Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Happened To The Greats Of Horror?


Remember John Carpenter? How bout Wes Craven or George Romero? Whatever happened to those guys? ; the guys who made the horror genre what it is today. Why have they suddenly started making terrible movies and when exactly did they lose their talent?

It's a funny thing. It's like these dudes set the bar for horror then new filmmakers came along in their wake and raised that bar and now, those legendary filmmakers cannot raise the bar even further or even regain their foothold. What's going on here?! Is it that their films were only really good for the time they were made in? Or maybe the bar has been raised so high that those older directors no longer seem good? But either of these can't be the case. Movies like Dawn of the Dead, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street still hold up to this day and are in fact better then most of the stuff we've seen since. Movies such as Red Eye or Diary of the Dead would not have been any good back in the old days either so it's not like these guys styles have just become old hat and boring. Somewhere along the lines, they changed. Guys who once made kickass genre classics have started making crap that even their copycat directors can easily trump. Maybe its the bigger budgets and inflated egos that come with success and no longer having to prove yourself. Who knows. Again I ask, what the fuck is going on here!?

Note : Ghosts of Mars and Cursed may be in your top 10 favorite films of all time and you may think these guys careers are still alive and well and you may also think i'm a jerkoff for suggesting they're not but for one, they're not, for two, yes I am a jerkoff, and for three these are merely my own personal opinions. Although i'm sure most will agree with me on all these points.

John Carpenter 1976-1996


Carpenter burst onto the scene in the late 70's with classics like Assault on Precinct 13 and Halloween. He then went on over the next several years to churn out The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing, Chrstine, Prince of Darkness, and They Live, among others. Most genre fans would agree that these films are some of the best of the best in the horror genre. But after 1996's Escape From L.A, Carpenter made the duds Vampires and Ghosts of Mars, the latter starring Ice Cube. What the fuck happened! Carpenter managed to pull out a pretty decent season 1 Masters of Horror episode titled Cigarette Burns in 2005 but his second effort, Pro-Life in 2006, was absolute garbage. From Halloween to Ghosts of Mars, John? Really? He's currently working on the films Scared Straight (starring Nic Cage), The Prince, and L.A Gothic. Please, Mr. Carpenter, give us something good again. We know it's in you.

Wes Craven 1972-1996


I'm being generous on this one. Several years and several bad films (New Nightmare, Vampire in Brooklyn) passed between People Under The Stairs and Scream, but Scream was pretty good and pretty much re-invented the horror genre, so we'll say Craven still had something going for him up to 96. Remember when this dude was the undisputed king of horror! He gave us Freddy Krueger! He gave us Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes! He gave us...Cursed!? What?! What happened here, Wes? In 2005, he released both Cursed and Red Eye, two of the worst horror movies of that year. I just can't understand how a guy so innovative in the genre resorted to making this stuff. Was it merely for a new wing on his house? Or has he truly lost all the talent he had in his early years? I think the problem with his career path is pretty simple. In his early efforts, Craven wrote the films. In his later efforts, Craven has had others write them for him. Could this be the problem? I think so. Thankfully, he returns next year with 25/8, a film which he himself has written. Will this be the grand return of Wes Craven to good horror we've all been waiting for? I sure hope so. We're all rootin for ya.

George A. Romero 1968-2005


Unlike the above two, Romero lost his edge only recently. And it was Diary of the Dead that was film he jumped the shark on. Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, The Crazies, Creepshow, Monkey Shines. Romero's list of good movies goes on and on. Even Land of the Dead was pretty good. But what the fuck was Diary!? That movie is pure and utter crap and is almost as bad as the recent remake of his film Day of the Dead. The guy who wrote the book on how to make a zombie movie looks like he's now trying to write the book on how to not make a zombie movie. Out of all the great movies he's made to sequalize, he's currently working on Diary 2! I love you George but what the fuck are you doing! Show us what you're made of! Show us you're not too old to entertain us! Or maybe you just plain are too old to entertain us. Will Land of the Dead forever remain the last good film in Romero's resume? Only time will tell. But all due respect George, time may be runnin out, so give us one last masterpiece, will ya?

A common link i've found between all three of these guys latest films is the use of CGI. Carpenter used it in Pro-Life, Craven used in Cursed, Romero used it in Land of the Dead. These guys used to be all about awesome practical effects and it's sad to see them take the CG route. While not the direct cause of their films sucking lately, it certaintly hasn't helped.

I'm not trying to bash here. I love these guys and I truly hope they can start making good movies again. Then again, maybe it's kind of appropriate for their careers to die right in front of our very eyes. A fitting way to go out for a horror director, perhaps.


