Thanks to the versatility of human fear, the horror genre has given us monsters of all kinds: ghosts, zombies, mummies, vampires, werewolves, witches, pumpkin-heads, dream-haunters, drowning victims, clowns, twins, snowmen, robots, aliens, kaiju, mothras, spiders, birds, brides, corpses, karps, trolls, trees, bees, and boogeymen. And just as varied as its list of demons are the forms the genre itself has taken. Past its inceptive days of silent-era chillers, horror has leapt from deadly serious nightmare fuel to campy and overcooked torture porn, ebbing and flowing through this dreadful stream as the tides of public interest shift. The ’90s gave us some of the wackiest horror turns we’ve seen, though berries from this bunch are generally looked back upon as pieces of cult favor or pop culture obscurity. Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead threequel Army of Darkness —which borrowed only a few pieces of mythology from its moreover sincere original chapter, going compeletely off the rails in style and story — remains a horror entry that the world remembers with a befuddled smirk. With Evil Dead revisited in reboot form by director Fede Alvarez this year, the natural question was whether or not the film’s disastrous successor would also earn a new lens. And although we wouldn’t have been surprised to see Alvarez, or another fledgling filmmaker, tackle Army of Darkness 2015 with the luxuries of amped up CGI, we did not expect the ultimate reveal: Alvarez and Bruce Campbell, star of the original Evil Dead and producer of the 2013 incarnation, confirm that writer/director Sam Raimi — the frenzied mind behind the series and notorious kook — will be crafting his own Army of Darkness sequel, according to reports from First Showing and The Hollywood Reporter.
But the surprising follow-up news continues, extending to a more recent feature: 2007’s Trick ‘r’ Treat, without even the benefit of early ’90s nostalgia that has us compulsively keeping AOD relevant through the graces of sardonic references, has itself earned announcement of a sequel, as reported by EW. If you don’t remember the ’07 picture, it’s because it didn’t exactly gain widespread notice — a dark, comic anthology horror, Trick ‘r’ Treat failed to hit it big on the usually profitable genre’s market due in large part to being crafty, creative, and weird. And although there’s not a lot of genuine artistic praise to be doled out to Army of Darkness, that last superlative is right at home in the hands of Raimi’s ’92 flick. It’s bonkers. And that seems to be the direction the horror genre, and maybe movies in general, are heading these days.
After bouncing back and forth between darkness and fun, earnestness and satire, we’ve landed back in the realm of “twisted.” Not twisted like the Saw franchise, which in its conception was inventive but devolved into little more than the “let’s see how much gore we can get away with” maxim. Twisted in concept, in presentation, in the exploit of the human imagination to conjure up something truly scary… and, of course, fun.
For a while, we’ll reap the benefits of this new embrace of quirk and oddity. Of course, just like anything else, things will go too far — weird for weird’s sake will overrun the horror world, booting truly eccentric pieces like Army of Darkness and Trick ‘r’ Treat of their place in the spotlight but not carrying their genuine flavor. And such an overexposure will usher in a return to traditional form: straightforward horrors, filled with fright and lacking in any substantial joy. But hey, that camp has plenty of gems, too: think they can match the straight fright factor of The Exorcist after this trend dies down?