Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Horrorfest 2006 report #7: Summary

Club Dread (2004) **
The Wicker Man (1973) ***½
Lady Vengeance (2006) ***½
The Eye (2002) **½
The Elephant Man (1980) ****
Doom (2005) **
Hard Candy (2006) ****
Dark Water (2005) **
BloodRayne (2006) ½*
The Omen (2006) ***½
Mark of the Vampire (1935) ***
Stay (2005) ***
Poltergeist (1982) ***½
Ginger Snaps (2001) ***½
November (2005) ***
The Forgotten (2004) *½
The Skeleton Key (2005) ***
Slither (2006) ***
Sleepy Hollow (1999) ***½
Silent Hill (2006) **
House of 1,000 Corpses (2003) **
The Fog (2005) **
The Hills Have Eyes (2006) **
High Tension (2003) ***

It has been almost a month since Horrorfest 2006 came to a close. It has been a difficult month for me, but I am still looking back fondly on this year set of films. I have written in detail about each and every film of the fest save two. Those two were the fairly lack luster remakes of two classic films originally made by two classic horror director’s. Rupert Wainwright’s remake of John Carpenter’s “The Fog” and Alexandre Aja’s update of Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes” each expand upon the reasoning and detail behind these horror originals but fail to deliver the relevance that made these stories more compelling in their initial incarnations.

The original “Fog” was a ghost story warning about the dangers of forgetting the past and how things came to be. The remake fills in a great amount of detail about that past of the ghosts which invade the sea coast town in the story. This makes their story so specific that any parallels to current or even past issues in our history become less relevant to the movie and therefore less effective as good storytelling. It is a mistake to make the people who became these ghost lepers, making it difficult to relate to their injustice for a modern audience.

Aja directed the successful festival entry “High Tension” and brings the same brand of brutality to “The Hills Have Eyes”. He also provides an incredibly tenacious hero to his Hollywood debut, as he did with his French hit, but the point against our dependency on nuclear energy has been lost since the original film debuted in the late 70s. What Aja provides here is a gruesome look at senseless brutality, but not much else.

Despite a few other disappointments like these, I was much more pleased with this year’s Horrorfest than I expected to be. My main goal this year was to clear out a bunch of titles from my Netflix queue that I hadn’t gotten to over the past couple of years. With a schedule of what had basically been rejected entries and the fact that I got started about a week and a half later than usual, my expectations for a month of incredible filmmaking was not high. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the films this year.

As is the norm, the two best films I saw this year were not strictly horror films, but “The Elephant Man” and “Hard Candy” are both films any movie lover should take a look at. After 24 films of a very dark nature, however, I was quite glad to return to a regularized variety of films; and since my back injury, I have really had a chance to just overload on a great many classics. I think Turner Classic Movies has been my most frequented channel since being incapacitated.

This year’s Horrorfest seemed to inspire more people to suggest movies for my future Horrorfests than in the past. This gave me an idea for Horrorfest 2007, a readers’ request Horrorfest. I have already added “The Devil’s Rejects”, “Don’t Look Now”, “Dead End”, Bergman’s “Hour of the Wolf”, and the 2006 release “The Descent” to my Netflix queue for next year’s Horrorfest. Although, considering the praise I’ve read for “The Descent” I will probably try to look at it before the end of the year so I can place it on my Best of 2006 list if it deserves it.

So I will be taking requests all year long for next year’s Horrorfest. If you’ve seen a horror film that you think must be seen to be believed, let me know. Or even if it isn’t strictly a horror film, but you feel it embraces horrific aspects, pass it on. I’ll add them all to my list and Horrorfest 2007 could be the best Horrorfest yet.

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