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31 Films of Halloween: Day 3

October 3, 2018

 Wednesday, October 3rd


Today, we are revisiting a classic that revitalized the Horror genre. Aside from "Wes Craven's New Nightmare", the 90's were not fertile ground for horror enthusiasts. This was the time of "Ghosts on Mars, "Leprechan", and "Dracula 2000" amongst other terrible titles. Jason was going to Hell, and the Chucky sequels were barely watchable.


As a teenager, I actually loved many of these objectively bad films, but always loved the ones from the 80's and before much more. Most horror films were also considered to be "box office poison" for most of this decade. Probably because staple directors like John Carpenter were not putting out the same sort of hits. At this crossroads, Wes Craven, a master who had been working for the past two decades, came in to save it all. 


Armed with a script from Kevin Williamson (who went on to, gulp, Dawson's Creek), Wes expanded on the "meta" horror ideas that he explored in "New Nightmare". I see the previous film as a bridge to this type of storytelling, and it ended up influencing the genre for many years after, even today. "Cabin in the Woods" might be the pinnacle film of the "meta" sub-genre, but this is the one that paved the way for Joss and Drew. 


Everyone remembers the "cold open" of this film, with the scream over 9-11 that reinvigorated the genre completely. This wasn't the first horror film with a cold open, not the first to feature teens at its center, or to draw them in a three dimensional way. Carrie had done that before, and Carpenter created a classic character in Laurie Strode who basically wrote the book on the "Final Girl" trope. "Scream" was just the first in a long time to combine all of these elements in such a tight and original feeling package. It may have been the first that was so referential to the pop culture of the moment, which I think has helped with its staying power.


The sequels to the film were also pretty good, and helped to further the legacy. The consitency of the Writer/Director team is an element that helped re-capture lightening in a bottle time and time again in this viewer's eyes. With Wes no longer being with us, I hope that this is a series that is revisited over and over again instead of being remade into something unrecognizable to those who loved it. Right now this is streaming on Starz, but I hope it's also in your collection. 


"Masters of Horror: Dance of the Dead"

This was by far the most disappointing episode of the series. They put Robert England in a ring announcer role that's really just a glorified cameo. I didn't care for the editing, or the story of post apocalyptic vampires from Tobe Hooper. It's a shame since I love "Texas Chainsaw", "Lifeforce", "Poltergeist", and Salem's Lot from the legendary director, I was just left cold by this. There is good news, and hope though. Jess and I both enjoyed his second installment, which kicked off season 2. This is the last episode I've found that didn't click with me, so it's smooth sailing from here on out. 


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