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Hello horror fans! My name is Jeff Tuttle, and I play guitar in a band called The Dillinger Escape Plan. I know there’s nothing more cliché than a rock musician who loves fright flicks, but what can I say? I can’t get enough of the red stuff. I was just 9 years old when I saw Umberto Lenzi’s GHOSTHOUSE and I’ve yet to look back. From that point on, I’ve been on a never-ending quest to seek out the best (and subsequently finding many of the worst) that the genre has to offer.
The ever-expanding world of horror can be quite overwhelming and it becomes extremely difficult to keep up with every new film while also maintaining a grasp on the greats of the past. Luckily for me, touring the world allows for plenty of opportunity to visit some great video stores, find obscure titles and clear out the backlogs.
Dillinger’s last tour began in one of my favorite horror goldmines, New York City. After a visit to the FANGORIA offices, I made a special trip to the movie Mecca known as Mondo Kim’s Video (124 1st Ave. New York, NY 10009). With an impressive catalog of regularly stocked obscurity, Kim’s never ceases to amaze. This time around I picked up the Udo Kier classic MARK OF THE DEVIL. With plenty of medieval torture, nudity and more cheese than a slice of Ray’s Pizza, this controversial release from 1972 did not disappoint. It may seem ridiculous to be on a tour bus while watching TV in a city with the most extravagant nightlife in the world, but that’s just how deep my devotion is.
Speaking of devotion, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has finally been unleashed. In preparation, I made a blood pact with myself to watch the entire NIGHTMARE Box collection on the road. The deal was one film a night until I finished, or until I stabbed my eyes out with plastic cutlery… whichever came first. Fortunately, my eyeballs are still intact and, like any self-respecting gore-ophile, I completed the task in a few short days. Now I’m anxiously awaiting the redux that has been dividing the horror community like a machete. The subject of these “re-imaginings” is enough to send most fans into a frenzy of Linda Blair-like proportions. While I can sympathize with the “don’t mess with the classics” mantra, I’m also a realist. Horror remakes are not a new invention. Samuel Bayer, director of the re-imagining, pointed out in an interview that these types of films are nearly a century old and that many directors from the roots of cinema made their money updating old movies. Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man all had their share of repackaging in the glory days, so why not now? They had the Universal Monsters and we have Michael, Jason and Freddy. This all seems like sound logic to me. And let’s be honest with each other. A new beginning for NIGHTMARE cannot tarnish the legacy of the franchise any more than the later installments of the original saga already have. I mean, was it really necessary for Freddy to dress like a surfer and bury Kristen in quicksand in DREAM MASTER? Some may argue that it was, but I tend to think that while he was on that beach, Freddy wrangled himself a shark, jumped over it and landed in FREDDY VS. JASON.
Despite all of this, part of me does feel like Hollywood is taking a collective piss of the genre gospels. After all, bad dialogue and plot holes can all be part of the genre charm. Maybe DREAM CHILD’s Super Freddy was good. Maybe it is crazy for Mr. Bayer to compare remake ringleaders Platinum Dunes to the Hammer Films of the ’60s and ’70s.
Either way you look at it, one fact remains certain. At the very least these horror updates ensure that monster flicks are here to stay. They represent a beacon of light that radiates out of our local cinemas and reminds the casual moviegoer that the gory and the bloody aren’t going anywhere. As for us, the devoted fright fans, we need not forget that the black heart of horror is not in the big budget Hollywood blockbuster. Ultimately, it has always been buried alive in the fringe. While the big-time directors focus the spotlight, independent filmmakers will always be there to spark the flames of originality that we crave. It is our collective job to give them an audience. So let’s lay this debate to rest and just enjoy the plethora. At least, that is, until they tamper with EVIL DEAD. I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune then.
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