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This award has been multiplying like rabbits, and the HBA is proud to receive the Zombie Rabbit award for blogging excellent from our very own B-Movie Becky and The Horror Effect!! The HBA shares this award with all of its members, so each of you should be proud to be a part of this growing online community. Thanks again to Becky for the award and to all of the participants here at the Horror Blogger Alliance!
Here's Carl Manes, along with his lovely wife and child.
At the conventions with Hershell Gordon Lewis.
At the beach with Horror Baby.
If you would like to be featured in 'Putting a Face To The Blog', drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, your picture, and a link to your blog!
Planet of Terror:
Dinner With Max Jenke:
We All Go A Little Crazies Sometimes
The Horror Digest:
The Crazies: There Was a Mouse in the Movie Theater and No One Believed Me
Heart in a Jar:
Is this hell? No - it's Iowa
The Horror Effect:
The Crazies (2010): Me likes it
Lee Vervoort recently released an excellent opinion piece on VHS Horror viewing:
The Captain wants to be sure that everyone has seen the NEW A Nightmare on Elm Street poster as well as the release of the second trailer for the film:
Thanks again and get reading!
Our forth installment of Horror Debates sure is a scorcher! Torture Porn swept the nation a few years back and here to debate whether or not the term “Torture Porn” is derogatory or not, is Zach S. from Z for Zombies and Awkward Creations, going head to head against Mattsuzaka of Chuck Norris Ate My Baby and Paracinema…The Blog fame. Aaaand, we’re off!
Is “Torture Porn” a Derogatory Term?
Torture Porn. Say it out loud. Even if you’ve never seen a selection of this genre you immediately know what it is about, and you desperately want to find out more. Cinematically Torture Porn punches you in the gut and never apologizes for it. These two buzz words now replace the tired moniker of “slasher” as the quintessential means of describing the most gruesome horror films nowadays. And for a genre that rarely sees major studio backing, its word of mouth that separates the pop favorites from the cult classics. Horror is meant to be unsettling, unnerving and it’s really only these films that push the envelope that can jolt the most jaded of viewers. This is the direct result of graphic content being graphically depicted. Many argue that Torture Porn comes at the price of sacrificing storyline and character development for unflinching ultra-violence and gratuitous nudity, but you get exactly what you pay for; the last true incarnation of truth in advertising. This phrase, meant to embattle movie goers, has spurned the general populace into thinking the term Torture Porn is a slap in the face to their proclivities to witness such acts. I say Torture Porn is the last battle cry for what can be cinematically tolerated in a free society.
The need to shock and horrify with Torture Porn is a shot across the helm to modern cinema to not only exceed the craftsmanship of their predecessors, but to also sicken and titillate the expectations of today’s apathetic audiences. With Torture Porn the artistry of special effects is fully embraced to create the most realistic depictions of inexcusable acts. Not showing the moral consequences of these illicit actions and visually censoring them is the most detestable act of all, leaving the entire process sterilized and void of any artistic merit or redemption. The entire purpose of Torture Porn is to stimulate a reaction of repulsion and arousal. This results from a direct conflict of our inhibitions perpetuated by social norms against our animal instincts of survival. This genre serves as a counter balance to the fantasized silver screened notions of life, death and the pain depicted within more commercial films. What shocks and terrifies with Torture Porn is then extrapolated and imitated by film producers as the new standard of compliance in the world of Horror. Torture Porn has officially cemented a once softly spoken sub-genre of horror as a full blown Hollywood career maker. And if you do it to Nazis you get an Oscar nod too.
Torture Porn, is an identifiable label, has all warnings of its content and purpose in its very definition. I mean, what the hell else would you call it? This genre isn’t for the kids, it’s strictly for the hardcore. Any form of censorship that could be rallied against this breed of film by using the term Torture Porn in a derogatory fashion is immediately rendered mute. So say it loud, I’m watching Torture Porn and I’m proud!
What’s my all-beef patty with the term Torture Porn? Well, it’s a subject that is not quite as relevant as it was a few years back, during the height of the critically created subgenre, but what it stands for, is always pertinent to horror and its many detractors. Torture Porn was created by claimed horror fan and film-critic, David Edelstein, who described some of these films as “Movies that are so viciously nihilistic that the only point seems to be to force you to suspend moral judgments altogether.” It’s a term used to downgrade a portion of horror, saying these films are not worthy of any artistic value. It is a term used to describe a type of film that has been around for a lot longer than Hostel and that is Exploitation, which is what these films are in the end.
