by D.W. Lundberg

Monday, October 25, 2010


Ah, Hollywood. When will you ever learn? We've talked about remakes before, but when it comes to Horror movies, it's the producers, writers and directors who come off as more than a little brain- dead. The purpose of these remakes, rehashings and re-imaginings always seems the same: take a title that terrified audiences back in the day and... add more gore! And nudity! Because that kind of stuff always improves things! Ugh. It's all a matter of taste, I guess. And a stronger gag reflex than I apparently have.

Here are five Horror titles that received some of the more memorable "upgrades" in recent memory. Enter at your own risk...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The problem with a movie like Halloween – along with, say, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Jaws, even Poltergeist – is that the law of diminishing returns tends to corrupt the filmmakers' original intentions. Too often sequels are rushed into production as an excuse to cash in on a title's good name; horror sequels, in particular, generally offer the same scares, the same chills, nothing more – only gorier, at a higher pitch than before.

Released in 1978, and made on a budget of $325,000, John Carpenter's Halloween is the granddaddy of all slasher pics – more than Chain Saw (1973) or Psycho (1960), movies not yet in the Butchered-Horny-Teenagers mold. Written by Carpenter and producer Debra Hill, the story couldn't be simpler: maniac escapes from asylum, stalks victims. Yet the movie's atmospheric scares galvanized audiences hungry for just such a thing. Its reputation built slowly, word of mouth eventually helping to bring its final worldwide box office tally to around $55 million (or $172 million, adjusted for inflation). While hardly what you'd call a blockbuster success by today's standards, this was fairly staggering stuff for a late-70s, low-budget shocker – enough to spawn countless rip-offs and seven (count 'em) sequels, a reboot, and a sequel to the reboot.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I should have gotten on top of this last week, but since it's October, how about an entire month of blog entries devoted to Halloween and scary movies? It'll help us get into the spirit of things, so that those of us with kids can get excited for the end of the month, when our little tykes go trick or treating on the 31st and we end up eating half of the candy they collect and get fat. (Or, if you do your own trick-or-treating, eat all of your own candy and get fat.)

I figure, since we've just started a couple of new series, we might as well have a little fun with that. Looking ahead, it'll also push me to finish the latest entry in my "Best Of The Decade" – which coincidentally covers my favorite horror movies of 2000-2009 – by Halloween night. (You might think I planned it to work out that way, but truth be told it's just my knack for procrastinating that got the better of me. Hooray for happenstance!) I'm not promising anything, but we'll see how that turns out.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


What makes a quality sequel? At the very least, it should expand upon the themes and characters we encountered in the original film. It should also provide us a refresher course on those elements that made the first chapter work so well in the first place, without merely being content to rehash them.

It's a sad fact, however, that so few sequels in cinema history have been able to do this. Sure, there's always a chance that a follow-up film might equal or (on occasion) even surpass the original, but examples of this are few and far between. Studios are just as likely to rush a sequel into production to make a quick buck, rather than, say, put in the time and effort it takes to create something special. That's why, for every Godfather Part II there's a Men In Black II. For every Empire Strikes Back there's Jaws 2, Jaws 3-D, and Jaws The Revenge.

A few weeks ago we attended family dinner at the in-laws' and somebody had decided to pop The Hunt For Red October into the DVD player. Nice choice, that one. It's the kind of movie I'll always stop and watch whenever it's playing on TV - a brainy, brawny techno-thriller starring Sean Connery as a Russian submarine captain trying to defect to America, and Alec Baldwin as the CIA analyst trying to outguess his every move, before the entire Soviet Navy can hunt him down and stop him.