The Rotten Truth: This is Halloween?

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Hey, where did all the horror films go?

Something about this fall scares me.

It’s not the San Fernando Valley temperatures climbing into the 90s (which makes me feel nostalgic for the New England weather I grew up with). It doesn’t have to do with Beverly Hills Chihuahua (although that is a cause for alarm, especially the slugs who go see it). Nor is it the grinning skeleton and pumpkin decorations I’m beginning to see flood the stores (that, in fact, gets me more anxious than anything).

No, what’s making me leap out of my skin is the minimal amount of wide theatrical horror releases to get excited about in the next two months.

You can write off September – unless Igor, kiddie fare at best, is something you’re particularly jazzed about. October, meanwhile, has Quarantine (on the 10th) and Saw V (on the 24th). That’s two – count ’em two – large platform releases. On the limited tip, if you live near a major city there’s a good chance you’ll have the choice of seeing Let the Right One In or Splinter. Then there’s The Haunting of Molly Hartley which will likely get a modest debut. Distributor Freestyle Releasing knows its audience, especially with Chace Crawford co-starring.

Looking at that rundown, sure, you got some options not counting the DVD releases coming this month and next. But is it too much to ask for more?

Although it was a dismal Halloween horror movie season, 2005 had seven genre pics playing in multiplexes throughout September and October. The following year, there were five. Last year, three, not counting limited runs of Hatchet and The Girl Next Door. What gives? Why is Halloween 2008 so painfully dry?

I don’t blame Saw. Still a lucrative franchise, I can’t believe competing studios are afraid to pit their horror offerings against Jigsaw. Instead, I immediately thought of the ’07 WGA strike and its ripple effect. One studio insider disagrees with that theory and tells me, “The strike has zero to do with it. I think what you’re seeing is the aftermath of the glut of horror. Low budget horror comes back, makes bank for a couple years, the market gets flooded. Hostel 2 and 28 Weeks Later both fail box office-wise and studios say, What else besides horror?

Another producer I spoke with says it’s a “combo of a bunch of things – the writers strike, the actors strike…and horror not doing as well.” One Missed Call, Mirrors and Shutter are fine examples of 2008 duds, but it’s not like the future is completely devoid of genre flicks.

After October, Lionsgate drops Repo! The Genetic Opera into a limited release. Then there’s Twilight (less scary and more lovey-dovey anyway). Lionsgate already screwed the pooch with Midnight Meat Train‘s release, so I’m not even going to question what they’re doing to Repo! and why. And Twilight‘s unveiling is all part of Summit’s strategy. But take a look at January 2009. Plenty of horror there thanks in part to After Dark’s Horrorfest. You’ve also got The Uninvited, Dreamworks’ Tale of Two Sisters redo that’s been completed for some time now. Why doesn’t the studio release that film next month and try to cash in on the fact that people want to see spooky thrills? The same applies to Paramount’s Case 39, another film in the can and stuck in a release date tug-o-war, and Amusement.

Regardless of how good or how shitty they are, it just seems to me that films like this at least have a chance in September/October when audiences are in the mood. Instead, the studios find them awkward slots in the winter and/or spring then wonder why they did so poorly.

“Look at the glut of them in that span over the last few years,” one source explained to me. “They want to space them out.”

Maybe so. But that doesn’t explain why Warner Bros.’ Trick ‘r Treat was denied a theatrical run last October and is finally working its way onto a larger festival circuit next month. How will the rest of the country see it? Not in wide release during this Halloween, sadly.

Further perplexing is the actual Halloween day release of Splinter and The Haunting of Molly Hartley, however large or small they might be. Halloween day, though? Really? You know what I’m going to be doing on October 31st? Not stepping into a movie theater. I’m heading out. Over the weekend…slim chance. Personally, I like the build-up to Halloween and with it, I like taking in a scare pic or two or four at the theater.

Unfortunately this year, I’m going to have to seek out other plans after I’ve seen Quarantine and whatever Jigsaw has up his sleeve. That won’t be hard, but I like to have a lot of choices, seeing a newly-released horror movie in a theater being one of them.

Source: Ryan Rotten