It Lives Again! Horror Movies in the New Millennium
Hardcover, 200 pages, $29.95
Review by Sheila Merritt
Looking for a non-gimmicky Halloween gift? Perhaps something that says: “I appreciate you for your mind, as well as your love of horror movies.” The comprehensive It Lives Again! Horror Movies in the New Millennium will fill the bill. Detailed, and laden with lots of insider movie information, this attractive photo packed volume briefly surveys 1990s horror films. Then it proceeds full throttle to address, and focus on, the 21st Century’s take on the genre.
Author Axelle Carolyn has some horror affiliations. She is married to Neil Marshall, director of Dog Soldiers and The Descent. In addition, she has acted in genre films, and contributed a short story to Dark Delicacies III: Haunted (an anthology which was reviewed here on Hellnotes.) Her book is a massive undertaking that embraces the cinema of many countries. It succeeds in giving equitable attention to independent films, direct to DVD horror, made-for-TV works, and productions that the studios felt warranted some major financing/hype. Carolyn tries to draw parallels between world events and the films of the period; which, like her appraisals of the movies she discusses, will elicit some spirited conversation and controversy.
Statements such as: “The living dead can then become a representation of Osama Bin Laden’s terrorists, Saddam Hussein’s troops, or the local shooter on campus,” could be perceived as viable analysis, or else as running with the ball hyperbole. To define contemporary catastrophes (socio-political, and natural disasters) as impacting horror movies’ emphasis or perception can be a dicey declaration. It is up to the reader to decide if “Just as the Vietnam War had marked the end of classic monsters’ reign on the genre, so did 9/11 make the Blair Witch, the Scream killer and the Headless Horseman look harmless by comparison” is an apt, or even relevant evaluation. The author also offers that in 2004, “Between the terrorists and tidal waves, the events of the year gave the world an increased awareness that death could occur at anytime.” Certainly, horror has always played upon/reflected a sense of mortality.
What is undeniable in It Lives Again! is the affection and attention its writer brings to the material. She gives the reader a backstage pass into the creative world of horror film making; punctuating with anecdotes and extensive, but unobtrusive, footnotes that highlight the joys and pitfalls of this particular genre. Ending with films of 2008, release schedules of some upcoming features have changed since publication. Considering the scope of the book there are likely to be some errors. A discernible misspeak, for example, occurs when Carolyn discusses 1990’s The Exorcist III: She says it “featured the character of Regan.” The second sequel does reference the possessed girl in the narrative, but “featured” is too strong a term for her connection to the film. This is merely a minor quibble regarding a phrase buried in the discussion of several movies. Overall, Axelle Carolyn deserves great praise for richly encompassing a multitude of material. She has produced a work that is provocative and intellectually stimulating, but still fun to read.