Welcome to HorrorFest 2009.
I've got some catching up to do this weekend, so let's see how many of these we can do today and tomorrow.
I think it's important that there be horror films aimed at younger audiences. Or maybe I should say more general audiences. Not everyone's going to hang with a "Martyrs" or an "Inside." And that's fine. They shouldn't have to. Horror films can be like chili peppers, ranging from mild to insane, and I like the full range and crave it all at different times. When I was very young, I watched a lot of "Creature Features" on Saturday afternoons in St. Petersburg. Dr. Paul Bearer would introduce a double-feature each week, and typically you'd get one in black and white and one in color. And they were always films that could play uncut on television. They weren't showing bowdlerized R-rated movies. They showed Hammer films and Corman movies and '50s alien invasion films and classic Universal monsters. Those movies, which seem safe to some extent when judged by today's standards, were my gateway drug to the full psychotropic spectrum of horror films that I now regularly imbibe.
Which brings us to Jonathan King's new film, "Under The Mountain." His first movie, "Black Sheep," was a splatterrific New Zealand horror/comedy cut from the same mold as early Peter Jackson movies. I wasn't 100% in love with the movie, but I thought it was ripe with great bits, and it felt like an introduction to a really sharp new filmmaker. I like that he zagged instead of zigged with his follow-up picture, which plays much more subdued than his first film, and which could easily be seen as a modern version of those gateway drug horror films, those milder, more subtle scares. It's a film that feels like an '80s kids movie in some ways, and taken as such, it's a pretty solid and entertaining ride.