Why would it become a focus all of the sudden? Because these films made a splash at the box office and people were going to see them. They are no different than say, Last House On the Left, or the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so why is this term created now? It’s a way to take from our genre with a negative tag, a tag that implies that these films are nothing more than pornography, or better yet, trash. This has been an issue that has plagued our genre of choice for many years and even films that are regarded as classics, were put under the scrutiny of critics trying to take a stance as well as make a name for themselves, by disrespecting what we hold near and dear to our hearts.
Torture Porn is a term meant to get a rise out of politicians and overzealous Christian groups, who now have a perfectly frightening and dirty sounding name for a type of film they reject, a type of film that many of these people know nothing about. Horror as entertainment has been dragged through the mud for as long as it’s been successful and it has been used as a political platform to frighten parents into keeping their children safe from the horrors of these movies by voting for them. Anytime there is a school shooting, or some child related act of violence, there is instant backlash and horror is one of the first on the receiving end.
In the 80’s, the term Slasher was meant to degrade those films of that time, even though Slasher films had been around for years already, it wasn’t until a Friday the 13th came along and became successful, that critics and do-gooders went after them. Over time, the negative term Slasher was embraced by fans, thus taking away its meaning, but Slasher is a much different in it’s description. It fits. Torture Porn insinuates that and equates the bloodletting on screen to the same release one would get sexually when watching pornographic material. It is a way of making these movies less than what they are, which is art.
Now it’s your turn to weigh in on the term Torture Porn dear reader - do you think it’s derogatory, or no? Make sure to leave your thoughts and thanks to our lovely and gorgeous participants for taking part in the debate!
Scare Sarah is hosting an excellent new giveaway for the new thriller BABYSITTER WANTED at the link below:
Also, Steve Miller has some exciting news about the new Charles Band release of PUPPET MASTER: AXIS OF EVIL up at The Charles Band Collection:
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Strange Kids Club
Not The Satellite
The Day After Art
Undead Through Lead
Vault of Obscurity
Evil On Two Legs
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Are Remakes Ruining Horror?
"Yes" Elwood Jones:
If there is anyone word in the English language, which brings up the bile to the back of your throat quicker than anything else, it has to be the word “Remake”. In-fact it currently seems like the last few years have been nothing but a constant bombardment of remakes with every coming soon list causing a little piece of horror loving soul to die each time I see, which horror classic is soon to receive the sterile reworking of a modern studio system.
Still why does any film honestly needs to be remade, especially when it has often been no longer than twenty years after it’s original release, especially when you consider that film making hasn’t really moved along that greatly in such time, apart moving further away from hands on effects to relying more on CGI effects. Still it does beg the question “if a film works the first time, why remake it?” After all if something isn’t broken in the first place why try and fix it? A question especially asked of the 1998 remake of “Psycho”, which was essentially a shot for shot remake of the original film, begging the question as to why Gus Van Sant, even choose to remake it. Is the prospect of watching a film in black and white really that daunting to a modern audience?
Still the Hollywood remake machine rumbles on, frequently adding to the increasingly sterile state of modern horror, with the current output often seeming like a GQ explosion on the screen, as god forbid the audience be exposed to realistic average looking people, which it could be argued was what was so great about the original films and something especially magnified by the recent series reboots for “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm St”.
Perhaps it is just that as an audience we are now to spoiled with the production quality of films that are being produced, or maybe it’s just the prospect of watching a film which is not in English that it makes it hard, for your average movie goer to watch some of these original films, especially those which are still in the same grainy prints of their original release, something that it seems the studio system feels is a justified reason for remakes, seeing how upon the release of “My Bloody Valentine” (2009) director Patrick Lussier could be found to be defending his film, by stating that it’s release had meant that the original had been given a DVD release which it wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Still this can hardly be argued as being a strong argument, for what is essentially fast cash for the studios.
