Strolling through the virtual aisles of my online video rental site (the real video store in my neighborhood was torn down years ago), I happened to notice something strange.
When I first started renting movies, in my teens, there were lots of videos that would never have seen the light of day but for the limited collection of obscure treats in the back of my local dodgy grocery store.
I’m talking about such cult releases as “The Stuff” (a black comedy about killer yoghurt), “Society” (a bizarre tale where a boy discovers his rich relations are all shape-shifting monsters), and “Re-Animator” (a hysterical horror comedy very loosely based on HP Lovecrafts serial). Sure, these films were cheap and cheerful. But they were also GOOD movies. Heck, some of them are now hailed as classics.
But looking at the new horror releases, I was depressed to see that so many look like the hybrid offspring of some poorly-conceived and executed SyFy channel monster /disaster mash-up. There are , for instance, innumerable takes on “Shark Night” (“Shark Week”), the woefully bad “Sharktopus” series (“Pirhanaconda”, anyone?) The poster to “Back From Hell” looks suspiciously similar to the “Cabin in the Woods”, while there are too many “Dawn of the Dead” and “Saw” rip-offs even to list.
I understand that sometimes distributors put pressure on small studios to come up with something that they can actually sell. But does the world really need another Shark/creature combination? What’s next,”Sharkgerbil 2″, “Sharkplatypus” (and if that gets made I want my share of the royalties)?
I know at least one microstudio that continues to put out highly original films as well as satisfying the distributors. So it can be done. Come on indie producers, give us the next generation of “Evil Dead” movies, give us our Jack Deths.
You can be that filmmaker who has adoring fans thirty years or more down the line. But to get there, you have to dare to be original.