Film scholar Kevin Flanagan has a terrific post up at Virtual Fools on the state of the contemporary horror film. It's an insightful, thoughtful read, and eminently worthy of debate and discussion. Kevin is a remarkable writer as well as a first-rate thinker. This guy has interviewed director Ken Russell (and excerpts of that interview appear in my upcoming Horror Films of the 1980s), written meticulously-argued and thoroughly-researched essays about films such as Gothic (also excerpted in Horror Films of the 1980s...) and more.
Here's a sample of Kevin's latest work, entitled Some Casual (But Deadly Serious) Thoughts on Contemporary Horror Films. As you'll see, even when he's casual, Kevin remains damn impressive:
"Last October in Asheville, North Carolina, I had the pleasure of attending a theatrical viewing of Saw II (2005) with a group of experts. Don Mancini (creator of the Child’s Play franchise), Barry Sandler (screenwriter), and Ken Hanke (genre scholar and critic) shared my distaste for the film, which I felt to be slightly hard to pin-down at first. Saw II was imaginative, stylish, and often displayed verve, yet left me sour. It was certainly a cutting-edge (puns aside) horror film, symptomatic of larger trends in the genre at large. Finally, after some discussion, we began to understand our mutual suspicions: films of this cycle delight in the minute, realistic depictions of pain and torture, now entirely possible due to advancements in effects technology (digital or manual). Whereas the greatest films of 1970s horror cinema transgressed towards social ends, this latest subgenre (“pain films”) seemed to remove or avoid marked political, moral, or artistic positions. Evil, sadism, and blood consumed the screen, sometimes without motivation or hope. How, when and where did the horror film lose its status as one of the most consistently socially conscious, probing genres?"
Click here to read the full piece.