We Need A New Iconic Horror Villain!


ImageGrowing up in the 1980’s was awesome. We had great movies genre movies coming out constantly like The Thing and Aliens. But one thing that really made genre movies so special in the 80’s was the glut of iconic horror villains we had to fear. From the 1970’s on through the hayday of the 80’s we had the likes of Leatherface, Freddy, Jason, Michael, Chucky, Pinhead and so many more. To a lesser extent you can include the Predator and the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise. These were characters we rooted for, feared and hated all at once. They were wiping out the sinners. They were sparing the pure while making them strong. This was something I still feel that churches should get behind. 

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In most horror films from the 80’s you had a bunch of immoral types likes druggies, drinkers, fornicators and just all around undesirables, Then you had the heroine of the film – a girl filled with chastity and virtue. Who lived and who died? It’s pretty simple, really. The chaste girl always won out in the end. Why? Because she was pure of heart, mind and soul. This should be something the church recognizes and backs. They should want these films made and should show them in Sunday school. After all, most churches try to instill fear into their children to keep them on the straight and narrow. Catholics, I’m talking to you!

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But I got away from my original point. We don’t have iconic villains being created anymore. At best we get inferior remakes of A Nightmare On Elm Street and Halloween. But where are the new guys? Ghostface Killer from Scream? He doesn’t quite fit the bill but he’s close. Jigsaw from Saw? He’s been dead since the third movie. But he’s also a little closer in theme. He did go after sinners, people not living life to their full potential and attempted to purify them. What about the invisible demon from Paranormal Activity? Nope. Although there is the family connection there as there was with so many horror films in the 80’s. Death in Final Destination? Again we never see him. And I always felt they should refer to him as Rube for the elaborate Rube Goldberg style traps we see in each kill. 

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The closest thing we have to 70’s and 80’s style icon is Victor Crawley from Hatchet. He’s one bad mammajamma. But, sadly, the Hatchet films barely get a theatrical release. It’s as if Hollywood doesn’t think we want a new crop of evil baddies…unless they’re remake versions of the originals.

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But here’s my question – is it Hollywood or is it us? What do we want to see? More of the same watered down PG-13 ghost stories, torture porn, or do we want a return to old school horror? I vote for old school. I hope I’m not the only one. I also hope it’s not because I was raised on them.   

That’s all I have to say on the subject until Wednesday when the next edition of The Gorram Nerd Hour hits. You can follow me on Twitter here, here and here. Or find us on Facebook.

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Evil Dead And Other Remakes


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Over the course of history we have had to suffer through a multitude of remakes with more on the way. It’s a fact of life that Hollywood wants to capitalize on a name. That’s just how it goes. How many times have seen the same Shakespeare story put on film even though there are other equally good Shakespeare plays that never get made? Why? Because people recognize the names of Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet.

Horror films get hit harder than any other genre because, as horror fans, we get excited that someone is actually releasing a horror movie in theaters. So we go and immediately take to the internet whining and complaining about the latest remake or sequel and how much the studio/director/star ruined your memories. But we go. Studios know this. And what do studios care about most? It’s not the fans. It’s profit. So we get remakes and a sequel a year to the likes of Saw or Paranormal Activity not because we demand it but because they know we’ll watch it. Hell, I have seen every Children Of The Corn and Hellraiser movie, not because I like them but because they were there. That’s what studios count on. Being a genre fan is frustrating and rewarding all at once.

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Thirty one years ago an established horror and science fiction filmmaker set out to make his first remake before they became the trendy thing to do in Hollywood. It was one of the only films in that thirty one years to do it right. The movie was The Thing, the filmmaker John Carpenter. He was already moving toward legendary statud thanks to Assault On Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog and Escape From New York. At the time this seemed like a bad career choice. Why make someone else’s film when you could do something original? But he believed in the movie and felt it had something to say just in the same way that the remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers did just a few years earlier. And, like Invasion, he got it right. Since then we have seen nearly all his early masterwork remade. None match what he did with the originals. There have also been a slew of other remakes of famous horror franchises with varying degrees of success – A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th, Prom Night, The Hills Have Eyes. The list goes on and grows by the day.
One movie that many prayed for a sequel to and feared a remake of was Evil Dead. This was the movie that launched director Sam Raimi, producer Rob Tapert and star Bruce Campbell. It mixed horror and humor seemlessly as well giving us the most innovative low budget look any horror movie ever could. For those reasons fans, myself included, feared that someone would one day ruin the franchise for us with a remake that insulted us all. I’m glad I was wrong.

The movie started in a very different way than the original. It opened with a woman, bloody and beaten, trying to escape through the woods when something bad happens. Then it cuts to introducing us to the the cast twenty-something pretty people that one expects from a horror movie. But that’s where the movie stops being like your typical “Dead Teenager Movie” (if could steal a phrase from the late, great Roger Ebert). Fede Alvarez had a very clear vision of maing a movie that was not only faithful to the Evil Dead fans but also a balls out horror film that was original and gory fun.

