Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Words From a Deviant...


(In Stereo Where Available)

So, naturally, horror has taken to its usual winter hibernation early this year and we probably won't see another new horror title in the movie theaters until early next year when The Devil Inside comes out. So, that leaves us horror fans with two long months of sifting through older DVD's that we haven't seen yet...or catching up on titles that came out earlier this year that we may have missed...or television.

There used to be a time, not too long ago, when horror was pretty much absent from your local networks. SyFy has always been good about keeping your dosage of horror just a click away...but, if you didn't have the package upgrade...you were pretty much screwed. So, maybe you'd be left with the local silly guy in a costume horror movie host showing some of the older classics...the awesome Svengoolie is the horror host in my area.


Then, one day...shows like True Blood and Dexter showed up on some of the premium channels. And while they have their fair share of flaws...they offered us some of the best stuff that television had to offer. That kind of trickled down to stuff like The Vampire Diaries and the recent Teen Wolf, which pushed things a bit for normal prime time TV. Of course, you've always had Supernatural there to deliver some really genuine scares...but, horror, for the most part, was still a bit "underground" on television.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was pretty much the only real example of a horror-themed television show that captured the hearts of millions, and lasting for multiple seasons, the show managed to cement its place in TV history. Buffy lended itself to the general populace while still inserting traditional elements of horror for all the world to see. And to this day...the show is still loved by legions of Buffy fans. Ask any Buffy fan what their favorite episode is...and they'll be hard pressed, most certainly going on about several choices. As a casual fan, I've always loved the "Hush" episode. It was Josh Whedon's way of extending the middle finger to those that claimed the series was propelled by the dialogue in the show. It was an exciting exercise of writing a show that was only scripted with 17 minutes of actual dialogue. Buffy was refreshing and inventive and still maintains influence in television today.

Today...there's no real shortage of horror on television. You have just about everything catering to whatever you enjoy most from the genre. There's the supernatural offering with all the reality shows about ghost hunters out there. Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, etc. Then, there's the actual scripted stuff like American Horror Story.


For my money, or lack there of, American Horror Story is probably the single best example of how good and how bad horror television can be these days. A wonderful premise, great actors and a budget that most horror film makers today would salivate over. However, 7 episodes into the premiere season...and the show is already showing signs of spinning its proverbial wheels. It's not that the show is bad by any measure. It just seems that the writers and creators of the show don't really get what truly makes horror work. As a devoted fan of the genre, I enjoy all the little gags the show has going for it. A demon behind the shower curtain here, a devil baby waiting to claw its way out of the uterus there. It's some cool stuff that evokes every spook-house charm that it can...every chance that it gets. But, I just wish the writers spoke to us on a more genuine level instead of just assuming that they know what we like as horror fans.

If haunted houses aren't your cup of arsenic...then, there's always zombies. Just tune in to AMC's The Walking Dead for your undead fix. Personally, The Walking Dead is one of my favorite shows of all the horror-themed stuff that flickers across the television these days. While most of it is slow (how fucking long must we suffer through the search of little Sophia for Christ's sake!)...I love some of the more intense stuff like the walker in the well episode. Even the characters are vast enough to create your own personal..."hope he doesn't die" list...or "Jesus Christ, I can't wait until that bitch (Andrea) becomes zombie food" list. I love the dynamic in it...even though, most of the series involves just wandering around the countryside. Most of all...it boasts great work from Greg Nicotero!

Perhaps you enjoy vampires. HBO's True Blood offers the raunch and gore best served through the often witty writing of Allan Ball. Sookie, Bill and Eric are pretty much household names and the show is going on 5 seasons strong. It even has werewolves and shape shifters and witchcraft as well as the kitchen sink in it.


However, if you can't decide if you enjoy zombies, werewolves or vampires. You can always go to MTV for Death Valley. A funtastic series that offers laughs as much as grue. You can tell that the creators of the show love horror just as much as you do...because it shows in every episode. The characters are lovable and the writing is impeccable. I just wish the show was longer. They only offer us 30 minutes every week which keeps you lusting for more. I also love how it showcases the style of up and coming directors like Drew Daywalt every week. I've been a rabid fan of the show since its inception back in August and hope that it remains a Monday night fixture.

If you're into serial killers...then, you really don't need to look any further than Dexter. It remains the all around best scripted show on television having to do with bloodshed. It's a show based on not knowing what's around the next corner for our favorite serial killer and it does a fine job of keeping everything from going stale.


There are other shows that have recently surfaced around prime time like the uninspired Grimm and the often great Being Human as well as the upcoming Oren Peli produced The River and the anticipated Bag of Bones on A&E that really make a case that horror is reaching a peak in television. And that is a peak that I welcome with open arms. I love the fact that on any given night...you can watch something scary on TV. Maybe one day horror will take over all the networks. There's a nice nightmare to hope for. Because for every Grimm there will be a Death Valley waiting to serve up gore at its finest.

Horror Television is in an interesting phase right now. There's much of it that is leaps and bounds better than alot of big studio films that come out every weekend...and, yet...it's all available in the comfort of your own living room. The possibilities of all these shows are limitless, given the nature of the genre. An exciting prospect...if you think about it. I mean...seriously...did you ever think you'd be watching a primetime show on a big network about zombies?!?





Thanks for reading,


bryan.

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