Studios should be looking forward and trying to evolve on these previous films, by creating new horror legacies rather than trying to emulate and cash in on the legacy of the originals, after all “Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken” and recreating a tested classic won’t always produce the same effect created by the original.
"No" Highly Caffeinated:
Are remakes ruining horror? Simply put, Hell No.
I was a late blooming horror fan, it wasn’t until my twenties when I dived headlong into the genre. A great part of that fandom was firmly cemented by the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
In fact the TCM remake inspired me to hire out the original, excited to see what genius it was a remake of. Unfortunately, I can't report back on that, as I slept through most of it. While for its time, the original TCM was groundbreaking and terrifying, watching it for the first time 30 years after it was made however, and it was pretty dull. (ducks throwing fruit) Yes, I said it. But what this does bring up is that the remake worked. It worked in drawing in a new fresh crowd of horror fans.
These new fans grew up with MTV edits, fast paced story telling and shorter run times. But, as we once all were, they are now horror fans that will seek out their new genre of choice, perhaps some will enjoy running through the giant back catalog of horror, but either way, there are new fans for the genre we all love.
New fans means a wider audience appeal for horror films, with more horror films being released to feed that market, where is the downside? Sure, not all horror is great, but that just makes the great ones so much better.
But why remake a film instead of producing new materials? For starters, it is now a brand name. People (like myself) who had never seen TCM knew the branding, knew the premise, and so went in watching expecting good things from such a strong brand. The other strong appeal of the remake for studios is the returns. Horror in general is considered a low budget medium as you don't need known actors to sell it, unlike say with a drama, and generally getting returns on such a lower budget is easier to achieve. Box Office Mojo shows the remake of the Ring grossed almost 130 million dollars in theatres alone, and a further eleven upwards of 50 million. Those are big bikkies for horror films, and easier to grab with a safe brand.
Even those that hate remakes have forked out money to see it, furthering the studio cycle, and if they’ve not, then their biases are without backing.
We live in very different times now, and our horror films need to reflect that. Horror has and always will be a great way to express our fear of the world around us. And while relevant during Cold War times, a relentless William Shatner mask wearing psycho killing teens for what seems no rhyme or reason, in this day and age we now need to know why he is wearing the mask and why he is killing them.
But Carpenter’s film is still better.
Regardless of your stance, we know that everyone has an opinion on this one, so be sure to throw in your two cents in the comments section below!
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Just wanted to give you all a heads up about a DVD giveaway going on over at Hayes Hudson’s House of Horror! The prize is a DVD double feature for the independent short films, Killer Cup and Killer Cup 2. To enter, you have to first take off your pants, then…oh, wait, those are the instructions for my “special cream.” Sorry. All you really have to do to win this DVD double feature of doom, is become a follower of Hayes Hudson’s House of Horror (if you aren’t already), leave a comment with your name and email address in the comments section (of the contest post), and you might be the lucky random winner! YAY! Good luck to all that enter!
Is Wes Craven a hack that got lucky?
Wes Craven is a knowledgeable, cultured, and articulate speaker that could have become a brilliant professor if he had stuck with his original profession. It was his background in Literature that drew him to THE VIRGIN SPRING, a drama based on a13th century Swedish ballad that also served as the basis for his feature debut THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. It is this film in particular that we must now draw our focus. Many genre enthusiasts consider Craven to be one of (if not the) masters of horror, while still others place him as a talentless hack that got lucky with his first film. While that language may be harsh, the argument is not without merit. Although there are strong prevalent themes lying beneath the surface of LAST HOUSE relating back to the destruction of the nuclear family and the breakdown of civility, these themes are completely overshadowed by the abusive sex and violence the film portrays. There is very little style of substance in many of the deplorable acts, filmed in a crude “guerilla” style that lacks all of the polished professionalism of the studio system. The characters are written to such extremes as to achieve a level of comic book supervillainy. The burden of these exaggerated characterizations did not fall on the actors, but rather their creator. The characters were written by an irresponsible director that specifically engineered them to generate sensationalism and to perpetuate the perversity and gore in the script. As THE VIRGIN SPRING proved, the story was strong enough to succeed without these elements. The senseless tortures and humiliations are unnecessary additions included to upset and disgust the audience rather than seize them in a grip of suspense or terror. Cheap exploitation techniques, then, become the driving force of the film, not character or plot. Cruel characters and gore alone do not make a poor director, but when added to the weakened structure of the film, cracks do appear. Zany music, goofy cops, and an uneven blend of sadism and sitcom are just a few of the faults leading to the film's ultimate technical failure.
