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 #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 #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.
The Bite #164
Fantastic Fest recently soft announced their plans to have an in-person festival this year and, in a lot of ways, just the announcement itself felt like it had more weight than usual. The normal sharing of the event on social media and reading the reactions gave me a light at the end of a tunnel. There was going to be a Fantastic Fest this year. So many people were going to see friends and colleagues they had not seen in years. And we were not just going to see them: we were going to celebrate the best in genre cinema together. Watch them together. Sing karaoke together. Eat great Austin food together. Just be together.
The Bite #163
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 pulled her away from me. Their gasps pierced with hate and their tongues spat venom with every word. My parents tried to assure me that I had done nothing wrong. However, I kept thinking something must have been wrong with me because her parents weren’t just angry, they were scared. 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 #162
Six o’clock finally rolls around and I close my laptop as I breathe a sigh of relief that the work day is finally over. I brew a fresh cup of coffee, change into comfier clothes, pull my hair up, and sit down at my craft table. I spend the next five minutes swiping through horror movies and settle on a couple of old favorites that I plan on crafting along to. Coffee brewed and movie queued, I can feel the excitement set in as I settle in to work on the new hobby I picked up during the pandemic: making miniatures and book nooks.
WHAT TO WATCH
‘80s montages, talking brains, a battle to enslave the universe, buckets filled with severed heads, and a sword made entirely of discarded organs. Flying limbs. Eternal torture. Bleeding television sets. A girl and her pet demon. This is Psycho Goreman, and it is already one of the best horror movies of the year.