New Column: Dr. D Checks the Pulse on Horror

[color=yellow]Today’s episode: Defending the genre. It’s nice to have no job, you have all the time in the world to d-ick around. Today I thought it would be a cool idea to start a monthly column where I’d check the pulse of horror and throw my expert opinion out there. I know what you’re asking, what makes me an expert? The answer is simple- I’m a f-cking Doctor fool! Today’s launch of this column is written in defense to an article the Hollywood Reporter posted a few weeks back, which basically stated that horror is on its way down the tube, into the pits of hell…[/color]
So here I am in the middle of a big negotiation when I get an email sent over to me. The Hollywood Reporter had blasted our beloved genre and kicked us all square in the nuts. I wish I could find the article so I can respond directly to their claims, but the jist of the article was that this summer horror got its face beaten up worse than Rocky. But in the end we’ll be the ones screaming “Adrian”!

Horror, even though it looks like its stock has plummeted, is actually at its all time peak. Lions Gate alone has 20 horror films in development, Sony Pictures has even more. The only danger in the genres future is over saturation- and the fear of failure. For example Sony has The Cave hitting theaters this month, while Lions Gate is sitting on Neil Marshall’s The Descent. If The Cave flops, it could really tamper the chain of events before the release of Descent. This brings me to one of this summers flops, High Tension, which I’ll get back to in a bit.

But let us reflect on this past year; I need to show you just how hot horror really is. Below you’ll find a list of the horror movies that hit theaters before this summer:

-Darkness (December 25th)
-White Noise (January 7th)
-Alone in the Dark (January 28th)
-Hide and Seek (January 28th)
-Boogeyman (February 4th)
-Constantine (February 18th)
-Cursed (February 25th)
-The Ring Two (March 18th)
-The Amityville Horror (April 15th)
-House of Wax (May 6th)

So let’s take a deep look into these films and how they performed. Dimension said right off the bat that they expected Darkness to fail, and really didn’t put much of a punch into its release. For gods sake they released it on Christmas! I wonder how many of you are joining me in hell. Anyways, the movie banked in $22 mil domestically and pulled in $12 mil internationally. For a movie budgeted at only $10 mil that’s quite an impressive theatrical release- especially for a film they thought would bomb.

Then a week and a half later Universal released White Noise, which starred Michael-freaking-Keaton, seriously, give me a break! People actually went and saw this garbage. How many people? Can you say $56 million domestically?! After it went international it almost hit $100 mil worldwide! The fun is just beginning…

A few weeks later Lions Gate would drop Alone in the Dark up against 20th Century Fox’s Hide and Seek. Dark was blasted by critics, and anyone who loves this genre knew it would be bad, so everyone trucked on over and checked out De Niro. Keeping the pace running, it pulled in $51 mil domestically and over $120 mil worldwide. Trust me, horror is dying, I’m losing a pulse…

So along comes Sony’s Boogeyman on February 4th. The movie looked terrible, the trailers were terrible and pretty much every reviewer hated the film- but did that stop horror fans form going to the theater? Nope. The movie took in $46.5 mil here in the States and $62 mil worldwide.

If you want to count Constantine , which opens with an exorcism, the film pulled in a disgusting $75.5 mil here in the US and $230 mil wordwide!!

Then Cursed hit. The film wasn’t screened for critics, it was reshot twice and the film had bad press ranging from the start of production. Then Dimension releases it as a PG-13? Fuck no, and everyone agreed. Slap a horror fan in the face and we won’t show. Hence its despicable $19 mil.

But now things get good, this is where horror really takes a nosedive. The Ring Two, which was another film critics smashed and was said to be a pile of dog crap- this sad excuse for a film pulled in a repulsive $76 mil and $160 mil worldwide!

Then MGM’s last film, The Amityville Horror hit theaters on April 15th. Horror fans never give up, the film pulled in $65 mil and almost a $100 mil worldwide.

Last but not least is Warner Bros. House of Wax remake, which ended the spring fling on May 6th. The film pulled in an impressive $32 mil domestically and $64 mil worldwide. I’d also like to point out that the film opened against Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven and kicked its ass!

Then summer hit and all the fun and games came to an end. Flop after flop told Variety that horror was in fact dying. The fact: studios made some big, BIG mistakes.

Lions Gate Films wasted a wonderful film called High Tension. This foreign film sat on their shelves for nearly two freaking years before they released it. Then a month before release they announce that they’re cutting it down form NC-17 to R. Not only could this DVD be brought on Ebay uncut for $5, but why would anyone pay $10 to see it in the theater dissected. To make matters worse, Lions Gate opened the film against Mr. and Mrs. Smith and two other movies. What did you expect? I shook my head and sighed after that decision. Hopefully LGF won’t make the same mistake with The Descent.

So moving on through the heat Universal though it would be smart to open Land of the Dead in June. Why? I guess so they can bank on the DVD this October. But point in case, they opened mid summer against Bewitched and Herbie- once again, what did they expect? The movie didn’t flop by any means, but the second week the film took a whopping 75% drop after WAR OF THE WORLD hit theaters less than a week later. Uh, hello?! Anyone in there? Oh I forgot to mention Lions Gate dumped Undead into two theaters Nationwide three days after War hit theaters- and just like Tension the film sat on their shelves for two years.

Oh we’re not even close to done, ok maybe we are. Buena Vista releases that hunk of PG-13 drama crap Dark Water the same day as Fantastic Four. So which movie are you gonna see? Seriously, who picks these dates? I guess if you want a film to fail you might as well dump it against a marketing machine like Fox.

Last but not least is Lions Gate’s The Devil’s Rejects. The film should have been released this October, but they felt opening against a f-cking Michael Bay movie was smart. Sure The Island flopped, but that was because it opened against The Bad News Bears, and a week after Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Wedding Crashers. The summer is a time for fun, not death and random violence- that’s why studios release films like Spiderman and War of the Worlds then. But hey, a small studio can compete. Even though it had that much of a battle, Rejects still managed a fantastic $17 mil.

I seriously saw 9 movies in 11 days at one point, the summer was cluttered and people had many choices. When a horror film under performs against Steven Spielberg movies and comic book adaptations, how can you say that horror has no pulse? You just watch, the Skeleton Key is just the beginning. Already horror has punched the Hollywood Rpeorter in their stupid face. 2006 will be the year of horror. I see a full recovery ahead.

-Dr. Disgusting M.D.

If you’ve never read the Ten Commandments, it’s right on there: