I am frequently pained at and with the current state of my favorite literary and cinematic genre, horror.
I am very fond of the website Bloody Disgusting - I go there for news and general surveillance of the genre. So, for the record, I have no problem with the website, on the contrary, I dig it. I do however, have a major problem with the headlines that I read day after day, month after month, year after year. It's completely fucking tragic.
Why? Well, let's take a random sampling of some July headline posts, basically from about a 48 hour span. All headlines belong to Bloody Disgusting and are reproduced under the fair use act.
SDCC '08: 'Friday the 13th' Hard 'R', Deleted Scenes For DVD
Posted: July 25, 2008 @ 2:35pm
SDCC '08: Review of 'Lost Boys: The Tribe'
Posted: July 25, 2008 @ 4:49am
Warner Bros. To Revive 'The Twilight Zone'
Posted: July 25, 2008 @ 12:43am
'SAW V' Trailer Online NOW!!!
Posted: July 25, 2008 @ 12:13am
"Poltergeist' Remake Confirmed in Press Release
Posted: July 24, 2008 @ 10:32pm
Posted: July 24, 2008 @ 8:13pm
New One Sheet For 'Death Race' Remake
Posted: July 24, 2008 @ 7:48pm
Universal Launches 'Wolfman' Website
Posted: July 24, 2008
Okay, so, dear God. The sequel, prequel, remake climate that has proliferated without the SLIGHTEST measure of restraint "utterly disgusts" me. Remember, this is merely a sampling of July 24th and July 25th. When there are no more remakes in Hell... you know the rest. I mean take a look:
The Friday the 13th Remake
The Lost Boys "Sequel"
The Remake of "The Twilight Zone"
The Saw V sequel The Poltergeist Remake
The Robocop "Sequel/Remake"
The Death Race 2000 Remake The Wolfman Remake
(and believe me, there are many many more, The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, The remake of Dante's Piranha, ad infinitum, ad nauseum).
Do I have a problem with remakes? Sequels? Prequels? Ongoing series? The revival of classic Universal characters? NO, not at all. Do I have a problem with how these films have come to saturate (and saturate is putting it mildly) the market? Absolutely.
Genre theory tells us a lot about how cycles evolve, When a sub-genre (say, the Slasher Film) has burned itself out it typically does one of two things; it occasionally takes a breather and "re-invents" itself with clever re-negotiations of its social context (Scream), or it becomes the subject of satire/parody (Scary Movie). And, of course, these two films produced cycles and sequels of their own until THEY in fact, burned out.
But, if I may quote myself from an entry on another blog, the way I see the future of the state of horror (in a paragraph) is kinda like this:
"Suffice it to say that the state of the genre is also a good barometer for measuring the state of human affairs - which is a bloody mess. The most profoundly philosophical genre - horror is always with us - utterly ubiquitous. In a car, on a plane, on the beach, in a house, in an airplane, in the woods, in the desert, in our minds, etc. - it is not dependent upon a place or a time or a character (unlike other genres). Horror is locatable everywhere and usually is most profoundly found when looking in the mirror. To quote the great Stephen Prince, “The anxiety at the heart of the genre is, indeed, the nature of human being.” I am not thrilled with the climate of the remake, prequel, sequel culture (lazy, mundane, easy), which thrives not on the genuine creative impulses of a writer or director, but typically, more on the distinct ring of the cash register. This business practice and attitude is not new, but it is certainly far more pronounced than it has EVER been. And yet, in the midst of such transparent efforts, we get a modest little film from Spain in 2007 which scared the absolute shit out this 38 year old genre veteran. Yes, “.Rec” is that good - if you have not seen it, do yourself a favor and do so. So, there is hope for the state of the genre, but not because of anything the industry will or could do - there is hope because the diet staples that feed this genre are synchronic with social anxieties, fears, taboos and ideologies. And, dear friends, as long as these remain good and fucked up, we will continue to find repressed monstrosities to feed the machine." (written over at The Horror Blog final Roundtable discussion).
I mentioned earlier that the most dominant identifying feature of a genre is its social context. There is a triad between genre, text (film), and audience that is in constant flux, fusion, negotiation. One could argue then, rather pessimistically, that the remake culture that has been shoved down our throat (very aggressively the past 10 years) is symptomatic of purely economic motivations and a general complacency or laziness on the part of studios to recognize or take chances on the new breed of horror writer. Genre theory exists for various reasons that I shall not discuss now, but certainly one thing we can examine by studying genre is the various power relations and struggles that exist in society. To this I say, wow, I am even more disturbed now. With all things horrific and terrifying at this point in time, is it really necessary to constantly cull studio libraries for remake fodder? How about a horror film about... I don't know, how about 5 fucking dollar a gallon gas? What say you dear reader?