Why is it that horror from the early aughts is often memorialized with negativity? Have we become too prude to appreciate how much studios like Warner Brothers were willing to spend on insane-in-the-reanimated-membrane concepts? At the expense of sounding like a cliché, they don’t make ‘em like they used to and Thir13en Ghosts is the shining 2001 diamond in a misremembered “rough patch.” The extravagance, the 00s alt-rock anthems, the investment in practical applications wherever professionally possible; how can anyone reconnect with this ludicrous occult labyrinth and wish we skipped over such an enthusiastic period in horror history?
Excluding the earliest popular vampire film of the ‘80s, The Hunger (1983), the subgenre feels like horror-tinted reflections of a thriving decade. Films like Fright Night (1985), The Lost Boys (1987), Once Bitten (1985), Vampire’s Kiss (1988), and many more were loaded with camp and comedy. But one movie (that never says the word vampire) was unafraid to highlight the true horror of the decade lingering beneath the surface.
That movie was Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987).
“She’s under a spell that can be broken only by me…or death.”
When I was in kindergarten I got a girl sent to Catholic school because we kissed under the slide during recess. After our teacher notified our guardians, the girl’s parents stormed into the school, gripped their hands around her arm, and physically pulled my friend away from me. Their gasps pierced with hate and tongues spat venom with every word. My parents did their best to assure me that I had done nothing wrong, but I kept thinking there must have been something wrong with me because her parents weren’t just angry, they were scared. These “grown ups” as I had seen them, were scared of five-year-old me because of something their daughter and I had done together. These people were terrified of the power they believed I possessed because she had wanted to kiss me, and there’s “no way” their daughter would ever dream of doing such a thing.
The Bite #170
Everyone has had a best friend like Emily. The beautiful, smart girl who actively enjoys making you the third wheel when you hang out with her and her adoring boyfriend, who likes to walk ahead and you to trail in her wake, who – without ever needing to verbalize it – insists on being the shining star at the center of all your waking moments.
The Bite #169
I was around 14 when I read an old FANGORIA interview with Jamie Lee Curtis where she talked about how she didn’t like watching horror movies. She mentioned Death Ship as one that particularly freaked her out, and thus I added it to my must-see list. My adolescent thinking was that if it was too much for Laurie Strode, it must truly be terrifying.
The Bite #168
From a non-horror fan’s perspective, one may wonder how can such a bloody, frightening, and nightmare-inducing experience be cathartic? What sort of person enjoys the thrills and chills of jump-scares? How can all of those monsters feel like family? Why is that the genre where you feel comforted, and, dare I say, normal?
The Bite #167
The death of a loved one is a difficult time, so it’s no surprise that many people choose to process their loss by orchestrating elaborate murders.
If your girlfriend died while competing in the 100-meter dash, of course you’re going to knock off every single member of her track team with sporting goods (Graduation Day). If your little sister got bullied until she fell out a window, most therapists would agree that the best way to deal with your grief would be to show up at her prom six years later and decapitate as many people as possible (Prom Night).
The Bite #166
From 2010 to 2015, it was pretty common to hear people talk about women horror directors as if they were an anomaly; that they weren’t good enough, didn’t want the jobs, or didn’t network properly with the right people. I knew firsthand from watching thousands of short films every year that this simply wasn’t true.
The Bite #165
The day Shudder released The Amusement Park was very emotional for me. I think of George all the time, of course, but that day I felt a rush of memories flooding my thoughts.