Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Scam Awards and Other Red Herrings ...

Horror has become like high school ... once again, the popular people who made your life suck are the ones who get to run the dance, while the fringe who really would've made it fun hide out in the back, under the bleachers in a stoner Narnia. Better music, better company, and if you went to my high school, better food at the Del Taco just across the street.

Now, I could bring up several examples of Senior Moments that occurred in the past two months alone, but I'll blanket one (the so-called "Indie Horror Film Festival") and call out another -- The Spike TV Scream Awards.

The former, which started out as a legitimate launching pad for the indie filmmaker with mainstream potential, has tasted Hollywood blood and is now bent on satiating the need by doing things back-assward and putting the mainstream cart before the indie horse. Or, the indie dark horse, if you will. As a result, true independent filmmakers are being shut out of choice festival slots in favor of proven seat-fillers with marquee names. That is, unless they've taken their beautifully "vintage" (read: non-HD) feature and cut it down to a 15-minute short in the hope of seeing it get shoehorned between two "independent" feature films with more hype, more budg, and all the other trimmings that typically come with a turkey dressed by a big studio's independent imprint. Let's just say "The Evil Dead" would never make it into one of these jive festivals today if Raimi, Tapert and Campbell were just three random guys out of Michigan. No, it would not. But I'll bet you two of spades, jack of diamonds, jack of clubs that these same organizers would tell you that "The Evil Dead" rates as one of their favorite films. That is, if you asked them in 2010, not 1981.

"Paranormal Activity" was the breakout film of the horror circuit a few years back, accepted by Screamfest after being rejected by several festivals. And although it was even less than my cup of tea (more like a flat soda left out overnight on the coffee table), I do concede that its success was hardly of the overnight variety, making it 1) the last time a truly independent film was picked up by a big horror festival, and 2) the last time horror film festivals ever took a chance on a truly independent film before they put on their Franchi$e Potential glasses (3D goggles typically worn by suits).

The latter, The Spike TV Scream Awards, is a star-studded turd by nature, but thanks to shows like these (and the nominees contained within them), I fear that eventually, all the sparkly vampires, A-listers, Sci-Fi refugees, 31 Flavors and Hit Girls will cause Horror to fold unto itself until it resembles a genre Chalupa of more crappy remakes (there have been some exceptions ... a broken clock is right twice a day), more PG-13 "horror" with a revolving door of CW starlets (the last PG-13 horror flick I watched and will probably ever again love was "Drag Me to Hell" ... Raimi did for PG-13 what your mom used to do with your food -- that is, hide the veggies in with the good stuff so that you wouldn't notice).

Sure, "The Walking Dead" got some love, and "Tron" got a nod, but the list of nominees went over in my house much like the list of candidates in them Midterms. Choices, yes, but most of them cack. And while I can't wait to see "Tron," it's NOT HORROR. And neither is "Green Lantern." Or "Avatar." Or "Lost." Or ... you get it (and if you didn't, they threw a bone to the wrong geezer: Stan Lee over George Romero in a horror awards show?!!). Yes, they gave it up to Sigourney Weaver, who I loooove. But really, was Jamie Lee Curtis busy that night? I mean, she was in Halloween, Prom Night, Terror Train, Prom Train, Terrorween, Hallow Night--you name it. She IS the genre. And no Elvira, who brought back "Movie Macabre" last month? Two golden opportunities, missed. Curtis and Elvira, I mean.

Ironically, to get people to watch a horror awards show, the suits also figured they ought to throw in the Geek Squad's company kitchen sink -- because apparently, just keeping it HORROR was not going to be enough. And subsequently, including ACTUAL genre fans was not going to be enough as well. Scratch that -- actual genre fans, the Narnia-dwelling stoners who would make the party fun by spiking the punch, were basically persona non invited. Instead, we got to see people in the audience who would never go anywhere that didn't offer up a swag bag and a sweet, sweet afterparty at the Standard. I'm sure there were some true fans in the audience, but they didn't get much face time. Nope, that time went to hot chicks with foam Freddy fingers and a lush who some people still think is the older brother from "Mr. Belvedere."

If we can't keep it real in the genre, then we might as well fold and forget about independent horror film festivals and horror awards shows. What has always made Horror so appealing to me was that it was the accepting genre because it was the rejected genre. It was the genre that--like me in high school--nobody cared about. Now the popular kids are taking Horror to the dance, and I'm looking for cover under the bleachers. Anyone know where I can find a Del Taco?