Chris Vander Kaay and Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay's blog

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: JOHN CARPENTER

It goes without saying that John Carpenter, the composer, writer, and director of some of the most well-known and well-received films in the horror and science-fiction genres, is a horror icon. There is dispute, however, on which films people would consider to be included in his classic or iconic canon. Though “Halloween” and “The Thing” are readily mentioned, with occasional nods to “They Live” and “The Fog” included by real fans, often the rest of his body of work is overlooked or discounted.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: WILLIAM MALONE

One of the most common circumstances in the horror industry is for technicians from one aspect of the genre to cross over to the directing chair, bringing their unique expertise and expanding their influence on the final product. Cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld worked with brilliant filmmakers like The Coen Brothers and Rob Reiner before directing the “Men In Black” and “Addam’s Family” films. Sometimes, skilled technicians are able to turn their previous skills into invaluable services that make their directorial works greater than would be expected from a previously untrained director.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: BRAD ANDERSON

Some horror filmmakers are gifted in making great horror films because they have a unique perspective and an undeniable talent, regardless of the genre in which they are working. A drama, a romantic comedy, and a horror film by the director can be equally entertaining in different ways because the filmmaker has the skill to work intuitively within any genre he is given. Brad Anderson is an example of that kind of director.

Horror Icon mini-Marathon: TI WEST

The horror genre is an eclectic genre, with films that run the gamut from quiet and thoughtful ruminations on human existence to noisy and barely contained gore and chaos. As a result, many of the films (and filmmakers) working in the genre are divisive figures. One such divisive figure, known for his deliberate pacing, quiet mood creation, and excellent attention to detail, is director Ti West. As his new film, “The Sacrament,” prepares for its theatrical release, it’s worth noting his career up to this point.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: Tommy Lee Wallace

When a young filmmaker’s career is linked heavily to another filmmaker early in their career, it can sometimes be difficult to extricate themselves from the shadow of their partnership and make a recognizable name for themselves as separate creators. When the other filmmaker is John Carpenter, one of the most well-known directors in the horror genre, it makes the challenge all the more difficult.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: BRIAN YUZNA

Some creators are so indelibly linked to a certain franchise or film that it becomes the thing for which they are known, and the title of that film is always located in parentheses after their name. In the case of “Re-Animator,” you might think of director Stuart Gordon, actor Jeffrey Combs, or even original story author H.P. Lovecraft. However, you’d be missing the most important piece of the Herbert West franchise: writer/director/producer Brian Yuzna.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Aside from the Hammer Horror films at their peak and the work of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, the British have had a hard time making a big impact on American horror audiences. Whether it be the cultural divide, the differing sensibilities in both comedy and scares, or simply the secret truth that Americans don’t like much of anything from anywhere but America, British independent horror has had trouble gaining a foothold in the States.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: ETHAN WILEY

The balance between horror and comedy is often difficult to maintain, because they are impulses that exist nearly on opposite ends of the spectrum. A skilled writer or director can use moments within a film to play as both horror and comedy at the same time, something which allows for both genres to stretch as a result. Writer/director Ethan Wiley is one of those people.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: ERIC RED

Horror often works because of its outlandishness, from David Lynch to Rob Zombie. But there is another level upon which horror works well; the level wherein there might be something supernatural involved, but the gritty realism and focus on character in the story refuses to allow the audience to dismiss the project as simply a “scary movie.” It is in the latter category that you will find most of the films of filmmaker Eric Red.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: SAM RAIMI

Some directors make low-budget horror films because they love the excitement, the transgression, and the lack of boundaries that are inherent in working with such an unregulated arena; some directors make low-budget features in the hope of creating a calling card for their skill and work their way up into big-budget, mainstream filmmaking. And there are those rare occasions when someone works in low-budget horror, gains the notoriety and mainstream success, and comes back to low-budget horror simply because they still love it. Sam Raimi is one of those rare occasions.

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