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PCR #271  (Vol. 6, No. 22)  This edition is for the week of May 30--June 5, 2005.
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The Horror Movie Beware List
 by Drew Reiber
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Chiller Cinema by Drew Reiber

The Horror Movie Beware List

On occasion, friends have asked me if there’s an easy way of spotting what horror films should be avoided. I thought about it for a long time, eventually coming up with a short list of fast and loose rules to go by when judging what to watch. I’ve since come to the conclusion that those instructions were needlessly complicated. Instead, I’ve decided to offer a simple list of producers and studios whose films are 99% likely to exist for the sole purpose of exploiting the genre for a quick buck.

These days, theater chains only allow a half-hour (including trailers) for ticket buyers to decide if they want a refund or an exchange to see another movie. That leaves roughly 10 to 15 minutes for you to figure out if you’re about to waste 2 hours of your life that you’ll never get back. Devious? Yes. Unfair? Of course. But, I think I can offer you a few simple warning signs to get you an answer before it’s too late and the movie has given you a headache. To use this system, just remember that you have two places as soon as the movie begins where you will need to pay attention.

The FIRST place is just after the feature presentation begins, when the production studio labels pop up on screen. For those of you who don’t know, this happens just after the distributor logo of the film is shown. An example of a distributor would be when the 20th Century Fox logo (big sign with lights) begins before a “Star Wars” film, or when the Universal logo (the planet Earth) appears just before one of “The Mummy” movies. The very same goes for production houses, or the smaller studios that actually make the films that these bigger studios distribute to the very theaters you are attending. The easiest example being George Lucas’ production label, Lucasfilm, which appears before every “Star Wars” or “Indiana Jones” feature.

Now you may not have noticed yet, but the same production studios provide many of the biggest releases for genre films every year. Producer Bob Weinstein’s Dimension Films is a perfect example. Up until it’s dispersion later this year, Weinstein’s Dimension has been responsible for nearly every Robert Rodriguez film for the last decade. Unfortunately, that’s where the benefit of their existence completely ends. If you look up any one of these companies on the Internet Movie Database, you will find that this production studio has been responsible for most of the unwatchable horror that has been unleashed in recent memory. This company has also been responsible for every series entry for “Halloween”, “Scream”, “The Crow”, “Hellraiser”, “Mimic” and the like… either theatrical or direct-to-video. In the last several years, the studios producing similar trash have been surprisingly consistent and easily identified. Here is a short list of guilty parties for which you should avoid at all cost:

Dark Castle Entertainment (“House on Haunted Hill” remake, “13 Ghosts” remake, “Ghost Ship”, “Gothika”, “House of Wax” remake)
Dimension Films (see above)
Ghost House Productions (“The Grudge”, “Boogeyman”)
Nu Image/Millenium (trust me on this one, they are a’comin’)
Platinum Dunes (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake, “Amityville Horror” remake)
Sony Screen Gems (“Anaconda” series, “Resident Evil” series)

Now you might ask, what happens when the studio name isn’t enough? In the case of studios like Dimension Films, Disney will soon be dissolving it as a branch of Miramax. If the people behind all that garbage will live on and continue to produce more drivel, how do we avoid it if I don’t know the name of their new company? Easily, actually. The SECOND clue in figuring out whether or not to see or stick through a movie is presented TWICE before the end of the opening credits. The first time is just before the presentation of the movie title. You may notice that the names of the producer and director are briefly mentioned here. Here’s an example:


Another place these items are mentioned are towards the end of the opening credits. But you know this part so there is no reason for me to explain it. However, I can’t emphasize enough that you begin paying attention to the PRODUCER part. Now more than ever, producers are taking such an active part in the creative aspect of production that the writers and directors can become a distant second in terms of relevance. A perfect example would be Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson’s universally reviled werewolf film, “Cursed.” Much like the title, the production of the film was pounded by poor decisions from the producers, namely Bob Weinstein. The same goes for the production companies I mentioned above. By all means, avoid any horror film that is produced by the following:

Bob Weinstein
George Furla
James Dudelson
Joel Silver
Michael Bay
Randall Emmett
Robert Zemeckis
Sam Raimi
Wes Craven

Now, remember, I said PRODUCED, not DIRECTED. When Sam Raimi or Wes Craven direct a film, it’s a far cry from when they just throw money at someone (or vice versa) and try to manipulate their fanbase by attaching their names. So avoid anything that says, “WES CRAVEN PRESENTS” or “SAM RAIMI PRESENTS”. Trust me, it’s a trick! If you’re not certain, you can always check the director credit. This is a very simple system and it will allow you to sidestep a good chunk of the crap that Hollywood is mass-producing in an attempt to mine the recent horror trend to death. And most don’t forget, avoid all remakes at any cost!

"Chiller Cinema" is ©2005 by Drew Reiber.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.