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February 8, 2010

Looking Back at the 2000s & Horror - Six Ghoulish Questions

Now that 10 years of horror have passed since Y2K rendered all electronics obsolete (Thank golly for the generator I've had running non stop, amirite?), I thought it would be nice to take a look back at the decade...and finally ask the six burning questions that I'm not sure I have the answers to. Let's hit it!

1. What's the deal with Warner Brothers? When's the last time they actually released a good horror flick?It has not been the best decade for the major studios and horror, but that's always been the case. But when you look at Warner Brothers' track record for the last 10 years, it's exceedingly bad. Some point to last year's Orphan as a success, and while I can almost see it, the film was too wrapped up in explaining every detail for my tastes. But when I look under the banner of Dark Castle Entertainment, Warner's horror label that's been active for 11 years now, the scary fact is that Orphan is easily the best film they've produced. Looking at Warner as a whole, I will give them a minor success on the forgettable Stephen King adaptation 1408 (which hit in Summer 2007, nearly 4 years ago now), but before that the last WB horror I could say I fully dug was 2002's Eight Legged Freaks - a fantastic B-Monster romp that's not gonna create many scares. For a studio that was behind The Haunting, The Exorcist, and The Shining, that's completely unacceptable.

(Of course, Warner could have helped to remedy this by NOT SITTING ON TRICK 'R TREAT FOR TWO AND A HALF YEARS and just releasing it to theaters instead, but we all know how that turned out.) *tear*

2. Where did the zombie uprising come from?

From 28 Days Later to the Dawn of the Dead remake and Shaun of the Dead to this year's Zombieland, it's safe to say that zombies made a comeback of unseen proportions in the 2000s. But what led to this? I like to point, surprisingly, at Wes Craven's Scream. No, there's no connection to zombies in that one, but I think the zombie movement of the 2000s is a direct response to the increasingly bloodless films of the late '90s. But is it all about blood? I think not. While Scream and its sort were trying to build terror out of tricky plots and surprise twists, I think a lot of people wanted to get horror back to its visceral roots. And what's more instinctive than simply trying to survive the night against a horde of undead flesh-eaters? Not much.

3. Who gave the best horror performances in the last decade?

Unlike the list of Warner horrors worth watching, this one was hard to narrow down. Without thinking, I'd come up with a short list that might include The Mist's Marcia Gay Hardin, Behind the Mask's Nathan Baesel, Let The Right One In's Kare Hedebrant & Lina Leandersson, and Slither's Gregg Henry.

If I have to pick a best lead actor, lead actress, and supporting performer, I might go with the obvious pick of Bruce Campbell in Bubba Ho-tep, the not as obvious pick of Jess Weixler in Teeth, and the out-of-the-blue Jake Weber in Dawn of the Dead. Weber's performance is one of my understated favorites in horror history, as he creates a simple character who's interesting and human, an everyman who I really cared about and wanted to see survive badly.4. Besides the zombies, what was the best trend in horror of the last decade?

If I had to look at one thing that helped the horror genre over the last decade, I'd look at the willingness of filmmakers to listen to the fans. Say what you want about the experiment known as Snakes on a Plane as a film, a lot of nerds got a jolt of pride out of fighting to see that one. This phenomenon evolved with last year's Paranormal Activity petitions which, unlike any other petition ever started by freaks on the web, ACTUALLY WORKED! Are you kidding me? WE, the people, have a say in where our genre's going! If this were any more bizarro world, there'd be a black president....oh wait....nevermind.

5. Who or what was the most important name in horror in the 2000s?

This is a tough one. Campbell making his comeback was a huge story, and a lot of directors like Neil Marshall, Ti West, and Eli Roth made impressive debuts. Sam Raimi continued to be a champion of the genre by backing Ghost House Productions while making Spider-Man flicks (and returning to the genre with Drag Me to Hell). But the biggest name in horror in the 2000s, in my mind, has to be the corporation who brought horror to DVD - Anchor Bay Entertainment. Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Bava, Argento, and plenty more horror titans made legions of new fans thanks to Anchor Bay's efforts, and while the company seemed to veer into cash grabs over time (How many packages can the same Evil Dead discs fit in?), it's safe to say that the horror community of 2010 owes plenty of thanks to Anchor Bay and their willingness to feed our strangest desires.

6. What was the best horror film of the 2000s?

If I had to throw together a short list based on personal preference, it'd include Scott Glosserman's Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers, Frank Darabont's The Mist, Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza's [REC], Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead, and James Gunn's Slither.If there was a gun to my head today and I absolutely HAD to pick one of those movies and leave every other movie I forgot to mention aside...I'd probably pick The Mist. Stephen King's story was a favorite of mine as a teen, and Darabont (minus a tacked on and unfaithful ending) nailed what I'd dreamed of for over a decade. It balanced on the line between monster flick, psychological thriller, spiritual examination, and creepy siege flick perfectly. And that works for me.

Like I said, I don't have all the answers - but those work for me at the minute. Got your own picks? That's why there are comments below. Leave 'em and let's work this stuff out!


R.D. Penning said...

My only comment is that as one who worships Stephen King, The Mist ending was not unfaithful. It was tacked on, but that is only because the original short story had an old western ending, in which it didn't actually end. Stephen King and Frank Darabont might have well written it together. Frank had to ok his ending with King before continuing with it. If you ask me that might as well be King giving it his blessing. quote: Author Stephen King praised Darabont's new ending, describing it as one that would be unsettling for studios. King said, "The ending is such a jolt—wham! It's frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don't necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending."- wikipedia I'm just glad that Frank decided to drop the stupid opening scene he had originally written.

R.D. Penning said...

other than that, I agree with pretty much everything u said.

forestofthedead said...

Great post. I give you props especially for showing so much love for The Mist.