by Charles E Butler
Expensive shocks and cheap returns
|Author Charles E. Butler|
"First, thank you Tami for inviting me onto this blog. At the moment, I am recovering from Halloween 2013. It is November the 1st while I write. It's raining outside. I am currently watching Movie Mix on digital TV, but all the films being shown were made back when we, in the UK, just had the comfortable terrestrial TV with four channels.
Now, my set registers 320 channels and still there's nothing to watch. Most stations play programs in loops and I feel that the intimacy of entertainer and audience has been lost in a vacuum.
The films viewed were John Carpenter's Vampires (1999), the same I reviewed in my second book, Vampires Everywhere. This was followed by the uncut version of Sam Raimi's ground-breaking horror, The Evil Dead (1983).
Rounding out the night and going into the wee hours with Sidney J Furie's, The Entity (1982), based on Frank De Felitta's novel of the same name, Sidney's movie was made to capitalize on the new explosion in the world of special FX.
I am currently writing about the vampire movies made by Hammer Film Productions and these three movies collectively show why Hammer (William "Will" Hinds, stage name Will Hammer) finally had to bow out of the film-making picture for almost 30 years. The Evil Dead was the most independent movie of the three and carried itself along with gore and shocking camera tricks and of course that very taboo rape-scene, which was censored in the original video release. It came in complete at around $2,400,000.
The Entity - budgeted at $13,277,500 - also had a notorious rape sequence as Barbara Hershey is held to the bed by an unseen force and her body is kneaded by invisible fingers, not to mention the pyrotechnics that begin when Hershey's heroine turns her back on the bullying phantom. Vampires came in at under $20million and is an actioner in the way of the old westerns, accentuated by the great red filter effects and the heroes that bond like The Magnificent Seven to overthrow demons that put Mexican Adobes in peril.
Hammer Films' last horror movie of its great period was To The Devil A Daughter (1976), a creepy off-the-wall telling of Dennis Wheatley's Satanic novel of the same name. This broke the bank at Hammer for 360,000 GBPs! Money talks and Hammer had to bow to the most expensive budgets and packed up their tents, for want of a better term, and "got out of Dodge."
What is interesting is that the "New Wave of Horror" that followed in the early to mid-eighties were made by Joe Dante (The Howling), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) and even John Carpenter (Halloween) and Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). All of these directors have mentioned Hammer Films as their inspiration.
Now, these directors are being revered by having expensive remakes made of their clunky originals. I watched Eli Roth's The Last Exorcism (2011), which takes the reality of the handheld camera into the rooms of the possessed. It came out in the wake of another break-through movie, now almost forgotten: The Blair Witch Project (1999).
Cinema has indulged in building screens designed exclusively for 3D movies. Blood and gore is nonchalantly hurled at the audience as we sit like cloned “Where's Woody” imitations in snazzily fired 3D spectacles and munch over-priced popcorn.
Some theatres search their patrons before allowing them to take their seats. That's to make sure patrons haven't secreted their own nibbles! When the film has run, we come to realize that there isn't a lot of difference in the making than what the Illusionist, Georges Méliès, pioneer of trick photography, used in the early years of the twentieth century.
I talk to people younger than thirty, who won't even watch a black-and-white movie! Yet those classics are now being colorized for consumption on DVD and Blu-Ray!
Has the cinema finally eaten itself? I watch little TV, but when I do it is a reality show, this or that, or celebrity this or that. The celebrity of TV has now finished the race by entertaining themselves. But I am never going to lose the love that I have for a great horror film.
Surprisingly, I loved the remakes of The Texas Chainaw Massacre and The Evil Dead.
So you may ask: What am I watching now? I'm going to curl up with Hammer's The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974). Cost may go through the roof for movies but the quality never fades."
A NEW VAMPIRE BOOK!
Charles E. Butler has written a new book: "Vampires Everywhere" (Vampires Everywhere; the Rise of the Movie UnDead).
He is also author of The Romance of Dracula, Detections in A Scarlet Vein with Vampires Under the Hammer and Werewolves; the Children of the Full Moon in preparation.
Here is his guest spot in an anthology (enjoy!): https://www.facebook.com/groups/208083832707149/