Greetings Horror Fans! The year 2012 is behind us and the Mayans were mistaken, which means some of your favorite RavMon contributors decided now is a good time to recap the year in horror. Read on for the good, the bad, the ugly, and of course, the most spine-tingling elements of 2012!
I love del Toro. I’m a Lovecraft fanatic. I can picture no better director for Lovecraft’s Antarctic opus than the man who brought us Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone, and The Orphanage. But I can also picture no worse producer than James Cameron. And no worse lead actor than Tom Cruise. And no worse rating than PG-13. Would you believe those last three weren’t hypotheticals?
Cameron’s got a great visual sense and a bloodhound talent for sniffing out the most derivative plot possible. Were he just art director on Guillermo’s project, I’d be ecstatic. But what changes might the man who turned the Titanic into a tepid love story wring from a tale as amazing but un-Hollywood as At the Mountains of Madness? We all know how producers can be. If Tom Cruise were to play himself—the only role he seems capable of playing—I could see him in a Lovecraftian role. He is devoted to a strange and baleful sect, and he has the requisite secrecy and borderline madness to make him a perfectly convincing cultist. As the initially stable and scientific Professor Dyer? Not really (continued after pic).
Production of AtMoM ended with a dispute between Universal and del Toro as to the film’s rating. The studio, it seems, wanted to keep things PG-13. Del Toro wanted a mature horror movie with all the grotesquerie and decapitations Lovecraft intended. So things deadlocked. Maybe when the economy turns around and studios can afford to take chances again, At the Mountains of Madness can rise again like an Old One from the Antarctic ice. Until then, let’s just think of 2012 as the year we dodged a bullet.
On a personal level, 2012 was a year of risk, change and travel. While much of the year seemed to move at a lightning-fast pace, for this article, I will look back to examine the horror aspects of it. Join me as I travel backwards through time and take a look at movies and a year of sequels, prequels, and re-dos.
In regards to horror movies, January 2012 brought yet another Underworld movie (Awakening), which was one of those flicks I wasn’t entirely excited to see but was curious nonetheless. It was not a bad movie, but wasn’t in my top favorites either. I do like when a film is advanced to the future and shows evolutionary concepts such as larger werewolves, genetic hybrids and so forth.
April 2012 brought forth The Cabin in the Woods, which I thought was great until the end. Most people really love this movie, especially with its awesome display of monsters and a government controlled reality, which I enjoyed as well. At the end, I was disappointed by the cheesy werewolf and sacrifices to the Gods. If it had ended before then, I would have liked it better. I have read too many books that end in the same manner.
Dark Shadows came out in May, but I did not have a chance to see it until I returned to Pennsylvania (from California) in October. I really liked this one, as it was filled with different characters, whose personalities seemed to fit well together. Humor was an added bonus to a modern tale that still accentuated ancient times and stories of castles with vampires, witches, ghosts and more. Sure, it had a different feel than the old Dark Shadows, but what more could you expect from Tim Burton?
Oftentimes, we are polluted by movies we have already seen and cannot look at a film as its own separate entity, particularly when it is set to be a piece of a larger puzzle. In the case of Prometheus, I believe this is part of the reason many people were let down by this alleged prequel to Alien. But I loved Prometheus on its own merits. The tie-in to Native symbols and the heavens above enticed me to see it in the first place. I enjoyed the subtle steps of alien evolution throughout the film, as well as the technology, atmospheres and the relationships between the humans, robots and engineers. For entertainment value, it was fun for me (continued after pic).
When I first heard about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I expected to never see it. The sound of the film just didn’t intrigue me. But one day around Halloween, I finally did and was surprised to find that I really liked it. This film was filled with great action.
I was still in Los Angeles, CA when Resident Evil: Retribution came out, so I just had to see this at the movie theater. As I entered the theater just before the 6pm show began, I was scolded by the staff that “next time, I had to be there 15 minutes early.” This was right after I paid $18.75 to see it in 3D. Yes, it was costly. And, as a huge fan of the series, I was super excited to see this one. I always love seeing Milla Jovovich in action. But, I thought the plot was a bit more scattered than it should have been. I liked it though because I’m biased when it comes to the franchise, but know that it could have been better.
That essentially covers some of the horror movie standouts this year. I have yet to see The Innkeepers, which was recommended to me, and probably many others. I always look forward to indie horror as well, particularly when I know of anyone producing such things in the genre. This year, I did not get my usual fill of horror, though, and intend to more than make up for it in 2013!
I think the greatest achievement in horror in 2012 was the return of director Joe Dante with The Hole which was about a pair of brothers who stumble upon a mysterious hole in their basement that leads to the darkest corridors of their fears and nightmares.
This is not to be confused at all with The Gate which is about three young children accidentally releasing a horde of pint-sized demons from A HOLE in a suburban backyard. The Gate is old news, okay? It came out in ’87 and has A HOLE to evil things that’s in a backyard, okay?–not in a basement (continued after pic).
A basement and a backyard are two completely different things. One film has A HOLE in a basement and the other has A HOLE in a backyard starring a young Stephen Dorff whom you might remember getting fucked up by Blade or actually fucking a woman on camera Ron Jeremy style in Shadowboxer. On THE WHOLE I think 2012 needs more Joe Dante behind the camera and more Stephen Dorff fucking things in front of the camera.
