw good original horror movies like Daybreakers, Devil, and The Last Exorcism this year. None of these stood out as being a new classic, but all were solid entires. Daybreakers especially was an extremely fun flick that I can see myself going back and revisiting from time to time. There are still a couple movies (Frozen and The Human Centipede) that I missed in the theaters and am waiting to see on DVD. I'll share my thoughts on those as I see them in the coming month. Both look extremely interesting and I think will end up being two of the better movies I see this year.

Luckily, there are still a lot of major-release horror movies yet to be released this year. In the next few weeks alone, I hope to see Let Me In, Saw VII, Paranormal Activity 2, and My Soul To Take. These are the ones guaranteed to be playing at a theater near me. If I'm lucky, I'll also get a chance to see Hatchet 2, The Ward, and I Spit on Your Grave. Needless to say, there is plenty of horror left this year and hopefully at least one of these will end up being a cut above the rest we've had so far this year. My money would be on Hatchet 2 but we'll have to wait and see. It's also worth pointing out that all but 2 of those movies are remakes/sequels (*sigh*).

The Halloween season isn't only about seeing new horror movies though. It's also the time of year I try and find some hidden gems through Netflix and see what I have missed from years prior. I encourage anyone reading this to do the same. If you need help finding out where to start, let me start you off with five recommendations:

Splinter is an amazing movie that belongs in the subgenre of a core group of survivors holed up in a small location (in this case, a gas station) while a creature/monster/killer tries to get in. I missed hearing about this movie during its initial release but was told I should see it from a friend. I always love watching a movie that I have low expectations for but end up loving. I understand I am now depriving you of this discovery by already hyping the movie, but it really is a great horror movie and one of my favorite of the last decade. If you love creature features, make this your starting point for the season.

Trick R Treat is an anthology movie that focuses on one town's celebration of Halloween. Everything is connected perfectly by having the same characters show up in multiple stories and not in the ways you would usually expect. This is another movie that didn't get the proper attention it deserved at first but has luckily gained a good cult following. I feel like this is a movie that should be played yearly on TV as it is really an excellent little film that needs to become a true Halloween classic. If you want a fun, supernatural Halloween movie that tackles lots of different sub-genres, this is your best bet to start with.

Deep Red is an Italian Giallo film by the master Dario Argento. Originally released as Profondo Rosso in 1975, it is about a man who witnesses the murder of a woman and is determined to try and solve the case. He knows that when he first discovered the body, he noticed a very important clue but was so flustered, he can't seem to remember it, just the simple fact that he can't recall the missing piece of the puzzle. It's a highly stylized movie with an excellent and haunting soundtrack by Goblin. It's a great movie that keeps you guessing until the end. If you want a more "real to life" horror movie without supernatural elements, Deep Red would be a very satisfying choice.

Dead Alive is a New Zealand zombie movie directed by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame. It's original title when it was released in 1992 was "Braindead" and it focuses on a zombie outbreak in a small New Zealand town. The main thing to know about Dead Alive before seeing it is that it is an insanely gory movie. Blood and gore flow freely and it is one of the grosser movies I have ever seen. I'll admit to feeling a bit off after the first time I saw it but it really is a movie that has to be seen. This movie belongs in the "splatstick" sub genre of movies usually released by Troma. For those who have yet to see one of these beauties, it's basically a movie whose violence is so over the top and "icky" that it is used to comedic effect. If you can stomach it, Dead Alive is a great zombie movie and one of my personal favorites to revisit.

Bride of Frankenstein is my pick for those who want something a bit more "classic." Released in 1935, Director James Wales was able to put together not only a worthy follow-up to Frankenstein (1931) but also created one of the most influential horror movies of all time. This movie really created the blue-print for how sequels should be made, having everything top the original and also moving the story toward more "mature" themes. Bride of Frankenstein is superior in every way to the original and it is surprising how well the movie plays to modern audiences. This is required viewing for anyone who considers themselves a fan of horror.

So those are my 5 picks to get you started. What are your suggestions for horror movies that more people need to discover this season? Share your ideas and if I haven't seen it, I promise to give it a shot. I'll be back with some more of my own suggestions as the season moves forward. Until then, stay scared!

You're Welcome,


  1. Good Job Dave.. i enjoy reading these.. i agree with you 100% im actually, though i know its more of a slasher, im really excited for SCREAM 4 titles SCRE4M! Im a big fan of those series so im pumped to see it lol.. u may disagree with me on that one and i understand lol!

  2. I'm definitely on board for Scream 4 (they need to not call it Scre4m). I loved the original and Scream 2 has held up pretty good. Even if it ends up being bad, I'll feel slightly better/worse about it depending on how Craven's new movie My Soul To Take turns out.