What kind of film do you want to see made? I haven't seen a ghost story worth a damn in a while. "Poltergeist" was the last one that scared the shit out of me. I thought some of the recent J-horror would tickle my fancy, but "The Ring" was a confusing mishmash of styles. Same for that crop of haunted house flicks from the late ’90s: "The Haunting" and "The House on Haunted Hill" were warmed-over nice-tries. It seems like they lost the touch when it comes to making the real thing.
"Poltergeist" was made in 1982, a Tobe Hooper/ILM effort. It was fantastic -- Stephen Spielberg was the exec producer, and he knew that Hooper would kick a ghost story in the balls. MGM got a lot right.
Going earlier than that, I have to cite the oeuvre of Dario Argento -- he united the gothic horror sensibility with the slasher film and gave us "Profundo Rosso," "Suspiria," and many other diamonds. The gothic part is what he did so well, but not necessarily plot. And there didn't have to be a supernatural force at work, what with enough twisted-ass sinister people on the job.
Go back further, twenty years or so, and we get the Hammer films and their ilk, a true renaissance of gothic horror. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Vincent Price were three of the standard bearers of the time, starring in adaptations of Poe and Lovecraft, or rolling out new creations in a similar vein. I love "Haunted Palace." I love "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (so much so I wrote about it a few months back).
There needs to be more, again. This is a filmic artform that has been neglected, only because people have forgotten how to make flicks like these. I am not detracting the current idiomatic oeuvres of James Wan and Eli Roth, but a spooky-as-shit ghost thriller is a fine use of 1 hour and 40 minutes time.
Hell, my favorite Disney World ride is "The Haunted Mansion," simply because they got the sensibility so goddamn right.
I've always been looking for inspiration, things that help the little wrinkly imagination-gnome inside of my pancreas do his jumpy, runny little thing. I should always write more; I watch an obscene amount of TV and movies, as well as consume hectares of mags, newspapers, and comic books, all raw materials for creative synthesis. And this mode is the kind of thing I want to see. This is what I should do -- make it for myself. I want to rediscover Vincent Price and rediscover gothic horror, circa 1960.
Want to see what I'm talking about? Watch this -- it's filking amazing:
So much longing, so much romance, so much deliberation. Gorgeous.
[Art by Daniel Horne, used without permission.]