Craven benefited most from a genius marketing campaign and a dramatic shift in the times that brought forth a desensitized audience craving carnage and bloodshed as a cathartic release from the struggling social and political climate post-Vietnam. While he would strike gold with later hits THE HILLS HAVE EYES and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, his spotty track record often reflects the same inattention to style and character that made films like CHILLER or INVITATION TO HELL fall flat. Were it not for the perfect timing of LAST HOUSE'S release during a period when Exploitation was a thriving new market, Craven may easily have been written off and forgotten before HILLS or NIGHTMARE were ever conceived. Luck and timing had everything to do with his future success as a filmmaker, and not skill.
"No" Rhonny Reaper:
Wes craven is a familiar name to horror fans. His legacy of films has kept him relevant to new and seasoned horror buffs, but with greatness comes scrutiny. There are those who would say he got lucky because not all of his films are good. Well to this, let me ask you, name a director who every single film they ever made you love? Carl focuses on Last House on the Left, but lets remember this was his FIRST FILM; he wasn’t a seasoned pro yet! Did Big Ben win his first super bowl, I think not! Sure Craven had some missed with films like Last House on the Left (which I actually liked), Chiller and Vampire in Brooklyn (even though I kinda sorta liked that one, don’t shoot me it was funny), but when he hit it, he fucking hit in on the bulls eye.
The Hills Have Eyes (If it wasn’t for this film, you wouldn’t have your Wrong Turns and crazy redneck films!), A Nightmare on Elm Street (come on, he created Freddy for fucks sake, the slasher that broke the strong, silent type mode!), Scream (The original 90’s slasher with my future husband, Billy! lol)…he hit it in all of these! And not only were this films great, but they reached out to THREE different generations of horror fans! Hacks get lucky once and ride of the successes of that one glimpse of greatness, Wes Craven has proved several times over that he knows what he’s doing, and does it well.
Join in the fun and voice your opinions on Horror legend Wes Craven in the comments below, and thanks again to our contributors in this tonight's debate!
Horror Blips is not only an invaluable resource to all horror bloggers out there but it's also just as invaluable a resource to anyone who loves the horror genre. It's basically like Digg or StumbleUpon, except that it's tailored exclusively to all things horror. Horror bloggers register their blogs with the site and each new post they make is then immediately added to the Horror Blips homepage where other users can vote up or vote down those posts based on whether they like them or not. If people like your shit, it stays at the top of the page. If your shit stays at the top of the page, you get more hits. It's that simple. But whether you're a horror blogger or not, Horror Blips is THE place to go for all the latest horror movie news and all the latest horror blog posts from around the blogosphere. Thanks to the site, I never miss a beat or a single interesting blog post.
Maybe at some point Carl or myself will post a list of links to all of our Horror Blips accounts so we can all connect on there!
Cheesemeister and Crackers
Netherworld News Flashes
Guntown The Movie
The Scream Queen
Billy Loves Stu
True Blood Twilight
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Shadows of Myth and Legend
Lost Souls DVD Reviews
Things That Don't Suck
Just a little reminder that Martin Scorsese’s, Shutter Island, staring Leonardo DiCaprio (Critters 3) is out today! So anyone that gets a chance to see and do up a review for the film, please, send us a link to the email (email@example.com), or leave it in the comments section below and we will post them up, right here, as soon as possible! We had a great turn out for The Wolfman (which is sooo last week) and it was wonderful seeing so many people send in their contribution, so thank you! Yes, I mean YOU!
Dinner With Max Jenke:
Heart in a Jar:
The Island of Lost Soul
Things That Don't Suck:
Rach’s Media Opinions:
All Things Horror:
The World of Disgruntled Monkey
Stop by iZombie's homepage for more undeadly awesome art:
A Racing Mind
Toolshed of Horror!
That Which Should Not Be Measured
Tales from the Dorkside
Little Miss Zombie
Day of the Woman
Tea Party of the Dead
Is Pirating/Bootlegging Killing Horror?
