Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chapter One: Opening Credits (or, “Welcome to my nightmare...”)

In 1968, George A. Romero unleashed the “Americanized” zombie into society; his ghoulish zombie continues to reign supreme amongst its cinematic brethren some forty-plus years later as the horror genre has devolved into the “slasher” film, starring your neighbor or the stranger that you passed on the street in the place of an actual monster. The zombie must be considered as one of the most underappreciatedly terrifying creatures in the horror genre. A society obsessed with its own value and importance has effectively robbed the zombie of much of its bite. Darkened cinemas and late-night television have provided the collective “us” with flickering images to shudder at. We sit in the shadows watching, and sometimes praying for a stronger gag reflex. Through the years, the monsters ceased being creations of latex and rubber and instead were simply…us. A fact that Romero seems to have known all along.

The rise of the slasher has diluted the horror genre. Make-up artists and special effects wizards no longer need to create scary monsters. Costumes need to be nothing more complex than a hockey mask and butcher’s knife. The single most important factor now seems to be that there be an ample amount of blood being spilled over the bodies of partially or completely unclad co-eds.

All of my life, I’ve been inexplicably drawn to “monster” movies. Late nights on Fridays were reserved for whatever low budget, locally produced, cheesily hosted weekly horror movie presentation that was being broadcast. Anything starring Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., or Bela Lugosi was deemed a “must see” long before the National Broadcasting Company trademarked the phrase. The Horror genre–not to be confused with the Thriller or the Mystery—was driven by a horrifying and inhuman monster.

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