Sunday, February 7, 2010

After Dark Horror Fest 4: Final Thoughts

Instead of doing the eight movies in three days, we did the movies in five, and I don't actually think that made much of a difference. You have to wonder, particularly around the fourth or fifth movie (usually toward the end of day 2) whether or not fatigue is weighing on your judgment.

But Unearthed was the first movie of the second fest, and also one of the hardest to sit through. Meanwhile, Autopsy was the sixth movie we saw last year, and one of the most fun. So, I'm inclined to think that I'm really responding to the movies, and not sleepiness. Truly, Lake Mungo is positively soothing.

If there was a theme this time, I'd say it was "man's inhumanity to man". Of course, that's not a big surprise for horror flicks in general, but it really did seem to be a strong undercurrent. There were no monsters to speak of, except for the Zombies of Mass Destruction—where the theme was very strongly man's inhumanity to man—and the putative demon of The Graves.

The rest was ghosts and people behaving badly, or both. Which, again, is not a big surprise for horror movies, but the kind of far out element of a Gravedancers or Deaths of Ian Stone was completely missing.

The standouts were Zombies of Mass Destruction and Dread for being the ones that really grabbed you, while The Graves stood out as being remarkably bad, sadly. (A sequel is already planned; maybe it will be better.) Lake Mungo stood out as being just not horror. Kill Theory was a pleasant surprise.

Overall, the highs were not as high and the lows not as low. Dread was probably the movie that hung together the best.

Most of the movies did not screw up the ending, which was a pleasant change over last year. There was also a distinct absence of all-over scuzziness. In other words, a lot of horror movies get their twist by, or operate on the basis of, everyone in the whole world being a creep, a sadist or otherwise evil. I mean, The Final, Dread and Kill Theory were basically about human nature under stressful circumstances, to say the least, and all three took the viewpoint that people weren't, basically, evil.

The strongest part of The Grave was the sorroral relationship of the Graves sisters, to where I would give the sequel a try.

I expressed my doubt last year as to whether there could be another Horror Fest after the poor attendance, and the number of venues drastically shrunk this year without, from what I could tell, any increase in the attendance. The larger audiences seemed to be actual members of the cast and crew.

It was kind of neat seeing the cast and crew but as I said, that also makes it a little more awkward when the movie is bad.

Overall, we had fun and will be back next year, if there is one, and it's not even further away.


  1. The thing is, I've come to accept that horror is always a crapshoot: 10% brilliant, 20% OK but mediocre, and 70% pure crap.

    Once I realized that, it made bad movies/novels/stories more acceptable, because I think of it as mining for gold.

  2. May I introduce you to my pal Sturgeon's Law?

    Horror movies, on bulk, tend to be uneven, which means they're disastrously bad in parts, but a lot of them (maybe most?) have some incredible gems—really creepy, or chilling, or darkly artistic moments.

    A lot of times I think horror movie makers have just a handful of these nightmarish ideas that they realize, with no real concept of how to put them together.

  3. I have been reading all of these posts but I don't have much to say.

    I haven't enjoyed horror films for some time now. I mean I will watch one occasionaly but the wife is a scaredy cat so she refuses to watch them. The blood and guts ones are just boring. All that blood and gore and violence. It's sorta like porn in a way.

    It's a lot of fun to do, but to watch it, not so much.


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