00′s Retrospect: Horror Softens Up in 2008

Y2K, 9/11, war and a a horrid recession, a major escape we had this decade was in the form of film, notorious for thriving during National crisis. Leading up to New Year’s Eve where we’ll ring in 2010, Bloody Disgusting will be looking back at the entire decade year by year through the eyes of various staff writers. Check back each day for a profound reflection from Ryan Daley, David Harley, Tex, BC and yours truly. Inside you’ll find David Harley’s personal look back at the year 2008. Please share your memories for each year below, there are so many stories to be told!

’00 | ’01 | ’02 | ’03 | ’04 | ’05 | ’06 | ’07 | ’08 | ’09

More Retrospects:
-Top 20 Films of the Decade: 21-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1
-Dead on Arrival: Ten Horror Duds of the Last Decade

2008

2008 started off with a bang… of mediocrity. Warner Bros. One Missed Call completely pisses off critics and general moviegoers alike with its cheap scares, bad acting and even worse script. Miike’s original is actually quite frightening, with several scenes that have become permanently engrained in my memory, so it was a shame to see the American version end up such a shambles. But, not all was lost in January. Cloverfield, a film kept under heavy wraps by J.J. Abrams and director Matt Reeves, ended up being the modern American equivalent of Godzilla, replacing the allegory of Hiroshima with 9/11. Since its trailer premiere in front of Transformers in 2007, fans had been given online clues and puzzles to solve, giving us a kind of viral marketing that could only be rivaled by The Dark Knight. After its tremendous opening weekend, talks of a sequel immediately went underway, though nothing has really been set in stone thus far.

Speaking of Asian horror remakes, The Eye and Shutter also hit the big screen in the first half of the year, neither setting the box office on fire and both being forgettable efforts – though, let’s be honest, we all laughed at Shutter‘s piggyback scene. The Eye also brings us to the realization that the Pang Brothers’ films can’t be remade in English, whether they’re actually the ones doing it or not (Bangkok Dangerous furthered that assumption later in the year).

While the Weinstein’s spent a good chunk of time looking for a writer and director for Halloween II and their Hellraiser reboot, the latter not having even gotten off the ground so far, Rob Zombie is linked to a remake of C.H.UD., a new entry in the Conan series and Tyrannosaurus Rex, which seems to be a cinematic version of his comic book with Steven Niles, The Nail. All three are eventually left in the dust for his return to the Halloween series in 2009.

Also under heavy debate in early 2008 was Alex Aja’s Piranha 3-D remake, which would go on to be delayed a million times and is currently set for 2010; Craven’s return to horror with My Soul To Take, which had been called Bug and 25/8 at the time; Argento’s English language giallo picture, Giallo, which lost its star Vincent Gallo since he didn’t want to work with former fiancé Asia Argento; and a live-action version of the classic anime and manga Akira, which is going to be delayed until THE END OF TIME AS WE KNOW IT.

The Wolfman hits a giant snafu, as Universal begins to have talks with Brett Ratner to direct and online outcry reaches critical levels. The studio decides to go with Joe Johnston instead, who directed the great Rocketeer (!!!) and duds like JP3. Biggest WTF moment of the year: Rick Baker will handle practical effects, though the transformation scenes will be done with CGI. The film gets delayed over and over again and is now set for 2010.

2008 also marks my first trip to Austin, TX, where I attended SXSW in March. I saw a lot of fun films, such as Dance of the Dead and Baghead, and also my personal worst film for 2008, Southern Gothic. I fell in love with the Alamo Drafthouse and Mondo Tees, parties were attended, many drinks were had and lots of friends were made. Neil Marshall’s Doomsday hit theatres while I was at the festival and many are bored by his mash-up of Resident Evil and The Road Warrior, both of which the film directly lifts scenes from. And thus, his perfect record is tarnished.

Horror dies down for a little bit as the summer approaches, though we’re inundated with Friday the 13th casting rumors and confirmations and speculation on what Platinum Dunes is moving forward with for their next remake. As we all know, Nightmare ended up being the next one. The X-Files: I Want To Believe goes for summer blockbuster gold and falls flat on its face disappointing many. Personally, I didn’t think it was a bad film, just not the monster-mash that people expected it to be. Hellboy 2 suffers a horrible fate, being released the weekend before The Dark Knight and also not exactly being a mainstream concept, which confused average moviegoers just as much as it did the first time around. The Mummy: Tomb of the Emperor’s Dragon is also released during the summer and is the exact sort of drivel we all expected it to be.

The rest of the year is fairly typical. We have a remake (Quarantine, which is actually decent and doesn’t do well at the box office, prompting Tex to rant about it to no end), a new Saw film (part V, which even Saw fans despise) and mostly a bunch of other mediocre stuff that nobody really talks about anymore.

The big event of the year in horror: Repo! The Genetic Opera and Midnight Meat Train getting screwed on their releases but pulling through despite Lionsgate’s obvious “we want to bury this so no one will see it” tactic. Repo‘s road show is a huge success, selling out every single night and I was lucky enough to attend a showing in Orlando, which was packed and had people flying in from Puerto Rico to watch it. MMT was shoved into dollar theatres but did well considering the ticket prices and scant release. Though I don’t love either film, they both proved that horror fans can unite for a noble cause. Also given a road show release: Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, which is one of Troma’s best films to date.

The end of the year brought us Magnet/Magnolia’s Six Shooter films, which included the amazing Let The Right One In, which topped my best of list for 2008 and the decade, and Timecrimes one of the best sci-fi thrillers in years.