Monday, July 2, 2012

SEVENTY YEARS AND SEVEN GENRE CHANGING MOVIES

Have you missed me?! I apologize for the lack of posts recently, working 40 hours at a job that's extremely taxing on the soul has been wreaking havoc on me.  To bring back the blogging, I put out a request on twitter of possible topics.  There were a handful of awesome topics and a few I'll even pursue at a later date (5,000 words on Suspiria, anyone?) but it was actually a random anonymous message on my personal tumblr that is responsible for today.  I was posed the challenge to choose ONE film from each decade from 1950-now and explain why it rules.  I can only pick one per decade, so this is going to be rather difficult and don't take it personally if I don't discuss your favorite.  Wish me luck.


1950's : DIABOLIQUE
Now before all of you threaten to drown me in the Blue Lagoon, I wanted to focus on a horror film that was a little less than an obvious choice. Diabolique is important not only because it was one of the first foreign horror films to make a name for itself in the states, but it was a psychological masterpiece that helped introduce the "twist ending" that has sense become predictable and lackluster.  Greg Kihn was right, they just really don't write 'em like that anymore.  Hitchcock has cited Diabolique as being one of the films that helped inspire him to create Psycho.  Directed, produced, and an adapted screenplay by Henri-Georges Clouzot, Diabolique is an absolute classic that brought new staples to the genre that we still adhere to today.


1960's: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
I must have spent nearly thirty minutes debating between Psycho, Rosemary's Baby, The Haunting, but ultimately had to choose Night of the Living Dead.  Before this moment in cinematic history, zombie films were nothing more than Hollywood's way to continue to be blatantly racist without getting in trouble.  George Romero took the classic "zombie" practices and created the penultimate horror movie monster.  Universal may have brought us the classic movie monsters and Hitchcock perfected the art of filmmaking, but George Romero is the king of the zombies and grandfathered in the most popular subgenre in horror history.  There were plenty of monumental and groundbreaking horror films from the 1960s, but Night of the Living Dead is what changed the face of horror forever and ushered in a whole new breed of movie monster.
1970's:  JAWS
Without a doubt, this decade was the most difficult to choose from. I can only imagine that choosing one horror film out of the seventies is on the same level that parents feel when determining which child gets to open the first gift on Christmas morning.  The 70's brought us The Exorcist, Halloween, Suspiria, Alien, Dawn of the Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and an unfathomable amount of other incredibly strong films.  If you claim you can swim alone in the ocean without instinctively hearing the low notes of John Williams' masterpiece, you're a huge liar. It was Bruce the shark who swam his way into our lives and permanently ruined oceans, small boats, and skinny dipping for everyone.  There hasn't been a film since JAWS that has generated as strong of a reaction from audiences and it acted as the prototypical summer blockbuster film, completely changing the way films are marketed and released.

1980's: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
Much like the 1970's, the 1980's was an incredibly strong year for horror.  In an attempt to veer away from the slashers and without pouring a glass of Red Rum, I've chosen my pick of the 1980's to be the helicopter killer's horror comedy flick, An American Werewolf in London.  The late 70's and 80's started the horror obsession in cross genre horror films.  Of course AAWIL wasn't the first horror comedy, but it was one of the most successful and showed Hollywood that horror fans craved this type of horror film.  Shorty after AAWIL was released, there was a surge of horror comedies, but none have matched the all around greatness of John Landis' moonstruck talking picture.

1990's: THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
The 1990's was a less than favorable decade for horror films.  While I'm not saying there weren't sensational films out of the 90s, there just wasn't nearly as many in comparison to decades before.  Maybe it was the obsession with SNL films and bad romantic comedies, but horror seemed to take quite a backseat.  However, a "based on a true story" found footage film perfected one of the now more popular subgenres of horror. The Blair Witch Project has been parodied so much since its release that we often forget how much "Holy Shit" it delivered upon its release.  Audiences have since grown borderline OBSESSED with found-footage style horror films and it still acts as one of the most profitable subgenres of horror.  Even god-awful found footage films crank in millions of undeserved dollars simply because we want these films to be real so badly.  Due to the lack of films of this nature for the time and the BRILLIANT viral marketing campaign (the first of its kind) audiences were forced to decide for themselves whether or not they were in fact watching some sort of snuff film, or just a slice of fantastic guerilla filmmaking.  
2000's: THE RING
For as much as we all complain about the horror genre's current obsession with remakes and Americanizing foreign horror films, we're the ones who asked for it.  In 2002, we became completely enamored with the pale faced, long haired, ghost girls of Japan with our American version of their famously horrifying Ringu.  We shelled out tons of money into movie theaters and it would appear that Hollywood Horror is still coasting off of our actions from the turn of the millennium.  The Ring was insanely successful and truly sparked the remake/Americanization craze of horror films, Asian horror in particular.  They say beggars can't be choosers...
2010's: HATCHET II
In 2006, Adam Green released a horror film that seemed to feed the inner fanboy inside each and every genre fan.  Presented with predominately practical effects and without a wide release, Hatchet thrived solely from word of mouth and festival runs.  It was then that the film developed an increasingly vocal fanbase and thrust Adam Green into the horror geek's hall of fame.  Fast forward to 2010, Adam Green presents the fan-craved sequel to his directorial debut without a rating, and without giving a single fuck.  Here's the thing.  I chose Hatchet II as the film for the 2010's (so far) not because I believe Adam Green is the second coming of John Carpenter or anything, but because his films represent an entirely new breed of horror.  I'm talking about fan funded, demanded, and generated films.  We now live in an age where sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo can fund films we could only dream of being made, where one tweet from the right source could get your film demanded all over the world, and where a rating from the MPAA means absolutely nothing.  If we want to see a film, we're going to see the damn film.  Regardless of ratings or reviews, Adam Green has been the front man for this fanboy army concept of getting films created and most importantly, seen.

3 comment(s):

Planet of Terror said...

You had me hook, line, and sinker...until Hatchet II. Must respectfully disagree my friend. For the most part, I don't enjoy the recent trend of retro slashers.

2010's is a tough one but we're not done yet w/ the decade. So I'll give you a mulligan on this one ;)

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love all your posts, they're interesting and very original. I was wondering, what's your Tumblr?

jay said...

I also agree that you should have held off on the 2010's. We're not even halfway done. Plus I don't think Hatchet 2 is genre changing. Though I do think the 2010's will be the decade of independent horror by actual horror fans and nonchalance towards box office figures.

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