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Sean S. Cunningham's Best Year Ever
by T.J. Tranchell

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To avoiding fainting, just tell yourself that remakes don't always suck.

To avoiding fainting, just tell yourself that remakes don't always suck.
Thirty years ago when the slasher genre crept its way into American theaters, no one thought it would last this long. Even some of its creators assumed it was only of its time and once everyone got over Vietnam it would go away.

They didn't know how right -- and how wrong -- they were.

Bring us up to 2009. Mired in another unpopular war, oil is out of control, the economy is tanking, and a surprising young Democratic president is in office. Are you sure it is 2009 and not 1979? Or 1977?

One man was there then and is back again. The reluctant progenitor himself, Sean S. Cunningham. I say reluctant not because he's avoided fan conventions or been out of the movie business but because it seems he's always trying to kill off his hottest property and it never works. Jason Voorhees just keeps coming back.

The last few weeks have been full of news about the FRIDAY THE 13TH remake and its almost $50 million opening weekend. This should be only the beginning of a record year for Cunningham but it
It's always the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

It's always the quiet ones you have to watch out for.
could turn out to be just one good month.

On March 13, which also happens to be a Friday, a remake of Cunningham's first foray into murderous mayhem will be released. Cunningham, along with original writer-director Wes Craven, produced the new LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.

The biggest difference between 2009's LAST HOUSE and FRIDAY THE 13TH is that I haven't seen any advertising for LAST HOUSE. If I wasn't such a fan of the genre, I might not even know the movie had been made. FRIDAY THE 13TH, however had massive exposure with prime TV spots and a MySpace push.

So who is at fault for this? Did Cunningham put all of his energy into FRIDAY and let Craven handle LAST HOUSE? If he did, was that really a good idea? Let's look at the records and find out.

Cunningham was a producer on FREDDY VS JASON. Whether you liked the movie or not, the box office returns validated its making. Craven was a "based on characters created by" credit. Craven made CURSED and has had his name placed on so many bad
In this scene, I want you to call me Wes and I will call you Sean. Ready?

In this scene, I want you to call me Wes and I will call you Sean. Ready?
movies he's getting difficult to take serious.

SEAN S. CUNNINGHAM PRESENTS CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON is not a movie we'll be seeing any time soon, but we have been faced with WES CRAVEN PRESENTS DRACULA 2000.

I could gripe about Craven just as long as I could rave about him, but the only bad thing I can think to say about Cunningham is that he made HOUSE II.

One of the highlights of my DVD collection the version of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT with commentary by Cunningham and Craven. They know how to scare people and they know their history. I'm not surprised that LAST HOUSE is making a comeback now. The original was one of the most brutal films of the 20th century. These two men (along with HALLOWEEN director John Carpenter) are responsible for the slasher sub-genre. It's a shame that they couldn't get together at the same time their iconic monsters did but hopefully they were able to shepherd in some old their old magic.

I don't see LAST HOUSE making the same kind of box office bang
If Craven remakes this, I just don't see how our relationship can go on.

If Craven remakes this, I just don't see how our relationship can go on.
FRIDAY did and that's just fine. It's a different kind of movie, yet just as right for this time as it was in the 1970s. It is, also, a necessary step in the re-evolution of the horror genre. LAST HOUSE is just as hard to watch as some the current "torture porn" movies like HOSTEL and CAPTIVITY but I'm hoping the remake doesn't come off as a sub-par retread. Like a beautiful woman with ugly kids having cute, but not gorgeous, grandkids.

I also hope that Craven can save the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake from turning out like a burnt turd. I'm starting to wonder if he has any original ideas left.

As for Cunningham, maybe he is outsmarting us all. He's kept his name off of projects that would devalue his name (I hate to harp on it, but Craven should have done the same thing), he's kept in touch with the horror genre and he picked the right time to resurrect Jason and the fiends from LAST HOUSE. Even if Cunningham's March 2009 isn't as good as his February 2009, I'd say it's been a good year for him.

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The Show Begins at 10:31.
Every other Friday

Take my hand and follow me to the darkest corners of the theater. All your favorite monsters, psychos and masked killers are here, waiting for you to say hello.

Other Columns
Other columns by T.J. Tranchell:

Feeling (Rob) Zombie-fied

Hit the road, Jack

Camcorder Carnage

The scariest movie of all time

Universal's forgotten fiend

All Columns

T.J. Tranchell
Born on Halloween and raised in a single screen theater managed by his grandpa, T.J. now spends more time than should be healthy staying up past midnight reading Stephen King and watching Friday the 13th movies. Part 3 is the best one.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to T.J. Tranchell by clicking here.

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