Anonymous said...

Carpenter's episode in Masters of Horror sucked. Don Cocscerelli's was the best in season 1. Land of the Dead was good??? Come on, it was awful... Red Eye brought a new age touch to stalker based stories in horror... I agree about Vampires, Ghosts of Mars etc.
But for the most part, you've gotta get your shit together.

John said...

It's all a matter of opinion, dickwad. This blog contains my opinions on horror films. If you don't want my opinions on horror films, don't read it.

Jigsaw said...

I agree with you that they have lost their edge. I really hope that maybe Wes Cravens new movie will return him to his horror master title. As for John Carpenter, I don't know what went wrong there. I guess when they get older, they lose their taste for blood and gore. Maybe they will redeem themselves in the future. I, for one, would be happy to see some good old-fashioned horror from them...

Anonymous said...

Scream re-invented the horror genre? LOL, it was the year after "From, Dusk Till Dawn" which was 100 times better. Even "The Craft" was better.

Johnny said...

It's not a personal opinion, it's a fact. That being said, Scream does kick ass.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first comment. Land of the Dead was just horrid. Diary was about ten times better than that piece of trash.

Bar said...


I can't believe you just dissed New Nightmare.

It wasn't perfect, most of my complaints would be leveled towards the ending, but ol' Wes managed to do the IMPOSSIBLE.

He took his once frightening creation of Freddy, who had been pissed on and trampled on and turned into a freakin' corporate whore for selling t-shirts, and made him into a frightening monster again. Yeah, he made the one-liner spewing shitfest of a joke character from Freddy's Dead scary again.

That deserves credit.

Bar said...

Oh, I didn't mean to sound like a dick there.

I got a little worked up, but I love your blog, honestly.

Johnny said...

Didn't come off as a dick at all. I fully encourage everyone to voice their opinions on here, whether those opinions agree with my opinions or not. I love a good debate!

I will admit that I haven't seen New Nightmare in several years, but I never liked it growing up. Maybe it's got something to do with the fact that I actually have always preferred the one liner spouting jokester Freddy. Plus I didn't like the look of Freddy in it. That being said, I have been meaning to re-watch it for quite some time and when I get around to it, i'll let ya know what I think upon re-viewing it. I'm always up for giving movies second, third, and even fourth chances!

Anonymous said...

I think Romero's problem is that at one time he was the anti-establishment guy using his genius to create movies that highlighted the various social ills plaguing our western society at the time of each film's release. Whether it was rampant consumerism or American culture overwhelming other societies. But George is a millionaire now. He lives in the lap of luxury. For all his fond memories of being the anti-establishment drum major, he is the establishment now.

honogurai said...

I wouldn't know what to say. My favourite of all three is Carpenter. For some strange reason, I enjoy all his movies immensely. But... I don't know, there's something that always bugged me about his films, like "he could have done more with that". I had this feeling after I had seen They Live, Prince Of Darkness, Vampires, Ghosts Of Mars. His touch was there, but there was something missing...

This being said, I still consider The Thing as one of the few perfect films there are today, and for that, I am simply grateful to him, as a filmmaker (and to you for bringing this into discussion).

P.S. Scream does kick ass ! ;)

honogurai said...

P.S. 2 I find In The Mouth Of Madness one of the most challenging and thought-provoking lovecraftian tales you can find. The same postmodernistic touch Craven has in The New Nightmare.

Anonymous said...

'New Nightmare' isn't very good, but it's interesting to see the things Craven was trying to do in the '90's before hitting on 'Scream'.

You've got 'Vampire in Brooklyn', which stemmed from his desire to make a comedy and Murphy's desire to make a horror movie (ultimately, the two attitudes didn't mesh).

Then you've got 'New Nightmare', which quite self-consciously discussed the films, and even touches on the idea of films influencing people's consciousness in a negative way.

You could also throw in 'Shocker', I think, though I don't remember it well enough to be sure.

The problem is, 'New Nightmare' is rarely even interesting. It has some good bits, though.

Eric Flapjack Ashley said...

"New Nightmare" is my second favorite in the Nightmare series behind the original. I think it's mistake is that it was aiming at a more mature audience, and not having Freddy in much of the movie and not having him be the jokester people were used to did a lot of damage. But as a standalone movie, I absolutely loved it, even if the ending was a little weak.

Have you seen John Carpenter's THE WARD? I thought it was pretty decent - definitely a step up from GHOSTS OF MARS.