If 2012 is any indicator of the next year to come in horror, then maybe we’ll get to see a gritty, indie reboot of The Hole franchise with The Hole 2 in 3D starring Stephen Dorff and one of those old action stars fucking up things coming out of holes or fucking their holes with things. #HumanCentipede3?
As I write these words, we are about three days out from the latest drug-addled nutjob trying to carve his name into the history books with the aid of weapons ordinarily used to fight terrorists and drug smugglers. This time the victims were 20 kids none of whom were more than 10 years of age and 8 of those who tried to fill their lives with knowledge. Right off the bat, it’s impossible to think of any fictional or cinematic horror that even comes close to what happened in this small and “secure” Connecticut town. This insane massacre comes on the heels of a shopping mall shooting, another whacko who thought he was the Joker turning a movie theater into an abattoir and an angry skinhead turning a temple of worship into a place of sudden death.
Horror is not too far away these days and another horror is that we have made it this way. Apathetic people, corrupt leaders and brain-dead media create another, more subtle kind of horror – a growing dystopia that only the savviest can recognize. The final triumph of the idiot seems to be at hand. For proof, we have PSY and Gangnam style, which induces horror of yet another kind.
So against the blood-stained backdrop of these kinds of events, I’ll now turn to a more mundane wrap-up of the year. The zombie craze continues unabated as fascination with ambulatory corpses reaches a fever pitch. The way is lead by The Walking Dead, a TV show that combines good acting, sharp characterization and professional presentation with such mind-blowingly grotesque violence that your brain reels. I remember the huge fuss kicked up by Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, a movie many thought should have been rated X on its release. Now a weekly TV show at the 8:00 hour regularly makes the movie look tame and has become the talk of every grade school playground. This show creates the most amazing polarization in me, as I’m hooked on it as anyone but I wonder if there is any line left to cross as far as violent entertainment goes.
As far film goes, little is out there to excite. Possession was real big again at the Box Office with films like The Devil Inside and The Possession, but I have yet to see anything equaling The Exorcist. There was much talk of Lovecraft in the popular media and I don’t think the Old Gentleman of Providence has ever been bigger. Yet there is still no movie that really captures the soul of what made tales such as The Colour Out of Space and Rats In the Walls so cosmically horrific. With Guillermo del Toro passing yet again on a film version of At The Mountains of Madness, we will likely never see such a film.
The banner horror comics of the pre-Comics Code Authority years had a huge year. The massive coffee table book The Horror! The Horror! collected gruesome tales that hadn’t seen the light of day for decades and reprints of the gnarly old comics are highly sought after. New attempts to recreate those great days have also raised their heads, with variable success. Perhaps my favorite horror comic of the year was the Vertigo miniseries The New Deadwardians, which imagined an early 20th century Britain where the upper-class were genteel vampires, the lower classes were mindless flesh-eating zombies and the middle class were raging Marxists. An interesting take on the usual themes (continued after pic).
I’m guessing the underground film circuit was full of worthy low-budget horror offerings, but I believe Mr. Thorson and the other RavMon contributors would be fair better at analyzing those than this stodgy old Doctor.
As the pilot of the Ravenous Monster ship, I actually have less time to see theatrically released horror these days. It seems a little counter intuitive, but it’s true. The reason is that I’m sent screeners from indie fright filmmakers from around the world and making sure all of those movies get the attention they deserve occupies much of my time. So while the fact that running a horror webzine makes it difficult for me to see new horror flicks in the theater may seem like sad irony to many, it often ends up being wonderful. It just depends on which movies we’re talking about.
This year I was able to see The Cabin in the Woods on the big screen. Missing that one certainly would have been sad. However, I also ventured out to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This movie was abysmally bad and missing it would have been emphatically wonderful. Again, trash or treasure? Eye of the beholder (continued after pic).
The same holds true with regard to literature. While I’d been waiting for the follow up to Justin Cronin’s exceptional vampire apocalypse book, The Passage (2010), I was reading ARCs of books sent to us for review, some of which like Dana Fredsti’s Plague Town: An Ashley Parker Novel were excellent. When Cronin’s The Twelve finally did come out, the result was spectacularly underwhelming. Such is the adventure of consuming horror media from creators both big and small. While that factor affects one’s access to certain movies and books, it certainly doesn’t affect the quality of the work and you just never know where your favorites will come from.
Horror on the small screen was plentiful again too. I’ve covered Dexter and The Walking Dead, but there was much more including the second season of the convoluted but well made American Horror Story, the vampire soap opera True Blood, the reality special make up FX competition Face Off, and several other attempts of genre story telling on the networks. Some of these were great this year, such as The Walking Dead, while others were not so good. But again, there’s enough to go around.
This year, I’ve been fortunate to meet and make friends with more filmmakers, authors, musicians, and actors from all over the place. We were able to watch filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska – the Twisted Twins – continue their meteoric rise to become bona fide horror A-listers. They were on our list of independent artists we were fortunate to befriend and cover in 2011. Their second feature, American Mary, debuted at Cannes in 2012 and has recently secured American distribution. And while they’re now on everyone’s horror hot lists, they’re also proof that good work speaks for itself.
As 2012 has come and gone, the year in horror for me is an experience much larger than just the movies, books, albums, and events we cover. More importantly, the year in horror is defined by the relationships cultivated, the variety of work I get to enjoy (mostly), and watching the genre and its creators grow, change, adapt, reinvent, and fuel my passions along the way.
So, cheers and, as always, thanks for reading. I look forward to sharing a terrifying 2013 with you!