How To Kill a Horror Movie
‘Franchise’ its a dangerous, dangerous word and it means one thing: money. A film that was once a thing of horror beauty, a work of art becomes condemned by its popularity. The higher ups, the powers that be, observe us little people buying our movie tickets and then telling our friends to buy theirs. We proclaim that we have found a film that is original and thrilling, while the studio bosses cackle with glee and plan it’s threequel. And so the sequel is released and we feel excited, we enjoyed the original characters and story and now we get to return to that world. But the one word that can almost always describe a horror sequel is : ‘needless’. We try to move on with our lives and ignore the sequel’s DVD release, refusing to buy it and place it on the shelf beside the original. Then a third film is released that has the title of the original film tacked on somewhere on the poster, but strangely no one associated with the original has anything to do with this film, there is a new cast, new director, new screenwriter. And so it begins, it has become a Franchise. Film studio distributors merrily beat to death what once was a classic film that will now always be tainted by its mutated successors, while fans of the original can only watch on in helpless horror. Let us look at two examples of this heinous act that happened to two Horror films that deserved better.
Do you remember Saw before it had ridiculous amounts of roman numerals after the title? I do, almost but the memory is fading. Saw began its life as a short film that James Wan and Leigh Wannell created from the script that they had developed together. They sent the short film out into Hollywood to try to find a backer for an entire feature film. They captured the interest of three producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules and Gregg Hoffman, three men who in the future would be very influential in regards the terrible fate that befell Saw. The producers felt that Saw had serious potential and so they put their money behind it, it went to the Sundance and Toronto Film festivals and scored big, then it achieved huge box office success. The three producers used their windfall to create Twisted Pictures an independent production company. And now Saw was theirs, theirs to do what whatever they wanted with it. And they wanted it to do what it had already done for them; make money, lots of it. And that my friends is where artistic thought and creative ability left the Saw story. Twisted Pictures (without the involvement of Wan or Wannell) took a meeting with Lionsgate and sold the Saw distribution rights to them for a nine picture deal, yep that’s right a nine picture deal, that means that we have two more horrific Saw abominations to look forward to. And so the coffin was closed and the nails very tightly hammered in, if only it could rest in peace.
Wrong Turn (2003)
This one hit me hard and still stings. I have stated many times that I adore Wrong Turn; it is a wonderfully respectful homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and other ‘crazy backwoods mutants’ shockers. Director Rob Schmidt stated in interviews that he wanted to create a good old fashioned horror movie, he succeeded. He used only hands on effects, developed the characters’ so that they were real people and not just attractive fodder. He gave us a strong heroine to root for and avoided the disgustingly misogynistic stereotypes that many modern horror movies were using at the time (and still do). Schmidt also hired the amazing late great make up effects artist Stan Winston (Terminator 2, The Thing) to create his monsters. All of these magical elements came together to create a film that every horror fan should see, Stephen King was actually quoted as saying in 2003 that it was his favorite film of the year . It was a beautiful thing, Horror in modern cinema had been restored to glory, it was a film that I as a horror fan could to point and say “see I’m not a creepy weirdo, this shit is fun!” And then Fox Home Entertainment commissioned the straight to DVD sequels and ruined everything. What was once an enjoyable stand alone film became a reason to march out every awful, overdone Horror technique ; stupid young people have sex and then get horribly murdered ; check, none of the actors can act, or need to ; check. Keep throwing fake blood and gore at the situation in the hope that no one will realise that your film is shit; check. Sometimes when I’ve had a few too many vodka cranberry’s I cry about this. A couple of weeks ago I tried to recommend Wrong Turn to someone who was telling me that they loved ‘backwoods’ horror movies. I had barely spoken the title when they told me that they had seen it and thought that it was complete rubbish. Each to their own I thought, until I discovered that the film they watched was released in 2012. I let them know that what they had seen was actually the film’s fifth sequel and told them to check out the original. Their response was that if the sequel was that bad they’d rather not watch the first one. Damn you Fox Home Entertainment!!
Oh and Paranormal Activity I’m watching you..