I feel pirating, and or bootlegging does hurt horror, or any other genre for that matter. However, I feel it does far more to cripple the smaller companies than it does the big studios. The smaller DVD companies know in advance that their product caters to a limited audience. The appeal of some acquisitions will vary from one title to the next, but still, the newer releases are what most people, ie the mainstream audience, want to see.
The smaller outfits also have less chance of turning a profit versus a giant like Warner Brothers. For every obscure title they release, they will more than make up for it with a blockbuster hit such as THE DARK KNIGHT. These smaller companies generally have lower print runs which is why a lot of the titles are sometimes over $20 for a purchase. Torrents and pirates take away a portion of the pie due to the individuals who worked hard to get their releases to the already small number of fans that want them.
The bigger outfits can afford to take a loss here and there when they're going to move over a million units or more of a popular title(s). Bootleggers tapping into the bigger market is going to make a small dent, but this indenture is going to seriously cripple, if not mortally wound the little guys. So many great DVD companies have fallen over the last few years. Bootlegging isn't totally to blame, but it's clearly a problem, not just in America, but all over the world.
Furthermore, the bootleggers aren't totally at fault here. People buy them. They want them and don't care if their favorite film gets a legit stateside release. Then when there's no more releases, the "fans" complain. Sure, there's a select amount of buyers who are ignorant to what they are buying, but they don't know what they have in their hands is an unauthorized, non licensed release. They just buy it because it's what they want and it's cheap, too. If you were to place a bootleg (say $7) next to the legit release (say $15) on a shelf in a store, an interested or curious buyer is likely to take the cheaper one.
Because of pirating, there are a great many exploitation, horror (insert genre here), titles that will in all likelihood never see the light of a DVD player because of a number of contributing factors. The guy at home with two DVD players and or his trusty computer being one of them.
"No" B-Movie Becky:
There is a misconception that anti-piracy and copyright legislation are focused on the interests of filmmakers. However, they have become mechanisms of controlling the entertainment industry. Since nearly all the media in the U.S. is managed by a handful of companies, their lobbying power ensures their ability to control the type of media consumed. It also provides these major conglomerates a means of prosecuting individuals and artists. Not only do small violations add up to a large number in fines, but fear of prosecution adds to the atmosphere of control that is desired, creating an inevitable chilling effect on speech and ultimately, fewer means of expression. In the horror genre, the more options and the more access to different types of films, the better the genre will become.
Piracy-related loss is an industry scapegoat. Hollywood allocates more and more money to Blockbusters, consolidating studios to create mega motion pictures instead of moderately-budgeted films. “[S]ince it takes a much smaller audience to support a profitable lower-budget release, these films often focus on a relatively small demographic” (i.e. horror fans) and as a result, “the content and themes of independent movies provide a much broader spectrum of characters and issues than one finds from movies that cost $150 million to make and must be viewed…by tens of millions of consumers to return a profit.”1 The industry’s own practices are not even considered a factor in their alleged losses. Surely if internet piracy were as great of an issue as claimed, then box office numbers should give us some indication of an impact. However, they show no such trend and, if anything, show the opposite.
I believe that one of the reasons the film industry continues to succeed, despite piracy, is the growth of independent films hitting the box office as a result of an overall transformation into the digital culture. Niche audiences (dedicated horror fans) will ultimately pay to see the movies they want. Independent and foreign horror filmmakers will benefit from the exposure, fan base, and interaction created from piracy. Piracy may impact major studio films that need to make a return off immense budgets, but these are not the type of films that better the horror genre. In fact, the failure of these films may lead to an industry realization that producing creative, smaller budget films may be a better way to make a return on their investment—giving independent horror filmmakers a better shot at distribution. Paranormal Activity, for example, broke countless records, despite great amounts of piracy and screeners floating around. Horror fans will show their support for films/filmmakers they enjoy. General audiences will attend screenings if the buzz is good. Instead of focusing on piracy as a loss, Hollywood should focus on making a better experience for filmgoers, which should make horror fans and filmmakers happier in the long run.
Now is your chance to chime in on the subject! Feel free to post your thoughts on pirating and bootlegging below, and thanks again to our contributors in tonight's debate!
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Behind the Couch:
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