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A Year (or Two) in Review


Well here it is. The end of another year and time for everyone to write their year end wrap up articles, reviews, columns and blogs.

Let's see what we have here... 2010 and horror... hmm....

Let me start personally. Personally, this was a great year for me. My 20-part horror web series Camera Obscura was released in October via Dread Central and and garnered a healthy quarter of a million viewers in the first month, pulled in great reviews and snagged a 7.9 rating on IMDB. All parties involved are incredibly happy with the results, especially me. No matter how much work I put into something, I'm always delightfully surprised when it succeeds. Call it a poor self-image thing, a self-loathing artist thing, heck, maybe it's because I was so bad at sports. Who knows. Either way, I do know my team worked incredibly hard and I was overjoyed to see it all come out as we'd hoped. 

I also did a series of successful exclusives this year - the horror short THE BAD COOKIE for Dread Central's Halloween Night special, POLYDEUS launched right here on FEARnet the week of Thanksgiving, and MY NAME IS KRIS KRINGLE had great success as Fangoria's Christmas anchor.

Additionally, I released 10 horror shorts this year on my own page, (SUICIDE GIRL, JACK, THERE'S NO SUCH THING, THE QUEEN MARY GHOST FOOTAGE, DOPPELGANGER, THE KINDRED, and NEW TOY).

2010 also brought me to FEARnet, where I've met some amazing new compatriots in terror, not the least of which are Sean Redlitz and Lawrence P. Raffel who are not only two of the nicest guys I know, but are also wonderfully demented, not to mention largely responsible (for better and worse) for giving me a voice on the internet.

And as if that wasn't good enough, the fine people at Liquid Theory and MTV, along with my friend and co-conspirator Spider here at FEARnet, have grabbed me to direct 3 of the 13 episodes of an upcoming new MTV horror series, which looks to be an incredibly fun and well constructed show. (more on that later!)

Additionally, I can finally talk about the fact that Fangoria films has hired me on to write the remake of Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things for the venerable George Romero to direct. I've openly said I hate remakes, and that still stands, and initially, I balked at this gig, but as I went deeper down the rabbit hole developing this one, it became clearer and clearer that this movie was ripe for a remake. Why? Because first of all, it was not really a good film to start with. No disrespect to Bob Clark,  who also did Black Christmas and A Christmas Story, but this one wasn't his best effort. Children was raw, rough, silly, and almost plotless. And so I'm heeding the advice of one of my heroes, John Waters, who said, "Why remake good films when there are so many bad ones. Remake the ones that had potential, but failed."

Well that's what we're going to do. The other reason I want to do this is because the film has growing cultural and social relevance again. With occultism on the rise, and torture porn and slashers on the way out, and with a growing interest in the supernatural by today's teens, the right ingredients are there for an incredibly relevant, entertaining film.

So that's my year, professionally, as a filmmaker. Pretty awesome all around and with many thanks to you guys for supporting me and getting behind original, cerebral, indie horror content.

Okay, now let's talk about my year as a horror FAN... What's my top 10 horror list for the year? Well, I went to make one and came up 8 short. Sadly, as we all know, this year sucked out loud for horror. With the exception of Aronofsky's Black Swan and Darabont's The Walking Dead, this was a terrible year for horror. The sequels fell flat, the studios ignored the pleas of the fans, and the old templates fell, (hopefully we've heard the death knell for the slasher and torture porn genres).

That said, rather than lament the shitty year we've had in the genre this past year, I've decided to turn back the clock to 1896 (the birth year of horror cinema) and look at that year instead...  It's a year that I bet you never thought much about. And  from it came films that I bet you haven't seen... but really should.

So here we go. Welcome to 1896, the year in review!

1896. A year before Bram Stoker even published his new novel, Dracula, there was a short film-maker taking the world by storm. His name was George Melies, a French magician who took to cinematography and camera tricks to enhance his magic act, not realizing he was birthing not only the first horror film (Le Manoir du Diable AKA The House of the Devil) but also launching the entire dark fantasy genre in cinema.

Audiences in Paris and New York were blown away that year by the 20 short films produced and directed by Melies, and even though he had trouble monetizing the shorts, (sound familiar?), they lead to bigger and better things for him, not the least of which was 1902's  visionary A Trip To The Moon, which tackled fantasy, science fiction and horror all in just 14 minutes.

By the end of his career, Melies had made over 500 shorts, most of which were dark fantasy, horror and sci fi, but it was 1896, when he essentially invented the horror genre in cinema that he is truly to be admired for.  But rather than give you his exhaustive filmography here, just go Google him. Most of his films are on Youtube now too, especially the ones from 1896.

So Happy New Years 1896! And may 2011 bring us all peace, prosperity, and good horror!

Gaudium Per Atrox.