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11 Months To Go...

Here we are a month into the new year and already we've seen a nice selection of horror flicks coming our way. There's been the surprisingly good Hostel, the expectedly awful Underworld: Evolution, and a few low-budget surprises with Dark Remains and Tamara. So I guess you could say things are looking good for our favourite genre in 2006. But just how is this year going to be any different from previous years? What questions do I, as a longtime horror fan, find myself asking? And when it's all said and done, does 2006 promise to be something special, or will it fall short of expectations?

It's these things I took into account when I sat down in between a bout of reviewing writing recently to scrawl out some "questions" I had about my beloved horror movies. Questions that might not need to be asked, but questions that are going to be anyway...

Will 2006 mark the death of PG-13 horror and will Quentin Tarantino be a main reason for it?
It seems these days if you want something that takes chances and thinks "outside the box" you're more than likely going to find yourself relying more on the indie and low-budget movies. In the past few years, probably since the 2002 success of The Ring, Hollywood seems to have lost their "horror movie balls". There's just been a parade of, mostly bad, PG-13 horror movies flooding our local theatres (a nice ploy when they can release an "Unrated" version on DVD mere months later) that seem to play more to a teen audience than people who have been behind the genre forever. But it seems times truly are a-changin' and that Tarantino is on the forefront with him executive producing Hostel and making a no holds barred tribute to 1970's horror with pal Robert Rodriguez called Grind (I much preferred the original title, Grind House).

Lions Gate will most definitely continue to pump out low-budget horror on DVD in 2006, but will any of it be good?
If you're going to talk about prolific, then you need to mention Lions Gate. For years now this Canadian-based company has been very generous in supplying us fans with genre movies. And while we love them for it, unfortunately most of the titles they're picking up for distribution are just plain bad. So there's no doubt they'll continue filling the need for horror, but will they actually pull of the unthinkable and deliver some truly hidden gems - we'll have to see.

Remakes and sequels - are they going to rule big studio horror again?
It's beginning to look that way with remakes of Hills Have Eyes and The Omen on their way to us very soon, not to mention sequels to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (a sequel to a remake, interesting) and the expected Saw III sometime in October. So unless Hollywood decides that creativity might once more be a good thing and worry less about making a buck, then maybe, but don't count on it.

I admit it, Hills Have Eyes looks pretty good...

Will the next horror "maestro" step up?
I don't know about you, but I've been waiting for this to happen for ages. Unlike the days of old, it seems there's no real "name brand" director out there working in the genre. When I was a kid there was the Wes Craven's and the John Carpenter's and this seems to be sadly lacking these days. We need someone to step up and take the title, but who?

Will horror imports continue to kick American product's ass?
Yes. This goes back to the remakes and sequels question. As long as most American made productions continue to play it "safe", then there's little chance they'll be able to match the creativity coming from overseas. But you never know, stranger things have happened, I'm just not betting on it.

2006 - A better year for horror overall?
It's looking that way. Last year didn't really start to get strong until the last third of the year and there were way too many mediocre and weak flicks to wade through. I think that as long as we, as fans, are persistent then someone somewhere will try their best to make us happy. Eventually big studios will recognize that watered-down horror just isn't bringing in the money it used to. Longtime fans (like Paul Sollet and Jake Hamilton who did the great short Means To An End) will make their own movies with passion and it will show. Someone will stop another Halloween sequel. Anything can happen... -Chris Hartley, 2/3/06