Thanks to Catherine J Gardner for the shout-out over on her blog. Here’s a quick post for all the newcomers. Feel free to discuss, and disagree.
Modern horror films get a bad wrap. Don’t get me wrong 95% of them deserve it. Sequels seem to have an even worse reputation. It occurred to me, as I discussed the advent of the new 3D Final Destination sequel with a friend, that some of the best horror movies (definitely not the best, mind you) of the last few years, had been sequels to slightly lamer movies.
Case and point: Final Destination 2 the movie that takes the premise of the first film and runs with it. The original was a perfectly harmless way to kill a few hours, but the sequel doubled the body count, quadrupled the blood, and added a few laughs, to make it one of the best times you can have watching annoying people die horribly. That said, the third film was a big steaming pile of suck, proving that there really is no formula to these things.
Another flick I think is criminally underrated is Eli Roth’s Hostel: Part II. I didn’t even like the first one, I thought the protagonists were too annoying to care about but the violence was so “serious” that Roth was obviously expecting us to. Tonally the second one hits the mark perfectly, it is a very dark film with tiny glimmers of gallows humor. By replacing the intolerable frat guys from the first film with three (not nearly as offensive) girls Roth runs the risk of his crowd crying misogyny, but I think it is apparent to anyone that has seen the film that he pays very close attention to the violence, making it sad and sickening when it needs to be. Another thing the film does right is the casting of “real” actors; stage actor Roger Bart (I saw this dude as Snoopy in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, how strange is that after seeing this flick?) chews the scenery and adds a touch of class bereft of most horror movies. It’s a real bummer that this was such a commercial flop.
Rob Zombie would seem to be the most controversial figures working in the genre today. I would say his first film (House of 1ooo Corpses) is a little bit of a mess, and his latest (Halloween) is a LOT a bit of a mess. But his second film, The Devil’s Rejects, which is a quasi-sequel to his first, is absolutely fantastic. Straddling the line between original and Tarantino-esque pastiche, Reject’s is at once fun, disturbing and genuinely exciting. This is Zombie at his most disciplined (the cameos don’t get entirely out of hand, the Southern-fried dialogue actually fits, and the soundtrack is fantastic) and re-watching it makes one hold out (a little) hope for his upcoming Halloween sequel, because as it shows he is capable of making great films, though he doesn’t always.
None of these movies re-invent the wheel, but they all deserve far more respect than the number 2 usually implies.