10 Surefire Ways to Ruin a Horror Film

After watching the terrific creature feature Island of Terror (1966), where just about every facet of monster filmmaking clicks, I got to thinking about how modern horror/sci-fi films basically suck.  Yeah yeah I know there are exceptions (I’m looking forward to Prometheus too), but overall I’m not impressed.  Why do modern fantasy films suck?  Here’s my list of 10 surefire ways to ruin a horror film:

  1. Leave the classics alone. This includes Psycho, The Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon (forthcoming), Godzilla (forthcoming again) and the ultimate no no King Kong. Films re-booted from literature (e.g. Frankenstein and Dracula) are ok, I guess, but the stories have been recycled so many times that they are far too familiar.  Even Roger Corman’s revision of the monster Frankenstein Unbound (1990), although different, is still a Frankenstein film. Hammer got by with fine writing and direction, sound British actors and color adaptations.
  2. Casting Jack Black in any horror film may be considered anathema. The same goes for Keanu Reeves. Sorry Matrix fans. Keanu Reeves sucks.
  3. Too much CGI.  Yeah I know it’s cheaper.  It looks that way too. Story first.  Use the computer renders to support the film.  Jackson missed the whole point of King Kong.  Kong is a monster, not a hyper-real gorilla.  Gorilla’s are not very interesting.  Charles Gemora in an ape suit is interesting.
  4. Length.  Why are movies so long?  The restored Aliens is two and a half hours long. Maybe even longer. I’ve lost how many versions of this film that have been hacked together.  90 to 110 minutes is perfect.
  5. Revealing the monster early.  It can work (Night of the Demon, 1957), but usually misfires.  Slowly show the monster to build suspense.  Remember the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Or Jaws? Slow is better.  But don’t wait too long.  A good monster shot a third way through the flick keeps my attention.
  6. Focusing on special effects.  Story first.  This goes hand-in-hand with Item 3.  The SPFX should support the story.  Release criticism of Blade Runner (1982) was the film was FX heavy.  I guess it was, but the film has improved with age and the visuals don’t seem as impressive as they were on the big screen.
  7. Releasing a horror film during the holiday season (Thanksgiving – Christmas).  It just boggles my mind when a film like The Thing (remake No. 2) is released not around Halloween, but during Christmas.  Dumb.
  8. Post-production meddling and studio-imposed endings.  Ugh.  This isn’t alway obvious.  Look for awkward cuts and dead story-lines and stupid endings.  Case in point: the most-recent Wolf Man remake.
  9. Light imbalance.  Night and daylight scenes are needed, especially for vampire and werewolf flicks. It’s true.  I like the Underworld films, but the CGI and dark lighting/rendering gets to me after a while.
  10. Obnoxious teenagers texting and playing Angry Birds in the theater.  If I could I would feed those kids to The Alligator Man.

Bring back Robert Armstrong please…

On Charles Gemora:


2 Responses to “10 Surefire Ways to Ruin a Horror Film”

  1. fan girl Says:

    The other thing that righteously sucks on this blog is your lame commentary.

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