Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In defense of veteran horror filmmakers/icons...

I've recently noticed a lot of director bashing going on, so I just wanted to throw my two cents in... Of course, this is all my personal opinion on some of the most talked-about horror filmmakers...
Say what you want, but Dario Argento's Mother of Tears was greatly entertaining to me personally. Yes it's fairly stupid (then again, so was Suspria), but some of the old magic - more prevalent in MOT than it has been since 1987's Opera - is still there. I also like The Stendhal Syndrome quite a bit, but MOT is undoubtedly more fun to watch. I also might enjoy it a bit more than Inferno, just because the tone of Inferno has always rubbed me the wrong way even though it's far classier and artier than MOT could ever dream of being. So for what it's worth, MOT renews my faith in Argento after being disappointed in most of his newer offerings.
Again, say what you want but I will continue to defend and admire George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead. People expect a lot out of George. I do, too, since Night and Dawn are two of my favorite horror movies. I was let down by Land, I hated Bruiser, so I was about over Romero before I watched this, but Diary has single handedly renewed my interest in him. In my opinion, it's his best film since the late 70s. The immediacy found in early Romero but lost to budget over the years has been found once again with his newest, lower-budgeted effort. It's also a hell of a lot better and more ambitious than either Cloverfield or [REC].
It seems Wes Craven does a movie or two each decade that's obscenely popular and hugely influence. In the 70s it was Last House (or The Hills Have Eyes), in the 80s it was A Nightmare on Elm Street and the 90s it was Scream. I hated Cursed, but Red Eye wasn't the end of the world. I still have faith in Wes as a director, as he seems to at least knock one out of the park every ten years or so, with some interesting moments in between.
I also don't really get the Tobe Hooper bashing. In my opinion, he's made more quality horror films than John Carpenter has. Carpenter's The Thing seems to be a rare film whose popularity transcends generations (the high amount of gore and its reliance on special effects a likely reason), while Hooper's TCM seems to be less impressive to the younger generation; many of whom proudly proclaim the remake or "The Beginning" is better. Personally, I think TCM is superior to anything Carpenter has done, but that's me.
I've never been a huge Stephen King fan but it's futile to critize someone so important to the genre over the past 30 years. I do enjoy some of his novels (though he's far from my favorite), and have enjoyed many films based on his writings; Carrie, The Dead Zone, Cujo, Misery, The Shining, etc. I don't think anyone I listed above deserves to be called a "hack."
I really can't comment much on the likes of Alexandre Aja, Rob Zombie, Eli Roth or whatever flavor of the month people seem to be obsessing over as they have not made enough films and perhaps need time to discover themselves. I'll just say that all have kept me at arm's length so far. I see some promise at times, but they've all fallen short of being able to impress me with any of their films and I already see a lot of repetition from them. If you look back at the likes of Romero, Craven, Hooper, Argento, Mario Bava, etc. you will notice they all struck gold and made revolutionary films right out of the gate, which are what ensured they'd even had careers in the first place. In other words, they achieved success the hard way - by earning it. If they'd made a couple of awful films to start as most of these new guys do, who knows if they'd even have the opportunity to make a third...
Many of today's genre filmmakers have careers based on hype and image, not on talent. If these guys had been around thirty years ago, they probably would have been chewed up and spit back out. You have to wonder where some of these newer fellas even get their juice from. I think Roth exploited the internet and his genre knowledge to win people over (riding Quentin Tarantino's coattails also proved beneficial, I'm sure), while Zombie obviously already had a tailor-made army of fans left over from his music career ready to embrace his filmmaking career regardless of whatever he put out. I think both still have a lot to learn, so hopefully they'll be able to grow as filmmakers instead of falling into traps.
I was startled that Zombie chose Halloween as a project after the success of The Devil's Rejects. He had to have done that strictly for the money, especially in light of the fact he'd publicly ridiculed remakes and those who made them. His "reimaging" excuse was simply horse *beep* and now I see people throwing that word around all the time, which gets on my last nerve. I have less faith in Roth, though. He's a mixture of ass kissing (to get projects off the ground) and half-assed (when it comes to the actual films). Hostel II was nothing more than a sex switch on the original and the exact type of cynical, soulless $$$ grubbing venture that I consider creative bankruptcy. I was really happy to see that film flop. The fact Zombie's Halloween did well (which I am still convinced boils down to brand name recognition alone) makes me hope he's able to parlay that success into something worthwhile. I'm still waiting on it.

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