People often wonder what got a little gore whore like me interested in horror movies. I like to tell them that it all started with a mechanical shark named Bruce. That’s right””Jaws was the first horror movie to capture my blackening little heart, and it has remained in my top 20 list ever since. I would go over next door to my best friend, Joey’s house and we would sit there, in slack-jawed fascination as the giant killer shark terrorised the beeches of Amity again and again.
Further down the line, I discovered vampire movies, which has become one of my favorite subgenres, my current favorite of the theme being Interview with the Vampire. However, for your own sake, do not ask me my opinion of the shockingly successful movie/book, Twilight””unless you have an hour to waste as I rant.
This love of horror has led me to join the campus Horror Club, of which I am the current president. While my favorite genre is vampire movies, one of my least favorite is these new “handy-cam” movies, in which supposedly “found” footage is presented in all its grainy, motion-sickness-indusing glory (think The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity). I know this is a really hot genre right now, but I just can’t seem to get into it. Maybe it’s the way it devalues genuine paranormal experiences (at one time, I thought seriously of becoming a parapsychologist or paranormal investigator). You can only see shaky cam versions of possession, alien abductions and other paranormal experiences before you end up saying, “that’s not real” and “this could never happen.” It further insulates natural disbelief in things outside the realm of possibilities, in my opinion.
Another horror genre that I despise and which, unfortunately, shows no signs of stopping, is the horror remake. Now, don’t get me wrong, there have been some very nice remakes””David Cronenburg’s The Fly, John Carpenter’s The Thing (yes non-horror freaks, it has already been remade) and Paul Schrader’s Cat People come to mind””but seriously Hollywood, enough is enough.
What new directors of remakes don’t seem to understand is that some of the stuff they’re taking out in order to make the films “edgier” or accessible to the new generation, is exactly the magical ingredient that made the movie in the first place. Take, for example, the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street”” the new director and people in charge decided that they needed to make things “darker” and decided to directly address the elephant in the room of all the previous Nightmare incarnations: the fact that its iconic boogeyman, Freddy Krueger, was a child molester and child murderer. Now, this is pretty heavy stuff which, previous to the remake, was mere subtext to the story.
Freddy Krueger would probably never have become the Elvis of the horror genre if this touchy subject had been met full on. What we originally had, instead of a creepy genuinely hated villain is one which has become a household name and a pop icon in his own right. The thing that makes Krueger unique among slasher villains of the 80s is that he spoke to his victims”” not only spoke to them but taunted them with his own strange blend of intimidation and one liner jokes. Give me actor Robert Englund as Freddy with his lame jokes over this ultimate pedophile Freddy Krueger any day.
Another thing that remakes (especially horror remakes) do that is annoying is this: the overexplanation of the character’s background/situation. They seem to feel the need to psychoanalize even these fictional psychopaths. This can be best illustrated with Rob Zombie’s version of John Carpenter’s classic horror movie, Halloween. While Zombie admittedly added some novel touches to the storyline, it seemed as if half of the movie was spent following budding psycho Michael Myers around throughout his screwed up childhood, so we’d know exactly why he grew up to become a monster.
However, one of the key points and one of the greater charms of the first movie (at least in my opinion) was the fact that you didn’t know why he was doing it””why he broke out of the the insane asylum and drove hundreds of miles back to his hometown, why he decided to kill again and why he targeted this particular group of friends. All this ambiguity led up to the film’s iconic parting shot: “He was the boogeyman.” “As a matter of fact, he was.”
So, I guess my unheard plea to up and coming horror directors would be this: be original, because it’s true what they say””you shouldn’t mess with perfection. Let the children of this generation either rediscover the old classics, or let them create their own, but leave the cimematic legacies of the past in the past, where they belong.