I have a crazy idea. Now, as with all crazy ideas I can’t really affect this or foster it. I am the idea man, and that’s it. Sorry. I wish I could do more. But I think it’s an idea that’s worth putting out there.
I am a horror fan, duh. Look at the books I write and stuff I write about and that becomes pretty clear. As the years have passed I haven’t lost my love of the genre or the people that make the movies but over the years some of the legends of horror have seen a decline in their output and quality. Which is not to speak ill of anyone but it’s clear that a lot of the bigger name directors who are known for their work in horror have not been doing a. a lot of work these days and b. memorable work.
So what happened?
I think it’s a couple of things – the industry changed and horror changed.
These high profile filmmakers who made a lot of money for the studios and made some of the scariest movies of all time were priced out I think. I am guessing that it became more economical to hire younger, ‘hungrier’ directors and to fund projects that would cost less money to make.
Another piece of the puzzle is that horror has changed. It’s always in motion but in this case the tropes and terrors that made these filmmakers famous went out of favor as people got used to them and needed things changed up. It wasn’t that scary went out of fashion so much as people got bored and these filmmakers paid the price for that. Sure, some of them maybe needed to expand their horizons and re-invent their approach or try new things but a lot of them didn’t get regular work so they didn’t get the opportunities to evolve their techniques.
Flash forward to today and we have a lot of talented, innovative, classic filmmakers who are struggling to even get their films made and that is a shame. It’s not a new thing with Hollywood at all, which goes for the hot name or new name over the established one. Unless you are a legend you are nothing, and even these horror legends are seen as next to nothing. While a couple have definitely lost a step I still think they could all produce great work again if given the right circumstances. I think it’s a matter of their fighting for funding, fighting to get their stories out there, and fighting to even get their films released that has softened the edge these greats once had.
So what could be done?
A great but ill-used medium was MASTERS OF HORROR, which was wonderful at first but soon fell into mediocrity but it had the right idea. We need a way to get the greats back working again and regularly. We need to celebrate these people before we lose them. Some won’t be interested in the idea, some will want to just coast and retire, but some may dig it.
What we need is a small studio set up that funds these projects with budgets of $2million and under but which gives the filmmaker complete control to make their film. Keep the costs low, get folks that want to work and work with these filmmakers and who are willing to do it at lower fees and see what happens. Bring these filmmakers back to their roots where they had to be creative and had to be hungry but when they could see their films and their visions make it to the screen. A movie that comes to mind that had a similar approach was Rob Zombie’s LORDS OF SALEM, a film that isn’t great but which is all Zombie’s and really shows what he can do and what he wanted to do. It’s a fascinating film and a great template for how this could work. Now, these may not be films that make it to theaters but maybe an art-house run before showings at conventions, and then release on video on demand and a home release. Remind people who these filmmakers are and celebrate them. And if it doesn’t work then you fold up the tents and accept that maybe it wasn’t meant to be but I bet a few of these films turn out really well.
It drives me crazy to see the money poured into terrible movie ideas and terrible filmmakers. I want to see the people that helped re-create modern horror get another shot at scaring us, without the politics, without the studio delays, and without the fickle market dictating what they should make.
Maybe it works.
Maybe it doesn’t.
It be a heck of a fun thing to see happen though.