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Horror News and Commentary

Look Back in Anger

In the foreward to "Film Flam," his book of film essays, Larry McMurtry has this to say: "With rare exceptions the pictures coming out of Hollywood today are the last resorts of the gutless." That was back in 1987. How much rarer are those exceptions today? Yet he hasn't lost all hope, presumably. He's turned in a script for one of the most talked about movies of the moment, "Brokeback Mountain," after all. And without a doubt there have been some worthwhile films produced in the last 20 years. Not an insignificant number of them have been horror films.

But maybe the question summoned by McMurtry's observation is whether the end justifies the means. Is the ratio of artistic cinema to shlock acceptable--especially considering the coffers that are poured into the average Hollywood product? One thing is clear. Films in high demand will get made, so audiences have to accept their share of the responsibility for what gets spilled onto movie screens. Still, production companies have a lot of marketing power at their disposal and can certainly wield it for good or evil.

Another part of the problem is our obsession with the amount of moolah a film grosses in its opening weekend. When did such information become interesting to anyone other than industry insiders? If anything, you'd think a staggering box-office take would be a badge of shame for stinkers, but the opposite is true. If a film makes money the status of its creators is elevated, whether they deserve it or not. Where's the incentive to make good--or at least experimental--films?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the crop of scary flicks in 2005 has been a clear case of quantity over quality, with a handful of obvious exceptions. Though it's hard not to applaud the box-office draw of horror films this year, it wasn't by and large the good stuff that was filling theater seats. But if it points to a trend of better horror fare making waves in 2006, I'm all for it. The vibe is positive.--Pete Mesling

Posted by Pete on November 29, 2005 10:06 PM
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