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Movies



Page 1


 Why horror? Why now? ...


Page 2


 When things are bad, people want to see — worse things ...


Page 3


 The pendulum swings from realism to big business to ... irony?! ...


Page 4


 The end — or is it??? ...



Meet The Masters


 Résumés and remarks from horror-film legends George A. Romero and Wes Craven




Photo Galleries

 'Dawn Of The Dead'


 'Cabin Fever'


 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'


 'Final Destination 2'


 'Jeepers Creepers 2'


 'House Of 1000 Corpses'


 'The Grudge'


 'Freddy Vs. Jason'


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— by Robert Mancini

The late '90s were not kind to Leatherface. The star of 1974's seminal indie fright-fest "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" had been all but drummed out of Hollywood following a series of poor career choices that included three lackluster sequels. The whims of pop culture were not kind either, and the Clinton-era's "Scream"-inspired wave of knowing, ironic horror films reduced the chainsaw-wielding maniac to a visual punchline by the time the decade closed. If you had suggested at the time that Leatherface could open a movie at number one, you would have been laughed right out of the slaughterhouse.

But what the Texas-born killer lacks in verbal dexterity he makes up for in patience. Maybe the lumber-enthusiast knew that in pop culture, what goes around comes around, and that, when the world turns to madness, audiences return to horror.

"Horror films tend to be particularly popular in times of political unrest, economic depression, war, terrorism, all kinds of domestic strife," explained Tony Timpone, editor of horror's foremost chronicle, Fangoria. "It seems that people need an escape, so they go to horror films to exorcise a lot of this angst that they have ... These films put a picture to our deepest fears and allow us to deal with these fears from the safety of our theater seats."

 "It seems like the last thing anyone would want to do ..."
— Rob Zombie
"It seems like the last thing anyone would want to do is watch death and destruction on TV, and then pay nine bucks to watch more death and destruction, but for some reason, people always want to," Rob Zombie said. The noted horror buff/musician/ director ("House of 1000 Corpses," "The Devil's Rejects") knows of what he speaks. The years since the ironic-horror heyday of the '90s have seen the economy collapse, war return and terrorism hit home in ways previously unimagined. The result is the sort of general malaise and dread that usually means good business for horror.

While supernatural successes like "The Ring" and "The Sixth Sense" laid the groundwork in recent years, the floodgates opened early last summer — just as Americans began to realize that the war we thought was over actually wasn't — and the box office was suddenly dominated by lucrative horror films. Between late June and October, theaters were swamped by a wave of mutant murderers, vampires, werewolves, rampant viruses and even a fresh start for two horror icons recently relegated to b-grade flicks: Starting with "28 Days Later" (which raked in $10 million in its opening weekend), the hot streak rolled with "Freddy Vs. Jason" (#1 debut) "Underworld" (#1) "Jeepers Creepers II" (#1), "Cabin Fever" (#3), "House of the Dead" (top 10) and even a remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (#1). Leatherface, welcome back to the A-list.

This year, the trend has continued, with the zombies of "Dawn of the Dead" chasing Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" from the top of the box-office mound, opening with $26 million, and an armload of chills are expected to hit theaters before the year is out.


NEXT: How irradiated beasts and heaving busts fueled the first waves of horror ...
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Photo: New Line

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