Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Bust Hits the Big Time

Last week’s issue of Variety (dated July 30 – August 5) spotlights several articles on the declining profits and shifting focus of Hollywood horror movies. One writer places the blame on a glut of indistinguishable films (namely the so-called “torture porn” subgenre, a term that’s starting to sound to me like modern horror’s version of the “all your base are belong to us” phenomenon), while another cites fickle audiences.

Both are partially accurate, but in making their diagnoses, neither article acknowledges or even hints at the greatest threat to Hollywood horror’s health: a pervasive chain of really, really shitty movies and the continued negligence of the studio executives who continue to make them.

“It’s an old story that if a movie works, people will show up,” says the iconic producer Joel Silver. “If it’s scary and it’s fun, you’ll have an audience.” This is an interesting statement coming from a guy whose horror label Dark Castle has yet to issue a film that excelled in either category.

“Audiences change their taste every six months,” asserts Daniel Alter, producer of the upcoming slasher satire/comic adaptation Hack/Slash. “People want to see something new.”

Do they? I do. But if Hollywood knows that audiences want something new, why does the upcoming horror slate detailed in this same series of articles consist almost exclusively of more remakes (Prom Night, Piranha, Last House on the Left, The Tingler, Terror Train, The Stepfather, The Evil Dead, The Birds), more unnecessary Americanizations of Asian films (The Eye, The Echo, Tale of Two Sisters), more Stephen King adaptations (Cell, The Mist), more Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Hellraiser crap, more classic monster revamps (The Wolf Man, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, the Mummy), more video game horror (Castlevania), and more fucking Saw sequels?

Fortunately, another article in this issue addresses the migration of the big studios’ genre labels (Rogue Pictures, Fox Atomic, etc.) away from horror and onto greener pastiches; because, really, why waste time trying to be innovative in horror when you can just recycle the same teen comedy or B-action picture concepts, right?