Monday, August 01, 2011

what monsters may come

watched a program on the sundance channel last night that examined, lightly examined, two sorts of movie bogeys in cinema: vampires and zombies. my preferred movie monster is the zombie, that unthinking, devouring, brutal creature. vampires can be okay and there have been some very fine examples in film however vampires always seemed too delicate, too ratcheted in their sexuality, to be seen as a great threat to society.

zombies on the other hand are the masses. zombies are blind, unthinking, devouring brutes with no reasoning skills and if you happen to get caught in a zombie horde no matter how much pleading and begging you do will matter naught. because those damn creatures will simply eat you.

every age processes the horror of its times thru its literature. movies are, i think, literature and horror movies are usually the foil by that we confront our fears. when times are good, like in the '90s, horror movies are usually fairly tepid works. the more tumultuous the era the greater torque in horror. thus in the '90s we got anne rice's vampire lestat assayed on the big screen by tom cruise. i was scared only by the lackluster performance by mr cruise. by the turn of the millenium things were going south and the silver screen saw a resurgence of zombies and splatter movies the likes we haven't seen since the 1970s.

well but now u.s. horror cinema is in the doldrums. the good stuff is coming from countries like norway, sweden, france and spain. it's instructive to remember that these are nations that have not been known for its genre films. why these countries are churning out rocking shit like the norwegian monster movie troll hunter [2010] and the french high tension [2003] and we are making prequels, sequels and remaking classic horror i don't know.

not that the u.s. isn't making good movies -- even pretty good horror movies are being cranked out such as the wonderful lo-budget paranormal activity [2007]. bad times might look good with some perspective. yet these are bad times in the u.s. and i wonder where horror cinema might go. there isn't any one overriding theme to either u.s. or world horror cinema.

the program on the sundance channel didn't make any predictions on the future wave of horror movies. max brooks, author of the fantastic oral history world war z [which is currently being shot as a feature film starring brad pitt], gave two scenarios: 1) if we are terrified of a class of superrich that use their money and power to artificially prolong their youth we might have a spate of vampire movies. or 2) if we worry about the older generations living very long into super advanced age who will overcrowd the younger generations we might get zombie films.

interesting; the future horror movie most probably won't be such a stark binary. there's a film that should be released on dvd tomorrow that i'm very much looking forward to seeing that explores religious fundamentalism as well as feral destruction of culture and civilization thru the prism of very vicious vampires. i'll write about that pic soon as i see it. in the meantime i'm just very happy to be living in a time where horror movies are world cinema.


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