It’s hard to get a remake right because people feel all at once beholden to the original material and have a strong desire to explain things. Take Halloween. Rob Zombie felt that he had to keep the genreal story intact while explaining the childhood of Michael Myers. A Nightmare On Elm Street did a similar thing with giving more back story on Freddy right from the start. This used to be something that wasn’t given till you were three sequels deep in the 80’s. And there’s a reason for that. You need to go in to the first film with the intention of scaring the living shit out of your audience. When you begin to explain the evil away the audience begins to sympathize with the killer. That is like putting the nail in the coffin before the movie is even released. Fede Alvarez knew better. He didn’t go into detail about where the Necronomicon came from or how it gained its power. It was just evil and there were people stupid enough to not heed the warnings and read from it anyway.

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The movie got more right than it got wrong. It was smart enough to play with what we expect by keeping us guessing on who would live and who would die. The beats pulled from the previous Evil Dead movies were given a nice twist that kept me guessing. And Jane Levy was truly amazing as Mia. She went from frail to frightened to posessed to all out evil with what seemed to be such effortless ease. For her alone the movie is worth watching. But all the star aligned just right for this film. The cast, the director, the script – everything was spot on. Alvarez took just enough from Raimi’s style to make it feel like an Evil Dead movie while bringing in his own crazy style that fit so well for the movie. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Also, stay after the credits for a little surprise.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars on this one. It is what horror remakes should aspire to – a movie that doesn’t need to be defined by the fact that it’s a remake.

The Gorram Nerd Hour Episode 3


We just finished recording our latest episode of The Gorram Nerd Hour. It was an episode of firsts. Brian and I both agreed on something. That was a first for the show. We also conducted a couple of phone interviews. As I mentioned previously The Rapture Horror Expo is coming up October 5-7th. We had the man behind the con, KB, talk to us via phone to tell us what we can expect from the first horror con of it’s kind at the Mesa Convention Center. Then we got on the phone with Dave Reda and the lovely Jessica Cameron and talked about their upcoming movie “Shadow”. It sounds like an awesome concept. I can’t wait to see it. They were both driving to a convention in Sacramento and we lost signal a couple times but we got through it. Jessica was telling us about a movie she will be promoting here called “The Black Dahlia Haunting” and Dave told us about his time as an extra on “So I Married An Axe Murderer”. They were very nice folks.

During the time we spoke with KB he told us that there will be a bunch of special guests coming. He mentioned Jake Busey and Tony Todd, which we already knew about. We found out that “My Bloody Valentine” star Betsy Rue will be there, the man who played Kincaid in “A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 and 4”, the star of “Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies”, director and comic book legend Brian Pulido, and a lot more. Visit their website for full details http://rapturehorrorexpo.com

Brian also ranted a bit about Superman Issue 0 that just came out and how they’re changing everything. We talked about the cinematic stink bomb that was C.H.U.D. and even managed to squeeze in time to talk about some potentially big news about the upcoming X-Men movie sequel/prequel. And we had a chance to plug our friend Ricardo Vasquez’s movie “The Fallen One” which shares a couple cast members with our upcoming short film “Lepus”. It was a good episode. You can find it Monday at http://gorramnerdhour.blogspot.com and http://facebook.com/TheGorramNerdHour.

Let Things Die, Hollywood!


There is a long history in Hollywood of beating that dead horse. Whether it is on television or in movies it’s always the same – milk it till it’s dry. Some things we loved very much have been tarnished by the studio’s refusal to let go.

When I was in high school I was immediately drawn to a new series on Fox. It looked to be dark and moody. It had people investigating monster, aliens and the paranormal. It was right up my alley. Nine years later I was angry with the series and Fox for keeping it going. That show was The X-Files, obviously. The show couldn’t survive without Mulder and Fox shouldn’t have tried.

In television and movies it is usually the genre work that gets beat into the ground. There are movie series like Halloween, Friday The 13th, Children Of The Corn, Hellraiser, The Prophecy, Highlander, and A Nightmare On Elm Street. But sometimes comedies and action movies overstay their welcome. Look at Police Academy. It had seven movies, a cartoon and a failed live action series. Die Hard is about to make its way back to the big screen with a fifth entry. Even throughout the 70’s and 80’s we had a number of movies in the Death Wish series and Dirty Harry.

There are too many times that studios and networks refuse to close the book on something when they should. Thankfully some people understand this. Christopher Nolan closed his Batman series with three. Kevin Smith decided to retire Jay & Silent Bob a little late but understood those characters were wearing out their welcome and moved on.

Going back to the well on a repeated basis is an easy thing to do, even for a filmmaker. Don Coscorelli has had a very hard time finding money to make anything other than Phantasm movies in his career. Rather than hand the franchise over to someone else he made four of them to keep from letting someone else ruin his creation. But he wants to make other things.

Don’t get me wrong, I always wish for more just like most people when they like something. The key is to know when to exit. Even know, as my writing partner and I are writing our slasher movie, we have more story than can fit into one film. Before we finish we will have enough material left to write a sequel. But if that is all there is as far as story goes for us we walk away. We certainly don’t want to have the movies become like Saw 3D or Freddy’s Dead. There needs to be an exit point. Hopefully Hollywood understands that at some point.